Thanks to Adam Lang of "The New Commonwealth" blog for this one.
The nominating petition of 5th District Councilman Darrell Clarke has been challeneged by former State Rep. Andrew Carn, husband of Suzanne Carn, who is Clarke's sole challenger for re-election in the 5th District.
According to the docket, the case should be before the City Commissioners on March 19, 2010 — which may present temporo-astro-physical problems for all parties invovled.
Gloria Gilman, the chair of Neighborhood Networks, tells City Paper that she's filing a lawsuit tomorrow against City Commissioner Marge Tartaglione to kick her off the ballot. She argues that because Tartaglione is enrolled in the Deferred Option Retirement Plan (DROP), she's ineligible to run for office.
A legal loophole has allowed Tartaglione and other public officials to remain working while enrolled by collecting a lump sum of cash from DROP, "retiring" for a day and then running again.
Republican attorney Matt Wolfe filed a similar lawsuit on Friday challenging Councilman-at-Large Frank Rizzo, as CP reported, which argues that Rizzo can't run because he's enrolled in DROP. And Councilwoman Marian Tasco is now facing a suit that makes the same argument.
Gilman says Stan Shapiro, who was chief staff attorney for City Council for more than 20 years, is also joining her as one of the suit's plaintiffs. Their attorney is Joseph Doherty, from Spector Gadon & Rosen, who is also representing the two people filing suit against Tasco.
These suits mark the first time that city solicitors have been challenged in court over their opinion that elected officials can be enrolled in DROP and run for reelection.
"The city solictor has come up with a tortured argument that you can somewhow fully retire by leaving for a day and then coming back," says Doherty. "I'm fully confident the court will see it [our] way."
|I mean, does he look worried?|
For all the "what a disappointment" talk, it's looking more and more every day like Michael Nutter going to be strong â if not unbeatable â in his bid for another four years as mayor of Philadelphia.
Today's headlines back that up: officially out of the race is perennial candidate for everything, State Senator Anthony Williams, who released a statement today confirming that he will not enter the 2011 race for mayor of Philadelphia.
"At the end of my 2010 bid for governor, I publicly stated that my aspirations did not include being a candidate for mayor in 2011. But since this year began, I have beenÂ approached by people who haveÂ asked thatÂ I reconsider that decision. [...]
The process has given me much to consider, particularly given my own feelings for this city of promise. Two things have been made clear. One, my desire to lead us toward a brighter future is both real and strong. And two, I recognize that not only are deeds important, but so is oneâs word. I cannot in good conscience go back on mine. Accordingly, I will not be a candidate for mayor in 2011.
Maybe it's his good conscience, yes, but maybe â just maybe â it's also the fact that Nutter's looking too good to risk taking him on.
And then there was the announcement today that Milton Street, the former state senator and older brother of former mayor John Street, intends to run against Nutter.
We're not knocking the guy or his campaign, but if Street â who just finished a two-year prison sentence for tax evasion â is Nutter's most formidable opponent so far ... well, let's just say we doubt the mayor choked on his bran flakes this morning when he got the news.
In his words:
For the past several months I have been listening to the voices of Philadelphians and hearing their concerns about the future of our city. They have spoken with a clear message of angst about the city's lack of direction, expressed through the fears that parents have for the safety of their families and neighbors, the concerns of seniors with the rising cost of living in the city, and the frustrations of younger Philadelphians that the city isn't competing well for decent paying jobs that can sustain families. I heard the concern about failing schools and the uncertain future facing so many children.
I have also seen a growing aggravation with City government its unresponsiveness, its inability to help solve community problems, and its unwillingness to partner with citizens on creative and collaborative projects to improve Philadelphia.
I have talked candidly with many community leaders about my making another run for the Office of Mayor and received much encouragement and support. Philadelphians vest a great deal of hope for our city in our Mayor and the kind of leadership that he or she can provide. As someone who has run for that office on three prior occasions, I understand the potential that a strong and visionary Mayor can create for the people of this city. Many of those I discussed my possible candidacy with feel that leadership and vision are lacking at this critical time. Philadelphia needs a City government that matches the growing optimism that has defined the nascent citizen-led renaissance of recent years.
While I believe that new leadership is needed, I have decided not to enter the 2011 Democratic Primary for Mayor. This was not an easy choice for me. Political and personal factors weighed most heavily in my decision.
Although Connie and my children supported my decision to pass on this race, they were all prepared to pitch in and work hard on another campaign, had I chosen that path. I am a very lucky man to have such a wonderful family.
I remain fully committed to working with other Philadelphians towards a better city, one that embraces the extraordinary capacities of its people to help make it stronger, more livable and more economically competitive. I am equally enthusiastic about the prospects of helping Philadelphians learn more about our city's history through the documentary film on that history which we are producing. There is much more to be done on this exciting project. If we do it right, and we fully expect to, future mayors and other leaders of our civic life will gain insight into our city's unique past in a way that can help all of us steer towards a brighter future.
I intend that my voice will continue to be heard on the issues that Philadelphia must now honestly and effectively resolve. And I look forward to those opportunities.
Editor's note: Yesterday, because the rest of us are completely tired of this political season, we dispatched intern Caitlin Durkin to the Michelle Obama fiesta in West Philly. She ended up driving the four hours to Penn State so she could cast her ballot, then filed this report. America â¦ fuck yeah!
It all started less than a day agp, sitting outside Penn's Perelman Quadrangle in the November cold alongside hundreds of students, waiting for Michelle Obama to appear. I was there on my first Clog assignment, and I wasn't quite sure what I was looking for: I was there to report on the speakers and politicians preaching about the importance of voting, and then prepare a rant on how everyone should go vote, lest the GOP win and reverse everything good President Obama has done. I had statistics at the ready: for instance, how Republicans are banking on the fact that the 22 percent of first-time voters wouldn't be back out today.
But I had a secret attacking my conscious.
I am a registered Democrat, and was a first time voter in 2008, but I wouldn't be voting this election. You see, I had forgotten to get my registration changed back to Philadelphia, after coming back from college at Penn State last year. I didn't think it was a big deal. Just get it fixed next time, right? Sure, I could rant all I wanted, no one would ever know. I'd guilt Philly's young adults, all those kids who didn't have to worry about voting so much, now that they can stay on their parents' health insurance plans until they are 26, who have perhaps become apathetic or disillusioned with politics in general, who figure they have a few more years to start voicing any concerns of their own, until they needed government to start working for them.
Then, Joe Sestak got up to the podium. His message was a little hard to follow: He messed up his opening story about farmers lending to farmers and he switched subjects right in the middle of an explanation then never came back to explain it. It wasn't so much a bad politician up there, but a tired man, trying really hard to convey a message to a crowd that he urgently needs in his corner.
That was the moment it hit me: if this man, a retired Navy admiral, had given his life to public service, to both protecting this country, and specifically, voting to protect people like me from being overwhelmed with debt before they even graduate college, I had to do my part.
After Michelle Obama's mothering speech to America's youth and future, I darted out of the quadrangle, waited in line at Starbucks for 20 minutes and then ran to catch a train to my mother's house in Ambler. I woke her up when I arrived at 11:30 pm, and I don't think she realized I was borrowing her car until this morning when I returned with it. My first blog assignment for City Paper, just like that, had turned into a four-hour drive up to my alma mater Penn State. I voted on my old college stomping grounds at North Atherton Street, grabbed a little breakfast and raced back to Philly for work.
Now, I'm back and late for work, but at least I can say with a guilt-free conscious that you'd better get out and vote.
|Photo | Ryan Donnell|
|A polling place at a South Philly private residence.|
We're desperate to get you bums out to vote we're looking at you, Democrats who never vote during midterms so we're using any argument we can. How about this one: Vote to see Philly's truly strange polling places, including a Southwest auto repair shop, a funeral home, a bar and a bowling alley.
Ryan Donnell did a lovely online photo essay titled "Philadelphia Polling Places," which chronicles these charming spots. Please do check it out â¦ in person, too.
Sledgehammers bashing open polling places, cops called to the Mummers Museum, and more Election Day mishaps!
The Committee of Seventy, Philly's elections watchdog, just sent CP its most recent update on Election Day mishaps.
The best first:
Real Numbers of Problems with Machines/Polling Places. As I reported earlier, there were numerous reports of malfunctioning voting machines and late poll openings across the city. In total, we had 24 reports by 9 a.m., with more coming in since. One unconventional way to make sure the polls open happened in West Philly: Poll workers tried to open the door, but the key broke off in the lock. A sledgehammer solved the problem. Seventy is not recommending this approach.
(The City Paper, on the contrary, awards the City Paper Badge of Civic Merit to whoever just bashed that thing open on behalf of voters).
We have at least 10 specific reports of problems with court-appointed Minority Inspectors, including some kind of confrontation at the Mummer's Museum in South Philly. The police and the District Attorney's Office were called.
(Philadelphia Police's Public Affairs unit told CP no information is available on the incident yet)
Another problem in South Philly occurred at the Palumbo School where the polls opened 30 minutes late because poll workers were "arguing." At the Whittier School in Northwest Philly, a Minority Inspector was seated but reported to us feeling intimidated and left. At the Allen School (also in NW Philly), the Minority Inspector was seated, but then asked to leave.
Identification. Also from Montgomery County are two reports from East Norriton that a Judge of Elections was demanding photo ID from all voters. (Identification is required only for first-time voters or voters casting a ballot for the first time in a new division.) Seventy and the ACLU reported this to the Board of Elections in Montgomery County.
PhillyClout's Catherine Lucy reported earlier this morning:
Committee of Seventy reports that they've gotten complaints about machines being down at the Chestnut Hill Library, as well as some late openings and confusion over relocated polling places. And a reader tells PhillyClout that all the machines were down at Shawmont Elementary School this morning and voters were given provisional ballots.
Ok: You've completely ignored the many attempts to get you to pay attention to where and how to vote, and now you need help. That's fine. Here's the lowdown.
Step 1: Can you even vote? Because you sure didn't register for no midterm.
If you voted before (in the November 2008 election, say), and still reside at the same address, you are still registered!
Step 2: How do you find your polling place?
You do it here, at VotePA.org, or
You do it here, at the Committee of Seventy website
(Don't even mess around with this site, maintained by the City Commissioners office, the only one of these three groups directly responsible for overseeing Philadelphia elections).
Step 3: What do you need to bring?
If you've voted before, nothing.
If this is your first time, bring picture ID. If you don't have that, bring what you can â and make sure it has your address. If anything goes wrong and you are denied a normal ballot, request a provisional ballot and keep the receipt.
Step 4: What is a ballot question?
Besides the candidates, there will be four ballot questions. It's Our Money's inaugural podcast did a pretty good job of describing them in about four minutes.
Briefly, they are:
1. Should the city charter be amended to allow City Council to impose living-wage restrictions on businesses who contract with the city?
2. Should the city's Procurement division be allowed to engage in electronic bidding and purchasing for city materials (or continue using papyrus - kidding)?
3. The city already prohibits discrimination in contracts on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin; should the list be updated to include ancestry, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age or disability?
4. Should the city borrow $106,690,000.00 for capital projects in transit, streets and sanitation, municipal Buildings, parks, recreation and museums, and economic and community development?
For more detail on these questions, check the Committee of Seventy's breakdown (note: Seventy will present you with a neutral explanation, but also its own opinion on each).
Step 5: Who do I call when the ship goes down?
If you have problems, here is a long, long list of numbers from the DA's office:
Chairperson, Honorable Margaret Tartaglione 215-686-3461
Commissioners OfficeRoom 132 215-686-3462
Commissioner Anthony Clarke
Honorable Joseph Duda 215-686-3464
COMMITTEE OF SEVENTY 1-866-687-8683
ELECTION DAY COMPLAINTS 215-686-1590
VOTING MACHINE MALFUNCTION 215-686-7800
ELECTION BOARD 215-686-3469
(Absentee Ballots and Poll workers) 215-686-3943
ELECTION LEGAL MATTERS 215-686-3940
MISSING ELECTION MATERIALS 215-686-1530
WATCHER CERTIFICATES 215-686-1530
CITY HALL OPERATOR 215-686-1776
COURT OF COMMON PLEAS INTERPRETERS 1-866-874-3972
DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S COMPLAINT 215-686-9641
INTAKE UNIT 215-686-9643
DEMOCRATIC CITY COMMITTEE 215-241-7800
REPUBLICAN CITY COMMITTEE 215-561-0650
CENTRAL ELECTION COURT 215-686-4278
As my colleague Holly Otterbein has been reporting, the City Commissioners, who supervise elections in Philadelphia, became aware over the weekend of a problem with returned â but properly mailed â absentee ballots. The error was apparently that of the U.S. Postal Service.
How many people have been affected is not known. This morning, Election Supervisor Bill Rubin called it "a minor situation," and said that the City Commissioners had been directly contacted by only 3 or 4 people on Friday and Saturday each. But that number, of course, only represents the number of people who received the returned ballots, noticed them, and bothered to call the City Commission ... over Halloween weekend.
Other than that, the only methods of determining the scope of this problem Rubin mentioned were his observations that the phones weren't "ringing off the hook," and that the Board of Elections had received approximately 50% of the 9,000 absentee ballots it sent out and that that number is "about average."
The Committee of Seventy has urged the City Commissioners to ask the courts for an extension for those whose absentee ballots were returned in error, but the City Commission has so far declined to do so.
Instead, they apparently issued a press release â "apparently," because it's not clear when, where, or to whom this press release was issued. CP obtained a copy via the Committee of Seventy's Ellen Kaplan, who in turn got her copy from the Law Department. Consisting of three sentences and a contact number, the release does not include a contact name, date, or website.
Asked about the press release, Deputy City Commissioner Fred Voigt said he knew nothing about it: "I don't know," he told CP on the phone. "You'll have to ask somebody else," referring CP to Election Supervisor Bill Rubin.
Voigt then asked what the press release said. CP read it to him.
In fact, the City Commission's election website, phillyelection.com, â long criticized by Seventy for its sparseness â contains neither this release nor any mention at all of the absentee ballot problem.
The information does, however, appear on the front page of the Committee of Seventy's website.
"Given that they have this problem, I would hope they would advertise it in the most conspicuous way â that's what we're doing," said Kaplan over the phone.
A call to Election Supervisor Bill Rubin was not immediately returned, but we'll update as info comes in.
According to the Committee of Seventy and the League of Women Voters, several voters have had their absentee ballots mailed back to them, instead of sent to the Board of Elections, because of an innocent postal service error. Since the deadline for these ballots was Oct. 29 at 5 p.m., their right to vote may be threatened which is why Seventy asked city commissioners and the law department to seek a court order today that would extend the absentee deadline.
Bill Rubin, the city's supervisor of elections, says "that's not happening."
Rubin says "maybe three or four people" had this problem, and that it's "not a major issue." He also claims that a few people have already taken their returned absentee ballots to the city commissioners, and had their votes counted.
But what about voters who had their absentee ballots mailed back to them, and then were not able to deliver it to commissioners by the Friday deadline would their votes be counted? "I'd have to know what the situation was, I don't do hypotheticals," says Rubin. "It depends on each individual voter."
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