Corruption Matters

More fun from the corruption indictments below, as it turns out that even within the last couple months, Jack Kelly appeared to be introducing legislation that was a direct result of his Chief of Staff being bribed. It turns out that besides the New River City Development, a stupid, weird, hulking development that is out of place in Philly, these developers were buying off Kelly's office for... mechanical parking garages. Nice.

As the City Paper notes
, way back in June of 2006, Jack Kelly was introducing legislation that appears to be a direct result of his chief of staff being bribed. Then, he got questioned by the FBI in January about these guys, yet...

...on June 12, 2008, Kelly introduced another piece of legislation (text here) that created a "new definition for 'Mechanical Access Parking Garage' and adding it as a permitted use in certain residential, commercial, and industrial districts." The bill was referred to the committee on rules, and Council won't meet again until September.

So, the burning question: did the FBI mention mechanical parking garages to Kelly when they questioned him about Wright? (It was obviously part of the investigation.) And if they did, why was Kelly still pushing a type of legislation that that investigators later linked to Wright and the Chawla brothers?

If half of what is being reported is true, Jack Kelly needs to resign. Here he was, actually introducing bills as a direct result of bribes going to chief of staff?

And, once again, we also see just how cheap it is to buy someone off in Philadelphia:

According to the indictment, Wright received a $1,000 check marked "Happy Holidays" from Hardeep Chawla, in December 2005; rent-free use of a Rittenhouse Square apartment for a time in 2006 and 2007, as well as a free parking space; and free legal services from Teitelman for an eviction proceeding and divorce.

So, you cut the guy a check for a thousand, give him a little apartment in a building you own, and as a result, you have a City Councilman doing your bidding. Now that is smart investing.

The most important part

It's amazing what a man will do for a parking space in Center City.

Interesting parlor games

If Kelly is forced to step down who will those rarest of birds, Republican ward leaders, select as his replacement? Will it go to David Oh who lost in the runoff to Kelly by slimmest of margins, a margin possibly augmented by fraudulent absentee ballots? Or will it go to someone more NE Philly Republican "establishment"? And since that candidate would still face a general special election, could a well orchestrated Green campaign actually pluck a seat on Council?
-Sean
MrLuigi, my cat, actually only types half as badly as I do.

An Election In Which Each Party Nominates A Candidate

If Kelly steps down, there will be an election in which each party nominates a candidate in the same manner as Adam Lang was nominated against Chaka Fattah and Bill Greenlee, Carol Campbell, and Dan Savage were nominated for vacant City Council seats. No Republican has actually defeated a Democrat in a Citywide election since 1989, so it is unlikely that any Republican nominee could win this election without the limited voting (five votes for seven seats) that enables the Republicans to hold two at-large seats.

The result could thus well be that for the remainder of the term there will be six Democrats and only one Republican serving as Councilman at Large, which would place pressure on at least one of the six not to seek renomination for the five available seats in 2011. The Democrats could get around this possible 2011 problem by nominating a Republican for the seat who would promise to seek the Republican nomination in 2011 or just retire then.

Interesting

I trust you know the exact wording of the City Charter on this. I thought it was phrased that two seats are held for a minority party - not by the number of votes. I would assume that any number of at-large "independents" could trump Kelly (or the second R vote getter) all the time then. Are you sure its not that the seats are specifically for a minority party?
-Sean
MrLuigi, my cat, actually only types half as badly as I do.

Home Rule Charter on Council Elections

From the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter

Section 2-101
The Election of Councilmen.
At the municipal election held in 1951, and in every fourth year thereafter, one councilman shall be elected from each councilmanic district and seven from the City at large. Each elector shall have the right to vote for one district councilman and for five councilmen-at-large. To this end not more than five candidates for councilmen-at-large shall be nominated pursuant to law by any party or other political body. Should a vacancy occur in the office of any councilman, the President of the Council shall issue a writ of election to the board of elections having jurisdiction over elections in the City for a special election to fill the vacancy for the balance of the unexpired term, which election shall be held on a date specified in the writ, but not less than thirty days after its issuance. The President of Council may fix as the date of the special election, the date of the next primary, municipal or general election.

ANNOTATION

* Sources: Act of June 25, 1919, P.L. 581, Article XVI, Section 2, as amended.

* Purposes:This section provides for the manner of electing Councilmen. Each of the districts specified in Section 2-102 elects one Councilman. Councilmen-at-large are elected by all the voters of the City. Minority representation is assured by the requirement that no more than five candidates may be elected for Councilmen-at-large by any one party or political body. Should a vacancy occur in the office of a minority representative, it is not required that the vacancy must be filled from the minority party as such a requirement would prove to be impracticable.

So Rep. Cohen is right

The Dem ward leaders pick Kelly's replacement then, in all likelihood. The majority party is only limited to 5 seats in normal elections. In special elections all bets are off. Lovely.

Should we expect Councilwoman Campbell's unexpected 2nd term?
-Sean
MrLuigi, my cat, actually only types half as badly as I do.

It always amazes me

How cheaply Philly's politicians come. You'd have to pony up at least ten times the cash to an alderman (and to most of his/her allies) in Chicago to get that kind of access.

The alternative, of course, is that it's the small-money, who-really-cares deals that turn up in investigations because those are the guys who are sloppy enough to get caught. The big-money deals? We will never hear about them.

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