The mayoral mud pit: Candidates talk smack
“Hypocrisy!” yelled everyone, except Anthony Williams.
Nelson Diaz has come out with guns blazing against all of his mayoral opponents this week, first as a whole, then with selected targets. On Wednesday, his team released this aggressively color coded comparison chart of the candidates’ education perspectives.
Then, Friday morning, Jim Kenney got his own personal message from the Judge. Kenney spoke at a campaign event Wednesday night and criticized the stadium deal and the convention center expansion that will draw money from projects like universal pre-K (one of Kenney’s platform promises). Diaz’s campaign jumped on the hypocrisy, citing Kenney’s City Council record that supported both projects:
"This behavior raises serious doubts about Jim Kenney's campaign regardless of whether he's flip-flopping or just hoping no one calls him out on the hypocrisy,” Barry Caro from the Diaz campaign said in a statement.
“Kenney has a long record, much of which stands in direct opposition to his current campaign rhetoric. Jimmy-come-lately may have found religion on progressive issues late in his career, but he needs to account for what he once proudly called a ‘moderate conservative’ Council record that only ends curiously close to his decision to run for Mayor."
Kenney hasn’t issued a comeback, nor does it seem likely he will. After his tiff with Lynne Abraham, I think he’s recognized a formidable opponent in Anthony Williams. And there’s good reasons he should. Here the Kenney campaign responds with no minced words to Williams’ new education policy, which was released Wednesday.
"Once again, Tony Williams' education proposals are more concerned with appeasing the pro-voucher, Main Line billionaires who fund his campaign than with helping our public school students and teachers. Half measures, like asking PSP to donate equal amounts for District and charter schools, or lobbying the state to provide only partial reimbursements to the District for charters, fall far short of what we need to provide every child with a quality education. When charter schools perform well, there is a place for them, but that should never be our first line of education.”
Meanwhile, the Williams crew hasn’t uttered a single bad word about their opponents. Chances are they were too busy collecting 10,000 petitions — ten times the requirement — which they will submitted Friday a few days before the deadline. If Williams is sending a message, it’s that he doesn’t feel threatened enough to play alpha male (or female) with his opponents.
Shots fired, cash acquired
Things are getting catty, and we like it. Jim Kenney and his crew will take no guff about money from former DA Lynne Abraham, who “showed her true colors” by blaming Kenney for sponsoring legislation to provide pension increases for Philadelphia firefighters and police officers. Kenney fires back by pointing out Abraham’s 300k + deferred retirement option plan, which she spreads out over a six-figure annual pension. Your move, Lynne…
Sen. Williams slammed for pro-charter stance...again
Judge Nelson Diaz had sent a strongly worded response last week to the PSP in regard to their $35 million proposal to open new charter schools. This week he’s speaking out against fellow mayoral candidate Senator Anthony Williams.
It’s no secret where Senator Williams stands on the issue of education. He’s the only candidate in the current pool who leans in favor of implementing new charter schools rather than investing in the public schools. Last week, Jim Kenney’s campaign team called out Williams on his PAC-funded charter dealings, and now Diaz let's him have it, with a counter challenge to spend that money reinvesting in the priority extracirricular programs Philly public schools have lost in recent years.
"Our children deserve a plan that will work for everyone, not one that kneecaps funding for public education," Diaz said in a statement. "We shouldn't hold school funding hostage to demands of Sen. Williams' shadow campaign committee. If Sen. Williams cares about our children, he should tell his mysterious backers to support after-school or extracurricular programs open to every Philadelphian, as I proposed earlier this week, rather than attaching unacceptable strings to their offer."
So it begins...
Today saw the first mud flung in the 2015 Philadelphia mayor’s race. We’ll be keeping a blog roll to document all the trash-talking and stone-throwing and finger-pointing as the race progresses. The first entries come by way of mayoral candidates Judge Nelson Diaz and former city councilman Jim Kenney.
Here’s Kenney’s first offensive against Senator Anthony Williams regarding his allegiance to new charter schools. Williams was the only mayoral candidate to urge the school district to take the PSP’s strings-attached offering of $35 million:
"Over the last week, it has become increasingly clear that State Senator Williams is a single-issue candidate driven by the contributions from anonymous billionaires more concerned with making a profit than a quality school,” the statement released by Kenney's campaign communications director Lauren Hitt said.
“The Senator is supported by no fewer than four PACs with either implicit or explicit education privatization missions. And, on the same day it was revealed that Williams accepted $7,000 from a PAC associated with PSP, the Senator came out in support of PSP's $25 million 'gift,' which has almost as many strings attached as these pro-voucher billionaires have attached to Anthony Williams himself. As Mayor, Jim Kenney will stand up to special interests and put our students and parents first.”
Below Kenney’s statement was a list of coverage, editorials, and analyses that slammed Williams on his education platform.
Hours later, Diaz’ campaign staff released a statement showing the candidate’s support of the Committee of Seventy's Integrity Agenda — a list of proposed ethics reforms on city government. Diaz called the agenda "a good place to start the conversation and a positive first step towards a more ethical city government." He also took a few sentences to rail on Kenney and Williams for their “ethical lapses.”
"Recent events have driven home the urgency of ethics reform. In this campaign, we've seen Senator Williams find new and creative ways to flout our campaign finance laws. Meanwhile, Councilman Kenney holds a second job working for a company doing big business with the city, the details of which he refuses to reveal — all while taking city and state pensions to fund his run for office that will potentially allow him to "double-dip" if elected. That kind of self-serving politics isn't worthy of Philadelphia, but it is unfortunately business as usual for these career politicians," Diaz said in his statement.