[Illustration by ALEX FINE]
INQUIRER: A week after losing his state Senate race, labor leader John J. Dougherty announced plans to step down tomorrow as chairman of the city Redevelopment Authority. His term was not slated to end until early next year. “I am resigning at this point in time because I believe I have accomplished all the goals I set for myself and have served the authority with distinction for eight productive years,” Dougherty, business manager of electricians union Local 98, wrote to Mayor Nutter in a letter he hand-delivered to City Hall early yesterday.
In later interviews, Dougherty and Nutter disclosed some of the details of a conversation they had in January in which Dougherty acknowledged Nutter’s desire to install his own agency chairman. Both men said Nutter did not directly request Dougherty’s resignation. Dougherty was appointed to the chairmanship shortly after Mayor John F. Street took office in 2000. It was a reward for the loyalty the union leader had shown during Street’s campaign.
One of Philadelphia’s political power brokers for the past decade, Dougherty has suffered a number of setbacks during the last several years. In addition to losing last week’s Senate race to lawyer Larry Farnese, Dougherty was forced out two years ago as treasurer of the city Democratic Party. And in last year’s mayoral primary, he gambled the considerable muscle – and money – of his union to back the unsuccessful candidacy of Tom Knox. “Anyone who believes that somehow the sun has set on Doc’s ability as a major player in Philadelphia” is plain wrong, said longtime political observer Kevin Feeley. “He is just as active and influential as ever.”
For one thing, Local 98’s dues-paying members provide the union’s political action committee with a seemingly endless source of funds to contribute to political candidates and causes. “Johnny is an asset, he’s a plus,” said Democratic Party secretary Carol Ann Campbell, who backed Dougherty in his Senate election bid. “And whether he sees it or not, Michael [Nutter] needs him. . . .They ain’t seen the end of Johnny Doc. He’s a force to be reckoned with and they better realize that.” MORE
UPDATE: Vince Fumo STILL Indicted