Philadelphia Elections: My Endorsements

There are a lot of elections to watch in Philadelphia on Tuesday. Basically, everything outside of the state legislature, the governorship, and federal elections is on the ballot. Personally, I think that there are too many elections taking place on Tuesday, and that the "row offices" and judicial elections should take place in the first year of the four-year cycle (2005, 2009, 2013, etc) instead of the third year (2003, 2007, 2011, etc.)

I wanted to spend much more time blogging about many of these individual campaigns, but the sheer number of worthy campaigns to focus on, combined with my national focus as a blogger, made it too difficult to reach more than a handful. Still, in the extended entry, I have listed my endorsements for most of the campaigns that will be decided tomorrow in both Philadelphia (mayor, city council at-large, city council district races, "row offices", local judges, and ballot questions) and statewide in Pennsylvania (supreme court and superior court). I briefly discuss, and make endorsements, on one ballot question, and nineteen different campaigns. If a campaign is not listed, it is either because I have no preference, or I simply feel that I do not have enough information to make an informed endorsement.

This is the biggest non-presidential election the city has faced in sixteen years, and we could see some huge changes for the better. Of course, we could also see the status quo upheld, or even a regression, as well. No matter what happens, it is the first large-scale electoral test of the progressive movement in Philadelphia, and what happens here will have widespread, national implications. This is potentially a major turning point for the city, and for the success of local progressive activism. My endorsements, along with brief explanations of each, can be found in the extended entry.
First, the main event...

Mayor: Michael Nutter

I have been openly backing Michael Nutter on MyDD for a little more than six weeks now, but I would like to explain the thought process leading to that decision in more detail. Although I had been strongly considering Nutter since February of 2006, it still took a while for me to land firmly in his camp. Before I arrived at my decision, I considered every other major candidate.

Bob Brady is a very warm fellow, has a strong voting record in Congress, has close ties to labor, and has taken some steps to help bridge the racial, neighborhood and identity divides in Philadelphia (at least among machine insiders, that is). However, he is also a consummate insider, backroom dealer, and leader of what remains of the Philadelphia machine. As such, the process side his type of government is almost entirely antithetical to the progressive governing principles of transparency, accountability, and mass participation. Old school New Dealer with a strong civil rights bent--you betcha. New school open leftist--no way. Whenever I hear him bragging on the television or radio that he has the support of almost 3,000 of the city's 3,400 Democratic committee people, I always quip back "yeah, well, the other 400 of us are taking over." With the exception of Lieberman's unwavering support of the Iraq war, I can hardly think of a boast someone could make in a Democratic primary that would turn me off more than trumpeting your insider support.

Tom Knox is certainly an outsider, and made quite a few of the right enemies in the Philadelphia machine. I mean, I have never seen the machine hate any Democrat more than it hates Knox, even to the point where they set up a 527 to swiftboat him (although, in the last week, that 527 has now turned its guns on Nutter instead). However, he has also sided with one of the city's most retrograde forces of all, Johnny Dougherty. Lining up with Dougherty confirms many of the fears progressives in the city had about Knox's connection to pay-day lending, or that he favors Bloomberg style government in NYC. Basically, it is great that Knox would shake the place up, but I didn't do all of this local work just to see the Street and Fumo machines defeated by the Dougherty machine. That might even be considered a backslide, rather than an improvement.

Chaka Fattah has one of the consistently best voting records of any Democrat in Congress over the past twelve years. He has also made helping the city's poor the centerpiece of his campaign to a far greater extent than any other candidate. However, despite all this, as the months dragged on in the campaign, he also slowly moved down my list of preferences (he started right near the top). For one thing, I am not impressed with any candidate who starts out with a large lead, but then rapidly sinks in the polls (he has lost more than half of his support), struggles to raise money (he has raised the least, despite strong connections with both Clinton and Obama), and define a personal image (I still don't feel like I have a sense of him as a person). It didn't help that as he was struggling in the campaign, he filed a lawsuit to have recent campaign finance limits revoked, and then started attacking Michael Nutter for not being black enough (both are just so "old Philly" to me). I think that the saying "you govern based on how you win" is reasonably accurate. Considering how his campaign has gone, if he does somehow win, I simply have no real confidence in Fattah being a strong mayor. It also leads me to further question what I already thought was his rather dubious his plan to sell the airport as a means of financing his anti-poverty programs, which will be extremely difficult from both a financial and political perspective. Finally, while many of his supporters have raised valid concerns about Nutter's controversial stop and frisk policy, consider that Fattah voted for the Patriot Act back in 2001, something which 62 of his US House colleagues did not do, and that his anti-crime plan is pretty similar to Nutter's. Given this, let's just say that I am skeptical that this attack, which is at least partially coordinated with John Street's allies, is not coming from a strong history of defending privacy rights, but instead from a last ditch attempt to get back in the campaign, and possibly help John Street take Fattah's place in Congress (such a deal has long been rumored). This is a real disappointment for me, as for much of the campaign I thought I might support him.

Dwight Evans is, right now, my second choice for mayor. Smart, progressive, strong labor ties, and, even though he has many "insider" friends, his insider connections are probably the best ones to have in Philly. However, Evans is also in the mid or low single digits in the polls. Had Evans emerged with a real chance to win, I might be endorsing him right now. Instead, given that this has primarily become a campaign between Nutter and Knox, and that I see big, big differences between Nutter and Knox, I will not be doing that. For what it is worth, and this might sound bad, but the Evans campaign was the only campaign that never personally contacted me. As such, he is also something of a mysterious unknown to me.

And so, this brings me to Michael Nutter. Is Michael Nutter entirely free of "the machine?" Like any politician in Philadelphia, of course not. However, he is vehemently disliked by the Street, Fumo and Dougherty machines, which does make him the most machine-free of the five major candidates. Also, by a long, long, way, he has done the most consistent and open outreach to local progressive and reformer groups. He really wants to listen to what progressives and other people outside the normal institutions of city power have to say. Speaking of progressives, is Michael Nutter a perfect, hardcore progressive? Nope. However, he is a progressive, and has done the most of any candidate to improve governmental transparency and accountability, as well as encourage broader, popular participation in city government. For example, he is responsible for ethics reform, campaign finance reform, and establishing the citizen's police advisory commission. That last part is particularly important these days, because I think it shows quite clearly that he is not about giving the police vast, unchecked powers over the citizens of Philadelphia. Also, right now it clearly seems to be a campaign that will come down to Nutter and Knox, and it makes a big difference that Nutter is elected instead of Knox, who has the potential to remake Philly in the image of Michael Bloomberg and Johnny Doc (ugh on both counts). Yet further, Nutter has run an extremely hard working, energetic, and smart campaign to rise from the back of the pack to a narrow lead, which I believe provides a further clue as to the type of mayor he will be. His proposals, while not always the furthest left among the candidates, have always seemed smart, well thought out, and the product of original, personal thinking. Considering the campaign he has run, and indeed his entire political career, I have every confidence that he has the ability to enact the changes he proposes, and to change his mind if the policies he tries are not working. He is a very smart, very hard-working, open, reform-minded, pragmatic progressive who I believe is absolutely the kind of change this city needs. And the kind of change he brings can start as early as Tuesday, if he is able to win among both white and black Philadelphia Democrats. That something no one has ever been able to do in a hotly contested primary in this city, but the most recent poll showed him poised to do just that. I strongly and happily endorse Michael Nutter for mayor, and for a new Philadelphia. Go Nutter!


And now, for everything else...

City Council At-Large: Seven of the seventeen members of Philadelphia city council are elected "at-large," aka, citywide rather than in local districts. The city charter mandates that no single party may control more than five of these seats. This is a useful check against one-party-rule, as otherwise Democrats would control all seven seats. Still, I wish some third-parties would get their acts together and kick out the two Republicans. Considering how few Republicans there are in Philly, that shouldn't be too hard, at least in theory.

This year, there are an unusually high number of challengers running for the five Democratic seats. There is probably only one available seat for the one dozen or so challengers to fight over, as Juan Ramos, a freshman with low name recognition and the lowest vote getter among incumbents in 2003, faces another person named Ramos who is higher up on the ballot. Personally, since I do not want my votes to be self-defeating where my votes for incumbents cancel out my votes for challengers, I have decided to only endorse challengers. The way I figure it, I will endorse and vote for the five progressive / reform challengers I like the most, and hope that one of those five receives enough support to sneak into the fifth and final spot.

Every Democrat can vote for five people on Tuesday, and here the five candidates for whom I will vote:
  • Derek Green. Unlike some other candidates, I did not know Derek Green before the start of this campaign. However, I have met him on multiple occasions, seen him speak several times, and I could hardly have been more impressed. He has won the endorsement of numerous progressive organizations in the city, including Young Philly Politics, Philly for Change, and my own ward, the 27th. I think Derek has a good chance to win, but he could suffer from name confusion, as the city-council at large ballot also includes Bill Green (a Dougherty-backed challenger who scares me a bit) and Bill Greenlee (an incumbent who actually isn't that bad).

  • Caryn Hunt: Of the five candidate I am listing here, Caryn is by far the biggest long shot. However, she has progressive cred, isn't tied into the machine, is strongly anti-casino and supporting her won't hurt the chances of the other candidates I list here. I know that endorsing someone for strategic reasons based on some sort of strange voting game theory isn't the most ringing endorsement to give someone, but hey, at least I am being honest.

  • Matt Ruben: If you are looking for a candidate who represents progressive movement values of governmental transparency and broad participation in government, Matt Ruben is it. He is also receiving his Ph.D. in English and Urban Studies from Penn tomorrow, which is probably one of the main reasons I feel a stronger personal connection to Matt than to any other candidate running for any office in the city. He has a long record of grassroots politics, progressive causes, and community activism. He is also a very strong anti-casino candidate, and is a DFA all-star.

  • Marc Steir: Founder of Neighborhood Networks, one of the key silent revolution and generally progressive organizations in the city. He also has a Ph.D. in philosophy from Harvard, and has done some important work on public transit and community development.

  • Andy Toy: A local urban development expert, neighborhood activist, parks and arts advocate, and general city "connecter." Seriously, look at the incredible list of local organizations in which Andy has played has played an active and influential role. Andy Toy is someone who can pull the city together, and who has innovative ideas for change.
While I am only voting for challengers, I should note that there are two incumbents, Blondell Reynolds Brown and Bill Greenlee, who have picked up some progressive endorsements. The remaining progressive endorsements have all gone to Derek Green, Matt Ruben, Marc Steir and Andy Toy.

City Council District Races: There are ten local city council districts in Philadelphia. While not every district features a contested primary, such as the district where I live, Jannie Blackwell's District Three, this year most of them do. Here are the six districts where I have a favorite. Once again, all of them are challenging incumbents.
  • District One: Vern Anastasio. Vern is taking on Frank DiCicco, a reliable member of the Vince Fumo segment of the Philadelphia machine. He has a clever, innovative campaign, and has a reasonable chance to win.

  • District Two: Damon Roberts. Damon is taking on city council President Anna Verna, another close ally of Vince Fumo. Verna is around the age of 80, and her father actually held the seat before she did since time immemorial. The district has changed quite a bit since then, and is now majority African-American. A Roberts victory would shake up Philadelphia politics almost as much as a Nutter victory in the mayor's race. It would also provide new, energetic leadership far more in touch with the changing second district (part of which I represent on the state committee). Damon is, unfortunately, a bit of a longshot.

  • District Four: Matt McClure. I don't know much about McClure, and I have even heard some negative things about him. However, he is challenging machine triumphalist, and overtly anti-blogosphere Carol Campbell. That is good enough for me.

  • District Five: Haile Johnston. Halie Johnston is a first-rate progressive reform and community activist. I have been so impressed with Halie, that I once asked him if he thought that being elected to city council would actually reduce the amount of good he does for his neighborhood, because city council would take up so much time from his other activities. He told me that he actually worried about that a little himself, but on balance concluded that it would only serve to strengthen the many projects he has undertaken. I think he is right. When you look up "green,""sustainability," and "innovative local activism," in the dictionary, there will probably be a picture of Halie before long.

  • District Seven: Maria Quinones Sanchez. Maria is competing for the seat once held by the ultra-corrupt Rick Marinao, who is now in jail. In 2005, Mariano thrilled Philadelphia residents by climbing to the top of city hall the day he was indicted, where many people thought he might jump (fortunately, he did not jump, and later claimed that he had no intention of jumping). Maria faces six-month incumbent Dan Savage, who was installed by the machine without an election (along with Carol Campbell and Bill Greenlee). Maria has received a wide range of establishment and reformer endorsements, and has a very good chance to win. If she loses, reform challengers might very well be shut out city-wide. A very big race to watch.

  • District Eight: Irv Ackelsberg. Irv has a long, long history of progressive activism in Philadelphia, and is also the father of Dan and Alex Urevick-Ackelsberg, the two brothers who got Young Philly Politics up and running. I guess that makes him, quite literally, the local blogfather. I have heard rumors of a poll showing Irv well ahead in this campaign, but I don't know how solid those rumors are. It is certainly impressive that he has been able to marshal several hundred volunteers to work on a local city council campaign.
Ballot questions: Even though it was tossed from the official ballot, it is still important to find a way to vote "yes" on anti-casino ballot question #1. Casino-free Philadelphia is holding an alternative election to make sure that people can do just that.

Judges: I don't like that judges are elected in Pennsylvania. If forced to choose among Democrats, I vote for the candidates who come highly recommended by the bar association, instead of just "recommended." For state supreme court, where people can make two votes, that means C. Darnell Jones and Debra Todd. For state superior court, that means Anne Lazarus, and then either Ron Folino or Christine Donahue. Some new local judges might not hurt either, but I'm not going to pretend to know enough to make an informed endorsement.

Row Offices: Even though these are the five elected offices in the city where the patronage jobs of the machine are the most plentiful, there has been surprisingly little attention paid to these campaigns. These elections should probably be moved to the same year as district attorney. Every challenger here is a real long shot, but it would be great if Michael Untemeyer was given a chance to clean up the mess in the Sheriff's office. Also, I support Blair Talmadge for city commissioner, an office I once considered running for myself.


Phew. I can't wait for this election to be over, which happily coincides with the student population leaving my neighborhood, University City, for the summer. Starting on Wednesday, it is going to get nice and quiet around here for a few months. Also, I think the endorsements of Neighborhood Networks and Philly for Change, are worth a look. This is a very exciting time in Philadelphia, and while I do not expect many of the candidates I listed above to win, I think that we can get Michael Nutter and at least two new members of city council. That is really all the foothold we need to start making big-time changes around here, since Philadelphia has a strong mayor system, and since it only takes two members of city council to hold a hearing. Onward to Tuesday!

Tags: Judges, Machine, Michael Nutter, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, progressive movement (all tags)



How to vote in Phillys Ballot
The removed Ballot question #1? Here's how to vote on May 15th: Legislation introduced in City Council is awaiting the result of the citizens election. And at least one ballot box has been placed in every state representative's district, along with other high-traffic locations throughout the city, to let them know what their constituency wants. More at
by hyrax 2007-05-13 06:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Philadelphia Elections: My Endorsements

I respect your opinions, and agree with many of your recommendations, but want to offer a differing sense of what this election is about. First, given a city where a high proportion of the population has significant problems, ie. those living in poverty or near poverty, this election should be about the policy options that will ameliorate their conditions while maintaining or improving the quality of life for those not living on the edge. Improving the election process through greater transparency & increasing participation should take second to this goal.

Of the mayoral candidates, only Fattah has articulated a policy agenda; the rest speak in platitudes, unless you consider Nutter's heightened law enforcement the solution rather than a holding action. Nutter could have been my candidate but his priority on cutting the business tax - another example of nonworkable trickle down economics - is a feckless attempt to win business support. Call it a bribe to the business community.  Evans is a poor choice because he has often sided with the arch conservative state govt. against the interests of the city's inhabitants. The state's takeover of Philadelphia's school system & its partial privitization, both of which Evans vigorously supported, render him unsuited to be mayor.

I support Fatah but consider each of the rest not to be bad candidates. Each has some strength. The real difficulty for our city is the wheeling dealing nature of our city council. No real change will come till we have a policy oriented legislature. I only know of 2 city council candidates that can address Philadelphia's problems thematically rather than being focused primarily toward wheeling dealing: Ackelsberg & Anastasio. There may be others but I don't know them well enough to recommend them.

I suggest the next Philadelphia government needs to tackle 3 major priorities successfully: 1) tame the bureaucracy in city hall to make it work more efficiently & effectively 2) reduce the crime in the city 3) most importantly, bridge the gap between those prospering & those living on the edge.

by carter1 2007-05-13 06:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Philadelphia Elections: My Endorsements
"No real change will come till we have a policy oriented legislature. "

You are right, and I don't think that will happen until city government is opened up, transparent and accountable to an active, engaged citzenry. We need that change before we can start fixing the poli8cy problems we face. Otherwise, you can have the greatest policy in the world, but many of the same old people will be around to screw up the implementation.

I didn't know that about Evans, but it hardly matters now. As far as Fattah goes, do you really think the airport plan is a sound idea? I certainly don't. And if he can't sell the airport for the amount of money he says he can, then really he isn't any different from the candidates offering what you consider little more than platitudes about poverty.
by Chris Bowers 2007-05-13 06:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Philadelphia Elections: My Endorsements

Chris, I love you man but you're looking through the wrong end of the telescope. I want to tell you where I'm coming from to answer you.

I grew up in a working class neighborhood - South Philadelphia. Virtually no one in my neighborhood had the time to become involved with politics; they were too busy trying to make ends meet on a daily basis. What they expected from city govt. were end results that would improve their lives. The process was something they were too tired from work to involve themselves. Philly is a working class city - 80-90% of the population have the above orientation.

So what you're de facto recommending is an orientation toward a post graduate school population (Plato's men of gold) tilt that would have the time to really galvanize city govt. The rest of the population would in effect be bystanders, just like before (ever read Animal Farm?). There's nothing wrong with this, the progressive population are better than the current crowd in power.

But our focus has to be on policy results, otherwise the working population will eventually tire of all our participatory stuff (You know, the Menscheviks lost to the Bolsheviks) and throw us out as irrelevant or wishy washy.

Just to finish the me comments: I went on to get a Ph.D. in political science from one of the top dozen departments in the country & taught political science for about 20 years. I spent 1000 + hours reading the studies on voting patterns & policy. I wedded academic knowledge with my ground level experiences at the neighborhood level to reach my conclusions about what works & doesn't work for progressive politics to succeed in America.

I'm all for transparency & greater citizen involvement but don't make it the horse to ride in on for progressive success. It won't reach the finish line.

by carter1 2007-05-13 07:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Philadelphia Elections: My Endorsements

This is completely on the ball.  It's one thing to say when two candidates are close to each other on policy that their positions on transparency should be a decider; it's another thing to say policy differences barely count.  Especially when the issue divide is as monumental as that between Fattah and Nutter.  Nutter's tax position is positively Reaganesque.  He's a corporate Democrat through and through.  Fattah actually believes in government.  There's some confusion about the differences between them because Nutter's spin has been that right-wing tax policy may not work on the national level but it does work on the local level.  But that notion is unsupported by evidence.  And to support someone for whom corporate tax cutting is his central policy idea is to legitimize that sort of thinking as OK Democratic policy.  Do we do anything to mobilize a cohesive base by sending that kind of mixed message on something as fundamental as corporate taxation?  I think not.

by Stan Shapiro 2007-05-13 07:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Philadelphia Elections: My Endorsements
A couple days ago I saw you compare Nutter to Bush. Now, you are comparing him to Reagan. I'm glad your anti-Nutter hyperbole hasn't been slowed in the slightest. By Tuesday, I'm sure he will be Nixon.
by Chris Bowers 2007-05-13 08:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Philadelphia Elections: My Endorsements

I'll say here I agree with the spirit of your earlier post that we need to be humble about our picks in this election, not only because, obviously, we can be wrong, but also because we have to heal our divisions after the election.  So I'll be brief and not prolong this.  Hopefully my analogies are completely off-base.  Hopefully Nutter is fully within the Democratic tradition.  But it is not unprecedented in an overwhelmingly Democratic town that someone with conservative instincts would join the Dems knowing the impossibility of being elected as a Republican.  And if centering your policy proposals on across the board tax cuts for corporations, big and small alike, is not Republican economics, then I don't know what is.  

Sometimes hyperbole is earned, sometimes it's over the top.  Unfortunately I think in this case, it's the former. I hope I'm wrong.

by Stan Shapiro 2007-05-14 05:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Philadelphia Elections: My Endorsements
"Virtually no one in my neighborhood had the time to become involved with politics; they were too busy trying to make ends meet on a daily basis. What they expected from city govt. were end results that would improve their lives. The process was something they were too tired from work to involve themselves. Philly is a working class city - 80-90% of the population have the above orientation.

So what you're de facto recommending is an orientation toward a post graduate school population (Plato's men of gold) tilt that would have the time to really galvanize city govt. The rest of the population would in effect be bystanders, just like before (ever read Animal Farm?)"

I really don't think that is fair, and I am certainly recommending no such thing. What we have right now is a city where very few people participate in government at all. the old ward system--which used to be the primary mechanism through which the working class could participate in government--has failed to the point where the candidate endorsed by 60 of 69 ward leaders is in 4th place. The ward leaders are no longer in touch with their residents--they are only in touch with their follow insiders. People are not participating in city government. There is a vast sense of hopelessness. That is what I am looking to change. Electing the same old people isn't going to do that. I only ran for committee person because, after eight years of never being contacted by the local Democratic party, I figured someone should represent them in my neighborhood.

And careful playing the class card on how you grew up. The only reason I ended up living in West Philly, starting ten years ago, was because I was completely broke. I saw the neighborhood gentrify (and whiten) around me, and I know the damage certain kinds of growth can wreck on the working class. I was only able to get health care after a few years of living here by helping to form a union where I worked. I was only able to stay in the neighborhood because, after seven years, as I was being pushed to the absolute brink of debt, my income fortuitously rose at the same time gentrification was taking place.

I don't know. I'm not really sure what you are recommending. You want to clean up city hall, but you also want to continue the Street legacy through Fattah. Those visions seem incompatible to me. You say most people don't have time to participate in politics, but then say I am arguing for a closed off system of government when I am doing the opposite. I'm not arguing with you here, I'm trying to have a discussion. But I just don't know what you are getting at.

I think your heart is in the right place, and we are looking for nearly identical goals, but in teh short time span we are dealing with we inexorably see paths paths of achieving them in this election. We will never be able to know which one of us is right, and compare both outcomes, because we will both only live through one future. If Fattah wins, I certainly hope you are right. If Nutter wins, then I imagine you hope I am. If Knox wins, then it is all a moot point, and hopefully we do well in the city council races. Good luck on Tuesday, and hopefully all will go best for our city. the future is now.
by Chris Bowers 2007-05-13 08:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Philadelphia Elections: My Endorsements

So what you're de facto recommending is an orientation toward a post graduate school population (Plato's men of gold) tilt that would have the time to really galvanize city govt.

CHRIS I really don't think that is fair, and I am certainly recommending no such thing...
And careful playing the class card on how you grew up.

None of my comments are attacks on you or your views, Chris. Notice the word de facto - ultimate consequences of your position. This is what would happen as working class people just don't have the time to personally participate in politics & expect their elected reps to look out for their interests.

I'm certainly not playing the class card, just telling you, as someone who came from a working class background & observed my neighbors' perspective on politics close to 2 decades, that the immediate economic/social concerns of working people in effect constrain them from being ongoing participants in the political process.

You're right about Fattah not seeming to have good campaigning skills. As opposed to western Europe, where ideas reign supreme, here in the US we put campaigning skills on a petal stool. I have not painted any candidate as the devil. Each one brings something to the table.

I have the greatest respect for you & what you're doing. We both have a passion for politics. I've largely spent my career educating students about it whereas you actually took you coat off & are trying to do something about our political situation.  Yours is a more laudable undertaking.

by carter1 2007-05-14 07:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Philadelphia Elections: My Endorsements

Policy Answer:

As far as Fattah goes, do you really think the airport plan is a sound idea? And if he can't sell the airport ... then really he isn't any different from the candidates offering what you consider little more than platitudes about poverty.

When I came back to Philly after being a professor in the Midwest, I taught several courses for Temple U. one of which, State & Local Govt. I had Fattah on as a guest speaker. I was, overall, impressed with him as a fellow policy wonk who is honest. He's been a fine congressman.

I'm not sure about the airport plan. What I am sure of is there will be a focus on the poorer population in Philly under a Fattah Administration. Secondly, I am sure that Fatah understands that business tax cuts are just a sop for those with money.

We've tried this before across America, ie. tax free zones, reduced local business taxes & its had negligible positive results for job creation. Either Nutter doesn't understand this (in which case its a problem) or he understands it all too well (in which case its a bigger problem).

I understand that the minimization of poverty in America can only be achieved by full federal/state participation. However, a big city can have programs at targeted risk populations, exs. those just losing their jobs, people with temporary mental health or drug problems, people needing to be matched up with the growing jobs in the suburbs, that would make a nice dent in the size of the poverty population.

This is the type of things a Fattah could do. He would not give away the store in business tax cuts but would use the revenue for helping the needy. If he saved money by making the city bureaucracy more efficient, he would be likely to use it for some poverty programs. In other words Fattah would break the ice & maybe make Philly a model for other cities around the country.

by carter1 2007-05-13 07:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Philadelphia Elections: My Endorsements
Whatever Fattah is saying about taxes now, I certainly did not receive that impression when I met him in person. But that isn't really here nor there, because it was a quick conversation at a large group event, I may have simply asked the wrong questions, you weren't there when the discussion happened, and a couple minutes talking to me can hardly be considered definitive as to how Fattah would govern. I still say that seeing how someone runs a campaign is indicative of how s/he will govern, and I am not terribly encouraged on that front when it comes to Fattah. I mean, I really like the guy, or at least I want to, but I am just not seeing it from his campaign. I am supporting Nutter, but I am not anti-Fattah int he way many Nutter supporters have become, or anti-Nutter in the way that many Fattah supporters have become. I made the best judgment I could before the election, and I am more than ready to live with that decision. Even if I am comfortable in my choice now, it took my an entire year to make this decision. It is not something I did lightly, and I am willing to admit mistakes if it turns out I am wrong.

While there are those who think otherwise, I don't think someone deserves extra credit for publicly making a point about caring about the poor if that person's plans to help the poor don't work. Quite frankly, I think the airport plan is a bad idea, even if comes with very much the right principles in mind. And when it doesn't work--which we won't even know until his second term because it will take so long to execute--we will have gone through eight more years without any real change in Philadelphia. And there is no backup plan. If Fattah becomes Mayor, it is sell the airport of bust for the next eight years (and talk of raising taxes falls flat to me, since it would never, ever, ever get through city council). That just isn't good enough to me. We need to try something else.

Anyway, I'm sorry for being so wordy in my responses. I really consider this more of a discussion than an argument. I like hearing what you are saying. I have my big soapbox, and I have made my rationale as clear as I can in this post. I don't need to run over your comments anymore than I have. The election is only two days away, and it is too late for either of us to change now. This is still a Democratic primary, and everyone deserves a say. Vote your conscience, and with the best interests of the city in mind. I hope that I'm not wrong, and Michael Nutter will be the change we need to fix the city. If Fattah wins, I hope you are not wrong either.

Chaka Fattah is a good man, with extremely worthy goals, and, um, "interesting" ideas on how to make it all happen. If he wins on Tuesday, I become one of his strongest supporters. But he did not make the sale with me in the primary campaign, and that is not going to change now. Maybe I will end up regretting it. It wouldn't be the first time that I supported a candidate who won, and that candidate did not turn out to be everything I hoped s/he would be. But I keep doing the best I can.
by Chris Bowers 2007-05-13 08:52PM | 0 recs
Matt Ruben and Northern LIberties
I worked with Matt Ruben when he was president of the Northern Liberties Neighbors Association (NLNA) and I served as executive director. Northern Liberties has been ground zero for redevelopment in recent years, and Matt was not afraid to stand up to developers, including the biggest in town, Bart Blatstein.
When Blatstein took his Schmidts redevelopment plan to the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) without reaching an agreement with the community, the NLNA appealed the decision to the courts. Facing a delay of a year or more, Blatstein finally sat down to negotiate with the community. The NLNA also appealed a permit for a "ballroom" project, and again brought Blatstein to the negotiating table. The organization had to set up a legal fund to mount these challenges, but Matt never flinched.
With this history, it's not surprising that Matt emerged as a leading anti-casino activist. One of the proposed casino locations is, inexplicably, on the waterfront close by Northern Liberties and Fishtown, two thriving communities that have no need for such inappropriate development on their borders.
I am proud to have worked with Matt Ruben. He's tough and smart, with a remarkable record of standing up for his community in the face of long odds--and winning. Northern Liberties is a better place, thanks to his leadership, and Philly would be a better place if he were to be elected to city council.
by tommywonk 2007-05-13 06:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Philadelphia Elections: My Endorsements

Great post, totally local.

by Jerome Armstrong 2007-05-13 07:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Philadelphia Elections: My Endorsements

Great post!

Go Anne Lazarus!!

by afertig 2007-05-13 07:41PM | 0 recs
Andy Toy

Vote for Andy.  He's a great guy and he'd be the first Asian American on the city council.

by exLogCabin 2007-05-13 09:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Philadelphia Elections: My Endorsements

Chris, what are your feelings on the ballot question about creating a youth commission?  It's question #4, and it reads as such:

Bill No. 060581: Creating a Youth Commission

Shall the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to create a Youth Commission, with members between the ages of 12 and 23 years of age, to be responsible for advising the City Council and the Mayor regarding issues affecting children and youth in order to ensure that children and youth have a voice regarding policies and decisions affecting them?

I know that the many folks support it -- a great editorial in the Daily News from late April -- ml

But our ward -- the 27th -- is not supporting this proposal, at least if I'm reading sample ballot they handed me at the Mayfair in Clark Park correctly.

I take the idea of a youth commission seriously.  Over the past twenty years our school district has seen walkouts, violence, and a lack of accountability to students.  In cities like Detroit, New Orleans, and Oakland, where I am luck enough to work with incredible youth groups through my organizing at Prometheus Radio Project (, I see great change happening when youth get the chance to influence how cities and corporations affect their lives.  I don't see how an advisory committee that gives youth a chance to speak out and meet the policymakers who make decisions for them would distract or detract from the work of the city.

The Philadelphia Student Union ( and the Philadelphia Citizens for Children and Youth ( -2007/0004584843&EDATE=) have been fighting for this for many years.  I hope Philadelphia progressives can stand behind them.  

by hannahjs 2007-05-14 06:05AM | 0 recs
We tried to contact you several times....


Dwight Evans campaign has tried to reach you several times, we have emailed you at  your personal address (which my friend Adam Connor gave me) and posted several comments in the threads of your posts on the Philadelphia election.

Anyway, thank you for the kind words about Dwight Evans.

Below is the comment that i dropped in your first post on the mayor's race in Philadelphia:

Chris Bowers-

I'm the Online Operations Director for Dwight Evans' campaign and we would love for you to come down to our offices to meet Dwight.

We are also doing some pretty cool and innovative things online, such as our Live Video Webchats. On our first Live Video Webchat we had over 260 Philadelphians log on to discuss the future of Philadelphia with Dwight and on our 2nd one nearly 100 logged on for a discussion about the environment with special guest moderator Alex Urevick-Ackelsberg of Young Philly Politics.

Our next Live Video Webchat is on Monday, March 19th at 7pm and we would love for you to join us as a participant or as a guest moderator if you are interested.

Unlike the webchats that Hillary did, the Video and Chat application is integrated into one flash window and you can see all of the users on the chat in addition to Dwight. In addition to asking Dwight questions via text, you can ask him a question via video if you have a webcam and microphone, which allows everyone on the chat to see you asking your question as well as Dwight's response.

If you or any of your readers here on MyDD from Philadelphia have any questions about Dwight's stance on the issues, post some questions in this thread and I will get you answers or join us for the Monday night webchat and ask Dwight yourself.

Thank You-

Ryan Alexander
Online Operations Director
AIM: RyanHAlexander

Note: I am the Online Operations Director for Evans for Mayor
by Ryan Alexander on Wed Mar 14, 2007 at 03:53:20 PM EST
[ Reply to This ]

by Ryan Alexander 2007-05-14 07:13AM | 0 recs
Re: We tried to contact you several times....
Well, then clearly I made a mistake. It wouldn't be the first time.
by Chris Bowers 2007-05-14 08:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Philadelphia Elections: My Endorsements

No worries...these things happen.

We really tried to go after the local bloggers hard  though:

We were the only campaign to regularly have Dwight post on Young Philly Politics with video and text blogs, the only campaign to do Live Video Webchats, and the only campaign to buy blog ads.

by Ryan Alexander 2007-05-14 08:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Philadelphia Elections: My Endorsements

Pittsburgh Endorsement

Doug Shields for City Controller.  A very smart guy who will bring some sanity to his city.

by jukesgrrl 2007-05-14 03:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Philadelphia Elections: My Endorsements

Is there ageism at work here, re: comments on Anna Verna's age, which is of course, wrong.  But what the hell, what does the truth matter?  And would you like to define and clarify what "time immemorial" means?

by phillykatie 2007-05-18 08:18AM | 0 recs


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