Clout: Our Lady of PHA, pray for us

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Sister Mary Scullion is greeted by rocker Jon Bon Jovi in 2009.

PHILLYCLOUT happened to run into the city's social conscience, Sister Mary Scullion, this week.

We figured it was an act of divine intervention since we've heard more than one insider say Scullion that is the only person who could whip the scandal-battered Philadelphia Housing Authority back into shape.

So we asked Scullion if anyone had asked her about taking over PHA. And the usually candid lady of the cloth gave us an unusual "no comment." We got the same answer when we asked her if she'd consider doing the job.

Does it mean anything? Guess only the Big Guy upstairs knows what's really going on . . .

Time to sling that mud

The race to replace state Rep. Frank Oliver, retiring after four decades in North Philadelphia's 195th District seat, took a nasty turn this week, when Republican Jim Kernaghan labeled his Democrat

rival, Michelle Brownlee, a "deadbeat and tax cheat."

Kernaghan's camp combed through city Revenue Department accounts and court records that show Brownlee and her husband owed $26,036 in property taxes and water bills on six properties, including their own home.

Brownlee, who retired last year after 37 years on Oliver's staff, said that she and her husband fell behind on their bills in a tough economy but have signed on to payment plans with the city for five of the six properties.

"I'm not worried about it," Brownlee said of Kernaghan's complaints, which have been compiled into a tough campaign pamphlet that is about to make the rounds in the district.

Brownlee added that she and her husband started making payments before she declared her candidacy and that she hopes to sell some of the properties to pay the debt.

Kernaghan called on Brownlee to release city tax records to prove that she properly reported any revenue from renting the properties. Brownlee declined.

"This is just the mind-set of the political class in this city," Kernaghan said yesterday.

Brownlee, who also faces independent Warren "Fuzzy" Bloom in the Nov. 2 general election, took some heat during the Democratic primary campaign, during which opponents noted her 2002 arrest for forgery after she notarized a deed in a real-estate deal that turned out to be a scam. Brownlee cooperated against the guy running the scam, who went to prison.

Brownlee entered the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program and her criminal record was wiped clear after she stayed out of trouble for six months.

A tax by any other name . . .

State Attorney General Tom Corbett, the Republican nominee for governor, is on television touting the pledge he signed to not raise state taxes if he wins the Nov. 2 general election.

So Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato, his Democratic opponent, and the state's AFL-CIO chapter pounced after Corbett said during a debate Monday that workers might have to give up more of their paychecks to pay back $3 billion in unemployment compensation borrowed from the federal government.

"I would look at the payroll tax, increasing the payroll contributions," Corbett said Monday.

Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley later insisted that the paycheck-deduction line for state disability insurance and unemployment compensation, typically listed on paychecks as "SDI/UC tax," is not really a tax at all but a "contribution to a form of coverage from which the payees may draw a benefit."

This is not the first time Corbett has been tripped up by his no-tax pledge. He told a Pittsburgh television reporter in March that the pledge applied to both state taxes and fees but reversed course in August, saying that fee increases were not included.

The Nutter & Street Show

The capable crew at Young Involved Philadelphia has an interesting event - State of Young Philly: Imagining Philly's Future - planned for tonight at WHYY's offices. But what really caught our eye was the first two listed speakers, Mayor Nutter and former Mayor John Street.

Street, you may recall, told PhillyClout last week that Nutter is not seen as a black mayor in the African-American community.

We were really hoping to see those two on stage together. They have a lot to talk about, we feel.

But it is not to be. Nutter will speak first, followed by state Treasurer Rob McCord, followed by Street. We asked John Lisko, McCord's chief of staff and a former campaign aide for Street, how his boss felt about being a buffer in the festering political feud.

Lisko said he was aware of the order of speakers at the event and had already suggested that his boss ditch his suit coat and wear a referee's shirt instead.

Quotable:

"Am I going to have a fabulous relationship with him? Probably not. But I don't hate him."

- State Rep. John Perzel, running for re-election and facing trial on corruption charges filed by state Attorney General Tom Corbett, speculating about being re-elected and then acquitted and then potentially dealing with Corbett if he is elected governor.

Staff writer Catherine Lucey contributed to this report.

Have tips or suggestions? Call Chris Brennan at 215-854-5973 or e-mail

brennac@phillynews.com.

Check out the Clout blog at:

www.phillyclout.com.


Have a news tip? Gossip? Suggestion? Call Chris Brennan at 215-854-5973 or Catherine Lucey at 215-854-4712. Or e-mail phillyclout@phillynews.com.