When we first heard that Mayor Nutter was traveling to the Gulf Coast to observe the damage done by the oil spill, our response was “cool.” The delegation, organized by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, seemed like a great way to show some brotherly love to people impacted by this environmental catastrophe.
Our feelings changed after we read this:
The City of Philadelphia paid for his trip, but the mayor said he was not sure how much it cost.
What? In the middle of the worst fiscal crisis in two decades, city government still has enough money to send Mayor Nutter on a trip to the Gulf Coast? We're in favor of showing solidarity, but should taxpayers really be footing the bill?
We understand that we're not talking about a huge sum here. After all, the cost of a hotel room and airfare is almost nothing in the scheme of the $3.8 billion city budget. Still, Nutter probably traveled with an entourage that included security. That's a lot of hotel rooms. If the Mayor flew first class, add thousands more to the overall cost.
It's hard to take Nutter seriously when he says that there is nowhere left to cut after he takes a trip like this. How can citizens now have confidence that city officials are really pinching every penny? This trip hardly suggests a frugal mindset at City Hall.
Mayor Nutter told the Inquirer that the trip was worth it because if some kind of disaster happened in Philadelphia, we'd want support from around the country. Huh? If that's the motivation, we'd rather Nutter organize a fund-raising drive to help with clean up. Why the heck would we want the mayor of Gulfport to visit if the Sunoco refinery blew up?
Frankly, both the Mayor and City Council have asked city residents to make numerous sacrifices over the past two years. Our taxes have been raised twice, fees have risen, and services have been cut. Is it too much to ask that our elected officials make sacrifices of their own? For instance, giving up the travel budget for things like this.