mdcphilly's blog

Don't tell me there is some backbone in sight?

This is an awesome story from Metropolis regarding the PA Black Caucus:

Twelve of the 17 walked out on a House hearing over the an open records bills because of mounting frustration at the lack of regard paid to gun-control bills.

The interesting issue is that, with the House controlled by the slimmest of margins - one - by Democrats, the loss of the black caucus for an undetermined amount of time would mean Republican control for now.

Will that force Democrats from the rural parts of the state to finally meet urban Democrats in the middle somewhere on gun control?

David Oh, Thanks for running - vote count announcement delayed

David Oh, Thanks for Running.

I don’t know the result of the Jack Kelly-David Oh vote count for the second Republican At-Large Seat. It’s due to be finished later this week. I did, however, want to post a few thoughts because my thoughts are independent of whoever wins.

I don’t think anyone imagined that the race between Kelly and Oh would be so close. Even with the additional attention the race garnered in the final weeks of the campaign, I doubt that a significant percentage of Philadelphia’s residents could have told you much about either individual. Certainly I knew nothing about David before interviewing him, other than having seen him once campaigning at an event prior to the May primary in North Philly. I knew nothing about Jack Kelly, other that that he is seems to be a nice fellow and that he voted with John Street on a fair amount of occasions, and of course, that he really loves pets.

I am amazed by David Oh’s campaign. It’s not often in this town that newcomers really challenge incumbents. Certainly, it doesn’t happen often enough. David’s apparent accessibility and his five-page long list of endorsements attests to the many relationships that he developed across the city.

It is worth noting the reported enthusiasm for David in the Korean community. Having lived in Olney for most of my life, I call tell you that by and large, the Korean community has not been connected to politics or had much of voice. In retrospect, it seems to me that it was about time that they did. The Korea community effectively staved off the decline of the North Fifth Street business corridor (above the Roosevelt Boulevard) for more than twenty years.

I probably would have run David’s campaign a little differently (with a more comprehensive nitty-gritty policy committee) but given the evidence that he connected to so many voters, it is hard to believe that he could have been more competitive than he was.

Typically, competitive elections are good. They make our political leaders more responsive. I’m not sure that will be the case in this instance, because Jack Kelly has been pretty open that this would probably be his last campaign. How well Jack has done in this campaign is a testament to the many relationships that he has built over the years. Still, I think Jack owes us something---he owes us some more tightening up of campaign finance laws. I mean, when a politician is competitive because he or she collect campaign funds within the legal limit of the law but not the spirit of the law, I’m going to question his or her commitment to little “d” democracy.

To be really honest, however, I have to question lots of Jack’s priorities. The campaign to make our city a kill free city (as far as stray pets go) was a good nitty-gritty issue. It also was also blatant appeal to those who don’t want to tackle real problems. One of those real problems is the Parking Authority. I hope I’m proved wrong.

From what I understand, and I admit this is complete speculation on my part, Al Taubenberger has designs on being elected as a Republican At-Large in the near future. I like Al. He’s a nice guy. I don’t think he should be demonized needlessly but neither do I think he’s entitled to serve on Council or that he would add much to its current dynamic. Unfortunately, given six months of free media attention, Taubenberger’s name recognition may prove tough to beat if he decides to run.

We’ll see how the Kelly-Oh races goes but on the whole I’d say voters sent a pretty strong message that Philadelphian’s would like to see a more responsive, creative and democratic process rather than politics as usual.

For that, we should thank David Oh.

Get Paid to Write: Job Opening

PICO is an awesome organization and notice, they never use the "P" word. :) MDC.

Online Communications/writer specialist
PICO National Network

Date Posted: November 8, 2007

Who we are: PICO is one of the largest, most diverse grassroots community organizing networks in the United States, working in 150 cities and 18 states, and in Central America and Rwanda. PICO’s mission is to teach ordinary people the tools they need to improve their communities and transform society. The PICO network includes 53 affiliates, representing more than one thousand religious congregations and one million families. PICO affiliates have led successful campaigns to expand access to health coverage, improve inner-city public schools, reduce youth violence and create affordable housing.

Considering voting for David Oh?

If you are looking for reasons to vote for David Oh, I'm rounding up a few links of interest. In his interview with me, he was personable and I'd bet that if you could spend an hour with him, you'd end up voting for him.

To be fair, a couple of your favorite local media outlets cited David's quotes from his interview with me when it was clearly the case that they were paraphases. They were merely intended to provide flavor, not exact details on the discussion. Media folks, please keep that in mind for future attributions.

The flavor that the Republican party has allowed a number of lousy Democratic party power brokers to do whatever they wanted was essentially confirmed in one article:

As one insider told City Paper, "Under this current leadership, the Republican party is the largest Democratic ward in the city."

A Conversation with Bill Green, IV

Tuesday night, I had the opportunity to talk with Bill Green (and his very nice wife) for an hour at a coffee shop in Northern Liberties. We were supposed to meet at a bar but it was overrun with bikers.

I’m keeping the person-to-person format in the interest of fairness but it's still lots of paraphrasing. Yes, it’s a flawed method, but given the big bucks they pay me here, it’ll have to do for now. If there are any errors, you know who to blame. Italics are some of my commentary.

MC: …real life work… this blog thing...

BG: …started cabinet business, operated a flexiglass pole business, ran a technology firm that specialized in security. …extensive experience balancing budgets and implementing technology…. currently a lawyer...

MC: So your brand name definitely was an asset that helped you get elected (win the primary)?

A Conversation with David Oh

I had the opportunity to sit down with David Oh late last night and talk for over an hour about the ideas underlying his bid for City Council. While as previously noted, Mr. Oh will not be endorsed by YPP, I thought he was worth interviewing because he is participating in one of the few competitive races. In the interest of equal opportunity, if any other City Council At-Large candidates would like to be interviewed, please feel free to contact me and we will see what we can arrange or go ahead and post answers to my questions on your own.

As a word to the warning, the entire interview is paraphrased—in some case I boiled ten minutes down to a sentence or two. Mr. Oh was extremely personable as was Michael Reid, his campaign manager. Mr. Oh and I disagreed on a number of issues—but he was straight forward and defended his positions.

Mike Cunningham: Why City Council?

Help pass SCHIP – State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

From Philadelphia Citizens for Children and Youth

The U.S. House of Representatives will vote on the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) bill on Tuesday (September 25th) and the Senate will vote on SCHIP by Thursday (September 27th) !

This bill will allow four million children to get health insurance who would otherwise be uninsured. It also protects children now covered so Pennsylvania will keep providing coverage to the 164,000 children currently enrolled in CHIP.

But, the President has threatened to veto it.

Your call is so important because it will take a big vote (at least two-thirds) for the House and Senate to show the President it will reject his ill-considered veto. Four million children need you to call. Tell your Representative: “I'm a constituent who thinks covering four million more uninsured children is one of the most important votes you can take. Please vote for the State Children's Health Insurance Program bill . ”

SEIU Hits the Streets!

Join two thousand members of SEIU as they march for their health care. The city-wide contract will expire on October 15 and if the bosses around the city are still trying to take back health care or wages, there maybe a massive strike. Come out and march with your favorite janitors and show the bosses that they do not stand alone!

WHAT: March and Rally for a fair contract

WHERE: Dilworth Plaza, 15th St. and JFK Boulevard

WHEN: Thursday, September 27, 2007, 12:00 Noon - 2 pm. (march starts at noon)

Call (267) 250-6480 for more information.

Remembering Sherwood Baker

At the top of Daily Kos this evening, I was moved to see the diary of a former high school classmate rated at the top of the recommended list. Dante Zappala was an all time great cross-country team participant at Central, two years older than myself.

I'll let Dante explain himself:

I got a late afternoon call to do a segment on Hardball tonight with Chris Matthews. As the brother of a fallen soldier, I speak on behalf of Military Families Speak Out, and when the news cycles are right, when it fits the narrative, we get the make-up and the microphone--for a few fleeting moments, anyway.

The topic was Petraeus, and his admission that he doesn't know if the Iraq war has made us safer. That's not quite sincere, because we know the war has made us less safe. Still, the fact that something close to the truth was spoken on the Senate floor, to a Republican questioner, no less, is the sound bite Matthews ran with.

I wanted to talk about the humanity of this war. My brother died in Iraq. He died looking for WMD. He died because this country capitulated to fear, because the people in power were hell bent on an ideology, because the principles of reason were tossed for negligent policy.

Here is Dante on Hardball:

Redesigning the South Street Bridge before it is too late

Today's Daily Pennsylvanian has an editorial on the need to redesign the proposed South Street Bridge improvements. I whole-heartedly concur.

Here's the editorial:

In its eagerness to push through a flawed design, Philadelphia's Streets department is burning bridges with its residents.

With the planned reconstruction of the South Street Bridge, Philadelphia had the rare opportunity to develop a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly link between Penn's campus and Center City.

Instead, the Streets department has developed an ugly chute for funneling cars onto I-76 ramps, drawing a chorus of criticism from neighborhood groups, business associations and urban planners.

Their concerns are worthy of review. Rather than simply ignoring community feedback and spending $50 million on a flawed plan, city officials need to take off their blinders and consider redesigning the bridge to meet the community's needs.

Philadelphia can't afford to have instance after instance of bad city planning.

Support Inclusionary Housing

From David Koppisch

Hi Folks:

I am writing to urge you to join the Philadelphia Campaign for Housing Justice's fight for real housing solutions in our city. Last year I helped launch this campaign and the coalition is now on the verge of getting historic affordable housing legislation passed.

Next Thursday, they will rally in front of City Hall and deliver thousands of signatures in support of the Inclusionary Housing ordinance - an ordinance that will dramatically increase affordable housing in Philadelphia. You can add your voice by filling out this on-line petition.

To find out more about the campaign, please visit PCHJ's website.

Stand with others for housing justice on Thursday!

Join with the Philadelphia Campaign for Housing Justice for a
Rally for Inclusionary Housing* in Philadelphia

Thursday, September 6 - 11:30 am

Dilworth Plaza, City Hall, Northwest corner

A Pot Luck with Great Lasagna and the Next Mayor

Michael Nutter and Citizens and Great Expectations Pot Luck

Friday evening, I had the pleasure of joining a Pot Luck at Ebony Staton and John Weidman‘s house in Mount Airy as part of the Inquirer’s Great Expectations/Citizens Voices Forum. Below I relate my interpretation of some of the highlights of the evening with a healthy dose of paraphrasing. To the extent possible, I'm letting participants thoughts speak for themselves and accept all responsibility for any errors or misinterpretations. Comments and feedback are welcome.

According to Chris Satullo, head of the Great Expectations project and former Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial Page Editor, soon after his May primary election, Michael Nutter was at a restaurant in Center City and expressed an interest in engaging in a series of low key events where he could personally interact with Philadelphia residents prior to the November election. Great Expectations proposed a series of pot lucks and Al Taubenberger (or Al T., with no disrespect intended), his opponent, was agreeable.

Ms. Staton and Mr. Weidman live in a beautiful medium-sized single family home that they purchased in March of this past year. The pot luck included a variety of excellent food including rellenos de carne and other choice empanada-like pastries provided by attendees from Kensington, cole slaw with cabbage from a Philadelphia community garden and some out-of-this-world Lasagna from Ms. Staton. During the course of the evening, Al T. expressed his opinion that the food was better than the previous pot luck, last Wednesday, to the delight of all who attended.

Prior to starting the listening session, I had the opportunity to talk with a couple of the participants and get to know them.

Mary Ellen Graham is a social worker and professor at the University of the Sciences. She lives in Fairmount. (She contributed the cole slaw to the meal that included cabbage she grew in a community garden somewhere around town.) Ms. Graham's dream, however, is to start an innovative shelter for homeless men to be located in Germantown that provides clients with extensive support services. According to her, such shelters have been started in other places and proved successful. After almost two and a half years of working on the project, she has been told that the ideas are solid and the obstacle that remains is the question of whether the project can be funded. Furthermore, she says that there are folks at the Department of Human Services that love the idea but that funding the project will ultimately be a result of decisions made by the Next Mayor.

Alexis Gonzalez is a 15-year old from Kensington. Alexis came with his pastor, Adan Mairena, who leads a congregation in West Kensington. Alexis is about to start Edison High School in a couple of weeks. He has worked helping fix computers at a shop near Kensington and Allegheny Avenues and wants to study welding. He spoke of one of his cousins who does underwater welding and how difficult it is to work underwater, in what is often claustrophobic environments fixing boats. I asked Alexis what he wanted from the next Mayor. He said that he wanted a Mayor who would do to Philadelphia neighborhoods what politicians had done across the river from New York City in New Jersey. As he understood it, there, the officials had gotten uptight about graffiti and trash. To show they were getting uptight, they had instituted serious fines, like $500 for anyone who was caught defacing buildings or littering. The officials had also told abandoned factory owners they had 30 days to do something with their properties or that those factories would be knocked down. And apparently scores of them were.

Click read more if you like.

Edit: Blogging with Great Expectations: Friday 6 p.m., No longer live

I've volunteered to attend a Great Expectation's Pot Luck (part of the Inquirer's Citizens Voices Forum) and live blog (an experiment) about the experience.

I'll be at a residence in Mount Airy around 6p.m. on Friday. I imagine I'll summarize ideas thrown out by participants at the event and post them.

I'll consolidate or write a concluding post on the event afterwards when I have a chance. If anyone has any reactions or questions, during or after the event, and you happen to be hereabouts, you are welcome to comment, post, ask questions, etc.

More to come.

Edit: Alright, looks like the folks where the forum will be happening don't have internet access so looks like the write up will not be on the spot. Sorry. We learn as we go. Stay tuned!

You can also check out Albert's write up although I don't expect to have a photo spread to compete with his.

Holding our region's leaders to high standards: How many interns did you host this summer?

Oh, and this has nothing to do with anything, but I'd like to know how many High School interns worked at the Swarthmore Group this summer? I've got a sneaky suspicion that there wasn't even one. Would someone from the Chamber of Commerce please call and ask if they'd like to get on the list for next summer (or better yet involved in a year long program beginning this fall). I think Mr. Nevels has done about as much as can be expected in terms of leading the School District and there is little doubt in my mind that he cares deeply about helping kids but let's make sure he gets an intern or two to answer some phone calls next summer.

All of our regions leaders need to step up and be active mentors to Philadelphia teenagers even if they are busy and overwhelmed. Heck, how hard is it to teach a couple of teenagers to answer phones?

Evaluating Jim Nevels and the School Reform Commission

With Nevels' retirement and Dungee Glenn's appointment to the SRC, I have questions about our expectations.

Do people expect too much of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission (SRC)? Since the positions are volunteer commitments, whoever is involved either needs to be independently wealthy, retired or have an extremely flexible job. In what other large institution would a bunch of volunteers that meet a few times a month be expected to accomplish something as significant as ensuring tens of thousands of young people receive a quality education? Imaging if your neighborhood bingo organizers were expected to win an Olympic bid.

I suppose that the City of Philadelphia has millions worth of software for managing its budget. What does the School District have? I’m not sure but I have a hard time believing its the equivalent to what the City of Philadelphia or a Fortunate 500 company would consider acceptable. Was the large "surprise" deficit because the financial and accounting systems aren't up to snuff, because the bean counters are incompetent or because Vallas and the District administration didn't want anyone to know?

What standards are fair in evaluating the work of the SRC or is it destined to be just a figurehead? I think the volunteer aspect of the SRC is something that needs to be kept in mind in terms of evaluating its potential to bring consistent leadership and real change or even just some good management practices.

Syndicate content