You might be getting whiplash from going to the polls last week, but election season in the city is firing up early. A whole mess of candidates are lining up to make chaos of the upcoming City Council election in hopes to clear the benches of At-Large City Council members who are beholden to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
On the Republican side that specifically includes member Al Taubenburger. The number of people murmuring that they will run for Republican At-Large has crawled up to five–a split within the Republican party so grave that it virtually guarantees that Mr. Taunbenburger would be ousted without significant amounts of money-spend and campaigning by the union he is beholden to for him to maintain his place.
Those of you who pay little interest to City Hall will be surprised to learn that for the last 15 years (if not longer), a small electrician’s union whose members mostly live in New Jersey, Bucks and Delaware County have had near total control over City Hall. It’s not just with fundraising, but a fresh supply–guaranteed each year–of volunteers among Local 98’s ranks who canvas voters, deliver propaganda to doorsteps and more importantly: threaten members of City Council who do not comply to their demands. It’s led to a union that is always fed, while the residents on the streets and in the outer neighborhoods sit in cold homes, hungry.
If you need reassurance that this happens, just contact Councilwoman María Quiñones-Sánchez. IBEW Local 98 has spent tens of thousands of dollars over the years trying to get rid of her. They promise to do it again as she was an opponent of the city’s Soda Tax.
As of today that chaos has now spread over to the Democratic side in the mayor’s race. Former city controller Alan Butkovitz has pledged to run for mayor in the upcoming Democratic primary which kicks off next year. Former candidate and State Senator Anthony Williams is also circling back to have another go at Jim Kenney.
It was primarily Kenney’s spending and support from the IBEW that elevated him to the mayor’s seat. But he’s proven himself to be a false progressive and has failed to deliver a cleaner city—a core campaign promise he made when he ran for the job–and via his backroom deal for the FOP Police labor contract which was negotiated in secret at the Sheraton Hotel and the embarrassing bungling of the city’s LGBT outreach scheme he has made himself a pariah among hardcore progressives and black activists.
Going further: under Mayor Kenney’s regime many ordinary householders in the City of Philadelphia have been seeing super-regular assessment rises on their property; in some neighborhoods as soon as once every 14th months. City Hall is now flush with cash that has been taken by taxpaying homeowners. Has the mayor tried to negotiate with the police or the municipal unions to right the pension crisis? Nope. He’s thrown much of the City’s budget surplus into the pension kitty without any thought for its continued escalating costs.
And then of course there is the homicide rate. Every year under Jim Kenney the city’s murder rate has been mounting a steady ever-upward climb. 2017 was the first year that Philly has climbed back above 300 murders. As of today the total already stands at 288, with well over a month’s worth of homicides left to go. Not since 2012 has Philly’s homicide rate been this high. It was back in 2006 with the city’s murder rate approaching 400 that citywide uproar led to the surprise rise of Michael Nutter.
Of course there is also Stop & Frisk, a Nutter policy which Mayor Kenney is continuing without much success.
It has always been clear that with this mayor the first-class citizens of Philadelphia are folks who live mainly in our suburban counties. The only way to say that it isn’t is to get rid of all of the IBEW-beholden elected officials who have put this city on a leash.
Republicans appear poised to get rid of their member who is beholden to Johnny Doc. Perhaps Democrats should do the same.