Johnny Doc Forgets He’s a Democratic Elite, Says Democratic Elites Need to “Wake Up”

John "Johnny Doc" Dougherty is leader of Philadelphia's building trades. | Photo by Jeff Fusco

John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty is leader of Philadelphia’s building trades. | Photo by Jeff Fusco

It’s hard to overstate how profoundly the Democratic Party screwed up in the 2016 election. Republicans will soon control the White House and both branches of Congress. Things are just as bleak when you look at state legislatures and governorships: Across the country, Democrats hold fewer elected offices today than at any other point since the 1920s—a jaw-dropping 100-year low.

If an average American performed this badly at their job, they’d probably be fired on the spot. If they were very, very lucky, they’d be given the opportunity to make a heartfelt apology and work on probation until they improved. But Democratic elites aren’t like you and me. They can apparently lose an election to a reality TV star, fail to take responsibility for the fact that their party may be in its death throes, and then continue to rule the party with an iron fist. Look at Nancy Pelosi—who recently said, “We cannot be taking the full responsibility for what happened in the election”—and then got reelected as House Minority Leader. Or consider the fact that Clinton loyalists are being put in charge of the DNC’s “Trump war room.”

The latest example of Democratic leaders acting with impunity takes place in our own backyard. As talk show host Dom Giordano first reported, Philly electricians union boss John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty wrote a letter to his local’s members about the election of soon-to-be President Donald Trump. IBEW Local 98 endorsed Hillary Clinton in the general election.

Doc was apparently so proud of the letter that his spokesman, Frank Keel, told Giordano he “had” to read it. He was right, but probably not for the reasons he thinks.  Read more »

Want to Solve the Mummers’ Diversity Problem? Just Call It “The White Heritage Parade”

"Make Mummerica Great Again" truck at the 2017 Mummers Parade. | Photo by Ernest Owens.

“Make Mummerica Great Again” truck at the 2017 Mummers Parade. | Photo by Ernest Owens.

It’s a new year, and the older I get, the more I have begun to realize that some stuff won’t change because it really doesn’t want to.

Case in point: the Mummers Parade, the age-old Philadelphia tradition that marches along Broad Street every New Year’s Day. You don’t really need me to detail the parade’s racist, anti-LGBTQ, sexist, and culturally insensitive history — there have been plenty of reports in the past of Mummers in blackface, and some mocking transgender individuals and uttering sexist/racist/homophobic slurs. Read more »

The Berks Mothers’ Christmas Wish: Their Families’ Freedom

Three-year-old D’s letter to Santa and photo. Courtesy of Bridget Cambria.

Three-year-old D’s letter to Santa and photo. Courtesy of Bridget Cambria.

The children wrote to Santa Claus. Their mothers wrote to Gov. Tom Wolf and Ted Dallas (Pennsylvania’s secretary of Human Services). Both sets of letters — full of heartbreaking hope — asked for the same thing: freedom after more than a year of incarceration behind the walls of the Berks County Residential Center in Leesport. Read more »

The Case for Philly Statehood

Illustration by GlueKit

Illustration by Gluekit

Back in July, as the world was reeling from the U.K.’s Brexit vote, Harper Polling asked Pennsylvanians which part of the state they’d like to see exit the Commonwealth. Half of respondents weren’t sure, but nearly-two thirds of those who were said it should be “Philadelphia and the Southeast.”

Let’s start with the obvious: The Philly region will never become a state. Ever. Legislators in Harrisburg wouldn’t let its southeastern population center and economic engine ghost. Nor would a Republican-controlled U.S. Congress admit a new, predominantly Democratic state to the union. But that doesn’t mean Philly, and what have become its increasingly like-minded surrounding counties, couldn’t go it alone.  Read more »

That Time (Last Week) a White Man Joked That I Must Be the Coat-Checker

Photo: shironosov/iSotck

Photo: shironosov/iSotck

Holiday parties: for me, either the best of times or the most uncomfortable of times.

As the editor of G Philly, Philadelphia magazine’s LGBTQ channel, and one of the few Black gay journalists working in this city, I’ve become accustomed to a routine that rarely varies. I walk into an event and take stock of the sea of whiteness about to embrace me as if I were Tiger Woods at a PGA golf tournament. The hosts tell me how very happy they are that I came. After that, there’s a round of step-and-repeat photos in which my partner and I are the cute young Black couple that makes event planners feel even more flattered about the “progress” in our “community.”

Read more »

You Wanna Make America Great Again? Save the Bank Tellers, Not the Coal Miners

Illustration by Francesco Bongiorni

Illustration by Francesco Bongiorni

A couple of decades ago, my sister confided to me that she tried to buy only clothes and household goods that are made in America. She wants to support American manufacturing and preserve American jobs. I thought at the time that this was cool, but also impractical for me to emulate. Nan was married to a big-shot lawyer; I was married to a musician. It’s easy to order your sheets from Holy Lamb Organics when you don’t have to worry about the price.

What she said got me thinking, though. I thought about it a lot during this last election cycle, as I listened to Donald Trump tell Americans he was going to bring back the jobs of coal miners and steelworkers.

He’s not. Nothing is; experts are agreed on that. These industries that once sent workers home sweaty and covered with grime now employ robots to do the hard labor; the jobs that still exist are for skilled technicians and require specialized training rather than a strong back.  Read more »

Let’s Celebrate Latinx Achievement in Philly

Clockwise from upper left: Preparation at St. Thomas Aquinas for Our Lady of Guadalupe procession (Bethany Welch); Yvette Núñez; at the opening of the El Corazón Center (José Hernandez); Rich Negrín.

Clockwise from upper left: Preparation at St. Thomas Aquinas for Our Lady of Guadalupe procession (Bethany Welch); Yvette Núñez; at the opening of the El Corazón Center (José Hernandez); Rich Negrín.

I spend a lot of time writing and thinking (and worrying) about the challenges that Latinxs face in our city. There are lots of those: high poverty rates, health and educational disparities, neighborhood disinvestment, and a paucity of adequate political representation.

But not today.

Today I want to celebrate the accomplishment, steadfastness, and hope of our Philly Latinx communities as embodied by some newsworthy Latinxs and exemplified by several spectacular Latinx-fueled events of the past few weeks. Read more »

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