DWIGHT EVANS KNEW IT would be like this, and he doesn't care.
He doesn't care that some of Philadelphia's most powerful labor leaders — many of them his friends for years — are now conspiring against him.
He doesn't care that the fiery new president of the NAACP wants to roll a Molotov cocktail under his mayoral campaign and perhaps ruin the career of one of the most promising black politicians in Pennsylvania.
Evans doesn't care that he ticked off Mayor Rendell when he called for sweeping police department reforms that led to a new commissioner, that his bold legislation allowing the state to take over the city schools has divided his own Democratic Party, that his enemies have begun whispering about him behind his back.
“I want to be clear about this,” says Evans, who has been a state representative for 18 years and is the only Democrat who has officially declared he's running for mayor in 1999. “There is a clear difference between me and the others. I've been at this since May 1997, working, meeting with people, exposing myself, putting my ideas on the line. I'm putting my career on the line for what I believe in.”
No politician is feared more than the one willing to catch a lot of heat on the way to Election Day. In what is likely to be a crowded Democratic field to succeed Ed Rendell — America's mayor — in what is one of the most important elections in the city's history, Evans is already out scouting the terrain — and coming on fast. A recent poll taken by a GOP mayoral hopeful shows Evans' approval rating has skyrocketed in the past few months, putting him firmly in second place behind City Council President John Street in the Democratic primary.
“Evans has figured out that the next mayor has to be a bomb thrower,” says Republican political consultant Chris Mottola. “He knows that the next wave of problems are structural, and it will take big ideas to knock them out.”
But many Democrats claim Evans is on a kamikaze mission. Sure, he may destroy a few long-held notions about how to run the city and they schools, they say, but he'll also kill his chances of running for higher office.
“It's suicide,” teachers union president Ted Kirsch declares. “But only if we're able to defeat him.” The union failed miserably at that task in the May primary, backing a little-known West Oak Lane shopkeeper with about $150,000 for anti-Evans ads. Evans ended up getting only 75 percent of the vote. “With any luck,” a Wall Street Journal editorial quipped, “they will spend enough money to get him elected [mayor], too.”
All this hasn't failed to get the attention of the Republican Party. Evans' obvious move to the right on crime and school reform is a blatant appeal to white working- and middle-class voters needed to win both a multi-candidate Democrat primary and the general election in November. “Dwight Evans is the strongest candidate the Democrats could put up,” says consultant Mark Campbell, who is advising Republican mayoral prospect George Bochetto. “He's staked out new ground. From a purely political standpoint, he's played this perfectly.”
For many in the anti-Evans movement, though, it's not just politics. It's personal. His enemies have begun spreading venomous rumors about him, questioning everything from his true political motivations to his sexual orientation.
Evans shrugs it off: “What I sense from people, and the tone I've set, is to have a discussion about the issues. I don't mind the competitiveness as long as we have some sense of order in how we deal with it. I think we have to have some official rules, because I think people just get turned off if there's not.”
But in Philadelphia politics, not everybody plays by the rules.
IT'S THE DINNER HOUR, and Dwight Evans is walking through the long first-floor lobby of the Union League. He strides past the dining room where the empty tables are covered with perfectly pressed white linen, the napkins standing at parade rest waiting for the next day's lunch crowd of bankers, stockbrokers, and lawyers.
He bounces up the polished marble staircase to the second floor and arrives at the Lincoln Room. A small fund-raising party in his honor is already in progress. In one corner, a display case features miniature sculptures of antebellum blacks in the South. In another, Joe Grace, an unassuming Democrat lawyer who advises Evans, jokes with Michael Foglietta, the nephew of former Democratic Congressman Tom Foglietta, the recently appointed ambassador to Italy.
Charlie Pizzi back-slapping Arthur Makadon it's not.
But wait! There, next to the piano — it's Murray Dickman, president of the Pennsylvania Manufacturer's Association, which funnels big money to Republican candidates statewide. “We're very into the school voucher system,” says Dickman. “More money to the school district is not the end-all answer. We can't get businesses to move to Philadelphia, because the children coming out of the public schools are not being educated. We like what Dwight says about school choice. We think he's got chutzpah.”
Evans, once a true-believing Democrat, is in the Lincoln Room of the Union Club espousing an education policy that has seduced Republican cash. This from the man who, in 1994, realizing there was only room for a left-leaning Democrat in the gubernatorial primary, became the vocal critic of welfare cuts and business tax breaks. Now, realizing that the 1999 mayoral primary will be crowded on the left, Evans has moved swiftly starboard, forging an alliance with state House Republican leader John Perzel of Northeast Philadelphia to take on the city's schools, the labor unions and Ed Rendell.
“I feel a sense of betrayal,” says Ted Kirsch. “I thought we were friends.”
YOU ASK PEOPLE WHO'VE known Evans for years, and they all say the same thing: his personal life? It's not that complicated. He doesn't have one. “His idea of going on vacation is going to a conference,” says his longtime aide, Kimberly Turner. He says he went to Puerto Rico once, but he can't remember when. He reads books on government policy, very rarely goes to the movies. He'll watch the NBA on TV and catch an occasional Sixers game, but a political or government function always takes precedence. Can you imagine Ed Rendell saying he has to miss Penn hoops for a ward meeting?
Indeed, whereas Rendell's textured life — his fanatical love of sports, his complicated relationship with his wife, Midge, his consuming interest in his son, Jesse — has been an open book, Dwight Evans is both an easier and a more difficult read.
Except for his mother, Jean, all of Evans' best friends are in politics. He won't talk about his personal life except to say that he's never had any interest in getting married and having a family.
Riding around West Philadelphia in Evans' modest four-door sedan, I had a long conversation with him about how his personal life may become part of the upcoming campaign.
“I enjoy doing this, what I'm doing,” he says. “The reason I didn't get married is I chose not to get married. It's not that I'm anti-marriage…Doug Wilder was governor of Virginia, and he was not married.” He turns the car west on Walnut Street. “[The late] Harold Washington was mayor of Chicago. He was not married. Mayor Koch of New York. Willie Brown of San Francisco. Jerry Brown of California. It's interesting that you ask the question.”
“Well,” I say, “the rumors are rampant — “
“You know what I say to people?” he interrupts me. ” 'Do I do my job? Do I perform?' I think the bottom line should be about performance, what I do, how I do it. The public is more interested in Dow Jones than Paula Jones.”
“So,” I say, “personal sexual preference is not an issue?”
“I don't think it is,” Evan replies. “I have never made that an issue with anyone. I ran a campaign for governor across this state, and that never came up as an issue. I hope the campaign will stay aboveboard. You have seen me campaign. I don't get into talking about anyone.”
“But this is Philadelphia. Eventually, the campaign is going to come down to personalities,” I say.
“You look at West Philadelphia High,” says Evans, the car creeping along in the traffic past the high school. “Is West Philadelphia High performing at the level it should be? That's the issue. To me, those are the issues that mean something to the vast majority of the people. All those people who deal in rumors and all that, they need to step forward.”
“Do you get angry about it?”
“I just stay focused.”
“Do you think it's a fair question if someone asks you if you're gay or you're straight?” I ask.
“No. I don't think it's a fair question,” he says without a trace of frustration in his voice, “because I don't think it has anything to do with running for public office.”
It may not be a fair question. But in the course of reporting this story, I found no shortage of those working for Evans' potential opponents in next year's primary willing to raise the issue of his sexual preference and suggest that rumors about it will be used to disrupt his mayoral campaign.
“It hangs out there like a cloud over him,” says one prominent black politician who supports former Philadelphia Housing Authority president John White Jr. for mayor.
“There's an adage in politic: If you don't define who are you and what you stand for, you opponent will,” says a Democratic consultant who has worked on several campaigns in Pennsylvania. “That's what Dwight risks.”
Few Democratic officials doubt that one of the reasons City Council President John Street vehemently opposed the domestic partnership bills recently approved by Council was to define himself on the thorny issue of gay rights. Street is expected to resign in December or January to run for mayor. Evans says if he were mayor, he would sign the domestic partnership bills, which grant health and pension benefits to gay and lesbian partners of city workers. But he says those who think the bills will be a major component of the mayoral campaign have badly miscalculated — unless, of course, Street drags the issue into court to keep it in the public eye.
“People want radical change in the way the police department and the school system are run — especially the school system,” says Evans. “I'm a product of the city schools. I know where they've been and where they are. It's the biggest problem facing the city,”
LISTEN TO EVANS TALK ABOUT the city schools. You'll rarely hear him mention “vouchers” that would allow parents to choose which school they want for their children and receive tax credit. Instead, Evans says he “wants the money to follow the child” — a pretty radical concept for a guy who was the keynote speaker at the teachers union convention just four years ago.
And he leaves no room for interpretation on how important education is to his campaign. “I'm going to take full responsibility for the schools,” says Evans. “I'm committed to fixing the schools in Philadelphia. I'm committed to taking responsibility for the schools and being judged for whether I fix the schools. Frank Rizzo never said that. Bill Green never said that. Wilson Goode never said that. Ed Rendell never said that. I'm saying that. I will be a failure as a mayor if I don't fix the schools. Let's see the other candidates for mayor make that commitment.”
It's the school system, Evans says, that has held Philadelphia back — the city has lost 100,000 jobs since 1988 — even during the Rendell administration.
His argument is perfectly logical, if old: Without an educated workforce, employers will be reluctant to locate in Philadelphia. Without safe and effective schools, the middle class will continue to flee. With an eroding middle class, the tax base will be weak. Without a solid tax base, the schools will continue to be under funded.
“All of this is a test,” says Evans. “This election is going to be a test and a referendum on whether or not Philadelphians are at another level. I'm betting that they are. And I've put everything on the line to get that message across, running on real issues. I talked to Bill Green, and he told me 'Dwight, when I ran in 1979, I didn't run on anything. I had no issue.' That's the way some people are when they run for office. They're not clear. I'm being very clear where I stand. Some people will like it, and some people will not.”
WHEN SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT David Hornbeck threatened to shut down the school system if Harrisburg didn't come up with $85 million more in state aide, Evans was the leader of the so-called “Gang of Five” state legislators from the city — two Democrats and three Republicans — pushing the state takeover plan that Governor Tom Ridge signed in April. In essence, Senate Bill 494 gives the state secretary of education authority to declare the Philadelphia school district in financial distress if certain criteria are met. South Philly democratic Senator Vincent Fumo, a loud critic of Evans, opposed the bill, saying it was just a way for Ridge to keep the schools open through the end of this year's governor's race.
“[Evans'] position makes no sense,” says democratic State Representative Alan Butkovitz of Northeast Philadelphia, a Fumo ally. “At the same time Dwight is calling for smaller classroom sizes, he's advocating something that will achieve just the opposite. He's taken the leverage out of Hornbeck's hands and given it to the governor. Most of us don't get it.”
The labor unions united against Bill 494 because regardless of whether the district is declared financially distressed, the new law forbids extending any of the provisions of the current collective bargaining agreement beyond August 31, 2000, when it expires. “Under this scenario,” says teacher and union boss Kirsch, “our salaries benefits, hours and working conditions can be set unilaterally by the district if we haven't agreed [to a new deal before it expires]. With a stroke of a pen, Evans has taken away our rights to bargain.”
“What gives him the right to do this?” says local NAACP president Jerry Mondesire.
In 1994, when Evans ran for governor, he was the keynote speaker at the teachers union's convention, and Kirsch helped steer more than $100,000 in labor money to Evans. “We were friends,” says Kirsch. “I would always ask him, 'How's your mother?' He'd ask me how mine was. He's just decided to pursue this right-wing agenda to get elected.”
Other union leaders who support Evans have been put in the position of trying to rationalize his support of Bill 494. “Ted Kirsch is just trying to protect his members,” says Herman Wooden, secretary treasurer of United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1776. “Dwight's about integrity. But that's doesn't make him right about every issue.”
But Wooden knows what Evans is up against. Wooden hosted a peace meeting between Evans and Kirsch. It went nowhere. Evans is fast losing a critical base for any political running in and Democratic primary: labor unions. At the state AFL-CIO convention in late April, Kirsch proposed a resolution — passed unanimously — that labor refuse to give a single dime to any legislator who voted for Bill 494. (The resolution was written b a political consultant close to Fumo who is advising John White.)
A chief spokesman for the anti-Evans forces at the convention was hospital workers union president Henry Nicholas, another White supporter. Not surprisingly, White criticized Bill 494. So did two other mayoral aspirants — John Street and City Councilwoman Happy Fernandez.
Kirsch suggests there is more that politics involved in Evans' radical turn to the right. He says that Evans was deeply affected by a car accident on March 19, 1995, in Washington, D.C. On that Sunday night, the Mercedes in which Evans was riding was struck by another car and flipped over twice.
“Something happened to Dwight after that accident,” says Kirsch. “I think he had a nervous breakdown or something.”
A key supporter of Street's — while refusing to go on record — pushes the same suggestion. “The accident changed Dwight,” he says.
When I ask Evans about these insinuations, for the first time in our conversation, he pauses, hurt. He explains that he spent one day in a Washington hospital after sustaining neck and back injuries that have long since subsided. “I don't think Ted Kirsch is anything like a psychologist or a doctor,” he says. But that's as far as he'll go in what he likes to call “the adult food fight.”
“There are a lot of parents who think the schools are not working,” he says. “Ted is losing that argument, and the only recourse is to attack me personally.”
DWIGHT EVANS WAS BORN in North Philadelphia, the second oldest of five children. His mother, Jean, now 66, worked for the phone company. His father, Henry, who worked for the same storage company for 40 years, left the family when Evans was 14.
Evans quickly became the family father figure, even though he had an older brother, Henry. He put himself through community college and LaSalle, holding a number of odd jobs, including washing dishes at Rolling Hill Hospital for $1.10 an hour. “He was always the hardest-working kid in the neighborhood,” says his mother. “You could not deter him.”
Evans was very close to his grandmother, Katherine Odoms, often going to visit her in West Philadelphia. “She was a person who always worked and did it the old-fashioned way,” he says now. “She was a seamstress, getting up early in the morning to go to work. She was really the anchor, the center of gravity for my family. We would go to her house to watch the game. She would cook dinner.”
When his grandmother died in 1992, Evans felt a deep sense of personal loss. “He was her heart,” says his mother. “Her death took a toll on him.”
Ironically, Evans' first job out of college was teaching English for one year in the Philadelphia school system. Always the big brother, he then worked at the Urban League, helping city kids find jobs.
When it was suggested that he use his newfound connections to get work for his family members, Evans refused. “Dwight doesn't play favorites — even when his own sister wanted a job,” says his mother. “That caused a little friction in our house. But Dwight has morals. He's very honest. He's not influenced by anybody or anything.”
She says that when her son was recently attacked for his views on the schools, he called her. “He said, 'Mom, just don't read the papers, because you'll just get upset,'” Jean Evans recalls. “But I always tell him, 'This is what you wanted to do, so you have to deal with it. And so have I.”
He caught the political bug in 1978, working as a volunteer on an unsuccessful Senate campaign. Two years later, at age 26, he was elected to the state House, representing the polyglot 203rd District, becoming part of the political sphere of former Congressman William H. Gray. At the time, Gray — with the take-no-prisoners style of his then-chief of staff, Jerry Mondesire — was rebuilding black voter registration in the wake of the Rizzo years and would eventually construct a political organization to rival all others in the city. Evans, as the leader of the 10th Ward, was at the hub of the Gray machine and worked closely with Mondesire, now a nemesis.
Elected House Appropriations Committee Chairman in 1990, Evans set himself up as the bridge — in Harrisburg and Philadelphia — between some of the city's warring political factions, particularly Gray and Fumo. In the fall of 1990, it was Evans who sat at the table with outgoing Mayor Wilson Goode and Fumo and former House speaker Bob O'Donnell to help set the terms of the state bailout of the city's fiscal crisis.
Evans liked the label all this earned him: “The Quiet Connection.” Eight years later, however, he's making as much noise as possible. And many of his former allies and current colleagues have turned on him as a result.
The most telling incident is the messy ouster of Police Commissioner Richard Neal, in many ways a coup led by Evans. It started in May 1997, when Evans traveled to Manhattan to meet with former New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton, the brains and brawn behind Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's wildly successful campaign to control crime in the Big Apple.
Evans returned to Philadelphia and, with the “Gang of Five,” held a series of standing-room-only town meetings on crime. Neal ignored them. Rendell lashed out, calling Evans and his pals meddlers. But after Bratton was brought in to speak, Rendell hired him as a consultant and wound up selecting Bratton's No. 2, John Timoney, as Neal's replacement.
Mondesire, who claimed that Neal was the target of racially motivated attacks, still fumes that Evans led the charge to knock out the city's “leading African-American public servant.” Evans is “just not a coalition builder,” says Mondesire. “He's in it for Dwight and Dwight only.”
State Representative Lita Cohen of Montgomery County has a similar complaint. When Evans held a press conference in March promoting gun control legislation, Cohen, who was working with Rendell on her own gun control proposal, accused him of stealing her thunder. She called Evans and told him: “We're supposed to be family, and you stabbed me in the back.”
Evans denies Cohen used those words, though he acknowledges that she was angry. He says that his bill goes further in giving Philadelphia the power to regulate handguns — and “the bottom lin,” he says, “is I'm interested in results.
“Solving intractable problems will inevitably cause some pain to narrow self-interests,” he says. “I'm not afraid of that, and I don't think most people in the city are, either.”
Besides, Evans points out that he's built coalitions in Harrisburg to save SEPTA funding, find state money to build the city's Convention Center and secure more than $8 million to make an abandoned factory in West Oak Lane into a high-tech retraining facility for inner-city kids.
I ask Evans if he thinks he could have handled the police department criticisms differently, perhaps called Mayor Rendell before visiting Bratton — just as a courtesy.
“No,” he quickly replies.
“In retrospect,” I ask, “don't you think it would have gone a little smoother if you had?”
“I don't think so, because I did not look at this as an attack on him so much as it was [that] some things are not working. You look at the 911 situation. Frank Rizzo used to call it 'dial-a-prayer.' I remember Councilwoman Marian Tasco holding town meetings and everybody complaining about 911. Before Eddie Polec, Marian Tasco had gone to City Council and made a speech telling people we had to do something about 911. The Eddie Polec situation happens and then it explodes. So it begs the question: Who was paying attention to what was going on here?”
The bad blood between Evens and Rendell is severe. For months, Democratic sources say, Rendell has been making telephone calls to his contributors, asking them to give money to John Street. “If Evans wins the primary and, say, Sam Katz is the Republican nominee, watch how little the mayor does for Evans in the general,” says a prominent attorney close to Rendell.
If Rendell does play a prominent role in helping to elect Street in 1999, he'll be bucking history. The last outgoing mayor to influence the selection of his successor was James H.J. Tate, who reluctantly supported then-Police Commissioner Frank Rizzo 27 years ago. And since the change to the city charter in 1951 that requires an elected city official to resign before running for another office, no City Council president has done so. (Council President Tate was handed the mayor's job when Richardson Dilworth resigned in 1962.)
“Once Dwight stacks up in the primary, people are going to respond to him because he's an idea guy,” says Herman Wooden. “Yes, certain people will be upset because they don't like change. And Dwight is about, 'Hey, if it doesn't work, let's try something new.' And he's not too worried is some egos get bruised.”
DWIGHT EVANS PULLS HIS CAR into the parking lot across the street from Big George's Stop-N-Dine, a soul food joint where President Clinton enjoyed some West Philly hospitality earlier in the year. Evans is late for a small fund-raiser on the second floor in honor of State Representative Mike Horsey, a West Philadelphia ward leader who is firmly in Evans' camp.
Horsey introduces Evans, who begins a short speech. Downstairs, standing in line for some of Big George's cuisine, is Ty Britt, an African-American businessman from Center City who says he's undecided on who should be the next mayor.
“I supported Rendell,” says Britt. “Dwight is making progress, but he has to let people know more about what he's trying to do. Sometimes it's easy not to change, to make the comfortable choice. And right now, Street is the comfortable choice after Rendell. Dwight would be a change, and right now Dwight has not fully justified the change.”
Are some of the things he's proposing, particularly on the schools, just too risky?
“I don't know,” says Britt. “He needs to do a better job of explaining them.”
After the meeting, Evans and Horsey sit around eating chicken and ribs with the owner, George T. Wake, who looks like he could do a fine job protecting Bobby Hoying's blind side if Eagles rookie Tra Thomas doesn't cut it. Wake shows Evans an architect's drawings of what he has planned for the decaying business strip at 52nd and Spruce streets.
Evans gets this all the time. The Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corporation he founded in his native West Oak Lane is a model for what should happen citywide. Long neglected, the Ogontz Avenue shopping area is now a clean, safe, bustling hub of economic activity in northwest Philadelphia.
Wake tells Evans he's tried to get the city to back a low-interest loan, but with no luck. “I'm trying to create something here, but I'm not looking to get hurt,” says Wake. “And I can't get any help.”
Evans promises to help, saying a staff member will call Wake in the morning. He wipes his hands, and we leave.
Back in the car, Evans talks about how his campaign for mayor will have a unified theme — reform the schools, make sure the streets are safe and revive the neighborhoods. “They go hand in hand,” he says.
Don't underestimate Evans' ability as a campaigner. In the 1994 Democratic gubernatorial primary, Evans got every major newspaper endorsement — the Inquirer, the Daily News, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. A week before the primary, the Daily News/KYW-TV Keystone Poll had Evans getting just 6 percent of the vote, finishing a distant third to Mark Singel and Lynn Yeakel. When the votes were counted, Evans more than tripled that percentage and finished second to Singel. And his appeal crossed racial lines. For example, Evans carried the borough of Oakdale, a western exurb of Pittsburgh where less than 1 percent of the population is black. In Philadelphia, he beat Singel by 3-1.
“I'm the only one in the race, unless Lynne Abraham gets in, who's actually run citywide,” says Evans. “I got 118,000 votes in 1994. That speaks for itself. Who else in this race has gotten that many votes in the city? John White ran in a congressional race. Came in third behind Chaka Fattah. John Street? The most votes he ever got in the city? Sixteen thousand in his councilmanic district. Marty Weinberg has never run for anything.”
In 1995, Rendell was fixated for months on the worrisome prospect of Evans running against him in the Democratic mayoral primary. Though Rendell gave gubernatorial candidate Evans his coveted list of loyal contributors and made fund-raising calls on his behalf, Evans refused to clarify his intentions about the mayoral primary until the last minute — even after an emphatic public denial that his run for the governorship was not a warmup to taking on Rendell. This angered the mayor no end.
The lame radio ads bankrolled by labor in the legislative primary represent the first negative campaign Evans has had to face in 16 years. He's got no experience in the all-out TV and street war that is Philadelphia mayoral politics, especially when the black community is pitted against itself, as it was in 1991 and will be next year. In 1991, the campaigns of George Burrell and Lucien Blackwell brutally attacked one another, with personal and professional allegations hurled to reporters from both sides. Some of it was reported in the newspaper and on the street via a potent, fast-moving network of gossip that undercut both candidates.
Meanwhile, Rendell was given a free ride to the nomination.
The rules of engagement — in politics and the media — have changed, worsened in the years since the mayoral race. The bar has been lowered, and so have the standards.
“I will vow not to initiate negative campaigning,” says Evans, pulling his car east on Market Street back into Center City. “I've never had to campaign negatively against someone. Nobody's attacked me.”
“So, this is new territory for you,” I say.
“I've never had to do this,” he says. “That's not my preference. By me starting out the way I have, I have demonstrated that I want to talk about the issues.”
“Well, what happens if a reporter asks you if you're gay — what do you say?”
“'What's that got to do with running for mayor?' That's my answer. 'What's that got to do with running for mayor?'”
Evans has about $300,000 in his campaign treasury. In May, Street announced he has $1 million raised. Evans says he won't reach $1 million until the end of the year. By then, black leaders are sure to put pressure on Evans and White to get out the race, contending that they are too weak to win and will only wind up splitting the black vote, allowing Marty Weinberg and Lynne Abraham (if she runs) to snag the nomination.
“Marty could well be the next mayor,” says political consultant Neil Oxman, who has helped elect the last three mayors and is a free agent being courted by Evans. “Happy Fernandez takes white votes from Dwight Evans and John White, not from Marty.”
That's one of the reasons Mondesire and other want a “black primary,” to unify the near-majority of black Democrats in one block and nominate one of their own, avoiding a repeat of 1991.
“I declared I would not participate in the black primary,” Evans says. “I just think that's counterproductive. It's not in the best interest of the city.”
Evans says he simply won't give in to pressure to get out of the mayoral primary. “I'm second in raising money, and I don't have the mayor helping me,” Evans says, referring to Street. He pauses.
“Besides,” he adds, “a million ideas beats a million dollars every time.”
S.A. Paolantonio formerly covered politics for the Philadelphia Inquirer and is the author of Frank Rizzo: The Last Big Man in Big City America.