BY JOE SHAHEELI/ The State Election Board sent out a memo faulting the City Commissioners on their handling of provisional ballots, but failed to say it had been invited over the past three months to see the supplemental sheets that contributed to the problem. It had found that of 5,203 provisional ballots cast in Philadelphia in the presidential election, only 641 voters were qualified to vote provisionally.
City Commission Co-Chair Al Schmidt said, â€œWe have been inviting the Dept. of State to come to Philadelphia to look at the election materials with their own eyes. For one reason or another, they have declined to do so. Their memo told us what we already know â€“ the names should have appeared in the supplemental sheets â€“ but we needed their help to figure out how they arrived at eligible voters in their Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors.
â€œWhat they said was in their system were names that did not appear on our sheets. We challenge them to do their duty properly. They were invited to come out of Harrisburg, see our system and then make all the findings they want.â€
Shannon E. Royer, Deputy Secretary for External Affairs & Elections, in a report to Secretary of State Carol Aichele, said his staff found 78 were not found in the voter file and were not registered to vote. He added that 157 were in the regular poll books used by election workers. Deputy Secretary David Burgess, who conducted the investigation, said, â€œWe were able to link 4,327 of these votes to the supplemental poll books created by the City.â€
The Stateâ€™s conclusion was, â€œHad the correct supplemental provisional-ballot date range and the poll workers used both the regular poll books and supplemental books correctly, out of the 5,203 provisional ballot names we checked, they would have only had 155 provisional ballots cast.â€
Philadelphia Commissioner Stephanie Singer objects to the idea that human error in her office caused the problems on Election Day. She maintains the problem with the supplemental books goes back to Harrisburg and the Dept. of State. â€œThe program that creates those sheets, which is the responsibility of the Dept. of State, did not function as it is supposed to,â€ said Singer.
Commission Co-Chair Anthony Clark added, â€œWhy the State Dept. continues to hold up its statements as gospel fact is beyond me. They have refused our invitation to inspect our records for themselves, yet are quick to justify their errors at our expense.â€
Philadelphia Co. did not finish processing all of its voter registrations until Nov. 1. Singer says the latest registrations to be processed were the ones that didnâ€™t show up. There were also about 500 young people who turned 18 just in time to vote but were not added to the rolls.
Singer says that error did happen in Philadelphia and the office knows what to do next time around.
JUDGE WATERS EYES SUPERIOR COURT
Municipal Court Judge Joe Waters continues to gain local and statewide support for his efforts to win the Democratic nomination for Superior Court. He has the qualifications.
The former police captain is presently the only candidate surfacing for the statewide post. His nomination would increase the Philadelphia Democratic turnout in the primary. There could be some challenge from the western part of the state, but Waters could easily take the nomination, provided no other city judge enters the race on the Democratic primary ballot.
Announced Republicans in the race are Dauphin Co. attorney Vic Stabile and Washington Co. DA Steve Toprani.
A G.O.P. COMMITTEE LOVES CASTILLE
The 59th Republican Ward Executive Committee voted unanimously at its January monthly meeting to endorse Chief Justice Ron Castilleâ€™s retention election.
As the first GOP committee in the state to make such endorsement, according to 59th Ward Leader Peter J. Wirs of upper Germantown, it wanted â€œto assure full party support behind the Chief Justiceâ€™s retention, notwithstanding the Chief Justice would be required to step down Dec. 31, 2014 if the State Constitutional prohibition on judgesâ€™ mandatory 70-year retirement is not overturned in pending Federal court litigation.â€
GENE WON’T SEEK GUV’S SEAT
Auditor General Eugene DePasquale wonâ€™t seek the Democratic nod for Governor in 2014. Heâ€™s made it official:
â€œDuring my campaign for Auditor General, I pledged to be an independent fiscal watchdog who wouldnâ€™t allow politics to overshadow or compromise the integrity of the important work that will be required of my office over the next few years. I am declaring I will not be a candidate for Governor in 2014. The people of Pennsylvania elected me to be a tough, fair and independent watchdog. Thatâ€™s what I intend to do from day one.â€
FOR THE RECORD, DR. LAWS IS CERTIFIED
In our issue last week, we mentioned only one of the announced candidates for Traffic Court was state-certified for the job of Traffic Court Judge. We are in error.
Dr. Donna Laws received her certification for that position and â€œis qualified to perform the duties of a Traffic Court Judge.â€
She is a repeat contender and believes she is picking up support around the city. Carrying a PhD in human services and public policy, she is well equipped to handle the duties of that court.
Dr. Laws was a field leader in the successful Obama presidential campaign. She can be reached by calling (267) 838-7906. Look for an announcement on her candidacy sometime in February.
A ‘RED STATE OF MIND’ SERIES
The Philadelphia Republican Leadership Council kicked off its monthly â€œA Red State of Mindâ€ breakfast Speaker Series at the Racquet Club this morning featuring Rev. Joseph Watkins, receiver for Chester Upland School District. The event is free, with a light breakfast served starting at 7 a.m. For further info and reservations call Denise Furey at firstname.lastname@example.org or (215) 387-5641.
Sponsors include Frederick W. Anton, III, Esq., Michael A. Cibik, Esq., John DePaul, Robert A. Gleason, Lee M. Herman, Esq., Lt. Col. Kevin Kelly, Mark Kerschner, Hillel Levinson, Esq., Andrew Terhune and John Venne.
WASHINGTON, BOYLE, McCARTER TO MEET L.W.V.
All are invited to meet with State Rep. Steve McCarter (D-Northeast), along with colleagues Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery) and Brendan Boyle (D-Northeast) and State Sen. LeAnna Washington (D-Northwest) at a League of Women Voters Â â€œMeet our Legislatorsâ€ session at 7:30 p.m. tonight in Abington Township Building, 1176 Old York Road, across from Abington Hospital. There is free parking on lot on Horace Avenue.
BUTKOVITZ LOOKED TOUGH ON TV
It was good to see someone who knows whatâ€™s happening with the City and its finances on Sunday morning television. Controller Alan Butkovitz gave that impression as he was interviewed on one of the talking-head shows.
Heâ€™s not taking his reelection campaign for granted. It was the beginning of his reelection campaign. Look for him on more television shows, especially when commentary is sought on how much money the city is expending on consultants on a variety of city plans and projects. Heâ€™s hoping the four announced challengers remain in the primary, adding to his likelihood of a strong victory.
That number also weakens the persistent efforts of his consistent challenger Brett Mandel, who understands money is needed to run an effective campaign and has been busy raising it. His latest effort was at the Black Sheep Pub last night. Attending were more of the liberal activists he is hoping to get behind his campaign.
2 ARE HAPPY DePASQUALE VACATED
Republican Bryan Tate, 45, and Democrat Kevin Schreiber, 32, watched Eugene DePasqualeâ€™s campaign for Auditor General with interest. If he won, heâ€™d have to vacate his 95th Dist. House Seat. They were the only two to file for the special election.
State Rep. Matt Smithâ€™s seat, the 42nd, is also up for grabs since he was sworn in to the State Senate Jan. 1. Republicans face an uphill bill in each of those districts, with reports indicating they wonâ€™t spend any money to help their candidates. Both seats will be on the ballot this primary day, May 21.
BRADY BACKS OBAMA ON GUN PROPOSALS
Congressman Robert A. Brady (D-Phila.) summed up his support for President Barack Obamaâ€™s gun-control proposals by saying, â€œHow much more bloodshed are we willing to tolerate? There is no need for assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips to be a part of the American civilian stockpile. I wholeheartedly support a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips and I also support universal background checks for all those lining up to buy weapons of what should be termed weapons of mass destruction.â€
GREENIES SEEK SCHOOL-CLOSING MORATORIUM
The Green Party of Philadelphia has endorsed a one-year moratorium on the closing of any public school in Philadelphia.
Erin Worrell, a member of the Green Partyâ€™s City Committee, explained, â€œClosing the 37 schools â€“ in the guise of balancing budgets â€“ steals from the future of Philadelphia and its children. A moratorium will allow time to explore real budget reforms that donâ€™t come at the expense of students and teachers in poor neighborhoods.â€
Carol McLean, the Green Party Membership Secretary, said, â€œMany of these students will be forced into a charter school which often has no better success rate than their neighborhood school which was closed.”
SIMS SWEARS IN AGAIN, AT CITY HALL
State Rep. Brian Sims (D-S. Phila.), newly elected to the 182nd Legislative Dist. seat, held a second swearing-in ceremony last Thursday in Ceremonial Courtroom 653. He followed it up with at the 6th-floor Law Library and another at his District office, 1st floor of 21 S. 12th Street. A host of dignitaries showed for one or more of the three events.
IS CORBETT MAKING HIMSELF A 1-TERMER?
Gov. Tom Corbett must realize his efforts to privatize the Lottery, the State Stores and his newest pledge to raise the tax cap on the stateâ€™s oil industry may prove a problem for him in his reelection campaign. But then again, he must know something we all donâ€™t or have a couple of gifts up his sleeves to spring on the Commonwealthâ€™s voters.
Our guess he hopes to ride into the leadership post again based on the fact he wonâ€™t be raising taxes. Will the General Assembly give him what he wants? That could happen if the Democrats believe the end result will weaken his reelection chances.
CITY’S COURT EMPLOYEES TOLD, ‘NO POLITICKING’
Some of Philadelphiaâ€™s more-active and politically sensitive employees felt a great deal of dissatisfaction and frustration at not being able to do anything that even smelled of political activity.
Concerned about recent news coverage over the activities under investigation by one of the Courts in the 1st Judicial Dist. (Philadelphia Courts), President Pamela P. Dembe wisely sent out a reminder memo to court employees just before the MLK Weekend celebration and holiday.
It read, â€œFJD employees are not allowed to be involved in politics: no ward activities, no campaign attendance or contributions, no candidate support (including your own if you plan to run). We need to preserve the appearance and actuality of independence and neutrality, so violation of this policy is a firing offense. Have a lovely three-day weekend.â€
CLOVER CLUB OPENS MEMBERSHIP ROLLS
Now celebrating its 130th year as the cityâ€™s top socio-political club, the organization is opening its inaugural â€œMembership Driveâ€ with a cocktail party starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Union League Feb. 5. There is no cost to attend.
If interested in meeting and sharing time with a group â€“ where, if one doesnâ€™t show at either of the two major events planned yearly, they get elected to be President. Its meetings are devoted to mirth and good fellowship.
Only requirement is to call Theresa Flanagan-Murtaugh, Esq., to reserve a no-obligation space at email@example.com or (610) 496-7390.
ALLYSON RAFFLED OFF INAUGURAL TICKETS
Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (D-Phila.) raffled off two coveted tickets to the official Inaugural Ball.
For contributions of $20.13, $201.30 or $2013, one would automatically be entered to win two tickets. In all fairness, she also opened it up to anybody to enter the raffle if they had no contribution to make.