Endorsements for the May 17 primary election

Of the candidates for Philadelphia City Council’s seven at-large seats who cared enough about the voters of Northeast Philadelphia to respond to a questionnaire submitted by the Northeast Times, only a handful had the courage to stand up to Democratic Councilwoman Marian Tasco, who is widely believed to be planning to seek the presidency of City Council.

Council’s current president, the pompous, insular, self-serving lady from South Philadelphia, Anna Verna, stands to pocket more than $500,000 in DROP money when she retires next January. How audacious would it be if her successor is Marian Tasco, who’s counting on voter ignorance to allow her to win re-election, collect $478,000 in DROP money, stage a fake one-day retirement after the November general election, then become president when the new Council convenes in January?

Even in Philadelphia, the Sub-Mediocre Politician Capital of the World, that should not happen, must not happen and will not happen if current and prospective Council members say “enough is enough” and pledge to not vote for Tasco for president.

Of the candidates in contested primaries in Council districts that include Northeast Philadelphia, only two, Democrats Bobby Henon in the 6th district and Dan Savage in the 7th, have pledged not to vote for Tasco for president. On that courageous stand alone, Henon and Savage deserve to win their primaries

Henon’s opponent, Marty Bednarek, has a three-fold problem. His supporters include Tasco and the Queens of DROP, City Commissioner Marge Tartaglione and retiring 6th district Councilwoman Joan Krajewski. After getting re-elected to their umpteen terms in 2007, Tartaglione and Krajewski staged one-day retirements just to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in DROP money, then they returned to their overpaid, underworked jobs.

Like most politicians, Bednarek talks out of both sides of his mouth. He claims to be opposed to DROP in all forms, yet he is endorsed by the Terrible Three and he refuses to rule out voting for Tasco for Council president.

What Tartaglione and Krajewski did four years ago — and what fellow DROP enrollees Tasco, Councilman at-large Frank Rizzo and Register of Wills Ronald Donatucci want to do this year — is disgusting. They want to have their lucrative cake and eat it too, and then remain at the public trough.

DROP is Issue №1. Any Council candidate who does not clearly and unequivocally condemn even the notion of Marian Tasco retaining her 9th district Council seat and becoming president says a lot about the candidate’s view of government and the way it treats taxpayers.

Philadelphia needs a City Council whose members will stand up to the status quo, boldly, loudly and directly. Philadelphia desperately needs a Council that sees reform at the top of the list of priorities.

DROP is a red herring and a good predictor of just how much “reform” a candidate would fight for if elected.

Ruling out a Tasco presidency should be a no-brainer in a city fed up with its politicians’ hanky-panky.

Philadelphia is a town where two city solicitors said it’s OK for elected officials to stage fake retirements for the purpose of collecting DROP money and then remaining in office, but city solicitors owe their jobs to those very same elected officials — specifically members of City Council, who get to decide whether to confirm those very same solicitor nominees. That obvious conflict of interest is partly responsible for City Council’s pathetic image and it’s one of the reasons voters need to clean house, beginning Tuesday, primary election day.

City Council’s two Republican at-large members must have big mouths and/or big ideas if they have any hope of getting anything done in this Democratic town, but fortunately for registered Republicans in Tuesday’s Republican primary — and for all voters of all political stripes in the Nov. 8 general election — the field of Republicans seeking at-large seats is the best it’s been in many years.

The Republican Party in Philadelphia increasingly is resembling Fred Flintstone’s family pet — Republicans in Philly are a dinosaur. Philadelphia’s Grand Old Party, the GOP, is rapidly becoming the GOTOOGP — the Grand Old Tired Out Of Gas Party. Things are so bad that the party persuaded a Democratic candidate for City Council in the at-large race AND in the 1st Councilmanic District to switch parties to become the GOP’s candidate for mayor.

No Republicans even bothered to run in most of Council’s 10 districts — districts where the voices of the Grand Old Party should be heard in primary AND general election campaigns.

Eight of the nine Republicans running for Council at-large have something to offer. Another one, of course, is Councilman Frank Rizzo. His DROP shenanigans should disqualify him immediately. Shame on him for trying to join Krajewski and Tartaglione in the Quit For a Day Club, and shame on Republican voters if they allow him to win one of the five slots on Tuesday that would allow Rizzo to advance to the general election.

Republican voters on Tuesday would be wise to select for at-large seats Al Taubenberger, Malcolm Lazin, Steve Odabashian and Elmer Money. All four have the intestinal fortitude to publicly pledge that if elected in November, they will not vote for Marian Tasco for president. That sort of declaration might not sit well with their future business-as-usual colleagues should they reach Council, but it should sit very well with voters, for it speaks volumes about their character.

All four men have great credentials. Taubenberger, as head of the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, is the businessman’s businessman. His expertise would be a tremendous asset to a city whose business community is starved for proper treatment. Never mind that Taubenberger was demolished by Michael Nutter in the mayor’s race four years ago; he ran a clean, issues-oriented campaign in every neighborhood and he would be a superb member of a Republican caucus in Council.

Similarly, lawyers Lazin and Odabashian and hospital administrator Elmer Money have good resumes and could give Council some desperately needed fresh air.

Former Navy officer Joe McColgan, who stops short of ruling out voting for Tasco for Council president, is also worthy of consideration, as is lawyer Michael Untermeyer, who says Tasco’s DROP plan is dishonest.

Two other candidates, lawyer David Oh and former state House Speaker Denny O’Brien, also have impressive credentials and likely would be excellent members of Council, but neither one is brave enough to publicly take on Marian Tasco. That should give pause to the long-suffering residents of the City of Brotherly Love. Send letters to: pronews@bsmphilly.com