RepMarkBCohen's blog

"Winners for the Losing Team:" An Inspiring Speech At Penn by Geoffrey Canada

Over the years, some great speeches have been given at the University of Pennsylvania. As an undergraduate long ago, I was responsible for bringing Robert F. Kennedy and Jackie Robinson to Penn. (An invitation I sent to Martin Luther King, Jr. shortly before his tragic death led to his gracious telegram of regrets). And I remember being thrilled with optimism after hearing labor leader Walter Reuther address students at the Wharton School. Much more recently, I attended enthusiastic speeches by Barack Obama and Bill Clinton there.

But perhaps the greatest of all Penn speeches, from my perspective at least, was one I did not attend: Geoffrey Canada's address to the University of Pennsylvania graduating class of 2012, reported in great detail by Maarvi Singh, of Penn's Class of 2013, in the July/August Pennsylvania Gazette, Penn's high quality alumni magazine. See The text of the speech can be found in The Pennsylvania Almanac at . A You Tube tape of the speech (with better sound quality than the one posted on the You Tube site itself) can be found at .

Geoffrey Canada was one of seven recipients of honorary degrees in May, and his speech stole the show, relegating even a thoughtful sppech by Penn President Amy Gutmann calling for more societal collaboration and describing current graduating students as the "collaboration generation" to the sidelines.

Council Delays Repeal of Cohen Wage Tax Cut As Support Weakens

In a move that gives hope that City Council will recognize a need to be responsive to the economic needs of low income citizens, Council postponed a vote on the repeal of the Cohen wage tax cut from today to June 28, 2012. Cracks are clearly appearing in the unity that led 9 members of City Council to vote against the interests of many of their constituents and supporters.

In a meeting of the City Council Committee of the Whole last week, eight members of City Council had voted against repealing the long-scheduled wage tax cut for low income people that first became law in 2004, but has been repeatedly delayed since. These Council members included Council members at large Denis O'Brien, Wilson Goode and James Kenney, and district council members Mark Squilla, Kenyatta Johnson, Jannie Blackwell, Maria Quinones Sanchez and Cindy Bass.

Massive pressure will likely be placed on these eight members of City Council to change their position in time for the June 28, 2012 Council meeeting. Those who support city tax justice for low income citizens who are too poor to pay either state or federal income taxes should make it clear to the original eight that their continued opposition is needed and is important.

People also should be contacting the nine members favoring repeal of the low income tax benefit: Council at Large members Bill Green, Bill Greenlee, David Oh, and Blondell Reynolds Brown as well as District Council members Curtis Jones, the Council Majority Leader, Darryl Clark, the Council President, Bobby Henon, Marian Tasco, and Brian O'Neill.

Tom Ferrick to Supporters of At-Large Challengers: Bullet Vote Your Favorite Candidate

In his blog, former longtime Inquirer political reporter Tom Ferrick advises supporters of challengers to at large incumbents, "you should bullet vote your favorite candidate..." See .

Ferrick notes that Bill Greenlee had been considered by some to be the weakest incumbent, but that analysis changed when he drew the first position on the ballot. My personal guess is that there will be a very close battle for 4th place between Sherrie Cohen, Andy Toy, and incumbents James Kenney and Wilson Goode, and that one of the things that may decide the race is the number of Cohen and Toy supporters who vote for Kenney and Goode. Kenney and Goode are vulnerable because of the combination of long tenure in city government, loss of AFL-CIO support, poor ballot position, and lack of support from many wardleaders and various independent organizations.

Sherrie Cohen's Election Will Reduce the Decline in Women in City Council

Just about everyone has approached City Council races on an individual basis, considering the merits or lack of such about the individual candidates. But, although I am not objective observer because of the candidacy of my sister Sherrie for Council at Large (Button 180, first Democratic column, BTW), I think it should not go unsaid here that it appears inevitable that the number of women in the Philadelphia City Council will decline, and it is possible that it will decline greatly, making Sherrie Cohen's candidacy even more important. My last-minute thoughts on this matter were stimulated by her endorsement by the Msrepresentation Blog, ,which is supportive of the Women's Campaign Fund, which is backing Sherrie.

Philadelphians for Ethical Leadership Back Sherrie Cohen for Council at Large

Sherrie Cohen's most recent endorsement--at least her 37th group endorsement--is from Philadelphians for Ethical Leadership, .

"It is our opinion," this group states, "that Ms. Cohen won't succumb to small-thinking party politics and will do what's right for a city in crisis."

The Democratic primary election--which has determined the general outcome for all citywide offices in mayoral election years beginning in 1951--takes place tomorrow, Tuesday, May 17, from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00. Please encourage friends, family members, and neighbors to come out and vote for progressive candidates like Sherrie Cohen. For multiple candidate offices (council at large, judge, city commissioners), decide who you really want to win, and then push those candidates to the exclusion of others. You don't have to cast every vote you legally can cast; you can multiply the effect of your choices by pushing them exclusively.

Sherrie Cohen in 2nd Place for Council at Large in the City Paper Ultimate Primary Poll

Want to avoid a case of polling place paralysis, that terrible condition where inside a polling place you suddenly recognize that you aren't sure who (in terms of backround, qualifications, ideas for the future, base of support) is running for something, and it's too late to check the facts out.

Philadelphia's City Paper has the cure for you in its Ultimate Primary Poll: vote for its candidates for each office, check out the candidates you need to learn more about, and then do an internet search on them.

Sherrie Cohen Consensus Continues to Broaden and Deepen

Sherrie Cohen's campaign for Councilwoman at Large continues to broaden and deepen its base of publicly announced support, with private unannounced support also continuing to grow. She has raised at least $164,000 so far, far exceeding our father Councilman David Cohen's fundraising in any of his seven successful candidacies for Councilman at Large. She has also more than tripled the campaign spending of my constituent, Judge Diane Thompson, who upset the party organization in 2009 with the support of only a single ward committee and a base of citizens, labor organizations, and independents similar to, but less extensive than, the base that Sherrie has acquired.

Sherrie Cohen Consensus Now Includes Organizations Committed To Economic Growth

Sherrie Cohen's campaign for the Democratic Nomination for Council-at-Large continued to gain less week with the endorsement of three organizations committed to Philadelphia's economic growth: the Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors, the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council, and Communication Workers Local 13,000 (decided on before this week, but publicized this week). These bring her organizational endorsements that have come to my attention to at least 26, and there are undoubtedly some that I have not kept track of and some that will be coming soon. These group endorsements have generally been followed with contributions and workers volunteering; more and more organizations are taking the steps needed to mobilize their members and others that could be influenced by them fully aware of them.

Sherrie Cohen Consensus Now Includes Votes of Democratic Committee People In Center City West and Chestnut-Hill-Mt. Airy

It is becoming an ever-increasing trend in Philadelphia politics that if an organization is making endorsements for City Council at Large, they are likely to be endorsing Sherrie Cohen for one of the five at large Democratic City Council slots. Third in the number of nomination petition signatures turned in on March 8, fifth on the At Large ballot, Sherrie Cohen is almost certainly now among the top five in both organizational endorsements received and money raised. This does not guarantee her victory, but it does show that her work and the work of many other people is paying off and that her upset victory in the Democratic Primary on May 17, 2011 is ever more likely.

Sherrie Cohen City Council at Large Base Continues To Broaden

Sherrie Cohen's base in the upcoming May 17, 2011 Democratic Primary for one of five City Council at Large seats continues to broaden. Her base was strong enough for her to come in third in total nomination petition signatures filed on March 8, and her position as a major candidate with a realistic chance of victory has only intensified since. The list of endorsing organizations for her campaign now includes citizens groups such as Southeastern Pennsylvania's Americans for Democratic Action, the National Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, Neighborhood Networks, Pentecostal Clergy Political Action Committee, the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Organization of Women and Philly for Change.

43rd House Democrat Co-Sponsors Civil Unions Bill

In 2010, I introduced Pennsylvania's first civil unions bill, with a total of 32 co-sponsors, all Democrats. This year, on Valentine's Day, I introduced the same bill with a total of 42 co-sponsors, also all Democrats. Now we have a 43rd co-sponsor, Matt Bradford, who represents the Norristown Area. With his co-sponsorship, Montgomery County becomes the largest county in Pennsylvania to have all its Democratic House members co-sponsoring it. Other Montgomery County Co-sponsors include Democrats Tim Briggs, Lawrence Curry, Pam Delissio (who represents part of Lower Merion in a district that is primarily Roxborough and Manyunk), Mike Gerber, and Josh Shapiro, now a Democratic nominee for County Commissioner.

Sherrie Cohen Campaign for Philadelphia Councilman at Large Gains Momentum, Support

Sherrie Cohen's campaign continues to gain momentum and support. Within the last two weeks, she has drawn a good ballot position which should put her in the first column (number five of the fourteen or fifteen candidates still in the race), and gained the endorsement of the National Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund (which carefully screens the campaigns it endorses for winnability, as it targets funds and other resources to them), and the Philadelphia Central Labor Council of the AFL-CIO.

Center City: The Suburb Within

It's been perhaps a decade now since the Philadelphia Daily News promoted a contest in which the winner got to travel to any place in the country. A guy from West Oak Lane, near the southwestern part of my legislative district, won the contest.

Where do you want to go, contest organizers asked him. Center City, he said. You don't understand, they said, you can go anywhere in the United States. We'll pay for your trip. I want to go to Center City, he said. He said he had never really been there and had read and heard a lot about it.

So the Daily News decided to use the money they had budgeted for plane fares and hotels and spend it on a chauffered limousine, concert tickets, restaurant meals, and the like for the winner and his wife. They covered his itinerary as he discovered the world of which he was aware but apart from. He told them he had a great time, and was delighted with his choice of a place to visit.

Lenora Berson Promoted, Improved Philadelphia

Philadelphia has had many political and community activists over the years. We have had only one Lenora Berson.

Lenora died earlier this month at the age of 83. She was an impassioned advocate who could teach a class, do social work, organize testimony and demonstrations,write speeches, lobby elected officials, initiate candidacies for public office, mastermind election campaigns, write articles and books, take photographs worthy of being shown in art galleries, promote Philadelphia's hidden gems, and organize events to promote the city that no else had thought of.

Petition Gathering Time For Sherrie Cohen

Until March 8 is the petition gathering season, in which registered Democrats, especially politically interested registered Democrats, are urged to sign nominating petitions for candidates to get on the ballot.

Candidates for citywide office need 1,000 valid signatures, and candidates for district seats need 750 signatures. How difficult it is to get these signatures depends upon the weather, among other variables.

If you are a registered Democrat within the City of Philadelphia who would like to sign or circulate a nominating petition for my sister Sherrie Cohen, an independent progressive candidate, please either email her campaign at, or call 845-661-1093. Like all the other candidates for office, Sherrie needs all the demonstrated support she can get in order to get on the ballot.

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