Editorial: Mayor & Council: Grow up

Link: Mayor & Council: Grow Up [Daily News]

IMAGINE a burning house, with children inside. Their parents are there, but instead of getting their family to safety, Mom and Dad are arguing about the color of the drapes.

That's how the skirmishes and sniping between Mayor Nutter and City Council these days feels to those of us who live in the burning house that is the city in financial crisis.

Two weeks ago, Nutter delivered his budget address, rescheduled from January to allow him time to address a $1 billion gap in the five-year plan. He announced to Council members that he wants them to do more to help, like giving up their cars. He's going to eliminate the Deferred Retirement Option Plan. And oh, yes, he wants to raise property taxes.

Council wasn't happy. Many who were considered Nutter allies are now griping about what he's trying to do. Insiders acknowledge that while Nutter may have been able to count on six votes, he now maybe has three. If that.

That means that for the next two months, the budget will be subject to arguments, infighting, stonewalling. People will oppose it to punish the mayor, or to score their own political points. While all budgets should be open to full discussion and airing, the tone of the budget battles so far are mostly bickering - and it is harming the city.

For example, Councilman Bill Green, who plays the role of loyal opposition that Michael Nutter did when John Street was mayor, sniped last week that while the changes Nutter was proposing to DROP mirrored a bill that Green himself had introduced, he was suspicious of the mayor's motivation for introducing it now.

Council is not the only culprit in this battle. The administration could do a better job communicating, and building the alliances in Council that would show a stronger united front.

The city is in crisis, remember? Divisive politics as usual distracts from the real issues, and leads to solutions that are politically expedient rather than in the city's best interests.

We as a city want to believe our leaders will lead: that our leaders are grown up enough to know there are times they have to put aside their differences, act like grown-ups, and pull together.

It's simple, guys: Make nice. Make up. At least make us believe that despite a frightening economic climate and widespread uncertainty, our local government has its priorities straight and is working as a team. *