WE THE PEOPLE met with Mayor Nutter Monday night, right before the election, to hear his thoughts on his first term and vision for his second. (We assumed he was going to win.)
The mayor told us that he has four priorities: public safety, education, jobs and government integrity. He listed the accomplishments that his administration has made in these areas, and said that there's more work to do. It was a pleasant speech.
Things got really interesting a little later, when Nutter started talking about violence and guns.
Homicides dropped during Nutter's first two years in office, but they've been ticking back up. We're now at 283 so far for 2011. (We had 275 in 2010.) In the last four years, nearly 85 percent of murder victims between 18-24 were African-American males. All of the juveniles murdered were black.
The mayor railed against this crisis, and wants a federal crackdown on illegal gun trafficking.
We were glad to hear the mayor get worked up about this. We're worked up, too. In the coming weeks, this People's Board will take a closer look at the gun and homicide problems.
Meanwhile, here are a few more priorities we'd like to see the mayor tackle in his next term. These are ideas from individual People's Board members, not the opinion of the group - though, for the record, the whole group does agree that we like it when the mayor gets angry.
* Tackle the brain drain. There are more than 100 universities and colleges around Philadelphia, but the city hasn't given graduating students enough reasons to stay here, either socially or professionally. - Jamira Burley (Temple, Class of 2012)
* Crack down on police brutality. When police mistreat citizens, it discourages those citizens from going to the police with problems. Instead, they handle things themselves - and that keeps the cycle of violence going. -Angela Pote
* Develop vacant properties. The city recently announced a new initiative to crack down on vacant property owners. Good! The next step is to find innovative ways to develop those properties. - George Matysik
* Give people ways to get involved. Many of us want to help out in our neighborhoods, but we're not sure how, outside the annual cleanup. - Chuck Herndon
* Create community and business-development partnerships to revitalize commercial corridors and foster safety, cleanliness and jobs. - Betty Turner
* Deal with the city's unfunded pension liabilities. The mayor should come up with a realistic plan for recovery. - Michael Kubacki