Incorporating the The Germantown Chronicle & The Northwest Independent

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Third Installment in a series:

20 years after the reform Democrats of 1950 were an integral part of transforming Philadelphia’s postwar growth to door opening reforms of all types, the political power brokers brought about a sea change in how they would operate after approximately 1970-75.  Not content with the rapid growth of the party, a good bit of unchallenged patronage, and increasing control from the ward level up, they saw new and different opportunity blossoming from major changes that grew in both Harrisburg and Washington.

The easy access to large distributions of public dollars and little or no follow up compliance with either distribution up front or long range outcome created a new day for those who saw an opportunity to “fool all of the people all of the time”.  Frankly, the Philadelphia Democratic machine has come very, very close to falsifying Lincoln’s prediction that the same was not possible.

Millions upon millions of public dollars appropriated from the late 1970s through the mid-2000s (and even later) took Philadelphia downhill faster than the roller coaster at Willow Grove Park.  A perfect combination of inside distribution through two local elected power players at the top, and a corrupted system of investigation and law enforcement made it possible for billions to be distributed continuously and illegally, and the creation of an unholy alliance that made a mockery of the democratic process with the creation of a biracial structure that merged black elected leadership with white lawyers, corporatists and developers in scams and schemes that made New York’s Tammany Hall corruption look small time.  The fact that it still rules  Philadelphia should be the story on the front page of the New York Times and other media, but even they are “on the payroll” to keep the truth from the citizens of the city and the nation.  The current motivation to keep the “Truth about Philly” paved over is the fact that the Democratic National Convention to elect a presidential candidate is already in process, and just about everyone with any authority has been bribed to not let the nation know that the party that “Reformed Philadelphia” is in fact the party that “Ruined Philadelphia”.

The shortest version of what happened is the fact that Chaka Fattah as Appropriations Chairman for the majority of federal dollars, and Dwight Evans as the Appropriations Chairman for state dollars, brought the billions of fraudulent front disbursement dollars here outside of basic transparency and their influence and corruptive practices also squashed and silenced any ongoing regulation and all investigations into the wrongdoing that surfaced since the early 2000s.

During this timeframe 650,000 citizens left Philadelphia as the city self-destructed and left safety, quality of life and decent employment opportunity in its wake; replacing it with poverty profiteering, and guarantees to the developers that more or less permanent continuous funding for their projects, regardless of performance, would replace new opportunity and legitimate remedial efforts.  And so it was.

Congressman Fattah became the darling of the elites. He was always social climbing with the city’s insiders and funding to the tune of $1 million a week to U of P, while ignoring the West and Southwest Philadelphia of his birth; as they rapidly circled the drain of economic and social decline. Forget the insider deals that built up the immediate neighborhoods around Penn and Drexel, for those benefitted connected developers first, last and always.  The citizens of those neighborhoods who are not the privileged are just so many specimens in the petrie dish in the study halls of corrupt Philadelphia academia.

While Fattah is doing this with federal dollars, Dwight Evans is doing the same with state money as Appropriations Chair in Harrisburg.  Using tools that others took advantage of as well, Evans distributed billions in state dollars to insider operations like Fresh  Grocer and others who themselves were suburban based power players who feasted on the Philadelphia neighborhoods and public money that was virtually handed to them outside the law through insider deals that violated standing law and zoning codes with regularity.   Evans was cashed up by all manner of unions, developers and corporations as he ran roughshod over Northwest Philadelphia funding front non profits and CDCs that failed over and over again; only to be refunded with more public money when the first money virtually disappeared.  Evans had lots of help from the political establishment from Governor Rendell, through two mayors (Street and Nutter) all the way down to Ward Leaders, in helping pave over the facts and create deals that sent good money after bad time and time again.  

The truth about Evans finally made it to the public on the front page of our first print edition on April 1, 2009.  That story regarding the public rescue funding of a twice failed Mt. Airy nightclub owned by Evans’ personal friends was picked up one week later by the Philadelphia Inquirer and led to Evans being removed as Appropriations Chair by his own party.

Few had ever seen anything like that happen to a city politician in 50 years, but insiders knew that the Democrats concluded it was in their best interest to remove him before the Republicans took power and were running the AG’s office in Harrisburg.  Truth be told, the Republicans were OK with that deal as many of their own did the same thing upstate and who needs an investigation when two parties can make a deal and avoid one.

Let’s never forget that it takes two parties competing for office and a legitimate investigative press to deliver decent transparent government.   The Republicans in this city took a couple of bribes several years back to essentially walk away from competitive government, and the press, for the most part, has done the same.

Next Installment:  More names, dates and times in how the Democratic Party bought top down power with your tax dollars, and squashed two major investigations that should have ended this corruption 10 years ago.

Jim Foster

The Independent Voice