BY JOE SHAHEELI/ He’s been out of the political circuit, but an active audience participant for over two decades. He couldn’t be active in politics, but there was nothing to stop him from applauding for those he supported.
But now, look for Philadelphia Arraignment Court Magistrate Timothy P. O’Brien finally to become an active participant in the arena of politics.
He has officially notified Municipal Court President Judge Marsha N. Neifield he will not seek a sixth term on the court. O’Brien, 50, has finished five consecutive four-year terms with the court, always reelected with unanimous support from the Board of Judges.
Magistrate O’Brien was appointed in 1992 at the age of 29, one of the youngest members of the arraignment bench. He quickly established himself as an outspoken and aggressive Commissioner by bringing the public spotlight on the City’s unpopular and dreaded federal prison cap.
O’Brien testified to packed audiences in City Council of the danger the cap was causing to public safety. He was especially vocal after a cap-released prisoner was charged in the shooting death of Police Officer Danny Boyle. A short while later, federal Judge Norma Shapiro ended the prison cap.
O’Brien made front-page headlines in early 2000 with his unprecedented and gutsy decision to hold a “straw purchaser” defendant without bail. At the time, city streets were inundated with gun violence. Municipal Judge Frank Brady stood behind O’Brien’s decision.
Veteran magistrate Bobby Rebstock called O’Brien “one of a kind” and “a very courageous and principled magistrate who called them like he saw them.”
When asked what he will doing next, O’Brien only smiled sheepishly and said, “Stand by.” His first “standby” is here already as he hosts a salute to Gov. Tom Corbett at FOP Hall, 11630 Caroline Road, 6-8 p.m. with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and a buffet. March 28. Tickets are $250. For info, call Kristie at (267) 235-0905.
WHO ELSE WOULD A PROGRESSIVE CHOOSE?
I’d worry if I were Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (D-Philadelphia), planning a run for the Democratic nomination for Governor in the next primary. Though she topped the straw poll taken at the Pennsylvania Progressive Summit, of those polled, she wound up with just over 37% of the votes, enough to put her at the top.
What is interesting is those polled were asked to name a choice and not asked to pick from a list.
Ranking just behind her were Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord with just over 16% of the vote and former Congressman Joe Sestak with 11.6%. The group was all over the lot with other choices.
In the meantime, during a third swing around the State, the reaction State Sen. Mike Stack (D-Northeast) is getting has convinced his supporters more Democratic leaders are finding him to be a gubernatorial candidate who’d be to their liking, though he wears the onerous Philadelphia label.
GUV REACHES OUT TO PHILLY WOMEN
“Seldom seen” was a good way to describe Gov. Tom Corbett during his first two years in office, at least as far as Philadelphians were concerned. In 2013 this is changing, though. The Governor has been scheduling numerous photogenic appearances in town, with more to come.
His latest visit was strategic. He came to the city’s Rape Crisis Center to ballyhoo a 10% increase in funding in his budget proposal – $700,000 – for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape for services and prevention education. During his remarks, the Governor also presented a proclamation to Carole Johnson, executive director of WOAR, recognizing the organization for 40 years of contributions to victim advocacy and services in the Philadelphia region.
A word to potential Republican primary opponents! Don’t be too quick to sell out the Governor’s electability stats. However, the Governor has seen his recent poll ratings plummet among women statewide and he is attending to that right now.
Meanwhile, Montco Commissioner Bruce Castor is squeezing the incumbent from the right. He has made public his letter to Corbett urging he stand by his “decision to reject the Obamacare Medicaid expansion,” citing, “Medicaid is our state’s largest expenditure, dwarfing even public education.”
Learn more about Castor from his website: BruceCastor.Com.
JUST A RUMOR … BUT IT’S POLITICAL
Former State Sen. Vincent Fumo’s penchant for doing his public and private business online and by cellphone may have led to this rumor: He was reportedly found in possession of a cellphone, a no-no for any prisoner, which may have resulted in an add-on to his prison time by several months, since he may have lost “earned good time”.
IT’S JOE WATERS FOR SUPERIOR CT.
We’d like to advise all Superior Court candidates we seldom ever endorse candidates; but the exception has arrived. We are endorsing Judge Joseph Waters for Superior Court in both the primary and general elections.
Up for grabs will be judicial posts in Courts of Common Pleas, six, and possibly one or two more; Municipal Court, three; Traffic Court, three. The legislative effort to reduce the TC number to two will not have an impact, if the rules are followed, on this race. So for now it is three.
Of course, there is only one City Controller and one District Attorney.
But for those who wish a seat, there will be 1,867 Judges of Election and 1,867 Inspectors of Election running this primary and in the general.
Those interested in those election-board posts, which are paid, should reach out to their respective ward leaders for the paperwork. Deadline for filing is Mar. 12.
G.O.P. CANDIDATES UP AND RUNNING
There may or not be a primary battle among Republicans for District Attorney and Controller. Regardless, already canvassing in the 65th Ward with Young Republican leader Steven C. Boc were announced DA candidate Danny Alvarez and Controller candidate Terry Tracey.
WILL STATE HOUSE DWELLERS KNOW THEIR HOUSE IS GLASS?
We don’t wish it on him, but someone should tell State Rep. Glenn Grell (R-Cumberland) he won’t win any more votes by pushing an impeachment resolution for the House to consider against Justice Joan Orie Melvin. It could come back to haunt him.
We know there are many members in the General Assembly who for years had used their staffs to help them campaign for reelection. It was those staffers, for the most part, who were their early campaign volunteers and earned their spurs. So why should they not try to hold on to their jobs by getting their patron reelected?
Now the rules have changed and their patron can go to jail. Which is a shame. The Orie sisters and other recently imprisoned members of the legislature would still be doing commendable work if House and Senate members would show some fortitude and pass legislation that would empower elected officials to use that portion of their staffs who came to their jobs as a result of their campaign efforts.
KNOX COMES A-KNOCKING AGAIN – BUT AT WHICH DOOR?
Tom Knox, our local business tycoon, has hired Frank Keel to handle the chores in his next campaign. It’s obvious where he plans a nomination run, though he has “yet to announce” which office he will be seeking.
However, his first public statement in announcing Keel’s appointment he is quoted as saying, “It’s no secret I still have a strong desire to hold elective office because I know how to streamline government and improve people’s quality of life….. Tom Corbett has failed the people of Pennsylvania and I am taking a very serious look at challenging him. The hiring of Frank Keel, a talented pro whom I’ve known and worked with for years, is an important first step in this exciting journey, no matter the ultimate destination.”
Now, Tom, if you really mean it and should you make it, heavens forbid you bring that kind of talk to your first state-of-the-state message to the General Assembly.
KLINE SEES 3RD TIME AS HIS LUCKY CHARM
Robert M. Kline, Esq., came so close in his second run for a judicial post, he believes his “third time is a charm!”
In 2011, Kline finished one place out, in 11th place in the race with 30 others for the 10 openings on the bench in that election. He is currently gathering petitions for both Common Pleas and Municipal Court.
Kline maintains a deep understanding of our courts and the needs of the community. After serving as law clerk to Judge Bernard Goodheart, he spent over two decades working in criminal and private cases for several firms, and also served as general counsel both for a nonprofit social-service agency and a transportation company serving special-needs children and adults. Currently he runs his own private practice with offices in Northwest Philadelphia and Center City.
In 2011 he received a recommended rating from the Philadelphia Bar Association and the endorsement of Local 1199C.