The Two John StreetsI think there are two John Streets. Seriously. There is the first one, who used to be a big rabble rousing, gruff, innovative, loud reformer. He is the one who does things like promote city wide wi-fi access, to help Philly become the first City in the Country to close the digital divide, to make sure abandoned cars were towed, to pay attention to real, gritty neighborhood issues. I think of him as Reformer John.
Then, there is the other John Street. I don't like this other one, though he seems to be coming out more and more these days. This would be the Tammany Hall John Street. The John Street (I will just call him Tammany John from now on) who looks the other way while his brother scams the City, the Tammany John who takes advantage of a loophole to give himself a huge chunk of change when he leaves office, and, apparently, the Tammany John who showed a stunning lack of judgment.
The Daily News and Inquirer have a huge amount of details on the FBI probe, from a freedom of information request they recently had fulfilled.
Some choice parts of the Inquirer article:
When the Eagles' new stadium opened in 2003, Mayor Street made sure two seats in the city's box were guaranteed for two of his sons before the rest were doled out for campaign contributions.
The year before, after meeting with bankers about financing the city's new baseball park, Street approached one of them about refinancing his mortgage.
If nothing else, the release of new court documents in the continuing federal probe into alleged municipal corruption shows a mayor not shy about mixing the political and personal with the public's business.
Along with the taped conversations, the government yesterday released a spreadsheet listing those invited to that first fund-raiser at Lincoln Field.
Most represented companies doing or seeking business with the city. One, Andre Allen of Phoenix Capital Markets, was listed as having been asked to donate $25,000. In their indictment of Kemp, prosecutors allege he and White tried to get Allen to make a $25,000 donation to Street in exchange for time with the mayor at that game. The total collected that night: $162,500.
Asked about the event the next day, Street denied holding the fund-raiser at the stadium. "There never was a fund-raiser," he told the Philadelphia Daily News.
Well, Rendell apparently used the Vet Stadium box to fundraise as well, so Street certainly is not unique. Of course, the fact that he lied blatantly about it is a little disconcerting.
And then, from the DN, there is this:
A HIGH-RANKING Commerce Bank official told his boss in 2002 that Mayor Street had approached him after a City Hall meeting and asked about refinancing the mayor's home mortgage.
The mayor's personal-loan discussions with the Commerce aide - while the bank was winning millions of dollars in city business - are disclosed in a company memo, one of more than 1,000 bugging transcripts and documents released yesterday in the sweeping federal city corruption probe.
The discussion with Street, who ultimately got two loans from Commerce in 2003, was just one of several examples of public deals and personal loans overlapping.
The papers also shed new light on how Street's son, Sharif, described as "a VIP referral," was able to get a $40,000 loan during the 1999 mayoral campaign despite poor credit and other problems. And they show that top mayoral assistant George Burrell, a key aide in doling out contracts, called Umbrell in 2003 "to discuss his personal financial needs."
The idea that the Mayor is conducting business for the City, and interrupts it by making sure he gets a good deal on a mortgage refinance actually seems pretty pitiful to me. That it appears Tammany John got his son, a past and future candidate for office, a loan as well, despite poor credit? Ugh. The City is worth more than that.
Reformer John and Tammany John. Two people who would hate each other if they ever met. I just hope that maybe, just maybe, this whole scandal has made sure that Reformer John rubs his eyes, looks around, and realizes that his legacy as a Philadelphia public servant is being destroyed by his awful Doppelganger, and the reformer decides to make a comeback.