PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell said that both Mayor Michael Nutter’s office and the Secret Service deserve the criticism they are receiving for how the crowds were handled during the Papal visit to the World Meeting of Families.
Rendell, talking with Rich Zeoli on Talk Radio 1210 WPHT, noted that many things involving the Pope went very well, but called out the Mayor for blaming the media for the panic and apprehension leading up to Pope Francis’ arrival.
“They did several things very, very well. Things ran smoothly. The itinerary for the Pope was great. The concert was wonderful. All of the things that the city had to construct were constructed beautifully. So they did things very, very well on the one hand. On the other hand, we’re starting to get tremendous blow back, and not just from reporters, I think the Mayor was understandably short tempered, but I think it’s not just from reporters. The reporters just basically reported what the Secret Service and the Mayor and the Police Commissioner said. I don’t think they can be blamed in creating fear in people’s minds.”
He thinks responsibility lies with Mayor’s office for the shortcomings and problems that occurred while the events from Philadelphia were being broadcast around the world.
“They kept the crowds down and the economic impact down. They said there was going to be a $471 million economic impact for the city. I don’t think that that came close. We didn’t have a million or a million and a half visitors. It was substantially less. I think we have to learn lessons about what is necessary and what is not necessary. There were things that were totally unnecessary. For example, the heart rendering stories that are coming out about people who came from Latin America, or Europe, or even Africa who had tickets and couldn’t in the security in time to see the Pope. By the time they got through security, the Mass was over.”
Rendell pointed out that these criticisms should be taken seriously and that the Democratic National Committee will learn from this event as they plan next summer’s nominating convention in Philadelphia.
“These aren’t just the typical angry Philadelphians or people that just hate everything. These are the heads of Catholic advocacy groups from all over the world…It’s pretty stunning. I wasn’t aware of any of that was happening because you didn’t get that from the television coverage. I knew that the restaurants were fairly empty and I knew the hotels weren’t totally booked, but I wasn’t aware of what was happening on the ground and the fact that many people thought it was like a police state.”