Incorporating the The Germantown Chronicle & The Northwest Independent

6661 Germantown Ave • Philadelphia, PA 19119 • 215-438-5171 • germantownnewspapers.com

 
 

Philadelphia’s Democratic Party Gangster Racketeer Government, Part 2

HOW TO DESTROY A NEIGHBORHOOD AND GET PAID DOING IT

Philadelphia Democrats make deals with the devil and developers

In our first installment on Philadelphia’s Democratic Party Gangster Racketeer Government, we outlined how the city reforms took place after the election of 1950 when all city offices from the mayor on down (except Controller) changed from Republican to Democrat. Reforms were overdue, and who could argue with such a massive voter turnout and votes against their own party?

Reforms did come; City Council was restructured by a new City Charter. The skyline changed over the next 10 years as fresh development through recognized and respected designers and developers took hold. Neighborhoods at first saw some fresh shopping districts rebounding from 20 years of Depression and War. The new political efforts continued to be rewarded and Democrats could not lose, but the Republicans continued to have some authority in the judicial system, law enforcement and at the state level. The majority of citizens and neighborhoods were thinking positive and looking for continued prosperity. But it was not to last.

The 20 years from 1950 to 1970 were generally a rebirth and a welcomed catch up with technology, but a new political creature was being designed and worked into the culture, with clever politicians seeing opportunity that the city machines of the past never had: Public money dispensed politically and with little or no oversight or compliance requirements that could be easily sidestepped. 

Parallel with those opportunities for duplicitous misuse of taxpayer dollars was the growth of the nonprofit corporation. This entity was sold as a conduit to promote growth of smaller self-starting ventures that were supposed to help develop and expand neighborhoods. However, what they could do, if properly manipulated, was make some very carefully crafted inside dealings exempt from taxation while at the same time serve as conduits for a good bit of those public dollars where no one would be watching as the elected leaders distributed funds at whim.

And it came to be. Millions upon millions of federal, state, and city dollars were siphoned from the taxpayers and delivered to the friends and co-conspirators of the elected officials from U. S. Congressmen, through State legislators, City Councilpersons, all the way to agencies of city government that received the money through strainers, but rarely accounted for how it was utilized.

Neighborhoods that were getting granted money were supposed to show improvement, but many stayed unchanged. Many others go progressively worse and no one seemed to care — certainly not the politicians in the opposition Republican Party, who only a few years before actually aggressively ran opposition candidates and vied for control. We learn later that that “easy money” also translated into “easy deals” between the two parties that essentially kept the minority Republicans “cashed up” with patronage that satisfied them and also gave them special access to some cash cows that (after some inside legislation) the Democrats could not touch — case in point, paving contracts and the Parking Authority that delivers them the goods to this day. This was, and still is, the first important step in guaranteeing the racketeer Democrats a bright future.  Short version: The Ds get access to the money that buys off some of their own, pays off their big contributor developers with sweetheart deals they could finance from the inside, and buys off the formerly competitive opposition party with proportional power and sharing in the grease that was not going to be challenged.

In essence “Election Day” became unofficially known as Selection Day when the insiders at the Democratic City Committee decided who was going to not just run, but win, after spreading private contributions and public money around — essentially using the public’s tax dollars to buy their own votes, while being assured that there would almost never be an opposition candidate who would even try hard to win a given office.

Once you eliminate competition, you then can institute “price controls” that would be the next step in squeezing the businesses and taxpayers as much as you want and no party, agency or entity would be able to do anything about it. The price controls only went in one direction — up.  Business taxes went first and with them shakedowns on the businesses at election time using the tried and true tactics of corrupt city departments – like L & I – to imply what might happen if the envelope did not appear.

Along with corrupt departments, we saw the changes in the judiciary and City Council providing fresh tools for broadening corruption and guaranteeing its continuance. Sure, once in a while they got too reckless, and someone would blow the whistle (of course the someone might be an individual passed over when the grease was being disbursed).

But the big payoff was yet to come. Federal and state guidelines were constantly being modified and when the term “blighted” became a cause du jour, it was a veritable gold mine for theft from the public trough. Leadership types at the state levels and in the neighborhoods alike stepped over each other to get their district, division or community declared “blighted” as it transformed a “cash cow” into a “cash barnyard”. Now the wheelers and dealers could work the “trifecta” that paid big and was the gift that kept on giving. You could blend easy money from your appropriations chair, with a nonprofit that masqueraded as something it was not being the recipient, and on top of it your “blighted neighborhood” always qualified for the big payoff, year after fiscal year.

Why risk your money at the track, when 1, 2, and 3 always came in at the Democratic Party City of Philadelphia pari-mutuel window.

Jim Foster
The Independent Voice


Our next installment:
20 years of rape and pillage send 650,000 citizens out and leave a shambles shell of a city with one third living in no opportunity deep poverty but subsidizing the city elites and paying suburbanites handsomely with city money.