The Brief: Maria Quinones-Sanchez Is Denied (again), Darrell Clarke Grasps (again) & Bill Green Gets Angry (again)

Plus, petition day and Philly mag's Candidate Conversations series.

Maria Quinones-Sanchez | Photo Credit: AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Maria Quinones-Sanchez | Photo Credit: AP Photo/Matt Rourke

It’s a busy, high-stakes week for Philadelphia, rife with with big political and urban affairs news. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Ward leaders in Councilman Maria Quiñones-Sanchez’s 7th Council District endorsed virtual unknown Manny Morales, a Democratic committeeman and attorney former labor law investigator for the state Department of Labor and Industry, over the incumbent. Sanchez won her seat won without party support, then won re-election on her own, and will give a third-term a go without the party’s endorsement. Why does this matter? Four reasons. 1) It’s almost unheard of for the city’s Democratic party to not endorse the incumbent, unless that incumbent happens to be Sanchez. 2) Sanchez is, without question, one of the most consequential and intriguing members of City Council. She’s responsible for the creation of land bank and deserves a lot of the credit for small business tax reform legislation too. 3) Sanchez is very ambitious, and she’s got the stuff to be a huge player in this town for years to come. She’s run her own slate of candidates for a slew of offices, pissing off a lot of ward leaders and other party insiders, and there’s a good chance she’ll run for mayor someday. 4) The non-endorsement tells us that Sanchez still doesn’t have her own backyard in order, though I doubt that’ll threaten her re-election prospects.
  • Darrell Clarke wants to massively restructure a huge swathe of city government, namely the departments responsible for planning and development. Clarke has been pushing this notion for a while, but it’s sometimes hard to tell which of the many Big Bills he usually has on the stove he’s actually serious about. It’s starting to look like this is one is real, and it’s nothing short of one of the biggest re-0rganizations of city government in decades. Clarke wants to create a cabinet-level Director of Planning and Development. It’s an idea worthy of discussion. But coming from a powerful Council President like Clarke, in a lame-duck year for Nutter, well, it’s understandable the buzz is all about a Clarke power grab, particularly after his amendments, which would give Council the right to approve the appointment of this new director. That would be a first. The mayor gets to pick his own cabinet. What Clarke proposes is a reform that would formalize the shift in the balance of power we’ve seen these last few years between the mayor and City Council. It’s a big deal, and one the mayoral candidates can’t be too wild about.
  • School Reform Commission Chairman Bill Green is under intense political pressure from all sides over the question of authorizing new charter schools. Perhaps some of that frustration fueled his energetic Twitter ALL-CAPS outburst at Helen Gym (and others) yesterday. The exchange heavily featured a conversation Gym and Green had at Philadelphia magazine’s office last year; a chat where, it seems, Green feels Gym offered criticism but no solutions. Gym suggested a second debate, moderated by Philly mag, Green felt that terrain had been covered. Citified stands ready to serve, but this is not light duty. Three interns were hospitalized from exhaustion and dehydration while transcribing Gym and Green’s last 19,000+ word conversation.
  • It’s petition day. That’s right, candidates for Philadelphia office can start to circulate nominating petitions today. It’s a fraught game. Read Adam Bonin’s inside take on how the game is played and what to look for this year.
  • Finally, Citified and Philadelphia magazine are excited to announce our Candidate Conversations series: informal and informative one-on-one Q&As with the mayoral candidates. The first is Monday, Feb. 23, featuring Doug Oliver. Click here to find out more.

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