Chick-fil-A Controversey Ruffling Some Political Feathers

  • SumoMe

Last week, I wrote a column for The Philadelphia Daily News about my view of the Chick-fil-A controversy.

I have no problem with people objecting to Chick-fil-A’s CEO Dan Cathy expressing his personal opinions on gay marriage.

I have no problem with people voting with their wallet and choosing to take their business elsewhere.

I have no problem with people organizing boycotts of the restaurant.

That is what a free society is all about. You are free to voice your personal opinion and express your religious beliefs. You are not immune, however, from public opinion. Your reputation and business could suffer from a backlash. To me, that’s the “checks and balances” of free speech.

What I do have a big problem with is when elected officials jump in with their rhetoric and thinly-veiled threats. Across the country, high-ranking elected officials started to express in harsh and hostile tones that Chick-fil-A was not welcome in their city.

Chick-fil-A, to the best of my knowledge, has broken now laws. It is in compliance with all local and federal laws and regulations. Yet, compliance is forced to take a back seat to publicity and political gain.

In my column and on my radio show, I was critical of my own local City Councilman in Philadelphia, Jim Kenney, for jumping into the fray and proclaiming Chick-fil-A Public Enemy #1. He issued a very harsh letter to Cathy and promised to introduce a resolution when City Council convenes in September to condemn the chain.

Councilman Jim Kenney

I wondered on the air why Councilman Kenney finds it necessary to threaten a business, which creates jobs and generates tax revenues, solely on the basis that he disagrees with the personal opinion of the business owner. I rarely see such vocal theatrics from him on nuisance bars, neighborhood crime, education or dozens more quality of life issues.

After the column was published, I received a couple of e-mails attacking me for daring to criticize Councilman Kenney. The Daily News published several more.

Each of these e-mails followed a common theme: how could I be critical of Councilman Kenney and claim he was a do-nothing politician when he has done so many wonderful things for his constituents?

After that, they would list things that Kenney and his Council office had done.

Which raises the topic of this blog post…

Isn’t serving the public what our public servants (and their staffs) are paid to do?

An elected official’s job description is pretty simple to me. Once elected, you are paid (pretty well, if I might add) to serve your constituents.

You do that by making, maintaining and enforcing laws. You encourage businesses to come to the city because they bring jobs to citizens and tax dollars to support needed city services.

You are also a steward of the taxpayer’s money. You spend it responsibly.

Of course, I might have hit a nerve when I called him “Councilman Chatterblast,” a nod to the fact that the media exposed he paid a social media firm called Chatterblast $29,000 of taxpayer money to manage his Twitter account. I am not making this up.

You might be interested to know that right after my column was published and I discussed it on the air, I was dropped as one of the Councilman’s Twitter followers. I wonder how much taxpayer money was paid to Chatterblast to do that.

Councilman Chatterblast and his supporters have taken an unusual method to block my requests to discuss why he felt it necessary to condemn Chick-fil-A. Instead of answering that, all I have heard is the following:

  • The many constituent requests he has responded to, from getting potholes filled to supporting local youth sport programs
  • He did not participate in some of Philadelphia’s controversial and lucrative pension shenanigans, like the DROP program

I do not believe that we should have low standards for our lawmakers and elected officials. When they say something outrageous or beyond the bounds of their elected office, we have a right and a responsibility to question and challenge them.

In response to this, all I have heard is that the Councilman responds to a wide range of requests from the citizens he was elected to represent.

Isn’t that the same as rewarding kids for simply showing up for school and disregarding the most important thing- their actual grades?

8 Responses to Chick-fil-A Controversey Ruffling Some Political Feathers

  1. Guido Riviezzo August 13, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

    Chick -fil-A should open a stealth chicken place called First Amendment Chicken served with ALL AMERICAN VALUES and Let Kenny whose nose looks like half a chicken itself would be better off out of other business business.

  2. John Ominski August 13, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    What really annoys me is that every Chic-Fil-A is an individually owned franchise, probably owned by a citizen and taxpayer in Philadelpha or surrounding vicinity.
    That owner has taken great risks in purchasing that franchise, not to mention the capital invested. Further, that CFA provides jobs to local residents.
    Cathy has nothing to do with the ownership of the CFAs in our area, and now a local politician wants to adversely effect these hard working entrepreneurs that provide numerous benefits to our area.

  3. Karen Lutey August 13, 2012 at 8:59 pm #

    No. You were not wrong to ruffle political feathers. In fact, I am glad you did. Who do these
    people think they are? Big man, Kenny, telling Mr. Cathy to shove it along with the usual
    threats. Unfortunately, I do believe we have become like the people in the Kevin Bacon
    movie. How many times is this guy going to try to close businesses down? Chatterblast is
    a perfect nickname. Of course they are not going to address the issue.

  4. Dom August 13, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

    Every citizen, even elected officials, have the right to express their opinions. What I am uncomfortable with is when politicians make subtle and not-so-subtle insinuations that they will throw their political weight around. Are politicians prepared to give every business a litmus test to make sure the owner’s personal viewpoints are in agreement with theirs? It is a slippery, slippery slope.

  5. Bill August 14, 2012 at 12:15 am #

    Every citizen, even elected officials, have the right to express their opinions

    With the libs you only have the right to agree with them

  6. Lee August 14, 2012 at 7:26 pm #


  7. Michael Short August 14, 2012 at 10:48 pm #

    If Mr. Kenny visited Chick-fill-A on appreciation day he would have seen thousands of people supporting free speech and not gay bashing. Wake up Mr. Kenny.

  8. CHARLIE (Northeast) August 25, 2012 at 2:31 am #

    Ruffling Feathers is a great hobby and pasttime. The people who are most annoyed by this,
    are the ones like KENNEY who think they can do no wrong. I, for one, enjoy ruffling feathers.
    However, if it were up to me, Kenney’s feathers wouldn’t be ruffled, they’d be PLUCKED.

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