Mayor-elect Michael Nutter last week wholeheartedly threw his support behind Hillary Clinton in next year's presidential race.

"Philadelphia, we need a friend in the White House," he said at an Electric Factory fund-raiser for the New York senator, before a crowd of about 1,000 people - including former President Bill Clinton.

That might be.

But several months earlier, Nutter left the distinct impression that Philadelphia might need a different friend.

At a mayoral forum at Central High School in Philadelphia last February, each of the five Democrats running in the primary was asked to predict the next president.

Nutter's answer: "I'll go out on a limb. Sen. [Barack] Obama." His response triggered a round of applause and whoops from the young audience.

Of course, that was before the Illinois senator distributed an e-mail to the supporters of U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, one of Nutter's rivals in the race, asking them to contribute to Fattah's campaign committee.

Asked last week about why it was Obama then and Clinton now, Nutter said: "That was during the election campaign, and I certainly wish him well. I wish him the best. That's what campaigns are about. They evolve over time."

Thinking alike

Mayor-elect Nutter and his new managing director, Camille Barnett, haven't worked together yet, but there's ample evidence they're already on the same page on perhaps the city's most pressing problem: crime.

Nutter, of course, recently selected Charles Ramsey as the city's next police commissioner. Nine years ago, Barnett did exactly the same thing, hiring Ramsey away from Chicago's police force to lead the department in Washington, D.C., where Barnett was chief management officer.

"He was a great choice for D.C., and seeing him here made me think Nutter knew what he was doing," said Barnett, who went to Chicago in 1998 with a member of the city's control board to woo Ramsey.

Though their paths quickly diverged (Barnett left D.C. within a year of Ramsey's arrival) and Ramsey didn't report directly to Barnett, they worked together frequently.

According to Philadelphia's charter, the police commissioner's boss is technically the managing director. How would Ramsey feel about working directly for Barnett?

"I don't know what Mayor-elect Nutter's setup is going to be, but I don't have a problem with that," Ramsey said. "We've got a very good relationship."

That doesn't mean Ramsey wasn't stunned when he learned Barnett would join him in Nutter's administration.

"You should have seen his expression when he saw me the first time in Philadelphia," Barnett said.

Speaking of managing directors, when news broke last week of Barnett's appointment, her fans in Philadelphia were elated at the prospect of a professional city manager holding down the managing director position.

A few suggested, in print, that it was high time the city had a true pro in that position. A few readers pointed out that the public servants who've held that post recently aren't exactly chopped liver.

Current managing director Loree Jones served as the prior managing director's lead deputy before taking the top job this summer. Before that, she managed a large nonprofit.

Her two most recent predecessors - Pedro Ramos and Phil Goldsmith - had a wealth of experience before taking office, even if it wasn't specifically in the field of city management.

Ramos had been city solicitor, a lawyer at Ballard Spahr, and chief of staff to former University of Pennsylvania president Judith Rodin before becoming managing director. Before his stint, Goldsmith had been interim CEO of the School District of Philadelphia, run Fairmount Park and logged a couple of decades as a leading businessman, among other jobs.