It's Our Money is asking various experts and advocates to grade the Nutter administration on its performance in the budget process -- it's handling of the process, and the quality of the budget it ultimately got, given the circumstances. This assessment is from Tom Cronin, former president of AFSCME District Council 47, the city's white collar workers' union.
Comments: This may be viewed as a charitable grade by some. I don’t blame the recession on our mayor, but his political history has helped create a climate where cutbacks on city services and attacks on city workers are being called for by the corporate media. Mayor Nutter-Cutter, up until recently, has been known as a tax-cutter. As Former City Councilman David Cohen once said, “Michael never met a tax cut he didn’t like.” City services are paid for by taxes. When you constantly trumpet the tax cut mantra and tax breaks for the rich and powerful, you end up cutting services. You’re a Republican in a Democratic costume.
Nutter-Cutter is also a master of situational ethics. When former Mayor Street proposed cutbacks to some city services – for example the libraries – Nutter was outraged. He became one of the champions of the libraries and city services. Then he became mayor and the recession hit, and he changed course. He called for cutbacks in city services, massive layoffs of city workers, and, of course, cutbacks in workers’ health care, wages and pensions. Now that there is a state budget and part of the fiscal crisis has been averted, he can focus on just trying to lower the standard of living of current and future city workers and their families [in the municipal contract negotiations].
As for the tax question, the Nutter administration has changed course. Now he wants new taxes – but ones that will fall especially hard on the poor. How creative and courageous!
The Nutter administration won’t go after the sacred cows in our town and make them pay their fair share, nor will he really work with the city unions and their leaders to improve city services. Instead, he’ll continue to hurt the poor. His administration reminds me of a player in a bench clearing brawl who runs past an opposing player, usually big and strong, to punch someone smaller.
No, I wouldn’t put the Nutter administration on the Dean’s List. It belongs, as Dean Wormer put it in Animal House, “on double-triple secret probation.”