In other cities, mayors and police commissioners oversaw periodic and chaotic sweeps of Occupy campsites. Videos of peaceful protesters being pepper-sprayed have prompted outrage and sympathy for the movement.
The narrative was always going to change here. Kumbaya was sure to give way to see-ya-later.
But Nutter controlled the narrative, often to the dismay of the Occupy Philly crowd.
His staff accumulated the harbingers of confrontation:
* The City Hall campsite was becoming unsafe and unsanitary.
* Some of the protesters were clearly itching for conflict with police; others couldn't agree on whether to relocate to another city-owned site.
* And then the question was raised about whether a protest for economic justice should block 800 construction jobs.
We're fast approaching push-comes-to-shove time.
While we wait, we wonder.
What would Nutter's first term as mayor have looked like if he had been this cunning with City Council, this flexible in contract negotiations for the city's blue-collar and white-collar employees, this foresighted when the leadership at the school district imploded?
And, yes, we know there are plenty of people who think it was a colossal mistake by Nutter to accommodate the protest camp from the beginning. But compare how our city fares in national news coverage of the Occupy movement to other cities, where the treatment has been at times heavy-handed or even thuggish.
About that transparency
While Nutter has handled Occupy Philly with skill, his top attorney, City Solicitor Shelley Smith, missed the mark - at least at first - on transparency.
Scenes of mass arrests at other Occupy locations made us think about the 2000 Republican National Convention, where mass arrests led to several lawsuits.
The Commonwealth Court ruled in 1993 that public agencies cannot use confidentiality agreements to hide the amount of money used to settle a lawsuit.
The city, Smith told us, paid $100,000 in 2000 for up to $3 million in insurance coverage for arrests at the RNC. There were 15 lawsuit settlements, along with attorney fees, paid after the convention by the insurance company.
Smith at first refused to disclose how much was paid, even though she believed the city had that information, because the money came from the insurance company and not the city.
One of Smith's assistants called back a few hours later to say that the city didn't have the information but was trying to get it. If that happens, the city will then decide whether to answer our question.
By the way, the price tag for police overtime and other city expenses for Occupy Philly was $530,000 as of last week.
Ward beef court-bound
Tracey Gordon is still hopping mad about being ousted as a Democratic committeewoman at her first meeting of the 40B Ward last year. So, Gordon, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union and local public-interest attorney Irv Ackelsberg, is preparing to sue the Democratic City Committee, its chairman, U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, and ward leader Anne Brown.
Gordon was part of a six-person group that sought committee posts in the 2010 primary election. The City Committee tried to knock them off the ballot. Five fell in legal challenges. Gordon survived and won her election.
Gordon said that she drew the ire of Brown, who told her that she had not "asked for permission" to run.
At her first meeting, the ward committee members voted to remove Gordon from her post. Two police officers were there, ready to escort her out of the meeting.
Gordon said that she sought Brady's help but was met with silence.
She is now raising money with the help of Gloria Gilman, head of the Philadelphia Democratic Progressive Caucus, to help pay for expenses in the lawsuit.
City Paper last year reported that Gordon's ouster was based on a City Committee bylaw that said that a majority of the ward members could vote a member out if the member was "unfaithful to the Democratic Party" or "neglects to work in harmony" with the ward committee.
Brady declined to comment on the issue this week, and Brown did not return our phone call.
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