The Ernest Opinion: The pope is gone and Mayor Nutter can go with him
Mayor Michael Nutter’s inability to take real responsibility for the local disappointment that was the papal visit has me counting his final days in office.
Personally, I’ve always liked Mayor Michael Nutter, but I have sometimes questioned his political priorities. Both of us are proud Penn alums, and I often admired how Nutter exuded a sense of immense intellect that was needed to strengthen Philly’s positioning as a first-class city.
We aren’t there yet — but for better or worse — you have to admit he’s gotten us closer to victory than former Mayor John Street ever did.
Yet, Nutter’s methods in promoting our town have caused a rightful sense of chagrin in Philadelphians — the Papal visit was the ultimate nail in the coffin.
Now that Pope Francis is back at the Vatican — we can admit that his visit did nothing for this city except give locals who stayed an urbanist experience and the religious a holy fest.
It didn’t bring in that alleged $500 million economic boost, nor did it make pilgrims interested in touring Philly as a whole. Ask any major restaurant owner, including Stephen Starr, who owns a string of upscale restaurants, and they will agree that they hadn’t seen such dismal sales “since Hurricane Sandy.”
Except only this time 1.5 million people were expected to show up and eat and shop but that didn’t actually happen. These tourists wanted to see the pope — not Philly. And our city once again became the laughing-stock of the country.
And how does our mayor respond? Like every pouty politician that needs a scapegoat — he blamed the media. We apparently “scared the sh-t” out of locals according to him.
Nutter, it’s time to come clean.
Wasn’t it your early cautionary rhetoric of how we would be “walking miles” during the Papal visit that did the trick?
For starters, contracts between the World Meeting of Families and the city on whether we were going to fork the bill didn’t come out until days before the pope’s arrival. The exodus-causing fear tactics of packed hotel rooms, excessive towing, fines, and special travel passes turned locals off.
And admit it Nutter, you wanted it that way.
Because I bet no one in that administration had a clue exactly how many people in the city were going to be attending and someone had to leave. So what better place to start than with disgruntled residents who know nothing about large-scale global events?
In retrospect, if the papal visit was meant to be for locals as well — how else would you have been able to manage those additional estimated 1.5 million guests? There would have been complete madness and Nutter feared the embarrassment.
He would rather muster a lackluster occasion than preside over a Philly catastrophe. So I’m almost certain that it was in his best interest to purposely be inconsistent with relaying details because he really didn’t want us Philadelphians there.
That’s what elite crowd control looks like — a strategy that often makes people despise you. But really, it shouldn’t be your own constituents who wind up disliking you. You know, the ones that elected you to office.
The pope is gone and Mayor Nutter can go with him. It’s seriously time for new leadership. It’s been great Nutter, but I need our next mayor to actually put the locals first.