Friday, January 9, 2009

PCC's Pick for Political Quote of the Day

"It feels like we had the right person at the right time,
and then it became the wrong time,"

-- stated by Colleen Bracken, a Philadelphia leadership consultant
when asked by a Phila. Inquirer writer to critique the performance
of Mayor Michael Nutter.

Patrick Kerkatra, Inquirer staff write reports:
" For the anniversary of his City Hall open house, The Inquirer sought out 15 people who had been randomly chosen for interviews from the thousands who showed up to celebrate on the day after Nutter's inauguration.

If they widely share one sentiment now, it is quiet disappointment - not so much with the mayoral leadership as with the fading opportunity to transform the city.

Though some said Nutter had stumbled, most said he had managed as well as could be expected, given the recession's devastating impact on the city budget.

All said their hopes for what Nutter could accomplish had dimmed.

'I'm heartbroken. Heartbroken,' said Colleen Bracken, a leadership consultant from Germantown. 'I really do think we were on a great trajectory, and it's just a completely different scenario now.'

Bracken said she still strongly supported Nutter, but no longer expected him to accomplish all she had hoped.

The Nutter supporters interviewed this week said they had been encouraged by his first eight months in office, particularly his appointments of Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey and other senior officials. Some also credited him with restoring their confidence that City Hall was ethically run.

Then came the budget crisis.

'It feels like we had the right person at the right time, and then it became the wrong time,' Bracken said."

I understand the sentiment but I see things a little differently.

For me, it feels like we have the right person, at the right time, in very difficult times. I believe that Mayor Michael Nutter will do what he has to do to navigate Philadelphia through stormy economic waters. My question is whether the voters will help man the oars and ride out the storm or whether they'll just jump ship.

Will the majority of Philadelphians recognize the situation that the Mayor is facing. be patient, judge the Mayor's efforts fairly and give him a second term?

Philadelphia's problems didn't happen overnight, in a vacuum or without voter consent. Yes, some of the City's economic troubles are reflective of a failing national economy. However, it has to be recognized that the City's problems are also rooted in: the two term administration of former Mayor John Street; decades of an ineffectual and occasionally corrupt City Council; and Philly's general political modus operandi which probably rivals Chicago's.

Philadelphia is often referred to as "a city of neighborhoods". Well anyone who's lived here long enough knows that every neighborhood wants their slice of the pie and often a slice of their neighbor's. Almost no one does anything without expecting something. The corporations want influence, the unions want influence and so does the clergy. No one wants to pay higher taxes. No one wants to see cuts in municipal services. Everyone says they want an end to crime but virtually no one wants to help the police when they try to investigate one. To avoid the headaches, those with two dollars to rub together move to the suburbs. This way they too can complain about the dangers and high taxes from afar.

When a political figure occasionally emerges, who seems to rise above "politics as usual" and promise change, great hopes surround that candidate. Voters believe that this individual is going to ride in, fix the problems that took decades to create and, run all the bad guys out of town in the process. It's becomes chic and hip to say that you want "change".

Then the reality of governance sets in and so many people are disappointed or disillusioned.


Because for many people, it wasn't real "change" that they wanted as much as their slice of the pie.

Most people have heard Mahatma Gandhi's saying "You must be the change that you want to see in the world". Yet many still wait for that change to come from someone else.

Well here's a little ancient Chinese wisdom for everyone who still wants to sit on the sidelines watching and waiting.

"The person who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones. "

"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it."

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