POLS ON THE STREET: Great Turnout, Problem-Free Election – Courtesy Of Philadelphia City Commissioners

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by Joe Shaheeli

We respect former Councilwoman Marian Tasco and believe her when she says she had little to do as a City Commissioner, her statements leading to a full onslaught by the main media and so-called advocates of “clean government” to dump on the City Commissioners.

We know the reason why her duties were negligible. That is because long-standing Chairwoman of the Commissioners at the time was Iron Lady Margaret Tartaglione, who steered the City Commissioners into a modern, efficient government agency, bringing in electronic voting machines, spreading the news via community media, and elevating to their proper status its many civil servants who had long been ignored.

FIREFIGHTERS Local 22 put seal of approval on US Sen. Pat Toomey at its Northern Liberties hall. City Commissioner Al Schmidt and Republican activist David Lynn greet Sen. Pat Toomey. Photo by Wendell Douglas

FIREFIGHTERS Local 22 put seal of approval on US Sen. Pat Toomey at its Northern Liberties hall. City Commissioner Al Schmidt and Republican activist David Lynn greet Sen. Pat Toomey. Photo by Wendell Douglas

Then along came the loose cannon, aka Stephanie Singer, who thought everything she saw was wrong. Even those who supported her as their choice to replace Marge finally threw in the towel … and out she went, not even able to properly fill out her own nominating petitions and keep current her financial documents as a candidate.

So with a major uptick in voting, welcomed by all the pundits, did anyone congratulate the present team of City Commissioners on their providing such a smooth election, so smooth no anti-Commission lobbyist could find anything about which to complain? Polling places were all open on time; all were supplied with everything they needed; the few complaints were addressed immediately and any malfunctioning machine was put back on line within minutes of complaint.

Into the evening, political addicts, candidates and campaign teams as well as news media found the results posted on its PhiladelphiaVotes site as rapidly as possible, allowing candidates to address their supporters – in most cases, within an hour after the polls closed. Look at their website. It is phenomenal! Statistical junkies can have a field day. Vote totals were available within the day after the polls closed, by ward and division.

We congratulate them for bringing Philadelphia voters the most open, transparent and accurate delivery of a voting operation truly dedicated to making a voter’s task an enjoyable one!

Even Hillary Listened To Doc

There was no doubt labor and political leader John Dougherty was “the man” making a difference for the better for candidates his support boosted to victory in last week’s Democratic primary. From the top of the presidential ballot to the bottom of the State legislative ballot, those he supported, were winners save for the one tilt his candidate in the 5th Senatorial Dist. lost by a few hundred votes.

That could be because he was juggling a lot of elections till the 11th hour and, most importantly for organized labor, meeting personally with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, since labor was doing its utmost to ensure her victory over her rival Sen. Bernie Sanders in what was the key state in her race.

AT NFL DRAFT gala hosted by Councilman Mark Squilla, Eagle Nelson Agholor called one of picks and got congratulated by Councilman. Photo by Wendell Douglas

AT NFL DRAFT gala hosted by Councilman Mark Squilla, Eagle Nelson Agholor called one of picks and got congratulated by Councilman. Photo by Wendell Douglas

Her time was of the essence, but Hillary understood the need to accept an invitation from Dougherty, who is also Philadelphia Building Trades business manager, to meet with approximately 20 labor leaders in Mayor Jim Kenney’s cabinet meeting room prior to her addressing a pre-election-eve rally in Dilworth Plaza.

Dougherty related, “Myself and about 19 other Building Trades leaders joined Mayor Kenney and Congressman Bob Brady for a very private meeting with Secretary Clinton. It was funny … we were led right past several dignitaries in line to see Hillary and they just stared at us, wondering where we were going. We were more focused on policy than pictures.

“We talked with Ms. Clinton for 20 minutes about her support of Pre-Apprenticeship Programs, diversity in the workforce and Project Labor Agreements. She was relaxed and approachable, so much so that she Face-Timed the young, triplet sons of Steve Pettit, business manager of the Asbestos Workers Union, and sang them ‘Happy Birthday’. She wished me a happy birthday as well. There also were a few selfies taken before we said our goodbyes. It was a quick but great meeting and we appreciated Secretary Clinton’s time and attention to our issues.”

It was the support of organized labor across the state that had Clinton easily claim the Democratic primary victory in Pennsylvania later that evening.

In Nip-And-Tuck Races, Wards Matter

The Democratic primary saw the overthrow of three incumbent State Representatives. In addition, an incumbent State Senator hung onto his seat by the skin of his teeth.

The key to all three victories lay in deep understanding of Philadelphia’s wards – the communities they contain and the party leaders who represent them.
In Northeast Philadelphia, State Sen. John Sabatina, Jr. was 602 votes ahead of State Rep. Kevin Boyle in the complete machine tally, a 51% win. In that notoriously fractured political universe, dynamic Congressman Brendan Boyle and his brother Kevin are vying to assert their preeminence.

Boyle took four wards: the 41st (by 5 votes), the 58th, the 65th and the 66th, with his strongest showing in the 58th, which he won with 59% of the vote.
But Sen. Sabatina led in five other wards: the 45th, the 54th, the 56th, the 57th and the 64th. And his hand held the ace of trumps, in the form of his father John Sabatina, Sr.’s mighty 56th Ward. It delivered the third-highest voter turnout – and with a whopping 69% support for the incumbent that wound up bringing him home.

State Representative incumbents are most vulnerable when they are new. In the 200th Legislative Dist., Tonyelle Cook-Artis (D-Northwest) inherited the seat of her boss Cherelle Parker when she moved from the House of Representatives to City Council.

CONGRATULATING Democratic Senatorial 3rd Dist. candidate on his impending victory at party hosted for him at Club LaPointe, Broad & Belfield, by Shrimp King Sid Booker were Tommie Blocker and Asia Coney.

CONGRATULATING Democratic Senatorial 3rd Dist. candidate on his impending victory at party hosted for him at Club LaPointe, Broad & Belfield, by Shrimp King Sid Booker were Tommie Blocker and Asia Coney.

But while Cook-Artis won in a low-vote special election earlier this spring, one of her challengers, business counselor Chris Rabb, kept working crazy hard.

Three wards are the key to the 200th: the 9th, the 22nd and the 50th. All are heavy-voting wards. Marian Tasco’s illustrious 50th Ward in Cedarbrook is a reliable producer for party nominees; Chestnut Hill’s 9th Ward and Mount Airy’s 22nd Ward are dominated by progressive and professional residents.
Cook-Artis swept the 50th while Rabb crushed her in the 9th. The 22nd is a swing ward that can produce well for party loyalists like Parker. But Parker’s magic was not transferred to Cook-Artis here and Rabb clinched his victory with Mount Airy’s blessing.

Another special-election winner turned primary loser was the 192nd Legislative Dist.’s State Rep. Lynwood Savage (D-W. Phila.). Here again, one of his opponents, Morgan Cephas, a former aide to 4th Dist. Councilman Curtis Jones, hit early and often, burying Savage in his own Overbrook 34th Ward as well as Overbrook’s 52nd Ward and Haddington’s 4th Ward.

The third incumbent to be defeated, State Rep. Mark Cohen, lost his Democratic City Committee endorsement and carried none of his wards against two0-time challenger Jared Solomon.

We Also Mourn The Loss Of Bill Miller IV

ENJOYING State Rep. John Taylor’s annual cigar-puffing fundraiser at Colonial Dames in Center City wee Tariq Boston, Lynne Abraham and Carlton Johnson. Photo by Wendell Douglas

ENJOYING State Rep. John Taylor’s annual cigar-puffing fundraiser at Colonial Dames in Center City wee Tariq Boston, Lynne Abraham and Carlton Johnson. Photo by Wendell Douglas

William Miller IV grew up alongside this author in the realm of Philadelphia politics. Many a chit chat was held in his office on Spruce Street. During those years we also watched as he groomed his children Darisha and Bill V to follow him in wisely guiding candidates and in becoming good public-relations representatives for all their clients.

His death, within days of that of Laborers District Council Sam Staten, Sr., leaves a widening vacuum in the world of Philadelphia politics where a handshake was lived up to its fullest meaning.

During his career, he guided some of Philadelphia’s best-known political leaders to victory. Many were his achievements – the top one being, “You can take his word to the bank and count on it to be there when you needed it.”

Funeral services are at Salem Baptist Church, 610 Summit Avenue, Jenkintown, tomorrow. Viewing is at 8 to 11 a.m., services at 11.

Western Pa. LDC Endorses Rafferty

The Rafferty for Attorney General Campaign has announced the Laborers’ District Council of Western Pennsylvania is endorsing John Rafferty in the race for the Office of Attorney General. This is an indication labor will not have a solid front across the state for at least this race. With Donald Trump support from Republicans and crossover Democrats, it is possible his coattails could be considered another reason why observers, early on, are pegging Rafferty as the candidate to beat.

“Western Pennsylvania Laborers are proud to endorse John Rafferty for Attorney General,” said Phil Ameris, president of the Laborers’ District Council of Western Pennsylvania. “John Rafferty is a man the people of Pennsylvania can trust to keep his word and he will restore integrity back to the Office of Attorney General. As a State Senator, Rafferty never lost sight that his number-one obligation to the people of our Commonwealth is public safety. That is why he has been a champion for law enforcement and fought for critically needed improvements to our roads and bridges. John Rafferty will be a great Attorney General and we are proud to support his candidacy.”

John’s campaign has been endorsed by the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State Troopers Association, the Pennsylvania Fraternal Order of Police, the Pennsylvania Professional Firefighters Association and the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation.

Get Used To Fetterman; Big Man Will Get Bigger

FAMILY-FRIENDLY event of Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown at The View on N. Broad Street entertained David Forde Jackson, son David, Jr., Councilwoman, Holly Maher and Piper Gross. Photo by Wendell Douglas

FAMILY-FRIENDLY event of Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown at The View on N. Broad Street entertained David Forde Jackson, son David, Jr., Councilwoman, Holly Maher and Piper Gross. Photo by Wendell Douglas

Walk into a room where he is and you will understand why “big” is the word for Braddock Mayor John Fetterman. For his first foray into the statewide Democratic arena, he’s done well and feels he is entitled to the title of Pennsylvania’s “progressive standard-bearer”.

It is not too early to report some Democratic and labor leaders are suggesting he might be a good choice to challenge Gov. Tom Wolf, should the business of politics continue to portray an administration that has yet to identify itself with achievements to which voters can relate. Despite being outspent in the race for the Democratic nomination for US Senate 15 to 1, Fetterman’s strong showing was credited with killing off Joe Sestak’s hoped-for victory. Instead it helped Katie McGinty win the nomination.

He grew a strong grassroots following and garnered support not only across Pennsylvania, but from across the country. Fetterman’s digital campaign grew rapidly, accumulating more than 13,000 followers on Twitter and over 41,000 fans on Facebook – more than either of his opponents. Fetterman also had 13 different videos with more views on Facebook than the single most-viewed video from either of his opponents.

McGinty is reportedly getting about $4 million in outside money supporting her as well as almost $3 million spent by her campaign. Joe Sestak had more than $3.5 million in total spending in this race. To political statisticians, boiled down, they saw it as Fetterman spending $2 per vote, while Sestak spent $10, land Kathy $15.

For now, Fetterman says, “I refuse to accept the premise fundraising is the most-important qualification for running and holding office. Politics should be a competition of ideas and experience. Instead it’s become the world’s most-dysfunctional telethon.”

If he gets back into the statewide arena again, we bet he’ll explain then why he needs the financial support from voters like our readers.

ANNUAL DAY OF THE ROPE Dinner marks birth of unionism, when in 1877, 20 coal miners were hanged for organizing or belonging to a union. “Black Thursday” is marked by awards to the worthy from Ancient Order of Hibernians 25. President Brian Coleman, left, and emcee Judge Patrick Dugan, right, present awards to honorees: Michael J. Bradley, Penn State Advisory Board; Stephen Pettit, business manager of Local 14 Insulators; Pearse Kerr, business manager of IBEW Local 2271; and Margie Kerns, AOH 25 Member of the Year. Photo by Joe Stivala

ANNUAL DAY OF THE ROPE Dinner marks birth of unionism, when in 1877, 20 coal miners were hanged for organizing or belonging to a union. “Black Thursday” is marked by awards to the worthy from Ancient Order of Hibernians 25. President Brian Coleman, left, and emcee Judge Patrick Dugan, right, present awards to honorees: Michael J. Bradley, Penn State Advisory Board; Stephen Pettit, business manager of Local 14 Insulators; Pearse Kerr, business manager of IBEW Local 2271; and Margie Kerns, AOH 25 Member of the Year. Photo by Joe Stivala

Famous Had Top Attendees At Lunch

Though the bulk of this primary-day election luncheon stakeholders were at Relish in West Oak Lane, hosted to free radio time and a nice buffet, Famous Restaurant at 4th & Bainbridge, in Queen Village, had its fair share election day of notables and election personalities as well. It can still be considered one of two spots to catch a glimpse of and take pictures and chat with those on the election day ballot in November.

David Auspitz, who founded the election lunchtime tradition for politicians and those seeking office to share their limited time out on election day, said, “We welcomed powerhouse brokers such as N.J.’s George Norcross, former DA Lynne Abraham and others. Plus their souvenir for being here was they got to take away Famous’ chocolate-chip cookies!”

Children Of Famous Families Always Ogled

The city’s Board of Pensions & Retirement hired a new chief investment officer to right its beleaguered pension fund. The 30-year-old has been an investment strategist for eight years at SEI-Institutional Group, based in Montgomery County. Rob Dubow, Pension Board chairman and city finance director, said he had precisely the level of experience and expertise necessary.

But guess what? That appointment made the front page of the Local News section of the Inkie. Why? Because his name is Michael Donatucci. What makes qualified relatives of political leaders second-class employees?

Auditor General DePasquale Will Audit All State Spending

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has issued the warning he will have his office audit all State and federal funds spent during the current fiscal year and will immediately start tracking extra costs if the 2016-17 budget is not finalized by Jun. 30. Some of that spending could prove to be embarrassing to long-term legislators if he makes it public, particularly those champs of bringing home the bacon.

In the past two months the Dept. of the Auditor General completed important annual comprehensive reviews of all State and federal funds spent in Pennsylvania during the 2014-15 fiscal year.

“I anticipate the nine-month delay in the 2015-16 spending plan will present some unique circumstances when we start our next audits,” DePasquale said. “I have instructed my team to prepare now to audit the 2015-16 spending.

“As someone who monitors all State spending, if the State’s structural deficit is not addressed appropriately this year and we have another budget impasse, the rating agencies will downgrade Pennsylvania’s bond rating again. That essentially will be a back-door tax increase on residents because it will increase the borrowing costs for schools and governments,” DePasquale explained. “Every road project and every school construction project will cost more. That’s what I mean by a back-door tax increase.”

DePasquale also commented about his efforts to track the extra costs to school districts and other entities during a budget impasse. “I will monitor on day-one — starting Jul. 1 — what the cost of the budget impasse is for schools, counties and human-services providers such as day cares and domestic-violence shelters,” DePasquale said. “It is not acceptable to have what transpired with the last budget to happen again this year. There must be bipartisan cooperation to get the budget done on time.”

We predict finally an on-time budget passage this June. Good to know he’s looking out for taxpayers’ backs.

State Dems Credit Wolf For Candidates’ Victories

The Pennsylvania Democratic Party is claiming the man who wasn’t on the ballot this spring was the biggest winner in the primary election.

Its website reported in glowing terms, “Gov. Wolf wants a government that works for all Pennsylvanians, so he endorsed the candidates that will make that happen: Hillary Clinton, Katie McGinty, Josh Shapiro, Dwight Evans and Steve Santarsiero. Tuesday’s election saw enthusiastic Democratic turnout – 120,000 more ballots were cast for Democrats than for Republicans. When the votes were counted, Pennsylvania Democrats agreed with the Governor.”

It made the case for Wolf’s victories thusly: “Candidates in four races, in which Wolf personally played a role and invested campaign cash, all walked off with their party nominations. Former administration senior aide Katie McGinty won a tough, three-way primary for US Senate; Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro nabbed the Democratic nod for Attorney General; veteran State Rep. Dwight Evans scored the nomination in Philly’s 2nd Congressional Dist.; and State Rep. Steve Santarsiero won in Bucks County’s 8th Congressional Dist.

We believe McGinty will have a tougher time against US Sen. Pat Toomey in the general election, than Adm. Joe Sestak, now in need of shoes, would have, had he won.

Though Sestak did well, he still needs to understand the importance of spending more time courting and winning the support of Democratic county leaders than walking the state and trying to get a majority of voters to support him. An axiom of electioneering is, “The last person to reach the voter with a ballot suggestion, usually sways that voter.”

Toomey is benefiting from supporting PACS which have several ads in the can aimed at calling McGinty’s shortcomings as he sees them. One is already on the air, compliments of Club for Growth.

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