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I Can't Believe It's Not Nutter

Regarding Liz Spikol's recent cover story about Mayor Michael Nutter:

In a time of economic downturn it is especially crucial that people across the city have access to libraries. They are a lifeline for adults seeking employment and self-improvement. Public libraries are the core of a democracy and an essential city service, not a luxury.

If cuts must be made (and Nutter's lack of transparency leaves me unconvinced; I've heard many creative budget solutions at the town hall meetings I attended, all of which he brushed away), then they should be made equitably across the system, and the cuts should be viewed as temporary measures, not permanent closures or transformations of the library system into corporate-sponsored "knowledge centers."

I don't envy Nutter's job right now, but I can't find it in my heart to feel sorry for a man so deeply in bed with corporate interests, a man who, once elected, has been deaf to the needs of the people who got him there. Truth is, he doesn't care about the poor, he doesn't care about our neighborhoods and he doesn't care about our futures.

We have a right to be angry and we have a right to demand that our city provide us with essential services. We've proven this in court already, and we'll keep fighting for it. Nothing personal, Nutter, but this is our city and our lives.

via philadelphiaweekly.com

Hopefully Liz Spikol's article is a sign that the tides are finally turning. Blaming our mayor for library closings instead of attempting to wrestle with the incredibly complicated realities we as a city are faced with is not only self-defeating, it's a symptom of the hyper-individualism we've fallen victim to. Mayor Nutter, despite what we wished to see in him, was never supposed to be our savior. Today he is not a villain. No man runs a city alone, and it's going to take all of us to redirect Philadelphia's course.

Library closings, as tragic as they seem, can also be our opportunity to begin reclaiming this city. Although I will concede that the tragic flaw in the budget cuts was the lack of public input, I am not convinced that we can place the blame squarely on City Hall. The lines of communication between government and the people are broken at every level and will not be repaired overnight, and as long as we continue to treat our politicians as failed parents, they never will be.

The day we choose to recognize our own social strength, which Philadelphia has in spades compared to many other American cities, and regard our government as a partner--no matter how painful the relationship--is the day we will finally begin to see change.

I want to commend Spikol for her bravery. Her article didn't resort to power struggles and competing interests as means of describing political situations, but instead provided us with a context. That's what free press is supposed to do. Job well done.

Editor, GRID Magazine Center City

Rendell's budgeting assumes that the state will get at least $450 million a year extra from the federal government. Nutter assumes the city will not get a penny from the federal government.

Rendell is actively searching for the least painful ways to raise new revenue. Nutter is not searching for any way to raise new revenue.

Rendell fully discloses the econometric studies firm that gives him his projections. Nutter does not.

Rendell has found countless little ways to save a little money here, a little money there, such as extending the longevity of state automobiles, banning reimbursement for interstate travel by state employees on official business, making most copies of the Pennsylvania Manual paperback copies, etc. Nutter has not disclosed any similar initiatives to save money .

Nutter's mayoral campaign aroused expectations of greatness. That is clearly out of his reach. It is time for him to set a new goal of adequacy in terms of meeting the day-to-day expectations of Philadelphians before that goal, too, becomes out of reach.

via philadelphiaweekly.com

Thank you for reminding us that the mayor's choice to close the library branches was not made out of malice or contempt, but necessity. Of course it's a tragedy that so many people will lose access to these resources, but there are alternatives for literacy promotion and throngs of volunteers desperately trying to combat these closures (and the plethora of other ills plaguing our city).

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Comments 1 - 3 of 3
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1. Decima Dewey said... on Jan 21, 2009 at 11:02AM

“Lauren Leonard: You don't get it. The 11 branches slated to be closed wouldn't just be closed temporarily. They'd be closed permanently”

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2. Dennis Walter Smith Sr said... on Jan 22, 2009 at 09:26AM

“BARACK - THE PENTACLE OF HUMANITY From the trials of history and the embryo of social allegiance, we’ve finally matured to a defining cohesive social partnership in this country. These times clearly exercise the spiritual muscles that sustain us and the mutual inner desire to identify what is good. Together we have set aside the segregating serums which have plagued our growth and have tainted the fibers of love so evident in our blueprints of life. What a magical and inspiring time to see millions across this country share in the same passion for change and revival for the unsung anthem of life – “The Family”. In the midst of hierarchy, Mr. Obama’s humbleness has captured the essence of a real tangible social bond that so many before him have chased. Mr. Obama is our modern day human template, build from the architectural designed of a universal love. Dawned from care and compassion, Mr. Obama is not inhibited by the shackles and clouds of politics, but freed through the brilliance of an amazing light of love we call democracy On this day – I am proud to be an American, a father and a husband. I am privileged to be a part of the greatest change and movement this country will ever endure. On this day, the United States of America has claimed victory; not over the stronghold of the oppressors and the disarming of our enemies, but a victory over the captive mental ropes that have choked our society from breathing new air and new opportunity. Our country now breathes the fundamental chemical and spiritual element needed..... Barack – The Pentacle of Humanity. BY: DENNIS WALTER-SMITH SR. ”

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3. Emily said... on Jan 22, 2009 at 11:28AM

“Lauren Leonard, Where exactly are these "alternatives for literacy promotion"? These neighborhoods don't have school libraries. Research shows that K-6grade children need 30 minutes of reading a day in order to read on grade level. If they don't have public libraries or school libraries where will they get books? Where exactly do you propose that a 6 year old first grader find the books he/she needs in order to learn to read when they need a book to read for 30 minutes every night? It's unrealistic to think that most parents can afford the amount of money needed to accomplish this which is one reason why public and school libraries were established in the first place in order to share resources. You don't get it. There are no alternatives, and public libraries also are the only places where adults can get help accessing public services and computers that they need to locate information regarding the types community services that you mention. Also, I echo Decima Dewey above in saying that these branches will be closed permanently not temporarily. Once they are closed they will be gone.”


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