Hot News: Fumo to Quit the Race

We’ve got corruption on the Democratic side here in PA, but there might be good news soon. Vince Fumo, the subject of a 139 count indictment and arguably one of the most powerful men in Philadelphia politics, has quit the nominating race for his own State Senate seat. Anne Dicker’s chances went way up!

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

The story is in both papers this morning, though last night it was only a rumor. Vince Fumo, beset by legal and health problems, is backing out of the Democratic nominating race for his State Senate seat.

The Inquirer: Fumo will quit race, sources say

The Daily News: Fumo exits Democratic primary

Here’s a bit from the Daily News, which seems to have a bit more of the story:

Fumo, 64, still recovering from a heart attack 10 days ago, plans to announce his decision this morning at a news conference at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, according to an informed source. The Daily News broke the story online last night.

At Fumo’s side today will be Gov. Rendell, who said last week that he would support Fumo for another term if the senator asked for his endorsement.

Fumo faced three challengers in the Democratic primary on April 22, and perhaps a more difficult test next September, when he is scheduled for a federal trial on a 139-count corruption indictment. Even if he won the primary, he’d have to endure a general-election campaign with daily headlines coming out of his federal trial, revolving around charges that he benefited personally from the operations of a nonprofit community group called the Citizens Alliance for Better Neighborhoods.

So we are down to three in the race for the State Senate. Anne Dicker, who gets my support, Larry Farnese, who should be running for Babette Josephs’ seat, but inexplicably entered this race, and Johnny “Doc” Dougherty, the head of the electricians union and a power amongst the local pols. Yeah, Doc represents the machine, and the way Philly plays out nowadays, that has both benefits and drawbacks. There are movements

Friday, August 5th, 2011 by Steven Reynolds |
Category: Philly

Philadelphia Inquirer Publishes Advertising as Opinion Column

The Inquirer today published on its OpEd pages as column by a Comcast executive that is basically an apologia for why their customers will not be getting the NFL Network this fall. Seriously, it is a worked over press release. So, want to bet that Comcast is one of the biggest ad buyers at Brian Tierney’s new and improved Inquirer?

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

I was about to go to the gym. I made some coffee for my wife, as she will end up changing and feeding Jack while I’m gone and needs that early morning wake-up. Then I trotted downstairs and picked up the paper. Yeah, we’re still a print family, and we subscribe to the Philadelphia Inquirer, once a fine newspaper. I admit, I read the sports section first, then I breeze through the news. Typically I’ll hit the opinion pages for a moment, check out the topics to be discussed this morning, then head off to the gym. But today’s column on the opinion page stopped me cold. It is basically an advertisement for Comcast. OK, to get technical, it’s more like a press release, but it has a big name signing it, so that must be OK, journalistic integrity be damned.

It is a column by David Cohen, an Executive Vice President of Comcast Corporation. Cohen is a big deal here in Philadelphia. He was Chief of Staff for Mayor Ed Rendell in the 90′s, and he served as Chair of the powerfully connected Ballard Spahr law firm until 2002 when he left to join Comcast. In the interest of full disclosure, I have seen David Cohen speak just after he left for Ballard, and his speech, which retold a true story from Buzz Bissinger’s A Prayer for the City, was warm and engaging and brought the audience to tears, myaelf included. But this isn’t about how I was personally impressed with David Cohen. This column is about the fall of the Inquirer from being a fine newspaper. It is about the Philadelphia Inquirer giving prime OpEd page space to a corporate giant so that corporate giant can give whiney excuses about its service to its customers.

Yes, that’s what happened. Instead of a column on a topical political or local issue by a renouwned expert or pundit, or even a has been politician like Rick Santorum, the Inquirer got David Cohen to write a column. The subject? Cohen writes about why the NFL Network is so greedy that it may force Comcast customers to go without. Seriously, the column is an apologia, giving whiney excuses from Comcast to its customers about why they won’t be getting the NFL Network unless they pay extra. I kid you not. Look, I’m not going to debate Comcast’s policies and whether they put out a good product. This is about a newspaper that published a press release as an OpEd column, an outrageous act even for Brian Tierney, the man who is transforming the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Look, I seriously understand that print media is going the way of the buggy whip. Brian Tierney, the publisher of both the Inquirer and the Daily News has worked hard, and wrongheadedly, to right these floundering ships. He has, for instance, emphasized advertising and coupons, selling space ont he front page and boasting of how much coupon savings there is in every Sunday paper. That’s OK. Tierney has also provided over a change in the Philadelphia Inquirer’s political slant towards the right. Part of that is the publication of Rick Santorum’s insipid and poorly thought columns. Santorum brings Tierney name recognition, so the assumption must be that he’ll bring readers, but the effect is to dumb down the paper and move it to the extremist right. Now Tierney has given a slot on those OpEd pages to a corporation to defend its policies.

Don’t mistake that Comcast getting an OpEd spot is a little thing. Competitors DirectTV and Dish Network would LOVE to run an ad on the OpEd page about how they can’t carry the Phillies at any cost because of Comcast’s monopolistic policies. Alas, Comcast probably spends far more in advertising dollars with Brian Tierney, so that’s not going to happen. Because that’s the real bottom line here, cash trumping Editorial policy. And that’s about the lowest you can go in journalism.

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |
Category: Media,Philly

Get Your Red Hot Whiney Excuses Here!

Billionaire Jeff Lurie and his Philadelphia Eagles are still dodging a $8MM bill they owe the City of Philadelphia at a time when the city is closing libraries. Affidavits have now been given and we hear, for the first time, that there was a verbal deal with the last Mayor, who simply wasn’t trustworthy. Yes, it’s whiney excuses all the way.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Jeff Lurie is a Billionaire, recently assessed as so by Fortune Magazine. He owns my beloved Philadelphia Eagles. And it appears he has a bunch of whiney excuses why he and his Philadelphia Eagles will continue to doge paying what they owe.

The Philadelphia Eagles have owed the City of Philadelphia $8 Million for at least nine years, and they’ve been delaying the payment of that bill for a long time. Yesterday, after several years of “no comment,” the Eagles finally revealed their strategy. Evidently the money was unelected in the mail by the dog, or something like that. Yeah, we’re talking a whiney excuse for not paying what Jeff Lurie and the Philadelphia Eagles owe, an excuse that rests on verbal agreements made by someone who doesn’t have the power to make such agreements. There’s a report in the Philadelphia Daily News, but this one is from KYW 1060:

Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie says the city reneged on a never-before disclosed private deal between him and then-Mayor John Street to settle the dispute over Veterans Stadium sky box revenues.

The city has long contended that the Eagles owed $8 million over the sky box earnings.

But Lurie and team president Joe Banner have now filed affidavits in Common Pleas Court, in which they say they struck the verbal deal with Street through intermediaries during Street’s first term. Under terms of the deal, according to the affidavits, the Eagles would pay the city an unspecified amount less than $1 million to settle the matter.

Lurie’s attorney, Tom Leonard, says despite the agreement, John Street never abided by that deal for the remaining years of his tenure. Now, Leonard says, Lurie wants a judge to enforce that agreement:

“The people who were in the room are all prepared to testify that there was a deal. A deal is a deal, and it should be enforced.”

The affidavits do not specify when the agreement was reached. Leonard believes it occurred in late 2000. Banner and Lurie claim that verbal agreement was made during the negotiations between the Eagles and the city over construction of the new stadium, and they stipulate that the sky box agreement helped seal the stadium deal.

Let’s see. The Eagles are maintaining they don’t owe $8MM. After never mentioning a deal with former mayor John Street supposedly made nine years ago (a deal that Street arguably didn’t have the power to make), the Eagles want to force the city to live up to that deal.

Some disclaimers. My wife and I are Eagles season ticket holders, and we’re eager to show our new son Lincoln Financial Field when the NFL season starts. Yes, we are rabid fans who will take a baby to a football game, at least a pre-season one. After that adventure, we’ll reevaluate. We met at an Eagles game, and we’re rabid enough to go to playoff games that cost a ton of cash. But.

I do not jump up and criticize the Philadelphia Eagles every time they make a bonehead player move. Now let me tell you, that shows remarkable restraint around these parts where screaming about the weak wide receiver corps or the lack of a fullback is a full-time job for some fans. I am not a TATEr. (I’ll let someone else explain that term.) But I am a citizen who expects my fellow citizens to pay their taxes.

As such, Jeff Lurie offends me. I rail on this web page about whiney excuses all the time, and the Eagles can’t even figure out which whiney excuse to use here. I am offended, both as a fan and a citizen of Philly. But I am a fan of the Eagles team, and am proud of the players who take the field on game day. I had always assumed that I could be proud of the organization from the top down. That no longer holds.

Jeff Lurie and the Eagles, according to their story, basically put faith in ex-Mayor John Street to hold to an agreement he wouldn’t even put in writing. That’s simply stupid. More than dodging taxes and giving out whiney excuses, the Eagles should be disrespected because they trusted John Street to hold to a verbal agreement. I mean, owner Lurie and team President Joe Banner live here! They know John Street. They know trusting that guy to carry out a verbal agreement he wasn’t even authorized to make is madness. If they really believed they could trust then they are flat out stupid.

All hail and praise goes to Brendan Skwire, who has been pushing this issue for a while.

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Republicans Running to Obama, One as Unlikely as the Cubs Winning the World Series

What’s more unlikely, the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series, or the Chicago Tribune endorsing a Democrat for President? It’s the latter, but it happened today, and they are especially critical of John McCain. That and some Philly news in this afternoon’s commentary.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

No, this isn’t a comment on yet another story about Oregon Senator Gordon Smith trying to jump on the Obama bandwagon in order to save his political hide. Sam Katz has run as a Republican three times for Mayor of Philadelphia, and once for Governor of Pennsylvania. A reporter spotted an Obama sign on his lawn, and this is what Sam Katz had to say. From the Philadelphia Daily News Clout column:

“We have six voters in the house, a lot of points of view,” Katz said yesterday, seeming to ponder how much candor to include in his explanation.

“In all honesty, it will probably be a unanimous vote in the Katz household . . . I was undecided and wanted to stay undecided. But the collapse of the economy and McCain’s performance through that process pushed me a little bit over the other side. I tell people I don’t think Obama’s ready to be president and I don’t think McCain should be. But I always try to vote for the guy I think will do the best job.”

Sam Katz was always a centrist, so this isn’t very surprising. And Pennsylvania is rapidly losing it’s status as a battleground state, what with the huge edge the Democrats have in voter registrations. The real surprising news is the Chicago Tribune endorsing Obama, the very first Democratic candidate for President they have ever endorsed. Heck, as the article notes, the Tribune was founded by one of the founders of the Republican Party. Here’s part of the Tribune endorsement of Barack Obama, where they smack John McCain a bit:

The Republican Party, the party of limited government, has lost its way. The government ran a $237 billion surplus in 2000, the year before Bush took office – and recorded a $455 billion deficit in 2008. The Republicans lost control of the U.S. House and Senate in 2006 because, as we said at the time, they gave the nation rampant spending and Capitol Hill corruption. They abandoned their principles. They paid the price.

We might have counted on John McCain to correct his party’s course. We like McCain. We endorsed him in the Republican primary in Illinois. In part because of his persuasion and resolve, the U.S. stands to win an unconditional victory in Iraq.

It is, though, hard to figure John McCain these days. He argued that President Bush’s tax cuts were fiscally irresponsible, but he now supports them. He promises a balanced budget by the end of his first term, but his tax cut plan would add an estimated $4.2 trillion in debt over 10 years. He has responded to the economic crisis with an angry, populist message and a misguided, $300 billion proposal to buy up bad mortgages.

McCain failed in his most important executive decision. Give him credit for choosing a female running mate–but he passed up any number of supremely qualified Republican women who could have served. Having called Obama not ready to lead, McCain chose Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. His campaign has tried to stage-manage Palin’s exposure to the public. But it’s clear she is not prepared to step in at a moment’s notice and serve as president. McCain put his campaign before his country.

The newspaper that began by endorsing Horace Greeley, stood by every single other Republican nominated for President since then, including Coolidge, has now endorsed a Democrat for President for the first time. This is as unlikely as the Cubs winning the World Series, and we all know that’s one of the signs of the coming Apocalypse. Perhaps we should be very afraid.

Friday, October 17th, 2008 by Steven Reynolds |

Racist Voter Intimidation in Philadelphia

Racist voter intimidation is starting early in Philadelphia, with fliers hitting the streets designed to scare voters in African American neighborhoods. Such GOP tactics usually occur right before an election when there’s no chance to correct the ugliness. This is a case of incompetence on the part of the GOP, not merely un-American behavior.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

If it is nearing the election, we can expect voter intimidation tactics from Republicans. We can expect all sorts of shenanigans. Heck, the McCain campaign is all negative all the time on the campaign trail, and they’re getting desperate, having abandoned Michigan. Now they’re reaching into their bag of trick for voter intimidation in some of the poorest and most ethnic naightborhoods of Philadelphia. From the Philadelphia Daily News:

With just weeks to go before the presidential election, voter intimidation has reared its ugly head.
An anonymous flier circulating in African-American neighborhoods in North and West Philadelphia states that voters who are facing outstanding arrest warrants or who have unpaid traffic tickets may be arrested at the polls on Election Day.

Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Everett Gillison, who learned of the flier last week, said that the message is completely false.

“The only thing that police officers are going to do that we’ll be encouraging that day is that they’ll be exercising their own individual right to vote,” Gillison said.

He plans to put up statements on the city and police Web sites to let citizens know that the handouts are false. He said that he also will record a public-service announcement for broadcast.

Gillison referred the matter to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the district attorney.

“We are not going to stand for any intimidation of voters,” Gillison said. “Not in this city.”

Who else but the Republicans could be behind such voter intimidation in neighborhoods where 90% and more of the population will vote for Barack Obama. Of course, there will be no trail back to the Republican Party. If anyone is caught in this clearly undemocratic ugliness it will be some low level doofus the GOP can deny they ever knew. That’s the way they roll at the GOP. They also roll with incompetence.

As Zach Stalberg of the Committee of Seventy (a nonpartisan Philadelphia elections watchdog group) notes, he is surprised this sort of intimidation surfaced a full month and more before the election, as this sort of thing is usually used by Republicans in the couple days before elections so that city and state officials who value voter participation, unlike Republicans, do not have the time to counter the ugliness. There’s a video on the local ABCNews web site, and here’s some of Stalberg’s words from the Philadelphia Daily News:

“I’m a little surprised it appeared this far before Election Day,” he said. “It’s another indication of how dirty this election might become.”

As I mentioned earlier, we already knew this campaign was getting dirty from looking at the lying negative ads on the McCain side. So Stalberg is right. But this is an example of incompetency also, putting across an easily refutable message with plenty of time to educate and innoculate the citexenry from further racist intimidation that might happen between here and election day. Yeah, not only is this undemocratic, and not only is it racist, but it is incompetent. In that sense, McCain is following the Bush lead of the last eight years, and maybe he ought to change his campaign slogan to. . .

Incompetence First

Saturday, October 4th, 2008 by Steven Reynolds |

Football, Race, Equality, Respect

The home crowds came to a 63-0 loss at the first football game in nearly 50 years at Lincoln University. The students are proud, and the event even got coverage in the New York Times. From my seat, as a teacher there, the article and event underscore our need to elect Barack Obama.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

I’m a big football fan. On Sundays you just don’t get between me and my Eagles on the TV or at the home games. I also teach at a local University, Lincoln University, and they have resurrected their football program this year. For real! You can read all about it in the New York Times:

The new Lincoln University football team, in its Tide-orange jerseys, gathered near the equipment shed on the hill behind the end zone. It was two hours before Saturday’s kickoff, and buses from campus began arriving at the parking lot nearby. Out spilled the cheerleaders. Then came members of the band, crisply costumed all the way to the orange tassels atop their chin-strapped hats.

Tweet! Tweet! Tweet! The drum major blew the whistle, and the drum line pounded a marching beat. Hips swayed and feet shuffled. Dancers and flag bearers and musicians, walking two by two, snaked into the stadium.

The Lincoln Lions had arrived, complete.

OK, there’s the lead by John Branch of the Times, and I’m not pleased. We’ve got drums and dancing and the insinuation that this fine and historic African American institution cannot be complete without football. There’s a bunch of descriptive words in this intro that can have stronger meanings than mere literal meanings, but then, I’m a writing teacher. My students don’t see that. They are proud of the New York Times featuring them for positive reasons. Still, there are some quibbles.

The Times is sure to note Lincoln University’s proud heritage. Thurgood Marshall and Langston Hughes, after all, are a couple high powered alumni. I’ve got no quibbles with writer John Branch on that score. But he also calls Lincoln University a “sleepy hilltop campus.” I can’t personally refute that claim, but my students sure do. For them, there’s almost too much excitement here, community, togetherness, so much so that some don’t get the sleep they need. Further, though, they think Branch’s use of the word “sleepy” refers also to “slow,” “lazy,” and other connotations that are less than flattering to these students here for an education and to rise in the world outside Lincoln.

All in all, I’m pleaed with this piece in the Times. I’m also pleased with my time here at Lincoln University, so far. Sure, students could be more enthusiastic, more prepared for college. The campus could be closer than 50 miles from home. But every single day this middle aged white guy learns from African Americans far more than he teaches. Every single day I see a student who is having the best year of his or her life, and while this is not true for all of them, sometimes that is because they grew up in the toughest of situations in our inner cities. No, I can’t go into detail. I can only strive to understand.

Is this political? I’m an Obama fan. I’m an unrepentent liberal who believes we should dedicate ourselves to helping those downtrodden by poverty, handicapped in even small ways by race or prejudice. I grew up thinking HBCUs were not necessary, that they were a form of that dreaded “separate but equal” formulation which really was constructed to keep African Americans in their place. That was growing up, but I’m thinking I still had vestiges of that sentiment when I stepped onto this campus for the first time a month ago. No longer. My students have convinced me that a structure to build up young African Americans is vitally important, especially for the young men. In the Times article John Branch notes that Lincoln University is bringing back the football team partly in order to get young men to enroll. From the Times:

Lincoln also wanted to increase its male enrollment and retention, as women account for 62 percent of the student population and earn roughly two of every three degrees. And it wanted elevate its athletic programs from N.C.A.A. Division III to Division II, largely so it could rejoin the C.I.A.A., the historically black conference it co-founded nearly 100 years ago.

There’s no reason to list the statistics about crime, about the populations in our jails, no need to quote Bill Cosby or Barack Obama on the need to save a whole generation of African American men. We all know the problem. What we will never get with any Republican is a solution, or anything approaching one. The solution itself is a society where prejudice is a dim memory. We can’t come to that point without electing an African American leader, and I’d far rather have that happen now rather than later.

Go Lions!

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008 by Steven Reynolds |

Ed Rendell and Michael Nutter Join the Silly Season

Michael Nutter, Mayor of Philadelphia, and Ed Rendell, Governor of our state, sign onto a silly and whiney Clinton campaign complaint about Barack Obama. I’m not surprised to see Ed Rendell do such a thing, but I’m deeply disappointed in Michael Nutter.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Ed Rendell has long been known to play the same old same old political game of destruction. As such, I’m not a huge supporter. But he’s a lame duck, so when he does it I don’t get all that upset. But I am a huge supporter of Michael Nutter, even endorsing him for Mayor early in the campaign. Michael Nutter ran a good and honest campaign for mayor, standing above the usual ugliness of Philadelphia politics. I’m thinking he’s going slightly off the rails with this stunt done in conjunction with Ed Rendell. Here’s their silly whine in favor of Hillary Rodham Clinton from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Gov. Rendell, Mayor Nutter and two of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s top aides yesterday blasted Barack Obama’s campaign for allegedly diminishing and disrespecting Pennsylvania’s presidential primary.
In a national conference call with reporters, the foursome pointed to a memorandum written by Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, that referred to Pennsylvania as “only one of ten remaining contests.”

Rendell predicted that the description would be “off-putting” to the state’s Democratic voters. Nutter called it “one of the silliest things I’ve seen in recent times.”

Mark Penn, Clinton’s top strategist, went on to praise the state – the largest yet to vote – as “incredibly vibrant and important” both in the nomination fight and the general election.

Obama’s Pennsylvania spokesman, Sean Smith, said the controversy was much ado about nothing, that Obama had every intention of competing for the state’s 158 pledged delegates in the voting on April 22.

Guys, Pennsylvania is in fact one of ten primaries left in this country. Both candidates should be focusing on all of those states. You are whining about a fact here. And there isn’t any evidence that Obama is treating Pennsylvania with anything but respect. Rendell and Nutter are signing onto some stupid, whiney Hillary Clinton BS, and with Michael Nutter, at least, I am disappointed.

I’ve talked to Michael Nutter about this race and his endorsement of Hillary Clinton. I had breakfast with him the day after he made that appearance with her to endorse her candidacy here in Philadelphia. I came away thinking Michael Nutter endorsed Mrs. Clinton because of his beliefs, and I respected him for it even though I was leaning heavily to Obama at the time. I imagined Mr. Nutter would campaign for Hillary Clinton, but I was confident he would do so by focusing on the issues. This silly whine that he’s signed onto disappoints me a great deal, especially since Mr. Nutter himself campaigned on a unity theme not unlike Barack Obama.

I am saddened Michael Nutter. You can do better.

Friday, March 14th, 2008 by Steven Reynolds |

Johnny “Doc” Incompetent

John Dougherty is a Democrat and candidate for State Senate here in Philadelphia. He’s already flouted the rules with his campaign ads, and it appears he is on the way to harming the career of a police officer. No, he is not qualified for the position.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

The other campaigns in the primary run for the State Senate in my district cannot say it, but I can. John Dougherty, head of the Electrical Workers Union and the subject of an FBI raid in recent memory, claims he will use fighting crime as his theme as he attempts to gain the nomination. He’s been running ads that say as much, featuring a policeman. Policemen in the city aren’t allowed to appear in political ads, nor are they allowed to endorse candidates. Yeah, Johnny Doc wants to fight crime, but he doesn’t even know the rules. From the Philadelphia Daily News:

A source identified the officer as Michael P. Trask, 37, a 16-year police veteran who lives in the Northeast. Reached at his home last night Trask declined to comment.

A provision of the city charter says that “[no] appointed officer or employee of the City shall . . . take any part in the management or affairs of any political party or in any political campaign, except to exercise his right as a citizen privately to express his opinion and to cast his vote.”

In addition, Vanore said, the department has internal regulations, to the same effect.

Besides sending a letter to the Dougherty campaign, the police commissioner plans to look at the department’s policy “to see if it needs to be strengthened or clarified,” Vanore said.

The department’s Internal Affairs Bureau will be looking at the situation, the spokesman said.

The worst part of this story isn’t that Dougherty violated rules, nor that he and his campaign are so clueless that they didn’t know the rules. These guys, through their incompetence, have harmed the career of a police officer in this city. That should disqualify Dougherty’s notion that he has any ability to fight crime.

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008 by Steven Reynolds |
Category: Philly

Time to Discuss Corrupt Democrats

Democratic corruption is usually at the city or state level. We don’™t have Karl Roves and Dick Cheneys and Jack Abramoffs who make national news. We’™ve still got corrupt politicians, though, and we still need to root them out. It is a shame when our leaders turn their heads while the corruption continues.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

homeCorruption in the Republican Party has seemingly resided at the top over the last few years. National figures are responsible for US Attorney scandals and leaking classified information about CIA agents. National figures and Congressman and Senators have gone down for payoffs in the Abramoff scandals, and More Republican Senators and Governors have been caught with their pants literally down. In the Democratic Party, corruption seems to be local, but when it happens it still gets one upset, and I’™m upset this morning. Let’™s start with Anna C. Verna, there on the left.

Ms. Verna is the head of City Council here in Philadelphia, a very powerful position in our government. She put together a commission to recommend a candidate for an important position to the veterans in our city, the Director of Veteran’™s Affairs. That commission recommneded Robert Politz, a man with 20 years in the field and with a Masters degree in counselling. That should have been that. The job description calls for a college degree and experience in the field after all. But, no.

Anna Verna decided to use the appointment to make a political favor, instead. Edgar Howard has never worked with veterans, and has no college degree, but he’™s a former city commissioner until he got booted by the voters, and he’™s probably done a few favors for Anna Verna in the past. So Anna Verna appointed Howard, then she increased the salary of the position by 60%. Veterans are upset, and we all should be. Here’™s a bit from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

The maneuver has infuriated city veterans.

‘œIt got me upset that we couldn’™t get the candidate we all thought was best, but what really burns my bridges is that he’™s got the gall to take the director’™s money and the deputy’™s money,’ said Ernest Landers, a member of the Veterans Advisory Commission and an American Legion leader. ‘œIt’™s a slap in the face to veterans.’

The city’™s American Legion chapter has begun drafting a resolution condemning Verna’™s decision and declaring that Council ‘œdoes not consider the interests of veterans to be of any concern or interest to them.’

Politz has also responded angrily, but it looks like Michael Nutter is not going to get involved.

Last week, Politz, 60, wrote an impassioned letter to Mayor Nutter, imploring him to exercise ‘œfearless leadership’ and intervene. The letter castigated Verna and Council for their ‘œshameful disregard of the efforts of the Veterans Advisory Commission’ and their ‘œcomplete and utter failure to put the interest of the people ahead of the greed and self-preservation of a few.’

Politz said he debated whether or not to write the letter for weeks, concerned that it would come across as sour grapes.

‘œI’™m not interested in pursuing anything in terms of employment. This really now is a matter of legitimizing the advisory commission and not using the office as some kind of depository for politicos,’ Politz said.

Nutter, however, will not be getting involved.

Administration spokesman Doug Oliver said the matter ‘œrests squarely within the purview of the Council president.’

‘œThe mayor trusts the Council president’™s judgment and respects her right to make the call,’ Oliver said.

That’™s bound to disappoint Politz, who sees the episode as a case of politicians taking care of their own at the expense of taxpayers and citizens who rely on city services.

‘œYou know the reality of this stuff exists,’ Politz said. ‘œBut when you see it firsthand, it’™s an eye-opener.’

Our veterans deserve better than Anna Verna has given them, and our city deserves better. Indeed, Michael Nutter’™s hands may be tied, and he may have made a decision here about this not being the battle to fight with City Council, but I’™m thinking a bit more light on this subject will at least alert citizens just how their City Council works, by dishing out favors. Heck, though, that’™s nothing new. Vince Fumo, indicted now on 139 counts, perfected the art of dishing out favors in his time in the State Senate. Do you imagine any politician criticizing Mr. Fumo? Not the ones who wat to stay in office, that’™s for sure.

Ed Rendell, for instance, is quoted in today’™s Philadelphia Inquirer that if asked he will endorse Vince Fumo in the Democratic primary for State Senator. I’™m a bit floored. Sure, his nickname is ‘œFast Eddie,’ and Rendell is known as a bit of a dealer, but to endorse a man who is the subject of a 139 count indictment is to ignore our system of justice. Rendell used to be a prosecutor, and he should know better. But here’™s Ed Rendell’™s words on supporting indicted State Senator Vince Fumo, also from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

‘œHe hasn’™t asked, and I haven’™t done a formal endorsement, but all things being equal, I probably would,’ Rendell said. ‘œWe would be lost in Harrisburg without him because of his skill. He has done great things, and we are lucky to have him.’

No, Ed, we’™ll be lucky if we can get rid of people like Vince Fumo in our party. We need to dream, Ed, and that dream needs to be about getting rid of corruption, whether it is of the Anna Verna type or the Vince Fumo type. And we need Ed Rendell and Michael Nutter, two of the biggest political voices in our state, to do the leading in rooting out corruption. In these isntances, Nutter has demurred, and Rendell is actively offering to support a corrupt official. Not good news.

Friday, February 29th, 2008 by Richard Blair |

Opening The Files: 10/31/07

It was Hillary Pillory at the latest Dem debate.

Commentary By: The Xsociate

The Not So Thrilla in Phila.

The Democrats held a debate last night in Philadelphia, yet another in the seemingly endless pre-pre-season horse race. For some live blogging of the main event check in with native Philadelphian Will Bunch, with more observations at Josh’™s and Kevin’™s.

Pretty much all day yesterday, the inside the Beltway media was breathless with speculation about whether Barack Obama would begin to poke some sharpened elbows at his front runner rival Hillary Clinton. But aside from a few jabs at her wishy washy record and a dated Rocky reference, the Thrilla from Illa(nois) failed to land any knock out blows.

That is not to say that Clinton wasn’™t the proverbial punching bag in the debate. She took a bruising for her waffling on driver licenses for illegal immigrants. Was pelted for her votes on Iraq and Iran. But despite the barrage, I have a feeling that Hilla will come through this, especially considering that the GOPers seem to have already singled her out as the opponent to beat. And really, as harsh as some of the things said about Clinton were last night, they are nothing compared to what has been and no doubt will be said about her by the Repubs.

Some other notable moments: Joe Biden got the biggest applause for a dig at Rescue Rudy for his limited vocabulary. Dennis Kucinich once again made calls for impeachment but because he also claims to have seen a UFO, that means no one should take him seriously. At least MSNBC had the good sense to forgo any overly long cutaway shots of Mrs. Kucinich.

Hunter lists reasons to be freaking sick of pre-primary season.

Michael Roston says that some of the digs at Hillary seemed more befitting of a Three Stooges routine.

Booman tells us some of the new things he learned.

And Walter Shapiro says that some of the dueling Dems appear to have sharpened their rapiers and are looking to draw some primary colors out of Hillary.

(X-posted at The Xsociate Files)

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007 by Richard Blair |