Operation Council Presidency

If you're like me and cannot stomach the thought of Jannie Blackwell as Council President (for whatever reason), then we need to start thinking about how to ensure she does not win. Three reasons why (1) holding up the Barnes; (2) ethics reform; and (3) Tom Knox. Enough said.

The solution: Councilwoman Anna Verna.

President Verna is a solid legislator and has spent a very large portion of her life working on behalf of the Second District and Philadelphia. We can disagree on her legislative record, but it speaks for itself. I think you will find less disagreement on her abilities as Council President. Having testified in front of Council, I can speak first hand to her administrative abilities. Further, having dealt with the Presidents Office, I am impressed as to how smoothly it runs. In short, President Verna is a classy woman who is excellent at her job. Consider these words from the Inquirer endorsement:

"Still, she was the president of Council during a period when it surprised skeptics by approving important bills to cut city taxes, reform pay-to-play politics, and protect residents from cigarette smoke.

She enabled those bills to move through Council's murky processes; she was on the right side on most of them, and provided a key vote when Council overrode some misguided vetoes by Mayor Street."

According to Philly.com, however, two newcomers could swing the balance of power to Blackwell--one of them is Maria Quiñones Sanchez. Many of us in the "progressive" community, in some way or another, supported her councilmatic bid. Another is newcomer Bill Green. Let's remind them, particularly Maria, that a vote for Blackwell is a vote against reform. Let's also remind our friends on council the same thing.

Progress is moving forward. A Blackwell presidency, I'm afraid, is not. This is important.

A quick question ... what

A quick question ... what influence does the Council President have? How would a different person change things?

The Council President has a

The Council President has a tremendous amount of power. Principally, two sets of formal power and a lot of informal power.

First, the Council President appoints Committees and Committee chairs. This is a lot of power, b/c there is a hierarchy of important committees (Rules, Finance, etc.) (I think Rules deals with Zoning.) However, a lot of this is given by seniority, so more junior members get less high profile committees -- oddly enough L&I.

Second, the Council President has the power to schedule/or not schedule hearings on bills and resolutions. That means he/she can dictate the pace of legislation.

The informal power is that the Council President is considered the head of the Council. (Although she/he serves at the pleasure of the majority.) So, there are a tremendous amount of constituent services that the office can command (you are not calling on behalf of a "regular" councilmember, but rather the council president.

Also, the Council President technically can hire and fire the staff of any member of Council and can set their budgets -- a little used power, but one people are aware of.

Verna will win

She has six votes and the three Republicans. Its a wrap. There is not a way in the world you can imagine the three Republicans supporting Blackwell. Not going to happen.

I expect there may be some posturing for a while, but Frank DiCicco, James Kenney, Joan Krajewski, Marian Tasco, Bill Greenlee and Verna are solid votes. Count the three Republicans -- maybe they'll ask for something in return -- but its done.

Perhaps . . .

But, who really knows until it is.

The key is to also send a message that "progressive" support of Blackwell is not a kosher thing.

What about Sean McAleer?

Doesn't McAleer have a real shot at taking the 10th District in the primary general? My understanding was that while in the past there had been some tacit agreement to run only sacrificial lambs in the 10th (or, as four years ago, to sabotage the campaigns of anyone uppity enough to mount a serious one), that McAleer has some significant support, including labor. I don't know much about him, though I did read his Liberty City questionnaire, which was pretty grim.

If he does win, any idea how he'd vote for the presidency?

Sean McAleer Would Be for Verna

Given the demographic dynamics of his council district, Sean McAleer would have no choice but to be for Verna if elected to City Council this fall.

Plus Sean McAleer Would Be for Verna

Sean McAleer Would Be for Verna because his father is very close to Brady.

Blackwell lost when Knox did...

Only way she had a shot was if Knox won, only then could she have gotten republican support. I totally agree that Progressives should send the message that Blackwell is a bad choice, but I dont think anyone has to worry.

Spotlight on Blackwell

I have to agree with the other poster's above- council didn't change much and if Blackwell didn't have their vote before, she's not going to get it now. Also- I kind of doubt that Maria Quionones or Bill Green would vote for Blackwell- It is pretty clear that she will ultimately run council for her agenda and no one else's.

But- Jannie is my council woman (and my ward leader, and my committe person). I'm beyond unhappy about this. It has been my experience that besides her ridiculous stance on ethics and the youth study center- she drags down my neighborhood. I want this to be her last term.

I see the fact that Janie wants the presidency as a chance to shine a spotlight on her and really expose all of her shady practices.

Now that Cambell is gone- Janie is the most corrupt person on council- and I think we should call her to task. If this means that progressives unite to oppose her bid for presidency- sign me up.

If Fattah is interested in

If Fattah is interested in fielding council candidates out of his organization, it makes a lot more sense to go after Jannie Blackwell's seat in West Philadelphia than Dems like Marian Tasco and Donna Reed Miller in the Northwest, especially when there's no shortage of perennial progressive challengers to Miller.

But he fielded Council

But he fielded Council Candidates more so because he could have a strong ticket for his mayoral election. Although I have to admit, the amount of votes that Cindy got surprised me. Outside of a mayoral election, I don’t think that that would have happened though. Also, do you really think that he thought he had a chance against Tasco?

I'm not so sure about that.

I'm not so sure about that. Cindy Bass ran against Leanna Washington in the NW for State Senate in 2005, and Fattah didn't need her help to get elected then or in 2006. I suppose you could argue that Fattah was already trying to prep his run for mayor in 2007, but I think for Fattah, it's more about fielding candidates and building a continuous political organization across West and NW Philadelphia -- Vincent Hughes, Curtis Jones, Cindy Bass... I would argue that Blackwell's council seat is a much easier target than trying to take on the Northwest Alliance. Plus, it would be better for Philadelphia.

If you also remember, in the

If you also remember, in the special election, Cindy didn’t get support from a single Ward. Even the 9th Ward which publicly endorsed her had to back off, because the vote was unanimous for Washington.

That was my entire point. His fielding candidates was not about those candidates winning as much as it was about him garnering support. I don’t think he had any belief that they would beat Tasco or DRM.

here's my problem with this formulation

Cindy Bass, Curtis Jones and Ray Jones did all come out of Chaka's organization, as did Blondell Reynolds Brown, Vincent Hughes and others before them. But Chaka didn't "run them." He no doubt supported their campaigns, and would love to have them as elected colleagues. But all them are smart, politically savvy people with minds and ambitions of their own. Having worked with Chaka, they learned plenty and developed their own ideas of what they'd like to do with the education and inspiration they gained in that operation. They are not puppets or chess pieces, and they deserve more respect than to be talked about like they are unworthy candidates in their own right.

I certainly didn't mean to

I certainly didn't mean to slight any of the men and women above or suggest that they weren't independent. But that doesn't mean that the effort in city and state elections, isn't organized or strategic, or that Fattah isn't the leader of this group. Nor are any of those things negative.

I don't remember who put it this way, but someone said that Chaka Fattah was trying to become "the new Bill Gray" -- to use his Congressional seat, his fundraising ability, and his political support to give independent support to candidates for political office at the state and city level who can in turn support one another in elections, with joint initiatives like the guns-for-groceries program, etc., where there might not necessarily be support from either the city committee or the NW alliance, who basically invented this strategy. There are many people in city politics who have done and continue to do the same thing -- but Fattah and co. have been particularly successful in a comparatively short period of time.

The way to change West Philly politics

is to build the Party structure that ought to be -- open, transparent, issue-oriented -- and to do it block by block, division by division, ward by ward. That's the mission that Neighborhood Networks has taken on, the grunt work of finding ways to do politics as if people mattered. If you'd like to work with us in building that kind of Party in West Philly, or anywhere else in the City, send me an email and let's have a conversation.

Janie Blackwell is my

Janie Blackwell is my committeeperson. All it would take to get her out of the ward is a good running mate, a free lawer, and some emotional support from other progressives when my windows get broken.

These are things I didn't have last year- although I tried my best to find them. I realized that it takes a few years to get these things together. Maybe, I'll get them by 2010.

One of the things I encountered when I was thinking about running for committee last winter was that West Philly's NN was kind of dead in the water at the time. Time will tell what the climate is like out here in a few years- but I think its looking good.

Jannie's ward went for Nutter at 52% of the vote (Fattah had 23% I think, and her buddy Knox was in the teens). And- for better or for worse her ward(which is mostly in UCity) gets more gentrified by the week. I know you don't support Nuttter, Stan- but in my mind- a vote for him in west philly is a vote for change. If Nutter is the anti-Street, Blackwell is the anti- Nutter. Now hopefully we find an anti-Blackwell in 2011.

You don't have to be a committee person to be ward leader

A NN member defeated Chris Drumm as a committee person last year. Chris remained as ward leader.

In fact, you don't actually have to live in a ward to be its ward leader. I know at least one ward leader who lives very far from his ward. There are probably others.

Please don't hold my support for Fattah against NN

That was my position not that of NN which didn't endorse anyone in the Mayor's race. And as to the state of NN in West Philly, I think it is improving. But it will be and become what people interested in change make it into. You, and anyone else reading this blog can be among those people bringing change not just to one division or one ward, but throughout the City wherever the machine is encrusted and out of touch.

Let me also say that though I had and have major differences with Nutter, I recognize that he could represent a breath of fresh air in how the City and Party are governed, and will be happy to work with him in helping those fresh winds blow. As will NN, I'm sure.

I don't. And thanks for

I don't. And thanks for encouraging people to get involved offline.

Curtis Jones has announced

Curtis Jones, newly elected 4th district council person has announced he will support Blackwell.

I blew past my comment above

I blew past my comment above about the fact that there would be some posturing. All of the posturing is focused/or will be focused on Marian Tasco.

She is currently the only African American member of Council that has announced her support of Verna. Aside from that, the other African American members would have a hard, hard time, I believe, not supporting an African American woman for Council.

There are a couple of reasons for this that I wish more "progressives", "reformers", [add appropriate title] would take more account of. The Independent Black Political Movement was a spin off of the Civil Rights Movement nationally. That movement did something that economists who have looked at this subject marvel at, it overcame the collective action problem (i.e., if one person does something for the public good, it benefits everyone, so why should I get out and protest segregation, when if I stay at home I will still reap the benefits of others' protest.) That free rider dilemma was overcome by the Civil Rights Movement in the African American community because of a very strong sense of group identity --- which identity groups all across the world have tried to study and emulate. (The Civil Rights Movement was also helped by a lot of whites whose moral conscience led them to action overcoming the collective action problem.)

So there has been a decades long push by a number of African American political families (Gray, Fattah, Street, Williams, Goode, etc.) to elect/appoint African Americans (and Latinos) to positions of influence. That is an outgrowth of group identity.

So what's this got to do with Marian Tasco, Jannie Blackwell and Philadelphia politics?

Marian Tasco is out of the Bill Gray camp. That camp includes a great number of African American elected officials. Their goal, among other things, is to populate government with like minded, well educated African Americans who were not going to forget about group identity. George Burrell, Bill Miller, Rotan Lee, Marian Tasco, Gussie Clark, Louise Williams Bishop, and others were in this camp.

Tasco supported Derek Green at large, and Cherrelle Parker as a state rep, (who both worked for her.) She was a major proponent of Alex Talmadge's run against Lynn Abraham. She is a proud member of an African American sorority, on the board of directors of an historically black college, member of one of the most prestigious African American congregations in Philadelphia, leader of the largest African American ward in the City. (You see the trend, no attacks on her group identity here.)

So what some African American politicos are grappling with is supporting Verna over Blackwell when they feel the same pressures. Many philosophically agree. (There are some class distinctions in African American Philadelphia politics that La-Toya should also add her thoughts on.)

Hence, the pressure. Get every African American politicians on one side to highlight Tasco's reluctant support of Verna. (She said she would not throw her out.)

Of course, I think that will ultimately fail. But that is why you would announce your support for Blackwell -- there are some other more base political reasons I think -- when you can count 9 votes today.

The larger point that I wish folks would remember, and concerns me about this conversation to unseat Blackwell from her ward (which is like beyond difficult), is that elected officials do tend to be liked by someone. I have lots of conversations with my Center City friends who dislike Blackwell. (I do not.) I constantly point out to them that there are part of West Philly where the Blackwell name is gold. In part, b/c of Lou Blackwell, who was extremely popular. (I will admit that I admired him as well.) But b/c she has a history of helping very poor people.

I understand that is not a popular view on this site, and I am not passing any judgment as to whether it should be or not, but I would ask folks to factor it in when assessing candidates/elected officials.

so back to the original point

Jannie is my ward leader too. I think the election results, at least in the mayor's race, show that her power over the 46th is pretty weak.

However, Gaetano is saying we as progressives should be pushing Verna over Jannie.

Ok, but Verna is no progressive.

Why does it have to be between those 2?

I'd love to see Maria as Council President although that may not be realistic yet. But what about Tasco?

I understand Verna has some solid votes, but here's who could vote for Tasco:

Blondelle Reynolds-Brown
Wilson Goode
Maria Q-S
Clarke
Curtis Jones
Green
Donna Reed Miller
Marian Tasco

Does the Council Prez have to be a District person? What about Goode or Kenney or Blondelle?

I advocate Verna based o the

I advocate Verna based o the job she is doing now, the fact that she can beat Blackwell and her pretty impressive legislative record. That being said, Tasco, Kenney or Goode will be fine with me. Tasco has said she'd support Verna.

One things, what exactly are you using to show that Verna is not progressive? Her record is solid-particularly on ethics reform and affordable housing. Please explain.

The Council President does

The Council President does not have to be a district councilperson. Other than seniority, I can't think of any reason why it has been most recently. (Verna, 2nd, Street, 5th, Coleman, 8th, etc.)

Verna is a nice classy lady and she has done a good job as council president, but I don't think that even her supporters would describe her as progressive in the same sense that the term is typically used on this site.

It is also hard to judge the Council President b/c they do not typically introduce legislation (others do it on their behalf as a matter of rule), but I'd be hard pressed to think of the legislative agenda of any Council President, that is not framed by what the Mayor's Agenda is.

As to the race to 9 for Council Presidency, Tasco considered a run against Verna in 99, but I think was short on the votes. The Majority Leader, which Verna was previously, and seniority are important factors, in my mind, for what other Councilmembers see as the Council President.

That would eliminate Goode and Blondell -- not that I have ever heard either of them or their supporters express those aspirations. As for Kenney, I would see him supporting Verna. I think Kenney (and he and others could respond) view his role as pushing an independent Citywide agenda of real people's problems, i.e., public safety, L&I, ethics reform, moderate good government support. I don't think that would be helped by being Council President b/c it takes up an enormous amount of time herding Councilmembers divergent interests.

So it really is only a race b/w Verna, Blackwell and potentially, though unlikely in my mind, Tasco.

I really don't see progressives as having a nickel in this quarter so to speak. Other than a strong dislike most have for Blackwell b/c of her ethics reform, and tax reform, I don't think that you will find many substantive disagreements b/w Blackwell and Verna, that progressives would side for Verna on.

Wouldn't you agree that

Wouldn't you agree that ethics reform is a pretty being substantive disagreement?

Didn't Blackwell oppose campaign finance limits? Answer--Yes.

Didn't Blackwell come out against limiting no-bid contracts? Answer--Yes.

Doesn't Blackwell still refuse to acknowledge the need for any of the recent ethics reforms? Answer--Yes.

I don't mean to cross examine you here, but these are indisputable items. Progressives, whatever they are, like these things--and want to see more of them. If Nutter is to have a shot getting a reform agenda through, Blackwell is NOT the way to go.

If progressives want a chance at public financing of elections, Verna, not Blackwell is the way to go.

Personally, I think Verna

Personally, I think Verna has a good enough record of how legislation is proposed that it is best to stay with her during this mayoral transition. Plus, if she isn't the "most progressive" out there, even better. It will leave the progressive candidates with more free time to actually propose legislation.

Personally, I would prefer Kenney spending time with the Environmental committee and 311 implementation than presiding over Council at this time.

Part of it is we need to look at efficient use of time. Kenney has some big projects on his plate, it seems. No need to distract him. In four years from now, may be a different story, but not for this term.

If things aren't broke, don't try to fix them.

There's no requirement that the Council Prez be a District

Council member. In fact the Charter makes no distinction between District Council and at-large members of any kind except regarding how they're elected to office.

so back to the council presidency

I'd like to hear more from Stan, but the person who is Council president has quite a bit of power and the whole technical staff there to write legislation. This could be a very useful place to move progressive public policy.

Anna Verna is a very much a part of the Fumo machine and frankly, I am not sure I want that machine in charge of Council.

So, who should be Council President?

So let's not evaluate her on

So let's not evaluate her on the job she has done in reality. All of these people are a part of some political machine, why are we making judgements that one is better than the other.

The fact is, the Council Pres. should be the one who wins. Verna, right now is the one standing in Blackwell's way. Tasco would be great, but she's gong to vote Verna. Further, the votes you indicate above could be split with Blackwell.

I cant stress ths enough- a progressive voting for Blackwell is like a
wolf in sheeps clothing.

ok...

Gaetano, you are clearly pushing Verna and want to support her.

I don't.

Yet, whenever this gets mentioned, you bring up Blackwell.

It does not have to be Blackwell or Verna.

Kenney and Goode got the most votes from the most people of anyone on Council. Why not make either of them President?

Tasco is a great unity candidate among the various people on Council.

As far as I understand it only takes 9 votes to elect a council president, and the election won't happen until January right?

That seems like plenty of time for folks like us to get together, draft a good person and lobby Council members for their vote for that person.

Why are you pushing Verna so early?

And your basis for this statement

is? Anna Verna (and for those of you who have a problem with it, sorry) has been around and involved longer than Vince Fumo. Or is it that her name ends in a vowel and she is from South Philadelphia? Just because he is a friend that means she is a part of a "machine". Remind me to be very careful about whom I call friend.

All that has been said about her allowing Councilmembers free reign to hold hearings, move forward legislation, etc. is absolutely true.

and...?

The Council President can move big issues and big ideas. Verna has not done that. Period.

My middle name ends in a vowel (it's Italian) and the "y" in Murphy is a vowel. Nice try though.

Sheparding ethics reform

Sheparding ethics reform legislation is clearly not big enough. Especially against a reluctant administration. Verna is uber supportive of new initiatives too.

Nutter needs a good, time tested president. Someone not afraid of change or reform. Verna is it. No on the job training needed.

And, comparing the votes Kenney and Goode got is inapplicable-they have a larger voting pool.

do others want to weigh in?

Gaetano, Goode and Nutter shepherded ethics reform.

I think a Council President with a progressive vision for our city would be a great help to our new Mayor. I do not think Verna is it. I am tired of the power Vince Fumo has over our city. We need fresh voices and ideas.

I agree that we also need an experienced Council person. Both Tasco and Goode provide that (and their names end in vowels) and they don't have the ties to past or present political machines that both Blackwell and Verna have.

Again, this decision is months away, and others should really weigh in, and come up with some kind of agreement so we can all go lobby Council.

You cant have it two ways.

You cant have it two ways. You cant say nothing progressive gets done then fail to give credit for a major legislative initiative that someone less principled would have sat on.

The job of a council president is administrative in nature. You know that. Their vision is not as important as smooth administration and encouraging the creativity of councilmembers. Verna doesnt sit on bills.

And, I wil bet another lunch that it comes down to Verna-Blackwell, again (baring anything enitrely unforseen).

But, you're right-let's hear from others.

Verna and Reform

Council President Verna was the only person who had the power to call a special election to fill the vacancy left by David Cohen's passing. She chose not to fill that until Mariano was indicted leaving a vacancy in the 7th and until Nutter resigned his seat in the 4th.

Over the protest of PFC, NN and other groups, Verna chose to call a special, and 3 ward leaders were handed picked by City Committee to fill 3 vacancies on Council. 2 of these folks--Savage and Campbell--were booted by voters this week.

Depsite that Savage and Campbell still have almost a whole year to give favors to friends and vote on Council matters.

This is Verna's fault. This is not the kind of leadership or reform I expect from a Council President who can serve as a check to a Mayor. Instead Verna acts as a part of the machine that puts its own people in power above all else.

Sorry, Ray, I disagree on this.

I remember this very clearly. And, I also remember reading the proper statute and party by-law related to this. I think it is pretty reasonable to say that, in light of the fact that people would be unrepresented for over a year, the problem was not with the calling of a special election itself. Rather, the problem is with the law that allows the party committee who held the seat, in these cases the Democratic party, to vote in the replacement. It was the party that could have chose a different path. I think that is what most of us were fighting about--not necessarily the special election.

How long would you have had two district seats and an at-large seat go vacant?

You want to ascribe fault, that is fine. But, it is pretty reasonable to say that the fault did not lie with the calling of the election, but with the law. Here it goes, again:

25 P.S. Sec. 2953(a) provides:

"In all cases where a vacancy shall occur for any cause in an elective public office, including that of judge of a court of record, at a time when such vacancy is required by the provisions of the Constitution or the laws of this Commonwealth to be filled at the ensuing election but at a time when nominations for such office cannot be made under any other provision of this act, nominations to fill such vacancies shall be made by political parties in accordance with party rules relating to the filling of vacancies by means of nomination certificates in the form prescribed in section nine hundred ninety-four of this act, and by political bodies by means of nomination papers in accordance with the provisions of sections nine hundred fifty-one, nine hundred fifty-two and nine hundred fifty-four of this act. No such nomination certificate shall nominate any person who has already been nominated by any other political party or by any political body for the same office unless such person is a candidate for the office of judge of a court of common pleas, the Philadelphia Municipal Court or the Traffic Court of Philadelphia, or for the office of school director in districts where that office is elective or for the office of justice of the peace. No such nomination papers shall nominate any person who has already been nominated by any political party or by any other political body for any office to be filled at the ensuing November election, unless such person is a candidate for the office of judge of a court of common pleas, the Philadelphia Municipal Court or the Traffic Court of Philadelphia, or for the office of school director in districts where that office is elective or for the office of justice of the peace."

So--in this instance, the Election Code incorporates the Party Rules by reference.

It's a question of leadership

Council President Verna held off for over 9 months after Cohen's death before filling his vacancy and it was almost three or four months before she filled Nutter or Mariano's.

She could have left the seats vacant altogether rather than appointing people that voters clearly rejected like Savage and Campbell. Now, even though they have been defeated, they have already had 6 months and will have 6 more to spend money that really is not theirs to spend. What deals will get made?

Who knows?

Verna only called the Special Election because she was told to.

There was public outcry against holding the special because of the rules in place and that clearly did not matter.

Listen. I don't want or need to demonize Verna, but the reality is she is tied into a political machine and I want an indpendent Council president who can truly use the office. John Street was not a lot of things, but he was a very good Council President and he really helped Rendell as mayor to get a lot of things done. I'd like to see a Council President more in that vein, without political ties, to lead us and help our new Mayor.

I don't know about

I don't know about this:

"Verna only called the Special Election because she was told to."

I understand what you are saying. I believe it will likely come down to Verna or Blackwell. I've already expressed why one is better than the other.

I think Verna has done a solid job as Council President. After Verna, I think Kenney--having the largest mandate of all (90,000 votes) would be an excellent choice. I like Tasco too.

One thing that is clear to me, every member of council comes from some machine or another. As much as I would like to see true independence, the reality of the situation is vastly different.

I think the gun is being

I think the gun is being jumped quite a bit.

Why argue over pushing canmdidates that may not, or probably not, want to run?

It sort of seems like a topic specifically looking for a fight.

The Blackwell/Verna conversation is there because they are both known to want the job. I highly doubt 9 people, even if lobbied by the whole City, are going to vote for a councilperson that is not even asking for the position.

Before fighting over who to push outside of Blackwell/Verna, maybe some time should first be spent finding out if even anyone else wants the job?

-----------------------------------------------------------
"yes adam gave some informative comments but he also seems to sprinkle a little adam dust on it." - merkin

Land Use?

Stan, it is my understanding, both as an attorney that practiced before the zoning board and as a civic association president, that district council persons are given deference regarding all zoning variations and changes in land use within the bounds of their districts. Is that in the Home Rule Charter or just an unwriten rule that is adhered to 100% of the time?

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
— Margaret Mead

Seth

Unwritten.

Unwritten.

Dan is correct

as usual.

It's pretty absolute.

It's pretty absolute. Typically, only district councilmembers can introduce legislation of any type, zoning or otherwise, that affects their district.

Councilman Cohen used to argue against this saying that it balkanized the City, b/c what happens in one neighborhood affects the other, and there are citywide assets, the Stadiums, the Art Museum, any of the Universities, etc.

The argument going the other way is that it allows for folks who are affected by the land use to have a say in it, i.e., what do you care if you live in Chestnut Hill about the traffic problems created by having all of the Stadiums in South Philly.

But most developers dislike the fact that one person and their staff have such a strong veto power over development. However, my thought is that without that, its not clear what the arcane zoning code would permit as a matter of right.

The zoning code really needs to be fixed. Years of overlays, special districts, modifying the use provisions and district classifications, means that it is impossible to figure out w/o a zoning attorney many things in the code. Which means so many things require a variance. You could get that or do "spot zoning" or what all of these ordinances that change the zoning of a single parcel of land do by changing the code for a single block or series of blocks.

At some point, truthtold

I'd be curious to hear you weigh in with some ideas on how "progressives" can forge more solid links with African American communities in Philly, despite that there are office-holders such as Blackwell and Donna Reed Miller who effectively represent a wedge issue = keeping those different consituencies apart from one another.

Ia it possible for "progressives" to advocate for getting rid of someone like Blackwell or DRM - who have constituents who view them as effective and as representing African Americans' interests - without exacerbating racial divisions?

My thoughts

As a reform minded progressive, I would in theory support a Tasco or Goode presidency as a mild imrpovement and emphatically join in denouncing the idea of a Blackwell one. That said Verna - whatever else - has been more or less "fair" in terms her duties as council president with the giant exception of the "special election" appointments. She has not been a real champion of reform minded legislation herself but she has been to her credit a fair-minded traffic cop.

I see the Knox loss being a killer for Blackwell as Council Pres and while I can imagine some discussion behind closed doors of a Tasco or Goode presidency - I don't see it hapening with the current numbers - unless some as yet unforseen indictment gets one more councilperson - say DiCicco or DRM (who despite comments in this thread has indicated her strong support of Verna) or Blackwell herself (who physically threatened Tasco what - last year?). I know its not polite to say such things but -truth be told - considering recent history they are not entirely beyond the realm of possibilities.

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