Philadelphia Democratic Party

After two years, the will of the voters is upheld in the Tracey Gordon case.

After two years, Tracey Gordon and the Philadelphia Democratic Progressive Caucus (PDPC) won Round 1! In 2010, Tracey Gordon was elected to be a committee member of the 40th Ward in the Philadelphia Democratic Party, but despite that election, she was denied her seat by the vote of the Ward. See “When Elections Don't Matter: The city Democratic Party doesn't always care what voters think” The Philadelphia Democratic Party and its chair, Bob Brady, refused to fix the problem.

Despite repeated attempts to resolve the matter by Tracey, her supporters, her attorney Irv Acklesberg, and the PDPC, it wasn’t resolved until Irv Acklesberg filed a lawsuit seeking not only to reinstate Tracey, but to permanently enjoin future election nullifications by the Philadelphia Democratic Party. See the chronology of the case posted at YPP.

No doubt realizing that it would lose the court fight, the Philadelphia Democratic Party reinstated Tracey Gordon. On May 17, 2012, under the direction of the Party, the 40th Ward voted to rescind the illegal resolution it passed almost two years ago. Because Tracy is now serving as a Deputy City Commissioner—a job in which she is continuing to protect the right to vote—she had to resign from her elected position. (City ethics rules do not permit employees to hold party office.)

The Fight to Restore the Rights of Tracey Gordon and her Constituents Moves to the Courtroom

PHILADELPHIA DEMOCRATIC PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS
135 S. 19TH STREET SUITE 200
PHILADELPHIA, PA 19103
215-568-4990

MEDIA RELEASE: For Immediate Release
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Contact: Gloria Gilman, Acting Chair 215-568-4990 gmgilman@igc.org

CLASS ACTION LAW SUIT FILED ON BEHALF OF UNSEATED PHILLY DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEEPERSON AND CONSTITUENTS TO ENFORCE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS

Today Tracey L. Gordon filed suit against the Philadelphia Democratic Party for outrageously and illegally barring her from taking office as Democratic Committeeperson in the 40th Ward after she was duly elected to that position by the voters in her division. Ms. Gordon has done nothing that would remotely authorize the Party to dislodge her from her position, nor does the Party have any legal standing whatsoever to even attempt any such thing.

Tracey L Gordon was duly elected by her Southwest Philly neighbors as a Democratic Party committeeperson in Ward 40B at the primary held in May, 2010. The Party first tried to deny Gordon her right to even run in that election, but Judge Idee Fox ordered her name put on the ballot. Escalating their illegal campaign to bar Gordon, a perceived adversary of her ward leader Anna Brown, the Party had Gordon physically evicted by two Philadelphia police officers from the first Ward Committee meeting that occurred after the election. The eviction did more than harm Gordon, it trampled on the rights of the voters who elected her. They are left without any representation, particularly the representative of their choice.

Why the Philadelphia Democratic Party needs a Progressive Caucus

A group of progressive Democrats, many of us committeepersons, came together last summer in response to the Democratic Party’s failure to seat a duly elected Democratic committee person, Tracey Gordon. See the YYP post discussing this at:
http://youngphillypolitics.com/philadelphia_democratic_party_worse_i_rea...

The comments on this post cite the court cases which support the rights of duly elected committeepeople and include a link to the 1966 PA Supreme Ct. case which ruled that the Democratic Party cannot ignore the will of the voters.

In response to this incident, a group of progressive Democrats with affiliations to a wide range of community and civic organizations formed a Philadelphia Democratic Progressive Caucus.

Working Within the Democratic Party? Is it worth it?

Cross-posted from http://www.the-next-stage.com/

Working Within the Democratic Party? Is it worth it? That’s what I’ve been asking myself for the past 30 years. When I was in my 20’s, that was the last thing I wanted to do. Like so many “radicals” (were we really all that radical?) I disdained working within the Democratic Party. I saw D’s and R’s as virtually indistinguishable and didn't see the point of choosing between tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee.

Despite this, I did vote--for protest candidates. My first presidential vote was cast for Dick Gregory, Peace and Freedom Party. People like me were responsible for Richard Nixon’s victory—although since Hubert Humphrey won PA, at least I wasn’t directly responsible.

Nutter answer questions about party reform. Sort of.

Last week, Michael Nutter submitted, and the Inky Ed Board printed, an op-ed defending Congressman Bob Brady as both a Congressman and the leader of the party. The Mayor-elect said that:

Brady and I have had many discussions about the need to change the way we do business in Philadelphia. I believe he supports my agenda for reform in city government and the Democratic Party.

A lot of us wondered what exactly that latter part--about the party--meant. Today's Inky includes a brief attempt by Patrick Kerkstra to get Nutter to clarify on what he meant:

Asked what specific reforms he'd like to see, Nutter said the party ought to have an open process for choosing which candidates to support. He also proposed training for would-be candidates, stepped-up recruiting of candidates and committee members, and a guest speaker program. Asked about the shakedown that judicial candidates are subjected to by some ward leaders, Nutter said he'd prefer that judges not be elected.

"These are the kinds of issues I intend to have discussions with the chairman about," Nutter said.

Compare that to this list of reforms that some of us have been pushing directly with the party chair ourselves:

  1. Will the party change the unfair special election process so that individual voters have some say?
  2. Will every ward leader in the party commit to holding open ward meetings, where anyone can watch and ask questions?

  • Will the party chair convene an annual platform convention so that all members of the party can share their ideas for the policies and laws that party-endorsed candidates will push?

  • Will every committee person in the city commit to canvassing their division every election, making at least three attempts to have face-to-face contact with a voter?

  • Will the party chair lay out appropriate and inappropriate ways for ward leaders to handle "street money" to stop the shaking down of candidates, especially judges, for office?

    Nutter's reply to Kerkstra was given on-the-go at the Pennsylvania Society in New York. Nutter also said:

    Reforming the party is a priority for me, and I don't think people should try to read any tea leaves or read too much into the letter.

    I certainly agree.

    There wasn't much in his letter to read into. I hope when he returns from New York he will clarify once and for all which progressive reforms to the party he supports and which he doesn't. If he has been speaking with Congressman Brady about making these changes, it would be interesting to hear the process and time line for implementation they have come up with.

    If their conversations have been more general, then I wonder when Nutter plans to prioritize having a more detailed one, and if he will seek the input of others--like those of us who have already outlined ideas for party reform.

    Paging Michael Nutter

    Hello Mayor-elect Nutter!

    A number of us have been agitating and organizing--both online and off--to make changes in the Philadelphia Democratic City Committee. Congressman Brady, the party chair, has been responsive to this effort, but actual negotiations are still a far-off dream.

    That's why I was very interested to see your op-ed to the Inky in which you referenced talks you have been having with the Chairman.

    Many of us are really curious to know what your agenda for reforming the party is. Here's ours:

    1. Will the party change the unfair special election process so that individual voters have some say?
    2. Will every ward leader in the party commit to holding open ward meetings, where anyone can watch and ask questions?

  • Will the party chair convene an annual platform convention so that all members of the party can share their ideas for the policies and laws that party-endorsed candidates will push?

  • Will every committee person in the city commit to canvassing their division every election, making at least three attempts to have face-to-face contact with a voter?

  • Will the party chair lay out appropriate and inappropriate ways for ward leaders to handle "street money" to stop the shaking down of candidates, especially judges, for office?

    I am a life-long Democrat, and there is a lot to love about our local party, but there are also some things that need to be changed.

    I hope our agendas for reforming the party overlap.

    Please feel free to send an email in reply to info AT youngphillypolitics.com, or better yet post a blog entry. Unlike Chaka Fattah, Dwight Evans and Bob Brady, you don't have a user account here, but trust me, it's very easy to set up. And if you have any trouble, email and I will be more than willing to help.

    Let's make this simple: what is Michael Nutter's agenda for party reform?

    The endorsement of Brady for Congress in Michael Nutter's Inky op-ed yesterday wasn't strange, but this was:

    I want to outline why I think Brady is an important asset to my new administration. Both as a member of Congress and as head of the city's Democratic Party...Brady and I have had many discussions about the need to change the way we do business in Philadelphia. I believe he supports my agenda for reform in city government and the Democratic Party.

    Practically, I understand why a Democratic Mayor would want to forge a relationship with the Democratic Party chair, but if that is the road Nutter is going down, then he needs to answer the same specific questions that have been asked of Brady about reforming the party.

    Here's my attempt at boiling down some of the concerns into a simple agenda for Philadelphia Democratic Party reform:

    1. Will the party change the unfair special election process so that individual voters have some say?
    2. Will every ward leader in the party commit to holding open ward meetings, where anyone can watch and ask questions?

  • Will the party chair convene an annual platform convention so that all members of the party can share their ideas for the policies and laws that party-endorsed candidates will push?

  • Will every committee person in the city commit to canvassing their division every election, making at least three attempts to have face-to-face contact with a voter?

  • Will the party chair lay out appropriate and inappropriate ways for ward leaders to handle "street money" to stop the shaking down of candidates, especially judges, for office?

    Bob Brady is an interesting guy. I don't know him super well, but I like him.

    Bob Brady has not, however, committed to an agenda for reforming what some of us perceive to be the problems in the Democratic party.

    Brady did meet with some of us "progressives" last year to discuss this. As Clout reported:

    The gripes? Unresponsive committeemen. Corrupt judicial elections. Undemocratic selection to fill City Council vacancies. Weak voter-turnout efforts. Patronage. Nepotism. Politics as usual...

    "Bob went by himself into this group of 20 people, about 10 of whom had real issues with him," said Hannah Miller of Philly for Change. "He sat there and took it. I have nothing but respect for the man. "

    "He was kind of in the hot seat," said Jen Murphy, chairwoman of Philly for Change. "It's the start of a conversation. "

    Ray Murphy of Philadelphians Against Santorum said, "I think Bob Brady is a nice guy. I had a good time, but that doesn't change what a lot of us are doing. "

    Marc Stier of Neighborhood Networks gushed on his blog: "Congressman Brady was charming, articulate, incredibly quick on his feet and well prepared. "

    Our breakfast was fun, but nothing was really resolved. Brady has indicated that he is open to talking again, but for whatever reason, nothing has happened yet.

    That's why it is exciting that Mayor-elect Nutter says that he has been talking to Chairman Brady about reforms in the party. But why the secrecy about it?

    Nutter does not say what reforms he is suggesting they are nor can they be found on his website.

    I hope Mayor-elect Nutter is willing to take on the agenda for party reform above and share with us his plans too. The people listed above by no means lead the city or even the “movement.” However, the concerns we articulated to Brady last year, that I attempt to capture above, are real, and they affect a majority of Philadelphia voters.

    Crickets

    From Michael Nutter's letter to the editor Op-Ed in the Inquirer discussed below:

    The call for new blood in politics is one that I support. As the cartoon indicated, however, the city's other elected officials are also important. I want to outline why I think Brady is an important asset to my new administration. Both as a member of Congress and as head of the city's Democratic Party, he will be an important partner in the "New Day, New Way" agenda I have established for Philadelphia. Let me give you four reasons:

    So, Mike Nutter unequivocally states that Brady has his support, not just in Congress, but in the party. You know, the party that does those 'special elections' and is oh-so-responsive to outsiders. Sort of hints that structurally, not a whole lot will be changing within the party, right? The same guy is in charge. Game. Over.

    He says Brady supports his proposals for reform in the Democratic party... What are they? Seriously? Does anyone know?

    .....

    Here is the thing, I like Bob Brady. As Louie says every time he hears Brady on CSpan (yes we are all dorky, especially Louie), it is like one our cousins is in Congress. He sounds like us, he is likable, and he is the type of guy who would be more comfortable having a beer in Philly than being wined and dined by lobbyists in DC.

    Brady also is a pretty good vote in Congress. However, while ratings are not all that matter, a pretty basic google search shows that Nutter is not even right about Brady's record. Even in the specific areas he mentions, Brady's record is far from perfect. For example, in civil rights, how about the Human Rights Campaign? Doesn't seem to be perfect. Additionally, he leaves out other progressive interests, like the environment. Why?

    In fact, what has become the most generally accepted 'progressive scorecard' in Congress, Progressive Punch, has Brady over the course of his career as the 115th most progressive Democrat. In other words, in a Congress with 233 Democrats, Brady is almost exactly the median member. Not bad, not great. A typical Congressional Democrat.

    Brady does, however, love Philly, and I do think that it is clear that he will have the opportunity to really deliver 'the goods' to the City over the next few years. Keith Leaphart, if he has any chance to beat him in Congress, is going to have to deal with that reality head on.

    But, an outright endorsement of Brady as party chair? Not a peep of protest? Seriously?

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