Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween news: all election edition

  • Statewide races

  • Congressional races

    • Curt Weldon finds himself under the microscope again, as a defense earmark for a friend's firm comes to light. In related news, a PhillyFuture contributor notes differences in the ways different papers have covered Weldon's woes and election prospects.

    • The Inquirer asked the candidates in the hot Philly suburban races (House districts 6,7,8) their views on alternative energy options, and found plenty of support. (The article gives more details on their individual responses.)

  • State legislative races

    • The Inquirer looks at the race in the 156th state House district, which includes much of Chester County. The race is for a currently open seat.

    • A second piece looks at the 170th state House district (N. Philly and beyond), where incumbent Kenney is facing a tough challenger in Boyle.

    • An Inky editorial makes an endorsement in the 26th state Senate district (spanning Deleware and Chester counties). They praise both options, but favor the incumbent.

    • Another Inquirer piece looks at activities of the major state parties aimed at protecting their incumbents and/or getting a win in open seat races.

  • Other (there's always other)

    • I'm tired of negative ads, but I'm also tired of reading opinion pieces bemoaning the terrible state into which such ads have fallen. Color me contrarian.

    • Dan UA puts himself on the line in objecting preemptively to possible Brady-Blackwell alliance maneouvering. Some feisty exchanges ensue...

    • Ok, this has nothing to do with elections, but it's related to Halloween: Pennsylvania is the 2nd biggest pumpkin producing state, according to Friedman. Go figure.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Oops, forgot-to-blog Monday!

Quick round-up, since it's so late:

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Under the wire

The Pennsylvania state legislature managed to get some business done on Friday, according to a Saturday report in the Inquirer, coming back from their recess to tie up some loose ends: They (1) passed lobbying reform legislation, which is now ready for Rendell's signature, and (2) acted on the casino bill (presumably undoing the clerical error of earlier in the week), including amendments that not only return zoning decisions to local authorities but even make Philly casinos obey the recently passed smoking ban.

Color my response to all of the above: Will wonders never cease!

Friday, October 27, 2006

In other Friday news

Quick low-productivity-day version:
  • Politicians:

    • Santorum continues to pound the war drums in speeches around the state. Meanwhile speculations prove true, that Rick is relatively strapped for cash.

    • Murphy points out blatant falsehood in bizarre Fitzpatrick ads. Meanwhile, Fitzpatrick continues to hold a lead in polls, where his experience in the district may be valued over national issues.

    • Sestak self-deprecating about his speaking style. I've only heard him live once, quite early on, and he had a strikingly odd style of speaking. Not the most critical matter in this race though.

    • Inquirer endorses McIlhinney in open 10th state Senate race, praising both candidates. They also offer a preference in the NJ 12th Congressional race.

    • Marc Stier offers his recommendations in four state House races (and he's even holding a fundraiser for three of them).

    • Those undecided about the elections should watch for this Sunday's Inquirer, in which the Currents section (usually fluff-alicious) will be devoted to candidate profiles in major regional races. They also promise lots more election coverage starting next week.

    • Tom Ferrick also showcases the Inquirer's open endorsement interviews, which you can view on the web now -- an amazing modern resource -- and he even highlights some good parts for you to pick out.

  • Other news

    • I suspect I need a bit more history to fully appreciate this story: the US Justice folks want to send election observers to Philly, and the city is suing to prevent it for some reason. The feds want to make sure that Spanish-language assistance and handicapped access has all been implemented; perhaps local Genos types want to run things their own way? Anyway, local pols of both parties say the attempted solution way outstrips any problems here, blah blah. I'm sure there's something underlying this conflict that I'd understand if I'd been tuned in longer.

    • Philadelphians Against Santorum are doing a get-out-the-vote pub crawl. Um, tonight?

    • The Committee of SEventy is having a Dash for Democracy race the Saturday before Election Day (i.e., a week from tomorrow) that offers a chance to promote your favorite candidate or cause, with prizes for creativity. Entry fees benefit the Commitee of Seventy's work keeping elections clean and functional.

Friday top stories

A deluge again today, but these three stories got the most mileage on the local Nets:
  • Philadelphia City Council passes Goode's campaign finance bill

    • Inquirer summary: the biggest effect on the spring primaries will be a doubling of the contribution limits if/when Tom Knox officially declares, to put other candidates on a more competitive footing with a millionare in the race. The measure does nothing to rein in undeclared but obvious candidates (of which the mayoral field has many) from raising much more than would be allowed those foolish enough to be official. Anyone want to clarify what positive thing is accomplished here? Other than Goode's endearing himself to Fattah, Dougherty, and other big rainmakers...

    • Daily News overview. One clarification here is that excess money raised before "official declaration" cannot be spent once the candidate goes on the record; however, there are plenty of ways to spend it before that date (tons of campaign literature comes to mind)... Also noted here is that a state law to officially permit Philly to regulate its own campaigns is still only partway through approval in Harrisburg, and may not get Senate action before the end of the year. Make of the mess what you will.

    • Marc Stier thinks this is a step backward, and gets Goode into something of a hissy fit. "Don't take my blogging too seriously..." is the wrong way to frame an argument. Either you have points worth making or you should let the discussion roll right on by you.

  • Newspaper strike in the air?

    • I knew there were discussions underway, and that Tierney had threatened cuts (see prev. here) but was still a bit surprised to hear the Newspaper Guild authorizing a strike "if necessary" already last night. Current contract expires next Tuesday, which raises the astounding prospect of a disruption in news coverage during the last week of a hot election season. A national mediator has been requested.

    • Via PhiladelphiaWillDo, a PhilaWeekly piece that gives background for the dispute and issues at stake, an excellent resource for anyone who, like myself, was caught a bit off-guard.

    • A PhillyFuture poster declares the newspaper business dead, resulting in little sympathy for the reporters in this negotiation. Ok, there's actually some thoughtful analysis here about the value of specialization by local papers on the news that nobody else would cover, but in a context that blames the staff for the decisions made higher up.

  • Gay rights in New Jersey
    Not so much new news coverage of the ruling, but lots from the opinionistas today.

    • Inquirer editorial: applauds the decision and looks at the tough decision ahead for the legislature in deciding how to handle the charged term "marriage."

    • Daily News opinion page also sees this ruling as a step in the right direction, but wonders whether any separate institution set up to give gays the protection of marriage rights can ever really be trusted as "equal."

    • In a separate DN opinion piece, Christina Flowers shakes her petulant fist at the audacity of the justices in giving the legislature a mandate, and implies that God may yet punish them. (Oh, and while no man-on-dog action is mentioned, she does make the argument that the logic of this ruling could be extrapolated to allow sibling marriage. yeah.)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Thursday stuff

  • New Jersey ruling on gay marriage rights round-up

    1. Inquirer's explication, which appears to boil down to this:
      Lawmakers have six months to expand the definition of marriage to include gay and lesbian couples or to come up with another term that carries the same weight.
      Cheers and boos from the expected quarters.

    2. Daily News overview, in Q&A format (giving history of the case and the issue too).

    3. Excerpts from the ruling, also at the Inky. [Note that the only dissension was about whether gays should be umbrellaed under the term "marriage," rather than an equivalent's being acceptable.]

    4. A broader look at the NJ court's history of boldness on the social issues front.

  • Politicians and election races

    • This time it's really over: the PA State Supreme Court ruled Tony Payton the winner of the May primary in the 175th state House district. Onward and upward!

    • Philly's suburban House races are a huge money vortex, outstripping any others in the nation, with the Congressional Campaign Committees at the forefront of the frenzy. I love me some Murphies and Sestaks, but couldn't the same money elect 6 people elsewhere? A majority's a majority...

    • The DN offers their take on the ads and substance of the Gerlach-Murphy race.

    • The Inquirer makes an endorsement in the New Jersey 3rd District, saying good things about both candidates.

    • AAJane offers for your perusal a handful of endorsements in state legislative races.

  • There's other news? (apparently)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Wednesday highlights

Keeping my grousing to a minimum...
  • My favorite story of the day is that of the botched state Senate vote, wherein a "clerical error" caused the wrong version of legislation to be approved, thus requiring another vote at the end of November before it will be official. My enjoyment is of the keystone cops-like antics only; PA's stature as the only state that lets its lobbyists operate unregulated is an ongoing embarrassment. Jane was watching the chaos in real time...

  • The New Jersey state Supreme Court will rule today on gay marriage -- specifically the constitutionality of a law forbidding it. Ruling due at 3pm -- NJ.com claims that they ruled along lines that would require some sort of civil unions but not demand "marriage" per se. Expect much more explication by tomorrow, or read the opinion here (PDF).

  • The Daily News has a feature on picking a school in Philadelphia, complete with lots of great online/interactive maps and other useful resources.

  • Politicians:

    • NRA backs Santorum, but gives Casey an A rating too. One might wonder why they're campaigning for either, then.

    • Santorum campaign has pulled its TV ads, prompting questions about its financial resources. They say they're being strategic about cable placements instead.

    • Don Sherwood way behind Chris Carney in the 10th Congressional district, according to a new poll. The incumbent is suffering from the fallout of an affair and related ugliness from last year. Ferrick plays taps for his campaign (and notes a few other results from the same poll in NE PA).

    • Inquirer endorses Joe Sestak in the 7th Congressional district race, but actually seems disappointed with both choices. Apparently I missed on Monday when they chose Fitzpatrick in the 8th, where they actually liked both candidates. I'm rooting for Sestak and Murphy in these two races.

      Perhaps even more useful, the Inquirer has posted their endorsement interviews with candidates at all levels, from Governor down to state races, and you can listen for yourself to help make up your mind. A great resource.
      (via Above Average Jane)

    • Ferrick has more polling results on US Senate and Governor races for PA, showing Rendell and Casey with substantial leads, and he breaks out some details for the curious.

  • Marc Stier doesn't like Goode's campaign finance bill and recommends that readers speak up about getting it made better. I gotta say, if we can't do better for a definition of "candidate" than the petition deadline, we might as well pack up and go home. He's got a petition running, and Goode may be offering some amendments to close the loopholes.

  • Ben Waxman challenges readers to get involved in a campaign in the last two preelection weeks, and implies that 2007 candidates will be demonstrating their priorities by how hard they're working now...

  • Two Daily News editorials of note: one calling for improvements to Roosevelt Boulevard before more people die, and the other applauding Kenney's bill to eliminate resign-to-run restrictions that disadvantage city officeholders selectively.

  • Finally, the Philadelphia Weekly offers a long colorful look at the reputation and reality of a not-so-fleabag downtown residential hotel. It felt like a trip to a different time and place, rather than a description of a corner I walk by pretty often...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Bloggered Tuesday

Partly my head, partly my host. Day's almost over, and here's what I've got to offer:Hopefully both my head and Blogger will be running a bit more smoothly by tomorrow!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Clogged head Monday round-up

At least I'm not on the verge of coughing up a lung today, but after 5 days, I'd hoped I could think more than two thoughts in a row. heh.
  • The Inquirer profiles the 150th District state House race, an open seat race in a district that includes part of Norristown and a meandering slice of neighborhing townships. They also ask the candidates some questions on top issues.

  • Ben Waxman challenges Brady and Fattah, who have loaded warchests and little or no opposition, to contribute to other Democratic candidates in the region that might help reclaim a majority in Congress. Or, um, Tim Kearney's race against Perzel... anyone??

  • AAJane saw a bunch of candidates at a weekend event and gives a summary of her impressions (with another installment still to come).
There was some other stuff. You'll survive without it...

Friday, October 20, 2006

Friday deluge

Whooh, my head is spacey, so you take your own risks in listening to anything I say. But at least I'm doing my coughing at work! (wait, is that an improvement?) Bunch of news caught my eye today:

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Thursday trickle

Have I mentioned that I hate being sick?
  • This makes me very happy: Frank Gehry will design the expansion at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Given that the new building will be underground, I think we can expect some unusual spaces...

  • Dan UA challenges readers to suggest their top issues for local politics and politicians (I presume), and many excellent lists are posted. Good stuff!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Santorum really off deep end now

I mean, this left me agape.
Embattled U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum said America has avoided a second terrorist attack for five years because the “Eye of Mordor” has been drawn to Iraq instead.
The number of ways that this analogy is wrong is almost immeasurable -- take that many terrorists are uncoordinated individual actors; that our attack on muslim holy lands is adding fuel to the jihadist fires; that it's not as simple as good versus evil, even if we wish it were -- and that Santorum is willing to appeal to the realm of fantasy to stir up more fear is truly a measure of either his desperation or his self-delusion. Wow.

Wednesday home sick

Ugh. Here are a few offerings...That's all for now -- time for me to crawl back under my quilt...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Top story: Future of the Delaware riverfront at risk

Marc Stier draws our attention to a disaster in the making: Senate bill 862, described in the media as "fixing some holes in the original casino legislation" also strips Philadelphia of any and all control over how casinos are built (including safety and sewage codes), and extends this exemption to all abutting property, making it possible (via a few easements or token purchases) for the Gaming Board to take control of the entire riverfront. A small example of how the new measure would undermine attempts to run the city is also given here Read Marc's post for more detail -- it's really an outrage, and it already sneaked through the State Senate without anybody's recognizing the enormity of its effects.

Tragically, this bill is poised for passage in the House as well -- they vote tomorrow, and if you feel this needs some rethinking (or would prefer not to see the riverfront turned into an echo of the Las Vegas strip), please call, email, or fax your representatives in Harrisburg. It's critical to act right away, and you can be done in a minute if you use the Hallwatch site.

(In case this effort is too little too late, Marc and others are already brewing up some back-up plans for keeping the casinos in line. But really, send your fax right now!!)

Tuesday downpour

Have bookmarked some 25 stories, and nowhere near that kind of time. Here's some out-takes:

Monday, October 16, 2006


So much for Weldon's claims that the investigation of him was a Democratic invention: the FBI just raided his daughter's home, along with a handful of other sites. Ouch!

(via dailyKos)

Monday news and bits

  • These short political bits at the Inquirer are often entertaining -- noteworthy this time is the second piece, in which Campbell's financial shenanigans past, far from bringing reproach, become institutionalized.

  • Looks like Harrisburg won't be getting much done in the remainder of the fall, with this week the last regular business week before the election, and very few work days scheduled for the lame duck session that comprises the rest of November and December. A prod to those hoping to get a last few things (lobbyist disclosure, anyone?) pushed through, a relief for those concerned about what damage might be wrought (stripping Philadelphia of say over its waterfront, maybe?)... The bottom of the article lists a series of issues and the current state of related legislation.

  • Weldon-Sestak race a hot one, with veterans, in particular, divided between the two.

  • A YPP poster gives a lengthy report of the joint fundraiser held for Murphy, Murphy, and Sestak, and featuring Hillary Clinton.

  • Tom Ferrick made some live notes during the daytime Senate debate (on radio); their next/last TV appearance is tonight.

  • Unsure how to use the voting booths at your polling place? You can use this tutorial, tailored to the system used in your (Pennsylvania) county.
    (via Suburban Guerilla, via PhillyFuture)

  • Friedman at America's Hometown points us to Cities on a Hill, a sort of ideas-sharing project for city planning and public policy folks. Not sure what to make of the prominence of "market-friendly" among their descriptors.

  • Sty thinks better enforcement of current gun laws would do the trick for fixing traffic in illicit guns.

  • The Inquirer endorses Fattah for Congress. Whoopie.

  • The Urban Warrior razzes the city for dragging its heels on an offer of free medical equipment and training for recreation centers.

  • A DN opinion piece offers what it means to be a liberal, by way of ten points. Not a bad boiling-down.

  • I didn't mention this critique of Nutter's suggestion that the city declare an emergency before, in part because it was posted a week after the news and didn't seem to add much. But all sorts of people have subsequently weighed in, including several current and would-be City Councilfolk, and it's become an interesting combination of policy discussion and historical review (along with some sniping and personal jabs) that is worth a read if you're interested in solutions to Philadelphia's violence problems. At least some good food for thought.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Feds investigating Weldon?

Looks like that may be the case. Some old allegations, so one must of course wonder about the motivations of the current leakers, but the nepotism in this story is pretty hard to miss.

(via kos)

Quick round-up of other stuff

  • Politicians

    • Weldon and Sestak also had a debate yesterday, which was also more heated than previously.

    • Jim Gerlach has decided to attack the Barnes Foundation's plans to move downtown. Where was he when they were selling off masterpieces to stay afloat?

    • Gov. Rendell continues a boycott of the Delaware River Port Authority as part of a spat with NJ over dredging of the river (see prev. notes here, here, and here). That means that the DRPA has been unable to initiate new business or even pass a budget, and toll hikes are threatened (and money being squandered over a halt to some financial moves). Rendell stands firm on the need for deepening the river; we'll have to see if his tone changes after Election Day...

    • Gar Josephs gives a belated overview of Bob Brady's meeting with city progressives, in a piece that also mentions Nutter's bad week, Fattah's warchest, and the absurdity of negative ads.

  • Riverfront plans

    • Yesterday Street signed an executing order calling for a master development plan for the property along the Delaware River, rather than each project's being handled in a piecemeal manner. Great idea, but color me sceptical that a 45-member advisory group can come up with any kind of brilliance. Of course, the recent stripping of city rights over zoning issues surrounding casinos may make it difficult to come up with a workable unified plan.

    • The Daily News opinion page welcomes this plan and applauds some of the people to be involved.

    • In related news, Inga Saffron applauds the newly appointed head city planner, although noting that it's tough to get much done in the final year of a mayoral administration.

  • Other news

Apparently there was a Senate debate last night...

I wasn't able to watch it, but there's a flurry of coverage, especially since it appears that both candidates got feisty and thus brought some excitement to the event. Here are some highlights from around the nets:
  • Inquirer gives a general summary of the jabs and dodges.

  • Here's a link to video from the debate.

  • John Baer gives his take, including the way that both candidates ran shipshod over their agreed debate rules, in their efforts to trash one another.

  • Ferrick adds his two cents, voicing the opinion that Santorum had to come out slugging to revive his slumping reelection campaign, but it is unlikely to be enough.

  • Pennsyltucky Politics describes a debate turned gutter fight. [They also note that it will be rebroadcast today on PCN.]
No idea how many voters were swayed toward one man or the other (expect a deluge of weekend polling trying to answer that question), but it's sure to spark new interest in their two debate appearances on Monday . . .

Thursday, October 12, 2006

State House thoughts

After profiling some US House races, the Inquirer is turning its coverage to some regional state-level races, starting today with a piece about the 142nd district, whose candidates I'd never previously heard of. Over at YPP, benPA picks out some greater-Philadelphia-area State House races that could be key to Democrats' taking back the majority in Harrisburg, giving both rationale for that goal and links to the candidates involved. A good option for those looking for a race where their participation could really make a difference.

Senate shoot-out to come

Pennsylvania's US Senate candidates have three debates in the next few days, one tonight and two on Monday; see details here. The CityPaper provides profiles of the candidates as debaters, as well as what they might hope to achieve in these appearances. For his part, John Baer wonders if there's anything Santorum could do to save himself from his steady trailing in the polls. I agree with those speculating that as long as Casey looks thoughtful and credible, he'll be ok, while Santorum will be hard pressed to rework his image in a few TV appearances, after years of foaming at the mouth. But one can never be cavallier about such things...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Unmotivated Wednesday

I'm starting to feel resistant to blogging here -- not sure if it's the news lull, or blogger burn-out, or if I just feel I've accomplished the self-education I set out for, and am now forcing myself to perform info regurgitation. Anyway, posting may be light while I ride this out, and/or I may switch from aggregator to commentator approaches. Who knows.

For today, a heap of links:

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Ethical merry-go-round

Dan at Philadelphia Will Do piles some snark on Street for not making appointments to the required Ethics Board, and also clears up some confusion (which I shared) about how the new EB relates to the one already in place. I look forward to "so ethical it'll make your head spin"...

Quiet news Tuesday

It's a quiet news day, as evidenced by top stories about past events, from the contaminated daycare centers to the Phillies' wife-beating pitcher. There's even a story about a bunch of nuts who are circulating an alternative currency because of their suspicions about the security of the Fed. (no, really!) So here's a smattering of more substantive bits dug out from among the pre-election lull...
  • The Inquirer continues its series profiling candidates in the suburban House races, this time describing a feisty Curt Weldon (with challenger Sestak to get profiled tomorrow) in the 7th. In related news, AAJane gives a rough play-by-play of last Friday's Weldon-Sestak debate.

  • Another large Inquirer story looks at the dangerous financial state of PGW, the gas utility in the Philadelphia area, calling it "the slow-motion crisis that everyone sees coming." Expect them to request another substantial rate hike this fall, but also longer-term discussions about whether to expand the company's boundaries outside the city, merge it with a healthier company, or get the state to help support it.

  • The Daily News offers a round-up of unusual approaches taken by other cities to curbing gun violence, from gang surveillance to shaming of repeat offenders.

  • Rendell and Swann debate again tonight, and it will be televised live and repeated a couple of times. Pennsyltucky Politics snarkily offers an alternative line-up of TV options for the night. Another choice, of course, is Dan Savage's event for PAS...

  • Deborah Leavy writes a DN opinion piece telling Arlen Specter to give up any pretense of moderation in light of his votes on some significant recent bills, specifically putting loyalty to Bush over any stated principle.

  • A Philadelphia Ward Leader responds to recent criticism by explaining his job (which involves a lot of facets) and also zings progressives for not getting involved in a wider portion of the city.

  • Ben at YPP shares a story about Jim Kenney that gives him hope that politicians can sometimes be made to change their minds in support of a good cause.

  • Marc Stier has just posted a substantial two-part discussion of community-based economic development strategies -- what he means by that phrase, how it differs from liberal programs of the past, and also how it differs from tax-cut-based incentive approaches. Chewy and worth a read: part I and part II. There's a third part still to come.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Monday news round-up

  • This phrase strikes me as both positive and tragic: school district-sponsored antiviolence fund-raising march to City Hall -- positive, because the district is joining with its users to demand better conditions; tragic because our school districts should already be well enough funded to cover all their educational and security needs. Sadly, the funds raised here help cover funerals, medical care, and counseling...

  • We haven't heard much in the last few months about the much anticipated/dreaded revaluation of Philadelphia's properties, but a draft report exists and will be reviewed by City Hall. Expect discussions to resume on how to adjust tax rates, given the new housing values, as well as how to buffer homeowners from being suddenly priced out of their neighborhoods.

  • The Inquirer has a number of short bits today (2 links), ranging from rumors that Frank Rizzo, Jr., may be getting into the mayoral fray (and maybe on the D. side), to who's being seen with whom among the political elite, possible challengers for Campbell in the spring, and various small notes of interest in the hot suburban House races.

  • Apparently people feel strongly about sports in Philadelphia. Go figure.

  • Apparently there are questions about Casey's campaign strategies, not to mention how the race will turn out. Who knew?!

  • Patrick Murphy is the recipient of the latest swiftboating campaign, with his opponent questioning his military credentials and the activeness of his service. You can check out the story with rebuttals at YPP, a similar angry dissection via Above Average Jane, and reports of a blogger conference call with Murphy, a captain who fought with him in Iraq, and Wesley Clark -- all condemning the attacks on Murphy's record and setting the facts straight.

  • Various goings-on:

  • Finally, Marc Stier reappears online, to give a general overview of a meeting between local progressives and city party chairman Bob Brady, which he describes as combative but friendly. Some interesting musings there about how progressives can best work for their goals, from outside and/or inside the existing system. (Marc also gives a hat-tip to a politician who is clearly a master in the delicate art of herding cats.)

Don't forget!

Tomorrow is the deadline to register to vote in the fall elections. You must postmark your registration form by Tuesday, or go in person to a county registration site -- see here for details (and a link to a printable form).

Friday, October 06, 2006

Cranky Friday round-up

Apparently it's very exciting to have two ex-Presidents in town. Many stories on this, fawning, fundraising, etc. Look 'em up for yourselves. Elsewhere in the regional news, these highlights:
  • Nutter suggests that Street should declare a state of emergency because of violence in Philly. eh.

  • One neat sidenote of Clinton's visit was an appearance with Bon Jovi and a local homeless advocate at a new eco-friendly development project sponsored by Project HOME, Habitat for Humanity, and other charitable groups. Spiff!

  • A PA Superior Court judge is told she cannot decline the pay-raise. Or rather, she can, if she's willing to still pay taxes on the higher rate. yeesh!

  • NJ is on the verge of a gay marriage ban, but Corzine is waiting to sign it until the State Supreme Court rules on constitutionality of such marriages. Interesting hedge.

  • Philadelphia City Council hasn't passed any bills since its session started two weeks ago, despite dozens of pending measures. They did manage a bunch of meaningless ceremonial gestures and a show of infighting, however. Makes you proud...

  • AAJane catches a little bit of sexual predator scandal closer to home, where a state rep tried to get a constituent lighter sentencing.

  • A YPP poster uses the appearance of an SIEU leader/author at a pub tonight as the spur for some musings on American unions and the plight of today's working folks. [Total tangent: Andy Stern and Anderson Cooper -- clones born 10 years apart?]

  • Another YPP poster looks at one of the new Council nominees and the degree to which one "earns" versus "inherits" ones political stripes.

  • Tom Ferrick describes Santorum's visit to the Inquirer and speculates on how he's positioning himself as a candidate for President (in the Churchillian mold) whether he wins or loses his Senate seat. ick.

  • Two feisty letter-writers take on the issue of violence in the Daily News: one arguing that black public officials are letting down black neighborhoods (although this overlooks/begs the question of whether economic and geographic factors are more important than just race, and/or whether we might have an obligation to one another for reasons other than either guilt or economics) and the second saying we need better enforcement, not new gun laws (or is he arguing that jail is too cushy to act as punishment? who can say!)... Well, then!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Thursday news II: Other

Thursday news I: Politicians

Bitter day; sometimes I have little control over my life. Here's what caught my eye:
  • Rendell-Swann debate:

    • Inquirer summary -- lots of shots over pay hikes and tax cuts.

    • AAJane does one of her amazing blow-by-blow recountings. I'm not nearly that energized by this race.

    • A YPP poster thinks Rendell won, although he gets some debate on that point. John Baer appears to agree.

    • Tom Ferrick provides some more links to audio and coverage...

  • Other pols and races:

    • Inquirer profile of Patrick Murphy, presumably a complement to their Fitzpatrick piece of yesterday. One point of fact -- they mention Fitzpatrick "winning a seat" two years ago. Am I remembering incorrectly that he was appointed?

    • Another Inquirer piece expands yesterday's announcement of the court verdict in the Payton-Vazquez primary battle.

    • Curt Weldon is getting some fundraising help from Laura Bush in the nailbiter race for the 7th district Congressional seat (where challenger Sestak currently has more money on hand).

    • Meanwhile, both Bill Clinton and Bush, Sr., are in town to receive medals for their disaster work last year, and both will be stumping for candidates in Pennsylvania races. (Speaking of which, YPP is offering a chance for people to attend the Clinton fundraiser for less than the high cost of a ticket: check it out.)

    • A CityPaper editorial (hey! now their site looks different!!) bashes Street's efforts on homelessness, especially for promising too much and then barely making a try to deliver.

    • A Daily News editorial notes that Chaka Fattah will not use congressional race monies in any run for Mayor, and renew the call for better guidelines on fundraising by "potential" candidates.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Other Wednesday news

  • Politicians

    • Rendell and Swann will debate tonight, the first debate in the gubernatorial race. Expect showers of analysis tomorrow. PCN at 9 and 10pm.

    • An Inquirer article looks at how Mike Fitzpatrick uses his hometown advantage in his race to keep his 8th district Congressional seat.

    • AAJane gives a summary of the latest Fitzpatrick-Murphy debate, which took place on Michael Smerconish's talk radio show.

    • The anti-Santorum forces will be rallied by Dan Savage, the nationwide sex columnist whose beef with the [uptight] Senator is rather personal. He'll be appearing at a fundraiser for Philadelphians Against Santorum, one of many novel ways that organization has chosen to oppose their target. (Nice profile of PAS and of Ray Murphy's history here too.)

    • In a Daily News opinion piece, Ed Goppelt of Hallwatch lays into State Sen. Vince Fumo for his role in letting the state take away control of casino development from the city of Philadelphia, specifically for moderating the new law in a way that will probably make it withstand legal challenge.

  • Issues

Top stories: court rulings on ballot matters

Lots of news today, and my day starting late, but these two stories need immediate highlighting:
  1. The State Supreme Court (I think) overturned a lower court ruling, such that Tony Payton is considered the winner in the contested 179th State House district primary. The ruling involved discounting some 50 write-in votes for another contender (Emilio Vazquez), many of which had also marked Payton's box. This seems like the right ruling on the specifics, whatever the confused result might mean about voter opinion and party whip-cracking. Anyway, congrats to Tony, the grassroots candidate, and best of luck to him in the general election and then in Harrisburg. (Note that the article mentions another round of appeals, so I guess it's not over until the voting machines light up on November 7...)
    (via Young Philly Politics)
    scales of justice

  2. The State Supreme Court has also turned back Carl Romanelli's appeal of the signature threshold for ballot access. More here. Here also there is more likely appeals action to come, but this was probably the best basis for a ballot claim, and the cause that elicited most sympathy (outside the Santorum offices, who are shaking their fist at the judicial system once again).
    (via daily Kos)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Tuesday news

Much of the news appears to have been preempted by the story of a gunman taking down a heap of Amish schoolchildren (see, e.g., here), so short round-up today.
  • Responding to the shooting spree are John Baer, who wonders whether Harrisburg legislators, still in their special session, will note the rural slaughter and reconsider their positions on gun control, and a YPP poster who wrestles with what it all means.

  • The other big set of stories concerns political ads.

    1. An Inquirer piece looks at the heaps of soft money being funneled into the US Senate race in PA, with the majority of it funding Santorum TV ads, and the challenge this creates for campaign finance regulations.

    2. A Daily News opinion column ridicules Santorum for his thin skin over a set of ads aimed at him (funded by a veterans' organization), advising that he should admit the obvious facts in the matter.

    3. Meanwhile, in 6th District US House race, a Gerlach ad was pulled by Comcast for fabrication of the clear-cut kind: it took Murphy to task for her "votes," when she's never been in Congress to cast any. subtle. Ferrick thinks this won't be the last below-the-belt advertisement in this year's heated races...

  • In other news...

    • A Census Bureau report reveals that owning really is cheaper in Philadelphia than most other large cities, but that renting is relatively expensive. No surprise there!

    • Inga Saffron looks at the grounds around the Philadelphia Waterworks, which are being restored to their former glory.

    • Young Philly Politics follows up yesterday's expressions of frustration with the Democratic Party (and particularly with its nonsupport of candidates that run against GOP leaders such as Perzel) with two pieces: one cites another example of tacit support for a Republican candidate -- including the shocking Ward Leader quote
      [We] don’t really think about whether somebody is a Democrat or Republican. What counts is where you went to high school, who your buddies are, who your relatives are.
      -- and the second notes that Pennsylvanians would like to elect Democrats to the state legislature, if only the party would put forward some contenders. The ugly underside of the self-sustaining incumbency system.

Monday, October 02, 2006

NN conference round-up

pseudologoNeighborhood Networks held it's first Annual Meeting this past Saturday, following on last summer's founding conference. It was another great success, and both enjoyable and informative. There was some motivational revving up of the troops, but the majority of the meeting was spent in getting down to practicalities:
  1. there were skills workshop sessions on topics like canvassing, lobbying, and issues research
  2. there were also issues sessions updating participants on the state of the fight on healthcare, affordable housing, etc.
Great presenters, with many tales from the field, practical tips, and generally lots of information to absorb. Also time for some interesting discussion with presenters, and gatherings with others from one's own neighborhood (although I had to duck out before the end). I hope it will put people in a better position to get aboard with various efforts already underway and to spearhead new work in other areas. Very glad I was there, even if it fell in the midst of an already busy electoral season.

[Missed the meeting, but want to plug in? Visit the new NN website to locate your neighborhood coordinator and especially to look into the action committees, all of which could use your help; lots of specific contacts are listed here.]


Monday round-up

  • Politicians

  • The woes of local life

  • Fall tourism

    • Fact-esque gives us a tour of the Garden of Reflection, a 9/11 memorial in Bucks County. Sounds and looks like a thoughtful and lovely place.

    • Also, Berks TV offers a video visit to Hawk Mountain, a fantastic park in SE PA through which thousands of raptors migrate every year. (This is the first of a series of visits; a good introduction to the place for folks who haven't visited or heard about it.)
      (via PhillyFuture)