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Ex-bail commissioner on Council payroll

Philly Clout Team

Updated: Friday, February 12, 2016, 3:01 AM

Lt. Gov. Mike Stack: You’re just waiting for him to ask, “Funny, how? How am I funny?”

BROTHERLY LOVE? OK, fine. But we prefer to call Philadelphia the ... City of Second Chances. (Someone strum a harp, please.)

Take former Bail Commissioner Tim O'Brien, who recently landed a gig with at-large Councilman David Oh.

O'Brien, 53, isn't exactly a household name, but you might recall him as the guy who was arrested in 2013 for allegedly grabbing his girlfriend by the hair and smacking her face into a wall.

The woman, 35, was taken to Temple University Hospital for treatment, cops said at the time, but she later recanted her statement about being assaulted. The District Attorney's Office eventually withdrew the charges against O'Brien.

If you missed that story, maybe you read about when O'Brien was charged with aggravated assault and related offenses in 2014 for allegedly punching the same woman and choking her with a lamp cord. He quietly pleaded guilty to simple assault and reckless endangerment that year. Cops had said he tried to sway arresting officers by telling them about his "connections."

Councilman Oh, who was re-elected to a second term in November, must be one of those connections. He hired O'Brien a few weeks ago to work part time on criminal-justice issues, particularly pertaining to drug arrests, for $20 an hour. O'Brien's listed on the books as a "special assistant."

When we called Oh about O'Brien, the councilman said it sounded like a "typical smear job" by Clout tipsters. Perhaps. That's certainly not above our readership. But he was happy to discuss the controversial hire.

"He has access to certain folks within the court system," Oh said. "He's basically doing it to do some public service."

Oh said he believes O'Brien is still on probation for the 2014 assault case. Working for City Council, he said, is a positive step.

"I think it's good for what I need," Oh said. "I think it's good for him."

O'Brien isn't the only former public official with a checkered past looking to get back in the game.

Joseph Russo, who was fired from the Board of Revision of Taxes in 2009 for allegedly manipulating a property assessment for then-State Sen. Vince Fumo, is looking to fill a vacancy on the BRT.

The Inquirer's Claudia Vargas reported Tuesday that Russo, a political consultant, is backed by some of the judges he helped elect, even though he was canned seven years ago after the Inspector General's Office found that he had "abused the public trust."

"I got a raw deal," Russo told Vargas.

Don't worry, Joe, we feel one of those second chances coming on. Because, remember, whether you have abused your girlfriend or abused the public trust, Philly taxpayers always got your back.

Funny? Funny how?

Yo, what's up with Lt. Gov. Mike Stack?

During Gov. Wolf's budget address Tuesday, Stack was the guy to the right with the purple tie and matching pocket square that just screams gangster chic. Add in that look of whimsical aggression - #stackface? #restingstackface? - and you got the total GoodFellas package.

"Mike Stack always looks like he's going to stab you and then take your watch," texted a local attorney, who sent an unsolicited screen shot of Stack as evidence.

(The attorney asked that we not print her name because ... well, see the above quote.)

Using an iPhone, we compiled our favorite Stack screen shots from the budget address. But if you've found better ones, please send 'em our way.

Stack, a Democratic ward leader and former state senator from Northeast Philly, is officially Wolf's lieutenant, but from here on out, we'll probably just refer to him in Clout as ... "The Consigliere."

BTW, one thing we recommend you never say to Stack: "You're a funny guy."

Just a hunch.

Johnny's got a drone

Warning: John Dougherty's powers now extend into Philadelphia airspace.

Dougherty, the Local 98 Electricians union boss who helped get Mayor Kenney elected and took over last year as head of the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council, has acquired drones.

Don't believe us? Check out the YouTube video "IBEW Local 98 Drone Surveillance Program (DSP)," which features aerial footage of a recent protest - hey look, the inflatable rat! - at 13th and Spruce Streets, set to Rockwell's 1984 hit, "Somebody's Watching Me."

Alarmed by this development, we reached out to Doc for assurance that he would not use his powers for evil. Here are our questions and his responses:

How many drones have you acquired? Local 98 has three, to date. The Building Trades also will be acquiring one soon.

What will they be used for? Filming certain job sites to identify unlicensed workers and, in some instances, undocumented workers. We plan to send that video evidence to the authorities. We also use the drones to film our picket lines and protests to protect ourselves from outrageously disingenuous accusations.

Is it true that you are personally controlling the drones from a bunker below IBEW headquarters? No. The drones are alternately controlled by George Jetson, Harry Potter, Mr. Spock, Luke Skywalker, and Frank Keel. (Editor's note: This is not actually true, Keel later clarified.)

Are they weaponized? They are weaponized with modern technology that can, within minutes, capture and send video evidence to the Department of Labor, the National Labor Relations Board, the Department of Revenue, and Immigration and Naturalization Services.

If so, what kinds of weapons (guns, missiles, lasers, etc.), and are there any immediate targets? As far as immediate targets, that all depends on whether or not we like this column. (Editor's note: Another joke, we think.) No, seriously, the immediate targets are unscrupulous developers who try to game the system, cheat the city out of revenue, and endanger people by taking safety shortcuts on construction sites. The drones are simply our eyes in the sky.

Philly GOP: Donald for prez

The Philadelphia Republican Party conducted a straw poll ahead of the Iowa caucuses, and guess who won handily? Egomaniacal comb-over specialist Donald Trump, who took 37 percent of the vote.

When will this nightmare end? We expected that big-city Republicans might be able to see through Trump's hackneyed demagoguery, but, hey, it's not the first time we've been wrong. Apparently, even the Philly GOP is enamored of The Donald, who dominated this week's New Hampshire primary.

God help us.

- Staff writers William Bender, David Gambacorta, and Barbara Laker contributed to this column.

benderw@phillynews.com / 215-854-5255 @wbender99

Philly Clout Team

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