Everyone has those days when you wake up, look at the ceiling, and want to stay in bed until the moon rises in the evening sky. Most of us, however, are not the chief executives of major American cities, like the Hon. James Kenney, mayor of the city where America was born. Philadelphia’s leader has very publicly, albeit poignantly, made clear his desire to slump back into a private life he never actually had.
For most of his 60-plus years on this earth, Kenney has been in the public eye or on the public dole. He started his political life as an assistant to former state Sen. Vince Fumo, who essentially made his career possible. Patronage from the powerful Fumo helped Kenney snag a seat on Philadelphia City Council, where he remained for 23 years, from 1992 until 2015, when he resigned to run for mayor. He won that bid and is now well into his second term. He will wave a fond farewell (and being from Philly, likely a middle finger) in Jan. 2024.
But over the weekend, he revealed to a reporter that he would prefer to be making his swan song much sooner. Commenting on the July 4 shooting of two police officers near the Art Museum during the holiday festivities, Kenney stated, “I don’t enjoy the Fourth of July, I don’t enjoy the Democratic National Convention, I didn’t enjoy the NFL Draft — I’m waiting for something bad to happen all the time. So I’ll be happy when I’m not here — when I’m not mayor, and I can enjoy some stuff.”
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I am quite sure he did not grasp the tone-deafness of the phrase “and I can enjoy some stuff” hours after two police officers had been shot and were recovering in the hospital. Jim Kenney is many things, but he is not a cruel man. It’s likely he is so frustrated with the fruits of his own incompetence (and the actual malfeasance of others, like his District Attorney Larry Krasner) that he doesn’t realize how bad he looks when he ventures, infrequently, before the glare of the cameras.
Lately, it seems he has simply chosen to hide behind the doors of his office or the layers of Gen X and Gen Z “assistants” who have taken over his social media to tweet inane, feel-good comments about everything from rainbows during Pride Month to how fabulously he tried to erase the legacy of his most illustrious predecessor, Frank Rizzo. (Note to Kenney: Removing a statue does not remove stature).
But to those who actually heard the mayor say he wanted out of this job, it was a slap in the face. We, who are forced to live with the consequences of his acts and omissions, do not have the luxury of retiring from this city. True, we can choose to move elsewhere and abandon the place that provided generations of our families with joy and warm memories. Still, not everyone can afford to switch ZIP codes as easily as Jim Kenney slips out of state to Maryland crab shacks.
It’s likely he is so frustrated with the fruits of his own incompetence that he doesn’t realize how bad he looks when he ventures, infrequently, before the glare of the cameras.
Of course, Kenney doesn’t take any responsibility for the mess he has made of the city. His fingers are pointed elsewhere, at the Republicans who have absolutely no control in the city, and who are not currently in charge of either Congress or the White House. Right before mentioning that he wanted to retire, he made this observation about the weekend:
“The weather was beautiful, the concert was beautiful, but we live in America and we have the Second Amendment, and we have the Supreme Court of the United States telling everybody they can carry a gun wherever they want.”
So, it’s not the district attorney refusing to prosecute gun crimes in the city. It’s the Founders and the inconvenient Second Amendment. And it’s not the thugs shooting at police officers and terrorizing civilians. It’s that ‘Republican’ U.S. Supreme Court misinterpreting the aforesaid inconvenient Second Amendment.
Given the fact that Jim Kenney has such an inability to admit that so many of the problems in the city are directly attributable to his lack of leadership, it actually might be a good idea for him to get an AARP subscription and buy a timeshare in Florida (if he could stand living in a state with a competent chief executive).
Now let’s see if we can convince Krasner to do the same.
Christine Flowers is an attorney and lifelong Philadelphian. @flowerlady61
This article was republished with permission from Delaware Valley Journal.