Non-partisan mayor's meeting got a bit partisan

Republican City Commissioner Al Schmidt posted on his personal Facebook page today that partisan candidate nominating petitions were circulated Thursday evening at a Philadelphia government-sponsored event at the Bright Hope Baptist Church.

“Maybe it's good no voters showed up at the Mayor's 'non-partisan' working group public meeting last night - where partisan candidate petitions were circulated. Sign-in sheet to the left; candidate petitions to the right,” said Schmidt in a 10:38 a.m. post to a friends’ list of 1,712 people.

In an emailed response to me regarding the event, Schmidt said, “Party affiliation isn't the point. Although I will say that all the petitions were from the same party. Just like all the members of the Mayor's 'working group' are from the same party.”

The photo above was sent to me by Schmidt.

Republican City Committee Chairman Vito Canuso had this to say about the petitions: “If that’s the fact, it’s very disappointing because it was advertised as educational and sponsored by the government," adding, “although everyone has a right to do it, it shouldn’t be done at a forum which is sponsored by the mayor.”

Brett Mandel, a Democrat running for city controller who is considered a “good government type” by me and many others, said, “Government should be like Caesar’s wife – beyond reproach when it comes to partisan politicking. There should be no question about whether the government is officially pushing one party or one candidate. It’s inappropriate to use an official public meeting to circulate partisan materials. Any candidate or campaign who wants to greet attendees or meet the attendees can certainly do so, but no one should think that an official government meeting is actually a partisan political event.”

Mark McDonald, press secretary for Mayor Michael Nutter, had this to say via email: “The mayor’s fact-finding team gathered testimony from four individuals of whom three represented groups. The public event was productive for the panel. We were offered space at a church to hear from people. It is not our house and not the fact-finding team’s place to object to people who may want to solicit petition signatures, but that activity had no connection or impact on hearing from people about the November election and issues that arose.”