Wednesday, June 3, 2015

City Commission staff disses outsiders AND bosses now

The Philadelphia City Commission, the agency that runs elections in the city, had a curious culture for the 36 years that it was led by former Chairwoman Marge Tartaglione. Good government groups dedicated to free and fair elections were treated like ignorant interlopers, with Marge leading the charge and her staff gleefully following.

City Commission staff disses outsiders AND bosses now

The Philadelphia City Commission, the agency that runs elections in the city, had a curious culture for the 36 years that it was led by former Chairwoman Marge Tartaglione.  Good government groups dedicated to free and fair elections were treated like ignorant interlopers, with Marge leading the charge and her staff gleefully following.

Tartaglione last year lost her bid for a 10th term.  A Commission meeting Wednesday morning showed that some of that culture has changed while some of it remains very much the same.

Marian Schneider of the Advancement Project, a non-profit fair elections group, followed up at the meeting on her request last week for a listing of everyone who had a voter registration form accepted and rejected in Philadelphia.  Schneider was told by Commission Staff Counsel Fred Voigt that she wasn't going to get the information because some material had to be redacted and there wasn't enough time before the Nov. 6 general election.

Commission Chairwoman Stephanie Singer, who defeated Tartaglione last year, tried to ask a follow-up question of Voigt about the redaction.

"I'm not sitting here to be interrogated," Voigt responded testily to Singer, who with two other commissioners are his bosses. "I answered the question."

Schneider explained that she understood the pressure the Commission is under.  "The reason we wanted the information is to ensure that all eligible voters got on the rolls before the election," she added.

"That's our job," Voter Registration Administrator Greg Irving said in a booming voice, cutting Schneider off.

So there you have it: Fair election groups are still treated like pests.  And Commissioners can get caught in the staff's cross-fire if they try to intervene.

About this blog
William Bender, a Drexel graduate who landed at the Daily News in 2007, has covered everything from South Philly mobsters to doomsday hucksters. He occasionally writes about local food trucks and always eats everything on his plate, whether it be a bloody rib eye or a corrupt politician. E-mail tips to benderw@phillynews.com
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David Gambacorta, has been a reporter with the Daily News since 2005, covering crime, police corruption and all of the other bizarre things that happen in Philadelphia. Now he’s covering the 2015 mayor’s race, because he enjoys a good circus just as much as the next guy. He’s always looking to get a cup of coffee. Send news tips and other musings on life to gambacd@phillynews.com
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