Recent News About Brett Mandel

PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER - Butkovitz wins Phila. Democrats' controller race (May 22, 2013)

With voter turnout reported light citywide and more than nine-tenths of the city's voting divisions reporting, Butkovitz had a lead of nearly 2-1 over Brett Mandel, a civic activist who worked under former Controller Jonathan Saidel.

PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER - Phila.voters yawn at primary election (May 22, 2013)

The battle for city controller, between incumbent Alan Butkovitz and opponents Brett Mandel and Mark Zecca, failed to inspire the same civic buzz that Barack Obama did then in his joust with John McCain. Throughout the city, the biggest excitement at most polling places Tuesday was watching the pepperoni shrivel on pizza. "The election is terrible," said Marlene Bloom, 78, who has worked the polls at Trinity Memorial Church at 22d and Spruce Streets since the 1970s. Sitting behind the table where she had spent the long, uneventful day in appropriately pallid light filtering through stained-glass windows, Bloom called this election the worst she had seen.

PHILADELPHIA WEEKLY - None of you voted yesterday, but here’s what happened (May 22, 2013)

Among the races, there was little excitement. The most written-about bout in the city, the City Controller’s race, was a complete blowout. Controller Alan Butkovitz destroyed his primary challengers Brett Mandel and Mark Zecca, taking in more than 60 percent of the vote. While less of us came out this year than in 2009, Butkovitz’s vote total increased, as did his margin over Mandel (who challenged him then, too). The “budget bulldog’s” (Mandel) vote total went down by more than 5,000 total votes (24,329 in 2009; 19,051 in 2013).

PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS - A slap-fest: The Democratic primary for City Controller gets personal (May 21, 2013)

Mandel, 44, a self-described "budget bulldog," says Butkovitz has not done the work required of a City Controller, including regular audits of city agencies.  He also accuses Butkovitz of seeking re-election while planning a run for mayor in 2015.  Butkovitz has said he is still considering the race for mayor.

KEYSTONE POLITICS - Why Brett Mandel Will Be an Effective Controller (May 20, 2013)

The key to electing an effective Controller – defined as someone who will root out overpayments to service providers and ensure the best possible return on public spending - is to pick the person the city’s power structure doesn’t like. That’s Brett Mandel. The people who are trying to bring down the cost of living in Philadelphia through more housing construction are backing Mandel. The people who want to keep the cost of living too high are backing Alan Butkovitz.

PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER - Phila. controller's race enlivens a sleepy ballot season (May 19, 2013)

"We have a watchdog who might be good at fetching balls and might be good at rolling over, but has not been good at being a watchdog," said Mandel.

PHILADELPHIA GAY NEWS - Race for Controller: Brett Mandel (May 18, 2013)

Mandel, who was endorsed by the Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club, has LGBT-identified staff in his campaign office and said he would work to promote the importance of diversity and nondiscrimination both in the controller’s office and throughout city contracts.

PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER - Inquirer Editorial: The watchdog in this fight (May 12, 2013)

Mandel's zealous independence makes him the clear choice for voters who want to challenge the powers that be in Philadelphia.

POLITICS PA - In Philly Controller Race, Mandel is First on TV (With Video) (May 8, 2013)

Challenger Brett Mandel is the first candidate on the air in Philadelphia. His campaign is on television with a split positive/negative spot in the Democratic primary for City Controller.  The 30-second commercial, which is airing on cable TV throughout Philadelphia, begins by attacking incumbent Alan Butkovitz for Philadelphia’s “school funding mess,” pinning the school district’s $300 million deficit on his opponent.

ROXBOROUGH-MANAYUNK PATCH - City Controller Candidate Visits Civic (May 7, 2013)

City Controller candidate Brett Mandel stopped by the Wissahickon Neighbors Civic Association on Monday night to give his stump speech.  Mandel promised to be a "budget bulldog," and that he would make sure that his office audited every city agency every year.

TECHNICALLY PHILLY - The 10 city agencies that spent the most on employee salaries in 2012 (May 7, 2013)

The Bulldog Budget, City Controller candidate Brett Mandel‘s city budget visualization, has a new feature for you to play with: visualize city spending by category.

POLITICS PA - Mandel Poll: Mandel 27, Butkovitz 23 in Philly Controller Race (May 2, 2013)

Challenger Brett Mandel leads incumbent Philadelphia Controller Alan Butkovitz 27% to 23% according to a poll commissioned by Mandel’s campaign. 46% of likely Democratic primary voters are undecided.

NORTHEAST TIMES - Mandel is back on the campaign trail (April 27, 2013)

“That’s the biggest difference,” he said during a recent interview at Tiffany Diner. “The campaign is professional in every way. We have a terrific plan in place.”  Mandel, 43, grew up on the 1600 block of Napfle St. in Rhawnhurst. He attended Rhawnhurst Elementary School, Wilson Middle School and Northeast High School (class of 1987). Mandel graduated with a public policy degree from Hamilton College (N.Y.) and earned a master’s in governmental administration from Penn’s Fels School of Government.


An internal poll conducted by the Brett Mandel campaign gives this challenger an advantage over incumbent City Controller Alan Butkovitz – and one that grows with voters’ information on the race.

Philadelphia Gay News - Liberty City makes endorsements for upcoming primary (April 25, 2013)

There was a passionate discussion on Mandel and Butkovitz. Both state Sen. Larry Farnese (D-1st Dist.) and state Rep. Brian Sims (D-182nd Dist.) spoke on Mandel’s behalf.

AXIS PHILLY - Candidates for City Controller Talked About AVI (April 22, 2013)

“One thing I like about him is the fact that he’s trying to create more transparency,” said Icy Jones, a resident of Graduate Hospital. “That’s my biggest complaint about what’s going on right now.”

PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER - Controller hopefuls pile on Butkovitz (April 11, 2013)

Mandel pummeled Butkovitz for not blowing the whistle on Carl Greene, former executive director of the Philadelphia Housing Authority, who managed to settle sexual-harassment claims against himself without the knowledge of PHA board members, two of them appointed by Butkovitz himself. The controller offered no real defense to charges that he and his appointed board members had been “asleep at the switch.”

WHYY NEWSWORKS - Philadelphia City Controller debate is substantive smackdown (April 11, 2013)

Challenger Brett Mandel took that line of attack even further.  "He saw no evil at PHA. You heard no evil at the traffic court," Mandel said, addressing Butkovitz directly. "You spoke no evil when associate and supporter after supporter had been investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. They should rename the FBI 'Friends of Butkovitz Interrogated.'"

WHYY NEWSWORKS - A primer for WHYY's city controller debate (April 10, 2013)

Mandel said Butkovitz, who is expected to potentially run for mayor in 2015, is demagoguing about the new property assessments. His complaints don't end there.  "He's not auditing every place he should every single year," he said. "Where we should be saving money, we're not saving money. Where we should be efficient, we're not efficient. And that's because our elected financial watchdog is a lazy political lapdog."

WEEKLY PRESS - The Bull Dog defends AVI, calls for a yearly audit of every city department and a transparent budget in his race for City Controller (April 10, 2013)

"Taxes keep going up while people keep losing services." Mandel cited brownouts, shortened library hours and schools closures as examples in lost city services. "People want to know that the budget is being spent on."  If elected, Mandel plans to put an accessible version of the city’s budget online. When Mandel says accessible, he’s referring to a version of the budget people can understand. "It’s either too broad or so detailed that people don’t know what they’re looking at."

WHYY NEWSWORKS - City Controller candidate Brett Mandel opens Mt. Airy campaign office (April 10, 2013)

"Anytime you're going against an incumbent you're an underdog, but when I walk the streets, see the kind of turnout we have today, I see the enthusiasm people are bringing to this effort, I know there is no question that our energy and collective passion far outweighs the competition," said Mandel

KEYSTONE POLITICS - Endorsement: Brett Mandel for Philly Controller (March 27, 2013)

Now that spoiler candidate Michael Williams is out of the Philly Controller race, it’s more important than ever for Philly progressives to plug in to Brett Mandel’s campaign.  The choice in this race couldn’t be more obvious. On one side, you’ve got Brett Mandel, an advocate with sterling good government credentials. On the other side you’ve got Alan Butkovitz, an old school machine hack who’s admitted publicly he’s only using the Controller’s office as a launching pad for a doomed Mayor run in 2015.

FLYING KITE - Welcome to Philadelphia's open data revolution (February 25, 2013)
Just recently, developer Ben Garvey responded to an inquiry sent to Indy Hall members by City Controller Candidate Bret Mandel. He built a treemap-style chart that allowed the public to view complex budget data in simple way, and released it to the public 10 weeks later. He made the code available on GitHub, a popular site for sharing projects. An Italian software development firm eventually repurposed it to visualize their country's national budget.
CBS PHILLY - Campaign 2013 Starting To Shape Up (February 22, 2013)
Mandel has run before and should be viewed as a shoe-in for the Democratic primary, but with the usual low voter turnout, anything can happen between now and the May primary. This election may very well provide some suspense in this so-called "off-year."
Standing on the steps of Germantown HS, which his mother attended, fiscal activist Brett Mandel made his campaign for City Controller official. A former employee of the Controller's Office under Jonathan Saidel, Mandel vowed to "create unprecedented budgetary openness and governmental accountability" in the City's independent auditing agency.
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER - New tax assessments are an issue in Philadelphia controller's race (February 18, 2013)
Mandel suggested a system of tax deferrals that would not have to be paid off until people sell their homes. "Then nobody would be forced to do anything they don't want to do," he said. Mandel, 44, a former aide to Jonathan Saidel, Butkovitz's predecessor, spoke after announcing his candidacy in front of Germantown High School, one of three dozen city schools targeted for closure because of the School District's budget crisis.
DAILY PENNSYLVANIAN - Voter ID law not in effect for Pa. primaries (February 18, 2013)
Despite the minor effect expected by the announcement, Fels Institute of Government graduate Brett Mandel, who is running for City Controller in Philadelphia, was encouraged by the decision. "I think it's good for me to have more and more people come out," he said. He was encouraged by the possibility that more students may now be able to vote because he felt they are likely to share his views. "We should be doing everything we can to encourage people [to vote]," he added. "It's scandalous how few people participate in most of our elections."
POLITICS PA - Philly Controller $$ Reports (February 7, 2013)
The candidates for Philadelphia City Controller have filed their campaign finance reports. Here are the numbers. The race is the only game in town for 2013 campaigns in Philly.
PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS (CLOUT) - Mandel led $ race (February 7, 2013)
Brett Mandel, running in the Democratic primary for City Controller, spiked the football this week with a news release noting that he led the field in fundraising, as reported in 2012 annual campaign-finance reports submitted by candidates last week. Mandel said that his cash balance as of Dec. 31, $206,084, was more than the three other candidates in the race had raised in 2012 combined.
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER EDITORIAL: Showing the city how to show us the money (February 6, 2013)
Brett Mandel's second run for city controller has already produced something far more useful than the lawn signs and bumper stickers that are the chief legacy of most campaigns. Mandel recently unveiled his "Bulldog Budget," a spiffy online tool that presents detailed information about the $3.5 billion the city spent during the last fiscal year. Developed by Mandel and his friend Ben Garvey using city data acquired under the Right-to-Know Law, the application ( represents the budget in nested, color-coded rectangles sized according to their share of spending. Users can click on successive classes of expenditures to drill all the way down to the individual line items.
14TH STREET OATS - Brett Mandel, Candidate for City Controller (February 5, 2013)
Central to Mandel's world view is the notion that there exists some distinctly Philadelphian way of being, and that he has been irrevocably shaped by it. Therein lies the genesis of his political persona: an outspoken and independent voice sculpted from the granite bedrock of an endearingly stubborn hometown.
WHYY NEWSWORKS - Challenger in controller's race leads in fundraising (February 3, 2013)
Challenger Brett Mandel leads incumbent City Controller Alan Butkovitz in fundraising for the Democratic primary so far, according to campaign finance reports filed last week. Mandel shows $206,084 on hand as of the end of December, though $50,000 of that is a loan from Mandel to his campaign committee. Butkovitz's report shows $146,681.
THE ECHO GROUP - How much cash do Philly's 2013 candidates have? (February 3, 2013)
For the Controller, it was a bit of a surprise: Brett Mandel significantly outraised the incumbent Alan Butkovitz blew him out of the water, actually EVEN if you take out the $50,000 loan to his campaign. Mandel also has more cash-on-hand (even if the loan is backed out). With the loan, it's an almost $60,000 advantage for Mandel.
THE DAILY PENNSYLVANIAN - Fels graduate vying for City Controller (January 30, 2013)
"I certainly gained experience as a candidate," Mandel said in regards to the 2009 race. "I have been working to raise more money to build more and deeper political connections and to communicate my vision to groups and residents across the city."
THE PHILADELPHIA TRIBUNE - Controller campaign reveals budget tool (January 25, 2013)
Just in time for budget season, it's possible to track city spending down to the penny, through a new Web tool launched this week by Brett Mandel, as part of his campaign for city controller. "Unless we have the ability to see where every single dollar is spent, we end up having the kind of ridiculous debates we've had in recent years, where we take what we spent last year and we only tweak it at the margins," he said.
PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS - Mandel bulldogs himself (January 24, 2013)
Many political figures Google themselves to keep current on the electronic chatter about them. Now local politicians must "bulldog" themselves as well. They can thank Brett Mandel, a candidate in the May 21 Democratic primary election for city controller. Mandel this week unveiled his "Bulldog Budget" website, which allows users to scroll through the fine detail of the city's fiscal year 2012 spending.
THE PHILLY POST - 11 Weird Things the City Is Spending Its Money On (January 24, 2013)
A few days ago, City Controller candidate Brett Mandel released a very cool infographic/database documenting where every penny of city money was spent in Fiscal Year 2012. So I combed through and found some of the weirdest stuff your taxpayer dollars are funding.
PHILADELPHIA CITYPAPER - Pet therapy, plasma TVs and more finds from new budget database (January 23, 2013)
Brett Mandel, who's planning another run for City Controller, has been advocating for the office to be more active and transparent for years. Well, he deserves some credit for taking matters into his own hands, by putting online a database of city expenditures that he says accounts for the entirety of the budget from 2012. In addition to viewing individuals' salaries, you can also look at an accounting of expenses. Which tends to reveal fun facts, like that someone in the Public Health Department got an $800 office chair, or that the Prisons System bought a number of comfy-sounding seating options in the $560 range.
WHYY NEWSWORKS - Candidate publishes detailed data on Philadelphia government salaries, contracts (January 23, 2013)

Want to know how much taxpayers paid for Mayor Nutter's salary, the Welcome America Festival or City Council's furniture?  There's a website for that.  On Tuesday, City Controller candidate Brett Mandel launched, a site where Philadelphians can see how their tax dollars were spent last fiscal year.

PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER - New website details city spending to the cent (January 22, 2013)
Brett Mandel, one of the candidates trying to unseat city controller Alan Butkovitz, is providing voters with their own opportunity to become city fiscal watchdogs. With help from a technically-savvy friend, Ben Garvey, Mandel has created a website where Philadelphia citizens, and anyone else who cares, can look up the city's expenditures in the fiscal year ended last June. The site is It features blocks for each department in city government, sized according to how much of the $3.5 billion budget they control. By clicking on each block, users can drill down into different categories of spending, including outside contracts, equipment and supplies, and government salaries literally every expenditure by the city from July 2011 through June 2012, Mandel said, though the salaries appear as lump sums, not the biweekly checks issued by the city.
TECHNICALLY PHILLY - Use the coolest, most comprehensive City of Philadelphia budget visualization you've ever seen (January 22, 2013)
A new tool from City Controller candidate Brett Mandel lets Philadelphians see inside the 2012 city fiscal year budget. It's being unveiled this morning at coworking joint Independents Hall. Built by freelance data visualization hacker Ben Garvey, the "Bulldog Budget" visualization shows you exactly how the city spends its $3.5 billion budget, down to the last dollar (in spring 2011, Councilman Bill Green introduced legislation calling for a more available online budget tool). Click through each city department to find the breakdown of its own budget, as well as specific budget line items. Find the salary of every single city government worker (remember for salaries that they are for FY 2012 only, so new employees will be incomplete). See the impact of crime on the city budget.
PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS - Philly-controller candidate's site reveals in-depth info on city's budget (January 22, 2013)
City Controller candidate Brett Mandel on Tuesday launched, a site where users can see the nitty-gritty of taxpayer expenditures in 2012. It shows city employee salaries, elected officials' travel reimbursements, individual contract costs and other parts of the operating budget. The city regularly releases budget data on how much each department spends on general items, but it doesn't provide the type of detail found on Mandel's site. "Seeing where every single penny goes is really the Holy Grail of public information," said Mandel.
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER - Race for Philadelphia controller heats up (January 13, 2013)
"Our taxes are too high, our job rates are too low, the crime rates are too high," said Mandel, 43, who worked eight years for Butkovitz's predecessor, Jonathan Saidel, cowriting a book on how to improve city government. "If we're ever going to get back to making our tax structure more competitive and improving the quality of life in Philadelphia, the controller is the person who can get us there by making sure we're spending our money effectively and efficiently."
WHYY NEWSWORKS - Philly controller's race -- start your engines (December 31, 2012)
Mandel plans to attack Butkovitz as he did four years ago. "We don't have a controller who is actively using that position to make sure that we are spending our money wisely," Mandel said in an interview last week. "Instead, our controller is protecting his friends, pulling his punches, running for mayor from his office as controller. That's not helping us."
PHILADELPHIA PUBLIC RECORD - Controller Candidates Bloom... (November 28, 2012)
At the head of the Democrat line is Brett Mandel, who challenged Butkovitz in 2009. An employee of the Controller's Office under Butkovitz's popular predecessor Jonathan Saidel, Mandel has solid credentials in public financial management. Like the incumbent a native of Northeast Philadelphia, Mandel earned a Master's at Penn and now lives in Center City. He has gained a reputation as an articulate, detail-oriented critic of Philadelphia fiscal policies.
CHESTNUT HILL LOCAL - Residents, city officials debate property tax reform at community forum (November 14, 2012)
Mandel said most people would agree that the current system is broken. "If everybody in this room went out and bought a house in Philadelphia for a $100,000, everybody would pay a dramatically different amount in taxes because we don't value properly, and we don't value consistently," Mandel said. Mandel said in some cases, residents with very modest properties are paying more than residents with extravagant homes. "That's not good," he said. "That's not right. That's not legal. We have to fix the system. The question is how are we going to make a transition from a system that is woefully screwed up and horribly unfair to a system that is fair and accurate."
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER - More badly needed agents of change in Philadelphia (October 13, 2012)
Two weeks ago, I introduced you to some Philadelphians I consider to be disruptive - innovative change agents who challenge the status quo in their respective fields. Since then, you've e-mailed me a lot of other names. Some - such as fiscal watchdog Brett Mandel and mural maven Jane Golden - are no-brainers. In a town long characterized by a go-along-to-get-along culture, they have the guts to stand up and stand out.
NORTHEAST TIMES - Tax talk (July 24, 2012)