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Politics as usual is no longer an option in Philadelphia

This week, when a Philadelphia jury pronounced union leader John Dougherty and Councilman Bobby Henon guilty in a federal corruption trial, the fallout was almost immediate.

Dougherty resigned as head of the powerful Electricians Union. Henon announced that he’ll remain in his council seat, since state law says he doesn’t have to resign until he’s sentenced.  Mayor Jim Kenney, who was elected with Dougherty’s backing and millions in union campaign contributions, angrily refused to acknowledge that either man did anything other than politics as usual.

And maybe that’s the problem. As the trial showed us, politics as usual was Dougherty’s union paying Henon a $70,000 salary for a no-show job, and Henon allowing Dougherty to use his office as a satellite union headquarters. Politics as usual was Henon and Dougherty cooking up the soda tax to punish the Teamsters for dissing Dougherty. Politics as usual was Dougherty threatening the head of Licenses and Inspections, the guy who oversees projects done by the building trades, and doing it in the comfort of Henon’s Council office.

If that’s politics as usual, then politics as usual needs to go. And it should take Bobby Henon along with it.

In a city where we’re rapidly approaching 500 homicides, where rapes take place on SEPTA trains, where Kensington is home to drug central, where 1 out of 4 people lives in poverty, we can’t afford politicians who don’t work for us. There’s too many lives at stake.

I just wish convicted people in the hood could stay in six-figure jobs, like Henon can. I wish they had powerful backers, like Henon does. I wish they could get the benefit of the doubt, like Henon did. Because if they had those things, maybe they wouldn’t turn to gun violence, and maybe this would be a better place.
Photo: Stated Meeting of Philadelphia By. Philadelphia City Council

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