For Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, 2012 started off on a great note when he was sworn in for a second term on January 2. In his speech Nutter vowed to deal harshly with gun violence and improve the Philadelphia School District to ensure that every student gets a quality education. As is often the case with Mayor Nutter, he had bigger plans for the city and, to that extent, 2012 was certainly Michael Nutter’s year.
Three days after he was sworn in, Mayor Nutter and members of the Philadelphia School District SRC traveled to Denver to look at how that city was implementing the Great Schools Compact. Nutter especially wanted to learn how Denver was able to unite the public, charter and other schools so well. The mayor also made sure that the residents knew that the trip wasn’t being paid for through taxpayers’ money, but with a $10,000 grant that was received through William Penn Foundation.
To further insure that Philadelphia becomes the greenest city in the nation, the mayor decided in March to re-purpose an existing building instead of building a new one. After much consideration, the vacant, 86 year old Provident Mutual Life Insurance Company building in West Philly was chosen as the new home for the police administration headquarters, city morgue, a couple of health centers, and a new juvenile correctional facility.
The renovation project is expected to cost $9 million, but the sale of the present police administration building would pay for it. He also pledged to renovate 6 police stations and 11 fire stations that are badly in need of repair.
In April, Mayor Nutter announced the city was partnering with NovaThermal Energy Corporation to use a commercial scale geothermal system for heating buildings using local or national wastewater. Buildings that use the system will cut their heating costs by 50% and will help conserve natural resources.
Nutter also introduced Greenworks Philadelphia that would offer various goals and offer 150 initiatives that would reduce the city’s dependence on high energy costs, reduce the city’s impact on the environment, and develop jobs for the emerging green technology. Nutter further stated that green jobs will provide people with the opportunity to join the middle class and that these jobs will eventually become as popular as the factory jobs of the 1970s.
This year the Philadelphia Fair Criminal Screening Standards Ordinance took effect. The law, which Nutter signed into legislation in 2011, states that employers in Philly with more than 10 employees cannot ask on a job application or in a first interview if the candidate has a criminal record. It was even given its own catchy, but cool name: Ban the Box. If an employer violates the law they could end up being fined up to $2,000 per violation.
The exception to this law is jobs with the police, courts or prisons. This law is a relief to the thousands of ex-offenders who are released every year and are unable to find a job because of their prison record.
Mayor Nutter also did a lot of talking this year. He spoke at the Democratic National Convention, gave a press conference for Hurricane Sandy, spoke at the Cultural Alliance’s annual meeting, apologized to a woman who was hit by a police officer, and was the keynote speaker for the IBM Smarter Cities Summit. None of these speeches were as entertaining as the salty speech he gave in 2011 at a church in regards to the violent flash mobs, but they were inspiring speeches all the same.