This Bar-Owning Sea Isle City Mayor Is Lord of the Hypocrites – Philadelphia magazine

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“It was terrifying,” says one woman of what she saw when she walked into the mayor’s bar.
Sea Isle City Mayor Leonard “Len” Desiderio (photo via Cape May County) and a scene from his Jersey Shore bar, where the attitude is, “COVID? What COVID?” (Image via CBS 3; video embedded below)
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I’ve been trying to get down to Sea Isle City for several weeks now. Why? No, not because I actually like Sea Isle. I’ve been there a few times. It’s totally not my scene. I’ve been wanting to get to Sea Isle because of what I’ve been hearing about the Sea Isle bar that’s owned by the town’s mayor.
“It was terrifying,” a Sea Isle regular told me of the scene inside Kix, which is owned Leonard “Len” Desiderio, who has reigned supreme over Sea Isle City since way back in 1993. (Hasn’t this place ever heard of term limits?) “My sister and I walked in to get some frozen drinks. There were at least 75 crowding around, unmasked. We left, totally freaked out.”
Mayor Desiderio isn’t some silent partner at Kix. He’s a fixture there. The bar is a family operation for him. He’s held campaign rally events at the bar. And here he is on an “episode” of something called Sea Isle City Life giving viewers a tour inside:

Now on paper, Mayor Desiderio is a big supporter of COVID guidelines and restrictions. Each week he sends out an email to residents, imploring them to wear masks and remain socially distanced. But at his bar, all of those guidelines and restrictions would seem to be out the window.
I never did make it down to Sea Isle City to check it out for myself. But fortunately, CBS 3 reporter Matt Petrillo did. And he captured some video, which was released on Wednesday:

“I think they’re doing the best they can, and I think people want to get out and there are only so many things they can do,” Mayor Desiderio told CBS 3. (The mayor didn’t return my call seeking comment.) “And this weekend inside dining begins and we’ll see how that goes. But we have followed the rules to the best we could follow them. And I think if I wasn’t the mayor you wouldn’t be here.”
Wait, so the mayor is saying that we’re holding him to a higher standard because he’s, you know, an elected official and all? Weird.
Anyway, if Jim Kenney is a “hypocrite” for spending a couple of hours with his girlfriend inside a restaurant in Chesapeake Bay, then Mayor Desiderio is, to invoke that memorable scene from Seinfeld, Lord of the Hypocrites.
The writing was on the wall for Temple University. The school tried to offer in-person learning this semester. But then there were COVID cases on campus. Then there were more COVID cases on campus. Philadelphia health commissioner Tom Farley declared the situation an all-out “outbreak.” And now? Well, now Temple has been forced to suspend in-person classes for the fall semester.
Here is the full announcement that Temple prez Richard Englert sent out to students:
Like so many of our colleagues around the country, we believed an in-person educational experience could be part of students’ lives this fall. Our students told us loud and clear that they wanted to come back to campus, to be together again.
In the last few weeks, as we welcomed back students for the fall semester, we have engaged in extensive testing and tracked the results. Fortunately, those who have tested positive for COVID-19 have shown either no or mild to moderate flu-like symptoms. Each step of the way, our decisions have been data driven. Now, in light of the recent increase in positive test results among our students, and after consultation with our own healthcare professionals and leaders at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, we have concluded that the data indicate it is time to pivot to primarily online education, as we said we would be prepared to do.
That is why we are announcing that the current suspension of all but essential in-person teaching on Temple University’s domestic campuses will continue for the remainder of the fall semester. Essentials-only courses are those for which educational objectives cannot be achieved without all or some in-person instruction. We estimate that 95% of courses will be online for the remainder of the semester. Employees currently working on campus should continue to do so until notified otherwise by your supervisor. We will continue to work together as a community to ensure that students receive the quality education they expect from Temple and continue progress toward their degree.
We recognize there will be students in university housing who may want to return home, and for those who choose to leave by Sunday, Sept. 13, we will provide a full refund of housing and meal plan charges for the fall semester. Others may want or need to remain on campus to access available resources or because individual or family circumstances (such as a family member with an underlying health condition) make it more prudent to stay. Those students are welcome to remain, and we will make available the academic and other support services and activities that you need to succeed, including Temple’s high-quality health services.
For those students already taking a fully online course load, this will not be a major change. On the other hand, we know this is disappointing for the many students and their families who had hoped for an on-campus experience. Please know that if the data supported a decision to safely continue the fall semester experience on campus, we would have made every effort to do so. Unfortunately, the risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic are simply too great for our students, faculty, staff and neighboring community.
We know you will have additional questions, and we will be in touch in the next few days with more information.
We want to thank our amazing students for how well you have adapted to changing circumstances during the pandemic. The two of us have walked our campus and spoken to so many of you, as you followed our four public health pillars. In the face of these challenges, you continue to embody Temple’s motto: Perseverance Conquers. Day after day, you have inspired us.
Finally, we want to thank every member of Temple’s faculty and staff for all you’ve done so far. We know this has not been easy. The university’s faculty and staff have worked so hard because we all believe creating the best possible experience for our students is worth the effort.
Be safe, and know that wherever you are learning this fall, we remain together as one Temple community.
Englert previously blamed Temple’s COVID problem on “small social gatherings happening off campus.”
If you’ve been tuning in to watch the Phillies play baseball at Citizens Bank Park, no doubt you’ve seen those fan cutouts that are, I guess, supposed to make us feel like this sports-without-spectators stuff isn’t totally ridiculous and abnormal.
Now the Eagles are selling fan cutouts for their games. Yes, for $100, your face can appear on a cutout in the otherwise empty stands during Eagles games at the Linc. The fan cutouts went on sale on Thursday morning. All proceeds benefit the Eagles Autism Foundation.
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