Elections Matter; Support Honkala, Boockvar, Schmidt

This is the email that Neighborhood Networks sent to all of its members earlier today:

You might not know it from the (lack of) media coverage, but there’s an important election coming on Tuesday, November 8. Up for election will be the Mayor, the entire City Council, the City Commissioner’s Office, the Sheriff’s Office, the Register of Wills Office, and many judicial offices. There will also be two ballot questions that are being considered.

Neighborhood Networks does not endorse in all of these races. We exist to advance progressive policies, through electoral means and otherwise. We only endorse candidates when their election would clearly advance our larger goals. In this election there are six candidates in contested races that meet that test. They are, Kathryn Boockvar, for Commonwealth Court, Stephanie Singer, for City Commissioner, Al Schmidt for City Commissioner, Cheri Honkala for Sheriff, Blondell Reynolds Brown for Council at-Large and Cindy Bass for City Council in the 8th District.

Only three of these candidates are in difficult races, Boockvar, Schmidt and Honkala. Please do everything you can to help their very important candidacies. Let’s look at them one by one.

Third and State This Week: The State Budget, Voter ID and CEO Pay

This week, the state budget dominated with the introduction of the House Republican budget. We also weighed in on the cost of a voter ID law and the rules for CEO pay.


Voter ID Law Costly to Taxpayers

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives is considering legislation that would require every citizen to present photo identification as a condition for voting in primary and general elections.

Many recently enacted voter ID laws have been subject to legal challenges, and states considering such laws are being proactive about including safeguards that eliminate impediments to a citizen's constitutional right to vote. But it doesn't come without cost.

In a recent policy brief, the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center applied the experiences of other states with voter ID laws to estimate the cost of implementing such a law in the Commonwealth. In order to meet the requirements set forth in the legislation and avoid potential litigation, PBPC estimates the first-year costs for a voter identification program of approximately $11 million.


The vision and values of a candidate

It takes vision and values.

Just as in business, a leader must have a vision. One of my competitors has a vision resulting in improved traffic laws, while another seems to believe that we can create programs which will remove the word recession from our vocabulary.
My vision is different. I envision a district where all children can participate in our democracy and our economy. My vision sees a child who is unencumbered by their parent’s lack of success, one who understands that their humanity equates to equality of opportunity. My vision is based on the democratic ideals of our nation. The values our government is supposed to operate on.

If you share my vision, then know that education is the key. Not all children start in the same place, but we as a society must insure they can compete in the same race. To accomplish, this we must educate individuals.

Candidate forum in the 194th on Wednesday, April 7

From the Hugh Giordano campaign:

Support Hugh at this upcoming public event! He will be on stage with all of the Democratic and Republican candidates in the 194th. Come out and show who you think is the best candidate!


For the State representative candidates
Wednesday April 7, 2010 – 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
6148 Ridge Avenue

We are accepting suggestions for questions to be presented to the candidates.

This is a great opportunity to learn more about where the candidates stand on issues of particular concern to you.

Please submit your proposed questions by email to bernard@roxborough.us no later than Wednesday, March 17.


Lewis Thomas III for State Representative Website Launch

With an overwhelmingly successful ballot petition initiative behind us, and an impassioned ground game under way, my campaign to become the next State Representative in the 181st has moved to establish our web presence. At www.lewisforstaterep.com, you can learn about my personal history, read about my vision for North Philadelphia, sign up to volunteer and contribute electronically. I sincerely hope you take a few minutes to visit the website, and join us in our fight for progress in North Philadelphia.

Onward and Upward!

Lewis Thomas III
Democratic Candidate for State Representative in the 181st District

Lewis Thomas III for State Representative in the 181st Announcement

Please join me this Saturday along with special guests State Senator Shirley Kitchen, State Representative Frank Oliver, Bruce Crawley, Lana Felton Ghee, 37th Ward Chair Diane Bridges, 14th Ward Chair Virginia Wilks, 20th Ward Chair Renee McNair, Dr. Anthony Monteiro and many others THIS SATURDAY AT 1:00 PM at 2221 NORTH BROAD STREET as we ignite this movement for change and transformation for North Philly.

We have a great event event lined up featuring The Latin Dance Team of North Philly, North Philly Stompers and a spectacular African Drum Core. There will be great food and the great people of my district; not to mention you will get an opportunity to hear firsthand my vision for North Philadelphia moving forward.


Lewis Thomas III
Democratic Candidate for State Representative in the 181st\

Fiscal crisis? What fiscal crisis? City Commissioners drop 3X as much on elections as Montco

Dear Marge,

I was reading a Marcia Gelbart story about a PICA report on elections, and I couldn't help noticing this comparison between City Commissioners and your peers in the burbs:

Among other points, (PICA board member William) Leonard focused on a chart that compared the 15 counties' number of registered voters and the annual spending by their election administrators.

In Philadelphia, where the city commissioners and a staff of 97 oversee everything related to elections, including training poll workers and preparing ballots and voting material, that figure is $9.18 per voter.

That amount is nearly twice as much as the median spending in the other counties, $4.68, and nearly three times the $3.26 per voter spent in Montgomery County, which has half as many residents as Philadelphia.

So I was thinking: Couldn't the School District and City Health Centers use that extra $6 per Philly voter that your office wastes on dozens of patronage "workers" aimlessly hanging out on Spring Garden Street spends on elections?

Apparently the idea that City Commissioners might waste precious Philly tax dollars so shocked the Nutter Administration, they were struck speechless:

That prompted Leonard, an appointee of Democratic state House Speaker Keith McCall, to question Philadelphia's efficiency and suggest the creation of a five-county regional authority to run elections.

"The mayor has always talked about regional efficiencies," Leonard said.

Then, turning to Philadelphia Finance Director Rob Dubow, an ex-officio PICA board member, he added: "Rob, I think we ought to do that, I really do."

Dubow did not respond.

Huh. Good thing the mayor's not protecting patronage. He's always saying he wants to promote regional cooperation too.

Oh, and understandably, you were similarly dumbstruck:

A spokeswoman for Margaret Tartaglione, the city commissioners' chairwoman, said she had no comment since she had not seen the report.


I guess those of us who've started noticing that extra cent we're paying on every dollar we spend in town should probably just suck it up and not read that PICA report that's scheduled to be released in a few weeks.

That might lead us to return to that Committee of Seventy report called "Needless Jobs" that recommends

City Council should pass a proposed amendment to the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter to eliminate elected City Commissioners, and submit the amendment to the voters for approval.

But then we'd have to go somewhere else to find those jaw-dropping examples of stereotypical patronage waste that we bloggers love to go on about (like, for example, the offices of the Clerk of Quarter Sessions, the Register of Wills or the Sheriff).

And whatever office replaces yours might forego those cool secret passwords that you gave Dan and just make election results available to the general public.

Ugh. Where's the fun in that?

If the political class stops owning elections, who will own them? The people? In Democracy's Hometown?

Already missing the easy targets,


GREENING THE NEXT ELECTION: A thought for tomorrow

I think it was Donna Shalala who said, "50% of all YPP readers are thinking of running for office, and the other half lie about it." I know someone reading this right now is thinking about taking up the mantle of someone somewhere and running for something in 2010. So here's my idea for you and your first press conference: tonight, get Philly Car Share pick-up truck and take all the yard signs you can get your hands on.

Have you looked around this city? It's absolutely blanketed with lawn signs, as it is every election, and as far as I know there isn't a campaign out there who takes responsibility for picking them up (well, okay, in '06 we would tear our opponents's signs down all campaign long, but that was a different set of motivations). But you could pick them up. You could be the candidate that thinks ahead and fills up your garage with OTHER campaigns' unneeded lawn signs.

Then, before your announcement party, get big stickers printed up, stickers the size of a lawn sign. Put them over the top of the old candidates' names and logos on all the lawnsigns you stole. You'll save a lot of plastic and metal that way, and you will use less energy in your printing process.

When you have your announcement party, you can say that you were the green candidate for reusing all those lawn signs. You'll probably save your campaign a ton of money, too, since you won't have to pay for those wiggy metal stakes or the labor of putting the lawn signs on them.

Don't thank me. Don't even credit me. Just steal this idea and save the city some space in the landfill. Every election is a litter fest, after all, but you could take the lead in making it a little cleaner!

Election Day is not a school holiday

(Cross-posted at The Notebook's blog)

As a parent, I’ve never been a fan of the policy to close school on election days – a ridiculous practice that has been going on since the Vallas administration.

But the latest news that the City is forcing schools to add two extra days to the school calendar because they want to close schools for the May 19th election has me particularly irritated.

First and foremost, the primary function of schools is schooling. Period. Since when did certain city officials get to determine that 168,000 children should be somewhere else on a perfectly legitimate day during the year for their own convenience?

Second, I think it’s great that most schools are polling places. As a former teacher, it used to be one of my favorite days of the year – a built-in civics lesson on participatory democracy. Classrooms across the city used to engage in mock elections, mock polling, brushing up on elections both big and small. What educator would cede that opportunity with children?

Election day, for most people, is also the only time during the year that they have a chance to step into their neighborhood school. And I, for one, think people ought to see schools living and breathing with the very kids who go there. Erasing the children from the picture removes the very purpose of the essential role schools function in our communities.

Finally, I’m particularly irritated by the claim that city officials want to close schools because they worry about children’s safety. For decades schools have remained open during election day. I’m stunned that these unnamed city officials feel like Election Day has suddenly become a political legacy no matter the cost to hundreds of thousands of children, families and school staff in the region. In addition, it’s not exactly cheap to open 268 school buildings and pay staff to hang around in supposed professional development seminars.

The March snowstorm took us all by surprise, but our kids and parents shouldn’t have to pay for two extra days at the end of the year, when a perfectly valuable educational opportunity awaits us on May 19th.

Constitutional Convention: Building Democrcy 2,0 - $10,000 Grants for Progressive Ideas!


Are you a social entrepreneur? Do you want to make a difference?

Tell us your idea and you could win a grant of up to $10,000 to make it happen. Submit your idea and take part at Constitutional Convention: Building Democracy 2.0, happening January 9-11,2009 at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

Visit http://www.democracyupgrade.com to register and for event details. Registration for the Constitutional Convention is FREE. Download the attached Participant Information Packet.

Mobilize.org is an all-partisan network dedicated to educating, empowering, and energizing young people to increase our civic engagement and political participation. We work to show young people how public policy impacts our lives, and more importantly – how we can impact public policy.

'An End to the Southern Strategy, But No Post-Racial America' says David Love

I am still blown away (esp with the secret service saying McPailin's rheotoric increased death threats on Obama) by the overt racism in McCain's campaign, and the disgust I felt motivated me to support Obama the most yet. Indeed, the fact that many white people (I head 55% of whites voted McCain and 45% Obama) rejected this crap... This very fact is what I am excited about, but I am still cautious, and I think the most obvious thing that we need to do, is continue to harness all the positive energy of the Obama campaign, and take this as far to the left as we can... At least some New Deal stuff, you know.

Well, I hope you enjoy this new essay by Philly writer David Love. I like his perspective, much like Mumia's as in coming from a radical background, Love does acknowledge much of the good of Obama being elected... but also recognizes that we now need to battle to get the most from it.

"I do not want a black man running my country" - McCain Supporters in PA say "Bomb Obama"

A new video posted to Youtube shows McCain/Palin supporters spewing racism and hate at peaceful pro-Obama demonstrators outside a McCain/Palin rally Oct. 27 in Pottsville, Pennsylvania.

One older gentleman early in the video shouts "Bomb Obama!" at the videographer and Obama supporters. Asked by the videographer what that means, the man says, "Get rid of him," then gestures indicating this means assassinating Obama.

A younger man holding a "Democrats for McCain" sign says, when asked why he supports McCain, "I'd never vote for a black man."

The 'Obama Effect' replaces the 'Bradley Effect'?

Below here is a very interesting article by Philadelphia Journalist Dave Lindorff, where he argues:

It is likely that instead of the famed “Bradley Effect” (named after the Mayor Tom Bradley of Los Angeles, who famously lost a race for California governor which the polls said he would win handily), according to which some white voters supposedly tell poll takers they are voting for the black candidate in a race for fear of appearing racist, while in fact they plan on voting for the white candidate, the opposite is going to occur. That is, there are probably many white racist voters like the one in this small Pennsylvania town, whether in some northern suburb or village, or in Southern states like Virginia, North Carolina or Georgia, who are fed up with the Bush years, want a change, and are planning to vote for Obama, but would not want their friends to know they were voting for a black man. Call it the “Obama Effect.”

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