Despite six-figure salary, city council is still a part-time job for some

(From left to right) Council Majority Leader Bobby Henon, Council Minority Leader Brian O'Neill and Councilman David Oh have all reported earnings outside their $130K+ salary.

Want to irritate members of Philadelphia City Council? Mention their current 12-week summer recess. They tend to quickly push back, claiming Council is a full-time job.

But as the news swirling around Council Majority Leader Bobby Henon made clear Friday, some Council members still find time for a second job to supplement their six-figure city salaries.

FBI and IRS agents on Friday raided Henon's City Hall and district offices as part of a larger sweep for documents from Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and union boss John Dougherty.

Henon, the union's former political director, is paid $138,890 a year as Council's majority leader. The union, in a federal report filed March 30, said it paid Henon $71,711 in 2015, while he was in the final year of his first term.

City Council's employee handbook offers this advice about outside employment: "Employees should consider the impact that outside employment may have on their ability to perform their duties. Outside employment that constitutes a conflict of interest is prohibited."

Council members can seek opinions from the city solicitor or Philadelphia Board of Ethics about potential conflicts.

David Thornburgh, president of the Committee of Seventy, a good-government watchdog group, said he'd like to see more scrutiny for outside work by Council members.

"We seem to be on the honor system with Council members, which is if they think some piece of legislation they are considering poses a conflict of interest they recuse themselves," he said. "That feels a little loosey-goosey."

The base pay for Council members is $129,632 as of July 1.

Thornburgh said outside work can pose a perception problem for the people Council serves.

"It's supposed to be a full-time job," he said. "At least by the standards of what people in Philadelphia make, it's a pretty good salary."

Four of Council's 17 members in 2015 - two Democrats and two Republicans - reported outside jobs on financial disclosure forms filed in May.

Besides Henon, Mayor Kenney reported his longtime association with Vitetta, an architectural firm, and a seat on the board of Independence Blue Cross.

Kenney, who resigned from Council in late January 2015 to run for mayor, took some heat during the Democratic primary election from another candidate, State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, for those side jobs. He countered that the city solicitor cleared the board position and that Vitetta's only city contracts were won before he took a job with the firm.

Kenney resigned from both positions when he won the race for mayor.

Councilman Brian O'Neill, who is paid $136,243 a year as the minority leader, and Councilman David Oh, paid $132,275 a year as minority whip, both reported earning income from jobs at law firms in 2015.

Randall Miller, a professor and political scientist at St. Joseph's University, said Philadelphia voters would see Council salaries as "serious money." A second job, he added, "would raise some eyebrows."

Miller said such jobs would prompt questions about conflicts and "implied, if not explicit" deals between employers and Council members.

"That's basically how we run the shop," Miller said of City Hall. "Even if there's nothing going on, it points to a problem."

brennac@phillynews.com

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@ByChrisBrennan