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.

Cheri Honkala (Ballot Number 321), is the candidate you want to win if you’re at all inspired by Occupation Philly, which reminds of daily of the lethal foreclosure mills that are the big banks. Although the Sheriff has among his/her duties the actual physical eviction of foreclosed and evicted families, Cheri says she will not throw any family into the street. She says the ones who really should be punished are the banksters who have stolen billions in economic wealth right out from under us, and who in the process, have sunk millions of hard-working families into desperation. While the banksters’ debts remain uncollected and until they pay us back, Cheri is not going to torture their victims by throwing them into the street. By gumming up the eviction gears, Cheri would force the system to come up with humane ways to help families who, due to no fault of their own, are face to face with disaster.

You can help Cheri by contributing to her campaign and/or volunteering to help her get out the vote. Go here to help.

Kathryn Boockvar (Ballot Number 202) is running for Commonwealth Court judge. Commonwealth Court is vitally important for workers and residents of cities since it hears most cases involving labor rights and the powers of local government. Boockvar has a strong history as a lawyer of working for the rights of the poor and dispossessed, and to expand the franchise, all of which she would be able to advance strongly if elected to the Court.

In her early practice Boockvar directly represented low-income families struggling with unemployment and disability problems while working at two different legal services programs for the poor. She then started a private practice that focused on employment discrimination, unemployment compensation, pension rights, social security disability, and civil rights litigation. Lastly she worked as staff attorney with the Advancement Project to ensure that voting rights and election administration laws were enforced fairly, effectively, and accurately, so that no eligible voter was wrongly disenfranchised. She is superbly qualified to serve as a judge of Commonwealth Court where she would strongly advance the interests of justice for all.

Click here to find ways to help Kathryn Boockvar.

Al Schmidt (Ballot Number 119), running for City Commissioner, is the first Republican candidate that NN has endorsed for anything. We do this knowing full well the horrors that the Republican Party has inflicted on us all, and that it plans to further inflict on us to the extent that more of its candidates are elected. But under state law, there are three City Commissioners, and one must be a member of a minority Party. That means that no matter what we do there will be one Republican Commissioner. And this one happens to have a strong commitment to open and transparent elections, and to expanding the franchise (while most of his Republican colleagues are committed to restricting it.)

In answering NN’s questionnaire, Al pledged to run an open and transparent office and to work with community groups to encourage voter registration and turnout. In his own words, he further commits himself to “aggressive outreach programs to registered voters as soon as they are eligible to vote, and to educate voters on the importance of voting and making their voices heard.” This is very similar to the program of Stephanie Singer, the Democrat that NN has endorsed for this position, and who is almost assured of election. With both Singer and Schmidt in office we will have a majority of Commissioners committed to expanding the electorate, which is the only way progressive candidates across the board can be elected in sufficient numbers to foster progressive policies.

We urge you to support Al Schmidt for City Commissioner. You can learn more about Al by going to his website here.

There are other good candidates on the ballot. We ask you to look for these first, and do everything you can to get them elected....

Dennis and Denis Tomorrow Too

For those people who believe in splitting tickets, especially to influence the minority party winners, Dennis O'Brien, the successful Democratic nominee for Speaker of the House in Janaury, 2007, is a good choice for one of the Republican council at large seats.

O'Brien's speakership was one of excellence, helping to get record increases in public education spending, mandatory insurance coverage of autism services, establishment of a Department of Drug and Alcohol Addiction, ethics instruction for all legislators, an end to voting sessions after 11:00 p.m., and a much more collaborative method of running the House. He would make an excellent minority member of the City Council. He is the only Republican in Pennsylvania history to won election as Speaker as the candidate for the Democratic Party. Unusual circumstances made this possible, but he remains one of the better House Speakers in Pennsylvania history.

For those people who can venture over to the retention judgeships, another person with a similar first name, my brother Denis P. Cohen, is recommended by the Philadelphia Bar Association for a second full term on the Common Pleas Court. He and other retention judges are listed twice on the ballot: one votes to keep them by pushing the "YES (SI)" button; to vote to defeat them, one pushes the "NO (NO)" button.

Lawyers Guild gave him an award

Community Leagal Sevice honored Dennis O'Brian with an award,

Dennis O'Brien is the real deal.

He's worked hard for good causes, especially health care and the care of people with autism.

Indeed,he cares so much about the latter subject, that there is a joke in Harrisburg that if you say the word "autism" Denny O'Brien will show up within 5 minutes.

The last time I heard someone tell that joke, guess who walked in the room three minutes later?

A response to Mark Cohen on his brother

This is what the Philadelphia Lawyer's Guild members said about Denis P Cohen,
Denis P. Cohen
(33.3% strongly recommend, 23.8% recommend, 4.8% oppose, 38.1% no recommendation)
Comments from respondents:
• Good reputation as a smart and fair judge in civil matters.
• Obsequious ex-DA. Okay.
• Excellent jurist and person


In contrast
Retention Candidates
Supreme Court
Michael Eakin
(20% strongly oppose, 80% no recommendation)
Comments from respondents:
• Real bad rep for conservative opinions.

From this list I will vote against Michael Eakin for retention along with the ones the Philly Bar said was unqualified,

However if he happened to be one of the judges not attending an expensive fundraiser, I realize I would be sending a message different then I attempted to

We should have had this conversation two months ago

Somehow we got to stop waiting for the last minute to figure out what is going on.

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