If you read only one blog full of ranting and raving about sports (local and otherwise), movies, TV shows, miscellaneous pop culture, life and other assorted flotsam and jetsam, make it this one!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Dilworth Park, The Councilman and I

(UPDATE: Eventually I was unblocked by Jim Kenney's Twitter account. I voted for him in the May 2015 mayoral primary and will vote for him in November 2015 in the general election.  Original post follows.)

If you follow me on Twitter you know that, besides the various things I get obsessed with (#EverySimpsonsEver) or angry about (#FireRuben), I can also get silly and snarky. However, I can also be quite sincere.

Let's face it: there are lots of problems, here and around the world. Members of Congress (especially Republicans). The Pennsylvania state legislature (ditto). The worst PA governor in my lifetime, who thankfully seems to be on track to be the first one-term governor of the state in over 40 years. The lack of funding for public education, especially in Philadelphia (see above re: PA governor and legislature).

The economic "recovery" in which so many people still struggle because the minimum wage isn't nearly high enough and huge corporations have seemingly every advantage thanks to the aforementioned Republicans and their servants on the Supreme Court. The health care system, slightly improved by the Affordable Care Act but still wildly inadequate and too expensive (just ask my friend Kurt, and while you're at it could you sign his petition, and maybe make a donation to help him get his new laptop? Thanks.)

The moronic fight against immigration reforms. The increasing havoc that climate change is having on our planet. Russia's efforts to take over Ukraine. Everything going on in the Middle East. And hey, did anyone #BringBackOurGirls or find Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 yet?

Yet, as pessimistic as I can be about, well, everything, I also realize there are still good things happening. For example, there was another victory this week in the effort to make Philadelphia a nicer, greener, more lively and fun city. Already we've seen success on the Delaware River waterfront with the Race Street Pier. This summer brought the (seasonal) Spruce Street Harbor Park (with the hammocks!) and the (permanent) Washington Avenue Pier. And yesterday, Dilworth Park opened.

Drab, dull, and nothing but concrete on the west side of City Hall, Dilworth Plaza was (as discussed here) enjoyed only by the homeless and skateboarders. Enter a project funded by the city, the Center City District, the state, the feds, SEPTA and the William Penn Foundation. The new Dilworth Park is clean, more easily accessible, a pleasant gathering place featuring tables and chairs, green space, dancing fountains that kids of all ages can run through, and a cafe. Also new: more and nicer access to SEPTA's Market-Frankford and Broad Street Subway lines. And each winter they'll install an ice skating rink.

It's all good, right? Well, not if you're a Philly politician. Here's a Twitter exchange I had yesterday with City Councilman Jim Kenney. Well, I assume it was Kenney, and not someone on his staff or the company he gave a $28,000 contract in 2012 to handle his social media efforts.

A little background: Michael Nutter was a member of City Council before being elected mayor in 2007. He hasn't had the best working relationship with Council. Jim Kenney is widely believed to be a candidate in the 2015 election to succeed Nutter. And the reference to Rapper's Delight is because the mayor, during his college days, used to work as a DJ and occasionally shows off his skills.

I like the mayor. He hasn't been perfect but he's done his best under very difficult circumstances (again, see above re: PA governor/legislature and Congressional Republicans). I also think Jim Kenney has done well for the most part. Yet, we have this petty squabbling. It's bad enough in Washington, where that's pretty much all Democrats and Republicans actually do nowadays. But when two important people in city government who are members of the same party, and who probably agree on most issues, even if they don't agree on some specifics, are at odds, it's not good. We need our government officials to WORK TOGETHER FOR THE COMMON GOOD. We don't have that on the federal level. We don't have that on the state level -- in fact, the only thing that the state legislature seems to agree on is that they hate Philadelphia and would rather see the city deteriorate and die than lift a finger to help fix things. That fact makes it even more important that our city officials are on the top of their game.

That's what inspired me to reply to Kenney's Twitter crack about the mayor taking all the credit for Dilworth Park. I thought it ended well, judging by the last two tweets in the above screengrab.

Apparently not. I noticed that I lost a couple of Twitter followers and, well, see below:

What struck me as odd is that there was a button offering me an option to follow Kenney. I was already following him, which is why I saw his tweet to begin with. Then, I confirmed my suspicion: I was blocked.

For someone "tackling tough issues" he (or a staff member) is a little thin-skinned, don't you think? And we didn't even curse at each other, as he did with someone else back in 2012, shortly after the story broke that he used city tax money from his legislative budget (rather than campaign funds) to do social media stuff.

It's one thing to not want to follow me back on Twitter (although the mayor does!), but to block me? For this? What a clown. And as he's an at-large member of Council, instead of representing a district he represents the entire city. That means I'm one of his constituents, and he's preventing me from reading his Twitter feed.

So let me finish with a message for Councilman Kenney, should someone actually bring this to his attention: I'm not going to say I won't vote for you in 2015. After all, we don't know who will officially be on the ballot yet, but based on the speculation there are a lot of low cards in that hand. You may well be the best candidate among the Democrats, and my utter disgust with the Republican party on the national and state level will prevent me from even considering a GOP candidate for a city office. But you've got some work to do to keep me from voting for an independent or third-party candidate or writing in someone's name.

Stop being so combative on Twitter. Stop complaining that you can't work with the mayor. KEEP TRYING. We don't need someone who gives up to be our next mayor. (Maybe your combative personality is why he doesn't want to work with you. Ever think of that?)

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