Category Archives: People First Development

Dishonest, Disingenuous, but Media Savvy

Apr 10th – Yesterday, people may have come across the below Facebook post from Ori Feibush.

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It was accompanied by pictures of vandalism, somebody had spray painted the words “Don’t vote 4 Ori” on the side of a home in Point Breeze.  Mr. Feibush with no explanation or evidence sought to hold his opponent Councilman Kenyatta Johnson responsible.  Feibush’s long-time collaborator Republican candidate for Sheriff even posted a story about it.

This Facebook post came just as Mr. Feibush was receiving mounting criticism about the tone he brought to the 2nd District Council race.  Feibush was facing questions about language he had used to describe Councilman Johnson in the past.  Specifically, in Philadelphia Magazine, Feibush had reffered to Johnson as a “poverty pimp” and “terrible human being” yet at more recent forums called him a “nice guy.”

Feibush, instead of answering, aimed to changed the conversation.

It’s media savvy, in that it demonstrates Mr. Feibush knows how to affect media cycles.

However, for those of us in the Point Breeze neighborhood who’ve been embattled with Mr. Feibush,  it’s not the first time he pulled this same play:

On August 24th, 2013, the Point Breeze Organizing Committee (PBOC) organized a march down Point Breeze avenue that ended in a protest of Mr. Feibush’s business.  The morning of the march, there was an incident of vandalism – someone threw a brick through the window of OCF’s coffee shop.

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Mr. Feibush wasted no time calling the media.  He convinced them to film him cleaning up the glass.  This was in order to portray him as under attack and sympathetic (much like yesterday’s post).  Mr. Feibush, again with no evidence, told NBC News that he knew for a fact it was our organization, PBOC, that had done it.  This, of course, differed from the police department, who did not think we did it.

That alone demonstrated a high level of irresponsibility, however a closer examination of the facts suggest something even more dubious.

The vandalism occurred at 6am.  Only 90 minutes later (see creation time below), somebody launched the website, “PointBreezeCriminals.com” with a corresponding youtube page, and twitter account. The site’s sole article argued that the act of vandalism was connected to PBOC’s march.  It also posted the surveillance footage.

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Feibush, was apparently “lucky”, that he had a friend who was up that early and in such a small amount of time, had the idea for a website, obtained the domain, built the website and corresponding social media, uploaded and transferred the surveillance video footage, wrote the article, then recruited supporters to promote the website.

It was convenient for OCF in that, for those outside the neighborhood, it shifted the narrative to one where Feibush was a victim.  Media savvy.

Dishonest, Disingenuous, but Media Savvy.

Addendum: OCF Realty customer reviews point to disturbing pattern.

ORI FEIBUSH vs. HIS TENANTS:

Addendum: OCF Realty customer reviews point to disturbing pattern.

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A few weeks ago we wrote about Ori Feibush and OCF Realty’s history of illegally withholding security deposits from tenants until ordered by the court to return them.

In numerous cases, Mr. Feibush withheld security deposits from his tenants without cause, forcing them to take him to court. Only after a judge ruled that Mr. Feibush had to return the money would he finally relent and reimburse his disgruntled former renters.

Some of Ori’s supporters suggested that we were lemon picking; taking a few isolated incidents out of context in order to paint an unfairly negative picture.

We agree that it’s easy to discredit someone, if you’re willing to take things out of context. That’s why it’s so important to note what is an isolated incident and what is in fact a long-standing and documented pattern.

People familiar with the Point Breeze Organizing Committee know we’ve pushed very hard against the assertions from people like Mayor Nutter that Government is a business. A Government is for and by the people – democratic – it can do things for the common good, whether it proves profitable or not. It can invest in things like affordable housing and not focus narrowly on a rate of return. It’s not answerable to a select few, it’s answerable to all of us, and that empowers our Government to do things that can benefit all of us.

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However, if a candidate is going to run on a record of being a successful businessman, we believe it’s fair to ask how they define success. Do they define it as them making the most amount of money possible? Or were they able to provide a good or service, that helped people or benefited their lives or at least had basic standards of decency in regard to customer service.

That’s why we are asking the rest of the 2nd District to check out the below Yelp reviews – customers of OCF Realty have taken time to write detailed reviews of their experience, and they’re par and parcel with the Tenants’ experience we just documented and our on-going experience with this developer in our neighborhood.

Consider this one from Rich D. on Yelp.

“My personal experience with OCF was not at all pleasant. We had various problems the entirety of our stay (not all problems were caused by OCF initially), but this real estate management company did not make things better.

“One example would be when our apartment was robbed. Initially, OCF refused to give us an additional lock on our back door (which was the entrance used to rob the unit) and said that our security was our issue.”

Read more here: http://www.yelp.com/biz/ocf-realty-philadelphia?hrid=h3R_jRBDIlSWV9HXO0Pjjw

Or this one from Rebecca N. on Yelp.

“OCF is out to make money and that’s it.  Bottom line.  They will work hard to protect the property manger so long as it means making money.  Keep in mind that if you rent from OCF and they are serving as property manager, their real client is the property owner, NOT you as a tenant.

“I wanted to like them and trust them because they have a big clean store front, fancy website, and the employees seemed nice, but it’s a facade.”

http://www.yelp.com/not_recommended_reviews/ocf-realty-philadelphia

Here’s one from Brian M.

“We have rented a house for the past two years in South Philadelphia.  Our landlord selected OCF realty to manage his 1 year old home (we were the first renters).  OCF did an absolutely horrendous job as property managers, and I finally convinced the owner to drop them last November.

“Bottom line:  OCF is not good for renters or landlords. They do not have the motivation, expertise or personnel to properly manage residential rental properties, and they hire cut-rate repairmen.”

http://www.yelp.com/not_recommended_reviews/ocf-realty-philadelphia

And one from Amelia C.

“I do NOT recommend renting or buying a home through OCF. I find that Ori, the owner, is a dishonest business person who has poorly trained staff. The negative reviews about this company have been spot on.”

http://www.yelp.com/not_recommended_reviews/ocf-realty-philadelphia?not_recommended_start=10

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A Princess, according to the story, upon hearing the peasants had no bread to eat, responded with disregard, “Let them eat Cake.” Mr. Feibush used the phrase to launch his coffee shop. It’s hard to see the humor given the actual disregard he’s shown for long-time residents.

We could go on and on, but we encourage you to read the reviews for yourself by following the links. There are plenty just like these.

On top of what we found on Yelp, we searched a site called whoseyourlandlord.com and found more of the same.

One reviewer’s comments were indicative of the general consensus, “Never follow through on anything they say. They would avoid calls and emails. I’m sure there are many other things I am forgetting, to sum it up the experience was terrible.”

Even one person who gave OCF Realty its best rating on the page warned, “they tried to cheat us out of most of our deposit and bill us for many issues that the previous tenant had done.”

What our neighborhood is clear on, and what will become increasingly clear to the whole 2nd District through this election is we are the ones putting Mr. Feibush’s business practices into their proper context; the pattern is un-mistakable.

We are the ones saying: this isn’t about some media savvy millionaire and his harmless escapades. It is real people who’ve been mistreated, had their time wasted, or worse threatened with lawsuits for speaking up at zoning meetings.

Government is not business. Government is accountable to people not profits. However, if Mr. Feibush wants to govern, he wants to represent us in City Hall, and he submits he is capable because of his business record, then we would be wise to look at this business record.

If Mr. Feibush defines “success” as making the most possible out of money, then perhaps he has been successful. We on the other hand define success differently – it involves making a contribution and doing right by your fellow human being, and in that regard it’s hard to imagine a less successful businessperson.

We will let others decide if he’s fit for business. But we will decide if he’s fit to govern us. And he’s not.

 

 

First Corbett. Then Feibush.

PBOC will stand for the Public Good and defeat 21st Century Reagonomics in the both up-coming elections.

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Two stewards of 21st Century Reagonomics

Governor Tom Corbett cut $1 billion dollars to the state education budget.  In early March, the effects of the budget cuts were felt deeply in Philadelphia, and the School Reform Commission (SRC) voted to close 23 Philadelphia neighborhood schools.  Walter G Smith School, an elementary school at 19th and Wharton, was one such school, that Ms. Wilma Frazier reminded us, has been a pillar of the Point Breeze neighborhood.

Then, in August, as the Philadelphia School District looked for the funds through which it could safely open schools, the Corbett Administration released a statement calling for an extension of a sales tax and give backs from Philadelphia Teachers.

It’s important to note that American Teachers in general make less money that their counterparts in other developed countries like Switzerland, Germany, or Japan; and Philadelphia Teachers make less than their suburban counterparts.  Most countries with high performing Public Education systems have high paid teachers, in other words, lowering teacher pay is bad for students.

With the August statement, the Corbett Administration demonstrates callous disregard for Philadelphia’s young people and particularly those of less economic means.  Corbett refuses to tax the highly profitable natural gas industry and instead proposes pushing that burden onto working-class people through regressive taxation measures and attacks on the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT).

Diane Ravitch, whose principles and conscience, have led her to go from being a public official appointed by the Bush Administration, to being the nation’s premiere anti-privatization activist, recently posted this graphic on her blog.

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It shows the school closures have disproportionately effect Black communities and low-income communities.

The Corbett Administration has also pursued other policies that hurt the working poor – in spite of protests from Point Breeze’s State Representative Jordan Harris and United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), Republicans under Corbett’s leadership have pushed an effort to privatize liquor stores, which would eliminate jobs and leave reduced compensation for the jobs that remain.

It gets worse, PA Republicans, under the leadership of the Corbett Administration have paired these attacks on the majority with an effort to suppress the political will of the majority.  Governor Corbett signed into law “Voter ID” legislation, which the Philadelphia Inquirer reported would disenfranchise about 10% of voters across the state and 18% in Philadelphia.

Here, we see shades of not just the economic policy agenda of Ronald Reagan but of his approach to politics.  Ronald Reagan, prior to his election as California Governor, opposed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, calling it “humiliating to the South”.  As President, he even went so far as to oppose the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

The recent decision of the U.S Supreme Court to overturn key provisions of the Voting Right Act must be understood as the logical conclusion of the trajectory that Ronald Reagan’s leadership put the country on.

Further, we have to understand the focused attacks on African-American’s political rights, are not just racist, they are a tactic for creating the political conditions necessary to attack the vast majority of people in the country.  Economic inequality broadly has increased exponentially since the Reagan agenda took hold.  Just before Ronald Reagan took office as President, the average CEO made 42 times that of their worker.  In 2010, thirty years after Reagan shifted the country’s trajectory, CEOs were making 343 times that of their worker.

This is the legacy that Governor Tom Corbett is a part of.  He is a steward of 21st century Reagonomics.

Ronald Reagan famously said, “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

What did he actually mean? He meant that for those who had money and power, “government,” and the possibility it affords for democratic participation, was a barrier to the richest among us – the top 1% – becoming even richer.  If there are organizations designed for the general welfare, and if there are institutions where everyone has an equal say – well, that’s a pesky thing for monied interests who want to accumulate money and power. “Government,” according to his formula, is reduced to a mess of bureaucratic red tape in the way of business, rather than the sphere in which we must struggle for democratic inclusion and policies that promote equity and the public good.

One of the challenges the Reagan Administration ran into was that its policies designed to consolidate money and power in the hands of the few were not very popular.  However, it responded to this challenge in aggressive and politically sophisticated ways that would inspire new generations of Right-Wing activists.

First, rather than engage in public debate around various social programs or openly criticize their necessity, the Reagan Administration would simply de-fund them behind closed doors.

Second, it enacted a divide and conquer strategy – Reagan’s team deliberately cultivated the racism and fear of white working-class and middle-class people.  Reagan’s calls for “Law and Order,” that began while he was Governor, were designed to cultivate deep fears in the electorate following the race riots in major American cities. As President, he would give speeches filled with bogus tales of “young bucks using food stamps to buy T-Bone steaks” and “Chicago welfare queens who drive Cadillacs.”  This mythology from the Hollywood storyteller was used to cultivate resentment and generate an understanding, particularly among white people of all classes, that there was a “parasite class” threatening the nation.

Third, once generally white, working-class and middle class people accepted this “parasite class” existed, it was then easier to win them over to a regressive economic program, such as opposition to all taxation and opposition to so called “big government.”  Why should they, who work so hard, they reasoned, have to supplement the others who aren’t willing to work?

While one could take great moral issue with the budget, particularly defense spending, the truth is that the vast majority of spending on social programs goes into programs that everyone, except the very wealthiest, rely on: programs like Social Security and Medicare.

So, Ronald Reagan’s legacy is both an economic and political agenda.

Economically, it is to:

  1. Privatize everything –defund the public sector, criticize the diminished capacity of government to respond, then points to the failure as a reason to further de-fund.
  2. Oppose any democratic government regulation on business.
  3. Reduce taxes on the wealthy and move the tax burden to the working-class.
  4. Attack unions and workers’ right to organize.

Politically, it is to:

  1. Use racism and coded language to divide and conquer the electorate.  Particularly invoke mythology of “criminality” and “parasitic nature” of the African-American community.
  2. Promote racially tinged narratives in order to cultivate identification with a leader, as a representative of the “silent majority” i.e.  interests of the few, represented as broad white sentiment

With this economic policy agenda and approach towards politics in mind, we can see that Ori Feibush, too, is a steward of 21st Century Reaganomics.

First, Feibush and his supporters don’t openly criticize the idea of public infrastructure or democratic government, but instead they design their rhetoric to suggest it’s only lack of competence and effectiveness, and particular City officials, that they oppose. However, the actions of Feibush and his company, OCF Realty, are designed not to invest in and improve democratic government, but rather to take private control over land use and public safety.

He opposed land in Point Breeze being held in the public sector for affordable housing. He has bypassed, obstructed and dismissively criticized the community-input process around zoning and land use.

Second, Feibush’s interviews where he points to a gun on his hip, or press releases about privately-funding increased camera surveillance on Point Breeze Avenue, or attacks on Kenyatta Johnson’s office for being too lenient on crime – this is the updated “Law and Order” playbook, and Feibush has cast himself as the new sheriff in town.  Also, as PBOC has documented in “OCF Realty and the Incubation of Hate” and in “Top 5 Examples of Ori Feibush, OCF Realty and its Allies Incubating Hate,” Feibush operationalizes a media infrastructure to paint all long-term, usually African-American residents of Point Breeze, as criminals, parasites, racists (against white people), or poor people who don’t know what’s in their own best interest.

Third, once people have accepted these respective understandings of government, and accepted to some degree the representation of the neighborhood, it’s easier to develop in ways that are highly profitable for Mr. Feibush, but will result in economic displacement for many in the neighborhood.

Mr. Feibush’s support for the ten-year tax abatement offers a case study in 21st century Reagonomics.  It is supply side economics that Mr. Feibush is able to portray as helping the middle-class.  The truth is, as a matter of policy, the ten-year tax abatement, benefits each respective new resident, a little, by subsidizing their purchase of a home, they might otherwise not be able to afford.  However, its overall effect is that of publicly subsidizing demand for developers like Ori Feibush, who then privately profit.  The people cut out of the deal are the same people whose neighborhoods are experiencing school closings in Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia.

However, it serves Mr. Feibush’s interests perfectly, because he not only benefits financially, he is also able to present himself as representing the broad interests of all new residents and young professionals who are in the neighborhood and want to move to the neighborhood.  Like Ronald Reagan, Feibush has been successful in building racially tinged narratives and cultivating identification with him and his leadership.  Many new residents, even-progressive minded people identify with Feibush.

We – the Point Breeze Organizing Committee, in the past, had made the mistake of feeding into this dynamic, for example, we were wrong to ever suggest the issue was “yuppies moving in.”  And we must be crystal clear at every opportunity that our beef is not with new people moving in, but rather with developers who place profits above people.  With this clarity that has emerged through dialogue with new residents and older residents, the question of our objectives have been brought into focus:  We must build the broadest possible principled unity around the general welfare of all residents and protection against economic displacement of any residents.

It is with this clarity of intention that we must turn our attention towards the Governor’s race and the defeat of Tom Corbett.  There is no threat more severe to the general welfare of all Point Breeze residents and Pennsylvanians than a second term for Governor Corbett.  We talked in depth about what is at stake for Point Breeze residents here.

We will do voter registration drives, voter education, build phone trees and the like, so we can participate in the massive turnout from Philadelphia that will be necessary to defeat Corbett.

Then, we will pivot, and join others in Point Breeze and through out the 2nd District, in defeating Mr. Feibush’s campaign for city council.  We will not allow his campaign to hide their own interests in the rhetoric of “a better Point Breeze.”  Nor will we accept competence in carrying out an agenda that he benefits from as proof that he can be competent in carrying out an agenda we would all benefit from.  We will defeat Mr. Feibush.

With the defeat of these two stewards of 21st century Reagonomics, we will be part of ushering in a new era of defense of the Public Good and expansion of Democracy.  Onwards.

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Top Five: 5 examples of Ori Feibush, OCF Realty, and its allies incubating hate.

1.  “Po Black People Against Prosperity”

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Close OCF ally, Chris Sawyer, under his PhiladelphiaSpeaks, user name “Artic Splash: Dixie Enormous” writes that the name of Point Breeze’s community organization should be the above.  Less than three hours later, Feibush posts.  This would-be civic leader, says nothing about the virulent racism, of his friend, instead he reports, business is going well.

2.  Vagina pic text message;  a woman PBOC organizer received the below, from an unkown number, the day after the march, along with other vulgar messages.

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3.  Internet stalking and disregard for privacy as a form of intimidation.

Philadelinquency, the pro-gentrification website – owned by Chris Sawyer, posted a story about the cease and desist letter sent to Haley Dervinis.

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A commenter, “MantonSt. Resident” reffers to Feibush’s practice of using IP Addresses to identify people. The user says Feibush is often incorrect. The user goes on to say that the only reason he doesn’t post his actual name is because of Feibush’s constant retaliation.

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Feibush, true to form, responds by posting the name, “Tyler Westnedge” with an IP Address; insinuating that he knows who “MantonSt.Resident” is.  “Tyler Westnedge” using a username with his own name, then responded- it was not him and for Feibush to cut it out.  He is rebuffed by Sawyer who calls him, “Mr. Prissy Pants.”

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4. Spreading misinformation: the manufacturing of “PointBreezeCriminals.com”

The morning of the PBOC’s march, there was an incident of vandalism –someone threw a brick through the window of OCF’s coffee shop.  It was convenient for OCF in that, for those outside the neighborhood, it shifted the narrative to one where Feibush was a victim.  The vandalism occurred at 6am.  Only 90 minutes later (see creation time below), an acknowledged friend of Mr. Feibush launched the website, “PointBreezeCriminals.com” with a corresponding youtube page, and twitter account. The site’s sole article argued that the act of vandalism was connected to PBOC’s march.  It also posted the surveillance footage.

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Feibush, was apparently lucky, that he had a friend who was up that early and in such a small amount of time, had the idea for a website, obtained the domain, built the website and corresponding social media, uploaded and transferred the surveilance video footage, wrote the article, then recruited supporters to promote the website on places like the Newbold Neighbors facebook page.  At the very least, it demonstrated an unwillingness to investigate and speak responsibly.  The police did not agree with Feibush’s claims that it was the Point Breeze Organizing Committee and apparently neither did some of the Facebook users.

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5.  Disrespect of women.

Mr. Feibush himself has participated in all the threads the below examples are pulled from.  He usually doesn’t use vulgarity himself, however this would-be civic leader, doesn’t intervene either.  And it certainly doesn’t stop him from asking this exact group of people to turn out to support him for zoning meetings.  Older examples include speculating with disgust what it would be like to sleep with longer-term woman residents, and one long-time community activist is reffered to as a “turd,” for saying she felt disrespected at a Newbold Neighbors meeting.

In the lead up to the march, PhiladelphiaSpeaks user, John Goodman posts, “Can someone post a pic of the girl organizing this?  I’m not on fb…want to know if she’s hot?”

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After photos of the march came out, PBOC Organizers are said to be “ugly,” “look like a man,” and be “too frumpy for tight jeans.”  All part of creating a cost for anyone who stands up, particularly women.

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One of the most appaling treatments of a PBOC organizer, is the way Ms. Gwen (pictured above) is talked about; “Loveisnoise” user speculates if she “has an innie or an outie” and writes, “I’m a tax paying citizen and have a right to know what happened to her weave, and if the curtains match the carpet.”

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This post is a follow-up from a previous post, “Ori Feibush, OCF Realty, and the Incubation of Hate.”

The Point Breeze Organizing Committee had a successful march, commemorating the 50 year anniversary of the March on Washington, and chanting down Point Breeze Ave. to protest OCF Realty.  A video the march, produced by The Media Mobilizing Project can be viewed here.

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Ori Feibush, OCF Realty, and the Incubation of Hate.

An exposé on the anti-woman vile and intimidation that is the dirty work of OCF’s profit over people gentrification model.

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Some have looked at the on-going conflict between the Point Breeze community and OCF Realty owner Ori Feibush with confusion.  They see a neighborhood in need and a young entrepreneur with plans to “improve” the neighborhood.  It’s such a perfect fit, they reason, that anyone against it should be dismissed.

The photo above, posted by a close OCF ally, Chris Sawyer, to the website he owns Philadelinquency, suggests something different about the nature of this conflict, and it points to something very different about Ori Feibush’s intentions.

The people of Point Breeze have a rich and vibrant history of standing up to build community and fighting for what’s right.  Mamie Nichols, Al Brown, and Alice Shockley are but a few names that immediately come to mind.

Point Breeze residents have attempted to secure affordable housing, good schools and jobs, freedom from violence and incarceration, and build vibrant culture and arts.  Most of all, as the “I am a Man” mural on 19th and Federal might suggest, we have fought and do fight to be treated with dignity as human beings, and to have the right to exercise political power over our lives.  Political power is in fact the only way we will meet our needs.

There have always been obstacles to achieving our goals and OCF Realty and its owner Ori Feibush is but the latest obstruction.

Ori Feibush, who just announced an intention of running for City Council, stands to gain financially and politically from a more affluent class moving in and working-class and poor families moving out.  OCF’s interests are what get hidden in all the rhetoric about improving the neighborhood.

We don’t have to speculate about Mr. Feibush’s intentions; we simply have to look at his actions.  OCF and its allies use multiple attack platforms to push their agenda for the neighborhood.  They push for policy and use legal threats; they intimidate, threaten people’s jobs and spread misinformation.  And they have developed a blog and message board infrastructure designed to support their ability to do all these things.  It’s designed in fact, to incubate hate and create a cost for anyone who might stand in their way.

Ms. Betty Beaufort is a proud woman  who has lived in Point Breeze for 40 years.  She’s been a leader of the Save the Libraries Coalition, involved in Townwatch, and now working to implement the Affordable Care Act against opposition.

The Inquirer printed a Point Breeze based story at the beginning of the year which ended with the line, “what Point Breeze really needs is more Betty Beauforts.”

A thread immediately appeared on the pro-gentrification blog, PhiladelphiaSpeaks.  Mr. Feibush was the second comment, “I just threw up a little,” he wrote.

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Ms. Betty, understands, They attack me for standing up for my community and the things I believe in” she says.

Incubating hatred of Black women and framing the story.

(This section removed at the request of Concerned Citizens of Point Breeze while they explore legal options)

 

Cultivating and Incubating hate through blogs and message boards.

Feibush isn’t just like thousands of other Internet users – mean when on the Internet.  He is a smart businessman doing something much more deliberate.

Feibush frequents the PhiladelphiaSpeaks message board and the Newbold Neighbors Facebook page.  He also owns NakedPhilly.com, and a friend and close ally Chris Sawyer owns Philadelinquency.  Sandy Smith, who talks openly about having Ori’s back, is an editor and writer for many real estate blogs.  These are only some of the blogs that then incestuously reference each other, often deliberately misrepresenting the opinions of the few, portraying them as broad consensus.

OCF and its allies, operationalize this conglomeration of blogs, message boards, and Facebook pages in order to: 1) Shape news stories that OCF has interests in, 2) Recruit newcomers and cultivate a shared identity and ideology of those whom OCF calculates it needs as part of its coalition.

“I think it is cowardice, divisive, divide and conquer tactics” says Ms. Gertrude DeVose, a long time Point Breeze community member. “It encourages segregation.  It fosters an ‘us versus them’ attitude and mentality.  This does not make for good neighbors.”

However, to ensure its success in advancing OCF’s interests,this consciously developed ideology must have an “us” and “them.” In fact it must have an “other.”

It must cultivate the “welfare queen” imagery and produce disgust for the so-called ‘criminals’,‘parasites’ or ‘takers’ that make up the neighborhood.  It promotes fear of long-term residents and validates blight as the central problem facing the neighborhood.

The ideology is dynamic but its common thread is the dehumanization of long-term African-American residents.  The thrust of contempt for long-term residents is necessary because otherwise it’s hard to justify a business model that displaces them.

In that way, racism and sexism are convenient tools for OCF.  That’s not to say the hate spewed isn’t genuine, it’s only to say, it also serves a broader purpose.

Further, the ideology must have an enemy.  Feibush and his cohorts build on the right-wing narrative of small business owners up against the Government.  OCF uses the media network to feed the idea that government can’t provide for you, all the while advancing political efforts to prevent government from providing for people.

The network of blogs and message boards is what breathes life into this ideology and so the legitimacy of the network is crucial to OCF’s ability to advance its interests.  Mr. Feibush is ever active; sometimes spewing hate himself, but more often trying to seem above the fray.  However, he’s always engaging and validating the conversation, and in the case of his own blog, directly incubating this hatred that is the necessary undercurrent of OCF’s profit-over-people gentrification model.

Cultivating and Incubating hatred to justify action.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones” the popular saying goes, “but words will never hurt me.”   That’s why it’s important to recognize the network that Mr. Feibush utilizes is not designed to be just words, it’s designed to be a launchpad for other attacks.  It is meant to give the order to swing the stick, and then defend the times they throw the stones.  Its purpose is to create costs and consequences for members of the community who want to nothing more than democratically participate in decisions that will affect their life.

“I want for the people of Point Breeze to have a voice in the development of their community” says Ms. Haley Dervinis who moved to Point Breeze in 2006. “ In regards to development, I would like to see cultural and socioeconomic diversity, small business owners, and people first decisions.”

However, Haley’s vision of Point Breeze ran into opposition from OCF and Mr. Feibush.  The dispute arose over a proposed OCF project on Annin St.  OCF’s plans required zoning variances and thus they would need to present their plans at an RCO meeting before attending a zoning board hearing.

Haley, worked with her block captains to oppose the effort and she ran square up against OCF’s media strategy.

“In my case, the articles published on NakedPhilly after our community meeting and zoning hearing were one sided with some major details missing. I believe this was done on purpose to bolster support for the developer and to minimize our community’s valid concerns. To me that’s done by someone who is fearful; fearful that the community’s ability to make their own best decisions will stand in front of the developers desire to make more money by exploiting them.  To make matters worse, when people on PhiladelphiaSpeaks were writing awful things about the situation and me, the developer fueled the fire by writing what I consider to be falsehoods to further escalate the already aggressive opinions.”

She passed a petition signed by 90% of her block, which stood in sharp contrast to the “support” for the project, Mr. Feibush had engineered, in part by using the network of blogs and message boards.

In order to intimidate her out of organizing her neighbors, Mr. Feibush called Haley’s boss to request a meeting with him and his lawyer to discuss her alleged use of a work computer to write critiques of him on the internet.  Her employer’s legal team quickly dismissed the threat, but the message was clear: “Stand against me and I’ll get at you anyway I can.”

Feibush wasn’t just venting on the network of blogs he was cultivating a base of support.  The screen shot below, which came later and was aimed at PBOC organizers, is an example of this type of threat from OCF supporters.

Workthreat-online

However, Feibush wasn’t done yet with Haley.  His lawyer sent her a cease and desist letter, threatening to sue if she went ahead with her testimony at the Zoning hearing.  Lawyers including those from the ACLU assured her she had done nothing libelous and that the letter didn’t have a legal basis; it was pure intimidation.

Notably, the cease and desist letter, cited two e-mails Haley had sent to reporters, those “reporters” from the Phillyliving blog had simply turned over the e-mails to Mr. Feibush for him to use as part of the attack.

Mr. Feibush received bad coverage for one of the first times as a result of sending the cease and desist letter.  But his network would respond.

Philadelinquency immediately went into damage control, posting a story, “When you go Loco about a developer could that land you in court?”  Philadelinquency wasn’t just posting sympathetically to OCF; it was playing its role as a soldier for OCF’s interests.  It pushed back on the negative coverage that Feibush was experiencing by introducing different framing. It framed Haley as being “Loco” [crazy in Spanish] and that that was the reason she might end up in court. Its message was a warning to anyone who might wish to challenge OCF’s agenda; they could be sued and/or negatively targeted by Philadelinquency.

Longtime community activists, Ms. Betty Beaufort, Ms. Alice Shockley, and others along with PBOC joined Haley and her Annin St. neighbors to defeat OCF’s un-democratic attempt to build on their block.  The un-democratic practices of Feibush are precisely what led PBOC to protest OCF at our march.

OCF and its allies during the lead up to the PBOC March.

 “I would like to see redevelopment in the Point Breeze neighborhood that focuses on protecting the rights of long-term residents who want to continue to live in a neighborhood that is inclusive and affordable”  said Ms. Gertrude who knew exactly why she was marching.

MsGertrude

Ms. Gertrude also brought her neighbors with her. “Point Breeze is my home. I will not be driven out.  I will not be marginalized.”

Feibush was furious that people would march on his business.  He did everything in his power to squash our democratic rights.  He attempted to get the 17th District Police to help him with a PR ploy based on previous donations. He got his media network to write stories denouncing the march, including blatantly false ones about PBOC and residents of Point Breeze.  He fabricated a text message conversation with a white PBOC organizer where the organizer ‘threatens’ him and uses the n-word, and then showed it to other community members.  The things OCF and its allies did during the lead up to the march could be an article by itself; it includes the Philadelinquency post at the front of this article.

However, perhaps the most appalling thing he did was designed to make PBOC organizer, Mindy Isser, fear for her physical safety.

Mindy

An evening about a week before the march, Feibush pulled up to a home around 17th and Titan.  PBOC organizer, Gary Broderick was standing outside.  Feibush stopped the car in front of Gary’s home, he taunted “heyyyyy Gary  heyyyy buddy.” He drove up the block, and spotted PBOC organizer, Mindy Isser, who was headed to meet Gary, and taunted in a similar fashion.  So, here’s a guy who went out of his way to show a Philly Mag reporter that he carries a gun, and he’s showing up outside one of our organizer’s homes making taunts.

The next day Feibush posted what he believed to be Mindy’s address on the Newbold Neighbor’s Facebook page.

OF-AddRev1-online

OF-AddRev2-online

However, when it turned out that it was actually Gary’s address, and they were not a couple as Feibush assumed, the targeting of Mindy continued.

On the morning of the march, Chris Sawyer, acting as Feibush’s pit-bull, also drew attention for seemingly no reason to his familiarity with firearms; “It’s starting at 11:30am, earlier than I thought.  Gonna have to do Ori first and gun range second.”

Later that night he tweeted Mindy, with the sole purpose of indicating, “I can get at you”

CS-Tweet-Online

Philadelinquency’s owner, Chris Sawyer, also posted a story targeting Mindy and posted her personal financial records, along with plenty of misinformation.  The PhiladelphiaSpeaks message boards after the march, fueled by Feibush’s own participation, were also full of hateful attacks against the march, particularly focusing on women.  They called some of the women ugly, talked about their bodies, and about their weaves.  One PBOC woman organizer the next day received a picture of a vagina as a text message.

It’s Ori Feibush’s world EXCEPT people are already living here.

Feibush is not as he presents himself. He wants you to think he is a developer trying to build a better Point Breeze who is hindered from doing so by an inept city government.  While he may be trying to build a “better Point Breeze,” its not for the residents that currently reside here.  He leads a political force that operates on many levels to attack working-class Point Breeze residents and those like us.  This reactionary political force goes after the government in the same way as Republicans, whose actions led to a Government shutdown at the Federal level.  Like those Republicans, Feibush’s political force targets government precisely because an effective and functioning government means that monied interests like OCF will be restrained by the political will of the majority.

OCFvsComB

Many critics of the Point Breeze Organizing Committee say racism is over.  In fact they try to portray us as racist against white people for even raising anti-black racism.  However, no credible sociologist or political scientist would make such a fundamentally flawed argument.

Let us remember, it was 2012, not the 1960s, when PA Republicans passed “Voter ID” legislation designed to suppress in particular the African-American vote.  At the time, experts said over 30% of Philadelphians would be disenfranchised if it became law. It is in fact not possible to understand developments in Point Breeze independent of the historical racism that has burdened the country and continues to do so.  The African-American community has constituted the majority of Point Breeze for decades and has a history that is not monolithic but is storied; escaping the Jim Crow South, traveling to Philadelphia as part of the Great Migration, then enduring through White Flight, the War on Drugs, and the de-industrialization of Philadelphia.

Republicans sought to disenfranchise this community, quite admittedly, because it wasn’t in their interest for African-Americans to have democracy.  They were more likely to win elected office and advance profit-over-people policies if they could prevent African-Americans and Philadelphians from participating in political processes and voting.

Mr. Feibush’s profit-over-people business model is in effect designed in the same vein.  It’s not in OCF’s interests for there to be wide and democratic participation in the Point Breeze neighborhood.  Broad democratic decision-making would result in decisions that would not be as profitable for OCF.  That’s why there have been so many attacks by OCF and its allies on anyone who stands up in support of a democratic and community-based development model.

Feibush fought against a city council bill initiated by Anna Verna and carried through by Kenyatta Johnson that empowered City Government to use vacant lots for affordable housing.  NakedPhilly.com, the blog owned by Feibush, railed against Councilman Goode’s attempt to repeal the ten-year tax abatement, which would stop giveaways to the wealthy and raise needed money for schools and other public services.  And Feibush funds political candidates as part of advancing his agenda.

Lest we think he’s not aware of the effects of his actions, OCF Coffee Shop’s opening party was called, “Let them eat cake” which is a famous quote from a French Aristocrat, before the French Revolution, when she found out the peasants had no bread.

Is this really somebody capable of being civic leader and representative of Point Breeze?  Is this really somebody who should be treated as a serious contender for City Council?  If Mr. Feibush is smart, he will run as a Democrat in a city where Republicans have very little chance of winning. However, make no mistake, his ideology and business practice are in line with Republicans who have devastated the country by representing the interests of the wealthy and targeting public services and infrastructure, public education, unions, women, African-Americans and immigrant communities.

The people of Point Breeze will not allow him to win. Ori Feibush and OCF are not good for Point Breeze. We, new and long-term residents of Point Breeze, deserve a better Point Breeze where we can live and thrive. Not one that is destroyed by a profits-over-people development model.

 

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