Thursday, September 21, 2006

Philadelphia NOW is a supporter of Neighborhood Networks. We hope our members will support the Neighborhood Networks conference on September 30. The following post describes the goals of Neighborhood Networks:

Building Democracy Ward by Ward, Division by Division
by Stan Shapiro

So the deed has now been done, our new Councilpeople have been annointed. Some of us from Philly for Change, Neighborhood Networks and others came together at Lucy's Hat Shop and said we won't tolerate this. But as we knew the City Committee would, they did their all in the family thing anyhow.

So what do we do now? We're just 8 months away from the primary election in which the machine will flex its muscles to get its choices ratified.

This is what Neighborhood Networks is doing. We're creating shadow ward organizations throughout the city to take on the machine on behalf of progressive candidates. We choose not to accept permanent rule by this thing that presumes to speak for all Democrats. We ourselves can build and be the organization that the Democratic City Committee ought to be.

NN is having its annual conference Saturday, September 30 at Temple University Law School. The theme is "Building Democracy from the Ground Up." We will have inspirational speakers like Chris Bowers and Anne Dicker to tell us what they're doing every day to build an inclusive politics. And then I hope we will all accept the personal challenge of doing some building ourselves. We'll have the chance to do that starting at 3PM when we break down into small groups organized by ward and division. There we will talk about taking responsibility in the neighborhoods in which we live to be the eyes and ears of the progressive movement. When we have enough of those -- along with boots on the ground that can go door to door on election day right behind the machine pols -- then we will have an answer to City Committee that it has to pay attention to. (And many good but frustrated committeepeople and ward leaders already in place will, I predict, be with us when we deliver that answer.)

And, btw, once we have this organization in place informally, we can make it official by getting waves of us elected committeepeople and ward leaders. We did some of that last Spring and we can do lots more next time. But the next opportunity to elect committeepeople isn't until 2010. In the meanwhile we can practice, practice, practice. And nominate lots of solid progressive Democrats along the way.

So if you're -- as they say -- sick and tired of being sick and tired -- join us on September 30, and meet your likeminded neighbors. Here's the link to our website which will let you register online.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Ann Richards

From Lauren Townsend:

Hopefully, there's a little bit of Ann Richards in all of us...

"I did not want my tombstone to read, 'She kept a really clean house.' I think I'd like them to remember me by saying, 'She opened government to everyone,'" Richards said shortly before leaving office in January 1995.

She was a very cool woman. My grandmother would have said she had IT.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Something is Happening Here

Last Wednesday night I attended the progressive candidates’ forum sponsored by Philly for Change, Neighborhood Networks, and Philadelphia NOW, along with many other progressive organizations. Candidates for the special elections were invited to address the voters. Progressive candidates like Maria Quiñones Sanchez, the NOW-endorsed candidate for the 7th councilmanic district, were there. The ward leaders (Savage and Sabatina), one of whom will be anointed by Democratic City committee to the 7th councilmanic district seat, were not.

I was overwhelmed by the large turn-out. We just may be on the cusp of real change in Philadelphia politics. A new generation of progressive young people is raising questions about the way political decisions are made and challenging the Democratic Party to become more open and inclusive.

Those of us who have lived here a while can remember other movements for change which resulted in new political alignments and practices. In the 50’s, we had the Dilworth/Clark reform movement which cleaned up Phila politics. In the 70’s, we had a new generation of African-American political activists led by Bill Gray who demanded that the Democratic Party become more racially inclusive.

Now we have new groups such as Neighborhood Networks and Philly for Change which are questioning the closed nature of the ward system and demanding a more open process. A recent article in the Philadelphia Tribune described the frustration of young African-American political activists who consider themselves blocked by an older generation unwilling to make room for them.

The catalyst which just might turn all these stirrings into a real movement for change may have come with the decision of the local Democratic Party to cut the voters out of the process and anoint a trio of ward leaders to three City Council vacancies. This has struck a nerve. Both the Inquirer (“Heck, they give voters this much say in China”) and the DN (“Special election neither special, nor election; City council vacancies should be filled by the people, not the party”) have written editorials about this. Local blogs have been abuzz.

Underlying all of this seems to be recognition that Phila. can no longer afford mediocre leadership. We lived through Jim Tate, Frank Rizzo, and Wilson Goode. But the economy was booming back in the 60’s when Jim Tate was mayor, and Frank Rizzo’s budget-busting policies were to some extent offset by the Federal money that then Congressman Bill Green was sending us.

So in the past, we survived weak leadership and a culture of corruption which sure did not start with the Street administration. A consensus seems to be emerging that we can no longer afford the luxury of mediocre leadership and a party structure which blocks talented, innovative candidates.

Are we about to experience one of those political shifts of the magnitude of those initiated by Richardson Dilworth and by Bill Gray? Am I indulging in wishful thinking?

Or is something happening here and you don't know what it is, do you, Mr. Brady?

Karen Bojar
Phila NOW

Friday, September 08, 2006

Meet Maria Quinones-Sanchez!

You’re Invited…
to the Philadelphia National Organization for Women’s Fundraiser for our endorsed candidate,
for City Council, 7th District
Sunday, September 10, 2006 - 3:00-4:30 p.m.
Home of Kathy Black
711 N. 19th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130

For more info or to RSVP, contact Kathy Black,, 215-232-4626

Minimum donation of $25 is requested, but please come meet our wonderful candidate no matter how much you can contribute. Volunteers for many campaign activities are also needed.

Make checks payable to “Friends of Maria Quinones-Sanchez”

We'll have really nice refreshments, including Yard's beer, donated by brewery-owner Linda Carpenter (NOW endorsed candidate for judge last year)