- Pennsylvania Among 'Terrible 10' Most Regressive Tax States
- February 4 Non-Partisan Training: HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013: HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Republican Governors Opt-In to Medicaid Expansion
- The Reports of Unions' Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
- Ask Allyson Schwartz to run for Governor
- Mind the gap: Opting Out of Medicaid Expansion Leaves Low-income Families Behind
- Jan. 14 Workshop:HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013; HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Seth Williams on Guns, Jasmine Rivera on School Closures @PFC Meetup Wednesday
- PA Revenue Strong Midway Through Year; Tax Cut Could Have Big Impact
- What to Make of the Fiscal Cliff Deal?
Once and For All, Why I Don't Think We Can Risk Tom Knox
I want to go into my rationale a little bit more about Knox, and why I feel strongly about him. I have never met him, though we did exchange emails a while back. But, anyway, what I want to make clear is that I don't necessarily think he is a bad person. Susan Madrak, for example, his press secretary, is someone I do know a little bit, and I don't think she would work for Dr. Evil.
But, here is my basic take on Knox, after reading everything, watching him, and why I really, strongly do not think he is a good idea.
First of all, what do we really know about the way Knox will govern? Not much. The record of public service that other candidates have is important for a number of reasons, including showing what they care about. But especially wrapped up in that is that public service is... public. Ray is a big fan of Chaka Fattah. Someone like Gaetano, for example, is not. But, at least in some of his critiques of Fattah, we get something that comes effectively down to this: I have not seen him do things as Congressman, I have not seen him in my neighborhood, etc. In other words, he is criticizing him for his record or his performance as a Congressman. When Stan criticizes Nutter, it is for Nutter’s time as a City Councilman, and the bills he introduced, or helped stop. We can do that, because it was done largely in the public view.
That does not mean that all Mayoral candidates need to have been politicians, because there are things that non-traditional candidates can offer. (For example, maybe Paul Levy should get on the green party ticket if Knox wins?) But, still, we do not have that record for Knox, which brings me to point 2.
Except for his stint as one of many deputy mayors, where he saved the City money by renegotiating leases, Knox has no record of public service that we know of. He has been a big donor to a lot of Democrats throughout the years (as well as Rick Santorum, and PAS). But that is about it. He has not been vocal on any issue, at all. He has no signature cause, or anything like that. He has nothing that really shows us his instincts for how he will lead. Except...
This brings us to the payday lending thing. Knox is running as a businessman who has done well, and who will bring those skills to the City. So then, since that is effectively his only record, that is how we have to judge him, right?. And, frankly, given how much poverty wracks Philadelphia, someone who has the instincts to put into place payday payday lending is someone I think is potentially dangerous. In terms of legislation, we will still have City Council to act as some sort of protector, but, a lot goes on without legislation. So, the payday lending thing scares me for what he thinks “helps” poor people. And then when he reacted by deriding government regulators who did exactly what government should do, and protected poor Americans, I became increasingy skeptical of his idea of what government should be.
Which brings me to my final point: I think Knox is running a fundamentally dishonest campaign. First, he is not an outsider. He is a rich, connected, Center City businessman. Again, it does not make him evil. But considering that he, for example, donated 5,000 to Vince Fumo in 2000, and asked Vince Fumo to run him as "
PorkKnox, the other White candidate" in 1999, his railing against Fumo seems hollow. The things that Fumo are being indicted for, while mildly surprising in their extent and largesse, are not particularly new, especially if you read the Inquirer over the past ten years or so. Yet Knox now rails against Fumo, and his system of patronage and favors. Well, Knox, in fact, was part of that system, or at least a supporter of it. Now, he is running against it. Maybe it is a change of heart, or a change in outlook, or whatever. But, again, it just seems dishonest.
Or, he now says he did not realize that payday loans would be continuously rolled into new loans, trapping people in debt. Again, I can only say that I think he is not telling the truth. Why? Because before Knox got into the business, he supposedly consulted Advance America, one of PA's big payday lenders, on the payday business. Presumably, when talking to Advance America, as the CEO of his bank, don't you think he asked them about their business model, ie, how they made money on these things? Well, assuming he did, he would have heard that much of Advance America's entire plan was centered around... rolling people into loan after loan. When the payday lenders, led by Advance America, were trying to get payday lending legalized here, a proposal to limit people to something like three consecutive loans was laughed at by their industry. Why? Because, again, repeat loans were fundamental to their entire business model. It is far too unbelievable to me to consider that Knox did not know that, or that was not mentioned to him when he went into the business. So, again, it just seems to be yet more dishonesty.
There are other things, too. I asked him over email if, given the money he was pouring in to "take the sale sign off City Hall," he thought we should have public funding of elections, so non-rich people could similarly get rid of the stench of moneyed interests. He basically ignored the question. Now, he supports public funding, according to a comment from Susie. Maybe not a big deal. But again, it just seems like he adopts what he thinks he needs to at a particular moment.
There were also his strange answers about those studious gays.
So, all that said, does it mean Knox will be a bad Mayor? No, I guess not. He, like any Mayor, could do great things, surround himself with great people, and give us good policies. In fact, a couple of his policies (like the health center thing) have already been good. And, seriously, this could be the old, rich guy who will save us all.
But given what we know about him, is he a risk I think we can take? No. That, in a nutshell, is why I strongly oppose Tom Knox for Mayor.