Democrats, a Union, and Corruption

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Democrats, a Union, and Corruption

John Dougherty may not be a house­hold name, but he is the king­maker of Philadel­phia and much of Pennsylvania.

Dougherty, known as Johnny Doc, is a clas­sic exam­ple of Demo­c­rat machine pol­i­tics that have noth­ing to do with mak­ing people’s lives better.

Take, for exam­ple, the much-​heralded tax on sweet­ened bev­er­ages that became law in 2016. The tax raised the cost by about 20 per­cent and was intended to cut soda pur­chases and fund pre-​kindergarten for poor kids.

This year, there are 2,250 chil­dren in city-​funded, pre-​K pro­grams, or less than 10 per­cent of those who report­edly need some pro­grams. What’s appalling is that only one-​quarter of the more than $130 mil­lion raised from the soda tax has gone to fund the pro­grams, while the rest has paid for other city projects.

More­over, the tax has resulted in the clo­sure of super­mar­kets in the city because peo­ple buy cheaper prod­ucts just across the bor­der in the suburbs.

But here is the real deal about the tax. The soda tax is the kind of bare-​knuckle tac­tics Dougherty and his union buds have been using for years — a throw­back to the days of machine pol­i­tics in Chicago and the power plays of union lead­ers like Jimmy Hoffa.

Mayor Jim Ken­ney, who has known Dougherty since child­hood and got elected mayor based on his finan­cial and polit­i­cal back­ing, pushed the tax.

After a city offi­cial explained to the union boss how the tax would ben­e­fit the city, Dougherty report­edly replied, “You don’t have to explain to me. I don’t give a f — .”

Dougherty, the busi­ness man­ager of the Inter­na­tional Broth­er­hood of Elec­tri­cal Work­ers Local 98, wanted to hurt the Team­sters’ Union. As a result of the soda tax, the Team­sters lost an esti­mated 100 jobs in Philadel­phia because the assess­ment meant fewer peo­ple drank soda, which left fewer trucks to deliver the drinks to local stores.

Local 98 has been a huge source of cam­paign fund­ing in Penn­syl­va­nia dur­ing the last few elec­tion cycles, and it has had a sig­nif­i­cant role in shap­ing the judi­ciary, putting 60 of its pre­ferred can­di­dates on the bench, includ­ing Dougherty’s brother, Kevin, elected to the state Supreme Court in 2015.

Bobby Henon, a long­time Dougherty bud and key leader of the Philadel­phia City Coun­cil, report­edly struck a bar­gain on the soda tax cam­paign in which he got a vari­ety of good­ies, includ­ing a $73,131 salary from Local 98 and tick­ets to sport­ing events worth nearly $12,000.

Dougherty and Henon, along with six oth­ers, were indicted last week on more than 100 fed­eral charges of embez­zle­ment, bribery, and theft.

Maybe the indict­ments will tie up union funds when this year’s city and state elec­tions roll around. It’s likely the Democ­rats will find some­one else to bankroll their deeds and buy peo­ple off while promis­ing nonex­is­tent pro­grams and caus­ing busi­nesses to suffer.

John Dougherty may not be a household name, but he is the kingmaker of Philadelphia and much of Pennsylvania.

Dougherty, known as Johnny Doc, is a classic example of Democrat machine politics that have nothing to do with making people’s lives better.

Take, for example, the much-heralded tax on sweetened beverages that became law in 2016. The tax raised the cost by about 20 percent and was intended to cut soda purchases and fund pre-kindergarten for poor kids.

This year, there are 2,250 children in city-funded, pre-K programs, or less than 10 percent of those who reportedly need some programs. What’s appalling is that only one-quarter of the more than $130 million raised from the soda tax has gone to fund the programs, while the rest has paid for other city projects.

Moreover, the tax has resulted in the closure of supermarkets in the city because people buy cheaper products just across the border in the suburbs.

But here is the real deal about the tax. The soda tax is the kind of bare-knuckle tactics Dougherty and his union buds have been using for years—a throwback to the days of machine politics in Chicago and the power plays of union leaders like Jimmy Hoffa.

Mayor Jim Kenney, who has known Dougherty since childhood and got elected mayor based on his financial and political backing, pushed the tax.

After a city official explained to the union boss how the tax would benefit the city, Dougherty reportedly replied, “You don’t have to explain to me. I don’t give a f—.”

Dougherty, the business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98, wanted to hurt the Teamsters’ Union. As a result of the soda tax, the Teamsters lost an estimated 100 jobs in Philadelphia because the assessment meant fewer people drank soda, which left fewer trucks to deliver the drinks to local stores.

Local 98 has been a huge source of campaign funding in Pennsylvania during the last few election cycles, and it has had a significant role in shaping the judiciary, putting 60 of its preferred candidates on the bench, including Dougherty’s brother, Kevin, elected to the state Supreme Court in 2015.

Bobby Henon, a longtime Dougherty bud and key leader of the Philadelphia City Council, reportedly struck a bargain on the soda tax campaign in which he got a variety of goodies, including a $73,131 salary from Local 98 and tickets to sporting events worth nearly $12,000.

Dougherty and Henon, along with six others, were indicted last week on more than 100 federal charges of embezzlement, bribery, and theft.

Maybe the indictments will tie up union funds when this year’s city and state elections roll around. It’s likely the Democrats will find someone else to bankroll their deeds and buy people off while promising nonexistent programs and causing businesses to suffer.