POLS ON THE STREET: Democrats See Open Primary for District Attorney

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by Joe Shaheeli

D.A. SETH WILLIAMS enjoyed waffles and ice cream at Lt. Gov. Mike Stack’s Dessert Reception. Here he is seen with Stack and his wife Tonya.

Incumbent Democratic District Attorney Seth Williams will not have an uncontested ride in the May 16 primary. Many of those planning to challenge him will say it’s because of his own doing.

They could be right, seeing a rash of bad press he has gotten, due to his failure to report about $160,000 he has received in gifts. Also, given the fact a state attorney general has freshly bitten the dust, a sampling of voters would indicate it now doesn’t seem this city’s DA is unchallengeable.

To date, there are three announced challengers, and a couple more in the wings waiting to announce, yet all may find he still remains a formidable foe, especially if he remains the only African American in that race.

Based on his first two forays into the race for district attorney, it seems he may still have a lock on the preponderance of Black voters who are expected to turn out May 16. His first attempt, against popular incumbent District Attorney Lynne Abraham, resulted in his garnering 46% of that 2005 primary vote.

A look at his historic election four years later, vying for the open seat of DA, showed he pulled in 42% of the vote in that primary race, easily winning in a field of five. Seth went on to easily win the general election to become the city’s 24th district attorney and its first African American holder of that office in 2010.

After that, it seemed Seth looked to have a lock on that seat. He coasted home unopposed for a second term in 2013.

But in 2015, his failure to fire prosecutors under him who had been involved in sharing pornography and racially charged emails on Pennsylvania government computers began to loosen that lock. Then the Ethics Committee charged he had failed to divulge gifts on his annual financial-disclosure form – a lapse that, though not criminal, brought bad press and with it competitors.

Believing it’s time for a change is Judge Teresa Carr Deni, who resigned from her Municipal Court bench after 21 years. It was the same path that was followed by Abraham, when she resigned from the bench to seek the DA’s seat. Deni had toyed with the idea of going for DA in 2009. Joining her is Joe Khan, who had been an assistant US attorney. Before that he served in the DA’s office under Abraham.

Announced as an entry this week is former city Managing Dir. Rich Negrin. He sees Seth as vulnerable. For Williams, he should cheer up with the fact “more is merrier,” for all the right reasons.

Wolf Attends Philly Answer to Pa. Society Weekends
You have to admire tradition bucking individuals as Nicole Allen and Kellan R. White, for coming up with an answer to the over-century-old tradition called the Pennsylvania Society Weekend, which draws almost everyone political – lobbyists, lawyers, business tycoons, etc. – to the historic Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York.

THE PATTISON-LEADER Ball was scheduled to bring together youthful talent with others as a Philly-centered alternative to the Penna. Society Weekend. R-L were founders and hosts Kellan White, a staffer for Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, with his wife Nicole Allen, government-relations pro at the Phila. Museum of Art; Darian Murtagh, an admissions director at Chestnut Hill College; and her husband George Leader, archeologist at Penn and a grandson of Gov. George Leader after whom the ball was named.

This was their fourth year of challenging the Pennsylvania Society weekend, hoping eventually to bring all those attendees, along with their credit cards back to this state. They did well this time around, with the attendance of Gov. Tom Wolf as one of their boosters. They drew up-and-coming millennials who seek to do the same as their more elderly peers in New York.

The Pennsylvania Society got started when wealthy magnates of major industries decided to spend a weekend together in New York, to make hay, cut deals and show off – all with tuxedoes at formal dinners and balls. The Pattison Leader Ball is a one-night event. It is named after Govs. Robert E. Pattison and George M. Leader, the two youngest governors in Pennsylvania’s history. The Whites hope rekindling the memory of the two governors should “inspire young, civically engaged professionals to reach for the torch of leadership and ensure their voices are heard.”

Kane Keeps on Fighting Back

Former State Attorney General Kathleen Kane remains out on bail and is using that time to file an appeal of her criminal conviction. She got the extra time because Kane’s lawyer, who is new – having been chosen after she was found guilty – indicated he had some difficulty getting Kane’s case files from her prior attorneys. He has a Jan. 6 deadline.

A Challenger for Butkovitz

City Controller Alan Butkovitz will be seeking his fourth term in that position in the May 16 primary. Few believe he is beatable, based on his decent history of calling out city miscues with an eye to saving tax payers money.

But what may be the result of a grudge was the report out of the Pennsylvania Society weekend gathering in New York last weekend is the report Rebecca Rhynhart, Mayor Jim Kenney’s chief administrative officer, and Mayor Nutter’s city treasurer and budget director.  It is rumored her run would be heavily supported by the former mayor.

City GOP Chair Lauds Fattah’s Sentence

Joe DeFelice, the Chairman of the Philadelphia Republican Party, welcomed the sentence of 10 years in federal prison for disgraced ex-Congressman Chaka Fattah saying, “The voters of the 2nd Congressional Dist. are owed significant recompense, not just from the money siphoned away by their former congressman through decades of poor representation, but from his establishment enablers as well.”


A HOST of retirement parties honored 3rd Dist. State Sen. Shirley Kitchen on her well-earned retirement, marking 20 years of dedicated service to her district and this city. At a Berean Institute celebration in her honor were Rev. Dr. Clarence Hester; Donna Miller, former city councilwoman; Kitchen; her key staffer Henry Hunter; and State Sen.-Elect Sharif Street, who will take her seat in Harrisburg.


Democratic Party Chair Election Sees Interest

From the huge losses down-ballot since 2010 to the handling of the presidential primary, it is generally believed the next Democratic National Committee Chair will be the most-important figure in setting and executing a new direction for the Democratic Party. He or she will be a key leader in resisting Donald Trump and taking state and federal offices back from Trump’s Republican Party.

Here are the candidates who have publicly declared: New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley, Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Congressman Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Jamie Harrison.

Howard Dean, who founded Democracy for America before serving as DNC Chair from 2005-2009, last week dropped out of the race.

Stein Fails to Change Pennsylvania Votes

Jill Stein earned this column’s Don Quixote award for trying to win court challenges to Presidential tallies in this State, Michigan and Wisconsin. A US District judge nixed her efforts for an eleventh-hour recount to hold up the Electoral College tally which will officially make Donald Trump the next president of the US.

In a 31-page opinion, US District Judge Paul Diamond in Philadelphia said there was no evidence suggesting hacking had occurred. He also emphasized that the deadline to certify the state’s electoral votes is Tuesday, making it impossible to hold a recount in time. Diamond said, “Suspicion of a ‘hacked’ Pennsylvania election borders on the irrational.”


STATE REP. John Taylor, L, RCC Chair Joe DeFelice, 2nd from L, and Ward Leader Kevin Pasquay, R, presented the United Republican Club’s Mary Tierney Award to State Rep. Martina White and its William Meehan Award to Ward Leader Matt Wolfe, 3rd from L, at the historic clubhouse in Kensington. Marking 136 years, it is oldest Republican Club in the United States. Photo by Wendell Douglas


GOP Contenders Report Eyeing Challenge to Wolf

Though Gov. Tom Wolf has two years to go, Republican contenders are lining up for what may be an open Republican primary for selecting their nominee. All seem to believe some of the polls showing Wolf with poor appreciation numbers among voters.

Mentioned to date are former Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre), House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny), Congressman Lou Barletta and State Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York), who has already declared.

Fattah Sentencing Was Too Severe: Massaro

An email from Thomas Henry Massaro, one of a few who can claim they understand how the political system works, submits this fact which underlines his concern justice may not have been color-blind in the sentencing of Congressman Chaka Fattah.

He states, “Subject: USA color-blind equal justice is 1660% abjectly AWOL by justice-allergic federal judges at the 6th & Market more feral, than federal, courthouse. Fumo was sentenced to 12.2 days per each of his 137 unapologetic, multi-millionaire-making federal felonies, while bluntly apologetic Chaka Fattah was sentenced to 202.6 days in prison for each of his 18 felonies.

“A colossal 1660% disgusting differential in equal justice. For every one fetid day Vince Fumo spent in a federal prison cell for his felonies, Chaka will spend 16.6 days; that is 1,660% unequal justice that is crassly color-conscious, in lurid lieu of being color-blind and consistent.”


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