City Commission News: A GOP challenger; Tartaglione threatens to 'punch out' reporter; 6 state reps fail to disclose campaign finances

First this:

Al Schmidt, a former GOP city controller candidate and chief gadfly to the city's Republican Party establishment, is running for office again.

Schmidt is expected to announce his candidacy for Philadelphia City Commissioner tomorrow morning at the Union League.

That means he intends to take on incumbent Commissioner Joseph Duda, a ward leader who has held the seat since 1995. Duda also once worked for former Republican Party boss Billy Meehan.

The City Commissioners - there are three, two Democrat and one Republican - oversee Philadelphia elections. The office has been in the news most recently regarding a Philadelphia Board of Ethics investigation that found the chief deputy there, Renee Tartaglione, violated city rules several times by engaging in political activity. That finding led to her sudden retirement last month. Read about it here.

Renee Tartaglione's mother - legendary and longtime Commission Chairwoman Margaret Tartaglione - appeared publicly this morning for the first time since her daughter's problems were aired.

Asked by a Philadelphia Weekly reporter at the tail end of the City Commissioners' meeting what her thoughts were about her daughter's admitted actions, the chairwoman said, "Well, it's solved. It's over. ... We run a clean house here." 

That wasn't enough, though for reporter Aaron Kase, who pressed on, asking if the office was corrupt.


After establishing that the weekly was "a liberal paper," Tartaglione replied: "You say that... I'll jump over this table and punch you out!"

Alas, no fists were in the air.

And in other news...

City Commission election document specialist Tim Dowling informed commissioners that six state representatives have ignored his notices that they failed to file one or more campaign finance reports with the office. They face individual fines of $160 to $1,660.

The lawmakers include: Vanessa Brown, Mark Cohen, Kenyatta Johnson, Babette Josephs, Tony Payton and Jewell Williams.

Dowling recommended that the city commissioners refer the matter to the state Attorney General to see about enforcing the fines. But it's unclear if that will happen.

Said Tartaglione: "We don't have to make a decision."

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