RUMORS: Second round of DA firings coming

Rumors are circulating within the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office that more employee exits are on the way.

A source within the DA’s office has confirmed that since the firings a number of additional employees have decided to bail and have left with more remaining with their resumes out.

At the start of this month District Attorney Larry Krasner announced the firing of 31 prosecutors including culling much of the Homicide Unit.  The resulting rapid exit of employees left loads of criminal cases and trials in limbo and threw the Common Pleas court system in chaos.

I Pity the People who Believe This

So this is swirling around..

Urban vs Rural

Mmmm.   No.

You see, quoting some extrapolated Census projection to whine about the lack of political dominance isn’t a sustainable thing.   Neither are calls leaping from ordinary whimsical disdain of country people to outright calls for pre-disenfranchisement and oppression of America’s rural population.

Pennsylvania is a case study in the rural/urban split.   We have had a long history–now gone–of political cooperation between rural Pennsylvania and urban Pennsylvania.   Today nearly all of Pennsylvania’s urban population is represented by a political minority figure and in Philly nearly every citizen is.   Urban municipalities are now left to spending money to hire lobbying groups trying to get influence that it no longer has in the state capitol.   City Hall pays for two lobbying groups alone.

If you look at the statewide contests in Pennsylvania that’s a no-brainer.   A weaker urban vote upstate combined with rural turnout turned Pennsylvania into a red state from a purple one.

At this same exact time last year Philly journalists were meandering the wilderness upstate and trying to understand why the rural vote became so energized:  rural stagnation, the sort of issue that critters in the city don’t really care about–until suddenly there’s an urgent need to win a statewide race.

What’s driving the rural vote to go vehemently against the urban one?   Every social wedge issue imaginable that’s used to drive the two groups apart is one simple answer.   Also: with no shared interest or perspective of rural dwellers with urban ones, plus the sheer disdain city residents have for “Pennsyltucky”.

Rural people are absolutely convinced that urban residents hate them.   It probably was better before the Internet when neither group could easily interact with each other, but now that they can–neither likes what they they see.

The political gap will always stay as wide as the social one between rural and urban people.  It won’t get better until either group shows more empathy for the other.

Or, the easier option: deny suffrage to rural people.

The Murder That Larry Krasner Won’t Talk About – Tavonia Love

Philly journos have stayed as quiet as possible about this

Less than two days after defense attorney Larry Krasner accepted the nomination of his party to run for District Attorney of Philadelphia this coming Tuesday, he made a trip to Delaware County court.

At court, Krasner had asked for a continuance for his client, Anthony M. Eubanks.  Within a week, Anthony Eubanks would be dead.

Continue reading “The Murder That Larry Krasner Won’t Talk About – Tavonia Love”

Beth Grossman Should Be The Next DA

There’s really only one option

A couple of days ago both candidates for district attorney; Beth Grossman and Larry Krasner, got up on a dais at LaSalle University and debated each other and took debate questions from the audience. About 30 minutes in, it struck me how weak of a candidate Krasner really is. Responses to over half the questions thrown at both candidates had Krasner trying to evoke Donald Trump. Towards the end of the debate, every Krasner answer had Trump thrown in somewhere.

This opens a window into Larry Krasner’s thinking. The President of the United States has very little interest and not much to with a DA of a medium-sized city. But apparently Philadelphians are emphatically childish and stupid–because evoking Trump’s name in response to questions where it’s not relevant to the district attorney means Krasner has given up trying to be logical about his answers.

Apparently there must be someone out in that audience who thinks the Philadelphia District Attorney has the power to unilaterally impeach and remove Trump from office. No doubt that same person was taught by members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.

Your heroin dealer would like to start a “community watch”

Some of Krasner’s pushers are intellectually dishonest

Just minutes after Krasner learned that he had won the Democratic nomination for DA, supporters at Krasner’s primary party started chanting “fuck the police”. Seeing the obvious optical blunder, campaign spox Ben Waxman rushed to shut the chanters up, but the damage was already done.

I’ve sparred with some Krasner supporters over what they want out of policing. The best are the people who argue for no police in Philadelphia whatsoever. A few of them were wringing their hands over the murderers of Gerard Grandzol even being arrested.

In their worldview, when a crime happens you’re supposed to vent about it on social media, not call the police, and then get over it. Apparently if you are a victim of rape I guess you’re supposed to just learn from your mistakes and move on.

Obviously these are the views of the most ridiculous Krasner people out there and they’re not representative of the whole. But they do represent why Krasner supporters would be bundling their faith to someone who has no experience prosecuting crime.

Or to use Krasner’s debating crutch: it shows how people decided to elect someone with no political experience as President of the United States.

Being the Occupy Lawyer doesn’t cut it

Another thing that bothers me is this ad which used to be on the website of Krasner and Long, Larry Krasner’s law practice:

This is a pretty creepy ad
This is a pretty creepy ad

Krasner’s law practice put out ads touting their experience representing those accused of child molestation and rape. You can believe that all of Krasner’s clients were completely innocent if you want.

In a normal world, someone who has a huge amount of experience in criminal defense that gets tired of working in that field but wants to continue to have an impact in the justice system will instead run to be a judge, a job where you have far more control over the dispensation of justice and the power to weigh all the facts.

This would be a different race if Krasner had a background on both sides of the bar. But he doesn’t.

To be a prosecutor means you are taking a particular side in the justice system: the side of crime victims. This is a role that Krasner has never once tried to fill. Not even in a small capacity to just get experience at it. Being an ADA is not exactly a glamour job.

Beth Grossman has a mass of experience that is the polar opposite of Larry Krasner. She has worked in every unit of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. She’s represented crime victims from all walks of life across the city. She’s put in the hard hours and her knowledge of how the office works and the people there gives her an edge in implementing changes to the subunits there.

Krasner’s solution to drug houses – you should move

Krasner backers complain loudly of Grossman’s tenure in the Civil Asset Forfeiture unit at the DA’s office, as if she herself had set the policies the DA ran under–as if she were the actual DA.  The City is presently under a binding court agreement over the practice and Grossman herself has said that if she becomes District Attorney, convictions will be a hard prerequisite for any forfeiture action to proceed and she’s committed to reforming the practice.

As far as the people who want CAF permanently ended:  I have yet to actually see or hear from any Krasner people what their solution is to drug houses without going after the deed to the drug house itself.  Yours truly has gotten rid of drug houses that owe taxes and I have worked with the DA’s office in the past to get drug houses put up and sold down the river.

Does it help out the community?  You bet your sweet ass it does.   The first week when you can actually get some sleep before 2AM and sit on your steps through midnight is a refreshing feeling and countless people I have personally helped with this problem have thanked me for it.

Criminal asset forfeiture, which is different than civil, isn’t usually an option because it requires the property owner of record to be directly involved in the narcotics trading.   Nearly all drug houses in Philadelphia are rental properties with an absentee landlord who does not give two shits about the next door neighbors and is never there to check up on what’s happening with the house.

Every time Krasner has been pressed on what to do about drug houses, he’s come up empty handed.

I shouldn’t be surprised. Krasner’s life experience in criminal law is to be sympathetic to the person selling the narcotics, not to the junkie who died from them and certainly not to any of the people on the periphery who are being damaged by it.  This is a burning question Larry Krasner has had all year to overcome and to answer with assurance that he’s fit to assume a role he is not familiar with.

Instead, all he can do is bark “but Donald Trump!”

Well, that’s not good enough.

DA’s Race: Bundler PAC Charged Fees to Get on “Ballot”, Fined

Welp, at least we didn’t elect Tariq

In an unsurprising announcement from the Philadelphia’s Ethics Board, a fine has been levied against Trustwave PAC, an entity which the ethics board defines as:

Trustwave PAC is a political committee based in Philadelphia. On April 16, 2017, Kristen Stoner filed a Political Committee Registration Statement for Trustwave PAC with the Department of State. The Statement listed Derrick Susswell as Treasurer and Ismail Shahid as Chair of the PAC. On May 6, 2017, Ms. Stoner filed an amended Political Committee Registration Statement for Trustwave PAC that made her the Chair in place of Mr. Shahid.

While the PAC is getting fined a measly $4,000 there’s a few more interesting items in this press release. Here’s a few grafs worth noticing:

Among its expenditures, Trustwave PAC paid the consulting company Countywide Strategies for consulting services, including management of Trustwave’s ballot distribution in a part of Philadelphia. One of the principals/partners of Countywide Strategies is Steven Vaughn, who also held a leadership position in the El Shabazz campaign.

The candidate for Controller and most of the judicial candidates paid to be on Trustwave PAC’s ballot. The El Shabazz campaign contributed $5,000 to Trustwave PAC, approximately 5% of the total amount contributed by the candidates on the ballot. Given Mr. El Shabazz’s prominence on the ballot, the amount the other candidates contributed, and the amount Trustwave PAC spent to print and distribute it, the amount the El Shabazz campaign contributed was not the usual and normal charge.

The total amount Trustwave PAC charged candidates to be on its ballot was approximately $80,000. Trustwave PAC used this money, as agreed with those candidates, to promote their election. Trustwave PAC raised an additional $81,500 from non-candidate PACs, which it also used to pay for and distribute its sample ballot.

Hmm. So several different Democrats including Tariq El-Shabazz including a slew of judges running for office paid this PAC to print those shitty little sample ballots they stuff in your doors right before the primary.

The Ethics Board appears to have a problem with these types of “bundlers”, which try to split printing costs among a bunch of similar low-ranking candidates.

Instead of adding up all the campaign contribution limits of each candidate that was paying Trustwave to run their ballots, Trustwave was limited to only one candidate–namely the candidate that had the largest individual campaign contribution limit. The DA primary contribution limit was $23,800.

Given that City rules state that whenever a PAC directly coordinates activity with a candidate to influence an election, it counts as an in-kind contribution to that candidate. The Ethics Board states that the majority of Trustwave’s money came from other PACs plus other candidates and Tariq El-Shebazz only contributed 5% of the total cost. Since he benefitted from the full amount spent by Trustwave for his sample ballots, an in-kind contribution for the full amount should have been reported.

No, You Don’t Have to Take Sides in the War On Police

The Philadelphia Police has problems.  Lots of problems.  So many problems.

People are now freaking out over a police corporal who has a confederate flag decal on his personal vehicle.  This prompted Rochelle Bilal, the prez of the Guardian Civic League, the black police officer’s association, to hold a presser.

Bilal’s presser relaying the complaints she has received is completely justified and welcome.  But the PPD is so problematic that even Bilal herself has scandal attached her.  She was caught double-dipping for a bankrupt boro just outside Philadelphia.

In this piece by Ernest Owens, he calls out some terrible remarks by FOP Lodge 5 President John McNesby at a rally held at FOP headquarters.   This was an unforced error on McNesby’s part, due to the antics of Black Lives Matter activist Asa Khalif holding a flash protest in front of a police officer’s home.  He then goes further and opens an umbrella over all politicians who have accepted FOP support recently.

Even if McNesby was able to get 2,000 people to attend his rally, one sentence uttered into a microphone helped dig the grave of public trust just a few feet deeper that night.  Police reform activists now have everything they need to justify their activism.

Political isolation

The Philadelphia Police Department is driven into a corner and it’s mostly by its own making.

Progressive Democrats nationwide have staged a war on police in a quest to change policing culture.   The most successful aspect of that campaign is to push police unions out of politics.   Benevolent associations and police municipal unions are nearly completely disassociated from Democratic Party politics and have been booted from influence within Philadelphia.  It has raised the profile of progressive influence over traditional political machines.

Outside of Philadelphia in Trump Country it’s had the polar opposite effect.  Police unions of all types have become Republican backers.  It can be argued that if it wasn’t for their financial support and large number of friends and family members and associative networks, Trump would not have had the support he needed to become president.

That’s not to say that activists aren’t making mistakes.   They just blew a huge opportunity to get any police reform done and for that we’ll have three years of purgatory ahead of us until the next police contract.

Imagine a Philadelphia where public trust in policing is so eroded that everyday Philadelphians turn inimical towards cops.  If we aren’t already at that point, we’re just one step away from it.  If you take Owens’ advice, any candidate for office who accepts FOP money is toxic waste.  That would include Mayor Kenney, who the FOP backed in 2015.

Progressives are certainly excited over the candidate for District Attorney Larry Krasner who capitalized on his bad relationship with police as a selling point of his campaign.   If successful beyond the DA’s race, the replacement of pols with moderate temperament in between the debate on police reform could be switched out for folks who are inimical to police in general.   That may produce reform or it could trigger a disastrous backlash.   I’ll explain.

You still need cops to have a safe neighborhood

A lot of Philadelphians firmly believe a falsehood that crime is just some random bullshit that happens to you and neither you nor anyone else has much if any control over it.  While it certainly feels that way, the city has been enjoying a long period of crime levels slowly decreasing thanks in part to redevelopment efforts and community engagement.

This war that progressives have chosen to wage against cops is not going to be free of consequences.  Police certainly do not have to engage neighborhoods.   “Community policing,” as it is known, is the idea that residents in police districts can become partners with police brass to help solve crimes and dissuade others from happening.  I don’t see how the Philadelphia Police will be able to have successful community engagement in neighborhoods where nearly everyone hates them and distrust is so thick you can taste it.

I am a firm believer community policing works because my own neighborhood I live in is deeply engaged with police and has constant contact with it whereas a decade ago it did not.  When combined with the effects of gentrification, violative crimes have been cut by half.

The worst thing that could happen to communities who do have a close relationship with police is to degrade to what police call a “radio district”, where patrols are thin and cops only respond to incidents assigned by dispatchers in a queue.

This was the Philadelphia of the 1980s and 90s where high levels of crime gave black and brown people only one option to deal with it: leave.   The mass depopulation of North Philadelphia is a living testament to it.

Swaths of the city are already radio-only in a city where we’re always short of resources.    If cops themselves decide that disengagement is preferable to get through a shift and community engagement is no longer worth the trouble we will all take a hit.

The mayor and City Council have been completely ineffective at pushing for police reform.  They will also be inert at the response to rising levels of crime.  Just as they were when crime levels in Philadelphia were intolerably high.

Lifetime Philadelphia residents remember this period all too well.    If you’re a police reform activist I suggest you make the most of this period as best you can.  If crime levels turn in the opposite direction, support for your work can rapidly erode and more residents will be forced into picking sides, and they’ll side with cops.

Tread carefully.

What’s With Philadelphia’s Black Leadership?

Wilson Goode Sr. (LIFE Magazine, 1984)
Wilson Goode Sr. (LIFE Magazine, 1984)

The Year was 1986

Wilson Goode Sr. was the first black mayor of Philadelphia.   Originally from the South, he had moved to Philadelphia and slowly worked his way up in public administration, eventually working in the mayor’s office under Mayor Green–the little-remembered 1-term mayor that came after Frank Rizzo.

White flight had toned down a bit from the mass exodus of the city during the late 1970s.  City planners, the mayor and City Council were boxed between a false hope that Philadelphia’s industrial might would one day turn a corner and the reality setting in that it would never, ever come back.   Goode had a vision of a new, service-oriented city whose economy was its people, not products.

Goode was also the antidote to a looming Frank Rizzo who seemed to be itching to come back to power and had become a behind-the-scenes power broker. Black residents of Philadelphia were hit with economic decline much harder than their white counterparts and whether Goode realized it or not, the idea of a black mayor made people feel that their economic suffering would get the attention it deserved.

Not long into Goode’s reign, one of the weirdest strikes hit the city.   Most of both AFSCME locals had decided to strike after contract negotiations hit a rough patch.  Many returned to work after a few days, but the city’s trash haulers decided to stay on strike after proposals were put forward to modernize the department and install larger compacting trucks.

You can guess what came next…

One of the most bizarre scenes hit the city’s streets… trash piles–some the height of four and five story buildings had started accumulating around Philadelphia as residents spent a month with no trash service.   Goode went to battle in the courts.  He threatened to replace all the city’s trash haulers with private contractors permanently, anything to get them back to work and to strike a deal.  When word hit strikers that private haulers were going to cross the picket lines, AFSCME representatives scoffed.   Wilson Goode said “try me” and started interviewing job candidates and prepared to fire the city’s trash haulers permanently.  The picketers rushed back to the bargaining table.

Goode became an instant populist hero across all quarters of Philadelphia.  The trash strike and Goode’s tough words to AFSCME transformed him into a national star.   Soon after the strike, Goode broke ground on what is now known today as Liberty Place–the iconic twin towers of the city.  It was possibly the peak of his career as mayor.   On the same day he broke ground on One Liberty Place, MOVE happened, which is the only thing we remember Goode for now.


Today we learn that Wilson Goode Sr., who now earns his keep as a minister was a lean-to as Congressman Bob Brady allegedly paid off his campaign rival Jimmie Moore to get him to quit running for congress against Brady’s seat.  Moore is African-American.  Reports say that Goode was contacted by Brady.  I can only imagine it was for a single reason—Brady wanted to use Goode to help broker the deal to get Moore to agree to drop out.

Whether Goode actually provided the assistance won’t be known until either the FBI or the US Attorney General releases whatever communications they may have recorded of the meetings.   It’s clear from prosecutor’s descriptions of what occurred that Goode was aware of what Brady was trying to do.

And ultimately: $90,000 left Brady’s campaign account and wound up in the hands of Moore, allegedly for “polling” expenses, if you can believe that.

Congressman Brady often faces little challenge in his re-elections in his specially-drawn safe district.  It’s very improbable that he would need to poll his constituents about anything, much less pay his primary campaign opponent to do the research—but that’s the story Brady’s press secretary is telling the Inquirer.

And this is just another item in the chain of Philadelphia’s list of Black Power Problems.

There’s DA Seth Williams, the first African-American District Attorney of Philadelphia.  He is currently sitting in a holding pen at the Federal Detention Center awaiting sentencing for his bribery conviction.

There’s the total collapse of the Fattah Organization, a power base that launched the careers of many other black politicians in Philly.  The founder of that political powerhouse–Chaka Fattah, once a political stalwart and long-time congressman who used to be Bob Brady’s equal in Congress who was able to assemble a factory that produced one black protege after another, is now serving a Federal prison sentence for wire and mail fraud.   His son Chip Jr. is also in Federal prison for fraud on school contracts.

Or how about the state prosecutions of State Rep. Louise Bishop, or LeAnna “I’m the fuckin’ Senator” Washington, or Thomasine Tynes for taking a fugly Tiffany bracelet as a bribe.

And then there was that one time when the second black mayor of Philadelphia, John Street, had let his poor choice of aides and staffers run wild.  They turned the Street Administration into an illegal den of Pay-to-Play contracting that nearly cost Street his re-election and came close to breaking the Democratic Party’s lock on the mayor’s office.   A chintzy public-relations blitz was launched with the Clintons and movie stars flying to Philadelphia, and local celebs like Bill Cosby and Patti Labelle were deployed to the Save Street operation to prevent Street from losing to Republican Sam Katz.

What is this?

As black representation in Philadelphia politics was infected by the very corruption that is at the core of our politics; it has changed most of us for the better.   It’s obvious now after these disappointments that identity politics is only skin deep.  It’s now reflected in the way Philadelphians vote and younger residents of the city are far less influenced by the “racial math” that so many older Philadelphians are accustomed to playing.  It’s not entirely gone, but the racial math game has led to enough election defeats that we know it’s a fool’s game to play it.

But that doesn’t mean the racial lens that we see our politicians through is gone.   Take a look at our Congressional districts.

Bob Brady’s district was drawn to hug the Delaware River to compact as many white Philadelphians as possible.   District 2, which used to belong to Fattah and is now represented by Dwight Evans, was created to compact as many black Philadelphians as possible.   District 3 was originally drawn to satisfy Northeast Republicans.    Philadelphia’s political leaders, including Brady, helped create these districts.

Today’s rising black stars in the Philadelphia Democratic City Committee still have to pay homage to Bob Brady, as aloof and inattentive to racial issues as he is.  It’s rather pathetic, actually.

I don’t think the current crop of kids who are maturing and see a future in local politics are going to stomach this situation for much longer.  I don’t think they are also happy with the idea that the leader of the Philadelphia Democratic party brokered a deal–willingly–to get rid of a black rival for his seat in a primary by buying him off.   And worst of all: that some of Philadelphia’s black establishment either participated in it, or if they knew about it–stayed silent.

I hope that’s the case anyway.   This doesn’t look good for Brady, and it certainly doesn’t look good at all for Philadelphia’s image as a progressive town.

Nothing Short Of a Maximum Sentence Will Be Justice to Rufus Seth Williams

This is a great plea deal for Seth Williams, not so great for the rest of us

I’m sure your phone is blowing up with alerts about now-former District Attorney Rufus Seth Williams deciding at 1 this morning to take a plea deal to one count of bribery, admitting to everything he did, and as of lunchtime right now he’s turned himself in and is being held at the Federal Detention Center at 6th and Market.

Seth Williams was facing nearly two dozen counts.   By taking a plea deal for one count of bribery everything now hinges on what federal judge Paul Diamond does during sentencing.  Nothing short of the maximum sentence possible is going to be acceptable to the public.   It’s really easy to see why:

First, he’s the chief state law enforcement official in Philadelphia County.   The DA decides whether or not police work is sufficient enough to bring a criminal case to trial.   This places the District Attorney at one level above the Philadelphia Police Department in the “prestige” totem pole.   The person who runs the DA’s office has to have a level of impeccable integrity.   Anything less and the criminal justice system is damaged.

Seth Williams’ actions have caused extensive and systemic damage to Philadelphia’s criminal justice system.   I know Democrat-loving journalists talked up his diversion programs when they were still loving him 2 years ago… but his integrity issues were well known to the chattering classes 4 years ago.

I knew about them five years ago.    Assistant DAs working at the District Attorney’s Office knew about them before he won his first election.   They knew a day like this was in store for Seth.

This also comes at a time when the criminal justice system is under intense scrutiny.   Any sentence short of the maximum here is a strong signal to Black Lives Matter.   Cops who corrupt their station get the wrist slap while you and me get the book.

Federal sentencing invariably turns every defendant about to be sentenced into a hypochondriac, as medical conditions factor in to how much confinement a criminal gets.   You saw the cover of the 2015 fitness magazine that the Union League put out, Judge Diamond.

Seth Williams is in great shape for jail.

Send him away.  We do not ever want to see this man ever again for the rest of our lives.

DA’s Race Update: Larry Krasner Did Not Get the Support of the FOP

Well, that ginger talk that came from Larry Krasner, the Democrat running for District Attorney can finally be put to bed, because it didn’t work.  On the heels of some divisive comments from Krasner supporters at his victory rally, campaign spox Ben Waxman leapt in to tone things down in hopes of having the general election being a drama-free formality come November.

Beth Grossman, a former Democrat who spent much of her public career working in the District Attorney’s office is Krasner’s challenger in the fall.  A Kensington native who now lives in Germantown, she has been touring the city speaking to community groups over the summer during a time when most of the Democratic City Committee leaves down for shore vacations.

Beyond the FOP endorsement; Grossman has been lapping up support from state police and minority police associations.

Krasner has received one police endorsement from the Guardian Civic League, who in the primary race had backed Richard Negrin, the FOP-endorsed Democrat.  Krasner and billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros together spent $33 per voter in the Philadelphia primary election campaign according to a tally by BillyPenn.  Depending on how much more Soros is willing to spend, the Philly DA’s race is on target to cost more than most Philadelphia mayoral elections.


Finally, This District Attorney Shitshow Will Be Half-Over

Anyone else tired of this election few will show up for?

Let’s soak up some quick stats about how District Attorney elections go in Philly.   Ready?

Election Year Turnout
2013 Primary – Democrats 58,002
2013 Primary – Republicans 6,419
2013 Primary Turnout 64,421
2009 Primary – Democrats 104,600
2009 Primary – Republicans 8,497
2009 Primary Turnout 113,097

2009 was the year Rufus Seth Williams was first up for election and there was some competition to snag the job, so that primary attracted more voters.  He faced some heavy Democratic competition from Daniel McCaffery–now a judge on the Common Pleas court thanks to the Coffee Can of Justice working out in his favor.

In 2013 when it came time for Rufus to clock in his sleeper of a re-election hardly anyone showed up.

That story would have repeated itself again this year if it weren’t for Seth Williams realizing that the public would soon learn what he did to his mother in a Federal criminal indictment which could revisit the same ego-crushing embarrassment as what befell Chaka Fattah a year before when voters ejected the congressman from his Democratic primary under the cloud of an indictment.


Year Democrat Republican Libertarian Other Total
2009 835,098 135,486 2,503 89,886 1,062,973
2013 803,777 119,645 3,101 102,412 1,028,935
2017 800,043 117,849 3,101 113,012 1,034,005

There are 35,000 fewer Democrats than there was when Seth Williams took his job.  For today’s primary if turnout is lucky to reach the level seen in 2009 then only 11% of all the registered voters in Philly will be deciding who gets the top law enforcement job.

Roughly 7 out of 100 people will be deciding how the rest of us will be governed.*

Wards Matter In Low Turnout

Sample ballot given out by committee people outside polling stations
Sample ballot given out by committee people outside polling stations

As you’re voting today there’s probably someone with a frowny face who doesn’t look like they’re all that excited to be there but who will insist on handing you a piece of paper. That piece of paper has a grid on it with a few names in blue and red and it’s called a sample ballot.

And as the voter participation rates continue to drop citywide, the louder the voice of Democratic City Committee loyalists becomes.  This is how DCC loyalists communicate to their voters–telling you how the ward leader who you might not even know wants you to vote.

Traditionally in the four election cycles we have, the cycle that comes after we elect the President is the election where these slips of paper carry the most weight in a Philly election primary.  This is how Philadelphia’s political machine keeps itself relevant and in control.

You’d be surprised how many neophytes know nothing of the candidates and enter a Philly voting machine and copy what’s on this sample ballot on to their choices.  I’ve watched voters with my own eyes copying the racing form right on to the machine.

Understandably this election is going to come down to how widespread the DA candidates got their names printed on red on those sample ballot papers.  There’s also been plenty of drama with sample ballots in years past with some committeepeople and ward leaders striking off names or layering stickers to override what they printed.

Most of this DA’s election has been a war over collecting ward leaders like Pokémon.  It’s the 66 ward leaders who arrange getting these ballot papers printed and it’s the committeepeople who man the polling stations handing these out.   This is how political machines keep tight control over who gets elected to the posts that influences your life the most.

All The Candidates Are the Same, Except That Dude With the Red Beard

Remember that we got Seth Williams by bleak voter participation and lousy vetting.   That factor is still ever-present.   I had a look-see at PhillyMag‘s voter guide and there’s hardly any take-away out of all these look-alike candidates, all touting policies that mostly drift far to the left.

Since they’re mostly repeating the same lines the only way to tell them apart is by identity and background.

The candidates likely to win this Democratic primary are in red.

Larry Krasner is the prog darling who can do no wrong and has no faults, other than he’s never been a prosecutor his entire life or managed a large legal office; the Philly DAO is one of the country’s larger legal shops.  Folks are hoping that if Krasner drives the bus then the District Attorney’s Office will drop more cases that the Police send them.  He already apparently is giving some current and former workers at the DA’s office heartburn as they expect the backbiting office politics that are there now to dramatically increase as he tries to implement whatever reform ideas he has in mind.

If you’re mad as hell at this pot party bust and wished the DA’s office pushed back on charges, well… Krasner is your guy.

Joe Khan has a fair amount of prosecutorial experience both at the DA and Federal.  He’s snagged much of the Riverwards ward leaders where vote presence is “meh” at best but he’s got commitments from committee people in the Northeast.  Out of all the peeps I know who are both in and out of the DA’s office, this is who they’re leaning for.

Team Khan also did an internal poll showing that he’s neck and neck with Krasner as far as popular support goes, so there’s that.

Michael Untermeyer has bought a lot of ward support and collected ward leaders in his basket in enough far-flung areas and backed that up with advertising on basic.  He’s sunk quite a fortune into this short primary.  Position-wise he’s still to the left.   He’s run for this office before (as a Republican).

Jack O’Neil is obviously Johnny Doc’s bitch; plus he (and Doc) are banking on that apostrophe in his surname is sure to get some button-pressin’ by a few of the cloverleafed set in the Northeast, which is also the only place he’s managed to snag ward leader endorsement.

I can’t think of many Northeast Democrats who’ve won citywide races in the last decade.  Can you?

Also: If you’re not a fan of Johnny Doc’s Soda Tax, then don’t vote for his people.  Just say NO to Johnny Doc.  Tell this kid to beat it.

Tariq El Shabazz actually looks more centrist than the other candidates if you’re shopping for someone who’s slightly to the right of anarcho-communism.  But there’s his enormous IRS tax liens he refuses to talk about, his campaign has no cash and the ward leaders who have committed themselves to him command no vote presence.  And there’s that whole thing with him being Seth Williams’ best pal all these years.  Seth’s downfall is why we’re having this contested election in the first place so for a lotta people having someone in the Seth Circuit up as a candidate is just a complete non-starter.

At least he tried.

Richard Negrin got ward leader support in all the wrong areas of Philly–mostly the wards where turnout is simply abysmal.  Plus the FOP endorsed him which is the Kiss ‘O Death to progressive voters.  The thought here is that some law-enforcement folks see the writing on the wall and recognize that allegiances are split, e.g. the Northeast is where a lot of law enforcement lives and you got O’Neill poaching voters there and Khan doesn’t have the stink of either the DCC machine or Johnny Doc on him and is a viable alternative.

Theresa Carr Deni – Not a single ward committed to backing her.   We’ll get to see whether she comes in last or not.

Whoever wins this Democratic primary has to face Republican candidate Beth Grossman in the general election this November.


Be sure to turn to Philly Hot Election Results after 8:30 when the first cartridges from the machines come in.

*1.562 million people live in Philly according to the latest Census projection.

A Bunch of Philly Prosecutors Want You To Think Twice About Larry Krasner

This appeared in the Philadelphia Citizen

(original article)…


Dear Philadelphia,

We are a group of former Philadelphia Assistant District Attorneys who hope to inform Philadelphians about the District Attorney’s Office. We can no longer stand by in silence as a candidate who is dangerous to the city gains a foothold thanks to money from a European billionaire. Larry Krasner is not the progressive reform that Philadelphia wants and needs, rather he is a radical candidate with no experience prosecuting crime who is gaining traction by spreading alternative facts about the very office he hopes to lead. We are writing this to shed light on what it means to be an Assistant District Attorney and, in doing so, to reveal the misinformation at the heart of the Krasner campaign.

The District Attorney’s Office is NOT, as Mr. Krasner’s website says, “driven by a win-at-any-cost culture that prioritizes high conviction rates and harsh sentencing over more effective approaches that are proven to reduce crime.” ADAs don’t get paid per conviction or promoted because they received harsher sentences. Some of the cases we are most proud of involve dismissing charges when there was an issue with the evidence or figuring out an alternative sentence for an addict. The DA’s office has literally given awards to prosecutors for EXONERATING people. We have seen a Unit Chief tell an ADA who asked for an unfairly severe sentence in compliance with a mandatory minimum: “That’s not what we do here.”

Because it is not.

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office employs 300 prosecutors. They are public servants who represent every race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation and come from every background. Women make up over 2/3 of supervisory positions. While their law firm counterparts make more than three times as much money, these ADAs work tirelessly and thanklessly for justice. And when we say they fight for justice, we do not mean that they blindly charge and jail people, as Mr. Krasner would have you believe.

They relocate witnesses who are scared to go home to their block. They hold childrens’ hands while they prepare them to testify against their rapists (while Mr. Krasner calls them liars on the stand). They personally walk families through the harrowing process of a criminal trial—families whose babies have been punched to death, whose daughters have been stabbed to death by their boyfriends, and whose teenagers have been gunned down on the street.

Larry Krasner has stated that the culture of the DA’s Office is to “not divert cases.” The Philadelphia DA’s Office currently utilizes 23 diversion programs (an increase from 5 in 2010). These programs provide alternatives to jail time for low-level offenders—job training, expungements, drug treatment, etc. EVERY SINGLE CASE is reviewed by an experienced ADA with an eye towards sending an arrestee into one of these programs.

More than 34 percent of misdemeanor cases are diverted into these programs, and they are working. The DAO charges approximately 25 percent fewer cases than it did in 2010—over 80 percent fewer juveniles. This is all through the hard work of ADAs who understand these systems, ADAs who have built up the institutional knowledge to make these amazing things happen, ADAs who Mr. Krasner would oust upon arrival in the office to effectuate his “sweeping change.”

Throughout Mr. Krasner’s campaign, he has rarely uttered the word “victim”—the people that the District Attorney’s Office seeks to help. During the “Voices for Victims” forum, the first question was, “What have you done over the course of your life/career that should persuade voters that you are the best advocate on behalf of victims gun violence, sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse?” For Joe Khan, Jack O’Neill, and Rich Negrin, this answer was a softball; each of them has helped a countless number of victims over the course of their lengthy and well-regarded careers. Mr. Krasner could give only two examples—of civil lawsuits he had filed that had nothing to do with criminal justice. Meanwhile, we can think of countless times Mr. Krasner failed to show up for a scheduled trial or requested a continuance, making the court process exhausting and unbearable for victims.

Philadelphians can vote progressive without risking our safety.

While we have stood up for the ADAs, we can all agree that more changes, improvements, and advancements in the office are necessary. Philadelphians can vote progressive without risking our safety. Literally every candidate running (including the lone Republican) believes in legalizing recreational marijuana. Every democratic candidate believes in reforming the cash bail system, expanding prosecution for police corruption, and overturning juvenile life sentences. Mr. Krasner isn’t the only candidate who believes in ending the death penalty (but, he is the only one spouting false promises about where the money saved would go; the Philadelphia DA has no say over Harrisburg’s budget). There is a way to be progressive without turning a blind eye to the countless communities that rely on the experienced members of the District Attorney’s Office to provide justice and security. Larry Krasner offers no such thing.

Mr. Krasner’s methods of reform are dangerous. He has implied that he wants to replace all management positions and experienced ADAs. Many of the ADAs that Mr. Krasner doesn’t let go will quit, rather than work for someone who has branded everyone in the office a liar before even taking the reins. Some turnover is expected in any new regime, but to lose the institutional knowledge of these experienced ADAs will be a blow that the city will not recover from quickly. While it might be demoralizing to work for someone who is federally indicted, imagine working for someone who has openly demonized what you do everyday. Why work for someone that reviles a career you are passionate about? More importantly, why vote for someone like this to protect the crime victims of Philadelphia?


Ursula Rouse
ADA East Division 2010 – 2013

Richard Sax
Assistant D.A. 1980-2017
Homicide Unit 1988-2017

Nick Liermann
ADA Homicide Division 2007 – 2015

Christopher Curci
Paralegal, ADA East/Southwest Divisions 2005-2013

Christine Prokopick
Assistant District Attorney 2008 – 2010

Conor Shields
ADA Central Division 2008 – 2015

Guy D’Andrea
ADA Homicide Division 2008 – 2017

Lorraine Donnelly
ADA 2004 – 2015
Homicide Unit

Megan Koneski
ADA South Division 2012 – 2016

Senta Rhodes
ADA South Division 2010 – 2015

Christina Terebelo
Family Violence and Sexual Assault Unit 2007 – 2012

Sean Stevens
Former ADA 2006-2007

Tariq El Shabazz Threatens Newspaper/Reporter With Libel Claim

This morning a story popped up at City and State PA by Ryan Briggs describing some unhappy past clients of Tariq El Shabazz.  The story obviously has El Shabazz quite unhappy. Continue reading “Tariq El Shabazz Threatens Newspaper/Reporter With Libel Claim”