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Philly firefighter union stands by controversial Trump endorsement as members remain divided

President Donald Trump hangs on to an endorsement from the union representing Philadelphia firefighters but members are turning on each other in a battle over how that came to be.

Anthony Hudgins (microphone) and other members of Firefighters & Paramedics Union Local 22 gather in protest outside their Union Hall, 415 N. 5th St. Philadelphia on Friday morning October 2, 2020. They are protesting the endorsement by their union of Donald J. Trump for President. .
Anthony Hudgins (microphone) and other members of Firefighters & Paramedics Union Local 22 gather in protest outside their Union Hall, 415 N. 5th St. Philadelphia on Friday morning October 2, 2020. They are protesting the endorsement by their union of Donald J. Trump for President. .Read moreALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer

The union representing firefighters in Philadelphia will stand by its endorsement of President Donald Trump, following a month of controversy and a series of angry protests.

But this conflagration promises to keep burning well past Tuesday’s election for Local 22 of the International Firefighters and Paramedics Union.

Club Valiants, a 400-member group of Black firefighters, sued Local 22 last week, claiming the timing and process used in the Sept. 29 endorsement by the executive board and a follow-up vote by all union members violated its bylaws on political activity.

Some members have also filed charges with their international union, seeking to oust Local 22 president Mike Bresnan, who pushed for the original endorsement and then called for the full union vote by mail — costing $14,000.

The results of that vote, tallied Wednesday: 1,444 votes in favor of the Trump endorsement, 782 votes to rescind it. About 47% of the union’s 4,700 members voted.

Club Valiants President Lisa Forrest said many members boycotted, seeing every step in the process as illegitimate. And she noted that Bresnan, who did not respond to requests for comment, has canceled Local 22′s October and November meetings and refused to call a special meeting when asked.

Five of the 10 executive board members sought to rescind the original endorsement, citing a lack of discussion within the local before they acted, the negative impact it had on the union, and its past practices of not getting involved in presidential races. Forrest said that should have invalidated the original endorsement, ending the dispute.

William Tung, a Local 22 member fighting the endorsement, said Bresnan pushed for a mail ballot because more than half of the union’s members are older, more conservative retirees more likely to support Trump rather than former Vice President Joe Biden.

“We’re not arguing that we should endorse Biden,” Tung said. “We’re just saying we should stay out of it.”

Trump and his campaign were eager for the show of union support in a big city. He quickly tweeted that the original endorsement was “A GREAT HONOR.” His daughter Ivanka Trump, a senior White House adviser, followed up, tweeting, “Way to go Local 22!”

Trump was scheduled to visit the union’s headquarters on Oct. 4 to accept the endorsement but canceled, announcing on Oct. 2 that he and his wife had COVID-19.

Conservative group texts Pa. voters false claim that Biden backs sex reassignment surgery for kids

Voters across Pennsylvania are receiving text messages with a surprising — and false — claim about Biden.

“Hi, I’m a Democratic volunteer with APP PAC,” the text says. “Did you see Joe Biden endorsed sex change operations for children as young as 8? That’s way too extreme and frankly it’s really weird.”

The text, sent by the conservative Super PAC American Principles Project, asks voters to watch a 30-second video, in which a narrator falsely claims Biden endorsed such medical procedures. The video includes images of Biden speaking to Mieke Haeck, the mother of an 8-year-old transgender child, at an Oct. 15 ABC town hall in Philadelphia.

Biden told Haeck “there should be zero discrimination” against transgender people, including children.

Terry Schilling, APP’s executive director, claims that amounts to an endorsement of sex-reassignment surgery for children.

“We finally got him on camera saying this,” Schilling said. “It makes it more powerful than having a narrator have to say this all on camera.”

But Biden didn’t say that. And APP used a narrator to falsely claim he did.

Haeck called APP’s claims a “blatant lie.”

“It has nothing to do with medical intervention, medication or surgery...,” she said of her question for Biden. “It’s about my daughter using she and her pronouns, growing her hair and being who she is in her heart.”

Schilling said his group is texting 1 million Democratic and independent voters in Pennsylvania, using more than 100 volunteers from around the country.

GOP resurrects Facebook posts by Democrat running for Pa. House in Northeast Philly

Fervid partisan sentiment that simmered on social media four years ago has bubbled over into this year’s race for a state House seat in Northeast Philadelphia.

The Republican City Committee last week resurfaced 2016 Facebook posts from Democratic nominee Mike Doyle, in which he used the N-word and posted a picture of a gravestone covered in anti-Semitic graffiti. The party posted the social media screen-grabs on Facebook and sent them to reporters. In the posts, Doyle, who lost a 2018 bid for the same 170th District seat to incumbent state Rep. Martina White, also posted at one point that he lived “in the most racist part of the city.”

He apologized in a statement last week.

“In 2016, tensions were at an all-time high,” he said. “I like many other Americans engaged in confrontations via social media. Unfortunately, during one of my interactions with a blatant racist and anti-Semite I mocked their hate by using the language of hate myself.”

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers rescinded its endorsement of Doyle last week, calling itself “disgusted and disappointed.”

White, the city’s lone Republican state legislator and chair of the local party, said Doyle should drop out of the race.

Bob Brady, chairman of the Democratic City Committee, said he wishes White good luck.

“He must have her nervous,” Brady said of Doyle.