District attorney candidates to debate Thursday

Gaining support: Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 endorsed Democrat Rich Negrin for district attorney last week. PHOTO: RICH NEGRIN / FACEBOOK

The Chestnut Hill Local and WHYY are co-sponsoring a two-hour debate among the candidates for Philadelphia district attorney, to be held Thursday, March 23, in the auditorium of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, 8000 Cherokee St.

The seven Democratic candidates and Republican Beth Grossman will appear.

Dave Davies, senior reporter for WHYY, will moderate the discussion. Pete Mazzaccaro, editor of the Chestnut Hill Local, will join Davies asking questions of the candidates.

The primary is May 16.

District Attorney Seth Williams, a Democrat indicted on corruption charges on Tuesday afternoon, is not seeking a third term.

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Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, the Guardian Civic League and Spanish American Law Enforcement Association President Eddie Lopez last week endorsed Democrat Rich Negrin for district attorney.

"A few weeks ago, we put up ‘help wanted’ signs around the city," said Lodge 5 president John McNesby. "With Rich Negrin, the search is over. Rich gets what it takes to keep our city safe. From his time as a prosecutor to his time as the city’s managing director, Rich has demonstrated a depth of understanding that is unmatched in the field. We know with Rich, we’ll have a strong partner in the DA’s office and we look forward to working with him to strengthen and grow the relationships between our officers and the communities they serve."

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The campaign of Democrat Joe Khan was not impressed with Negrin’s FOP endorsement, making the following statement:

"Throughout this campaign, Joe Khan has made it clear to the police union, which endorsed Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, that he will hold police officers accountable when they break the law. Joe is the candidate who has prosecuted cops who have crossed the line and fought corruption, both much-needed steps in restoring trust between police officers and the communities they serve. It is unfortunate that the police union’s leadership, rather than embracing much-needed reforms supported by many rank-and-file officers, would instead support Rich Negrin, and a return to the stop-and-frisk policies that Negrin aggressively supported in the previous administration."

Khan also issued the following statement in response to a Philadelphia Inquirer story about mismanagement of the Mayor’s Fund while Negrin was managing director and served on the fund’s board:

“Rich Negrin needs to explain what he knew about the fleecing of tax dollars and mismanagement of the Mayor’s Fund while he served on its board, and why he didn’t take stronger action to address the clearly improper actions of the former city representative who Negrin was responsible for overseeing. ‘No comment’ is not an acceptable answer for a candidate seeking to be the city’s top law enforcement official. As a former federal prosecutor who has taken on major city corruption cases, this raises questions for me about how seriously Negrin will be in fighting corruption when he apparently turned a blind eye in the last administration.”

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Michael Untermeyer, a Democratic candidate for district attorney, last week unveiled his White Collar Prosecution Plan.

Untermeyer focused on white-collar crime and money laundering during his time in the Philadelphia office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General. His primary focus was on financial investigations and prosecutions of major narcotics dealers and organized crime in the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section of the Drug Law Division. He worked with state narcotics agents, financial agents and Pennsylvania state troopers assigned to Philadelphia to conduct long-term, high-level narcotics investigations.

His three-point plan focuses on ways to strengthen consumer and financial safety. It calls for a hotline, greater collaboration with other jurisdictions and a dedicated White Collar Crime and Consumer Protection Division.

“When I spent over a decade working in the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office, I was fortunate to learn numerous first-hand lessons in how best to protect Pennsylvanians. My chief goal as district attorney will be to implement as many of the best ideas from other offices, cities and states that I can, and one of the most important areas in which we must do things differently is in prosecuting white-collar, corporate and financial crimes,” he said.

“The job of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office is not just to keep Philadelphians safe from violent crime, but eradicating white-collar crime and protecting the rights of consumers from those who seek to profit through illegal means or wrongdoing is an equally important aim.”

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Republican Mike Tomlinson will formally announce his candidacy for city controller during a town hall on Thursday, March 30, at 7 p.m. at Holmesburg Recreation Center, Rhawn and Ditman streets.

Also attending will be Beth Grossman, the GOP candidate for district attorney, and Robert Mansfield, a retired U.S. Army sergeant and former candidate for Congress.

Tomlinson has been a CPA, teacher, Sunday school teacher, youth sports coach and member of Town Watch, Holmesburg Civic Association and the Friends of Holmesburg Library.

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U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-13th dist.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Committee on the Budget, issued the following statement on President Donald Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget:

“The President’s 2018 budget proposal is a continuation of the broken promises and recklessness that has defined this administration since Day One. This so-called budget is a dangerous and unrealistic compilation of campaign promises that undermines our international standing and harms the most vulnerable and fragile in our country. It shifts economic burdens onto the shoulders of the middle class, eviscerates crucial services relied upon by working families and the needy, and guts community redevelopment aid, nutrition assistance, environmental protection and foreign diplomacy. If this budget were to become a reality, it would immediately threaten the health, safety and security of our nation.

“The President proposes we cut the State Department and foreign aid programs by 29 percent. As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I understand the consequences of such a course of action: a dangerous choice that would only serve to destabilize our current position of diplomatic strength and leadership around the world at a time of global instability. Our inexperienced, short-sighted President fails to realize these cuts would only weaken our international standing and strengthen our enemies. More than anything, this budget serves as hard evidence of the President’s broken promises to working-class families. It is becoming clearer and clearer that the goal of this Administration is to help the wealthy – like the millionaires and billionaires in his cabinet and staying at his Mar a Lago resort – at the expense of working families, seniors and other vulnerable Americans. As a co-chair of the Blue Collar Caucus, I vow to fight this hypocrisy and tirelessly advocate for hardworking Americans in need of a fair chance at prosperity.” ••