Two School Reform Commission Members Resign

School District of Philadelphia

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Two members of Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission, the appointed body that serves in place of an elected school board, have announced that they will resign.

Marjorie Neff, a former principal at Masterman High School who was appointed to the SRC by former Mayor Michael Nutter in 2014 and made chair of the commission by Gov. Tom Wolf last year, will resign effective November 3rd. Feather Houstoun, who was appointed by former governor Tom Corbett in 2011, will serve until October 14th. Their terms were set to expire in January. A third commissioner, Sylvia Simms, has a term that expires early next year as well. Read more »

Bill Green: I’m Taking Tom Wolf to Court Over SRC Ouster

Bill Green | City Council Flickr

Bill Green | City Council Flickr

Update: Governor Tom Wolf has responded to Bill Green’s claims that he lacked the authority to unseat him as chair of the SRC. A statement issued by his spokesman Jeffrey Sheridan reads:

“Governor Wolf used his authority, as provided by statute, to appoint the chair of the School Reform Commission and to bring new leadership to the school district, which has been devastated by education cuts. Even now, after the governor has fought for greater investment in education at all levels and started to restore the funding Philadelphia lost, the district is in dire financial straits and our children are at a disadvantage. Due to misguided and poor decisions made by Harrisburg politicians, the district has been forced to lay off educators, cut important programs and slash transportation, security and other vital services. Governor Wolf will continue fighting for more funding for education and to provide a new path forward for Philadelphia’s schools.”

Earlier: Last spring, after the School Reform Commission he chaired had approved five new charter schools in Philadelphia, Bill Green was removed from his role as chair by Governor Tom Wolf and replaced with fellow commissioner Marjorie Neff.

Wolf was said to not want any new charter schools approved. Neff had voted against the new charter applications. At the time, Green, a former Philadelphia City Councilman, had said he planned to challenge the governor’s authority to make such a move. Then some time passed, and that challenge never came. Fast forward one year, and Green, in an oped in today’s Inquirer, says his challenge is coming now.  Read more »

7 Big Shots on Jim Kenney’s Speech

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Brand-spanking-new Mayor Jim Kenney delivered a concise and warm inaugural speech on Monday, which praised police officers and the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as longtime Philadelphians and recent transplants, alike. (You can read our full story on Kenney’s inaugural address here, and check out photos of the ceremony here.) We asked seven boldface-name Philadelphians, from Kenney ally Johnny Doc to Kenney foe Bill Green, what they thought of his speech. Here’s what they said: Read more »

Sam Katz and Bill Green Won’t Run for Council After All


School Reform Commissioner Bill Green and three-time mayoral candidate Sam Katz have decided against running as a two-man slate for City Council at-large in November’s election.

This wasn’t an idle flirtation. They were seriously considering the possibility as recently as Wednesday morning.

Katz wrote in an email that “politics is critical but there are other ways I hope to continue to move the city forward.” He said he was “gratified” that “so many Philadelphians” encouraged him and Green — who he praised as a “dedicated and talented leader” — to “create an independent party.”

“There is a lot of fuel left in my gas tank.  I won’t be a candidate but I have no plans to disappear,” Katz wrote.

Green wrote that he’s “always believed” that “providing educational opportunities to Philadelphia’s children would make a bigger impact in Philadelphia than anything else.” Then there are the pragmatic considerations. “Without multiple voices like mine on Council I would be spitting into the wind, sometimes, but rarely, effectively,” Green wrote. “My highest and best use is on the SRC at this point.” Read more »

If Fattah Goes Down, Who Would Voters Replace Him With?

Clockwise from the top: Mayor Michael Nutter, Council President Darrell Clarke, District Attorney Seth Williams and state Sen. Vincent Hughes.

Clockwise from the top: Mayor Michael Nutter, Council President Darrell Clarke, state Sen. Vincent Hughes and District Attorney Seth Williams.

It finally happened: Philadelphia Democratic U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah was indicted on corruption charges Wednesday.

Already, political insiders are wondering if the congressman will resign in the coming months or simply choose not to run for reelection in 2016. If either scenario unfolds, who would replace him? And how would that work?

The question has been bubbling up ever since two members of Fattah’s inner circle pleaded guilty last year. You can expect more names than ever to be bandied about now.

Some of the bigger ones include Mayor Michael Nutter, City Council President Darrell Clarke, District Attorney Seth Williams, Councilman Curtis Jones, Councilwoman Cindy Bass, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, state Sen. Vincent Hughes, state Sen. Anthony Williams, state Sen. Daylin Leach, state Rep. Brian Sims, School Reform Commission member Bill Green, former mayoral candidate Doug Oliver, ward leader Daniel Muroff and real estate analyst Dan Kessler. That’s not even a full list. Check out some other possibilities here.

Watching some of these candidates confront each other in an open election would be a sight to see, but there’s no guarantee that’s what would happen. Indeed, there are five distinct scenarios that could unfold here. Let’s run them down.
Read more »

Will Bill Green and Sam Katz Team Up for Surprise City Council Run?


Bill Green and Sam Katz.

Bill Green and Sam Katz — two of the city’s most capable and pugnacious political pot-stirrers — are considering running for City Council at-large as a two-man slate in this November’s election, Citified has learned.

If they were to run and win, they could upend a political system that, by design, traditionally awards Philadelphia’s under-powered Republican party two at-large City Council seats. It would be an enormous blow for the city’s GOP.

A Katz-Green victory could also change the balance of power in City Council, and present likely next mayor Jim Kenney with a pair of well-informed and high-profile potential critics. Read more »

Why Voter Turnout Sucked in Philly’s Mayoral Race

APTOPIX America Votes

Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

1. Voter turnout in Philadelphia wasn’t always so pitiful.

The gist: Only 27 percent of registered voters cast a ballot in Philadelphia’s mayoral primary last week. It wasn’t always like this. In 1991, 49 percent of Philly voters came to the polls. In 1987, 67 percent did; in 1971, a stunning 77 percent did. Other big cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago and New York have also seen voter turnout plummet in municipal elections over the past few decades. CityLab’s Daniel Denvir has a theory about why that may be: Read more »

Bill Green Finally Gets to Be Mayor, Thanks to Daily News Error


Much has been written about Bill Green IV’s mayoral aspirations. And Tuesday’s primary didn’t exactly lend a helping hand to the Councilman-at-Large turned ousted School Reform Commission chairman’s political future, what with two of his avowed enemies, Jim Kenney and Helen Gym, scoring big victories. But thanks to the Daily News, Green has finally been declared mayor. Read more »

Jim Kenney Wins in Historic Landslide

Jim Kenney accepts the Democratic nomination for mayor. | Photo by Jeff Fusco.

Jim Kenney accepts the Democratic nomination for mayor. | Photo by Jeff Fusco.

Updated 5/20/2015 with nearly final election results.

Jim Kenney won the Democratic mayoral primary in dominating fashion Tuesday night, capturing neighborhoods across the city in a showing that proved his appeal to low- and high-income voters, to blacks and whites, to Philadelphians new and old.

Kenney defeated chief rival Anthony Williams by a staggering margin of 30 percentage points. Lynne Abraham collected less than 10 percent of the vote. Doug Oliver and Nelson Diaz were around four percent, and Milton Street stood at less than two percent.

This was a shellacking. Kenney’s percentage point margin of victory is the largest of any competitive Democratic mayoral primary since at least 1979.

“Our campaign was a broad and unprecedented coalition of diverse groups, many of whom came together for the first time to support me,” Kenney said in his brisk victory speech, with prominent labor and political supporters at his back. “We must work together with the understanding that every neighborhood matters.”

The victory comes with a significant asterisk: low voter turnout. Only 27 percent of all registered voters cast ballots. Democratic turnout was hardly any better, at just 29 percent.

Read more »

Sam Katz: I’m Not Running for Mayor

By the inimitable @dhm.

By the amazing @dhm

Sam Katz is not running for mayor in the general election, he announced Tuesday.

Why does that matter? It’s much less likely now that Philadelphia will have a competitive mayoral race this fall. That means the winner of the primary election next week — yes, it’s next week — will probably be our next mayor.

Katz, who would have run as an Independent, is a three-time mayoral candidate who came within an inch of beating John Street in the 1999 election.

The lone Republican candidate, on the other hand, is Melissa Murray Bailey, who was a registered Democrat until this January and raised a paltry $4,900 so far in 2015.

It is possible that Bill Green, a member of the School Reform Commission, could run for mayor in the general election. He switched his party registration in March from Democrat to “no affiliation” in order to “leave all the doors open to me for the fall.” But Green said it is ultimately “unlikely” that he will run for mayor (or City Council, for that matter).

Here’s Katz’s full statement on his decision: Read more »

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