The Power Fifty 2009

What This List Is: Our ranking of the most influential Philadelphians. What This List Isn’t: A rehash of the usual suspects

41. Philadelphia Inquirer, institutional
Paper of Record, Philadelphia

Control of the paper seems to be slipping from Brian Tierney to … hedge funds and other creditors, and it’s become a parlor sport to trash the shrinking Inquirer, but it still reminds us why a big-city paper of record is vital. Its relentless digging into Vince Fumo led to his conviction this year, and more recently, the series on the Board of Revision of Taxes is forcing the overhaul of the agency.

42. Jeff Cole, willpower
Investigative reporter, Fox 29
New to list

“Can I ask you a question as we get off your property … ” “What is racist about me asking you about your publicly paid employee and her hours?” No government hack wants a visit from Cole and his camera crew, whose crusading ambush interviews have kept alive the quaint notion that local TV can do investigative journalism. Cole, 51, has saved taxpayers a few bucks exposing questionable time sheets of folks like City Council employee Latrice Bryant, and perk-happy local judges who fly to Hawaii on educational junkets.

43. Jerry Jordan & Pete Matthews, influencers
President, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers; President, AFSCME District Council 33
Both new to list

For more than a decade, organized labor in Philadelphia was dominated by the building trades. But these two leaders — Jerry Jordan (top) helms the teachers, and Herman “Pete” Matthews the blue-collar city workers — now have the clout, the membership and the pressure to exert enormous influence on the city’s day-to-day well-being. And both unions are working under multiple extensions of their contracts. New talks are in the offing: The teachers will square off against school district chief Arlene Ackerman, and the city workers against Nutter. Meanwhile, the city has budgeted nothing for increases in employee wages or benefits, and we hear that teachers are unhappy with Ackerman.

44. Kenny Gamble, willpower
Chairman, Universal Companies
2005: 22 :: 2000: 94

Gamble’s Universal Companies continues to accumulate land, run schools and develop properties, mostly in South Philadelphia, recently opening a playground with philanthropist David Pincus and partnering with Carl Dranoff on the 777 South Broad loft building. The music icon remains one of the city’s legit boldface names and ambassadors, working to bring a rhythm-and-blues museum and hall of fame to Philly.

45. Nick Stuccio, willpower
Producing Director, Live Arts -Festival & Philly Fringe
New to list

No sooner did the 2009 festival come to a close (after 200 artists performed in more than 120 venues and sold 24,276 tickets) than Stuccio was on his way to Dublin, searching for new ideas for next year’s festival. His enthusiasm for orchestrating Philly’s annual multi-day feast of the multi-talented (many from our city) hasn’t dampened after 13 years. And though he acknowledges creativity of the budgeting kind will be required next year, he’ll make it happen, he says, because “Philadelphia deserves it.” So we’ll just say thank you (and buy tickets).