It's time to trek through the mind of Mayor Kenney to figure out what's behind his controversial plan to move the Made in America Festival away from the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Why take something that's working fine and try to change it?
The crowds leave a load of trash and squash the foliage, home can become a lockdown for people who live along the Parkway or in Fairmount, and the celebrations are noisy and can go on past some people's bedtime.
On the plus side, millions of visitors bring millions of bucks into the city. There's lots of free publicity. We don't have to spend to tell everyone how hip we are; the audiences happily do it on social media.
I realize Kenney probably favors U2, the Cranberries, and Tori Amos, but he must know that Jay-Z (Mr. Beyoncé, if you prefer) is one of the biggest names in show business. Jay-Z's choosing Philly was a major coup for a city that has not been much of a player on the musical map since before Pink became a mommy (not counting the judicial escapades of Meek Mill).
The current controversy is ugly, with Jay-Z claiming in a commentary that his event was evicted "without a sit-down meeting, notice, dialogue, or proper communication."
In a weak response, Kenney said notice that this was to be the last year on the Parkway was given in a "request for proposals" sent to Jay-Z's Roc Nation company earlier this year.
It is not Kenney's first run-in with a rap artist. Questlove, of the local group the Roots, took to Instagram on Thursday to complain that after Kenney became mayor, "the Roots were pulled from Wawa Welcome America."
He wrote, "So what's the logic when someone cuts its nose to spite its face?"
Why pull the plug on Made in America now? It doesn't make sense.
I asked a few people who know Kenney. None would talk without the cloak of anonymity.
"He's listening to his millennials," said a political ally, but an older one. "They're not for Jay-Z, they're not for rap."
A local lawyer who once held a city post said, "This is a First Amendment-related issue. Entertainment is protected by the First Amendment, and the city has established this as a unique venue for performances."
"The Parkway is overused and needs to be scaled back," I was told by a hospitality executive. It was not just his opinion — it is the opinion of the Parkway Council Foundation, which oversees the Parkway Museums District. The foundation issued a report this year claiming overuse, and also that Philadelphians liked free events but resented those, like Made in America, with ticket charges.
Another hospitality expert referenced the report and said, "The Parkway has become the default for big events because the city has not developed any other venue," adding that the 9,300 acres of Fairmount Park should be given some thought.
Anytime anybody wants to use parkland, that generates another controversy.
As to the Parkway, we need a public debate about how it is to be used, which is better than authoritarian diktats from the mayor.
OK, maybe Jay-Z's not from Philly. ("Mentally been many places but I'm Brooklyn's own," he rapped in his 1997 hit, "Where I'm From.")