POLS ON THE STREET: Traffic Court Openings – For Lawyers Only?

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BY JOE SHAHEELI/ Should Traffic Court judges continue to pull from the ranks of non-lawyers, as has been the tradition since District Judges were created, there could be as many as three open seats available for contention in next year’s primary, with possibly a fourth.

But that could change if Chief Justice and Party Wrecker Ron Castille gets his way and successfully makes those seats a “lawyers-only” club.

The vacancies are occurring with the coming retirement of President Judge Thomasine Tynes, Judge Earlene Green, Judge Bernice DeAngelis, and the recent dismissal of Judge Willie Singletary.

It’s time for the Philadelphia caucus in the General Assembly to begin readying legislation ensuring district judges don’t go the lawyers’ route. What makes attorneys with a law degree more correct in decision-making, when both lawyer and nonlawyer have to attend and graduate from the same District College in Chambersburg?



Tim Kearney advised us we were in error when describing ward breakdown in the 172nd House Dist. We had credited Ward Leader John Sabatina’s 56th with having the most divisions in the ward, when, in reality and correctly, it was Bob Dellavella’s 55th Ward with 22 divisions.

Here is the breakdown: 22 divisions in Bob Dellavella’s 55th; 18 divisions in Bernice Hill’s 63rd Ward; 15 divisions in Lorraine Bednarek’s 64th Ward; five divisions in Pat Parkinson’s 57th Ward; three divisions in State Sen. Mike Stack’s 58th Ward; one division in Mike McAleer’s 66th Ward; and one division in John Sabatina, Sr.’s 56th Ward.

Sabatina has been seen running with Dan Collins in the 172nd, and that challenger has the support of labor leaders Wayne Miller and Dan Grace. Sabatina is lobbying hard among the ward leaders and it is believed some are leaning toward Collins.

What State Rep. Kevin Boyle has is the support of his brother Brendan, who has the responsibility of raising money to insure Democrat House members, both challenged and those who will be challenged, become winners. The Boyle Brothers have put together a get-out-the-vote force which will face its first real test.

Collins has picked up the coveted support of another labor force, President John McNesby and FOP Lodge 5, with many active and retired members in that district. McNesby is hosting a fundraiser for Collins at Harrington’s Irish Pub, 7226 Frankford Avenue this evening. Tickets are $30.



The Republican Leadership Council met and elected its officers. Fifth Ward Leader Mike Cibik was reelected Chairman. Seventeenth Ward Leader Jerry Brown and 29th Ward Leader Lewis Harris were elected Vice Chairmen. Fifty-ninth Ward Leader Peter J. Wirs was elected secretary, and Denise Furey, an at-large member, and candidate for Alternate Republican Delegate, was reelected Treasurer. The State’s City Director is Joe DeFelice.



State Rep. Babette Josephs (D-S. Phila.) has received endorsement from Pennsylvania’s Fraternal Order of Police State Lodge, Pennsylvania State Education Association and Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. All three organizations expressed encouragement for Josephs’ policy goals and cited her exemplary voting record on issues important to working Pennsylvanians.

“These are the people who we entrust to protect us, to teach our kids and to keep them safe,” Josephs said. “I am so proud to have the support of the state’s teachers and police, but we should all show our support for them. They have some of the hardest jobs imaginable, and they work every day to serve the public.”

PSEA is the largest education employee organization in the state, representing more than 187,000 educators and support professionals, including school nurses and custodians, in public schools and state higher-education institutions. PFT represents teachers and professional staff in the Philadelphia School District’s 249 schools. FOP represents nearly 40,000 law-enforcement professionals across Pennsylvania.

Josephs also picked up the Philly For Change endorsement.



Sam Durso reports Philly For Change progressives “voted its first endorsements of 2012 in an animated evening of emphatic democracy” at the Pen & Pencil Club.

Endorsed were William Dunbar for the 177th, State Rep. Babette Josephs in the 182nd, J. P. Miranda in the 197th, State Rep. Mark Cohen in the 202nd, Larry Farnese in the 1st Senatorial and Allyson Schwartz in the 13th Congressional.

Also addressing the group were Nate Kleinman, Brian Sims, Matt Goldfine, Numa St. Louis, Andy Toy and Takkeem Morgan.



Mad as he could be over the red paint marking up his campaign headquarters sign, underdog in the 186th Legislative Dist. primary race Damon Roberts seems all fired up. He’s gotten an endorsement from the Black Clergy, Equality PA, former fellow candidate Fawwaz “Jazz” Beyha, Pennsylvania Association of Realtors, and, most importantly, 51st Ward Leader Vivian Miller, with divisions that deliver big in primaries.

He still faces an uphill battle, since Jordan Harris has been endorsed by the majority of ward leaders in the district and has a hefty donation from a pro-choice Voucher PAC. Harris has been busy working to encourage a defection among some of those committeepersons from Miller.



State Sen. Shirley Kitchen has endorsed J.P. Miranda in the 197th, making the four-way race more interesting. Others in the race include Jewel Williams, Kenneth Walker and Jamil Ali. Miranda has spent the last five years building a reputation for himself in community service. He’s been attending most of the debates to which he has been invited. He claims he has the endorsement of several of the other wards in the district.

An interesting note is neither Kenneth Walker nor Jamil Ali have not been seen much in the district, with Ali called a “missing person.”

Ms. Jewel Williams remains the candidate to beat.



Long-time education champion State Rep. Jim Roebuck (D-W. Phila.), minority chair of the House Education Committee, is feeling the brunt of an onslaught of flyers unleashed in his district blaming him inaccurately for the woeful education statistics they list.

The funding for the flyers, which can be traced to voucher proponents, who have been stymied by Roebuck’s ability to hold back voucher legislation.

What makes this most interesting is what is happening is a microcosm of what is beginning to shape up as answering the big question: Can mucho bucks upend careers of politicians with strong records of serving their constituents?

Hoping to benefit is challenger Fatimah Muhammad, a supporter of school-choice legislation.



Seems both chambers of the General Assembly might seem to be serious about reducing membership, especially so if the State Senate moves as rapidly as did the House in passing the reduction bill which would trim off 50 House and 12 Senate members.

The House voted it over to the Senate 140 to 49. Senate leadership is reportedly predisposed to move the bill as well.

Sounds reformist and welcome, since the Pennsylvania Legislature as the second largest in the US. New Hampshire has 424 lawmakers.

Only problem with this reform is it requires an amendment to the state constitution. That means it must pass the General Assembly for two consecutive two-year sessions, requiring passage this term and the next. The voters then get a chance to vote it up or down as a constitutional amendment. Any bets there will be no more than about three hundred “no” votes throughout the Commonwealth?

Passage is expected in the Senate. Reason is most of the senators voting yes won’t be around when this bill would go into effect, after the 2020 census.



The 2011 Legislative Reapportionment Commission is holding a public meeting this afternoon in the Senate Hearing Room One of the North Office Building in Harrisburg to discuss the adoption of a preliminary reapportionment plan … wonder if anyone will be attending?



State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown (D-W. Phila.) is asking the public for donations for her annual prom gown giveaway which will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Apr. 20 and from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Apr. 21 at the Greater Bible Way Temple, 1461 N. 52nd Street.

She hopes to get donations including dresses and prom accessories. If you can donate any of these prom items, contact Brown’s constituent service office at (215) 879-6615.



Working to add some star power to the awareness of the growing epidemic of youth crime on crime, Sheriff Jewell Williams enlisted the support of singer Nicki “Black Barbie” Minaj. He awarded the singer an honorary sheriff deputy badge, which she showed and discussed the need for the hundreds who jammed Center City to get her autograph to report on crime occurrences in the city.



Guess when it comes to blood, Democrat City Committee rules are an excuse to be broken. Sharon Losier, leader of the 61st Ward, who has moved rapidly up the Democrat ranks, is ignoring the tradition ward leaders are to support incumbents, especially when an incumbent is a caucus leader, as is Mark B. Cohen is the chair of the House Human Services Committee and for 20 years was chairman of the Democrat Caucus.

She has other reasons, to be sure, and will be telling them to those attending a fundraiser in behalf of her nephew Numa St. Louis at her home, 6405 N. 7th Street, from 7 to 8 p.m.



The ever-growing Philadelphiadailyrecord.com has added the weekly Philadelphia Public Record’s popular Waffleman column to its page 4 daily. Readers of our print edition can now get conversational tidbits from Joe Sbaraglia Monday through Friday weekly.



What probably gave Rick Santorum the final nudge to his decision to quit the race was the fact his Pennsylvania base had slipped away from him.  We are sorry to see him go, but he did find out Republican delegates, for the most part, were no pledged necessary to who won the state.

SHARING moment before taking to stage at Sheet Metal Workers Hall were Congress Members Allyson Schwartz and Bob Brady, Mayor Michael Nutter and Ward Leader Bob Dellavella. Photo: Harry Leech

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