POLITICS Feed

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.


Chestnut Hill neighbors weigh in on NextDoor polls

Since September, your correspondent has been posting polls on NextDoor to inform and learn from the community, to take its pulse and to move the community on issues near and dear to him. As few as four and as many as 330 people have voted in these polls with naming the bookstore and a ban or leafblowers being the most popular. See more about NextDoor at the end of this post.

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Nov 3 POLL: DO YOU SUPPORT PROTECT THE VOTE RALLIES BEGINNING NOV 4?

Takeaway: Most support the rallies but after 16 people registered their choice, NextDoor shut down commenting but left one comment from a detractor standing. It may also have closed voting in the poll. Here's the poll link

 

ND Protect the Results 2020-11-03 at 4.31.16 PM

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Nov 2 POLL: WHAT IS YOUR TOP NOV 3 ELECTION CONCERN?

Takeaway: Before the poll was taken down only hours after  its posting, 17 people voted, many citing counting of mail-in ballots as top concern. 3 or 4 people had grumbled about the post as harmfully sowing anxiety.

20201102 ND election concerns

WHAT IS YOUR TOP NOV 3 ELECTION CONCERN?Our State Rep Chris Rabb and a local computer expert don’t believe our electronic voting system is secure. https://youtu.be/2n9uraDCSng
And there are news reports of confusion over PA’s mail in ballots counting https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/02/us/politics/Pennsylvania-presidential-election.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage . Some polling places are bracing for possible voter intimidation http://www.pikecountycourier.com/news/local-news/open-carry-and-voter-intimidation-what-does-pa-law-say-DC1370036 Of course you have voted or are going to BUT WHAT IS YOUR TOP NOV 3 ELECTION CONCERN?

Mail-in ballots may not be accurately counted

Electronic voting system may be hacked

Irregularities at polling stations may negatively impact the count

Other (See my comment)

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Nov 1 POLL: DO ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS?

Takeaway: the NextDoor algorithm may have made this the last visible post on anyone's news feed

20201101 Actions words
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Oct 27 POLL: HOMELESS IN MOUNT AIRY - IS THERE A RIGHT TO HOUSING?

Takeaway: 40% believe not or are unsure and since children are people, that means that nearly half are unwilling to say that children have a human right to housing.

20201027 right to housing

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Oct 21 POLL: WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE OCT 22 CHESTNUT HILL LOCAL?

Takeaway:  A fair amount worth saying something about. (In the 10/29 edition  there is a help wanted ad for an associate editor.)

20201021 wrong with local

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Oct 21 POLL: DO GOOD FENCES MAKE GOOD NEIGHBORS?

Takeaway: You will know your good neighbor by the good fence they build between you and them

Real real fences


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Oct 9 POLL: DO YOU SUPPORT BLACK LIVES MATTER OR BACK THE BLUE?

Takeaway: Of 133 votes, less than a third believe it is possible to support both

20201009 BLM BTB

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Oct 6 POLL: WOULD YOU ATTEND A (VIRTUAL) CHESTNUT HILL TOWN HALL AND WHO MIGHT HOST?

Takeaway: There is only some interest in a virtual town hall and even less interest in the question

20201006 town hall

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Oct 5 POLL: NAME THE BOOKSTORE, THE FINALISTS ARE...

Takeaway: By a considerable plurality but with only a third as many people voting in this finalists poll as in the original poll, the peoples really like "Books on the Hill"

20201005 name bookstore finalists

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Oct 2 POLL: Should the CDC require face masks?

Takeaway:  The people have spoken; make facemasks the law nationwide

20201002 cdc fase masks

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Sept 28 POLL: I'M SORRY: WHAT ARE YOU SORRY ABOUT FOR POSTING ON NEXTDOOR?

Takeaway: For the most part, NextDoor users stand by what they posted

20200928Sorry

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Sep 25 POLL: IS COVID-19 POSTER AT POST OFFICE MISLEADING?

Takeaway: If you've posted to a NextDoor group with only 6 members don't expect more than 6 responses

20200925 cdc poster misleading

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Sep 18 POLL: POLICE PERMANENTLY PARKED  TOP OF THE HILL? PROTECTING BANKS OR PEOPLE?

Takeaway: Most people believe the police presence at the top of the Hill benefits some combination of the public and small businesses but 25% believe they are there at the bank or banks' behest. The police have not responded to a request for clarification.

20200918 police cars

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Sep 15: NAME THE BOOKSTORE, THE CH LIBRARY FRIENDS WANT YOUR IDEAS

Takeaway: 324 people and likely more with opinions is giving the Friends Board pause before deciding on a name

20200915 name bookstore

 

Sep 4 POLL: SHOULD WE BAN OR RESTRICT GAS POWERED LEAF BLOWERS?

Takeaway: About half or more people would consider a ban or restrictions on gas powered leaf blowers

ND leafblowers with results

Continue reading "Chestnut Hill neighbors weigh in on NextDoor polls" »


Outdoor restaurants put diners, passersby at risk? Phila defies state, loosens standards

UPDATE TO DEVELOPING STORY: PHILADELPHIA GUIDELINES ABOUT SIX FOOT SPACING WERE INCONSISTENT WITH STATE, BECAME CONSISTENT and ARE NOW INCONSISTENT AGAIN, APPLYING A LOOSER STANDARD.

OOutdoor restuarant farewayn July 23, Philadelphia issued revised guidelines to require 6 feet between passersby and tables in line with May 27 state requirements.

On October 9, Pennsylvania updated May 27 guidelines but still required 6 feet between passersby and diners.

On October 15, Philadelphia revised the guidelines again to only require a 6 foot passageway, not a 6 foot distance between diners and pedestrians. This is no longer consistent with state standards.

October 22, 2020 Several restaurants in Chestnut Hill  appear compliant with state standards, more appear to exceed current city standards as shown in the photo on the left.

Documentation on extended pages.

BUT then at least one restaurant proprietor must have friends in high places. It blocks the sidewalk.

Mcnallys table blocks sidewalk

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ORIGINAL STORY: Approximately July 21, 2020

Living a block and a half away from Germantown Avenue we like to stroll up and down. It's enjoyable and it's healthy. It's one of the reasons we live here.

We understand Chestnut Hill restaurants, several which we patronize (and now do more take out from) are just trying to stay financially afloat. Due to Covid19 many have added extra outdoor seating both next to the building and at the curb. But If you were to walk past a few of these restaurants you might be 2-3 feet away from open-mouthed diners, a delicious opportunity to spread the corona-virus.

In his July 17 Inquirer article,"Eating out during the pandemic is a dilemma. Outdoor dining appears to be the most safe," Craig LaBan writes "It’s nonetheless unrealistic to expect customers hungering for a taste of quarantine escape to consistently respect boundaries, just as it’s naive to expect restaurateurs, with so little guidance or oversight to suddenly become altruistic public health experts, and not try to squeeze in a few more seats than they should."

No, Mr. Laban, there may be little oversight but the guidance is clear. Pa Governor Wolf's Covid-19 *mandate* about outdoor restaurant seating is clear. "Spacing must also allow for physical distancing from areas outside of the facility’s control (i.e. such that pedestrians on a sidewalk can pass with at least six feet of distance to customer)." Source www.governor.pa.gov/covid-19/restaurant-industry-guidance

Here's the math. The average width of an adult is 1.25 feet so a pedestrian would need 6 feet distance from a table on their left side and 6 feet on the right for a restaurant to be in compliance: In other words the width of the walkway to keep both pedestrians and diners safe is *13.25* feet.

I conducted a little informal survey of how wide the pedestrian passage is at Chestnut Hill establishments with outdoor seating. The most ample passage was outside Iron Hill Brewery with a width of 9 or more feet and staggered tables. The general manager was kind enough to pose to provide a sense of scale. Outside Campbell's Place, the pedestrian passageway is 6 feet or less and similarly so at establishments at the top of the Hill. Without addressing the governor's 6 foot mandate, Campbell's owner Rob Mullen writes that according to the City's Health, L&I and Streets Department Campbell's outdoor seating is in complete compliance. (It is not clear what seating arrangement the inspectors saw when they made their inspections.) October 23, 2020 update: the city now appears to have been enforcing its own looser standards, inconsistent with state standards).

Perhaps we should just cross the street, as a friend suggests, to avoid the restaurants. Perhaps the restaurants could take away just a few tables to be closer in compliance with the law. Perhaps I should watch the next episode of "Breaking Bad" on our daughter's NetFlix account and sulk about how the only real thanks health care workers want is the one they're not getting- people and businesses uniformly embracing good public health practices and regulations. Photo gallery here Crowded outdoor restaurant seating puts diners and walkers in danger of catching Covid-19

Documentation follows about changing and conflicting Pennsylvania and Philadelphia 6 foot distancing requirement.

Continue reading "Outdoor restaurants put diners, passersby at risk? Phila defies state, loosens standards" »


A community takes sides: Back the Blue or Black Lives Matter

Two separate rallies, one for Black Lives Matter and the other for Back the Blue both kicked off at 10:30 am on October 10, 2020 in Springfield Township, Montgomery County Pennsylvania in two nearby township parks. Was it coincidental??? Watch short video of rallies here.  An unscientific poll of 99  respondents on the NextDoor app indicates that people who support both causes are in a distinct minority, about 27%. It also indicates 76% support Black Lives Matter and  47% Back the Blue. Caveat: there is always the question of what people are thinking who are neither participating in such a poll or even on the social media platform where the poll was conducted. It's also worth noting that people may support the causes espoused without ascribing to a provocative movement or slogan.

ND back blue  black matter poll screenshot
As a member of the minority who espouse both causes, your correspondent attended only part of each rally so the material here is certainly not comprehensive and due to personal history, not necessarily well balanced. Photos of both rallies here.

A-little-girl-with-a-back-the-blue-flag-at-springfield-township-rally_50446102426_o
At the Back the Blue Rally in Cisco Park, your correspondent heard 37 year veteran, Michael E. Pitkow, Chief of Police, thank the community for their support and the dedication of his officers. He spoke of a survey being conducted [the outgrowth of community meetings] among community residents soliciting their input about what they want from their police department. He remarked about the challenging times ensuing after the onset of the corona-virus pandemic and the "death of Mr. George Floyd" but noted Springfield Township hadn't experienced the civil unrest occurring in many other places around the nation.

Michele Chesaitis, an active member of the Friends of the Springfield Township Police is concerned when people make negative generalizations about the police. She comes from a police and fire department family and is proud of her family’s service. She considers the close knit community of law enforcement as part of her family, too. When asked whether the Black Lives Matter protesters had any legitimate issues she answered "There are legitimate and valuable issues for every walk of life," and as to what whether police could do better, "that we stop lumping police into groups.” When introduced she began her public remarks by asking everyone to join her in a prayer for the police, "In the name of the father, the son and the holy spirit...."

Watch video interview here.

Black and white teens unite at black lives matter rally

At the Unity and Diversity rally to honor Breonna Taylor, clumps of young adults, families and older adults were spaced far apart in Mermaid Park listening to the speakers. Montgomery County Commissioner Ken Lawrence contrasted the actions of Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend who fired out from inside their home, defending their home with the act of a white vigilante who traveled from his home and killed protesters “There’s a hypocrisy. That’s why Black Lives Matter. Because when it happens to us it’s always something that we did wrong to end up dead.” He highlighted a recent incident in Upper Gwynedd Township in which police successfully de-escalated a situation and no one died; they were able to disarm a man who had fired a shotgun at them. “It absolutely can be done.”  Napoleon Nelson, who is running for representative in the 184th district of the Pennsylvania State House, encompassing Springfield Township spoke next. He had visited the police rally, too, and a photo of him there appears in the photo album above. Your correspondent regrets an opening didn't present itself to interview him, being apparently only one of three African-American adults present at the police rally. The African American Republican congressional candidate Kathy Barnette was similarly engaged with others and Barnette's  mother declined to be interviewed. The below is only an excerpt of Nelson's remarks. Readers are encouraged to listen to the fuller versions of both Lawrence and Nelson here.

"Before I got here I was over on the other side of the Township at a Back the Blue rally. And I do, I support police. I think there’s an important role for law enforcement in our community. But this day, this time, is not about backing the blue.

Continue reading "A community takes sides: Back the Blue or Black Lives Matter" »


Shirtless boxer, Trump supporter, rails against fear

Shirtless boxer rails against fear and for Trump
Driving along Northwestern Avenue past the top of Forbidden Drive, I noticed a shirtless, mask-less, older man wearing red boxer shorts and blue boxing gloves. Next to him was a heavy punching bag hanging from a post of the wooden Wissahickon Valley welcome structure. In our video interview, the man, who gave his name as XXXXXXX, indicated he was taking a break from six to eight sets of fifty punches each and obliged me by demonstrating his technique. He would not disclose his age, residence or occupation but asked "What's your story?" which I told him in brief. XXXXX indicated he was positioned where he was, at the busy entrance way to the valley park, so as to engage people. As he approached the car, challenging me "What are you afraid of?" but not giving me time to answer about Covid-19 concerns, I would press the button to raise the car window up but for a crack, with him standing just on the other side of the window. And so our conversation continued with me lowering the window as he backed away and raising it again as he approached, railing about fear and telling me I wasn't alive, wasn't living. Unsurprisingly, he asked what I thought about President Trump. And, uncharacteristically, I abided by the maximum "If you don’t have anything nice to say..." and said nothing. XXXXX answered my silence with "I'd take a bullet for Trump." Watch video interview here.

NOTE: At the time of this interview, Philadelphia had a mandatory face mask requirement due to Covid-19 in public places where it is not possible to consistently maintain a distance of six feet from other people. Face covering required

Mask up philly

Download Mask-Order-Signed-06-26-20.pdf (159.1K)


On boarded up Chestnut Hill storefronts, store owner writes messages of hope

By mid-afternoon Tuesday, most businesses along the Germantown Avenue business corridor (excluding some of the vacant ones ) had been securely boarded up in the wake of widespread protests and looting elsewhere in the city. The Weavers Way Coop market, which has a wide expanse of windows, was a notable exception. (The Coop's General Manager, Jon Roesser, explains its decision not to board up below.) When asked why he was boarding up the Wells Fargo Bank a workman replied "It's a job. Do you think I like doing this? It's sad."

No boards pie paintsJoe Pie of McNally's Tavern, was putting a new coat of dark green paint on the entrance door (No boarding up to do because the tavern hasn't had windows on the narrow facade for more than fifty years.) He said that businesses along the Avenue had been "cased" the day before and was very alarmed should any photos be posted on social media. Bohemian Pink owner Monika Schermer said her store was boarded up based on the advice of the Chestnut Hill Business Association and the 14th District Philadelphia Police. Schermer directed questions to the Business Association. Its Executive Director Phil Dawson could not be reached for comment.

Boarded fresh marketOutside the Fresh Market at 7 pm, a market employee stood outside watching two workmen prepare to board up the doors. He relayed that the CVS, farther down the street, had been broken into. Talking on the phone, one of these workers could be heard saying he would be back at the store in the morning to take the boards off so the store could open for business. "Hopefully I'm going to be putting these boards on and off for a couple days."

Boarded black lives matterLarge, delicately lettered chalk messages have already appeared on some of the boards. "Love lives here" on one and "Community" on another. Hillary O'Carroll proprietress of Isabella Sparrow, captured in a photo in the below tweet, is behind the heartwarming words. She says she wanted to add non-political messages of love and home by writing on the the boards. The one shown above "Black Lives Matter - donate: NAACP.ORG & phillybailfund.org" she attributes to an employee of Caleb Meyer.

Ocarroll chalking boards

On the Tailored Home store, O'Carroll's message is simply "This is home"

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Comments of John Roesser, GM of Weavers Way Cooperative Association

Driving down Gtown Ave this morning, it seems we're part of a vanishing minority of businesses who've chosen not to board up; lumber yards must be rejoicing.  
 
For starters, please know I don't question the motives of other business owners.  Whatever drove them to decide to board up, I'm sure it made sense for them.  I understand PPD recommends boarding up businesses as a precaution.  PPD would have no reason to recommend anything different.  And they are busy and hard pressed and I'm sure not just a little tired by now.  
 
Our principal reason for not boarding up was consideration of our staff and customers.  Still in the midst of the pandemic, grocery shopping is already a stressful activity (working in a grocery store is even worse).  The masks and the hand sanitizer and the social distancing and the 15 person customer cap, it's all disconcerting enough.  Boarding up our windows would aggravate the stress.  Our Chestnut Hill store is small.  Boarding up the windows would block out the natural light and make it feel even smaller.  Who wants to work in a plywood box?  
 
In making this decision I had 100% support from the Co-op's management team and 100% support from our Chestnut Hill employees (at least the 25 or so with whom I spoke on Sunday and Monday).  Last night I received 100% affirmation of the decision from our board of directors who, as you know, are democratically elected by the Co-op's 10,000 member households.  
 
Having spent much of yesterday in Chestnut Hill chatting with customers (masked and 6 feet apart!) I received thumbs up from all of them.  Many expressed dismay at the acres of plywood along the avenue.  One out of four households in Chestnut Hill are member-owners of the Co-op.  They patronize other businesses on the avenue too.  
 
Yesterday's demonstrations were largely peaceful.  Things could change but the folks who are out protesting the murder of George Floyd and demanding the end of institutional racism are not vandals or looters.  PPD is as always hard at work tracking down the bad actors who are taking advantage of the demonstrations (and undermining the demonstrator's message) by causing mayhem.  It is too early to say but we can perhaps be hopeful that the worst of the looting is over.  
 
I have to say, again not questioning the motives - or the politics - of other business owners, the sight of all those boarded up buildings along the avenue is unnerving.  And it can't be good for business.  I do hope the other businesses along the avenue will consider taking the boards down sooner rather than later.  
 
It will take one hooligan, armed with a brick and a strong arm, to make us look like fools.  Maybe we are fools. "

Comrade Pineapple, Soviet Great-Granddaughter

Comrade pineapple two
Julia Alekseyeva emigrated to the United States from Russia when she was four years old. Her relationship with most members of her family was fraught. But her great-grandmother, Lola, reflected her own personality and they developed an especially close bond despite nearly 80 years difference in age. Lola, like many other Jews who had been marginalized and persecuted in the pre-Soviet era, had become a member of the Communist party. She later became secretary, devoted but exploited, to the NKVD, predecessor of the KGB. The years leading up to and through the war years were a time of struggle and deprivation. Lola's husband, sent off to fight, and many other family members fell victim to the Nazis. In "Soviet Daughter," a graphic biography, Alekseyeva recounts Lulu's sweeping 100 year story based on memoirs her great grandmother had secretly kept. Alekseyeva places "Interludes" between some chapters of the book which weave in her own personal history- growing up an immigrant, overcoming thyroid cancer (precipitated by Chernobyl radiation exposure) navigating her college years and discovering her sexual, Jewish and political identities. Near the end, lost in grief after the death of her beloved Lola, Alekseyeva receives a phone call. She has been accepted into the Comparative Literature Department at Harvard. Alekseyeva has also authored illustrated works on Rosa Luxembourg and Walter Benjamin. At "Book Paper Scissors! an artists' book fair at the Free Library on the Parkway, cosponsored by the Philadelphia Center for the Book,  these were on display along with Soviet Daughter. Rounding out her display were Yuri Gagarin t-shirts and other t-shirts embellished with a pineapple and written across the pineapple Alekseyeva's DJ name - “Comrade Pineapple.” Watch here the author artist describe her graphic memoir about her one hundred year old Russian great-grandmother.


Before municipal election, voters more focused on national issues

Voter interviews 20191105 election

WHAT ISSUES OR CANDIDATES MATTER TO YOU IN THE UPCOMING ELECTION?

(From left to right)

ARTHUR BORGERHOFF, 27, College Student, CHESTNUT HILL, PHILADELPHIA
One of the biggest things is healthcare. I probably have the most basic plan for healthcare and I was paying $79 four years ago and it literally jumped up in the middle of the Trump presidency to $348 for the most basic plan I continue to pay because I don’t want to have to worry about that. But now I have to worry about other things like bills... I’m not quite sure who I’m going to vote for yet but Bernie and Warren definitely seem like my - Warren not as much just because BUT YOU CAN'T VOTE FOR THEM IN NOVEMBER Oh in November! I’m thinking far, far ahead. THE MAYOR IS UP FOR RE-ELECTION... The mayor, oh...

BRIANNA GOW, 24, college student, NORRISTOWN, PA
Local government I don’t believe I’m knowledgeable enough to speak about what candidate I’m going to vote for so I’ll probably do some research before the election

ARTHUR BORGERHOFF
Yeah that’s probably good. I was like, what election are you talking -yeah, it’s been on the mind the next one, the 2020 presidential one.
__________

For this election I’m very interested in local issues for Philadelphia itself- education of our children in the Philadelphia area that to me is very important. AND WHAT CANDIDATES... I really couldn't tell you we are inundated with so many candidates I want to take time to sit down and review candidates that are available but you know I think we’ve been bombarded with so much political on the national scene sometimes we really get weary of political speeches and promises so sometimes it’s hard and even difficult to take even take time to do that so I’m hoping to take time sit down and read articles and see what the issues are in terms of the candidates WHAT RACES... City Council, I'm very interested in that. Those that pertain to our local area, those candidates but who the candidates are, I couldn't tell you. I'm ignorant on that.
Graziella Mann, West Oak Lane, 72, retired research technician

__________

My focus is more on what’s going on nationally so I haven’t, honestly, been thinking about the local stuff that much. One of my neighbors is running for commissioner. And Iknow it’s not supposed to be along party lines. I know that he doesn’t have some of the beliefs that I do. He doesn’t belong to the same party that I do. So I’m a little reluctant to vote for him even though I know he’s a great guy.

Julie Nguyen, Homemaker, 46, Fort Washington PA

Watch video interviews here.


Why trust Philadelphia's new voting machines?

Rabb voting machines yt
We  received a voicemail on our landline from Pennsylvania State Representative for the 200th district Chris Rabb (pronounced like "dab") with an invitation to try out,
this past Friday, Philadelphia’s new ES&S voting machines at the Wadsworth Branch Public Library. Your correspondent planned to first attend a yoga class at the nearby Lovett Branch Public Library, then head over to Wadsworth to get acquainted with the new machines which have been in the news. See Philadelphia's New Voting Machine Contract in Jeopoardy... Coincidentally, PhD renaissance man, yogi and fair election activist Josh Mittledorf was substitute teaching. After class, I asked Mitteldorf to explain his concerns about the new machines. He pointed out the ES&S company’s sordid history and claimed that the software it uses could possibly skew results; even election officials purchasing the machines do not have access to the software to verify its integrity because, in legal terms, the software is considered a trade secret.

I headed off to Wadsworth where a representative from the Philadelphia City Commissioners' office walked me through how to use the new machine and referred me to Rep Rabb for any additional questions. The voting process is initiated when a voter inserts a physical ballot into the machine.  On a large display screen, the voter then touch taps the candidates they want and, when done,  the printed ballot with the voter’s choices shows up behind a window panel for the the voter to approve before submitting their vote. Predictably, on the demonstration machine, your correspondent voted for Democrat Party candidate Nick Foles for President and Green Party Candidate Julius ("Dr. J" Erving) for U.S. Senate. Then it was time to buttonhole Rabb.

Interview with Rabb

BR (your correspondent, Brian Rudnick): Are these machines secure?

CR (his Pa State Rep Chris Rabb): No.

BR: How do we know the election is not being stolen?

CR: We don’t.

BR: We don’t? Well that’s not good.

CR: I agree. Just like any system, Any system  is imperfect.

BR: Any system- even a paper ballot system…

CR: Well paper ballots can be stolen…

BR: Why don’t we have access to the software in the systems?

CR: I don’t know.

BR: You’re our representative, can you ask?

CR: The City Commissioners’ office is here so you can ask directly.

Watch video of activist and Pennsylvania legislator expressing concern about integrity of new ES&S voting machines in Philadelphia.