Just who does Zack Stalberg think he is?
That's what Philadelphia's election board wants to know, particularly Tim Dowling, the board's campaign-finance and document specialist.
"This guy lives in a fantasy world... He has besmirched the reputation of every employee in this city... He's a freakin disgrace," Dowling said.
With Election Day nearing, the board's regular weekly meetings tend to revolve around matters like are election machines up and running, how many absentee ballots are in and have polling places been relocated.
Not this morning, when the topic du jour was Stalberg and a recent email sent to municipal workers by his nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, the Committee of Seventy, through the city's email system. Hoping to bolster the number of Election Day volunteers working for Seventy, the email invited workers to attend special training sessions.
But it was these 14-words that sent Dowling overboard: "The Committee of Seventy aims to be the champion of fair elections in Philadelphia."
"Champion of fair elections?" said Dowling, who said he filed a complaint with the city's integrity officer regarding the access Seventy received to the city's email system. "That's a punch in the face to everyone who works in our office."
It wasn't long before others joined in. "I already know who champions of election are, and it's the people I work with everyday," said Bob Lee, the city's 27-year voter registration administrator.
"Can we sue him?" wondered City Commission Chairwoman Marge Tartaglione. "The Committee of Seventy knows everything, sure... They want to abolish everthing, including this office. Bring him on!"
Tartaglione added: "He doesn't know his rear from a hole in the ground. All he wants is publicity."
Told of his not-so-high standing with the election board, Stalberg gave a verbal shrug.
Among his issues, he said, he doesn't believe Philadelphia's elections should be led by ward leaders, which they are since each of the three elected city commissioners are also ward leaders. Tartaglione, Joe Duda and Anthony Clarke counter their activities are completely nonpartisan when it comes to their city commission jobs.
"We are not in any way trying to disrespect any of the good people that work in that office, but we would like to see the system changed," Stalberg said. "That's why we are out there championing better-run elections. Somebody has to do it."
Also, said Stalberg: "I've been disliked by much bigger people. I can't say it disturbs me a great deal."
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