Philly Clout: Kenney's wife hired, fired?

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File photo: Mayor Kenney.

MAYOR KENNEY doesn't publicly discuss his relationship with his wife, Maureen. He has only said, curtly, that they have been separated for years. Period, end of story. Which is fine with us.

No first lady, no problem.

But last week the mayor's wife was suddenly the subject of much talk - and a lot of angst and conspiracy theories - among court employees at City Hall.

The gossip centered on why exactly she had been hired to work as an executive secretary in the Office of Judicial Records within the First Judicial District.

Was she a spy posing as a secretary? Are we being investigated? Was she part of some new mayoral oversight?

And so forth.

"I heard that someone complained about getting bad customer service in Room 296," said one employee, referring to the office that handles over-the-counter civil court filings.

"Well," another said, "I'll just kill her with kindness."

"As long as she doesn't spend her whole f------ day on Netflix," a third employee scoffed, "I don't care what she does here."

Maureen Kenney started the $42,000-a-year job on Monday and was being introduced around by court bosses. Then ... poof. Three days later, she was outta there.

"Yeah, she's no longer working there," Mayor Kenney said Thursday after a morning news conference at the National Constitution Center.

"It just didn't look right," he added. "She applied for a position based on an opening that she was told from, I think, either a relative or people who work in the court. She applied. When it was clear that she was going to be hired, we just didn't think it looked good, and she's going to look for work someplace else."

Tough love, tough town.

Marty O'Rourke, spokesman for the First Judicial District in Philly, said questions about her employment are now "moot" because she "decided to step down" during the "probationary training period."

While we're here . . .

Speaking of spousal hires, Kenney recently hired Caitlyn Boyle to a newly created position of program coordinator for the Community Schools program. Boyle, 29, a former charter-school teacher, will be paid $65,000 to help community schools director Susan Gobreski develop an implementation plan. That's the $40 million plan to be paid for by Kenney's proposed sugary-drinks tax. (Yes, the city is hiring people to run a program that has yet to actually receive its controversial funds.)

But back to Boyle. She is the wife of State Rep. Kevin Boyle, who endorsed Kenney in the heated 2015 primary in which every endorsement seemed to count. Kenney, in turn, backed Boyle this year in the Fifth Senatorial District primary against John Sabatina Jr. (Sabatina narrowly won that race, which may or may not have included paid actors, but definitely featured at least one polling-place rendition of Extreme's "More Than Words.")

So, we asked, was Caitlyn hired as a result of her husband's influence?

"No," said Deana Gamble, a city spokeswoman. "As her bio shows, she has extensive experience working in education, and she's a graduate of one of the top colleges in the country."

That would be the University of Pennsylvania, also the alma mater of Michael Donatucci, son of legendary Register of Wills Ron Donatucci. Mike Donatucci, 30, recently was hired as the city pension board's chief investment officer.

Fine school, indeed.

Are we chopped liver?

It's no secret: Clout loves a party. We'll even turn the other cheek when we receive an invitation to come "celebrate the dawn of honest political reporting" here in our hometown.

City & State, a New York-based media company that focuses on politics, sent those invitations last week and again on Monday for a kickoff party next Wednesday.

The company just expanded to Philadelphia and purchased the Philadelphia Public Record, which Jimmy Tayoun had published for 15 years. Think of the Public Record as the Democratic City Committee's newsletter.

Tayoun, a former city councilman and state legislator who served time in federal prison on public corruption charges, didn't seem to think the "honest political reporting" line was a shot at his newspaper.

Tayoun started sharing his opinion over the phone on the honesty of a certain local newspaper before City & State publisher David Alpher cut him off and got on the line.

Alpher said the invitation had been updated to say the party would "help us celebrate a new era of political reporting."

"That was a copy-editing error," Alpher said of the first invitation's wording. "We are sensitive to that line."

Cup o' woe

Sounds like City Council President Darrell Clarke might not be on board with the Committee of Seventy's plan to abolish the City Commissioners Office. But we know who definitely opposes it: the Horn & Hardart coffee can from which candidates draw bingo balls to determine their ballot position in Philadelphia elections.

Yes, the Coffee Can of Justice is not only a sentient being, it has a social-media presence - @mrhornhardart on Twitter and "Mr. Horn N Hardart" on Facebook, where it describes itself as a "government official" who is "very well rounded."

But last week, Mr. Hardart had a Bruce Castor-level meltdown when the Committee of Seventy joined with the Philadelphia 3.0 PAC and other organizations to call for replacing the three elected commissioners - one of whom has a questionable attendance and voting record - with an appointed election director and Board of Elections.

"Conjob 70, good-government group outmoded, useless, and angry like a petulant child," Mr. Hardart steamed on Facebook. "Does 70 hate the voters of Philadelphia? Does 70 think the voters are too stupid for their own good? Are the rich and powerful at 70 angry? Is 70 soiling the sheets of their nonpartisan behavior? Is 70 using Political Committees to push their political agenda? Is 70 just pissed that we the people hold the power to elect who we want to represent us?"

The backlash continued on Twitter, with @mrhornhardart resorting to all-caps tweets to lash out at the good-government group, and noting the six-figure salaries of appointed elections officials in New York.

"Has comm of 70 gone over to the dark side of politics?" @mrhornhardart asked.

Sounds like Mr. Hardart might be getting high on his own supply. No more coffee after 8 p.m., OK?

Seeking comment, we sent messages to the can's Twitter and Facebook accounts, but it didn't respond.

It can't. It's a coffee can. It has no hands!

- Staff writers Wendy Ruderman, Claudia Vargas, Chris Brennan and William Bender contributed to this column.

benderw@phillynews.com

215-854-5255 @wbender99