As a bitter debate between Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and developer Ori Feibush came to a close Tuesday night, Johnson, when asked what question he would pose to his competitor, ripped the scab off an old wound.

"My opponent always says I'm a nice person. So why in Philadelphia magazine did you refer to me as a poverty pimp and a terrible human being?" Johnson responded, referring to a May 2013 article as the fired-up crowd in South Philadelphia's Vare Recreation Center erupted.

"I'd want to know," Johnson continued, "how did I go from being a poverty pimp and a terrible human being to, at the last debate, being a nice guy?"

Feibush, a developer vying to unseat Johnson in City Council's Second District, wasn't given a chance to respond but after the debate said he had been misquoted in the magazine article.

Johnson, a first-term councilman, said he didn't buy the excuse.

The two disagreed on that and almost every plan they presented for improving the Second District, which includes a swath of South Philadelphia and many of the city's southwest neighborhoods. While the candidates' first debate last month was mostly cordial, Tuesday night they dropped all niceties.

Johnson was born in Point Breeze, where Feibush is one of several developers building scores of new homes, part of a transformation many longtime residents worry will lead to them being priced out of their neighborhood.

Sparring over development proposals in a gym packed with about 150 people and plastered with campaign signs, Feibush painted Johnson as an absentee leader who has failed to rezone the district to support business growth along its commercial corridors.

"I got into real estate, I got into development because I wanted to affect a change in my community. I wanted to rebuild a community that had been neglected by politicians year after year after year," Feibush said.

He accused Johnson of failing to deliver substantive change.

After the councilman responded favorably to a question on whether he would support legislation to increase trash pickup to twice a week, Feibush asked why he hadn't introduced the legislation himself.

"I'd introduce the bill," Feibush said. "If you haven't done it in the last four years, how can we believe you'd do it in the next four? . . . You're sitting on Council. You have the ability to introduce the legislation. You have chosen not to."

Johnson said Feibush has pushed his own development agenda without seeking input from the community and told the crowd that "24/7, I'm a public servant."

Johnson called himself a consensus builder and Feibush, a "dictator."

"You're not willing to work with the community," Johnson said. "When you don't get your way, you sue me."

Feibush has sued Johnson in federal court, where he is accusing the councilman of blocking his plans to purchase city-owned lots as a form of political payback.

tnadolny@philly.com

215-854-2730 @tricianadolny