Tunes and talk at Writers House

Political journalists gather to discuss challenges facing mayor-elect Nutter

The Daily Pennsylvanian
November 27, 2007

Media Credit: Jefferson Wen
Dan Urevick-Ackelsberg speaks at the Kelly Writers House last night. He and several other Philadelphia writers led a discussion about the challenges Mayor-elect Michael Nutter will face.

Politics met music last night in the Arts Cafe of the Kelly Writers House.

Four award-winning political journalists, along with musical guests The Spinning Leaves, visited Penn for a public recording of "LIVE at the Writers House," the center's monthly radio program.

At last night's recording, named "Winds of Change: Philly Politics 2007," Philadelphia writers read columns they had written about Philadelphia Mayor-elect Michael Nutter, whose term will begin in January.

Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Chris Satullo outlined the challenges that Nutter will face as mayor.

"He will inherit national scorn and local panic over a frightening homicide rate," Satullo said. "He'll have to deal, somehow, with the leadership meltdown in a school system that is vital to all of his long-term plans."

The tall agenda will prove difficult for the new mayor, especially if support wanes among his fan base, Satullo added. "So here's the rub: Will Nutter's fans give him time to sort through all that, or will they grow impatient?" he asked.

Philadelphia Weekly editor Tim Whitaker elaborated on the current state of the city that Nutter will adopt: "There are more inmates on death row in Philadelphia than there are in 42 states," he said.

Whitaker referenced a recent article in which he outlined steps that politicians and the public should take to improve safety at night. Still, he said, "nothing good ever happens after 2 a.m."

Philadelphia Daily News writer Dave Davies pointed to one factor that made the most recent mayoral election unique - the absence of a "racially polarizing candidate."

Nutter "now becomes mayor with a chance to bridge the racial divide," Davies said.

Still, Davies pointed to remaining questions about Nutter's ability to lead, including his reluctance to share the burden of the job by "reaching out to other politicians and players."

Dan Urevick-Ackelsberg, founder of Young Philly Politics - a blog dedicated to getting "young progressives" involved in Philadelphia politics - challenged the audience to assume an active role in Nutter's victory.

"How bad do you want Nutter to succeed?" he asked. "What are you going to do to help him push his agenda? Maybe more importantly, what are you going to do when you disagree with him?"

Country-folk musical guests The Spinning Leaves complemented the political discussion with guitar and song.

"Winds of Change" will air Monday evening at 8 p.m. on 88.5 WXPN.