The spotlight is on Philadelphia Democrats on Tuesday, with former star prosecutor Carlos Vega making a strong move to dethrone former defense attorney Larry Krasner as district attorney, an office he has no business holding. Krasner is salt in the sugar bowl.
The prime directive of the D.A. is to represent the people, all the people, and serve them by prosecuting those accused of crime.
The first thing Krasner did was to redefine 25 crimes into noncrimes. Included in the 25 earmarked for non enforcement are forgery, identity theft, prostitution, drunk driving and retail theft of less than $500.
As has been widely reported, gun arrests by police soared, while convictions collapsed.
One of Krasner’s signature promises was to drop bail whenever possible, and reduce it if it couldn’t be dropped. In his first couple of years he did that, taking credit for bail reform that actually began under Mayor Michael Nutter. In the past year, however, he alienated many of his progressive supporters by demanding million-dollar bail for routine offenses.
While I am not going to blame the record-breaking homicide rate only on him, I will blame him for not doing much to stop it, not seeming to even care about it.
Perhaps the most serious indictment of the lack of seriousness in his office came from attorney Tom Mandracchia, whom Krasner had hired and who wanted to be a force against crime. He wasn’t allowed to do it and was offered reflection circles instead. The D.A.’s office was “chaos,” he said, and he left.
In addition to filing countless suits against police when in private practice, Krasner has feuded with the FOP, the police commissioner, and the U.S. attorney. Prosecution is against his nature.
He is arrogant and self-righteous and sees himself as better than the families of homicide victims.
It’s very unusual for incumbents to fail to get their party’s endorsement, but Krasner managed to do that. Progressive mayor Jim Kenney declined to endorse him, while popular ex-mayor (and D.A.) Ed Rendell endorsed Vega, a man he hired many decades ago.
By his lack of prosecution, downgrading charges and turning loose hardened criminals, Krasner is known as Let ‘Em Loose Larry. That is not a joke.
On the other side of the ledger, Carlos Vega is everything Krasner is not — experienced, empathetic to families, enlightened, but a man who prosecuted 450 suspects accused of murder. He won all but 14.
For a safer city, in the Democratic primary, vote for Carlos Vega. Off-year elections such as this are low turnout, and that benefits the incumbent. And that’s why — no pun intended — it is incumbent on every voter concerned about safety and law to come out to vote for Vega and to convince a like-minded friend.
Running unopposed for controller is the excellent Rebecca Rhynhart, who has checked the books and blown the whistle on fellow Democrats when those books didn’t balance. Many believe she will run for mayor at the end of Jim Kenney’s term. It would be great to finally have someone with balls in the mayor’s office. (Another rumored mayoral candidate is the ubiquitous Helen Gym, City Council’s harridan on steroids.)
There are a bunch of judges and the best I can do is name only the ones Highly Recommended by the Philadelphia Bar Association. The Bar is not perfect, but it is better than whatever has second place.
SUPREME COURT (and ballot number)
Marie McLaughlin #1, Paula Patrick #101.
Chris Hall #22, Michele Hangley #19, Nick Kamau #14, Mark J. Moore #23, John R. Padova #21.
There are four ballot questions, the first two dealing with the governor’s authority to call and maintain emergency orders.
In a brief conversation, former Gov. Ed Rendell told me he opposes both. Not surprising for a former governor, and, as he says, Republicans are doing this only because Pennsylvania has a Democratic governor.
Many believe Gov. Tom Wolf has gone too far with pandemic orders, but that is beside the point. With one exception, Pennsylvania changes the party of the governor every two terms, and Republicans control redistricting, so the next governor is likely to be Republican. In any event, some Republican will be elected in the future, subject to the proposed rules, so the question is this: Should his or her emergency power be restricted?
Question #1 proposes to allow a majority of lawmakers to terminate an emergency declaration at any time, without the governor’s consent. That would be 1 vote over 50%. The legislature can override the governor currently with a two-thirds majority. That gives a sufficient brake to the governor, so I recommend a No vote on Question 1.
Under current law, a disaster declaration lasts 90 days and can be renewed as many times as the governor wants without legislative input. That is too much power in one person’s hands. For Democrats who oppose this bill, imagine the governor was someone like Donald Trump. The proposition limits disaster declarations to 21 days and can be renewed only with the approval of the legislature, which represents the people. The governor is not a king. Vote Yes on Question 2.
Question #3 proposes an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution to enshrine discrimination protections to Pennsylvanians based on race and ethnicity. This is a no-brainer. Vote Yes.
Question #4 is straight forward and would allow municipal EMS companies, fire departments or companies with paid personnel, to apply for a loan through an existing state-run program for volunteer companies. Yes.