5/30 Ups & Downs

National news was made, party nominations were switched and a computer was confiscated. See who all made the list.

Up ArrowCharlie Dent. The Republican representative from PA-15 had quite the eventful week. First, he was recognized as a “Fiscal Hero” by the organization Fix the Debt. Rep. Dent received the honor due to his attempts at comprehensive debt and tax reform efforts. Then, on Wednesday, the Congressman made national headlines when he became the first major PA Republican to support Judge Jones’ decision on same-sex marriage. Since the government shutdown, Rep. Dent has seemingly sought the mantle of leader of the center-right Republicans and in the past few days he took some major steps towards that.

Up Arrow Down ArrowMike Fleck. The bad news, Mike Fleck did indeed lose the GOP nomination for his State House seat in the 81st district. The good news, though, is that he won the Democratic nomination for the seat. State Rep. Fleck is now suddenly back in the general election race although he faces a tough challenge from Rich Irvin.

Up ArrowTim Murphy. The western PA Congressman and child psychologist has emerged as a national leader on mental health issues. In the wake of the tragic shooting spree in California, mental health advocates have roundly called on Congress to pass Murphy’s Helping Families In Mental Health Crisis Act. It builds on the wide support Murphy’s bill already enjoys in the professional community.

Down ArrowTracey Gordon and Stephanie Singer. Gordon, a deputy city commissioner, had her computer seized by the City Commission according to Chris Brennan of the Philadelphia Daily News. Apparently, the request came from the Philadelphia Board of Ethics. This is not the first time Gordon has gotten in trouble with the Board of Ethics either. In 2012, she was fined $675 after admitting to posting political messages on Facebook on her City Hall computer. We also decided to include City Commissioner Stephanie Singer in this arrow since she is ultimately responsible for her deputies.*

Up Arrow Down ArrowManan Trivedi and Kevin Strouse. The up arrow is for having the support of the Democratic establishment and the down arrow is for having the support of the Democratic establishment. Today the Democratic nominees in PA-6 and PA-8 received the news that they (maybe) can expect $1.9 million in DCCC ad spending come this fall. Yet that also means their GOP opposition will further seek to connect them to Democratic leadership in Washington. Just a few days ago, for example, the NRCC dared both candidates to pledge not to support Nancy Pelosi for House leader or accept any money from her.

Tweet of the week goes to State Sen. Daylin Leach, act now it could be a limited time offer.

*Based on Commissioner Singer’s response below, we removed her down arrow:

The ultimate responsibility for any Deputy Commissioner is with the three Commissioners as a whole. The current rules of the City Commissioners do not give a single Commissioner any power to discipline, hire or fire a Deputy, even a Deputy that Commissioner supervises. Hiring and firing of all deputies must be done by a majority vote of the Commissioners at a public meeting. Other personnel actions (such as suspensions) have been delegated to Don Garecht, Chief Deputy Commissioner to the Republican City Commissioner.

May 30th, 2014 | Posted in Front Page Stories, Top Stories | 11 Comments

11 thoughts on “5/30 Ups & Downs”

  1. Adam says:

    Congressman Murphy’s bill is NOT ’roundly’ supported by mental health advocates.

    We have serious concerns about his proposals, including downgrading the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the expansion of forced treatment which has not been scientifically proven to improve outcomes at the expense of civil liberties (coercive ‘Assisted Outpatient Treatment’), and his near-elimination (85 percent) of patient advocacy funding within the Protection & Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI).

    On balance, HB 3717 would severely undermine effective community-based programming which is used by the majority of people living with mental health conditions in the name of treating the “severely ill”.

    Congressman Barber’s proposal, HR 4574, presents a much more nuanced, community-oriented solution to the issue.

  2. Sheri says:

    The Disability Rights Network of PA does not support rep. Tim Murphy’s bill. He is not a friend of people with disabilities. https://www.drnpa.org/urgent-get-informed-on-us-representative-murphys-bill-helping-families-in-mental-health-crisis-act/

  3. Al-
    Fine. Let’s play.
    You are improperly conjuring the existence of the appearance that Singer is incapable/unwilling to supervise her staff.

    1) The primary measure of supervision is whether or not the work is getting done. I have not seen the hint, murmur or whisper in any of your accusations that Gordon had not performed her duties or had failed to accomplish tasks.

    2) If Gordon was completing her work in a timely fashion, Singer (or any supervisor) would be considered successful in setting goals and handing out assignments.

    3) If Gordon had 8 hours of work, and manage to finish 15 minutes early, and snuck in three 5-minute intervals to do some non-work related activities, NO supervisor would/should be expected to catch that. (Unless you expect Singer to perch herself behind Gordon every minute of the day)

    4) I don’t know what the rules are at city hall on bathroom breaks, either, but I’m sure that a determined person with a smartphone could engage in some political activity during the day without a supervisor being aware.

    5) I, personally, do not consider the use of a work computer for non-work matters to be an ethical violation, if no physical resources are consumed (like printing wedding invitations).
    If someone has a sick relative and they need to check for update by email, I’m fine with that. If someone needs pay some bills and can only do it during work hours, I think work should accommodate them if they get their jobs done.
    If someone’s sole job is to wait by a phone to answer calls, and they want to watch Internet cat-videos during the idle time between calls, I couldn’t give a rat’s @ss. The only concern I would have, from a computer security perspective, would be the risk of downloading a virus.
    Where I work, the network staff set up an isolated computer network in the break/lunch room that was separated by a firewall from the rest of the business’s network. This is a reasonable approach. So, I’ve got no problem with City Hall setting up some parallel/isolated network for personal use by the employees during their idle time.

    6) Gordon’s ability to circumvent Singer does not imply any failure on Singer’s part, as long as the assigned work was getting done.

    7) If Gordon’s computer had to be seized to conduct an investigation (or witch hunt), I don’t see why you’d expect Singer to know about problems that require computer forensics. She’s pretty smart with math and computers, but I’ve never heard of forensics as part of her resume.

    8) While I’ve got a different attitude on where the draw the line at ethical violations (and you should be glad that I’m not in a position to seize your records and apply my standards), I have no problem with Gordon being penalized for violating rules she was made aware of, and received additional “training” about. I do have a problem with casting aspersions on Singer, because she wasn’t monitoring Gordon every second.

    9) As for your alleged “seriousness” of the voting issues, you make them sound like big deals when, for the most part, nearly everything you mention has been clerical errors or good faith mistakes.

    — Some non-citizens register, not realizing they aren’t allowed to vote, and wind up getting registered, if no one catches it. It’s not some criminal conspiracy. There are over 1 million voter registration records in the database.

    — If someone is voting twice, that sounds like a problem with the election judge at the polling place letting them, or a failure to clean-up duplicate records in the voter database allowing someone to vote in two precincts. There aren’t a lot of duplicate records (I just ran a query and found 364 cases of same first name, last name, birthday.) I’m sure most of these people are unaware of their having a duplicate record, and it would be simple enough to determine if any had voted twice or contact the voters to identity the errant entry. We already know that no one has found any cases of voting twice by impersonating other voter.
    But, why don’t you get cracking on those 364 record pairs I mentioned, and stop pretending that you have actually been doing anything about this or have treated it as a priority (beyond stroking Corbett for an appointment to the Parking Authority by raising it as an issue). You’ve been in this job several years. If you cleaned up only three records per week you’d have this “problem” licked.

  4. Al Schmidt says:

    David: Again, I don’t blame you for wanting to change the topic. If you’d like to make the trek into Philly to discuss the seriousness of non-citizens voting, individuals voting twice, non-registered voters voting, etc., I am available. As to the issue of accountability, I guess we will find out about that soon enough.

  5. Al-

    Your report of “irregularities” was at the height of the voterID controversy, and the items you reported were beyond ridiculous. They were little more than minor clerical errors like a wife getting her husband’s slip by mistake. But, the way you presented it was clearly to promote the fiction that there were problems, while the GOP was arguing they needed voterID to fix problems.

    So, it seems to me your “report” was a mask political activity to bolster GOP claims of voting problems. And you sure seemed to get rewarded for it by Corbett.

    My point was that you have no credibility. Your “report” was a sham. You’ve publicly demonstrated an adversarial relationship with Singer. You came in as a “reformer”, but after a year helped Clark with a coup and a return to business as usual, with a 2-1 vote locking out real reform.

    Now, you want to use the issue with Gordon engaging in political activity to smear Singer.

    Your quote in the paper was “…we have concerns about her [Singer’s] office engaging in prohibited activity” as though her whole office was engaging in such activity.

    When Singer became commissioner, she resigned from the very political job of 8th Ward leader. On the other hand, Commissioner Anthony Clark has retained his position as 28th Ward leader.

    So, which commissioner is most likely to be engaging in political activity?

  6. Al Schmidt says:

    The report examined irregularities unrelated to voter ID.
    I appreciate that your response is a tacit admission that I was right about the issue above/below by attempting to change the subject from Stephanie supervising Stephanie’s deputies in Stephanie’s office to something else. It’s almost as clear an admission as Stephanie sending out an e-mail message once the investigations began that she “no longer” supervises her Deputy Commissioner, thereby admitting that she did at the time of the prohibited activities in question.

  7. David Diano says:

    Al
    Who “supervised” that completely bogus voterID report you put out, in service to Corbett’s attempts to muddy the issue by pretending there was problem (when there wasn’t)? How much money was wasted on that? Oh, and didn’t you release the report without consulting your fellow commissioners?

    Didn’t you get “rewarded” with an appointment to the parking authority?

  8. Al Schmidt says:

    No one supervises staff in Stephanie Singer’s Office except Stephanie Singer. She should let us know if, as it appears, she is incapable or unwilling to do so. Her staff reports to her office, signs time sheets in her office, and is supervised by her alone. If she wants a member of her staff in her office to be disciplined, she should bring it to our attention, just as she requested a $10,000 pay increase for the Deputy Commissioner in question just last month.

  9. David Diano says:

    Thanks for making the correction about the roles of Deputies and responsibilities.

    Clark and Schmidt pulled their little coup over a year ago and have done pretty much everything in their power to block Singer and any reforms (or transparency improvements). My understanding is that they even try tossing people out PUBLIC commissioner meeting for daring to record the meeting.

    I wonder how many of the staffers at City Hall are making political posts from their smartphones (or just being at home when they are supposed to be at work) ?

  10. Please correct factual error: The ultimate responsibility for any Deputy Commissioner is with the three Commissioners as a whole. The current rules of the City Commissioners do not give a single Commissioner any power to discipline, hire or fire a Deputy, even a Deputy that Commissioner supervises. Hiring and firing of all deputies must be done by a majority vote of the Commissioners at a public meeting. Other personnel actions (such as suspensions) have been delegated to Don Garecht, Chief Deputy Commissioner to the Republican City Commissioner.

  11. PA Xena says:

    Sadly people don’t realize what a horrible person and congressman Tim Murphy is! He is taking the opportunity to be in the the spotlight like the typical politician he is! But his mental health background has made him nothing more than a good manipulator!
    He does things just to help himself with a staff that is more than questionable!

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