Digital eyebrows jumped when Mayor-elect Michael Nutter wrote an Inquirer opinion piece last week defending the congressional record and Democratic Party leadership of U.S. Rep. Bob Brady.
Did it signal that Nutter wasn't interested in reforming the city Democratic Party? Had he cut some deal with Brady? Those and other questions were raised at Young Philly Politics, a discussion blog favored by progressives who would like to see big changes in the city Democratic Party.
So how about it, mayor-elect?
"Reforming the party is a priority for me, and I don't think people should try to read any tea leaves or read too much into the letter," Nutter said Thursday from New York, where he was attending the annual Pennsylvania Society political pow-wow.
Nutter said that he and Brady had talked, in general terms, about making the party more transparent and more inviting to outsiders. Nutter said Brady "expressed an openness to making changes."
Brady didn't answer a phone message seeking comment. He has occasionally reached out to the city's young progressives, including attending a breakfast meeting last year. So far, those contacts haven't led to much.
Asked what specific reforms he'd like to see, Nutter said the party ought to have an open process for choosing which candidates to support. He also proposed training for would-be candidates, stepped-up recruiting of candidates and committee members, and a guest speaker program. Asked about the shakedown that judicial candidates are subjected to by some ward leaders, Nutter said he'd prefer that judges not be elected.
"These are the kinds of issues I intend to have discussions with the chairman about," Nutter said.
Told of Nutter's remarks, blogger and political activist Ray Murphy said: "Those plans aren't as detailed as I'd like, but it's good to hear he's thinking about this."
- Patrick Kerkstra
Rules of the dinner
The weekend that Pennsylvania politicos have been awaiting all year finally arrived, and ended yesterday, with less intrigue than last year but as much liquor as ever.
Gathered largely under one roof - New York City's Waldorf Astoria Hotel - the annual schmoozefest known as the Pennsylvania Society is a one-of-a-kind event. Don't believe it? Consider these "survival tips" shared by Ken Lawrence, a rising-star lobbyist based in Plymouth Meeting:
"1. PA Society is a marathon not a sprint. Eat full meals, wear comfortable shoes, sleep when you get back to PA.
2. You are at PA Society to be seen. People you know are on the train, on the streets, in your hotel lobby and everywhere. Assume someone you know is always watching you and act accordingly.
3. Just because the alcohol is free doesn't mean you have to drink it. Soda, juice and water are free, too.
4. You can crash parties but your name-tag will be hand-written. Don't bother saying it was a mistake you're not on the list. People know you crashed. They don't care. It helps them feel superior.
5. Drinks and food are not free in hotel bars. Unless you can figure out someone's tab or room to put them on. Make sure you leave before they get their final bill.
6. If an elected official asks you if you want a drink, it means they want a drink. They expect you to buy it. They may offer to pay. They don't mean it. If you lobby them, disclose it.
7. It's cool to say how boring the Dinner is and how you never go. Unless you say it to someone who always goes. Don't insult the Dinner. It is eternal.
8. Elevator doors always open after they close. People have eyes to see. Don't kiss someone who is not your spouse on an elevator. Ditto for closets, stairwells and alleys.
9. Every year there is a story about someone who does something very foolish during the weekend (see 3, 4 and 8). Everyone hears about it. See the story, tell the story, don't be the story.
10. When in doubt and if you can't remember anything else on the list, always remember number 10. 'Don't be the story.' "
- Marcia Gelbart
A towing rotation
Tow truck drivers testified last week in support of the city's first real effort to regulate their industry, including a plan to create a towing rotation to be used by police at accident scenes.
The present system fosters the practice of "wreck chasing," in which drivers listen to police radio, then race to the scene of an accident, trying to arrive first and claim the tow.
Councilman Frank Rizzo has tales of trucks stopping on the opposite side of a highway so the driver can jump the divider and claim to be first.
By creating a rotation, Councilmen Rizzo, Dan Savage and Bill Greenlee hope to foster a more sane environment and regulate prices.
One driver encouraged the city to maintain detailed and open records of the rotation system so that companies can verify that it is being used fairly.
One sore point: Tow truck operators want the state police - who are taking over patrol of I-95, I-76 and I-676 - to use the same rotation system, instead of using the Philadelphia Parking Authority exclusively for towing.
It doesn't sit well with Jose Giral of Derkas Autobody in Fishtown that the Republican-controlled Parking Authority's payroll is swelling with towing jobs that are being lost by private industry: "Why are they using the Parking Authority? To create jobs for Republicans," Giral asked.
James Moore, of Mayor Street's managing director's office, said the state police had rejected a request from the city to use the rotation system. Moore urged Council to pass the ordinance establishing the rotation system and deal with state police later.
"I think we should start and maybe people can continue to convince the state police to use our process," Moore said.
- Jeff Shields