The No-Bullshit Guide to the 2017 Philadelphia Primary

Clockwise: District attorney candidates Larry Krasner, Joe Khan, Rich Negrin, Teresa Carr Deni, Jack O’Neill, Tariq El-Shabazz, Beth Grossman and Michael Untermeyer. | Photos courtesy of the campaigns

Do you loathe that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is doubling down on the War on Drugs? Are you glad he’s finally restoring law and order to the country? Do you think the city spends too much money locking people up? Just enough? Too little? If you answered affirmatively to any of these questions, then you should vote in this year’s district attorney race. The DA prosecutes crimes in Philadelphia, helping to determine whether justice is delivered to victims and how many people end up in prison every year. The choice in front of voters is as important as ever: Current District Attorney Seth Williams has been accused by the feds of seeking thousands of dollars’ worth of bribes and stealing from his own mom.

Voters will also choose Philadelphia’s next city controller, judges, and election board workers on Tuesday, as well as vote on two ballot questions.

Don’t worry if you haven’t paid close attention to these races — it’s why we created this election guide and an accompanying list of endorsements for each candidate in the district attorney race. It’s a ruthlessly honest, easy-to-understand explanation of the candidates’ pros and cons. Here are your choices. Read more »

OPINION: Why Rich Negrin Should Be Our Next DA

Rich Negrin

Richard Negrin | Photo courtesy of Mark Nevins

Next Tuesday our city will have the chance to vote for a new district attorney amid a federal investigation that’s put a dark cloud over the office. With eight candidates running (seven from the Democratic Party), voter turnout might increase in comparison to previous low-turnout cycles. I predict, however, that voter turnout will still not exceed 20 percent because this is not a national election cycle. Further, I predict that three regions will dominate the turnout: Center City, the suburban Northwest, and the working-class Northeast. Given those factors, a thorough process of elimination will leave you with only one candidate able to secure enough votes to come out on top: former city managing director Richard Negrin.

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DA Candidate El-Shabazz Was Sued in 2010 for Not Paying Daughters’ Springside Tuition

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

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

From the very start, Tariq El-Shabazz’s campaign for district attorney has been clouded by stories about his money troubles.

A few days before the Democrat officially jumped into the race, Philly.com reported that there were $190,712 in tax lien judgments filed against him in the city’s Common Pleas Court. Shortly thereafter, news emerged that his former law firm had been taken to court because it allegedly didn’t pay rent. El-Shabazz, who has since satisfied $53,525 of his debts, according to court records, has repeatedly argued that he has the skills to manage the DA’s $52 million budget despite his baggage. Read more »

Report: Judges, Clients Say El-Shabazz Provided Improper Defense

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

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

An in-depth City and State PA investigation into several legal cases handled by district attorney candidate Tariq El-Shabazz during his time as a private defense attorney has uncovered a string of clients who claim that he mishandled their cases – and, in one case, two federal judges who ruled that El-Shabazz’s conduct contributed to a man’s conviction.  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 »

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 »

D.A.’s Office: Tax Woes Won’t Impact New No. 2’s Hire

District Attorney Seth Williams announces the appointment of Tariq El-Shabazz (right) as his first assistant.

District Attorney Seth Williams announces the appointment of Tariq El-Shabazz (right) as his first assistant.

The D.A.’s Office announced a big hire last week: Veteran defense attorney Tariq El-Shabazz is being brought in to serve as deputy for investigations, and take over the job of first assistant district attorney when the current first assistant, George Mosee Jr., retires in December.

During a press conference to announce El-Shabazz’s appointment, District Attorney Seth Williams praised El-Shabazz as an “outspoken voice for justice.” Williams also described El-Shabazz as someone he’s leaned on for advice ever since the death last fall of Williams’s longtime mentor, former local NAACP leader J. Whyatt Mondesire.

But some sources within law enforcement circles quickly began to grumble about the hiring. As the website Philadelinquency first reported, El-Shabazz has been hit with a plethora of significant tax liens in recent years, and the landlord of his Broad Street office sought in March to have El-Shabazz evicted, citing more than $27,000 in unpaid rent .

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