The City of Nutterly Love?

Philadelphians offer some early indications on the mayor’s chances of re-election.

By Aaron Kase
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 7 | Posted Nov. 24, 2010

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The boos poured in, loud and strong, while Mayor Michael A. Nutter stood at a podium in front of a huge American flag, chanting “Yes we can! Yes we can!” He was trying to fire up the crowd at an October rally for President Obama in Germantown, but the people jeered instead, letting loose their frustrations with the mayor. Finally, Nutter gave up, waved briefly and walked away from the microphone, a grimace of frustration flashing across his face.

The rally was in stark contrast to the mayor’s appearance at the South Street Bridge re-opening a month later. “The South Street Bridge is a win for Philadelphia!” he played to the crowd, and the assembled people cheered and cheered. This time when he finished his speech, Nutter posed for pictures and marched across the bridge and down South Street with the West Powelton Steppers drill team, unable to suppress the huge grin spread across his face. The mayor was having fun.

Because the mayor is received so differently depending on where he is and what he’s doing, it’s difficult to project what will happen as he prepares to run for re-election next year. After three difficult years in office, his term to date primarily has been defined by huge deficits and massive budget cuts. While the mayor has gotten sympathy for being charged with cleaning up an economic meltdown, he has also faced criticism for cutting police, fire and library services, while not addressing entrenched, intrinsic waste and mismanagement that plagues city government. And while he has taken a lead on a number of progressive issues like sustainable government and LGBT rights, Nutter has taken heat for being out of touch with large parts of Philadelphia, particularly in black neighborhoods—former Mayor John Street went so far as to call Nutter “not a black mayor.”

What exactly do the people of Philadelphia think about Nutter? Reliable polling data is scarce. A Pew poll from February found 53 percent approval versus 32 percent disapproval, with 65 percent of white voters approving against only 43 percent of black voters. And a poll by Municpoll in August showed Nutter leading potential primary challenger Sam Katz by 38 to 34 percent, with 28 percent undecided. Neither survey tells us much: One is nearly a year old, and the other based on a hypothetical race that Katz has already announced he will not participate in.

Other potential challengers have been eyeing a primary bid against the mayor, among them former contender Tom Knox and likely future candidate Councilman Bill Green. Nutter’s detractors tend to be high-profile and outspoken, but until somebody steps up to the plate to actually challenge the mayor in the polls, their denunciations grow stale. We already know what they think about Nutter. What we want to know is what you think, not John Street but the man on the street, the average Philadelphian, the actual voters Nutter will need to woo come election season. PW fanned out into the neighborhoods to find out people’s feelings on the mayor in general, as well as on specific issues. Here’s what you had to say:

General Impressions

Ronald Story, 42, homeless peer counselor, Southwest Philly: So far, what I hear is he doing good. He doing what he has to do. I can’t really speak bad about the guy.

Faith Corman, 48, Center City, jewelry artist: He’s well-intentioned. I know he’s trying to do some things for the arts. In fact, City Hall does have an additional art forum they opened up, Room 116 in addition to the regular arts program they have. I see him around at a lot of things supporting the arts. Mayors like to get their faces out, but the types of things he comes to show where his support and interest lie. People are so impatient with such short attention spans, that I think they lose a sense of reality that things cannot be done like that … I think at some point you feel good about someone to vote for, not just because they’re the lesser of two evils but because you really support them, you have to give them a little trust that they’re making the best decisions that they can.

Vote for Nutter in 2011? I’ll want to see who he’s running against, but I suspect that I will.

Mike McFarland, 20, Temple student, Bustleton: I don’t agree with a lot of what I’ve heard about his policies, but he’s done an OK job in general … it hasn’t gotten any better, but it hasn’t got that much worse.

Vote for Nutter in 2011? Yeah, I’d vote for him again.

Stephanie Singer, 46, 8th District Democratic ward leader, Rittenhouse: I think he’s cleaned up some things and there are things that would not have come to light under a different administration, like the situation at PHA. I think he’s instituted some good government practices. The [city’s] website is a million times more useful than it was before and I think that was his leadership. I think that even though the 311 did not succeed it’s something that should succeed at some point.

Bonnie Davis, 63, retired, Center City: I think he’s great. I think he cares about reducing the deficit. I’m for him all the way. Everything he does is for Philly. And if it hurts some people, that’s a shame. You know a lot of people are gonna be hurting in the next couple years. I was in a shelter and he helped out there.

Vote for Nutter in 2011? Oh yeah.

Richard Emmons, 26, bartender, Manayunk: I know one thing about Nutter. He pissed me off, man. One year ago. Canada offered Philadelphia this machine that took care of the snow, and Nutter paid no attention. So it went to New York, eventually, and it was a hit ... and we got fucked. You remember how bad the snow last year was? I like Nutter, I think he’s a good man, but I think he made a horrible decision there.

Vote for Nutter in 2011? I will not vote for Nutter, because of the snow thing. I think he’s good, but I won’t vote for him. I don’t know if that’s fucked up.

Mickey Majzic, 20, Temple student, Fishtown: I’m not really a fan. In Fishtown he was trying to close down the library, Fishtown rec, the pool. He even made cuts in the police district. I feel like you really can’t cut cops. Same thing, they closed down one of the ladder stations right down the street from my house. I don’t follow it too much, I just know what I see in the streets around my neighborhood. There’s never really a good way to cut the budget, but he could have gone about it a different way.

Vote for Nutter in 2011? Probably not. Time for a change I guess.

Bradley Holmes, 23, engineer, Manayunk: In this economy, he’s doing the best he can, you know? People feel bad about his policies, like when he tried to close down the libraries and some of that stuff, but he’s just trying to get by. Philly’s surviving. He’s making tough decisions … someone has to make tough decisions or we’ll go bankrupt. Look at Pittsburgh. You wanna end up like that?

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COMMENTS

Comments 1 - 7 of 7
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1. Anonymous said... on Nov 24, 2010 at 11:47AM

“I wouldn't vote for that negro if he was the last person on earth because I can't stand him. Enough said!!!!!!”

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2. E Gill said... on Nov 24, 2010 at 12:14PM

“@Richard Emmons: To answer your question: Yeah, that's fucked up. Yes, he may have made a whopper of a mistake turning down that snow machine but to use that non-policy-related decision to decide whether not to vote for him is...well, "fucked up."

Not voting for Nutter is pretty much a vote for the Republican. Do you think a Republican is going to do any better? (Take a look at the Governor of New Jersey.)

Look, I hate to tell anyone not to vote. So instead, I ask that you educate yourself about actual issues before deciding to vote against a candidate because of how much it snowed last winter.”

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3. pete said... on Nov 24, 2010 at 10:44PM

“I would like to see Nutter go beyond difficult
financial decisions. I would like him to use some
strategic, fascist instruments, to stop the flow
of powdered narcotics into this city. They are
not cool and cause much suffering. I would
also like to see a majority of vacant lots turned
into vegetable farms, in general , more trees
planted, and a simple way of recycling that
appeals to lazy people. Also, criminals with
automatic weapons are not cool, and fascism
is the only answer to that problem. I am happy
to live in a quasi-police state, which I hope
causes the federal government to let Philly be
a Florentine style city-state that can make it's
own laws....Secession Now!

I think Nutter could be a benevolent dictator.”

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4. Anonymous said... on Nov 25, 2010 at 05:51AM

“Violent black crime is totally ignored by Nutter and blacks. To Nutter and his blacks, it's as if violent black crime is nonexistent, when simply watching the nightly news is enough to alert any reasonable working city taxpayer that black crime is completely out of control and that the city is under seige by these savages.”

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5. Anonymous said... on Nov 26, 2010 at 12:13PM

“It seems that a few Philly.com posters have mirgrated to Phillyweekly.com”

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6. Janice Brown said... on Dec 1, 2010 at 11:30AM

“I would like to know why is Mayor Nutter along with others are not attacking this child traffiking and corruption going on in the City Of Philadelphia. DHS and the Family courts are taking our children and giving them to strangers. The family courts are violating our constitutional rights and the law to satisfy their needs or pockets. We have provided evidence of this world wide issue and no one is acting or attacking this darkness, or should I say demonic issue. I am a victim along with my grandbabies of this horrible trend. The Mayor was sympathetic on showing up at my daughter and grandbabies funeral in June 2009 also preparing a speech at the funeral. (The feltonville four a.k.a The Third St Angels) But when I really needed him as he stated at the funeral, he has not yet responded to my plead. I would do everything in my God given power to get my grandbabies back home with or without his help. Im praying that it is with his help and he is unaware of our situation.”

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7. Anthony P. Johnson said... on Dec 8, 2010 at 10:47AM

“Whether the opposition is Rendell, Katz, Green, Street, Knox, Santa Claus, Elmo, or the Easter Bunny, Mr. Nutter should not be reelected as mayor.

Since 2008, I've written extensively about the misadventures of Mr. Nutter and how woeful he's been as mayor for one of the greatest cities in the Republic. Since his stint as mayor, all we've gotten from him is:

• Unlimited excuses

• Elimination of services

• Lack of depth in creating and implementing effective policies to stimulate economic growth

And

• Arrogance

Philadelphia and its residents deserve better than this poor leadership that Mr. Nutter has provided up to this point. Could it be that the Philadelphia Democratic Party regarding its mayors is taking nearly 30 years of support for granted?

We've had 8 years of Mr. Goode, 8 years of Mr. Rendell, 8 years of Mr. Street and quit possibly, gulp--8 years of Mr. Nutter.

Mr. Goode had his moments and was on his way to being considered one of the best mayor's the city had until well, the MOVE Massacre. Ed "America's Mayor" Rendell was responsible for the face lift to Center City that re-energized economic growth at the time but not much else, and John Street increased social services in the city that was sorely lacking, but he also had an administration and associates so corrupt that they never met a kickback they didn't like. This brings us to Mr. Nutter. His achievements have been so far and few that I would have to grade them on a curve in order for him to receive a passing grade--and on too many occasions Mr. Nutter looked lost and dazed like the proverbial deer caught in the headlights of the issues in Philadelphia.

Mr. Nutter's supporters will say he inherited a horrific economy, but in Mr. Street's defense, he managed to leave the city with a surplus when he left office. In my humble opinion, that type of rhetoric doesn't even fly with President Obama. Mr. Nutter wanted the job because he had a better mouse trap--well, you got it! Now shut-up about how bad the economy was when you became mayor and fix it. We are at 11.9 percent unemployment. If we Philadelphians tighten our belts anymore, third-world nations will begin sponsoring a Philadelphian.

Maybe what Philadelphia needs is a Republican mayor. Maybe they would be effective, and in the process, awaken the Democratic Party to the reality that their hibernation in which they've been in for nearly 30 years is over.


Anthony P. Johnson

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