BY JOE SHAHEELI
DA Seth Williams will soon feel the error of his ways; and we are not talking about how badly he handled his personal life, his office and his financial misfilings. He will suffer in silence forever, or maybe not, for caving in when the going got tough. With all the worst publicity he could ever get, repeating itself on local media daily, he still had the name recognition that voters would have retained foremost when they entered the polls this May primary.
He could have fought back and possibly picked up even more support, since history has proven underdogs win the heart of the voting populace as they claw their way back up the slippery slope of poor polling and bad publicity. We think he knew this – but figured, as in the case of Bill Cosby, more individuals would step out and offer up more reasons to dislike him, hurting his family even more.
Only Williams knows why he is pulling himself out of the primary race for his office. We wish him well and urge him to ignore the request of our two frustrated daily newspapers’ editorial staffs which are demanding he resign.
His withdrawal has opened the floodgates. Early on, we found out money will be the decisive factor in who wins the Democratic primary for District Attorney. Unfortunately for the pros, television will be the door-knocker of consequence in making the difference. Since that’s the case, candidates need to recall and study how Mayor Michael Nutter came from being an underdog to topping the charts at race’s end. He looked the television cameras straight in the eye and said the same message over and over again; then, putting on the finishing touches, was a commercial of him taking his daughter to school.
Democratic City Committee Chairman Congressman Bob Brady has for some time announced the DA primary race would be open, with no endorsement forthcoming. This increases the opportunity for those candidates mulling a run.
With the biggest war chest is Michael Untermeyer, who ran for DA on the Republican ticket, and discovered then the hold the Democratic Party has on local elections. He switched parties and has been a Democrat long enough to be considered a creditable Democratic candidate now.
But there is the matter of racial identity. A frantic effort is underway in some quarters to seek out well-known African Americans who might consider running for DA.
Political consultant Mustafa Rashed said, “There is now a concentrated effort to rally behind one African American candidate that people feel will do the best job of implementing the criminal justice reforms that will have a significant impact on communities of color.”
Sounds good; but the odds are more than one African American will enter the race. And why not? It’s a great opportunity to get to be known, especially with a number-one pull for a ballot position.
Among candidates of color being written about as the Black candidate of substance are Kevin Hardin, Jr.; Tariq El-Shabazz, a defense lawyer and radio personality who landed a slot as Williams’ top lieutenant in the DA’s Office; State Rep. Joanna McClinton; and Common Pleas Judges Leon Tucker and Renee Cardwell Hughes. Of this group, McClinton is the only one assured of the support of State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams (D-W. Phila.).
What perplexes judicial candidates of color who are being pushed to jump in, is if the odds favor their cutting loose from a guaranteed seat to delve into a race where money counts the most.
Any candidate in this group could surface as the front-runner, depending on which can garner the support of the powerful Laborers’ District Council.
One judge who believes she can make a real difference has surrendered her seat to do so. That’s Teresa Carr Deni, who resigned from her six-year term on Municipal Court in December to challenge Williams. She is picking up endorsements from a number of active women’s organizations.
Joe Khan, a lifelong Philadelphian who served over 16 years as a prosecutor at both the Philadelphia DA’s Office and the US Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia, has been bringing in bucks, and is seeking the support of his dad’s influential Muslim community. He’s also campaigning on keeping Philadelphia a sanctuary city. Former Managing Dir. Rick Negrín needs to meet with Latino ward leaders if he hopes to garner those votes.
Newly arrived on the scene is Larry Krasner, whose name has often surfaced in civil-rights cases. He’s hoping the rumor that pot-of-gold George Soros will buy the election for him develops substance.
In any event, the smart ones will advertise here, in the paper committee people read every week.
Moving into mainstream AM radio are Joseph Dougherty and Joe Krause, of PhillyLabor, which has for the past three years promoted union leaders and union promotions on their radio show. They’ve now teamed up with Pat Eiding, president of Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO, and Electricians Union leader John Dougherty, to co-host a “Saturday Night Live w/Philly Labor” show on 1210 AM-WPHT. The show will air Saturday evenings at 7 p.m.
It’s a call-in show, so expect to get early in line when they give out the phone numbers to call if you want your views aired.
It’s a good opportunity for Eiding and Johnny Doc to get the rank and file to explain why they deserted their leaders in big numbers to vote for President Donald Trump. That phenomenon wrested the State from a sure win for Hillary Clinton.
The Delaware River Waterfront Corp. has established the William R. Miller Urban Youth Activities Fund, in memory of its late board member and tireless community advocate, Bill Miller. The fund supports meaningful outdoor recreational opportunities for Philadelphia’s youth on the waterfront.
The fund will sustain the Good Skates Program and will also support equally valuable programming throughout the upcoming summer season. DRWC will commit $10,000 annually and will look to raise additional funds from corporate and philanthropic sources.
We see the influence of State Sen. Sharif Street (D-N. Phila.) in the announcement that Marnie Aument-Loughrey has been appointed treasurer of Pennsylvania Black Caucus. She is closely allied to Jim Harrity, one of the Senator’s most-loyal supporters and a member of his staff.
Former State Rep. Leslie Acosta is hanging in and is now promoting a news agency on the web.
Joe Driscoll, a young progressive, has been setting up a number of meetings around the city teaching potential candidates what and how to run for local office. He sees a field day for new faces in the next year and a half, as the city will be electing hosts of election officers and 3,372 Democratic committee people.
We see Gov. Tom Wolf has finally morphed into being a politician. He’s campaigning now around the state promoting why his no-frills, no-statewide-tax budget should be remembered and thought of well when he seeks reelection.
Todd Eagen, Candidate for Commonwealth Court, was overwhelmingly endorsed last Saturday by the Pennsylvania Democratic Committee out of a crowded field of seven candidates.
“We feel very good that the party has endorsed me because they see me as the strongest candidate, not only for the election in May, but also in November, and right on the issues that are important to us as Democrats,” Eagen said after the endorsement.
Todd has worked tirelessly to protect Pennsylvania’s unionized men and women from employment discrimination, and has led the charge for a fair and decent wage. As a judge, Todd vowed he will continue to be hardworking and fair, and ensure that all people will be treated with the decency and respect that they deserve, regardless of who they are or where they come from.
Also endorsed for the four seats open in Superior Court were Philadelphia Judges Maria McLaughlin and Carolyn Nichols as well as Debra Kunselman of Beaver County and Judge Geoff Moulton of Montgomery County. Good maneuvering by Philadelphia County Chair Bob Brady here!
Our two, plus possibly a win by Philadelphia jurist Paula Patrick, running as an endorsed Republican candidate, could increase needed Philadelphia representation on that court, which often ignores the city’s side of cases.
In other news, State Rep. Rick Saccone (R-Allegheny) has announced he will seek the Republican nomination to challenge US Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.). He is the first of several who are indicating they see Casey as vulnerable this time.
Former House Speaker John Perzel and one of State Rep. Mike Veon’s former aides will get to appeal portions of their political-corruption convictions.
On the heels of ‘s Veon’s winning a new trial regarding parts of one of his convictions, that aides, Annamarie Perretta-Rosepink, and Perzel have been granted the opportunity to appeal portions of their convictions. The Associated Press reports Perzel’s appeal focuses on whether he should have to pay the State $1 million in restitution imposed by a judge, while Perretta-Rosepink’s appeal concerns a conviction on a charge of conflict of interest.
Perzel pleaded guilty in 2011 to felony conspiracy and conflict-of-interest charges stemming from an illegal campaign operation. He received jail time and was ordered to pay back over $1 million to the Commonwealth. Similar penalties were doled out by judges in dozens of other state corruption cases, including, crucially, that of Veon, who won a 2016 appeal that granted the once-powerful Democrat a new trial some four years after his own conviction on nearly identical charges. But that decision also determined that a judge in his original trial erred by layering on $1.9 million in court-ordered restitution on top of state sentencing guidelines.
Joel Sansone, lawyer for both Perzel and Veon, said the latest ruling is an outgrowth of that decision. “The Veon case ruling that said people cannot be sentenced to pay restitution when the ‘victim’ is the Commonwealth,” he said. “They were convicted of breaking the law and sentenced to jail time, but the judge went beyond the guidelines on this one by ordering restitution.” Sansone also said he expected the Superior Court would resentence Perzel to time served – minus restitution – bolstering the case for dozens of former pols caught up in the so-called “Bonusgate” and “Computergate” scandals to have tens of millions of dollars in restitution dropped from their sentences.