Archive: September, 2012
Sources are telling Keegan Gibson of PoliticsPA.com that a Republican group is about to start airing attack ads against Kathleen Kane, the Democratic nominee for state Attorney General in the Nov. 6 general election. Records filed today with the Federal Communications Commission confirmed that report.
The Republican State Leadership Committee is spending $393,400 to air commercials about Kane, a former Lackawanna County assistant district attorney, on 6ABC, NBC10 and Fox29 in the Philadelphia television market for about a week, starting Friday.
The RSLC is based in Washington, D.C. and claims to have 100,000 donors in 50 states since 2002. The group's mission is "building a farm team" in so-called down-ballot state races such as lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state and state legislatures.
The media buy for 6ABC was signed by RSLC president J. Christopher Jankowski. The Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia described Jankowski in May 2010 as a local lobbyist who did work for "automakers, tobacco giants, car-title lenders and energy companies."
The RSLC also has a web site set up to slam Kane, WrongForPA.com, but it is currently down for maintenance. The web site was set up by a former web consultant to the presidential campaigns of former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Alabama Gov. Mike Huckabee.
Check out the press release below:
MAYOR NUTTER AND JUSTICE DEPARMENT OFFICIALS ANNOUNCE NEW EFFORTS TO PREVENT YOUTH VIOLENCE
Philadelphia, September 19, 2012 – Mayor Michael Nutter and Melodee Hanes, Acting Administrator for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), and U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Zane David Memeger announced the City of Philadelphia will receive two Department of Justice grants, the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention and the Community Based Violence Prevention Demonstration Program. Both grants target communities where the need is greatest – neighborhoods plagued by shooting and homicides, identified as “hotspots”.
“The Obama Administration, exemplified by Attorney General Eric Holder, Acting Administrator for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Melodee Hanes, and their team at the Department of Justice, recognize the importance of federal and local partnerships in helping to resolve persistent challenges that cities face,” said Mayor Nutter. “By awarding the City of Philadelphia these two grants, the Department of Justice is demonstrating its clear commitment to tackling the issue of youth violence in our Nation’s cities. These grants will help our city build the capacity and expertise to further decrease youth violence city-wide by creating systemic changes in prevention, intervention, enforcement and re-entry plans.”
National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention
Launched in 2010 at the direction of President Obama, the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention is a network of communities and federal agencies that share information and build local capacity to prevent and reduce youth violence. Philadelphia will join three other cities, New Orleans, Minneapolis, and Camden, N.J., as new additions to the forum, to begin working collaboratively with the federal government and other cities to address persistent urban challenges.
Mayor Nutter today announced that concert promoters have paid all city expenses related to the Made in America concert over Labor Day weekend.
Nutter said Live Nation has paid a total of $505,124 for the city costs incurred by the for-profit concert outside the Art Museum, featuring rap mogul Jay-Z. That includes a $200,000 security deposit and a payment today of $305,124.
Nutter did not break down exactly where the money went. The contract for the event - provided by the City Controller's Office - lists estimated costs for city services at $500,000, with the following split: police, $220,000; Fairmount Park, $120,000; emergency medical services, $90,000; sanitation, $60,000; licenses and inspections, $10,000; and health, $1,000.
Nutter said the show was a huge economic boost for the city and let the world know Philadelphia can put on big events.
"There's a lot of interest on both sides to try and have this again," he said.
With seven weeks to go until the Nov. 6 general election, the Philadelphia City Commission held its first public meeting in months and quickly descended into bureaucratic bedlam as the three members and staffers debated, shouted and complained about new hires, promotions and salaries.
Commission Chairwoman Stephanie Singer tried to propose a series of staff moves for her office that she said would save the Commission $79,000 per year. Singer was repeated interrupted by commissioners Al Schmidt and Anthony Clarke and staff counsel Fred Voigt as she tried to lay out moves to hire, promote and pay staffers.
They told her personnel matters had to be discussed in a private session while Singer said she had letters from all of the staffers, asking for the matters to be discussed at a public meeting.
Schmidt and Clarke, who have been at odds with Singer for months, quickly over-ruled her proposal, saying the matter would be postponed until after Nov. 6. Schmidt said they should "focus on the election, which is imminent."
Dennis Lee, who Singer wants to promote from deputy to chief deputy, interrupted and said he needed "full clarity today" on his promotion, which would increase his salary from $72,000 to $84,000. Clarke told Lee the vote to postpone the discussion was his answer.
Singer countered Schmidt's concern about the election, saying that leaving her staff changes in limbo would "leave us shorter staffed than we are" at a very busy time.
Greg Irving, the commission's voter registration administrator, questioned Lee's raise, noting that a previous chairwoman's chief deputy was paid $66,000 per year.
"We haven't had a raise going on four years," complained Irving, who like many commission employees is a member of a city union. "Why so much and we haven't gotten squat?"
Irving also took a shot at Mayor Nutter, who has angered city unions by not signing new contracts. He said he understood union salaries are "up to the city and that guy they call a mayor."
The donnybrook drew a rebuke from Ellen Kaplan, the Committee of Seventy's policy director, who urged the commissioners to set aside their differences since they face an upcoming election complicated by a new Voter ID law that requires voters to show state-approved identification at polling places.
"I have very serious and genuine concerns about these elections based on the obvious hostility and rancor in this room between the commissioners, between the commissioners and some staff members," Kaplan said.
The state Supreme Court punts the Voter ID law back to a lower court.
Looks like Made in America promoters should be paying all city expenses for the concert.
City Controller Alan Butkovitz criticizes city in dispute with a developer over a vacant lot.
Accused FDR Park firestarter will face trial.
The state Supreme Court has punted the controversial Voter ID case back to the state's Commonwealth Court for additional review, according to an order released this afternoon.
Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson, in an Aug. 15 ruling rejecting a request for a preliminary injunction to keep the state's new Voter ID law from being used during the Nov. 6 general election, repeatedly mentioned a new form of identification being developed by the Pennsylvania Department of State for voters who were having trouble obtaining other types of state-approved legislation that will be needed to cast a ballot.
The Department of State started offering that new type of voter ID on Aug. 27. Ron Ruman, a spokesman for the Department of State, said Monday the state has issued about about 9,000 new identification cards for voting purposes since the law was passed in March.
The Supreme Court, which heard an appeal of Simpson's ruling last Thursday, sent the case back to Commonwealth Court "to make a present assessment of the actual availability of the alternate identification cards on a developed record in light of the experience since the time the cards became available." The Supreme Court wants that done by Oct. 2.
Justices Debra McCloskey Todd and Seamus McCaffery filed a pair of joint dissents in the case, saying the Supreme Court should act now on the request for a preliminary injunction. Todd noted that the presidential election is 49 days away.
"The eyes of the nation are upon us, and this Court has chosen to punt rather than to act," Todd wrote. "I will have no part of it."
McCaffery pointed out that the state has offered no proof of the in-person voter fraud the Voter ID law is designed to prevent. He predicts that Simpson's review will again find "many thousands" of people without the proper ID to vote.
"I cannot in good conscience participate in a decision that so clearly has the effect of allowing politics to trump the solemn oath that I swore to uphold our Constitution," McCaffery wrote. "That Constitution has made the right to vote a right verging on the sacred, and that right should never be trampled by partisan politics."
Pressed by former Gov. Ed Rendell in a discussion Monday, conservative columnist John Fund -- author of a new book the claims widespread voter fraud -- tried to offer evidence on what he sees as a problem. Among his five claims: Republicans used to steal votes in Philly when they could and former U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter told him voter fraud still goes on here.
There is a push on for colleges in Pennsylvania to issue new identification cards that will allow students to vote in the Nov. 6 general election and be compliant with the Voter ID law.
And is this the "miracle drug" that will help addicts kick heroin?
A South Philly park group says they're not implicated in a federal indictment.
John Baer says top officials from both political parties doubt that the Voter ID law will impact election results.
What's next for the Occupy movement? Will Bunch investigates.
And a Delaware man is charged with stealing his own car. Tough times.
This is certainly a tough day for Philadelphia Traffic Court Judge Bob Mulgrew, who was arrested Thursday after being accused in a federal indictment of using state grant money for personal use and passing it out to friends and family when it was supposed to be used for the nonprofit Friends of Dickinson Square.
But this has been no picnic for The Friends of Dickinson Square Park, a completely different and unrelated nonprofit that had nothing to do with the federal investigation and considers itself the real entity in charge of upkeep for the green space at Fourth and Tasker streets.
That nonprofit's board of directors posted a notice on its website today to clear up the confusion:
The Friends of Dickinson Square Park Inc. is a separate and distinct 501c3 volunteer organization registered with the IRS and relevant government entities. The Friends of Dickinson Square Park Inc. has no paid staff and consists solely of volunteer Board members. The FDSP is funded by private donations and small grants, the majority of which are maintained by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and Philadelphia Green.
Philadelphia Traffic Court Judge Bob Mulgrew, charged with his wife and the chief of staff to state Rep. Bill Keller in a federal indictment Thursday, has been removed from the bench for now.
"The Supreme Court today issued an emergency order of suspension to [Common Pleas Court] Judge [Gary] Glazer in his capacity as the Administrative Judge of Traffic Court, directing Judge Glazer to suspend Judge Robert Mulgrew from all official duties and assignments in Philadelphia Traffic Court until further notice," emailed Frank Keel, spokesman for the First Judicial District.
Mulgrew's attorney on Thursday said he planned to continue working as a judge after being charged with misusing thousands of dollars in state grants to a community group he helped operate.
The Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board on Friday filed a petition for interim suspension without pay for Mulgrew, pending a trial on the federal criminal charges. The board has requested a hearing before the Court of Judicial Discipline.
Mulgrew faces 30 felony counts of mail fraud, one felony count of wire fraud, one felony count of tax evasion, five felony counts of filing false tax returns and one felony count of obstructing justice.
"The pending felony criminal charges against Judge Mulgrew undermine both public confidence in the judiciary and it's reputation," the chief counsel for the Judicial Conduct Board wrote in a petition submitted to the Court of Judicial Discipline.