The Brief: The Nutter-Clarke Blood Feud Drags On

City Council has hired its own lobbyist in Harrisburg.

Darrell Clarke

Darrell Clarke

Well, this is awkward: Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke has hired a lobbyist for Council in the state capital. This is on top of the two firms already employed by Mayor Michael Nutter. Oh, and the Philadelphia delegation in Harrisburg.

Clarke explained his rationale to the Inquirer:

After fights with Harrisburg over school funding this past year, Clarke said the city needs more influence there.

There’s “significant amount of activity” in the General Assembly that relates to Philadelphia, Clarke said.

“We anticipate a similar environment, particularly given the uncertainty of the schools,” Clarke said Thursday. He hopes Triad [Council’s lobbying firm] will successfully lobby for a new school funding formula.

Clarke also said the city’s current lobbyists don’t work for Council: “We get no heads up, no information. And at times their position is inconsistent with ours.”

Read: Clarke and Nutter are still at odds.

This raises a few questions: 1) Will it hurt Philadelphia’s clout for the Nutter administration and City Council to have separate voices in Harrisburg? It may very well be an excuse, but rural lawmakers already complain that city officials are not unified. 2) Will fiscal conservatives in Harrisburg see the additional lobbyist as a waste of taxpayer money, which, again, could hurt Philly? 3) Most importantly, what would the candidates for mayor and City Council do to improve the relationship between the two branches? At a time when dysfunction is the norm in government, it’s not enough for a candidate to simply propose policy ideas. We also have to know how they would lead — and in Philly, that starts with ensuring that we won’t have another blood feud starting in 2016.

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