Still Calling

Philadelphia Democratic Party

Your Councilman Doesn’t Care

This is a brutal ad by Ori Feibush, who is running against Councilman Kenyatta Johnson in Philadelphia’s desperately poor and blighted 2nd District:

It is effective because it is true: Johnson’s neighborhood -where he was born and raised- is one giant blighted, trash-strewn lot because the councilman doesn’t give a shit. He really doesn’t. In fact, if it wasn’t for Johnson’s intervention, one particular blighted crumbling building might actually be serving the community: that would be the Barrett Educational Center, the tax delinquent, non-functional nonprofit that got Kenyatta’s fake nonprofit Peace Not Guns at least one grant back in 2011. Won’t you join me on a trip down the rabbit hole?

In 2008, Johnson connected one of his associates, a man name Insukba Lyons, with Tiphanie White, who owned and ran the Barrett Education Center (BEC) nonprofit out of 1300 S. 24th. I don’t know the extent of their relationship, but Lyons and Johnson are close enough to be friends on Facebook:
kenyatta insukba
In October 2008, operating as a business entity known as Small World Educational Center…
small world insukba

…Lyons bought the building from Ms. White for a dollar:

bec-small world sale

Two months later, BEC’s executive director Tiphanie White (who describes Johnson as her mentor) announced that the center would re-open in 2009 with all sorts of new amenities and programs, with rebuilding to be done by an outside company called SIBS ENTERPRISES:
BEC exec4 kenyatta-sibs connection

…which just happened to ALSO be owned by Lyons:
SIBS Enterprise Registration

By 2011, when Johnson applied for his grants through the BEC, none of the promised work had been done, the building was in worse shape than ever, and Lyons had been delinquent in his taxes since he bought the building (he is still delinquent):
BEC-Small World Tax Delinquent

Turns out Lyons has a long history of getting sued for not paying his bills: I found numerous claims against him and his business entities as a defendant, all of which he lost, which you can find by searching his name at the Philly court’s civil dockets. I spoke or emailed with three different individuals, including two involved with the BEC project, who had nothing good to say about Lyons, and characterized him as a dishonest person and a scoundrel. Lyons also lost a $40,000 claim from a a woman he convinced to take out a loan for home repair, after which he hired cowboy contractors who didn’t know what they hell they were doing, and who damaged her home (thank you Mr. Sawyer for the research):

Lyons settlement

He even got sued by the guy who designed the BEC website and some of Peace Not Guns’ brochures too!

website claim against Lyons


PNG BEC IS TW connections

PNG BEC IS TW connections 2

Today, the former head of BEC works in Johnson’s office (and she was/is the secretary of Peace Not Guns). Johnson applied for a grant through BEC in 2011 (3 years after the executive director he mentored sold the organization’s building to his friend Lyons, and watched her family’s legacy and property fall to pieces literally as well as figuratively). Lyons is on Johnson’s Facebook list of friends. The ties are so close and so strong that it seems highly implausible to me that Johnson didn’t know that his associate Mr. Lyons was doing wrong by the organization, by the neighborhood, and by the family that ceded this valuable piece of real estate to him for a dollar (it was worth a little more than $7,000 at the time; today, it is assessed at more than $160,000). The building is a crumbling eyesore, exactly the kind of blight that Johnson claims to want to fix: after all, this is the guy who supports “Safer Neighborhoods and Improving our Quality of Life” and “Clean and Green”. Did Johnson, who was born, raised, lives in, and has represented the area since 2009 not see anything? Did Ms. White, who seems to have been ripped off, say nothing? When Johnson asked White or Lyons (or whoever was representing BEC) to act as fiscal sponsor for his ill-gotten grants, did no one ever bring up the topic of the promised repairs and improvements that never happened ? Guess not. The councilman can’t get off his ass and tell his buddy “Hey pay your taxes and either maintain your building or I’m gonna sic L&I on you”?

Maybe the condition of the BEC isn’t Johnson’s fault, but this sordid story doesn’t speak much of him as a leader or someone who cares about his community.

Tip of the hat to Philly Mag, which wasn’t interested in pursuing this story back in 2014 when I first dug all this up. I thought it was important enough.

Jim Kenney For Mayor, Chris Sawyer for Sheriff

I very much like the biographical ad. Although any candidate for mayor in Philly –especially in Philly- comes with baggage, I’m an unabashed supporter of Jim Kenney. I think he’ll make a great mayor. Learn more.

And while I’m on local politics, let me remind you that the BEST candidate for sheriff in this corrupt little town is anti-blight activist, the scourge of slumlords, and perhaps the only Republican I can vote for in good conscience, Chris Sawyer. I know him personally (well, through his blog, Philadelinquency, which I read almost every day), and the man is a fighter, insightful, smart, highly informed about the city’s real estate and light problems, and most importantly he is not owned by anyone.

You can’t vote for him in the primary if you’re a Democrat… but no one says you have to vote for Jewell Williams, who has been more of the same.

UPDATE: A great post by Sawyer, which gives you an idea of why I’ll gladly volunteer and vote for this kind of Republican.

The Manny Morales Implosion Continues


Just go read this. Ken and the gang at the Declaration really got some gold here. Everything about this is great, from the oily lawyer and his incredible Fluffya accent, to Manny “Frankenstein” Morales himself, to the black guys Manny’s using as props standing up in support of their good buddy Manny, it’s compelling (and HILARIOUS) TV.

Now, of course, the very poltroons and career charlatans that convinced this thickwitted, bigoted dolt to challenge Quinones-Sanches -out of sheer spite, I reming you- are running away, leaving him to twist in the wind. Party leader Bob Brady’s making a particular show of it, since back in February he was out shaking hands with good ol’ Manny (although quite a few sites are cropping out ol’ Bob).

I almost feel sorry for the guy. And then I remember that he’s a total dick who chose to put himself in the public spotlight, and I don’t feel so bad anymore.

Sanchez, Morales, and the Philly Democratic Machine


The Philadelphia Democratic Machine has never been a fan of Maria Quinones Sanchez, so it was no surprise when the Party again backed a challenger instead of the incumbent.

In this latest tiff, Quiñones Sánchez called 23d Ward Leader Dan Savage, the Democratic Party’s endorsed candidate for the seat when she won in 2007 and 2011, a “credible” candidate. She dismissed [Manny] Morales as a “bottom-of-the-barrel candidate.”

Morales was offended.

“That’s very low,” he said. “It’s very unprofessional for her status.”

Cruz and Morales each said Cruz had supported Quiñones Sánchez for Council in her 2007 race before a political falling-out.

“Was she his puppet?” Morales asked Monday of Cruz’s support.

But this past Monday morning, Philly voters learned that the Machine’s choice, Manny Morales, is a racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, homophobic mess of unelectability:

By Monday evening, however, Morales’ Facebook page had been taken down.

State Rep. Angel Cruz, who supports Morales, said he did not believe the allegations.

“Nowadays everyone is hacked and people can do whatever,” Cruz said. “It needs to be proven that they’re his [posts] and this isn’t all one of her little tactics.”

Quiñones Sánchez said she had collected more than 60 offensive posts by Morales and archived them on a Web page:

The website shows posts advocating for drug testing for welfare recipients, voter ID laws, shutting down the border, and pro-gun legislation.

In a July 2014 post archived on the website, Morales’ name is given as posting a comment on an antiabortion video, saying: “Unwanted pregnancy is very easy to avoid, keep your legs closed.”

You might be asking yourself right about now “Why on Earth would the Democratic Party nominate such a horrible candidate. Pat Kerkstra answers THAT question in a few short grafs:

The odds that Sánchez faked these posts approach zero. And really, all of this is less about Morales and more about how ward leaders and other Democratic power brokers feel about Sánchez (who’s bucked the party for years, and still won). Beating Sánchez is the priority; not replacing her. And this is how you end up with Mr. Tapeworm.

This morning Morales denied that he did any of this, even though it looks pretty damning. Duncan Black called him out as America’s Worst Human, but I don’t think that’s about right.

The horrible humans are the ones who put Morales into the race to begin with, purely out of spite. As Kerkstra states, this isn’t about “winning”: it’s about “beating Sanchez”. This isn’t anything new for Philadelphia Democrats or the state party either. I’m old enough to remember how Bob Brady and his goons savaged Albert Yee in 2006 when he ran for a Committee seat:

The Democratic County Executive Committee of Philadelphia
Executive Offices: 1421 Walnut St
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19102
Telephone: 241-7800
Robert A. Brady
Terry Gillen
2213 Naundain St
Philadelphia, PA 19146

March 8, 2006

Dear Terry,
It has come to my attention that there is an organized effort to file petitions to become a Democratic committee person in many wards in the city. It is clear that this effort has been started by forces that seek to polarize and destroy this party. I strongly urge you to oppose their efforts. I suggest that you immediately notify me at City Committee of the divisions where this has occurred. I will have the petition reviewed to determine if it is defective. If it is, I will assist you in filing a petition with the Common Pleas Court to have the person stricken from the ballot on behalf of your designated candidate in that division.

We are a family united. As your leader and friend, I will fight to make sure we remain united.

I will also prepare withdrawal slips for these individuals that filed and I will try to have them withdrawn.

Very truly yours,
Democratic County Executive
Committee of Philadelphia

If that’s a little too inside baseball for you, let me spell it out: the Philadelphia Democratic machine deliberately and maliciously smeared Yee as a Republican operative bent on destroying the party, in a coordinated effort to protect their fiefdoms from any interlopers.

We can also see this on the state level, with the party’s ongoing open hostility toward Joe Sestak. You remember him, right? He’s the Democrat who refused to drop out of the race after Arlen Specter cravenly changed parties, and cleaned the old man’s clock. Sestak went on to narrowly lose to Toomey, by about 2 percentage points in an election that went very badly for the Democrats overall. But while the voters may like Sestak, Party leadership does not:

Some Democrats, though, chafe at his rough edges and independent streak.

Among them is T.J. Rooney, a former Pennsylvania Democratic chairman and Specter supporter. In an interview last month, Rooney recalled how Sestak railed against the “establishment” in 2010.

“Buck the establishment? Guess what, buddy, a lot of the establishment wants to buck you back,” Rooney said.

Tellingly, no Democratic officials came to Sestak’s announcement Wednesday.

Chairman Rooney’s the genius who lost Specter’s seat to Pat Toomey, so OBVIOUSLY we should listen to him, if only because he provides such a clear window into the Party mindset. Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a city and state where your political party cared more about winning elections and doing right by the voters than engaging in vindictive, intra-party warfare? Because now Brady, who heads the Philadelphia Democrats and I have NO DOUBT was involved in the Morales decision now has to do some fancy footwork.

And now you know what it’s like to live in a one-party town.

Introducing the AHW-2

Shitty Photoshop Job Number 1
My first shitty attempt at Photoshopping

Mayoral candidate Anthony Hardy Williams wants to set up an unworkable, rapacious lottery that allowss financially-struggling college graduates to gamble away their debts:

How sadistic is this? Anthony Williams introduces a bill whose name is a spinoff of a semi-progressive piece of legislation that actually offers a viable alternative to pay for public higher education, and then redefines students. No longer “students,” they are players. P-L-A-Y-E-R-S. Players. Let that word sink in for a couple of seconds. For students who play, prizes under $500 will be awarded in cash, and prizes over $500 will be credited to the recipient. It gets better. The winner of non-cash prizes can “receive the prize himself” or “play it forward” to someone else and “assign the prize to another designated recipient.”

30 percent of all revenue generated will go towards cash or non-cash prizes and the remaining 70 percent will go towards administrative costs or PHEAA need-based grants.

Instead of fixing the structural crisis that Governor Corbett allowed to occur within the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education over his entire time in office, the Senator who called the press conference to fix this fucking mess introduces a bill that promotes gambling for prospective students and graduates shackled with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt.

Now to ordinary human beings, that sounds like a terrible idea. It’s a damn rare person that wins the lottery in comparison to the number of people who voluntarily buy into it. But here’s the crux of the biscuit: Williams isn’t actually a real human being. In reality, he’s the AHW-2: a highly sophisticated robot developed by the school reform movement a project launched in 2010. Its inventors, by the way, just dumped $250 thousand bucks into his campaign. Their pre-programmed candidate, which comes fully equipped wi-fi as well as a small but effective on-board tactical defense system responds directly to input from the Company.

It’s not without glitches though. Earlier this week, Jim Kenney and the AHW-2 butted heads on a $25 million offer to the School District from the Philadelphia School Partnership, to open more charter schools. Kenney spoke out against the offer, saying not only was it too low, but that it was the work of anonymous millionaires trying to influence the election. The AHW-2, who as previously stated is owned by those same millionaires, argued that the district SHOULD take the money. The robot then trained its laser eyes on a nearby elementary school, and vaporized it.

So yeah, the AHW-2 isn’t QUITE ready for prime time. But it’s getting there folks.