POLS ON THE STREET: The Guns of August – Political Bullets Now Flying

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PHILADELPHIA drew national attention in the wake of a horrific seven-hour showdown in Tioga that left six police officers wounded. Politicians from Gov. Tom Wolf and legislators such as State Sen. Sharif Street to City officials met in City Hall to vow a host of steps to rein in gun violence across the city and state. Photo by Wendell Douglas

A brazen attack on police officers, wounding six, by an AR-15-wielding criminal who probably shouldn’t have been on the streets was not in itself a political act. All Philadelphians set aside partisan views and cringed in horror as one.

But the political implications are many. Indeed, they are too tangled to straighten out neatly at this moment. But observers are already scrambling to decipher the implications for political futures down the line.

First in line is DA Larry Krasner. While his detractors call him many uncomplimentary names, no one has ever called him stupid. He knows that the moment the May 2019 Democratic primary ended, his 2021 Democratic primary campaign began. Even before the Tioga shooting, Krasner had begun to spend more time around town at other politicians’ events.

CONGRESSWOMAN Mary Gay Scanlon visited the Mural Arts Program’s Color Me Back work studio in SEPTA’s Suburban Station Concourse to get a first-hand view of the work being done by the legendary nonprofit by offering individuals who are experiencing economic insecurity an opportunity to earn wages. Scanlon did her own work with the artist Alvin Tull.

He knows he won in 2017 with a radical, easy-on-prosecution message while running against four traditionalists who stressed their prosecutorial skills, thereby splitting the tough-guy vote that elects most district attorneys. That won’t necessarily be the case the next time.

Krasner spent his first two years in office ruffling feathers across the law-enforcement community. If united support for an opponent emerges from that world, his “prosecution revolution” may be imperiled.

Krasner’s race will not be aided by U.S. Attorney William McSwain, a Trump nominee who has made every effort to flood the media with harsh, pointed criticism of Krasner unprecedented in a U.S. attorney – but then, what isn’t unprecedented these days? It’s in McSwain’s power to keep up this drumbeat at least until the end of 2020. That means 16 more months of attacks on Krasner by a prominent lawman.

McSwain will, if needed, be boosted by his Appointer in Chief, President Donald Trump, who tweeted that the “Philadelphia shooter should never have been allowed to be on the streets.”

THE ANNUAL District Day celebration was held this year at Tustin Playground in West Philadelphia. State Sen. Vincent Hughes, State Rep. Morgan Cephas and Councilmember Curtis Jones hosted attendees from across the city as they partook of games, listened to live music, gleaned information from the numerous vendors and enjoyed plenty of summer-specific foods. Hughes rocks the mic as State Rep. Morgan Cephas, L, and Superior Court Judge Carolyn Nichols look on.

“He had a long and very dangerous criminal record,” Trump said. “Looked like he was having a good time after his capture, and after wounding so many police. Long sentence – must get much tougher on street crime!”

McSwain is rumored to have political ambitions of his own. If true, don’t look for him to shut up about Krasner anytime soon.

Then there’s Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, whom no one doubts has loftier ambitions than being attorney general for the rest of his life.

In a move that many called amateurish, Krasner picked an unnecessary fight with Shapiro over a measure that allows the AG “concurrent jurisdiction” over certain gun crimes across the commonwealth. This was actually an extension of a pilot policy, the Gun Violence Task Force, worked out for Philadelphia in a bipartisan manner several years ago, which has caused no problems in this city. All this measure, passed and signed in Harrisburg in June, did was extend our successful program to the Commonwealth’s other counties.

Michael Sullivan joined Commissioner Lisa Deeley in the center with members of Operating Engineers Local 542 at the annual Beach Fest in Flip Flopz, N. Wildwood for the annual gala. The room overflowed with members. Photo by Joe Stivala

But Krasner misread it as a slight on his authority and berated Shapiro for it.

Since Shapiro plans to go places that Krasner never will go, he weaved and bobbed adroitly on this subject. But Shapiro will never again trust his fellow Democrat in the State’s largest DA Office. Especially after Krasner compared disaffected assistant DAs who left his office for a job with the AG to Nazis fleeing to “Paraguay.” Shapiro is Jewish. Counsel should advise Krasner that Jews don’t laugh at Nazi jokes that target Jews.

Rather free of this maelstrom is Mayor Jim Kenney. He faces no further elections and will enjoy four lame-duck years to run the City his own way without regard to his future.

But this week’s surprise dismissal of Police Commissioner Richard Ross guarantees him a bumpy couple of months at least.

STATE REP. Joanna McClinton took a break from the festivities to take a picture with colleague Malcolm Kenyatta.

Ross was summarily trenched after an employee with whom he had once had an affair filed suit charging that Ross had subsequently ignored her report of sexual harassment by another employee. This even after Ross had fired several officers for racist social-media posts, itself a first in departmental discipline.

We don’t yet know in full what heat the mayor was receiving from what incidents. We are assured Ross personally was not implicated in any of these charges. But the swiftness of this action surprised everyone.

It’s a bit of a predicament because, not just in the wake of the Tioga shooting but long before, Ross had won all-around respect in the political class – from whites and Blacks, Republicans and Democrats.

THE TRADITIONAL football pass at the IBEW Local 98 picnic at Clementon Park is joined by Boise Butler, 2nd from L, leader of Local 1291 Longshoreman. Boise proudly supported the day with Electricians Business Manager John Dougherty and members. Dougherty also leads the Building Trades Council.

Now Kenney must navigate the aftermath of the Tioga shooting – which will have long legs – without the support of his staunchest man in uniform. And all eyes will be upon him as he scours the job market for a replacement.

He will be praying that the murder rate dips in the meantime.

Boyle, Other Irish Block No-Deal Brexit U.S. Trade Pact

Congressman Brendan Boyle (D-Phila.) will play a key role in an international drama unfolding across the Atlantic.

The son of Irish immigrants, Boyle sits on the Irish National Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is hardcore when it comes to protecting the Good Friday Agreement, which ended 20 years of “Troubles” in Northern Ireland with an open-border policy within the European Union that brought peace and prosperity to both parts of the Emerald Isle.

ANNOUNCING the launch of this year’s PHL LIVE, Councilmember David Oh joined, L-R, composer Louis DeLise, Oh, entertainment attorney Bernie Resnick, songstress Carol Riddick and recording engineer David Ivory at City Hall. This talent search will enable rising artists to showcase their talent at prominent venues around town.

Brexit – the departure from the European Union advocated by the new United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson – will destroy the Good Friday Agreement unless Johnson can negotiate its preservation somehow. But he is a lightweight negotiator whom no one trusts.

On Oct. 31, as currently scheduled, the U.K. will crash out of the EU, deal or no deal – with disastrous results for many nations, but particularly for Ireland.

Johnson has offered, as an alternative to trading with his next-door neighbors, a deal for free trade with the Anglo-Saxon USA. Trump’s team has spoken warmly of this.

But any such deal would have to go through the U.S. House of Representatives. And Boyle, who visited the Northern Irish border with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier this summer, made it clear that no U.S.-U.K. trade deal that violates the Good Friday agreement will pass the House. Boyle said, “My House colleagues and I, including Speaker Pelosi, have been crystal clear. We will not even entertain a trade deal with the U.K. if they violate the Good Friday Agreement and place a border on the island of Ireland.”

ATTORNEY Kahlil Williams, who ran an impressive campaign for City Commission in the hotly contested Democratic primary this spring, congratulated Deeley, who survived the primary in fine shape, at her birthday party in the Palm restaurant. Photo by Wendell Douglas

All Democratic Irish American congressmen will roll with Pelosi and Boyle. In Pennsylvania, the heat will be on Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Congressmen Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) and Mike Kelly (R-Butler) to go Irish on this vote.

Back from Iowa, Sestak Taps Penna.

Like any sensible candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, former Congressman Joe Sestak is spending most of his time in Iowa small towns these days.

He will, however, be dipping back into suburban Philadelphia, which he once represented in Congress, for a Fundraiser Reception on Friday, Sept. 6, at Margaret Kuo’s Restaurant in Wayne, Pa.

Sestak is still in the lower tier of the two dozen aspirants to carry the Dem banner in 2020. To pull it off, he will need national money – particularly from places where he is already known.

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