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Conference of Mayors President Nutter Talks Crime, Arts, “Cities as Innovators” As He Travels the Country

By Conference of Mayors Staff
October 15, 2012

Conference of Mayors President Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter last week represented mayors before a number of forums across the country dedicated to the health and vitality of cities and their metropolitan areas. Below is a summary of some of his stops.

Nutter Outlines Strategy to Support Black Male Achievement

“We need an honest, tough, and uncomfortable conversation on race, politics, culture, violence, and guns…” if we are to improve outcomes for Black men and boys, Nutter said during October 3 remarks at the Open Society Foundations’ Innovation and Impact Forum for Black Male Achievement in New York City.

Nutter described the seriousness of the problems that Black males face in his city, including the fact that, in 2011, 75 percent of homicide victims were Black and 85 percent of those arrested for homicides were Black. He also described some of the efforts underway in Philadelphia, saying that they started with “education, which is at the heart and soul of everything we want to accomplish.”

Nutter said that to build, improve and support Black male achievement, cities need to:

    1. Admit communities as a whole face challenges and that the problems of the African American community in particular are different and in some instances more complex than those of other communities;

    2. Create solutions to specific African American community problems by increasing opportunities for education, workforce development, job training, and better housing; decreasing poverty; reducing recidivism; and addressing crime before it occurs; and

    3. Build on existing relationships and partnerships that will help us do all of those things we need to do, whether those partnerships are with the private sector, other governments, and communities.

Nutter Keynotes Code for America Summit

Nutter kicked off the Code for America Summit October 2 in San Francisco, delivering the keynote address to an audience of mayors, council members, city managers, civic innovators, designers, developers, members of the tech community, and other partners.

Nutter focused his remarks on how Philadelphia, as a Code for America City in 2011 and 2012, has embraced civic innovation with social media and open data, while developing new tools to better learn from the city’s citizens. “Perhaps the clearest illustration of balancing traditional government practices with innovative ideas is our decision to make government more transparent with open data,” he said. Nutter continued, “In April of this year, I signed an executive order formally creating an open data policy. It was our commitment to publish city data for the use of both data consumers and average citizens.”

Nutter’s now is a home to 175 data sets that developers can utilize when making apps for the city. Those apps can help deliver a better quality of life. “This kind of data-driven democracy is good for citizens, developers, and researchers,” Nutter said.

Part of making government more open also includes being more responsive to its citizens. Philadelphia this year launched a tool, developed by Code for America fellows, called Textizen, which helps make it easier to collect citizen feedback. It’s a free tool that other cities have already started to implement and can be used to get feedback on route changes, planning proposals, or even city council meetings.

Nutter to Police Chiefs: Safety Key to Cities’ Success

“You are at the heart of everything that we do in local government because we don’t have anything if we don’t have safety,” Nutter told police chiefs assembled in San Diego September 29 at the Fall Meeting of the Major Cities Chiefs Association. “We could not focus on all the other aspects of running our cities if we can’t depend on you to operate police departments with efficiency and integrity. You are responsible for the safety of our towns and cities and the people who live in them – and with safety comes investment, jobs, and new people,” Nutter said.

Nutter described the holistic approach to addressing crime that he and Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey have taken in Philadelphia. “In broad terms, we’ve focused on ‘smart’ policing and building partnerships - both locally in the neighborhoods and externally with outside agencies,” he said. “At the center of our crime fighting strategy is reliance on the people who want to be safe. We rely on the citizens who live on those streets – who are in the communities – to communicate with us, to help us help them."

Ramsey chairs the Major Cities Chiefs Association, which is comprised of Chiefs and Sheriffs of the sixty-three largest law enforcement agencies in the United States and the seven largest in Canada. The Conference of Mayors and Major Cities Chiefs work closely together on a number of legislative and other law enforcement issues.

Nutter to Arts Advocates: Entrepreneurship Means Arts

Nutter participated in the National Arts Policy Roundtable September 27, co-convened by Americans for the Arts and the Sundance Institute. Nutter participated on the opening panel entitled, The Promise of the Arts: A New Frame for Invention, alongside Jeremy Nowak, President of the William Penn Foundation; Kathryn Graddy, Chair of the Economics Department, Brandeis University; and Emily Pilloton, Project Director of Studio H. The panel examined how the arts can be in the forefront of opportunities in entrepreneurship and innovation. Philadelphia was used as a case study by the panel. Since 2006, more than 175 policy and thought leaders have gathered at the Sundance Institute to recommend policies and strategies critical to the arts and advancing American society.