“Day 100 is quite exciting, and we’re only halfway there,” Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said, speaking to a group of mostly students and professors at the University of Pennsylvania on Tuesday.
The event, titled “The First 100 Days: The Mayor and the Media,” was part of an Urban Studies Conversation series that is open to the public and allowed an opportunity to question Nutter about how he has dealt with the media.
Along with the media, Nutter also tackled the many issues that Philadelphia has been criticized for, maintaining that not all is lost and that there is a “balance.”
“Every day in the city, a few good things happen,” Nutter said.
One of the not-so-good things that played a major role in shaping last year’s mayoral race was Philadelphia’s high murder rate.
One of his solutions to the city’s crime has been the controversial stop-and-frisk policy. It allows police officers to search anyone on the street, who they see as acting suspiciously, without the need of a warrant. While this has been upheld in a 1968 U.S. Supreme Court decision, some fear that it will be used to discriminate against the city’s black citizens.
Nutter defended his decision and said he is less concerned about what color someone may be than if they have a weapon and are willing to use it.
“The unfortunate reality is that young black males are also most likely to be victims or perpetrators,” Nutter said.
To combat poverty, the mayor said education is the key, calling it “the overall factor that brings people out of poverty.”
Nutter cited his own access to an education as “the only reason I’m mayor of Philadelphia.”
Brandon Savran, a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, said he was less interested in media, but wanted an opportunity to hear the mayor speak.
“I am just very excited about the things that he could possibly achieve in this term,” Savran said.
One issue Savran said he would like to have seen covered is how to increase private investment in the city and the willingness of companies to move jobs to Philadelphia.
Nutter commented on the recent fears of an economic crunch and how it might affect the city government, saying that Philadelphia is tied into the national economy.
“If our revenue starts to decline, [it will] impact [our] ability to provide services,” Nutter said.
He said while there is currently no specific strategy for the future, the administration will continue to make adjustments to the budget and five-year plans.
While waiting for Nutter to arrive, a number of students from around the country expressed a variety of views on the city before coming to Philadelphia.
One student commented that “Philly has the worst reputation for corruption,” while another said he sees Philadelphia as being an “old and historic” city.
Kriston Bethel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.