Harrisburg Chamber apologizes for parody skit

Connie Francis famously crooned, “Who's sorry now?”

The answer to that lyrical question would be David Black, president and CEO of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and the Capital Region Economic Development Corporation (CREDEC) after a parody song meant to entertain has insulted city officials.

Black is apologizing for a video of the song, shown at the Chamber's awards night dinner Wednesday night, that mocked Mayor Linda Thompson's pronunciation of the word 'city' and City Council's inability to solve its massive debt crisis.

The parody went semi-viral, is on YouTube, and drew laughs from the dinner crowd. By Thursday, word was out and not everyone was smiling. Especially irritated is councilwoman Sandra Reid.

“I was appalled by what I saw of the video, by what I heard of the video,” Reid said.

Black, who has a reputation of being conciliatory and inoffensive, has been reeling from the response.

“I had to get some fluid drained from my knee, so I got stuck with a needle about that long (8 inches). That was the best part of my day yesterday,” Black said with a bit of a chuckle.

Black admits being a co-writer of the parody and he played Willie Nelson in the spoof of the song “We are the World.” The parody suggested that city officials are doing nothing to deal with their debt crisis and want surrounding communities and businesses to throw cash at them.

Black issued a written apology, apologized on camera, and intends to meet personally and apologize to anyone offended. He insists no disrespect was intended.

“We learn from our mistakes and hopefully people will be willing to forgive us for our mistakes,” he said. “We're gonna learn from it. We still want to have fun, but just do it a little different way in the future.”

Some suggest the parody was racist, but Amma Johnson disagrees.

“I was Tina Turner and it was just satire and it was a good laugh,” said Johnson, an African-American woman, Chamber vice president, and co-writer of the parody.

“I understand how people could've been offended, but it was never intentionally meant to be derogatory to anyone,” Johnson said. “It was just a good laugh. That's all it was.”

But not everyone got a good laugh. Linda Thompson, the butt of the joke, wasn't smiling Friday when she responded for the first time to the video. She took a shot at Black.

“He chose to poke at whatever mispronunciation he may think that I am committing to the word 'city'. I will continue to say the word city, and I just found it was in bad taste and it was poor judgement,” Thompson said.

Thompson said she's had run-ins with Black in the past.

“This is not the first time that Dave has used his pulpit to make fun of me,” she said. “Right before the election, when I was running for mayor, Dave Black was very adamant about not supporting me to become the mayor. I've forgiven Dave over that and I will continue to forgive Dave.”

Thompson says she wants to move on.

Reid wants Black to move on.

“He needs to step down,” Reid said. “If that's the best that he has, then I'm sorry your best is not good enough for me.”

Black has no plans to step down, but seems genuinely sorry.

“Our sincere apologies to anybody that we may have offended,” he said. “That clearly wasn't the intent.”

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