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PNN Newsletter: Democratic City Committee Declares War on Itself...and PNN

PNN’s mission is to engage, educate and empower our neighbors to make our City a better place to live. Here’s what’s coming up in each of these areas:

  • Engage: Collect Signatures for Candidates

  • Educate: Democratic City Committee Declares War on Itself...and PNN

  • Empower: Save the Train, Safe Air for Schools Letter

Democratic City Committee Declares War on Itself ... and PNN

The Democratic City Committee, with the collaboration of the 9th ward Democratic leader, Jeff Duncan, has expelled two of Philly Neighborhood Networks’ (PNN) leaders, Margaret Lenzi and Stan Shapiro, as Committeepersons in the 9th Ward for their association with PNN. At least 11 Committeepersons from neighboring Ward 22, many of them members of PNN, were also kicked out of their ward.  

Despite being elected by the voters as Committee Persons, these dedicated activists were kicked out of the Democratic City Committee without a hearing.  This anti-democratic action by the DCC is a dangerous assault on all progressive organizations and unions and their rights to free speech and association. Equally distressing is that this DCC expulsion can hamper the turnout in the crucial 2024 presidential election.  

Why Did the Democratic City Committee (DCC) Do This?  

In part, it’s because they just don’t like dissent, no matter how trivial. For instance in justifying the expulsions of Lenzi and Shapiro in the 9th, Ward Leader Jeff Duncan, proclaimed that: “it was ‘particularly egregious’ that some progressive groups like Philly Neighborhood Networks urged residents to cast votes for two WFP candidates and only three Democrats in the at-large race.” A high-ranking official working for the DCC told Lenzi and Shapiro that they were targeted for their work with PNN.  

What’s truly “egregious” is the Democratic Party is attacking PNN, who supported those two WFP candidates, Nic O’Rourke and Kendra Brooks, knowing that all five Democratic At-Large candidates would win – no matter what – and that the WFP candidates were only competing to take minority seats away from MAGA Republicans.  

Even Bob Brady, the Party Chair, acknowledged that the WFP candidates were no threat to any Democrat. And everyone who knows the history of PNN knows that we have NEVER supported a candidate running against a Democrat in a general election. In fact, those five Democratic candidates DID win, by large margins, along with the WFP candidates.  

But logic doesn’t seem to play a role in DCC decision-making. Because if logic prevailed, they would know that the Committee People they kicked out were among the best ones they had in turning out the vote this November. Democrats need a high turnout in Philly to swing the state for the Democrats in 2024 and defeat Trump.  

Yet, under Brady’s reign, voter turnout has declined in Philly from a high of 66% in 2020 to 31% in the most recent 2023 General election.  Expelling committee persons who worked tirelessly to get their voters to the polls is counter-productive to the main role of the DCC to get out the vote. Yet the DCC is busy attacking and demoralizing these great workers, sending a divisive message to progressive voters and activists all across the city.  

DCC’s Purge Is an Attack Against All Progressive Groups In The City  

This unprovoked campaign by the Dem Party against its best workers, is the DCC’s shot across the bow at all the independent groups supporting progressive candidates in the City.  

There were a host of groups that endorsed WFP candidates such as Philly NOW, Planned Parenthood, One PA, Asians for PA AND unions such as PFT, SEIU, Philly Unite Here, 32BJ, PASNAP just to name a few.

Is the DCC now going to kick out any committee person who is associated with any group in the city who endorses candidates different than the DCC, like the WFP?   This is a dangerous precedent that is reminiscent of the political purges of the 1950s. It is also an infringement upon constitutional rights to free speech and association.  

Why Is PNN Important In This Moment?  

This clumsy political power move by the Brady Bunch shows once again why it is so important to have strong, progressive groups fighting the good fight outside the Party. It is only us – the wide and growing Democratic Left – that is capable of getting the right Democrats nominated for offices up and down the ballot, and then getting them elected in the Fall.

And yes, we must remain strong to help keep WFP candidates in office as the minority party reps. With Kendra and Nic in office there are 4 progressive members in City Council. Had they lost there would have been 2, not enough to ever get anything worthwhile accomplished.

Brady admitted in the NYT’s article right after the primary that he didn’t know how to get more people to the polls, although the answer is clear – because they never knock doors to get out the vote and register new voters!  

But organizations like ours do the work on the ground, and in the field – and this year PNN has big plans! We will be working with elected officials and religious leaders in chronically low-turnout areas doing immersive, deep organizing work to earn trust that we believe will translate to greater community engagement and higher voter turnout in November. We’ll give you the details at the upcoming All-Hands meeting.  

Save the Date: Saturday, March 23rd, PNN’s All Hands Meeting  

Help PNN Prepare the Ground for November  

Given this ugly turn in the Party, and given its appalling record of doing little to nothing to turn out the vote, it’s more important than ever to sustain and grow PNN. Our canvass volunteers know their neighbors and can and do turn them out. More than ever, we need to do that this year.  

We need your early support right now, to hire more staff to take on the growing responsibilities for this year. To that end, we have a goal of raising $10,000 to strengthen our independent capacity to Get Out the Vote.  You can make either a one time, or recurring contribution here.


Of course, notwithstanding the DCC attack, PNN will be doing everything possible to nominate great Democrats in the Spring, and then will go all out to defeat Donald Trump in the Fall. We trust that many of you, despite this distraction, will join us in this effort when the time comes.  

We will need your help as we begin work in communities who have been ignored in the past, so they stay home on Election Day because they don't believe their vote counts or their voice matters. We'll need you to help us with a transfer of organizing skills to folks who live in these under-served neighborhoods, helping them build the experience they need to become tomorrow's leaders.

Thank you for all your support to date and as anticipated going forward.   Solidarity forever.


PNN is Hiring!

We are looking for a Community Engagement Specialist to lead immersive work in low-engagement neighborhoods. The Specialist will work as an independent contractor reporting to the organizing director and executive committee.

The Specialist will be tasked with building a series of self-sustaining neighborhood activist groups that can be counted upon to regularly participate in the affairs of government and community. Our target demographic lives in struggling neighborhoods in North and NW Philly that contain chronically low-engagement voters and are often last to receive resources.

Our goal is to build trust within these communities that can be measured by increased community activism, increased voter registration and voter turnout by November 2024.

For details on this position, click below.


It's Petition Time!

January 23rd thru February 13th

Candidates for office are required to collect a threshold of voter signatures to qualify for the Primary Ballot. Below are some opportunities to help collect signatures for candidates we have previously endorsed. Click on their name to get connected:


Save the Train Rally

Wednesday, February 14th, 12PM, Tulpehocken Station, 333 W. Tulpehocken Street

The governor and the state legislature want to balance their budget on the backs of SEPTA riders by shutting down the Chestnut Hill West line, among other cuts to service for our city.

So concerned neighbors will be meeting at the Tulpehocken Train Station located at 333 West Tulpehocken Street to show some Valentine's Day love to our beloved train line. There is still time to put pressure on these elected officials to do the right thing and find the money to keep services running.


Want Safe Air for Philly Schools?

Immediate Action Alert

The Philadelphia Board of Education is obligated to ensure that Philly public school students breathe healthy air. The School District’s Five Year Plan identifies the physical and environmental safety of students and staff as its #1 priority.  

Yet, inadequate ventilation and air filtration in our schools contribute to the spread of respiratory viruses like COVID, flu, RSV, colds and exacerbated asthma. And many of our schools still lack air conditioning, and consistent heat.

We have yet to see follow-through on the Board’s commitment.

Let's help our allies at DSA get their attention by sending the Board of Education a letter to take action now. Click on the link below to use this easy method of letter writing.


This Week in History

Feb 9, 1971 – Paige inducted. On this day, after a career spanning five decades, pitching legend Leroy “Satchel” Paige became the first Negro League veteran to be nominated for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Feb 10, 1966 – Unsafe at Any Speed. Justice crusader Ralph Nadar testified before Congress for the first time about unsafe practices in the auto industry, leading to the passage of safety laws in the unregulated auto industry.

Feb 11, 1990 – Mandela Freed. After spending 27 years in a South African prison, Nelson Mandela was free by the Apartheid government. Four years later, he would be elected president.

Feb 12, 1909 – NAACP Founded. On the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth, W.E.B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells-Barnett and other black leaders announced the formation of a new organization called the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which played a huge role in the civil rights movement.

Thanks for your activism!

Tim Brown, Organizing Director

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