People Power in Philadelphia

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I’m so proud of my city.

Do we say that enough in Philadelphia? Outside of the Philly Love Notes blog, probably not often enough. But every once in a while, something happens that reveals the underlying character of the city’s population — and we sometimes surprise ourselves when that something is good.

Well, that something happened this week.

Here’s what happened. The state’s Basic Education Funding Committee came to town for two days of hearings. It had a lot of people on the schedule: Mayor Nutter. Superintendent William Hite. Experts from Penn and Temple. School choice advocates. A real array of the city’s smartest and best-known officials.

Not on the schedule? Parents.

Not on the schedule? Students.

The Basic Education Funding Commission wanted to come to town and hear from just about everybody except the people who are most directly affected by the inadequacies in how we fund our schools.

Crazy, right?

Well, Philadelphia didn’t let that stand.

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Philly Officials Make Case for More School Funding

The Basic Education Funding Commission during a hearing earlier this year.

The Basic Education Funding Commission during a hearing earlier this year.

A parade of Philadelphia officials made the case for greater state education funding Tuesday, the first of two days of hearings held here by the state’s Basic Education Funding Commission. “What our children experience in Philadelphia schools would never be tolerated in other districts,” one principal told the commission.

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Ed Funding Committee Will Meet at City Hall

We noted earlier today that the Basic Education Funding Commission  planned to meet two days in Philadelphia this week — but that the commission had not publicized where, apparently deciding to honor the increasingly popular tradition of state politicians visiting Philadelphia to talk about education while trying desperately to avoid actual Philadelphians.

Well, we have a “where” now: The folks at POWER — which is planning to make its members heard whether the commission seeks their testimony or not — tell us that Day One of the meeting, at least, is scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday in the Mayor’s Reception Room, Room 202 at City Hall.

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Ed Funding Committee to Meet in Philadelphia

The Basic Education Funding Commission during a hearing earlier this year.

The Basic Education Funding Commission during a hearing earlier this year.

The Notebook reports that the state’s Basic Education Funding Commission will meet in Philadelphia two days this week — Tuesday and Wednesday — but that the commission seems interested only in hearing from official sources.

Mayor Nutter, Superintendent William Hite, School Reform Commission chair Bill Green, and District chief financial officer Matt Stanski will testify on Tuesday; Wednesday witnesses will include a number of local charter school operators. Other witnesses will include David Rubin, a Penn researcher on foster children; Mark Gleason of the pro-school-choice Philadelphia School Partnership; and Temple University president Neil Theobold.

As The Notebook points out, however, there will be no “parents, students, and front-line school workers” testifying.
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Tom Wolf’s Honeymoon is Over

Tom Wolf

Photo | Jeff Fusco

We’re barely a week past the election, and already it looks — sorry to say — like the honeymoon is over for Governor-elect Tom Wolf.

The first clue, assuming you want to skip past the fact that he was already going to be dealing with a Republican-controlled legislature, was when the Pennsylvania Senate Republicans dumped good ol’ Dom Pileggi as their leader this week and replaced him with the fierier, more conservative Jake Corman.

That would be enough, on its own, to make the state’s Democrats a little sick to their stomachs — worse yet is that Comran probably owes his ascendancy, in part, to Wolf’s election. “We don’t want a moderate majority leader who’s going to allow Wolf to get things done that are contrary to the overwhelming majority of our caucus,” an unnamed caucus member told The Patriot News.

So: Goodbye to any easy solutions on the Philly education front. Goodbye, most likely, to a bipartisan fracking tax. And goodbye, really, to any era of good feelings that might get the Wolf Administration off to an auspicious beginning.

That was just the start.

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State Poised to Strike Casino Firearms Ban

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The State of Pennsylvania appears ready to strike down its longstanding casino firearms ban.

Casinos would still be able to bar guns from their premises, under the new rule to be considered next week by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission. But the current blanket ban — in effect since 2008 — appears to be illegal under a 2011 state law restricting the ability of state agencies to regulate firearms.

Don’t expect Pennsylvania casinos to become a shooting gallery, however.

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Chester’s Dominic Pileggi Ousted as Pennsylvania Senate Leader

Chester’s Dominic Pileggi has been ousted as Republican Senate Majority Leader. GOP members voted State Sen. Jake Corman to the leadership post in what the Inquirer deemed a “huge upset.”

Pileggi had been the Republican leader of the state senate since 2007. His loss shows growing influence among conservatives in the Republican caucus, moving the GOP leadership position from Philly’s moderate suburbs to more politically conservative Centre County.

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Tom Wolf’s Ethics Code Is a Good Start

Tom Wolf

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Governor-elect Tom Wolf’s transition team unveiled a “code of ethical conduct” for team members on Tuesday, and for the life of me, I couldn’t initially figure out what the big deal was. After all, the the requirements outlined in the code seemed pretty basic for anybody legitimately seeking to enter public service.

I will not use my position with the Governor-Elect’s Transition Team for personal gain or take any substantial action affecting any matter, for personal gain or that of my immediate family or organization with which I have a substantial financial interest.

We’re not getting rich off of government service? Big surprise.

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