Clout wonders: How many Philadelphians know that 91 judges will cast secret ballots next week to put two people on a little-known board that controls more than a half-billion dollars meant to be spent in the public’s best interest?
Clout guesses: Not many.
The Philadelphia Common Pleas Board of Judges will meet in a closed-to-the-public session Thursday to consider 13 candidates for two vacancies on the board of directors of City Trusts.
The board, established by state law in 1869, manages $600 million in assets, from the well-known Girard College and Wills Eye Hospital to 117 smaller trusts that dole out scholarships, help people with housing and heating costs, and other charitable matters.
It’s big money with zero flash.
The candidates are Register of Wills Tracey Gordon, former state House Speaker Bob O’Donnell, State Rep. Donna Bullock, City Councilmember Derek Green, former City Controller candidate Brett Mandel, real estate broker Barbara Capozzi, nonprofit executive Omar Woodard, former Deputy City Commissioner Dennis Lee, real estate executive Jasmine Sessoms, railroad executive Rodney Oglesby, and attorneys Charles Gibbs, Ronald Marrero, and Angelina Williams.
Clout tried for a solid week to get someone from the board to talk about the mission and its importance. The board passed.
Common Pleas Court President Judge Idee C. Fox was more forthcoming, telling Clout that a committee of judges vetted the candidates. The board doesn’t see a lot of turnover. Fox, an attorney for 18 years before first being elected in 1995, couldn’t recall two vacancies at the same time.
This time, one came when former Register of Wills Ron Donatucci died in November. The other is because former City Council President Anna Verna resigned.
The court’s call for applicants notes the board meets 11 times per year and members must work “no less than 12 hours a month.” The job is unpaid. But making decisions about how to manage $600 million drew interest from plenty of applicants.
Gordon pitched herself to the judges last month in a two-page letter, vowing that she has “the time and energy for the task.”
“The Register of Wills Office is running well, I manage a team of professional staff that allows me to spend the necessary time to be a real asset to this board,” Gordon wrote.
Montco’s starring role in Trump’s impeachment
Montgomery County is playing an outsized role in the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump. Rep. Madeleine Dean is a Democratic house manager prosecuting the case. Bruce Castor, a former district attorney and county commissioner, is defending Trump.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, another former Montgomery County commissioner, apparently wanted in on the action.
Shapiro, the early Democratic front-runner for governor next year, filed an eight-page memorandum in the U.S. Senate, drawing a direct line from Trump’s many failed election lawsuits to the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.
“His litigation strategy in shambles, President Trump fixated on disrupting Congress’s counting of Electoral College votes, and his supporters violently attempted to carry out his wishes,” Shapiro wrote Wednesday.
Dean’s son, Pat Cunnane, took in her performance Wednesday and tweeted that she “seems comfortable in the Senate.” That obvious nod toward the 2022 Democratic primary for an open U.S. Senate seat may not have been the most politically astute move during a divisive impeachment trial.
Dean spokesperson Tim Mack said she “is focused on the impeachment trial.”
“What many people saw in Pat’s multiple tweets was a son proud to see his mother on the Senate floor standing up and holding former President Trump accountable for inciting an insurrection on the Capitol on Jan. 6th, where five people lost their lives,” Mack said.
There are worse looks. Don’t believe us? Check out the reviews for Castor’s performance.
Growing pains for Protect Our Police PAC
A group of retired Philadelphia cops bragged last year about the nearly $750,000 raised by their new political action committee, launched in part to defeat District Attorney Larry Krasner’s reelection bid this year.
They weren’t nearly as forthcoming in reporting where the money came from and how it was spent. Protect Our Police PAC missed last week’s deadline in Pennsylvania to file a campaign-finance report. Georgia says the group is also behind on three reports that should detail its 2020 efforts there.
Nick Gerace, the group’s treasurer, told Clout it used several payment processing platforms and two types of software last year. Now the group is struggling to organize information about nearly 3,700 donors and spending in 12 states.
Gerace said he hopes to have all the reports submitted by next week. They’ll show about $600,000 in spending for 2020, he said.
Krasner made his reelection effort official Thursday with the low-key release of a video and this quote of his efforts at criminal justice reform:
“When we entered office in 2018, we faced the daunting task of restoring community trust in an office that for decades had broken it. We have made enormous strides in achieving that goal, and establishing a justice system that respects victims, children, and the people who live in and love this city.”
Staff writer Jonathan Tamari contributed to this column.