Marc Stier's blog

The Transit Crisis Continues and Your Help Is Needed To End it

Pennsylvania Transit Coalition
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After a holiday weekend, the morning trip back to work is always hard.

Now imagine your trip costing substantially more than it costs today for we are facing an 11% increase in SEPTA fares in July and a total increase of 30% by September.

-The cash fare will go up from $2.00 to $2.50, an increase of 25%
-Transfers will be eliminated so a token and transfer will go up from $1.90 to $2.80, an increase of 47%
-A weekly transpass wil go up from $18.75 to $25.00, an increase of 33%
-A monthly transpass will go up from $70 to $105, an increase of 57%
-Zones 1 and 2 on the regional rail will be merged. A monthly combined zone 1 / 2 regional rail pass will go up from $70 (zone 1) or $106 (zone 2) to $143.50, an increase of 105 and 35 respectively.

On Ward Politics and Street Money

There is an article in the Inquirer today that briefly reports on some of my experiences with ward politics during the last election. I was disappointed by the article, in part because I thought I was talking off the record with the reporter and in part because the article is misleading about the role that wards and street money played in my campaign or other grass roots campaigns. (The Inquirer will be running a clarification about part of the article tomorrow.)

I plan to write about this subject in detail later, because these are two subjects that most people interested in Philadelphia politics do not understand very well and about which I learned a great deal in the last five months. Here are some preliminary points.

Thank You All from Marc Stier

Dear Friends,

I want to thank all of you who voted for me on Tuesday. And I want to thank even more all of you who worked for me in various ways—going door to door with my literature, working the polls, sending out emails to your friends, making phone calls, and raising or contributing money. I am honored and humbled to have had so many good people around the city believe in both me and the ideas I presented during this campaign.

I am, of course, disappointed by the result. I knew from the start that this was going to be a difficult race. But the response I was getting around the city was so positive and supportive that there were one or two moments when I thought I might even squeak by.

Optimism is certainly useful in a race as difficult as the one I ran. But, even after seeing the disappointing results, I’m not discouraged or disheartened.

Brady's Finest Hour?

Bob Brady campaigned extremely hard up to the end, even though he had known for some time that he had little chance to win. But, as he said at a ward meeting I attended, the situation in the Mayor's race was fluid. And as he did not say...but some of us campaigning hard in particular areas of the city, and by running hard hitting ads against Knox, Brady helped made Michael Nutter win.

He did not, as far as I know, release ward leaders to support Michael Nutter. And that, too was a good move because had he done so, many of those ward leaders might have supported Knox.

Let's Keep Track of What Happened

I just woke up a little while ago...and I'm going to get working on a message of thanks to all of you worked so hard and / or voted for me. (Brief preview: I disappoined with the results but think my campaign will have some inpact in the future. And I had an absolutely wonderful time during the campaign and learned an enormous amount about how Philly politics works and does not work.)

But I just thought of something I wanted to post first.

One of the weird things about Philadlephia politics is that it is so decentralized that it is sometimes hard to know what happened on the ground.

So, here is my request: Would everyone who worked at a polling place please write a brief report about what they saw there. Who had field people out? How many? How active were they? What ballots were they handing out and who was on them?

A funny thing happened in a public forum on taxes a few months ago

We all know economic growth and job creation are central to making our city a better place to live. Over the last few years, the debate about economic growth has centered on the tax reform issue. That has been unfortunate for two reasons. The first is that, while tax reform may be critical to economic growth, we have not focused enough on other means of creating new businesses and jobs. Second, progress on reforming taxes has been slow because we have focused too much on business taxes and because of sharp disagreements among political activists about whether and how fast the Business Privilege Tax (BPT) should be reduced.

But a funny thing happened in a public forum a few months ago on taxes.

Haircuts and Campaign Contributions (and Marc Stier)

I read in the Daily News today that John Edwards is paying for haircuts that cost from $225 to $400 out of his campaign contributions, including one haircut from a "a trendy salon and spa in Dubuque, Iowa."

Since I am working hard right now to raise money for the last month of the campaign--and people comment about how I'm actually keeping my hair short during the campaign--I want everyone to know that I get my hair cut at Julius Scissor on Locust Street, as I have for 22 years, and that I pay for those haircuts out of my own pocket, except for one day, when I paid for my haircut, and my campaign manager's, with the wrong checkbook. I repaid the campaign as soon as I discovered the mistake.

If you want to help my campaign, you can do so by contributing on-line at

Or you can come to our "Raise the Rent Party" this Friday, April 20, at Lucy's Hat Shop, 247 Market Street from 7 pm to 9 pm.

Yes, Virginia, There is a Progressive Movement in Philadelphia

There have been a couple of interesting threads here recently that discuss
what it means to be a progressive in Philadelphia and whether we really have
anything worth being called a progressive movement in the city. And there was a
great article in the City Paper this week that makes a pretty good case that
there is such a movement but also pointed to some of the tensions within it.

I’ve been pretty sick with flu-like symptoms all week and today I spent my first
day at home since late December. So I have a little time to stop and think and
take stock in where we are.

I want to, as quickly as possible, discuss four issues: (1) What makes for a
progressive movement as far as ideology goes; (2) Whether there are real
ideological divisions within the progressive movement today; (3) Is the
progressive movement too much oriented towards white middle class folks; and (4)
What makes for a movement as far as organization goes.

The Second Time as Farce

The spate of challenges by progressives to their competitors reminds me of the famous lines of Karl Marx: “Hegel says that history repeats itself. He forgets to add, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”

If the first time was the establishment’s use of technical challenges to undermine progressives, the second time is the progressives’ use of the same kinds of challenges to undermine their competitors.

I certainly understand why candidates working incredibly hard to win an election are inclined to use every means in the book to do so. And I also understand why they are tempted to use the old guard’s tactics against the old guard, especially when so many of us have suffered because of those tactics. But revenge is never a good motive to do anything.

Transit Action Today / Reflections on the State and the City

SEPTA is, again, in crisis. The projected deficit for the next fiscal year is well over $100 million dollars. To close that deficit, SEPTA will have to institute both fare increases and service reductions of about 25%. This would be an economic and social disaster for the city and the region. Little is being done in Harrisburg to address the crisis.

The Pennsylvania Transit Coalition, on whose steering committee I have sat since its founding, is conducting a leafleting campaign today at 4:00 pm at both Market East and Suburban Stations. We will be targeting suburbanites getting on their trains and will give them leaflets that ask them to call their state Senators and Representatives.

I hope a lot of you can take an hour or so and attend this event. If you plan to do so, contact and we will tell you exactly where in the stations you will find us.


Casinos and Council: Testimony From Marc Stier

There is as old joke heard at political conventions: by the third day everything has been said but not everyone has said it.

It is now almost five pm and these hearings began at ten am. So, I’m sure that by now everything has been said but not everyone has said it. So I will be brief.

Casinos have been a bad deal for everyone in the city since the beginning.

The BPT: Once More, With Feeling or Why Progressives Should Have Trouble With the BPT

I've been meaning to write in detail about the BPT for some time. Unfortunately, what I want to say is a little complicated. But, given that we have been discussing it here for a while, it seems like a good idea to to broaden the debate about the BPT a bit and examine whether, from a progressive point of view, it is a tax we should be defending. My view is that it is not.

But, before I get to that, however, let me make four preliminary points about the BPT and economic development and explain why I would not vote to reduce the BPT except as part of a package of economic development programs and tax reforms.

This Year, Politics In Philadelphia Is Going To Be Different

Something really extraordinary happened in Philadelphia politics in the last two weeks. A usually respected Councilman introduced legislation that would have, for all practical purposes, eliminated contribution limits in the Mayoral election. The bills had sponsorship from a majority of Council members and almost every member of Council was ready to vote for it.

And yet, after an outcry from progressive leaders, editorial page writers, and challengers to the incumbents from all over the city, the bill was withdrawn today. This is a major victory for the progressive movement in the city. And it is evidence of something I have been seeing out on the streets for the last three months.

Marc Stier Against Repealing Contribution Limits

I oppose any legislation that would have the effect of eliminating campaign contribution limits in the current Mayoral race.

The goal of campaign finance reform is to preserve our democracy. Democracy is undermined when money becomes so important in politics that those who contribute to campaigns play a dramatically greater role in determining who holds office—and thus what our office holders do—than our citizens. So I am concerned about both limiting the influence of those who contribute to the campaigns of others and those who contribute to their own campaigns.

In order to attain both goals, I proposed last week a compromise that would lift campaign contribution limits gradually if a candidate for Mayor increased his contributions to his own campaign.

Rather than being a serious compromise, the new bill goes so far in lifting contribution limits as to make them meaningless. It is a fig leaf that doesn't cover the obscenity of the initial bill.

A Possible Compromise? / Let's Be Fair to Jim Kenney

I have more reason than most people to want Jim Kenney put in a bad light, as I'm running for a position he holds, Council at Large. And I strongly disagree with the legislation he proposed, to eliminate all spending limitations in the Mayoral election when one candidate spends a large amount from his own resources.

But I think we ought to be fair to Councilman Kenney in two respects.

First, if he puts forward a public financing bill in the near future, there is no reason to think he is being cynical about it. He has supported public financing for a number of years.

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