Wednesday, December 18, 2013

City Commissioner Hearing on Voter Obstruction Today

Today, December 18th, the City Commissioners will be hearing testimony from subpoenaed election workers of the 29th Ward, 1st Division.

They are being subpoenaed because of a complaint (attached) filed by Republican Ward Leader Adam Lang.

Adam Lang claims the election board workers refused him his legal right to inspect the poll book and then when he came back later in the evening, found the machines were closed down, all paperwork packed up and all but one worker gone before the end of the voting period.

The hearing is at 11am in the Voter Registration Office at 520 North Delaware Ave, 6th Floor.  Meeting details here

Thursday, December 12, 2013

“Land Bank” Needs To Be More Open

“Land Bank” Needs To Be More Open
Republican City Committee Recommends reforming Vacant Property Review Committee
Philadelphia, PA, December 12, 2013:  With passage of a flawed “Land Bank” bill in Philadelphia that doesn’t achieve the streamlining that has been promised, it is important that Philadelphians push for better reform of how the City handles selling land.
“Including the VPRC in the decision making process is a fatal flaw of the Land Bank,” says Adam Lang, Chairman of the RCC Policy Committee.  “The City was looking at a Land Bank because of how dysfunctional the existing three property departments are.  The VPRC is run by the Council President and the heads of those same entities.”
“We’ve gone from three dysfunctional agencies to four agencies controlled by the original three.”
The VPRC should be removed and Council involvement limited to oversight as opposed to its current micromanagement.
In the interim, the VPRC itself needs significant reforms if it is to currently remain.
“The VPRC has a board spot for an agency (PCDC) that doesn’t exist anymore, has no minority party representation and filled by the current broken agencies that are supposed to ‘go away’,” Lang added. “City Council already needs to ‘reform the reform’.”

Republican City Committee will continue to work with Philadelphians to properly fix the significant blighted land problem in Philadelphia.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Again and Again, The Same Mistakes

BY JOSEPH DeFELICE/“There you go again.”
Council President Darrell Clarke just came out advocating for trying to solve the School District funding problem by raising taxes, again, and performing accounting tricks, again. Not surprisingly, he essentially presented the same failed playbook that Democrats have used for generations and that made Philadelphia the poorest big city in America. Read More Here.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Mayor Nutter Doesn’t Care About the Residents of Northeast Philly

Contact:          Joe DeFelice, Executive Director
Phone:             215-756-4158 (mobile)

Mayor Nutter Doesn’t Care About the Residents of Northeast Philly
Philadelphia, PA, December 5 2013:    Philadelphia Republican City Committee issued the following statement in regard to Mayor Nutter’s veto of Councilman O’Neill’s proposed legislation dealing with medical facilities receiving neighborhood support before opening: 
Today, Mayor Michael Nutter vetoed legislation that was unanimously supported by City Council. The legislation, sponsored by Councilman Brian O'Neill, a longtime champion of the Northeast, would require medical offices to seek out support on neighborhood residents in the 6th and 10th Councilmanic Districts before opening; it would also include any potential methadone clinics that would attempt to open. 
The Northeast, home to roughly 400,000 residents above Frankford Creek and larger than the City of Pittsburgh, is already home to two Methadone clinics with two more proposed. In the last several years, residents of several Northeast neighborhoods have risen up and have fought, with no support of the Mayor, against these clinics, first in Bustleton and now in Mayfair and Holmesburg. 
State Representative John Taylor, Chairman of the Republican City Committee, whose district stretches into Mayfair and who has stood side by side with these neighbors in their fight, believes that "the Mayor really dropped the ball on this one.  I am disappointed that the Mayor has not listened to voices of all City Council and the residents of Northeast Philadelphia who have rejected methadone clinics in residential areas.  The proposed Healing Way methadone clinic sits directly across the street from a school, a church and a daycare and there are hundreds of homes within a block of this proposed location."  Joe DeFelice, Executive Director of the Party and a Community Leader in Mayfair, has also been the opposition leader against the Healing Way clinic since residents first realized the intention of the owners, believes that “Mayor Nutter has aspirations for higher political office and his liberal bonafides would be severely diminished should he sign this legislation.  It is unfortunate that the Mayor has, once again, turned his back on the residents of the Northeast."
Thankfully, City Council realized that the neighbors in this section of the have spoken as to what their desires are and overrode this veto by a count of 16 -1.    

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

How to fix land-bank bill - an Inquirer OpEd by Adam Lang

By Adam LangPhiladelphia needs to address its vacant, blighted, and neglected land problem. City Council says it is working on the issue with proposed land-bank legislation, but it is hard to believe the current bill would solve the problems.
To make real gains in getting land into reuse, three things need to happen. First, Council needs to get out of the way. Second, the mayor's office has to get serious about land sales and push city employees to get the job done. Third, the process needs to be open to everyone.
Here's what currently takes place:
I recently looked into acquiring a piece of city-owned land. I went to the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA) website to look up what properties it has for sale in my area. After I discovered that only the "developers" link works, I was able to bring up a list of properties. I found one adjacent to where I live listed "for sale." Of course, the list price is twice what the city has appraised it for.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Executive Director Joe DeFelice's Testimony Before the PA House State Government Committee - 11/19/13

Testimony of Joseph J. DeFelice, Esq.
Executive Director of the Philadelphia Republican City Committee
Before the Pennsylvania House of Representatives State Government Committee
Tuesday November 19, 2013
9 AM
Pennsylvania State Capitol

Chairman Metcalfe, Democratic Chair Cohen, Members of the Committee:

My name is Joseph DeFelice and I am the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Republican City Committee.  I have a long history of experience in Pennsylvania politics having received a Political Science Degree from LaSalle University in 2000, and Juris Doctorate from Widener University in 2004.  I have worked both in government or elections since my time in college first as an intern and legislative assistant in the PA House of Representatives.  I worked as a legal intern for the PA Office of the Attorney General.  I have worked for fair and legal elections as Southeast HAVA Director for Victory 2004, then as Fair Elections Coordinator for the PA Republican State Committee in 2006, then as Philadelphia Director/PA Director of Election Day Operations for the Republican Party of Pennsylvania in 2007 through the present.  In May of 2012, I was hired by Mitt Romney for President as Pennsylvania Director of Election Day Operations in which capacity I oversaw all Election related issues in Pennsylvania.  I am also working at LaSalle University where I currently act an adjunct Professor of Political Science in American Government.  I have also been a Clerk of Elections, an Elected Republican County Committeeperson, Republican Ward Leader and a Member of the Pennsylvania Republican State Committee representing Philadelphia County. 
Through my experience in elections I have noticed many issues of great concerns with Elections in our Commonwealth, not the least of which was the disparaging treatment of Court Appointed Minority Inspectors of Election in Philadelphia County.  In the Commonwealth, one may be elected to a local Election Board by either circulating petitions and securing a spot on the Primary Election Ballot and thus getting selected as either the Judge of Elections or qualifying for one of the top two positions for Inspector of Election; highest vote getter becoming the Majority Inspector while the Second Highest vote getter becoming the Minority Inspector.  Nevertheless, there are two other ways where one can become an Inspector of Election; the first is by securing enough “write-in” votes to place in either first or second place or by securing a Court Order by the Court of Common Pleas in the respective County prior to either the Primary or General Election.

In Philadelphia, it is quite difficult in many neighborhoods for Republicans to get enough signatures to appear on the ballot because in order to do so, they must first get five (5) signatures from registered Republican Electors in the voting precinct for which they are registered.  This task is difficult, because of the few registered Republicans in these divisions.  When a potential Inspector has enough Republicans it is equally difficult to find five (5) registered Republicans to agree to sign your petition.  Republicans, in some cases would have to secure signatures from roughly 50% to 100% of Republicans in the precinct to obtain access to the ballot at the same time Democrats would only have to secure signatures from 1-10% roughly in the exact same precinct.  So in order to ensure that Republicans have a place on the Election Board, Philadelphia Republicans have taken to the Court of Common Pleas utilizing the language in Section 405 of the Pennsylvania Election Code: “Vacancies in Election Boards; Appointment; Judge and Minority Inspector to Be Members of Majority Party; Minority Inspector to Be Member of Minority Party.”  In order to obtain such Court Appointment, Republicans must get three signatures from registered electors (regardless of Political Party) on a Petition for Court Appointment where they declare that there is a vacancy in that office, i.e. no one was elected or appointed and then file such with Prothonotary of note.  Once such filing is made, the date and time of the hearing is posted, usually the following Wednesday at 10AM, in both English and Spanish in the voting precinct for which they are petitioning to serve. 

The following Wednesday, at a hearing, normally before the President Judge, Representatives of the Petitioners, in our case either the Republican Party of Pennsylvania or the Republican City Committee, argue on behalf of the Petitioner while the Democrat City Committee represents the opposition.  Usually there is nominal opposition, however last year, prior to the General Election 2012, opposition was logged to all three hundred seven (307) of our petitions by the Counsel for Democrat City Committee.  Nevertheless, roughly three hundred (300) Court Orders were approved by President Judge Dembe.  Prior to Election Day, all appropriate parties in each precinct, specifically the Judge of Elections, were notified by the Philadelphia City Commissioners that these appointments were approved and that these individuals would be working Election Day.  Also, as noted in the Section 404 of the Pennsylvania Election Code, each Minority Inspector has the sole authority to appoint a Clerk for the precinct in which they serve; however there is no procedure on how such appointment must occur.

On Tuesday November 6, 2012, in the early morning, these three Hundred (300) newly appointed Inspectors appeared for work, almost all prior to the 7:30AM allowable time and between seventy and one hundred were promptly denied entry to either them or their Clerks and in many instances both, with such greetings as “You can’t come in,” “There are only Democrats here,” “We don’t have Republicans around here,” “I don’t care what that Court Order says,” etc. while also being called derogatory racial terms for daring to be a registered Republican Election Board worker in a majority Democrat-registered voting division.  Many of them felt physically intimidated and threatened and chose to leave because to them, the harassment from their own neighbors wasn’t worth the $95 that they would receive for working as a member of the Election Board that day and in some instances these individuals did not feel safe even voting at that location.  Some Minority Inspectors stayed and were forced to wait outside in the cold, some until midafternoon until were able to get them another Court Order to enforce Judge Dembe’s earlier Court Order.  Complaints were logged in every one of these cases to the City Commissioners who were severely undermanned and lacking enforcement powers to quickly remedy this problem.  Many news stories immediately pounced on this issue making it one of the top stories surfacing on Election Day morning.  It gave a black eye to the City of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 

Several specific issues that arose on Election Day 2012:
-          In the 39th Ward, 1st Division in South Philly, the Democrat Committeeperson was also working the table.
-          In the 2nd Ward, 12th Division in South Philly, Election Board workers are entering the booth with voters without them having filled out assistance forms.
-          In the 11th Ward, 16th Division in North Philly, Judge of Elections would not allow the Minority Inspector to serve.
-          In the 56th Ward, 1st Division in Northeast Philly, an unofficial Democrat was working as Judge thereby not allowing our Minority Inspector to serve.
-          In the 15th Ward, 3rd Division in the City’s Fairmount section, someone who did not work at all was allowed to sign the “payroll sheet” for the day.
-          In the 21st Ward, 24 division in Northwest Philly, the Judge of Elections was allowing those not in the poll books to vote on the machine.
-          In the 43rd Ward, 14th Division in North Philly, the Judge of Elections would not let the Clerk serve.
-          In the 49th Ward in Northwest Philly, 5th Division, the Judge would not let the Minority Inspector or the Clerk serve and said that they didn’t need them.
-          In the 56th Ward, 22nd Division in Northeast Philly, the Judge refused to the Inspector because it was “not her person.”
-          In the 16th Ward, 6th Division in North Philly, the Judge will not allow the Minority Inspector in without a “Watcher Certificate” although it is not needed for an Election Official.
-          In the 48th Ward, 13th Division in South Philly the Judge will not allow our Inspector to serve.
-          In the 36th Ward, 21st Division in the City’s Point Breeze section, the Judge will not let our Inspector serve.
-          In the 53rd Ward, 13th Division in Northeast Philly, Judge of Elections will not let Inspector serve.
-          In the 38th Ward, 13th Division, there were Obama signs inside the polling place.
-          In the 5th Ward, 4th Division in Center City, voter was followed into the polls by Election Board worker and was instructed on how to vote Democrat and then pushed the buttons for the voter.
-          In the 18th Ward, 17th Division in the Riverwards section of the City, the Board refused to seat the Clerk of Elections.
-          In the 65th Ward in Northeast Philly, Minority Inspectors and Clerks being told to stand outside.
-          In the 37th Ward, 12th Division in North Philly, Minority Inspectors were told “No republicans allowed in the polling place”.
-          In the 60th Ward, 6th Division in West Philadelphia, Minority Inspector denied right to serve by Judge of Elections.
-          In the 62nd Ward, 26th Division in Lower Northeast Philly, Clerk was forced to leave because they did not have Court Order even after he informed her that because he is a Clerk he does not need a Court Order.

Because of this type of treatment it has become increasingly harder to find registered Republicans to serve in those precincts.  Please note that many of these individuals were treated this way, not solely because of the affiliation, rather because two of the workers, who had previously worked either due to a curbside election or simply due to inertia, would be displaced and this was their way to fight for what they believed was “their jobs” i.e. if Sally Smith is the Judge of Elections and Mary Martin is the Elected Majority Inspector and no Republican was elected nor appointed Minority Inspector, Sally Smith would either fill the job herself and receive two paychecks (a practice recently outlawed by the Philadelphia City Commissioners) or call in a family member, friend or neighbor (many of which were from outside the area, City or in some instances from outside of the State as well as a few who were either unregistered to vote or ineligible to register to vote) to fill the role.  In many of these precincts, this practice had gone unchecked for years and in some cases, decades; leading to a sense of entitlement by those soon to displaced workers or a sense of lack of respect felt by the Judge of Elections or the Democrat Committeeperson or Ward Leader, who, while having no official position, exerts extraordinary control over many of the polling places in Philadelphia.  It is because of this type of behavior that simply allowing Philadelphia residents to act as pollworkers is underwhelming, rather Pennsylvania should get in line with many other states such as Michigan and Virginia that allow for watchers to come from anywhere in the State. 

The importance of a bipartisan Board or watchers from various parties is paramount to free and fair elections.  This level is the smallest subdivision of government in our Commonwealth but all parties should be afforded equal access and the ability to be free from intimidation or undue influence.  Actually, it was one of our credentialed Pollworkers that alerted us to the “Obama mural” in the 35th Ward which was featured on national television.  This mural was there for quite some time -- complete with campaign logo -- but had not previously been reported until one of our watchers noted it and reported it.  Whatever the impact, polling places are supposed to free from all campaign material and many times that is case.  Regularly, campaign literature is left on tables or chairs and in some cases, like those I encountered in the Primary Election 2006 at Ethel Allen School in North Philadelphia, Election Board workers were actively campaigning for the write in effort of defeated State Representative.   All too often, polling places are not the free areas they were intended to be and such issues are normally ignored after the Election. 

This behavior is not just a Republican-Democrat issue.  If this body considers the report of Commissioner Al Schmidt in 2012, Philadelphia has seen bad behavior in Democrat Primaries as well.  Everyone has a right to a cast a fair vote and both parties should agree that election results should reflect the voters will, period.  I am happy that this body is undertaking the often scrutinized yet underappreciated role of trying to reform elections in this Commonwealth and hope that my testimony today will help lead to better treatment of our Election Board workers, and to a larger extent, voters in not only Philadelphia but in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Thank you.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Shame of a City Screening with Q&A with Director Tigre Hill

Wednesday October 30, 2013
United Republican Club (Frankford and Allegheny Aves.)
Free Event - Cash Bar
The Philadelphia Republican City Committee, in conjunction with area College Republican Chapters - Temple, LaSallle and UPenn) invite you to a pre-election screening of one of the most riveting documentaries on Philadelphia Public Corruption ever produced; "The Shame of a City". Come out and get charged up prior to the election near the 10 year anniversary of the bug discovered in John Street's Office. 10 years and not much has changed in this City. This is a free event and will have food and cash bar and will also include Q&A with Director Tigre Hill who will have copies on hand for sale.

From Wikipedia
The Shame of a City is a 2006 feature-length documentary, which premiered at the Philadelphia Film Festival,.[1] Filmmaker Tigre Hill chronicles the 2003 Philadelphia mayoral race between Democrat incumbent mayor John Street and Republican challenger Sam Katz. Early polls showed Katz with a small lead in this predominantly Democratic city but twenty-seven days before the election, an FBI bug was found in the mayor’s office. The discovery at first seemed like a death knell to the Street campaign and a near certain victory for Katz. Yet this prediction was proven wrong when Street and his supporters successfully polarized the campaign by leveling accusations of instituational racial prejudice and playing on historical skepticism of the Republican-controlled federal government. As a result, Street won re-election by a sixteen-point margin.
With exclusive inside access to the Katz campaign,[2] “The Shame of a City” traverses the bizarre final month to Election Day with the losing candidate as he tries in vain to salvage his campaign while his victor succeeds in manipulating voter sentiment in order to thwart it.
“The Shame of a City” is named for Lincoln Steffens’ 1904 book, The Shame of the Cities, which sought to expose the wrongdoing of public officials in cities across the United States.[3] Considered one of the first and finest examples of muckraking journalism, the book sparked Hill’s idea to shine a similar light into the deep corners where Philly’s political cronyism and malfeasance lurk. In his book, Lincoln Steffens infamously calls Philadelphia “corrupt and contented.” One hundred years later, this documentary explodes with overwhelming evidence that not much has changed.
Contents [hide]
1 Media attention
2 Critic reviews
3 Political impact
4 Box office
5 References
Media attention[edit]

“The Shame of a City” gained widespread attention for exposing many high-ranking Street supporters as disingenuous opportunists who intentionally and falsely manipulated racial tensions and suspicion of President George W Bush's administration to get Street re-elected, despite a string of corruption indictments in his inner circle that threatened to implicate him directly.
The film won several awards (most notably “Best Feature-Length Film” at the 2006 Philadelphia Film Festival's Festival of Independents[4]) and generated monumental amounts of press, earning Hill an interview on MSNBC,[5] named references in five successive issues of Philadelphia magazine, and positive reviews by The Philadelphia Inquirer, among others.
Critic reviews[edit]

"Tigre Hill’s 'The Shame of a City' is a civic Rorschach test. A cautionary tale of the streetfight that was the 2003 Philadelphia mayoral contest, this scrappy exposé reveals how Smear-Room politics alienates voters across the political and color spectrum." Carrie Rickey, The Philadelphia Inquirer[2]
“'The Shame of a City' is sure to be studied in political-campaign war rooms for years to come." Stu Bykofsky, Philadelphia Daily News[6]
“'The Shame of a City' is political dynamite. Thumbs up. Four stars. Must-see." Michael Smerconish, talk radio host[7]
Political impact[edit]

The film quickly drew the attention of local politicians, journalists, academics and activists in addressing the endemic problems of a city once referred to as “corrupt and contented.”[8] The timing of these civic discussions inarguably benefited reformer and former city council member Michael Nutter,[9] who was by then attempting to succeed Street by securing the Democratic primary vote for mayor against two Street supporters portrayed negatively in Hill’s movie: Congressmen Bob Brady and Chaka Fattah. After receiving Hill’s endorsement, Nutter himself screened “The Shame of a City” five times to sold-out audiences, using it to raise money and awareness of his opponents’ admitted nefarious political techniques. Also, the DVD release was timed to coincide with the primary election cycle, thereby more broadly reminding voters about the previous elections controversies. In the primary of May 2007, Nutter went from underdog to winner then proceeded to statistically annihilate his opponent in the general election. “The Shame of a City” also provided an introduction to a Katz campaign consultant, Carl Singley, whose strongly positive appearance in the movie briefly made him the focus of an early, informal city-wide campaign for him to run for mayor[10] – a municipal conversation legitimized by a feature article in Philadelphia magazine [11] and silenced when Singley declined to run.[12]
Box office[edit]

Screenings were sponsored by diverse institutions ranging from the FBI, Philadelphia Forward, The University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University to Philadelphia magazine and[13] and were held at venerable locations like the National Constitution Center.[14].

Republican City Committee Recommends “No” On Debt Due to Lack of Details

Contact:          Joe DeFelice, Executive Director
Phone:             215-756-4158 (mobile)

City Hall Needs Better Bond/Debt Disclosure for Vote
Republican City Committee Recommends “No” On Debt Due to Lack of Details
Philadelphia, PA, October 24, 2013:  Philadelphia Republican City Committee unanimously voted to recommend a “No” vote on the request for a bond issue for the Nov. 5th election due to lack of details on how the debt will be spent.
“If City Hall wants voters to approve more debt for buildings and infrastructure, they need to disclose to the voters what those projects are, so we can make an informed decision.  Right now, a voter doesn’t know on where the money is going.” says Executive Director Joe DeFelice.
The Philadelphia Republican City Committee feels strongly that the voters should reject this ballot question and demand that City Council provide them with adequate information to make an informed decision on future bond issues.
 “Philadelphia has a history of using capital funds for operating expenses, which is the functional equivalent of taking out a mortgage to buy groceries,” added Matt Wolfe, member of the RCC Policy Committee. “For example, Democratic Mayor Street’s signature program, the Neighborhood Transformation Initiative (NTI) was a nearly $300 Million scheme whereby the city sold bonds and, using cronies of the Mayor to manage the project, did things like clear vacant lots and tear down vacant buildings.”
“Philadelphia spent capital dollars and was left with long-term debt but few capital assets.”
The ballot question asks the voters to authorize a bond issue for almost $95 Million.  The question on the ballot reads as follows:

Should the City of Philadelphia borrow NINETY-FOUR MILLION SEVEN HUNDRED FORTY-FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS ($94,745,000.00) to be spent for and toward capital purposes as follows:  Transit; Streets and Sanitation; Municipal Buildings; Parks, Recreation and Museums; and Economic and Community Development?

The legislation that City Council passed that authorized that this question be placed on the ballot gives little additional information.  It puts an amount of money for each category as follows:
$   1,070,000.00
Streets and Sanitation
$ 18,448,000.00  
Municipal Buildings
$  44,599,000.00
Parks, Recreation and Museums
$  18,816,000.00
Economic and Community Development
$  11,812,000.00
$ 94,745,000.00
The legislation also states that City Council can transfer money between the various categories at any time.
Capital expenditures are critical to the city’s operations.  The failure to adequately address renovations of property can end up costing more money over the long term.  In order to carry out its responsibilities, the city requires an infrastructure that logically must be financed over the life of the asset.  The RCC understands and appreciates the necessity for the city to borrow money to meet its capital needs.
Philadelphia should look at adopting legislation or a City Charter change that requires disclosing and linking bond debt votes to the programs they are intended for,” responds Adam Lang, Chairman of the Policy Committee.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Cocktail Party

Welcome to the Temporary Home of the Philadelphia Republican City Committee. To purchase tickets to our Fall Cocktail Party please check out the below: Fall Cocktail Party - Republican City Committee Date: Tuesday October 29, 2013 Time: 6-8PM Location: Hibachi 325 N Columbus Blvd, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106-1416 Price: $125