POLS ON THE STREET: City Dems Show up on the Same Page

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HAVING Democratic Party Chairman Bob Brady’s back at the Brady Bunch Beach Bash were, L-R, state rep nominees Danilo Burgos and Malcolm Kenyatta, Sheriff Jewell Williams, PHA Resident Advocate Asia Coney, congressional aide Donald “Ducky” Birts and Teamsters Secretary-Treasurer Danny Grace. Photos by Wendell Douglas

BY JOE SHAHEELI 

The ruling Democratic Party of Philadelphia emerged from is quadrennial housecleaning in the May primary in good shape. 

All signs are that the May primary, which turfed up young winning candidates in several state rep races and yielded new Democratic City Committee ward leaders in 20% of its wards, has refreshed the party instead of splitting it. 

All factions showed up at party leader Congressman Bob Brady’s legendary Brady Bunch beach affair in N. Wildwood. That was a sign all factions are on board with party unity in 2018. 

To be sure, natural power alignments cluster around top city Democrats like Brady, Mayor Jim Kenney and Council President Darrell Clarke. None of these gentlemen concede that they report to a higher authority in local politics. But they do not lead factions in the true sense: rival teams seeking overall power in DCC, to choose this policy over that or promote this team over that. 

So harmony reigned at the Brady Bunch. 

It may have been sweetened by the ongoing clash between President Donald Trump and urban America. The White House’s partisanship forces all city Democrats to unite against a greater foe, leaving them no time or energy to feud with one another. 

But it is also fundamentally inspired by the fact there are few major disagreements among the city’s Democrats over policy. The much-heralded rise of younger “progressives” in the past two years is largely a generational movement that does not bring a new philosophy of government with it. Judged by what they advocate, the seasoned veterans of DCC are just as “progressive” as the new faces that have joined them. 

Will all this newfound unity work? The proof of the pudding will be in November’s turnout. 

 

Can Redistricting 

Reform Be Saved? 

In an effort to salvage Pennsylvania’s last opportunity until the 2030 U.S. Census for redistricting reform, State Sen. Lisa Boscola (D-Northampton) is calling on Gov. Tom Wolf to convene a special session of the General Assembly on this important measure. 

As the prime sponsor of SB  22 and longtime advocate for an independent role in the redistricting process, Boscola feels this opportunity will be the last chance lawmakers have to pass a concurrent resolution to amend the State constitution and place the issue on a ballot referendum before new maps would be drawn following the 2020 U.S. Census. 

Due to State constitutional constraints, if the legislature fails to finalize a reform bill in the weeks ahead, the current system – where lawmakers exclusively control the redistricting process – will be in place for at least another decade. 

“Last month, the State Senate adopted an amended version of my bill that takes the process of redrawing legislative and Congressional districts, and places it into the hands of independently-appointed citizens and out of the hands of lawmakers,” Boscola said. “While the final product that left the State Senate may not have been what everybody hoped for, it remains a testament to the strength of citizens and advocacy groups that have been working along with me for many years on getting this initiative forward and on the ballot for voters to ultimately decide.” 

The push for a Special Session, Boscola noted, is instrumental in getting a bill passed from both chambers in order to meet the requirement of a proposed amendment being adopted in two-consecutive legislative sessions before it can be placed on the ballot for referendum.   

“What we achieved in passing this bill last month was an incredible feat, and we need to get something agreed to and adopted in both chambers,” Boscola remarked. 

 

THE NEWLY MINTED Philadelphia School Board elected Joyce Wilkerson as president and Wayne Walker as vice president. Photo by Sal Patrone

Wolf vs. Wagner: 

Education, Taxes 

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and his Republican challenger State Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York) are trying to poke holes in each other’s base issues. 

Wagner is slamming Wolf for his proposal to change the funding formula for all state education monies. 

“This policy shift would result in education funding cuts to 362 school districts, representing a combined loss of over $1 billion in funding for those schools. 

“Under the governor’s plan, those school districts on the funding chopping block would see cuts so drastic that it would result in the elimination of programs, the loss of necessary academic resources, and teacher layoffs.” 

Wagner’s campaign is hardcore anti-Philadelphia on school funding. A windfall of almost 40% of the new money will go to Philadelphia, who would see an increase of $402 million, he complains. “This is despite the Philadelphia School District continuing to consume sState resources with little-to-no results to show for it. 

Wagner charges school districts across the state, from Pittsburgh to Stroudsburg, will see cuts under Wolf’s program. 

Wagner does call for reforms to the “hold harmless” rule that keeps new Commonwealth monies from being taken from wealthy school districts and disbursed to hungrier schools instead. 

Wolf’s campaign retaliated by critiquing Wagner’s position on taxes. As a Trump Republican, Wagner is obliged to oppose all taxes all the time. 

Calling Wagner “the very worst of Harrisburg,” the Wolf campaign knocked Wagner for opposing a severance tax on natural-gas production and for defending the Delaware Loophole, which lets big out-of-state corporations off the hook at the expense of Pennsylvania taxpayers. 

 

DEMOCRATIC Ward Leader Dwayne Lilley, L, chaperoned a squadron of sons and nephews to the daylong show on the Parkway.

Barletta Roasts 

Casey on SC 

Battle lines are being drawn over President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Congressman Lou Barletta, who is one of Trump’s staunchest backers in the Keystone State, hailed the nomination, saying, “The process for selecting Judge Kavanaugh has been the most transparent in history and the American people should expect the same thing from the Senate. 

“But Bob Casey is not interested in giving Judge Kavanaugh the fair process that Pennsylvanians expect. He opposed him before he was even the nominee,” said Congressman Lou Barletta finished. 

Casey may be in a good position to withstand Barletta’s barbs. His campaign has announced it raised $2.2 million in the second quarter of 2018 and has $9.8 million cash on hand. The campaign reported $300,000 raised for pre-primary period in May and a further $1.9 million raised by the end of the second quarter. In Q2, the campaign received donations from 19,000 donors across all 67 counties. 90% of the donations to the Casey campaign have come from grassroots donors giving $100 or less. 

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