The Brief: Is Bill Green’s Political Future Over?

And other questions about Gov. Wolf's bold move.

bill green

Former School Reform Commission Chairman Bill Green.

Gov. Tom Wolf sure isn’t pulling any punches.

In a move that shocked many, Wolf announced Sunday that he is yanking Bill Green from his position as chairman of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission and naming retired school principal Marjorie Neff as the new chair.

What’s this all about? Green is an appointee of Wolf’s predecessor, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett. Perhaps more significantly, Green voted last month to approve the creation of seven new charter schools (five were ultimately OKed). Wolf wanted him to approve none. Neff, on the other hand, voted against all of the proposed charters.

When asked if Wolf removed Green as chair at least partly because of his vote, Wolf spokesman Jeffrey Sheridan said, “Wolf thought it was irresponsible to approve five new charter schools at a time when the school district cannot afford the approval of any new charter schools. However, the governor made this move because he believes the district cannot continue down its current path, which is putting our children at a disadvantage. The governor named Marjorie Neff as chair because she supports his vision for the School District of Philadelphia.”

The SRC is made up of three gubernatorial appointees and two mayoral appointees. None of the current commissioners were picked by Wolf. In theory, it would benefit Wolf if Green stepped down and he was able to name a new commissioner. When asked if Wolf pulled Green as chair in an attempt to pressure him to quit the SRC altogether, Sheridan said simply, “Mr. Green will remain as a member of the SRC. Marjorie Neff is chair.”

Indeed, Green doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. He is planning to challenge Wolf’s decision in court. He told Citified, “I have no intention of abandoning [Superintendent] Bill Hite to an appointee of this governor’s. The SRC is a good team. I respect and have a good working relationship with my fellow commissioners.”

It will be interesting to see what the impact of Wolf’s decision is. What will it be like for a longtime educator to take the helm of the SRC, as opposed to a politician? Will the mostly cohesive SRC be split apart by Wolf’s move? Is Green’s political career over? He’s a Democrat, and the state’s top Democrat just tossed him. Will this hurt Wolf’s fight for more education funding in Harrisburg? And what big thing is Wolf going to do next?

Don’t Miss …
  • Speaking of bold moves by Wolf, he is unveiling his first budget this week, and it is expected to be a game-changer. We already know he’s pushing to impose a severance tax on Marcellus Shale drillers as well as reduce the corporate net income tax. He’s also expected to fulfill his No. 1 campaign promise and propose an increase in statewide education funding. Rumor has it the bold moves don’t end there, though. According to the Inquirer, sources say Wolf will also seek to raise the sales tax and personal income tax, and then use some of those revenues to reduce property taxes in Pennsylvania (and the wage tax in Philly). If true, Wolf is seriously not messing around.
  • On Wolf’s expected budget moves, WHYY’s Dave Davies says that though “in theory, if you’ve crafted a plan that solves a bunch of problems, you should have support from all the constituencies that stand to benefit,” that hasn’t always worked out for Pennsylvania governors of yore.
  • The population of 20- to 34-year-olds is the biggest group of residents in Philadelphia. Too bad they don’t vote: 70 percent of those between 18 and 24 haven’t cast a ballot in at least five years. The Inky‘s Chris Brennan looks at what some mayoral candidates and millennial groups are doing to change that.
  • In the last two years, the Philadelphia School District has reaped $42 million from the sale of old school buildings.