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May 06, 2009


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Shout out from the 2-1-5! A few scattered observations:

* The Republicans still control the Philadelphia Parking Authority, too-- which is a a surprisingly powerful organization. A few years ago, the state-level Republicans added to the fiefdom by transferring control of taxicab regulation within the City of Philadelphia from the Public Utilities Commission (PUC-- the same guys that regulate telephone, electric and water companies are the regulators of taxicabs, except now in Philly) to the Parking Authority. The Parking Authority then used its new authority to pick the pockets of businesses in the cab industry in various ways, and give away sweetheart contracts. I agree that this isn't really "machine" politics per se since there's no voting involved, but it does underscore that there are still some resilient GOP enclaves in the otherwise deep blue city.

* Delaware County, PA (western suburbs of Philly) has or until very recently continued to have a bona fide, old-school GOP machine. If you switched from the GOP to the Democrats, you very promptly get put on jury duty (this happened to me personally, and it's not at all a unique experience) and there are other petty means of harassment: trash collection, ease in obtaining building permits, and so on.

* Michael Nutter for President? Snort. I admire and respect the guy, shook his hand more than once, and wish him well. But I don't see him ever attaining a higher office unless he's able to miraculously fix the city; and this is a sadly low-probability event for a number of reasons:
-- The budget crisis. It's all about the pensions
-- The mentality that acting like the Vince of Darkness or Johnny Doc is normal behavior. BRT is just the tip of the iceberg
-- The growth-choking wage tax
-- The state legislature's hostility to the city

Hi, Dennis,

Agreed on the Parking Authority. Philly excels at that sort of corruption that just barely skirts the law, without quite going over. Much rarer in New York and Boston (and suburbs); I don't know why.

Regarding suburbs: I did not know about Delaware County. I knew that a GOP machine managed to limp into the 1990s on Long Island, but it pretty rapidly disintegrated thereafter.

Regarding Nutter: local visions of politicians, I think, often vary from national ones. But I have a question. You wrote:

"The mentality that acting like the Vince of Darkness or Johnny Doc is normal behavior. BRT is just the tip of the iceberg."

Mind explaining? I lost the reference. My wife would probably get it, but I have been (probably luckily) unable to get her to read this blog. Thanks!

Noel- I emailed you a response to this.

Found it! You got spamboxed; apologies. Hmmm. Is it postable?

Rather you didn't do so with my name on it, but feel free to comment on what I wrote.

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