BACK WHEN WE WERE DELIBERATING over whom to endorse in last month’s mayoral primary, there was some internal concern about Michael Nutter’s chances. He was languishing at 12 percent in the polls when, owing to our early deadline, we had to decide on our candidate. One staffer suggested we back Chaka Fattah, who was then strong in the polls. In the end, though, we decided to do what was right, to side with a candidate on the merits of his ideas and passion, as opposed to following the politically expedient path. To do anything else would have been in keeping with the cynical way politics have been practiced here for far too long.
When we did come out for Nutter, his campaign called. Would we hold a press conference with him at his headquarters? There, I was asked what effect I thought our endorsement would have. Absolute ass that I am, I bluntly replied, “I don’t really think endorsements matter that much.” Channel 6’s Vernon Odom said, “Well, what are we here for, then?,” and Nutter joked, “That’s all for today, folks. Thanks!”
My reasoning was that if endorsements mattered, we’d have a President Kerry and a Mayor Katz now. But I was being cynical; something did happen in last month’s primary. After we made our choice, the Inquirer and Daily News jumped on the Nutter bandwagon, and voters seemed to understand that a sober look at the record and the man made this race a no-brainer — even in Philadelphia, where appeals to distractions like race have long overridden common sense. There has been great stuff happening in and around Philadelphia for a decade now; our politics, however, have lagged far behind. In that realm, Philadelphia has continued to be run by and for a tight-knit cabal of insiders, as senior writer Matt Teague makes clear on page 108 in “Gaming the System,” his behind-the-scenes distillation of just how we came to have two slot parlors ready to dominate our waterfront. It was a process that shut out the average Philadelphian. But after Election Day, I read Teague’s saga in a new light. Now, with gains made in Council, with a burgeoning reform movement, with a mayor whose heart is in the right place, and with a media and electorate that refuses to be cowed or manipulated, my hope is that our government will finally be as good as our people, and that, as Michael Nutter told the Inquirer editorial board, we will finally be able to retire the phrase “corrupt and contented.”
ONE OF THE GREAT THINGS HAPPENING around here of late is our restaurant scene. This month, inspired by food editor April White’s January essay “Fork in the Road,” Food & Wine magazine chronicles just how Philadelphia is becoming a great food town. (Go to our website, phillymag.com, to link to the Food & Wine piece and to read White’s article.)
We are, as White exhorted in January, becoming more than just a city of great Stephen Starr restaurants and terrific BYOBs. We will continue to do what White did, and what our political and cultural coverage strives to do each month: prod, kvetch, and imagine better possibilities.
Meantime, sometimes our culinary desires begin and end with a flaming grill, a hunk o’ meat and some ice-cold brews. Reading this issue’s cover package, which viscerally brings to life the Jersey Shore experience and marries it with terrific, practical service tips that help you navigate your vacation, made me want to hightail it down to Cape May and fire up a grill of my own. Here’s to an artery-clogging, sun-drenched summer.