A Conversation on Michael Nutter

This week's City Paper cover story is a profile of Michael Nutter. The article is reasonably fair, and semi-interesting. I excerpt sections of it in the extended entry (just click "read more"). But, aside from the article itself, I think this is a good chance to talk about Mike Nutter generally, and his likely candidacy for Mayor.

So, how about it? Why do you feel like Nutter will be a good mayor? Why does he make you uncomfortable? Let me know. And click read more to see some interesting parts of the City Paper story itself.

It seems to me, that aside from his own little machine in East Falls, etc, that a lot of Mike Nutter's support comes from what I would call "new progressives" in Philadelphia. That could mean bloggers who liked the anti-smoking thing, or just a new-ish resident of Philadelphia, who is taken with his anti-pay-to-play stance, and the fact that he got a (weakened) bill passed in City Council, despite Mayor Street's attempt to derail it.

But, there are a lot of people, a lot of old-school Philly progressives, who seem to be pretty uneasy with Nutter, and I am curious as to why? This is a guy who authored the City's law on benefits to same-sex couples, and who pushes good government bills, an issue that while boring, is crucially important to progressives like myself. Is it that he supported and was out in front on the cut of the business privilege tax? Is it, that despite campaigning on good government, he has refused to stand up to people like all-powerful ward leader Carol Campbell on issues like the 15 trolley, or even lobbied for a no-bid contract for her?

Some interesting parts of the story:

1) His constituency:

Developer Dan Neducsin, who also sits on the Manayunk Development Corporation board, says Nutter has helped with various projects such as getting funding to restore the canal. He values residents' concerns, but weighs them against benefit to the community.

"Whenever I want to do any project, his first question to me is, "Have you spoken to the neighbors?' Neducsin says. "His second question is, "What did they think?' I always know where he's coming from. He doesn't sway with the wind."

In addition to the more well-off East Falls and Manayunk, Nutter's Fourth District territory includes the diverse populations of Wynnefield, Overbrook, Roxborough, parts of North Philadelphia, West Philadelphia and West Mount Airy.

Despite Manayunk residents' concerns about flooding, in 2002 Nutter won a drawn-out battle for residential development of Venice Island, once an industrial center in the Schuylkill.

But the most knockdown, drag-out fights have pitted Nutter against Street, who loves a good rumble.

2) His style:

Councilman Juan Ramos says that's Nutter's way.

"The best way I can sum it up is to say when he worked for Councilman Ortiz he knew there was not much of a working relationship between Ortiz and myself," Ramos recalls. "He came to me and said, "I know there isn't much you and my boss see eye to eye on. You can always come to me.'"

It remains to be seen if voters will take to a candidate with a subtle, cutting wit. Gregarious he's not. But Nutter is likable, and walking around Center City a few weeks before fall session he's at ease, running into people he knows every 10 feet, joking with waitresses at Capital Grille, his perennial lunch spot.

Nutter is also private, rarely talking about his wife, Lisa. The couple has a 12-year-old daughter, Olivia, and Nutter has a 22-year-old son, Christian, from a previous relationship.

3) His rivals, or one at least:

Frank Keel, Street's former spokesman, who supports John Dougherty for mayor, blames that less on the feud and more on Nutter, whom he has called a "lone wolf." "I think Councilman Nutter is a bright guy but I don't always believe his intentions are pure," Keel says. "He legislates based on the news headlines of the moment. Some might call that crassly opportunistic."


I'm proud to be part of Nutter's "little machine" in East Falls. He's provided great service and leadership to our community on local issues and we all appreciate his vision on Citywide issues with respect to ethics, taxes, smoking, etc. I think Frank Keel - who is paid by Dougherty - has it backwards; Nutter doesn't legislate based on headlines, his legislation creates the headlines. I have no doubt that Nutter's intentions are pure and hope that he'll continue doing a great job as our Councilman. I and many others - both in East Falls and across the City - will be supporting him should he decide to run for another office, one that's on the 2nd floor of City Hall.

I have always liked Michael Nutter

I don't think it's that people are uneasy with Nutter -- there's just a perception that he can't win, that he doesn't have the solid, strong geographical base that Fattah would bring to the table, or that Saidel presumably has among white NE voters.

He would be a great mayor. The question is how we get him there.

Patrick Murphy for Congress (PA-8) -- http://www.murphy06.com

A Conversation on Michael Nutter

Nutter has a nice balance between being business and community orientated. Nutter is relatively good Councilman. i wouldn't categorize him as progressive, definetly liberal. he seems intrinsically motivated to fight the good fight. he does not get detered and he is persistent. but he also knows politics. some times you got to play ball and not challenge against a ward leader. that does not automatically make you a sell out, it could mean that you understand that you are working in a political environment.

Nutter can not beat Fattah. and if Fattah and Nutter both run, Fattah couldn't beat anyone else. i will be discouraging Fattah from running for mayor. i like him much better as a Congressman. it's not that i want to see Nutter as mayor, but i like him better than all the rest.

Of the stated candidates

I'd have to say he's the one I'd most support. I respect the fact that he insisted on some sort of ethics bill, even if it did get watered down - he seems to understand the tax issues that exist, and Mayor Street's turned on him, which speaks well for him in my book.

but what about the horse race?

Leaving aside Nutter's qualifications for office, what are his chances of winning?

Even if Fattah does not run, Nutter is going to have a hard time finding a base of support in terms of money and votes.

And, if Fattah does run for Mayor, Nutter would be a natural to take over his Congressional District.

And, really, for now, I dont care about his base, at all

I just want to know about him, period, and why people do or do not support him. Lets leave the other questions for a later date, because at this point, I refuse to be told which sitting councilman can or cannot be elected.

Mike Nutter

Yes, he has been behind a lot of good government efforts, and yes he comes across as a clean alternative to pay-to-play Philly politics as usual, but where's the fire and heart? I don't see him terribly troubled with the plight of our low-wage, no-medical-insurance, worried-about-the-schools majority, identifying more with the interests of developers. And what's with the relationship with Perzel? Nutter may be better than the rest of the field, but I'm not excited. He ain't gonna take me to the promised land, that's for sure.


I'm a constituent in Nutter's district, and I've been very impressed with him for all of the stances you've mentioned.

And one other: he was extremely vocal in the fight against the local branch library cuts. That was not a sexy issue, but it is and was an important one.


Ray - where you're wrong is that you can have spending and tax cutting initiatives - even if they're the exact same amount - that are not inconsistent with each other. Out of an approximately $3.5 billion dollar budget, you can find ways of funding priorities and defunding things that aren't. This Administration has its priorities and tax reform isn't one of them. Nutter apparently thinks you can have tax reform and a modicum of neighborhood services.

Welcome Back Friedman!

glad to see your YPP boycott is over. it's always nice to have someone to spar with. You are absolutely right, Nutter can see tax cuts and services as compatible goals. I would argue they are not, but you are right that he is not being a hypocrite by saying they are.

However, my original point was that it was disingenuous of Nutter to pit library services against library expansion (as if one of those goals was MORE worthy than the other) in order to avoid calling attention to the much larger cost of business tax cuts. A more ethical approach would have been to propose a 5% reduction in the amount of BPT tax cuts and use that money to restore library services and allow the Central library expansion.

Instead, he formed a headline war and pitted one library project against the other.

Look, this is pretty typical politician behavior- but let's remember that in the context of the Mayor's race. Nutter doesn't deserve to be on a pedestal- he is just as much a professional politico as all the other Mayoral hopefuls and as such we should just as carefully examine his credentials for the job and hold him responsible when he needs to be.


Ray - Council doesn't put the budget together, the adminstration does. It's not that Council shouldn't be more detailed and specific in what they want and don't want - being more thorough and detailed is always better than being less so, but it's just not the way it usually works. I'm not sure that the BPT reductions were one of the largest line items in the budget - it was $16 million or so, right? That's about .45 percent of the overall City budget.

The City

Yes Ray, Nutter is a politician and not above the political fray. Cut from the same cloth? I think he's quite different from many of his peers in the way that he conducts himself personally and publicly and in the policies that he works to advance. You're not supporting him - I take it - you're supporting somebody else? Is that the impetus for your comment and why you and I are having this prolonged discussion?

On the fixed vs. unfixed budget stuff - that's the story that budget offices and administrations like to give about why they're constrained in what they can do, but it's not really accurate. Yea, you're right, the trash needs to get picked up; however, it's the function that is fixed, not the amount of the expenditure directed to it.

Finally, the BPT cuts were paltry, and those who opposed them did so for highly politicized reasons and not because they were concerned about budgetary integrity.

I agree with Friedman, insofa

I agree with Friedman, insofar as I don't blame the politicizing of the library funding issues on Nutter. Street wanted to fight the tax cuts and so he tried to sell this story to the public that you can either have tax cuts or library services...but not both. And that is complete ridiculousness. By saying that Nutter was having it both ways is allowing Street to frame the two issues as if they were a zero-sum game. They weren't. They could have found money to restore the services elsewhere (besides repealing the tax cut) and that was Nutter's point of view going into it.

However, I agree with you that he isn't above the political fray. The real question however, is whether or not he's any higher than the other folks running for Mayor? I would say yes.

Nutter vs. Evans

Above, it was mentioned that Nutter and Evans share overlapping districts. While that's not true, it is true that along with Fattah they share overlapping constituencies. Both are African American, rather progressive and have a history of being pragmatic--even willing to work with Republicans on occassion. So what sets them apart?

I would argue neither the SRC supported by Evans nor the Convention Center standstill supported by Nutter are much success. School Reform in this country never stands much of a chance. While I'm not against the trade unions, their stay on the gravy train at the Convention Center and elsewhere borders on ridiculous.

Nutter along with Councilwoman Tasco, got majorly screwed when it came to NTI allocations. So far, Nutter gets my vote because he has stood up to Street administration. John Street's not a bad mayor--it's just that he could have been so much more. Nutter's positions supporting BPT cuts and responsible government would support the creation of a business climate that we need to create more jobs. Neither Evan's nor Fattah's record so clearly shows that when it comes to city government, they'd take it to the next level.

Nutter, Street, BPT Reform and ECONOMIC GROWTH - a Goode view

In the Mayor's first term, he proposed halting wage tax cuts in order to dramatically reduce or eliminate the gross receipts portion of the business privilege tax. Council stopped him - and that eventually led to the creation of the Tax Reform Commission and the tax reform legislative package created by the commission - and then introduced by Nutter (after a bunch of political hysteria created over property tax assessments - in order to fully capitalize off of the Council victory in defeating Street's tax reform plan - gross receipts vs. wage tax cuts).

Street started a worthwhile debate - and offered another bill to reduce the gross receipts portion this spring.

It's important to understand the real impetus for tax reform in Philly - to politically screw Street and capitalize from it.

But, nonetheless, the ends does justify the means - always - in the politics of the legislative process.

Tax reform is a good thing. Total business tax elimination is stupid.

I support incremental tax reform as an economic investment - but not as the top economic development priority.

The real question is "what is the city's economic development strategy" for growth? Is the city's economic development blueprint really being implemented? And wouldn't YOU pay the same tax for a more equitable piece of the economic pie?!

I'll continue to support tax reform as a crucial economic growth issue - and once again, tax reform was originally raised by the Mayor, not any of my colleagues - but ECONOMIC PARITY is a more crucial issue for me.

And, BY THE WAY, stay tuned for my legislative assault on our city depositories which receive hundreds of millions of dollars in local taxpayer money - and still practice lending discrimination based on race, gender, class, and geography.

We can't afford that type of economic disadvantage either in a city that is mostly female, of color, and low to moderate income.

Why isn't that the burning issue? Because the media covers its own local legislative agenda - and offering the American Dream more equitably is not as important to them as business tax reform - but, of course, the media is big business.

Just food for thought ...



Councilman I stopped reading after you said "It's important to understand the real impetus for tax reform in Philly - to politically screw Street and capitalize from it." Come on...that's not true and you know it. The impetus for tax reform is something that the public and business community have been craving for a long time - a critical mass of City leaders have only recently "got it". You're not a Nutter supporter - I take it - and you've got your own political career to pursue, so I understand your comments come from that context. Notwithstanding, I appreciate the excellent work you've done on economic development and hope you continue with it, but please, don't tell us that tax reform advocates - of which I'm one of many - are about getting the mayor.

shiny turd

Is it just me, or is our whole Mayoral field starting to look like a bunch of beautifully shined turds? I mean Johnny Doc is looking good now. Now, I will give Nutter his due. From everything that I know, he is very good to his district. I respect that and wish that I had a councilperson like that. With that said, has everyone forgot how the guy whored out for Comcast? I mean he is politically astute, but he is in no way politically courageous.

TAX REFORM AND ETHICS - another Goode inside view

Friedman -

As I stated, the tax reform movement started when Mayor Street wanted to halt the wage tax cuts started under Rendell in favor of dramatically reducing the gross receipts portion of the business privilege tax. It gained more steam under high property tax assessments. That led to the Tax Reform Commission.

My point is related to how the issue originated as a political dynamic and major policy issue - and I agree, not with Council - but also not with the tiny group of tax reform advocates that try to appear much larger. It started with Street's move - and therefore energized anti-Street forces on Council who hadn't said or done a damn thing regarding tax reform other than the Rendell cuts - until Street presented a plan that they could oppose (and then they tried to link high property assessments by the BRT to Street too).

As another example, how did ethics reform really begin? Legislative intent that was original?! I think not. The current ethics reform movement can be traced to not only the federal probe, but MORE IMPORTANTLY, to recommendations from Street's own 21st Century Review Forum that preceded action from so-called ethics advocates.

Much of the reform efforts are REACTIONARY - not original thinking.

I support both efforts but I won't be a part of the myth-making related to their original legislative intent.

If legislators are purely reactionary, then what do they really stand for?

Hmmm... not as much as you might think.


A more equitable piece of nothing is not better off...

Equitable economic development is an admirable goal. Unfortunately, Philadelphia political leaders do not work in a closed economy. People and businesses with better options just leave.

The only way to really help the poor is to have them live in economically integrated communities. Public policies that do not support this long term project are doomed to failure. A mirage of School Reforms or more after school programs or increased investment in infrastructure through NTI are inefficient uses of tax dollars.
It's true that City tax reform won't be a cure all--and no one is working for the elimination of all business taxes--it would help me convince a few friends to set up businesses in town and create a few jobs.

In the meantime, I think polical leaders should embrace the idea that they are responsible for only a few core competencies: safety, cleaniless, decent public transportation and good zoning. There is no excuse for political leaders who don't have the guts to take on the public section unions, ineffective bureacracies or ad hoc greedy developers when that is what would really make a difference to the poor and working class in Philadelphia.




Ray, you bastard.

Don't fall into the media trap and start horseracing this far out; the same thing happened in the DA race, etc. I think we need to figure out who the candidates are in real terms, and then we can spend the next year making that a reality.

Now go put on your dress and head over to the liberal ball.


"low-wage, no-medical-insurance, worried-about-the-schools majority" - it's not a majority (for the first two characteristics, everybody is worried about the third)...more like a plurality, big difference. One of the good things about Nutter is that he recognizes that there's a broad socio-economic spectrum in the City and that all are worthly of being served and responded to by their local government. Random factoid: did you know that Mike Nutter brought the Police Advisory Commission into existence?

Means to an end

I agree somewhat about the fire and heart, at least with my limited knowledge of Nutter. But, I guess I think that good government stuff, real campaign finance reform especially (which Nutter has not really talked about) can be a means to an end of making it easier for people with that passion to be elected, even if the person who enacted those laws might be nothing more than a policy wonk.

The association with Perzel is certainly a little strange.

Libraries: Not So Fast

Someone in the City Paper article talks about how Nutter governs by headlines. This is a good example. When the wage tax cuts were enacted and business tax cuts were proposed, members of the progressive community warned Council that service cuts, due to lessened revenue, would be sure to follow.

So, lo and behold, the 2005-06 budget contains service cuts to libraries, and the public is upset. Rather than taking responsibility for his role in causing these cuts, Nutter fights them. He totally flips the script.

Further, he then leads the charge to RESCIND the bond Council had authorized to fund capital improvements to the main branch of the library. Instead of solving the library funding crisis by scaling back tens of millions of dollars of proposed business privellege tax reductions, he pitted Peter against Paul by trying to cut capital improvements that would have cost one million dollars per year in order to pay for library operating costs.

Nutter may have some good qualities and folks can probably make a case for him to be Mayor, but his stance on libraries is not really the best example of his leadership or vision.


Thanks for the welcome back. I see your point, but never see linkage between one thing and the other in a budget with literally thousdands of line items. Further, legislators have the luxury of being able to focus on one thing and not the other. Because they don't have the responsibility for the whole budget, it insulates them somewhat from the kind of critique offered with respect to Nutter's handling of the library issue. Again, it's about priorities, and the City has money to do a lot of different things. I think (actually I know from my experience as a government consultant and as a City of Philadelphia employee) that they City has loads of money to spend on priorities. We need tax reform (and cuts) and good neighborhood services and we can have both.

sort of

The BPT cuts were about $16 or 17 million. But to say they are .45 % of city budget is slightly misleading as a lot of the city's costs are fixed (like we have to have garbage collection, we have to put bulbs back in street lights and pay all the people who do that stuff).

Beyond that, you are right there are a lot of ways to have funded library services and expansions besides the BPT, but of them all, why did Nutter chose to fix a service funding crisis by picking a $1 m a year line item that represents about .001% of the city's budget?

I repeat my original point: Nutter is not above the political fray- he is cut from the same cloth so let's not make him out to be a mythic, reformer hero. They may be reasons to elect him Mayor, nut super hero is not one.

Councilman Goode

I was struck by this comment:

And, BY THE WAY, stay tuned for my legislative assault on our city depositories which receive hundreds of millions of dollars in local taxpayer money - and still practice lending discrimination based on race, gender, class, and geography.

This, of course, sounds wonderful. But, it is my understanding that from a legislative standpoint, the City can do absolutely nothing concrete here. Maybe I am wrong, but, didn't the awful "Act 55," passed by the State to destroy the City's hard fought predatory lending bill basically say that the City can do nothing to regulate lenders, not even simply refuse to do business, for any reason like predatory or discriminatory lending?

Basically, we (or more, you) pass a predatory lending bill (sponsored by Tasco, passed in a unanimous vote after the Daily News created an uproar). And, to kill the bill, our Reps and Senators (including, but not limited to, Fumo and Evans) basically took away any rights of Philadelphia to regulate banking in any way whatsoever. Is my interpretation wrong? If it is not, is there a way that your legislation can stand a challenge in State Court?

GOODE response 2

Mike Nutter is a friend - he knows that - your assumption is just that.

The current tax reform movement started as I stated in my post - I was there - and I was pivotal in stopping the halt to wage tax cuts in a private meeting in Nutter's office where I had to attack political friends to ensure the victory.

The victory was turned into a petty political approach to a major state of affairs.

J. F. - I was there. You are entitled to your opinion but, once again, I speak as someone who has more than an opinion - in fact, I'm the swing vote.




What do you mean? I'm not sure what issue you're talking about.

My perspective is pretty simple. I don't see a huge amount of difference between Nutter, Evans, Siadel, and Fattah. I can't name any specific policy areas where they have large disagreements.


What was the deal with Comcast?


I fail to see how “reacting” to a problem is a negative characteristic for a legislator. I like it when public officials get out in front of something and are “proactive” - as you did with the BPT diversion program, but I also appreciate it when they “react” to a problem and try to solve it. Further, using your logic, wouldn’t the 21st Century Review Forum be just as “reactive” as legislative reform efforts?

Constituency is Key

Ok forget the horse race, who is Nutter's base/constituency?

I think it's great for smart people to run for office but I also believe that elected leaders should represent people they actually know and have a connection to. Saidel, Fattah, Evans and Doc can all claim this- who does Nutter claim as his base?

Sorry, but your information i

Sorry, but your information is just plain wrong. Considering that the Street administration "magically" found $50 million in extra revenue after last year's budget was finalized, we easily could have paid for both libraries and tax cuts, if not for the Mayor's dishonesty. The reason tax cuts take such political courage to fight for is that they leave political leaders like Nutter wide open to cheap political attacks like the one you just made.

but Nutter did link one budget line to another

I 100% agree with you that you can not see linkages between one line item in a budget and another. That is why I was frustrated when weeks after voting for a bond to fund an expansion of the Central branch of the Free Library, Nutter and DiCicco tried to rescind that bond. They cited a direct link to the debt service payment on the bond (which was like $1 m a year) and cuts to library funding.

I think this is a perfect example of what you are saying above, in that those 2 expenses had nothing to do with one another. When tough cuts are needed in a budget, you traditionally look at your largest line-items and see if anything can be trimmed off of them. In last year's proposed budget, BPT tax reductions were one of the bigger ticket line items.

However, Nutter and other members of this Council did not do what they should have done, which was to figure a way to reduce the amount spent on large line items, to protect smaller, but still important expenditures.

That puts Nutter squarely in the same playing field as every other Philadelphia politician and not in the role of white knight that some his supporters project.

GOODE Response

We control our depository relationships - I'm amending previous legislation - and the most recent bill has the NECESSARY co-sponsors.

how can you judge that?

Evans and Fattah haven't really said much of anything about city issues, so how can you say you don't see that much difference? I would agree that Nutter and Saidel have pretty similar policy stances- the biggest difference is the roles that they have played and how those roles have shaped their perception.

Fattah and Evans, from my point of view both win points for their attitude toward taxes which is to make them fairer for working people. Nutter and Saidel however have a much more trickle-down approach to taxes. However, it is always easier to be progressive at the state and national level- when it gets down to the nitty gritty in Phihladelphia, who knows what Fattah and Evans will do (though Evans' dealings with Perzel sure make me nervous)?

Tax Reform

Councilman - respect to you as well. What you said about the impetus for tax reform in Philadelphia is still inaccurate. You’re focusing on the machinations of the voting process surrounding a particular piece of legislation and how the dynamic between the Mayor and others may have influenced voting. However, the impetus for tax reform didn’t originate with Council nor did it come about last year…it’s something that businesses and citizens have been wanting for decades. It’s hit a critical mass at this point and Council has responded to it and in some ways contributed to advancing this issue.

Nutter and the Libraries

On the library funding issue – here’s what happened: The capital financing for the Free Library of Philadelphia (FLP) went through Council; they were told that this wonderful project would not impact service levels at neighborhood branches. Months later, the Administration – in their budget - cut funding to neighborhood branches, with an associated plan that would have decimated service to neighborhood branches either through closure or vastly reduced hours of operation. Councilmen Nutter and DiCicco led the charge in Council to reverse these cuts by adopting the bold strategy of working to rescind the capital financing of the main library expansion project and use it as leverage to preserve services to neighborhoods. (Note: The debt service number of $1 million cited is a few million lower than what the actual payment will be, more like $4 million annually). Of course, they wanted both central library expansion and preservation of neighborhood branch service levels. Their strategy was successful, and the Library Journal - www.libraryjournal.com - has named them “Politicians of the Year” in recognition of their political accomplishment.

In terms of the BPT tax reduction initiatives, this Nutter-led legislative initiative took place after the library “funding crisis”. Further, the issue of whether the BPT tax reduction is somehow linked to a funding crisis somewhere else in the budget is moot, as City revenue has increased every single year since Rendell and Council implemented incremental wage tax reductions in the early 1990’s. That is, tax cuts have not negatively impacted the City’s revenue. It’s also, as I’ve mentioned before, incorrect to link a legislative spending initiative with a tax reduction initiative as if it’s a zero sum game – it isn’t.

Lastly - Nutter doesn't legislate by the headlines - his legislative efforts make the headlines. Don't put a lot of stock in what Frank Keel has to say about his employer's potential political opponent.

BPT Cuts

A correction on the BPT tax cut costs - that $16 million is the projection for a five year period.

I think it would be his distr

I think it would be his district, East Falls, Roxbourough, etc, where is ward leader and seems well liked, mixed with good government types, etc. When you consider that we could be talking about a 7 person race, that could conceivably be enough.

Back It Up

What part of my information is wrong? Did Nutter not try to rescind the library expansion bond claiming that the debt service payments would be better spent on library services? Was he not then pushing for at least $15 million in business privellege tax cuts?

To repeat a key point: Nutter politicized the library isssue, pitting service against capital improvments as a solution rather than reducing proposed business privellege tax reductions BEFORE it turned out that city revenues were higher than projected. The issue of inaccuracy in revenue projection this year has nothing to do with Nutter's decision to push for tax cuts at all costs, never subjecting those cuts to a cost/benefiit analysis.

In terms of the "magical" $50 million, every government in the world projects revenue based on prior year performances. This is what the Mayor did. Whether he exaggerated or not is an issue worth discussing, but I repeat Nutter's decision to rob Peter to pay Paul, ignoring tax cuts, was months made before anyone even knew that revenue projections were off.


That's exactly my point. It seems hard to really pin Evans or Fattah down on how they would handle city issues, but I don't hear either of them offering city-level policy proposals that are particularly progressive.

It's easy to be a liberal in congress or the state house. I have no doubt that Nutter and Saidel would vote the exact same way as Fattah and Eveans do on state and national issues.


I originally stated the annual debt service payment for the expansion of the Central branch of the FreeLibrary would cost the city $1 million a year. In a letter to the Weekly Press (which you can read here) written by members of Council, including Nutter and DiCicco, they say the annual debt service payment for the library bond would be $2.6 m a year. However, the wage tax revenue generated by the library expansion would bring about $1.9 m (as you can see here).

That means that the library expansion would cost the city about $1.5 m a year (that's about .001 % of the city's annual budget) in debt service payments during the first two years the bond was in place.

After that, the library makes a pretty convincing argument about how its Central library expansion will generate more economic activity on the Parkway. Read my original post which has a lot more detail about this issue to learn how here.

This is all a moot point in that the debate is over, library services have been restored and library expansion will continue.

But, the fact remains that Council had the ability to find funding for both service and expansion, and instead, led by Nutter, chose to pit one against the other.

Nutter can get every Library Association award in the world and that won’t change the fact that he played political games with the library all the while avoiding responsibility for finding the funding to do what was right (funding that could have come from proposed, massive new BPT cuts that had been on the table for years REGARDDLESS of when the newste bill had been introduced).


The Mayor's proposed budget contained $70 million of BPT tax cuts over 5 years, which as I originally stated, would have cost about $15 m a year. For more info, click here(be careful. it's a PDF) to see a summary of what the Mayor proposed.

The Mayor asked for these cuts to be tempered by an increase in Parking tax fees. Council was unable to accomodate and as a result vetoed BPT tax cuts altogether.

I meant to cite Friedman too

I forgot to mention that in reponse to my very first YPP post about this very issue (back in April) which you can view here, it was Friedman himself who pointed out to me that $70m in BPT tax cuts would take place over 5 years. In fact here is the direct quote:

At 11:49 AM, Friedman said...It's not $70 million this year; according to the City's five-year-plan, that figure is the estimate in revenue reduction from BPT cuts over the next five years. Relatedly, the Administration was planning on raising parking taxes to offset the revenue loss.

his district isn't enough

Fattah and Evans both can lay claim to parts of his district as well. He would need more than that. Besides, a district isn't exactly a base even in the best circumstances. The only base I see for Nutter is single issue types who have good government/reform as their issue- not sure there is enough there for him to win.


I guess the next question has to do with alliances. Since it's hard to judge the current candidates based on policy proposals, should we be looking at their standing political relationships? Like the Perzel-Evans connection?

Clarification of your Clarification

Council advocates for the library employed a successful legislative strategy to get both capital funding for the Central library's expansion and to maintain services to the neighborhood branches. As you noted, it worked. Nutter and others played politics successfully and achieved good things for the City's residents and the libraries they love, isn't that politics at its best? Also, ideological opposition to BTP reform/reductions or lack of understanding about how the City's budget works doesn't make proposed BPT cuts "massive" - "modest" is more like it.


I stand corrected, by both Ray and myself. And actually, Ray originally posted that BPT tax cuts would cost $70 million in FY06, so we both are having some trouble with the number.


Does his district come that far?


How about that one?

Clarification of the Clarification of the Clarification

Friedman -

The truth is that Street made phony budget cuts so that Council would assume that it's a tight budget - and it shielded his allies in not supporting Nutter's business tax reform bill. (He told many privately that he was going to put the library cuts back in before all of the hoopla).

It was Street's strategy that manipulated many councilmembers into creating public hysteria over services cuts. Not to mention, it would have taken 12 votes to override the veto of the bill revoking bond authorization for central library expansion. They never had 12 votes.

The library expansion was alway going to happen and the cuts were always going to be restored.

Street needed certain people to play into his game without their knowledge - and they got "played" by his strategy.

What happened to tax reform, ethics, smoking ban, etc. while the budget cut restoration advocates were grandstanding? In fact, they made Street's argument -services vs. tax cuts - for him.

Open your eyes.

You're right

Evans' district and Nutter's do not intersect. My bad.

And, of course, let's not for

And, of course, let's not forget the Perzel-Darth Vader connection.


Thanks for urging me to “open my eyes”…in the future, I should probably not have opinions about City governance based upon my own experiences and information, but upon the truth about all matters as revealed by Councilman Goode. But seriously, I appreciate your insider’s perspective and insight as well as some of the good legislative work you do on Council, but I could do without the condescension.


Nutter's got a great "hybrid base" - strong in his district and Citywide appeal based upon the issues. Seems like a solid combination to me. Don't know if it's enough to propel him to victory in the Mayor's race, but I don't think that other potential candidates have a quantitative advantage (and certainly not a qualitative advantage!) at this stage. Full disclosure, in case it wasn't obvious - I'm a full out Nutter guy and think he's fantastic.

Further Clarification

If you can do without condescension ... first, stop condescending.


More on Nutter's Base

Does Nutter have a “base”? Well, he’s been elected four times in the 4th District and has served for 14 years; the last two elections he had no primary opponent. The 4th is one of the most racially and socio-economically diverse in the City. It contains five wards, one of which Councilman Nutter leads. He’s the Vice Chair of the African-American Ward leaders organization and the Vice Chair of the Black Elected Officials of Philadelphia. Besides his geographic and political base, he’s earned the support of thinking Philadelphians who care about issues and want to turn things around in the City they love. I think the man has a base.

Further, Further Clarification

Councilman - to be clear, I was suggesting that your "I'm the Councilman and I was there and I know all" schtick is a bit condescending to the rest of us who aren't elected officials.

I know what i know - and pleased to share :)


You felt a bit too free to "correct" other writers and "challenge" their knowledge of the budget process until I provided relevant inside information.

I've invited Councilman Nutter to contribute to this site and I would offer the same responses to him if he offered the same misinformation that you offered.

For now, I am a councilman, I was there, and I know what I know.


It's Called a Dialog

Councilman - I appreciate the information that you provided and respect the stature of your office, but I don't view you as the final arbiter of truth on matters of Philadelphia government. I also don't think that the information that you offered significantly alters my understanding of events as they unfolded with respect to the Library funding issue. The editorial bent of this site is to be opposed to tax reform generally, so many of the posted comments need to be understood through that prism. The tangential discussion about library funding as it relates to Nutter's record is representative of this ideological bias. There's nothing wrong with this; reasonable people can disagree on this and many other issues.

However, I will continue to express my informed opinion about City governance, and will "correct" and "challenge" as I see appropriate - I hope that you and others will do the same.

Dialogue...or Propoganda... Whatever!


You're always entitled to your opinion within a dialogue - but not entitled to being more of an authority on matters in which you would have no direct knowledge in a dialogue with others who do. If my personal recount of the process didn't sway you, OK.

It's referred to as "sausage-making" for a reason. You have to know the real ingredients to fully understand the process.

You won't even concede that your team got played by the Mayor in a major way this spring.(Study it closely ... but you still won't see the other set of fingerprints).

By the way, there was a secret meeting in which I was, in fact, voted the final arbiter of truth on matters of Philadelphia government.

Are you going to congratulate me? Just joking! Take care. :)


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