by Robert Fles

The Local recently conducted the following in-depth roundtable discussion with a number of prominent Philadelphia politicians:
•Local: Thank you all for joining us today. Governor Rendell, let’s begin with you.  As you reflect on your eight years as …


You may not have noticed it, but former Gov. Ed Rendell played a little bit of defensive end in the Steelers’ loss in the Super Bowl on Feb. 6. (Apparently, his wife, Marjorie, has had him on the defensive for a few years.) As a long-time politician, Ed has also had many years of experience at passing the buck.

•Marge Tartaglione: Plug your hole, Fast Eddie, or I’ll shut it for you.

•Local: Thank you for intervening, Commissioner Tartaglione. How do you feel about your daughter Renee’s resignation following allegations about her systematic and illegal politicizing of …

•Tartaglione: So you wanna punch in the mouth, too, you scrawny little piece of …


•Michael Nutter: Please, let’s lower our voices and reason together.

•John Street: You white wimp!

•Local: Please, please, can’t we show the civility our president has asked for?

•Street: I will when the white wimp here peels off his fake black skin and …

•Nutter: Oh, I say, John!

•Tartaglione: Punch him in the mouth, Streetie!


•Tartaglione: All right, that’s it, Fast Eddie. C’mon, Streetie, in the name of Frannie Rafferty, let’s you and me take on these two and …

•Local: Please sit down, Marge and John, I insist! Silence, everyone! Do you want me to summon the ghost of Frank Rizzo in his cummerbund and billy club? (pause) That’s better. Now, Sheriff Green, we haven’t heard from you yet. As you leave your office, would you please explain the $53 million that’s unaccounted for over the years?


•John Green: $53 million? Is it that much? Golly! I was never too good at accounting and all. But I do remember the time I borrowed four quarters from the till for a Good Humor bar. It was such a hot July, doncha know? It hit 90 every day for …


•Nutter: Governor, please!  Hold a civil tongue and wipe the spittle off your chin!

•Street: “Spittle”!  What kind of honky word is that!

•Green: Oh, and I remember another time borrowing 50 cents for the meter one day. I think that was when my green Dodge was parked outside my office but wouldn’t start…see, because my name is Green, I always buy green cars. Anyway…where was I?

•Tartaglione: Shut your pie hole, you blathering old fool, or I’ll snap your fingers in half!

•Nutter: This discussion has been a farce. Are we going to achieve any bottom-line take-aways from this parley?

As a thoughtful person, Mayor Nutter likes to kick around ideas from time to time, and when he’s not kicking around ideas, he gets his kicks from this soccer ball. It’s a lot easier to kick in the rear than members of City Council.

•Street: “Bottom-line take-aways”! “Parley”! “Farce”! “Spittle”! You wouldn’t last two seconds in the ‘hood, you paleface nerd! I’d sic Carl Greene on you if I could find him!

•Tartaglione: Grab his junk and twist, Streetie. In the Northeast, that’s called “dialoguing.”

•Nutter: That does it. I’m leaving.


•Local: Geez, Rendell has collapsed on the floor! I think he’s having a stroke! Somebody get help!

•Tartaglione: Step aside, let me kick ‘im hard in the chest a couple times with my hobnailed boot. In the Northeast, that’s what we call “employing the defibrillator.” Oops, guess I got him in the mouth. Hey, Streetie, now there’s frothy spittle on my boot.

•Street: Very funny. Just tell him there’s an Eagles game on in five minutes, and he’ll be all right.

•Green: Then there was the day I loaned Vince Fumo a couple bucks when he stopped in and said he was short, and I told him to go over to the till and help himself and — hey, you don’t suppose that’s connected to the $52,999,993.50 I can’t account for, do you?

•Local: I can’t wait to get out of here.  I’m going to go dig up James Tate so I can conduct a real interview.

•Donna Reed Miller: Sorry I’m late. Didn’t miss anything, did I? You’re all leaving?  Oh, well, I’ve made a whole career out of saying nothing and missing everything.  Wouldn’t want to change anything now. Hey, does anyone know where I pick up my DROP check?

Ed.note: Robert Fles is a retired English teacher and administrator at Chestnut Hill Academy who obviously does not mind having his house reassessed by city workers next week and having his real estate taxes raised by 300 percent.