This is Democracy

The Philadelphia Inquirer, under new management, has a shocking good article on tomorrow’s ward leader elections. The entire article reminded me quite a bit of The Last Hurrah. Here’s a taste of what big city politics still look like, at least in my neck of the woods:

In the 18th Ward in Fishtown and South Kensington, City Councilman Juan Ramos ran a slate of committee candidates, knocking out several incumbents, and is seeking to unseat eight-year leader Lynn Farrell . . . . “I wanted to keep a close eye on my neighborhood, but she apparently did not want me to be part of the ward structure,” Ramos said. He said he would make the party “more active” and open.

It will be up to 34 committee members, meeting at Farrell’s home on East Montgomery Avenue. The incumbent says she has 22 votes locked up, but anything can happen. Ramos considers the race too close to call. Farrell has collected sworn affidavits from poll workers who say that Ramos and his supporters browbeat voters on primary day. For their part, Ramos forces protest the location of the meeting and say they have notified the 26th Police District that they may need help.

[And elsewhere in the city . . . ] John J. Dougherty, leader of the electricians’ union and a potential mayoral candidate [is running for re-election as party treasurer.] A source of friction was the 73 electricians Dougherty encouraged to run as ward committee members. He said 68 won . . . .

The strange thing about Philly, in light of all of this sausage making mess, is that the corruption that comes to light is petty ante. You rarely see the huge swindles here that you do in other towns, and local politicians, when caught, have stolen merely in the five to six figures. That really isn’t much, given that we’re still a moderately large town, with an operating budget of around $4 billion. Shucks, our pols can’t even wipe their data efficiently!

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