Introducing Philadelphia 3.0

Click here to read our full report.

Primary season is upon us. Before redistricting came onto the scene, one of the biggest items in Philly Primary news was the race for committee person.

For the uninitiated, a committee person is basically the lowest possible office you can run for in Philly—they’re the foot soldiers of the city political parties and are responsible for voting in ward leaders and turning out the vote. If mobilized, committee people can sway elections, influencing who runs for office and who gets endorsed by the city party (which translates to cash and word of mouth.)

 
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This season many interests are looking to seize on anti-Trump fervor to run committee people and gain influence over the city’s Democratic machine. One of the most active groups in this arena has been Philadelphia 3.0—a group that touts itself as a force to promote progressive millennial voices in Philadelphia politics and which heavily intersects with the city’s “urbanist” scene.

As part of our look into candidates and interest groups during this election season, we took a deep dive into Philly 3.0’s history and activities. What we’ve turned up has been telling. Our executive summary lays out our findings:

Philadelphia 3.0 was founded in 2015 by parking garage magnates Joseph and Robert Zuritsky. It is currently run by Alison Perelman, heir to the Perelman fortune.  The group originally sought to run “business-friendly” candidates for city council and promote business interests in general. It is mostly funded by dark money, though publicly disclosed donors include members of Philadelphia’s executive class and several school privatization groups.

 Alison Perelman

Alison Perelman

 Joseph Zuritsky

Joseph Zuritsky

 Robert Zuritsky

Robert Zuritsky

Philadelphia 3.0’s political activities now center on the creation of a coalition between the business elite and “new Philadelphians” by co-opting government reform politics, urbanist planning ideas, and anti-Trump progressive anger, while down-playing their positions on trickle-down tax policy, business friendly real estate development, and founder Joseph Zuritsky’s ties to the anti-muslim right-wing.

Philadelphia 3.0 fits a pattern we’re seeing in the 2018 election in candidates like Nina Ahmad (running for Lt. Gov) and Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-5). They lay claim to progressive values and grassroots legitimacy while taking money and ideas from decidedly non-progressive interests. Founder Joseph Zuritsky’s troubling work with the anti-muslim think tank Middle East Forum adds another layer to the issue.

People in Philly need to know if they’re organizing with and voting for folks who, at the end of the day, support their values and will truly represent them in government.

For a full list of links and more, go to our sources page. 

Cover photo credit: AlleykatNJ