You Elected Michael Nutter

A few hours early. -Dan

Today, like I did in May, I will cast a vote for Mike Nutter to become the next Mayor of Philadelphia. I am excited to see new leadership in the City, new ideas, new policies, and what the future entails. For the first time in a while, I feel like there is real hope in the political leadership of our City.

But, this isn’t about me, it is about you. Why? Because I voted for Mike Nutter. You elected him.

Mike Nutter should not be the Mayor of Philadelphia. After all, he is kind of funny looking, has a voice that sounds somewhat like a Muppet, has almost no clearly defined geographical base of power, and is a policy wonk in a sometimes anti-intellectual City.

Mike Nutter was not known to a lot of Philadelphians. He was down in the polls. He had no chance. He did, however, have you guys. And, for one election at least, that really mattered. I have no idea how big the ‘reform’ constituency is in this City, but I do know that while he was struggling along, low in the polls, that constituency is just about all he had. There you were: true, blue believers, talking to your friends, annoying me on the blog, and just refusing to believe he couldn’t win. A lot of other things had to happen too (like Tom Knox spending millions talking about the bums in City Hall), but none of it would have mattered if you weren’t there doing the grunt work..

But, as the line goes in that little read literary classic, Spider Man,

With great power, comes great responsibility.

So my friends, no pressure, but the responsibility is yours. Don’t blow it.

When January comes around, and Mike Nutter is sworn in, each and every one of you should be at City Hall, with seats at the table, advocating for what you believe in. But guess what? Those seats will not be there waiting for your arrival. Instead, like children playing musical chairs, there will always be more people who want the Mayor’s ear than he has time for. There will always be more issues that need attention than he will have the time, desire or ideology to prioritize. And fighting you for those same seats at the table will be big money, entrenched interests, and the status quo. And guess what? They have fat asses, and little desire to get up. Are you ready to do heavy lifting?

Most of us who volunteer for candidates, who knock on doors, who advocate for candidates have a similar problem: we believe. Candidates don’t just become people we want in office; they become us. We put so much into them, that we impute them all of our hope. The knock down fights that were on our site during the primary were not basic policy arguments; they were fights between people defending someone as if they were defending themselves.

Usually, for progressives nationally and locally, the only problem with believing so thoroughly in a candidate is that we don’t win. Instead, we get the gut-wrenching defeats. Lots of defeats. We work so hard, we advocate, we knock on doors, we donate money… and then we lose. But then we commiserate, we drink beer, we start to fight again, and the cycle continues.

Now, however, your guy won, and did so by largely by advocating for policies that you believe in. Get that? Your guy- you- won.. Life, my friends, just grew a little more complicated.

So, look in the mirror this morning. How bad do you want Nutter to succeed? What are you going to do to help him push his agenda? Maybe more importantly, what are you going to do when you disagree with him? If his stop and frisk program doesn’t go right, will you stand up and demand a change in course? If his tax cuts create holes in the budget, will you push back? On a day when you should rightfully be walking around with your chest out triumphantly, how much are you willing to fight?

With great hope, I vote for a new Mayor today. But you elected him, and I hope you take that responsibility seriously. No big deal of course. Just the future of the City, and all that.

Amazing Fantasy

Well, technically, Dan, Uncle Ben first told Spider-Man that with great power comes great responsibility in Amazing Fantasy #15. Just sayin'...

The Russellian Incorporated Innovations Corporation
Lefty Homilies

Step 1: Vote

In a theme I plan to pick up on as the 2008 election season moves forward, I note: politicians gain momentum when they win big.

Vote for Nutter today to put some extra wind in his sails.

Then vote for progressive judges that will help the cause in the courts.

It's already up to us.

Michael Nuttter's Victory

Dan has summed up the sad story of my political life.

Usually, for progressives nationally and locally, the only problem with believing so thoroughly in a candidate is that we don’t win. Instead, we get the gut-wrenching defeats. Lots of defeats. We work so hard, we advocate, we knock on doors, we donate money… and then we lose.

At first, I didn’t want to get too heavily involved in the mayoral primary as I didn’t want to deal with another bout of post election depression. I remembered how I felt in 1999.

But then I went to a neighborhood fund raiser for Nutter last October and it was clear, as I remember my husband saying at the time, “When you have a candidate of this quality you have to do what you can to support him.”

And Michael Nutter did convince people in that room that he was going to make it. So like a lot of folks on this blog, I decided the polls be damned and threw myself into the campaign. And it sure feels good to win!!

Over the course of the campaign, it was great to see Michael Nutter grow as a speaker who can really connect with an audience. One of my CCP colleagues who is an old friend of his, told me that Michael Nutter has a real passion for social justice and just has to let this passion out. (Susan, you were right.) It’s clear that Michael Nutter is not just a policy wonk but an inspirational leader with a vision for our city.

Dan is cautioning us:

What are you going to do to help him push his agenda? Maybe more importantly, what are you going to do when you disagree with him? If his stop and frisk program doesn’t go right, will you stand up and demand a change in course? If his tax cuts create holes in the budget, will you push back?

Okay, point well taken, but I am more concerned that he might not get the support he needs. There are a lot of cynics and naysayers in this town, so we grassroots folks who worked so hard to elect Michael Nutter need to work just as hard to rally support as he tries to change the political culture of this city.

Help! playing 'find-the-progressive'!

I really want to be informed today when i go out there and vote (other than Nutter), and i am having a hard time finding good info on the Judges that are clammering for my votes. pardon the ignorance, but is there somewhere, maybe more-than-one-somewhere that i can get a good sense of these folks and what they are about.

at the 11th hour (or more like 5 to go....).......

Ray mentions some of his

Ray mentions some of his opinions on judicial elections here.

Dan has some more about Joyce Eubanks here.

Some discussion from the primary era here.

And discussion with some links to 'progressive' endorsements for the general election, including judges (scroll down) here.


Thank you for the direction, Jennifer!

No problem

As a general rule, on the state level it is good to think about voting on party lines, since the difference between republicans and democrats on higher state courts here in PA is pretty stark.

Also note that the Phila Bar Ass'n (not an organization prone to making recommendations lightly) recommends NO votes on whether to retain two judges, Georgeanne Daher and Deborah Griffin.

"No retention" sentiments are held by many on the left (or whatever you want to call it) about Judge Saylor on the Supreme Court. Additionally, some people feel strongly about a no retention vote for Judge Teresa Carr Deni (discussion on the Deni question can be found on a bunch of threads here).

My 2007 voting guide

Giving Knox too much credit

I´m not sure I agree with the analysis that Knox made the perception stick that City Hall was corrupt. In retrospect, I´d argue that Nutter´s stances and record made everyone else cut hard on particular angles candidates thought they could co-opt--Knox went hard for reform. Fattah went hard on policy. Maybe Evans went hard on policing. While we´ll never know, what would have happened without Knox, in that case, Nutter would have still had the most money on hand. Message, a record and resources are a tough combo to beat.

The one thing that might have worked--and both Brady and Knox tried it to an extent, was to co-opt the white vote. If there had been no white candidates in the race, would the difference have been to Fattah´s advantage? I kind of doubt it. Nutter probably would have gotten most of Knox´s working class white vote. It´s an open question of whether Brady could have won even without Knox in the race.

Weeds in the Sidewalk

ok Nutter folks...

i have written PAGES now about my specific policy concerns moving forward particularly in relationship to the city's economy. not to mention concerns about labor negotiations. Karen and Sam, neither of you have said ANYthing in response.

Karen, if you look at my recent writing, I have expressed nothing but support for Nutter. He won the primary, he is our Mayor, we have to support him. I am sure some others are nay-saying, but honestly, can you remember a Mayor who has had this much positive attention upon taking office? Maybe Rendell, but the fiscal "crisis" was such a big deal that teeth were gritting waiting for him to deal. Maybe Goode, but openness of racism and Rizzoites was so much stronger then that I am sure it was over-shadowed.

Nutter is in a unique position. Luckily, he never claimed that he was gonna be Philly's Messiah, but unfortunately for him, many of his supporters did, and I guess I want to repeat Dan's point: If you are a true Nutter believer, on the issues that matter to progressives and economic/political populists, how are you planning to act?

Still Waking Up

Part of me still doesn't fully believe that Michael Nutter won the primary in May. I can still remember the first news article I ever read about Nutter -- not long after I moved to Philadelphia in 2002, sometime between then and 2004 -- the gist of which was, here is this smart, talented councilman with a lot of integrity, some people have talked about him running for mayor, but he could never win.

This was without any sense of what the mayoral field would be. People didn't say, Nutter can't beat the Bob Brady and Chaka Fattah, with their organizations and bases, and a Center City self-made multimillionaire, with Dwight Evans knocking away at black middle-class and northwest voters. They just said that Michael Nutter could never be elected mayor of Philadelphia. Only ten percent of die-hard voters seemed to know him and like him, and those numbers would not move.

Except, those ten percent, myself included, REALLY liked Michael Nutter. And he was disciplined and focused and raised money like a champ. And he spent his money well, employing smart people to craft his message and time it exactly when people began paying attention. And he walked into and won nearly every debate, in most cases running away. Other candidates had good nights, but Nutter was at the top of his game from start to finish. Brady and Fattah faltered, people started taking really hard looks at Tom Knox, and Dwight Evans never put it all together. It was like watching the college basketball tournament, and watching a number five seed play six great games and win the whole thing. (And then playing the champion of the Division II NIT for the "world championship," i.e. the general election.)

So you'll have to forgive the Nutter Butters if we're all a little stunned. Virtually none of us are pros at this, just Philadelphians with some ideas about how to make the city better, and who liked what they saw in the guy from Wynnefield with the glasses and the funny voice. Some people have moved on to other races, and some people will probably never get as mixed up in another city race as they were in this one. It's a new day.


ok, the clock is still ticking

I hear you. You are stunned. You are excited. However, Nutter won in May. He's been planning ever since for what he is gonna do to hit the ground running. So, now what?

I repeat:

If you are a true Nutter believer, on the issues that matter to progressives and economic/political populists, how are you planning to act?

One big lesson I learned lately from Philly for Change is that we should have been doing stuff to hold Mayor Street accountable years ago. Sam and I tabled for the Street Legacy Project at Clark Park with a sign that said "Sign a Letter to Street," with no other context and people repeatedly came to us and just started signing (a rare thing at a lot of table I have worked in the past).

My point is that providing opportunities for local action and chances to hold elected accountable is important and it can work. Brett Mandel is probably the most consistent person who does this locally. He provides clear and easy to do asks that engage and move people along in a process of taking some civic responsibility.

Many other groups who have good issues and good leadership don't do this as well. All the asks they make are about coming to rallies or meetings or signing on to coalitions and not actually make direct personal action and creating opportunities for those folks to engage the folks they know get involved.

That aside, one more time, at a personal level (not what you think someone else or some org should do, what are YOU going to do to telegraph your desire for economic and social justice--in the form of specific acts--to Mayor-elect Nutter?

I've already said what I

I've already said what I would like to see done, in the thread on the BPT and on the economic future, and in many, many places about crime and poverty and programs for ex-offenders, etc.

Are you looking for a silver bullet, a push for priorities, or a bunch of small-to-large ideas? (I'll take my answer back in your original thread.)


To Dan

On the budget, I think the best course of action for Michael Nutter, since the current round of cuts to the BPT and the wage tax aren't scheduled to expire until 2009, is to leave those alone until mid-to-late 2008.

He should spend his first hundred or two hundred days renegotiating the city workers' contracts and hiring more police, probation officers, etc. (on the expense side) and getting property taxes in order (on the revenue side): selling the city on full value property taxation, make whatever changes need to be made to the property tax abatement program, pass whatever homestead exemptions or increase caps are needed for homeowners, and do an honest-to-goodness reevaluation.

He should also begin to deliver the promised savings through city recycling, dead wood in payroll, better systems, etc. After he does these things, we will all be in a much better position to budget projections through 2012 and to talk about a schedule for reducing either part of the BPT.

Also, every mayoral candidate wanted to eliminate the gross receipts portion of the BPT, but I think the mayor and his new budget director and city council should consider leaving a smaller tax, maybe 1 or 1/2 mills, on gross receipts. This would be comparable to municipalities in Montgomery County and elsewhere. My problem with Chaka Fattah's plan to switch the entire BPT to net profits is that it invites too much clever bookkeeping by large companies to show that they didn't actually earn a profit in city limits, even as they're doing millions of dollars of business in the city.

Practically/politically, Nutter has to get police and services going in the first year, so that people see a real change from Street's last term. He wants revenues to continue to rise, so nothing stands between him getting that done.


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