For Mayor Nutter, 2008 will not end quietly.
The battle over his plan to close 11 libraries will be intensely fought over the next three days - in court, on the streets, in news conferences and, finally, in the libraries themselves, scheduled to close on Wednesday.
At stake are important policy questions involving how Nutter chooses to cope with a daunting financial crisis. But legal and political issues are in play as well.
Courts will be asked to decide whether the mayor has the authority to close public facilities without City Council's approval, and library advocates will see how much strength they can muster among Nutter's political base, and how Nutter reacts to the challenge.
Among the events slated to unfold this week:
* At 10 this morning, proceedings were to begin in Common Pleas Court on two lawsuits seeking to stop the closings. One was brought by seven library users and a union representing library employees. A second was filed by Council members Bill Green, Jannie Blackwell and Jack Kelly.
Both charge that the closings violate a 1988 City Council ordinance barring the mayor from closing city capital facilities, such as fire stations or libraries, without Council approval.
Their lawyers are asking a court to issue an emergency order halting the closings while the merits of the case are decided.
* This afternoon, Nutter and other city officials were to announce a plan to preserve what spokesman Doug Oliver called "a critical library service" in the 11 affected neighborhoods.
A source outside city government said that the announcement would involve a homework-assistance program that now operates in city libraries. Oliver said that Nutter also would provide an update on ongoing efforts to maintain library services.
* Tomorrow, library supporters will demonstrate at City Hall and present what organizers called a "people's indictment" of Nutter for closing the libraries. The group staging the event, including people who have supported Nutter in the past, said in a news release that the charges in the "indictment" would include "wasting the minds of children, promoting illiteracy, and eliminating safe havens for kids."
* On Wednesday, unless the courts intervene or Nutter changes his mind, the 11 targeted libraries will close for good.
Staffers at those libraries have received assignments to work at branches that will remain open.
Nutter announced the library closings and other budget-cutting measures in early November. City officials said the decision to close the 11 libraries was made after a careful analysis of community needs and branch usage - an assertion that will be challenged in the court hearings and the demonstration tomorrow.
In eight town meetings, Nutter said that his administration was developing ideas and alternative funding to preserve library and other services. But he also warned that the city's financial condition would likely get worse before it gets better.