MICHAEL NUTTER has just seven months to get through one hell of a to-do list.
With no formidable Republican opponent this fall, Democratic mayoral primary winner Michael Nutter effectively has until January to assemble his administration and plan his early moves.
Yesterday, Nutter said he had not started getting ready.
"I don't have plans for Wednesday," he said. "I could never allow myself to be that presumptuous."
So what will a Nutter administration look like? Whom will he appoint, what issues will he tackle and how will he get along with his former City Council colleagues?
Well, first off, Nutter will try to strike a peace deal with his fellow candidates. Because state Rep. Dwight Evans, U.S. Reps. Bob Brady and Chaka Fattah are all elected officials, Nutter will have to work with them as mayor. So he'll need to smooth things over after the final negative days.
Brady has said he will support whoever the Democratic victor is. As goes Brady, so goes the rest of political Philadelphia, so expect them to make up.
Nutter will be taking the helm of a city in transition. Philadelphia has made huge strides since the 1990s. It now boasts a thriving Center City and substantial real-estate development, but it still is suffering from a rising murder rate and looming budget problems, while one in four Philadelphians live at or below the poverty line.
Throughout the campaign, Nutter has stressed fighting crime, ethics reform, improving the schools and easing business taxes as top priorities.
But while all mayors enter office with their own vision and priorities, there are usually things they must do before they can take on the projects they want to do.
"Initially, he'll have to do a lot of things you don't think about as being policy," said St. Joseph's University Professor Randall Miller.
Ed Rendell became mayor in 1992, and before he could get to tax cuts and a tourism- and hospitality-led economic program, he had to stabilize the city's finances and confront city unions in a high-stakes contract battle.
Eight years later, John Street came in with ambitious plans for reviving the neighborhoods, but first had to negotiate deals for two new stadiums and to settle city union contracts.
Nutter will have to address some harsh fiscal realities as he negotiates municipal-union contracts that expire six months after his inauguration. If he doesn't get savings, everything in his agenda, from more cops to business tax cuts, will be more difficult.
With pension and health-benefit costs approaching one-fourth of the city budget, there will be strong pressure for fundamental changes, such as moving to a defined-contribution pension system and shifting employees from four union-controlled health plans to a single system.
Either move would provoke a major battle with the unions, and two of the four - police and fire - will have their contracts determined by arbitrators rather than by negotiations between the parties.
Nutter has said he would try to beef up the Pension Board staff to manage the fund. He also said he would commission a "legitimate study" of defined-contribution plans, like a 401K plan - a proposal the unions aren't crazy about.
Cooperation with current city officials would be helpful as Nutter plots strategy over the next nine months, but it would be hard to pick two figures less likely to work together than Nutter and Mayor Street.
What Nutter's governing team or inner circle will look like is something of a question mark.
No one can point to a long list of confidantes likely to populate a Nutter administration. Lawyer and lobbyist Dick Hayden is an old and trusted friend and adviser, and economic consultant and ward leader Terry Gillen is a veteran of the Rendell administration who's been close to Nutter throughout the campaign.
And Julia Chapman, who was Nutter's Council chief of staff for years, would also be on a short list of possible appointees.
Nutter is admired among good-government groups, and should get plenty of resumés from policy wonks.
Campaign insiders said Nutter will likely use national searches for some of the top jobs. When Nutter held his first hearings on ethics legislation, the lead witnesses were the leaders of ethics panels from New York and Los Angeles.
Nutter has said that he favors a national search to find the next police commissioner - perhaps the most important appointment he'll make.
Nutter's people skills - he had a reputation for being effective but sometimes abrasive on Council - have been questioned throughout the campaign. When he gets into office, he will be closely watched to see how he does as a manager.
"We've had no look at him in a role like this," said Miller. "What is going to be the personality of this office? He can be funny and he can be self-deprecating. He's a very serious guy. One of the things he's going to want to do is demonstrate the right touch."
Nutter may also have to woo his former Council comrades - none of whom endorsed his mayoral candidacy.
Gillen said Nutter gets a bad rap for being difficult.
"I do think his style is closer to Ed Rendell than people think," she said. "They both have policy-wonk tendencies, but they're comfortable being around smart people and listening to smart people."
Because Nutter has campaigned heavily on his record of ethics reform in Council, analyst Larry Ceisler suggested Nutter might make a symbolic gesture to show his commitment to good government - much like Ed Rendell, who famously scrubbed out a bathroom on his hands and knees in 1992 to show he was cleaning up City Hall.
"I think the first thing he has to do is symbolically do something to restore trust and faith in government," Ceisler said. *