It was never much of a secret that former Mayors John F. Street and Michael A. Nutter didn't get along.
And clearly, the acrimony remains. The two former chief executives of Philadelphia aired their animosity publicly on Friday.
Street opened by calling Nutter a "petty, incompetent micromanager." Nutter fired back by saying the difference between the men was "honesty and integrity," suggesting Street was lacking in each. He called Street an "unhappy, reclusive person."
The mayoral flame war started in response to a request for comment from Street to remarks made by Mayor Kenney at a news conference Thursday that suggested Street still harbored resentment toward Nutter.
At a dedication ceremony for a second portrait of former Mayor James H.J. Tate, Kenney was asked about the status of Street's portrait, which has yet to be hung in City Hall with those of other past mayors.
"He was waiting for me," Kenney said of Street, suggesting Street had no interest in sitting through a portrait ceremony conducted by Nutter.
Late Thursday, Street sent an email response confirming he had not wanted the portrait to go up during Nutter's tenure. He did not stop there.
"How bout we put a period at the end of the sentence on the Nutter thing," Street wrote.
"I had major disagreements with all the mayors but we maintained a fundamental respect for each other and the magnitude of the office. Mayor Nutter proved to be a petty, incompetent micromanager. I don't really like or respect him."
Nutter, in an emailed statement Friday, called Street's administration, which weathered several corruption probes, "an embarrassment to our city in the public eye and before the nation."
"That's one big difference between him and me, honesty and integrity," Nutter wrote. "I can't even imagine having the FBI bug probe to deal with while governing, since governing is hard enough."
Nutter said Street had "some unresolved anger issues and possibly feels underappreciated."
He ended a series of insults by saying he would follow his mother's advice: if you can't "say anything nice about someone, it's just best to say nothing about them at all."
Nutter and Street have sparred for decades, dating back to when both were on City Council. Nutter's campaign for mayor in 2007 was mostly focused on condemning Street's time as mayor. Street had previously criticized Nutter, most recently in 2010 when he questioned whether Nutter was black enough for African American communities. Street told the Inquirer that Nutter was "not a black mayor. He's just a mayor with dark skin."
As for the portrait of Street, it was completed several years ago and sits in storage.
Nutter said there had been plans late in his first term to hold a ceremony to hang it with the other mayoral portraits in the Mayor's Reception Room. It was canceled on Street's end, however, and never rescheduled.
Kenney said he was ready to have a ceremony whenever Street would like.
"I'd like to put it up there. I've come full circle with him," Kenney said Thursday. "We certainly were adversaries when I was in Council and he was the mayor, but as time went on, he's been very helpful to me - very good on advice."
Speaking of mayoral portraits, Nutter has yet to have one done himself.
"I don't have one. You have to find an artist, sit for it, it's not the main thing on my mind right now," he said. "It's kind of been a busy year."
Full text of Street's email:
How bout we put a period at the end of the sentence on the Nutter thing.
Mayor Nutter is unique in the modern era of Philadelphia Mayors.
Governor Rendell is too polite and politically correct to admit he didn't like Nutter as a councilmen or mayor.
Congressman Brady tried to help Nutter only to be rebuffed and privately criticized.
Mayor Nutter had zero friends on city council for most of the time he occupied the 2nd floor of city hall. You have to work hard to achieve that feat.
Nutter has managed to offend mayor Kenney and virtually every elected official in any Philadelphia delegation. Business people are too polite to say publicly how they really feel.
I have regular conversations with Mayors Green , Goode and Rendell despite our many differences. Rendell didn't support my re-election or my council presidency. We became great partners.
I had major disagreements with all the mayors but we maintained a fundamental respect for each other and the magnitude of the office.
Mayor Nutter proved to be a petty , incompetent micromanager. I don't really like or respect him.
I stand ready and willing to help Mayor Kenney , city council or any Philadelphia elected official in any reasonable way. You might remember Kenney and I were not exactly in the same political camp.
Mayor Kenney is working hard to represent the best interest of the city.
He's willing to accept constructive criticism. He's not perfect but certainly a breath of fresh air when compared to his predecessor.
The portraits will be hung in due time.
Have a great evening
Former mayor jfstreet
Full text of Nutter's response:
Thank you for sending Former Mayor John Street's comments to me directly, since he has never once had the decency to share these feelings with me to my face, but it's always easier I guess to hide behind an email. That's one big difference between him and me, honesty and integrity. I can't even imagine having the FBI bug probe to deal with while governing, since governing is hard enough. So my hat is off to Mayor Street for managing the public scrutiny that resulted from the numerous corruption probes that occurred during his administration and the embarrassment to our city in the public eye and before the nation.
Clearly Mayor Street has some unresolved anger issues and possibly feels underappreciated, but as for me, I'm very proud of my Administration and our team, who reduced crime to levels last seen in the 1960's, invested more money in educating our children than at any time in the last 30 years, guided our City through the Great Recession and brought back jobs and economic investment, actually ran an ethical government with integrity (which may have upset some of the parochial interests in our town) and helped to make Philadelphia the great City it is today. I've remained active in Philadelphia and across the country, teaching at Columbia University, speaking on CNN and actively engaged in public policy matters in numerous cities across the United States. I have a life and I'm living it, so I'm just not going to respond in a personal way to the rantings of an apparently unhappy reclusive person. You and your readers though can take a stroll down memory lane and just refresh your recollections of Mayor Street's time in office with the following:
I will leave his nastier comments about me and his bizarre assessments of "who likes whom" to sit wherever they may land. As for me, I was born and raised here in Philadelphia to proud Black parents, a strong black woman, my mother, a god-fearing proud Catholic woman, who taught me if I couldn't say anything nice about someone, it's just best to say nothing about them at all.
Michael A. Nutter
Former Mayor of Philadelphia
David N. Dinkins Professor of Practice, School of International Public
CNN Political Commentator
Chair, Airbnb Mayors Advisory Board
UChicago Urban Labs Fellow
Drexel University Executive Fellow