Author: jmwolfe

Nutter the Nanny By Matt Wolfe

Nutter the Nanny By Matt Wolfe

This article was published by PATownHall.com. Click here to read the article on the publisher’s website.

Some of City Council’s worst ideas pass unanimously. I think we’ve seen that again.

City Council has passed an ordinance that adds e-cigarettes to its existing ban on smoking real cigarettes in public places. For those unfamiliar with the concept of e-cigarettes, they look kind of like regular cigarettes, but they are battery-powered devices that use a heating element to vaporize a liquid solution with flavoring and normally, but not necessarily, nicotine. Mayor Nutter proudly signed this bill into law.

The jury is still out as to how harmful these e-cigarettes may be to our health, or whether they are harmful at all. Even Mayor Nutter admitted that at the ceremony where he signed the ordinance into law. Common sense would indicate that if they do carry health risks that such risks will be far less than the cocktail of cancers that come with regular cigarettes. Conversely, there are those who swear that e-cigarettes were a big help in getting them to stop smoking regular cigarettes.

Against this background, with the health risks of e-cigarettes uncertain but almost certainly not as bad as regular cigarettes, Philadelphia’s City Council lumps them together with regular cigarettes. This would seem premature, to say the least. How many Philadelphians will die because City Council made it more difficult for them to use e-cigarettes and quit smoking regular cigarettes? Well, that’s probably an exaggeration, but not necessarily a question that should not be considered.

I hate being around smoking. That being said, there is no reason I have to patronize a restaurant that allows smoking or does not have a non-smoking area. And most people that I know in the restaurant industry would rather work where smoking is permitted because they think that they receive better tips. Why is the city making the decisions for us? That being said, I certainly understand the very real health risks of smoking and the risk of second-hand smoke. I see the other side of the coin. But e-cigarettes? Different situation altogether.

Thomas Jefferson is attributed as having said “That government is best which governs least.” Philadelphia’s City Council certainly could not be considered the intellectual successor to our Founding Father. What ever happened to people taking personal responsibility for what they do? Why should the City of Philadelphia take on the role of nanny to its citizens?

In this case, the ban is probably just wrong, and by wrong I mean that it will create more health problems than it solves because some smokers will be less likely to quit because of restricted availability of e-cigarettes. But even if the city is “right” that something is a health hazard, they should not be the ones making the decisions. If the federal government has not concluded that something is such a great hazard that access should be restricted, why does Philadelphia think it knows better? Who do you trust to make decisions restricting your freedom to act? It is simply over-regulation.

Looking beyond this particular law, whenever Philadelphia makes a law that interferes with commerce ONLY in Philadelphia, we do more to chase businesses, taxpayers and residents out of the city. Eight percent sales tax. Slavery Disclosure Law. Philadelphia 21st Century Minimum Wage and Benefits Standard. Wage Tax. It goes on and on. Philadelphia is the poorest big city in America. And it didn’t happen by accident. It is the result of deliberate actions taken by Philadelphia’s City Council, normally with the complicity of the Mayor, to pander to special interest groups that keep them in office.

Matt Wolfe is a candidate in the special election on May 20 for the City Council at Large position left vacant because of Bill Green’s resignation to take over as Chairman of the School Reform Commission.



Wolfe Announces Candidacy for At-Large Council Seat

Wolfe Announces Candidacy for At-Large Council Seat

This article was published by The Philadelphia Daily News on March 14, 2014. Click here to read the article on the publisher’s website.

BY JENNY DeHUFF, Daily News Staff Writer dehuffj@phillynews.com, 215-854-5218 POSTED: March 14, 2014

MATT WOLFE, a Republican ward leader in West Philadelphia, announced his candidacy yesterday for the at-large City Council seat vacated by Bill Green.

Wolfe made the announcement with about 100 supporters at the Millcreek Tavern in West Philly.

Wolfe, a lawyer, is seeking his party’s nomination for the special election May 20.

“Philadelphia’s government needs to change, and I would bring a different perspective to City Council than what’s there,” he said.

Wolfe has a long history of community involvement, including serving as director of the Spruce Hill Community Association, serving on the board of the Friends of Clark Park and the old West Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. He’s also been active with the Boy Scouts.

Among Wolfe’s biggest goals, he said, is to restructure the city’s tax policy.

“Let’s look at our tax structure: Even if we don’t lower our tax rates and do everything in a revenue-neutral way, we need to restructure our taxes, and City Council has no inclination to do that,” he said.

“Every time someone on City Council has a bright idea on how to spend your money, we can’t just enact it because it seems like a nice idea.

“Philadelphia needs to focus on core municipal responsibilities – public safety; public education; it may not be sexy, but sanitation; maintenance of our transportation and utility infrastructure. These are the things a municipal government needs to do and really, frankly, not a lot else.

“We need to spend more money on those, and that means we need to cut. Where do we cut? Pretty much anything that doesn’t fall into those categories should be on the chopping block.”

Wolfe would be up against the Democratic ward leaders’ pick, state Rep. Ed Neilson, nominated unanimously on Tuesday.


Wolfe Seen As Likely GOP Nominee For Special City Council At-Large Election

Wolfe Seen As Likely GOP Nominee For Special City Council At-Large Election

This article was published by CBSPhilly.Com on March 13, 2014. Click here to read the article on the publisher’s website.

By John McDevitt

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A GOP ward leader in Philadelphia says he is ready to run against the Democrats’ pick in the May special election for an at-large City Council seat.

Earlier this week the Democratic ward leaders selected state representative Ed Neilson to run as their candidate in the May 20th special election to fill the vacant City Council seat (see related story).

The Republian ward leaders will formally pick their party representative on March 19th.  At a formal announcement this afternoon in University City, GOP ward leader Matthew Wolfe said he’s ready to run if he gets his party’s nomination — which is expected.

“We need to support the changes to strengthen Philadelphia, now and for our children,” he said.  “I’ll bring a different perspective to City Council.   I need your support.”

Pennsylvania state representative John Taylor, chairman of the Republican Party in Philadelphia, sees Wolfe’s nomination as likely.

“Matt has a lot of respect within the party and I think he will prevail.  I don’t expect any conflict with that,” Taylor told KYW Newsradio this afternoon.

The City Coucil at-large seat became vacant when Bill Green left to chair Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission.

City Council Asks Voters to Vote Blind on Bond Issue Republicans Recommend a “NO” Vote By Matt Wolfe

City Council Asks Voters to Vote Blind on Bond Issue Republicans Recommend a “NO” Vote By Matt Wolfe

This article was published by The Independent Voice. Click here to read the article on the publisher’s website.

The Philadelphia Republican City Committee has voted unanimously to recommend to the voters that they vote NO on the question on the General Election ballot asking approval of a bond issue.  We make this recommendation because of the shameful failure of City Council to give the citizens of Philadelphia any transparency or assurance that the funds will be used properly and for projects that advance the city’s mission. Read More

Time to Teach Philly ‘How to Fish’ By Matt Wolfe

Time to Teach Philly ‘How to Fish’ By Matt Wolfe

This article was published by PATownHall.com. Click here to read the article on the publisher’s website.

Once again it’s budget time and Philadelphia is asking the State Legislature for a fish. It’s about time that the legislature teaches them how to fish.

This year the problem is the schools. The problem is real. The current School District budget would be catastrophic for the city and, most importantly, the children.

The problems, however real, are not new or unpredictable. An aside. I was recently helping to move the Republican City Committee offices and found an article from a series that the Philadelphia Inquirer did entitled “The Shame of our Schools.” It was dated 1981.

Remember how we got into this mess. Philadelphia’s problems with its schools are due to its being one of the poorest cities in America. That didn’t happen by accident. Choices were made that drove businesses, jobs and taxpayers out of the city. Our poverty is directly related to high tax rates, irrational tax structure, corruption, mismanagement and misplaced spending priorities. There was no natural catastrophe. There was no plague. Politicians made decisions, sometimes out of a failure to understand the consequences of their actions but more often to pander to special interest groups as a reward for past or anticipated electoral support. It’s really just that simple.

Getting out of this is also simple. Reverse the bad choices. Lower tax rates, reform the tax structure, eliminate corruption and mismanagement and spend only on core municipal functions: public safety, public education, sanitation and maintenance of the infrastructure. Simple does not mean easy. It will be painful, but it couldn’t be as bad as the misery that poverty has brought us.

It is reported that some of the ideas to “help” Philadelphia are things like allowing the City to place a $2-per-pack tax on cigarette sales and extending Philadelphia’s “temporary” 1% sales tax, which is supposed to expire at the end 2014.
These are not solutions to the problem.

Let’s look at the cigarette tax. They are thinking about giving Philadelphia’s City Counsel additional taxing authority. Think about that. Giving Philadelphia’s City Council additional taxing authority??!!! How’s that worked out in the past? Both the cigarette tax and the sales tax will drive sales out of Philadelphia and not all of it goes to Pennsylvania suburbs. Every dollar that goes to Jersey, Delaware or the Internet means that Pennsylvania loses more tax revenue than Philadelphia loses. Who exactly does this help? How about this. If the legislature thinks that the policy is such a good idea, such as the cigarette tax, why don’t they let every municipality in the state do the same thing? I didn’t think so. But if it is bad policy to allow the tax statewide, how is it good for Pennsylvania to allow Philadelphia an exception.

If the legislature wants to help Philadelphia, allowing it to shoot itself in the foot by raising taxes is not the way. Any funding for the schools should be contingent on positive change.

The School District should be required to hire, fire, promote and assign teachers based on what is in the best interests of the children, not seniority.

The School District closed 23 schools and deserves credit for that. It was traumatic. The problem is, they probably should have closed another 25-30, but did not want to expend the political capital. There are still too many under-capacity schools. The School District should be required to close schools and re-draw catchment areas so each school operates at approximately 85% of capacity.

The School District has been trying to restrict charter schools from expanding. This is despite the fact that the amount of money it turns over to the charter schools for each child enrolled is less than what it costs to educate children in the School District operated schools. The School District should only be able to restrict the creation and expansion of charter schools based only on how well they are teaching our children, not funding. If more parents choose charter schools, the School District can close even more schools and concentrate the money on educating fewer children.

Philadelphia needs and wants help. That being said, allowing it to increase taxes on itself to drive more business and taxpayers out do much more harm than good.

J. Matthew Wolfe is a former Deputy Attorney General and the Chairman of the University City Republican Committee in West Philadelphia.

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The Question of ‘Resign to Run’ by Matt Wolfe

The Question of ‘Resign to Run’ by Matt Wolfe

This article was published by PATownHall.com. Click here to read the article on the publisher’s website.

There is an important question on the ballot on May 20. City Council wants to change the City Charter to eliminate the requirement that Council members and other city elected officials resign if they want to run for another political office.

This policy has been in effect since the City Charter was enacted by the voters in 1951, and it has served the city well. You should vote no on Question No. 2, which will be in the middle on the voting machines, below the candidates.

The resign-to-run requirement is good public policy. When a vote comes up on City Council, in whose interest should members vote? In the interest of the voters who elected them, or in the interest of the voters who will vote in the election for the position that they would rather have? Or, worse, in the interest of the special interests that would finance the campaign for the position they would rather have?

This question is emblematic of what is wrong with our city. We have been governed for more than a half-century by a professional political class that cares not at all about you, but only about getting reelected and amassing political power. Instead of doing the job they were elected to do, Council members want to continue to collect their six-figure salaries while campaigning full time for the job they would rather have.

In a recent Philadelphia Magazine article focusing on potential candidates for mayor, two Council members, Blondell Reynolds Brown and Maria Quiñones Sanchez, cited the problem of having to resign their Council jobs as a hindrance to running for mayor. Isn’t that the case with someone who is employed in the private sector? Why should our money be used by them to further their political careers? Yes, it’s time-consuming to run for office, but they should not get paid by the taxpayers for a job they are not performing.

Another factor to consider is that Philadelphia is the only municipality in the state with campaign contribution limits. Eliminating resign-to-run would allow improper manipulation of the system. With no contribution limits, a Council member could run for a different office, even if not a serious contender. The money could be spent primarily in his or her present district to increase name recognition and favorable ratings.

Incumbents all over the country, at every level of government, have too much power. Only a handful of races are deemed competitive. This is not good for our democracy. If those governing us do not have to seriously campaign for their positions, they don’t have to moderate their views to appeal to a broader range of voters. As a result, they become less concerned about what is in the voters’ best interests. That is certainly what is happening in Philadelphia right now. And our Council members want us to give them even more power? This change is as wrong as it was to allow city elected officials to cash in on the Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP).

Philadelphia doesn’t need more Council members running for other offices. What Philadelphia needs is public officials who commit to doing their jobs. Council members can prove their suitability for another position by doing what is right for the city. They can demonstrate integrity by serving out the terms voters entrusted to them. Don’t forget, resign-to-run did not hinder Ed Rendell’s ability to be elected governor.

What is most shameful and least surprising about this charter question is that Council voted to put this on the ballot unanimously. They are united in not caring about you.

Michael Nutter resigned from Council to run for mayor. He also vetoed this ballot question, but Council members voted – again, unanimously – to override his veto. Fortunately, they don’t have the final say. Voters do, and they rejected a similar proposal in 2007. This year’s voters should follow that example, and the mayor’s, by telling Council no on this latest power grab.

Matt Wolfe is a Republican candidate in the May 20 special election for an at-large City Council seat.




2 minutes (uncut) with GOP Activist Matthew Wolfe

2 minutes (uncut) with GOP Activist Matthew Wolfe

This article was published by Philadelphia Citypaper on November 11, 2011. Click here to read the article on the publisher’s website.

By Daniel Denvir
Published: 11/03/2011

Lawyer Matthew Wolfe is the Republican Leader of West Philadelphia’s 47th Ward and a lead activist in the campaign to overthrow Philadelphia Republican Party boss Michael Meehan,whose family has controlled the city’s party for three generations.

You are a Republican activist living right on Clark Park, West Philly’s verdant left-wing front lawn. How does that work?

We get a lot of people at the University of Pennsylvania. We have some of the most conservative Republicans in the city and some of the most liberal Republicans in the city. And we ran more candidates than the Democrats in the 27th Ward last year.

We need to get our numbers up. That’s a problem. But in the last [primary] election, we had the highest percentage in the city for [reform candidates] Al Schmidt and John Featherman.

The Democrats in University City are very much left of center, but there are Republicans there. We’re not one of the areas with the heaviest Republican populations, but we’re not one of the areas with the least Republicans.

Why are you supporting Karen Brown, a candidate supported by the Republican machine that you opposed in the primary, and who was until recently a Democrat?

Karen Brown was nominated by the Republican voters in the city. A big part of my job is to support Republican candidates. It’s not like I’m torn because Michael Nutter has been a terrific mayor. Michael Nutter has been a terrible mayor. Philadelphia’s problem is not that we don’t tax our people enough. The problem is that we spend too much. Want to lower the crime rate? Give people jobs. And you’re not going to give people jobs by raising people’s taxes. Nutter is just the most recent bad mayor.

So even though Brown was a Democrat?

Absolutely. She has described herself as conservative on fiscal issues and more liberal on social issues. The bottom line is for a municipal office, there’s not a Democratic or Republican way to fix a pothole.

What do you make of her debate performance?

Did you watch the debate? Mayor Nutter agreed to a debate, but it was a debate that coincided with a Phillies game.

She made a number of claims that she could not back up, including that the Police Department was manipulating murder statistics.

Well, she’s said that she’s had trouble getting information from the Nutter administration.

I understand the virtue of not being the party of the Bob Brady party machine, but will you get anywhere in Philly if you’re the party of Bachmann or Perry?

Yes, it is true that presidential politics have ramifications here. Arguably, Philadelphia’s Republican Party might be better off if Huntsman or Romney were the Republican nominee. And not all of our people would say that; some are a bit more conservative. Again, we have a market here in Philadelphia, and the market is the taxpayer getting screwed for many years. We’re going to have a hard time reaching people whose income is derived from the government, either because they are a government employee or receive government assistance. But there’s no reason that we can’t develop an approach that can appeal to taxpayers in the city, and become a force to be reckoned with in terms of city policy.

Who do you support for the Republican nomination?

Huntsman. I’m with Huntsman until he wins, loses or drops out. Romney would be my second choice. Any of them — Bachmann, Perry, Gingrich, Santorum — all are better than Obama. No hesitation.

Letters: Economics, Philadelphia Daily News style

This was published in the Philadelphia Daily News. Click here to read it on the publisher’s website.

FROM YOUR editorial “No Compromise” (July 27): “Government needs to continue to run deficits to create jobs, which will increase demand for goods and services and get the private sector growing again.”

Matt Wolfe Response: When I read this, I presumed that it was an attempt at sarcasm or humor. I reread it. And read it again. I slowly came to the realization that I was mistaken. They actually meant it. The Philadelphia Daily News School of Economics. Scholarships available for members of City Council.

Brownouts at Philly Fire Houses Unsafe By Matt Wolfe

Brownouts at Philly Fire Houses Unsafe By Matt Wolfe

This article was published by PATownHall.com. Click here to read the article on the publisher’s website.

BROWNOUTS, THE closing of some firehouses on a rotating basis, are stupid. Fires don’t decide when to start in any geographical pattern that can be predicted with the certainty to allow specific firehouses to be closed some of the time and open at others.

Public safety is a core responsibility of municipal government. Clearly the city is duty bound to make provisions for adequate fire safety.

What should the city do? Read More

Philadelphia Sales Tax Hike: Just Say No By Matt Wolfe

Philadelphia Sales Tax Hike: Just Say No By Matt Wolfe

This article was published by PATownHall.com. Click here to read the article on the publisher’s website.

Editor’s Note: J. Matthew Wolfe is a member of the Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania, representing the 8th Senatorial District in Philadelphia and writes for The Loyal Opposition, a Republican policy group focused on issues facing the City of Philadelphia.

Greetings from Philadelphia. Weather is hot and humid. Business climate is oppressive.

Philadelphia’s Mayor and City Council want to raise Philadelphia’s sales tax to 8%, fully 33% more than most of Pennsylvania. Fortunately, they need State Legislative approval to perpetrate this lunacy.

This legislation will impact Pennsylvania’s budget and will have an even bigger effect on Philadelphia’s economic health. As a Philadelphian I am asking that you alert your legislators to your opposition to this scheme. Read More