Last night, I attended the Philly For Change meeting where Brian Sims, Babette Josephs, Mark Cohen and Sean Sullivan all made the case for why they should get that group’s endorsement.And hoo boy! was it a doozy.
Babette Josephs went first and I would characterize her speech as about 20% positive recap of her record and 80% talking smack about Brian Sims. She brought up exactly zero policy differences between herself and Rep. Sims, and the one criticism she made that touched on issue substance was Brian missing the vote for private liquor sales.
Unfortunately, my fellow 182nd district residents, there’s not an actual policy difference there, and to my great frustration, Brian hasn’t been willing to vote our district’s interest on this issue, preferring to side with UFCW rent-seekers over consumers and entrepreneurs in our district who’d open the same kinds of nice boutique wine and liquor stores in Center City and South Philly neighborhoods that they have in our competitor cities in NYC, Baltimore, and DC.
Aside from that, Josephs spent the rest of her speech lying about how constituent service has fallen off and people can’t get their calls returned since Sims took over the seat.
But of course the House Democratic Caucus’s own numbers show Brian Sims’s office handled nine times more constituent cases in their first year than Josephs did in her last year:
When challenged on these claims by Shoshana Milovsky from Brian Sims’s office, Josephs made up a bunch of hooey about how the numbers can’t be right, and then offered personal anecdotes as counterevidence (lulz!)
And then when I asked Josephs about this afterward, she tried to say they “changed the system” during her last year, which I can now confirm was a lie.
This morning I reached out to the Office of District Operations and Outreach (formerly the Office of Member Services), and they told me the Constituent Tracking Service (CTS) has been in use in its current form since 2004. Over 10 years. No 2012 changes.
Anyway, Brian Sims watched her whole speech calmly and politely from the sidelines even as Josephs was tearing into him and mischaracterizing his record.
Contrast that with Brian Sims’s performance at this event. Brian used his allotted time to give a primarily positive speech about his record, and what policy goals and constituent service goals he hoped to accomplish in Harrisburg.
The only discernible digs at Josephs came when he gave an example of how Republicans tend to think if a Democrat walks into their offices there’s some kind of malign political motive, but that reps on the other side of the aisle know Sims is a good faith operator and they are willing to work with him on a, however limited, set of issues.
Other interesting moments from Sims’s talk came when he took personal responsibility for not doing enough for Gray’s Ferry area, even though nobody actually provided any evidence that his constituent services are lacking there. And then when Jordan Davis confronted him about the comments he made about Mark Cohen, Sims owned up to it, and made his case against reelecting Mark Cohen to Cohen’s face.
It’s a fascinating moment toward the end of my video, and I think Sims comes out looking good. Remember that time Tim Pawlenty shrunk from saying “Obamneycare” to Mitt Romney’s face? He looked like a coward. Sims definitely moderated his criticism of Cohen a bit, but gave specific examples of unprofessional things Cohen has done that have made it harder for Sims to do his job.
A real stand-out “character” moment from last night came when a few of us standing behind Babette Josephs during Sims’s speech noticed that she was pretending to read things on her phone the entire time:
For about 5 or 6 minutes she was just staring at the home screen, not actually reading anything. Opening different apps, reading nothing, and then closing them shortly after. Then she started up a game of Words With Friends. But basically, for most of the speech she was pretending to be reading while Brian was talking, which really is even more disrespectful than reading emails because you’re not actually doing anything – just projecting disrespect for no good reason.
And that in short is what this primary challenge is all about. Babette Josephs couldn’t actually give any policy reasons why she’s challenging Brian Sims during her allotted time. It’s all just a petty revenge thing, which is a terrible reason to run for office.