POLS ON THE STREET: Candidates Should Attend Commissioners’ Classes

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SHERIFF Jewell Williams and Attorney Mitchell Kaplan check out toys raised at Zarwin Baum law firm reception for children in local hospitals.

BY JOE SHAHEELI/ Two major minefields can derail the plans of well-intentioned candidates to run for elective office the May 17 primary and in the general election in November. They are the Pennsylvania Election Code and the city’s Campaign Finance Law.

The Board of Ethics and the City Commissioners’ Office will be helping candidates navigate through the campaign requirements demanded of them by offering them an opportunity to attend one of three classes. The classes will be held at the Board of Ethics offices on the 18th floor of 1515 Arch Street. Dates and times are: Tuesday, Jan. 29, 5 p.m.; Thursday, Feb. 14, 1 p.m.; and Tuesday, Mar. 5, 5 p.m.

Only requirement is to register. One can do so by sending name, telephone, email and postal address to hortencia.vasquez@phila.gov or via fax to (215) 686-9453. For questions, call (216) 686-9450.


It is obvious State Rep. Dwight Evans (D-N. Phila.), former Appropriations Chairman, was a master at bringing home the bacon for not only his district, but for nonprofits and others across the city.

The action by Gov. Tom Corbett to freeze millions of dollars in funds granted Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corp., much of it garnered through Evans’ efforts, has resulted in that group’s filing a lawsuit accusing the Governor of acting unfairly, causing the cancellation of funds for projects now underway, and rescinding contracts.

Yet without Evans pushing for his district nonprofits, Ogontz would not be what it has become, a Mecca for businesses.

What is worrying others not directly connected to his district is their need to protect funding received through Evans’s labors. A leader among these is the Urban Affairs Coalition.


Why don’t government agencies understand how the world of economics truly operates? If the price is right, business is good. But here we go again!

Truck traffic on the western end of the Pennsylvania Turnpike declined sharply since officials began increasing tolls annually four years ago. Some worry the latest increases which have kicked in will drive more trucks onto local roads as truckers seek to avoid higher tolls.

Tolls will have jumped 35% for E-Z Pass customers and 71% for cash customers since 2009.

POSITIVE comment continues to roll in supporting Joe Stivala’s proposal Sister James Anne Feerick become a Traffic Court candidate. Columnist Stivala believes Sister Ann would have the crucial ladies’ vote. She’s seen here with Tom O’Mally and Bridie McCafferty families during reception in her honor at CBS-TV. Photo by Joe Stivala


A Super PAC has flooded the homes of Philadelphia supervoters (those voting primary and general elections without fail) with the message: “Tell your Member of Congress to stand with the President and the middle class, not millionaires and billionaires.” It urged recipients to call the congressional House number to be connected to their Member of Congress.

We wonder what the cost is to the sponsor – Priorities USA. Another question: Why wasn’t television used this time around?

And still another: Will this to continue to fuel a rumor somehow, someway, the President’s team may be trying to come up with a way he can run for a third term without need for a constitutional amendment?

His campaign team is still keeping alive its $3 lottery. For every three bucks you donate, you get a chance to win a dinner, lunch, etc. with the president or some other Washington personality.


Gov. Tom Corbett’s Innovation Office reports it helped secure $84 million in savings in 2012 through various operational efficiencies. One such triumph: Changing default settings on Dept. of Public Welfare printers, saving a cool $1.1 million in paper and toner costs.

Settings were changed on 2,300 printers to print double-sided pages, and 200 to print in black and white.

The overall savings came from 15 different initiatives across several agencies, said Office of Administration spokesman Dan Egan. Another 10 completed initiatives resulted in indirect savings, like cost avoidance.

Maybe City Controller Alan Butkovitz and Mayor Michael Nutter might do the same for City copiers and the School District for its many copiers.


For those employees worried about an effort to privatize their successful Lottery, rest easy! A Senate committee hearing scheduled for later this month could provide the first opportunity for an in-depth public review of the Corbett administration’s plan to privatize management of the Pennsylvania Lottery.

The Finance Committee plans to meet Jan. 14 to “fully vet the impact of privatizing this massive enterprise.”

In the meantime, Camelot, which runs Britain’s national lottery, sticks by its commitment as the sole bidder it can increase the $3.5 million, now the high mark, achieved by the Lottery.

The labor group representing AFSCME Council 13, which has 230 members working for the Lottery, has a counter-plan to the lucrative proposal from an outside firm seeking to oversee Pennsylvania’s scratch tickets and jackpot games.


US Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) is moving up in the world! The freshman Republican will join the powerful Finance Committee, the first stop for tax-reform legislation and other big-impact legislation. It’s the equivalent of the House Ways & Means Committee and is responsible for writing tax law. That would include any major tax-reform effort, something both sides of the aisle expect in the coming session.

“With our skyrocketing deficits and stagnant economy, I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to enact pro-growth reforms of our inefficient and overly complex tax code and modernize our entitlement programs to make them sustainable for the long-term,” he stated.

Toomey is the former head of the influential Club for Growth, a former member of the “super committee”, and the chair of the Senate Steering Committee (the Senate policy caucus for conservative Republicans).

WENDELL YOUNG III, legendary leader of United Food & Commerical Workers Local 1776, died last week. For decades he had been a powerhouse for progressive political causes.


Congressman Bob Brady (D-Phila.) has urged the powers at the Philadelphia International Airport look to benefit its Southwest community neighbors with jobs and to give fair wages for those it now employees as it begins its major expansion. He did so in an article published in the daily print  media.


Retired State Rep. Harold James will continue to support a program he launched years ago called NEEED. It stands for Networking For Equal Education & Economic Development.

NEEED has aided hundreds over its existence. James hosted the group’s 20th annual Student Scholarship Recognition reception Saturday, honoring previous scholarship recipients Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, Tyrone Sturdivant, Alana Lee and India Thomas.


Discount the report in one of our columns PNC’s Bill Mills is interested in running for Mayor.

“It’s just the opposite,” a close supporter responded to the wave of interest generated by the column. “Bill is a banker and loves what he does.”


State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown (D-W. Phila.) was recently joined by colleagues from both legislative chambers and over 300 guests at a reception and ceremony to mark the beginning of Pennsylvania’s 197th legislative session and to take an oath as the 13th chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus.

“Being elected chairwoman of the PLBC is quite an honor,” Brown said. “My record shows my commitment to issues pertaining to people of color, and I will use my position with the Black Caucus as another tool to advocate on their behalf.”

“I am excited about this particular group of members because I believe this may be the most diverse group yet,” she continued. “Latinos, Asians and African Americans are all represented in this session’s PLBC.

“It is a commitment between all of us across this commonwealth to work together. From Allegheny to Erie and Lackawanna Co., all over Pennsylvania we stand together because we are one. God bless you all,” Brown concluded.

The 2013-14 PLBC includes: Brown, chairwoman; Sen. LeAnna Washington, vice chairwoman; Rep. Stephen Kinsey, secretary; Rep. J.P. Miranda, treasurer; Sen. Shirley Kitchen; Sen. Vincent Hughes; Sen. Anthony H. Williams; Rep. Ronald G. Waters; Rep. James Roebuck Jr.; Rep. Louise Williams Bishop; Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland; Rep. Michelle Brownlee; Rep. Curtis Thomas; Rep. Margo Davidson; Rep. Dwight Evans; Rep. Cherelle Parker; Rep. Rosita Youngblood; Rep. Jake Wheatley; Rep. Patty Kim; Rep. Jordan Harris; Rep. James Clay, Jr.; and Rep. Ed Gainey.


We supported a candidate in an Atlantic City race one time and were constantly chased from the polls, though we argued by Philly rules, we could campaign 10 feet away from the polling place. But when told we needed to get no closer than 100 feet and shown the yellow marker where we could campaign for our candidate, we had to say, “Forget it.”

We kept breaking the rule, until a state trooper showed up. With that, we called it quits, since we could not be effective in reaching voters going into the polling place.

Now that is one of the proposals which will be among several offered up to City Council for approval in the not-too-distant future.


Philadelphia Young Democrats has signed off because an organizer couldn’t be found from among the 1,777 groups it has tapped into, in and near Philadelphia. Set up to help President Barack Obama win reelection, the main purpose has been achieved. So the glory is gone!


Scarce and far between have been the appointments and nominations of Philadelphians to various state commissions, boards and authorities by Gov. Tom Corbett. He’s named two this time around. They are Carol Dubie to the Electronic Recording Commission and Timothy McShea to the Fire Safety Advisory Committee.

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