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October 08, 2015

City Controller's report slams Nutter for handling of pope visit

81 out of 108 businesses surveyed said that administration mishandled visit

Pope in Philly Small Businesses
Michael Nutter Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter is now a senior advisor and consultant for Green Leaf Medical, a cannabis company with its eyes on South Jersey.

The City Controller's Office has released another report slamming the city for its planning before the Papal visit.

The office surveyed 108 retailers, hotels and restaurants located inside the traffic box. 87 said that the revenue generated during the pope's visit was "significantly below expectations."

Comments that owners made on the survey included "wasted a lot of food," "this may close me" and "pain, pure pain!"

However, a low response rate may have skewed the results. The Controller's Office delivered surveys to 250 businesses, but less than half responded.

Those businesses that did respond, however, sure were angry. The open-ended section of the survey, published in the report, is filled with anonymous comments from business people venting their frustration:

"Immensely overstocked and overstaffed in anticipation for potentially the busiest weekend in the history of the restaurant. Worst weekend in the history of the restaurant. Thanks!" was one typical sarcastic jab.

Eighty-one of the businesses surveyed said, "the way the Nutter administration handled the pope's visit" hurt their sales. 90 businesses also said the papal visit had made them fall behind yearly projections.

"We did about 50 percent less revenue during the pope visit," wrote another respondent. "As I am aware that the mayor wanted to keep the visit calm and safe, cutting off the suburbs from coming into the city hurt our usual weekend numbers. That being said, it was a really beautiful display of love, faith and spirituality."

Love and faith are not in abundant supply when it comes to the relationship between City Controller Alan Butkovitz and Mayor Michael Nutter.

Responding to a smaller survey that Butkovitz released just days after the papal visit, which showed similar results, Nutter told the Philadelphia Business Journal that Butkovitz "has tried numerous times now to cast a negative perspective on this hugely successful event."

Even before the pope's visit, the two were clashing over a report Butkovitz released that called on Nutter to fire Licenses and Inspections Commissioner Carlton Williams. Nutter said Butkovitz has "narcissistic personality disorder that seems to compel the need for constant public attention," reported

Butkovitz shot back that Nutter was doing "a weak Donald Trump imitation."

In the papal report, Butkovitz recommended that, for future large events costing $10 million or more, organizers should provide an economic impact statement. He also said that the city should keep businesses more in the loop with better communication and coordination with Business Improvement District.

“The survey suggests that this was a core problem: many businesses had no idea what to expect,” said Butkovitz.