Archive: November, 2011
Stephanie Singer, a mathematician and Democratic ward leader who got involved in politics less than a decade ago, will be the next chair of the Philadelphia city commissioners, in charge of running the city's elections.
The two newly-elected commissioners, Singer and Republican Al Schmidt, joined the re-elected Democratic incumbent, Anthony Clark, at a joint news conference today to endorse Singer for chairman and commit themselves to making the office more transparent and effective.
Singer will replace Margaret "Marge" Tartaglione, a fixture in the commissioners' office since 1976, as the agency's leader. Singer defeated Tartaglione in the Democratic primary last May.
Halfway through their two-year terms, three Philadelphia legislators are giving up their seats in the state House in early January to take positions in the city - newly elected City Council members Dennis O'Brien and Kenyatta Johnson and the new sheriff in town, Jewell Williams.
All three seats will be filled in special elections, on dates still to be designated by House Speaker Sam Smith, the second most famous resident of Punxsutawney.
Curiously, however, Philadelphia voters will be deciding only two of the replacements, for Johnson and Williams. The next person to fill O'Brien's seat, for most of 2012, will be picked by voters in western York County, south of Harrisburg, according to authorities in the legislature.
If state Rep. Jewell Williams has his way, his colleagues in Harrisburg will have no problem remembering the name of his successor. For a couple of months, he's been introducing pols to his favorite for the seat: his 23-year-old daughter, Jewel.
Neither the state rep nor his daughter could be reached for comment, but Harriet Lessy, a spokeswoman during Williams' campaign for sheriff, confirmed that Jewel is considering the race. She lives in the district, Lessy said, and either has or is working toward an associate degree from the Community College of Philadelphia. Jewel is currently employed by the Parking Authority as "processing specialist," helping the agency auction off impounded vehicles. Her salary is $32,567 a year.
Al Spivey, chief of staff to City Councilman Curtis Jones, had been interested in Williams' seat. But Spivey said last week that he lives outside the new boundaries proposed for the legislative district and expects to continue working for Jones, who will have expanded duties as Council majority leader.
Tropical Storm Sean was barely a blip at the end of the 2011 hurricane season, a disturbance that developed in early November in the South Atlantic and eventually veered northeast toward Bermuda, never getting within 200 miles of the U.S. mainland.
It was no blip, however, for the executive director of the Philadelphia Board of Ethics, J. Shane Creamer Jr., who battled 60 m.p.h. winds and 20-foot waves for four days while skippering a 42-foot sailboat through the storm.
"You've read about things like this, but you don't understand it until you go through it," Creamer said Monday, back at work but still sore from two cracked ribs - one the result of a shipboard stumble, the other suffered when he was knocked overboard by a wave in the middle of the storm.
Philadelphia has long been a clannish town, where political affiliation and personal identity often come down to what neighborhood you're from.
But the bonds of geography don't always hold.
Take Councilmen Jim Kenney and Frank DiCicco - two South Philly guys, close allies, and good friends - and their relationship with John J. Dougherty, leader of the electricians' union.
U.S. Rep. Bob Brady said he had met with protesters earlier in the week at the Friends Center to talk to them about why moving is consistent with their mission.
“I told them, I said, ‘Llisten you guys are the 99 percenters and if you stay there you are going to be hurting other 99 percenters.”
“I was there to tell them how important it was, because again, they’re blocking people that they’re supporting.”
Several protesters disrupted Thursday’s City Council meeting, saying they are angry about a new curfew law and don’t think they should have to move.
At a hastily called news conference after the storming of City Council, several protesters said they did not believe they had to move.
“I don’t think the First Amendment needs a permit,” said a protester who identified himself as Adan X.
Mayor Nutter is described as a “no nonsense truth-teller” in an upcoming issue of Esquire magazine, putting the mayor on a list of 20 “Americans of the Year.” It’s rarefied company. Others on the list include the late Steve Jobs, founder of Apple; billionaire investor Warren Buffett; Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren, the champion of the federal government’s newest consumer protection agency, and local entrepreneur Todd Carmichael, co-owner of the coffee company La Colombe Torrefaction, honored for his work trying to revive the coffee industry in Haiti.
The theory of Esquire’s list is to honor “those who have brought out the best of us in 2011.” Of Nutter, the magazine gives him praise for the budget-cutting that reduced his local popularity. It describes his reaction to the economic downturn that struck soon after he took office: “Nutter immediately made tough choices: payroll cuts. Increases in taxes. Cuts in services. Shifting police veterans from desk work to patrol. But the city didn’t fall apart...." It cites the city's reduced murder rate, the 311 information system, the redevelopment of the Navy Yard and the city's growth in the 2010 census.
Some political philosophy from the mayor himself: “If you have a deep-seated need to be loved and admired every day, you shouldn’t be in politics. You should go work at a pet store.”