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Philadelphia: Pay to Play

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At speaking engagements to mostly black audiences before his eventual re-election, Philadelphia Mayor John Street accused the FBI and Sam Katz of being racist because they targeted this administration for a wiretap and FBI investigation into corruption charges. Those groups loved that red meat, and are running to his defense.

According to exit polls, about 90% of blacks voted for Street, despite the charges of corruption against his administration. Many black community leaders have said the accusations are unfounded and were only brought against Major Street because he was black.

Well time has proven them wrong. This week, several associates of Mayor Street were indicted by a federal grand jury. Street fundraiser Ronald A. White and former City Treasurer Corey Kemp were both cited in the grand jury indictments for taking bribes and kickbacks. If people wanted to do business with Philly, they had to donate to the Street campaign or they would be excluded from government contracts.

In audiotapes gathered by the FBI White and Kemp are heard discussing how they would treat businesses who did not donate.

“If they ain’t with us, they ain’t gonna get nothing”

Though Mayor Street was not indicted, he was named several times as allowing a culture of corruption to grow. He also flatly denied a key assertion in the indictment that he had told his staff to provide White with inside information and to award city business White sought to the firms White touted if the firms were qualified.

But instead of cries for change, many people are rallying behind Street.

A. Bruce Crawley, chairman of the African American Chamber of Commerce, said he continued to be troubled by the tenor of the investigation and the news coverage, arguing that both seemed to be targeting African Americans unfairly.

I’m not even going to go there. All I care about is that Philadelphia changes its ways. Things have got to be done to reduce the pay for play politics that dominate the 5th largest American city.

Voters had a chance to elect Sam Katz last election. An imperfect candidate, but one that might have changed the tone of politics in Philadelphia. A mayor that would definitely be better than the corrupt administration currently ruining Philly.

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About Tom Bux

  • It’s frustrating to see crooked official hide behind activist groups that are actually trying to do and accomplish important things. The election in 2003 was also interesting because as i recall while Street was railing against the FBI investigation of his administration, he was somehow able to tie the whole thing together with Katz and president Bush.