The Brief: Anthony Williams a No-Show at Dem (Dis)Unity Breakfast
1. Anthony Williams a no-show at Democratic post-election unity breakfast to rally behind mayoral nominee Jim Kenney.
The gist: State Senator Anthony Williams was a no-show at a let’s-all-hug breakfast organized by party boss Bob Brady on behalf of Jim Kenney yesterday morning, Chris Brennan reports for the Inquirer. The entire point of the breakfast — which Brady graciously also hosted in 2007, when he was defeated by Michael Nutter — is to set aside any lingering hard feelings from the election (publicly, anyway), and make a show of backing the party’s nominee. Most of the breakfast attendees were Democratic ward leaders. Williams, in addition to being the (distant) 2nd place finisher in last week’s mayoral election, is a ward leader.
So where was he? Williams told Brennan that “he did not know about the breakfast meeting, received no invitation, and had no plans ‘to crash the party.'” That seems … dubious. Kenney shrugged it off. He told Brennan: “People take some time off … I assume that’s what it is, and I wish him well with the time he’s taking off to recharge and get back in the game.”
What it means: It’s pretty obvious, right? Williams isn’t over his hard feelings — not yet, anyway. A lot of people — Williams included — expected that he’d be the nominee feted at this year’s unity breakfast. Instead, he got blown out, and he seems unwilling to fake a smile quite yet.
Does this portend some lack of Democratic unity in the fall election? Highly unlikely. Kenney won this race with one of the broadest coalitions of Democratic voters and left-leaning institutions in modern Philly electoral history: public and private sector unions, progressives, large numbers of black voters, working-class white row home voters. That’s pretty much the sum of the modern Democratic big city body politic. With or without Williams, Kenney will have all the support he needs from the Democratic base in the fall.
2. New audit of the school district finds that spending on classroom instruction is at same level now as it was in 2008.
The gist: Rising fixed costs — pensions, mostly — have forced the School District of Philadelphia to slash operational funding, a new audit of the district’s finances shows, Kristen Graham reports for the Inquirer. District CFO Matthew Stanski said the audit showed: “It’s not mismanagement or not knowing where the money is or where it’s spent. It’s this continued structural problem.”
Why it matters: That’s not exactly a revelation. But for some reason, lawmakers in City Hall and Harrisburg both seem unwilling or unable to understand that costs outside of current management’s control are growing at a faster rate than revenue, which has forced the district to cut what it can control to the bone. This audit is another attempt to convince lawmakers that the district isn’t shoveling cash into a black hole — not voluntarily, anyway.
3. City Council nears consensus on Gallery redevelopment package.
The gist: Jared Brey reports for PlanPhilly that City Council is close to approving a package of zoning ordinances and tax incentives that will allow the redevelopment of the Gallery at Market East to proceed.
What it means: Brey’s report has great context on the scale of this deal, and the value of the parcels involved in the mega-project, so read his story. More broadly, this project further solidifies the city’s practice of picking and choosing developments that it favors and lowering the hurdles for those projects.