Michael Nutter For Mayor (duh!)

Posted: October 31, 2007

WE'VE BEEN joking lately that Michael Nutter's campaign bumper sticker should read "Michael Nutter: Managing Expectations."

Ever since this reform candidate pulled the primary out from under the millionaire, two congressmen and a state rep, many in the city have done something they haven't done for a long time: Dared to dream. They're imagining a City Hall snatched from its legacy of pay-to-play, finally shaking off the reputation of a content and corrupt city and being led by someone who can wrangle the budget, crime and schools - and still talk about sustainability, transparency and ethics.

These are the citizens who throw around words like "Next Great City" and don't look around to see if someone is sniggering. They believe that the city they both love and despair over finally may banish its 20th-century ghosts and step into the 21st, with a thriving economy, a stellar school system and complete confidence in the future.

And we believe that Michael Nutter, who gets our enthusiastic endorsement, can move us closer to that. But we also have to remind those who want to believe our next mayor can walk on water that the sea he'll be navigating is not exactly clean or calm, and the currents can be swift, and dangerous.

Homicides may be inching down, buildings keep going up, a long-standing transit-funding crisis has been, for now, resolved. But we also have big challenges: city contracts to negotiate. A school district in flux. A worrying foreclosure rate. A still-ailing PGW. And the elephant in the room: serious poverty, which will continue to defy any easy fixes.

People have been telling Nutter for months what his priorities should be - including us. We like the idea that he's been all over the city campaigning and listening to that advice. Given his reputation as a wonk, his full public schedule has been heartening. His visits to other cities even more so. Soon, though, the real work begins. He already knows his big challenges. Here are a few reminders of the small stuff that also matters.

Speaking of small stuff: Voters have had months to look forward to a new administration. But fixing the city requires more than keeping your fingers crossed. Start by voting on Tuesday. Republican Al Taubenberger has gamely gone through the motions of a campaign, but don't go through the motions on Election Day. Vote.

We challenge Nutter to have fun: Take a page from Mayor Rendell's playbook - make the city feel good about itself. Don't be afraid to be seen around town - Avenue of the Arts, a Flyers game, the art museum, as well as in the neighborhoods. Bring Olivia and her friends. Let everyone know this is a fun town, and you're having the best time of all.

Be bold: Be as in-your-face as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who isn't afraid to say the murder rate must come down, even when it's already falling, and isn't afraid to take on gun dealers from other states.

Clean it up: Litter and graffiti are the scourges of most cities, but we do it far too well. Take a page from Mayor Street's first administration car-towing blitz and tackle trash early: Have the trucks and crews out picking up debris, cleaning the parks. Have an extra trash collection day during the week. Nag us about the messes we make, and tell us it's unacceptable.

Dream big: You've pushed many reforms on City Council. Now, take the ideas you got from other cities and foster more good ideas from citizens.

Finally: Don't manage our expectations. Demand that we raise them even higher. *

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