Former Congressman Ozzie Myers has a curious request for a federal judge overseeing his upcoming trial on bribery charges in an alleged election fraud case.
He doesn’t want the jurors to hear the name “Ozzie” or the title “former congressman.”
His argument: Myers might not get a fair trial if the jury connects him to the 1970s Abscam scandal that ended his career.
Clout had two questions.
How many people know Myers’ real name?
We asked around. Not many. It’s Michael.
And where did Ozzie come from?
Blame the former Oscar Mayer hotdog factory at Front and Packer in South Philly, the company’s iconic Wienermobile, and “Little Oscar.”
Clout is reliably informed that Myers, who was shorter than many of his childhood playmates, spent a lot of time at a recreation center near the factory. The Wienermobile would stop from time to time, with a driver passing out “wiener whistles,” which looked like hot dogs.
The original Wienermobile was just 13 feet long, less than half of the current model’s size, so Oscar Mayer hired very short drivers, calling them Little Oscar. One of them appeared as a Munchkin in The Wizard of Oz.
You see where this is going, right?
Myers’ chums started calling him Oscar Myers. The nickname eventually got South Philly-ized into Ozzie.
That was the name Myers went by when Abscam sent him to prison for three years.
“Money talks in this business and bulls— walks,” Myers was famously caught on tape telling an undercover FBI agent posing as an Arab sheik as he solicited a $50,000 bribe. It was part of a sting operation that led to corruption convictions for Myers, six other members of Congress, a New Jersey state senator, three Philadelphia city councilmembers, and the mayor of Camden.
Myers is now accused of bribing an elections worker to pad the vote for judicial candidates in Democratic primaries between 2014 and 2016. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Ben from Ben & Jerry’s blasts Mr. Softee as ‘fake ice cream’ after it stepped into the Philly DA’s race
The churn of Philadelphia’s Democratic primary for district attorney continued a chilling turn Tuesday, with a Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream founder’s frosty response to the police union and Mister Softee.
The Fraternal Order of Police dealt the first cold blow last Friday to District Attorney Larry Krasner, parking a Mister Softee truck in front of his office to cast him as “soft on crime.” The union passed out free soft-serve cones and asked people to support Krasner’s Democratic challenger, longtime homicide prosecutor Carlos Vega.
Ben Cohen, a Krasner supporter, offered this biting reply Tuesday, accusing the FOP of opposing Krasner because he holds police officers accountable.
“The FOP is out of control, regularly lashing out at anyone who threatens their unquestioned power,” Cohen said in a statement circulated by Krasner’s campaign. “To be clear, Mr. Softee isn’t even ice cream. It is pumped up with a lot of hot air, which is somehow frozen in a limp sort of way. It is chock full of artificial ingredients. In short, it’s fake ice cream. Just like the lies that the FOP has been telling about a courageous fighter for true justice and one of the best D.A.’s in the U.S.”
Local FOP president John McNesby on Tuesday said Cohen “is begging for relevancy in this market and Mister Softee and Carlos Vega are the go-to choices for Philadelphians.”
Know who wants no part of this fight? Mister Softee, the family-run company founded in West Philadelphia in 1956, now based in Runnemede, Camden County.
“We didn’t know about it until after the fact,” Mister Softee vice president Jim Conway Jr. told Clout of Friday’s FOP event. “Apparently McNesby contacted one of our franchisees. We’re really not interested in politics.”
As for Cohen, Conway said: “We would like to inform him that Mister Softee is in fact ‘real’ ice cream and has been a staple in the region since our founding in Philadelphia.”
McNesby told Clout he plans to park the truck in front of Krasner’s office every Friday until the May 18 primary.
How the DA’s race plays in the wards
How close is the primary for district attorney? Going by the sample ballots being ordered Friday for the city’s 69 wards by the Democratic City Committee, the race has narrowed significantly.
Democratic Party chair Bob Brady said 28 wards asked to list Krasner as their pick, 28 wards went with Vega, 12 are leaving that spot blank on the sample ballot, and one ward is still wavering. Brady noted that three Krasner wards flipped to Vega on Thursday. He declined to say which wards, but suggested it might have been motivated by the rancorous televised debate Wednesday.
Speaking of wards, Monday marked the deadline to register to vote in the primary. The FOP had been pushing Republicans in the city to switch their registrations to Democrats so they can vote for Vega.
Voter registration data show 6,252 Republicans switched by the deadline. Three out of every five party-flippers live in 14 wards in Northeast Philly, where the FOP is based.
Voters change parties for plenty of reasons. The city has more than one million voters, with 77% Democrats, 11% Republicans, and 12% independents or members of smaller political parties.
Clout provides often irreverent news and analysis about people, power, and politics.