The Biggest Winners and Losers in Philadelphia’s 2017 Primary Election

Clockwise: Black Lives Matter activist Asa Khalif, Democratic district attorney nominee Larry Krasner, Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police chief John McNesby, labor leader John Dougherty, City Controller Alan Butkovitz, ward leader Marian Tasco, and protesters at Philadelphia’s Women March.

Philadelphia’s election on Tuesday was a game-changer. The winner of the Democratic primary for district attorney is a criminal defense lawyer who has never prosecuted a case in his life and made a name for himself by suing law enforcement over alleged abuses and representing progressive activists like Black Lives Matter. A young ex-budget director crushed incumbent City Controller Alan Butkovitz, the ultimate political insider, in an upset victory.

Those two Democratic nominees, Larry Krasner and Rebecca Rhynhart, are the race’s biggest winners. But who are the other winners and losers — the issues, interest groups, and kingmakers — in the election? Here’s our list: Read more »

The FOP Has Put Up Anti–Seth Williams Billboards

John McNesby and Seth Williams. | Photos by AP

John McNesby and Seth Williams. | Photos by AP

Telling the Inquirer his union was willing to spend an “unlimited amount of resources” in the Democratic primary against Seth Williams, FOP Lodge 5 head John McNesby has begun a campaign against the incumbent district attorney.

Yesterday, a billboard showed up on I-95 between Bridge Street and Cottman Avenue: “HELP WANTED: NEW PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY,” it read. “PLEASE CONTACT FOP LODGE #5.” McNesby says the FOP will put up at least six billboards calling for Williams’s ouster. Read more »

What’s in Store for Philly’s Police Union in 2017

Fraternal Order of Police president John McNesby looks ahead to a busy 2017.

Fraternal Order of Police president John McNesby (left) looks ahead to a busy 2017 that will include supporting a candidate to unseat District Attorney Seth Williams (center), working with state Rep. Martina White (top, right) on a bill that addresses police shootings, and dealing with the uncertain fallout of president-elect Donald Trump’s administration.

John McNesby sounds like he’s in a good mood when he picks up the phone a few days before Christmas. The president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 5 is tending to some odds and ends around the office, putting the finishing touches on what has proven to be an interesting year for the union and the 6,100 or so members who make up Philadelphia’s police force. Read more »

Is Pa. Bill That Would Block Naming Cops Who Shoot Civilians ‘Fair’ or Regressive?

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After Brandon Tate-Brown was shot by police in 2014, his mother, Tanya Brown-Dickerson (right), and other supporters fought for the names of the involved officers to be released. | Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

Thursday was a big day for police unions in Pennsylvania.

If you ever wonder who has more clout in Harrisburg — the unions or activists pushing for law enforcement reforms — just pull up the roll call for House Bill 1538. The bill, introduced by Philadelphia Republican state Rep. Martina White, calls for police officers who are involved in shootings to only be identified 30 days after the incident, or after an investigation into the shooting is finished — so long as there’s not a sense that releasing the information will put the cops or their families in danger. Releasing an officer’s name before that 30-day benchmark would bring a second-degree misdemeanor charge. It passed through the House by a massive margin — 151 yeas to 32 nays.

I was at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 5’s headquarters in the Far Northeast last fall, when White first discussed the bill in front of a large crowd of current and retired officers and their families. She stood on an uncluttered stage, backed by the union’s president, John McNesby, and a handful of other officials. Then-Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey had recently instituted a policy of publicly naming cops who had fired their weapons within 72 hours, a step that many outsiders viewed as a long-overdue boost to the department’s transparency efforts.

Read more »

Insider: Kenney Is Breaking His Most Important Promise to Black Voters

A large crowd marches to mark the holiday honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Monday, Jan. 19, 2015, in Philadelphia, Pa. Participants called for a higher minimum wage, an end to police "stop and frisk" tactics and a locally controlled school system. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

At a large rally honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. last year, participants called for an end to stop-and-frisk. | AP Photo/Mel Evans

(Editor’s note: This is an opinion column from a Citified insider. McCalla is a policy consultant who provided pro bono advice to former mayoral candidate Anthony Williams and other candidates last year.) 

“The Congress will push me to raise taxes, and I’ll say ‘no.’ And they’ll push and I’ll say ‘no.’ And they’ll push again and I’ll say to them, ‘Read my lips: No new taxes.'” That was presidential candidate George H.W. Bush in 1988, making an iron-clad, non-negotiable campaign promise that he would go on to break. I thought of dear George when I read recently that Mayor Jim Kenney was intending to violate arguably the single most important pledge he made to Black voters — that he would end stop-and-frisk. Read more »

Philly FOP Head Wants LeSean McCoy Charged

LeSean McCoy (Photo | Jeff Fusco). John McNesby

LeSean McCoy (Photo | Jeff Fusco). John McNesby

John McNesby, the head of the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, is incensed that LeSean McCoy has not been charged in an alleged beating at an Old City club that sent two off-duty cops to the hospital. He’s so angry about it he made an O.J. Simpson reference.

“I’ve never waited this long, ever, to see somebody arrested,” McNesby said on the 94 WIP morning show today (listen below). “So, it doesn’t pass the smell test. Something’s funny going on. I know that they have more discovery on this case then they had in the O.J. Simpson case. I mean it’s taken up rooms. So I mean, how much more do you need? All you have to do is clearly look at that video.” Read more »

Marco Rubio, Rush Limbaugh Blast Kenney

Photo Credit | Matt Rourke, AP

A host of high-profile conservatives are criticizing Mayor Jim Kenney over comments he made after a Yeadon man allegedly told officials that he shot police officer Jesse Hartnett because he is loyal to ISIS.

At a news conference Friday, Kenney said, “This is a criminal with a stolen gun who tried to kill one of our officers. It has nothing to do with being a Muslim or following the Islamic faith.” Police Capt. James Clark told reporters at the same event that 30-year-old suspect Edward Archer confessed to the crime, saying, “I pledge my allegiance to the Islamic state, and that’s why I did what I did.” The suspect’s mother, meanwhile, said he had been “hearing voices.”

GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio blasted Kenney for his remarks at a town hall in South Carolina: “The police chief stands up, says, ‘This was the guy. We arrested him. And he said he did it in the name of ISIS.’ And then [Kenney] gets up and says, ‘This has nothing to do with Islam and radical Islam.’ This is ridiculous. This is absurd. This is a radical person, living in United States, who became radicalized. This is the new face of the war on terror, and it is dangerous and we need to confront it and defeat it.” Read more »

Is There a Middle Way on Cop Anonymity?

police-van

Let me confess to a failing: When John McNesby speaks, I almost always decide to take the opposite position. It’s a knee-jerk instinct, and it’s probably not one of my better characteristics. My reasoning? If you can find a dirty cop in Philadelphia, McNesby — president of Philly’s police union — is probably nearby, defending that cop and blaming the media. Yes, it’s his job, but his shtick sure seems old and counterproductive in an era that is (rightly) demanding more accountability and transparency from police.

Most of the time, I think he’s bad for Philadelphia.

So when McNesby came out Wednesday in favor of a bill that would require police departments to withhold the names of cops involved in shooting incidents — the Philly Police policy is to name names within 72 hours — I was inclined to dismiss him outright, for three big reasons: Read more »

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