The Editors of The Philadelphia Inquirer Want to Keep People Safe From Having to Work . . . Until Their Garbage Doesn't Get Picked Up

The Editors of The Philadelphia Inquirer Want to Keep People Safe From Having to Work .  .  . Until Their Garbage Doesn't Get Picked Up
(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

At some point, you just have to laugh at the Editorial Board of The Philadelphia Inquirer, and their rampant hypocrisy. They’re all for closing things down, to protect people from COVID-19, until it starts to impact them!

Mayor Kenney, pick up the damn trash

The Inquirer Editorial Board | Posted July 24, 2020 | 6:00 AM EDT

Philadelphia’s streets are dirty. That’s not new. For decades the city was known as Filthadelphia. After all, Philadelphia is the only major city in the United States without a comprehensive street-sweeping program. But since mid-march, when the coronavirus pandemic hit, things have been even worse: Garbage and recycling collection have been severely disrupted, leaving piles of trash on sidewalks for days — and threatening the quality of life as well as the health of city residents.

Streets Department Commissioner Carlton Williams explained in an op-ed in The Inquirer that the delay in trash pickup is due to a combination of workforce shortage because of COVID-19 illnesses and related quarantine requirements and an increase of 25% to 50% in trash tonnage compared with last year. According to the union that represents the 1,100 predominantly Black¹ municipal sanitation workers, at least 100 tested positive for coronavirus. (Since the early days of the crisis the Kenney administration has been refusing to disclose how many city workers have tested positive.)

Councilmember Brian O’Neill suggested that workers are letting trash accumulate to pressure the city into giving them hazard pay for working during the pandemic — and Mayor Jim Kenney should hire nonunion labor as part of his powers in an emergency. The union has denied this and maintains union-busting is not the solution.

There’s more at the link. But it seems that the Editorial Board members might have some garbage collection problems on their own streets. They concluded:

This garbage crisis should be another wake-up call for city leadership. It should also be a wake-up call for residents of affluent and gentrifying neighborhoods. Living with piles of uncollected trash might be new in Graduate Hospital or Society Hill, but it is an everyday reality in neighborhoods like Kensington and Hartranft — where residents deserve to see the city deliver its side of the bargain as much as anyone else.

Wait, what? The garbagemen are predominantly black, and the city has been run by Democrats for decades, including black Mayors for the 24 of the previous 32 years, including the last 16 years consecutively, prior to Mr Kenney being elected, but sanitation has been shortchanged in the predominantly black neighborhoods? How did that happen?

OK, so the Editorial Board believe that foul, fetid, fuming, foggy, filthy Philadelphia needs to get the garbage picked up. I can see that. I can also see that some cities privatized garbage collection decades ago, but the City of Brotherly Love did not . . . because the city and city government are totally beholden to the unions.

Ignoring that part for now, the sanitation workers’ union has been, according to the editorial, voicing fears about COVID-19, and demanding more personal protective equipment and, of course, hazard pay. The request for more PPE makes sense; the demand for hazard pay is just another way to extract more money. After all, if COVID-19 is a fatal disease — something it is not in 99+% of the cases — then hazard pay ought to be meaningless; do people really change their minds about risking death for maybe 10% more money?

The Inquirer also published an OpEd piece, Philly schools’ initial reopening plans spell disaster, and Le Virtù owner: Restaurants, including mine, should be shut down and given coronavirus relief, today. Apparently, the Editorial Board is more concerned with teachers possibly being exposed to COVID-19 than they are for the “1,100 predominantly Black municipal sanitation workers.” One would think that, if #BlackLivesMatter, the Editorial Board would be just as concerned about all of those black sanitation workers as they are about the mostly white teachers.² But perhaps Editor Gabriel Escobar didn’t get his garbage picked up this week?
¹ – “Black” capitalized in the middle of the sentence in the original.
² – As I noted previously, I do not go along with the Associated Press stylebook in capitalizing “black” when it refers to race or culture but not capitalizing “white” in the same circumstances.
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