A competent municipal response to a big snowstorm might not be enough to rehabilitate a mayor's image overnight, but an incompetent response can damage even the most popular elected leaders.
Just ask former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell, who was blasted for the city's response to the blizzard of 1996, the largest recorded snowfall in Philadelphia history. Under Rendell's watch, city schools were closed for more than a week, and garbage collection took much longer than that to return to normal.
Last week, Mayor Nutter fared far better cleaning up the second-largest snowfall in city history. With a big assist from rising temperatures - and state trucks from Gov. Rendell - city workers quickly cleared thoroughfares and got to most secondary roads before Monday's morning rush hour. Even many side streets were graced by a plow.
Although the cost of the city's response is not yet known, Nutter's popularity could ill afford the black eye of a botched cleanup.
"It was an important snowstorm for the mayor, and I think he handled it as well as could be expected," said former Managing Director Pedro Ramos, who led the city's response to storms for part of the previous Street administration.
For many residents, the city's response to a big storm is the clearest evidence of how good a job a mayor is doing. Reforming the Board of Revision of Taxes is swell, but it will not help a welder get to work.
"You can't spin a storm. People know whether you did the job or not because they're out there living it. They see it. And at the end of the day, they know how you did," said Phil Goldsmith, another former managing director. - Patrick Kerkstra
No clock in baseball
Anyone exasperated by the Pennsylvania legislature's inability to agree on the already-agreed-upon decision to expand gambling - and thereby complete the state budget - really shouldn't complain.
Take the Phillies' Jimmy Rollins and the state House of Representatives. Last week, Rollins was part of a ceremony in which his uniform was donated to the Atwater Kent Museum, the city-owned trove of Philadelphia history and culture. It will be the centerpiece of an exhibit timed for the museum's reopening in the fall.
Rollins also narrated a mini-documentary "Webisode" on the early history of baseball here as part of Sam Katz's documentary project, Philadelphia: The Great Experiment (www.historyofphilly.com).
Toward the end of the event, State Rep. James R. Roebuck Jr. (D., Phila.) stepped to the lectern, first acknowledging that it takes the legislature a while to get around to things. Then he presented Rollins with an honorary citation approved by the House for his National League MVP award in 2007.
"Heard in the Hall" would recommend not waiting for an unrelated media event two years later to recognize Rollins for being an overall good guy and maybe the best shortstop in baseball. Can a resolution for late Phils reliever Jim Konstanty, the 1950 league MVP, be far behind?
Rollins was gracious, and showed a sense of humor about his occasional run-ins with manager Charlie Manager, who benched him twice in the last two seasons, once for lateness and once for lack of hustle. "I might jog every once in a while," Rollins said with a smile, "but Charlie handles that pretty well." - Jeff Shields
Old scores put aside
Speaking of political irony, City Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. certainly knows how to put it to good use.
This afternoon at 3:30, Jones is scheduled to dedicate a scoreboard at the Shepard Recreation Center in West Philly to the late Carol Ann Campbell, a former councilwoman and power broker as secretary of the Democratic City Committee.
Campbell also was Jones' chief political rival. He unseated her in a nasty three-way Democratic primary after she had been in office for less than a year. Jones then became the subject of an investigation by Seth Williams, the inspector general at the time, with allegations that were believed to have come from the Campbell camp. The allegations never panned out.
But Jones always professed admiration for Campbell's toughness; she was known for taking political rivals out with a quick call on a cell phone, and she knocked more than a few heads together to get Shepard renovated in 2007, before she left office. - Jeff Shields