Chairwoman of City Commission vs. PW Reporter

By Aaron Kase
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 2 | Posted Dec. 14, 2010

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There’s absolutely nothing corrupt about having one of the most powerful political bosses in the city in charge of elections! Nope! Not a chance! Don’t even ask, or Marge Tartaglione, chairwoman of City Commission, will threaten to punch you out.

Last week I watched a room full of City Commission officials and reporters sit around and calmly go about business as usual. This just two days after former Chief Deputy City Commissioner Renee Tartaglione Matos admitted to illegally working against State Rep. Angel Cruz during his primary race last spring versus challenger Jonathan Ramos.

The commission staffers sure moved on quickly, happy in their first public meeting since Tartaglione Matos’s confession to discuss technicalities of upcoming elections as if their chief deputy hadn’t just been busted.

They had to be kidding.

So I asked 77-year-old Marge Tartaglione, otherwise known as the former Chief Deputy’s mother, how we could trust anything produced by the Commissioners’ Office at this point.

She was pissed. “The election is over ... she retired,” Tartaglione shot back, referring to her daughter. “It’s over ... We run a clean house here,” she added, visibly angry. “It’s over. It’s over. That’s it. No more questions.”

Pressing the issue, I mentioned that Cruz had alleged that the entire Tartaglione family was working against him. That’s when mama bear lost it. “You’re a liberal paper aren’t you?” Tartaglione cackled. “You want all the liberals to read this like this office is corrupt.”

Then came the threat.

“You say that and I can jump over this table and punch you out.”

The soundbite became the story as Philly news sources fixated on the absurdity coming out of the Chairwoman’s mouth instead of focusing on the substance and implications of the charges against her daughter.

“Oh, what an eccentric, feisty old lady,” was the theme of the flood of “commissioner threatens to punch reporter” articles that swamped the web and print media last week.

But what about addressing why the feisty old lady won’t answer any questions?

In the week since I posed the question to Tartaglione not one member of the commission has even attempted to offer a remotely credible response.

So here it is again. Now that we have proof that a member of the City Commission was illegally participating in elections, how can we have any faith whatsoever that a single thing that comes out of the office is legit—especially when it’s run by the disgraced deputy’s own mother?

It was widely known that Tartaglione Matos was supporting Ramos, but somehow the people she worked with, including her mom-boss, were blissfully ignorant?

“It’s over … we run a clean house,” is the only answer taxpayers get?

That sounds suspiciously close to the response Tartaglione Matos gave last summer when questions about her impartiality in the Ramos case were initially raised: “Our consciences are clear. We do a good job. We’re honest people.”

Even more of a disgrace, Tartaglione Matos got off easy: A laughably small $2,700 fine and a one year ban from holding city employment for nine violations of city charter, including handling street money for her mother and husband—convicted criminal (for bribery) Carlos Matos—and printing ballots with deliberately incorrect information on how to vote for Cruz.

Unfortunately, the Board of Ethics has no power to impose extra sanctions even though the commission held a hearing last summer on the very Ramos vs. Cruz race that Tartaglione Matos was participating in. Her punishment is no more than would be assessed to any rank-and-file city employee, despite the fact she committed elections violations while working for the elections office.

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Comments 1 - 2 of 2
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1. Anthony P. Johnson said... on Dec 17, 2010 at 10:25AM

“District Attorney Seth Williams
Three South Penn Square
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Friday December 13, 2010

Dear District Attorney Williams,

Perhaps I missed something, Sir, but when a city official admits to participating in the re-election campaign by deliberately misleading voters, I would think her actions would warrant an in depth investigation from your office. This is in view that the Ethics Board found the individual guilty and that it should not matter who is the perpetrator’s mother. Am I correct?

It’s clear that Ms. Renee Tartaglione, the 27 year veteran chief deputy of the City Commissioners Office, participated in illegal activity going as far as assisting Jonathan Ramos in his failed attempt to defeat Angel Cruz for State Representative, blatantly violating a long-standing ban on political activity by city employees. This happened specifically in Ms. Tartaglione’s office which is charged with ensuring that elections are fair and impartial. And at this point, aren’t her actions corrupt enough to trigger the interest of District Attorney’s Office?

Although the Ethics Board did not refer the Tartaglione incident to your office, I would hope that you will consider reviewing and addressing this matter.

To be candid, Sir, Ms. Tartaglione’s illegal activity has directly affected the residents in the 180th District, and we are asking that you “place the needs of the people first" in starting a thorough investigation into this matter.

I would appreciate your response so I can report back your intentions to our community group.


Anthony P. Johnson, Organizer
The "180th Watchdog Coalition"

Terri L. Willmott
Communications Director

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2. Mother of The Feltonville Four said... on Dec 20, 2010 at 01:26PM

“Dear District Attorney Williams, Mayor Michael Nutter, Maria Quinones-Sanchez, Alan Butkovitz, and City Officials.

I agree with Mr Anthony P. Johnson, If this is true it needs not be tolerated in our City or Country. If we can not depend or rely on you guys, then who can we trust to do what is fair and reasonable. I applaud Maria Quinones-Sanchez for her heroic statement in this matter. She stated; states registration scandals and fraud it's justiiable for them to da a review. We'll who is brave or heroic enough to answer to or stand up against the corruption and fraud going on in the City of Philadelphia against families tramatized by D.H.S and Judges in the Family Courtrooms. Who will be ready, willing, able to do a review and investigation on those horrible stories. I am a victim of this henious corruption along with other's, If an election corruption can get this kind of attention and support. What about innocent children being removed from their innocent loved ones.”


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