Sorry, But the Johnson-Feibush Verdict Won’t End Councilmanic Prerogative

City Council Entrance

The verdict in the federal civil lawsuit between Point Breeze developer Ori Feibush and 2nd District Councilman Kenyatta Johnson was remarkable for a couple reasons.

Think about it on the most basic level: A federal jury determined, by a preponderance of the evidence, that a sitting Councilman was guilty of the kind of petty abuse of power that everyone suspects, but can never prove, that Philadelphia politicians are involved in all the time. In the jury’s view, Johnson had blocked the sale of two city-owned lots to a developer because that developer was a political opponent. Johnson maintains that politics had nothing to do with it, but the jury rejected that. They saw it as cheap retaliation under the color of the law.

On another level, it was remarkable to hear judges, jurors and city attorneys talk openly in court about Councilmanic prerogative, an unwritten tradition that lets Council members control development in their districts. The tradition occupies a shadowy sort of space in the mythos of local politics. How real is it, reporters and political observers sometimes wonder? How powerful? How ripe for abuse? And then right there in court, lawyers for the city government flatly stipulated that Councilmanic prerogative is so solid a custom that it might as well be written policy.

But even though the jury ruled that prerogative was the moving force that led to the retribution against Feibush, the verdict won’t end the tradition. It’s unlikely even to slow it down. Here’s why: Read more »

Ori Feibush and Kenyatta Johnson Testify in Court Fight Over Point Breeze Properties

Kenyatta Johnson. Photo | Jeff Fusco. Ori Feibush. Photo | Creative Commons SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39111166

Kenyatta Johnson. Photo | Jeff Fusco. Ori Feibush. Photo | Creative Commons SA 2.5.

Trial hearings began Tuesday morning in a federal civil lawsuit filed by Point Breeze developer Ori Feibush, who claims that 2nd District Councilman Kenyatta Johnson refused to authorize the sale of two vacant lots on Cleveland Street as an act of political retaliation because Feibush was challenging him in a City Council race last year.

The case began as a suit filed by Feibush against Johnson, but it has effectively become a case between Feibush and the practice of Councilmanic Prerogative, the unwritten legislative tradition that gives Council members de facto control over land development in their districts. The court previously dismissed several complaints against Johnson specifically because he enjoys “legislative immunity,” which prevents lawmakers from being sued over law-making activity.

An eight-member jury heard testimony from four witnesses Tuesday. The trial is expected to conclude Wednesday, and the jury will likely need to consider a few key questions:  Read more »

The Heart and the Head: Buckminster’s Reviewed

Photo via Buckminster's

Buckminster’s at 22st and Federal | Photo via Buckminster’s

It was the bologna that threw me.

I mean, really, it was everything. But it was the bologna most of all, because I loved the bologna at Buckminster’s—thick-cut quarters of Ely Farm honey bologna, stiff as salami, delicately sweet, tasting precisely nothing like anything you’re thinking of when you think of bologna—and I truly, honestly believe that everyone in the city who loves food and gives even a passing damn for locality and the bounty of this region ought to go there and eat it right now. It was far and away the best bologna I’ve ever had in my life (a life dedicated, more or less, to finding best things and loudly telling people about them), and like all best things, it’s worth going out of your way for.
Read more »

Vacant Properties in Point Breeze To Become Affordable Housing

The South Capitol St. property on which one of the developments will be built.

The South Capitol St. property on which one of the developments will be built.

The trend of socially conscious development continued this week, as the transferral of two Point Breeze properties to the Women’s Community Revitalization Project (WCRP) was approved by the Philadelphia Vacant Property Review Committee. The WCRP also announced that they were partnering with Citizens Acting Together Can Help (CATCH) to work on the project to provide affordable housing for families and veterans.

CATCH is a community group in Philadelphia that helps provide “supportive housing for disable veterans and others with special needs.”

The properties are located at 1308-1344 South Capitol St. and 1400-1428 South Taylor St. According to a press release, the plans are not finalized yet, but as of now they anticipate building around 30 one to three bedroom homes. Kramer+Marks Architects will design the development.

Read more »

Introducing the Bruno at Kermit’s Bake Shoppe

bruno pizza kermits 940

The Bruno at Kermit’s Bake Shoppe

Chef Brian Lofink got inspired while walking through Di Bruno Bros. recently. And with all that cheese and other wonderful products, that’s not surprising. So Lofink got to grabbing cheeses, balsamic dressing, bacon and more. Then he headed back to Kermit’s Bake Shop to create a the fanciest pizza the bakery and pizza shop has made yet.

The Bruno, as this brussels sprouts pizza is called, is offered as a whole pie only. The $25 winter pizza is earthy, smoky, bright and acidic. An intense and delicious pie for sure. Since getting to sample it a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been waiting for it to finally be offered for sale so I can get it again.

Ingredients include »

Curry and Beer Sundays at Buckminster’s

Congee at Buckminster's brunch.

Congee headlines Buckminster’s brunch.

If you didn’t get your weekend fill of chef Rob Marzinsky’s cooking from his congee headlining brunch, head back to Buckminster’s after 5 p.m. on Sundays for Curry and Beer.

Each Sunday, Marzinsky creates two-or-three special curries with one of the curries being paired with a special hoppy beer for $15. Buckminster’s full dinner menu is also available on Sundays.

Also and Sundays and through Thursdays, the Point Breeze bistro offers late-night happy hour from 10 p.m. to midnight. The happy hour includes $3 select drafts, $3 well drinks, $5 select wines and an abbreviated dinner menu.

Buckminster’s [Foobooz]

Buckminster’s Launches Brunch

Photo via Buckminsters

Photo via Buckminster’s

Buckminster’s at 21st and Federal in Point Breeze is adding weekend brunch. Chef Rob Marzinsky’s menu includes eggs, sweets plus some of hits off of the dinner menu. If we were ordering right now we’d be torn between the intriguing Caroline rice and pork congee sauerkraut with fried onions, chilies and a soft egg or the “Bologna and Cheese” that is served with spelt bread, Ely Farm cheese, Lebanon Bologna, sunny side up egg and cranberry mostarda.

Check out the drinks and full menu »

Is This the New Nodding Head?

Photo of a brewpub in South Philadelphia | Photo via LPMG Properties

Photo of a brewpub in South Philadelphia | Photo via LPMG Properties

A tipster tells the Passyunk Post he spotted what looked to be an under construction brewpub at 1939 South Bancroft Street (just about a block from South Philadelphia Tap Room). The Post ties the property to John Longacre (owner of SPTR, American Sardine Bar and Brew) via West Broad Properties Fund. That corporation shares the same address as Longacre’s LPMG Properties.

Read more »

« Older Posts