April 18-24, 2002
Edgar Howard has decided to take the plunge and run for city commissioner next year. Howard is the legislative director for state Rep. Dwight Evans and leader of the 10th Ward. He’s worked for Evans for 10 years and said that Evans is supportive of his decision.
"I think I will get the support of the ward leaders," said Howard from Harrisburg.
Last year Mayor John Street couldn't give a city commissioner's seat away. The $80,000-a-year position was vacated in March 2001 by Alex Talmadge when he resigned to run against District Attorney Lynne Abraham.
There was talk that Charlie Bernard, an assistant to Democratic City Committee Chairman Bob Brady, was interested but opted out.
The two other commissioners, Marge Tartaglione, chair, and Joe Duda have been picking up the slack.
On the topic of ward support for gubernatorial candidates, Howard said that he's "on the fence."
And Evans? "He's on the fence too," said Howard.
Gubernatorial candidate Ed Rendell got eight minutes of free airtime Sunday night when he made a cameo appearance in the independent film Bottomfeeders.
Bottomfeeders is a mockumentary about the underbelly of a presidential campaign; it premiered to a sold-out audience at the Prince Theater as part of the Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema.
Bottomfeeders was written and co-produced by Celia Fischer, who was Bill Clinton's Pennsylvania state campaign director.
Brian Price also produced and directed the 92-minute film, which was made during the Democratic National Convention two years ago.
Rendell plays himself as the mayor who gets hit up for money by Cissy Jones, the Pennsylvania state campaign director for presidential candidate Jack Tybalt, whom no one ever sees. Jones is played by local actress Madi DiStefano of Brat Productions.
Rendell was chairman of the DNC then, so how hard was it to pin him down?
"Very hard," said Price from L.A., where he is working with Christina Ricci on the film The Speed Queen. "Ed showed up on the last day of filming and he had six pages of dialogue, but he had memorized them all. It was shocking," he said.
"Bottom feeders" is a name given to underlings in a campaign who are rarely thanked by the candidate. In the film, a lead volunteer bottom feeder in the county of Johnstown comes up with an idea to razz Tybalt's opponent, who happens to be the governor of Pennsylvania. The bottom feeders dress up as giant Spams and get themselves on national TV with the message that the governor is a pretty package, but no one knows what's really inside.
Fischer said she got the idea for Spams when she was working on Clinton's campaign in 1996. Volunteers dressed up as cigarettes calling themselves Buttheads because Clinton's opponent, Bob Dole, received contributions from tobacco companies.
Ball in the Hall
In the midst of weighty issues like reducing the wage tax, funding public schools and fighting Republican policy, Mayor Street becomes a party animal with the City Hall Ball next month.
The ball takes place on Sat., May 4, in City Hall and is sponsored by the city and numerous radio stations and entertainment companies. Held in various courtrooms throughout City Hall, the ball features wild party themes for each room.
This year casinos will be big, as well as a media karaoke room.
The recent flood in City Hall damaged the mayor's reception room, where the cabaret and dessert party has been held in the past. That party room will be moved, as well as Street's VIP reception that precedes the main ball. While Ed Rendell allowed the VIP party in his private office, Street's goes on in his cabinet room.
"There are just too many people, so now it will held in a bigger room," said Deputy City Representative Bonnie Grant, the main organizer of the event.
The proceeds from tickets benefit the City Hall tour program, which also covers history and architecture lessons.
Greta Greenberger, the facilitator of the program, gives lessons to all interested groups, such as schools of all levels, historical, architectural and preservation groups, seniors, tourists and those waiting to become citizens.
"We talk about William Penn, who he was and his 37-foot statue on top of City Hall," said Greenberger. She also teaches groups about the city's governmental structure.
Locals may view City Hall as just another building, but in fact it is the largest masonry-load structure in the nation, boasting more than 88 million bricks. Designed by architect John McArthur Jr. in 1871, it took 30 years to build.
The history lessons and tours are free; call the tour office at 215-686-2840.
There will be tours to the 548-foot tower on top of City Hall during the ball. Tickets to the ball are $150 for the mayor's reception and the ball, $65 for the ball, $75 at the door. For tickets, call 215-683-2077.
The Democrat Women of Philadelphia will host its annual Spring Fling Candidates Night at the Waterfall Room, 2015 S. Water St., on May 1. Call DWP President Angela Cinquino at 215-465-6282 for tickets.