Archive: March, 2012
And the nominees are . . .
Former State Rep. Harold James and Democratic ward leader Gary Williams are odds-on favorites to become state House members in late April or early May – but their tenures in Harrisburg figure to be short, just six or seven months each.
Each has secured the backing of Democratic ward leaders to run in special elections scheduled for April 24, in heavily-Democratic districts – in James’s case, to finish the term of new City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, and in Williams, to complete the term of city sheriff Jewell Williams (no relation).
The political test of the year will be the Nutter administration’s move to reassess all the city’s real estate at full market value. City Council has tacitly signed off on budgets to hire all the new assessors. But will they resist the massive public outcry when new assessments go out in October and people realize what it will cost them?
The mayor’s new budget proposal may compound the difficulty because it sets real estate revenue levels that incorporate $90 million in new School District money, on top of $35 million the schools got last year, and $90 million in city taxes that were supposed to be temporary when Council passed them two years ago.
For several months there’s been an uneasy truce between two factions in the city Republican Party –an Old Guard led by general counsel Michael P. Meehan and an insurgent group unhappy with Meehan’s leadership. Since last November, when insurgent Al Schmidt beat Meehan ally Joe Duda in the city commissioner’s race, there’s been talk of finding someone to replace Vito F. Canuso Jr. as party chairman, and the two factions agreed on a mixed slate of delegates for the Republican National Convention in Tampa next August.
But the two-year feud is simmering again because several members of the Old Guard decided to run for delegate without party endorsements, and some of the insurgents allege a double-cross. They’re particularly upset with Walt Vogler, the Republican leader in Roxborough’s 21st ward , a longtime Meehan ally who’s running for delegate and responsible for several challenges of other would-be conventioneers.
“In the grand scheme of things, this is about a bunch of people wearing funny hats down in Tampa Bay,” says Kevin Kelly, a Meehan critic. “But this was the first test to see whether we could work together and they turn around and challenge our candidates.”
Robin Hood Dell appears headed for a name change, but not until 2015. Philadelphia City Council's Parks & Recreation Committee on Monday approved a proposal to rename the concert venue the Georgie Woods Entertainment Center, in honor of the civil-rights advocate and radio DJ who brought acts such as Michael Jackson to Philadelphia.
The legislation still requires a vote from the full Council, and the new moniker won't go into place for three more years because of a Parks & Recreation Department policy requiring that people be dead for at least 10 years before a facility can be named for them. Woods died in 2005.
The land where the concert facility sits will keep the name Robin Hood Dell in honor of the Hood family, which once ran a tavern on the site and donated the property to the city. Descendants of the Hoods worked with Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. to compromise on the new name. Jones said he would commit $400,000 from his capital budget to kick off an effort to raise $10 million for a roof to cover seats at the Dell. That would help the city avoid cancellations caused by rain. Council members Kenyatta Jones and Cindy Bass promised $25,000 each to the cause.