Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter takes the oath of office during a ceremony on Monday, January 2 at the Academy of Music.
Kevin Cook / for the Times
When Mayor Michael Nutter delivered his inaugural address last week at the Academy of Music, he offered few details, though he did mention that 120 new police officers will be on foot patrol by the summer.
Nutter, 54, took office in 2008 and, in his inaugural address that year, promised to slash the murder rate by 30 percent to 50 percent in three to five years.
The murder rate has gone down. There were 392 homicides in 2007, compared to 320 in 2011.
But the mayor has not reached his goal. In fact, Philadelphia had by far the highest murder rate among the nation’s 10 biggest cities in 2011.
Nutter promised that, in the near future, the city would unveil a new approach to getting illegal guns off the streets. Eighty-three percent of the murders last year were committed by handguns.
The initiative will target the suppliers and the people who receive the weapons. There will be a reward for those who make the right choice.
“We must show them that if you put the gun down, we’ll work with you to put a book in your hands, to put some work and a job in your hands, to put a paycheck in your hands,” he said. “We’ll work with you to put your future back in your hands.”
Nutter described some of the young people terrorizing neighborhoods as “themselves just frightened kids.” He added that the kids weren’t born to be bad, only that they lack opportunity and believe they have no future.
The mayor spoke of a recent visit to the juvenile prison on State Road, where he met a 17-year-old named Kent. The teenager had a 3.6 grade point average at John Bartram High School, scored 1400 on the SAT and is receiving letters from colleges. But he was sentenced to seven to 20 years in prison for four armed robberies that netted him $2,000.
“He’s our kid, and he, all the juveniles up on State Road, and every other young person in this city are part of the future of Philadelphia,” Nutter said.
Nutter, who lives in Wynnefield with his wife and daughter, spent the rest of the week visiting communities to highlight priorities.
The mayor discussed jobs with residents of Project HOME, toured Temple University to emphasize the importance of college and attended the opening of a computer center in Frankford.
Nutter, who served in City Council from 1992 to 2006, believes that the high crime rate in many neighborhoods is one issue holding back Philadelphia. The other is a shortage of quality public education options.
The mayor vowed to turn around the lowest-performing schools in the School District of Philadelphia.
“If they can’t be turned around, close or replace them with high-quality alternatives,” he said.
Nutter, who took the oath of office from U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Theodore A. McKee, was joined on stage during the Jan. 2 ceremony by his wife Lisa and teenage daughter Olivia.
In an awkward moment, it was announced that Councilwoman Marian Tasco would present them with flowers. Lisa and Olivia Nutter walked to the rostrum, but it turned out that nobody ordered the flowers.
Also joining Nutter on stage were Philadelphia’s four living former mayors — Bill Green, Wilson Goode, Ed Rendell and John Street.
Others taking the oath of office were members of City Council, judges of Common Pleas and Municipal Court, the city election commissioners, the sheriff and register of wills.
Traffic Court judges were also scheduled to be sworn in, but there was an announcement that they were not in attendance.
A day later, it was revealed that Christine Solomon — who won the November election — had failed a judicial education examination and would have to retake it before assuming office. She’s a Castor Gardens resident and longtime Democratic leader of the 53rd Ward. ••