Top 5 PhillyNow Personalities of 2011 (and Occupy Philly is Number 2)
Here comes another end of the year list—duck! Seriously, though, this list below is Philadelphia Weekly’s news blog’s ‘Top Personalities of the Year,’ which is code for the topics we wrote about most often, as configured through ‘tags,’ on a daily basis. Most tagged: City Council. Fifth most tagged: Tom Corbett. Also, Occupy Philly, Mayor Michael Nutter, and Rick Santorum. And before we forget: Happy New Year! We very much appreciate our readership both on this blog and in our print/web editions each week.
1. City Council
We wrote about City Council in 2011 more than anything else. Mostly because there was so much to write about. Mostly, well, those pesky gigantic turnover elections. Old, friendly faces like Frank DiCicco, Frank Rizzo, Jr., Anna Verna, Donna Reed Miller and Jack Kelly will be leaving us this January (and have already participated in their last session). In some cases, the November electorate shoved in Council clones of the former members to take the helm (Mark Squilla, Bobby Henon), in some cases, we got some different, new faces (David Oh). But still, the majority of Councilmembers in 2012 will be those personalities we’ve grown to love (Blondell Reynolds Brown, Bill Greenlee), mostly because they seem to mean so well. And while it’s so fun and easy to make fun of City Council for doing things that are ridiculous, 2011 saw the downtown Special Friends adopt a new zoning code (for the first time in 50 years!) as well as push through a lot of progressive legislation focusing in on workers’ rights (paid sick leave, restaurant tips) and LGBT rights. Next year, with Darrell Clarke at the helm, expect some late night debates and vocal slapping between the City Council president and Mayor Michael Nutter, who apparently don’t like each other all that much.
2. Occupy Philly
Occupy Philly was great. And not just because there were always new things to cover and people to speak with. The issues they took on (unemployment, wealth disparity, capitalism’s winners and losers) were serious and needed to come out into the open. They, along with the hundreds of other ‘Occupy’ protests all over the world, truly helped change the national conversation from ‘Debt’ to ‘Jobs.’ Plus, how often do you see a bunch of kids smoke weed next to a City Hall window, knowing full and well that it’s possible—possible!—Councilman Jack Kelly is getting some of those fumes three stories up?
Many within the movement seemed to initially take for granted that Philadelphia Weekly was “on their side” since that’s what alt weeklies apparently do: take the side of things that are “alt.” Sadly, we were not on their side—we instead wrote what we saw. This process of writing down things that happened and quoting people who said stuff led to a few common reactions, and quickly: “You’re from Philly Weekly? I heard that paper writes negatively about us,” said one protester (and others, in various ways.) Another great one was: “Philly Weekly? Quote this: ‘Shitty Weekly!’” And: “You guys called us leaderless! That’s bullshit!” The reactions become more and more negative as the encampment whittled down and Dilworth Plaza began stinking more of human shit. Of course, the movement is not over, even if the campsite’s been removed. And that camp-side reporting (begun by PW reporter Michael Alan Goldberg with a cover story the first week of OP) probably culminated in two areas: One, a blog/feature on the eviction, which I wrote 75-80 percent asleep, having come straight from the 5 a.m. arrests on 15th Street. The other: Tara Murtha’s print report on the different stories coming from the eviction (Occupiers claiming police brutality, everyone else saying otherwise).
3. Mayor Nutter
Mayor Nutter won two votes this year (three if you count that whole ‘winning our hearts’ thing) and both were hilarious. On the one hand, he went up in the primary against former State Senator and brother of a former mayor, Milton Street, and only got the votes of those Democrat voters who weren’t literally casting a protest vote (about 25 percent of that day’s electorate). Then, in the general, he went up against Democrat-turned-Republican Karen Brown. And he participated in the funniest debate this city’s likely ever seen—not because there were any big “gotcha” moments, but because every time Brown made a claim that wasn’t true (which happened a few times), Mayor Nutter slowed things down and had to explain to her the most basic premises of how the government works, then told her why she was wrong. For his part, he tried to push through another soda tax in 2011, this time to fund the schools, and that didn’t work. He’s also yet to work out a contract with three of the city’s four unions. (Occupy Philly members often tried to use this to their advantage during arrests; “You don’t have a contract” chants…they didn’t work).
But! He owned the flash mob issue after a series of incidents throughout the city this year and last. He became President Barack Obama’s main dude in the long campaign for re-election, and even participated on a national conference call in favor of the American Jobs Act. His flash mob work came to a head with a curfew law in Center City and West Philadelphia, which, in true “tails I win, heads you lose” fashion, was made permanent after it was decided the curfew “worked.” Say what you will, but how many flash mobs have you encountered since Council and Nutter took this thing on?
Pennsylvania’s former Republican Senator is running for president. This at first seemed to make sense, then it was hilarious, then sad, then hilarious again, and now a bit freaky (because he’s moving up in the polls when it counts.) As I wrote yesterday, such a surge in the polls for Santorum is no surprise, since Republicans always nominate familiar faces, without fail. Everyone still brings up the fact that Santorum once compared homosexual sex to man-on-dog action (which he only sort of did) and others are consistently writing about his “Google problem,” which we found out this year he cannot change, unless he negotiates with a terrorist (columnist Dan Savage). He once said that Google has a liberal bias against him. Today, he’s touting his “Made in America” plan, to make things in America, once again. (If he has a downfall, this will be it; nothing will ever be made in America, ever again.) But the Iowa caucuses are next week, and him winning is not out of the picture, especially since we’re talking caucuses here, and not, you know, real voting.
5. Tom Corbett
Pennsylvania’s new governor is the exact opposite of our former governor. He’s from a small town, he doesn’t talk and likes to quietly sign radical pieces of legislation into law, having his spokesperson claim–when asked–it’s out of ‘safety’ (i.e. stripping women of their rights through stamping his signature on SB 732.) He’s pro-school vouchers, pro-‘gun,’ pro-drilling, anti-tax raising and has been touted as a potential presidential or vice presidential candidate by conservative think tankist Grover Norquist, who began co-ruling the Republican Party not long ago. If Tom Corbett ever spoke up and made his points in vocal, emotional ways, he’d just be a Donahue-looking Sean Hannity. Either way, that thing people say about the greatest trick the devil ever pulled: It works another way. Convincing the world he’s there but not really doing anything can sometimes be a whole lot worse.