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With a lame duck mayor and alleged government corruption brought to the fore after a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into the city, Philadelphia is facing many problems.

"This is a huge distraction," political analyst Larry Ceisler said when discussing the time and effort key members of Street's administration must expend for testimony related to the case.

Terry Madonna, a political analyst and professor at Franklin & Marshall College, agreed.

"One of the problems that he's facing is that the loss of confidence will make it very difficult for him to push the city ahead, and he's got another three years to serve," Madonna said.

The analysts, however, disagree on the effects of this distraction.

The FBI probe investigation was revealed in October 2003 when Philadelphia Police found a surveillance bug in Street's office.

Since then, allegations of "pay-for-play" political activities -- in which City Hall cultivated business relationships with major political contributors -- have emerged.

A string of grand jury testimony amid trials has progressed, and new trials will begin in the near future as two executives from Commerce Bank are put on trial in connection with an alleged pay-for-play scheme.

Most recently, City Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson said that Street's aide George Burrell had ordered the initial sweep that discovered the bug -- shattering the story that it was completed during a routine sweep.

"I think [Street is] constrained by his political situation," Ceisler said. "He is a lame duck and the city doesn't have a lot of resources."

Ceisler noted that Street "expedited his lame duck status" by leaking his support for Pennsylvania Congressman Chaka Fattah as his successor -- paving the way for many other candidates to suggest their intentions to run, despite Street's three remaining years in office.

Madonna, however, said that Street's declaration of support for Fattah was a result of probe-related scrutiny.

"I think the natural inclination in a situation like this is for people to begin to look for a successor," Madonna said. "We've got a huge election in the state next year with the governor and U.S. Senate, and there's more interest in Philadelphia over who the next mayor is."

"Everything that's going on in the city is geared towards the next election," making it difficult for the city government to operate, he added.

Madonna and Ceisler also disagreed about the possibility for future change.

"My first reaction is there's nothing new here," Madonna said. "This is deeply embedded in the culture of the city."

"I don't get any sense that there's a strong independent reform movement the way we saw in the city in the late '40s and early '50s," he added. "That was the last wave of reform. I don't see any crusading zeal in the city."

Ceisler sees potential for change.

"I think you will see some change in the way things are done," Ceisler said. "People associated with this administration and supporters of this administration ... were apparently just sloppy in the way they did things."

They demonstrated that "there is a proper way to exert influence, and there is an improper way," Ceisler said.

FBI probe key dates Sept. 18, 2003: Federal authorities are authorized to bug Mayor Street's City Hall office. The bug is discovered several weeks later. Nov. 4, 2004: Top lawyer and Street fundraiser Ronald White dies before he can defend himself against charges of conspiracy, extortion and other offenses.

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