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Op-ed from John Buffington

Let’s Reverse Trumpery

Representative John Taylor has decided to retire, so this year’s election for the 177th Pennsylvania House District Seat is the one and only time that Democrats have a good opportunity to rise up in their righteous anger and deliver a stinging blow to Trumpery, gerrymandering, global warming, fracking, gun violence, misogyny, and compulsory pregnancy.

We all need to get to the polls on May 15th to vote in the Democratic primary, and again on November 6th for the general election.


The good news is, that with John Taylor leaving, four Democrats have stepped up to contend for a legislative seat from a district that was carved out of our overwhelmingly Democratic City for the purpose of guaranteeing that Philadelphia would have one Republican State Representative.

Take a look at our ridiculous legislative district below:

Map courtesy of the Committee of Seventy

This obscene structure isn’t just a Republican product; it’s the result of a corrupt bargain involving incumbents of both parties. Democrats in the State Legislature colluded with the Republican majority and the then incumbent Republican Governor to commit this fraud on voters in Northeast Philadelphia. And Democratic Ward leaders in Philadelphia have colluded with those despicable legislators to maintain them in office. And labor union leaders have gone right along with the scam.

So, what to do on May 15th? I recommend voting against gerrymandering, as a top priority. And the obvious choice is Joe Hohenstein. Joe is firmly committed to the creation of a non-partisan commission for redistributing Congressional and State Legislative seats. He doesn’t have a famous last name to run on and the establishment won’t be able to buy him off. Instead, he is backed by a consortium of independent, progressive minded labor unions who have a history of working to elect independent minded politicians who advocate for policies beneficial to ALL working people.

Then there’s all of those other issues. All four candidates say that they mean to do the right thing. All four talk about their deep roots in the community and their local activities. How do we choose the most effective spokesman?

My thought is, when you have multiple options who all talk the right talk, you should check their educational credentials and philosophies. Joe Hohenstein’s college and law degrees and 25 years of law practice seem like the most promising credentials for what we need:  a skeptical independent thinker who will confront right-wing extremism effectively.

Ultimately, the issue isn’t who talks the right talk but who has walked the right walk. Joe Hohenstein is the candidate who has an actual record of confronting right-wing extremism. His law practice has been specialized in immigration issues, and he mixed it up in court with the jingoes, and won. I don’t see anything like that with the others.

Joe Hohenstein’s roots and engagement in the community are at least as deep as the others. His grandparents’ wedding at St. Joachim’s occurred 60 years prior to his own. His grandfather had a saddle shop on Frankford Avenue. Joe learned to swim and worked as a lifeguard at Simpson playground. He played soccer at Frankford High School and was on the second team, all public, his senior year. And today Joe is Clerk of Frankford Friends Meeting. In that role he has actual experience in managing a school, as opposed to talking about educational issues.

Democrats in the 177th District aren’t likely to go wrong on May 15th with the available candidates. But, we really need to do the best we can to put up a candidate who will put up the best possible fight against Trumpery. That choice, I submit, is Joe Hohenstein.


John V. Buffington
April 13, 2018 (The 275th birthday of Thomas Jefferson)

John Buffington is a retired lawyer living in Frankford.  He sometimes has opinions.

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A guest Opinion from John V. Buffington

Please Stop Abusing Charlottesville

Charlottesville is a place, not a murderer. It isn’t a headquarters for bigots. It isn’t the breeding ground for psychopaths. It didn’t volunteer to serve as a location for stormtrooper training.

University of Virginia at Charlottesville, from Wikimededia Commons

It didn’t occur to me to be offended when Columbine became a synonym for murder. I have never been to Columbine. Charlottesville is an entirely different matter for me: I love Charlottesville.

Citizens of Columbine, please accept my apology. I failed to come to your defense. You are not a crime, you are secondary victims and it took me a awhile to get it. It took me until the legitimate American press started using the name of a place that I love as shorthand for murder.

Charlottesville has had murders before, of course – like every other place of any consequence. But it has never cultivated murder, the way, say Las Vegas has cultivated vice. Or the way that West Virginia has sponsored pollution.

It is common in college towns for there to be a sort of constant murmur of town-gown conflict; I don’t remember noticing that in Charlottesville during my 7 years at the University there.  I remember a youth minister at the Presbyterian Church near the Grounds who grilled hotdogs and explained to students of the ’60’s generation that Jesus was a revolutionary.  I remember that when the Mayor and Governor saw Anti-Vietnam demonstrations coming they kept their police back and trusted the brilliant University President Edgar Shannon to keep things cool.  I remember the dedicated lady who ran the office of the Mental Health Association where I volunteered as a student, and a lot of self-less adult volunteers who supported that operation.  I did some substitute teaching in the local high school, and I remember a lot of seniors of Mr. Golladay’s Government classes who actually seemed to enjoy talking about real issues with a stranger.  I remember that the people of Charlottesville then were Virginia taxpayers like my parents, and they subsidized my fabulous education.

Charlottesville’s history goes way back before this murder. It is the place where Thomas Jefferson chose to build his home and then his university. It is the town where the Virginia General Assembly was meeting during the American Revolution, when Banistre Tarleton’s Cavalry tried to catch them but Jack Jovett rode into town with the alarm, so the legislature and Governor Jefferson too scampered across Afton Mountain to reconvene in Staunton.

Because Mr. Jefferson chose Charlottesville for his university, it was a potential location for conflict in September 1965, when the University was beginning to desegregate and I arrived to start college. Bad things happened in a lot of towns where colleges and universities were desegregating, but I don’t remember anything bad happening in Charlottesville.

What happened with me was, I got a better education and part of that was the discovery that I had black classmates who had to meet the same rigorous standards that I did, plus live with the pressure of being the test cases. They had to be extra tough, and they made it.

So, 7 years after I arrived in Charlottesville, I left, a better educated, more tolerant person than the one that arrived.

I appreciate the voters of Charlottesville in the early 1970s for electing Tom Michie to the Lower House of their General Assembly – which Virginians call by the beautifully evocative “The House of Delegates” – because Del. Michie turned out to be my invaluable ally when I launched my effort as a novice lobbyist for Virginia’s environmental movement and the state Association of Social Workers.  (He was also one of the sponsors of my Va. State Bar Admission.)

Charlottesville is not a murderer or a gathering for bigots. Charlottesville is a great town that hosts a great University. It is a beautiful, welcoming, Virginia Place. If you don’t know why “Virginia” is a positive adjective, please go there and find out. You won’t be sorry.

At the advanced age of 70 I have just discovered a new verity: sometimes you don’t realize what you love until you see it being abused.  I have been well aware for 52 years of how deeply I love the University of Virginia but it never occurred to me before to consider it’s context: Charlottesville.  Thank you, U.VA.

And thank you Charlottesville.

John Buffiington is a double graduate of UVA: B.A. in Government, 1969, J.D., 1972.  He can be contacted at



All readers are welcome to submit opinions or rebuttals.  Guest opinions are not those of the Frankford Gazette.  Email

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A guest Opinion from John V. Buffington

All readers are welcome to submit opinions or rebuttals.

Guest opinions are not those of the Frankford Gazette.


Trump’s Delusion of Persecution


Donald Trump recently declared that “no politician in history has been treated more unfairly.” Really?

It wasn’t more unfair for John Wilkes Booth to kill Abraham Lincoln months after the Gettysburg Address, when it was clear that Lincoln meant to knit the country back together on terms that would have been generous to the defeated Confederates?

Was it maybe a little unfair for James Garfield to be killed by a fool who wanted a job when Garfield was trying to set up something like the modern civil service system?

How about Russian sympathizer Lee Harvey Oswald murdering John F. Kennedy months after JFK barely steered the world through the Cuban Missile Crisis, backing down Russian dictator Nikita Khrushchev?

Does any of that sound a little more unfair than Press reports on the misbehavior of trump and his backers?

But wait –there’s more.

Trump didn’t say “any American politician in history”, he said “any politician”. So Mahatma Ghandi’s assassination wasn’t a wee bit more unfair than criticism of trump? How about the hundreds of democratic politicians from all over continental Europe that died in Hitler’s concentration camps?

Thousands of politicians have been killed for standing for the opposite of Trumpery. It is time to start calling “Alternative Facts” what they are: Lies.

John Buffington

This is the first of a series including prequels on Trump’s claim that his inauguration was the biggest ever. the howler about Barack Obama not being an American citizen, and the refusal to show tax returns.

John Buffington is a recovering Republican living in the Frankford neighborhood of Philadelphia.

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The Trumping of the Republican Party

A guest opinion from John V. Buffington

Insurgent Ignorance

There is new proof of American Exceptionalism. A candidate who has adopted the persona of an egotistical, bombastic, protectionist,  belligerent, immoral, mendacious ignoramus has reached the point of threatening the very existence of the Republican Party. Now that Donald Trump has deluded a large plurality of naive voters who have had a say in the Republican nomination process to date, his agents have assured the Republican National Committee that everything that he has said so far is a joke.

Senator Cruz, on the other hand, represents a well-established segment of the GOP. Nihilists and racists emerged from their holes as soon as it became apparent that a black man might become president. They love the idea that their candidate will never compromise. Not with Democrats, not with Republican party leadership, not with anybody who isn’t dedicated to starving the federal government, shutting down every support for anybody who isn’t rich and beating up on immigrants.

Pennsylvania Republicans who would like to go on putting up possible candidates after the inevitable debacle in November will, of course, vote for governor Kasich in the primary on April 26th. That, however, is not enough.

If you want to vote for the actual nomination of Senator Cruz in the belief that bringing government to a halt is desirable, exactly one candidate on the second congressional district ballot for convention delegate is committed to your choice.

If you think that the vote in our district in the beauty contest will go your way, one candidate for delegate has pledged to vote for whoever gets the most beauty contest votes.

If you like Trump you may want to follow the recommendation from his campaign to vote for the other five candidates, who have refused to commit to a candidate on the first ballot.

If you enjoy assigning your franchise to political bosses you will vote for that same list of political cyphers.

If you favor Governor Kasich, either because someone who has actually done stuff in office other than break furniture might work out a bit better than a crazy person, or because you think that he is the least bad choice, you will want to write in “none of the above” on the portion of the ballot pertaining to convention delegates.

If you would like to wrest your franchise from party buses, writing in “none of the above” is your best option.

Our country has recovered from worse than Trump and senator Cruz can dish out and it will do so again this time. Without Trump in the race, one of the more conventional politicians would be the clear nominee by now and would have a good shot in November. The lingering question now is whether there will be enough of a Republican presence to contest mid-term elections in 2018 or some new coalition will begin to form by then or Democrats will just walk away with nearly all of the marbles. Please make your choices on April 26th carefully.

I consider myself a recovering Republican. We Republicans fairly consistently embraced a libertarian view on social issues until Ronald Reagan, our first divorced president, drew the Evangelical Right into the party during the 1980 campaign.

If Trump and Senator Cruz succeed in destroying the Republican party as we know it, a period of Democratic party dominance will ensue, of course.

If I live long enough to see the emergence of a socially libertarian, fiscally conservative party with a realistic restorative view of international Affairs, I will Jump right In.

Author’s Note
This article is the first in the series that will continue until after the Republican National Convention and or until Trump’s dark brown pile ceases to fester on our National white sofa.
John V. Buffington

All readers are welcome to submit opinions or rebuttals.  Email







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Joe Menkevich to Appear Before the Historical Commission

Joe Menkevich is the ultimate historical researcher  He won’t let you say he is a historian because that implies more than what he does.  What he does is dig through documents files archives and pictures to get at facts.  He has been working on documenting the Byberry African American Cemetery.  This cemetery is an orphan.  It sits unmarked and almost forgotten up on Townsend Road in Northeast Philadelphia near Benjamin Rush State Park.

He will be making his case to have this property included in the city list of historic places at the Historical Commission meeting this Wednesday at 9:30 AM.  You can read his nomination documentation at his link.  This is a public meeting for anyone who would like to attend.

Below is a letter of support from John Buffington which argues why this is important to all of us.  It is good to remember that we have our own orphan cemetery right here in Frankford down at Wilmot Park on Meadow Street.

Remarks Prepared for the Historical Commission of Philadelphia

 September 16, 2015

My name is John Buffington. I do neighborhood history rather like Joe Menkevich.

I know a bit about Orphan Cemeteries.

Four generations of several sides of my family rest in a rural Cemetery in South Alabama. My ashes will be there too eventually.

Both of my grandmothers, during near impoverished widowhood, managed to scrape together a modest amount every year to contribute to the informal system for caring for the resting place of the people that they loved.

We buried one of my grandmothers quite close to the fence that runs alongside a 2 Lane State Road.

A few years later the Alabama highway department anticipating the need to someday widen the route from Montgomery to Mobile, condemned additional right of way on both sides of that road.

No one had standing to speak for our dead.

My grandmother now lies in highway right-of-way. If the highway department decides to widen on our side of the road, her grave may be desecrated.

Eventually descendants of the folks in that cemetery got together and organized “The Buffington Cemetery Trust”. We got our federal tax exemption and conducted a fund drive.  I was the founding chair of the Board of Trustees. When I wrote the trust indenture, I stated our intention to maintain and protect that cemetery forevermore.

Then I took the Trust indenture to the Conecuh county courthouse and recorded it in the land records.

Now if anybody ever wants to mess with that cemetery, they know who they have to call.

I also wrote organizing documents and served as chair of the Knowlton Preservation Committee.

When the last standing country house designed by Philadelphia’s greatest architect, Frank Furness, went on the market, neighbors and preservationists and Furness devotees were alarmed to learn that the leading proposal for reuse would have taken most of the site for condominiums, utterly depriving that fabulous building of its remaining context.

The mere existence of an engaged organized constituency, coupled with the legal protections that this great city has put in place, headed off development plans until Jack Conroy, the world’s most acute caterer, came along with a plan that made the most of the architectural asset and sacrificed only the orchard (for parking), a single cut in the rear of the building for a door, and part of the view from the rear.

Twenty-five or so people who immersed themselves in that matter bless the name Conroy and the existence of legal strictures on the development of historic properties every time Knowlton is mentioned.

I want to be on the mailing list whenever the independence or budget of The Philadelphia Historical Commission is threatened.

Who speaks for recognized African-American cemeteries? Doug Mooney mostly.

Who speaks for the restless dead who lie in unlisted ground like Byberry African American Cemetery, Hart Cemetery and Wilmot Playground?  Right now that would be Joe Menkevich.

I know several African Americans who know that their families have been in Frankford longer than my family has been in south Alabama.  They are as proud of their heritage as I am of mine.

My fond hope is that Joe is not the only person who cares about orphan cemeteries of many anonymous souls who labored and served in colonial Philadelphia. I hope that this application will be the catalyst for organizing to speak for the dead. I am ready to write another set of organizing documents. I will hope for a call.