The Stark Choice Between Kenyatta Johnson and Ori Feibush

MO-metro-ori-kenyatta-illo-940x540

There was more energy in the room at the start of Thursday night’s debate between Second Council District contenders Kenyatta Johnson and Ori Feibush than at any mayoral forum so far this election year. Maybe more people too. I’d guess at least 400 turned out.

The standing-room only crowd was a reflection of the intense interest—and intense emotions—this race is generating in a diverse and rapidly changing district that includes key chunks of Center City and South and Southwest Philadelphia. You know the characters by now: Johnson, a freshman councilman and former State Representative, a young scion of the party who enjoys the full-throated backing of a wide array of elected officials; and Feibush, the even younger rebel developer who’s clashed repeatedly with city agencies and officials, but has also redeveloped large chunks of Point Breeze. It’s a classic contest pitting the establishment against a potent (and largely self-funded) upstart, replete with complicated sub-narratives about race, gentrification and the clash between old and new Philadelphia. 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 »

The Brief: No Standouts at Green-Themed Mayoral Forum

Candidate Conversations

From L to R: Democratic mayoral candidates Nelson Diaz, Doug Oliver, Lynne Abraham, Anthony Williams and Jim Kenney.

Six Democrats vying to be mayor of Philadelphia pitched themselves Tuesday night at a forum where sustainability issues such as bike lanes, plastic bag fees and street cleaning dominated the conversation.

The Next Great City coalition, an association of more than 100 civic organizations, labor unions, businesses and other groups, hosted the event.

At the first mayoral forum of the season, Citified said the candidates were unimpressive. They didn’t exactly wow the crowd Tuesday, either. They were a little sluggish at times, and none of them successfully connected the focus of the event — environmental and small business issues — to a larger, coherent vision for the city.

They didn’t embarrass themselves either, though. And to be fair, part of the candidates’ dullness may have to do with the unavoidable flaw in these types of events: It’s hard to stand out when you only have a couple minutes to respond to each question. The crappy weather was also energy-sapping. WHYY’s Dave Davies, who moderated the forum, spiced things up with a few eccentric questions.

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Listen To the Pro-Ori Feibush Rap Song

Photo Credit: Ori Feibush | OCF Realty

Ori Feibush | Photo Credit: OCF Realty

Zaa Geez, a South Philadelphia rapper, has released a song about none other than City Council candidate Ori Feibush.

Zaa Geez compares Feibush to Martin Luther King, Jr., Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. You know what? Just listen for yourself:

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The Brief: Jim Kenney’s Council Record Comes Back to Haunt Him

Jim Kenney

Former City Councilman and mayoral candidate Jim Kenney.

Back in 2007, then-City Councilman Jim Kenney sponsored legislation that required Philadelphia’s pension fund to give bonus checks to retired workers if it surpassed its investment goals.

Today, the city’s pension system is less than 50 percent funded — but the checks are going out anyway, perhaps as early as April, the Inquirer reports. Kenney, now a mayoral candidate, defends the bill through a spokeswoman, who says, “It will take a multiple-solution approach to get to a place where [the pension fund] is stable. We should not do it on the backs of our seniors.”

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After First Round, Kenyatta Johnson Vs. Ori Feibush a Cash Draw

Johnson: PA House of Representatives; Feibush: Jeff Fusco

Johnson: PA House of Representatives; Feibush: Jeff Fusco

The race for Philadelphia’s 2nd Council District seat is proving to be one of the best political showdowns this year.

Incumbent 2nd District Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and challenger Ori Feibush were neck and neck in fundraising last year, according to campaign finance reports released Monday.

Johnson raised about $330,400 in 2014, while Feibush raised just a hair less, nearly $327,000, during the same period. Feibush didn’t have to look far for most of that money: He gave $246,500 in cash contributions (including a $75,000 loan) to his own campaign.

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Ori Challenges Kenyatta to Ten Debates

Johnson: PA House of Representatives; Feibush: Jeff Fusco

Johnson: PA House of Representatives; Feibush: Jeff Fusco

As the 2015 primary election season heats up in Philadelphia, so do the public declarations of war.

Last week, Mayor Michael Nutter publicly insulted 2nd District council candidate Ori Feibush on behalf of Nutter’s man, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, calling Feibush a “little jerk with a big checkbook,” and now Feibush is publicly calling out incumbent Johnson by challenging him to a series of ten debates. Read more »

Half of City Council Just Got Cybersquatted

The 5th Square's website.

The 5th Square’s website.

Go to MarkSquilla.com, and you won’t find a word about the South Philadelphia Councilman bearing its name. JannieBlackwell.com, too, has nary a sentence about the longtime Councilwoman representing parts of West Philadelphia.

Instead, both websites redirect visitors to 5thSq.com — the site of a new urbanist PAC known as “The 5th Square.”

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