Sunday, April 5, 2020

Why Did The Mayor Turn On The D.A.?

By Ralph Cipriano

Last week, there was a seismic shift at City Hall.

At yet another press conference called to update citizens on the coronavirus crisis, Mayor Kenney woke everybody up by suddenly switching the topic of discussion to what he described as the city's other "public health crisis . . . gun violence."

Kenney proceeded to turn on a fellow Progressive Democrat, D.A. Larry Krasner, blaming his soft on crime policies for the most recent upsurge in shootings and murders. Next, Kenney's new police commissioner, Danielle Outlaw, came to the podium and promptly turned the spat into a tag team match by dumping on the D.A. over his "revolving door" style of justice that lets criminals out of jail and puts them right back on the street.

Suddenly, Larry Krasner, the darling of Antifa, Black Lives Matter and progressive but gullible Center City liberals, was all alone in his radical crusade to remake justice. But three years into Krasner's destructive policies, the lingering question is why? Why after three years of holding his tongue and saying nothing publicly critical about Krasner, why is the mayor coming out now against the D.A.?

Here's an educated guess -- our wily mayor, whose progressive policies share in the blame for the city's current state of lawlessness, might be trying to get out ahead of a couple of ticking time bombs.

The first ticking time bomb is Krasner himself. This guy, for a variety of reasons, is dead man walking.

As the radical D.A. holes up inside his bunker at the D.A.'s office at South Penn Square, he's now faced with increasingly vocal public opposition led by Bill McSwain, the incumbent U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia.

In his most recent appearnce on Tucker Carlson's show, McSwain came out blasting. The U.S. Attorney told a startled Carlson that essentially, there are two groups of people in the country right now "trying to take advantage of this pandemic for their own selfish purposes -- criminals and progressive prosecutors," of which Krasner is now the national poster boy for.

"In many ways, these two groups I think are indistinguishable because they want the same same things," McSwain told Carlson. McSwain defined the shared goals of criminals and progressive prosecutors as "a moratorium on any arrests" and empty jails. "Both of these groups," McSwain concluded, are a "clear threat to public safety."

Until last week, Krasner has been able to count on a few things. He's got the Inquirer in his back pocket, and he could usually depend on the mayor's continued silence as the D.A. does one favor after another for criminals, while he's in the process of emptying the city's jails.

As far as Kenney turning on him, Krasner didn't see it coming. As the Public Citizen has reported, on Tuesday, when the mayor dropped his bomb on Krasner, the D.A. had a pre-scheduled appearance on "Reality Check," a show on radio station WURD.

As  Charles D. Ellison, host of the show, recounted in the Public Citizen, he asked Krasner on air "What's going on" with the mayor?

Krasner's response, according to Ellison: "I like Jim," the D.A. said, and then he added, "but I called him right after the press conference and he hasn't returned my calls."

Besides his increasingly vocal opponents, which now include President Trump, the mayor and police commissioner, and every cop in the city, Krasner has other problems. The state Supreme Court has appointed a sitting judge to investigate Krasner's handling of the latest appeal for a new trial filed by celebrity cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.

It was Krasner who provided the fuel for the latest Mumia appeal by claiming that he had found six boxes of "newly discovered evidence" in the D.A.'s office when he first took over. It's a claim that Krasner did absolutely nothing to investigate, and it turned out to be completely false.

Lawyers for Maureen Faulkner, the widow of Mumia's murder victim, the late Police Officer Danny Faulkner, promptly contacted the original prosecutor in the case, as well as the detective who originally carried all six boxes of evidence into the D.A.'s office decades ago for storage.

Both the prosecutor and the detective said in affidavits that there was nothing new in those boxes. So any honest investigation by the judge will result in Krasner looking like a smacked ass in his vain attempt to free Mumia.

Also, rumor has it that the state legislature, which last year moved to curtail Krasner's powers by granting the state attorney general the authority to prosecute certain firearms violations only in Philadelphia, is looking into new ways to clip Krasner's wings.

Krasner is also operating against one of the laws of legal thermodynamics, as explained to me by a few law enforcement types. It goes like this: you can only tell the feds so many times to go f--k themselves, before they show up at your door.

Every month, there are new rumors circulating about the feds supposedly investigating Krasner. It's reminiscent of the death watch that was held for our last D.A., Rufus Seth Williams, who became Philly's first D.A. to land in prison.

He may not be the last. If they come after Krasner the way the feds typically do, they'll have a team of accountants poring over his personal and campaign finances. And from what we know so far, it looks like a fertile field to plow.

What did Krasner do with all that $1.7 million that George Soros gave him? Why is Krasner hiring people to work in his office that he owes a lot of money to? Like Michael Giampietro, a former business partner that Krasner gave a $160,000 a year advisory position to in the D.A.'s office?

Even the Inquirer was all over that one. Krasner's real estate businesses have also repeatedly failed to pay city taxes, as reported by multiple media outlets in town. The Inquirer broke the story about an unpaid Krasner tax bill of $37,000. WHYY reported another unpaid Krasner tax bill of $10,000. And finally, City & State PA reported another unpaid Krasner tax bill of $130,000. For the city's chief law enforcement officer, that's a grand total of $177,000 in unpaid taxes.

And what did the smartest guy in the room have to say about that embarrassing situation? An "oversight," he told WHYY.

Krasner's real estate dealings were also the previous subject of a grand jury investigation years ago by the Philly D.A.'s office under a previous administration, but no charges were ever filed.

A shame. Imagine, however, what a fresh team of FBI accountants could do if they were sent into the Krasner financial swamp. Will it really surprise any law enforcement officer in the city if some morning, a team of federal agents swoops down on Krasner, and carries away all his computers and records, like they did with Vince Fumo and Johnny Doc?

A long time ago, when this city had a real newspaper, reporters and columnists would have been all over the story behind the Kenney-Krasner spat. But since Kenney and Outlaw did their tag team beat-down on Krasner, there's been nothing but silence and a conspicuous lack of curiosity from the Inquirer, as well as other media outlets in town.

As I wrote last week, the reaction of Inky journalists to the Kenney-Krasner spat reminded me of frightened children who had just seen their parents fighting. Maybe the kids at the relentlessly progressive Inky are still having a hard time dealing with their progressive heroes turning on each other as the city goes down the toilet.

So in the absence of any pronouncement from the city's paper of record, here's the second ticking time bomb that the mayor may be trying to get out ahead of -- a surging crime rate.

As of March 29th, according to the most recent police statistics available, the crime rate in Philadelphia is up:

-- +30.4% in homicides, from 23 last year at this time up to 30 this year.

-- +37.4% in aggravated assaults by gun, from 174 at this time last year to 239 this year.

-- +27.5% in shooting incidents where shots are fired, but nobody's hit; from 182 last year at this time to 232 this year.

-- +39.5% percent in shooting victims, from 86 last year at this time to 120 this year.

-- +16.7 percent in commercial burglaries, from 78 at this time last year to 91 this year.

Who gets the blame? Well Krasner began his tenure by basically legalizing drug possession, drug use, and prostitution, as well as retail theft under $500. His other smooth move was to fire 31 senior prosecutors in his office, so he would have nobody on hand who knew how to try a case and put a criminal in jail.

The result has been a complete disaster for the city.

The Inquirer, as my colleague A. Benjamin Mannes has pointed out in a recent story for City Journal, has reacted to the crime wave by trying to downplay what's going on. But Mannes has been pounding away at the obvious spike in violent crime, as has Jason Johnson, a former deputy police commissioner in the Baltimore Police Department.

Johnson wrote a March 19th opinion piece for the New York Post that contained more startling statistics that documented the incompetence and ineptitude of the D.A.'s office under Krasner.

According to Johnson, since Krasner came to power in 2018, the D.A.'s office has:

-- Dropped 37 percent of illegal firearms cases, which amounts to 52 percent more cases than his corrupt predecessor did.

-- Dropped 44 percent of drug cases, compared to 20 percent for his predecessor.

-- Has dropped or lost two thirds of all felony cases, thanks to Kasner's hug-a-thug ideology and the incompetence of the rookie prosecutors Krasner has hired and sent to the front lines.

-- Dismissed more than 60 percent of shooting cases; a 50 percent increase over the previous four years.

"Public safety isn't a social experiment," Johnson concluded. But under Krasner it has been, and the numbers show the experiment has been a complete disaster for Philadelphia.

And Big Trial has already published its own set of damning statistics -- which Krasner originally claimed in a lawsuit didn't exist -- that show that during his first year in office, Krasner declined to prosecute more than 200 cases a month that the cops brought him, for a grand total of 2,562 cases he declined to prosecute in 2018. Also that same year Krasner downgraded the charges in nearly a hundred more cases a month, for a grand total of 1,159 in 2018.

The result: thousands of criminals back on the street.

Of course the most dramatic example of Krasner's failed policies was last month's murder of police Corporal James O'Connor. The killer was Hassan Elliott, an armed and dangerous drug dealer that Krasner repeatedly let out of jail a gand total of five times in the two years before Elliott murdered O'Connor.

So under Krasner, crime is indeed surging, and at some point, the local media may tell the citizens about it. Or the citizens may figure it out for themselves when a criminal comes knocking at their door.

When the proverbial shit hits the fan, somebody's going to have to take the blame. So as far as Mayor Kenney and Police Commissioner Outlaw are concerned, why not blame Larry?

And if Krasner continues to be under an ethical cloud at the time, or possibly a federal indictment, all the better.

Dead man walking.

So if you're into poetic justice, let me suggest the perfect ending for our radical D.A. and his revolving door style of justice.

Rufus Seth Williams is scheduled to get out of jail this Sept. 30th. Maybe Larry Krasner can take his place.

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