Democratic U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah had his first day in court Tuesday, and it was an absolute circus. The 20-year Congressman didn’t simply declare that he was innocent. He fiercely went after prosecutors, made irrelevant remarks about the Eagles to reporters, and told a federal judge that he was not guilty long before it was the appropriate time to enter a plea.
This scene, believe or not, underlines just how difficult it will be for a challenger to defeat Fattah in his bid for reelection next year.
Congressman Chaka Fattah goes to court today, his first appearance since being charged with racketeering conspiracy, bribery and mail fraud. He has said he will fight the charges at trial.
Fattah and four associates were indicted last month for their alleged involvement in a racketeering conspiracy that involved misappropriating “hundreds of thousands of dollars of federal, charitable and campaign funds,” according to a statement by the U.S. Attorney. Among the schemes alleged, prosecutors claim that Fattah and some associates borrowed $1 million from a wealthy donor in connection with his failed 2007 mayoral bid and that he hid the money as a loan to a consultant. He repaid $400,000 after the campaign and allegedly arranged for a non profit to repay the rest, disguising the whole mess with fake contracts and false accounting entries and bogus campaign disclosure statements. Read more »
But writer, a Philly native, Joe Queenanargues in the Wall Street Journal that we should restrain from blaming Philadelphians, and Philadelphia, for the bad things that happen here.
“Are people responsible for bad things that happen in the cities where they grew up?” he asks, in light of this past week’s HitchBOT controversy. “Whenever things like this happen, everyone goes out of their way to give me a hard time about the “so-called” City of Brotherly Love.”
Queenan asserts later in the piece that Philadelphia doesn’t get the credit it deserves for some of the truly amazing things it’s institutions and citizens achieve. He writes:
A duo counterfeited fake SEPTA TransPasses and sold more than 2,000 of them in and around City Hall, federal prosecutors said. The fake passes — which allowed unlimited travel on the bus, trolley or subway — were primarily sold to City of Philadelphia employees.
According to charges unsealed today, a pair of 35-year-old Philadelphians — Mark Cooper and Kimberly Adams — conspired to sell the thousands of fake SEPTA passes between August 2013 and June of this year. Cooper allegedly made the TransPasses and gave them to Adams, who the government says sold them inside and outside City Hall for about $50. The passes normally cost $91.
The city says an internal investigation continues. “We’re not going to let city employees siphon money away from one of the region’s public agencies — especially not in City Hall of all places,” Philadelphia inspector general Amy Kurland said in a statement. “Our administrative investigation into other employees who were involved in this conspiracy is ongoing.” Read more »
As if the wholeHitchBOTscandal couldn’t get any more absurd, it now seems that the supposed surveillance video that purported to show an Eagles fan allegedly destroying the traveling robot is fake, created by Ed Bassmaster and Jesse Wellens, two local vloggers who specialize in pranks. Read more »
The suspect in the aggravated assault outside Club Risque in South Philadelphia (Photo via Philadelphia Police Department)
Things got a little rowdy outside of Club Risque in South Philadelphia not long ago, and now the Philadelphia Police Department is asking for the public’s help to find the suspect in an aggravated assault that left one victim on the ground unconscious. Read more »
Two days after the non-robotic hitchBOT was savagely murdered on the streets of Philadelphia, overtaking the deaths of that lion in Africa in the social consciousness, surveillance video has emerged that appears to show hitchBOT being smashed apart by a man who may be wearing a Philadelphia Eagles Randall Cunningham jersey. Read more »
Most weekends I don’t leave South Philly, let alone the East Coast. But I spent the past couple days in Los Angeles, and I have to admit that by Saturday evening I started to entertain the idea of extending my stay.
Because really, California doesn’t seem like such a bad deal. It never snows and it barely rains. There’s a beach to the left and mountains to the right. If you forget your laptop in a coffee shop, it will be waiting for you behind the counter with a glowing barista who smells like sunshine and rainbows. What, I wondered, do I have against happiness? Why do I insist, year after year, on proving that I can survive Philadelphia?
You probably heard over the weekend about HitchBOT — a hitchhiking robot that had made it successfully across Europe and Canada without incident, but which was vandalized when it got to Philly. It kind of got to be a big deal, making national and international news:
“We were saddened (but maybe not very surprised) to hear that the beloved #HitchBot, which had done trips across Europe and Canada, was destroyed during it’s stay in Philly,” they wrote. “We at The Hacktory are trying to figure out what to do to help. We’ve reached out to the creators and the people who traveled with the HitchBot recently to get details on where the parts are. We know a lot of people out there don’t want this to be the end of the US tour for HitchBot.”
They added: “We’ll say that at this moment, if we get the ok from the creators to repair or replace the needed parts for HitchBot, we’ll be happy to do so. If not, we understand… and we may just build ourselves a HitchBot2 to send along on it’s journey. We feel it’s the least we can do to let everyone, especially the Robot community, know that Philly isn’t so bad, it’s got some really great stuff going on, and great people. But seriously, we would recommend avoiding the scene in Old City on the weekend evenings… not a good one for bots or anyone who’s not looking for a drunken brawl.”
Gentlemen: We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We can make him better than he was. Better…stronger…faster.
And if not, well: HitchBOT’s demise provoked a fair amount of social media commentary.
I, for one, thought it was strange and unnecessary that hitchBOT was programmed to feel pain