The underperforming, so-called soda tax was the signature achievement of Jim Kenney’s first term as mayor. He won the political fight, even though the tax remains wildly unpopular with many Philadelphians.
Perhaps even more unpopular is a so-called “safe injection site,” which was to be the political jewel in the crown of his second term. When the Surprise! injection site was driven out of South Philly on Wednesday, hopes tanked for placing the drug den elsewhere.
Severely humiliated were South Philly City Councilmen Kenyatta Johnson and Mark Squilla who were kept in the dark by the Safehouse pro-drug team. They were red-faced when the announcement was made that the not-safe shooting gallery was opening in Kenyatta’s district, and right across Broad Street from Squilla’s district. They were politically castrated. Even Safehouse board member Ed Rendell conceded the way the opening was handled was a hot mess, but Kenney stubbornly restated his support, even as storm flags flapped in the wind.
Kenyatta now opposes the Not-Safehouse shooting gallery in any Philadelphia neighborhood. Councilman David Oh has drafted a bill prohibiting an injection site in any neighborhood that doesn’t want it. Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez says not in her Kensington neighborhood and would be the worst kind of hypocrite if she were OK with it going in someone else’s district.
As I reported earlier, City Council President Darrell Clarke — who may have been asleep for the past two years — suddenly announced he’s against shooting galleries in any Philadelphia neighborhood. He is joined by Council Majority Leader Cherrelle Parker.
As leaders, Clarke and Parker control votes and now that the shooting gallery has been exposed for the idiocy it is, I can’t see how any of the 10 District Council members would dare green-light it for their communities. The seven At-Large Council members would be at less risk, as they don’t represent specific communities, but there is peril nonetheless. Most Philadelphians don’t want the Not-Safehouse anywhere near their house.
This presents what seems to be an unbreakable political barricade for Kenney.
But, you know, you don’t want to underestimate the ability of Council to act against the interests of Philadelphians. It has done so many times.
So our eyes turn to Harrisburg, where state Senators Anthony Hardy Williams and Tina Tartaglione have introduced a bill to ban the shooting galleries anywhere in the Commonwealth. They are scheduled to have a news conference Monday.
Both are Philadelphia Democrats and would probably attract support from our state Democrats, but, you know, Republicans control both the state house and the senate.
Is there any question the GOP opposes the “not safe injection sites”? I expect a state-wide ban will quickly pass, handing a major, and deserved, political failure to an arrogant Mayor Kenney.