Friday, January 09, 2015
Can You Say AG John Morganelli?
At a time when few people outside York knew much about this guy except that he had a beard, Morganelli was encouraging him to run. And when Wolf did decide to give it a go, Morganelli invited him to his home for a fundraiser. Twice.
Morganelli, as most of you know, is Northampton County's six-term District Attorney. I happen to be the son of a former District Attorney. But I am sure my father himself would agree that Morganelli is the best person who has ever held that position. In fact, he helped elect him. Unfortunately he never lived to see him take office.
Why the best? He's smart and is a formidable foe in the courtroom. But what really sets him apart is that Morganelli loves his job and works at it. If you visit the courthouse at 8 am, when bottom-feeding bloggers like me are getting our first intravenous injections of caffeine, you'll find the DA at the courthouse, working. He often returns on nights and weekends as well.
Like his counterpart Jim Martin in Lehigh County, Morganelli is also a good administrator. Even budget hawks like Ron Angle were forced to compliment Morganelli, who year after year presented lean budgets. He's tight with the public buck. He has also professionalized his office. As part-time prosecutors retire, he replaces them with full-time career prosecutors. This way the office has had a good blend of veterans who mentor younger and hungry assistants.
Governor Tom Wolf has a crisis on his hands. The state's top prosecutor, fellow Democrat Kathleen Kane, needs to step down. A Grand Jury has recommended the filing of criminal charges for disclosing secret grand jury records to a newspaper in a stupid vendetta against former Corbett prosecutor Frank Fina. She did so in a petty attempt to embarrass him, and it blew up in her face. This poor judgment is complicated by or perhaps even the result of unfortunate turmoil in her personal life.
She's a pretty face, but an incompetent prosecutor. Her handling of the Turnpike probe alone is evidence of her inexperience.
Morganelli has run for this office three times. He understands the politics and knows the players. He'd be an excellent choice to replace Kane, and one that would likely be acceptable to Republicans. While most Democrats shy away from the tea party, Morganelli has spoken to them several times concerning illegal immigration. He also penned a recent Patriot News op-ed, opposing a moratorium on the death penalty.
Though he's a conservative Democrat, he is also the closest thing to a free speech purist I've ever seen in a position of power. I've seen him dismiss trespassing charges against antiwar protesters at the Palmer Post Office He dismissed charges against a free spirit in Washington Township who was flying his American flag upside down. And he condemned the Stickergate charges filed by Nazareth police last summer.
As a bottom-feeding blogger, I can tell you this is a rare quality. Most people in public office really start to believe their shit smells like roses, and get very offended by even minor criticism. The only time they defend the First Amendment is when some Islamic terrorist kills satirists in Paris.
"Suck it up, Cupcake," is an admonition that would apply to most public officials. I know this from personal experience.
Over the years, I have criticized Morganelli at times as well. But unlike most politicians, he never takes it personally.
One anonymous reader has suggested that Philadelphia DA Seth Williams should get this appointment. I agree that Williams, a no-nonsense prosecutor who has taken a realistic approach to marijuana prosecutions in Philly, would be excellent. But that might be a step down for him.
Morganelli, however, is a perfect fit. Williams deals mostly with urban crime. Morganelli has a wealth of experience in urban crime, suburban crime, white collar crime and gangs. He has innovatively used the Grand Jury to attack public corruption. He recently led the drive for a Mental Health Court and has signed on to a Task Force to prevent the growing problem of elder abuse.
Morganelli has declined comment.