PHILLY’S RECENT discussion of race — sparked, as it was, by PhillyMag’s misguided cover story “Being White in Philly” — has frequently been laced with flawed logic. But even against that backdrop, a speech by Councilwoman Marian Tasco, given in City Council earlier this month and emailed to reporters, stood out: She called the Inquirer racist for its reporting on leaked state Office of the Inspector General reports alleging financial malfeasance at two nonprofits tied to state Rep. Dwight Evans. “If he were a white legislator and this was a white neighborhood, the Inquirer’s headline would read ‘Committed State Legislator Turns Neighborhood Around After 30 Years of Hard Work,’” according to Tasco.
Actually, the headline four years ago read, “Fumo Guilty on All Counts.” Former state Sen. Vince Fumo’s allies likewise attacked the press, including a libel suit against CP and denunciations of the Inquirer’s dogged pursuit of the story. The Inquirer’s Fumo investigations make the reports on Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corp. (OARC) and the Urban Affairs Coalition (UAC) seem like afterthoughts by comparison. The Commonwealth is demanding that UAC return $1.5 million in allegedly mismanaged funds, and that OARC return $2.7 million. The reports allege Evans directed UAC to pay a pastor and his assistant $365,000 for unverifiable work.
Tasco has clashed with departing Inspector General Kenya Mann Faulkner before. Faulkner prosecuted former Councilman Rick Mariano for corruption and was then appointed to the city’s Ethics Board. In 2010, Tasco and others blocked her reappointment. “Council is continually stereotyped … [as trying] to defraud the public,” complained Tasco, who in 2011 “retired” for a day to collect $478,057 via the city’s DROP program. “I am offended.”
Investigators and reporters have taken aim at white politicians like Fumo, former Council president George Schwartz (caught up in ABSCAM), Councilman Leland Beloff (accused of extortion with mobster “Little Nicky” Scarfo) and imprisoned former House Speaker John Perzel. But, then there’s the FBI’s bugging of Mayor John Street’s office, the conviction of Lebanese-American ex-Councilman Jimmy Tayoun and Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown’s campaign-finance practices. Of course, there’s also the claim that Evans, with (white) U.S. Rep Bob Brady’s prodding, routed $1 million to a for-profit retirement home controlled by Beloff’s family. When it comes to corruption allegations, Philly truly presents a rainbow coalition.
For extended commentary, read the original post on the Naked City blog.
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