I used to take pride in where I live.
Philly is a bustling city that hit bottom. When you hit bottom, there’s nowhere else to go but up.
I registered Democrat when I moved to Pennsylvania. My first visit to the city was the day then-mayor John Street had his office bugged by the FBI. Democratic politicos at the time panicked, painted the whole affair as the work of dirty Republicans, only to find out later the FBI wasn’t after the mayor but a West Philadelphia imam and drug dealer who was getting sweet contracts on the public dime.
Fast forward through 40 or so people later, and there’s this…
I take mucho humbrage at the West Oak Lane residents who came out in heavy numbers to vote Chaka Fattah out of office before he was sentenced to prison. I have never seen Democratic voters in this city openly reject corruption before. My hopes have slowly risen.
I moved to Philadelphia from another Democratic place—San Antonio. It’s a city with a competitive political atmosphere. The biggest scandals that go on down there are public employees caught using their city cell phones to take personal calls. San Antonio flips between Democrat and Republican rule roughly once every decade or so. It has a heavy pro-business conservative-Hispanic population. I thought basic bureaucratic ineptitude was a major problem when I lived there. Then I came to Philadelphia. It is a unique place where local Democratic politics is a shit show of biblical proportions. The apathy and complacency of voters is astronomically high.
I’ve often joked to friends privately that a Philadelphia voter may, just may, reject a politician if he’s caught raping an infant–but don’t place any bets on that politician actually losing.
Today Philadelphia has never been so alone. I look around me and I see a city that willingly turned itself into a political Gilligan’s Island–and of course blames everyone else for it. Extremist politics has put this once-great city at the end of a precipice where it no longer has any effective say at the state level or at the federal level. None. The state Democratic party has been cremated outside our borders. There’s a lot less of them now than when I moved to Pennsylvania. Back then Vince Fumo was impresario of Philadelphia and was basically the shadow governor of our state. Do you go to any casinos in PA? He single-handedly made that happen.
I see local activists riled up and fixated on Donald Trump like a moth to a flame while they stretch with all their might to ignore all the corruption within the Democratic City Committee that’s up to their eyeballs.
Day after day there’s a march of Democratic constituents blocking traffic and inconveniencing other Democratic constituents. The Trump wave that turned Pennsylvania into Trump Country exists outside Philly’s borders–far away from any protest. That’s the fun part of the politics of the extremes–both ends of the political spectrum, the liberals in Philly and the Trump voters in Lackawana County will never intersect with each other. The activists at both ends raise their voices loudly to crowds of people who already agree. No moderates exist anymore. Anyone who sits at the center and doesn’t adopt the extremism is a traitor.
No one dare need be convinced. Only inconvenienced.
From a Fire, New Trees Grow
While activists have worked hard to ignore the corruption all around them the inept Philadelphia Democratic City Committee has now cost itself another state legislator. There won’t be a Democratic name on that special election ballot in the 197th District.
Worse: The ineptitude of the Philly DCC is now national news. On Huffington Post.
This is an embarrassment that no Democrat can afford to ignore anymore. The 197th representative district is the poorest district in Pennsylvania. Its population is entirely minorities. It is wracked by blight and by the opioid crisis. In the 1990s a large African-American exodus emptied out of large portions of the district. Door-knocking in the district is hard–there’s so many empty and abandoned houses.
Oh, who am I kidding? Door knocking? This is the safest Democratic seat and DCC ward leaders have always selected the successor to rule this district. That’s why the last two occupants of this district were convicted while in office. The ward leaders capitalize on voter apathy to select whoever they want. They don’t even care enough to vet the candidates they stick on the voting machine.
That’s also why the same incompetent DCC ward leaders picked a replacement for Leslie Acosta who doesn’t live here and who sits on the board of a troubled charter school allegedly under FBI investigation. “It’s the barrio, nobody will care!”
The Philadelphia Republican Party, a committee that is heavily comprised of ex-Democrats, decided to test the waters. Let’s take Freddie to court and see how he defends himself on the witness stand about where he lives. He bombed spectacularly, more than any of us who were sick of this shit ever hoped. Adam Bonin, the lawyer for the DCC did the best closing argument he could muster–unbelievable as it was. Ramirez could have lied on the witness stand and the judge would have been forced to accept his answers. But no. He actually gave clearer answers that show his “crash pad” in the 197th District was purely a crash pad–he lives elsewhere.
A guy like this is supposed to create Latino unity in the barrio?
I thought these ward leaders learned their lesson after the colossal embarrassment that was Manny Morales.
Lucinda Little, the Republican, is the only one on the ballot now. A Republican who lives at C and Wyoming. I mean, just the thought of a Republican representing the poorest district in PA. An urban district. I believe there’s only one other Republican state legislator representing a poor urban district in the whole country. God forbid: what if Lucinda Little is actually effective? Worse: what if her constituents actually like her? Perish the thought!
Within hours of the court decision that kicked Ramirez off the ballot sleepy progressives and insider Democrats who pay no mind to rampant corruption–most of them live nowhere near the district–suddenly wake up. But are they ever truly “woke”?
Just last night I’ve seen a number of progressives who normally wouldn’t give Cheri Honkala the time of day scrambling to butter up to her and wanting to be her best friend. This is the same lady who organized a fart-in at the DNC. Honkala is the Green Party candidate but didn’t turn her ballot petition in on time so now she’s stuck as a write-in. Her chances of winning are a bit better now, but still bleak–a lucky break that wouldn’t have happened for her if it were not for the Philadelphia Republican City Committee putting a stop to the parade of idiots that have been offered up for that seat.
There’s an old adage: all politics is local. Philadelphia’s built-environment is in total control of local pols. This is a one-party town. A town run by a political machine who’s brain is still stuck in the 1970s era when the city was in sharp decline. Bright young individuals become Democrats year after year, get politically active only to wither against the corrupt colossus that actually exerts its rule here.
Activists are organizing against Trump to make themselves feel better about their political isolation but no one will put a Magic Marker to cardboard to take over the wards and put intra-party controls in place to get better candidates.
Losing the 197th District to a Republican could be the clarion call that proves the DCC is in desperate need of a house cleaning. It is the largest group of Democrats in all of Pennsylvania and it lost a crucial national election at a critical time and has ceded all control of the state capitol away. Now it can’t even keep a district in the barrio made up of 85% Democrats.
The DCC is not an organization that’s on life support—it’s really, truly dead. Killed by corruption from within and same as before when Republicans used to rule Philadelphia: at a time when the party controls nearly all the levers of power in this city.
As an activist myself I can tell you it is far easier to change things far closer to home than the outside world. There is no shortage of work to be done here and a lot of those problems emanate from one source: the Democratic City Committee.
The DCC has always counted on you to be its best ally. In practice it has always been your worst enemy.
That’s why I could have nothing to do with it and left, as did Lucinda Little and most of the people surrounding me at the Republican City Committee.