Last Wednesday through Sunday, more than 400 citizens of Philadelphia took part in the Deliberations Days events of the Great Expectations project.
Candidates for at-large City Council seats and the seven contested races for district seats took part in debates, answering questions generated by citizens. Tapes of those debates can be heard on the project Web site: http://go.philly.com/greatexpectations
Participants also filled out straw ballots on the mayor's race and on the casino question that may or may not be on the May 15 real ballot. Each vote came after citizen dialogue about the pros and cons of the candidates, and of the slots parlors.
Here are the results, with a big caveat: These straw polls were not the same thing as statistically valid polling done with a true random sample. All that these results can convey are the views of a large but self-selected group, the kind of people who would come out on a beautiful spring day to discuss city issues at an event sponsored by The Inquirer and the University of Pennsylvania.
Still, these results do correspond somewhat to the results of the Keystone Poll released yesterday, in that they also found Michael Nutter to be rising fast.
Out of 318 ballots counted, the breakdown was:
Michael Nutter: 162 votes (51 percent)
Bob Brady: 57 votes (18 percent)
Tom Knox: 42 votes (13 percent)
Dwight Evans: 35 (11 percent)
Chaka Fattah: 21 (7 percent)
Now, the results of the casino straw vote. A yes vote is a vote to put limits on where casinos could go in the city, in effect blocking the Sugarhouse and Foxwoods sites.
Yes: 246 (76 percent)
No: 78 (24 percent)
The Casino-Free Philadelphia group sent volunteers to every session, who were vigorous but respectful in making the anti-casino case. In some neighborhoods, they were met with counterarguments from people who valued the jobs and tax relief that casino advocates promise.