Things heat up in Northwest Philadelphia

    Alleged threats and payoffs, a $100,000 contribution, and a mayoral endorsement – now that’s what I call a lively City Council race.

    These are all late-breaking developments in the seven-way contest among Democrats for the 8th district seat in Northwest Philadelphia being vacated by incumbent Donna Reed Miller. Let’s start with the mayor.

    – Cindy Bass, a long time staffer for U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah appears to be getting the endorsement of Mayor Nutter. A Bass campaign announcement says Nutter will join Bass and other pols Saturday “to make a major campaign announcement” and knock on doors together.

    It’s interesting that Nutter is weighing in on this contested seat. State Rep. Dwight Evans is also joining the Saturday event, along with Fattah and State Sen. Vincent Hughes. Evans is a close ally of Councilwoman Marian Tasco, who aspires to become Council president next year and will need the votes of incoming council members.

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    Could the Bass endorsements be related her future support in Tasco’s bid for the Council presidency? Bass told me she’s made no commitment, public or private on the Council presidency, and that Evans’ and Nutter’s support stems from a longstanding relationship.

    I spoke with Verna Tyner, another candidate for the seat who’s gotten some organizational support from the Democratic party She said she was surprised to hear about Nutter ‘s move, and has placed a call to talk to him about it.

    Next, the big cash donation:

    – Howard Treatman, a lesser-known candidate for Miller’s seat has made it clear he’s serious about running. The real estate investor and developer has pumped $100,000 of his own money into his campaign. It’s listed as a loan to his committee, and represents nearly all of the money he’s raised as of last Friday.

    Treatman is a long time Germantown resident who’s on the board of the community group, Mt. Airy USA. Campaign contributions in Philadelphia by an individual are limited to $2,600, but there’s no limit on what you can spend on your own campaign.

    You might remember that when millionaire Tom Knox pumped a fortune into his own mayoral bid four years ago, that triggered a provision in the campaign finance law that allowed everybody else to double their contributions.

    Treatman’s 100 grand is huge by Council standards, but not enough to trigger the so-called “millionaire’s provision.” He’d need to chip in $250,000 to do that.

    Finally, those alleged threats and payoffs:

    – My Newsworks colleague Patrick Cobbs broke the story that candidate Robin Tasco and her husband claimed they were approached on Cindy Bass’s behalf by a former City Council staff member with a past corruption conviction, and that he predicted legal problems for Tasco if she didn’t quit the race and money or a job if she did.

    Read Cobbs’ story here.

    UPDATE: I heard from Ed Feldman from G-town Radio, who noted that it was on his prorgram that Robin Tasco made her allegation (which Cobb properly cites in his piece). You can hear Feldman’s interview with Robin Tasco here, and learn more about G-town radio here.

    I reached Bass, who acknowledges that the former Council staffer, Steve Vaughn is a volunteer in her campaign. She said she’s spoken to him about Tasco’s allegation and is convinced it’s untrue.

    She added that she’s known Robin Tasco for many years.

    “I’ve seen Robin many times since this alleged action occurred, and at no point did she mention any of this to me, in any way, shape or form,” she told me. “We know each other, and I find it hard to believe that some one would do something like this and mention my name, and that she wouldn’t say something about it.”

    Bass added that it would be nice if issues in the campaign got as much attention as stuff like this.


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