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August 2021

Daughter of Palestinians runs for U.S. Senate

Senate candidate alexandra khalil
Alexandra “Alex” Khalil is running for the U.S. Senate. In a crowded field of 14 Democratic primary candidates vying for outgoing Republican U.S. Senator Pat Toomey’s seat in the May 2022 primary, she says can’t get the political reporters for Philadelphia’s paper of record, the Inquirer, to mention her name.

Khalil is mounting a vigorous door to door campaign and one of those doors was your correspondent’s. She’s expounds a progressive agenda of Medicare for all and a living wage. But she’s not against nuclear power.

Her entree into politics came when her son told her to check out Barack Obama. Kahlil did more than that: she worked on his campaign and now holds elected office as a councilperison for the borough of Jenkintown, a small town just outside northwest Philadelphia. There she is fighting against privatization of public utilities such as the sewer service. Professionally, she works in IT for the pharmaceutical company Merck. Khalil has also practiced law.

As the daughter of Palestinian parents from the West Bank, Khalil is especially keen on the protection of human rights regardless of identity or any other criteria.

In our interview, Khalil was most animated when she spoke of the conversations she has had with people while canvassing widely around Philadelphia area and in Lebanon and Schuylkill counties: the 80 year old woman whose husband suffered a stroke, and now they can’t pay their property taxes. She’s spoken with many seniors who are in similar danger of losing their homes, perhaps faced with high medical bills. She’s touched by the families who have lost children to drugs. She lays these ills at the feet of the Republican Party for failing to adequately fund human needs, schools and infrastructure.

Khalil believes her string connection with people as both a councilperson and campaigner will set her above the crowded field in voters’ estimation. She’s received coverage in the Northeast Times, her race is covered in Spotlight Pa and elsewhere and she is hoping more major media outlets will give her a fair shake

Watch video interview here.


51 ineligible people tried to vote in CHCA board election

CHCA election 51 ballots rejected
In a closely contested election between “slate” candidate and “non-slate” candidate factions, 16 candidates vying for 9 board seats,  the Chestnut Hill Community Association rejected 51 of 513 ballots cast as invalid, according to a report in the Chestnut Hill Local, August 5, 2021 edition. (Fifty-one votes account for about 10% of votes cast.) The report did not provide an explanation as to why the ballots had been rejected nor did the CHCA, owner of the Local, nor three current board members respond to a request for comment. However, John Derr, publisher of the Local, apparently taking on the role of spokesperson for the Association, stated that the 51 rejected ballots were from people who were not members of the Community Association and that some of those had lapsed memberships. He assured your correspondent that the election was fair without addressing your correspondent’s concern about election integrity relating to why so many people tried to vote in an election they weren’t eligible to vote in. Your correspondent has followed up with a letter to  the Community Association's President, Kathi Clayton.

Download CHCA clayton election fifty one voter letter 20210814.pdf (52.6K)

In a letter to your correspondent, Clayton responded that she was disappointed so many votes didn't get counted and that going forward the association will more often and broadly publish the requirement that to vote a member must be paid up as of the designated date, June 30, 2021 this year.


Neighbors retrieve iPhone from storm sewer

Retrieving iphone from storm sewer
Group shot retrieive iphone from sewerTo replace a lost key to the house of her neighbor whose dog she walks, Ardleigh Street resident Sarah Bettien-Ash made a trip to Killian’s Hardware Wednesday afternoon. Exiting the store, she realized that she had forgotten to pay for parking and quickly pulled out her phone, an iPhone12, to pay using the online app. It flew out of her hand and down through the storm sewer grate next to the store. Her daughter bought a pole and a net at the hardware store and, with a friend, tried without luck to fish it out. Bettien-Ash contacted the water department and was told someone would come out but she had no idea when. (They called the next morning) She was hopeful the phone was still working because it was still ringing when her daughter dialed it. Your correspondent came upon a small group of helpers, neighbors and friends, early that evening and learned Bettien-Ash had returned for another go at it with a newly purchased steel rake. A workman who had been repairing cement outside the hardware store was so impressed with Bettein-Ash’s determination that he retrieved tools from his truck and with help, pried off the grate. By then the local beat police officer was lighting the area with his flashlight. Bettein-Ash reports she pulled out the phone, wondrously illuminated with text messages and Instagram notifications. According to iPhone 12’s specs, the phone cannot last in water more than thirty minutes. Bettien-Ash appears to have beaten all odds. Watch video of neighbors rescuing iPhone from sewer and interview here.