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MANNES: Rising Crime Is a Referendum on Identity Politics

This piece first appeared in Broad + Liberty.

On November 20, 2022, FOX 29’s Steve Keeley reported that there were four homicides in just the last six weeks in the small Delaware County borough of Yeadon. As Keeley reported through his popular Twitter feed, that was more homicides than the entire four-plus year tenure of Yeadon Borough’s former Police Chief, Anthony “Chachi” Paparo. This is noteworthy because in February, Paparo was terminated by Yeadon’s Borough Council — an act Paparo alleges was done in order to replace him with an African American Police Chief, despite his having support from the Mayor, according to court filings in the federal discrimination and wrongful termination lawsuit filed by Paparo and Lodge 27 of the Fraternal Order of Police in March.

Meanwhile, neighboring Philadelphia is facing another year of shocking violent crime. This comes three years after Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney proclaimed that he would appoint an African American woman as police commissioner before a national search for the most qualified, experienced applicants was conducted. The result was the appointment of Danielle Outlaw, whose prior commands were as a Deputy Police Chief in Oakland and as Chief of the Portland Police Bureau. Oakland, which has 709 sworn members and Portland, with 795 sworn members, both saw an increase of crime during Outlaw’s tenure.

Philadelphia, with over 6,300 sworn members, is the nation’s fourth-largest police department, over nine times the size of Outlaw’s largest command. Since Kenney’s 2019 appointment of Outlaw, murders has shot up from 356 to 562 in 2021, with over 470 officially reported in 2022 so far, not counting over 103 “S-job” (suspicious deaths) which are likely to add to the official homicide tally at a later date. One must wonder if Kenney’s decision to restrict his search for commissioner within narrow gender and racial characteristics was prudent considering the life-and-death implications of the job.

In both Yeadon and Philadelphia, the harsh reality of murder rates raises questions as to the accountability of those charged with public safety – from both law enforcement executives and the elected politicians who oversee their appointment and the fair administration of justice. Traditionally, the appointment of police chiefs and commissioners was completely in the discretion of the Mayor or County Executive. As crime was always a major issue for which politicians were held accountable, these elected leaders historically ranked political optics behind track records when making appointments in this regard.

Outlaw’s last boss, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler was quoted in a Philadelphia magazine piece on Outlaw saying “This position is inherently political, not in a partisan manner, but in the sense that it is under public scrutiny and maintaining public trust is done in a political environment. You have good instincts and judgment already, but learning more about political history and relationships in Portland is important to being successful in the position in the long term.” Ironically, Outlaw only served for two years as Portland’s police chief before leaving for Philadelphia. What’s more disturbing, as crime has emerged as a key issue in daily news coverage, is that there has been no public discussion of Outlaw’s effectiveness in her role, despite rising crime and scandals within her ranks.

Which brings us back to Yeadon. Last month, a federal judge denied the borough council’s motion to dismiss Paparo’s lawsuit against them. If the suit is successful, it will be one of the first to create case law on using identity politics, in this case race, to appoint and/or terminate a law enforcement executive.  The suit alleges the four individual defendants decided that Yeadon is “a black town,” and that that representation should be reflected with a black chief of police.

The suit claims Johnson called Yeadon Police Detective Ferdie Ingram on the morning of Jan. 3 to offer him the job, but he declined. Ingram allegedly told Johnson that he already had a police chief he supported. That support was also apparent in the community, the suit notes, with 1,100 people signing a Change.org petition aimed at keeping Paparo in the role. Paparo originally alleged four counts for violations of his equal employment and equal protection rights in a suit filed March 7, as well as a violation for failing to provide him with a fair and impartial due process hearing under the 14th Amendment.

He later added defamation, retaliation and false light claims following distribution of the flier titled “Ten Fast Facts Yeadon Residents Want to Know,” which he said was sent out to residents at taxpayer expense. The flier, attached as evidence to the amended complaint, notes that the same council members accused of racism in removing Paparo were actually the ones who hired him to begin with, over three other qualified Black candidates. Yeadon Mayor Rohan Hepkins appeared on the Dom Giordano radio show on November 21, 2022, as a defender of Chief Paparo, noting that he would like to see Council bring Paparo back in light of their recent spike in homicides.

The events leading up to Kenney’s appointment of Outlaw in 2019 present similar questions. Mere weeks after being heralded a hero in his handling of an hours-long hostage siege in where six police officers were shot, Richard Ross abruptly resigned as Philadelphia Police Commissioner. While the resignation came in the wake of a sexual harassment suit (Ross wasn’t the alleged harasser,) sources within the Philadelphia Police Department noted friction between Ross and Kenney, specifically over Ross’ unwillingness to fire officers for a social media scandal in where no specific department protocols were violated, and differences over the use of the bully pulpit regarding District Attorney Larry Krasner’s radical charging and bail policies.

As an interim appointee, Kenney tapped Deputy Commissioner Christine Coulter as Police Commissioner. Coulter, a career Philadelphia police officer whose start patrolling the streets of Kensington was documented in a 1991 episode of the series “Cops”, was well regarded by the rank and file of the department. However, it was shortly in Coulter’s tenure that Kenney publicly declared his decision to hire an African American woman to lead the department, which narrowed a national field to only three clear choices – Outlaw, Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, and Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall.

Shortly thereafter, Outlaw was appointed, leaving many to wonder if the choice had anything to do with both Hall and Best’s strong reputations for speaking truth to power over their elected managers, especially in response to politically based decisions over law enforcement and termination of officers.

Hopefully, the outcome of Chief Paparo’s lawsuit or simply through public scrutiny in the upcoming election year – we can help local politicians remember that public safety appointments are too vital for our society to make using identity politics.

Personally, growing up in New York through the “crack explosion,” I recall the historic appointment of Lee Brown. He was the first African American Police Chief in Houston, then became NYPD Commissioner, and then returned to Houston as their first black Mayor. There is nothing wrong with firsts, but with something as vital as assuring the public safety of a major American city – you also have to be the best.

This is why we have laws that govern race and gender discrimination in employment, because the hiring and firing of people based on race is not only hurtful for the employees in the organization – but may result in further victimization of an already at-risk community.

A. Benjamin Mannes, MA, CPP, CESP, is a Subject Matter Expert in Security & Criminal Justice Reform based on his own experiences on both sides of the criminal justice system. He has served as a federal and municipal law enforcement officer and was the former Director, Office of Investigations with the American Board of Internal Medicine. @PublicSafetySME

TERZIAN: Vote Community First on November 8th

The new Republican Party in Chester County is forward-thinking and has been working hard to reach Chester County residents and engage voters. We are focused on relevant issues important to all Chester County residents, including escalating crime and drugs in our communities, a faltering economy that has caused significant distress for many families, and parents being shut out of decision-making concerning their children’s education.

The new Republican Party in Chester County is solution oriented. We are an inclusive organization. We welcome all those who support our vision to make the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness a reality for all.

Unfortunately, our opponents use highly charged rhetoric to divide us and have embraced failed policies that hurt our community. They use words like “extreme” to label and distract, and vilify those who disagree with them. We have a sitting member of Congress who claims to be bipartisan but called Republicans “diseased” and needing to be “cleansed”. They signal “hate has no home” but do not live up to this mantra. They preach tolerance but are intolerant of dissenting views. We reject their approach.

Our community deserves better.

For the new Republican Party in Chester County, it is about Community First. We understand and respect the value of relationships and working as a team. We believe, as neighbors and people of goodwill, and regardless of political party affiliation, that we can work together to make our communities safer and support the efforts of law enforcement.

We believe in economic opportunity for all and that support for small businesses is essential, particularly after the devastating impact of unreasonable closures. We believe that parents have valid concerns about the educational environment in which their children are being taught and that parents are not “domestic terrorists” when they express these concerns and their right to free speech.

Our opponents have attempted to make the debate about preserving democracy. But preserving democracy requires authentic leadership that invites opposing points of view, seeks to find common ground, and promotes an improved quality of life for all citizens. They have failed to meet this standard.

Clearly, this is a pivotal time for our county, our state, and our nation. All elections matter, but this one is critical. There is much at stake because the direction we choose will have an impact for generations to come.

Chester County residents have an important decision to make on Election Day. Do we continue to elect leaders whose failed policies have led to current problems? Or do we reclaim our communities by voting for candidates who advocate for common-sense solutions and policies that empower individuals, families, and businesses?

The answer is clear. We must elect leaders who prioritize their constituents and not their own personal agendas. On Tuesday, November 8th, the voters of Chester County should reject the status quo of higher crime, higher prices, and higher government interference in our lives. Our Republican slate of candidates from top to bottom will deliver an agenda that empowers and puts people first.

It’s time to restore hope and optimism in our community.

Vote Republican on Tuesday, November 8th.

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GIORDANO: Debates Matter — And They Should

Are you amazed that a key state like Pennsylvania–in an election cycle that might change the history of our country– will end up having only one debate for the two highest offices being contested? If you’re like me, you might also be tired of pundits droning on TV that voters don’t make decisions based on what occurs in debates.

Is there any doubt that the Oz-Fetterman debate shook up the race?

More importantly, it underlined the seriousness of the issues that Fetterman still faces. The Insider Advantage poll taken the day after the debate had Oz leading Fetterman by 47.5 percent to Fetterman’s 44.8 percent. A subsequent poll released by Wicks Insights had Oz at 47.6 percent and Fetterman at 45.9 percent. It also was telling that among undecided voters, Oz led Fetterman 64.4 percent to 35.6 percent.

On my radio show, Dr. Oz told me he regrets the debate moderators did not spend enough time talking about crime. By my count, the actual time spent on crime was a little over two minutes. It was fine to spend ample time on abortion positions because there was a lot of contention over the positions of the two candidates. Oz made it clear once again he supports exceptions to abortion bans in the case of rape, incest, or the life of the mother. It is unclear to me, but I sense that Fetterman is for abortion rights in any situation and time frame.

As I said, the moderators made a big mistake by not allowing the candidates to debate their visions on personal safety. Crime is the issue that distinguishes these two candidates and the issue that filtered back into the race. It is the issue across the country that people care about the most after their deep concerns over inflation. A central part of this debate should have been Fetterman’s defense of his work as chairman of the state Pardons Board and his views on sentencing convicts to life in prison.

This was even more important because Fetterman supports the policies of radical Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner. Of course, Republicans in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives announced last week they will formally try to impeach Krasner on various grounds in the near future by adding some days to their legislative session.

There is quite a backstory to this development. Republican leaders were afraid to go forward with impeaching Krasner because it would be done in retaliation to their guys in various offices. However, their members in the House revolted and forced them to move on to impeachment. As I have said many times before, Larry Krasner will be impeached. If Oz beats Fetterman, it will be more about the Democrats’ radical positions, particularly on crime, rather than his difficulties brought about by his stroke.

Regarding these after-effects and what they mean regarding Fetterman’s ability to serve as a senator, he could resolve some of the debate by releasing his complete medical records from his cardiologist and neurologist. They would give insight to voters about his cognitive ability and possible future issues.

There is a good chance that this Senate seat will determine which party holds the majority in the Senate. I believe Republicans will overwhelmingly take back the House of Representatives. If Dr. Oz beats Fetterman, President Joe Biden’s unprecedented spending will be stopped, and we will slowly roll back inflation.

If that happens, we’ll think back to the one debate between major candidates held in Pennsylvania this year and remember debates often do matter.

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Dean and Nascimento Square Off in Televised Debate

The candidates for Pennsylvania’s Fourth Congressional District used their debate on WFMZ Channel 69 to remind voters it is possible to practice partisan politics and remain civil.

Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (D) and her Republican challenger Christian Nascimento debated issues ranging from the economy to energy to rising crime.

Moderator Jim Vaughn said a recent New York Times poll found 64 percent of Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction. Nascimento agreed that the country is going in the wrong direction.

“I think that Washington’s instinctive response to spend more and tax more is part of what’s exacerbating the inflation that we see,” said Nascimento. “I think we can fix that.”

Vaughn said, “In poll after poll the one issue voters are concerned about is the economy,” and asked Dean (D-Montgomery/Berks) about her vote for President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act.

Christian Nascimento and Rep. Madeleine Dean debate.

Dean said, “Inflation is real. We are struggling with it here in America.” But she said it was a worldwide problem. Congress has acted to help, she said. In the Trump administration, the government sent money to people during the COVID pandemic and in the Biden administration, it passed the Inflation Reduction Act.

“This is putting real dollars in people’s pockets,” said Dean. “I was very proud to vote for the inflation Reduction Act and these other bills…I’m really proud of a piece of the Inflation Reduction Act that reduces prescription drug prices for seniors. I’m really proud of the investment in our global climate crisis, the greatest investment of all time…the CHIPS Act that will bring manufacturing of semiconductors right back here.”

She blamed “multiple sources, including corporate greed, the supply chain problem, and a host of other things” for inflation.

Nascimento said, “I think it’s fundamental economics that if government spends more, inflation goes up. Prices get driven up. The inflation we’re facing now is a global issue. Part of it is being caused by supply chain hiccups we’re seeing across the planet and that has come from decisions we’re seeing in Washington and other governments to outsource our supply chain, mostly to China.”

“These prices aren’t sustainable,” Nascimento said. “Inflation is not sustainable for working families. What I would have rather seen done is more strategic efforts on these issues, which we could have addressed. But this massive spending, trillions of dollars of spending that passed in such a short amount of time, is absolutely going to create massive amounts of inflation. And part of the problem, infrastructure spending is going to be around for a long time.”

Dean said the Inflation Reduction Act does not just send dollars out but brings dollars in by allowing the federal government to negotiate the cost of prescription drugs for senior citizens and touted “an investment in IRS.” Constituents call her office every day with problems with the IRS that is underfunded, she said.

She also praised Biden’s release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve while Nascimento panned it.

He said, “I’m concerned about it. The timing’s concerning because it’s designed to help influence an election. But technically, I think the Strategic Reserve is there for strategic reasons and I think we could have gotten there differently in how we talk to fossil fuel companies and how we treated some of the energy providers.

“If we increase production domestically, not forever…that can give us a path to strategically convert our energy to cleaner fuels. What we’re doing now is we’re making fossil fuel companies, the oil companies feel like they’re being under attack. They’re stopping production, which is what you would do if you see a government that’s heading in another direction. And then that sends the president over to the Middle East to beg for oil. And I think that’s a problem for the United States.”

On crime, Nascimento said he had been a victim of an armed robbery and mentioned recent school shootings.

Christian Nascimento

“First of all, we have to prosecute criminals,” he said. “It doesn’t mean you have to throw the book at everybody who has a minor offense. What we see in Reading, what we see in Philadelphia, we’re not prosecuting criminals. I’m honored to have the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police in Montgomery County. What police officers are telling me is they’re afraid to arrest people because they know they’ll be out on the street the next day.”

“We ought to be putting policies in place to help support police officers and hold criminals accountable,” he said. “The congresswoman mentioned the IRS. If we’re going to spend money on federal employees…rather than the IRS, we should spend money on police officers and on teachers that can lift the people of the 4th and whole country up.”

Dean zeroed in on illegal guns.

“Frustrating to me, I’ve cared about the issue of gun violence my entire adult life,” she said, citing a recent shooting in Pottstown that killed two teenagers. “We have a problem with too many illegal guns. We have a problem of children carrying and using illegal guns. Sure, we have to prosecute. But we actually, as legislators, have an obligation to come to the table around gun violence.”

“When we passed universal background checks we couldn’t get support from the other side of the aisle…They constantly say crime is a big problem, but why don’t they come to the table and legislate around guns and illegal guns?” she asked. “So guess what we did? For the first time in 30 years, we Democrats and only a handful of Republicans passed the Safer Communities Act.”

That law outlaws straw purchases and bump stocks, she said. It adds $250 million for community intervention.

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DelVal Hit With Crime Wave

Comic Collection owner David Schwartz operated in Feasterville for decades without problems, until two masked men barged into his establishment last month while he was doing inventory.

One claimed to be searching for his wallet, but shocking footage showed one of the men swiping a ladder out from underneath the store owner’s feet with the ferocity of a linebacker as he reached for a statue on a shelf. Schwartz tumbled to the ground, cracking his ribs as the two men beat and kicked him, then bound him with zip ties. One brandished a knife, and the men demanded Schwartz instruct them how to open the cash register before stuffing about $16,000 worth of merchandise into duffel bags.

Before leaving the store, they lifted one final keepsake off Schwartz – a Mickey Mouse watch his father bought him as a boy. Luckily, a neighbor noticed the suspicious men and called police who rescued the store owner.

“I’m very happy that I’m here today to talk to you about this. I don’t want to see it happen to anyone else ever,” Schwartz said during a state House committee hearing convened last week by lawmakers raising alarms about crime infiltrating the suburbs of Philadelphia.

Law-enforcement officials from Bucks and Montgomery counties testified about a stark uptick in violent crime and property crimes and identified increasingly scary drug trends in other parts of the state. There were reports of fentanyl being packaged up like “Skittles and Razzles” along with another deadly drug, xylazine, known as “tranq,” that has overtaken Philadelphia’s heroin and fentanyl supply.

Some former prosecutors and law-enforcement officials attribute it to a “spillover effect” from Philadelphia, which set a record for homicides last year and has seen more than 1,000 carjackings in 2022.

“It’s the disorder in Philly. It’s an open-air crime market, and they’re not prosecuting any crimes. It’s the Kranser effect,” said Tom Hogan, former Chester County district attorney, referring to the city’s progressive DA who lawmakers are trying to impeach.

In Cheltenham, for example, the number of strong-armed robberies has doubled, Sgt. Michael Moore said. In Warrington, about 35 miles north of Philadelphia, Police Chief Dan Friel testified about a more than 360 percent spike in credit card frauds from last year, along with several robberies of the local Target. Many out-of-town fraudsters come to Warrington to commit crime knowing they’re less likely to be recognized.

Separately, Guy Ciarrocchi, a Republican running for Congress in Chester and Berks counties, told DVJournal about a carjacking at a Target in Devon, an armed robbery at a Whole Foods in Tredyffrin and a stabbing at a Bertucci’s on Lancaster Avenue in Wayne.

Grab-and-go shoplifters have targeted suburban stores like Lowes, Home Depot and Walmart, in part, law-enforcement officials say, because they’re viewed by criminals as “soft targets.”

“These guys are like our Border Patrol,” Rep. Frank Farry (R-Langhorne) said during the hearing of law enforcement’s efforts to contain the spread of violence.

It’s hard to determine whether crime is up statewide after the FBI transitioned to a new data collection system, called the National Incident-Based Reporting System. The FBI estimated that murders rose 4 percent nationwide compared with 2020 while overall violent crime was down about 1 percent. But the report was incomplete because thousands of law enforcement agencies hadn’t submitted data, according to the Marshall Project. Only 40 of more than 1,500 in Pennsylvania had done so.

In Bensalem, Public Safety Director Bill McVey said of the more than 3,800 crimes reported to his department in 2021, about 1,700 were serious offenses such as murder, rape and robber.

Crime was up about 12 percent from the previous year, and 42 percent of arrests in 2021 were people from Philadelphia, some out on bail for other crimes, McVey said.

Officials say the spike is due to several factors that included laxer prosecutions of certain crimes in the city, decriminalization of retail thefts under $500, lack of proactive policing that has hamstrung Philly officers and an increase in people who resorted to drugs to cope with mental health issues exacerbated by COVID-19.

“Crime is very real here,” Rep. Todd Polinchock (R-Chalfont) said at the hearing. “A lot of folks are worried for themselves, their kids. There’s a rash of crime going on now and we have to get ahold of it.”

Matt Weintraub, the Republican district attorney of Bucks County, claimed about 70 percent of crimes in in Bucks County were related  or fueled by drugs and alcohol.

With an influx of cases overwhelming local medical and jail systems, Weintraub has pushed for the county to build a crisis stabilization unit, dubbed “Stable U,” on land that could be acquired from a local health provider for $1. Local government officials so far secured $5 million toward the project, which needs another $5 to $7 million to get off the ground, Weintraub said.

“We’ve been knocking at the door. Let us be the guinea pigs,” he told legislators. “We mean business. We just need more funding.”

Others say solving crime in the region is tied to cracking down on repeat offenders.

Some law-enforcement officials voiced support for a proposal from Farry that would require mandatory minimums for convicted felons found with guns, with penalties starting off with 11 months in the slammer and increasing to five and 15 years for subsequent offenses.

Others blamed progressive policies they say handcuff police officers’  ability to prevent crime, such as Philly’s ban of minor traffic stops.

McVey said it’s one less tool for Philly cops. And it’s been an effective one for Buck County cops, who stop between 10,000 to 14,000 vehicles each year, often leading to discovery of other crimes, McVey said.

Gun seizures in the township are up 62 percent the last two years.

“Many of these guns are seized as a result of proactive measures which prevent shootings and tragedies from occurring,” McVey said.

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Strategists See ‘Stranger Things’ Scenario in Fight for U.S. Senate

In April, Republican control of the U.S. Senate looked like a lock. In August, all GOP hope appeared lost.

In the past few weeks, however, polls — and the news cycle — have been trending the Republicans’ way. Seven Senate seats are in play according to the RealClearPolitics polling averages: Arizona, Georgia, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Other prognosticators predict fewer states will come down to the wire, as Republicans defend 21 Senate seats and Democrats defend 14 in November. But Republican Party strategist Ford O’Connell says pundits and the press are making the same mistake they have made every two years for a decade now.

Trusting the polls.

“The media’s reliance on GOP suppression polls is nothing new and 2022 is no different,” O’Connell told Inside Sources. “Generally speaking, Republican candidates are underperforming in the polls. That said, if Republicans at the top of the ticket continue to hammer home in unison the rising cost of living, crime, and the need to secure the border, the party will be victorious in November.”

A 2021 investigation by the American Association for Public Opinion Research found polls at both the national and statewide level in 2020 missed races by the biggest margins in decades, and always in the Democrats’ favor. If polling is off by the same margin as two years ago, Republicans are competitive, or better, in all seven of these races.

Events are working in the GOP’s favor, too, said Tim Jones, a former Republican speaker of Missouri’s House of Representatives, now a talk radio host who monitors the national scene. The economy is not likely to improve before the election and the Democrats seem overly reliant on the abortion issue after the Dobbs decision in the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Democrats have stopped talking about COVID. They are not talking about January 6 anymore. They are only talking about abortion,” Jones told Inside Politics shortly after his plane arrived at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Tuesday. “Republicans could be undercounted or maybe just don’t want to be counted.”

Jones suspects the Dobbs decision might have come too early for Democrats.

“When the decision came in June, Democrats predicted the world would end and it would be Handmaiden’s Tale,” Jones said. “Now people are starting to figure out it just means that red states are probably going to have stricter abortion laws and blue states are going to have looser abortion laws.”

And then there is the ‘Stranger Things’ factor, said J. Miles Coleman of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. Every election cycle has at least one “Who’da thunk it?” outcome. For 2020, it was Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, surviving; in 2018, it was Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., being booted from office in a national Democrat year, Coleman said.

One potential Senate race surprise could be in Colorado, where Democrat Sen. Michael Bennett is fending off GOP challenger Joe O’Dea.

“Some Republicans think they’ve got a decent shot in Colorado,” Coleman told InsideSources. “We think Michael Bennett is likely to win, but not safe. The GOP nominee there has tried to frame himself as a Republican version of Joe Manchin. Michael Bennett is not as much of a brand in Colorado.”

The UVA Center for Politics’ Crystal Ball ranks Georgia and Nevada as the outright tossups in November. It scores North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Ohio as leaning Republican while Arizona, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania are leaning Democrat.

“Leaning” counts as less than “likely,” on the rating scale.

The Cook Political Report rates four Senate races as tossups: Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Cook, meanwhile, counts Arizona, Colorado, and New Hampshire as leaning Democrat, while putting Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio in the leaning Republican category.

Of the major prognosticators, FiveThirtyEight takes the dimmest view of GOP chances, giving Democrats a two-thirds chance of maintaining control of the Senate based on its statistical modeling.

Among the most closely watched races in Pennsylvania, for the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, which presents a pickup opportunity for Democrats.

“If the Republicans win in Pennsylvania, it is all but guaranteed that they will win control of the Senate,” O’Connell said. “There are a number of permutations and combinations that could give Republicans the gavel in the upper chamber without Pennsylvania, but a win in the Keystone State affords them the best opportunity for control.”

Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Republican nominee there, has closed the gap with Democrat Lt. Gov. John Fetterman. But Coleman believes the race is still Fetterman’s to lose.

“Oz’s unfavorables are terrible,” Coleman said. “Fetterman’s unfavorables have gone up, but Oz’s unfavorables are about 50 percent. That’s hard to overcome.”

Of the seven races, New Hampshire is widely viewed as the least likely to flip to the Republicans. Even GOP Gov. Chris Sununu’s expected double-digit victory would not be enough to lift Republican challenger Don Bolduc over incumbent Democrat Sen. Maggie Hassan, Coleman said.

“Sununu will likely win, but New Hampshire voters like to split their tickets,” Coleman said. “The Senate Leadership Fund is still spending money there. So, Republicans are not giving up.”

Jones is not so sure. As a former state legislative leader, he sees the popularity of Republican governors as a significant force in these elections. For example, a strong victory by Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp over Democrat challenger Stacey Abrams could be enough to lift embattled Senate nominee Herschel Walker to victory over Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock.

“Gov. Kemp has been up by as much as 8 points. I can’t imagine a world where voters are voting for Kemp and Warnock,” Jones said.

As inflation continues to hit voters in their pocketbooks and President Joe Biden struggles in the polls, some Republicans see the potential of a red wave that could even reach the very blue states of Vermont and Washington, where GOP candidates are in striking distance in polls. But O’Connell is doubtful.

“Stranger things have happened, but for the GOP to pick up Senate seats in Vermont and Washington, the floodgates would really have to open up,” O’Connell said. “I’m not saying those races don’t merit our attention, but the most important races with less than 30 days to go are—Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Arizona.

“In recent weeks the Democrats have backtracked on the map and poured more resources into both Senate and House races that they weren’t as focused on over the summer. That’s a good sign for Republicans.”

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Police Union Representing Braddock Cops Backs Oz Over Former Mayor Fetterman

In his stump speech, Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman likes to brag about his work with the Braddock police during his time as mayor.

“I’m running on my record on crime,” Fetterman told a Bucks County audience earlier this month. “I ran for mayor of Braddock, a community that has significant gun violence, to be mayor and fight that, and because of our working with the police and funding the police and working with the community, we went more than five years without a murder. It never happened before and never since I’ve been mayor.”

But on Tuesday, those officers gave their endorsement to his Republican opponent, Dr. Mehmet Oz.

“Many times, I was called to assist in Braddock when Mr. Fetterman was mayor. I know he says that he’s a law-and-order candidate. I have to disagree with that,” said Vincent Dicenzio, Jr., president of the Allegheny County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 91, which includes the Braddock police officers.

Fetterman “was always good to show up for a photo opportunity. But as crime was going on in Braddock, you did not see Mr. Fetterman. Instead, you saw other police departments there assisting Braddock Police Department. I had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Fetterman when he ran for lieutenant governor, and as the mayor of Braddock, he had no idea what their officers made. They didn’t even have a contract or benefits. They were one of the lowest paid police departments in Allegheny County.”

Fetterman’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment about the Braddock police officers’ endorsement of his opponent.

Oz, who is also endorsed by the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of the Police, the EP Jermyn FOP Lodge 2 in Scranton, and the Pennsylvania Sheriffs’ Action PAC, used the opportunity to return to his campaign’s law-and-order theme.

“We have seen a tragic increase in crime in Pennsylvania. As senator, I will work across the aisle to ensure we are keeping our communities safe from criminals and cartel organizations and preventing the flow of illegal drugs like fentanyl across our borders. The Pennsylvania FOP has unanimously endorsed me because they know that I will put the safety and security of officers and law-abiding citizens first. Together, we will return safety and security to our commonwealth,” Oz said.

Oz added Fetterman “supports releasing murderers, decriminalizing heroin, and open borders, while I will secure our border, fund our police, and support critical local services that provide help to addicts.”

A day earlier, Oz was also endorsed by a coalition of local unions in the Council of Prison Locals, a national group representing more than 30,000 federal corrections officers across the country. That endorsement followed the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association’s endorsement earlier this week.

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 Progress Report on The Chester Parternship for Safe Neighborhoods

From a press release 

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer, Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland, Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware/Philadelphia), and members of Delaware County Council gathered Thursday to provide a progress report on the work of the Chester Partnership for Safe Neighborhoods (CPSN) in curbing gun violence in the city.

District Attorney Stollsteimer announced that “Over the past two years, as a result of the work of my office, the Mayor’s office, the Chester Police Department, and Delaware County Council – with unwavering support from our partners Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon – CPSN has continued to have an extraordinary impact on the level of gun violence in the City of Chester.” A few of the highlights include:

  • There has been a 59.7 percent decrease in non-fatal shootings since 2019;
  • There has been a 60 percent decrease in gun violence homicides since 2020; and
  • There has been a 55 percent decrease in gun violence incidents since 2019.

Stollsteimer stated that “the progress that has been made in reducing gun violence in Chester is making a difference every day in the lives of City residents – and we would not have achieved these results without the support of all of our partners. We are particularly grateful to General Shapiro and Congresswoman Scanlon for their support of our efforts to obtain a $2 million grant from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency to continue and to expand the work of CPSN.”

“The Chester Partnership for Safe Neighborhoods is an example of the positive impact that a focused, intelligence-based enforcement approach can have on a community. I commend the great work being done by District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer and the people of Delaware County to reduce the gunviolence that puts our neighborhoods and public safety at risk. There is still more work to be done, and together, through programs like this, we will make our communities safer for all who live there,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

“Everyone deserves to live in a safe community,” said Scanlon. “I’ve worked hard in Congress to deliver the resources critical to making community safety a reality. I’m proud to work with District Attorney Stollsteimer and the Chester Partnership for Safe Neighborhoods to bring evidence-based solutions to prevent crime and help restore safety in our neighborhoods. While many offer nothing but meaningless rhetoric about being tough on crime, the DA’s office and the Chester Partnership for Safe Neighborhoods are doing the actual hard work of keeping guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them and addressing the root causes of violence by connecting individuals to opportunities such as meaningful employment, educational programs, and appropriate mental health care.”

In October of 2020 Stollsteimer launched CPSN, which is a deterrence-based program aimed at reducing gun violence premised on a data-driven model developed by Swarthmore College alum David Kennedy. The program, similar to ones implemented years ago in Boston and Philadelphia, works on a “carrot and stick” approach that begins by calling in influential people involved in crime, explaining that law enforcement knows who they are what they are responsible for, and giving them the ultimatum: “If you let us, we will help you; if you make us, we will stop you.”

The help may come in ways big and small, from simply getting a suspended license reinstated, or a present for someone’s daughter while they are in prison, to getting an offender into an educational or vocational program so they can improve their lot in life legally. With the financial support obtained through PCCD, additional staff will be hired to work with program participants. With the support of County Council, a community resource specialist was hired in 2020, and he continues to work on the streets of Chester every day connecting at-risk individuals with needed services. With funding from PCCD, three additional community resource specialists will be hired, and recently the Green Family Foundation has added its support to CPSN by contributing the funding needed to pay the salary of one of the outreach workers.

Kirkland said, “The Chester Partnership for Safe Neighborhoods is a truly collaborative effort bringing public agencies, law enforcement, and community groups in our City together behind the shared goals of improving the public safety and quality of life for Chester residents. I am appreciative of all of our partners who encourage and support this life-saving work.”

“Delaware County Council is committed to the public safety concerns of our community and we are committed to ensuring that every resident in every neighborhood feels safe and protected,” said Delaware County Council Chair Monica Taylor, Ph.D. “Today’s announcement demonstrates what can be achieved through genuine collaboration, and on behalf of County government, I’d like to commend those who are a part of the Chester Partnership for Safe Neighborhoods program and who have worked to reduce homicides and gun violence in the City of Chester.”

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Oz, Ciarrocchi Hit Chester County Campaign Trail

The Delaware Valley may be trending Democratic, but that did not stop the nation’s top Republican from coming to Chester County to rally the GOP troops.

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel revved up a crowd of Republican activists Saturday morning at the Desmond Hotel in Malvern. They gathered to knock on doors for U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz and Guy Ciarrocchi, the GOP challenger to incumbent Rep. Chrissy Houlahan. Her message: Vote Republican in Pennsylvania and fire Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer from their leadership posts in Washington.

NRC Chair Ronna McDaniel talks to Chester County Republicans at the Desmond Hotel on October 15, 2022.

Oz, who appears to be closing the polling gap with his opponent, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, continued his campaign focus on the crime issue.

“I was in Philadelphia at a prayer vigil in Olney for a murder that happened, last year, 561 murders, the worst of any major city. Shocking,” Oz said. While he was there, someone told him it was easier to find fentanyl than baby formula.

“I was stunned,” he said. “She was right. How could the land of opportunity, the land of plenty, leave people with fentanyl and no baby formula?”

He told the group it was important to knock on doors and “get people excited” about what Republican candidates represent.

“You’re talking about changing the lives of lots of people around you,” said Oz. “There are many that love this country passionately, and see it as the land of opportunity, the land of plenty, but it no longer seems to represent that,” Oz said. “My dad was an immigrant who grew up with a dirt floor. He didn’t have a [political] party. When I was 8 years old, I asked him what party are we going to be. And he looked around and he said, ‘You know what? We’re going to be Republicans…Because Republicans have better ideas.’”

“Here’s my commitment to you: We have plans that work for the economy.”

 

A crowd of GOP supporters gathers at the Desmond Hotel in Malvern, PA

 

Ciarrocchi called out President Joe Biden’s energy policy, an important topic in Pennsylvania.

“It’s amazing watching the president as gas prices go up and people are in trouble,” he said. “As he flies around to the other side of the world looking for energy. It’s like a game. It’s right under our feet.”

“So, we have the solution. We will make America energy independent,” he said.

Ciarrocchi also used the opportunity to tout the GOP’s message of hope. “We’re here today because we still believe in the

Dr. Oz shakes hands with congressional candidate Guy CiarrocchiAmerican dream, despite everything the Democratic Party has done, to crush our economy, to push parents out of schools, to make us feel less safe at home and less safe around the world.

“All of us that are running are here today for one reason, we still believe in the American dream,” he said. “We offer hope. We offer solutions. We can fix the mess they created.

“We will unleash our small businesses to revive our economy. We will support our police officers. We will fight crime. We will make sure every person feels safe to go out and live and work. We will restore the rule of law. We know that parents are the bedrock of the family and the bedrock of the community. Under our watch, when Sen. Oz and I go to Washington the Attorney General of the United States will never, ever threaten parents with using the FBI again.”

Former state Rep. Duane Milne came to support Oz and Ciarrocchi. Oz is the “best-qualified candidate,” said Milne. And Ciarrocchi brings “a tremendous world of experience” and “will make an excellent congressman.”

Republican Committeeman Dave Sommers, of West Goshen, said, “People are excited to support conservative candidates.”

Elizabeth Hyde, who traveled from Montgomery County to attend, said Oz is “a successful, smart man who has his heart in the right direction. I think he’s sincere and his values align with mine. We need more doctors in the Senate since the healthcare system and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) are such a big part of the economy.”

The event was followed by a training session for Young Republicans and other volunteers who were going to hand out campaign literature.

Guy Ciarrocchi talks to resident Sandy Lee

Ciarrocchi headed out to Tredyffrin Township to knock on doors and talk to potential voters. Most of the residents he spoke with were friendly, he said.

Like Oz, he talked about the crime issue and its impact on local communities, including a carjacking at a Target in Devon, an armed robbery at Whole Foods in Tredyffrin, and a stabbing at Bertucci’s on Lancaster Avenue in Wayne. He said the CVS drug store in East Goshen was also held up.

“We should not be blasé to carjackings or a robbery or a stabbing,” he told Delaware Valley Journal.

And grab-and-go shoplifters are targeting stores like Lowes, Home Depot, and Walmart, Ciarrocchi said. Clerks are being trained when to try to stop them and when not to.

Crime is “not an academic discussion,” he said. But, he added, “This can be stopped.”

 

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GIORDANO: Slivers of Hope for Philly Politics

I promise this column will offer slivers of hope for the future of the city of Philadelphia.

For example, the crop of candidates to be the city’s next mayor will almost certainly be better than Mayor Jim Kenney. And the police commissioner that new mayor appoints is all but a lock to be better than current Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw. That’s the good news.

The challenge is getting to that election and limiting the damage of the current administration. I’ve learned that groups similar to the marauders who recently took over Wildwood, N.J. — perhaps even connected to them — are headed here this weekend. Those thugs, in the course of their lawlessness, drag racing, and violence left two dead and many injured in their wake. Now sources say they are on the Philadelphia Police Department’s radar and the cops are so concerned they’re extending hours for those on duty and calling up more officers.

Their job wasn’t made any easier by the new law, authored by Philadelphia City Councilman Isiah Thomas, which greatly limits the reasons Philadelphia police can stop vehicles for violations. Thomas pushed the bill because he believes many police engage in racial profiling in stopping motorists. Some cops fear the gangs that may be flooding into Philadelphia this weekend are aware of this change and are ready to exploit it.

This is the current situation Philadelphia has backed itself into. But there is another silver of hope. The situation has gotten so bad that I’m told several influential people in Philadelphia are gearing up to push a plan similar to the one Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer and local police have put into action to greatly reduce violence in the city of Chester. That plan targets those who are in groups that are likely to shoot someone or be shot by someone and offers them programs to help give them decent jobs and change their lives. Otherwise, they will be at the center of the law enforcement radar whenever violence happens. The influential group in Philadelphia will demand that candidates for mayor sign off on instituting the Chester plan in Philadelphia or suffer united opposition.

I have interviewed most of the likely candidates for mayor and think they would sign off on a Chester plan. Candidates like former Councilpersons Cherelle Parker, Derek Green, and Alan Domb would institute a plan like Chester’s and I think if supermarket magnate Jeff Brown runs, he would, too.

The one candidate who would not sign off is Councilperson Helen Gym. I believe she is going to run. I know she is as far left as Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner. She is a hardcore opponent of charter schools and gun rights. And she is a harsh critic of the police. If she wins, I’m convinced Philadelphia will be more lawless than it is now.

Which is why I’m optimistic, after speaking with some powerful liberal groups, that there is widespread support for a system like Chester’s, and the need to confront our crime issue in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, if Larry Krasner is still the D.A. it won’t make much difference what approach the city takes if he’s putting his progressive politics ahead of public safety. Let’s hope the state legislature solves that problem for us.

And speaking (again) of hope, I’m hopeful for the future because, during a recent interview on my radio show, Republican Philadelphia City Councilman David Oh told me if he sees a path to victory, he may give up his seat and run for mayor. He would do a great job.

So, let’s hope that this coming weekend the Philadelphia police can protect citizens and the green shoots of hope for our city will continue to grow.

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