Kenney, Labor Leaders Shame Trump Over Failed Waterfront Project

Our mayor on the Republican nominee: "A high school kid. A big zero. A big empty nothing."

Photo by Jared Brey

Photo by Jared Brey

The 2016 campaign season is bringing name-calling back in a big way. In the final presidential debate on Wednesday, Hillary Clinton called Donald Trump a “puppet” of Russian president Vladimir Putin, which sent Trump into a tiny fit. He later said Clinton was “such a nasty woman.”

On Thursday, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney got in on the action. Standing in front of a vacant lot just north of Spring Garden Street and the Delaware River waterfront, where Trump had promised in the mid-2000s to build a condominium tower “the likes of which Philadelphia has never seen before,” Kenney said that Trump had acted like “a high school kid” during the debate. (I once saw Kenney himself act like a high school kid, for what it’s worth.)

Kenney was there for a press conference, organized by the Clinton campaign, that also featured labor leaders Pat Eiding and Mungu Sanchez. The three speakers criticized Trump for his repeated bankruptcies, and for failing to follow through on his condo tower, which would have been adjacent to another condo complex, Waterfront Square.

“A restaurant is very important,” Trump had said in a promo video advertising the project. “We’re going to have one of the best restaurants in the world.”

“This is an empty lot,” said Kenney. “A stark visual commentary on Trump’s campaign for president. Almost a decade later, this lot is still empty. No big high-rise, no thousands of new jobs. Nothing. A big zero.”

The mayor then launched a protracted analogy between Trump’s campaign and an automobile. Trump wants to sell the car to voters, but he doesn’t want us to look under the hood, Kenney said. Because if we did, we’d find out there was no engine.

“A big empty nothing,” Kenney said. “That’s Donald Trump.”

To be fair, Trump is hardly the only developer to strike out on the Delaware waterfront. And he proposed the Philly project not long before the recession hit. Still, Kenney said, other developers managed to build during that time. (Though it wasn’t always pretty. Waterfront Square is only three-fifths of what it was supposed to be, and the project went into receivership for a time.)

Anyway, this story is about name-calling. Kenney has got aspersions for days. He recently used Twitter, the same service he used to call New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie a “fat-assed creep,” to label Trump a bum and a liar and “weirdo perv.” Not since Frank Rizzo called a reporter a “crumb bum” has a Philadelphia mayor been so innovative with his insults.

Follow @jaredbrey on Twitter.