Tomorrow is election day throughout the country, and the sort of tiny election where a few extra folks can make a big difference. Here in Philadelphia, it's really important that everybody who cares about honesty and transparency in government turn out to vote for the Charter Change ballot measure
, which will be at the far lower-right of your ballot. If you need to know more about why this is a good idea, see the summary
at Committee of Seventy's website; you can also download a flyer here
for your workplace and/or polling place to encourage others to support the measure.
Beyond that, there are a number of smaller city offices on the ballot, as well as a raft of new judges and choices to retain older judges. A quick summary with my recommendations:
- District Attorney: I'd rather Seth Williams were here, but Lynne Abraham is clearly more qualified than her opponent. Vote for the Tough Cookie or leave it blank as a feeble protest.
- Controller: the Inquirer chose not to endorse, and the Daily News favors the Republican, Levinson. However, this office is going to become increasingly important as the city institutes financial oversight of campaigns and city contracts, and his cavallier acceptance of gigantic contributions is enough on its own to make me distrust Levinson. We recommend Butkovitz, who has done well as a State Rep.
- There are a bunch of Common Pleas judges, many listed on both tickets. I can't track down the number you are allowed to vote for, but here's my ranking of the options:
- Definitely vote for Shulman, Tucker, Bronson, Butchart, and Heffley, all of whom we recommended in the primary.
- Consider adding Cunningham and Eubanks, also generally viewed well.
- I recommend leaving the rest blank, however many you're allowed, but by no means vote for Palumbo or Harris -- despite my Ward leader's claim that "incompentents were weeded out in the primary," the bar thinks these two don't cut it. They'll probably be elected anyway, but at least it won't be on your hands.
- Municipal court: We endorsed Moss and Jimenez in the primary, so be sure to vote for them again. I have no opinion on the others.
- Traffic court: no opinion. These candidates are pretty far down the food chain.
- Judicial retention: we recommend that you vote to retain all the judges. State conservatives are trying to oust a couple of progressive Supreme Court justices, in particular, under cover of anger about the summer's pay-hike, but I don't think that's the right way to make decisions about important posts. See more arguments by Ben Waxman here. Vote to retain.
That's it for this round. There will be a lot more sparks next year, but be sure to turn out this year for the ballot initiative, even if nothing else, so we can give our local polticians a reason to think we take ethics reform seriously.Update:
A friend with lawyerly insights sends this about the Supreme Court Justice retention issue:
While I'd agree wholeheartedly that Newman should be retained, Nigro is another matter. He has a long history of being investigated on ethical issues; this year's problematic campaign contributions are the rule rather than the exception. And even on a court not known for its intellectual stature, he is no standout.
So there may be reasons for one no-vote here. I'm just not clear that those are the ones being used to motivate a fractious populace...Update 2:
Anybody living in wider parts of our region, or wanting to double-check my picks against somebody else's, can see the Inquirer endorsements
for PA and NJ.