Ed Rendell: The Oral History

Looking back on the former mayor as his political career in Pennsylvania nears its end.

• John Street
: Ed and David never wore overcoats — they prided themselves on never being cold. One day the wind chill was about 20 or 30 below, and we were getting ready to have our Tuesday meeting. About an hour before they came, I opened up all the windows and ran the temperature down, and it had to be in the teens. I had long underwear on, but they didn’t know that. I could hardly contain myself. But they wouldn’t say anything. And they sat there for two hours, and finally the meeting ended and they left. And somebody told me it was the first time they ever heard David curse. David said, “It’s f-ing cold in there.”


• Bob Brady: He got mad once, threw an ashtray on the table, and it bounced up and hit me in the shoulder. I went around the table screaming at him.

• Sharon Wohlmuth
, Philadelphia photographer. At a party for her book Sisters, Rendell mistakenly thought she wanted to take his picture, grabbed her arm, and ripped her jacket. It was unfortunate, but that was the past. He did more for the city than any mayor in my lifetime. And I know he’s human, and he had a moment. … Oh, did you call Amy Rosenberg?

• Amy Rosenberg, Inquirer reporter who covered City Hall: There was a story where the city was going to lose a lot of federal money for Sister Mary Scullion and Project H.O.M.E. because of some stance that Rendell had taken. I waited for him outside his office. Rendell comes out, and I start asking him about it, and he just turns to me and says, “They’re wrong, they’re wrong.” And then he took his hand and kind of clamped it down on my neck. He clenched it. The city editor sent a letter to Rendell that said it’s never appropriate to grab a reporter by the neck. Rendell sent a letter back that said: “I’m sorry. I realize it’s never appropriate to touch a reporter. However, you know how Amy can get. I was just trying to slow her down.” Which was kind of funny, in a way.

Tom McGrath Tom McGrath, Chief Content and Strategy Officer of MetroCorp tmcgrath@phillymag.com