August 7, 2015
THE U.S. ATTORNEY'S Office in Philly recently made itself a laughingstock with its relentless pursuit of the utterly irrelevant Joey Merlino for the outrageous criminal outrage of having a scotch and a cigar with a guy he knew 30 years ago. The Chaka Fattah indictment is somewhat less amusing, however. That this is purely a political vendetta cannot be doubted. The velvet glove came off for all to see when Sen. Menendez was indicted - another guy who was "being investigated" for years but then suddenly was indicted when the president's Iran deal was about to be finalized and it became clear Menendez would be the loudest Democratic vote against it. There are Democrats who are concerned about national security, but they now seem rather muted in their criticism over the prospect of a nuclear Iran 10 years from now. I wonder why that happened, don't you?
August 7, 2015 |
TALMADGE BELO remembers when his Sharswood neighborhood was noted for winning Philadelphia More Beautiful awards. "I live on the 2400 block of Sharswood Street and they used to call this the utopia of North Philadelphia," Belo said. "You didn't drop a paper on the sidewalk. People were afraid to walk through our block because they knew they were under scrutiny, " he said. Today, however, the neighborhood is dotted with trash-strewn lots, where "the weeds are taller than I am," he said.
July 13, 2015 |
Americans can expect secretive groups to eagerly donate money to 2016 presidential and congressional campaigns even as candidates try to deny the corrupting nature of cash received from groups trying to influence government contracts, appointments, or laws that benefit certain businesses or ideologies. The unseemly practice would stop if the government agencies given the power to do something about the expected flood of dark money would only act. But don't hold your breath waiting for that.
June 26, 2015 |
WALK DOWN Spring Garden Street near 18th and you can't help but notice that the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98 union hall is basically a giant advertisement for state Supreme Court candidate Kevin Dougherty and Democratic mayoral nominee Jim Kenney . The sign for Dougherty - a Common Pleas judge and brother of electricians union boss Johnny Doc - is gargantuan, spanning most of the building like a highway billboard....
June 24, 2015 |
Comeback man D'Angelo 's in town tonigh t, performing with the Vanguard at Glenside's Keswick Theatre. Expect him to be clear-eyed and on point, experimental yet old-school, high-pitched and funky. Political and, well, more political. The multi-instrumentalist, once notorious as a sex object, later sad as an addict, then mostly gone from the scene, is now, once again, critically revered for his music. But he's also more than critical himself. D'Angelo appeared in Friday's New York Times alongside Black Panther co-founder Bobby Seale , riding around Oakland, Calif., discussing the need for a change of subject matter in popular hip-hop.
June 22, 2015 |
People are suddenly asking Dwight Evans for lottery picks. That happens when you are two-for-two betting long on the most important political offices in Pennsylvania. In back-to-back elections, the Democratic state representative from West Oak Lane has wagered and won big with his support of the relatively unknown Tom Wolf for governor last year and Jim Kenney for the Democratic nomination for mayor of Philadelphia last month. Evans now can boast of having the ear of both men and an inside track on favors and future political appointments.
June 18, 2015
DOES THE NAME Michael Wojcik ring a bell? How about Emil Giordano? Christine Donahue? Anne Covey? They are all nominees to fill vacancies on Pennsylvania's three appellate courts: Supreme, Superior and Commonwealth. The odds are that at least one, and perhaps all of them, will be elected in November and take their seats on the bench, deciding every case appealed from local courts. If you flunked the ID test, you are in good company. Except for a relative handful of activists, judicial candidates are the electoral equivalent of question marks.
June 18, 2015 |
There's little doubt where Risa Vetri Ferman will be in January: The longtime Montgomery County district attorney is a strong candidate to win a seat on the County Court bench. But as the clock ticks down on her career as a local prosecutor, the larger question is if, or when, she will charge the state's top prosecutor with a crime. The same week that Ferman announced her run for the bench, she was handed a grand jury recommendation to charge Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane in the alleged leaking of secret information to a newspaper, then trying to cover it up. Kane, a Democrat, has denied any wrongdoing and called the investigation a partisan attack ordered by a Republican judge.
June 15, 2015 |
With a fourth politician pleading guilty to corruption charges in the infamous sting investigation, it's clear that Philadelphia's dominant political party has let it down. Independent political movements are the most likely remedy. City Democrats have had many chances to clean up their mess since March 2014, when The Inquirer revealed Attorney General Kathleen Kane's mishandling of the sting investigation. Only District Attorney Seth Williams took action by taking on the case. It's dispiriting that most of the defendants - all Philadelphia Democrats - are getting off lightly, serving no time and probably keeping their pensions.
May 29, 2015
YOU PROBABLY missed it. The TV news gave little if any news coverage to the presidential campaign announcement of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders ("Hey, we have 'serious' candidates like Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson and Ted Cruz to deal with," I'm guessing they'd say) but the speech was definitely an organic barnburner live from Ben-and-Jerry-land. Sanders wasn't more than a minute or two into it when he belted out what should become his campaign motto: "Today, we stand here and say loudly and clearly that: Enough is enough.