City Council Women to DA: Fire Porngate Prosecutors

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

This morning, as promised, the Philadelphia chapter of the National Organization for Women held a press conference in City Council’s Caucus room in City Hall to release a statement (not a resolution, they were sure to clarify) demanding that the office of Philadelphia DA Seth Williams fire three of its prosectors who were part of the porngate email chain: Frank Fina, Marc Costanzo and Pat Blessington.

The statement, which was signed by all five female Council members, noted that “The emails which these men forwarded reportedly include women in compromising sexual situations with captions indicating advancing in the work place requires such acts, depiction of African American babies as violent from infancy, and stereotyping and ridiculing of gay men.” The statement takes specific aim at Fina, “whose involvement in prosecuting sex crimes makes this behavior all the more disgraceful.” Read more »

Watch Out, Seth Williams

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, center, accompanied by investigators Marc Costanzo, left, and Frank Fina, speaks during a news conference Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, center, accompanied by investigators Marc Costanzo, left, and Frank Fina, speaks during a news conference Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, in Philadelphia.

The women of the Philadelphia City Council are mad as hell, and they want District Attorney Seth Williams to know they’re not going to take it anymore.

Tomorrow morning, they are planning to join with the Philadelphia chapter of the National Organization for Women to denounce “the demeaning, misogynistic and racist emails” exchanged by former state prosecutors who currently work for Williams, according to Philly NOW president Nina Ahmad.

Ahmad said all of the women members of City Council have signed onto a statement condemning the dissemination of the “Porngate” emails. Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez confirmed this. Sánchez also said prosecutors in the email chain should be fired.

“These people make judgement calls on people’s lives every single day,” said Sánchez. “There’s so much questioning of our judicial system, from the police to the attorney general, and we don’t need to further complicate that with the perception that people making decisions about which cases go to trial think it’s okay to do what they did.”

This is a huge, huge deal. The fact that all of the women on City Council are holding Williams’ feet to the fire … well, that’s a lot of political pressure. And it’s just as interesting that Democrats on Council are calling out another member of their party. Read more »

The Weekly Brief: How 83 Aliens Are Voting in Philly

1. There Are Dozens of Adarians Registered to Vote in Philly

The gist: Ever heard of Adarians? Oh, you haven’t? Weird. They’re a “species of bipedal humanoids from the planet Adari in the Inner Rim of the galaxy,” according to Wookieepedia, a/k/a/ the Star Wars wiki. They made an appearance in the comic-book adaptation of the Stars Wars novel “The Last Command.” They look nothing like the green guy in that photo above (apologies, Star Wars fans). And, according to an article in the Philadelphia Daily News, there are 83 of them registered to vote in Philly, and 206 signed up throughout the rest of Pennsylvania. Read more »

Why Voter Turnout Sucked in Philly’s Mayoral Race

APTOPIX America Votes

Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

1. Voter turnout in Philadelphia wasn’t always so pitiful.

The gist: Only 27 percent of registered voters cast a ballot in Philadelphia’s mayoral primary last week. It wasn’t always like this. In 1991, 49 percent of Philly voters came to the polls. In 1987, 67 percent did; in 1971, a stunning 77 percent did. Other big cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago and New York have also seen voter turnout plummet in municipal elections over the past few decades. CityLab’s Daniel Denvir has a theory about why that may be: Read more »

John Street: Re-Elect the “Relentless” Maria Quiñones-Sanchez


(Editor’s note: This is an op-ed from former Mayor John F. Street.)

It has been 35 years since I was sworn in as a member of the City Council of Philadelphia.

The president of the country was Jimmy Carter. The outgoing mayor was Frank Rizzo. The Council president was George X. Schwartz. Some of you just might recognize some of those names. Seems like another life.

I came into office thinking the city’s most pressing problem was blight and deteriorating neighborhoods. Sadly, notwithstanding a major offensive against this problem by successive administrations our city’s most difficult and persistent problem is still with us – BLIGHT.

Fortunately we have Councilwomen Maria Quiñones-Sanchez to continue the fight against this city’s most pervasive problem. Read more »

The Brief: Why the “Philly Is Baltimore” Protest Was Mostly Peaceful

The "Philly Is Baltimore" protest | Photo by Victor Fiorillo

A scene from the “Philly Is Baltimore” protest | Photo by Victor Fiorillo

1. The “Philly Is Baltimore” Protest Was “Tensely Peaceful,” and That’s a Good Thing

The Gist: After riots and looting broke out this week in Baltimore in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray, state Sen. Anthony Williams said Philadelphia is “sitting on a powder keg.” District Attorney Seth Williams said “at any given time, anything could happen.” Thankfully, though, Thursday’s “Philly Is Baltimore” protest was, according to news reports, largely peaceful. Philadelphia magazine’s Victor Fiorillo, who was there, called it “tensely peaceful” and said “as of 11 p.m., we’d only heard about a handful of arrests.”

Read more »

The Brief: Dems Ditch Council Candidate with Crazy Facebook Page

Manny Morales Facebook Page

It seems even Philadelphia’s Democratic City Committee has its limits.

Manny Morales, who is challenging 7th district City Council incumbent, Maria Quiñones Sánchez no longer has the blessing of party elders, who withdrew their support two days after Sánchez posted screen captures of some pretty out-there ravings on the Manny Morales Facebook page. Read more »

The Brief: Why Have City Dems Endorsed a Council Candidate Whose Facebook Page Compared Gay Men to Flatworms?

Maria Quinones-Sanchez | Photo Credit: AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Maria Quinones-Sanchez. Not the tapeworm candidate. | Photo Credit: AP Photo/Matt Rourke

María Quiñones-Sánchez is one of the more consequential members of Philadelphia’s City Council. She was the driving force behind the new land bank. She’s gotten major small business-friendly tax reform legislation enacted. She just pushed through a charter amendment that, if approved by voters, would require all city departments and agencies to have plans in place to serve city residents who don’t speak English. And that’s to name just a few of her accomplishments. Read more »

Philly, These Three Questions Could Be on Your May Ballot

Philadelphia City Council  | Photo Credit: City Council's Flickr page

Philadelphia City Council | Photo Credit: City Council’s Flickr page

The Philadelphia City Council passed legislation this week that would put three questions on the ballot in the May 19th primary. These are the pesky little queries that you may or may not have heard a damn thing about in past years until the moment you stepped into the voting booth on Election Day.

Here are the questions Council approved this week in separate measures. They all seek to amend the city charter:

Read more »

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