Was City Controller Alan Butkovitz menaced or just unhappy with reporter?

FILE PHOTO City Controller Alan Butkovitz sought an endorsement at a political event Wednesday, but much more occurred.
FILE PHOTO City Controller Alan Butkovitz sought an endorsement at a political event Wednesday, but much more occurred.
Posted: April 12, 2013

WAS CITY Controller Alan Butkovitz harassed as he left a political event Wednesday evening, or did he and his entourage overreact to a reporter trailing him to ask questions?

Clout will give you both sides of the story and let you decide.

Butkovitz was at the William Way Community Center to ask the Liberty City Democratic Club, an LGBT group, to endorse his bid for a third four-year term.

Also present was Josh Kruger, who blogs on LGBT issues and has been posting since February about the Philadelphia sheriff's deal to publish sheriff's sale ads in the Philadelphia Gay News. Kruger, no fan of that newspaper, has suggested the ads conflict with city and state publication requirements.

He wants Butkovitz, who conducted a critical audit of how the last Sheriff's Office administration ran sheriff's sales, to take action on the advertising issue.

Kruger raised the issue at the event, calling Butkovitz a "so-called watchdog" who has been twice endorsed for office by the Philadelphia Gay News.

The two men spent some time interrupting one another. Then Butkovitz said he would sit and let Kruger do all the talking.

That drew a round of applause from the small crowd.

Sitting next to Kruger was James Duggan, a writer for QueerTimes.net. Duggan followed Butkovitz as he left, walking more than a block with him.

"He was screaming at me," Butkovitz said. "He was menacing us. He was crowding us. He kept saying he wanted answers."

District Attorney Seth Williams was still inside, seeking an endorsement. A member of his security team was outside, saw the fracas and intervened.

"My guy was waiting out front, tried to calm [Duggan] down and then walked Alan to Broad Street," Williams explained.

Duggan said it was Butkovitz and his campaign team that caused the problem by jostling him as he asked questions.

"He didn't even respond to me," Duggan said. "His handlers just kept pushing me out of the way."

Duggan said Butkovitz and his team claimed they were being harassed and suggested that he should be arrested.

That didn't happen.

"He did his job right," Duggan said of the security team member. "He was excellent."

The threat of Bill Green

We don't know if City Councilman Bill Green will be the city's next mayor, or even if he will run for that office in 2015. But the guy has a way of making his recent absences at city budget hearings sound like a strength.

"After five years of going to every budget hearing, I've learned the threat of my presence is much more impactful than my actual presence," Green said Thursday.

Green noted that he has held two fundraisers - one hosted by Tom Knox - this year and is planning on holding two more.

"For someone considering a run for office in a few years at a different level, it starts to become a significant job," Green said.

Knox, a wealthy businessman who finished second in the 2007 Democratic primary election for mayor, last week declared that he is "seriously considering" another run for mayor in 2015.

Green seems unconcerned about Knox's sudden interest.

"Two years is a long time for everybody," he said. "I don't think we know what the field will look like just yet."

Schwartz stays neutral

Former City Controller Jonathan Saidel had a very restrained reaction this week when a fellow candidate for the 13th Congressional District, Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, announced that her campaign had raised $218,000 in four weeks.

"Oh, good for her," he said.

Saidel and Arkoosh have strong political ties to U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, who is not seeking another term in the district, which includes part of Philadelphia and Montgomery County, because she is running in the 2014 Democratic primary election for governor.

Arkoosh's husband was treasurer for a political-action committee founded by Schwartz and has in the last year been the treasurer for her congressional campaign committee. Saidel is chairman of Schwartz's political-action committee for governor.

"The congresswoman has been clear to me that she is going to stay neutral in this primary," Arkoosh told us this week when we wondered which way she might lean in the matchup.

Saidel is not so sure, noting that the congressional election is more than a year away.

"A lot can change between today and tomorrow," he joked.

Email: brennac@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-5973

On Twitter: @ChrisBrennanDN

Blog: philly.com/phillyclout

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