kbojar's blog

Specter is considering sponsoring bill that students with drug convictions are not barred from receiving financial aid

Pennsylvania NOW received the following request for support for a bill Sen. Specter is considering sponsoring to ensure that college students with drug convictions are not automatically barred from receiving federal financial aid:

As a Pennsylvania-based organization, Pennsylvania NOW could play a huge
role in making sure that college students with drug convictions are no
longer automaticaly strpped of their federal financial aid.

Sen. Arlen Specter is considering sponsoring a bill to reinstate aid to
affected individuals, but he needs encouragement from organizations like
yours to make this a priority for action.

As you may know, nearly 200,000 aspiring students - including more than
6,000 in Pennsylvania alone - have been affected by the penalty since it was
put into force in 2000.

More than 325 organizations around the country - including national NOW -
have already called on Congress to overturn the aid elimination penalty.

Press coverage of mayor's race could be a lot better

I (and many friends I’ve talked to about this) have become increasingly dissatisfied with mainstream press coverage of the mayor’s race. For a while it seemed it was all Milton, all the time.

It’s probably no worse than it has been in past. The existence of serious debate and commentary on local blogs has made me more dissatisfied with relative lack of such analysis in the mainstream media.

The failure to cover the Chestnut Hill forum (which so many members of the community worked so hard to put together) was very disappointing. Then to add insult to injury, Gar Josephs in response to a YPP post said the DN reporter concluded there was nothing of interest at Chestnut Hill forum that "happened to advance what was said at the Central High forum earlier in the day."

Mayor Candidates’ Forum in Chestnut Hill

Here's a chance to have your questions answered:

The Race for Philadelphia Mayor 2007:

Mayor Candidates’ Forum in Chestnut Hill

Attendance Confirmed by
Chaka Fattah
Bob Brady
Dwight Evans
Tom Knox
Michael Nutter
Al Taubenberger

Monday, February 26
7:30 P.M.
Doors Open at 7 P.M.

United Cerebral Palsy Center
102 E. Mermaid Lane, Chestnut Hill
Come Early
Seating is Limited
Moderated by John O’Connell

Panelists: Mary Williams Walsh (New York Times) and Bob Warner (Philadelphia Daily News)

Brought to You by the Chestnut Hill Community Association
8434 Germantown Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19118

The voters vs. the bloggers

The voters vs. the bloggers

I spent some time yesterday walking around my neighborhood getting signatures on petitions (including a Michael Nutter petition). For those of you who plan to run for committeeperson, petitions are a great way of getting to know your neighbors and getting a feel for their political priorities. I’ve been a Dem. Committee person in Mt. Airy for over 20 years and have always found the petition period a helpful way of staying in touch with constituents in between election cycles.

This morning I just got through the recent avalanche of blog posts on the BPT. This was a great education on municipal finance and my thanks to all of you, who shared info and insights, with special thanks to Aardhart for his/her analysis of points of agreement and disagreement on tax issues and to Short Shrift for his/her "Hard Numbers From the Philadelphia Budget (and Some Questions)."

Rage Against the Machine

Rage Against the Machine.

A fellow committee person told me he did not want to support any candidates who are part of the Democratic Party machine. I have heard this from a lot of other folks I know active in grassroots electoral politics.

I expect that some of us who have been around for a while will make distinctions as there are some good folks with strong ties to Dem. Party machine who deserve support.

Bu there is a growing groundswell of disgust with machine politics, and for many, Kenney’s attempt to gut campaign finance reform was the last straw.

This is going to be a very good year for challengers!


changing the rules in the middle of the game is a really bad idea

Marc Stier has suggested that there be a compromise with Councilman Kenney which would keep the principle of caps on contributions, but allow other Mayoral candidates to collect larger contributions as Knox keeps contributing to his own campaign. Marc doesn’t cite numbers, so it’s not clear to what extent any such compromise would gut campaign finance reform.

However, changing the rules in the middle of the game is a really bad idea.

Everyone knew that Knox would do this. Wilson Goode has already addressed this problem by amending the campaign finance law to raise the caps when a candidate like Knox entered the race.

And now because of the results of one poll, Brady’s supporters are in a panic and want to change the rules in the middle of an election cycle. The Committee of Seventy has raised questions about the legality of this:

If the Kenney ordinance prevails, we believe that the
constitutionality of changing the campaign finance system after five

Kenney’s gift to challengers

Kenney’s gift to challengers

Councilman Kenney has just raised the profile of the many highly qualified challengers running for city council. He has give them a powerful issue and an opportunity to get more public exposure. If I were an incumbent supporting this bill (particularly the new incumbents)I would be very worried.

I understand that Kenney is now talking about introducing a public financing bill. I don’t expect his public financing bill to get very far at this point, certainly not in time for this primary election.

This may be a cynical ploy on his part, to try to get us focused on public financing bill while he pushes through his repeal of contribution limits.

We CAN defeat incumbents who vote to overturn the campaign finance reform laws.

We CAN defeat incumbents who vote to overturn the campaign finance reform laws. We have a lot of choices in the upcoming elections with many strong challengers running for both at large and district council seats.

I would like to hear from some of those challengers. How would you vote on the bill Councilman Kenney plans to introduce which would gut campaign finance reform?

Why I am supporting Michael Nutter

Why I am supporting Michael Nutter

It’s generally acknowledged that no one in the race knows more about the workings of city government than Michael Nutter.

But it’s not just a matter of being the smartest guy in the room. Nutter has a 15 year RECORD of fighting for clean, responsive government. He’s the reason we have campaign finance reform, ethics reform, and the smoking ban.

Other candidates are now talking about ethics reform, ending the pay to play culture etc., but Nutter has delivered. See the record of his accomplishments (including support for schools, the libraries, neighborhood revitalization, etc.) at http://www.nutter2007.com/index.php/record/

Debate Avoidance

Debate Avoidance

There is an issue around which progressives should be able to unite—that is, the seeming reluctance of some of the mayoral candidates to engage in real debate.

The Jan. 20 mayoral forum organized by ADA and PFC is now down to 2 candidates. Apparently, Brady declined because he is teaching a class at Penn. I believe it is a class on Philly politics. If so, what better class trip than the mayoral forum?

Fattah did not want to participate if Brady would not attend and so bowed out. This strikes me as very disrespectful to the other candidates. Why should everything stop if Brady doesn’t want to play?

Evans had what I believe to be a real conflict—-a funeral of a close friend, so this post is not meant as a criticism of him.

I have a feeling this kind of debate avoidance will recur.

Clarification from Michael Nutter re. his position on BPT

There has been some controversy on this blog re. Michael Nutter’s position on BPT. I contacted Michael Nutter re. clarification on his position on BPT and received the following reply:

Dear Karen,
>I am writing in response to your question regarding my position on the
>Business Privilege Tax (BPT). I have taken a very strong position during my
>time as a Councilmember, and now as a Mayoral candidate, that the BPT must
>be lowered in order to create economic opportunity, create jobs and make
>Philadelphia more competitive. I have authored, voted for and publicly
>stated my position on six different bills for the purpose of making the
>point that we need action now on the job-killing BPT, and I have used a
>variety of tactics to force the current administration to change its tax


From Naima Black
Community Collaborations Coordinator
PA Prison Society

An original Theater of Witness production conceived by Teya Sepinuck.
Prisoners and their families explore the human costs of incarceration.

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007 at 7pm
Friday, February 23rd, 2007 at 7:30pm
Saturday, February 24th, 2007 at 7:30pm
Sunday, February 25th, 2007 at 3pm

The New Freedom Theatre
1346 North Broad Street, Philadelphia

Call now for reservations at 215.222.8682

Presented by TOVA, The Blueprint for a Safer Philadelphia, and the
Pennsylvania Prison Society, HOLDING UP: A NEW PRISON LEGACY is a
multi-media theater production that tells the true stories of families
affected by the incarceration of 70,000 men and women throughout the state.

article on Michael Nutter in Phila Magazine now available on line

Thanks to Above Average Jane whose blog alerted me to article on Michael Nutter in Phila Magazine now available on line at

For those on this list who think the only thing Michael Nutter has done is advocate for reductions in BPT, the article provides an overview of his career, his deep roots in Phila. neighborhoods, his passion for the city and deep commitment to political reform and to social justice.

It concludes with a great quote from Hannah Miller.

Hannah, I love your spirit and commitment!


We'll have more women running for office when we have real campaign finance reform.

Acouch raised the question: why out of 15 at-large candidates for city council is there only one woman running?

We will have more women running for office when we have real campaign finance reform--i.e. public financing of elections. Running for council at large as opposed to a district seat requires a good deal of money. I was at a holiday party last night and the one woman running for council at large was among the guests. I asked her why there are not more women running for council at large. Her response: money.

And of course under-representation of women is not just a local problem. Women are 51% of the population but only 16% of congress. Organizations like Emily’s List NWPC, NOW are all trying to get more young women in the political pipeline.

Historically, women have run for political office when their children are grown, (Read Harriet Woods’ Stepping up to Power for a good description of the obstacles faced and choices made by an older generation of women.) Younger women may not follow this model of family first, politics later.

If you begin a political career in your late 40’s or early 50’s (say running for state rep), your chances of becoming governor, U.S. senator, president etc, are slim indeed. The guys tend to get started in their 20’s—e.g. State rep in their 20’s, state senator in their early 30’s, U.S. congress in mid to late 30’s, U.S. senator or governor in their 40’s. (Granted, given a famous name or tons of money , or a really compelling issue, a candidate can skip steps.)

I’ve been to a lot of conferences/ training sessions focusing on this problem (not as a potential candidate but as someone who wants to support women running for office). Among the discussion of obstacles (in addition to above mentioned family/ children problem): fundraising and the ugly nature of so many political campaigns. Women have less access to money and are often very reluctant to subject themselves (and their children) to the kind of mudslinging all too common in political campaigns.

Also, there are all kinds of opportunities open now to am ambitious young women and the hassles of party politics may look a lot less attractive in comparison.

Our Phila NOW chapter has wrestled with this issue on the local level. Some of our members have considered running for office, but have backed out or decided not to enter the fray. For all of them, money was a major issue.

Finally, there’s the question, why does it matter? There is considerable evidence (according to National Women’s Political Caucus, Center for Women in Politics etc) that women bring different issues to the table. We need women’s perspectives at all levels of government. Granted the under-representation of women in politcis is not just a matter of money—-there are deeper issues of gender socialization at work. However, we are not going to close this gap without campaign finance reform.

Progressives need to open their wallets and start contributing more to progressive candidates

I agree that public financing is the long term solution and we must keep working towards that goal. Also, Councilman Goode makes some good points about what can be done in the interim. Like the tax debate, the challenge for progressives is to develop a long term and a short term strategy.

Also, we liberals/ progressives need to be more generous with our personal resources (both time AND money). My fundraising for candidates has been limited to middle income folks: teachers, social workers, therapists, public interest lawyers etc. These are people who identify as liberals/progressives, who can not write large checks, but who have jobs and are in position to make small contributions on a fairly regular basis.

I’m convinced middle income progressives could do a lot more to support progressive candidates.

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