HomeNewsMcColgan criticizes school district interim budget

McColgan criticizes school district interim budget

Joe McColgan was amongst Republican candidates vying for an at-large City Council position for the May primary who made an appearance at St. Michael the Archangel Orthodox Church in Northern Liberties on Tuesday Feb. 22.

Joe McColgan, a Republican candidate for an at-large City Council seat, is criticizing School Reform Commission chairman Robert Archie and superintendent Arlene Ackerman for an interim budget that was adopted last week.

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The commission met its May 31 deadline to pass a spending plan, but it is expected to be replaced by an amended permanent budget in the summer.

To meet a budget deficit, the $2.8 billion spending plan calls for layoffs and transportation cuts. The original plan to end full-day kindergarten has been scrapped.

The number of layoffs could be decreased, and the transportation cuts could be restored, depending on additional funding from the city and state and concessions from unions.

“This budget is yet another example of how mismanagement and a lack of vision are undermining the dreams and futures of Philadelphia’s students. Our students require bold leadership, and taxpayers deserve accountability,” McColgan said.

“Under the tenure of superintendent Ackerman and SRC chairman Archie, we are getting neither. As a city councilman, I will fight to bring accountability back to our school system and provide the leadership our great city deserves.”

• • •

Meanwhile, the Democratic candidate in the 10th Councilmanic District is also taking aim at the school district’s management and fiscal woes.

Bill Rubin, who is challenging Republican Councilman Brian O’Neill, wrote a letter to Council President Anna Verna, expressing his opposition to a property tax increase and a sugar drink tax, both of which could be used to help the school district close its budget deficit.

Rubin noted that Philadelphians have recently seen the city sales tax increase by 1 percentage point and real estate taxes hiked by 9.9 percent.

“I have no confidence in the financial operations taking place at the Board of Education, and more specifically in superintendent Ackerman,” he wrote in a letter also distributed to all Council members.

“Leadership starts at the top, and I have seen little regard for Council or anyone Ms. Ackerman has interacted with, since her arrival here in Philadelphia.”

• • •

The National Republican Congressional Committee has included U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-8th dist.) in its Patriot Program for the 2012 election cycle.

Fitzpatrick served from 2005–06 before losing to Democrat Patrick Murphy. He sat out the 2008 election, then came back in 2010 to topple Murphy.

Rep. Pete Sessions, of Texas, who chairs the program, said it allows members to stay on offense by building strong and winning campaigns against Democrats and “their agenda that bankrupts our nation.”

“Mike Fitzpatrick has demonstrated the leadership and ability to wage an aggressive campaign based on rigorous goals and proven strategies for victory,” he said. “I’m very proud of Mike Fitzpatrick and these Patriot members who are leading the fight for victory in 2012.”

The program was established in 2009 and sets measured benchmarks and accountability, including for fund-raising, communications and grassroots organization.

Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, the program’s deputy chairman, said House Republicans want to preserve their majority to keep working for job creation and reduced spending and debt.

“An ironclad campaign spells defeat for Democrats vying to return Nancy Pelosi as speaker, and I applaud Mike Fitzpatrick for taking on the challenge of controlling the competitiveness of his race through the strength of his own campaign,” he said.

• • •

Murphy, meanwhile, is passing on a third match with Fitzpatrick.

Instead, he’s seeking the Democratic nomination for state attorney general next year.

Since announcing his candidacy on April 20, he’s raised about $500,000. He sees that as a sign that the state is hungry for leadership and has had enough of government protecting special interests.

“I will fight crime wherever it exists — on the street, in the corporate boardroom or in Harrisburg,” he said.

Among those who have endorsed Murphy are Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, former U.S. Sen. Harris Wofford, U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah and state Rep. Tony Payton.

Other possible Democratic candidates include former Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham, former Lackawanna County Assistant District Attorney Kathleen Granahan Kane and Dan McCaffery, who finished second to Williams in the 2009 DA primary.

Possible Republican candidates include state Sen. John Rafferty of Montgomery County, Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed and Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman.

Since state voters began electing the attorney general in 1980, Republicans have won every race, but most of the outcomes have been close. ••

Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215–354–3034 or twaring@bsmphilly.com

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