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THE BILLY MEEHAN Clam Bake drew 1,000 attendees this year, said RCCChairman Mike Meehan. L-R were National Republican Committee Co-Chair Bob Paduchik, Pennsylvania Republican Party Chair Val DiGregorio, State Sen. David Argall and Philadelphia’s own Joe McColgan.

While national attention has focused on the Democratic Party’s weakness in declining rural areas, urban Philadelphia is showing clear signs of decay in the Dems’ brand as well.

Philadelphia Republicans shaved 31,728 off their voter-registration deficit against their Democratic competitors in the past year. That’s one-third of the total statewide decline of more than 100,000 in the Democratic registration edge in what is still a blue state, if we go by the numbers. That’s all according to City & State PA, which undertook the research earlier this month.

Turnout at the party’s annual summer’s-end get-together, the Billy Meehan Clam Bake, was “high for a municipal-election year,” noted Philadelphia Republican Committee Chair Mike Meehan. More than 1,000 people showed up at Cannstatter Volksfest Verein in the Far Northeast to partake in a gargantuan beergarden fed with roast pork and steamed clams.

Not enough, 30,000, to swing Philadelphia into the Republican column once more. But it does threaten the city’s potential to swing a 450,000-vote surplus reliably to a statewide Democratic ticket. That wouldn’t matter if other parts of the Keystone State were holding steady. But Democrats saw their registration edge wither almost everywhere else. Only in the populous Southeastern suburbs did Republican registration shrink. That’s good news for the Dems; but it’s not good enough.

PHILADELPHIA Young Democrats managed to combine some fun with politicking. Socializing for a cause were, L-R, Liam Boyle, John Brady, Ward Leader Lou Agre, city controller candidate Rebecca Rhynhart and Dustin Morris at Manayunk Brewing Co. Photo by Wendell Douglas

Why the Crash? Asks Brady

Congressman Bob Brady (D-Phila.) says SEPTA should shut down the Norristown High Speed Line while the investigation of last week’s train crash continues.

After visiting the 69th Street Transportation Center for a firsthand look at the accident site, Brady said SEPTA should utilize shuttle buses until they determine what caused the Tuesday crash in Upper Darby. “We have no indication what caused this crash and until that can be decided SEPTA needs to err on the side of caution and in the best interests of the riding public,” he urged.

Brady added, “I’m frustrated, because rather than hearing what the problem is, all I hear is that this investigation is continuing as well as the investigation of the crash six months ago.” Maybe it’s time to intervene at a higher level, he implied. Rail safety is largely a federal issue.

But the response from emergency personnel immediately following the crash was outstanding, said Brady. “My criticism is not directed at the first responders. The police and fire personnel were on the scene within minutes and were able to give aid and transport the injured passengers and crewmembers,” he stated.

PLCB: Blackwell’s Death a Loss

State Rep. Jordan Harris (D- S. Phila.), chair of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, released the following statement regarding the passing of former State Rep. Thomas W. Blackwell.

Harris said, “The City of Philadelphia, and our Commonwealth, has lost a giant. Rep. Blackwell dedicated his life to public service and fought to improve the lives of countless Philadelphians. He will be deeply missed. I am certain his legacy will live on and guide the next generation of public servants. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

STATE REP. Joanna McClinton was joined by radio personality Dezzie at her 60th Street Health & Wellness Summer Jam, where families could enjoy a day of fun and entertainment. Participating in a March for Peace were, L-R, State Reps. Donna Bullock, Morgan Cephas and McClinton.

State Rep. Rosita C. Youngblood (D-Northwest), the House Democratic Caucus secretary, said, “It was an honor to serve with Tommy in the legislature. I have known him and his family for very long time, and he was always a man of integrity and compassion. He had a true vision and was a steward of his community throughout his life. We’re going to miss him and I will keep his family in my prayers.”

State Rep. Joanna McClinton (D-W. Phila.), the Philadelphia County Delegation secretary, said, “Rep. Blackwell was a steward of wisdom, guidance and direction. He was the perfect model of how to put the people first as we do the people’s business. I will pray for his family in the hopes that they are comforted through this very emotional time.”

Harris added, “Many of the issues he fought for even after leaving office – reducing crime, providing Philadelphians with well-paying jobs, and making housing affordable and accessible to those who need it – are still our top legislative priorities today. I couldn’t think of a better way to honor his legacy than by continuing the work he dedicated his life to.”

A viewing for former State Rep. Thomas W. Blackwell IV will take place at Terry Funeral Home, 4203 Haverford Avenue, on Friday, Sept. 1, 5-8 p.m. On Saturday morning, there will be a viewing at Calvary Baptist Church, 6122 Haverford Avenue, 9-11 a.m.; service will be at 11 a.m. For information, call (215) 222-2826.

46th & Market Is a Firestorm

The awarding of the site for the new police HQ to N. Broad Street in Center City was an across-the-board blow to West Philadelphia, which had strong reasons to see the historic Provident Mutual building at 46th & Market Streets as an anchor for community revitalization when the City promised to site the Police Department there in 2014.

Promises, promises. Neighborhood civic groups have locked arms with Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell (3rd Dist.) to protest the scrapping of this deal.

STATE REP. Rosita Youngblood outfitted Danielle Harris at her bookbag giveaway at Mercy Neighborhood Ministries in Tioga.

But it’s a fact of life that West Philadelphia lost the last mayoral election. The current administration owes no debt to the Market Street El communities, which was bested by Broad Street El communities.

The City continues to find something else to do with this site, however. The Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. just released an RFQ for redevelopment of this 15-acre property.

“The availability of this key site along the Market Street corridor, which holds two iconic buildings totaling 336,200 square feet, provides a rare opportunity to create a unique, new destination in West Philadelphia. We are excited to be working with PIDC and Public Property to start this process to tap the interest that exists in the market,” said Anne Fadullon, director of planning and development for the City.

“When we decided to locate the Police complex at 400 N. Broad Street, we made a commitment to reactivate 4601 Market Street,” said Bridget Collins-Greenwald, commissioner of the Department of Public Property. “This RFQ is a tangible step toward meeting that commitment.”

Proposals are due Nov. 1, 2017. A selection committee comprised of PIDC and City representatives will evaluate the proposals based on the quality and feasibility of the proposed development; the demonstrated capacity to finance and execute the project in a timely manner; positive impact on the surrounding community and other pertinent criteria.

Expect a political explosion in 2018 if West Philadelphians see no progress on this site development by then.

State Dems Set Meeting

The Pennsylvania Democratic Party plans a robust back-to-work fall meeting in September. Its speakers include US Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), who will be its keynote speaker, along with former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander and Congressman Matt Cartwright (D-Luzerne). Additional speakers will be announced soon. Get your tickets at http://padems.com/fall.

The Fall Dinner is on Friday, Sept. 8 and lunch on Saturday, Sept. 9. Tickets are available and can be purchased online. The price is higher at the door, so we recommend you grab them now while still available.

Barletta in – but Casey out?

Congressman Lou Barletta (R-Luzerne) has made public what everyone knew he was compelled to do: enter the 2018 US senatorial primary race in a bid to unseat incumbent US Sen. Bob Casey.

Barletta became famous early as an opponent of Hispanic immigration to the Hard Coal Region. He was an early leader in President Donald Trump’s successful Pennsylvania campaign.

He will be tackling several other audacious GOP aspirants. Look for a fierce primary fight as Barletta strives to persuade his rivals to drop out. Some will but some won’t.

The winner of this fight must face a rude fact: Casey is not in trouble among the electorate at this time.

According to the latest NBC/Marist Poll, Casey is the most-popular statewide official up for election next year, with a +12 favorability score. The score will be a boost to Casey, who is going to be one of the most-watched candidates going into next year’s Senate races.

Any Republican who takes him on, therefore, should figure out how to make himself popular in a hurry.

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