We Want Answers: Jake Tapper

Photo by Adam Jones.

Photo by Adam Jones.

“You’ll be sure to note that the Eagles mascot is by my side,” Jake Tapper says as we grab seats in his cluttered office inside CNN’s D.C. bureau, just down the street from the Capitol. Tapper, wearing blue dress pants and an open-collar pale blue shirt, holds up a small plush stuffed bird, decked out in Eagles gear, that normally sits off to one side of his desk. Right next to it: a spot-on replica of the Six Million Dollar Man lunch box Tapper had as a kid growing up in Philly. “Some Twitter follower of mine sent it to me,” he explains. “It’s not my original one. But it is what I had when I went to the Philadelphia School at 25th and Lombard.”

CNN’s 48-year-old chief Washington correspondent is having something of a pop-culture moment these days thanks to his aggressive coverage of the Trump administration. He found himself a guest on Bill Maher’s HBO show (Maher lauded him for “speaking truth to crazy”); has turned up as a character on Saturday Night Live; and saw his face — with the incredulous expression he wore while interviewing Kellyanne Conway in February — become an Internet meme. Read more »

LGBTQ&A: Henry Sias

Henry Sias | Photo by New Castro Camera Photography

Henry Sias | Photo by New Castro Camera Photography

Henry Sias is a transgender attorney and community advocate running for Court of Common Pleas judge. We speak with the trailblazing public figure on on social justice, trans-masculinity, and his thoughts on making history as the first transgender candidate to run for office in Philadelphia. Read more »

OPINION: Philly’s Tolerance for Corruption Is Why Seth Williams Hasn’t Resigned

Seth Williams at a February 10, 2017, press conference. Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

Seth Williams at a February 10, 2017, press conference. Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

The Philly reaction to political scandals usually rolls out like this:

1) Word of an investigation sparks chatter. Nobody really cares.

2) An indictment sparks concern. Some folks begin to actually care.

3) A conviction sparks outcry. Folks are absolutely done with the politician. Read more »

Here’s What’s Behind the Sharp Left Turn in Philly’s District Attorney Race

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Michael Untermeyer for District Attorney Campaign; ANNMARIE YOUNG; CITIZENS FOR RICH NEGRIN CAMPAIGN; JOSH PELTA-HELLER/KOALA PHOTOGRAPHY; krasner: NICK KELSH; ZAKIYAH CALDWELL; ERSKINE ISAAC/INVISION PHOTO; map: istockphoto

Clockwise from top left: Michael Untermeyer for District Attorney Campaign; Annmarie Young; Citizens for Rich Negrin Campaign; Josh Pelta-Heller/Koala Photography; Krasner: Nick Kelsh; Zakiyah Caldwell; Erskine Isaac/Invision Photo; Map: Istockphoto

Early in February, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams called an impromptu news conference. He arrived a few minutes after 10 a.m. in a pinstriped shirt, looking like he’d suffered through a long night with nothing but his own thoughts and a cigar. “Good morning, everyone,” he sighed into the microphone. “I have made the very difficult decision not to seek reelection to a third term.”

Williams was facing a rocky campaign. The FBI has been investigating him since at least 2015, and he recently was hit with the biggest fine in the history of the city’s ethics board for taking $175,000 in gifts and not bothering to report them. In those final moments of his political career, Williams made a revealing choice. He spent most of his time at the podium attempting to define his legacy as a victory for progressives: During his seven years in office, he said, he stopped locking people up for smoking pot, increased felony conviction rates, and helped bring humanity to the city’s punitive criminal justice system. Read more »

OPINION: Black Politicians Are Going to Have to Earn My Vote From Now On

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

The most open forum in which to hear the unfiltered thoughts of black men in Philly is arguably the barbershop. No matter what our wealth, age, religion, and/or sexual orientation, the need for a fine hair cut is the factor that unites us all. Heated conversations on social issues and personal anecdotes flow freely during long waits for shape-ups and fades. The barbershop has even become an obligatory stop for politicians to stump for undecided votes — during any election season, one can expect buttons and placards to be left on seats.

Such was the case last week with Tariq El-Shabazz, the only black candidate running for district attorney. Someone at my barbershop in West Philly wearing one of his campaign buttons prompted a conversation about the highly contested race. Now, per the barbershop code, what was said in the shop stays in the shop — but let’s just say the conversation was heated and divided. Read more »

How Trump’s Election May Have Changed the Future of Philly Politics

Illustration by Gluekit (protesters: iStock; City Hall: C. Smyth/Visit Philadlephia)

Illustration by Gluekit (protesters: iStock; City Hall: C. Smyth/Visit Philadlephia)

Something is happening in this city.

For years, many Philadelphians took democracy for granted. A pathetic 27 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the 2015 primary race. Only 89,000 people — out of the city’s roughly 1.2 million voting-age citizens — picked our current district attorney. The fact that voters don’t even have a choice in many City Council and state legislative races, thanks to one-party rule, has long been met with a shrug. Then came November 8th. Now, protests spontaneously break out in the streets and at the airport. Every Tuesday, a group founded by seven local women airs grievances outside Senator Pat Toomey’s Center City office. If that doesn’t convince you the wind may be blowing in a different direction, consider the fact that 800 people packed a downtown church in January to talk about gerrymandering. Gerrymandering! Read more »

OPINION: The Unbearable Privilege of Trump Protesters

Protesters on the Parkway, January 21, 2017.

Protesters on the Parkway, January 21, 2017.

Picture this: You just received a Facebook event invite to an epic Donald Trump protest in Philly (Women’s March, “Queer Rager,” Muslim travel ban airport demonstration, or V.P. Pence visit — pick one).

You either plan to take off work early or cancel your TV binge-watching — this is that much of a priority for you. You make sure you create a catchy sign that you believe will let people know precisely what issues you have with the president. Let’s just say you think he’s a bully who picks on marginalized people. Your sign reads: “Hey, Big Mean Orange Guy: Quit Bothering the Melting Pot on Aisle 1776.” (Witty, I know.) Read more »

How the City’s New Millennial Advisory Committee Could Change Philly Politics

Philadelphia City Hall | Photo by Jeff Fusco

Philadelphia City Hall | Photo by Jeff Fusco

On Wednesday, the city announced the 21 members of its first-ever Millennial Advisory Committee.

The committee, which will meet monthly, is tasked with advising the city on policies, programs, and actions that are “affecting millennials” – or, in other words, the policies, programs, and actions that are affecting Philadelphians. Millennials are, after all, now the largest generational group in the city.  Read more »

Can Kevin and Brendan Boyle Save the Democratic Party?

Kevin, left, and Brendan Boyle. Photo by Chris Loupos

State Rep. Kevin, left, and U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle. Photo by Chris Loupos

Brendan Boyle had only been on the campaign trail for a couple of months when his high-priced D.C. consultant told him he should quit.

It was the summer of 2013, and the baby-faced state representative from Northeast Philadelphia had decided to run for Congress. His reason, he says, was simple: The American dream was slipping away, and he wanted to help wrestle it back. So he hired a “fancy” adviser from the Beltway, as he now sneeringly describes him, and paid for a poll. “He told me there was good news and bad news.” Read more »

Want to Learn How to Run for Local Office? Start Here

iStock.com

iStock.com

If nothing else, Democrats and Republicans can agree on one thing right now: they aren’t happy with their respective parties.

In fact, even before the election, less than half of the nation’s Republicans and Democrats viewed their parties favorably, according to a Gallup Poll from May 2016. The poll found that only 44 percent of Democrats were pleased with their party (again, before the mess that was the 2016 Democratic National Convention and, you know, Election Day). Even fewer Republicans – 37 percent – were content with the GOP party, the poll found.  Read more »

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