Insider: Black Pols Will “Rue the Day” They Backed Kenney

The Kenney coalition. | Photo by Jeff Fusco.

The Kenney coalition. | Photo by Jeff Fusco.

(Editor’s note: This is an opinion column from a Citified insider. McCalla is a policy consultant who has provided pro bono advice to mayoral candidate Anthony H. Williams, amongst other candidates this election cycle.) 

Over the last several weeks, culminating in the Tuesday election of Jim Kenney as the Democratic nominee for mayor, an historic shift was taking place amongst African American pols that creates a new reality in city politics.

Black political empowerment, before it went from a movement to a slogan, was fiercely predicated on cultural affinity. That is to say, like most Philadelphians, Blacks were going to “vote race.” Through the 1960’s, only three or four black elected officials — Congressman Robert Nix, Republican Councilwoman Ethel Allen, Councilmen Earl Vann and Tom McIntosh — made it into office in Philadelphia and not all at once. Political impotence combined with the oscillating indifference/hostility of City Hall, forged the determination to grow in power as the black population grew. Read more »

The Brief: Are the Mayoral Candidates’ School Plans “Bogus”?

Photo Credit: Matt Rourke | AP

Photo Credit: Matt Rourke | AP

1. Mayor Michael Nutter said the candidates running to replace him have proposed “bogus” school funding plans.

The gist: Nutter made the attack while touring a city school with Gov. Tom Wolf last week. He said, according to the Inquirer, “You cannot run around this school, shake hands with students, take pictures, read to second graders, talk to middle schoolers, inspire high school students, and then when you’re back at your office comfortably not put forward the money that they need to educate their students. Let’s cut the phoniness. Let’s be serious about educating kids.”

The six Democratic mayoral candidates oppose Nutter’s proposal to raise an extra $105 million for the city’s schools by increasing property taxes by 9 percent. They’ve offered other plans to boost funding, such as hiking the liquor-by-the-drink tax and selling tax liens.

Read more »

Insider: Why Would Dwight Evans & Marian Tasco Endorse a White Mayoral Candidate?

State Rep. Dwight Evans

State Rep. Dwight Evans

(Editor’s note: This is an opinion column from a Citified insider.) 

Jim Kenney’s Monday endorsement by West Oak Lane Democratic pols is worthy of the comedic device inelegantly known as a “spit take,” where a comic is drinking water and spits it out in sudden reaction to startling news. African American pols don’t make a habit of not endorsing an African American mayoral candidate, assuming one is handy. That’s not just a matter of cultural affinity, but of political survival. A politician risks both credibility and reelection by endorsing a candidate who won’t resonate with their voters, when there’s an alternative who can.

In a city brimming with risk-averse pols, why would a cabal of savvy office holders and ward leaders so grandly buck the likelihood that State Senator Anthony Williams will garner an impressive majority of the African American Democratic vote? Why aren’t they concerned their decision to back Kenney will deeply annoy the fellow—Williams—with a greater chance of becoming mayor? Read more »

Jim Kenney’s Big Move to Win Black Support

Jim Kenney | Photo by Jeff Fusco

Jim Kenney | Photo by Jeff Fusco

On Monday, former City Councilman Jim Kenney landed what could turn out to be the most critical endorsement in the Philadelphia mayor’s race: Council members Marian Tasco and Cindy Bass, as well as state Reps. Dwight Evans, Cherelle Parker and Stephen Kinsey, announced they are backing him. So are a number of ward leaders from Northwest Philadelphia.

The endorsement of a white candidate by several prominent black politicians matters, and you should pay attention to it.

Here’s why:

Read more »

The Council At-Large Race Just Got More Crowded

Derek Green

Derek Green | Photo caption: Thomas Amico

We told you the City Council At-Large race would get more crowded after Jim Kenney resigned from Council to run for mayor.

Derek Green, a top aide for City Councilwoman Marian Tasco, says he is running for Council At-Large as a Democrat. He is planning to resign from Tasco’s office Friday, and formally kick off his campaign next Tuesday.

“I am running because I have experience in getting things done,” says Green, “and a vision for a better city.”

Read more »

Jim Kenney Will Upend the City Council Race, Too

Philadelphia City Council  | Photo Credit: City Council's Flickr page

Philadelphia City Council | Photo Credit: City Council’s Flickr page

The Philadelphia mayor’s race has changed overnight because Councilman Jim Kenney is soon jumping into it. So, too, has the Democratic City Council at-large race.

Philadelphians will now elect at least one new at-large Council member this year because Kenney must step down from his seat to run for mayor. With five Democratic at-large incumbents in the race previously, that was anything but guaranteed. (In this Democratic-dominated town, five of the city’s seven at-large seats are inevitably won by Democrats every four years.) Assuming that Council President Darrell Clarke doesn’t call for a special election to replace Kenney, here’s how his departure from the at-large race changes the game:

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Half of City Council Just Got Cybersquatted

The 5th Square's website.

The 5th Square’s website.

Go to, and you won’t find a word about the South Philadelphia Councilman bearing its name., too, has nary a sentence about the longtime Councilwoman representing parts of West Philadelphia.

Instead, both websites redirect visitors to — the site of a new urbanist PAC known as “The 5th Square.”

Read more »

Q&A: Marian Tasco Explains Why She’s Quitting Council

Marian Tasco | City Council Flickr Page

Marian Tasco | City Council Flickr Page 

A day after Council President Darrell Clarke announced that he won’t be running for mayor, veteran Councilwoman Marian Tasco came out with the huge news that she won’t be seeking reelection this May. Tasco is endorsing Democratic State Rep. Cherelle Parker, who was formerly her top aide in Council, to replace her.

We talked to Tasco Tuesday afternoon about her long career, why she’s endorsing Parker, and whether her announcement had a little something to do with Clarke’s.

Read more »

Marian Tasco to Retire From Council

[UPDATE, 11:40 a.m.] City Council President Darrell L. Clarke on Tuesday issued the following statement on 9th District Councilwoman Marian Tasco’s announcement that she will not seek reelection this year:

“Councilwoman Tasco’s fierce advocacy for the most vulnerable Philadelphians has shaped her long and admirable career in public service. She is a spirited ally and friend who will be greatly missed. I am thankful to have known and worked with her.

“Marian Tasco is a terrific mentor to women in an arena that has a long way to go toward full inclusion. Councilwoman Tasco has also been so generous to her offer support and guidance throughout my own career in public service. Those who’ve landed on her bad side, such as predatory lenders and payday loan operators, have learned firsthand that she is a formidable advocate. She also has used her strong knowledge of government to help shape the annual budget process.

“It is selfish to be sad at this time, so instead I enthusiastically congratulate Councilwoman Tasco on a well-deserved retirement.”

[ORIGINAL, 8:45 a.m.] Longtime City Councilwoman Marian Tasco is not seeking reelection in the May 19th primary, according to a press release from State Rep. Cherelle Parker’s campaign.

Tasco, a Democrat, represents the 9th Council District in Northwest and Northeast Philadelphia. She is currently serving her seventh term on City Council.

Tasco could not immediately be reached for comment.

Read more »

City Council Spending $20K on Ads Defending Delay on PGW Sale

In February, Mayor Michael Nutter announced the sale of PGW for $1.86 billion. But City Council has questions, and didn’t review the sale before the summer recess. That delay matters: Since Council hasn’t taken any action yet, UIL Holdings can back out of the proposed sale after July 15.

Now, of course, the latest twist: City Council is spending $20,000 on radio ads defending the delay. Wait, what?

Read more »

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