Philly corruption: no Fumo without fire?

The last time we were in this neck of the woods, it was Anne Dicker running (unsuccesfully, as it turned out) for the Dem nom as State Rep in the 175th.

The issue was casinos, the effect on that part of Philly, the sleazy, underhand and (possibly) corrupt way the whole business was handled.

(All news to me, but evidently an important story brewing.)

Now, I read that aides to State Sen Vincent Fumo have been arrested by the FBI for deleting emails with a view to thwarting an inquiry into Fumo's activities:

Federal authorities said the inquiry focuses on whether Fumo "used his authority and official position to attempt to demand and obtain payments" from corporations to a South Philadelphia nonprofit. Investigators are trying to find out if the senator "benefited both politically and personally from expenditures made by the organization," according to the court documents.

The nonprofit, Citizens' Alliance for Better Neighborhoods, has obtained millions of dollars in donations from powerful entities that lobby the Legislature. Prosecutors say they have numerous e-mails from third-party sources that show Fumo used the nonprofit to funnel money to projects and causes important to him.

The picture from a chatty Philly Daily Newspiece suggests that Fumo is quite a guy, legislatively speaking:
Whether it's a budget, a gambling bill, preserving landmarks, cleaning neighborhoods or picking and backing candidates for office, his involvement always is regarded as key.

But the Feds have been investigating Fumo for two years, and the pressure is apparently starting to tell.

Nevertheless, he's still thinking big, to credit another Daily Newspiece (has the rag got an anti-Fumo vendetta going? would that be a bad thing?):

Gov. Rendell, Mayor Street and state Sen. Vince Fumo discussed in the mayor's office yesterday the future of the Delaware River waterfront, including a plan to create a high-powered nonprofit corporation focused on waterfront development.

The corporation, which would seek both public and private funding and would bring together development experts from across the United States, is the brainchild of City Councilman Frank DiCicco, whose district includes a long stretch of waterfront being eyed by gaming interests and residential developers.

DiCicco, who also attended the lunchtime meeting, said the Big Three supported his idea to engage experts as both board members and planners to work through the development impact of thousands of housing units and potential casinos along the river.

Ah, those casinos! And massive housing development, too. Didn't the Beatles sing about a sea of green...

Interesting times indeed in Philly!

(Oh - those Big Three: all Democrats...)

Update [2006-6-1 9:33:18 by skeptic06]:

Now I read - in the Inquirer, this time - that Fumo has his own bank - the First Penn Bank, owned by PSB Bankcorp.

The piece details the settlement of a dispute with minority stockholders:

The bank, founded 83 years ago by Fumo's grandfather in South Philadelphia, operates 13 branches in the city and Pennsylvania suburbs.

It posted a profit last year of $1.1 million, one-third the size of its profit four years earlier.

The bank reported shareholders' equity of $53.2 million at the end of last year. In a brief statement, PSB said the settlement payment would result in a one-time after-tax earnings charge of $6.4 million and a corresponding reduction in capital.

"But even after such payment," the bank said, it would be "well-capitalized" under federal banking guidelines.

The settlement resolves litigation over options to buy about 1.2 million shares of PSB stock.

But it also notes that

PSB's board put the bank up for sale last year. As the bank's largest shareholder and the beneficiary of a "golden parachute," Fumo stands to collect millions of dollars if a sale should happen.

Mamma mia!

Tags: Casinos, corruption, Ed Rendell, First Penn Bank, Gambling, Mayor John Street (Philadelphia), Pennsylvania Legislature, Philadelphia, Vincent Fumo (all tags)


1 Comment

Re: Philly corruption: no Fumo without fire?

Fumo is the ultimate Philly political power broker. Nothing happens in the city without his wanting it to happen. You cannot overestimate his influence within the state and city governments.

It's no surprise it's taken the Feds two years to get something on him. It'll probably be years more before they have enough of a case to actually indict.

by KB 2006-06-01 07:13AM | 0 recs


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