Osama coverage, Pete Hamill and a woman on a mission

    It’s been fascinating to watch as details of the Osama bin laden operation emerge and the issues it raises get debated. The investigative non-profit Pro Publica has a great guide to some of the more interesting coverage here.

    I’ll remind you that posting is light this week as I help with WHYY’s spring membership drive, and I’ll also remind you to support the station with a pledge if you haven’t yet, at 1-888-345-9499, or at whyy.org.

    Today on Fresh Air, you can listen to my interview with veteran journalist and author Pete Hamill. He has a new novel called Tabloid City, and we have a good time reminiscing about the glory days of newspapers and ruminating on the new media. It’s on at 3 and 7 on WHYY. If you’re listening outside the Philly area, you can find a station here. And the interview and more information will be posted later on the Fresh Air website.

    Philadelphia is 12 days away from a municipal primary with some important battles to be decided. Yesterday, I ran over to a forum for row office candidates after my fundraising duties for the day were done, and was struck by who didn’t show up: the traditional ward leader candidates who win these offices not by convincing voters, but by getting the endorsements of other politicians.

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    On that list: Incumbent City Commissioners Marge Tartaglione, Anthony Clark and Joe Duda, all ward leaders; the Democratic party-endorsed candidate for sheriff, Jewell Williams, a ward leader; and incumbent Register of Wills Ron Donatucci, a ward leader (though to be fair, he has no opponent in the primary).

    I went in part to catch up with Stephanie Singer, the self-styled reform candidate for city commissioner, who’s managed to do what the commissioners themselves have failed to do – put up a free website with past city election returns.

    One of the weird things about Singer is that she herself is a ward leader, though an exceptional one. Singer is Democratic leader of the 8th ward in western center city, which I’d suggest is more democratically run than many in the city.

    She thinks she has a real shot at unseating Tartaglione, a 78-year old 36-year incumbent who’s office was brushed with scandal last year. Her daughter Rene resigned her deputy commissioner’s post after an ethics investigation concluded she was illegally involved in political activity.

    Singer said she’s confident she can win.

    “I’m running a first class campaign. Nobody has ever run a real campaign against (Tartaglione) before,” Singer said. “There’s a feeling out there, and the message ‘drop Marge’ is very powerful.”

    Tartaglione doesn’t act like she’s scared. My years of covering Philly elections tell me Marge and her traditional ward support will brush aside Singer’s challenge in a low-turnout election, but I’ve been wrong before.

    It’s one of the races I’ll be watching closely May 17th.

    Also this reminder: Friday afternoon, I’ll be monitoring campaign finance reports as they’re filed by municipal candidates and will get the key numbers on this site as quickly as possible.

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