OUR DEMOCRATIC mayor, Michael Nutter, has a record of raising taxes, increasing spending and showing a distinct lack of fire when corruption and incompetence have taken place among public employees.
This shouldn't be surprising. It's what's happening all around the country in cities with Democratic mayors. But rather than searching for the best Democratic option, Philadelphians need to elect a Republican mayor.
Our next mayor will inherit a city on the brink of bankruptcy, and only sharp cuts to expenses and bold economic initiatives will save us from going belly-up.
The GOP solution is simple.
BE BUSINESS FRIENDLY! Businesses don't have to come to Philadelphia. Let's make it enticing for them to flourish here. It's better to expand our tax base than tax our shrinking base to death.
How to accomplish that? By a combination of eliminating draconian business taxes (specifically, the gross receipts tax) and lowering wage taxes to a reasonable level. That way, start-ups that don't make a profit their first few years won't be afraid to come to Philadelphia. And freshly minted college graduates won't be motivated to leave.
MAKE REAL BUDGET CUTS! Government should stick to what it does best and consider outsourcing everything else. This means bidding out trash, call centers, prisons and administrative services, among others. This means cutting wasteful government jobs, with the mayor focusing exclusively on the needs of our 1.5 million residents. And having the political courage to negotiate the three unresolved municipal contracts and fight for fair concessions - in New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie-like style.
A sitting Democratic mayor like Nutter who fears that unions will threaten to mobilize city workers against him on Election Day is powerless. It will take a fearless Republican with no ties to special interests to make those unpopular cuts and reduce the size of government.
FIGHT CORRUPTION! When ex-Mayor John Street accuses Nutter of having "no governing priorities or principles," you know we've reached a low point. It will take an outsider to change the culture of City Hall.
In 2007, Candidate Nutter positioned himself as the only true reformer in a city that saw his predecessor's image tarnished by the "pay-to-play" corruption scandal, where several of Street's closest confidantes went to jail. With Nutter, his "A new day, a new way" slogan promised to eliminate corruption, make government transparent, cut taxes and bring businesses to Philadelphia.
A confession: Nutter's promises even convinced me and some other loyal Republicans. We believed he would keep his promises and help the city rise again.
Instead, once Candidate Nutter became Mayor Nutter, he threw out his promise to eliminate the business privilege tax, claiming the poor economy forced him to do it. Instead, he increased taxes wherever he could, even to the extent that the Democratic-leaning Teamsters rallied against him and his laughable "soda tax," promising to make him pay on Election Day.
The mayor promised to eliminate corruption, yet when a city councilman's aide was accused of falsifying time sheets, Nutter said nothing. When the Philadelphia Housing Authority's executive director's illegal behavior unraveled, Nutter said and still continues to say nothing.
Until his own Cabinet members were publicly caught making pension grabs, Nutter said nothing. When flash mobs threatened our city, Nutter's cavalier response was, "I ran for mayor. I didn't run for mother."
Even among his staunchest supporters, Nutter is accused of lacking aggressiveness. Philadelphians deserve a fighter - specifically someone who yearns to be the cheerleader for the city. Nutter's shocking letter refusing to bid on Philadelphia hosting the 2012 Democratic National Convention should disqualify him for re-election.
Hosting a high-profile national political convention did wonders for Philadelphia in 2000. It made this city the center of the universe for a week. It resulted in significant economic impact, helping union workers, restaurants, hotels and local businesses.
IT brought in out-of-town dollars, and with the new SugarHouse Casino and the expanded Convention Center, there's no reason for the city not to have been the DNC's destination.
The next mayor of Philadelphia must be so determined to get companies to relocate here that other mayors would have to get a restraining order against him from raiding their cities.
Philadelphians should expect no less than a mayor who's got the spirit and vigor of the Energizer Bunny.