Like some of his fellow elected Philadelphians, Controller Alan Butkovitz had no intention of watching the inauguration of President Trump.
“The whole point was to try to ignore this,” Butkovitz said, laughing.
But since two reporters were in the room, Butkovitz, a Democrat, watched the inauguration in the sitting area of his office. The coffee table in front of the television had a set of Bill and Hillary Clinton dolls that at one point moved and had sound — but the batteries have long died out. (He got the Hillary Clinton doll when she ran for president in 2008 and the Bill Clinton with a saxophone doll was a gift, also several years old.)
As the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang “America the Beautiful,” Butkovitz said he found Trump to be “very frightening.”
“I think you can’t phone it in or fake it,” Butkovitz said of the presidency. “It’s hard to believe he is being entrusted with the power to launch nuclear weapons.”
As soon as Trump finished taking the Oath of Office, Butkovitz said “Oh, boy.”
Around the same time, Mayor Kenney was speaking at the Police Academy recruit graduation. So, he too skipped watching the inauguration.
Throughout Trump’s speech, Butkovitz and his first deputy Bill Rubin shared laughs when the camera would pan to the crowd and show a stone-faced Obama or the former presidents. When Trump gave a line about “whether we are black or brown or white,” Butkovitz quickly said “and orange.”
Once the speech was over, Butkovitz said he found the speech to be “pretty bland.”
“It was long on the problems and, really, nothing to say on the solutions,” he said. “It’s just pie-in-the-sky hopes.”
Looking ahead, Butkovitz says he worries about Trump’s effect on the economy and how that could harm Philadelphia.
“Even the 'America First' thing. He’s basically sending a signal to create chaos in the world,” he said. “If he sets off a recession, that’s what caused Philadelphia’s problem in 2008.”
As the national anthem played on the television, Butkovitz stared at the screen and noted that there wasn’t much cheering in the crowd during the speech.
“I think the emotion is just dread. It’s usually excitement when you see somebody new.”
Rubin turned off the TV and it was back to work on the 12th floor of the Municipal Services Building.
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