Stu Bykofsky: Voters DROP some big hints
FRANK S. RIZZO is no longer the biggest Republican voter-getter in Philadelphia. In Democratic ward-leader-on-ward-leader violence, Center City math whiz Stephanie Singer bested Mayfair's long-serving, colorful and combative Marge Tartaglione as city commissioner.
FRANK S. RIZZO is no longer the biggest Republican voter-getter in Philadelphia.
In Democratic ward-leader-on-ward-leader violence, Center City math whiz Stephanie Singer bested Mayfair's long-serving, colorful and combative Marge Tartaglione as city commissioner.
The losers were branded with the scarlet letters D-R-O-P - the Deferred Retirement Option Plan.
In an election with as many mixed messages as Newt Gingrich, one siren split the silence - voters hate elected opportunists who enroll in DROP, announce a sham retirement and then return to work. Rizzo and Tartaglione will not. Voters were a SEAL Team Six that ended their political careers.
It turns out that the other DROP-saddled incumbents who chose to really retire rather than run - Anna Verna, Frank DiCicco, Donna Reed Miller, Jack Kelly, Joan Krajewski - correctly sensed voters' angry mood and left the game with no "L" next to their names.
The sole challenge-facing DROP incumbent to survive the peasants' revolt was Maid Marian Tasco, of Mount Airy, who cruised to victory in her 9th District fiefdom.
I hope her easy victory doesn't make her think that she's a lock to be the next president of Council. In the 5th District, Center City to North Philly, wannabe Council president Darrell Clarke crushed his opponent. (Potential "compromise" candidate Jannie Blackwell didn't even have an opponent.)
While 80 percent of the electorate avoided the election booth like a Bangladesh public bathroom, party machinery powered up and drove the "faithful" to the polls to dance to the tune played by Michael Meehan, Bob Brady, John Dougherty (and Beelzebub?).
While the power of party-backed incumbency raised its powerful arms - all five Democratic at-large candidates won nomination - there was a surge of Howard Beale "Network" voters who were mad as hell (at DROP) and weren't going to take it any more.
Many seasoned pols, including Rizzo, didn't believe that DROP was that big a deal, but they were wrong. Despite what I had written about DROP, and Rizzo being in DROP, I thought he would win. Voters replaced my cynicism with a Christmas puppy. (Who doesn't love a puppy?)
Those were Republican reformers, by the way, and the other big story of May 2011 is the revolt among Republicans that shook the party's power structure.
Able GOP insurgent Al Schmidt won one of two nominations for city commissioner, beating out party-endorsed Marie Delany. Schmidt is now running with (and against) party capo/incumbent Joe Duda.
As I write, GOP-endorsed mayoral candidate Karen "Landslide" Brown is 53 votes (out of 16,454 cast) ahead of insurgent John Featherman, backed by the dissident Loyal Opposition Republicans. There will be a recount and a likely court battle, but a message has been sent to party leader Meehan and party chair Vito Canuso. The message: There are feisty Republicans who want to fight Democrats, not play footsie with them.
If Featherman triumphs, he won't be an opponent for Nutter to use like Pampers. He still won't win, but he'll force Nutter to defend every plan he has as mayor, a scrutiny any candidate should endure.
Nutter backed a lot of winners, so that helps him in his final term, but one question Featherman undoubtedly will ask is this: How can you simultaneously oppose DROP, yet push Tasco for the presidency of Council?
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