October 23, 2021
Nov 2 election: A week and a half to go

The Nov. 2 general election for judicial and municipal offices (plus four ballot questions in Philly) is a week from Tuesday. The voter registration deadline has passed, but if you’d like to vote at home, request a mail-in ballot by Tuesday, Oct. 26. Keep in mind that the window to receive and return your ballot is tight: mail-in ballots must be returned by 8 pm on Election Day. Postmarks won’t be honored. If possible, return your ballot to a secure drop-off location in your county. See a full list of options for Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties.
  • Who’s running in your area? Build your own ballot with C70’s nonpartisan Voter Guide. Just type in your address and you’ll find information on all the candidates and ballot questions you’ll be deciding on. You can also print out your ballot or email it to yourself and take it with you to your polling place.
  • About those judicial races: Focus on the competitive races for PA Supreme, Superior and Commonwealth Court seats. See a full rundown of candidates in this guide published by Philadelphia Citizen.
  • Why elect judges in the first place? We’ve long favored a merit-selection system instead. So does Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts. Here’s why.
  • And on Studio C70: City Commissioner Al Schmidt and Seventy CEO David Thornburgh talk about the Nov. 2 election.
Doc and Henon in the dock: So’s our political culture

The third week of the federal bribery trial of IBEW Local 98 business manager John Dougherty and City Council member Bobby Henon included chilling testimony from a former Henon legislative assistant about an implied threat he said he heard Dougherty make to Comcast executives during the 2015 negotiations to renew the city’s contract with the cable giant. The next day, a Comcast exec denied that Doc threatened the company but, The Inquirer notes, that exec also “agreed that the meeting had occurred outside of the public legislative process and that Dougherty pressed for more union work.”
  • The old politics must go. The back-room dealing being unearthed is indicative of the sort of transactional politics that allows some to paint the entire city as “corrupt and contented.” On many fronts—lobbying disclosure, campaign finance, pay-to-play contracting—Philly has within the past 20 years become an exemplar of public integrity law and oversight. But glaring vulnerabilities remain, including those being showcased in this trial. To start: Should elected officials have other employers besides the general public?
Election inquiry: “A nakedly partisan exercise with real costs”

There are no new developments to report in the PA Senate’s inquiry of the 2020 presidential election and this May’s primary because the Republican legislators behind it are waiting for lawsuits to be resolved. They have said that they’re in the process of selecting a private firm to conduct it, but little is known about the possible vendors because, as the PA Capital-Star reports, the General Assembly is exempt from the state government’s procurement code that guarantees a level of transparency and rigor. Meanwhile, an Inquirer roundup of reaction to the subpoena threat finds widespread outrage and fear of identity theft from voters “who see the whole thing as a nakedly partisan exercise with real costs.”
  • “It’s a world gone mad”: The Inquirer article quotes Dave Reed, a former Republican House majority leader, who wrote in a Facebook post that if current GOP legislators “were serious about any sort of investigation it would have been done months ago, not just starting a year later.”
Caught our eye
The infamous Pink pig returns to Harrisburg to protest the partisan election inquiry. (Photo: PennLive)
City Hall Roll Call is a summary of City Council’s weekly Stated Meeting by Lauren Vidas, an election lawyer and government relations specialist. Good government requires transparency, which is why C70 proudly sponsors this important work! 
On our radar
Tempus fugit: Testifying Wednesday during a PA House State Government Committee hearing on congressional redistricting, C70 CEO David Thornburgh urged legislators to release a map for public review. Time is growing short: the Jan. 24 deadline for final approval is only three months away.
New leadership, same old politics: According to The Inquirer, the Philadelphia Parking Authority’s new board tabled a motion by member Al Schmidt to bar new hires from holding such political posts as ward leader or committee person, running campaigns or hosting fundraisers.
PA voter-registration stats: Allentown’s Morning Call has an interactive county-by county map detailing the political affiliations of PA’s 8.7 million registered voters. Overall, 46% are Democrats, 39% are Republicans and nearly 15% are independents or affiliated with a third party.
Hands across the aisle: PSERS board members Stacy Garrity and Joe Torsella, the PA Treasurer and her predecessor, have joined forces to stop the troubled state teacher pension fund’s leadership from keeping secrets from another board member.
City Council redistricting: That’s the opinion of The Inquirer’s editorial board, which argues that transparency and public participation will be crucial.
PA Redistricting Advisory Council Listening Sessions
Mon., Oct. 25, 5 pm, West Chester University
Fri., Oct. 29, 11 am, Drexel University

Governor Wolf’s redistricting advisory council is holding public listening sessions through Nov. 3, with two scheduled for the Philly area next week. To attend, please RSVP with your name and event date to the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs at OIARSVP@pa.gov
Calling in the Calling Out Culture
Wed., Oct. 27, 7 pm

Loretta Ross, a legendary Black feminist, author, teacher and podcaster, will talk about her unusual approach to countering "cancel culture.” Ross believes the social-justice movement in America has been making both ethical and strategic errors in how it deals with the people with whom it has issues. The Penn Project for Civic Engagement is organizing the event in partnership with the Red and Blue Exchange at UPenn. RSVP.
Four Paths to Better Policing
Mon., Nov. 1, 7-9 pm

The Penn Project for Civic Engagement and the National Liberty Museum offer a chance to dig beneath the slogans and explore the practical options for improving policing in America in the wake of the shattering police violence against Blacks in recent years. Four panelists, including Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison and Philadelphia BLM activist Devren Washington, will lay out four different approaches to the problem, followed by an opportunity for attendees to discuss in breakout groups and pose questions back to the special guest panel. RSVP.
Get Involved
City Council Redistricting Workshops

Virtual, small-group workshops are being offered (now through Oct. 25) that aim to provide useful background on the Council redistricting process, insights on the impact of the 2020 Census, and how individuals and organizations can get involved. The updated schedule is here: seventy.org/drawphilly
Volunteer for a Draw the Lines Event in Harrisburg
Tues., Oct. 26, 11 am
State Capitol Building

We need folks to share our Citizens’ Map of PA’s 17 new congressional districts with state lawmakers. We have turned the map into a puzzle and that’s where we need you to come in: to distribute pieces of the puzzle (our proposed districts) to the State Senators and Representatives—all 253 of them. Draw the Lines will provide lunch and reimburse travel expenses. Plus, you'll take your own puzzle home! If you are available, please email us at: info@drawthelinespa.org
Sign the Citizens’ Pledge to Fight Big Money in Elections

American Promise members in PA are launching a bipartisan campaign to make us the 23rd state to call for a constitutional amendment to stop big-money corruption. It would “reaffirm the power of citizens through their government to regulate the raising and spending of money in elections.” Learn more and sign the pledge.
For the first time in our 117-year history, Seventy has created a membership program to broaden, diversify and expand our community of local democracy-builders. Your membership also provides unique opportunities to meet civic leaders and policy experts, gain inside knowledge of the reform process, and connect with people who are passionate about our city and commonwealth.
Become a member today!