Thursday, May 31, 2007

Thursday smattering

We're getting into summer craziness, and I apologize for the weird hours and coverage here. Will be out tomorrow and Monday, although I might drop in for a post over the weekend... Meantime, you might enjoy a vicarious taste of local produce that I've shared here. Have a good one, all!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Wednesday round-up

Apparently I only do the quick type these days; some headlines with snark:

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Memorial Day tidbit

I recommend this post from Above Average Jane, who looks at the current search for a site for a new Veterans' Cemetery, but even more importantly, explains why such cemeteries are important, not least because they provide a free service to those whose families may badly need what funds they leave behind. An insightful and informative piece.

Tuesday quick bits: Activist edition

An unexpected theme underlying today's stories...
  • An old Superfund site on the banks of the Schuylkill has activists frustrated over the lack of a safe long-term solution for the lethal wastes stored there -- specifically, one good flood could breach the liquid waste tanks and send it all (heavy metals, arsenic, and various chemical byproducts) downstream. Not the kind of story to improve your sleep...

  • A majority of Donna Reed Miller's constituents voted to dump her from her City Council seat, but their divided loyalties gave her a narrow win; now Jesse Brown wants a shot at her in the fall, planning to run as an Independent with the backing of numerous progressive groups. Just a short note here, but he could well pull many of those who backed either Irv Ackelsberg or Cindy Bass, both of whom would probably prefer an essentially Democratic alternative to the incumbent...

  • A large organization of Philadelphia School District parents has voted to express no confidence in the School Reform Committee after looking at its budget plan and recent staffing moves.

  • Marc Stier is right back in the trenches today, reminding us that we continue to be in the midst of a transit funding crisis, and noting various ways that you can speak up right now to help pressure the state to make a substantive commitment.

  • Hallwatch also notes that (anti-)casino activists met with State Rep. Mike O'Brien tonight to talk about the SugarHouse approval bills introduced by Councilman Juan Ramos. Will be interested to hear what, if anything, is suggested...

Friday unblogged

Oops, had to run Friday without really posting. You'll probably survive without most of it, but here are a couple bits worth noting from Friday, and one from Sunday:
  • The Inquirer noted the crumbling of Council resistance to casinos, especially with primary loser Juan Ramos backing bills to give SugarHouse the stamp of approval -- more here.

  • Also, when Council upped the city's funding of schools, they hoped it would encourage the state to chip in more too; not so fast, says the state.
    "Given all of the program and spending requests that are pouring in, it's impossible to offer anyone a large measure of hope," Atkinson added. "People who work on the budget are very familiar with Philadelphia's budget. But they are also very familiar with the budgets of the other 500 school districts."
    In tangentially related news, a DN opinion piece argues that when Vallas departs, we should keep in mind that it's ok if we don't have a superhero schools head; in fact, it might make things run more smoothly.

  • Inga Saffron had a piece explaining the chaos around the 15th Street subway station, and also noting some positive design developments elsewhere.

  • Sunday's Inquirer had an interesting piece looking at Brady's stature after the mayoral race, and particularly whether the perception that he might be weak could lead to challenges to his Congressional seat (something I had never considered).

Friday, May 25, 2007

Short reprieve

That is, SEPTA is putting off any fare hikes for at least a month, which probably means something promising is brewing over at Rendell Central, or that somebody thinks there might be funding discussions to come. I hope.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Election footnote

You may or not be aware of the odd local publication called the Public Record, Jimmy Tayoun's rag, which acts as a sort of newsletter-cum-society pages for the city's political insiders (with more coverage for those who pay to advertise there, nearly content-free columns, lots of photos from fundraisers, and other follies) -- it comes as a freebie to elected officials and who knows who else. Well, suprising to none, they were all gung-ho for Brady, full of cheerleading articles and relegation of the other contenders to inner pages. And still I was stunned to see the cover of the issue dated the day after the election (which arrived sometime this week, I think):

May 17 PR cover
(click for a larger version)

Notable here are the following: (1) the top story concerns dredging of the Delaware (obviously the news of the week), (2) there are three stories about the election, but none of them concern the mayoral winner, and (3) they actually come close to not mentioning Nutter's name on the front page at all -- it appears only in the photo captions and in an article about money raised and spent, which notes that the "Knox bloc could endure in city politics if a Nutter administration falters." Eesh.

I understand that this came out the next day, writing deadlines, blah blah. And yet somehow they managed to complain about low voter turnout, speculate about the Council Presidency based on the results (although they could easily have written that in advance, with spin to be filled in later), and talk about Knox's masterful use of money and the respect that it brought him. But that new guy? I guess he's on his own, at least until page 7 . . . (where he gets a grudging congratulations)

[Note that Brady and Evans get a photo spread on page 4 under the header "Congressman Bob Brady Always a Leader." John Perzel is named "2007 Public Servant of the Year" on page 19.]


Quick Thursday round-up

  • More on the latest political scandal, the downfall of Ward Leader and North Philly kingmaker Carlos Matos: he admits to bribing Atlantic City officials to help get his restaurant fantasies et al. off the ground (good for a 3-year jail term). This is what you like to see about your local leaders:
    He was released on a $100,000 bond backed up by properties he and his wife own in Ventnor and Philadelphia. He was returned to a Philadelphia jail to finish his 60-day driving-violation sentence.
    Eesh. An FBI probe of the A.C. City Council is bringing them all down, but apparently it helped that Matos liked to brag about his schemes...

  • The Daily News offers more about its new publisher, Mark Frisby, announced yesterday. Apparently owner Tierney will continue as Publisher of the Inquirer, while setting up this new separate leadership to help focus on growing the DN as an independent entity. I hope they succeed -- surely this city is vital enough to support two daily papers!

  • City Council is working on increasing funding for the city's schools by shifting tax revenues from the general pool. The bill was sponsored by Wilson Goode, Jr., and received widespread support, including Nutter and Verna, who hope this "good-faith" effort will elicit more state monies as well. However, the Street administration opposes the plan, arguing that new funds are needed for the schools (say, by raising taxes), rather than squeezing other city programs -- they're worried about the impact of this shift on the city's five-year plan. But Street is unlikely to veto the measure if it passes, so it may be close to a done deal.

  • Rendell plans to meet with the SEPTA board, an unusual move -- does he have some more emergency monies up his sleeve, or is he just hoping to plead with the agency not to shortchange Philadelphians who use public transit every day?

  • The DN notes that the GOP is already taking aim at Joe Sestak's suburban House seat, planning a spate of negative ads and other moves, even though the election is 18 months away.

  • The CityPaper looks at Bill Green's Council win, and especially at the (sad) effect of name recognition on these important races.

  • Finally, a DN opinion piece applauds efforts to put more young people to work, noting that lack of job prospects is one of the things that leads to hopelessness and violence among city youth.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Apathetic residual Wednesday round-up

The junkie defense

The Planning Commission now says Philadelphia can't live without casino revenues (that is, has relied on them in designing its five-year budget plan) and thus can't afford to delay construction [more here]. Today, Sugarhouse, but it sounds like they'll move quickly on Foxwoods, too, no matter what Council thinks it's up to. Yet to be seen: will Council grab onto this report as the cover it needs to sign off on casinos (and toss the hot potato to somebody else), or will those who've said they oppose the current plans continue to foment resistance and delay?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tuesday round-up

  • Politicians

    • Presumptive mayor-elect Michael Nutter made his peace with the political machine yesterday, most notably with party chief Bob Brady (might the mention of Nutter's desire to make the party "more open" mean an end to the treatment of "young activists as fungus" [to quote Ferrick]?) and to ward leaders, most of whom backed his former rival.

    • An Inquirer piece shows Evans' return to Harrisburg, where he begins his reign as Chairman of the Appropriations Committee.

    • Nutter was also in the capital, not only to make peace with Evans, but to attempt to improve Philadelphia's relationship with the rest of the state. Baer is skeptical, although he notes that Nutter intends to open a Harrisburg office to help facilitate better communications.

    • As long as we're talking about Nutter, his victory speech can now be seen online, a combination of deserved celebration with hopeful statesmanship. A new day!

  • Casinos

    Surprising few, the shadow ballots run on election day showed overwhelmining opposition to placing casinos so close to residential neighborhoods; less clear is what the actual ballot measure result would have been (especially since many voters had to got out of their way to find the special poll locations) -- casino developers point to the small totals as a victory for their side. Noteworthy here is that Frank DiCicco has been "driving around" the Fishtown Foxwoods casino guys, in hopes of selling them on another location -- what do you think the odds on success there might be?

  • Other bits

    • The former head of the Independence Seaport Museum has now been officially charged with embezzling heaps of money from the institution during his time there. The itemization of luxury items that he charged to the museum is really mind-boggling.

    • There's some interest in what Vallas' severance package will be. Given that he has two years left on his contract, it could be nontrivial.

    • Folks at YPP keep us abreast of developments nearly buried in the election fury: a city plan to prevent climate change that was released a few weeks ago, and a trip to Harrisburg tomorrow to rally in support of better state healthcare.

    • AAJane notes that Patrick Murphy is one of the sponsors of a 21st Century G.I. bill -- she also notes some different but overlapping bills by others that are languishing in committee...

Monday, May 21, 2007

Monday smattering

No story jumping out to grab me, but a few smaller bits of interest:
  • Local groups applaud the performance of the campaign finance laws, while proposing a host of modifications now that the big election season is past.

  • The Urban Warrior looks at spot problems on election day, some of which raise questions about whether polling place regulations need a reworking.

  • YPP starts an interesting discussion on how to build a "reform movement" for Philadelphia, what it would look like, how it would achieve successes, etc. Lots of interesting musings on race, bridge-building, and other elements of the question.

  • SEPTA claims it's trying to find new revenue streams when it asks to use it's entire building facade as a huge billboard. (Note that their space faces the Convention Center...)

  • Oops, the top Traffic Court winner (and one gently endorsed here) has a bunch of outstanding tickets himself. Legal challenges may follow.

  • The city is starting to involve the Feds in shooting cases, where federal law may allow authorities to circumvent reluctant witnesses and other obstacles to punishing illegal gun use.

  • Finally, Rendell pushes ahead with a piece of his healthcare package, targeting chronic diseases for closer tracking and better care. The proposed Commission could be set up by executive order, rather than waiting for legislative approval, as with most of his other ideas.
    (via Keystone Politics)

Friday, May 18, 2007

In other news (headline roundup)

Out of time, and still some interesting bits bookmarked...

More ripples on the schools front

Turns out that the Commissioner who walked out of this week's hearing wasn't the only one disgruntled with the quick choice of a replacement for Paul Vallas as head of Philadelphia's schools: both Mayor Street and Governor Rendell are unhappy with the choice and with not being involved in the process.
"If you're seeking to get people to increase their investment in you, the last thing you would want to do is put this kind of surprise on the very people you're seeking investments from," said Donna Cooper, Rendell's secretary of policy. "It raises questions about whether we can have confidence that working together on the budget can be an effective partnership."
The two leaders also objected that the Commission had considered this and other school issues without waiting for their 5th member, recently appointed, to join the Board. Altogether, not a good week for the Schools Commission...

In related news, some community groups focused on improving education are getting some substantial funds from a national organization called Communities for Public Education Reform. Said the spokesman for one of the benefitting groups:
"We put too much stock in the idea that if we just get the right person in charge, or the right group of people in charge, the schools will improve," he said. "What we need in Philadelphia is much greater public engagement in the process of improving schools.
Let's hope that grassroots groups can get parents involved and give local schools the kind of individual attention that only concerned citizens can provide...

New favorite thing

I was recently waiting for a bus by one of the ordinary glassed-in bus shelters on Walnut, when I noticed that on the outside of the shelter (probably opposite the posted schedules) was a neat new feature that must have come from a collaboration with the city's historical archives: it showed the opposite corner photographed some time in the 1940s, along with a matching photo of the building currently on that corner, and offered some historical chat (who was President and other trivia from the earlier time point, what changes in the neighborhood led to the razing of the old building and the erection of the new stuff, etc.). Will try to get a photo at some point, and will be on the look-out for more of these. Great idea!!


Thursday, May 17, 2007

After the dust settles (non-election bits)

  • The interim replacement for Vallas as head of the Philadelphia schools, Tom Brady, has been chosen and will start working with Vallas right away to ease the midsummer transition. Apparently the decision created some conflict in the School Reform Commission, with at least one member walking out due to being given short notice of the appointment and little information about him. Other rumbles include the resignations of the schools' Chief Financial Officer and top educator (and the Chief Operations Officer has just been promoted to interim Chief) -- hope this doesn't add to the bumps ahead for the school system.

  • Apparently the sandbox fight is over! Dispute over dredging settled, reports the Inquirer. The Delaware will be deepened, with Pennsylvania handling most of the costs and practicalities, and NJ gets some transporation goodies too. The DRPA will now hold its first meeting in close to 18 months, with lots of overdue business to handle.

  • Some hearings have started in Harrisburg on campaign finance issues; there are currently no limits on individual contributions to candidates for state and local office (other than the ones enacted recently for Philadelphia). They're talking about it in terms of lessening the advantage of incumbents, rather missing the point about officeholders being beholden to big benefactors... Notably, they're also talking about limiting self-financing by millionaires, but I think that legal precedent may not support that approach, at least unless substantial public financing comes into play. Will be worth watching the bill that emerges and how it's received in the Assembly as a whole.

Thursday election tricklings

Lots of analysis, from the fluffy to the numerical deluge, and looks at the stories around the elections. Some of it seems of interest, so a small compilation here:
  • Lots of discussion about how the Traditional Machine couldn't deliver this year, with neither party endorsement nor union support pushing a mayoral candidate into office. For those who know their parts of town intimately, here's a rundown of the mayoral vote by Ward.

    Update: quite fascinating is this graphic of where each candidate got the bulk of his votes. The overlap is reassuring, but still, the varied peaks point out the diversity of the neighborhoods in this city.

  • A day after the election, Council remembers they all liked Nutter quite well when he was a colleague. heh. He probably looks pretty good after the way Street's office has dealt with them.

  • Ending one line of speculation, Sam Katz says he's out of any general election action, being perfectly content with the prospect of Nutter as mayor.

  • Ending another line of speculation, John Street says he has no plans to challenge current Congressmen Brady or Fattah for their seats -- he had been rumored to be interested in replacing one or the other, but no words on what his future plans are now.

  • The Daily News offers a look at Philadelphia's future First Lady, calling Lisa Nutter a satisfying "blend of sass and substance."

  • The DN also takes a look at the likely Verna-Blackwell fight for Council Presidency, with two of the three newcomers still not saying which way they lean. If one of them is yours, let them know your feelings! Also speculation here about what influence Nutter will have in shifting the balance one way or the other.

  • The CityPaper reminds us that there's still a Republican in the mayoral race, even if his chances are slim.

  • Apparently Pittsburgh's party machine wasn't too effective this year either. An era ending, or just a year of angry voters?

  • Two Inquirer editorials look at Lessons from the election: one applauds the success of campaign finance limits in keeping money from being the determining factor in this race (and possibly giving a boost to the importance of issue forums). They also look forward to the prospect of a mayor who's not beholden to big donors. The second editorial looks at the scant success of reformers elsewhere on the ballot (and gives a general take on various races).

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Quick round-up

Amidst a thousand election-related stories and tallies, a couple seemed worth highlighting, and I'm happy to report some refreshingly non-election-related bits as well.
  • Election trickle (and not the last of it, you can be sure!):

    • Among the many stories about Nutter's mayoral win (and/or the failure of the others), I find this one the most useful, as it looks at the things Nutter will have to think about during the next 7 months (before he takes office) and at the start of his term. Who will he appoint? How might union negotiations over pensions color his approach to other issues? What political bridges will need building? No answers given, but good things to watch over the coming year.

    • Everywhere except Philadelphia dealt with a proposal to shift school funding from property taxes to income taxes, which was defeated by a substantial margin.

    • Also interesting is this look at the Montgomery County commissioners' race, which was calm in the primary but looks likely to get quite heated in the general.

  • Look! other news!!

    • Apparently the Pinelands are on fire in Southern New Jersey, threatening both homeowners and possible tourist flow this summer. 12,000 acres were already reported burned as of this morning, with firefighters still hard at work. (A National Guard training mission is speculated to be the cause of the fire.)

    • PA Supreme Court heard from the Riverwalk Casino group, still miffed about losing out to Sugarhouse in the same region of Philadelphia. Testimony appeared to be focused on the Gaming Board's conflict-of-interest rules and whether they were effective.

    • Barack Obama is coming to Philadelphia for some kind of rally/fundraiser next Tuesday, so get your tickets now if you want to see the man in person.

    • Several recent stories from Inga Saffron slipped under my pre-election radar, including two on the handling of Washington's house on Independence Mall -- on on the archaeology and one on the planned memorial -- and two others, one addressing Delaware Riverfront planning and how it incorporates casino sites, and the other applauding Urban Outfitters for the renovation of their new headquarters down by the Navy Yard.

    • Might Center City actually get a skateboard park (now that the resurgence of the craze has nearly passed)?

And now a new thing

I'm sure I'm not the only one exhausted by the onslaught of robocalls and last-minute attack mailers, not to mention the endless blog and real-life debates over favored candidates. (Personally, I feel a bit like this guy after the constant winds of the last week!) Now we can all take a break and look ahead to a new Mayor, some other new faces, and a chance to get back to issues, holding everybody accountable, and working on what needs to be done around the city. It will be enough to keep us all busy for some time yet.

Election round-up: Good news and bad news

Good news
  • Michael Nutter won the Democratic nomination for mayor with nearly equal support among blacks and whites. May that be the start of a new era of political efforts, with a lessening of distrust.

  • A couple of underwhelming District Councilfolk were beaten by promising challengers, including the much-lauded Maria Quinonez-Sanchez (ousting newbie Savage) and Curtis Jones (knocking off new Councilwoman but longtime city plague Campbell).

  • A great set of judges were elected to Common Pleas court, with no restraunteurs or clowns among them. Same for State Superior Court, where our two favorites eeked out a victory statewide.

  • Plans to professionalize the Planning Commission and set up an independent Zoning Review Board to recommend better codes were overwhelmingly approved by voters.

  • Some decent folks got into the tiny position of Traffic Court judge.

  • No new Streets were elected.

Bad news
  • The only new face in the At-Large Council field is Bill Green, Jr., whose main qualification seems to be that his father was mayor (and that he had buckets of money to spend). He's probably more of a presence that Juan Ramos was, but he speaks like somebody who decided to enter the race three weeks ago, so he may have some learning to do. Andy Toy made a decent run at threatening the crowd around 5th place, but the other "reformers" were barely above the noise. Tragic.

  • Donna Reed Miller managed to squeak out another victory in her District Council race, as the three talented progressives once again split the vote against her.

  • The patronage-master Sheriff Green beat his promising challenger, Untermeyer, nearly 2-1, despite a series of scandals and mismanagement findings. Apparently he has a consituency somewhere (vultures looking for cheap real estate?).

  • The incredibly talented C. Darnell Jones did well in Philadelphia but lost the race for Supreme Court statewide.

  • One of the two top vote-getters in the Municipal Court race is known mostly for her (and her father's) boxing career(s). Sigh.

Monday, May 14, 2007

ACM's Democratic Primary Voters' Guide (2007)

This year I feel much better informed about the candidates than I have in the past (with more personal access, rather than reliance on organizational endorsements), and yet I find the choices much harder. In part that's because for many offices the question is both whom to vote for and how many people to vote for in total. I'll try to give you both my picks and my reasoning as I go along. Please, despite the daunting ballot, make the time to vote for City Council and Sheriff, the two places that really offer an opportunity for concrete change this year. But we have recommendations for all portions of the slate as well.

We recommend Michael Nutter, for all the reasons given here, as well as for the increasing sense that he may be the only man capable of beating Tom Knox, who would be a terrible mayor for this city.

City Council At-Large (5 votes allowed):
  • Marc Stier (see here)
  • Andy Toy
  • Matt Ruben
After that group, it gets a lot more difficult. Since all three are challengers, there's something to be said for "bulleting" them by only voting for three. However, another challenger, Derek Green, is getting a lot of support among progressives and others around town (see, e.g., here), and incumbents Jim Kenney, Blondell Reynolds-Brown, Wilson Goode, Jr., and Bill Greenlee have all shown up on respectable lists and have done some good things along the way. I think this is the year to make some changes, and voting for the three men above is the most likely way to do that. If pressed to make a slate of 5, I think Derek Green and Jim Kenney would be my next picks.

See here for the Inquirer's reasoning, and here for Neighborhood Networks' endorsements, among others.

District Council races (vote for 1 in your district):
  1. DiCicco versus Anastasio -- no recommendation (sigh; see here)
  2. Verna versus Roberts -- Damon Roberts
  3. (Blackwell unopposed)
  4. Campbell versus several -- Matt McClure
  5. Clarke versus several -- Haile Johnston
  6. (Krajewski unopposed)
  7. Savage versus Quinones-Sanchez -- Maria Quinones-Sanchez
  8. Reed Miller versus several -- Irv Ackelsberg
  9. Tasco versus several -- Marian Tasco
  10. (O'Neill unopposed [Republican])

State Supreme Court (2 votes allowed):
  • C. Darnell Jones
  • Debra Todd

State Superior Court (2 votes allowed):
  • Anne Lazarus
  • Christine Donohue

Court of Common Pleas (4 votes allowed):
  • Ellen Green-Ceisler
This is the other tough race this year, because, unlike the last time around (when 8 Common Pleas judges were chosen), this time we have six candidates that are pretty clearly good options, but only 4 slots. I put Green-Ceisler alone on a line because it's pretty clear that she's everybody's top choice this year, with outstanding city service in oversight of the police department and school system, and she really deserves a vote. After that, my ordering changes by the day.
  • Mike Erdos
  • Angeles Roca
  • Linda Carpenter
  • Beverly Muldrow
  • Alice Dubow
The first three have endorsement by Neighborhood Networks and Philly for Change, which inclines me to recommend them, but Muldrow was also quite impressive (and got the Inquirer's nod), and I'd like to see more strong black judges on the bench at this level (the rest of my recommended candidates are white, although Roca is hispanic). Dubow seems to have a lot of enthusiastic supporters, and is clearly smart and sincere, although overly much is made of her having a mother with a distinguished judicial career -- at the end of the day, I think she'll be fine running another year.

Municipal Court
(2 votes allowed):
  • Diane Thompson
  • Joyce Eubanks

City Commissioner (2 votes allowed):
  • Blair Talmadge

Sheriff (choose 1):
  • Michael Untermeyer (see here)

Register of Wills (choose 1):
Ronald Donatucci (unopposed)

Clerk of the Courts (choose 1)
  • Vivian Miller

Traffic Court Judge (3 votes allowed):
  • Willie Singletary
  • Sandra Mills
  • Mike Lowry

Ballot questions:
We strongly recommend a YES vote on #4,5,6, which are all intended to improve the quality and fairness of city planning.
Note that the casino ballot measure has been blocked by court action, and will be marked off of the election day ballots. Other questions concern (#2) undoing resign-to-run laws, for which there are good arguments on each side; (#3) creation of a Youth Advisory Commission, which is well-intended but of dubious value in a tight budget era; (#7) a statement concerning redeployment of troops from Iraq, toothless, but perhaps valuable as an expression of growing public sentiment; (#8) approval of new debt, which is intended to fund good projects but bypasses the normal budget process (and adds to the city's already grim debt levels); and (#9) an attempt to forestall the property revaluation process that has already been approved by City Council and the Board of Revision of Taxes -- understandable fear of the tax man, but a this is a run-around the process already in place and which is attempting to make property taxes more fair. It's the politicians' job to make sure that long-term residents aren't hurt in the process, and this Charter Change just seems to tie everybody's hands -- we recommend a NO on #9.


Tomorrow's primary day!

love to vote!Anybody still feeling up in the air on mayor should track down a Sunday Inquirer, which did a great job of recapping the issues discussions and candidate questions of the last few weeks, as well as adding in a collage of citizen musing that help round out the story. (Unfortunately, finding those stories online a day later appears to be much harder than I thought.) That, or skim The Next Mayor, which has links to position papers and news coverage about each candidate, and generally more information than you'd know what to do with.

Note that the order of the ballot tomorrow may be a bit of a surprise -- all the judicial candidates appear first, followed only then by the Mayoral contenders and the At-Large and District Council races, and finally the smaller "row offices" like City Commissioner, Clerk of the Courts, and Sheriff.

Also, be prepared for a raft of ballot questions -- the Committee of Seventy provides a simple English version of each (PDF) if you want to look them over in advance. Also note that, while voting for candidates is limited to their respective party members, any registered voter (including independent voters) can have a say on the ballot measures.

General voting info:
polls are open 7am-8pm. If you don't know where to vote, you can type your address into this interactive map or call 1-866-268-8603. If you are uncertain about where you are currently registered, ask for a provisional ballot, which allows you to record your votes and have them counted in the correct Division.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Last election coverage round-up

Short of some major revelation or other shock over the weekend, this will likely be my last say on the deluge of mayoral coverage and other endorsement chat, as I will probably make one long Voters' Guide post on Monday and call it a day.
  • Mayoral chat

    Plumbing familiar territory, the Inquirer poses a question on violent crime to the candidates. Answers from Evans, Fattah, Brady, Nutter, and Knox.

    The Inky has two more question batches to go, scheduled for tomorrow and Monday.

  • District Council talk

  • At-Large Council bits

    • YPP decides to back just one from the crowded field of newcomers, picking Derek Green as their candidate to promote. I have to say that of the most promising/discussed reformers, he's the one I know least about, but many of his supporters are folks I tend to think highly of.

    • Albert offers parts II and III of his report on an At-Large forum from a few weeks back -- quick synopses are given there of candidates' answers to the questions.

    • The Metro lets Marc Stier show his goofy humor. (Something of a risk, at this tired juncture of the campaign!)

  • Other election-related palaver

    • The Inquirer bemoans the huge ballot facing voters next Tuesday, and especially the heap of ballot questions. The concern is that voters will get weary while hunting and pecking and give up on the lowest offices and/or questions.

    • In case you're not weary upon leaving the voting booth, an Inky editorial reminds you that there may be a wooden ballot box awaiting your opinion on the casino question that was removed from the official primary.

    • AAJane has quick takes on two strong candidates for State Supreme Court: Debra Todd and C. Darnell Jones.

Verrrrry interesting

It's a small story in the Daily News, but the most striking to me of the stories today: Bob Brady says those unwilling to support him should back Nutter. The article depicts it all as self-preservation by Brady, whose party head job was threatened by Tom Knox recently, but I honestly think that the anti-Knox fervor in the party has a large component of sincere concern about what kind of mayor he'd be and the damage he could do in 4 years -- at least, that's what comes across when I've talked to Ward officials and politicians of various stripes.

Anyway, whatever the motive, Brady is a proud man who's going to fight hard to the end, and I give him credit for giving Nutter a nod as worth consideration.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Quick endorsement chat roundup

  • The Inquirer on the 1st District Council race. Again, their assessments of both candidates ring very true to me. Sigh.

  • The DN offers some judicial picks. Actually, they mostly summarize the bar recommendations, although they do recommend an odd smattering of Common Pleas folk.

  • The Northeast Times makes recommendations in the At-Large Council field, surprising me, at least, by choosing three newcomers.

  • Albert, new computer almost usable, offers a first installment of his take on an At-Large Council forum he attended. Great photos, as always, and notes on questions.

  • The latest installment of the YPP/CityPaper project looks at the issue of race in politics Philadelphia, not least in the current mayoral race (where it plays out differently, but not negligably).

So close are Here and There

I get frustrated when I hear people dismiss the poor as lazy or undeserving -- beyond simple human empathy, aren't people aware of the degree to which one stroke of bad luck (a health crisis, ID theft, etc.) can unravel a life? You can ask Gary Walker, who was cited for a crime he hadn't committed, and during the time it took to straighten things out, lost his job and then his home. A guy described by former coworkers as "cheerful and hardworking" now finds himself panhandling and uninsured, and is likely to find himself in a further Catch-22 in seeking a new job (i.e., having no address to list on an application)...

Remember to be glad for what you have, and nonjudgemental about those who have less!

Today's mayoral ruminations

Lots of fluffy pieces about undecided voters, etc., today. In the chewier realm, the following are worth noting:
  • Perhaps Nutter should have thought twice about starting his run with attacks on the current mayor, as Street is behind an anti-Nutter effort currently underway, making fundraising calls on the group's behalf. (Of course, he could be in it for his own interests anyway, as he's often talked about as a candidate for Fattah's (or Brady's) Congressional seat...)

  • More on general grousing and mutual attacks among the candidates here and here.

  • Today's Inquirer question concerns how to improve city planning/development: answers from Nutter, Fattah, Knox, Brady, and Evans all sound many of the same notes (although Knox's reads most like an empty campaign blurb).

  • The CityPaper poses a reader question to candidats on compensation to homicide victims, and reports their various answers.

  • A Daily News piece takes a look at voter turn-out efforts -- especially the paid kind -- and the role that they may play in this race. Specifically, they look at the expected strategies and troops available to each candidate for Tuesday.

  • The CityPaper "polnote" reports insider speculation that Brady will pull out the race by a hair, based largely on support from John Street. Their analysis seems to omit Nutter as a recipient of black votes (!), while calling West Philadelphia, Nutter's old district, key to the race (!!)... [Some musings on other races too.]

  • And the CP's "Insider" talks about Nutter's momentum and the final days before Election Day.

  • A YPP poster makes the case for Dwight Evans.

  • Given that the general election is almost an afterthought in this mayoral race, the CityPaper urges the candidates to get their promised actions underway starting as soon as the primary is over, rather than waiting six months and leaving the city hanging.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A couple other bits of note

Mayoral round-up

  • Another Nutter-fest today, as the Philadelphia Weekly adds its endorsement to the heap.

    • Their cover story involves following Nutter on the campaign trail for a week, with a different reporter's impressions each day.

    • The editor explains their decision, giving an assessment of each candidate's strengths and weaknesses along the way.

    • One PW columnist explains why he has her vote.

    • On the negative side, an Inquirer piece looks at some ethical missteps in Nutter's record.

    • The DN follows with a look at the controversy caused by the "stop & frisk" idea (at least, since Nutter started to rise in the polls).

    • A new Daily News poll shows Nutter in the lead now, with a week to go and some 20% still undecided in the race (and many of the "decideds" still soft in their leanings).

  • The Inquirer's question of the day concerns gentrification.
    Answers from Brady, Evans, Fattah, Knox, and Nutter

  • The Inquirer notes that the bulk of Knox donations come from outside the city.

  • Tony Auth has a rather cutting take on the prospect of Knox as mayor.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

A couple of other Council notes

  • Inquirer endorses McClure in the 4th District.
    Campbell, a ward leader, has been fined for past violations of state election law. The new city Board of Ethics just sued a political action committee she controls, seeking a $39,000 fine for its bad behavior in this election. Stories are legion of her berating people who dare venture onto her West Philadelphia turf with any agenda other than her own.

    How in the world could this person be seen as the right representative for a diverse district once so ably served by the reform-minded Nutter?
    Heh, right on. Ok, they actually have good things about their chosen candidate as well.

  • The Ethics Board still wants to hear from Carol Campbell about PAC activities, and has had to get a judge's order to make her pay attention.

  • Threatened incumbent At-Large Councilman Juan Ramos has used taxpayer dollars for campaign mailings, apparently thinking that was just fine until the Daily News noticed. (Also noteworthy is that he's never tried to communicate with constituents before.) Colleague Kenney gently suggests that Council rules should perhaps be amended to prohibit mass mailings just before elections...

Strange note of the week

Sugarhouse casino company is undertaking an agressive campaign to win over community support, sending out fliers that claim that casinos will make the city safer (by providing revenues that could hire more police, etc.) -- an unsubtle appeal to fear. Apparently the campaign also includes robocalls; we got the mailer at my house, but appear to have escaped the calls so far. Took me by surprise, and apparently anti-casino activists as well.

Agreeable disagreement

I was quite impressed with this list of Inquirer At-Large Council endorsements -- not because I agree with their precise slate, but because I agree with their overall assessment of the field, and with the brief notes they give on both chosen and bypassed candidates; in some cases they even crystallized an abstract impression that I was still swirling around.

(In contrast, while the DN list has a reasonable overlap, I find it less insightful in general, and am a bit shocked that they didn't even bother to mention Marc Stier.)

Mayoral round-up

  • Yes, that was the first in a week-long Inquirer series of questions, which continues today by asking each candidate to give their 2-minute pitch to graduates arguing why they should stay in Philadelphia. Answers from

    • Nutter (I like "stay and make history")
    • Knox (shades of "we're getting there")
    • Fattah (you help make the city great)
    • Evans (we've got character)
    • Brady (we're the next great city!).

  • Apparently the last debate got a bit feisty. It takes a lot to make a crowd gasp, although perhaps less to bring two candidates half out of their chairs...

  • Another negative Knox story, this one hitting hard in a union town, since it describes a plant closing in which severance pay never materialized (even though we swore he'd pay out of his own pocket, if need be).

  • Chaka Fattah getting late fundraising help from Barak Obama. You, sir, are no Barak Obama...

  • Another PAC has emerged to run ads in the mayor's race, this time ads questioning Nutter's stop-and-frisk proposals. (Contributors to the PAC, which is 2 years old, are not known, although the article mentions that in the past its contributors included Brady and Fattah supporters.)

  • Two bits at YPP: one looks at stop-and-frisk in the context of differences between Nutter's and Fattah's proposed approaches, and another explains his support for Nutter in terms of concerns about poverty (which Fattah sometimes claims is of interest only to him).

Monday, May 07, 2007

Round-up of endorsements and related bits

  • Daily News gives their District Council endorsements for all Districts.

  • Inquirer endorses Verna in the 2nd District. (I think they're trickling these out, but will surely recap all next weekend or Monday.)

  • AAJane takes a closer look at Matt Ruben, candidate for City Council At-Large.

  • The Daily News talks about the Zoning Reform ballot question.

  • The Inquirer advises against Question 2, which would get rid of the resign-to-run law -- they're the first I've heard oppose it. Are we forgetting some critical history, or are they inventing a possible downside?

  • I think there's a summary of Inky recommendations, at least, on the whole slew of ballot questions. When I track it down, I'll post it for general reference. (Dear Inky: why make it so hard to find??)

My favorite endorsement piece ever

The Inquirer made an anti-endorsement this weekend in the race for Supreme Court Justice, saying that readers should under no circumstances vote for Willis Berry, who is both unqualified and an apparent slumlord.
Do not vote for Berry under any circumstances. Not even if you should lose your balance in the voting booth, and the only way to break your fall would be to lean against the button next to Berry's name. Don't touch it.
It takes some saying, given Berry's top ballot position, and they made some good humor out of an unfortunate mission. (All the other choices are better; we'll give our preferences next week.)

Mayoral bits

The density of election coverage is becoming almost overwhelming, so I may pass on most of it in favor of doing a dense election guide next Monday. Meantime, some bits of particular interest for both the decided and the undecided:
  • John Baer asks an obvious question, which is what significance Rendell's tacit endorsement of Evans will have on the race. Will the approval of the Big Dog bring Evans' candidacy back into the running? or jostle the other players a bit with his characterizations? or subside and leave no trace of its passing? And if Evans does make a surge, whose support will he steal? could it reinvigorate Knox's sagging push? etc. etc. A high level of tea-leaf reading.

  • Impressive, but was it worth it? Knox has outspent all his rivals combined (especially after his latest push). Lots of other detail here about the fundraising and spending efforts of the mayoral and Council candidates.

  • The Inquirer has a series of statements from the mayoral candidates -- I can't tell if these are general visions or addressing a set of questions (elswhere I came across a panel of daily questions, implying the latter, so check back tomorrow -- if so, it must be ethics today). Anyway, short punchy bits from:

    1. Nutter
    2. Knox
    3. Fattah
    4. Evans
    5. Brady

  • Oh, and there were debates, on Friday and on Sunday. I thought the latter, at least, would become available online, but I couldn't track it down. To be more, for those who can take the squabbling . . .

Friday, May 04, 2007

Assorted bits of note

  • The Metro notes the reform Council candidates getting backed by the new Sandals PAC, in the context of a Clean Elections pledge and other reform-related activities on view yesterday.

  • The Inquirer trickles out more endorsements: Bass in the 8th Council District (although they give a nod to Ackelsberg too; man, we'll hate to see Miller reelected due to a split among the anti-Reed vote) and Untermeyer for Sheriff (joining us).

  • AAJane looks at Anne Lazarus, a Superior Court candidate, by reading one of her papers and excerpting the gist.

  • The CityPaper looks at the relationship between Council candidate Irv Ackelsberg and his son, Dan Urevick-Ackelsberg, prominent at Young Philly Politics. They seem amused by the tangle of considerations that the campaign-blog dynamics generate. In semi-related news, Ray Murphy, the other largest figure at YPP, had an article in this week's CityPaper (lost amidst the Nutter-related clamor) encouraging everybody to get involved in making the city work, rather than sitting on the sidelines hoping that somebody else will make change happen.

Obligatory mayoral roundup

  • The Inquirer notes that he's the focus of much activity, be it protest, campaign commercial, or other. Most notably, several current Council members yesterday held a news conference to blast his deal with Jannie Blackwell, saying that he had no right to meddle in Council affairs.
    "He [Knox] has no right to try to dictate to this council before he even gets elected," said Krajewski. "I'm very angry about it."

    Added Kenney: "I really do believe, and I think we all concur, that this is not a good sign for what a Knox administration would be like."
    Knox remains unrepentant about his choice to play politics among the insiders. [Also noted in this piece is a campaign pledge for public election financing being circulated and publicized, and a smattering of recent endorsement bits.] More on the angry Councilfolk here

  • Separately, Jill Porter looks at the contrasting views of Knox as reformer versus dealmaker, noting many of the same frustrations with Blackwell that I noted previously (here).

  • The mysterious 527's taking aim at Knox on the air have run into some challenges (in addition to the disparity of funds), with one of them having its ads refused by major networks. They say they're waiting for substantiation of some of the claims (surely not a standard they're holding all the mayoral ads to?), but it's hard not to think that threatening letters from Knox lawyers played a role too, especially since most of the claims in this ad have been discussed in the local papers already...
  • The Daily News joins the chorus of major media endorsements for Nutter, talking about both his general vision/energy and the substance of many of his ideas.
    More than any other candidate, Nutter grasps where this city is: As illuminated in the recent "Tale of Two Cities" report, Nutter recognizes both: the gains the city has made on the hipness scale, as well as the crushing poverty of so many of its citizens.
    Hard for me to disagree . . .
  • YPP and the CityPaper's next joint project will be looking at race in politics in Philadelphia, through the lens of this current mayoral race, but looking back and forward in time.

  • The Next Mayor project alerts us to a broadcast mayoral forum on Sunday night that will engage the candidates in conversation and take questions from many organizations in the city who would like to see specific issues addressed. Should be fun to see Marty Moss-Cowain wrangle these guys!

Showdown over guns

Apparently Philadelphia is tired of waiting for Harrisburg to get serious about problems with illicit guns and is stirring up some trouble: City Council has passed a series of gun regulations (eight delayed bills!), and plans to take the state to court over any attempts to overturn the new rules, charging that inaction by the higher body led to the need for local preemption.
Among other controls, the bills would limit gun purchases to one a month and would require gun owners to promptly report lost or stolen firearms.
It should be noted that the sponsors of this approach are Clarke and Reed Miller, both facing challenges from strong progressives, but it can hardly be argued that creative solutions to the gun problem aren't needed. The Daily News had an editorial yesterday arguing that Philadelphia should indeed be given control over its own gun trafficking needs. Have no idea how much chance such a suit will have . . .

I just love this

We tend to think of archaeology as something that happens in sandy expanses of Greece or Egypt, but the work going on near Independence Hall, right in downtown Philly, is turning up unexpected finds and giving new insights into the early days of the American republic. The foundations of the first "white house" were much deeper than expected, so remants of the walls and kitchen, etc., have been uncovered, as well as signs of a basement, probable well, and possible privy. Neat that this is all going on right now -- you can apparently watch the work in progress and even ask questions.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Getting overwhelmed with pre-election frenzy?

About a week and half ago, Spouse and I went on a lovely hike in the Wissahickon Creek area (which is within the Philadelphia city limits, but feels like it could be hours away). Great outing, great glimpses of spring. Now my readers can take the trip too, thanks to the fabulous PhillySkyline team, who offer Springtime in the Wissahickon as a photoessay. Great photos, great sense of place, as ever. A lovely escape.

A few Council bits

  • The Inquirer is right to call the 1st District Council race a "feud," with lots of personal and political dislike to go around. Ironically, this is a pretty good race, with an incumbent who represents the best of the Old Guard getting a challenge from an experienced neighborhood activist. But all sorts of other stuff plays into it -- what DiCicco did or didn't do when casinos were first proposed (as opposed to his heated opposition after it seemed too late), and whether or not he's involved with the mess surrounding Fumo, and Anastasio's clumsily adapted/plagiarized opinion piece on a proposed city services program, mix of goofiness and substance, and apparent support for the Knox-Blackwell duet. Those who have to vote in this race can attend a (final?) forum tomorrow, which could well be heated -- see that link for the full schedule of other Council forums this weekend too.

  • Happy to see that Rendell endorsed Quinones Sanchez, despite his pledge to keep a distance.
    "If this was an ordinary candidate, I wouldn't be here, but I've known Maria now for a decade and she's anything other than ordinary," Rendell said. "She's smart as a whip, she's passionate and cares about the right things. She's going to get in there and fight hard for progressive values."
    Couldn't put it better myself.

  • Intriguing new entry: a PAC run by Alan Sandals (former primary candidate for US Senate) appears to be offering some support to a handful of local Council challengers, generally of a reform bent, including At-Large candidates Derek Green, Marc Stier, and Andy Toy, and district candidates Damon Roberts, Maria Quinones Sanchez, and Irv Ackelsberg. A pleasant boost for those campaigns, and a possible new player in Philadelphia's reform efforts.

Mayoral deluge

  • Nutter got a deluge today

    • The CityPaper endorses Nutter, making it their cover story for this week's issue. This central piece weighs the pros and cons of each candidate on their way to the final decision.
      Nutter hasn't just thought about how to answer questions on the campaign trail; he's considered what it would be like to actually be mayor and deal with the city's problems. In accounting honestly for those problems and proposing doable solutions, he seems more likely than his opponents to solve some of them.
      They also provide links to the mp3's of their chats with each, for those who'd like to get a direct impression.

    • Related pieces in the CP include Bruce Schimmel on gut-checking his admiration for Nutter and finding it holds up (especially over commitment to transparency), the editor describes the intense decision process behind the endorsement (and denies charges at YPP that media looks out for its own business interests in such choices), and a final related piece summarizes Johnny Doc's take on the race, including a sputtering dislike of Nutter (mark that one as another check in the pro-Nutter column for me!).

    • More surprising to me was that the Northeast Times endorsed Nutter. Perhaps they're responding to the same range of qualities (or "middle-class appeal") that has impressed others, but it seems good that he's getting some support from a part of the city not known for its progressive outlook.

  • Evans complains about his coverage, and rightfully so -- the uniform chant of "no chance" has impacted many people's decisions already, and can easily create a feedback loop that guarantees that very outcome. However, I was intrigued by the discussion of this point in the top CityPaper piece, where they argue that Evans' failure as a public speaker is a genuine failing related to his possible effectiveness as mayor...

  • Rendell gives Evans half an endorsement.

  • Mary Patel at the CP profiles Bob Brady, the last of a series ("now that he's on the ballot"). [Also a note here about a fundraiser for Supreme Court candidate C. Darnell Jones.]

  • Update: two PACs that have given money to Brady are being investigated to see whether they, in essence, offered unions a way around campaign donation limits. More here.

  • Info

    1. The CityPaper provides a round-up of their Bottom Line feature (pdf warning), summarizing the positions of the five candidates on several major issues. Don't miss the disembodied heads.

    2. Radio Times is running a series of hour-long interviews with the candidates this week, and you can listen to each of them online at the show's website (currently collected on the front page linked above). The collection should be complete by lunch tomorrow.

  • The CP's "Insider" expresses relief that negative advertising and attacks have gotten underway, so that some real contrasts will be drawn among the previously amiable field.

Two quick casino developments

One grantee asks not to have the slot parlors after all! Or rather, they have a thousand, and are hedging about when they're going to get around to expanding their space and adding the other promised amenities -- maybe not such a surprise after all...

In similar little-heard news, casino supporters from Fishtown make their case.
In fact, they say, the sooner SugarHouse can bring its 1,100 new jobs to the city, the better. These are jobs offering good salaries, benefits and pensions - and, in many cases, don't require a college degree.
Meanwhile, Casino-Free Philadelphia activists plan to get a casino vote with or without city approval, promising to put wooden boxes near polling places to collect public "votes" on election day...

Shaking off that clean feeling

they had posters ready!Well, argue all you want about where Knox started -- insider or outsider, reformer or just another tainted politician -- he's made his spots pretty clear with this one: love fest with Blackwell, as rumored.
Neither sidestepped Knox's self-proclaimed reformer credentials and Blackwell's decades as a City Hall insider. She made no attempt to conceal her displeasure with the new Board of Ethics, no-bid contracting laws and campaign-finance measures, all changes that Knox praised.
Because what do they have in common? Thirst for power! The Inquirer version of this story pulled no punches here either:
Knox - a businessman who has fashioned himself as an anti-corruption, anti-nepotism outsider - saw nothing incongruous in joining forces with Blackwell, an insider who inherited her political power from her spouse and stood alone in City Council two years ago to oppose campaign-finance limits.
More jarring even than the Blackwell alliance is the array of other folks getting Knox's nod. For example,
With Council candidates Matt Ruben and Vern Anastasio nearby, Knox said he and Blackwell will have a reform ticket.
Ack! Reformers, check your credentials at the door! PhiladelphiaWillDo picks up on this part of the story, noting that political scions Sharif Street and Bill Green head the list of Knox-endorsed Council candidates. Not all of these folks have returned the favor with a mayoral endorsement, but you can be sure they've promised their vote when Blackwell challenges Verna this summer . . .

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Quick Wednesday roundup

Have to leave soon, so just some quickies. (Also note my update to the story below about the Rendell Cabinet Secretaries having a tough time being reconfirmed.)
  • Poll suggests Nutter closing gap with Knox (also some small bits there about endorsements received by other candidates)

  • The Ethics Board takes its first shot, bringing suit against a PAC run by Carol Campbell (see previous note on its outlays for Brady and Campbell's campaigns here) for not filing its records on time.

  • Inky's latest "what they're promising" piece: Knox's police hire promises and where he thinks he can glean the money from city budgets. (Note the intent to effect staffing reductions by not filling empty jobs.)

  • Inky also offers its endorsements for Municipal Court.

  • The Philadelphia Weekly notes neighbors combatting a nuisance bar by threatening it with a Sherriff's sale for its hefty unpaid back-taxes. (Amazing that there's such a hefty fee to get the city what it's owed!)

  • Two bits from Inga Saffron, after long absence: one notes demolition plans for another historic building (with worries that this area will start to look rather bombed out if somebody doesn't start redeveloping the properties), and another noting a planned renovation of a building on Rittenhouse Square, complete with restoration of some of its original external features (and, of course, the obligatory Starr restaurant).

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Around the politicians

Some other stories of note:
  • The Inquirer makes endorsements for Common Pleas judicial race.

  • The Inky (with the DN?) is also hosting a series of Council candidate forums in coming days, one per District race and two for the major party At-Large candidates. Check out the schedule and get some first-hand exposure to the field!

  • AAJane lets us know what Brian Lentz has been up to since taking office; his activities compare well with his campaign promises.

  • Bob Casey is proposing a national tax on oil profits, which would kick in when the price got high (perhaps as an incentive against price-gouging by oil companies in moments of national alarm).

  • Nutter reports a surge in donations in the last few days, continuing to lead the pack in fund-raising.

Tough going for professional couples in public service...

There's a bit of a fracas in Harrisburg at the moment over two reappointments to Governor Rendell's cabinet, specifically the Secretaries of Environmental Protection and of Conservation and Natural Resources. Both were put up for reappointment, then challenged by Senators, withdrawn, and then submitted to an ethics review process. It appears that there are conflicts of interest involving both people, specifically in that their spouses applied for grants from their departments (see previous here), and no amount of reassurance about the competitive award process is making anybody sleep well, however talented these public servants might be.

Anyway, I'm not clear how this belated challenge came about (since both officials have been serving for some time), but it's hard not to cringe at such spousal connections. The state Ethics Commission has so far ruled only on the propriety of any future grants, but it may be that they have investigations of past awards underway as well. Either way, Rendell may have to seek out some new stewards of the state's environment.

Update: YPP has coverage of this story painting the accused officials as rock-stars of environmental oversight and the investigation as a right-wing witch-hunt. It certainly made me curious. I recommend that post, and their recommendation to take action.

Frightening prospects

Blackwell photoJust let me say up front that I'm no fan of Jannie Blackwell -- we've got obstructionism, flip-flopping, intimidation of foes, and opposing the smoking ban, not to mention her blase feelings about or opposition to ethics reform in times past -- and the prospect of her as President of City Council (or mayor, back when her name was among those being tossed around) is nontrivially chilling. She's clearly a capable player, but not necessarily the person to spearhead a new era of open discussion and fairness in City Hall.

However, Blackwell appears to be teaming up with Knox for mutual benefit (she'll make her official mayoral endorsement tomorrow).
Blackwell said if she does endorse Knox, she wants to run as a team.
Her choice comes with a heap of field troops for her favored candidate, and word on the street is that Knox deals with other candidates are being linked to their support for a Blackwell presidency. That's some powerful Outsider stuff, eh? Some tea leaves are read here, with Council contenders asked to forecast their leanings...

Update: oh! and I didn't even mention the nightmares induced by the Daily News cover depicting this match-made-in-[insert your favorite noun]. Humor and terror in a single image...