Clout | Traffic Court nominee faces tickets, fines -- in Traffic Court

TODAY'S DILEMMA in democracy concerns Willie F. Singletary.

Singletary, from West Philly, finished first among 15 candidates for three Democratic nominations to Traffic Court in last week's primary.

He is uniquely positioned to understand Traffic Court. For one thing, there's an outstanding warrant for his arrest. For another, he owes $11,412 in fines, according to court records.

We counted nine tickets for driving while his license was revoked, six for driving without insurance, three for driving an unregistered vehicle, four for driving without a license plate.

There was lots of other stuff, too, some dating back to 1996. If you add it all up, his license should be suspended until 2011.

Singletary didn't return our call yesterday, but a source said he would be resolving the fines soon.

Another source said Singletary's problem is that he comes from a troubled family whose members used his name while committing traffic infractions.

We had a chat with Singletary, 26, before the election and before we found out about the tickets. He told us he was the son of a drug-addicted mother and a father in prison.

He turned his life around by finding God and joining the Navy, from which he was honorably discharged. He's now a deacon at a West Philadelphia church, where he sometimes preaches the sermon.

He was proud that, if he wins, he'd become the youngest person ever elected to Traffic Court. But winning may not be that easy with all those traffic violations.

Bernie Strain, who finished sixth in the Traffic Court primary, said he plans to hold a press conference today to protest Singletary's nomination.

He thinks Traffic Court Administrative Judge Bernice DeAngelis should ask Supreme Court Justice Ron Castille, who oversees disciplinary matters for the region, to disqualify Singletary.

"If he's not fit to sit, then he must quit," Strain said. "We need to make this city a better place." If Singletary were ineligible, fourth-place finisher Wayne A. Johns would be the logical choice to get the nomination, although what party leaders would do is anybody's guess.

Richard W. Hoy, an attorney, representing Singletary, declined to comment. Singletary's ward leader, Vivian Miller, did not return a call.

Coming soon: Obama, Clinton

OK, we're tired of the 2007 campaign. Bring on 2008!

Democratic presidential hopefuls and U.S. Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are coming to Philly.

Obama will be here tomorrow. He dines and talks policy with high rollers at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, including Mark Alderman, chair of Wolf Block and one of the heads of his Pennsylvania fundraising. That's followed by a low-roller fundraiser (students pay only $25 a ticket) at 5 p.m. at the Electric Factory.

Singing the national anthem for Obama will be (who else?) Little Timmy Kelly, who sang for Gov. Rendell's inauguration.

Clinton will be in for a June 10 fundraiser at the Main Line home of Richard and Barbara Schiffrin. Tagging along: former President Bill Clinton.

Nutter meets the machine

Less than a week after beating the Democratic machine, which endorsed party leader Bob Brady, mayoral nominee Michael Nutter was scheduled to make peace this morning.

A unity meeting with Brady and ward leaders was skedded for the Sheet Metal Workers Hall on Columbus Boulevard.

"We were in conversation the other day and he suggested we have the breakfast," Nutter said last night. "I was appreciative and thanked him for the invitation and look forward to seeing all the ward leaders so we get ready for the fall."

Nutter may be facing an easy election in the fall, given the Democrats' five-to-one voter registration edge over Republicans. But having the party behind him keeps distractions to a minimum. From Brady's standpoint, Nutter's affirmation of his leadership makes it easier for him to maintain party discipline.

McCord: Treasurer seeker

Montgomery County venture capitalist Rob McCord is getting a head start on next year's state treasurer's race, friends say. McCord reportedly has raised $1 million. A potential rival: former state treasurer Barbara Hafer. Robin L. Wiessmann was named to the post after former treasurer Bob Casey Jr. was elected to the U.S. Senate last year, but she's not running for re-election. *

Clout will return to its normal Friday publication date next week. Staff writer Gar Joseph contributed to this report.