Updated: Friday, May 15, 2015, 12:16 AM
COVERING POLITICS isn't much different than covering the mob. It's mostly backslapping and backstabbing, interrupted by the occasional indictment. And everyone eats well.
So we weren't at all surprised when reputed mobster John "Johnny Chang" Ciancaglini called us the other day to chat about the Democratic primary.
Ciancaglini wanted us to know that he's not a blood relative of William "Billy C." Ciancaglini, the long-shot Common Pleas Court candidate who cut the ad of the campaign season - a splendorous YouTube video featuring an instrumental version of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'."
Johnny Chang, who we hear is at or near the top of the Philly mob hierarchy these days, tells us that Billy isn't actually his cousin, as we've reported, because Billy was adopted by Johnny's father's brother, who has since passed.
Johnny then says Billy was adopted because Billy's real father, who they called "Louie Blue," went into the witness protection program.
"I've had this issue with him before," Johnny says of Billy stating that they are cousins.
Billy, listen, you don't want to have this issue again. Trust us.
But it sounds like it's all been resolved because William Ciancaglini, who's just trying to run a judicial election over here, would prefer to stay as far away from La Cosa Nostra as possible.
He just released a new ad with a great slogan - "I'm number 48 on your ballot. I'm number one in your heart" - and another that features endorsements from cannabis activist and former City Council candidate N.A. Poe and mob lawyer Joseph Santaguida.
Hiding in plain sight
Earlier this month, Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell took some heat on behalf of her office staffer, Saboor Muhammed. The Daily News revealed that Muhammed was tied up with a fishy nonprofit that had held political fundraisers on her behalf - even though the city bans Council staffers from such involvement.
Blackwell Philly-shrugged away questions while Muhammed and other reps for the nonprofit, Southwest District Services, retreated to that special political fallout shelter that blocks incoming phone calls from reporters.
But just before they sealed the hatch, someone found time to scrub Muhammed's name from the group's website, swpds.org. It was noticeable because little else seems to have changed on the site since some intrepid soul added a cool animated GIF of a guy with a jackhammer ("Page is currently under construction!") in 2008.
Then Twitter user Ryan Godfrey (@rgodfrey) noticed the group's webmaster forgot to wipe out the board list on an alternate version of the site, at swpds.us. That site continued to list Muhammed as a board member for another day after the Daily News story ran, until that reference disappeared, too, along with a list of "Honorary Board Members" - which included Councilwoman Blackwell.
You say Obama, I say . . .
An eagle-eyed Clout reader noticed something was slightly off with business cards handed out on behalf of judicial candidate Franklin A. Bennett III.
Bennett's running for seats on both Common Pleas Court and Municipal Court - because like our grandfather used to say, "What the hell, why not?" The card stakes his candidacy on racial issues, stating: "Police are KILLING Unarmed People of Color. D.H.S. Takes Away Children from People of Color. Philadelphia Prisons are Filled with People of Color. Our Schools are Broken and Government is failing!"
All fair points.
Where the card goes wrong is when it quotes President Obama, but spells his last name "Oboma."
On the plus side, Bennett's name is spelled correctly on the card, which reminds people to vote for him - "TWICE!" - on Tuesday.
Ori and Kenyatta: We'll miss them
If you had to compare political races to TV show characters, the showdown between developer Ori Feibush and City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson would be a bit like Saul Goodman - so rich and so bizarre that you kind of wish their story could continue even after the election is over.
Last week, things got uncomfortably weird when Johnson's camp mailed out political fliers that showed Feibush topless in what appeared to be a hot tub. The point was . . . well, we're still not exactly sure.
Feibush struck back this week in his own odd way, touting on social media a debate with Johnson on Monday night at the Elmwood Skating Rink in Southwest Philly. The announcements promised veteran political reporter Matt Katz - formerly of the Inquirer, currently of WNYC and New York Public Radio - was going to moderate.
The problem: Johnson never agreed to the debate. His spokesman, Mark Nevins, pointed to email exchanges between the two campaigns that clearly showed Johnson had no interest in what would have been a fifth debate with Feibush.
Katz thought the debate was legit, until Clout gave him a head's up that something was amiss. He was bummed because he'd shaved and everything!
Feibush ventured out to the skating rink anyway, using the opportunity to push his message to the people who showed up.
"When I watch the Feibush campaign, I half expect to see a Benny Hill skit break out at any moment with banjo music, spit takes and wacky misadventures," Nevins said in an email.
Netflix, if you're reading, please order up 12 more episodes.
- Daily News staff writers Dave Gambacorta, William Bender and
The Next Mayor's Ryan Briggs
contributed to this report.
On Twitter: @CloutPage
Read full story: Johnny Chang disowns Billy Chang