Philadelphians offer some early indications on the mayor’s chances of re-election.
Larry Cavalieri, 29, union worker, South Philly: It’s not good right now. It’s really hard. I know a lot of people unemployed, losing houses, losing everything. People I worked with, friends, run out of unemployment, stuck doing nothing. I know of a lot of tax cuts or something to bring more businesses into the city, I don’t even know if he’s doing that or not.
This summer, the mayor announced a plan to close three fire stations on a rolling basis, as a budget-saving measure, so no one neighborhood would bear the brunt of a permanent closure. The move was made to help save $3.8 million from the Fire Department budget, but firefighters claim the closures make residents more vulnerable to delayed response. Angry neighbors in West Philly spoke out against the brownouts after a 12-year-old child died in a house fire in August. Firefighters say they could have responded quicker if not for a brownout at a nearby station, although the city maintains that the response time was adequate.
Rubin: I know they were doing rolling closing of fire departments. I found it kind of scary. I support unions protecting workers’ rights but I think they’ve gone too far in Philadelphia. What are they protecting? They make more money than most people in the city here and I think that it’s very difficult to fight that … I think he’s tried his best. I think it’s a difficult thing. You get criticized no matter what you do … I think he’s an intelligent man and doing the best he can.
Adrian, 20s, Northern Liberties: It’s a floating thing? I don’t think it’s a real bad idea, but it could happen on any given Sunday. If there’s a fire in one particular area, it’ll look like a bad idea. But in the aggregate, in the grand scheme of things, it’s a way to save some money. As long as no one’s getting hurt.
Willa Jaffe, 24, actress, Society Hill: Seems illogical to put citizens in danger to save money. There are less important governmental professions whose hours can be cut and affect less people.
Jeremy Tamburello, 30, owner of Birch Tree Catering, East Passyunk: If done intelligently, by doing it by mile radius, it can be a good thing. If done wrong it could cost many lives.
James McHugh, 64, veteran, Fishtown: Very bad idea. I had a house burn down one time, so I’ve got a personal history. I’m a Vietnam vet so I’ve seen people burn up and all that stuff, and that’s bad. So, it could happen to any of us. Firemen are vital.
Mayor's Commission on Literacy
In September, Nutter re-established the Mayor’s Commission on literacy, appointing a new set of commissioners with a fresh mission to combat illiteracy in Philadelphia, where about 550,000 people have insufficient reading skills to perform basic workplace functions like filling out forms. But to some, the move is overshadowed by the the fact that the mayor has repeatedly placed public library hours on the chopping block while looking for budget savings over the past two years.
Carolyn Armour, 55, on disability, South Philly: That’s good. But libraries have to be open to do that. If it’s just something that’s hush-hush, what good is it? It sounds like something that’s needed, but if the populace don’t know about it, what good is it?
Vote for Nutter in 2011? I’m voting against him, whoever is running against him I’m voting for.
Dave Manley, 44, Musician, East Falls: Those are the kind of things that most people would be like, ‘Oh.’ ’Cause it’s not sensationalized, it’s not a big issue. If he’s doing that, if he’s quietly getting it done, they need to do a better job of letting people know. Especially something like that, it’s a big deal. Especially with the dropout rate.
Lamont Steptoe, 61, poet, University City: It’s appalling how many people don’t read. And are behind the 8-balls of what they should know at their age level. I think it’s only right to place a greater emphasis on reading, especially our youth. Nutter’s One Book One Philadelphia was a success but needed more diversity than fiction and non-fiction. As a teacher I’ve had youths tell me that writing poetry is empowering; that through the use of rhyme, rhythm and repetition they had found a way to express themselves.
Nutter claims a reduction in crime in the city between 2007 and 2009, naming a 23 percent reduction in homicides, 10.8 percent reduction in violent crime, and 9.7 percent reduction in property crime. However, this year the force has reorganized its deployment schedules in an effort to remain effective despite $13.7 million in budget cuts.
Pompeii: He’s not fucking doing anything for ’em [cops]. It’s not that he’s anti-cop, he’s just not finding the money to get more cops on the force, put cops in the right place, it’s like he’s ignoring them.
Adrian: Crime has taken a serious decline and that’s something that Mayor Nutter definitely needs to be commended for. He’s done a good job on that. I don’t think he’s been commended enough for it. I think it’s for the same reason why we don’t really praise our home teams, and then we’re all over them when they’re in the hole. It’s just the way people are in the city, I guess. It’s a Philly thing.
Correa: Our communities are going down the drain. How about putting an officer on every corner when the kids get out of school? How about having officers checking small business areas like Street used to do?
As we begin to poke our heads out of two and a half years of recessionary rubble, the city’s outlook is starting to look brighter. Threats still remain, but Nutter, odds-on favorite to win election to a second term this year, implores you to have faith.
Savage Love: Sondheim is solace