City Council is usually a good venue for watching political theater, but rarely does the entertainment come with a soundtrack.
Twice last week, the usual drudgery of budget testimony was punctuated by musical accompaniment.
On Tuesday, District Court Administrator David D. Wasson capped his presentation with a slide show touting the "return on investment" in the city's courts.
As photos ran across a projector screen, the sentimental strains of Josh Groban's "You Raise Me Up" - performed by 4TROOPS, a musical group of former soldiers - filled the chamber. A lyrical sample:
You raise me up so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up . . . to more than I can be.
A highly scientific poll of the "Heard in the Hall" crew determined that no one had ever added music to a budget presentation before.
Then, a day later, it happened again - and this time the music was live.
During public testimony Wednesday, a man named Glen Waldeck stood to address Council with his trusty six-string strapped on his back, ready to deliver his environmentalist message and profess his love for Tinicum Township in the style of Arlo Guthrie.
(Waldeck's "testimony" was related to opposition to Philadelphia International Airport's plans to expand into Tinicum, covering wetlands and removing 72 homes.)
After a brief discussion about whether he'd be allowed to stand or sit, Waldeck launched into a rousing rendition of his folk ballad. Of his town, he sang, "There's a small piece of heaven, blessed from above / Just outside the City of Brotherly Love."
- Troy Graham
Since its first meeting in 2006, the Philadelphia Board of Ethics had turned to Common Pleas Court Judge Ida Chen to swear in members, recognizing her role chairing a Street administration panel that recommended creation of the independent ethics agency.
The tradition was broken last week when a different judge showed up to administer oaths of office to the board's newest members, retired Superior Court Judge Phyllis W. Beck and lawyer Michael H. Reed, a former president of the state bar association. The honor went to Common Pleas Court Judge Alice Beck Dubow, Beck's daughter.
It was a testament to the strength of the mother-daughter relationship, Ethics Board Chairman Richard Glazer said.
The board has been pleading with the Nutter administration and Council for a $130,000 increase to pay for a new lobbyist-regulation program. So far, no money, but the board is now a little closer to the checkbook.
Dubow's husband, Rob, is Mayor Nutter's finance director.