Politics Doesn't Have to Be a Dirty Business

I was pretty amazed about an article posted by a Deputy City Commissioner that indicated a large amount of challenges to petitions that were filed for City Committee positions in the upcoming election.  I was appointed a Committee Person in the 36th Ward midway through the term that I am serving now.  I am interested in being elected to the position and I took the process of obtaining ten signatures seriously.  Even with this process being completed, I was about to turn in my petition without the required notary process.

A notary has to verify the identity of the person who circulated the petitions.  The identity of the candidate also has to be verified by the notary.  Since I circulated the petition and was also the candidate, I needed two.  Thank goodness I took the extra step of utilizing the notary provided by the 36th Ward and getting that extra notary to certify my petition.  It was reported that there were almost four hundred challenges to petitions that were filed recently.  What in the name of being too lazy to get ten signatures is going on here?

It seems like the efforts of one individual were particularly evident in this process.  The article mentioned that Ori Feibush challenged petitions in three different wards in South Philadelphia.  Some people would consider this dirty politics.  The nerve of someone to challenge a long held tradition of fudging signatures.  A particularly egregious case was when then State Representative Tony Payton never made the ballot for his reelection because he couldn't get three hundred valid signatures.  The reason why street lists are invaluable is that serious candidates can utilize them to check the validity of voters and their residences before turning in petitions.  If this is too much of a challenge, find another line of business.  I appreciate Mr. Feibush for making people realize that someone is truly watching the ship!!

Political observers are also watching another political drama play out.  The Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is embroiled in a controversy because of her decision to squash an investigation into some members of the House of Representatives who were caught on tape accepting cash in an envelope.  The Voter ID legislation which was overthrown seemed to be the basis for some of these representatives being persuaded to accept cash to vote against it.  It seemed to be only African American politicians who fell for the bait.  A Hispanic representative came forward and admitted being approached but refusing to take the cash.

The list of elected officials who crossed over to the dark side grows by the election cycle.  Vince Fumo and John Perzel put Philadelphia on the map because of their political savvy and willingness to fight for their constituents.  They also served jail time for forgetting that they should use their own funds to pay for personal expenses and re-election activities.  LeAnna Washington might soon learn the hard way about using campaign staff for personal political gain.  Former Judge Orie Melvin and her sister suffered the same fate.  Traffic court here in Philadelphia was disbanded due to the willingness of judges to accept bribes, fix tickets and think that they were above the law that they were elected to enforce.

Corey Kemp should be getting out of jail soon.  I feel that he was kind of coerced by Ron White into some shady dealing during the Street administration but he was gullible to Super Bowl tickets and free perks.  As we approach the gubernatorial election in Philadelphia, the fact that registered voters have been lax coming to the polls makes me happy that new people are willing to get involved in the electoral process.  Petition challenges should be the least of our worries as we work to ensure the proper functioning of our Democracy.  Good luck to all candidates who withstand challenges to their petitions.  To all others who decided that forging signatures was the easiest path to election, try harder the next time.   

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