Clout: Campaign treasurer becomes political opponent

BRIAN SIMS says the success of politicians like state Rep. Babette Josephs "opened up the doors for people like me to engage in the political process."

Sims, a lawyer active in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender policy issues, was the treasurer for Josephs' re-election campaign last year.

And now Sims is challenging her in next April's Democratic primary election.

Is this a case of a treacherous treasurer? Josephs chuckled and declined to answer that when we asked her this week.

"I'm not talking about him," she said. "I have no interest in him."

Sims has nothing but nice things to say about Josephs and said he was glad he worked on her campaign last year, calling her the better candidate.

Josephs drew national attention last year by accusing primary challenger Gregg Kravitz of pretending to be bisexual to pander to gay voters.

The 182nd District, which Josephs has represented since 1985, covers parts of Center City and South Philly, including the "Gayborhood," just east of South Broad Street.

Josephs tells us she is focused on the issues. She just introduced legislation that would allow same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania and require the state to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, but would allow religious houses to opt out of performing those ceremonies.

A Daily News/Franklin & Marshall College poll released this month found that 50 percent of those questioned supported same-sex marriage while 42 percent were opposed. A larger margin, 62 percent, supported civil unions for same-sex couples, while 34 percent were opposed.

That doesn't mean the Republican-controlled General Assembly is going to act any time soon on Josephs' legislation.

Sims says the states that surround Pennsylvania offer wider protections for gay residents than the Keystone State. And he thinks voters here are paying attention to their neighbors' actions, such as the recent approval in New York of same-sex marriage.

"I don't believe Pennsylvania is a conservative state," Sims said. "I believe it is a contemplative state."

A tale of two unions

Karen Brown, the Democratic committeewoman-turned-Republican nominee for mayor, had two very different experiences while seeking the endorsement from two unions that represent city workers.

Brown said the white-collar District Council 47 gave her an hour last week to make her case.

District Council 33, the blue-collar union, told her she was not welcome in its headquarters last Friday and then had her escorted out by security guards when she showed up again Tuesday.

Brown has been a member of both unions: DC47 when she worked for the 1st Judicial District, DC33 when she worked for the City Commission.

"Why can I be excluded?" Brown asked after her ejection. "Do I pose that much of a threat?"

DC33 President Pete Matthews declined to comment.

DC47 President Cathy Scott said her union would vote Thursday on whether to endorse a candidate for mayor. Scott, who did not attend the endorsement meeting with Brown, said she heard that the union's political committee had asked "some hard questions."

Both unions have been in a war of words with Mayor Nutter about the contract for city employees that expired in July 2009.

DC33 threw its support in the mayoral primary election to T. Milton Street, the former state senator recently released from federal prison for not filing income taxes. DC47 decided to make no primary endorsement.

Marge meets Mickey

Where does a tough-talking, nine-term City Commission chairwoman and great-grandmother go after open-heart surgery and a losing bid for another term?

Disney World, Marge Tartaglione told us this week, after returning to chair her first meeting since her primary-election loss to Stephanie Singer.

"I promised my great-granddaughter I'd take her to Disney World," Tartaglione said.

Singer, who criticized the commissioners and their employees in the heated election, stood quietly in the corner during the meeting while Tartaglione made several pointed statements praising her staffers and their work.

Singer hammered Tartaglione for her participation in the controversial Deferred Retirement Option Plan, which paid her $288,000 in early 2008. Tartaglione benefitted from a city solicitor's opinion, which said she could "retire" for a day to collect the perk and then return to office for another term.


"The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself."

- Benjamin Franklin, in a quote passed along by Franklin interpreter J. Ward Larkin, noting that today is Constitution Day.

- Staff writer Catherine Lucey contributed to this report.


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