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FOP leaning toward endorsing Philly Sheriff Jewell Williams because of... DA Larry Krasner? | Clout

FOP to back Sheriff Jewell Williams because an opponent backed by Larry Krasner? Things that go bump in the night. And a classic Democratic City Committee backstabbing mystery.

Rochelle Bilal (left) and Philadelphia Sheriff Jewell Williams are vying for the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police in the May 21 Democratic primary. Williams won support of sheriff's deputies in a vote this week.
Rochelle Bilal (left) and Philadelphia Sheriff Jewell Williams are vying for the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police in the May 21 Democratic primary. Williams won support of sheriff's deputies in a vote this week.Read moreDavid Maialetti / Staff Photographer and Associated Press Photo

Philadelphia Sheriff Jewell Williams received some rare good news this week. And it came by way of District Attorney Larry Krasner. Sort of.

John McNesby, president of Lodge 5 of the Fraternal Order of Police, said about 120 current and retired sheriff’s deputies voted unanimously Monday to recommend Williams for endorsement in the May 21 Democratic primary.

McNesby acknowledged that some “people have issues with Jewell Williams.” That’s a soft touch.

The city in January agreed to pay $127,500 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Williams by a former Sheriff’s Office employee, after substantiating her claims last year. The state House Democrats in 2012 settled for $30,000 a sexual harassment lawsuit filed when Williams was a state representative. A third sexual harassment complaint against Williams is pending in federal court.

Rochelle Bilal, a retired cop and president of the Guardian Civic League, an organization of black police officers, was also considered for the endorsement. McNesby said the deputies had problems with her politics.

“She has some loyalty from people who don’t really help our officers,” he said.

That’s a reference to Krasner, who sued the Police Department dozens of times as a civil rights lawyer before being sworn in as district attorney in 2018.

Bilal supported Krasner’s 2017 campaign, and she defended him in January when McNesby, as a guest of Tucker Carlson on Fox News, accused the DA of having “great disdain and dislike” for cops.

Bilal noted that McNesby appeared in a 2017 Oval Office photo with President Donald Trump.

“Me running for sheriff has nothing to do with who I supported for DA,” Bilal said. “If they want to support Trump and then support someone who sexually harasses women, that’s on them.”

The FOP’s executive board will vote on the endorsement in late April. Two other Democrats, Malika Rahman and Larry King Sr., were not considered because they did not ask for the endorsement, McNesby said. There is no Republican candidate for sheriff.

Williams was initially recommended for endorsement by the local Democratic Party this month, but that was quickly revoked after an uproar, and then his fellow ward leaders voted to remain neutral in the primary.

On the trail with #Willie4Philly

Willie Singletary, the former Traffic Court judge who went to federal prison for 20 months for lying to the FBI, continues to campaign for a City Council at-large seat even though a Common Pleas judge removed him from the Democratic primary ballot last month, after he was challenged by election lawyer Kevin Greenberg.

Singletary appealed to Commonwealth Court, where a judge Thursday agreed that he can’t appear on the ballot due to a clause in the Pennsylvania Constitution barring those convicted of certain felonies from holding public office. He vowed to appeal to the state’s Supreme Court.

It’s been a bumpy ride for Singletary. Just ask Ilya Knizhnik, a Democratic committeeman who saw Singletary at an April 4 candidate event in West Philly.

Knizhnik drives a Tesla Model 3, which comes standard with an eight-camera system that records incidents like fender-benders. The car had some damage after the event and the cameras captured the culprit.

Singletary can be seen in a video — which now has more than 100,000 views on YouTube — colliding with the Tesla while trying to depart in a rented black Cadillac Escalade. The former judge, who now runs a limousine service, gets out, rubs the Tesla fender, rubs the Cadillac fender, throws up his hands and drives away.

He is wearing a Willie Singletary for Council campaign button for all of it. Because, of course.

Knizhnik says Singletary left behind no insurance information and later provided inaccurate information about a claim filed with the car rental company. Singletary claims Knizhnik is not telling the truth about all that and blames him for the accident.

“It was a scratch,” Singletary said. “He parked too close to my car.”

The flip-flop endorsement mystery endures

It’s been two weeks and Clout still hasn’t cracked the case. The Policy Committee for the city’s Democratic Party met April 1 and voted, 12-0, to recommend endorsing former School Reform Commission member Sandra Dungee Glenn for City Council at large. Katherine Gilmore Richardson, a former Council staffer, won the other recommendation for two soon-to-be vacant seats.

The Democratic City Committee typically follows those recommendations. But later that week the ward leaders gathered and endorsed Richardson and Isaiah Thomas, leaving Glenn out in the cold.

Well-placed sources said Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, the party’s first vice chairwoman, flip-flopped from Glenn to Thomas at the behest of Chris Woods, executive vice president of Local 1199C of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees.

Blackwell, who also heads the United Ward Leaders of Color, gave us the dodge when we asked about Woods.

“I am not going to talk about policy committee, how we ended up or where we ended up,” she said. “Certainly it’s my job to try to make sure we keep peace, and try to get along and try to work things out.”

Woods was more direct, denying any involvement. “I don’t have any juice in that room,” he said. “I think people are trying to put it on me.”

Thomas said he has “no clue” how the endorsement flipped to him. Glenn was similarly mystified.

“I was the same person with the same campaign, as far as I know, standing for the same ideas and principles as the Democratic Party,” she said after the vote.