Time Magazine's Person of the Year award still draws conversation and controversy. This year, the initial controversy involves whether the magazine was lining up President Trump as one of the finalists. Of course, we know its policy is to endorse the person who is the most consequential, not necessarily the person the people at the magazine think has made the most positive impact.
On that basis, Trump clearly should be the winner. His policies, tweets, and style have dominated politics and our lives like few public figures before him. The core support he has engendered and the resistance he has provoked are unprecedented.
Trump was among the finalists last year, along with Hillary Clinton, Mark Zuckerberg, Vladimir Putin, Julian Assange, and Olympic gold-medal winner Simone Biles. In the past, Time has chosen things such as the computer, protesters, and ordinary middle Americans.
All this controversy with Trump and the imminent announcement of the winner has made me develop my own short list of local people who I think should be in consideration for my local Person of the Year. My list features former City Councilman and former School Reform Commission chairman Bill Green, Inquirer columnist Mike Newall, state Rep. Martina White, Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale, businessman Alan Levin, my buddy Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and WIP talk host Angelo Cataldi.
White makes my list because she already has publicly drawn Kenney's ire for her work in Harrisburg to try to rein in Philadelphia as a sanctuary city for people who are here illegally. She is also the chief sponsor of a bill to protect the identity of police officers in Philadelphia who are involved in an on-duty shooting. She is the face of Northeast Philadelphia, for those who want to be independent of much of Philadelphia's flaws.
Gale was elected to office in his 20s and is one of the area's most full-throated conservatives and pro-life advocates. He challenges both Democrats and the Republican establishment and is destined for bigger things.
Levin makes the list because he employs 550 people in Northeast Philadelphia in manufacturing jobs. I had him on my radio show and we discussed his inability to hire people in Philadelphia because, he said, only two or three out of 100 can pass drug tests.
Cataldi, a morning host on WIP Radio, makes my list because he is covering one of the biggest area stories. The Eagles season — with the possibility of reaching the Super Bowl — is a huge story. I had him on my show recently and we joked that he has had to give up criticism of head coach Doug Pederson and the Eagles and become positive about the team.
Kenney is on my short list only because, as mayor, he is a very powerful position. His recent outburst calling President Trump a "punk" and questioning the parenting skills of his parents was classic Kenney. He is a divider who cloaks himself in civil rhetoric.
Newall is my runner-up as local person of the year. I often differ with his solutions to various problems, but his skill and courage in covering the opioid crisis in Philadelphia is amazing. He has, more than anyone taken us inside the hell that has been occupying various areas of Kensington. I really differ with him, though. on the idea of setting up a site where addicts could go to shoot up and be brought out of an overdose by on-site medical people.
My person of the year is someone who has given up a lot to tackle the problems of the Philadelphia Public Schools. Green, a former city councilman, gave up his seat and a potential run for mayor to become chairman of the SRC. Of course, this commission dissolved itself recently, and Green is seemingly out of his chance to reform the schools. He represents the best of Philadelphia in dealing with the biggest issue that affects our future. I hope he finds a role in continuing to help the schools.
This is my first attempt at honoring, or at least recognizing, those who are key parts of our local lives. I'd love to hear from you with your recommendations.