OPINION: Philly’s Tolerance for Corruption Is Why Seth Williams Hasn’t Resigned

Seth Williams at a February 10, 2017, press conference. Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

Seth Williams at a February 10, 2017, press conference. Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

The Philly reaction to political scandals usually rolls out like this:

1) Word of an investigation sparks chatter. Nobody really cares.

2) An indictment sparks concern. Some folks begin to actually care.

3) A conviction sparks outcry. Folks are absolutely done with the politician. Read more »

Jim Kenney Owes Seth Williams an Apology

Seth Williams (Matt Rourke/AP) and Jim Kenney (Jeff Fusco).

Seth Williams (Matt Rourke/AP) and Jim Kenney (Jeff Fusco).

Back in 2015, Alex Capasso — then the chef and a partner at The Crow and Pitcher, a little restaurant off Rittenhouse Square — was arrested and charged with one count of distribution of child pornography by the U.S. District Attorney. That’s some pretty bad stuff, right? His friends and co-workers were “shocked and disgusted.” His partners threw him out of the business, with a representative saying publicly that it would “be a blessing to the innocent partners and staff if his infamy did not take them all down in flames.” The restaurant changed its name and, at the time of this writing, Capasso sits in federal custody awaiting trial. The evidence against him looks pretty solid and, if guilty, he deserves, of course, to spend a long time in jail.

But here’s the thing: Capasso is not guilty. So far, he’s been accused of a crime. He hasn’t had his day in court. He has his side of the story to tell. Still, the guy’s life has been ruined. Which brings me to Seth Williams … and Jim Kenney. Read more »

OPINION: Michael Weiss Must Step Down From His Public Roles in the Gayborhood

Michael Weiss | Image via Mazzoni Center's website

Michael Weiss | Image via Mazzoni Center’s website

Michael Weiss is arguably one of the most powerful and politically connected men in the Gayborhood. He’s the co-owner of several popular bars (Woody’s, Rosewood Bar Lounge, and Voyeur), the board secretary of Mazzoni Center, a member of the Philadelphia LGBT Police Liaison Committee, an elected Democratic committeeman/treasurer for the city’s Eighth Ward, and a “special adviser” to District Attorney Seth Williams. Read more »

Seth Williams Indicted on More Than 20 Counts

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This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams shocked the city last month when he announced that he would not run for reelection in May. The news came only two days after he told reporters that he would stay in the District Attorney’s race despite the fact that he was under investigation by the FBI and facing other ethics problems.

Now we know why Williams might’ve changed his mind so quickly: The U.S. Attorney’s Office for New Jersey announced corruption charges against Williams at 3 p.m. this afternoon. The office has handled the investigation, which has largely focused on Williams’s finances. Read more »

OPINION: Black Politicians Are Going to Have to Earn My Vote From Now On

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

The most open forum in which to hear the unfiltered thoughts of black men in Philly is arguably the barbershop. No matter what our wealth, age, religion, and/or sexual orientation, the need for a fine hair cut is the factor that unites us all. Heated conversations on social issues and personal anecdotes flow freely during long waits for shape-ups and fades. The barbershop has even become an obligatory stop for politicians to stump for undecided votes — during any election season, one can expect buttons and placards to be left on seats.

Such was the case last week with Tariq El-Shabazz, the only black candidate running for district attorney. Someone at my barbershop in West Philly wearing one of his campaign buttons prompted a conversation about the highly contested race. Now, per the barbershop code, what was said in the shop stays in the shop — but let’s just say the conversation was heated and divided. Read more »

The D.A. Candidate Who Threw His Hat in the Ring at the Last Possible Second

Jack O'Neill | Photo courtesy of O'Neill's campaign

Jack O’Neill | Photo courtesy of O’Neill’s campaign

Jack O’Neill kicked off his campaign for district attorney at the last possible minute. Literally.

The first time the 35-year-old Democrat was described as a candidate by the news media was when he submitted 1,776 signatures on his nominating petitions last Tuesday — the deadline for candidates to submit their paperwork to appear on the ballot. Before then, O’Neill hadn’t put out so much as a press release about his electoral ambitions.

Politicos were left scratching their heads: Who is this mystery man? And why would he jump into a race that already had six Democrats at each other’s throats?

“The reason I got in later than most people was because I was not going to run against Seth [Williams] in a campaign that seemed like it was going to be about trashing Seth for his personal problems,” says O’Neill. “I didn’t think it would help the city. I didn’t think it would help the D.A.’s office. I didn’t think it would help people’s confidence in law enforcement.”

O’Neill spoke with Philly Mag last week for nearly an hour. He talked about his experience prosecuting the “Kensington rapist,” his plan to expand the city’s crime-fighting Focused Deterrence program, and why he believes he is the most qualified person in the race to implement big reforms. The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Read our Q&As with the other D.A. candidates in the May 16th election here. Read more »

Can El-Shabazz Win Over Voters Despite His Tax Debts, Ties to Seth Williams?

Tariq El-Shabazz | Photo courtesy of El-Shabazz's campaign

Tariq El-Shabazz | Photo courtesy of El-Shabazz’s campaign

Tariq El-Shabazz, a Democrat running for district attorney, has baggage. A lot of baggage.

Philly.com reported that there are more than $190,000 in tax lien judgements filed against him, and his former law firm was taken to court six times for failing to pay rent. El-Shabazz says he is now in a payment plan, but refuses to reveal how much money he’s paid toward his debts. That’s not all: A petition for a protection-from-abuse order was filed against him and later withdrawn, according to Philadelinquency. From September 2016 to February 2017, El-Shabazz was also the righthand man to District Attorney Seth Williams, who abandoned his reelection campaign amid questions about $175,000 worth of gifts that he failed to report as well an FBI investigation into his finances.

To win the D.A.’s race, El-Shabazz will need to convince voters that he is independent from Williams and can manage an office with a $52 million budget despite his own financial problems. “I know for a fact those liens did not prevent me from doing the job that I needed to do when I was in the D.A.’s office,” he says. “However, they are debt that needs to be handled and they are being handled.” Read more »

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