Everyday People 11/14/2019

Filed under: Featured News |

IS COUNCILMAN Bobby Henon’s position as Philadelphia City Council majority leader imperiled?

BY DENISE CLAY
A whole lot is about to change in Philadelphia City Council.

There are going to be two minority parties instead of one, thanks to Working Families Party candidate Kendra Brooks’s upset win over first-term Republican Al Taubenberger. With two Republicans – Councilmen Brian O’Neill and David Oh managed to find a place to sit at the end of this round of musical chairs – and Brooks, picking a minority leader is probably going to be tough.

Philadelphia is also going to lose the distinction of having one of the nation’s oldest governing bodies now that three millennials – Jamie Gauthier, Katherine Gilmore Richardson and Isaiah Thomas – will be joining the body. Gauthier replaces 3rd District stalwart Jannie Blackwell; Gilmore Richardson replaces her former boss, Blondell Reynolds Brown; and Thomas replaces William Greenlee. Reynolds Brown and Greenlee announced their retirements this year, while Blackwell lost to Gauthier in the May primary.

Thanks to the newcomers, there are going to be some changes. Reynolds Brown and Greenlee were members of Council’s majority leadership and Blackwell chaired several committees, including Education.

But the office that everyone is keeping the biggest eye on right now is majority leader, a position currently held by 6th District Councilman Bobby Henon. Henon was among those incumbent Council members who won re-election last Tuesday, despite having a pretty large federal indictment hanging over his head that will probably have him missing a Council session or two come September.

(That’s when I’m hearing that Henon’s co-defendant, Local 98 Business Manager John Dougherty, is headed to trial. Knowing the Department of Justice the way I do, it’s probably trying to be as efficient as possible about this. They’ll try as many folks as possible at one time to scare the little fish into rolling over on the big ones.)

Four years ago, Councilman Curtis Jones held that job, and I’ve always wondered why he lost it to Henon. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Jones and Council President Darrell Clarke, a person who more than likely is going to keep his job, had a falling out.

Needless to say, Jones is vying to get his old job back because, well, he smells blood in the water. Also vying for that spot, at least according to the Inky, is 9th District Councilwoman Cherelle Parker, who, along with Councilwoman Helen Gym and others, is being tossed around as a mayoral possible in 2023.

But here’s what I don’t get. The person giving out all of this information about the race for majority leader is Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez, another name being tossed around for the top office in City Hall, hasn’t thrown her hat into the ring for this gig. Granted, she can always put herself up for majority whip, which isn’t a bad position to have, or deputy majority whip, but Quiñones-Sánchez has been the loudest voice calling for Henon’s resignation since the indictment came down.

None of this will actually be an issue until January when the new Council is sworn in. But once that happens, it’ll be interesting to see who ultimately becomes majority leader … and whether or not that person will hold the job for four years.

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