Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Jonathan Saidel makes me go, "hmmmmm"

On Friday afternoon I went to a Democratic Senate Social Security Pep Rally that was held at Penn. In attendance were all our local Congressmen- Bob Brady, Chaka Fattah and Alyson Schwartz, along with 4 Democratic Senators- Frank Lautenberg (NJ), Kent Conrad (ND), the terrific Dick Durbin (IL) and Sen. Minority Leader Harry Reid (NV). It was a good show. However, on the day when the Senate just passed the long-awaited bankruptcy bill, the most disgusting, venomous, immoral piece of legislation aimed at everyday Americans in a long time (maybe ever), I don't feel like singing any Senatorial praises. (For the record, all the Senators in attendance voted the right way today. PA's "third Senator," Joe Biden, on the other hand, was largely responsible for getting the bankruptcy bill passed. He should be ashamed.)

Anyway, the reason I write is to comment on some of our local politicos. First, there was Rep. (and Philly Dem Party Chairman) Brady, warming up the crowd when everyone else was late. Say what you want about Brady, and about the way he runs the party, but you have to give him credit that he is not a politician that put on airs. I think the crowd genuinely appreciated the fact that he did a little MCing while we were waiting for the main attractions to show up.

During Brady's riffing, he started introducing other local politicians in the room, including former Congressman Joe Hoeffel, labor leader Pete Matthews and current City Controller and future Mayoral candidate Jonathan Saidel.

The reason I bring this up is that I had never seen Saidel speak in person, and frankly do not know a lot about him. But, I would have to say, his speech very much surprised and impressed me, mainly for the fire with which it was delivered. And then, when talking to someone about the speech, I heard another story about Saidel, which made me think about his candidacy a little more. It is all second-hand, but, still...

There is a large, very community minded mosque in N Philly. (OK, I am sure there is more than one, but, this story is about one in particular.) And, immediately after 9/11, they were really worried about a few nuts doing something stupid. And so, at that point, Saidel, a Jew, went with a few others from the City, and essentially stood guard outside the Mosque, to make sure that peace reigned and no misguided retributions took place. It was a very simple, very powerful way to show that in that even that awful moment, Philly was together, and protecting all of its citizens. Maybe because I was three thousand miles away during that period, I never heard any of this. Or maybe it was because he did not publicize it. Either way, it was a bit of decency and strength that we want in our political leaders.

In a field of candidates who I am at best skeptical about, this story, along with Saidel's performance on Friday at least made me consider him as a viable choice. My research begins...


At 3:24 AM, Blogger Charles said...

You never saw him speak? I saw him at the anniversary party for the Philadelphia Public record. He had me crying man, he was so funny. That guy is pretty charismatic.

That night there was a belly dancer dancing around John Perzel. I was thinking about taking a picture and blackmailing him.

At 9:53 AM, Blogger marjo moore said...

Interestingly, WHYY painted the bankruptcy bill as being aimed at abortion clinic violent protestors. It seems that many of them- in recent years, after being fined and convicted- never paid off what they owed. Perhaps they got that reasoning from Biden.

That is a terrific story about Saidel. :)

At 10:34 AM, Blogger DanielUA said...


I think you misunderstood or they misspoke.

What has in fact killed the bankruptcy bill the past two years is that Chuck Schumer attached an ammendment onto the awful bill that basically said that violent clinic protesters could not hide under bankuptcy. The ammendment kept passing in the Senate, and pro-lifers in the House could not deal with it, so the awful Bakruptcy Bill never passed.

Yesterday, however, when Schumer tried to attach it again to this year's bill, the new, more pro-life Senate voted down his ammendment 53-46. So, they are now able to hand the House a bill that says nothing about violent protestors at all.

Check out Talking Points Memo for a great section on just how awful this bill is.

Biden helped pass this law from one reason only: $. (He is many times referred to as the Senator from the great State of MBNA.) He should be ashamed.

At 11:58 AM, Blogger Ben Waxman said...

I think an important thing to remember about Philadelphia politics is that most politicians have good positions on national issues. They know they are in a Democratic city and the Republican agenda doesn't get a lot of support. Therefore, it shouldn't be surprising when someone like Saidel or Brady takes good positions on Social Security or Iraq. For example, Councilman Frank DiCicco, who is one of the hackiest hacks who has ever lived, has gone out of his way at several local events to speak out against the war. He doesn't show up to anti-war protests-- but when an event happens in South Philly where there are a lot of progressives, DiCicco will go out of his way to slam Bush.

However, this is an easy position for someone like DiCicco or Saidel to take. For these politicians, it's much more important what they do/say about local issues and races. Does either DiCicco or Saidel help progressives get elected? Did they really lift a finger, outside of their own self-intrest, to help defeat Bush in 2004? I mean, did they release staff to work on the campaign, help organize voters, use their clout in a constructive way? The answer for DiCicco is no. Saidel shows up at events, but rarely commits any of his own political capital or resources to anything that does not help him.

Finally, the mosque story. I know, I know, I'm being harsh. The mosque was Al-Aqsa and Saidel did a good thing by going. However, this wasn't just of his own volition. The guy who does politics for that mosque (and much of the Arab-American community in philly) is Marwan Kreidie. Now, Marwan is a good guy. But he has raised a lot of money for Saidel and other Philly politicians. Would Saidel have gone to the mosque if Marwan hadn't raised the money for him? I don't know, but it's worth asking.

The point is, things in local politics are rarely simple and a line can usually be traced from actions to self-intrest.

At 1:58 AM, Blogger Charles said...

He did also support that facist Hoines over our gal babbet.

At 6:40 AM, Blogger Friedman said...

Charlesdog12 - wow, that's a really below the belt comment on Andrew Hohns, somebody who I know and respect. You might disagree with him on politics and policy, but probably the name-calling isn't so productive.

At 8:16 AM, Blogger DanielUA said...


I think you are pretty on point with the Diccico/Saidel Points. That said, while I do not doubt there could be some self interest in that act aftr 9/11, in a way, who cares? That was not a time when too many people in power were willing to stick their necks out for Arab and Islamic people... Whether it was for expediency, friendship, whatever, he still did it.

At 10:47 AM, Blogger Ben Waxman said...


Yeah, I agree. Also, I can only assume Charles wrote his point about Hohns after too much drinking last night. He misspelled Hohns and Babette! :-)

Seriously though, Hohns isn't a facist. Do a search on who he gave money to in the presidental campaign. He gave like $2,000 to Kerry. That's the point. Even a guy like Hohns (who I hope never gets elected to anything higher than dog-catcher) is a liberal.

At 9:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

a couple points I wanted to address:

there were lots of city politicians at the Mosque, including several potential mayoral candidates, besides Saidel. doesn't mean he doesn't deserve points for being there, but he should not be the only one awarded such points.

its not fair to call Hohns a "fascist" - his dad did work for Bush senior, and most all of his contributors except Dougherty are Republicans (like Cohen), but certainly Hohns ran a pretty progressive campaign, in terms of substance.

and to call Councilman DiCicco "one of the hackiest hacks" is also unfair - Frank has been leading the fight for years on cutting wage and property taxes, and has an excellent staff that serves my neighborhood well.

just like the "fascist" comment, there's a hint of truth to calling him a "hack" - DiCicco probably has never had a non-political job, but candidates and elected officials deserve a bit more respect.

the type of language being used here does not foster discussion and community - it is merely intentionally antagonizing, like those tv shows where everyone yells at each other. you guys can do better.

- Martin

At 9:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

More on the Mosque and Saidel. His Emminence John Street refused to go to the Mosque or have anything to do with the City's Arab population. Jonathan should be commended--to make the effort when it counts is important.

At 2:44 PM, Blogger truthteller2006 said...

Well, Hohns IS a facist.

Guess who is against hikes in the minimum wage but for corporate welfare and large tax breaks for big companies? Guess you supports Bush's plan to cut social security benefits? Guess who supports trickle-down economics that hurt the middle class? Guess who wants to stop suffering patients from suing bad doctors?

Rick Santorum? Yes.
Andrew Hohns? Yes.

The 2 are indistinguishable. The only difference is, at least Santorum doesn't lie about it.

At 10:50 PM, Blogger PhillyFD said...

I have met Saidel on several occasions and the man is not boastful at all. He always says what he feels and while serving as Controller followed through on everything he said he would do. I have a lot of respect for this man and hope that he is our next mayor. He cares about what counts: Basic public services before fluff. He sees that you can’t grow a city without having the basics in working order. What good is 135 square miles of wi-fi hot spot good for if your laptop was just stolen from your car?


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