Philly news: The muzzle in Ackerman’s contract and the gun-toting Council candidate

This has to be the record for media coverage of a Republican City Council at-large candidate in Philadelphia.

Daily News columnist Chris Brennan has already done several stories about candidate David Oh exaggerating his military record, and his story in today’s paper focuses on Oh’s 1995 arrest (and acquittal) on gun charges.

But I think this story may actually undo some of the damage to Oh’s fortunes done by the earlier stories.

The previous stories focused on Oh’s representing himself is some campaign material as a green beret special forces officer in the Army. While Oh was assigned to a special forces unit, he never actually completed the training and acquired the status of a special forces officer.

That could hurt Oh among conservative voters, something no Republican needs. But in today’s story, we find Oh pulling a gun and perhaps firing into the air as he confronts what appears to be a group of prostitutes and drug dealers near his family’s home in the Cobbs Creek area of West Philadelphia.

Picture Gran Torino, West Philly version.

But it turned out the shady-looking crew was a police undercover unit, so Oh was taken in. He said he’d gotten tough because police hadn’t been responding to neighborhood complaints about crime, and he was acquitted in a non-jury trial.

What Philadelphian wouldn’t find it completely believable that police were slow responding to repeated complaints of criminal activity? And plenty of those conservative voters will respect somebody who has the guts to stand up to neighborhood punks. We’ll see.

Read Brennan’s story here. (And a hat tip to Kevin Bevan and the headline writers at the Daily News: The Oh story about his military record had the headline “Oh, fudge!” The headline on his account of the gun charge: “Oh, shoot!”

Meanwhile, we have yet another wrinkle to the ongoing drama surrounding former Philadelphia school’s chief Arlene Ackerman’s $905,000 buyout and departure. Susan Snyder reports in today’s Inquirer that Ackerman’s caustic comments about her chief financial officer at the district could jeopardize her deal.

That’s because, the separation agreement says Ackerman can’t make public comments “or disseminate any private or confidential information” about the School Reform Commission or senior members of the district’s administration that are “malicious, wanton, or reckless,” or that are “reasonably foreseeable to injure their reputations.”

To me, the provision is another example of what a rotten deal this is. Ackerman’s accounts of what happened among senior staff at the school district are matters of legitimate public interest.

Everybody in that building was working on the taxpayers’ dime and dealing with matters of critical importance to kids, parents, the whole damn city. I’d like to hear what Ackerman has to say about how the district suddenly plunged into a life-threatening deficit, what happened on the Martin Luther King charter deal, and a bunch of other stuff.

We can judge her credibility against others involved, if they’ll share their stories.

Sunshine is a great disinfectant when it comes to the public’s business. In this deal, the public’s money is handed over, and the heavy shades are pulled all the way down.

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