May 9-15, 2002
Too Cool for School
It looks like Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed Rendell will win the primary. That’s the perception around town as the primary election looms on May 21. Guests who attended the Democrat Women of Philadelphia’s (DWP) annual Candidates’ Night at the Swan Caterers in South Philly last week predicted a Rendell win.
Talk at the bar was that Rendell's primary opponent, Bob Casey Jr., just wasn't running the right kind of campaign. Casey's campaign lacked a message and that wasn't working. Rendell's was more focused.
Maybe the shadow of influence from U.S. Rep. Bob Brady played a factor here.
DWP is a fundraising arm of Democratic City Committee, where Brady is the chairman. There is an unusual situation at City Committee because Brady is supporting Rendell, and Casey is the endorsed candidate of the Democratic State Committee. Brady is chairman of the Philadelphia caucus for State Committee.
The candidates' night was hosted by DWP prez Angela Cinquino, who is the political secretary to Register of Wills Ron Donatucci.
Donatucci, also a ward leader, is supporting Casey.
Brady was in Washington that night and could not attend, but his wife, Debbie, went in his place.
Noted consultant and ward leader Buddy Cianfrani made brief remarks to the crowd.
"God knows who is going to win this election," said Cianfrani, whose granddaughter Maria Miller is giving opening remarks at her graduation from Wharton this weekend. Cianfrani is supporting Casey.
Next year's judicial candidates made the scene, like Karen Zeitz, there with Jeff Goldman, and Thomas Nocella and Joseph J. O’Neill.
Neither Rendell nor Casey made the DWP party, but Catherine Baker Knoll did.
Knoll is one of nine candidates running for lieutenant governor and at this point appears to be the front runner, despite Casey's running mate, state Sen. Jack Wagner, who lacks any name recognition here in this part of town.
Knoll is the only woman running and is known for her two-term tenure as the state treasurer. Programs she implemented include the Tuition Account Program (TAP), which assisted lower-income families with college tuition, and the Homes Plus Program that was designed to help older homeowners get low-interest equity loans.
Knoll will likely beat state Sen. Allen Kukovich, who's considered her primary contender.
Last Friday, Rendell stopped off at Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown’s annual Women Making a Difference awards luncheon.
Edwina Baker, founder of 2000 African American Women, and Rosemarie Greco were just some of the women honored that day.
Citizens Bank was one of the prime sponsors of the event and was represented by Pamela Crawley, a senior vice president.
In between the speeches and grilled chicken Caesars, table talk focused on Rendell winning the primary largely due to the perception that Casey is running a lame campaign that lacks focus.
Reynolds Brown was the former legislative director for U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, and Fattah is supporting Rendell.
Talk of a Rendell win carried to Saturday night at Mayor John Street's City Hall Ball.
Street arrived at the tail end of his private reception that preceded the main ball.
He was asked when and if he was going to hit the streets for Rendell. Street said he had already been out campaigning for Rendell and that he expected a win.
Street's connections run wide and deep into unknown recesses, which is why he won the 1999 primary against then-candidate Marty Weinberg, although it was a narrow win.
And on Monday night, at Rittenhouse Row's annual Spring Festival reception hosted by KB Consultants, there was more talk of a Rendell victory at the numerous food and beverage stations at the Sofitel.
Rendell supporters who see the former mayor beating Casey said the credit should go to his campaign adviser, Neil Oxman.
May 16 is the day that the Board of Judges of Common Pleas Court will be making decisions on the 10 seats up for grabs on the Fairmount Park Commission, according to Common Pleas Court Judge Rosalyn K. Robinson.
There are 16 seats on the Commission; 10 are lay persons up for appointment every five years and six are ex officio.
Commissioners Ernesta Ballard and Fitz Dixon are retiring.
Applicants have been enthusiastically lobbying for the coveted seats on the nation's largest park.
Friends of Philadelphia Parks has put out its own slate, but there are many more qualified candidates.
Philip Price Jr., who has interviewed with the Board of Judges, is receiving a lot of support from park house volunteers.
A longtime advocate of the park, Price is a former state senator and public defender, as well as the vice president of the Fairmount Park Council for Historic Sites. (This writer is a member-at-large for the sites council.)
It's no new news that the park is in need of more funding, and Price said that the money won't come from private donors.
"We need federal money, such as the federal Land and Water Conservation Trust," he said. "I went to a conference on the Trust in Washington, and no one from the Park Commission was there. With my legislative experience and contacts, we can develop important relationships."