Meet Nutter's new communications aide

Will Philadelphia residents soon receive news from their government on their cell phones? Will the city's public access cable station on Ch. 64 become less "boring" (as a Daily News reporter described it in a story today)?

These and other questions arise from Mayor Nutter's hiring of a new communications director. The mayor officially announced more than a week ago that Desiree Peterkin Bell, who has served in that position for Newark Mayor Cory Booker, would be joining his staff.

She begins her Philadelphia job Sept. 20, but Nutter formally introduced her today at a City Hall news conference. Her job won't be to interact with reporters day-to-day - the mayor will soon be hiring a new press secretary to do that - but she will oversee that position and and Nutter's overall communication efforts.

In brief remarks, Peterkin Bell talked about her belief in "the power of American cities," and Nutter as a "strong, bold and dogged leader." She also emphasized keeping citizens "informed, connected and engaged" through a variety of media vehicles.

Nutter and Peterkin Bell met in January during a U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting. While not born here, she has a certain affection for Philadelphia as a Swarthmore College graduate. Peterkin Bell, who with her husband, Brian, has a 2-year-old daughter, also held wedding-related events in the city.

Peterkin Bell becomes Nutter's second communications director, although the position has been vacant since November, when Tricia Enright left to spearhead Philadelphia's census-awareness campaign.

Peterkin Bell's salary will be $150,000 a year, although she begins with a 5 percent pay cut shared by other high-paid Nutter aides. Her salary in Newark could not be obtained today from that city's press office. Newark's government is closed today for a citywide unpaid furlough day.

For more about Peterkin Bell, go here.

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