Friday, February 20, 2015

"This Town Needs an Enema"

Philadelphia is changing. For the first time in decades, maybe even a century, we're topping national and international "best of" lists. Buildings are rising, neighborhoods are improving, and national businesses are coming to our front door. We're on the brink of electing a new mayor. We're streamlining civil rights laws. All in all, Philadelphia is becoming one of the best and most relevant cities in the United States.

Of course every time Philadelphia takes a step forward, its worn and tattered sponges start slopping out of City Hall to soak up their piece of the good press. 

Councilman and City Council President, Darrell Clarke, is no exception when it comes to the archetypical politician. He's made a career out of exploiting his voters, stymying productive development in his district, and perhaps worst, not giving a shit what anyone really thinks of him. He's not unique. The sleaziest of sleazy politicos seem numb to their public image. Perhaps they operate under the Kardashian ideal that any press is good press, or maybe they just don't bother Googling their own names. But the audacity and brass balls of our cities most loathed politicians is indicative of personalities completely out of touch with not only their city, but human beings in general. They're borderline sociopathic. 

Philadelphia: Mondays on Fox
Inga Saffron took Clarke to task in a recent article regarding the introduction of a bill stealthily submitted while everyone is focused on the mayoral candidates. As Saffron points out, the bill doesn't look bad on paper. But successful (not to be confused with good) politicians know that bills need to be decorated with bright stickers and scented with potpourri if they stand a chance of passing. Or they just need to be too verbose for anyone to bother reading. 

So what's in the bill? Well, off the cuff it explains why Clarke didn't bother running for mayor. More specifically it reorganizes City Hall to require City Council approval of the city's head of the Office of Planning and Development. Why run for mayor when you can draft your own legislation that essentially grants you so much mayoral power? 

It's hard to understand how some politicians live with themselves. They've either become so detached from the realities of a city that they simply don't see how villainous they're behaving, or they truly are villains. Not to geek out, but at least Gotham's mayor answers to the scrutiny of his actions however evil or unjustified. Our city's worst hide behind dangerous legislature that grants them a pass to the Man Behind the Curtain. 

We have a few good men and women running for mayor this time around, but if Clarke gets his way, there may never be a day in which they are allowed to prove themselves. Our new mayor will be taking the brunt of City Council's decisions with no ability to address the problems they Council will create. Our new mayor won't just be City Council's puppet, they'll be The Whipping Boy standing in for Council's punishment while politicians like Clarke play fast and loose with the future of a city we've worked so hard to fix.

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