Monday, June 13, 2005

MyDD focus turning inward; good, good news

Chris Bowers, of MyDD, is on the most thoughtful, smart national bloggers. He is located in Philly, is an organizer of Philly for Change, etc, so he is not someone who has been blind to local issues. That said,in a very important post today, he seems to be turning more inward looking, and gearing for a Philly fight. This could get really interesting.

Read this.

Really, read this.

For Philly bloggers, this is huge. For Philly reformers in general, this is huge. Chris knows what the hell he is doing.

I am not trying to be pushy or anything, but seriously, read it.

I have a good feeling about where this whole damn thing is heading.


At 11:03 AM, Blogger Rep. Mark B. Cohen said...

I read Chris Bower's posting and the articles he quoted. I really read it.

What the whole situation shows is the urgent need to have grass roots people take the issue of judicial selection seriously and publicize the backrounds, records, and views of the candidates through blog postings, email lists, fliers, meetings, and newspaper ads. It is the information vacuum that leads to the focus on winning the support of wardleaders through monetary payments: if there was genuine public knowledge of the candidates, then the wardleaders' endorsements would be a lot less significant and they would be under much more community pressure to back good people.

Occasionally candidates have ignored the wardleaders and won campaigns just through advertising and volunteers. The reason this does not happen more often is that the wardleaders are a lot cheaper than most advertising campaigns: each of the members of Congress, who represent less than half the city, spent far money in 2004 than any judicial candidate did, and Allyson Schwartz, at $4.6 million in spending, far outspent all the judicial campaigns combined with her heavy advertising, paid canvassing, and paid volunteer supervision.

At 11:27 AM, Blogger Dumplingeater said...

Bower's post is very informative and interesting. The question it leaves me with is the problem with the system, or how it is implemented? For example, I don't know for sure if this is the case, but I wouldn't be surprised if in some communities, not only do many citizens not know who their ward leader is, they also don't even know they have a ward leader, or what the real functions and influence of ward leader are. On the other hand, in some communities where the function of ward leaders is a real part of residents' lives, the system is more functional, but corrupt. Does that mean that when the system become functional, it is inherently prone to become corrupt -- and a different system is needed? Or does it mean that we need to get more people aware of the way the system works and trust that we can be effective in creating more transparency and accountability. Perhaps naively, I opt for the last viewpoint. So here's another shameless plug for Neighborhood Networks.

At 1:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is Rep. Cohen talking about judicial elections, which we shouldn't even have in Pennsylvania?

At 6:01 AM, Blogger Antonia said...

Chris Bowers says "On Seth's website, using a tool known as advokit, there was an attempt to create a parallel ward leader structure using an open-source volunteer model" which links back to Daniel, who doesn't appear to address the point - maybe the link is to the wrong post or something. Could you tell me a bit more about this?


At 12:36 PM, Blogger Rep. Mark B. Cohen said...

I am talking judicial elections because they are considered to be Exhibit A of what is wrong with the political process in Philadelphia. But I believe that all too many people just wring their hands, and, by their inaction, join in making it extremely difficult to cast an informed vote because there is a widespread lack of willingness to publicize the records and views of judicial candidates.

Organizations prefer to just hand out lists, so that it becomes a matter of which organization is most credible rather than which candidates will do a better job.

I believe it is strongly in the public interest to maintain judicial elections in Pennsylvania. Informed people all around our country are scared to death about the gradual but steady erosion of legal rights within the federal system; that erosion has happened because judicial selection has basically become limited to insiders and powerful cliques of business-oriented conservatives.

There has been no similar erosion of rights in Pennsylvania. Our messy, chaotic judicial election process allows for many progressive voices to be heard, and to win election the bench. Democrats in Washington would be thrilled beyond words if President Bush were appointing people with the views and backround of many of the Common Pleas Court candidates in Philadelphia and other Democratic strongholds in Pennsylvania.

The Philadelphia electorate is a lot more progressive as a whole than any governor has been. Taking judicial elections out of the hands of people is to move the judiciary into the camp of the right wing, as the Republicans have a virtual lock on the state senate and the governship alternates between centrist or conservative Democrats and centrist or conservative Republicans.

Personally, I think conservative forces are much too strong already, and do not need the help of believers in "good government." Let Republican counties go first in abolishing their judicial elections.

At 1:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your comment "taking judicial elections out of the hands of people is to move the judiciary into the camp of the right wing" iss pretty inaccurate. Does it bother you that your brother might not be a judge if merit selection was in place and strings weren't pulled for him to be on the ballot? Merit selection is good government, an overwhemling majority of states have it, and Philadelphia should lead the Commonwealth in doing away with costly, pointless judicial elections. The status quo hasn't served us well - let's be "progressive" and improve it.


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