JONATHAN VALANIA REPORTS: Being a rich man trying to buy back City Hall for the common man in a city where the common man holds a profound mistrust of rich men is a fairly thankless job. You can almost see the weight of that burden dragging down the raw-boned, hang-dog face of Tom Knox. Which again brings us back to why anyone would want to be mayor. When your explanation for why you want to be mayor makes people want to ask you again ‘why the hell you want to be mayor?’ — well, you better have deep pockets. Marty is asking him about hiring his neighbor and convicted felon David Fishbone back when he was the in the insurance business. ‘Fishbone’ sounds funny when you say it out loud. ‘Felon’ just sounds bad.
Now Marty is asking him about predatory payday loans…this is not going well. Knox says he will end City Hall voicemail as we know it to improve City Hall’s service to constituents…Wants to put career training back in the schools. Caller reverts him back to defending predatory payday loans. At this point in any election cycle frontrunner is just another word for punching bag — from the minute you get out of bed every day, people are swatting you on the testicles with a rolled-up newspaper or TV Guide. That’s gotta sting. Next caller is defending City Hall voicemail as we currently know it.
Now, Knox is talking about the shrinkage of the police force. During Rizzo, there were roughly 8,000 cops and 24,000 city employees, he says. Under Rendell, there were roughly 7,000 cops and 24,000 city employees. Under Street it’s around 6,500 and 24,000 city employees. Knox wants to add 1000 cops. How to pay for it? The $400 million in waste and corruption he is going to eliminate and free up for, well, buying more cops. (FYI, if you are in the market for a cop, it will set you back about $60,000 year, plus bullets.) It is unclear where they keep all that moolah, presumably in a fund marked Waste & Corruption. Despite newspaper reports that he is now aligned with Johnny Doc and his election day goon squad poll workers, Knox holds the topic at arm’s length saying he hasn’t forged an alliance with Johnny Doc, er, or hasn’t decided yet if he has or will make an alliance with Johnny Doc. Next stop: Geno’s Steaks, where Joey Vento has ripped up the concrete sidewalk out front of his neon steak shack and is replacing it with 400 bricks commemorating fallen police officers — namely Officer Daniel J. Faulkner. That should take care of the people who only vote white.
I’m sure Tom Knox is at heart a good and decent man who means well, and maybe we could have used a guy like him back in 1990. But that’s a long time ago for this city, in fact, it’s a galaxy far, far away. And just saying you are a capital-R reformer doesn’t make you one — especially not when you are forging alliances of racial convenience with the guarantors of the status quo, i.e. Jannie Blackwell, the lone holdout when council begrudgingly pushed the camel through the needle’s eye of campaign finance reform. (In the calculus of Philly politics, the Blackwell alliance will balance out the Geno’s photo op, i.e. bringing in the people who only vote black, or will only vote white if the right black person tells them to) By our count, Mr. Knox has spent $8 million of his own money to get your vote. I can’t help but wonder what kind impact $8 million would have it were pumped into a single school, or a rec. center or a city block — or better yet a college scholarship fund for the disadvantaged. Say, Cheese. Thanks for playin’, and good luck to you, Sir.