I know Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams is in big trouble for allegedly taking gifts, but I’d like to offer him one more, no strings attached.
Well, technically there are strings attached — but it’s to this teeny tiny violin that I’m currently wrapping so that our mooching DA can play it any time he gets the urge to cry broke. Cries that he was soaking up with other people's hankies ever since he was elected in 2009, and suddenly forced to get by on the meager elected official's salary of $175,572.
Hit it, Sellout Seth!
Not even a sprawling indictment for corruption and bribery charges has stopped the tears. Williams has until Friday to either prove he can pay for his lawyer or get another one who might do him — another — favor.
It's always tough to figure out how much is in someone else's wallet. But if there is one thing anyone with any shame knows is that you never, ever cry broke around people who are actually broke.
Like the thousands of Philadelphians who live in such staggering poverty that we continue to have the unfortunate distinction of having the most deep poverty of any big U.S. city. Kids growing up in our most struggling neighborhoods have significantly lower life expectancies than kids in Iraq and Syria, where families struggle to just survive.
The week before Williams was indicted, I attended a hearing at City Hall on preventing homelessness. Families shared heartbreaking stories of living on the edge. And they weren't talking about the alimony, child support, and private-school tuition that Williams insisted meant he could barely “eke out an existence.”
One missed paycheck, one illness, one bump in the road tipped the fragile balance in their lives.
I thought of them all as I watched the Williams downfall unfold, from of all places, Key West, one of Sellout Seth’s favorite all-expenses-paid destinations. In a lot of ways, we should have seen this coming.
Long before feds say he traded legal “help” for thousands of dollars in bribes from deep-pocketed donors, there was always something obscene about Williams, and it wasn’t just his odd obsession with showing off his abs — though that should have been a red flag.
It was his complete disconnect from reality, especially the one so many Philadelphians live in.
Not that he was alone — plenty of politicians pull the poverty card to justify betraying the public’s trust and padding their salaries. And even those who don’t do anything illegal often cry at how little public service pays. Remember when former Mayor Michael Nutter left office and said he was looking forward to getting paid.
"I want to do something really radical in my life . . . making money for the first time ever," he said. As mayor, he was making $177,679 a year.
Oh, boo-hoo, boo-boo.
“Dude,” Williams reportedly texted one of his benefactors, Woody’s bar owner Michael Weiss. “I never want to feel like a drag on your wallet … but we are ALWAYS ready for an adventure.”
You know what constitutes an adventure for the people living in deep poverty in this city? Life. Paying the most basic of bills, having to choose every month between keeping a roof over their heads or food on their tables.
I’d say I wish Williams was there to hear the stories from Philadelphians truly trying to eke out an existence, but we’re talking about a man who allegedly stole from his own mother to cover his mortgage and electricity bills.
The sooner we can air out his stink from the office the better, so I’m going to direct my comments to all the candidates vying to become Philadelphia's next top prosecutor.
If you’re more interested in image than injustice, go away.
If you don’t have your financial house in order, you have no business running.
If you don’t understand that when the people put their trust in you, the very least – very least – you owe them is not selling out your office and this city for sunny vacations or a custom chocolate-colored couch, you don’t deserve this job.
If you want to act more like some pimp than a public servant, you’re not welcome here.
And if you manage to win, and can’t resist screwing the public that employs you, know that we will be watching. And next time, I’ll be boxing up a tiny violin for you to unwrap at your criminal trial. You’ve been warned.