Is Michael Nutter Too Honest?

And what has his mayorship taught us about what we should ask of our next mayor?

Philadelphia Schools

Over at Politico as part of the magazine’s “What Works” series on innovative ideas and urban reinvention, WHYY’s Holly Otterbein takes a look back at the Michael Nutter-mania that swept Philadelphia back in 2007 and wonders, as we prepare to select our next mayor, if it’s possible for a Philadelphia government to be “honest and effective”:

Perhaps nothing inspired more hope in city residents around that time, though, than a wonkish, Wharton-educated, bespectacled 51-year-old named Michael Nutter. … [T]he reform Democrat had gone from underdog in the race to be Philadelphia’s next mayor to clobbering a slate of usual suspects in the May primary, including a millionaire, the boss of the city’s Democratic Party, a West Philly congressman and a powerful state representative.

As to whether Nutter ever actually delivered on that promise, Committee of Seventy’s Zack Stalberg, Comcast’s David L. Cohen, state senate majority leader Dominic Pileggi, councilman Jim Kenney and Nutter’s press secretary Mark McDonald weigh in on the mayor’s accomplishments (more honest government, an improved image for Philadelphia among state lawmakers — particularly Republicans) and failings (a general difficulty getting his agenda through).

It all comes down to that age-old question about what it takes to get stuff done in famously “corrupt and contented” Philadelphia, and the more pressing issue of what we might expect from the cast of characters lining up to be the next mayor.

The question is similar to the one our own Patrick Kerkstra asked in “Michael Nutter’s Incorruptible Administration” in the July issue of Philadelphia magazine, which is available in full now.