Mayor Kenney’s Thursday Zoom Press Conference Didn’t Go So Well

The mayor grew visibly agitated as reporters had the nerve to ask him about gun violence, COVID-related SEPTA problems and, yes, Philadelphia trash pickup.

mayor kenney grew increasingly frustrated as reporters asked him about philly trash pickup, gun violence and other issues

Mayor Kenney grew increasingly frustrated on Thursday as reporters asked him about Philadelphia trash pickup, gun violence and SEPTA issues.

A roundup of Philly news. This article may be updated at any time as new information becomes available.

Mayor Kenney Really Didn’t Want to Talk About Murder, SEPTA or Philly Trash Pickup Yesterday

There used to be a guy who ran Philadelphia by the name of John Street. He was the mayor of Philadelphia from 2000 to 2008. And he’s best remembered for two things: an FBI bug that turned up in his office and being a generally abrasive character, especially when it came to dealing with the press. And on Thursday, current Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney channeled a bit of that John Street abrasiveness during a Zoom press conference.

Kenney and various members of his administration have been holding Zoom press conferences almost daily since the beginning of the COVID-19 shutdown in Philadelphia. And while Kenney has sometimes seemed mildly annoyed by the questions posed at those press conferences, he generally remains calm, cool and collected. But not on Thursday.

What Kenney wanted to talk about at Thursday’s press conference was PHLConnectED. That’s an admirable new partnership with Comcast, among others, designed to decrease the digital divide in Philadelphia. It’s an especially important initiative now that Philadelphia’s schoolchildren will be forced to learn online from home this fall.

But the reporters who Zoomed in for the press conference wanted to talk about other things. They wanted to talk about topics like gun violence, COVID-related SEPTA issues, the Parkway encampment, and, yes, the Great Philadelphia Trash Pickup Problem of 2020.

Kenney grew visibly agitated as reporters continued to go “off-topic,” even though the invite sent out to reporters didn’t tell them that they wouldn’t be allowed to ask questions about anything other than PHLConnectED. Kenney did answer some of those questions.

But then he immediately followed up with rhetorical questions and comments like, “Can we get back to the digital divide?” and “Can we get back to dealing with our kids’ education?” and “I really don’t understand what people don’t understand about the questions.” The annoyed look on his face was unmistakable. So was the tone in his voice.

Then when one reporter jumped in saying, “This question is about the digital program,” Kenney interjected, “Thank God.”

Later, a spokesperson for the mayor interrupted the press conference when another reporter tried to ask about violence in the city. The spokesperson said that they were limiting the questions to the digital program and COVID-19. And then a different reporter immediately tried to ask about COVID-related public transportation issues.

“Does anybody care about our kids’ education?” responded Kenney. The reporter chuckled and then said she thought she was allowed to ask about COVID-related issues. The mayor stammered. And then his spokesperson told the reporter to “go ahead.” Kenney then said, “Ask away, ask away,” his face communicating the rest.

You can watch this exchange below:

Kenney also repeatedly suggested that the press and the public aren’t considering the fact that the city is still dealing with the pandemic when judging or questioning his administration on certain issues.

“It’s in the midst of a pandemic, which people seem to forget we’re having,” Kenney said after a reporter asked him about the wave of gun violence.

“We’re in the middle of a pandemic, if you didn’t realize that we are,” Kenney scolded another reporter who had the nerve to ask him about the Philadelphia trash pickup problem.

Hopefully the mayor has some time for a little R&R this weekend.

Police Still Making Arrests from Looting Incidents in Late May and Early June

If you were one of the people who looted stores and destroyed property in the region in late May or early June and you haven’t been arrested yet, don’t assume it won’t happen in the future.

Just look at the case of Lore Bluementhal, the 33-year-old Germantown woman charged by the feds with setting two cop cars on fire outside of City Hall on June 1st. She was charged three weeks after the incident. And at the end of July, five men and one minor were charged in Philadelphia with damaging Pennsylvania State Police vehicles back on May 30th.

And on Thursday, the Atlantic City Police Department announced charges against 95 people relating to looting and property destruction in late May and early June.

“Investigators initially reviewed thousands of hours of video recorded coverage from public and private cameras and social media,” police said in a statement on Thursday. “Through the videos, investigators were able to locate individuals involved in criminal activity. Photographs were provided to law enforcement personnel who identified suspects.”

That Phone Number You Don’t Recognize May Actually Be a Very Important Call

I know that you are probably plagued by all sorts of annoying robocalls and scammers who call you to say that you owe the IRS money and that if you don’t pay up right away, you’re going to be arrested. Heck, I haven’t answered a call from a phone number I don’t recognize in probably five years.

But if you get a call from a phone number that begins with the 215 area code followed by the exchange 218, I suggest you pick it up.

According to Philadelphia health commissioner Tom Farley, this call is from one of the contact tracers the city has hired in the battle against the coronavirus. If somebody is diagnosed with COVID-19 in Philadelphia, a contact tracer will try to get them to give up a list of the people (and their phone numbers) that the sick person has been in contact with recently. Then the contact tracer will call those people from one of 215-218 numbers.

Just a little PSA.

And Briefly Noted…