Helen Gym “doesn’t play nice in the sandbox.”
— Progressive former Councilwoman Maria Quiñones Sánchez.
And Sanchez is a friend of Gym’s (but she endorsed Cherelle Parker for mayor).
Helen Gym with her favorite fashion accessory (Photo: Philadelphia Inquirer)
Another progressive admirer is Larry Platt, headman at the Philadelphia Citizen website and former editor of the Philadelphia Daily News and Philadelphia Magazine. He asked in a recent piece, “Is Helen Gym a Hypocrite? Or is she just wrong?”
My answer is — both.
Now, when people on your side of the political divide find you questionable, that’s a red flag.
Red as in Marxist, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
As one political analyst observed, “If you are in Philadelphia politics and you haven’t been attacked by Helen, you are not in Philadelphia politics.”
One crucial element of leadership is the ability to bring people over to your side, to cajole and convince. Gym’s idea of cajoling is picking up a bullhorn.
As Ed Rendell told Buzz Bissinger (in his landmark “A Prayer for the City”), the most important thing he had to do each day as mayor was get down on his knees and suck people off, to get what he needed for the city.
The argumentative Gym is psychologically incapable of that, of playing nice in the sandbox, as Sanchez said.
Electing this snollygoster to be Philadelphia’s 100th mayor would be to commit Gymicide. As a leader, she is a civic death wish.
She is a short tempered ideologue, vain, spoiling for a fight and totally without the temperament the job of mayor requires. As former fellow Councilwoman, and opponent for mayor, Cherelle Parker said, Gym thinks after going up to Harrisburg, haranguing them through a bullhorn, calling them “morally bankrupt” and getting arrested, she can get them to give Philly more money.
This may be wonderful street theater, and she’s darn cute in handcuffs, but this is terrible politics.
The shrewish Gym, an astute observer tells me, “Is a first choice, or a last choice — no in-between.”
I believe he is right and — spoiler alert! — she is my last choice.
[Disclosure: She has publicly condemned me as “racist” and “neo colonialist.” I did not contact her for this piece because she has never responded any time I reached out for her, even as a Daily News and Inquirer columnist. There’s no reason to believe she would change now.]
She is the first choice of some progressives, the younger and more extreme the better, and young progressives are a rising tide in this town.
There are some facts in Gym’s past — and present — that should give them pause, but probably won’t, because like MAGA Trumpsters, they don’t give a damn what she does as long as she tells them what they want to hear.
They don’t care that she is a hypocrite.
And she is. Here’s the proof.
>She is best known as an
agitator advocate for public education, yet she helped found a charter elementary school in Chinatown to keep her own kids out of the public schools she believes are good enough for you, but not for her.
They remained there until she could get them into the excellent Masterman middle school.
That’s when she got the “public school” religion. And the teachers’ union nods its head like a Fisher Price dog.
>In City Council she voted against a bill banning pharmaceutical representatives from showering doctors with freebies to influence their decisions.
It turns out the “peoples’ champion’s” husband was a lawyer for AmeriSource Bergen, which agreed to pay $1.6 billion to settle opioid lawsuits for fueling the epidemic.
How odd — or maybe not — that Gym is a proponent of (not) Safe injection sites for your neighborhood.
>After George Floyd’s murder, Gym cheered the Minneapolis City Council’s idiotic idea — later abandoned — to abolish the police force.
But her TV commercials would have you think she’s Batman on public safety. But her enthusiastic support of D.A. Larry Krasner makes her more like the Riddler.
>On a 2019 questionnaire, she said she was committed to accountability for people who were “credibly accused” of sexual abuse. After all, she’s a feminist avenger.
How odd then that she hired as her campaign director Leigh Owens, a self-admitted former drug dealer and ex-con, who was accused of sexual abuse by a paralegal in the D.A.’s office where they both worked, according to reporting done by Ralph Cipriano on his Big Trial blog.
>Last but not least was her leading the charge against the Union League for giving Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis its gold medal award. “Philly will always stand against the racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and the bigotry that the Union League decided to honor today,” she tweeted on her account to which she is as addicted as a teenage girl.
A week later she attended a cocktail party thrown by the General Building Contractors Association — at the very Union League she had denounced.
She was able to sweep aside the racism, homophobia, xenophobia and bigotry when it was to her advantage. Gym in the Union League is like Carrie Nation dropping her hatchet and stopping at McGillin’s for a beer.
It may be these (ahem) discrepancies have distracted from something more grave — the red flag I mentioned.
Many of her ideas are rooted in Marxism — she is all about class struggle — but I’ll be kind and call them socialism, which is why she has earned the endorsement of Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Look at her public positions: She would increase taxes (for the public good, heh-heh), she demonizes corporations, and has actually said that Philadelphia’s high poverty rate is “a deliberate policy,” which can only be taken as a condemnation of her Democratic Party that has had a stranglehold on Philadelphia for 70 years.
Even the progressive Inquirer, a usual ally, said “her grandiose ideas are long on rhetoric but short on details.”
In 2013, a Philadelphia Magazine article called her a bully. “Her foes are ‘hilarious and dishonest.’ Educational reformers are ‘corporate raiders’ and ‘party shills.’ Columnists she disagrees with are operating a ‘Corbett PR flack machine.’” Or neocolonialists!
Platt reports she used to ask the late Jeremy Nowak, who ran the William Penn Foundation, for money for her charter school and “then brandish him — a liberal who cut his teeth as a community organizer — a ‘corporate raider’” when he funded school reform.
Her business acumen was on view in 2020. As education advocates asked Comcast to insure more students had internet access — which it did — Gym led protests outside its headquarters calling Comcast “trash.”
That Hahnemann Hospital was going bankrupt did not stop the deranged Gym — and Bernie Sanders — from blasting the hospital for planning to close. The Merry Marxists seem not to understand you can’t keep a business afloat in a sea of red ink.
Gym rats want a better world but are clueless about how to pay for it.
And not to forget this gag-me-with-a-spoon Gym line: “When I walk into the room, systems of oppression fall and new systems of opportunity come up.”
What’s bigger — her ego or her zip code?
Is it possible Philadelphia will commit Gymicide?
It’s possible, and terrifying for anyone in the political and economic mainstream. Gym could be an alter ego to Chicago’s failed progressive mayor, Lori Lightfoot, but with a master’s from Penn. (Apologies to Gym’s Woke friends who canceled the word “master” because it somehow evokes slavery.)
During her campaign, she has repeatedly said she wants “to change the way people live in this city.”
What in the blue hell does that mean?
Do you want her to change the way you live?
Does she want to shape Philly into her birth place, Seattle, which has surrendered to the chaos of Woke “movement activists” like Gym?
I’m not having any of that and I suspect a majority of Philadelphians do not share her views, any more than they share Krasner’s, but he won with only 38% in the Democratic primary (which means he won the general). Gym can win with as little as 20% in a multi-candidate race, but she may not have to.
When she ran in November 2019, the Gym rats gave her 205,661 votes, comfortably ahead of the No. 2 Council candidate, Isaiah Thomas, with 196,733.
Next Tuesday, Hellacious Helen could win with as few as 60,000 votes if the other candidates split the anti-Helen vote.
That’s why I, and traditional Democrats and noncrazy progressives, must coalesce around one candidate. That is why I have called on Jeff Brown to drop out.
I will suggest by Sunday which candidate I believe has the best chance to stop Gym.
Before I leave, I have to share my favorite Jiminy Gym story.
It was 2016 when she got her panties in a bunch and attacked a food truck serving Asian food. Here’s what I wrote at the time:
“City Councilwoman Helen Gym, the czarina of imagined cultural affronts, smeared Alanna Li and Bailin Chen, two Asian Americans running a popular Asian food truck on the Drexel University campus. The truck goes by the name of — brace yourself — Wheely Wheely Good.”
Gym exploited her daughter by using her as a prop for her faux racism charge. (Photo: Broad & Liberty)
“When Gym stumbled upon the food truck one day, she hissed at the owners that their truck’s name was ‘super-racist,’ according to an account in Philadelphia Magazine.
“Gym also criticized the Asian typeface and playful caricatures on the truck.
“Li says the name of the truck was a play on words because the truck is on wheels — get it? — and the caricatures represent herself and her co-owner Chen.
“Not good enough for Gym, who demanded that the owners change the name of the truck and the design.
“The owners refused because free people don’t have to bow down before officious bullies.”
Nor should they vote for them.