Schools in Crisis and in Tug-of-War

ImagePhiladelphia City Councilman William Green tells me, “I’m not sure that the urgency exists that has been expressed by Dr. Hite.” Bill Green is talking about last Thursday’s stunning, grab-the-establishment-by-the-collar announcement from Philadelphia Schools Superintendent William Hite that the district needs $50 million by Friday, the 16th , or that schools may not open.  Green also says Council President Darrell Clarke should not be made out to be the bad guy in the lack of immediate funding for the PSD. He tells me, “I completely agree with the Council President that it’s (sales tax extension) a bad plan.” Green adds, “We lose our ability in the fall to do something that is more impactful and meaningful.”

As for the $50 million needed, Green, a member of Council’s Appropriations Committee, says he’s seen a commitment from various members of City Council to get the $50 million from some source. That source is the question. Green says of the Nutter Administration’s claim that the city cannot take $50 million from the General Fund, “Well, they’re wrong.”  He also blasts the Governor and the PA Legislature. Says Green, “They failed what they had to do in Harrisburg and once again City Council and the City of Philadelphia is the funder of last resort.”

Schools Advocate Helen Gym, of Parents United, says, “What’s smart about Councilman Clarke’s plan is it puts the onus back on the state.” Clarke wants to transfer unused school properties from the district to the city so that the city can sell them to raise money.  About Dr. Hite’s ultimatum, Helen Gym says, “I was angry but someone needed to draw a line in the sand.”

What’s clearly going on here is that part of the impasse or failure to have sufficient state and local funds is caught up in some desires to have leverage to extract more concessions from the labor unions in the PSD.

Councilman Bill Green believes Hite may get assurance of money soon but actual legislative action won’t come until September.

The scheduled start of school for 136,000 students expected to attend traditional public schools in Philadelphia is September 9th.  The rest of the students in the system, abut 35-percent, will attend Charter Schools.

Photo courtesy of Office of Councilman Green.

Grace Kelly Comes Home

Caption: US actress, Grace KELLY, posing for "Life" magazine. 1954. © Philippe Halsman/Magnum Photos

Caption: US actress, Grace KELLY, posing for “Life” magazine. 1954.
© Philippe Halsman/Magnum Photos

James A. Michener Museum Director and CEO, Lisa Tremper Hanover, tells me Prince Albert of Monaco will be coming to Doylestown, Pennsylvania, in late October to open the exclusive Princess Grace exhibit.  The exhibit is called “From Philadelphia to Monaco: Grace Kelly Beyond the Icon.”  Its only U.S. appearance is at the Michener Museum.

Hanover says the exhibit and its artifacts are “very revealing” of the “arc of a dignified life, a talented  life,”  and that it shows the late Grace Kelly as humanitarian, philanthropist, representing Monaco and as an actress.

The exhibit will run from October 28, 2013, to January 26th, 2014 at the James A. Michener Museum in Doylestown, Bucks County.

Photo provided courtesy of the Michener Museum.

Tom Knox is Serious.

Former and likely future candidate for Mayor of Philadelphia, Tom Knox, tells me, quote, “The only thing that’s going to keep me out is if I die.”  Knox said that in response to my question if anything could prevent him for running for Mayor in 2015.  Tom Knox finished second to Michael Nutter in the Democratic primary of 2007.  Knox tells me, “We need new leadership.” And, “I’m not very optimistic about the health of the city of Philadelphia.”   Knox has ideas for gaining revenue for the school district (health centers), for saving taxpayers’ money on property the city leases and further tax reform.  He doesn’t think Philadelphia has a “Detroit” problem right now, but he says defined benefit plans are a thing of the past and that future government employee hires should be moved into 401K type plans (557s.)


IMG_20130803_132242_313It’s been a stellar weekend for members of the Philadelphia PowerPlay, having fun and working hard this weekend at Neumann University in Aston, Delaware County, just outside of Philadelphia.  This afternoon, they go into the finals of the United States Power Hockey Championships!IMG_20130803_140928_269

Regardless of the outcome, this has been another 3 days providing good entertainment, good power hockey.  There was an exciting win over a team from Michigan Saturday.  Michigan boasts consistently dominating teams every year.

IMG_20130803_142330_107But, it reminds me, too, of the individuals and families, like the Hilferty and Miller families who work hard in the league and who are also great advocates for people living with neuromuscular diseases and conditions.IMG_20130803_142800_424

One aspect of hockey that often seems to excel over other sports is the post-game lineup, in which teams that fought against each other show respect and sportsmanship to their competitors.  I always enjoy seeing that moment.IMG_20130803_141809_995



Go Philadelphia!