BY JOE SHAHEELI/Â If State Sen. Domenic Pileggi (R-Delaware) would swear to the Public Record he never called a district judge in his senatorial district to give one of his voters â€œspecial considerationâ€, then his effort to eliminate Traffic Court from the Philadelphia scene could be deemed sincere.
Failing that, we look at Pileggi, who is the Republican Majority Leader in the Senate, as an opportunist, positioning himself for some good copy in local media. We see him using this effort to gain needed publicity should he decide to enter the 2014 primary for Governor.
We understand there is a difference between the many district judges throughout the Commonwealthâ€™s 50 counties and this cityâ€™s district judges who were elected to Traffic Court. One trait they share is they need not be lawyers.
However, the other county DJs also rule on criminal matters and not just traffic violations. That is not to say our Traffic Court judges could accept the additional mandates, if given the opportunity to attend the same classes as the other DJs.
To eliminate one countyâ€™s court without touching the others is possible, but only if the Philadelphia delegation in the Senate and House abdicates another of the cityâ€™s Home Rule assets. Also, the premise of replacing nonlawyers with lawyers adds little, if that becomes the main push by Pileggi.
REPUBLICANS REMAIN TESTY TOWARD CORBETT
Republicans may have been devastated nationally, but they still rule in a majority of the states, with Republican Governors and Republican-dominated General Assemblies.
Pennsylvania is among them. As with their Philadelphia cohorts, Republicans feel a need to make changes. There are signs within their party we could see a contentious primary.
Fueling that are the low polling stats showing Gov. Tom Corbett to be a potential one-term governor. With new Democrat Attorney General Kathleen Kane studying Corbettâ€™s past performance as former Attorney General â€“ especially with his handling of the Penn State sex scandal â€“ his popularity numbers could conceivably keep going down.
As of now, Corbett knows of one challenger, Montgomery Co. Commissioner Bruce Castor, who doesnâ€™t have the statewide recognition to give him an edge. Castor, who lost to Corbett in the 2004 primary for Pennsylvania Attorney General, has learned his poll figures are way, way down. But that could end if he is able to amass the big dollars needed to flood the stateâ€™s TV channels.
The latest survey from Public Policy Polling, obtained by PoliticsPA, shows the Governor ahead by a 44-point margin, 51%-11%.
With polls showing less than half of Republicans support the incumbent â€“ 45% saying theyâ€™d like Corbett to be the GOP nominee in 2014 and 37% saying they want someone else â€“ a serious primary opponent remains likely.
Itâ€™s our guess a name that will surface more often as a contender, should Corbett polls continue to show badly, is former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum. Heâ€™s all over Pennsylvania, and will be highly visible addressing March for Life attendees marching to Washington to protest Mar. 25 before Supreme Court building. His name recognition is high.
JUSTICE EAKIN TAKES CASTILLE’S CT. POST
Wish we could have been a fly on the wall when the decision was made to replace Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Ronald D. Castille as liaison to Philadelphiaâ€™s courts by Justice J. Michael Eakin.
To his credit, Justice Eakin did not report in detail the reasons why this happened. He said, â€œUnder the chiefâ€™s leadership, judges and staff in the 1st Judicial Dist. have worked hard to achieve meaningful advances at all levels and in all functions of Philadelphiaâ€™s courts. Thorny issues have been resolved, and recommendations have been made that will continue to be implemented. Our court is unanimous in its commitment to see to completion every needed reform. At no time in court history has any Chief Justice been burdened by so many statewide duties and the significant work that overseeing Philadelphia court reforms requires.â€
Insiders believe the Chief Justiceâ€™s controversial involvement in some of the cityâ€™s judicial matters put a crack in his armor. The other five justices also reportedly rallied around one of their own, who was embarrassed at being cited in a Traffic Court inquiry seeking help for a ticket given his wife.
G.O.P. MONTHLY BREAKFAST BACK
The â€œPhiladelphia Republican Breakfast Forumâ€, featured with a top-notch speaker, kicks off again next Thursday, Jan. 24, at the Racquet Club.
Republican Ward Leader and organizer Mike Cibik reports the event will be free with a continental breakfast of coffee/tea and muffins/pastries. He is in the process of lining up sponsors. Time schedule will run from 7 a.m. with forum starting at 7:30 a.m., ending at 9 a.m.
Cibik, who is also chair of the Philadelphia Republican Leadership Council, sought 10 sponsors to underwrite the series at a $1,000 per event, and received 11 pledges, one wishing to remain anonymous. The others are Frederick W. Anton, Esq., Michael A. Cibik, Esq., John DePaul, Robert A. Gleason, Jr., Lee M. Herman, Esq., Lt. Col. Kevin Kelly, Mark Kerschner, Hillel Levinson, Esq., Andrew Terhune and John Venne.
For additional information reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or call at (215) 735-1060.
FIREFIGHTERS GATHER PUBLIC PETITIONS
Bill Gault, president of IAFF Local 22, is a pragmatist, which is why an early announcement of a petition to recall Mayor Michael Nutter has been changed to one gathering public support for the Firefighters in their efforts to get the Mayor to honor court mandates.
Gault said, â€œAfter carefully weighing our realistic odds of prevailing in an uphill and costly legal battle, Fire Fighters Local 22 is dropping its planned recall effort of Mayor Nutter. This decision should in no way be construed as a softening of the firefightersâ€™ and paramedicsâ€™ disdain for this callous Mayor, who continues to defy the law by denying our members their binding arbitration award, which was upheld twice by a neutral arbitrator and once by a Common Pleas Court judge. Firefighters and paramedics have suffered many abuses at the hands of this Mayor â€“ brownouts that endanger citizens and firefighters alike, under-staffing, the forced mass transfers of the most-senior personnel, suspensions for merely getting injured in the line of duty, and the indignity of being denied a raise and a contract for more than four years. Itâ€™s disgraceful.
â€œTo continue to draw public attention to these injustices, Local 22 is undertaking a petition drive to collect thousands upon thousands of signatures of city residents who demand that Nutter obey the law and honor our arbitration award. We will not let up until justice is won.â€
LABOR RALLY FOCUSES ON NUTTER INACTION
Four well-known speakers will address a labor rally scheduled for Saturday, 10 a.m. to noon, at Independence Mall. They are AFSCME President Lee Saunders, AFT President Randi Weingarten, AFL-CIOâ€™s Arlene Holt Baker, and Rev. Al Sharpton. Seen as a pre-Martin Luther King dedication, the rally is aimed at the Mayor for his anti-labor stand to date.
JOE GRACE TAPPED BY PHILA. CHAMBER
In a move indicating some forethought, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce has hired Joe Grace, a government-affairs and communications professional with extensive experience in city affairs, to serve as the Chamberâ€™s director of public policy. Truly a wise choice.
Grace, 53, will act as the Chamberâ€™s chief lobbyist in City Council and with Mayor Nutterâ€™s administration, and focus his energies and work on city legislation and issues impacting the business community. Joe Grace will report to and work closely with Joseph W. Mahoney, Jr., the Chamberâ€™s executive VP. Grace previously served as communications director to Philadelphia Mayor John F. Street.
WE LOSE MASCH, N.Y. COLLEGE GAINS
Michael Masch has been named VP for finance and chief financial officer at Manhattan College in New York.
â€œMichael Masch brings to Manhattan College a wealth of experience, an outstanding record of accomplishment, and a strong desire to contribute to our mission,â€ said college President Brennan Oâ€™Donnell, PhD.
A Philadelphia native, he most recently served as CFO for the School District of Philadelphia, the nationâ€™s eighth-largest public school system, with 156,000 students in district-operated schools, 46,000 in charter schools and nearly 20,000 district employees. Prior to that, Masch served as Secretary of the Budget for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from 2003 through 2008 and as VP for budget and management at the University of Pennsylvania from 1996 to 2002. Earlier in his career, Masch worked as the budget director for the City of Philadelphia and was a member of the Mayorâ€™s cabinet.