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Mayor Kenney Addresses 2017 Leadership Exchange

October 13, 2017

Tom McDonald, Reporter, WHYY


Speaking before a leadership group this morning, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney launched perhaps his harshest assessment yet of President Donald Trump.


“We have a president that is unstable. We have a Congress that is unwilling to step up and stand up to the instability,” Kenney said. “At some point in time, something is going to happen. Hopefully it will be for the best in the end.”


Kenney spoke at the Greater Philadelphia Leadership Exchange, an event sponsored by the Economy League at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Old City.


Under this administration, Kenney said, cities will have to stand up for themselves.


“When we have a president that talks about turning back the rights of the free press and removing rights of television stations to broadcast news, we are just hurtling … into an area of unprecedented oppression,” he said.


The mayor called Trump a “despot,” saying he and said he hopes Congress has the courage to stand up to him.

Kenney also addressed legal challenges to the city’s new tax on sweetened beverages — and his intention to keep defending it.  This week, Cook County, Illinois, home to Chicago moved to rescind a similar tax.


Kenney said a key element of the city’s law is using revenue generated by the tax to pay for pre-K education.

“Implementing the Philadelphia beverage tax was a key first step to tackling these challenges, and, unlike Cook County, we are not repealing it,” he said.


The “Can the Tax” effort in Chicago is virtually a carbon copy of the “Ax the Bev Tax” campaign in Philadelphia.  Both are organized by the American Beverage Association in collaboration with local soda distributors.


Kenney would not say if his planned education fix would require a major tax increase. Philadelphia has raised property taxes multiple times in recent years, but not last year.


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