September 2, 2016
WHAT COULD you have been thinking? There isn't a parent out there who hasn't used that phrase at least once with one of their children - usually a teenager - who committed an act that was just plain stupid. At least teenagers have an excuse, which has to do with their developing brains. Experts say their brains aren't mature enough to weigh the rightness of their actions or the consequences. That comes later in life. But, apparently not always. Take District Attorney Seth Williams, who recently disclosed he had accepted $160,500 in gifts over the last five years, ranging from a $45,000 roof job to airfare and lodging for vacations, Visa gift cards worth $1,500, and premium sports tickets - including a sideline pass to Eagles games.
August 26, 2016
THERE IS NO good reason for an elected official to create a nonprofit organization. We have said this before - and this week's Inquirer report that a federal probe into District Attorney Seth Williams' finances have extended to a nonprofit he created, prompts us to say it again: The practice of politicians starting nonprofits must stop. We don't know what the probe of Williams' Second Chance Foundation entails - or whether it is related to his admission this month that he failed to report $160,000 in gifts - but we do know that the minute the words "Williams" and "nonprofit" appeared in the same sentence, we had four immediate thoughts: 1. Chaka Fattah 2. Vince Fumo 3. Mike Veon 4. Kenyatta Johnson We also thought about Tom DeLay, Rick Santorum, and, yes, Hillary Clinton.
August 3, 2016 |
A flame that was lit last week in Philadelphia continued to scorch Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Monday, over his criticism of a bereaved Muslim family whose son, an Army captain, was killed in Iraq. Members of nearly two dozen Gold Star families - those who have had a loved one die in military service to the United States - signed a letter demanding an apology and calling Trump's remarks "repugnant and personally offensive to us. " The new president of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the nation's oldest and largest veterans group, called Trump's attack "out of bounds," and said it "will not tolerate anyone berating a Gold Star family member for exercising his or her right of speech or expression.
June 29, 2016
New Jersey's leaders have been sticking their heads in the sand for decades to avoid dealing with competing waterfront uses. That has created disorder along the shores of rivers, lakes, bays, and the ocean, where dumps, refineries, and fuel storage compete with sensitive ecosystems, anglers, and people just trying to grasp a moment of peace. Fortunately, skittish politicians have to follow a recent appeals court ruling and subsequent legislation requiring the state to set standards for beach access.
June 27, 2016
David Thornburgh is president and CEO of the Committee of Seventy Patricia Dowden is president and CEO of the Center for Business Ethics and Corporate Governance The conviction last week of longtime Congressman Chaka Fattah on 22 charges of racketeering, money laundering, and fraud has sent shock waves through the Philadelphia community. "[He] betrayed the public trust and undermined our faith in government," said U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger. And he is only one of an embarrassing list of state and local officials who have recently pleaded guilty or been convicted of public corruption.
May 20, 2016 |
HARRISBURG - State lawmakers took a major step Wednesday to prevent corrupt public employees from hanging on to their pensions after being convicted. The House approved a bill to expand the list of crimes for which public employees who have committed wrongdoing on the job would have to forfeit their pensions - a step that gained momentum after some Philadelphia legislators caught in a corruption sting cut plea deals to save their retirement benefits. The bill that the House sent to the Senate would expand the list to include a conviction, guilty plea, or plea of no contest to any felony related to public employment, in addition to the crimes that already trigger forfeiture.
March 15, 2016 |
What does District Attorney Seth Williams have in common with: a Harrisburg bartender who is a whiz at making Prohibition-era cocktails, a crackerjack team of GOP politicos from the state capital, and a longtime loyalist to former Republican Gov. Tom Corbett? The question is not a political joke, but a scenario that includes the key components to the embattled Democrat's new-and-improved campaign operation as he gears up to seek a third term next year. On the last day of 2015, Williams shut down "Friends of Seth Williams," his long-established, Philadelphia-based political action committee, moving $8,272.91 to a new "Seth Williams Victory Committee," campaign finance records show.
January 29, 2016
TOUGH WEEK for City Councilman Mark Squilla , who managed to piss off every musician and live-music lover in the city - and a good chunk of America - with one little piece of proposed legislation. On Wednesday, Billy Penn staff writer Dustin Slaughter wrote that Squilla's bill would require "owners of nightclubs, cabarets, bars and restaurants in the city to collect the names, addresses, and phone numbers of entertainers - bands, rappers and DJs - in a registry, and to share that personal information with police upon request.
January 29, 2016 |
It might sound like a cushy gig: former Mayor Michael Nutter, out of office just three weeks, signed on Wednesday as a professor at Columbia University. But David Thornburgh, the leader of the good-government group Committee of 70 and former head of the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania, invoked the famous words of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger when offering Nutter advice about his new job: "University politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small.
January 21, 2016
THINGS HAVE gotten so bad in the state Legislature in Harrisburg that a number of inmates are fleeing the asylum. So far, 16 incumbents - 11 Republicans and five Democrats - have announced they will not seek re-election. Some are doing it for career reasons. State Rep. Dwight Evans, for instance, is quitting to run against U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah. But a number said they are departing the scene because they essentially have lost faith in the chambers where they have served. As state Rep. Peter Daley put it: "I'm benching myself for a while.