POLS ON THE STREET: Pa. State Dept. Shies Away From City Commission’s Invite

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PARTICIPATING in Temple-sponsored symposium on regional economy were Congressmen Bob Brady, 3rd from left, and Pat Meehan, 2nd from right, to discuss how concerted bipartisan action saved Delaware R. refineries.

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, “We 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 – the names should have appeared in the supplemental sheets – but we needed their help to figure out how they arrived at eligible voters in their Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors.

“What 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.”

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, “We were able to link 4,327 of these votes to the supplemental poll books created by the City.”

The State’s conclusion was, “Had 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.”

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. “The program that creates those sheets, which is the responsibility of the Dept. of State, did not function as it is supposed to,” said Singer.

Commission Co-Chair Anthony Clark added, “Why 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.”

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 didn’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.


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.


The 59th Republican Ward Executive Committee voted unanimously at its January monthly meeting to endorse Chief Justice Ron Castille’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 “to assure full party support behind the Chief Justice’s retention, notwithstanding the Chief Justice would be required to step down Dec. 31, 2014 if the State Constitutional prohibition on judges’ mandatory 70-year retirement is not overturned in pending Federal court litigation.”


Auditor General Eugene DePasquale won’t seek the Democratic nod for Governor in 2014. He’s made it official:

“During my campaign for Auditor General, I pledged to be an independent fiscal watchdog who wouldn’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. That’s what I intend to do from day one.”


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 “is qualified to perform the duties of a Traffic Court Judge.”

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.


The Philadelphia Republican Leadership Council kicked off its monthly “A Red State of Mind” 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 denise.furey@wolf.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.


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  “Meet our Legislators” 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.


It was good to see someone who knows what’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.

CITY CONTROLLER challenger Brett Mandel unveiled his “Bulldog” Budget way of reading city budgets. It shows where every dollar goes such as $7,000 spent on pet therapy and fact city paid out $14 million in “civil rights” cases.

He’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. He’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.


Republican Bryan Tate, 45, and Democrat Kevin Schreiber, 32, watched Eugene DePasquale’s campaign for Auditor General with interest. If he won, he’d have to vacate his 95th Dist. House Seat. They were the only two to file for the special election.

State Rep. Matt Smith’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 won’t spend any money to help their candidates. Both seats will be on the ballot this primary day, May 21.


Congressman Robert A. Brady (D-Phila.) summed up his support for President Barack Obama’s gun-control proposals by saying, “How 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.”


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 Party’s City Committee, explained, “Closing the 37 schools – in the guise of balancing budgets – steals from the future of Philadelphia and its children. A moratorium will allow time to explore real budget reforms that don’t come at the expense of students and teachers in poor neighborhoods.”

Carol McLean, the Green Party Membership Secretary, said, “Many of these students will be forced into a charter school which often has no better success rate than their neighborhood school which was closed.”


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.


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 state’s oil industry may prove a problem for him in his reelection campaign. But then again, he must know something we all don’t or have a couple of gifts up his sleeves to spring on the Commonwealth’s voters.

Our guess he hopes to ride into the leadership post again based on the fact he won’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.


Some of Philadelphia’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, “FJD 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.”


Now celebrating its 130th year as the city’s top socio-political club, the organization is opening its inaugural “Membership Drive” 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 – where, if one doesn’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 tmf98irish@yahoo.com or (610) 496-7390.


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.

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One Response to POLS ON THE STREET: Pa. State Dept. Shies Away From City Commission’s Invite

  1. How does an individual become state-certified to run as a Traffic Court judge? I don’t remember this being a criterion for running for the seat in previous elections.

    The City Commissioners’ Office is right to question why the State Election Board won’t come to inspect the voter rolls here and then match them to the Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors for any discrepancies. It’s just like the Mayor’s Office convening a hearing on the election without all of the facts.

    The 2012 election had a high rate of participation and ward leaders and committee persons should be commended for the work they did in spite of some of the difficulties that voters faced casting ballots. If the same thing happens again in May, then the City Commissioners should be called to task for poor job performance.

    Michael E. Bell
    February 19, 2013 at 10:37 am

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