Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Vacuum Cleaners Delivered -- Sort Of -- For Fumo Protest

Harrisburg gadfly Gene Stilp had a plan: He was going to deliver 300 vacuum cleaners this morning to U.S. District Justice Ronald Buckwalter to protest the 55-month prison sentence for former state Sen. Vince Fumo. The U.S. Marshals Service had another idea: Not going to happen. They reached a compromise: Stilp would park his flat-bed truck loaded with vacuum cleaners one block away from the federal courthouse and not try to deliver them to Buckwalter's office. The truck sported a large sign that said "Judge Buckwalter: No delays, the short sentence sucks."

Vacuum Cleaners Delivered -- Sort Of -- For Fumo Protest

Stilp clambers up the pile of vacuums on the truck, with the U.S. courthouse in the background. (ED HILLE / Staff Photographer)
Stilp clambers up the pile of vacuums on the truck, with the U.S. courthouse in the background. (ED HILLE / Staff Photographer) ED HILLE / Staff Photographer

Harrisburg gadfly Gene Stilp had a plan:  He was going to deliver 300 vacuum cleaners this morning to U.S. District Justice Ronald Buckwalter to protest the 55-month prison sentence for former state Sen. Vince Fumo.  The U.S. Marshals Service had another idea:  Not going to happen.  They reached a compromise:  Stilp parked his flat-bed truck loaded with vacuum cleaners one block away from the federal courthouse at 6th and Market streets and didn't try to deliver them to Buckwalter's office.  The truck sported a large sign that said "Judge Buckwalter: No delays, the short sentence sucks."

Fumo's indictment showed that he used money from a non-profit agency he helped start to buy 19 vacuum cleaners, one for every floor of every house he owned.  Stilp, who has filed a judicial complaint accusing Buckwalter of basing his Fumo sentence on the "old boy network" of well-connected people who wrote letters asking for mercy, also objects to Fumo's request to delay his Aug. 31 deadline to report to prison.

Stilp said he decided to respect Fumo's privacy and stay away from an engagement party the former senator threw in South Philly last night.  So what do you do with 300 vacuum cleaners if you can't deliver them to a judge?  Stilp says he will offer them as parts to a vacuum cleaner repair store.

"I think our message has been delivered loud and clear that the sentence sucked," Stilp declared.

About this blog
Chris Brennan, a native Philadelphian and graduate of Temple University, joined the Daily News in 1999. He has written about SEPTA, the Philadelphia School District, the legalization of casino gambling, state government, the mayor, the governor, City Council and political campaigns. E-mail tips to brennac@phillynews.com
 Follow Chris on Twitter

Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
 Follow Jenny on Twitter.

Sean Collins Walsh is from Bucks County and went to Northwestern University. He joined the Daily News copy desk in 2012 and now covers the Nutter administration. Before that, he interned at papers including The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News and The Seattle Times. E-mail tips to walshSE@phillynews.com
 Follow Sean on Twitter

PhillyClout Team
Also on Philly.com
Stay Connected