“It’s one of those woo-hoo moments, everybody!” Figueroa declared to the delighted applause of the politically curious and connected who were gathered to watch Kenney sign two executive orders — one of which named her the deputy mayor for Philadelphia’s new Office of Children and Families.
Despite my aversion to the woo, and the fleeting glow of this already hot mess of a new year, Figueroa was right. It did feel like Philly had reason to celebrate — potentially, anyway.
Maybe it was because I came back to work from the holidays on Philadelphia’s inauguration day, and save for that 2016 induction that put our nation on the fast track to Armageddon, new beginnings are exciting. Even if the view from the top hasn’t changed much around these parts.
Kenney eased into his second term, and from the bits of the inauguration day that I witnessed, his mood teetered between ennui and weariness. (I can’t be the only one who thinks Hizzoner could actually use a little more woo in his life, right?)
But there are also some newcomers on Council, and if nothing else, fresh faces always make progress at least seem possible.
Speaking of, I was away when Kenney lifted his cloak of secrecy and named Danielle Outlaw the city’s new police commissioner. Definitely a pick that got people’s attention, and not just because she’s the first black female commissioner – though, it’s about damn time!
I thought about that when I watched her 2018 TEDx Talk about 21st-century policing and cringed when she said about cops, “We only hear the bad – that’s it.” In a department that still fails to share the stories that would improve relationships between police and the communities they serve, she should redirect that disdain to anyone and anything working against the safety of Philly’s citizens. And that includes some of the same old folks allowed to feed at this city’s anti-violence funding trough while leaders insist they’re introducing innovative new approaches.
“Talking to the moms and dads, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, of the young men and women cut down on the streets of Philadelphia has left deep scars on our communities, and, frankly, on me personally,” Kenney said.
Despite some observations that the mayor’s second-term agenda isn’t as ambitious as his first, he and other incoming leaders seemed to find the right notes and words — prioritizing the safety of citizens, promoting equality and access for a city that once again has charged them to help make their lives better. And then there was this bombshell:
Kenney said that street sweeping is coming to every Philadelphia neighborhood in the next few years, and that may mean that residents who regularly scoff at the no-savesies rule when holding their parking spots with everything from an orange cone to a busted-up toilet might actually have to – gasp – move their cars.
Think about that: If we actually clean the streets instead of just moving debris around with a bunch of leaf blowers, that could be huge — that is, if angry car owners don’t take to the streets.
Finally, we’d be on our way to dumping our disgraceful reputation as Filthadelphia.