During the past weekend or so, I've been thinking of Philadelphia's experience with the A&E cable show Parking Wars. The show followed Philadelphia Parking Authority workers ticketing, booting, and towing cars in relentless style.
Meryl Levitz, president of the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp., told the New York Times: "For the last 20 years, Philadelphia has made a concerted effort to be a place where great things happen. It's so hurtful to have this inaccurate portrayal. This show isn't about parking tickets; it's about how people are treated in Philadelphia."
I was triggered to review the damage of the show because of our dancing mayor and the Jim Kenney reality show. His sanctuary city dance was dusted off nationwide as the face of Philadelphia because of an illegal immigrant in Philadelphia who confessed to sexually assaulting a 5-year-old girl after he had been released from Philadelphia Police custody without notice being given to immigration officials.
I'll get back to this incident, but Kenney's week of national news blunders started with the playground incident in which a black doll was left hanging at Weccacoe Playground in South Philly. I get why Kenney rushed to call this a hate crime, since the doll was placed near a sacred African American burial ground, but he also rushed to issue a statement to place a share of the blame on President Trump. His statement said, "It demonstrates how far this country has fallen when people are inspired by the hateful rhetoric of our President." The incident, by all accounts, was a prank perpetrated by a young black boy and a young white boy.
Did Kenney feel the need to issue a clarification or an apology for his Trump remarks? No. Instead, he doubled down and cited more reasons why Trump should be suspected in any incidents like this.
The second incident involved a leftist mob that drove two conservative activists out of the Green Eggs and Ham restaurant in Center City. Their harassment made national news and made Philadelphia appear to be a hostile place to a different political philosophy. That national perception is accurate. The mobs that are essentially allowed to roam free in our city are turned on by making disparaging speech and harassing people that they oppose.
This incident did not draw a negative response from Kenney. There was no lecture about the beauty of diversity. There was no attempt to tell Charles Kirk and Candace Owens, the activists attacked, that the incident was an aberration.
The third incident involved the national replaying of Kenney's sanctuary city dance. This replay was triggered by Juan Ramon Vasquez's guilty plea of committing a felony, illegal entry to the United States after deportation. Under the city's sanctuary city policy, Vasquez was turned loose, even though Immigration and Customs Enforcement requested he be detained for deportation. Vasquez next surfaced when he was charged with the rape of a child and unlawful sexual contact with a minor. He was sentenced to eight to 10 years in prison for the crimes.
So, in one week, we have Kenney accusing Trump of provoking a hate crime that turned out to be a prank; a mob assaulting two Trump-supporting conservative activists in Center City while they were having breakfast, and the mayor's sanctuary city celebration dance being shown nationally as the face of a city that protects illegal immigrant criminals.
However, there is one anomaly in Kenney's actions. It has become clear that he will not be moving the Frank Rizzo statue any time soon from its place of honor in front of the Municipal Services Building. We have just passed the one-year anniversary of City Councilwoman Helen Gym, apparently inspired by the removal of Confederate War statues across the South, calling for the Rizzo statue to be removed. Could it be that Kenney still believes that there are significant numbers of people in Philadelphia who love and respect Frank Rizzo's legacy?
Rizzo never was a fan of the Parking Authority's excessive writing of parking tickets. I think he even talked about breaking their pencils. That's a bit of wisdom Philadelphia could use today.