Meet the New Class of Latinx Political Leadership

philly-latinx-political-leaders-940x540

It is the best of times, it is the worst of times for wonkish Latinx folks like me.

With the Democratic National Convention just two weeks away, there’s a certain amount of exhilaration at the prospect of the Party’s P-A-R-T-Y in Philly.

But it’s also depressing. No, I’m not talking possible SEPTA nightmares (though there is that). It’s just that, as a Latina, I’m unlikely to be seeing more than a handful of mi gente among the ranks of the party’s top pols.

The sad reality is that I’d have a better chance of that at the Republican National Convention. Chew on that for a while (especially given the GOP’s not-so-friendly-to-Latinxs policies). From rising star governors Susana Martinez and Brian Sandoval to former presidential contenders Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, the GOP has cultivated a deeper Latinx bench — where top pols are concerned — than the Dems.

Oh, sure, cabinet members Thomas Perez and Julian Castro and Congressman Xavier Becerra have been named as potential VP picks for Hillary Clinton, but nobody — not even representation-starved Latinxs — are betting that any of them will actually be selected for the number two post.

And that lack of bench is not just a national thing.

Precious few of Pennsylvania’s pledged delegates to the 2016 Democratic National Convention, and none of the superdelegates, are Latinxs. Councilwoman María Quiñones Sánchez, and State Representatives Ángel Cruz and Leslie Acosta are the pledged delegate exceptions … but where are the young, up-and-coming Latinxs? Where is the next generation of Latinx political leadership?

The answer is that the new Latinx political class is still in the wings, laying the groundwork for the future from within the party, behind the scenes, and at the grassroots.

I hope in the next number of months to highlight folks in the city and region who are beginning to make their mark politically, but I start with three engaging — and engaged — Latinxs.    Read more »

A History of Violence: Philadelphia Political Brawls

"Justice" engraved on Philadelphia's City Hall

Photo | Jeff Fusco

The first thing I do when I wake up, before I fully open my eyes, is indulge a ritual that goes back to my cable-less childhood, when school days were bookended by Action News broadcasts and Jim Gardner was God: I grab my phone and open the 6ABC app to see what’s happened in Philly overnight. How many shootings? How many fires? Was there was a hit-and-run, or a standoff with police? Did something tragic occur in some town I’ve never heard of in Gloucester County or Delaware? I can’t start my day until I know.

The other morning when I clicked on the app, the headline read: “Philadelphia Streets commissioner charged with simple assault.” Donald Carlton, who started his career almost a quarter century ago as a trash collector, was alleged to have punched a man several times at a party in December. The DA brought charges that also included reckless endangering. Given that he’s been Streets Commissioner for all of five minutes, I said aloud (to the dog, I guess), “Jesus! I can’t believe it.” Then I thought of that comedy routine by Tig Notaro: Read more »

Atlantic City Makes Bond Payments, Avoids Default (For Now)

Photo | Dan McQuade

Photo | Dan McQuade

Atlantic City made a $1.8 million bond payment this morning, but Mayor Don Guardian could not guarantee at this point the city would make its bond payment next month.

“I wanted to make sure I didn’t put the bonds before payroll, before schools, before anyone else,” Guardian said. “But if we didn’t make our bond payment, it would be detrimental to everyone, including us.” The mayor said the city would be able to meet payroll this month, and expected to make a payment to the school district on May 15th.

Atlantic City had considered skipping the bond interest payment in order to make payroll, which would make it the first New Jersey municipality since the 1930s to default on a bond payment. Read more »

Hey Philly: Are You All In for Hillary? Or Are You Feeling the Bern?

A Hillary Clinton supporter waits outside her April 20th rally at the Fillmore. Photo | Ryan Collerd

A Hillary Clinton supporter waits outside her April 20th rally at the Fillmore. Photo | Ryan Collerd

On the night of the Brooklyn Democratic debate, I head toward the South Philly field office of Bernie Sanders for President. The address takes me to a storefront with an enormous overhang bearing the name of the former tenant, Boutique W — a discount designer-clothing store based in Newtown Square — in pink and black lettering. It’s an odd sort of welcome sign for the grassroots, 99-percenter campaign, but then again, office space is office space and inside, the place looks more the part.

Young volunteers are passing around phone-bank lists like an aggressive game of Go Fish and chomping on Chips Ahoy during breaks. Folding tables are scattered with HP laptops and bottled water. There’s a garbage can humorlessly labeled “garbage.” And clipboards. Lots of clipboards. Everyone seems to believe that South Philly, perhaps more than any other neighborhood, is Feeling the Bern. I float to the back of the no-frills, white-walled space and chat with a shaggy-haired campaign worker who speaks on background (only volunteers can speak on the record, I was told). He nonetheless wanted to know: “Do you like Bernie?”

Two days before the Pennsylvania primaries, that question would seem a relevant one to ask of anyone and everyone in Philadelphia. Of course, it ignores the Republicans who’re also voting on April 26th (recent polling suggests Donald Trump has a double-digit lead in the state), but given the 7-to-1 edge in registered Democrats in the city and the upcoming DNC this summer, it seems right to focus on the blue team here. (Also: Liberal media bias, natch.)

But truth be told, writing any story about the Tuesday primary feels like an obligatory act of self-aggrandizement, considering the national consensus that our vote means zilch. Why Pennsylvania won’t matter much in either primary,” ran a headline in the Washington Post on Thursday. Hillary Clinton is cruising, having locked up 81 percent of the delegates required to secure the nomination. And, thanks to the Dems’ lack of winner-take-all primaries and the omnipotent Clinton-friendly superdelegates, she can conceivably lose every single remaining state and still win by a comfortable margin. Not that she appears to be in any danger of that: Depending on which of the latest polls you believe, the former Secretary of State has a 13-point or 27-point lead over Sanders among likely primary voters in the Keystone State, where she beat Barack Obama by nearly 10 points in 2008.

Last time, the race felt neck-and-neck; in 2016, it’s a runaway. The wide berth is just one reason for the apathetic mood of lots of Philadelphians though. “I’m not supporting a broken system,” says Paris Adams, 19, a young man from Frankford who said he supports Sanders, but doesn’t see the point in casting a ballot. “Unless Captain America is running, I’m not voting.”

In ’08, voters like Adams were exactly the type — well-informed, African-American, eligible for the first time — that the Obama ground game famously turned out in droves. After an economic recession and eight years of gridlock in Washington though, voters appear to be a lot more jaded. A Pew analysis of a dozen primaries (including Super Tuesday) suggests that Democrat voter-turnout rates have been roughly 60 percent of what they were during Obama v. Clinton. The most optimistic spin is that turnout has not been cataclysmically bad. Dems are voting at higher rates this year than in 2000, sure, but they’re slightly off the pace of the average turnout since 1980. (And that average is excluding the outlying year of 2008.) The enthusiasm this year can be summed up in a single word: MehRead more »

LOCAL NEWS: Ben Waxman Wins Endorsement of Gayborhood’s 5th Ward

Ben Waxman, a former state Senate aide, received the endorsement of the 5th Ward.

Ben Waxman, a former state Senate aide, received the endorsement of the 5th Ward.

State House candidate Ben Waxman wins a big endorsement in incumbent Brian Sims’s home ward.

The race for the 182nd District took a surprising turn after the 5th Ward’s leadership unanimously endorsed former state Senate aide Ben Waxman for state representative. The 5th Ward contains the Gayborhood, and its previous strong support of incumbent Brian Sims (who lives in the ward) makes this an upset for the incumbent. “I’m proud to have support from every part of the district, including the 5th Ward,” Waxman said. “If I’m elected, I promise to fight hard as an ally to the LGBTQ community, including preserving the unique character of our historic Gayborhood.” In a recent story with Philly Mag, Sims’s political consultant Dan Siegel argued that the 5th Ward “perennially endorses challengers,” with Sims even being endorsed by it when challenging then-incumbent Babette Joseph in 2012. Currently, Waxman is endorsed by two of the three wards in the district (he also was recently endorsed by the 8th Ward) and waits to find out whether the 2nd Ward will announce an endorsement as well. Read more »

Q&A: Brian Sims on the Race for the 182nd District

State Rep. Brian Sims of the 182nd District

State Rep. Brian Sims

The race for the 182nd hasn’t been this competitive in years, with four candidates still in the running a month before the primary. What do you think has made so many candidates want to challenge you this time around?
This district has a long history of robust elections. So many great folks ranging from Sen. Larry Farnese to Terry Gillen have made a run for this seat, and I think that’s one of the qualities that makes this district so unique. The number of people who want to be involved with their government is inspiring. The other people in this race are good people who are genuinely trying to make a difference in their communities, and I applaud them for that. I have enjoyed the opportunity to have a substantive conversation with them about how best to move forward, and I am excited about the remaining weeks of this campaign. Read more »

Wolf Will Let GOP Budget Become Law

tom-wolf-budget-impassed-940x540

Gov. Tom Wolf today said he would let a Republican-passed state budget become law, ending — at long last — the budget impasse that has persisted since last summer.

Wolf made the announcement at a 1 p.m. press conference, simultaneously tweeting his comments through his official account. He said the $6.6 billion budget package would become law without his signature. Read more »

Pa. Legislature Mulls Lead Crackdown

Joe Mabel | Wikimedia Commons

Joe Mabel | Wikimedia Commons

Philadelphia officials may be promising that city water is safe from lead, but legislators in Harrisburg want to renew he state’s efforts to prevent a Flint-style disaster.

In recent days, proposals have emerged at both the House and Senate levels to test for and mitigate lead in places where Pennsylvanians — especially children — live, work, and play. Read more »

Proposal Would Automatically Seal Minor Criminal Records

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf - criminal record sealing bill signing

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signs the bill expanding criminal record sealing in February . (Photo: Wolf’s Twitter)

Hot on the heels of a new state law that makes it easier to seal old, minor criminal records — as well as new Philly rules expanding “ban the box” legislation — comes a new proposal aimed at making it easier yet for people with criminal convictions to find employment.

The proposal — floated last week by Sen. Scott Wagner, a York County Republican, and Sen. Anthony Williams, a Philly Democrat — would automatically seal low-level criminal records. The law last month requires such folks to go to court and petition to have the record sealed; the new proposal would remove even that hurdle to removing such records from public view.

Wagner and Williams’ proposal would seal the following records automatically: Read more »

« Older Posts