Pulse: Chatter: Politics: Them’s Fighting Words

The political goes personal at City Hall

Mayor Michael Nutter may not have found his stride at City Hall yet, but he has found his archrival: Whether the topic is property taxes, paperless government or budget cuts, City Councilman Bill Green seems to be stealing Nutter’s good-government mantle, more than once asserting the Mayor could be doing better. The tension between the two was apparent from the start of Nutter’s term  but may have boiled over last summer, when a story began circulating that a Nutter staffer had punched Green in a real live fracas. As Green tells it, he and Nutter’s legislative liaison, Julia Chapman, exchanged heated words about the Mayor at an end-of-session party. He doesn’t remember what was said, only that Chapman took the pro-Nutter position; Green took the con. Chapman first wagged a finger, then, Green says, pulled back her fist as if to strike him, at which point one of the Councilman’s aides hustled her away.

“These tall tales benefit no one,” rebuts Chapman, when asked about the dustup, “particularly the citizens we serve.” Nutter — who wasn’t there at the time — calls the story “silly.”

Whatever the case, the long winter since hasn’t cooled the apparent rivalry, which recently sparked up again over competing ideas on how to handle the city’s budget crisis. Indeed, the power crowd is abuzz with the rumor that Green’s going to make it official and run against Nutter in 2011 — even as Green says that won’t happen. Asked earlier this year about the possibility of a Nutter-Green face-off for the Democratic nod, Nutter declined to comment. The latest official statement from the Mayor’s camp, via spokesman Doug Oliver, is coolly diplomatic: “There’s a big difference between disagreement and being disagreeable. While the Mayor and Councilman Green may not always see eye-to-eye, we appreciate the Councilman’s passion and energy for his work.”