The last time I floated the idea of starting a GoFundMe was in 2017 to finance a trip that readers insisted I take every time they called for me to “go back to” places that never quite landed on the actual country, city, or even New York City borough where I’m from.
If readers were so keen on getting me out of the United States, I argued, they should at least kick in.
Buzzkill editors nixed the idea — journalistic ethics and all that — so I’m guessing they’d deny my latest request, even though this time it’s not even for me.
I’m suggesting a fund-raising campaign for the kind of cold, hard cash that might entice Mayor Jim Kenney to speak to a constituent who is (literally) starving to have a conversation with him about a resolution to declare gun violence a citywide emergency. Jamal Johnson is now three weeks into his one-man hunger strike.
Does that sound crazy — the hunger strike, sure, but also the idea of paying a public servant to do their actual j-o-b?
Well, only if you’re incapable of bending logic or feeling shame, just as our local Fraternal Order of Police was when it proposed the idea of a 5 percent “accountability” bonus in the next police contract for officers wearing body cameras.
Curious: Is there a 10% boost if officers don’t use excessive force, or is that more of “You just won a new car!” territory?
Of course, this got me thinking about how a concept like this might translate to other fields. In mine, I could be up for a bonus any time I spelled someone’s name correctly or brought a pen or a recorder to an interview.
Doctors, nurses: Have you refrained from harming your patients today? Come on down …
Contractors, did the structure you built stay upright? Get these guys their own house!
Lawyers, did you show up to court with the goods to defend your client? Did you at least practice your opening statement in front of a mirror or loved one? (Sorry Bruce Castor, no bonus for you!)
When I suggested the idea on Twitter of starting a GoFundMe to lure the mayor to Johnson, Councilwoman Jamie Gauthier, who introduced the resolution in September, responded that she didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. (Other than mischaracterizations of the resolution by the Kenney administration, it hasn’t gone anywhere.)
Come sit by me, Councilwoman, because as I listened to police this week address a startling rise in homicides, I felt the same way.
Seven people were killed within 24 hours on Monday, including a 15-year-old mistakenly targeted and a mental-health counselor.
More than 60 people were killed in Philadelphia during the first five weeks of 2021, an increase of 55% over last year, where nearly 500 people lost their lives.
During a news conference on Tuesday, police said they’re making progress on the latest cases and have added more investigators to the homicide division, which on its face sounds great if it leads to cops solving more of the city’s unsolved murders.
But like clockwork, the conversation turned to how residents aren’t doing enough.
“We’re asked, ‘What are you doing, what are you doing, what are you doing?’ Well, what is everybody else doing as well?” Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw told WHYY.
“We’ll continue to do what we can. It’s not a finger-pointing game,” she continued, while finger pointing at residents, who every day I see routinely step up and show up. These days you can find Johnson in the cold outside City Hall hoping to talk to the mayor about an epidemic that crushed our communities long before COVID-19.
So, what else are we left to do but think of new ways to entice our leaders to step up? If the GoFundMe is out of the question, what about a community beef and beer fund-raiser?
Oh, wait. On Saturday, allegedly intoxicated Philadelphia Police Officer Gregory Campbell left the headquarters of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 and nearly killed a woman when he blew past a stop sign and slammed his speeding car into her house.
Multiple law enforcement sources told my colleagues that the off-duty officer attended a beef and beer fund-raiser for the family of a fallen officer before ending up at the 7C Lounge, a bar and restaurant inside the FOP’s headquarters.
True to form, FOP President John McNesby played all kinds of confused about the particulars he said he was still looking into.
But if it’s confirmed that Officer Campbell was coming from the FOP bar, I’m wondering when we might finally declare the 7C Lounge, also visited by the Proud Boys this summer, a city nuisance? Drunk cop. Hate group. Do we need a trifecta of train wrecks to pull the plug on this place?
You’d hope that the officer, who was released on bail after being charged with driving under the influence and aggravated assault, and was later suspended with the intent to dismiss, will be off the force for good. But bad behavior has never been much of a deal breaker for the Police Department.
Plus, that would mean we aren’t living in this upside down world, where right is wrong, wrong is right, and doing the right thing, the very thing you’re sworn and paid to do, is considered a bonus.