Who’s Behind Phone Survey Critical of Seth Williams?

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The other day I answered a phone call and found myself taking a 15-minute survey about District Attorney Seth Williams and a former and possible future challenger, Michael Untermeyer.

I was trying not to provide strong opinions (which as a reporter I of course don’t have to begin with), but I wanted to hear the questions, so I used the words “uncertain” and “somewhat” a lot. It was a pretty eye-opening survey, even as someone who’s followed the recent news about Williams fairly closely.  Read more »

Report: Feds Seek Kenney’s Campaign PAC Records

Jim Kenney is inaugurated as the city's 99th mayor Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. The 57-year-old Kenney succeeds Michael Nutter, who leaves office after two terms. Kenney served on city council for more than two decades before he was elected in November. Kenney is accompanied by his children Nora and Brendan and was sworn in by Judge Kevin Dougherty. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

This afternoon, Philadelphia magazine’s Jared Brey wrote that Mayor Jim Kenney’s alliance with electricians union leader John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty is looking worse and worse in light of the FBI investigation of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98.

In a matter of hours, things managed to go further south for Kenney.

NewsWorks’ Dave Davies broke the news that federal agents have requested documents from Kenney’s campaign committee. Read more »

Henon Goes Three Weeks Without Answering a Question About the FBI Raid

Photo via City Council's Flickr

Photo via City Council’s Flickr

A reporter’s worst fear is being called “silly” by an anonymous PR flack. So when that nightmare came to pass this morning after Billy Penn posted a column by an unnamed “political communications professional” criticizing our recent articles pointing out that City Councilman Bobby Henon has yet to answer any questions about the FBI raid on his offices three weeks ago, we had to pause and do some serious soul-searching.

Fortunately, that didn’t take very long. And Councilman Henon’s office once again didn’t respond to questions or a request for an interview that we sent this morning.

The nameless, faceless professional argued in their column Friday that Henon doesn’t have much to gain from giving interviews about the matter. But there’s an extra sort of volume to his silence about the FBI raids that goes beyond the standard non-commenting that other officials have been doing in the face of questions about their conduct. The anony-flack compares Henon to District Attorney Seth Williams, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and labor leader John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty, who have all reportedly come under the scrutiny of the FBI, and says they’re all smart to keep quiet. But the others have actually been a bit more forthcoming, while Henon has been totally silent. That’s why we’re focusing on him. Read more »

Kenney’s Alliance With Johnny Doc Looks Worse By the Day

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Photos by Jeff Fusco

I had a nice little chuckle the other day when I was reading the latest installment in a growing series of Inquirer stories about FBI investigations involving local union leaders, politicians and appointees.

The story revealed that Joseph Ralston, an agent in the state Attorney General’s office, appeared to be the focus (or one of the focuses) of the federal investigation that’s been circling around International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98, the union headed by John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty. It’s been just three weeks since the FBI initially raided Doc’s house, Local 98’s headquarters, and the offices of City Councilman Bobby Henon, who is on the union’s payroll. There have been new revelations about just how wide the FBI’s target is nearly every day since then.

“The pace of the investigation remains quick.”

That was the line that made me laugh. It’s a sober comment. Very newspaper. And funny, because it translated automatically in my mind to We’re not entirely sure where the hell this thing is going, but we’re keeping up the best we can.

But I’m sure Mayor Jim Kenney wasn’t laughing. And I’m sure he wasn’t laughing last night either, when another Inquirer story revealed that Jim Moylan — Kenney’s appointee to the hugely powerful Zoning Board of Adjustment, and Johnny Doc’s friend and chiropractor — is also someone the feds are interested in. Read more »

20 Days of Silence: Bobby Henon Still Won’t Talk About the FBI Raids

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Photo via City Council Flickr

Twenty days ago, the offices of Council Majority Leader Bobby Henon — as well as the home of his powerful ally John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty — were raided by the FBI. The Inquirer reported last night that sources familiar with a search warrant say the FBI is seeking Henon’s communications with an employee in the Attorney General’s office, among other things. The newspaper also wrote that federal agents had raided two more “union-related locations” in South Philadelphia on Wednesday.

One line in the article stuck out to us: “Henon’s office said he would have no comment on the latest raid.” Read more »

Kenney to PPA: Target Worst Offenders Parking on Broad Street Median

Photograph by Claudia Gavin

Photograph by Claudia Gavin

Everyone who parks a car in the median on South Broad Street is breaking the law, but traditionally, the Philadelphia Parking Authority has looked the other way.

If you are a Philadelphian who has logged onto the World Wide Web in the last few weeks, you’ve heard about this. Ever since the median was cleared for the Democratic National Convention, there’s been a push to enforce the parking ban year-round. And it’s been led partially by the 5th Square, an urbanist PAC that believes keeping the median clear is a matter of safety and respect for public space.

Mayor Jim Kenney, a South Philly native, has been publicly noncommittal about the practice, saying that 5th Square and other supporters should win over South Philly residents before any permanent changes are made. But privately, he’s encouraged the PPA to step up its ticketing of the most egregiously misparked cars.

“The mayor, the PPA and members of the administration met to discuss the median parking issue a few weeks ago, before the administration met with 5th Square this week,” Kenney spokeswoman Lauren Hitt said on Wednesday. “In that meeting, we agreed that PPA should ticket in the median when a car is fishtailed, in the turning lane, and in the crosswalk. We also agreed that any other changes should be community-driven.” Read more »

The (Too?) Careful Candidate: Inside Katie McGinty’s Senate Run

Photography by Will Figg

Photography by Will Figg

I have been getting some pretty weird emails from Senator Pat Toomey’s reelection campaign lately. There’s an anxious, almost desperate quality to them.

“Can’t sleep” was the subject of one from late June, which arrived a few hours shy of an important fund-raising deadline.

“Had to email you,” said another.

“Running out of time.”

“please … ” Read more »

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