Yes, in the last year in particular there has been some excellent effort of maintaining the issue tracker content. But the question still remains
- who are we worried about offending?
The people who are potential new contributors but don't currently know anyone in the Python community.
By definition these 'potential new and unknown contributors' are discrete and probably can't be characterized as a whole. However, seeing myself as one of the discrete elements in that group, I think it's worthwhile for me to pipe in here and say that I won't be 'offended' or think of it as nepotism if someone gets foo-privilege before I do because he happens to know core developer (some other 'potential new contributer' lurking here feels otherwise? - speak up!).
I don't know the community (yet) and I can't say this for sure, but my current gut feeling about the Python community (and pretty much any OSS I can think of) is that in the long run, I'll be judged on merit just like any other guy, no matter who they know.