ELEPHANT CORNER: Republicans Make Merry; Frankford Takes On Water

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Sunday afternoon Republican City Committee held a Christmas Party for the city’s Republican ward leaders and other guests at RCC’s new headquarters at Cottman & Frankford Avenues. The party was well attended and the group dined on typical Philadelphia fare, including traditional pork sandwiches. The success of the event was owing to the hard work of RCC EXEC. DIR. JOE DeFELICE and office administrator CARMELLA FITZPATRICK. The party was scheduled to end at 5 p.m. but the crowd lingered. Most left, however, in time to get home to see the Eagles trounce the Chicago Bears.

A larger Republican Christmas Party was held at the United Republican Club on Friday Night. WARD LEADER MIKE CIBIK and Pennsylvania Republican Party staffer ANNIE HAVEY organized the party. Although Havey works for the PAGOP, her office is here in Philadelphia at RCC headquarters. The party had well over 100 people. While it was scheduled for 6-9 p.m., the party was still going strong at midnight. MIKE BARKOVICH, URC board member, was also instrumental in the success of the event.

MAKING MERRY at Wolfe-Furey Christmas party in W. Phila., Republican policy analyst Adam Lang is flanked by his fiancée Aldridk Gessa and Santa – oops, that’s actually Don Carter.

MAKING MERRY at Wolfe-Furey Christmas party in W. Phila., Republican policy analyst Adam Lang is flanked by his fiancée Aldridk Gessa and Santa – oops, that’s actually Don Carter.


Sandwiched in between these two Christmas parties was yet another at the home of WARD LEADERS MATT WOLFE and DENISE FUREY in University City. While their event was open to Democrats and other pagans, Republicans from all reaches of the city were sighted. Santa Claus arrived at approximately 8 p.m. and I have it on good authority this Santa Claus was a Republican. The annual event had over 100 people. Upon entering the Wolfe home, partygoers may have noted the flyers on the entry table announcing the formation of a political action committee for a potential run by Wolfe for City Council.

The water-main break in the Frankford section of Philadelphia on Monday demonstrates one of many reasons why the Philadelphia Water Dept. and also the Philadelphia Gas Works should be privatized. Both have miles upon miles of 100-plus-year-old cast-iron pipes that are particularly susceptible to leakage and rupture. The PWD pipe that burst on Monday was cast iron and released 23 million gallons of water. It is estimated that it will take months to repair and local citizens will be facing damages in the millions of dollars. However, PWD as a municipal authority in Pennsylvania has its liability capped at $500,000 per incident. A private-sector utility would probably be liable for all customer repairs and other losses.

PROPERTY-OWNERS who suffered damage in massive water-main break in Frankford may wind up getting stuck - because, since PGW is a public entity, its total liability is absurdly limited. Had PGW been privatized, they'd be entitled to 100 cents on the dollar.

PROPERTY-OWNERS who suffered damage in massive water-main break in Frankford may wind up getting stuck – because, since PGW is a public entity, its total liability is absurdly limited. Had PGW been privatized, they’d be entitled to 100 cents on the dollar.


Luckily, no one was seriously hurt or killed in this accident. The issue of the aged cast-iron pipes is more problematic for PGW. In 2011, a gas-main explosion in Allentown killed five people and is expected to cost the utility, UGI Corp, over $25 million in compensation to those affected. If this happened in Philadelphia, the families of the five dead people and those who lost their homes would have to share $500,000. And do not assume an accident like that cannot happen here. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission earlier this year fined PGW $500,000 for failing to follow proper procedures in repairing an old main resulting in the death of this employee. PGW was lucky that only one person died in that blast. PGW has roughly 1,250 miles of old cast-iron pipes. According to data from the PUC, 93% of the gas leaks and potential accidents are from cast-iron pipes.

Because of the danger and liabilities associated with older cast-iron and unprotected steel pipes, many private-sector water and natural-gas utilities have accelerated the replacement of their older infrastructure. Pennsylvania gas-distribution company UGI Corp. expects to replace all of its cast-iron pipes within 14 years. Chicago-based People Gas, with a similar aged infrastructure, is looking at 15-20 years. PGW’s current plan is to replace 250 miles over five years. At that pace, it will take PGW 50 years to replace its cast-iron pipes. As long as PGW’s liabilities are capped, do you really expect them to replace the pipes in a more-timely manner?

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