And then there were 16 people serving on Philadelphia City Council.
The meeting itself — with no public commenters and a scant handful of votes on bills and resolutions — was a Thursday morning afterthought, as was the question of whether a special election would be called to fill Kenney’s seat before the May 19 primaries.
Instead, it was all about saying goodbye at a Bon Voyage gathering that featured speeches, flowers, photos (of both the selfie and posed varieties), special guests (including former non-bestie Johnny Doc and former councilmen Jimmy Tayoun and Frank DiCicco) and more.
Every last councilperson took a turn lauding Kenney before Council President Darrell Clarke ceded his throne from which the man of the hour gave a speech of his own.
Among the highlights that NewsWorks intern Cady Zuvich heard from Kenney’s peers:
“When you see Jimmy’s face getting real, real red, you know that, sooner or later, his head is going to pop off. In the end, he was able to work through things and a lot of the time, you can’t say that about political people.” —Councilman Mark Squilla (D-1st District, which means Kenney was a peer and constituent)
“I might not have said it four years ago [and] I might not said it eight years ago, but he’s ready. I know we’ll all miss him, but we all know he’s hopefully going to a better place: Downstairs.” —Councilman Brian O’Neill (R-10th)
“When people vote for you — when they elect you — they want you to be consequential. They don’t want you to come down and collect a salary. They want you in the game and I must say, Kenney has been in the game for some time.” — Clarke (D-5th)
“Most importantly, you taught me who not to get into a disagreement with in this body.” —Councilman Bobby Henon (D- 6th)
“He’s always incredibly eloquent in reminding people that they got here on some sort of boat.” —Councilwoman Maria D. Quiñones-Sánchez (D-7th)
When they were all done saying their respective pieces, Kenney took the mic and noted that “It’s really nice to be able to attend your funeral while you’re still alive.”
He then thanked former peers who helped in his formative council years and current (until meeting’s end) peers who worked with him on an array of initiatives.
He offered up vocal imitations of former Mayor John Street (not so good) and late City Councilwoman Joan Krajewski (a solid effort) and lauded current Mayor Michael Nutter for keeping the good ship Philadelphia afloat when faced with perilous financial seas.
After he told council members that “I just love you, and I’ll miss you,” he yanked himself off the stage, apparently fearing that he wouldn’t be able to hold back tears much longer.
Now that he’s clear of his Council duties, Kenney is expected to formally announce his mayoral campaign some time next week. Specifics will likely be released Monday, and it’s not expected to coincide with a previously scheduled Thursday night (council campaign) fundraiser.