Appetizing debates at Meet the Candidates brunch

Speak­ing be­fore the for­um that was held on Sunday, Oc­to­ber 23 at Shaare Shamay­im Syn­agogue (l-r) Joe Duda, Judge Dav­id Wecht, Kath­ryn Boock­var, Bob Rovn­er and Rabbi Jean Klein.

The Con­greg­a­tions of Shaare Shamay­im men’s club held its an­nu­al “Meet the Can­did­ates Brunch” on Sunday morn­ing at the syn­agogue, 9768 Ver­ree Road.

Former state Sen. Bob Rovn­er was the em­cee.

The can­did­ates in at­tend­ance were Dav­id Wecht and Kath­ryn Boock­var, the Demo­crat­ic can­did­ates for Su­per­i­or Court and Com­mon­wealth Court, re­spect­ively; City Coun­cil­man Bri­an O’Neill and Demo­crat­ic chal­lenger Bill Ru­bin; City Com­mis­sion­er Joe Duda and chal­lenger Al Schmidt; Demo­crat­ic City Coun­cil­men Jim Ken­ney and Bill Green and Re­pub­lic­an chal­lengers Dav­id Oh, Denny O’Bri­en, Mi­chael Un­ter­mey­er, Joe Mc­Col­gan and Al Tauben­ber­ger; Com­mon Pleas Court can­did­ates Anne Mar­ie Coyle and Bar­bara Mc­Der­mott; and Traffic Court can­did­ate Lewis Har­ris.

Also, state Rep. Mark Co­hen urged a “yes” vote for his broth­er Denis, a Com­mon Pleas Court judge seek­ing re­ten­tion.

May­or­al can­did­ate Wali Rah­man sent a rep­res­ent­at­ive.

The high­lights?

Green, elec­ted in 2007, doesn’t plan a ca­reer in coun­cil.

“This is my last term as a city coun­cil­man,” he said of the term that will be­gin in Janu­ary. “When I run in four years, most likely I will run for may­or of the city of Phil­adelphia.”

Un­ter­mey­er de­scribed City Coun­cil as “asleep.” Ken­ney took of­fense, point­ing to re­forms to cam­paign fin­ance laws, among oth­er things.

Schmidt noted that his en­dorse­ments range from U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey to former Gov. Ed Rendell.

Tauben­ber­ger, pres­id­ent of the Burholme Com­munity Town Watch and Civic As­so­ci­ation, bashed Oh, an at­tor­ney, for rep­res­ent­ing the former Purple Orch­id go-go bar in its ef­fort to re­open fol­low­ing the ar­rest of a man­ager on drug charges.

• • •

The Phil­adelphia Fed­er­a­tion of Young Re­pub­lic­ans, Phil­adelphi­ans for Eth­ic­al Lead­er­ship and the 5th Ward Re­pub­lic­an Com­mit­tee sponsored three de­bates on Oct. 19 at the Vet­er­an Box­ers As­so­ci­ation Ring 1 bar in Port Rich­mond.

In the race for sher­iff, Re­pub­lic­an Joshua West squared off against the Green Party’s Cheri Honkala. Demo­crat Jew­ell Wil­li­ams was not present.

West, who has a crim­in­al justice de­gree from Temple and has spent 19 years in the mil­it­ary, said he’s run a low-key cam­paign be­cause he’s a new fath­er and a mem­ber of the Na­tion­al Guard.

He vowed to make courtroom ap­pear­ances and join depu­ties in serving war­rants. He’d also ab­ol­ish live sher­iff’s sales in fa­vor of an elec­tron­ic sys­tem, in­clud­ing pos­sibly post­ing prop­er­ties on eBay.

“A na­tion­al audi­ence will push the price up,” said West, adding that the of­fice will save on print­ing costs.

Honkala, a long­time hous­ing act­iv­ist, drew some gasps when she told the crowd she’d been ar­res­ted more than 200 times. She was once placed on six months pro­ba­tion for mov­ing home­less people near the Liberty Bell.

She prom­ised to sue banks for what she be­lieves is their role in caus­ing blight in neigh­bor­hoods after home fore­clos­ures.

“I’m com­mit­ted to keep­ing fam­il­ies in their homes. I’m run­ning on a zero-fore­clos­ure plat­form,” said Honkala, adding that she will not take the sher­iff’s full salary if elec­ted.

In the race for city elec­tions com­mis­sion­er, Demo­crat Stephanie Sing­er and Re­pub­lic­an Al Schmidt were in at­tend­ance. In­cum­bents An­thony Clark, a Demo­crat, and Joe Duda, a Re­pub­lic­an, did not show up.

Sing­er, who stunned nine-term in­cum­bent Marge Tartagli­one in the primary, said she’ll bring lead­er­ship to the of­fice. She’ll also use her web design back­ground to make voter street lists avail­able on­line to save on print­ing costs.

“That’s go­ing to be an easy one for me to at­tack,” she said.

Schmidt, a former seni­or ana­lyst with the fed­er­al Gov­ern­ment Ac­count­ab­il­ity Of­fice, be­lieves he’ll bring in­teg­rity to the of­fice, and hopes it leads to high­er voter turnout. He faults the com­mis­sion­ers for hav­ing poor re­la­tion­ships with the pub­lic, the me­dia, law en­force­ment and non-profit vot­ing-rights groups and will work to form a bet­ter dia­logue.

“It simply in­volves them do­ing their job,” said Schmidt, who was en­dorsed last week by Iron­work­ers Loc­al Uni­on 401.

Both can­did­ates op­pose an ef­fort to award elect­or­al votes in Pennsylvania based on the out­come in in­di­vidu­al con­gres­sion­al dis­tricts. They also re­ject a pro­posed state bill that would re­quire voters to present photo iden­ti­fic­a­tion at the polls.

City Coun­cil can­did­ates who at­ten­ded were at-large Re­pub­lic­an hope­fuls Joe Mc­Col­gan, Mi­chael Un­ter­mey­er and Dav­id Oh and 6th Coun­cil­man­ic Dis­trict Re­pub­lic­an Sandra Stew­art. Dave Kralle rep­res­en­ted at-large Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ate Denny O’Bri­en.

The Phil­adelphia Fed­er­a­tion of Young Re­pub­lic­ans and the GOP lead­ers of the 2nd, 5th, 8th, 14th, 27th and 30th wards will spon­sor a can­did­ates’ for­um on Sat­urday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at St. Mi­chael Rus­si­an Or­tho­dox Church, at 335 Fair­mount Ave.

• • •

Bill Ru­bin, the Demo­crat­ic can­did­ate in the 10th Coun­cil­man­ic Dis­trict, has un­veiled his three pri­or­it­ies for re­form­ing Phil­adelphia’s pen­sion pro­gram.

Ru­bin, who is chal­len­ging Re­pub­lic­an Coun­cil­man Bri­an O’Neill, spent sev­en years as vice chair­man and trust­ee of the Phil­adelphia Board of Pen­sions and Re­tire­ment.

“We need a rep­res­ent­at­ive in City Coun­cil with the ex­pert­ise to find and im­ple­ment com­mon-sense solu­tions to the prob­lems that our pen­sion sys­tem faces,” he said.

Ru­bin wants to put an end to “spik­ing,” the term used when pub­lic em­ploy­ees get pro­mo­tions in the last few years of their em­ploy­ment and re­ceive big­ger life­time pen­sion checks. He fa­vors put­ting a 10-per­cent an­nu­al cap on salary in­creases in the fi­nal three years of a pub­lic em­ploy­ee’s ser­vice.

In ad­di­tion, he would place elec­ted of­fi­cials and rank-and-file work­ers in the same pen­sion plan.

Also, he would end the prac­tice of al­low­ing work­ers to con­vert pen­sions at any time from city, state or fed­er­al po­s­i­tions, as long as they are not ves­ted in an­oth­er plan. Mil­it­ary pen­sions would be ex­empt.

“We must pur­sue re­forms that will keep our pen­sion sys­tem strong, and these three pri­or­it­ies are a step in that dir­ec­tion,” he said.

Mean­while, both can­did­ates are run­ning com­mer­cials on cable tele­vi­sion.

Ru­bin’s spot shows O’Neill pic­tured with Coun­cil­wo­man Mari­an Tasco, who is ex­pec­ted to run for Coun­cil pres­id­ent des­pite the fact that she is en­rolled in the De­ferred Re­tire­ment Op­tion Plan and will col­lect $478,057 in re­tire­ment money but re­main on the job at her full salary.

An an­noun­cer calls Tasco his “DROP ally,” shows a bag of money fall­ing in­to O’Neill’s hands and de­clares that he voted for DROP so he could “pock­et half-a-mil­lion in cash.” O’Neill has not en­rolled in DROP and has said he will nev­er do so. Ru­bin has prom­ised not to sup­port Tasco’s pres­id­en­tial bid; O’Neill has not yet done so.

O’Neill ap­pears in his com­mer­cial driv­ing, talk­ing on the phone and stand­ing out­side his dis­trict of­fice. It also shows loc­al scenes and fea­tures people laud­ing him for things such as nev­er vot­ing for prop­erty tax in­creases.

• • •

The Great­er Phil­adelphia Chinese Res­taur­ant As­so­ci­ation has en­dorsed Mc­Col­gan’s bid for  City Coun­cil.

Mc­Col­gan fa­vors re­peal­ing the busi­ness priv­ilege tax.

“We need a strong voice for busi­ness on City Coun­cil, and we couldn’t find a tough­er guy to fight for the in­terests of job growth than Joe Mc­Col­gan,” said Ying Zhang Lin, vice pres­id­ent of the as­so­ci­ation.

Mc­Col­gan has also been en­dorsed by Fraternal Or­der of Po­lice Lodge 5, In­ter­na­tion­al As­so­ci­ation of Fire­fight­ers Loc­al 22 and the Fuji­an As­so­ci­ation of Great­er Phil­adelphia.

• • •

Look­ing ahead to 2012, Patrick Murphy, a Demo­crat­ic can­did­ate for state at­tor­ney gen­er­al, ex­pressed sup­port for a fed­er­al jobs bill in­ten­ded to pay for the hir­ing of teach­ers, po­lice of­ficers and fire­fight­ers.

Murphy is a former con­gress­man and son of a re­tired Phil­adelphia po­lice of­ficer.

The can­did­ate weighed in on an­oth­er fed­er­al mat­ter, call­ing on Pennsylvania At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Linda Kelly to sup­port the con­firm­a­tion of Richard Cordray to head the Con­sumer Fin­an­cial Pro­tec­tion Bur­eau.

A bi­par­tis­an group of 37 at­tor­neys gen­er­al is sup­port­ing Cordray, but Sen­ate Re­pub­lic­ans plan to block the nom­in­a­tion be­cause they want him to an­swer to an over­sight pan­el.

Murphy wrote a let­ter to Sen­ate Minor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell, a Ken­tucky Re­pub­lic­an, ask­ing him to al­low a vote on the nom­in­a­tion.

The Demo­crat­ic primary field for at­tor­ney gen­er­al also in­cludes former as­sist­ant dis­trict at­tor­neys Dan Mc­Caf­fery of Phil­adelphia and Kath­leen Kane of Lack­awanna County.

Pos­sible Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ates are state Sen. John Raf­ferty of Mont­gomery County and  Cum­ber­land County Dis­trict At­tor­ney Dav­id Freed. ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­

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