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3:49 PM / Friday December 2, 2022

29 Dec 2017

Your Blues Are Like Mine

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December 29, 2017 Category: Local Posted by:

ABOVE PHOTO:  White nationalist demonstrators use shields as they clash with counter demonstrators at the entrance to Lee Park in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. Hundreds of people chanted, threw punches, hurled water bottles and unleashed chemical sprays on each other Saturday after violence erupted at a white nationalist rally in Virginia. At least one person was arrested. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

 

The year 2017 was the ‘Year of the Recalcitrant 4-Year-Old’ in more ways than we’d all like to admit.

 

By Denise Clay

If you’re a parent with a child in the School District of Philadelphia, 2017 probably felt kind of familiar to you.

That’s because you’ve already been dealing with an institution that governs something that controls the future of people that you really care about that’s currently being run by a group of recalcitrant 4-year-olds that treat it like a toy it would rather throw up against the wall and break rather than play with correctly.

In the case of the School District, it’s the legislature of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Or it least that will be the case until March or so.

But in the case of the United States itself, this was the first year of the Trump Administration, which will probably go down in history as the largest group of recalcitrant 4-year-olds to ever occupy the nation’s highest levels of power. If you count Congress, thatnumber grows exponentially.

As America transitioned from the leadership of President Barack Obama — or as they’re better known in this scenario, the adults — to President Donald Trump and his itchy Twitter fingers, everyone, including the folks who voted for him, found out that like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” we’re not in Kansas anymore.

But while much of the really insane stuff happened in Washington, we had our share of crazy here in Philadelphia. We found out how much a cheese tray at the Union League costs through the trial of former District Attorney Seth Williams. Former Congressman Chaka Fattah is now a resident of one of Pennsylvania’s fine correctional facilities.

Meanwhile, the Juice, O.J. Simpson, is once again loose. How long he stays that way will depend on how many self-inflicted wounds he gives himself this time around.

To get an idea of just how far away from Kansas we actually are, grab a big bottle of the best brown liquor you can get your hands on, and let’s take a look back at a year that needs more than one round-up.

Panic In DC

As much as many of us would like to pretend that that whole 2016 Presidential Election went a different way, it didn’t.

And because of this, we’ve been dealing with the Age of Trump and the late-night Twitter rants, countless political campaign rallies and trips to the “alternative facts” vaults.                                                                                         

Under a gray sky and a steady drizzle, Trump took the oath of office as America’s 45th president. With his opponent, Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in attendance, Trump delivered a speech that promised he’d end the “carnage” that was the current state of the republic.

Instead, he created his own.

Among the first of many executive orders he signed shortly after his inauguration was a ban designed to keep people from several majority Muslim nations from entering the country. Thousands —  including elected officials and immigration attorneys — packed airports around the country to help people, some of whom had already been given permission to enter the country, navigate a solution that created a problem.

A protest featuring neo-Nazis brandishing tiki torches in Charlottesville, Virginia gave people another reason to mistrust the new President, especially since he had gotten extensive support from White nationalist groups in his run for office. A protest over the Robert E. Lee monument in Charlottesville led to the death of Heather Heyer, a local resident participating in a counter protest.

When asked about it, Trump said that there was fault “on both sides,”drawing outrage from many. He tried to correct his mistake, but continued to make it worse.

It was part of a pattern that continued throughout the year, culminating in Trump’s appearance in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, where he threw rolls of paper towels at a group of people, most of whom still don’t have power as of this writing.

Watch your hands, fella!

The day after Trump’s inauguration, thousands of women took to the streets to remind our new president — who has a history of treating women like literal objects — that they had no time for his shenanigans at the Women’s March. Granted, most of these women were White, and roughly 54 percent of White women voted for the man known as President “Something I Can’t Say In A Family Newspaper,” but hey…

Naturally, in a year where women served notice that they had lost their patience with men and their foolishness, we ended the year with a whole lot of men, most prominently film mogul Harvey Weinstein, finding themselves unemployed (and in some cases looking at civil lawsuits or criminal charges) due to accusations of sexual harassment and assault. Weinstein in particular was the subject of pieces in both the New York Times and New Yorker Magazine that detailed a reign of terror that included such A-list stars as Oscar winners Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Lupita Nyong’o and former “Charmed” star Rose McGowan. McGowan, who was the subject of a smear campaign on behalf of private investigators hired by Weinstein, charged him with raping her.

John Conyers (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

But while Weinstein was the most notable, and some would say the most notorious, he wasn’t alone. Def Jam founder Russell Simmons stepped down from all of his companies after instances of sexual assault against him surfaced. John Conyers, the longest serving member of the House of Representatives, was forced to resign after it was discovered that he had paid off a former staffer that accused him of sexual harassment. Sen. Al Franken was also forced to resign when sexual assault accusations against him surfaced.

Democrats pushed those resignations as an attempt to shame Republicans into repudiating Judge Roy Moore, the party’s candidate to fill the unexpired Senate term of Attorney Gen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions. Moore apparently had a thing for young girls so scandalous that he was banned from local shopping malls in Alabama for inappropriate behavior.

Alabamians, to their credit, decided that 14 (year old girls) should get you 20 (years in prison) instead of a term in the Senate and sent Doug Jones — a lawyer best known for sending the men who bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama during the Civil Rights Movement to jail —  to the Senate instead.

Moore is refused to concede and demanded a voter fraud investigation because he doesn’t believe that the Citizens of Alabama might not want to be represented by a chicken hawk in Congress.

Fortunately for those voters, most of them Black women, the courts in Alabama denied Moore’s request and certified the election on Thursday.

People visit a makeshift memorial for victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Monday, Oct. 16, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Terrorism of all Kinds

Unfortunately, much of 2017 included 2016’s garbage.

An Ariana Grande concert In England, Spain’s La Rambla promenade, a nightclub in Istanbul, a crowded mosque in Egypt and a market in Somalia were just some of the places rendered unsafe by terrorism.

But America had  its own unsafe places, most notably a concert venue in Las Vegas where a gunman opened fire during a country music festival, killing 59 people and injuring hundreds more.

‘Cause I’m The Tax Man 

Most of the first year of the Trump Administration featured Republicans having to explain, apologize — or in some cases, both — some of Trump’s more interesting speeches, Tweets or other actions.

But it all paid off earlier this month when the Republican Congress gave businesses, people with expansive estates, and other folks who really didn’t need it the tax cut they’d always wanted.

The bill is a mixture of permanent and temporary cuts that was signed into law last week. The permanent cuts are the ones involving the corporate tax rate, while the ones that allow teachers to deduct for the school supplies their impoverished school districts can’t afford to buy got dispatched.

All shenanigans are local

Philadelphians may not have had a hurricane to deal with, but politically, it was hit by a few storms.

Former Congressman Chaka Fattah joined a group with far too many folks in it: Politicians from Philadelphia who have been imprisoned. Following his conviction on a variety of corruption charges, he began his 10-year sentence in January.

Seth Williams

Next, former District Attorney R. Seth Williams went on trial for misappropriating everything from the money for his mother’s long-term nursing home care to the campaign funds collected for his re-election. After testimony from the folks from the Union League, where he threw his Significant Other a birthday party that included a nearly $300 cheese plate and the nursing home that his mother was nearly kicked out of for non-payment, he decided to plead guilty and take a five-year sentence.

But Fattah and Williams didn’t have the only courtroom action among the city’s politicos. The Sweetened Beverage Tax proposed by Mayor Jim Kenney and passed by City Council is still making itsway through the courts.

Another bill that will probably join it is the recently passed Stop and Go Bill, which requires these businesses, many of whom have restaurant licenses, to conduct themselves like, well, restaurants.

With Kenney’s help, Gov. Tom Wolf made good on a promise to give the School District of Philadelphia back to itscitizens. By a 3-1-1 vote, with former SRC chair Bill Green voting no and SRC member Farah Jimenez abstaining, the body voted to disband.

But all eyes are going to be on Rebecca Rhynhart and Larry Krasner, the city’s new Controller and District Attorney respectively.

Rhynhart shocked the world by beating incumbent Controller Alan Butkovitz in the May primary. Backed by former Gov. Ed Rendell and his prodigious war chest, she took out a politico that many have aimed at over the years.

Krasner, however, is under even tougher scrutiny. Running on a criminal justice reform platform, Krasner took out his Democratic challengers easily to win the nomination and bested Republican Beth Grossman in the general election. His supporters are counting on him to get rid of the city’s “Stop and Frisk” program and, possibly to get rapper Meek Mill out of prison for his various probation violations.

I’m only kidding about that last one. I think.

While it wasn’t officially part of the #metoo moment, the man who got the whole “let’s look at what celebrity men are doing to their subordinates” ball rolling, comedian Bill Cosby, had his day in court in 2017. His trial for the sexual assault of former Temple University employee Andrea Constand brought many of the 65 women who have accused him of sexual assault to the Montgomery County Courthouse for two weeks of testimony.

Since it ended in a mistrial, Cosby Trial The Sequel will probably be one of the things we’ll be talking about in 2018. But Cosby will be sitting in the Defendant’s chair without his attorney, Brian McMonagle, by his side.

Currenly, McMonagle is helping his new client, Meek Mill.

No, I’m not kidding.

Octavius V. Catto Memorial

Local highpoints

Mayor Kenney’s long awaited monument to Octavius V. Catto was unveiled this year, and the structure designed by artist Brantly Cadet has been a big hit with those who have taken the time to see it.

Wbile there were a lot of groups that might have been less than optimistic about 2017, one definitely wasn’t.

That group was the organizers of the Pennsylvania Conference for Women.

Thanks to an appearance from former First Lady Michelle Obama, the Convention Center was sold out in a matter of hours for the conference. Her interview with “Scandal” creator Shonda Rhimes reminded people of a time that seemed long past; a time when adults ran things.

Community College of Philadelphia and Temple University glowed with pride over alumnus Hazim Hardeman selected as a 2017 Rhodes Scholar, the first graduate from both institutions to be honored.

In Memoriam

In 2016, it felt like all of our icons were leaving us. Prince died. David Bowie died. It felt like a cloud was hanging over us.

Unfortunately, 2017 held its own in that department. From a woman who could turn the world on with her smile to a man whose infamy was wrapped in a Beatles song, this year featured some dramatic losses.

It was a year in which we lost Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore, 80), Joe Mannix (Mike Connors, 91,) Della Street (Barbara Hale, 94), Gomer Pyle (Jim Nabors, 87), Joanie Cunningham, (Erin Moran, 56), David Partridge (David Cassidy, 67), Benson (Robert Guillaume, 89), the man who showed us what’s behind Door Number 3 (Monty Hall, 96), the man who introduced us to “Gene-Gene, The Dancing Machine, (Chuck Barris, 87), Agent 007, (Roger Moore, 89), the true star of “Harlem Nights” (Della Reese, 86), the original Nutty Professor (Jerry Lewis, 91) and even Batman (Adam West, 88).

Musicians Tom Petty, 66, Greg Allman, 69, Walter Becker, 67, Glen Campbell, 81, and Al Jarreau, 78, also left us this year. So did Fats Domino, 89, and Chuck Berry, 90.

Some who departed were famous for the mark they left, like for example comedian/activist Dick Gregory, 84, Simeon Booker, the first African-American to write for the Washington Post, 99, Dan Hogan Charles, the first Black photographer for the New York Times, 79, and Mamie “Peanut” Johnson, the first woman to pitch in the Negro Leagues, 82.

Also, Norma McCorvey, 69, the “Roe” of “Roe v. Wade” left us this year.

But others were closer to infamous. Mass murderer Charles Manson, 83, former Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega, 83, and former New England Patriots tight end, Aaron Hernandez, a man whose illegal activities made many wonder when he found time to play football, took his own life in prison at 27.

As for Hugh Hefner, the creator ofPlayboywho left us this year at age 91, and Liz Smith, the gossip maven who left us at 94, the jury is still out on how they’ll be remembered.

The sports world was also hit this year with the deaths of Johnson, boxing champ Jake LaMotta, 95, former Phillies greats Jim Bunning, 85 and Reuben Amaro Sr., 81, heartbreakingly, pitcher Roy Halliday, 40, and WWE champion Jimmy “Super Fly” Snuka, 73.

Locally, we lost the Man Who Broke Up The Big Five, (Rollie Massamino, 82), the woman who brought African culture to South Philadelphia, (Lois Fernandez, 81), a former politico who used his experiences to hold politicos accountable (James “Jimmy” Tayoun, 87), an educator who helped turn Strawberry Mansion High School around (Lois Powell Mondesire, 73), a part of the “Family”, (Joni Sledge, 60), and a musician who joined his wife in making Jazz accessible to all (William “Mr . C” Carney, 92).

As we head into 2018, I’m pretty sure that there are more shenanigans on the horizon.

Unfortunately, we won’t have Don Rickles to make us laugh about them. He left us this year, too.

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