The Brief: Don’t Like Chaka Fattah? Pledge to Vote Him Out
1. A new Kickstarter-like site hopes to recruit Democratic challengers to run against Congressman Chaka Fattah next year.
The gist: Gregory Naylor, Democratic U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah’s former chief-of-staff, pleaded guilty in August 2014 to trying to conceal an illegal $1 million loan to Fattah’s unsuccessful 2007 mayoral campaign. A few months later, Fattah was reelected to Congress with 91 percent of the vote. In the primary election earlier that year, Fattah didn’t even face a challenger. The Daily News’ William Bender reports that the new site Crowdpac is attempting to make next year’s election different by asking for donations to 18 possible challengers to Fattah. Similar to Kickstarter, the potential candidates would not be able to collect any money unless they announce that they are running.
Why it matters: When Citified reported on the site’s launch in Philly this April, the idea was that it could help combat the influence of all-powerful super PACs, which have license to spend as much money as they want on an election as long as they don’t coordinate with any campaign. But it looks like Crowdpac could also counter the city’s Democratic Party, which above all else helps incumbents get reelected. Many of the 18 potential candidates listed on their site, such as Mayor Michael Nutter and state Sen. Vincent Hughes, say they are not planning to run and actually back Fattah. But they can’t remove their own names from Crowdpac or stop the donations from coming, as a form of protection against party stalwarts. It’s a clever move. Fattah has not been charged with any wrongdoing, but if he theoretically was removed or resigned from office, Crowdpac could also work as a counter to Fattah’s political allies, who may try to prop up their own candidate.
2. Mayor Nutter and Jim Kenney, the city’s presumptive next mayor, announced an early ed plan Tuesday.
The gist: The goal of the proposal is to lay the “foundation for a coherent system to provide high-quality early learning for all children from birth to age five,” according to NewsWorks. That includes boosting enrollment in childcare education and increasing the number of kids who have “pre-literacy skills” going into kindergarten.
Why it matters: This plan is the baby of the Mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity, a/k/a Nutter’s anti-poverty initiative. Under the proposal, a commission appointed by the mayor and City Council would develop recommendations by April 2016. At that point, Nutter’s successor will be in office. Some critics have said Nutter launched a dedicated anti-poverty initiative too late — in 2013, more than five years after he was sworn in — and questioned whether the next mayor would keep it in place or try to reinvent the wheel. Since Kenney was standing by Nutter’s side during yesterday’s announcement, it seems like he’d incorporate at least some of Nutter’s anti-poverty infrastructure into his own administration if elected this fall.
3. A new project aims to help low-income homeowners repair their houses as a way to fight blight and address the city’s affordable housing shortfall.
The gist: Next City reports on an interesting new initiative called The Healthy Rowhouse Project, which “is hoping to create public health and housing policies and establish financing mechanisms that would enable 5,000 owner- and renter-occupied homes to be repaired each year.”
Why it matters: Philadelphia’s need for affordable housing is acute. As of last year, more than 100,000 people were on waiting lists for Philadelphia Housing Authority units and other types of public housing. But one affordable housing unit costs more than $300,000 to construct, according to the Healthy Rowhouse Project’s Karen Black, while fixing up a home can cost as little as $10,000 or less. Black says she wants to facilitate the repairs through loans to impoverished and moderate-income homeowners.
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