(Excerpted form today's Philadelphia Inquirer)
Dear Mayor Nutter: Bring The Trial Here
by Steve Young
"We need to manage expectations about what we can do with the limited resources that we have..."Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter speaking about the city's fiscal crisis
Well, Mayor, the answer to you and the city's financial problems just may be sitting hooded and in chains right in front of you.
Taken aback by the intense criticism from political opponents and local officials of President Obama's decision to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed in a civilian courtroom in New York, the City of Brotherly Love just may be the perfect location to transfer the trial of one of the masterminds behind the 9/11 attacks.
Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, take note. Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell may be historical, but they're old news. A terrorist trial, that's history in the making and would deliver the biggest financial payoff since William Penn made the deal with the Lenape tribe.
All Mayor Nutter has to do is invite the trial to the Philadelphia Convention Center. Right now they hold court for, yawn, The Home Show, The Auto Show and The Flower Show. The Khalid Mohammed Show would top them all for pure family entertainment and bang for the buck. With the probable length of the trial we'd have the place booked for years.
But the benefits don't stop at the Convention Center. Filmmakers would be knocking down Philadelphia Film Department's Sharon Pinkenson's door for permits to shoot reams of documentary footage. Sure, Parking Wars can't be beat for pure meter maid titillation but with terrorists in the City of Brotherly, the skies the limit. Think Jersey Shore meets Gitmo. Rocky vs Osama. Forget M. Night Shyamalan. How long do you think Spielberg and Tom Hanks would show up to produce the HBO series? What better place for Oliver Stone to promulgate historical inaccuracies than in historical Philadelphia as he develops his fifth plane conspiracy theory.
Sure, there's the naysayers.
A terrorist trial would hold a lethal threat for Philadelphians that we couldn't deal with. Tell that to Schuylkill Expressway drivers. We've had grisly courtroom dramas here before - Mumia Abu-Jamal, Ira Einhorn, Larry Mendte - and we've gotten through them without any serious damage. The tourism dollars alone would pay for any additional city costs and potential bomb repairs. With the federal financial support, city payroll taxes for additional police and other first responders alone would resolve the city budget crisis. The Reading Terminal Market wouldn't have to close at six. Can you say "Stephen Starr hasn't opened a new restaurant for almost a week"? It's about time for at least three more fabulous themed Starr bistros (re: Terror on Market, Mohammedkhan, Breakfast, Lunch & Execution)
We'd have parking ticket revenue up the ying yang. How many cable news networks would need to build permanent studios here?. We'd house Fox News next to MSNBC. Time to think big. Forget Eskin vs Missanelli. Imagine O'Reilly vs Olbermann every night. Okay, maybe not..
Think the Fumo trial was a godsend to Inquirer content? Advertisers would be climbing over one another to take advantage of the killer impact on circulation. Anyone with half a mind knows, terrorism trials sell cars.
To give local security a break, Mohammed wouldn't have to be housed here on weekends. That would be left to Levittown which has plenty of room at the abandoned Levitz Furniture 53,000 square foot showroom just off Rte 95, a quick hop down to the Convention Center for the trial. A Middletown Township Supervisor who asked to remain anonymous said that Levittown would be "honored and proud" to lodge Mohammed as a humanitarian gesture and a nice shot in the arm for tourism.
"Other than Sesame Place there's not much to do here," said the unnamed chairman. "Right now, the warehouse between The Dump and Dollar City is an eyesore. With the money we'd get we could throw on a fresh coat of paint on the warehouse and the rest would go a long way in paying for that fire truck we've been looking at."
Area residents are taking to the idea.
"Hey, since they closed down the ice cream parlor at Greenwood Dairies we've all been looking for something to do," said one longtime resident,. "And if that sumavabitch thinks of trying to escape, I've got a new semi-automatic I've just been itching to try out."
So, Mayor Nutter, before you cut school budgets, pensions or the next Mummers Parade, remember what could be Philly's newest slogan...
"Have your next trial here. With love, Philadelphia XO.
Steve Young is author of "Great Failures of the Extremely Successful...Mistakes, Adversity, Failure and other Steppingstones to Success." (www.greatfailure.com) and speaks on dynamic answers to all crisises.. Oh, and he blogs at steveyoungonpolitics.com when he feels like it.