Neil Brecher Wants to Silence Philly Law Blog

September 26, 2016


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I wish I were making this up…

Long story short, I tried to help Salon Blush apply for a grant from SugarHouse Casino that other businesses getNeil Brecher said it was illegal, a deliberate fraud on the FNA, and that my conduct could jeopardize the organization’s 501(c)(3) status. He also accused me of misappropriating funds from the FNA.

It turns out that Neil Brecher’s allegations were completely false. When he refused to retract these statements, it eventually lead to litigation, which I bent over backwards trying to avoid.

Now it seems that no one is that disputing that Neil’s statements were false. Instead, Neil’s lawyers raised the First Amendment as a defense, arguing that:

[T]his matter deals with an issue of public concern. We have allegations that an individual used his position as the president of a civic association, comprised of members of a discrete community, to obtain a significant monetary grant for a private client without the association’s full notice. Even more significant, this individual happens to be an attorney, who is bound by certain ethical obligations. If he truly engaged in such conduct, then not only does the Fishtown community need to know and be able to openly discuss his conduct, but also, on a broader scale, the legal community ought to know about this conduct and should be able to openly debate the ethical implications of it.

I agree.

Because his lawyers said people ought to be debating this matter on a broader scale, I did what they said to and wrote it about the entire incident here:

https://phillylawblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/18/how-politics-may-destroy-the-fishtown-neighbors-association/

Now Neil Brecher is upset that I published his statements. He is so upset that he is asking a court to silence my blog:

https://www.scribd.com/document/325404884/Brecher-Motion

Brecher argues that my blog should be silenced because:

Upon information and belief, Rushie has been speaking about the case with members of the Fishtown community as well as the Philadelphia community at large.

What Neil did not mention is that his own attorney, Leo Mulvihill, has openly discussed this matter on Facebook:

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Meaning, Neil is arguing that he is allowed to make untrue statements because they are protected by the First Amendment, everyone should be talking about this matter public, and his own lawyer is allowed to comment about this case on Facebook.

But I’m not allowed to say anything.

This is my response to his motion:

https://www.scribd.com/document/325528109/AJR-Reply-Filed

PDQ also did a writeup.


Of Hair Salons, Taco Trucks, and Chili – How Politics May Destroy the Fishtown Neighbors Association

September 18, 2016

As some of you may know, there is currently ongoing litigation with me and the Fishtown Neighbors Association. Normally during litigation you’re not supposed to talk about it for fear that anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. But according to the FNA’s last pleading submitted to the court:

[T]his matter deals with an issue of public concern. We have allegations that an individual used his position as the president of a civic association, comprised of members of a discrete community, to obtain a significant monetary grant for a private client without the association’s full notice. Even more significant, this individual happens to be an attorney, who is bound by certain ethical obligations. If he truly engaged in such conduct, then not only does the Fishtown community need to know and be able to openly discuss his conduct, but also, on a broader scale, the legal community ought to know about this conduct and should be able to openly debate the ethical implications of it.

I agree.

Let’s talk about it…

A brief background: I moved to Fishtown in 2006 because it was close to Temple Law, where I went to school. I lived under Dr. Slobodinsky’s office on Girard Ave, bounced over to Hewson Street the next year, and eventually bought my house at Boston and Memphis in 2009. I’ve maintained office space in 2424 Studios since 2010, and opened up my neighborhood law practice in 2012. Most of my law practice involves zoning. I have lived and worked in Fishtown for many years now.

I based a lot of my career and social life on doing local community activism. I spent three years in a leadership role with the Fishtown Neighbors Association (FNA), serving as a board member at large, Vice President, and President.

Some of the more fun things I did was save historic banks on Front Street, fought a methadone clinic, and testified before the Philadelphia City Planning Commission about the new Fishtown zoning map. Through the FNA, I created a program called “Zoning 101” to help neighbors navigate the Philadelphia zoning process. And sometimes I helped people find  lost cats.

The FNA, which had previously been run out of individual board members’ homes and a P.O. box, moved its headquarters to my law office at 2424 Studios so that we had a permanent meeting space and somewhere to store our supplies. Mugshot Diner generously catered board meetings at no cost.

The FNA Chili Cookoff was also held each year in the 2424 Skybox. The owner generously donated the space to the FNA. It was convenient because all the supplies were housed in the FNA’s office on the third floor. I’m told that neighbors found the space to be easily accessible and child friendly. Plus, free beer.

Volunteering for the FNA was my passion. It was a pleasure to be part of a growing neighborhood, and hopefully make things around me better. I’d spend an average of three days a week in meetings and engaging in community activism. In my spare time, I would screen projects with the FNA Zoning Committee, and help write anti-SLAPP laws through Crosstown Coalition.

A year later, I’ve been excommunicated from the organization. The Chili Cookoff is now held at the Fillmore. The FNA no longer has office space and is run out of the Free Library. The organization’s bylaws were recently amended so that business owners are excluded from serving on the Board of Directors. Unlike civic other civic associations, the FNA will no longer help business owners apply for grants. Litigation is pending.

What happened?

It all starts with a small hair salon on York Street…

Read the rest of this entry »


Should I Start a Law Practice? (Redux)—Retrospective, Dec. 31, 2014

December 31, 2014
The Author with an Author

Sometimes real lawyers agree to slum it with the likes of me.

The practice of law is about relationships“.
-Me (And Brian Tannebaum, and probably plenty of other people much smarter than I am).

About two and a half years ago, Jordan wrote a post called “Should I Start a Law Practice?” It remains one of our most-viewed articles on this blog. Because it’s the end of the year,  rather than being creative and thinking of a new and exciting topic, I decided, now concluding my fourth year of practice, and having started as a true solo fresh out of law school, to revisit the topic Jordan discussed back in 2012. I’d intended to write this follow-up to his post way back then, but simply never got around to it.

My perspective is different that Jordan’s—partly because I graduated in 2010, when the market had tanked—and partly because I did not work at a firm before I hung my shingle.

Here’s my point: You should start a practice if you want to, and if you understand that the practice of law is all about relationships—with your colleagues, with your mentors, and with your clients.

Read the rest of this entry »


Fishtown Chili Cook-Off Smashing Success, Despite Lack Of Guatemalan Insanity Pepper

March 26, 2013

Fishtown Chili Cook-Off Smashing Success, Despite Lack Of Guatemalan Insanity Pepper

The Fishtown Neighbor’s Association 3rd Annual Chili Cookoff was a rousing success. And while our spicy three-bean & seitan vegan Occupy Chili didn’t win this year, we had a great time. Kudos to FNA for another job well done.

Plus Jordan had an excuse to wear his cheesesteak hat.

Read more at Phoodie.


Occupy Chili

March 20, 2013

Occupy Chili

The 3rd Annual Fishtown Neighbors Association Chili Cookoff is this Sunday, March 24 at 2424 Studios in Fishtown.

Be there, or eat less chili and drink less beer than your friends will that day.

Buy your tickets here.


Kevin Schreiber (kevin@cleanyourname.com) is an idiot.

December 20, 2012
Screen shot 2012-12-20 at 16.43.33 PM

Thanks, Siri. Now, find me some scummy SEO marketer in New York…

After yesterday’s post, you’d think that sleezy SEO marketers would understand that we don’t want what they’re selling.

Nope. Read the rest of this entry »


Want to be Pulled Over? Sign up for Philadelphia’s S.A.V.E Program.

December 4, 2012
You have rights. These books say so.

You have rights. These books say so.
They are precious. Don’t sign them away.

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

These wise words attributed to founder Benjamin Franklin are too often lost on many today who figure “Well, I’m not doing anything wrong, so why shouldn’t I just agree to let police do whatever they want?”

And I thought on Franklin’s words today, after I learned about this little program here in Philadelphia called S.A.V.E. — a too-cute acronym for Stolen Auto Verification Effort. Let me explain this program to you. No, better yet, I’ll let the police explain it to you:

All Districts in the city still do the S.A.V.E. (Stolen Auto Verification Effort) program….

The SAVE program is a decal you put on your automobile that basically states that you don’t normally drive your vehicle late at night (between 12am and 6am). By putting this decal on your vehicle you are stating that you would like that vehicle to be pulled over if it is seen operating during those hours to ensure that the vehicle isn’t stolen.

Yes, you’re reading that right. It is literally a sign to the police that says “Please pull me over”. Read the rest of this entry »