Report: Mayor Nutter, Council, Other City Officials Inaugurated
Today’s inauguration, which cemented the Nov. 8th elections was anything but city-like. For one, the Academy of Music event started on time – 10 a.m. For another thing, it was all smiles. I live-tweeted the thing earlier, but here’s another rundown in another spot on the Internet with full sentences, for those who missed it. (OK, mostly full sentences.)
Toward the beginning, we heard from new Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput. The former George Bush supporter issued a prayer over the city’s elected officials, which included sayings like “protect the poor, weak and immigrants” and “Bless our leaders, especially Mayor Nutter.” There’s nothing like a good “especially” blessing!
Philadelphia Poet Laureate Sonia Sanchez then read a poem. She jokingly said she wished she had more time to have prepared it, considering she just earned her laureate status. But either way, the poem was pretty cool and involved both recitation and song. “This city is not dead,” she said, “I am not dead. We are merely occasional fallen nightingales.”
About 15 minutes in, City Council president Anna Verna got to the podium and talked about her time as president of the downtown body. “Public service is a noble profession,” she said. Which is true. Sometimes.
Councilman Darrell Clarke was then nominated for City Council president, and went unopposed. He was unanimously supported, 17-0, and while I imagine Councilwoman Marian Tasco may have been a little disappointed, her almost half-million dollar DROP Friday payout probably made up for it. Clarke got up to the podium after his nomination and claimed, with a slight laugh, that today is “an exciting day for me, personally.” He was sworn in beside his daughter. He said they’d originally planned to have his young grandson up there too, but decided against it because that would have ended poorly.
Then he went into what he hopes to accomplish while on City Council. Not the least of which is exploring “municipal marketing opportunities,” which doesn’t necessarily mean “we should put a billboard on Billy Penn’s hat.” He also stressed fiscal responsibility and the city’s unfunded budget crisis. He thanked both John Street (on stage) and Anna Verna – the former for teaching him “hard work”; the latter for being “fair.” He promised to treat the rest of Council as fair as Verna treated him. He then introduced Mayor Michael Nutter.
Who, to his credit, gave a pretty good speech. Nutter thanked Clarke for his comments (in fact, saying he “deeply appreciated” them) then began a series of statements which included statistics, personal anecdotes, some Nutter family history and ended in him sounding a bit like President Barack Obama.
“I made a promise that we would be a safer city…more green…a city people would be talking about in good ways,” he said. He went on to say he kept those promises, but wanted to let everyone know he was focused on fixing the future rather than focusing on the past. And “as we continue to transform, we will not leave anyone behind.”
He quickly got into gun violence in Philadelphia, citing the fact that of the more than 300 people killed in Philadelphia in 2011, about 80 percent were killed with a handgun, 75 percent of those killed were African-American, and 75 percent of the murderers were African-American, too.
“If you put that gun down, we’ll put a job in your hands,” he said. “We’ll work with you to put a future back in your own hands.”
He correlated the idea of gun violence with failing schools and the future of Philadelphia youth, promising to focus on “the forgotten,” give a voice to those who aren’t heard, build a better Philadelphia and not leave anyone behind. “We cannot accept the status quo,” he said, “We’re bigger and better than that.”
He also spoke of himself, playing the ‘If a kid from 55th Street can get here, so can you,’ card, and said the youth and families of the city need to get back to the sense of community and respect for our elders with which he grew up, stressing “I am my brother’s keeper.”
“I am motivated by a vision of what we can be,” he said. “This is the City of Brotherly Love and sisterly affection. We look out for each other, stand up for each other and fight for each other.”