POLS ON THE STREET: Stop Beating up on Williams

Filed under: Politics,Pols on the Street,Subject Categories |

PURSUING a statewide appellate seat, Philly’s own Judge Carolyn Nichols was hosted a fundraiser at the Klehr, Harrison law firm in Center City. L-R were John Shectman, Teresa Lundy, Ray Garnish, Kendra Adjei, Nichols, Kerry Slade, Dan Mishel and John Branigan. Photo by Wendell Douglas

Hats off to WHYY’s Bobby Allyn, new to the public service radio station, who revealed to the world the Feds had installed a secret video camera in front of the Overbrook home of our beleaguered DA Seth Williams to spy on him before they indicted him.

He found that nugget when the US Attorney’s Office asked for more time from the federal court.

Allyn, in his WHYY, report found “a letter submitted by Assistant United States Attorney Vincent Gauri under the supervision of Attorney General Jeff Sessions … asking the court to do something prosecutors have already sought in their sprawling corruption case against Williams: more time to get through the evidence.

“According to Gauri, 2 terabytes of video were recorded from a pole-mounted camera. Sources say it was positioned outside of Williams’ house. Video files that large could add up to 1,000 hours of footage to screen.”

Thomas Burke, Williams’s defense attorney, responded the Feds have 88,000 documents. He, like us, wonders what could be seen by pole camera … pizza, newspaper, Amazon deliveries, and so on. Again, we believe, a waste of tax money, especially as Burke had commented, they filed a 23-count indictment.

Under federal rules, a defendant must be tried no later than 70 days after an indictment, or the case can be dismissed.

Burke now requests more time, since the feds have just given him disks containing their evidence against Williams. He cited the federal prosecution of former State Sen. Vince Fumo, former Congressman Chaka Fattah and State Sen. Larry Farnese (D-S. Phila.), who all went to trial about a year after being indicted.

So to all you who were duped into believing Seth should resign his office, lay off! He, too, needs a breather. He can mentally and physically handle the decision-making involved in the administration of that office.

The race for Williams’ successor is heating up. Early television ads by Michael Untermeyer give voters the impression he means business. Now let’s see what the others are doing.

Working on endorsements from the wealth of progressive organizations, Larry Krasner seems headed toward a big ground organization of volunteers.

NUHHCE Dist. 1199C, one of the largest and most progressive labor unions in Philadelphia with over 13,000 members concentrated in hospitals and the health-care industry, leads his list.

It also includes Philly for Change, Pennsylvania Working Families Party, Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division (national), International Brotherhood of Teamsters; BLOC (Build, Lead, Organize, Campaign) and Reclaim Philadelphia. Save for 1199C as a possible cash source, we see his continued need to hustle campaign funds.

Look for Larry to be the star at the Philadelphia Coalition for a Just District Attorney’s free forum with candidates for district attorney, April 18, at Arch Street Methodist Church, Broad & Arch Streets. Child care and Spanish translation will be provided.

Pennsylvania US Senators Feeling Pinch?

Knowing “money talks and bull__walks” explains why US Sen. Bob Casey’s (D-Pa.) campaign has raised $2.7 million in the first quarter of 2017, leaving the campaign with nearly $3.8 million cash on hand.

CYBER crime is a rising concern in America, and one that requires expertise and deft prosecution. Len Deutchman, Esq. is a cyber-crime expert who dealt with the Wall Street investment firms crises of eight years ago. He is a candidate for Common Pleas judge. With him is retired Judge Teresa Carr Deni, District Attorney candidate, who favors increased training and a cyber-crime priority in the DA’s Office. Newly elected 58th Ward Leader James Donnelly supports their efforts. Photo by Joe Stivala

During the first quarter of 2017, support for Casey’s re-election came from every one of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties and 93% of the campaign’s donations were small donations of $100 or less. That’s all well and good, since the pundits now list his seat as one that can be won by the Republicans.

“Sen. Casey is running a strong campaign based upon his record of fighting for Pennsylvania and delivering results on behalf of his constituents,” said M.E. Smith, Casey’s campaign manager. “This fundraising quarter demonstrates that Sen. Casey’s campaign is powered by grassroots donors in every corner of this state, and he remains in a strong position to compete in this environment.”

Is that another way of telling us Casey hopes the voting phenomena that delivered Pennsylvania to Trump in the presidential campaign won’t reappear?

A growing field of Republicans indicate they belief the Trump phenomenon is alive and well. They are announcing their intentions to challenge one another in the Republican 2018 primary for the victory that will pit them against Casey. Latest to announce is State Rep. Jim Christiana (R-Beaver), joining State Rep. Rick Saccone (R-Allegheny) and Berwick Borough Councilman Andrew Shecktor.

The Libertarians are putting up Dale Kerns against Casey in the next go-around.

Casey has made it known Republicans are “eagerly targeting” Pennsylvania’s Senate seat, and a “Mitch McConnell-linked group has already launched attack ads to defeat me and flip it.

“Republicans want to tear down every check on President Trump’s administration, and they know Pennsylvania is a critical firewall for Democrats.

“The only way to hold President Trump accountable is to win in Pennsylvania and hold this Senate seat, but right now we’re still short of our goal, and time is running out.”

Good News, Bob; Hang on, Tom

As Pennsylvania’s leading Democrats, Gov. Tom Wolf and US Sen. Bob Casey, face their 2018 re-election campaigns, they begin with decent approval ratings, according to national political survey firm Morning Consult.

The midterm electoral map for Democrats in the Senate is daunting, as they have to defend 25 seats. However, they can find some comfort in that many of their most vulnerable senators receive strong marks.

Among them is Casey, with a 49% approval rating as opposed to only 29% disapproving.

Wolf’s rating is less shiny but still above water, with 48% approving while 43% disapprove of his performance.

Joe Torsella’s Star Starting to Shine

Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella’s plan to transition nearly $1 billion in public equity to a passive-investment strategy, significantly reducing fees paid to investment managers, will save an estimated $5 million per year in fees and has earned him the thanks of Gov. Wolf for following his recommendation.

Earlier this year, Gov. Wolf announced the consolidation and transfer of three investment funds that will help cut millions in tax dollars spent yearly. The consolidation moved the investment management of the State Workers’ Insurance Fund, Workers’ Compensation Security Fund, and Underground Storage Tank Indemnification Fund to the Dept. of Treasury eliminating private managers and achieving savings of $5.6 million annually.

Torsella said, “I took an oath to put the public’s interests first, not Wall Street’s. Study after study has shown that a passive investment approach for stocks, by dramatically reducing the costs to taxpayers, has a high likelihood of performing much better than a high-fee active investment approach over the long term.”

PHILLY FOR CHANGE gathered at its monthly meeting at tattooed Mom on South Street to hear judicial candidates make their pitch. L-R were judicial candidate Zac Shaffer, PfC organizer Save Scholnick, candidates Judge Lucretia Clemons and Jennifer Schultz, and PfC organizer Sam Durso.

The move comes just months after Torsella banned the use of placement agents in all Treasury investment contracts on his first day in office. Placement agents have been at the heart of scandals involving past state treasurers, and are still in use in some areas of state investment that Treasury does not directly oversee.

We see a bright future for him, especially since he is young enough to be considered a potential future candidate for governor or the US Senate.

Muroff to Challenge Congressman Meehan

Believing President Donald Trump’s enthusiasm among Pennsylvania voters no longer exists, Attorney Dan Muroff, a longtime community leader, announced his candidacy for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 7th Dist., vowing to take on Donald Trump and his disastrous policies.

“I’ve spent my career advocating for women, seniors, and families across this state,” said Muroff. “I’ve stood up to the NRA and entrenched special interests and I know that now, more than ever, we need people in Congress who will take on those in power and fight for what’s right. Congressman Pat Meehan has proven he’s unwilling to stand up to Donald Trump and Paul Ryan, and he’ll go along with their destructive ideas as long as it helps his wealthy contributors. It’s time for him to go.”

Muroff served as board president of CeaseFirePA, Pennsylvania’s statewide gun-violence prevention organization. In that role, he helped lead efforts to curb gun violence across our state and fought legislation that would have put more guns in the hands of criminals.

Muroff, leader of Philadelphia’s 9th Ward, also served as president of Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, promoting sound and sustainable environmental policy.

As an attorney in private practice, Muroff has led efforts to aid women transitioning into the workforce, expedite federal funds for affordable housing for people with disabilities, and secure funding for neighborhood improvements across Philadelphia.

It is reported he will resign as ward leader and move to Montgomery County so he can challenge Meehan.

What gives Muroff the confidence he can topple Meehan is the fact the 7th Dist. includes most of Delaware County and parts of Chester, Montgomery, Berks and Lancaster Counties. Hillary Clinton won the district in 2016, defeating Donald Trump 49.3% to 47%. Muroff was born and raised in Havertown.

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