JONATHAN VALANIA REPORTS: When you live blog at WHYY, this is what you see. For reasons still not quite clear, you cannot sit in the actual studio with Marty and Chaka Fattah and if you ask why they say “Look, you seem like a nice kid. You don’t want me to get Patrick Stoner to come in here and straighten you out, do ya?” No, siree, you say, shaking your head vigoriously. And so, you are escorted to a nearby conference room where you watch radio on the television — in this case a Hi-Def flat-screen curiously framed by Barney and Laa-Laa the Teletubby — and you are babysat by not just one, but two publicists. Don’t worry, I’m pretty sure I can take them. Worst case scenario, I will use my patented WHYY Tote Bag Windmill manuever which has gotten me out of more public radio jams than I care to remember. Hopefully there will be no need for such unpleasantness.
Ran into Congressman Fattah in lobby, he told me he’s not only heard of this so-called Phawker, he has seen it, too. Nice. He is accompanied by spokesman Solomon Jones who I used to work with back in the day, when it was still called Philadelphia Weekly. Let me say this about Solomon: If he was running for mayor I would vote for him in a red hot minute. As for his boss, well, let’s say this: If Solomon Jones says Chaka Fattah is a good man, then he is a good man. Still, it’s a little disconcerting that Fattah continues to speak in such vague generalities this close to the election. One of the specifics he did offer was killing the onerous business privelege tax dead: “We have to get out of the business privilege tax business…we have said that by our first budget, we are out of that business.” Although he’s offered no compelling specifics for replacing that revenue outside of the airport leasing idea which, despite all the protest to the contrary, is entirely doable with cooperation from city council and the state legislature. Seriously, if we wanna do that, we change the rules. That’s what legislators do. If we can put a casino in south Philly, we can make the airport make mad bank.
The Congressman was uninspiring on the question of stemming the astronomical-and-climbing homicide rate. He mentioned a guns-for-grocery-vouchers program he helped initiate, which netted some 1,000 guns. OK, credit where credit is due. But something tells me those particular guns were never gonna hurt anybody anway. People that are armed and truly dangerous, that rely on a gun to protect and enforce their market share, which is to say their livelihood — well, these people simply ain’t gonna turn in their guns to the police for a $20 voucher to Super-Fresh.
What kind of man reads Phawker? A UNITED STATES CONGRESSman! We’re gonna tag this one: Chaka Phawka. Thanks for being a good sport, Congressman. And good luck to you, sir.