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

Plus: Johnny Doc and Tony Williams are at war, and Kenyatta Johnson is in the crossfire.

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.

To be sure, Sánchez is hardly immune to criticism. There was, for instance, the embarrassing episode earlier this year where she honored Palestinian official Laila Ghannam, only to renounce her a month later after some videos turned up suggesting Ghannam was, well, a supporter of terrorism.

But the city’s Democratic party is more than willing to overlook such episodes—and, indeed, far more grievous offenses—when it comes to endorsing incumbents. This is an ironclad rule. For everyone but María Quiñones-Sánchez.

Sánchez won office in 2007 when she defeated incumbent Danny Savage (he’d been in office only six months, after replacing convicted councilman Rick Mariano). Tradition dictates that Sánchez should have been endorsed by the district’s ward leaders, and thus, the Democratic City Committee when she ran for re-election in 2011. That didn’t happen. Savage got the endorsement. Sánchez trounced him nonetheless (60.5 percent to 40.5 percent). Surely now, in 2015, Sánchez would get the party’s endorsement?

Well, not so much.

Ward leaders in the Seventh Council District instead anointed one Manny Morales, who few had ever heard of before. Sánchez, though, seems to have had a file on the guy, because she launched a damning website yesterday picturing screen captures of Morales’ Facebook feed, which closely resembles the stuff your uncle from Oklahoma likes to post.

Morales—who, let’s remember, is the Democratic-party endorsed candidate for the 7th district council seat—is pro-voter ID, anti-abortion, thinks George Zimmerman handled things just fine, is an immigration hawk, is pro Ron Paul and, yes, wondered aloud on Facebook if gay men, like flatworms, “use their bifurcated penises to fence one another.”

Morales’ Facebook feed has since been taken down. On Monday, the Inquirer reported that a recent post on Morales’ page said: “I have been told that people are spreading outrageous and desperate lies calling me racist and homophobic among other words. Those that really know me knows that I have family members and friends that I love and care for that are of a different skin color than me. I have family members and friends that I care for that have love ones of the same sex. I was not born in a golden crib and I’m proud to be originally from Brooklyn New York Red Hook projects where my mother made me plenty of delicious grilled cheese from the block of welfare cheese she received to feed our family.”

Morales ally—or, more accurately, Sánchez enemy—State Rep. Angel Cruz told the Inquirer this was all just a big misunderstanding. “Nowadays everyone is hacked and people can do whatever you want. It needs to be proven that they’re his and this is isn’t all one of her little tactics.” The “her” he’s referring to is Sánchez.

The odds that Sánchez faked these posts approach zero. And really, all of this is less about Morales and more about how ward leaders and other Democratic power brokers feel about Sánchez (who’s bucked the party for years, and still won). Beating Sánchez is the priority; not replacing her. And this is how you end up with Mr. Tapeworm.

Don’t Miss

  • Johnny Doc is prepared to sink $1 million into defeating councilman Kenyatta Johnson (and, thus, presumably, electing Ori Feibush), according to this report from Ryan Briggs and Mensah Dean. Why? Because Johnson patron and mayoral candidate Tony Williams declined to endorse Doc’s brother, Kevin Dougherty, in his Supreme Court bid. Check out Williams’ response:

“John Dougherty has a right to support whoever he chooses to support. I think he’s tied to one particular mayoral candidate. That will have an impact upon impressions across the city of Philadelphia,” said Williams, after leaving a City Council committee hearing. “Whatever he chooses to do that’s his business, I don’t have anything to do with that.” Williams added that he was also planning to support a variety of candidates in the upcoming election, and contrasted their backgrounds with those aligned with Dougherty. “The folks I support will show the diversity of the ticket. They will be people of color, people of different sexual orientations. I don’t know what Mr. Dougherty’s ticket is going to look like.”

  • Gov. Wolf—who is showing again and again that he doesn’t like to do things in a small way—has a new plan to begin to get a handle on the state’s out of control pension costs by issuing a $3 billion bond and cutting investment management fees by $200 million a year. The proposal is complicated, and it faces opposition from Republicans (because, obviously), but it boils down to this: if enacted, the state would actually meet its required contribution in 2016-2017 (this is not the norm) and would reduce its scheduled annual pension payments by about $1.3 billion over five years (without skimping on the yearly commitment, because of the bond and reduced management costs). Wolf’s proposal is contingent on (among other things) increased profits in the state-run wine and liquor system, which is part of the reason why it’s unlikely to be adopted. Republicans are more focused on a) privatizing the PLCB and b) reducing pension benefits for future employees.
  • Dog; bone. Inquirer reporter Craig McCoy isn’t done with former Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery, who retired last year amid scandal.
  • Another day, another story of judicial misconduct in Philadelphia’s courts.
  • Reopening PATCO’s station adjacent to Franklin Square would cost $18.5 million without attracting many new riders. Bummer.