ELEPHANT CORNER: Stabile Comes To Town; Katz And Reform, Then And Now

Filed under: Columns,Latest News |

Last Wednesday, Philadelphia Republicans convened at Paddy Whacks on South Street for their first monthly Happy Hour of 2013. The room was packed with 60-plus elephants.

The herd gave a great reception to the evening’s keynote speaker, Republican candidate for the Pennsylvania Superior Court VIC STABILE. Stabile is with Dilworth Paxson’s Harrisburg office. He ran for this position in 2011 when he earned the endorsement of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, but lost in the general election. To-date, we have not heard of any other Republican interested the position. It is rumored that a Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge may be interested in running on the Democratic side.

Stabile hopes to be endorsed by PAGOP at the winter State Committee meeting in Harrisburg next month. He has obtained the endorsement of some local GOP county party organizations. He was scheduled to meet with the Southeast caucus of State Committee last weekend in King of Prussia, but the meeting was postponed.

Stabile spoke about the importance of electing someone like him who will be a conservative jurist. He believes a judge should interpret laws, not write them. An appellate court like the Superior Court primarily reviews cases to determine if the lower court’s ruling is consistent with the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Monday night, former Republican mayoral candidate and current Chairman of the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority SAM KATZ hosted the preview of the third installment of his documentary series, Promise for a Better City. A packed crowd at the Prince Theater viewed the film. This segment of the series covered the years 1944-1964 and was entitled The Great Experiment. The film focused upon the post-WW II changes to the city, including the beginning of the exodus of manufacturing.   The film also covered the visionary and sometimes controversial urban-renewal projects spearheaded by city planner EDMUND BACON.

Perhaps of greater interest to local Republicans was the segment of the film that discussed the Republicans’ loss of City Hall in 1952 with the election of Democrat JOE CLARK as Mayor. The film looked at Clark and other reformers, including RICHARDSON DILWORTH, who rose up in response to the corrupt Republican-run city. Katz noted this is what happens when a city is run by one party for 60 to 70 years. Prior to Clark, the most-recent Democratic Mayor of Philadelphia had been elected in the 1870s. The irony of that situation is not lost on the herd and to independently minded Democrats.  Today we have a city that has been run for 60 years by Democrats. The city’s finances are a mess. We have yet another scandal at Traffic Court with numerous Democratic judges not only fixing tickets but doing so in an open and brazen manner. I could list other problems with the city but that would be an essay in and of itself.

This film indirectly illustrates the need for current reform which will not come willingly from within the Democratic Party. We need a viable second party which can either bring about reform from by winning seats beyond those designated for the minority party in the City Charter or being strong enough to keep the Democrats on their toes.

We have seen some movement this direction with the rise of new faces in the Party such as CITY COMMISSIONER AL SCHMIDT. However, in order to move forward, the Republicans need to change their image in the Philadelphia area. It is easy to blame our image problems on the national party with its poor messaging on social and other controversial issues. However, we need to change locally. The party has been perceived by many as a bunch of white guys from the Northeast. Unfortunately, there is a lot of truth in that story, but it is not the whole story. We have more diverse faces than people think, but we still need to reach out more.

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