POLS ON THE STREET: DA’s Primary May See More Challengers

Filed under: Featured News,Politics,Pols on the Street |

by Joe Shaheeli

STATE SEN. Anthony Williams and Santa Claus made their annual trip to W. Phila. firehouses to reward firefighters for their year of service. L-R, Pat Burns of FreshGrocer, Williams, Isa Shahid of Muslims 4 Humanity, State Rep. Joanna McClinton, Santa Claus & Mrs. Claus. Photo by Wendell Douglas

District Attorney Seth Williams, based on his past primaries, has a lock on about 42% of the Democrats who normally vote in that municipal election. Those are the African American voters, who tend to support candidates from their own community, given a choice. Since all of his announced challengers to date are Caucasian, this should be an easy primary for him, despite some adverse publicity he has received. Add to that the fact he has the experienced Dan Fee as his campaign manager and all seems secure.

However, we’ve learned that base may not be there. If the rumor becomes real, another well credentialed African American may enter the Democratic primary. That possible contender is Keir Bradford-Grey, chief of this county’s Defender Association since 2015, who succeeded the long-serving Ellen Greenlee.

Bradford-Grey could capture much of the women’s vote, if public defenders and other supporters get involved as surrogates, marching around Philadelphia to proclaim her virtues. Bradford-Grey has yet to make her decision, but if it is true she is being pushed to enter by Councilwomen Cindy Bass, Cherelle Parker and Helen Gym, she could find raising dollars for the challenge could be easy. She is the wife of Daine Grey, past judicial candidate.

STATE REP. Angel Cruz, his staff and that of State Sen. Christine Tartaglione helped Santa Claus this week reach Latino children, who came to take a souvenir picture and get candy canes and presents at Maria De Los Santos Health Center. L-R, Santa (Taima DeJesus); Cruz; his staffers Veronica Morales, Jessica Crespo, and José Giral; and Tartglione’s crew of Carmen Sousa, Angeles Hernández and Lydia Fonseca.

To her disadvantage is the fact much of her career has been spent in Montgomery County, where she became the first African American to head its Public Defender’s office. She is noted for making positive changes in her office as well as collaborating with Villanova Law School to provide a weekly criminal Record Expungement Clinic.

Her entry, however, could even the primary odds for all the other announced candidates.

On the Republican side, a credible candidate in the form of Beth Grossman may be emerging. This seasoned attorney boasts 21 years as an assistant district attorney an in-house counsel for the DA’s Office. More recently, she served as chief of staff for the Dept. of Licenses & Inspections.

Kensington’s Fiery Voice Silenced

We went to a funeral parlor in Kensington on a bitter, windy night last week to pay homage to a ward leader. Why this one and not the many others who have passed on over the 16 years this paper has been in existence?

DEPUTY Sheriffs Maliki Rahman and Dante Austin work with their teammates to give away toys at Spruance Elementary School in N.E. Phila. Photo by Wendell Douglas

The reason? We will miss 7th Ward GOP Leader Ellen Maenner’s calls. As skinny as one can be at 5’2”, Ellen was the lone voice urging help for the scores of addicts who squatted in her ward, in the area which came to be called “the badlands,” just north of Lehigh and around A and B Streets. She would insist we accompany her as she slid down the rail bank under the bridges supporting the rail lines that traverse her neighborhood. She would wear gloves and spend time with us picking up the hundreds of contaminated needles left by junkies shooting up. It was almost a daily routine, propelled by the fact she was afraid children would pick up the needles and possibly prick their skins and develop hepatitis C.

She was the lone voice crying in the wilderness and we tried to help her clean up the area through the stories she generated. Kensington and this newspaper will miss her.

Former social worker and State Rep. Leslie Acosta (D-Kensington) has officially resigned from her 197th Legislative Dist. seat effective Jan. 3, when lawmakers are to be sworn in to start the House’s next two-year session.

This sets into motion a special election which will be announced for a March date. Mentioned as potential candidates, for what is considered a Latino seat, are Noelia Díaz and Freddie Ramírez, with Díaz having support of State Rep. Angel Cruz. Ward Leader Emilio Vázquez, 43rd Ward leader, has not announced his possible candidacy. He should be a shoo-n if he does.

N.E. WARD LEADERS gather around their chairman, Mike McAleer, 4th from l, for this seasonal memento. With them is Judge Maria McLaughlin, who is running for Superior Court. Photo by Harry Leech

March Special Election Seen for 197th District

Orlando Acosta (no relation), who got three write-in votes in the general election for the state representative seat of the 197th Dist., has challenged that decision, saying Leslie Acosta had pled guilty before the primary election and should have been sentenced within 90 days according to state law. That would have invalidated her primary election, according to post-trial procedures (234, rule 704). Since he got write-in votes, he contends he would automatically have become the legitimate Democratic candidate – and, seeing there was no other opposition in the general election, the state rep-elect as of November.

He has filed his contention in Commonwealth Court and was told a decision as to hearing his case will come down by next week.

Green Party Draws Crowd at Meeting

More than 30 people attended the membership meeting of the Green Party of Philadelphia at A Space, 4722 Baltimore Avenue in West Philadelphia. Their press release considered it “a crowd.”

The “hearty discussion,” moderated by GPOP Chair Galen Tyler, lasted more than two hours, with many new voices sharing their ideas and opinions on the state of our world, our country and our city. Out of this discussion grew the founding of two new committees, Communications and Organizing, which will operate under the umbrella of the existing GPOP Outreach Working Group.

Three of the Green Party members in attendance are considering a run for local office in Philadelphia during 2017. The next Membership Meeting will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017, at a location to be announced.

Now what is needed is to approve a motion to get Jill Stein to hand down some of the money donated to her by Clinton supporters.

COUNCILMAN Allan Domb distributed his councilmanic salary this week among nine public schools: Gen. George G. Meade, Kenderton Elementary, Phila. High School for Girls, Overbrook High, A. Philip Randolph Career & Technical High, Samuel S. Fels High, Abraham Lincoln High, Austin Meehan Middle and George Washington High. It’s a regular gesture for him, and appreciated by the principals. Photo by Joe Stivala

When Will We Stop Bickering?

Now that President-Elect Donald Trump and his running mate won the Electoral College vote as expected, when will the extreme elements of the Democratic Party end their protests and concentrate on reconnecting to the public they lost?

Maybe they should pay a visit to our 1st Dist. Congressman Bob Brady and ask him to add the leadership of the Democratic National Committee to his chores. Look at what the Philadelphia party turned in under his leadership: the highest vote ever garnered by a Democratic presidential candidate, well over half a million in the last four elections. It should have carried Pennsylvania easily over to Clinton, but there are not enough Bradys to manage the Democratic Party’s interests in the other counties of this Commonwealth.

It’s sad to see how many millions of dollars were spent in trying to get Electoral College voters to switch their votes. The final score was 304 to 227. Trump had two defectors, Hillary had five.

CONTRIBUTING to a toy drive for Women Against Abuse was Councilman Derek Green, joined here by WAA Dir. of Public Policy Elise Scioscia, C, and VP of Advancement Katie Young Wildes.

Soda-Tax Victory Gives Kenney Clout

Common Pleas Court Judge Gary Glazer’s ruling that Mayor Jim Kenney’s signature soda tax is legal will give a green light to the Rebuild initiative: hundreds of millions of dollars over the next five years in infrastructure spending. Look for the city’s construction and civil-service labor unions to flourish, for voters to see results in their neighborhoods, and for the city’s economy to brighten.

The beverage industry has vowed to appeal Glazer’s decision. Prospects for success are dubious, though, given the current composition of the state’s higher courts.

Not so clear is the longterm viability of the tax on which this edifice is based. Look for beverage sales to plummet as consumers develop the habit of running to the suburbs for their beverages.

3rd-Graders Get New Books, Courtesy DNC

The Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee for the Democratic National Convention donated $750,000 to the Fund for the School District of Philadelphia. The donation will be used to advance the Right Books Campaign, an initiative of the Fund for the School District of Philadelphia, and will enable the School District to purchase nearly 80,000 new books for 150 Kindergarten-to-3rd-grade classrooms across the city. It is part of a massive effort to bring Philadelphia’s young students to grade-level reading by the time they begin 4th grade.

The Host Committee’s donation will close the gap to approximately $1 million between the funds raised for this campaign and the total amount needed to fully fund the program. The announcement was made at the James R. Ludlow Elementary School in Olde Kensington.

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