PGN: Philadelphia Gay News

Investigating candidate challenges and working on personal recovery

I have a car but don’t use it very often. The reason, as in any big city, is parking. Some street parking areas near work are free for two hours. Then, you can get a ticket. As Don at PGN noted, you can’t move your car to a different spot on the same block because it’s considered the same space. (Of course, the signs don’t tell you that!)

On Wednesdays, when I spent the day in the newsroom helping edit articles and make the fixes, I didn’t want to think about having to move my car every two hours. I’d rather take the bus, and my condo has free bus service in mornings and evenings. I’d usually take advantage of it in the morning and take SEPTA back because it was so late.

Anyway, it’s April 28 and I’m writing what happened a month ago – not “last week” as I would’ve liked – but I fell while running to the bus to do Street Talk on March 22. Luckily, my hands protected my face but my left knee got bruised and bloodied, even through the jeans I was wearing. I punctured the palm of my left hand and worst, I bruised a right rib.

Luckily, the bus driver waited and who knows what she thought (or would’ve thought if she hadn’t seen me getting up)? Instead of Street Talk, I went to the doctor.

Then, I let work know I wouldn’t be covering any stories except from home or the newsroom unless they helped with insurance. That wasn’t happening and I don’t bluff, so I reported solely from phone calls, emails and online.

That’s one update from my column from “last week.” The second has to do with political candidates in the May 21 municipal primary election challenging each other’s nomination petitions.

On March 29, we reported one of the 34 Democrats running for five City Council at-Large seats challenged 30 of his 33 opponents in court. (My last post reported 41 people running for seven City Council at-Large seats. That’s true. Seven candidates were Republicans and no party can have more than five of the seven City Council at-Large seats.)

I spoke to one of the three NOT challenged and she told me she had no idea why she was so lucky!

But in court on a Friday, the candidate who challenged practically everyone else fainted! Three days later, on Monday, he withdrew those challenges.

Another candidate who faced a challenge was running to be a judge on the Court of Common Pleas. He knew he had done everything correctly and the court docket showed he wasn’t being challenged by a competitor (40 candidates running for six open seats), but by a Democratic ward leader and committeeperson. Yes, the candidate is also a Democrat. That’s politics here!

In fact, I investigated and found material that couldn’t be fit in the paper but should’ve been published online. First, I checked property listings and found out spouses’ names. Then, I looked at the election board officials (the people who work at the polls) for the wards and found people with the same last name. A little more research on one of the guys’ fathers (the guy whose name ends with “Jr.”) turned up an obituary mentioning even more names, and they matched! So sadly, Philadelphia politics is a family affair and political party doesn’t mean much if most people are Democrats, and the party leaders support some candidates and not others due to reasons I can’t speculate on here.

Another story that should not have been political was the City Hall flag-raising, a few days before the Trans Day of Visibility. It turned into heckling when a transgender candidate for City Council at-Large was speaking. Another candidate’s campaign manager (now former campaign manager, but how and when that changed is still a mystery) started screaming that she was white (heavens!) and not Hispanic. Nothing showed that to be true and the heckler (opponent’s former campaign manager) happened to be one of the co-founders of the Black and Brown Workers Co-op. (Yes, you’ve seen that group’s name a lot after reading the past month’s news.)

Anyway, the candidate, a lesbian, apologized and later withdrew from the campaign.

What got to me is the major progressive city’s only LGBT newspaper had nobody to cover the event. Therefore, I had to go through Facebook and Twitter posts, some of which included video. The article above was perfectly fine, though without pictures, but we could have and should have done better. This graphic from the March 29 issue tells a lot.

Also that week, afraid we wouldn’t have enough news, I wrote a story about gay presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg. I’m thrilled I suggested the short Jan. 25 article on him, before anyone knew of him and his supported him enough to rise in the polls so quickly. He had come a long way over two months. Journalists need to trust our guts and know our audiences.

Plus, I got to write about a great group getting a grant to do more good in the community. It wasn’t the first time nor the last I wrote about Action Wellness.

Unfortunately, this was the week editor Denise, my rock and mentor, told me she’d be leaving. Also, art director and photographer Scott was going to leave on the same day. Not good for a paper that has so few full-timers. Publisher Mark mentioned them in his column, the following week.

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