Solomon calls on Henon to resign, councilman’s campaign hits back hard

State Rep. Jared Solomon last week called on his fellow Democrat, City Councilman Bobby Henon, to resign because of the federal corruption charges he faces.

Solomon made his remarks in the City Hall courtyard. He lives in the 6th Councilmanic District, but said he will not challenge Henon. He indicated he would be open to meeting with Henon’s two primary challengers, Patty-Pat Kozlowski and Deborah Young.

In his prepared remarks, Solomon said Henon did not take orders from his constituents, but from his “real boss, Johnny Doc.”

John Dougherty, leader of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98, is also facing criminal charges.

Solomon pointed to the indictment, in which Henon allegedly said, “I don’t give a f— about anybody (other than Johnny Doc and me),” with the state lawmaker using the four-letter word.

One instance Solomon cited from the indictment was a charge that Henon shut down installation of an MRI machine at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia because the hospital was using the manufacturer, not Local 98 members, to do the work.

Solomon is also disappointed that no elected official has called on Henon to resign, and he promptly became the first.

“We in the Northeast deserve better,” he said.

Solomon described Henon as “brazenly” running for re-election, harming constituents.

“They love the Northeast, but they feel had. They feel taken advantage of. Duped by ribbon cuttings and roundtables, while their councilman served the needs of others first,” he said.

Solomon said Henon is “plainly unsuited” to serve.

“We would be better served by an empty chair in Council chambers than one filled with a corrupt councilman who listens to his true boss instead of the people,” he said.

Frank Keel, spokesman for Local 98, attended the news conference, along with 63rd Ward Democratic leader Brian Eddis.

Keel asked Solomon if he would return money given to his campaign by the union. Solomon, who received $5,000 in 2015 as he was preparing to challenge Rep. Mark Cohen in the primary, said the money came from innocent union members, but that he would consider sending back the contribution.

Leading up to the late afternoon Feb. 28 news conference, it appeared Solomon was going to enter the race. Henon supporters discounted his chances, pointing out that the portion of the 202nd Legislative District that Solomon represents is only a tiny portion of the 6th Councilmanic District.

Still, when mayoral candidate Alan Butkovitz appeared at the news conference, they wondered if opponents of the city’s beverage tax had agreed to support Solomon for Council and Butkovitz for mayor.

As it stands, Henon will face Kozlowski and Young in the primary, with the winner taking on Republican Pete Smith, former president of the Tacony Civic Association.

Keel, Henon’s campaign spokesman, issued the following blistering statement:

“Jared Solomon exposed himself as a preening fool in that PR stunt last week. First, he duped the press into thinking he was announcing a Council run against Bobby Henon, but chickened out at the last minute. He’s supposed to be a lawyer, but spent his entire speech condemning Bobby, John Dougherty and others associated with Local 98, railing about ‘corruption’ without offering any proof. As an attorney, one would have assumed Solomon understood the bedrock legal principles of due process and ‘innocent until proven guilty.’ He violated his own profession’s code of ethics in appointing himself judge, jury and executioner. He’s also a hypocrite. When asked at the event if he would return the thousands of campaign contributions he’s asked for and received from Local 98 over the years, he would not commit to doing so. Speaking of hypocrisy, he asked for, received and heavily promoted Bobby Henon’s endorsement of him for State Rep in 2016, a seat he won with Henon’s and Local 98’s support. Solomon bought himself some unnecessary problems by attacking the Councilman and others. IBEW Local 98 will be asking for the return of all its campaign contribution to him. Likewise, the Concerned Irish Americans PAC, which counts among its membership many Local 98 electricians, is asking Solomon today to return the $25,000 it contributed to his last campaign. Solomon chose to exile himself from the city’s labor community and for what? What did he gain from that embarrassing press conference? And what was Alan Butkovitz doing there? Was Solomon doing Butkovitz’s bidding to aid his mayoral campaign? Did Big Soda promise Solomon contributions if he helped ding Bobby Henon, a major supporter of the Soda Tax? The fact is Bobby Henon has not for one second considered stepping down from his Council position and this fraud’s call for him to resign is laughable, given his blatant hypocrisy and convenient memory lapses. Rather than engaging in political grandstanding, Solomon should focus on improving upon his own dismal record in the 202nd Legislative District, which has seen dramatic increases in poverty under his inept watch.”

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Some city Republicans almost convinced a Society Hill businessman to enter the mayoral race.

Martin Welch was a longtime employee of Aramark, working there for 34 years and leaving in 2016 as chief operating officer.

Talks with some ward leaders intensified on Sunday, but Welch determined that it would be too difficult to gather 1,000 valid nominating petitions in little more than a week, especially since two other candidates have been collecting signatures for almost two weeks.

Welch would have been the third Republican in the race. The others are ward leader and party activist Daphne Goggins, who has the GOP endorsement, and lawyer Billy Ciancaglini.

Mayor Jim Kenney is being challenged in the Democratic primary by former City Controller Alan Butkovitz and, maybe, state Sen. Anthony Williams.

All mayoral candidates have until March 12 to file 1,000 nominating petitions.

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The race is on: State Rep. Angel Cruz announced his candidacy for the 7th Councilmanic District seat during an event Friday night at La Langosta Bar & Restaurant in Juniata. TOM WARING / TIMES PHOTO

State Rep. Angel Cruz on Friday night officially announced his candidacy for the 7th Councilmanic District seat.

Cruz will face Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez in the primary.

The challenger’s supporters gathered at La Langosta Bar & Restaurant, H and Cayuga streets in Juniata.

Cruz, Democratic leader of the 7th Ward, has the support of the majority of ward leaders in the district. He said that’s a sign of Sanchez’s ineffectiveness after 12 years in office.

“That says something about you,” he said.

Cruz was joined by Donna Aument, longtime Democratic leader of the 33rd Ward.

A former aide to Councilman Rick Mariano, he’s been a ward leader since 1998 and a House member since 2001.

“I know how to do the job,” he said.

In remarks to supporters, he asked to “borrow” their votes. If he wins and does not do a good job, he won’t ask for their support again.

If elected, he wants to clean up neighborhoods filled with tires, trash and rats. He’d like to find a lot where debris can be taken for pickup by the sanitation department. He also wants to fix broken surveillance cameras and will oppose gentrification efforts.

State Sen. Tina Tartaglione, who defeated Sanchez’s husband in her 2014 re-election race, predicted Cruz will win. She said he will work better with people than Sanchez and provide better constituent services. She said Sanchez’s office is ineffective.

“You call, you can’t get services,” she said.

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The Green Party of Philadelphia has endorsed its chairwoman, Olivia Faison, for Council at large.

Faison, a retired analytical chemist, supports District Attorney Larry Krasner’s reform of the city bail system.

She chairs the Health Center 4 Advisory Committee, and is secretary on the Board of Directors for the city health centers. She is a block captain, has served as the inspector of elections at her polling place since 2008 and is an entrepreneur, presently involved in forging business relations with Mozambique. ••