When Federal authorities announced criminal charges against Councilman Bobby Henon, labor leader John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty and six others two weeks ago, former City Councilman Rick Mariano of the 7th District knows just how they might have felt.
Mariano said that when he was indicted, his life was constantly consumed by it. “Nobody will talk to you anymore, and if they do they have an angle,” he said.
Today, Mariano is a religious man with a good-natured personality. On Saturday, he sat down with the Juniata News to discuss his feelings about the recent indictments in and around the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98.
“I personally, I got feelings about Doc. He betrayed me, but honestly, I don’t hold any animosity towards any of them,” said Mariano. “I don’t want to see anybody go through this.”
Mariano, an electrician by trade, said he thought that he and Dougherty were close, but found out that wasn’t the case. “I didn’t get a job when I came home from prison,” he said. “I should’ve.”
Now that Councilman Bobby Henon is in a similar position as Mariano faced in 2005, Mariano has some advice for him. “Take care of your family. Nothing else matters.”
Mariano said that Henon should at least resign from his leadership position, and only hang on to Council if he has to do it. But Mariano warned “It’s gonna be a circus.” He added that Henon should really just leave Council, because “they’re going to push him out anyway.”
Mariano became a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98 in 1980. He began his political career working for City Councilman Dan McElhatton and then ran against, and beat, McElhatton in 1995. In 2005 he was arrested on bribery charges. Federal authorities said that he exchanged political favors to people who paid off his credit cards. He called what he did “stupid”. He served 5 years in federal prison.
Many others don’t learn from these lessons of the past. “What they’re doing is strange stuff,” Mariano said of the IBEW. “It’s sad. Everyone should be concerned. And they’re not doing nothing. What I would like to see is someone from the Inquirer or the Daily News sit down to see how much everybody gave to Local 98.”
Mariano gave credit to current 7th District City Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez. “They don’t really like her,” he said, “because one thing about Maria, she don’t let them control her.”
A native of Juniata Park, Mariano has given the appearance of a ‘regular guy’ most of his life.. Sitting in his apartment just outside of Juniata for the interview, Mariano wore a ‘You’re Killing Me Smalls’ t-shirt, a repeated line from the popular 1993 movie “The Sandlot”. Rising to the heights of City Council brings with it lots of people who want things from you, and want to do things for you. It also comes with lots of friends and enemies. Sometimes you can’t tell who is who.
Life’s much different now for Mariano, but he takes it in stride. “I was in prison for five years.” Now he says that he doesn’t have any money.
“You find out that you don’t really need all that stuff,” he said. “And you know what, I’m a Christian, I’m a Catholic. I try to go to Mass everyday. I’m not perfect. It’s a learning experience. But I know it doesn’t pay-off to be angry. Your human nature wants you to be angry.”
He referenced the Bible, saying “Be in the world, but not of the world”. It’s probably a good phrase for all Philadelphia political figures to live by.