POLS ON THE STREET: Entering the Final Stretch to Find an Interim DA

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L-R, STATE SEN. Sharif Street, Reshean Bayah, Councilman David Oh and Councilwoman Cindy Bass turned out to celebrate Kevin Hart Day.

BY JOE SHAHEELI

With tomorrow’s deadline for applicants who crave a high-profile temporary position with a risk-reward ratio that would give Vegas pause, the search for an interim district attorney to bridge the roughly six months until the winner of November’s election takes up residence on the 16th floor of the District Attorney’s Office enters its final stages.

Common Pleas Court President Judge Sheila Woods-Skipper, who heads up the 88-member Board of Judges tasked with making the selection, will have Judges Frederica Massiah-Jackson, Ida K. Chen, and Arnold L. New sift through the applications and recommendations of the candidates willing to step into an office trying to recover from the damage inflicted upon it and the city by the fatally flawed former DA, Seth Williams. We’ll know the board’s selection by next Friday.

Comic superstar and Philly native Kevin Hart, standing next to City Council President Darrell Clarke, takes a selfie in front of a mural of himself during Kevin Hart Day

Among those said to be seeking the role is acting DA Kathleen Martin, who was previously the DA’s chief of staff. We haven’t heard anything bad about her – and, considering how low the bar has now been set, that’s a point in her favor. We don’t know if any other former candidates from the Democratic primary are planning to pursue the position – we say why not go for what would be a feather in the cap and a nice line on the resume – but Joe Khan, who finished second to Larry Krasner in the primary, has made no secret of his desire to return to the DAO as interim DA. (While we like the contrarian play of having Krasner, the heavy favorite to win in November, serve as interim DA and thus gain a six-month head start on his term, he stated he has no plans to submit his name for the position. Ditto for his opponent, Republican Beth Grossman.)

One name not bandied about too much but that should receive more attention: James Crumlish III. The well-regarded son of James Crumlish Jr., who served as DA in the 1960s, Crumlish has served in many roles with the city, including as Solicitor, Commissioner and then as the Chairman of the City Commission of Philadelphia.

Whoever the board chooses, that person needs to make morale, stability and personnel retention their top priorities – without those three components, the office not only won’t function appropriately for the next six months, but will be even more of a challenge for presumptive victor Krasner, whose progressive agenda has already put him at odds with many in the city’s law enforcement community.

Brady Bunch Proves DCC Power

The wall-to-wall crush of Philadelphia’s Democratic establishment in attendance at Congressman Bob Brady’s annual Brady Bunch event recalled nothing more than Mark Twain’s oft-quoted remark that reports of his death were greatly exaggerated. Not only did seemingly every player of consequence brave the massive crowds of North Wildwood’s Barbecue Festival to get to Flip Flopz Bar & Grill, but so did many who plan and wish to be.

ENJOYING TIME with Brady Bunch host, Congressmen Bob Brady, were Vince Furlong, Marissa Brumbach, Ken Washington. Photo by Wendell Douglas

A number of candidates who didn’t receive Democratic City Committee backing for their May primary runs but who nevertheless emerged as victorious Democratic candidates for the general election in November – including Rebecca Rhynhart, who scored a stunning upset over incumbent Alan Butkovitz for controller – showed up to fete Brady, the longtime head of the city’s Democratic Party. It’s the smart thing to do – while no one can deny that candidates like Rhynhart and Krasner, who likewise didn’t receive DCC backing in his primary, proved that there is a growing desire to avoid “politics as usual” candidates, there is still nothing comparable to the power, influence and infrastructure that Brady and his organization can bring to bear in an election.

Budget Bust

Another year, another embarrassing, infuriating last-minute scramble by the PA Legislature to come up with a budget. Another year of said budget taking effect by Gov. Tom Wolf’s decision to forgo affixing his signature to it. Another series of stopgap measures to fund said budget by the GOP majorities in the House and Senate as lawmakers in those caucuses contort themselves in yet another effort to avoid doing what literally every other similar state does by instituting a gas extraction tax on drillers in an effort to avoid doing what literally every other similar state does by instituting a gas extraction tax on drillers – and that’s not even getting into the lack of political will demonstrated by failing to go after corporations using the Delaware loophole to avoid paying taxes to the commonwealth.

It was a family affair during the Derek Green fundraiser as Omar Barlow, Jeneen Barlow, Walter Green (father), Anta Green (mother), Derek, Julian Green, and wife Sheila were snapped in loving fashion.

Instead, it looks like the budget will be paid for through methods that will directly hurt Philadelphia. “Mini-casinos” will be added and Medicaid will be cut – two actions that will disproportionately affect the city’s poor population. And a charter school reform bill that goes out of its way to ensure no additional monies are allotted to the School District of Philadelphia has been moved along by the PA House under cover of a weekend evening voting session. With Philadelphia City Controller Alan Butkovitz releasing a report this week detailing the impending fiscal crisis of the district, the House is ignoring the repeated efforts of Philly legislators like Sen. Vincent Hughes and Rep. James Roebuck to get the chamber to enforce real reform upon a system Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has classified as the worst in the country and responsibly support the commonwealth’s largest public school system at the same time. Based on the amount of effort put into balancing the budget with one-time gimmicks and pie-in-the-sky revenue streams, there is no reason to be optimistic that the situation will improve anytime soon for the district, the city or the state.

We suggest to Gov. Wolf to take a trick from one of his predecessors to order the General Assembly to stay in session seven days a week and shut off the air conditioning to the House and Senate – that way, they can feel a little of the sweat, frustration and fear that their constituents must be feeling.

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