State Rep From Philly Wants to Drug-Test His Peers

Angel cruz / drug testing bill

Over the weekend, Congress approved a bill that would allow states to subject those on unemployment to random drug testing. President Trump has said he will sign the bill.

So far, Pennsylvania does not drug-test recipients of any public assistance, whether it’s welfare or otherwise. But there is bill, in the state House of Representatives, that would subject one group to drug testing: Pennsylvania lawmakers.

It’s the brainchild of state Rep. Angel Cruz, who represents Pennsylvania’s 180th District (mostly West Kensington and parts of neighboring areas). He’s heard for years of lawmakers in Harrisburg who want to drug-test those receiving government assistance. So, several years ago, he decided if lawmakers wanted to drug-test those on welfare, why not drug-test lawmakers too?

“If we’re going to be lawmakers and we’re going to test people getting public money,” he tells Philadelphia magazine, “I think lawmakers should be the first ones. Let’s get the legislators tested, too, to set an example.” Read more »

Right Now, Philly Politics Is Even More Disheartening Than Usual for Latinxs

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L: State Rep. Leslie Acosta (Image via video from PA House) R: State Rep. Martina White (Photo via White’s Facebook)

It’s a really hard time to be a Latina and a local politics wonk.

Leslie Acosta — one of two Latino state lawmakers from Philly, and the only Latina in the state legislature — has been convicted of conspiring to commit money laundering. She hasn’t been sentenced yet, and is reportedly cooperating with the prosecution of Renee Tartaglione, her former boss at a Fairhill mental health clinic who has been charged by the feds with embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars in public funding. (Tartaglione has pleaded not guilty.)

Acosta is the daughter of a politician, as is Tartaglione, and both are heavily enmeshed in legacy politics that seem as unscrupulous as they are melodramatic: full of feuds and deals cut over the Puerto Rican version of a cortadito.

Now, the thing about Acosta is that she had appeared, mostly, to be above the mischief and trash talk of Barrio politics, and came off as earnest, thoughtful and affable. So much so, in fact, that it began to appear possible that there would be some sort of détente enacted between the Democratic machine-backed Acosta and the fiercely independent councilwoman the Democratic machine loves to hate, María Quiñones-Sánchez.

But the promise Acosta offered — and the possibility of two industrious Latina pols working in concert to better the lot of some of the poorest residents of the city — has gone up in smoke.

As a Latina who writes about a Latinx community that is too often neglected and far too often underestimated, the disappointment I feel is more than just personal. Read more »

Ethics Board Fines Two PACs That Supported Manny Morales

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

The Philadelphia Board of Ethics announced on Monday that it had reached a settlement with two political committees that supported Manny Morales, who narrowly lost a challenge to 7th District City Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez in last year’s primary election. The 7th Ward/Friends of Angel Cruz PAC and the Latinos United for Political Empowerment PAC have agreed to pay a total of $8,000 in fines for making in-kind donations to Morales’ PAC that exceed campaign contribution limits, according to the terms of the settlement.

The two PACs coordinated spending and get-out-the-vote efforts with the Morales campaign, the Board of Ethics found in its investigation. LUPE spent $22,000 in coordination with the campaign, exceeding the $11,500 limit for donations from a political committee to a candidate in one calendar year. The 7th Ward/Friends of Angel Cruz PAC spent $48,325 in coordination with the Morales campaign, according to the settlement. Both PACs failed to disclose the in-kind contributions on campaign finance reports. Each of the four violations — two excessive contributions and two failures to disclose — each carries a fine of $2,000. Read more »

Here’s What You Missed at Last Night’s Lively Town Hall on the Latino Vote

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Clockwise: Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez, School Reform Commissioner Farah Jimenez, state Rep. Angel Cruz, former presidential assistant Daniel Restrepo and state Rep. Leslie Acosta.

Wednesday night, five politicos sat in a row, most wearing blazers and glasses perched on their noses, fielding questions from a pair of journalists who framed them, one on either side. There was a patriotic backdrop, and there was wine. Never mind the fact that two of the five, Councilwoman Maria Quiñones Sánchez and state Rep. Angel Cruz, have a tense political rivalry.

Along with School Reform Commissioner Farah Jimenez, state Rep. Leslie Acosta, and former presidential assistant Daniel Restrepo, Sánchez and Cruz spent the evening talking with Al Día’s executive editor Sabrina Vourvoulias and Philly Mag’s deputy news editor Holly Otterbein about the Latino vote in Philadelphia and beyond. The group dropped a lot of knowledge. Here’s what you need to know: Read more »

The Latino Vote Series — Join Us for a Different Kind of Conversation

Clockwise: Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez, School Reform Commissioner Farah Jimenez, state Rep. Angel Cruz, state Rep. Leslie Acosta and Daniel Restrepo, former special assistant to President Barack Obama.

Clockwise: Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez, School Reform Commissioner Farah Jimenez, state Rep. Angel Cruz, former presidential assistant Daniel Restrepo and state Rep. Leslie Acosta.

Would a Donald Trump nomination drive Latino voters to the polls in November? Will Hispanics in Wyoming, New York and Pennsylvania back Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders? If Ted Cruz won a contested nomination, would that help the GOP attract more Latino votes?

In the 2016 presidential race, the much-coveted Latino vote has been a hot topic of conversation. But as Al Día writes, many of these discussions have been “from the outside looking in at the Latino community nationally, regionally and locally.”

Join us for an event that will be completely different: On Wednesday, April 13th at 5:30 p.m., Al Día is hosting a town hall about the Latino vote with Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez, School Reform Commissioner Farah Jimenez, state Rep. Angel Cruz, state Rep. Leslie Acosta and Daniel Restrepo, the former special assistant to President Barack Obama. Al Día executive editor Sabrina Vourvoulias will moderate the discussion, joined by Citified editor Holly Otterbein. This is the first event in a series on the Latino vote. Read more »

Cruz Seeks State Audit of School District

cruz schools

A Philly Democrat is once again seeking a state audit of the Philadelphia school district’s finances, saying the district needs to show a “greater level of accountability” for its spending.

Rep. Angel Cruz, who represents a portion of North Philly, sent a memo to colleagues last week, asking for their support of his effort. Read more »