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February 4 Non-Partisan Training: HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013: HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014

Because the response to our workshop on January 14 exceeded our expectations, we are doing it again!

Making A Difference!
How You Can Strengthen Democracy in Philadelphia

Come to this non-partisan training; learn how you can win one of these positions. Help strengthen women’s voices in our political process and protect the right to vote!

HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013
HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014

When: Monday, February 4, 2013 from 5:30-7:30 pm
Where: Community College of Philadelphia
Winnet Student Life Building
Lecture Hall S2-3
17th Street b/w Spring Garden and Callowhill Streets
Philadelphia Pa 19130

Speaker:
Stephanie Singer, City Commissioner

Running for committeeperson is a very easy entry point into electoral politics. You don’t need to raise money; you just need the time and willingness to talk to your neighbors. Running for committeeperson is a way to learn grassroots organizing skills, gain leadership experience, and learn how the political system works.

Running for Election board is an opportunity to ensure that we have fair elections. The Voter ID law, which is slated to be implemented in 2013, has drawn attention to what has been a very low profile position—the Judge of Elections. In each division, the Judge of Elections resolves disputes and makes determinations about voter eligibility in areas where the law is ambiguous. With the enactment of the Voter ID law, the position of Judge of Elections has become much more important. The Majority and Minority inspectors also play an important role in ensuring fair, well-run elections.

Sponsored by the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Organization for Women and the Philadelphia Chapter of the Coalition of Labor Union Women, and West Philadelphia Coalition of Neighborhoods and Businesses.

Jan. 14 Workshop:HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013; HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014

The Philadelphia Chapter of the National Organization for Women(NOW) and the Philadelphia Chapter of the Coalition of Labor Union Women(CLUW) will hold a non-partisan workshop on:

HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013

HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014

When: Monday, January 14, 2013 from 5:30-7:30 pm
Where: 1606 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA

Speakers:

Stephanie Singer, City Commissioner

Norman Matlock, Esq., Judge of Elections, 9th ward, 2nd division

Nan Myers, Majority Inspector, 9th ward, 2nd division

Although NOW and CLUW are focusing on recruiting their members, the workshop is open to any woman or man interested in running for any of these positions. Both NOW and CLUW have male members who are committed to gender equality and share our outrage that women make up only 17% of the PA legislature, one of the lowest rates in the country.

Running for committeeperson is a very easy entry point into electoral politics. You don’t need to raise money; you just need the time and willingness to talk to your neighbors. Running for committeeperson is a way to learn grassroots organizing skills, gain leadership experience, and learn how the political system works.

The Voter ID law (slated to be implemented in 2013) has drawn attention to what has been a very low profile position—-the Judge of Elections. In each division, the Judge of Elections resolves disputes and makes determinations about voter eligibility in areas where the law is ambiguous. This has been an under the radar position with very few citizens actually running for the job. The Majority and Minority Inspectors also play an important role in ensuring fair, well-run elections. With the enactment of the Voter ID law, having a fair, knowledgeable Election Board matters more than ever.

When you go to the polls on Tuesday, check to see if there is a well-functioning election board.

When you go to the polls on Tuesday,check to see if there is a well-functioning election board with a Judge of Elections and Majority and Minority inspectors running the election. This is also an opportunity to find out if the incumbents intend to run again. There will no doubt quite a few openings for new election board members in 2013!

The Voter ID law has drawn attention to what has been a very low profile position—the Judge of Elections. In each division, the Judge of Elections resolves disputes and makes determinations about voter eligibility in areas where the law is ambiguous. For example, if the name on a voter’s photo ID (Mary Jane Smith) doesn’t match the voter’s name as recorded in the voter rolls (e.g., M. Jane Smith), the Judge of Elections determines whether the names are “substantially the same;” if so, Ms. Smith can vote. Some cases as to what is “substantially the same” are clear-cut; others are not. What is clear is that with that the Voter ID law, the position of Judge of Elections has become much more important.

Fortunately, the new Voter ID law will not be implemented for the November election. However, it will be back for the 2013 primary and, absent a change in the state legislature, this law is unlikely to go away. The Voter ID law makes it more important than ever that we have fair-minded, well qualified judges of election at every polling place.

Phila NOW and Phila CLUW will hold a workshop on January 14 2013 from 5:30-7:00 at 1606 Walnut to educate members about running for Judge of Elections and Majority and Minority inspectors in 2013,and for committeeperson in 2014. The principal speaker will be City Commissioner Stephanie Singer, who will present information about the 2013 Judge of Elections election.

Another victory for democracy, transparency in the Democratic Party—this time in the Pennsylvania Democratic party!

Some friends of mine who are very disillusioned with the Democratic Party and see little hope for improvement ask me why I bother working within the Democratic Party. Every once in awhile something happens which makes me think it might be worth it after all.

Progress shouldn’t be this painfully slow, but the determination and persistence of Tracey Gordon and Philadelphia Democratic Progressive Caucus has finally paid off. The Philadelphia Democratic Party finally acknowledged that Tracey Gordon won election as committeeperson in 2010 and seated her. Now, thanks to the efforts of the Pennsylvania Democratic Progressive Caucus, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party is becoming more democratic, more transparent.

On June 9 a resolution initiated by the PA Democratic Progressive Caucus was passed unanimously by Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee. The resolution stated:

Whereas, that in all 67 counties in the State of Pennsylvania there is
only one process in effect for the election of Democratic Committee
people and that the Committee person election process has guidelines
set forth by the Pa. Dept. of State and State election laws; and

Whereas, we recognize that that all 67 Democratic County Committees
are obligated to have rules and by-laws that are consistent with our
State Party by-laws; and

Whereas, it should only be practical, that in all 67 counties that
there is only one process in effect to remove an elected county
committee person from office within the Pennsylvania Democratic Party;

After two years, the will of the voters is upheld in the Tracey Gordon case.

After two years, Tracey Gordon and the Philadelphia Democratic Progressive Caucus (PDPC) won Round 1! In 2010, Tracey Gordon was elected to be a committee member of the 40th Ward in the Philadelphia Democratic Party, but despite that election, she was denied her seat by the vote of the Ward. See “When Elections Don't Matter: The city Democratic Party doesn't always care what voters think” The Philadelphia Democratic Party and its chair, Bob Brady, refused to fix the problem.

Despite repeated attempts to resolve the matter by Tracey, her supporters, her attorney Irv Acklesberg, and the PDPC, it wasn’t resolved until Irv Acklesberg filed a lawsuit seeking not only to reinstate Tracey, but to permanently enjoin future election nullifications by the Philadelphia Democratic Party. See the chronology of the case posted at YPP.

No doubt realizing that it would lose the court fight, the Philadelphia Democratic Party reinstated Tracey Gordon. On May 17, 2012, under the direction of the Party, the 40th Ward voted to rescind the illegal resolution it passed almost two years ago. Because Tracy is now serving as a Deputy City Commissioner—a job in which she is continuing to protect the right to vote—she had to resign from her elected position. (City ethics rules do not permit employees to hold party office.)

Philadelphia NOW 2012 Primary Election Newsletter

Please see Philadelphia NOW 2012 Primary Election Newsletter with profiles of candidates and articles re urgent issues.

Philadelphia NOW Celebrates Local Women Leaders Thursday, April 19, 2012 5:30-7:30 pm Philadelphia Ethical Society

Philadelphia NOW Celebrates Local Women Leaders

Thursday, April 19, 2012
5:30-7:30 pm
Philadelphia Ethical Society
1906 Rittenhouse Square

Please join us as we honor:

Gloria Gilman
for
LEADERSHIP FOSTERING CIVIC ENGAGEMENT AS CHAIR OF THE PHILADELPHIA DEMOCRATIC PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS AND NEIGHBORHOOD NETWORKS

Tracey Gordon
for
LEADERSHIP FOSTERING CIVIC ENGAGEMENT AND VOTER PARTICIPATION

Sue and Hal Rosenthal
for
A LIFETIME OF ADVOCACY FOR PROGRESSIVE AND FEMINIST CAUSES AND SUE, IN PARTICULAR, FOR HER WORK IN THE MATERNITY CARE COALITION

Jocelyn Morris
for
FOUNDING GERMANTOW NOW IN 1980 TO COMBAT SEXISM AND RACISM AND FOR
HER CONTINUING WORK LINKING SEXISM AND RACISM

$35 at the door. Sponsors donate a minimum of $100. This includes two event tickets and a listing in our event program. Click on the Donate button at www.phillynow.org. Or send your contribution by check payable to Philadelphia NOW to 1211 Chestnut St., Ste. 700, Philadelphia, PA 19107. Please contact us at info.phillynow@gmail.com for further information or call Kathy Black at 215-893-3770

Should Judges be Elected? PA House Judiciary Public Hearing on Merit Selection

On March 1, I attended the PA House Judiciary Public Hearing on merit selection on behalf of the Philadelphia Democratic Progressive Caucus. This is something I would never have squeezed into my schedule if I were not retired. Merit selection (an appointive system of choosing judges) is not one of those hot button issues that grab the attention of the public. I probably would not have taken any interest in this issue were it not for my almost three decades as a Democratic committeeperson—a job I enjoy EXCEPT for the task of recommending judicial candidates to my neighbors. It is extraordinarily difficult to get reliable information about judicial candidates and I’m uncomfortable making endorsements when I don’t feel I can personally vouch for these candidates.

Last January, Philadelphia Democratic Progressive Caucus Chair Gloria Gilman organized a meeting of a group of civic/advocacy organizations with representatives of the Philadelphia Bar Association to express our dismay at their recommendation of recently elected Common Pleas Judge Thomas Nocella, who has a well-documented history of ethics violations and other dubious practices. The officers of the Bar assured us they were making changes to their process which should prevent another such occurrence. But given the serious problems with our system of electing judges, an improvement in the Bar Association’s internal process for recommending judicial candidates is not enough.

Citizen groups meet with Bar Association to discuss judicial elections

I have been a committeeperson for almost three decades—a job I enjoy EXCEPT for the job of recommending judicial candidates to my neighbors. It is extraordinarily difficult to get reliable information about judicial candidates and I’m uncomfortable making recommendations when I don’t feel I can personally vouch for these endorsements.

Last week a group of civic/advocacy organizations which endorse candidates met with representatives of the Bar Association to express our dismay at their endorsement of recently elected Common Please Judge Thomas Nocella, who has a well-documented history of ethics violations and other dubious practices. The officers of the Bar assured us they were making changes to their process which should prevent another such occurrence.

The Nocella appointment was unusual due to the last-minute resignation by a sitting judge, which allowed the Democratic Party to make an election eve appointment. Because the Bar Association recommendation is good for three years, Nocella could make his last-minute entrance into the race as a recommended candidate. Well, a lot happened in those three years, including citations by the Ethics Commission. Also, the last minute appointment of Nocella was particularly egregious as he had been previously rejected by the voters three times.

1st congressional district has the most dramatic change in racial composition of any of the state's 19 congressional districts

Thanks to Azavea, the web-based software design firm that developed the Redistricting the Nation project, we now have the demographics of the old and new Pennsylvania congressional districts.

The first congressional district, represented by Bob Brady, has the most dramatic change in racial composition of any of the state's 19 congressional districts. Brady's district is currently 31.8% White and 48.0% black. His new district will be 46.9% white and 35.5% black. (The Asian and Latino percentages have changed very little.)

Across the state, most of the changes in racial composition were relatively small—generally no more than a few percentage points. The only other district which had significant change was the 14th congressional district, which contains the entire city of Pittsburgh. In the 14th, the percentage of white voters was 69.4% % in the old district, 77.37% in the new; the percentage of black voters was 24.5% in the old district, 16.53% in the new. The shift in racial composition in the 14th is not as dramatic as in the first congressional district and it does not change the racial dynamics of the race. The 14th district was and remains a district which favors the election of a white candidate. The first district has gone from a district which was very favorable terrain for a black candidate to one in which a black candidate would be significantly less competitive.

News reports suggested that Brady may have had something to do with this. Cris Brennan reported in the Daily News on 8/20/11:

U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, chairman of the Democratic City Committee in Philadelphia, says that one hot rumor circulating in Harrisburg about his 1st Congressional District is way off the mark.

Philadelphia Democratic Progressive Caucus Letter to Bar Association re Recommendation of Thomas Nocella

The Philadelphia Democratic Progressive Caucus
135 S. 19th Street Suite 200
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103
215-568-4990
gmgilman@igc.org

December 9, 2011

Rudy Garcia, Chancellor
John Savoth, Chancellor Elect
Richard Seidel, Chair, Judicial Commission
Ken Shear, Phila. Bar Association

Re: Judicial Recommendations
Dear Sirs:

I am the Chair of the Philadelphia Democratic Progressive Caucus and the Chair of Philadelphia Neighborhood Networks. These are both organizations of citizens interested in local politics who try to make reasoned, educated decisions when they enter the voting booth. As such, we may interview certain candidates or hold open forums to explore candidates’ positions or demeanor. But as you know, this is extremely difficult when it comes to judicial candidates.

We are terribly concerned about how the Philadelphia Bar Association has been making determinations of recommendation for judicial candidates as many of our members attribute significance to the Bar’s conclusions. I understand that your explanation for the endorsement of Thomas Nocella in the recent general election was partly due to a short time to process his candidacy and partly because he had previously been recommended by the Bar when he ran previously. Both of those explanations are problematic. It would be better not to make a determination if your committee does not have sufficient time to do a proper consideration of the candidate’s qualifications. I would hope that you also would reconsider your policy that a recommendation stands for three years as new information is likely to prove fruitful in many situations. I also cannot understand how Mr. Nocella received a positive recommendation in 2009 when there was already substantial evidence of seriously inappropriate behavior by him that could have been uncovered by your committee.

The Fight to Restore the Rights of Tracey Gordon and her Constituents Moves to the Courtroom

PHILADELPHIA DEMOCRATIC PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS
135 S. 19TH STREET SUITE 200
PHILADELPHIA, PA 19103
215-568-4990

MEDIA RELEASE: For Immediate Release
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Contact: Gloria Gilman, Acting Chair 215-568-4990 gmgilman@igc.org

CLASS ACTION LAW SUIT FILED ON BEHALF OF UNSEATED PHILLY DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEEPERSON AND CONSTITUENTS TO ENFORCE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS

Today Tracey L. Gordon filed suit against the Philadelphia Democratic Party for outrageously and illegally barring her from taking office as Democratic Committeeperson in the 40th Ward after she was duly elected to that position by the voters in her division. Ms. Gordon has done nothing that would remotely authorize the Party to dislodge her from her position, nor does the Party have any legal standing whatsoever to even attempt any such thing.

Tracey L Gordon was duly elected by her Southwest Philly neighbors as a Democratic Party committeeperson in Ward 40B at the primary held in May, 2010. The Party first tried to deny Gordon her right to even run in that election, but Judge Idee Fox ordered her name put on the ballot. Escalating their illegal campaign to bar Gordon, a perceived adversary of her ward leader Anna Brown, the Party had Gordon physically evicted by two Philadelphia police officers from the first Ward Committee meeting that occurred after the election. The eviction did more than harm Gordon, it trampled on the rights of the voters who elected her. They are left without any representation, particularly the representative of their choice.

I thought the Bar Association could be counted on to insure a judicial candidate met minimum qualifications, but apparently not

I thought the Bar Association could be counted on to insure a judicial candidate met minimum qualifications, but apparently not.

I’ve never been a fan of electing judges, and sure don’t want Bob Brady deciding who gets to be a judge. However, I thought that at least we have the Bar Association to certify that the candidate has the minimum qualifications for the office. I had also assumed that the Bar Association could be counted on to certify that the candidate was of good character (at least no major scandals or ethics violations). I was wrong.

Just in case you missed it, a very troubling article about Judge Nocella appeared in Monday’s Inquirer at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/133784758.html?viewAll=y

Newly elected Common Pleas Court Judge Thomas M. Nocella credits U.S. Rep. Bob Brady - Philadelphia's Democratic Party boss - for intervening with ward leaders to put him on the ticket.

"He is the one in control," said Nocella, 67, rated qualified for the bench by the Philadelphia Bar Association, despite having been sanctioned by the city Ethics Commission in 2009.

He pointed out that he had done years of free legal work for the party and said the judgeship was his reward. "That's the way it's done in Pennsylvania," he said.

On Jan. 2, he will begin drawing a $165,000 judicial salary. Nocella welcomes the new income because there is a $358,000 IRS lien against him, the state says he ignored local taxes for years, and he has more than $1 million in debts listed in a bankruptcy case.

He is also embroiled in a Common Pleas Court lawsuit accusing him of fraud and deceit in 2005, when he helped sell off property for $507,500 that was owned by a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Manayunk.

Nocella was totally unapologetic about getting a judgeship as his reward for doing free legal work for the Party. No wonder so many young people today want nothing to do with electoral politics.

There's a reason the Philadelphia Democratic Party gets away with shaking down judicial candidates; it’s time to start connectin

There are real drawbacks to living in a one-party town. Recently the Philadelphia Inquirer reported:

The city's Democratic Party organization invited 27 Philadelphia judges to a buffet breakfast this week and asked them to pay $10,000 each to assure party support when they face yes-or-no retention votes in November, according to judges who attended.
The figure is double what the party asked from sitting judges two years ago.
And the request was reportedly delivered with a warning from the party treasurer, former State Rep. Frank Oliver, that Democratic ward leaders would "cut" - withhold support from - judges who failed to pay, according to several witnesses.

Democratic Party Chair Bob Brady, who has a real talent for plausible deniability, left the room when the party treasurer made his pitch.

I don't know what was said at the meeting, because I wasn't there," Brady said Thursday. …. The Democratic Party, for the 25 years I've been there, has never endorsed or unendorsed anybody for monetary reasons. . . . A good-faith effort, that's what the party asks."

Of course nobody believes this. A Daily News editorial asks: "Dem Party courtship of judicial candidates a stickup?" Anyone who pays attention to judicial elections in Philadelphia knows the process is riddled with corruption. But our local press doesn’t connect the dots.

It’s getting harder to answer friends who ask me: “Why do you bother working within the Democratic Party?

It’s getting harder to come up with a convincing answer to friends who ask me: “Why do you bother working within the Democratic Party? It’s hopeless.”

My answer: in the near future, working to build space for progressive politics within the Democratic Party is the only option. I still believe this, but recent events have really tested my commitment.

Last summer many progressives Democrats learned that the Philadelphia Democratic Party had refused to seat duly elected committeeperson Tracey Gordon. This incident gave birth to the Philadelphia Democratic Progressive Caucus. Please see our website and Facebook page.

Party Chair Bob Brady refused to respond to the repeated attempts of Tracey Gordon and of the Philadelphia Democratic Progressive Caucus to resolve the issue.

After all these attempts to contact Brady, Tracey Gordon’s lawyer Irv Acklesberg wrote to PA Party Chair Jim Burn requesting a grievance hearing with the PA Democratic Party State Committee. See the attached letter from Irv Acklesberg to Jim Burn.

Burn’s response is attached. Burn makes the preposterous claim that Tracey Gordon has not exhausted Philadelphia Democratic Party grievance procedures.

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