One of the last acts the City Council did in 2012 was to raise the hospitality promotion tax from 1.2% to 1.5%. The new law would take effect Jul. 1. The proceeds from the tax increase will be used for advertising to promote tourism.
This elephant believes this tax increase is less offensive than many of the others we have seen, as the tax collectors. In this case, the hotels actually see some direct benefit. This is probably the reason some but not all tourism service providers were not opposed to the increase. However, I do question the fairness of the tax, as it is tied to lodging but the promotions benefit others in the hospitality sector also.
The billâ€™s sponsor COUNCILWOMAN BLONDELL REYNOLDS BROWN said every dollar spent on promotion creates $100 in visitor spending and $5 in city tax revenue. If this this the case, then perhaps the City should be using some of the tremendous tax revenues this industry is already creating rather than going to the trough again. Some will say this tax increase, which on average is expected to be roughly 50 cents per night, is peanuts. But incremental increases to taxes over time have contributed to the Cityâ€™s overall onerous tax structure.
As we move into 2013, the Republican Party must start to retool and rebuild on both the national and local levels. This spring, the party will have the opportunity to put forth candidates for local municipal positions, including District Attorney, City Controller and a number of Philadelphia judicial positions as well as at least one statewide position for Superior Court.
No one has stepped up to date to run for District Attorney against incumbent Democrat SETH WILLIAMS. However, there is a Facebook page that has been set up to â€œDraft LINDA KERNSâ€. Retail executive TERRY TRACY is interested in running for City Controller. The fact we are so late in the game to produce candidates for these positions is not good. We should have been grooming people (and raising money) for candidates for these positions over the past two years.
We look to see three open positions on Traffic Court. We would hope, given the recent investigation into ticket-fixing by Democratic Traffic Court judges, that the people of Philadelphia might give the Republican candidates a more-serious look; but we are doubtful. As in the other city judicial races, a Republicanâ€™s best change to get elected is to cross-file in the Democratic primary and to luck into a superior position in the ballet lottery. The Republicans rumored to be interested in Traffic Court are WARD LEADER LEWIS HARRIS, Executive Director of the New Majority Council ELLA BUTCHER, WARD LEADER CHRIS VOGLER, GARY GRISAFI and party activist JIM DiVERGILIS.
Attorney ANN MARIE COYLE and JUDGE KENNETH POWELL will both be running for positions on the Court of Common Pleas. Powell is currently on the Court of Common Pleas. He has been appointed to fill out unexpired terms of judges who resigned by both Democratic and Republican Governors and is rumored to have been praised by his fellow judges, including the President of the Court of Common Pleas. Yet he has run for judge but could not get elected. Is this because the voter knows something Powellâ€™s fellow judges do not? Or is it that the typical voter knows nothing about the individual judicial candidates and votes for the top names on the ballet of their party?
What is particularly comical about this process is judges are prohibited from being involved in politics while on the bench, making his or her political affiliation almost irrelevant. Perhaps we should move to a process akin to that for federal judges, where the executive branch nominates a judge and a legislative body approves them with input from the legal community. Currently there are three federal judicial positions open in Pennsylvania and one of the three nominees recommended by the Obama Administration is a Republican.
Last Saturday there was memorial service for LINDA WOLFE BATEMAN at St Vincentâ€™s Roman Catholic Church in Germantown. Linda passed away shortly before Christmas from complications from her longstanding fight against cancer. She is survived by five children, MARIA, MICHAEL, MATTHEW, MAURICE and MARGARET and her sister LORAINE. Bateman was the Republican leader of the 12th Ward and a veteran political activist. Her loyal friends were there to pay their respects including FRED HESS, SUSAN SEGAL, AARON FIRESTONE, DENISE FUREY and CAROL MACK. Fellow WARD LEADERS MATT WOLFE, FRANK HENDRIE and JOE DeFELICE also paid their respects.
Bateman ran for Philadelphia Register of Wills in 2011 and for Pennsylvania State Representative 194th Dist. in 2012.