There’s a number called “Razzle Dazzle” in the musical Chicago in which an ethically challenged lawyer explains how to blow fairy dust at juries to get them to ignore things that are true and to believe things that aren’t.
We have the old razzle dazzle in Philadelphia, too, courtesy of Mayor Kenney.
“Give ‘em the old razzle dazzle, razzle dazzle ‘em
Give ’em an act with lots of flash in it
And the reaction will be passionate,” sings Chicago lawyer Billy Flynn.
In Philadelphia, Mayor Kenney pushed for a beverage tax that he had opposed when he was on City Council.
He tells the yokels the money is for prekindergarten. It takes quite a while for us to learn that only half of the money actually will go to pre-K.
Kenney closed last week with an announcement that the Frank Rizzo statue would be moved from Thomas Paine Plaza.
But during the summer, when a controversy broke over the statue like a thunderclap, Kenney said he would let the Art Commission (appointed by the mayor, incidentally) decide the fate of the statue. Friday, the mayor’s office said the statue would be moved, even though the Art Commission hadn’t yet peeped.
So the mayor easily discarded the process the city itself had announced — giving the Art Commission command and control. That would have been a stacked deck, said former Councilman Frank Rizzo Jr., but apparently it wasn’t enough.
The issue today is not where the statue belongs. There will be time for that.
What I’m looking at is the public conduct of our public leaders, who are not covering themselves with either glory or honesty.
This reminds me of the Christmas Village on Dilworth Plaza that was ordered changed to just “Village” in 2010 because a couple of cranks complained to city managing director Rich Negrin. It made them “uncomfortable,” Negrin told me, after he had dropped to his knees on the altar of faux tolerance.
For a change, there was a huge outcry, and the city reversed its position. (The Christmas Village will be back this year, and the city soon will light its all-inclusive “holiday” tree. What “holiday” is that? Hmmm. Chanukah?)
Nothing against diversity here. It gives me great pleasure to walk down a Philadelphia street and see a Chinese restaurant next to a pizza place next to a deli next to a sushi parlor next to a burger joint. America is one of a few countries where you can find a church, synagogue, and mosque harmonizing on one block, one of the amazing things about our amazing country.
Sorry. That was a bit of razzle dazzle.
Let’s go back to the Rizzo statue.
In the years following Rizzo’s death in 1991, there was a struggle to find the right memorial for the late mayor.
In 1996, a bill was introduced in City Council to rename the Municipal Services Building the Frank L. Rizzo Municipal Services Building.
One of the nine cosponsors was Jimmy Kenney — the same politician who is planning to use his rubber-stamp Art Commission to bury the statue in some undetermined place.
That’s it, Mayor Kenney. Give ‘em the old razzle dazzle.