Why is Mayor Nutter Auctioning Off Chunks of the City in Secret Meetings?

Over at the Comcast Center right now, Mayor Nutter is dressing the city up real nice and showing her off. Because Philadelphia, officially the brokest of the country’s five biggest cities, is bringing in big-name institutional investors for a two-day conference to try to entice them to purchase municipal bonds and city-owned assets. More specifically, all I can tell you is that Mayor Nutter is speaking right about now, and there’s a cocktail party at 5:30 p.m. Tomorrow, investors will go check out PHL and Gas Works, among other things. Press aren’t allowed, Comcast VP David Cohen said, because that might make investors uncomfortable.

Several news organizations, including Bloomberg and the Inquirer, have petitioned Comcast’s media blackout.Reuters’ financial writer Cate Long posits that Philly might have something to hide, especially since the city has been unable to explain its rationale for investing in $3.5 billion worth of risky credit interest rate swaps last year.

My guess is that issuers like Philadelphia… are afraid of what enterprising reporters and bloggers can unearth about how they manage their public finances. But it’s the people’s finances. When you do it in dark places, sloppy things like “insufficient documentation” seem to happen.

Consider this a co-sign. [Bloomberg]