Porngate Investigator Steps Down Over Conflict of Interest
Good morning, Philadelphia. Here’s what you need to know today:
Porngate investigator Robert Graci stepped down after the Daily News revealed that he once campaigned for Supreme Court Justice J. Michael Eakin, a/k/a the guy he was supposed to be investigating.
“Maybe State Attorney General Kathleen Kane was right about that old-boys’ network in Pennsylvania politics,” the Daily News reports. “Apparently, it even reaches into the state Supreme Court. Wednesday, the chief counsel for the state’s Judicial Conduct Board stepped aside from an investigation into a Supreme Court justice’s raunchy emails after the Daily News reported that he was a friend of the justice’s and had played a lead role in his re-election campaign.”
All of the women on City Council are holding District Attorney Seth Williams’ feet to the fire over Porngate.
The women of City Council are joining with the Philadelphia chapter of the National Organization of Women on Thursday to condemn “the demeaning, misogynistic and racist emails” swapped by former state prosecutors who now work for Williams, Philly Mag’s Citified reports. After conducting a review of the email chain this summer, Williams said he wouldn’t fire the prosecutors and would instead only force them to undergo “sensitivity training.” Council members Cindy Bass and Maria Quiñones-Sánchez said this week the prosecutors should be canned. “These people make judgement calls on people’s lives every single day,” said Sánchez. “There’s so much questioning of our judicial system, from the police to the attorney general, and we don’t need to further complicate that with the perception that people making decisions about which cases go to trial think it’s okay to do what they did.”
Mayor-elect Jim Kenney tapped Richard Ross to become the city’s next police commissioner.
“As expected, Deputy Commissioner Richard Ross is stepping up to take Philadelphia’s top police job, replacing retiring Commissioner Charles Ramsey, and capping a long, quarter-century climb through the department’s ranks,”writes Philly Mag’s Joel Mathis. Ross, who is currently Ramsey’s No. 2 man, said he plans to retain and even expand many of Ramsey’s initiatives, such as the use of body cameras, foot patrols and neighborhood town halls. “You’re going to see a lot of what you’ve already seen, and then some,” said Ross.
The Mummers Parade is making efforts to become more diverse.
For years, critics have said the parade is racially insensitive and fails to reflect the diversity of the city. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports the Mummers organization is adding a new division, known as the “Philadelphia Division,” which will feature “San Mateo Carnavalero, a Mexican heritage group; members of a kung fu school in Center City that does the lion dance in celebration of the Chinese New Year; and drag queens, who have performed in the parade the last three years.” The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations called on the Mummers to diversify the parade after a marcher known as a “wench” carried a sign this year reading “Wench Lives Matter,” a reference to the Black Lives Matter movement. Mayor-elect Kenney, a former Mummer, supports the change. “He would like to see more and more people and more and more neighborhoods included in that tradition,” said Kenney spokeswoman Lauren Hitt.
The state budget deal will likely include a new pension plan for future employees.
Gov. Tom Wolf and the GOP-controlled legislature say they are very close to hammering out a deal on the state budget. PennLive reports that deal will probably include a compromise on the state’s pension system, perhaps in the form of a new “hybrid” plan that combines a traditional, defined pension with 401(k)-style benefits for future workers. Will labor unions fight the proposal? “That’s something we’re going to have to decide,” said David Fillman, executive director of Council 13 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. “All we can do now is just wait and see what the final framework looks like.”