Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Controller Finds Flawed Procurement Process & Official Conflicts of Interest, But Won't Hold Up $29 Million Voting Machines Purchase

By Ralph Cipriano

City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart has concluded that the procurement process that led to the purchase of $29 million in new voting machines for Philadelphia was flawed, slanted to favor the winning vendor, and marred by official conflicts of interest.

But because the flaws were the fault of the city, Rhynhart says, she has "no legal justification to hold up this payment." So last week, the controller approved the first $7 million payment by the city to ES&S of Omaha, Nebraska, maker of the ExpressVoteXL. Rhynhart added that she will not block any remaining payments to the vendor on the $29 million deal.

"I'm really frustrated at this point," she said at the conclusion of a press conference today to announce the findings of a seven-month investigation into the purchase of the new voting machines, a deal that she had repeatedly threatened to block payment on.

"I'm frustrated with a process that wasn't done well," she said about the way the city purchased its new voting machines.

Judge Drops Blanket Of Secrecy Over Long-Running Msgr. Lynn Case

Judge Gwendolyn N. Bright
By Ralph Cipriano

The case was first tried seven years ago, and it's been litigated for a total of nine years.

There was a time when it was being monitored by the Vatican as well as covered by The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Rolling Stone.

But now that the case of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. William J. Lynn is headed for a retrial, Common Pleas Court Judge Gwendolyn N. Bright is determined to keep everything about it a big secret.

She's slapped a gag order on the lawyers in the case, so they can't talk to the media. She's sealed pretrial motions so the public has no idea what's going on.

Even though the media, except for this outlet, has long ago lost interest in what happens to Msgr. Lynn, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's former secretary for clergy, who went to jail for endangering the welfare of a child.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Angry Mayor's Office Puts Philly Mag On Double Secret Probation

By Ralph Cipriano

In case you missed it, the thin-skinned mayor's office has responded to my latest DROP story published by Philly mag by placing all of the reporters and editors of that publication on double secret probation!

Victor Fiorillo of Philly mag is reporting that when he tried to find out some routine information about city regulations regarding recreational vehicles, he had to run through a gauntlet of three official city spokespersons before he was told of a new policy regarding all requests for information from anybody who works for Philly mag.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Son Of DROP -- The Triple Dip!

By Ralph Cipriano
for Philadelphia magazine

The first time he "retired from the City of Philadelphia, Ruben David was project director for public safety in the department of property, a job that paid him an annual salary of $83,063. Thanks to Philadelphia's DROP program, which lavishly rewards municipal employees just for showing up during their last years on the job, David left his city gig in 2015 with a parting gift from taxpayers: a lump-sum cash bonus of $268,224, plus an annual pension of $61,320.

But for David, his initial retirement as a public servant was just a prelude to a far more lucrative career as a private contractor. One year after he retired the first time, David took a new position that would eventually pay him more than double his old salary, laboring as a contractor for -- surprise! -- his old employer, the very same City of Philadelphia.

How is that possible? Well, get this -- it's all perfect legal. That's because David (who couldn't be reached for comment for this story) is part of an exclusive club at City Hall we'll call the "triple-dippers." And exactly how many members are in this club is a mystery.

The rest of the story can be read here.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

"Phony Baloney" Plea Deal May Come Back To Bite D.A.

By Ralph Cipriano

To District Attorney Larry Krasner, it was just a "phony baloney" plea bargain with a would-be cop killer.

When the D.A. got on the phone with Maurice Hill, after the career criminal with the AR-15 assault rifle had just shot six police officers, Krasner agreed to a lenient 20-year jail sentence just so Hill would come out and surrender.

But to Richard Sax, a retired homicide prosecutor, what the D.A. did was a blatant violation of the American Bar Association's Model Rules of Professional Responsibility, Rule 8.4, which states: "It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to . . . engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation."

So that's why this week, Sax, an outspoken critic of Krasner's, filed a complaint against the D.A. with the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

Monday, August 19, 2019

A Tale Of Two Philly D.A.'s Who Are Costing Taxpayers $$$Millions

By Ralph Cipriano

This is a story about two Philadelphia district attorneys, past and present, and how they teamed up to unleash a crime wave upon the city, and cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

A few years ago, when Rufus Seth Williams was D.A., he joined forces with Larry Krasner, then a cop-suing defense lawyer, to spring more than 1,100 convicted drug dealers out of jail. The vast majority of these dealers had already pleaded guilty after being caught with large quantities of drugs, cash and even guns. But thanks to Williams and Krasner, those lucky drug dealers not only got out of jail free, they also got their money back and their convictions expunged, and then, records show, hundreds of them went out to commit even more crimes!

But 300 of those newly emancipated drug dealers had a bigger aspiration; they wanted to hit the lottery. Led by lead plaintiff's attorney, Larry Krasner, the drug dealers filed 300 civil rights cases against the city of Philadelphia and the former narcotics cops who had arrested them. To defend itself, the city had to hire eleven lawyers from three law firms, who have been representing the cops and the city for THE PAST FIVE YEARS, costing taxpayers untold millions in legal fees.

Friday, August 16, 2019

D.A. Got Stiffed The Night Six Cops Were Shot

By Ralph Cipriano

During the nonstop media coverage of the shooting of six Philly cops, one public official was never out of range of the TV cameras -- District Attorney Larry Krasner.

He was there on camera with the mayor, he was there on camera with the police commissioner, he was there on camera talking with cops on the street. Which is kind of amazing considering that Progressive Larry is pretty much uniformly despised by the men and women in blue. The local chapter of the FOP has even paid for billboards advertising for a new D.A.

But Krasner has chutzpah, and loves the limelight. So on Thursday night, while the bullets were flying, Krasner even tried to visit the six wounded officers at the two hospitals were they were being treated, with little success.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Board Of Elections Won't Rescind Voting Machines Purchase

By Ralph Cipriano

The Board of Elections today decided who cares if the company that sells the most expensive -- and allegedly the most easily hacked voting machines out there -- broke city law by failing to disclose that it had hired lobbyists to help land a $29 million contract with the city?

And who cares if those same lobbyists were writing undisclosed campaign checks to a couple of elections commissioners who allegedly were in the tank big time for the winning bidder?

To ratify a deal that smells pretty ripe at this point the Elections Board had to ignore City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart, who stopped by today to personally ask the board to wait just "a few short weeks" until her ongoing investigation of the voting machines deal was complete, so the board could make a "fully informed decision."


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