Updated: Friday, September 8, 2017, 5:31 AM
Democrat Larry Krasner stands a better-than-fair chance of being elected Philadelphia’s next district attorney. We think it’s also fair to say his relationship with the city’s police union is complicated, at best.
So it was interesting to see Asa Khalif, a Black Lives Matter activist, standing directly behind Krasner at a lectern Wednesday for his “fall campaign launch” in a small television studio. Three cameras triangulated the event for future campaign use.
Khalif has been in the news more than Krasner of late. He and a small group of activists hurled obscenities during a Aug. 24 protest outside the Bustleton home of Philadelphia Police Officer Ryan Pownall, who fatally shot David Jones in the back in North Philadelphia on June 8.
(The Police Department on Thursday announced that Pownall would be fired for the Jones shooting.)
John McNesby, president of Lodge 5 of the Fraternal Order of Police, labeled Khalif and his fellow protesters “a pack of rabid animals” during an Aug. 31 “Back the Blue” rally.
McNesby had previously been incensed when some Krasner supporters chanted a profanity-laced message about the FOP during Krasner’s May 16 primary election victory party. They met two weeks later in a peace summit brokered by U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, chairman of the city’s Democratic Party, and everyone came away saying nice things about each other.
Still, the police union endorsed Republican nominee Beth Grossman for district attorney on June 27 after giving Krasner a chance to pitch his campaign.
Grossman on Thursday said Khalif’s presence at Krasner’s event “begs the question” of why the Democrat is even running for district attorney.
“It’s clear that Asa Khalif is an ally and a strong endorser of Larry,” Grossman said. “We believe everything Asa has been doing demonstrates and conveys Larry’s strong dislike of law enforcement.”
Rich Garella, Krasner’s campaign spokesman, in turn attempted to reignite the “both sides” controversy to link Grossman to President Trump.
“She would rather call out a black activist by name than a president who sympathizes with white supremacists and domestic terrorists,” Garella said. “Larry has worked closely with many fine and dedicated police officers for many years, and he has great respect for them.”
We noticed one more wrinkle from Krasner’s event. Khalif showed up wearing a T-shirt that read, “Black Lives Matter.”
But when the cameras were turned on, Khalif was wearing a black Nike track jacket, zipped to his chin, covering the T-shirt.
Did anybody from the campaign tell Khalif to camouflage the T-shirt?
“No one can tell me anything,” Khalif told us in the television studio. “It’s very cold in here. I put it on because I wanted to.”
If you were listening closely this week, you might’ve heard the collective spit-take Clout unleashed when we caught a glimpse of this Governing magazine headline: “To Wipe Out Corruption, Look to Philadelphia.”
We thought there’d been some sort of mix-up; maybe they were talking about that tiny city in Mississippi. But no. They were talking about our Philadelphia.
A seemingly endless parade of Philly pols who held state or federal office have gone down in flames during the last decade, but Governing staff writer Alan Greenblatt argued that the city has improved its corrupt-and-contented reputation on a local level ever since an independent Board of Ethics was created more than a decade ago.
“Most people working in local government now have a firm sense of what’s allowed and what’s not,” he wrote. “By and large, they’ve been staying out of trouble.”
Sure, former District Attorney Seth Williams just pleaded guilty in June to federal corruption charges. But Greenblatt claimed Williams was the first city official to face corruption charges since 2008.
We appreciate the good vibes, Alan, but we’re going to hold off on raising celebratory glasses of Old Fashioneds at the Palm. (Actually, on second thought–.)
Seth was a big catch for the feds, sure, but he wasn’t the only local official to recently end up in trouble. In July, Grant Shea, a former manager for the Office of Emergency Management, pleaded guilty to child porn charges. A month earlier, Yolanda Stallings, a Fire Department paramedic captain, was arrested for insurance fraud.
Municipal Court Judge Dawn Segal and Common Pleas Court Judge Angeles Roca were both removed from the bench in December over separate case-fixing schemes. That same month, Robert Otterson, a former city Fleet Management supervisor, was sentenced to house arrest for helping reputed mob associate Ronald Galati Sr. bilk the city out of $400,000 as part of an auto-body repair scam.
You get the gist.
Labor Day news dump
Well, well, well. Another switcheroo in Delaware County.
As loyal Clout readers might recall, Delco Dems waited until after the May primary to announce that one of their County Council candidates was dropping out the race – even though she had actually dropped out of the race a couple months earlier.
That way, Democrats were able to avoid having to run a write-in campaign to get their new candidate nominated.
“The height of hypocrisy,” Delco GOP leader Andrew Reilly chided Democratic leaders at the time.
But then, last week, on the Friday before Labor Day, Reilly’s crew announced that they were subbing in a new candidate of their own for register of wills. The announcement came at least two weeks after the incumbent register of wills, a Republican, decided not to seek reelection for personal reasons.
Ah, the ol’ Friday news dump – on a holiday weekend no less!
If you’re unfamiliar with this term, Taegan Goddard’s Political Dictionary describes it as: “Releasing bad news or documents on a Friday afternoon in an attempt to avoid media scrutiny.” (Perhaps you recall the West Wing episode called “Take Out the Trash Day.”)
“I’m not going to turn this into some nasty business like the Republicans did,” said county Democratic leader David Landau. But, Landau added, “it’s obviously a little strange that they waited until Friday afternoon of Labor Day weekend to tell us something that happened two weeks before.”
Not so, says Republican spokesman Pete Peterson, who said the party just had to find a replacement candidate.
“It’s like comparing apples and orangutans,” Peterson said.
Peterson added that the news release was actually supposed to go out on Thursday, but it got stuck in his email outbox overnight due to a data limit.
That sounds a tad suspect to us … but it’s officially happy hour. We’re moving on.
Staff writers Chris Brennan, David Gambacorta, and William Bender contributed to this column. Tips: firstname.lastname@example.org.