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.

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 twar­

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