The Brief: Lynne Abraham’s Racially Loaded Remarks From 25 Years Ago Are Back in the News
1. An Old Philly Mag Quote Comes Back to Haunt Lynne Abraham
The Gist: Al Dia went into the archives and unearthed a politically problematic quote from Lynne Abraham in a 1990 Philadelphia magazine article. Abraham, who was in a meeting with a defense attorney, said: “There’s only one group of people who have problems with blacks more than whites in this city, and that’s Puerto Ricans.” That led Frank Burgos to editorialize in the Daily News columnist that Abraham was “the Margaret Mead of local race relations,” and not in a flattering way. What makes this interesting is that Abraham didn’t retract her statement when contacted by Al Dia. She told the paper:
“That was in 1997, this is 2015. And that was brought up in a political context by one of my opponents. I believe that my record on balance is inclusive, sensible, sensitive. I don’t pretend to speak for anybody else,” she said.
“I respect Frank Burgos’ opinion. And it’s not my intention to do anything but to work collectively and collaboratively with everybody. But at the same time, we all have to agree to look at what we see around us and face some perhaps unpleasant truths. I’m not saying I agree with anything…but you know what, here’s my point, I’m not going to amplify differences except to say that in a world of difference we all ought to be allowed to be different. Because we are different.”
Why It Matters: Race is a delicate subject for any big city mayoral candidate, but it’s a particularly sensitive issue for Abraham, who was, at times, a racially polarizing figure as District Attorney. Abraham has a lot of minority supporters; way more than most people in this city seem to think. But a long career spent locking up largely black and Latino men—which is par for the course for big city DAs—leaves Abraham vulnerable on questions of race. Her opponents haven’t really gone there—yet. But if Abraham remains a potent force in this race, there’s a good chance one or more of the Super PACs in this contest will plumb Abraham’s record for some of the more racially divisive moments in her past.
2. The PILOT Drumbeat Goes On, As Penn Students Lobby University to Pay Up
The Gist: The Citizen has a look at Penn student activists who are pressuring their university to contribute PILOTs—or payments in lieu of taxes—to support the cash strapped public schools. The students are putting pressure on Penn President Amy Gutmann directly, staging a die-in at a Penn big-wig holiday party and holding candlelight vigils outside Gutmann’s home on campus.
Why It Matters: The pressure on Penn and other mega-nonprofits to cough up PILOTs is growing fast. Many of the mayoral candidates are in favor of PILOTs. City Council passed a resolution urging Mayor Nutter to ask for PILOTs by a 15-1 vote. Now Penn is dealing with activist students who want the same thing. The group has scheduled a pro-PILOT march on campus for today at noon.
3. State Rep. Kevin Boyle Says Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack’s Wife Tossed a Soda on Him
The Gist: Ryan Briggs reports for Philly.com that Tonya Stack flipped off State Rep. Kevin Boyle and doused him with soda at a fundraiser for the family of slain veteran Michael Strange—or at least that the story according to Boyle, who has been locked in a big Northeast Philadelphia power struggle with Stack.
Why It Matters: It doesn’t. Like at all.