‘If you decide to hit one person and you don’t win, then you are just making the wrong decision’:

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney apologized on Tuesday for the “miscommunication” surrounding his Justice for All plan.

Responding to questions from a dozen delegates from the city’s Democratic Party chapter at his Pennsylvania attorney general primary debate, Mr. Kenney said that he plans to appeal the dismissal of his legal challenge to Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who at the end of February was given the go-ahead to intervene in his city’s voter-approved gun control initiative in light of potential challenges.

Mr. Kenney told The Times that his initial decision to go to court was made “out of good faith,” in order to protect the city’s rights.

“It just had a lot of misunderstanding from a lot of places — the Legal Department, the mayor’s office and myself,” he said. “I know that many of you are angry with me. I will take responsibility for that — I am an imperfect human being and I made some mistakes.”

This admission is the most serious charge Mr. Kenney has leveled at himself as he battles Kevin Martin in the Democratic primary for the State’s top law enforcement job. It came after a heated exchange with Mr. Martin, whose criticism of Mr. Kenney’s work took him a sharp turn towards criticism of his City Hall and unwillingness to take any responsibility for miscommunication.

“I have been really disappointed in the mayor of Philadelphia because he hasn’t, at every turn, said one thing and then after he does exactly that, he says the opposite of what he promised,” Mr. Martin said. “At every turn, he has said that he is in this to win it. He has said that, ‘Give me the records’ and then he’s been lax. You know what is very surprising to me is that the mayor does not — a mayor is very — is very quick to criticize the Attorney General in his press release. I think that is very important for the next attorney general of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania to maintain the confidence of the governor and citizens of Pennsylvania.”


Mr. Martin, a former City Councilman, criticized Mr. Kenney’s lack of “decisiveness” as a mayor, citing the recent decision to not uphold his gun control initiative, an “organizational decision.”

“It seems to me a little bit of a cockamamie bureaucratic decision,” Mr. Martin said. “I think it is time for the people of Philadelphia to call it what it is — a roadblock in the way of progressive change and a signal that not only are they not as progressive as we expect, but they are working against the people of Philadelphia who have made that decision through a ballot initiative.”

Mr. Kenney explained his difficulty with legal proceeding during a hard-fought City Council race in 2015, admitting that his plan was thrown off when his legal team fell back on ambiguous language contained in the Gun Control Act of 2008, the main defendant in Mr. Kenney’s fight.

“This happened in a case two years ago where a petition was dropped a little bit short in terms of the authority that we had,” he said. “It certainly seems to me that gun control legislation, any kind of gun control legislation, has to go through the process in line with the law, which isn’t something that was covered in the ruling.”

Mr. Kenney is also facing staunch criticism in his run for governor, in part because of a blistering Times editorial that was headlined, “Why does this candidate favor a blanket ban on more than a dozen types of semi-automatic guns?”

“I was called a cop-hater, which I am not,” Mr. Kenney said on Tuesday. “What I am advocating for, and I think you would agree, is no matter what position you take, you have to have a plan to win. If you decide to hit one person and you don’t win, then you are just making the wrong decision. That is just as true for politics as it is for the law.”

Read the full story at The Times.


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