Time to resign

Mayor Jim Kenney has failed Philadelphia. He should know when to step down.

Jim Kenney
Image: Mayor Jim Kenney | Credit: HughE Dillon

Mayor Jim Kenney has failed miserably in his duty to protect and serve the citizens of Philadelphia. He should resign.

Kenney and his administration repeatedly have proven to be ineffective at best, incompetent and dangerous at worst. There is no rational reason to expect that decision-making and leadership will improve. It’s time for a change. 

When homeless encampments popped up last year, the city’s response was tepid and indecisive. City-imposed “deadlines” to vacate the camps were ignored and pushed back. All the while, homeowners near the camps endured weeks of harassment, trash and violence. And the homeless? Well, the encampments are gone, but one doesn’t have to look far to see that homelessness remains a blight on the city.

When protests broke out over the killing of George Floyd, the city’s response was uncoordinated, uneven and unjust. Don’t take our word for it: Ask the city’s own controller, who just last week issued a scathing report that notes there was a “failure of leadership.” Mr. Mayor, should everyone just be happy the cops didn’t drop a bomb from a helicopter? Is that the standard now? 

And how’s that murder count looking? The city recorded 499 homicides in 2020 – the highest count in decades. Don’t forget that the number had been 502, but then fell after, according to the city, an unidentified web designer’s  “mistake” was “corrected.” Sure. Oh, and this year isn’t looking any better since, as of this writing, the city is at or ahead of last year’s homicide pace. If the total is approaching 500 again in December, might there be another “mistake” that has to be “corrected?” 

During the COVID pandemic, Kenney shut down the city’s previously flourishing hospitality industry while jaunting off to dine indoors at a Maryland restaurant. His “Gee, I’m sorry if I hurt anybody” tweet was both arrogant and insulting. As for the heavy-handed lockdowns the city implemented, they were based more on politics than actual science – only adding to the justifiable anger felt by so many workers who lost their paychecks and small business owners who have seen their life’s work taken from them by an overreaching city government.   

Then there’s the coup de grâce: The national embarrassment that was the city’s plans to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine. In its infinite wisdom, the city, without bothering to ask relevant questions (Umm, do you, like, have any experience with, say, health care?) handed over its vaccines to a ragtag bunch of misfits. As most anyone else would have anticipated, it was a disaster. 

Almost 3,000 residents have died from COVID-19. Police officers, firefighters, EMTs, doctors, nurses and more, for almost a year now, have been risking – and in far too many instances, losing – their lives to save their fellow citizens. The vaccine is a lifeline – literally, by definition, a lifeline. Kenney had to get this right. He didn’t. Not by a long shot. Any leader with a conscience who failed so absolutely on such a life-or-death task already would have stepped down.

One can argue that Kenney alone isn’t solely responsible for all of the incompetence. The city certainly does. Managing Director Brian Abernathy took the hit for the misguided protest response. Acting Deputy Health Commissioner Dr. Caroline Johnson has resigned following the Philly Fighting Covid debacle. Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw still has her job, but we’re pretty sure we know what will happen to her if Kenney needs yet another scapegoat. Indeed, it seems like the responsibility always falls to someone other than the mayor.

That’s wrong and needs to end now. As the saying goes, the buck stops with Kenney. Ultimately, he is responsible for the health, safety and welfare of all Philadelphians. But Jim Kenney can’t or won’t do his job. 

Mr. Mayor, do the honorable thing: Resign. Philadelphia needs and deserves someone better suited to lead our city. 

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