Mayor Nutter versus The Unions: The unending battle

DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Mayor Nutter won't vie for a spot on the Democrat's executive committee. There are conflicting views on exactly why he withdrew, depending on who you ask.
DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Mayor Nutter won't vie for a spot on the Democrat's executive committee. There are conflicting views on exactly why he withdrew, depending on who you ask.
Posted: August 30, 2013

THE DEMOCRATIC National Committee met last Friday and, depending on who you ask, Mayor Nutter either had to withdraw his bid for a seat on the political party's executive committee or didn't want it in the first place.

So let's kick off Labor Day weekend with a rousing game of: Which Version Do You Believe?

Let's start with the version of events presented by organized labor in Philadelphia, which is currently quite furious with Nutter.

City workers shouted down his budget address this year because of their four-year budget dispute.

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers is running television and radio ads accusing Nutter of not doing enough to fund schools.

A DNC insider, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of not being authorized to disclose internal politics, said Nutter was put on a slate of candidates for the 60-plus executive committee by the party Chairwoman, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida.

That seems like something Nutter, who has worked hard to build a national reputation, would enjoy since the four-year term would last through the next presidential cycle and well past his time as mayor of Philadelphia.

The DNC then asked national union officials from the AFL-CIO, AFSCME and the American Federation of Teachers about that.

Those unions, which feature anti-Nutter material on their websites, made their opposition quite clear on the issue.

The DNC held a vote on the executive committee at its summer meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz., last Friday.

Nutter withdrew his name before the vote and offered in his place Dennis Archer, a former mayor of Detroit.

Our DNC source says the withdrawal was Nutter's idea, driven by the union backlash.

"From what I've been told, they really voiced their disapproval of him being on that committee," said Pete Matthews, leader of District Council 33, which represents blue-collar city employees.

Nutter offers an alternative version of events.

The mayor tells us he accepted Wasserman Schultz's invitation to serve as a DNC at-large member but then decided to decline her request that he also serve on the more exclusive executive committee. He did that, Nutter said, because he "didn't want any conflict" if Philadelphia applies to host the Democratic National Convention in 2016.

"I called the chair on my own and declined the offer because I am focused on the 2016 convention," Nutter said yesterday. "It's not a position that I sought. It's something that she offered."

U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, the city's Democratic chairman, has been pushing for the city to host a convention. Brady started a "working group" earlier this month to put it all in motion.

Nutter has expressed interest in hosting the convention along with concerns about the cost.

Nutter, scheduled to meet on Thursday with Brady to discuss a 2016 convention bid, dismissed the union version as inaccurate.

"All this other stuff, people will say whatever they're going to say," Nutter said.

Nutter #dropsthemic

Nutter is clearly tuned in to the hits his image is taking - and the comparisons he is suffering to the increasingly unpopular Gov. Corbett - on the controversial issue of public-school funding.

He took to his Twitter account Tuesday night to declare:

"Bottom line - I put up $155 million in new City ed funding in last 3yrs, State cut funding $140M - that's my record, indisputable."

Nutter, a longtime aficionado of old-school rap music, ended with the hashtag "#dropsthemic."

The Twitter-verse did not seem convinced or impressed.

Speak your piece

Access to the ballot box is a hot topic these days, with Pennsylvania's voter-ID law in legal limbo and the U.S. Department of Justice showing interest in enforcing the parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act not overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in June.

Do you have something to say about all that?

The Presidential Commission on Election Administration visits Philadelphia on Wednesday for the third of four national public hearings on ballot-box access.

The commission, launched by President Obama on May 31, will hear first from local election officials at 8 a.m. at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Testimony from the public will be heard from 2 to 4:30 p.m.

You can learn more about it at supportthevoter.gov.


Email: brennac@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-5973

On Twitter: @ChrisBrennanDN

Blog: ph.ly/phillyclout

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