The Philadelphia Outrage Meter for the Week Ending October 24

70% of the week’s outrage was directly attributable to the bracelet bribery scandal, with 20% of the outrage directed at the existence of the alleged bribe and another 50% at the fact that the judge is alleged to have been bought off so cheaply. After all, $2,000 doesn’t get you very far at Tiffany & Co. We would have held out for something more along the lines of this.

Meanwhile, 29% of the outrage was over someone calling Bill Cosby a rapist. And the remainder of the outrage — fully 1% — was over the idea that our beloved Dr. Huxtable-playing, Jello Pudding Pop-pushing, funny sweater-wearing Temple lover could even possibly, you know, be a rapist.

Philadelphia Judge Joseph C. Waters Jr. Pleads Guilty to Federal Corruption Charges


[UPDATE] According to an information (read the full document below) released by the U.S. Department of Justice, as expected, former municipal court judge Joseph C. Waters, who resigned his position yesterday, has pleaded guilty to charges of mail fraud and honest services wire fraud.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office issued the following release:

“Joseph C. Waters, Jr., 61, of Philadelphia, pleaded guilty today to using his judicial position to influence the outcome of two cases in the Philadelphia Municipal Court, announced United States Attorney Zane David Memeger. Waters, a former Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge, pleaded guilty to an information charging mail fraud and honest services wire fraud.

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Korean Bribes Helped Build Convention Center, Feds Say

Yesterday, the Department of Justice announced it had seized $500,000 from former South Korean president Chun Doo-hwan. Obviously, there is a Philadelphia connection: The money seized from Chun was bribe money laundered through the Convention Center expansion.

Chun was South Korea’s president in the 1980s and owes the country $143.5 million from corruption during his time in office. He’s considered the country’s last military strongman. He was sentenced to death in the 1990s, but it was commuted.

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Matt Swartz’s Probation Officer Works for Him at Farmers’ Cabinet


The woman you see in this photo is named Christina Quartullo. She is a waitress at Logan, the bar recently opened at 20th and Arch by Farmers’ Cabinet owner Matt Swartz. She was working there on Wednesday night. Quartullo also works weekends at the Farmers’ Cabinet. But her day job is as a probation officer for the City of Philadelphia, and one of her probationers is, yep, Matt Swartz. Read more »

Vince Fumo Throwing Himself a Giant Party

Ah, you gotta love Philly. A little more than a month since returning home from a four year stint in a federal prison in Kentucky, Vince Fumo is hitting the social circuit. Or rather, he’s hosting it.

Former State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo has invited many of his former staff members to his home for what is described as a social gathering on Sunday, Sept. 22. Invitations by telephone and e-mail have been extended to former Fumo aides in his Philadelphia and Harrisburg offices, recipients confirmed Thursday.

And many of those aides still work in state politics–four of them in the office State Sen. Larry Farnese, who replaced Fumo. That’s the angle this morning’s Inquirer story focused on. But it’s hard to get too worked up about that, considering what their former boss got in trouble for. When it comes to scandaling us over something Fumo-related, the bar has been set pretty high. [Inquirer]

Fumo Family Feud: Vince Fumo Sounds Like A Terrible Father Edition

We’ve got another nominee for “Worst Father in Philadelphia“! In court testimony yesterday at City Hall, Vince Fumo’s own kids laid bare the bitter feud between the imprisoned Democratic power broker and his family. The rift centers on who controls a $2.5 million trust fund Fumo set up for his children, Allison and Vincent Jr., in 2006. Ever since Fumo borrowed money from the fund in 2009, he’s become increasingly determined to plunder all of it, appointing personal cronies as trustees, according to Allison, who sued for control of the trust last year.

“I don’t trust my father, unfortunately,” Allison Fumo, 23, testified. Her brother, Vincent E. Fumo, 44, said much the same. He said his father wanted to win “at all costs” – even if it meant draining every dollar from a $2.5 million trust fund set up for him and his sister.

For more on an earlier, different-but-also-sordid Fumo family feud, check out Jason Fagone’s Philly Mag piece from 2008. [Inquirer]

State Approves Bill to Eliminate Traffic Court

What a sight to see: Harrisburg helping Philadelphia. The State House this week has passed a bill yesterday that will effectively neuter the city’s hopelessly corrupt Traffic Court, 114-81. The three Traffic Court judge candidates elected in the May primary, if and when the bill is signed by Tom Corbett, will have their names removed from the November ballot. Municipal Court will take over its duties and it will become all but extinct. A separate measure to officially eliminate the existence of the court was also approved by both chambers, but must clear several hurdles, including a statewide ballot referendum, before the Constitution can be changed. [City Paper]

Why Harrisburg Is More Corrupt Than Other State Capitals

Wonkblog directs our attention to a recent paper that finds a correlation between public state-level corruption and the state capital’s proximity to the major population centers in the rest of the state. The farther one is from the action, the more likely it is that legislators are getting away with crime. Why? The media and hence, the public, just aren’t paying as much attention.

As the chart demonstrates PA (what’s up, Vince Fumo?) fits the bill. It’s true that in state capitals like Boston and Providence, to pick two notoriously malfeasant northeastern cities, the political class is far more focused on state government than city government. In Philly, we (ahem) obsess over city politics, which for all we know, is causing Harrisburg to run wild.

Committee of 70 Makes Worst Argument Ever for Why You Should Vote

There’s an election next Tuesday, and The Committee of 70 wants you to participate. It’s supposed to feature some historically low turnout, on account of there only being one truly contentious race taking place–the three-way City Controller melee. So, our trusty watchdogs have provided a list of five reasons why we should head to the ballot box. Most of them are arguments for good civic behavior (“You can send a signal,” etc.). But one in particular actually makes a pretty compelling case that your vote is all but useless:

You can fill the last open seats on the embattled Philadelphia Traffic Court. It’s too late for the primary but the PA General Assembly is moving ahead on a bill that would remove the three open seats on the ticket-scandal-plagued Traffic Court from the November 2013 ballot. For May 21, since the Bar Associations don’t endorse Traffic Court candidates (because they aren’t lawyers), it’s a real crapshoot who among the 27 candidates–25 Democrats, two Republicans–will come out on top anyways. (Emphasis mine)

In other words: We should get rid of the whole court because it’s a horribly corrupt institution and actually we have no idea whom you should vote for because they’re all unqualified anyways. So…vote!

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