By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Mayor Nutter’s budget address to city council this past week featured a deja-vu moment.
He apologized for trying to close libraries back in 2008, even though he had delivered the very same apology in his budget address last year.
It was on March 6, 2014 that Mayor Nutter, delivering his budget to City Council, ad libbed a surprising apology for trying to close 11 library branches.
“This council was right in opposing those closures on this issue back in 2009. And I’ve been determined to correct my mistake ever since. And I apologize to the children and library users of this city for the impact of my decision back at that time.”
Flash forward to this past Thursday, when Mayor Nutter, delivering his final budget to Council, voiced another mea culpa on the library fiasco.
This time it was in his prepared speech.
“This in fact is the decision I regret the most of my mayoral service, I want to commend City Council for the actions it took to protect library service. Council was right. We needed to find another way to save 8 million dollars during the fiscal crisis.”
Nutter then shifted gears to praise his Library Chief, Siobhan Reardon, who recently won a national “Librarian of the Year” award.
Ironically, it was Reardon’s idea back in 2008 to close 11 under-utilized branches.
She argued that readers could find other branches within two miles of the shuttered ones, and the money saved would improve the remaining branches.
Nutter accepted her plan, a move he clearly now regrets, for it led to legal action by City Council, and a court ruling that the mayor could not close the libraries without City Council approval.