Friday, March 30, 2007

Friday round-up I: Top stories

  1. As suspected, Mayor Street vetoed the casino location referendum, but City Council unanimously overrode the veto, meaning that Philadelphians can have their say in May. The unanimity shouldn't be given too much credit, however, as nobody wants to be lined up against the right of the public to have a say (unless they can actually prevent that say), especially in an election year:
    Shortly before the override vote, a handful of Council members took phone calls and spoke to each other in hushed tones, suggesting there was a last-minute attempt to find enough votes to sustain Street's veto.

    Councilwoman Carol Ann Campbell was at the center of those discussions. But when roll was called, she voted "aye" with the rest of Council.
    Also notable was intense lobbying by the building trades (who want to build the casinos) and Rendell. Anyway, expect a deluge of advertising by the casino developers between now and May, and possible court challenges both before and after. More on the story here.

  2. The "Will he or won't he?" game with Chaka Fattah's tax returns has flipped again: now his wife has been released from her confidentiality agreement, and Fattah still declines to share his records. He says it's to protect his wife's privacy, but also refuses to share edited or redacted returns.
    Fattah, interviewed at a candidates' forum last night at Bright Hope Baptist Church in North Philadelphia, was unmoved. "If the choice is between making my wife happy or Tom Knox happy, he's going to be disappointed, as he will be on May 15," Fattah said.
    Heh. This could well be a kerfluffle over nothing, but it seems odd to me that he wouldn't look for a solution to keep this story from lasting so long. (Again, if Fattah were less of a cipher, it might be that nobody would care.) On the other hand, I imagine that news anchor positions involve a lot of high-stakes negotiations -- heck, even professors tend not to know what their colleagues are making -- and thus there could be professional repurcussions to a full disclosure. Who knows.

    More on the story here, and it sparked two sets of reflections at the Daily News: a revisitation of the potential conflict issue over having a prime news local figure married to a city mayor, and an editorial questioning the degree to which we require that candidates open their lives to public examination (and the range of difficulties that it creates). They note that the Committee of Seventy is working on a set of recommendations for improving candidate disclosure forms and rules.


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