On Tuesday, November 4, 2015, Philadelphians took to the polls to decide who their mayor was going to be for the next four years. Once the polls closed and the votes were tallied, it was announced that former City Councilman Jim Kenney won with 85% of the votes.
As Jim Nabors’ character Gomer Pyle was fond of saying, “Surprise, surprise, surprise.”
Prior to the election, people were already regarding Kenney as the next mayor much to the chagrin of the Republican Party.
The party’s offering of a candidate, Melissa Murray Bailey, didn’t do too well. She only received 13% of the vote.
To be honest they could have resurrected Abraham Lincoln to run against Kenney and he would have lost because in this city there hasn’t been a Republican mayor, Bernard Samuel, since 1944.
If the Democratic Party has their way –and they will – there will never be another Republican mayor ever again.
Even with a win they knew they would get, the Democrats in this city couldn’t slink away and do their happy dance down Broad Street.
Probably because the dance, which is usually reserved for those who get something they weren’t expecting, wasn’t necessary.
Instead, Mayor Nutter and Kenney had to express their disappointment at the low voter turnout.
Apparently, there were only 25% of the people voting on all the open races and an even staggering 23% for the mayor’s race.
Nutter and Kenney decided to try to shame people in this city by using the old, tired guilt trip of how people sacrificed so much during the 1960s civil rights movement; how lives were given in order to secure the right to vote.
If they were somehow tapping into the history of the movement, it makes sense to wonder if the Democrat Party actually saw themselves as activists trying to right a wrong where as many people in this city (i.e. taxpaying residents) may see them as supremacists trying to hold on to the status quo.
It would also seem, then, with the civil rights movement argument that the two politicians were more disappointed in African Americans for not voting than anyone else.
Maybe it was Kenney upset because he had to make a lot of backroom deals in order to secure an endorsement by African American leaders and now was stuck with making good on these deals for something that didn’t happen – African Americans coming out in droves to elect him.
In a city whose population breaks down to 46% Caucasians and 44% African Americans it’s hard to figure out exactly which race didn’t show up because apparently not voting wasn’t racially motivated.
As has been the case regarding Democrats in this city, not only couldn’t they hit the nail on the head – they couldn’t even find the hammer to do the hitting.
It seems that with both Nutter and Kenney having 23 years experience in Philadelphia politics each, but they still don’t seem to have an understanding of how people in this city are.
People in this city aren’t lazy when it comes to voting, they just tend not to do it if they don’t like the choices they are given.
Jim Kenney has had several years as a member of city council to show residents of this city what he was made of.
Many of the issues that exist such as poverty, poor public schools, unemployment, blight, tax increases, and ineffective city departments such as L & I have happened under his watch.
Due to budget restraints Melissa Murray Bailey was no match for the heavily endorsed Kenney.
So it really was just Kenney which basically made him a shoe-in for the job; that he was the only choice that voters had.
To that effect, the choice was actually to vote for Kenney or not vote at all. Apparently registered voters chose the latter.
Nutter and Kenney also failed to consider the lack of voting participation of the millennials – the very group of people that the city officials have bent over backwards to make happy by providing them with everything they needed such as more high-end eateries and bike lanes at the expense of the working middle-class.
Talk about a lack of appreciation.
It doesn’t really matter why they didn’t come out in droves, but many say it’s because they don’t feel a connection to city officials because of the age gap.
Millennials are in their 20s and local politicians are not.
It’s just not this new group of cash cows that have a vacillating attitude towards this city’s electoral process.
Most residents feel that it doesn’t really matter who they vote for because the names and faces are interchangeable. The Democratic Party with their tired old ways will always still be controlling this city while serving their own best interests.
So what was the point of voting?
Still, Kenney won and he should be happy about that. Nutter got eight years out of it and pocketed close to a million dollars for his woes.
Perhaps it’s a Philadelphia problem; that a win isn’t necessarily a win or at least not the kind of win people believe they are entitled to.
Even when the professional sports’ teams win by a few points people generally aren’t happy because it wasn’t enough of a win.
So what’s in store for Philadelphia that’s about to get a mayor who doesn’t have a lot of experience?
Just being a council member doesn’t necessarily prepare you for being mayor.
Although a bulk of Nutter’s experience is as a member of city council, he also served as the chairman for the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority from 2003 until 2007.
This provided him with experience actually running something; it provided him the opportunity of being responsible for a company that needs to attract businesses in order to make a profit and to oversee a couple hundred employees as well as vendors.
Kenney’s experience is strictly through the Democratic Party and not necessarily as a shot caller.
It’s hard to say what kind of mayor he will be, but perhaps one of the most telling signs is who Kenney has working for him on his transition team.
All 170 of them.
It’s representative of what’s wrong with this city and most of the people on this list have all served the Democrats exceedingly well.
The three people assigned to the Transition Committee Leadership suggests that it may just be politics as usual and two of the members carry as much luggage as a bellhop at a four star hotel during a political convention.
Representative Dwight Evans has been a politician representing Philadelphia in one capacity or another for 35 years.
Although it is impossible to work in politics and not have some skeletons, Evans almost takes it to an art form.
Evans, a self-professed bully who has used various questionable tactics to get what he wants by any means necessary, knows how to play the game perhaps a little too well. He has developed a solid reputation as a bully and he’s pretty proud of it.
Despite any good he may have done, Evans has also left a negative imprint on the city of Philadelphia:
• He masterminded ACT 46 when he was the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee which established the SRC (School Reform Commission) to run the Philly school district and everyone knows how well that turned out.
• The Urban Affairs Coalition, a 47 year-old agency that sought to eliminate poverty and discrimination found themselves in the middle of an audit and their funds being frozen after being accused of mismanaging $1.5 million at the behest of Evans.
However, Evans is a smart man and knows how to win.
He was one of the first big-name politicians to officially back Kenney’s run for government even if it meant stabbing his friend, and mayoral candidate Pennsylvania State Senator Anthony Williams, in the back.
Despite all his negative qualities, Evans still carries a mighty sword in the African American community which is how Kenney was able to win.
Although Evans’ position on the transition committee could be because Kenney feels he’s qualified to do the job or it could be to pay him back for his support, but most likely the deal was hammered out before Evans even publically came out for Kenney.
Alba Martinez used to be the executive director for Congreso de Latinos Unidos, an agency that provides advocacy and various services for Philadelphia’s Latino communities for eight years.
She then became the commissioner for the city’s Department of Human Services (DHS) for four years where her agency was under scrutiny.
On Martinez’s watch, in 2003, 3-year-old Porchia Bennett died a horrible death while under the supposed care of DHS.
Also in 2003, 9 year-old Benjamin Reinert was found dead after social workers had come out to the home and failed to remove him or follow up with the family two weeks prior.
In 2000 while Martinez was still in control DHS received complaints that one of the agencies they contract with, MultiEthnic Behavioral Health, of not doing the required home visits and falsifying the necessary paperwork. DHS does nothing.
Martinez’s department would later hire the same agency to oversee the care of 14 year-old Danieal Kelly.
By the time Martinez left in 2004 there had been over 10 complaints lodged against MultiEthnic Behavioral Health none of which had been thoroughly investigated.
In 2006 Danieal was found dead on a soiled mattress of her own excrements, weighing just 46 pounds and covered in maggots.
Ms. Martinez would eventually land up working at the investment firm The Vanguard which is a big contributor to the Democratic Party.
They are also one of the biggest investors in the private prison industry.
Then there’s Jessie Bradley who is the third person on the leadership committee and is a partner with Hilltop Public Solutions. The company mainly handles political campaigns.
Sweet Jessie has worked with everyone from Barack Obama to Michael Nutter to Jim Kenney.
Oh, and she has no roots here in Philadelphia. She lives and works in Washington D.C.
The transition team has a lot of people, but it has no one young who might be able to represent this city’s growing age demographics and it has no one who is a lone wolf; someone who thinks outside the Democratic Party.
Kenney owes a lot of people, but namely City Council President Darrell Clarke and the powerful business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98, John Dougherty.
His union donates millions of dollars towards political campaigns in Pennsylvania.
It is often believed that no one runs and wins on any Democratic ticket in Philly unless they have Dougherty’s support.
It should also help to mention that Dougherty’s mother is Kenney’s godmother.
It’s a pretty good bet that both Clarke and Dougherty are gonna to expect repayment once Kenney is sworn in.
Prior to running for election Kenney decided to clean up his reputation and all he had to do was to keep his mouth shut which he did.
The funny thing is the voters don’t know which Kenney they’ll get: the white-washed, Brady Bunch version or the South Philly boy version that once publically referred to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as a fat-assed creep.
It also remains undetermined if he’s going to do City Council’s bidding or the voter’s bidding because he can’t do both, at least not successfully.
If he hasn’t learned anything from Michael Nutter, he should have learned that.
One thing is certain that right now he’s not willing to go against his party’s lines.
Recently Kenney announced that he has named Michael DiBerardinis a 29 year veteran of the Democratic Party and a former Commissioner of the Department of Parks and Recreation to the position of managing director.
Jane Slusser is another lifelong Democrat who has worked for Kenney as his campaign manager and with President Barack Obama as well, has been hired as his new chief of staff.
The new communications director, Lauren Hitt, began her career working as an intern for Vice-President Joe Biden. She has also worked for Obama and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Debbie Mahler became Kenney’s deputy mayor after working with him as his chief aide while in city council.
One appointment that everyone seemed happy with was Kenney hiring Richard Ross, a 26 year police veteran to replace the very popular Chief Charles Ramsey who is retiring.
Next to Ramsey, Ross is a face and a voice that Philadelphians most recognize through various media outlets.
It’s hard to get a real handle on what to expect from Jim Kenney because he hasn’t really made any official statements or mapped out a solid plan as mayor.
He has said he would like universal pre-kindergarten which will cost money a lot of money. He feels that the money can be raised through tax liens and abatements as well as other sources.
What hasn’t been figured into the plan is Governor Wolf wanting to raise the state sales tax to 7.25%, but that means that the Philadelphia sales tax will go up to 9.50%.
If Kenney can’t get the money he needs raised, as a Philly politician he might be compelled to go after the money through other avenues such as raising taxes. Again.
The newly elected mayor also wants community schools in which other services could be received there. Once again the hurdle would be the reduction of education dollars that have been coming from the state legislature or, recently, no dollars.
Another issue Kenney hasn’t addressed in regards to this agenda is the fact that every neighborhood in the city already has agencies that provide these services.
If neighborhood schools provide them, how much will they charge for rent and what will happen to these agencies that already exist? Would people who work in the schools have to become school district employees?
People might also be concerned about how secure it would be to go into a school building to get services that they would prefer to remain confidential.
The schools would have to provide neighborhood people free access to these services which could also put school staff as well as students at risk.
Kenney would like to promote small businesses in neighborhoods around the city, but how much jobs would these businesses create and if the sales tax does go up, how successful could they be if consumers opt to shop in the suburbs or even tax-free Delaware?
Philly’s next mayor also wants to tackle the problem of mass incarceration and make sure those coming out of prison can get jobs.
It’s a noble cause, but what is he going to do about the current joblessness rate of 6.5%?
By the end of the year all Pathmark and Food Basics locations in Philadelphia are due to be closed which will result in hundreds of people being out of work.
How does Kenney expect to get ex-cons jobs and reduce unemployment, if he chooses to do so, when the city keeps letting businesses like Pathmark, the Kraft Plant, area diners, Kmart, and City Sports close putting tax payers out of work?
What guarantees can he give residents that any new jobs that are made available aren’t going to go to suburban or New Jersey residents because currently everyday over 244,000 people come into this city to work jobs that didn’t go to residents of this city?
It doesn’t say much for Kenney who gave an important position to Jessie Bradley who doesn’t even live anywhere near Philadelphia let alone in Philadelphia.
Another issue that has recently come up with both Nutter and Kenney offering their full support of the possible arrival in Philadelphia of the Syrian refugees.
Kenney seems to believe that Philadelphia has the resources to help these people, but how is that possible when the city doesn’t have enough beds at night for the homeless often forcing families to sleep outside?
Does he expect priority to go to the refugees and, if so, where will he find the beds that can’t be found for anyone else?
Or are these families going to be given homes through the Section 8 program?
Many people wait for months or even years to get housing through this program. Will the refugees get first priority and why?
Will the city be able to magically find them affordable housing for less than $800-$1200 per month?
Where is the money going to come from for the feeding, clothing and housing of these refugees?
Even more important, what assurances will Philly residents get that these people aren’t terrorists or have some connection to terrorism?
Perhaps if Kenney wants people to believe that things with him are going to be different he needs to do things differently. Pushing residents to the back of the line isn’t different.
Instead of telling the residents of the city what is going to happen, the new mayor needs to have discussions with them to get input about what they want and need in this city. That is how trust should be built.
Jim Kenney has other issues that have been around since he was a councilman that also needs to be addressed and none is as important as sticking it constantly to the taxpayers every chance they get.
He needs to make the city officials actually collect the millions that is owed by deadbeat homeowners and landlords. He also needs to put an end to developers getting tax breaks when no one else gets them.
The people in this city really need to hear something more substantial from Jim Kenney right now, but he can’t seem to do that.
Kenney, his BFF Darrell Clarke and his new Chief Education Officer Otis Hackney are in Ohio looking at their community schools model.
Just like his predecessor Michael Nutter he’s already wondering around other states instead of being here in Philly.
It might also been nice if he had used this time visiting the Philly schools and attended some staff meetings to build a better relationship with the teachers and administrators.
Philadelphians understood why Nutter did it. He wanted to create a reputation as more than just the Mayor of Philadelphia because he always had bigger ambitions. In some ways this hurt the city and his reputation here.
If Kenney wants to connect with the people of this city he should actually be here in Philadelphia to do it.
Election results: http://www.phillyelectionresults.com/Citywide_Election_Results.html
Kenney’s not mayor yet: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/U-TURN/Featherman-Stop-the-coronation…
Bernard Samuel: http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/20151106_Remembering_Philly_s_last_…
Poor voting turnout: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/mayor/20151105_Big_day_for_Ke…
Millennials voting: http://articles.philly.com/2015-06-13/news/63354279_1_voter-turnout-bloa…
Transition Team: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/mayor/Steering_the_new_mayors…
Dwight Evans: http://www.pahouse.com/Evans/About/Biography
Evans Bullying: http://articles.philly.com/2011-10-07/news/30253622_1_education-plans-po…
ACT 46: http://www.urbanedjournal.org/archive/volume-2-issue-2-fall-2003/philade…
Urban Affairs Coalition audit: http://articles.philly.com/2012-11-19/news/35187585_1_audit-report-grant…
Porchia Bennett: http://www.southphillyreview.com/news/tragic_endings-72233837.html?print…
Danieal Kelly grand jury report: http://articles.philly.com/2008-08-01/news/24990945_1_grand-jury-report-…
Richard Ross: http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Richard-Ross-Chosen-as-Philade…
Kenney’s Plan: http://articles.philly.com/2015-11-04/news/68020396_1_south-philadelphia…
Governor Tom Wolf: http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/gov-tom-wolf-budget-compromise-mov…
Syrian refugees: http://www.phillymag.com/news/2015/11/20/nutter-kenney-philadelphia-welc…
Kenney goes to Ohio: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/mayor/20151120_Kenney_heading…