Editorial: Smoke and Mirrors

Publication: Philadelphia Inquirer

09/28/2009 - Maybe it wasn't such good theater when Mayor Nutter had city firefighters burn 3,000 layoff notices the other week, once the firings were averted due to the state budget deal.

Facing a continuing demand to cut city spending - and with labor costs the obvious target - Nutter could find himself sifting through the ashes for those pink slips.

As he turns his attention to renewing labor pacts with the city's main unions, the mayor's spokesman says Nutter subscribes to the "general agreement that there will be no need for massive layoffs."

But a new report out last week on budget-balancing strategies used by other financially strapped cities indicates that Nutter - unlike some big-city peers - has unilaterally disarmed too soon.

According to the Pew Charitable Trusts' Philadelphia Research Initiative, mayors in New York, Chicago, Boston, and elsewhere have given municipal workers an unwelcome but necessary choice: accept across-the-board, often temporary concessions on pay and benefits, or face layoffs.

Read the full editorial Smoke and Mirrors on the Philadelphia Inquirer's Web site.

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