GOP candidate for district attorney: I got union-busted

ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER District Attorney Seth Williams (second from left) shakes hand with Danny Alvarez, his challenger in the Nov. 5 general election, yesterday after their debate.
ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER District Attorney Seth Williams (second from left) shakes hand with Danny Alvarez, his challenger in the Nov. 5 general election, yesterday after their debate.
Posted: October 18, 2013

WAS DANNY Alvarez a nice guy who couldn't cut it in the courtroom in his eight years as an assistant district attorney? Or was he the victim of a demotion for trying to unionize his co-workers?

That was the unexpected question posed yesterday as Alvarez, a Republican running for district attorney, debated incumbent Seth Williams, a Democrat seeking a second term in the Nov. 5 general election.

Williams described Alvarez as a "subpar" attorney held back in lower-level jobs in the D.A.'s Office while others advanced. Still, he said, Alvarez was likable enough to avoid being fired and was given a chance to "resuscitate his career."

Alvarez, bristling at that, claimed his efforts to unionize assistant district attorneys in 2010 prompted his office troubles.

"That is union-busting in my book," said Alvarez, who used that term six times during the debate. "And frankly, that was made clear to many other [assistant district attorneys] who were interested in organizing a union. They got cold feet."

Williams repeatedly said he never heard about any union activity from Alvarez and that it played no role in his demotion.

Alvarez, speaking after the debate, said three other assistant district attorneys worked on the union idea. He declined to identify them, saying they still work at the D.A.'s Office.

His campaign later said Alvarez met with labor attorney Lance Geren in 2010.

Geren confirmed that, saying the effort did not get very far once Alvarez started asking his co-workers to unionize. Geren said lack of interest was the cause.

"I think it just sort of fizzled out," he said.

Alvarez declined to say how many people joined his effort.

Williams, after the debate, said he brought up Alvarez's work record because he thinks it is relevant now that his former underling wants to run the office.

"He was a nice guy, but he was not a hard worker," Williams said.

The hourlong debate will be broadcast on the Comcast Network's "Larry Kane: Voices of Reason" on Sunday at 9:30 p.m., and rebroadcast Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.

Another debate

City Controller Alan Butkovitz will debate his Republican challenger, Terry Tracey, at WHYY's studios near Independence Mall from 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday.

That debate is open to the public. For ticket information, visit bit.ly/H4qLNW.

Hey, big spender

The good news for former U.S. Rep. Marjorie Margolies is that she beat three opponents this week in the third-quarter fundraising cycle for the Democratic primary election next May for the 13th District congressional seat she held for one term in the 1990s.

The bad news for Margolies is she has less money in the bank going forward than her opponents.

The reason: Political consultants can be pretty expensive.

Margolies spent $158,354 on eight consultants in the quarter, about $2 out of every $3 she raised in that time.

Dr. Val Arkoosh, who leads the pack in cash on hand, spent just 7.3 percent of her money raised in the third quarter on the services of three consultants.

State Sen. Daylin Leach spent 13.4 percent of the money he raised on three consultants.

State Rep. Brendan Boyle spent 13 percent of the money he raised on three consultants.

Burrell's Inside Story

George Burrell, a former Councilman and top aide to two mayors, used his perch on 6ABC's "Inside Story" on Sunday to stand up for his friend, U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah.

Fattah's attorney last week confirmed that federal investigators have been probing the politician's finances for seven years.

Burrell, who serves as trustee for a legal fund set up for Fattah's son - who is also being investigated - said he has no inside information about the probe.

"But I do know, having been in this political process for a long time and having been very close friends with Congressman Bill Gray and a chairman and trustee of Bright Hope Baptist Church, they looked at Congressman Gray for five or six or seven years," Burrell said. "Nothing came of it. This happens a lot in the federal process, because people are always casting aspersions on people."

We wondered about that "nothing came of it" line, since Gray, who died in June, abruptly resigned from Congress in 1991 after being considered by many in national politics to be on track to become speaker of the House.

Burrell told us he rejects to this day speculation that Gray, who went on to head the United Negro College Fund and Bright Hope Baptist Church, left Congress due to the investigation.

"Nothing could be further from the truth," Burrell said. "There was no foundation for that speculation 22 years ago, and nothing has changed."


Email: brennac@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-5973

On Twitter: @ChrisBrennanDN

Blog: ph.ly/phillyclout

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