Philly Clout: Kenney expenses Hooters trip in Miami

Mayor Kenney still loves Race Street Café for an evening meal in Old City. But he apparently prefers a racier establishment when he manages to bust out of Philly for a couple of days.

Preferably a chain restaurant with large-breasted waitresses. And an Eagles game on TV.

Yes, we’re talking about Hooters.

In addition to all the money Kenney’s campaign committee spent on legal fees and ball games, Clout couldn’t help but notice $265 the campaign expensed at the Hooters in Miami in October.

At first, we figured Kenney staffers might have run up the tab while downing a few Miller Lites and chatting up the Hooters girls. Once you have one of those wings, it’s hard to stop.

But, nay. Kenney flack Marty O’Rourke confirmed Thursday that the mayor himself selected the destination while attending a tech conference. He wasn’t there to ogle women’s breasts, according to O’Rourke’s explanation. 

 "The mayor was in Miami,” said O’Rourke, who earned every dollar of his multiple consulting contracts this week. “He was at the CityLab tech conference, and the Eagles were playing that day.”

You see, Kenney just wanted to keep abreast of developments in the game.

 “He scoured the whole place to see where he could watch the Eagles,” O’Rourke continued, “and the only place that had the Eagles playing was Hooters.”

Scoured. Riiiight.

Hey, they don’t call him “Jimmy from the Block” for nothing.

The DA is MIA

The first debate in the race for Philadelphia district attorney will include everyone but … Philadelphia’s district attorney.

Seth Williams, who is seeking a third term, is refusing to participate in the Feb. 23 debate, sponsored by the Chestnut Hill Local and WHYY, because it is scheduled before the March 7 deadline for candidates to submit nomination petitions to get on the May 16 primary election ballot.

The other candidates — four Democrats and one Republican — have agreed to participate.

“We are disappointed that Mr. Williams has not accepted our invitation, especially with the unanswered questions that have come up in the past six months with respect to his acceptance of gifts, ethics violations, and disclosure lapses,” said Bob Warner, chairman of the Local’s board, a former Daily News and Inquirer reporter, and a wicked squash player.

Dan Fee, a spokesman for Williams’ campaign, said Williams has “agreed to other debates and would have agreed to that event if they’d been more accommodating on the timing.”

The Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP did accommodate Williams’ request to wait until after the petition deadline to host a debate. But that doesn’t mean Williams can expect a friendly reception there.

“I think he’s a little shy about showing his face,” said Minister Rodney Muhammad, president of the local chapter. “He’s got a lot to answer for.”

Muhammad is very interested to hear Williams explain why in August he amended his statements of financial interests for 2010 to 2015 to declare $160,050 in previously unreported gifts and then entered into an agreement with the Philadelphia Board of Ethics last month to pay a $62,000 fine. That agreement listed an additional $15,666 in previously unreported gifts.

The minister noted that Williams was accepting – but not disclosing – those gifts while he was “dragging people through the mud about ethics and public integrity,” referring to Williams' prosecution of local legislators for taking undisclosed gifts.

Honkala sues in 197th

Cheri Honkala, the antipoverty activist who ran unsuccessfully for vice president on the Green Party ticket in 2012, has been nominated by her party to run in the March 21 special election to replace former State Rep. Leslie Acosta in North Philadelphia’s 197th District.

One problem: The Department of State says the Green Party missed the Jan. 30 deadline to file nomination papers for Honkala. The department can’t put her on the ballot unless a Commonwealth Court judge orders it.

So Honkala and her party went to court Thursday morning, seeking such an order. Honkala painted the problem as “just another example of establishment politics as usual” and vowed to run a write-in campaign if a judge doesn’t see things her way.

Acosta (finally) resigned on Jan. 3 after the Inquirer and Daily News revealed in September that she had secretly pleaded guilty in March in federal court to a felony. Democrats in the district selected Freddie Ramirez – whom Acosta had conveniently suggested as her replacement – for the special election. The Republicans went with Lucinda Little.

Staff writers Chris Brennan, Claudia Vargas, William Bender, and Stephanie Farr contributed to this report.

benderw@phillynews.com

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