POLS ON THE STREET: Congressional Map Finale Brings Peace to Races

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100 WELL-WISHERS flocked to the Rim Restaurant at 9th & Federal in South Philly to hear Lindy Li, a candidate for Congress in the new 5th Congressional District. Li answered questions on taxes, infrastructure and medical care. Rim Restaurant owner Jon Ren hosted the event. Photo by Joe Stivala

BY JOE SHAHEELI
When the U.S. Supreme Court definitively denied the attempt to block the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s new congressional map, even some Republicans must have breathed a sigh of relief. At last they knew.

It was exhausting for candidates in both parties to try to hold two different districts in their scopes at the same time. Now their task is simplified, their choices narrowed: Draw or fold.

The outcome drew cheers from national Democrats, who will likely pick up three congressional seats in Pennsylvania alone in November.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder, who chairs the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, said, “This November, Pennsylvanians will finally have the opportunity to vote for a congressional delegation on a fair map. Republicans have shown they are afraid of the very voters they claim they want to represent.”

HIGH above Center City in the Pyramid Club gathered Tartaglione supporters at a funder for State Sen. Tina Tartaglione. Standing behind Tartaglione in more ways than one: L-R, former State Rep. George Kenney, political expert for Temple University; Ward Leaders Janice Sulman and Bill Dolbow; and attorney Anthony Kyriakakis.

National Dems are shooting for a 25-seat gain in November to retake the U.S. House.

Republican General Assembly leaders thought otherwise. “It is disappointing that the U.S. Supreme Court did not intervene,” said GOP President pro Tem State Sen. Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson), Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre) and Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) in a joint statement, noting that the district court case “was dismissed on the legal issue of standing,” holding onto a belief in the merits of their cause.

Common Cause said the struggle is just beginning. Its next goal is to set up an impartial redistricting panel for all state and federal offices.

Micah Sims, its executive director, said Common Cause “is asking for our governor, State elected officials, reform organizations and grassroot movements to join forces and create a cure to the disease known as gerrymandering.”

Two winners emerge with gold medals in this case. They are the legal eagles of a landmark victory: Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia and the Washington, D.C. firm of Arnold & Porter. They’ll see more gerrymander clients in the years to come – well-paid ones, we suspect.

Green Bags Race in New 2nd Dist.

School Reform Commissioner Bill Green IV, a former mayor’s son, had little trouble getting elected to City Council at Large – a post he walked away from. But politics is in his blood. He has done well in business and enjoys access to big donors in this city.

So when the State Supreme Court threw Congressman Brendan Boyle (D-Northeast) into the new 2nd District, Green was tempted. Boyle had lost the Montco side of his constituents while taking on a new slew in the River Wards, Kensington and North Philadelphia – areas Green had represented while Boyle had not.

But Boyle quickly solidified relationships with Democratic Party leaders in those areas, leaving Green with few ways to break through their line. These wards were never Green’s strongholds anyway.

Green explored them with vigor regardless. “I think I had 362 divisions,” he said. But they would have cost him a lot of money. Truncated campaigns in a major media market like ours are hard to put together in a hurry – especially against a (half-)incumbent.

Boyle still has opposition. Michele Lawrence, a former Wells Fargo top executive, has also announced. She could hit Boyle hard in his new wards – if she has the financial and political connections. But her campaign has been quiet.

Lazer Quit Kenney – Who’s Still on Board

GIVING a boost to the congressional campaign of his former Deputy Mayor, Rich Lazer, L, was an endorsement by Mayor Jim Kenney.

No surprises here.

Mayor Jim Kenney endorsed his former Deputy Mayor for Labor, Rich Lazer, for U.S. Congress in the new 5th Congressional District, calling him “one of the smartest and hardest working young people I know. He has a strong moral compass and a strong sense of what’s right and wrong.”

Kenney said Lazer “shares my vision, he shares my hope for our families. I am endorsing him because there is no one better qualified – no one with a more-committed record to a progressive agenda than Rich Lazer.”

The son of union parents, Lazer served Kenney before resigning to run for Congress. As deputy mayor, Lazer handled many key labor disputes, including strife at the Philadelphia International Airport, the 2016 SEPTA strike and the contract stalemate between the School District and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.

“Rich believes in health care for all; he believes in diversifying the building trades; he believes in pay equity for women and in a woman’s right to choose,” Kenney said.

Lazer grew up in Kenney’s home South Philadelphia neighborhood of Whitman. His victory in the primary might well give Philadelphia a third congressman in November, despite the fact most of the district lies outside the city.

PFT Backs Johnson in New 3rd Dist.

JUDGE Jimmy Lynn offered a ballad to the crowd at the Plough & the Stars at his fabled St. Patrick’s Day breakfast.

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers has announced its endorsement of Kevin Johnson, Democratic Candidate for the new 3rd Congressional District of Pennsylvania.

“We believe that Kevin is the right person to take the fight for the future of public education and working people to Washington,” said Jerry T. Jordan, president of PFT. “Our students and communities need strong advocates in Washington fighting for them and with them. Educators and families across the 3rd District must have a Representative committed to investing in public education, workers’ rights, and marginalized communities. Kevin’s platform can bring that change to Capitol Hill.”

Johnson could pose a challenge to Congressman Dwight Evans, who is regarded as the de facto incumbent in this newley draen district, which takes in most of Philadelphia west of Broad Street.

A MERRY gaggle of Irishmen and women, real and honorary, gathered at Paddy Whack’s on the Boulevard to celebrate Pat Parkinson’s St. Patrick’s Party. Photo by Harry Leech

Council Budget Hearings Commence Next Week

Activists, take note! Philadelphia City Council will begin hearings on Mayor Kenney’s proposed Fiscal Year 2019 Operating Budget, FY2019 Capital Budget and Program, and FY2019-2023 Five-Year Plan on Monday, Mar. 26.

Administration officials from the Office of the Mayor, City departments and agencies will be questioned about their operations, strategic initiatives and performance over eight weeks of public hearings in Council Chambers. Administrators of the School District will also appear.

SEAN KILKENNY geared up for his exciting 177th Legislative District race with a team of union backers at a St. Patrick’s Eve fundraiser on the Boulevard. Photo by Wendell Douglas

Hot topics will be the mayor’s request for a 6% increase in the property tax and 8.5% increase in the real-estate transfer tax.

“The City of Philadelphia must continue to take proactive measures to meet new challenges and prepare for the unexpected, especially given the political climate in Washington,” Council President Darrell L. Clarke said.” I urge every Philadelphian to claim their stake in our shared future, and to get involved and engaged in the budget hearings process.”

The public is invited to participate in meetings in Chambers or watching meetings live on the City’s cable channels (64 on Comcast, 40 on Fios) or City Council livestream (phlcouncil.com/watch). Telecasts of Council hearings are re-aired on government cable channels and posted on Council’s YouTube channel (https://tinyurl.com/l73c36w).

The public can testify on FY2019 budget proposals on these dates: Tuesday, April 3, 5:00 p.m. (all departments and programs); Tuesday, May 8, 5:00 p.m. (on revenue measures/tax bills only); and Wednesday, May 16, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. and 1:00-5:00 p.m. (School District of budget only).

Members of the public may present written testimony via email to Budget.Hearings@Phila.gov. For further information, call (215) 686-3407.

Fiedler, Kenyatta Score Union Nods

Two candidates in open primaries for state representative in North Philly’s 181st Dist. and South Philly’s 184th District are winning valuable labor endorsements.

KENNETH WALKER, C, launched a serious campaign for state rep in the 181st Legislative District. He enjoys the backing of Laborers’ District Council. Photo by Wendell Douglas

Philadelphia Federation of Teachers’ executive board unanimously endorsed Malcolm Kenyatta in the 181st.

Jerry Jordan, president of the union, which represents more than 12,000 teachers and support staff working in Philadelphia public schools, said, “Malcolm knows we need real solutions to underfunded schools, ill-equipped classrooms, a counterproductive standardized testing system, and teachers and staff who too often are asked to do more and more with less and less.”

Jordan also had kind words for Fiedler in the 184th.

Jordan affirmed, “Elizabeth is dedicated to making sure teachers and students alike have what they deserve: small class sizes, adequate resources and skilled professionals. She is involved in her neighborhood schools because she knows the importance of public education for all children, including her own.”

Fiedler has racked up other union endorsements from UNITEHere!, PASNAP and International Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Workers.

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