Exit Interview: Frank Rizzo
IN HONOR OF Philadelphia magazine’s 100th anniversary, Exit Interview brings you an exclusive — nay, historic — conversation with a man who left town in 1991 but whose mark still remains indelibly etched on our city — the late Frank Rizzo. To contact the former mayor, we enlisted psychic and Rizzo friend Valerie Morrison, who once predicted (correctly) that Rizzo would be injured at the scene of an explosion. Morrison’s breathing slowed, her voice deepened as she entered a meditative state, and through her, Rizzo weighed in on his controversial reputation, Barack Obama, and Chase Utley’s f-bomb, and delivered an ominous prediction for Philadelphia’s future. Who would have guessed that Rizzo is easier to get on the horn than Will Smith?
Mayor Rizzo, are you bored in the afterlife? No, I’m very happy.
How’s Michael Nutter doing as mayor? I don’t know how Michael and I would have gotten along here on this earth-plane. I might have disagreed with some of his stuff in the beginning, because I was looking at things with a different culture. But you know how I was, c’mon. I was a tough guy, and I had my own way of thinking.
Are you surprised that the nightstick-and-cummerbund look never caught on? I didn’t have that feeling. I wanted to be very versatile and debonair. It’s probably better if we don’t have people running around like that at this point.
You raided coffeehouses during your tenure as police commissioner. Do you think it’s time to take down the Starbucks shops that have overrun the city? [Laughs] Hey, the hell with Starbucks. Everyone should be going to Wawa. It’s cheaper, isn’t it?
Right on. Buy local! So did you follow the presidential campaign? Of course! We see everything, like the Phillies and the Eagles.
What did you think about Chase Utley dropping the f-bomb after the Phillies won the World Series? Oh, come on! Emotion! Don’t blame that guy! I’ve used that word plenty of times myself.
Back to politics, though. What’s your opinion of Barack Obama? To be honest, I wouldn’t have voted for either one of them, McCain or Barama … Obama. But that’s just me. You know ol’ Frank.
During your last campaign for mayor, rumor has it, you had a file full of dirt on your opponent, Ed Rendell, but you passed away before using it. Does the file exist? Yes, it does. Let’s just say that Governor Rendell, I thank him for enacting a stronger law against hoodlums that shoot at police officers. I had pictures. I had photographs.
If they changed the city charter to allow both posthumous candidates and those who reside outside the city, what’s the first thing you’d do if you were mayor today? If I were running the city, I wouldn’t want an officer that shoots at someone to be put on desk duty. And I would make sure power was divided among whites and blacks in the proper way.