- Pennsylvania Among 'Terrible 10' Most Regressive Tax States
- February 4 Non-Partisan Training: HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013: HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Republican Governors Opt-In to Medicaid Expansion
- The Reports of Unions' Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
- Ask Allyson Schwartz to run for Governor
- Mind the gap: Opting Out of Medicaid Expansion Leaves Low-income Families Behind
- Jan. 14 Workshop:HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013; HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Seth Williams on Guns, Jasmine Rivera on School Closures @PFC Meetup Wednesday
- PA Revenue Strong Midway Through Year; Tax Cut Could Have Big Impact
- What to Make of the Fiscal Cliff Deal?
Parents United Makes Strike for Good Government
Helen Gym and Parents United for Public Education make a successful strike for good government:
The head of the state board that runs Philadelphia schools said yesterday that it's time to end the school-funded system of patronage jobs at the city Board of Revision of Taxes.
Robert L. Archie Jr., chairman of the School Reform Commission, said he would support moving 80 BRT positions off the school payroll, where they have been stashed for decades to avoid a City Charter provision that bans city employees from engaging in political activity.
Because school employees are not subject to the ban, the city's Democratic and Republican bosses have been free to fill the jobs with party workers and other loyalists.
"This is not an efficient arrangement," Archie said, responding by e-mail to questions from The Inquirer about the long-standing arrangement.
If the schools must continue to help pay for the BRT, he said, a better way would be to turn over the money to the city directly, and put all the workers on the city payroll, where they would be barred from engaging in politics.
If you have read the blog for a while, this controversy should sound pretty familiar, because Helen and the parents of Parents United have been pushing this issue for a long time:
Buried at the bottom of page 385 under the category “Undistributed Budgetary Adjustment/Interfund Transfers/Other,” it shows 85 BRT employees on the School District’ payroll for a cost of $4.7 million in FY08. That’s 18% more than it was last year. Next year at $4.9 million it will be almost a million dollars more than just a year ago.
Parents United for Public Education requested a list of the BRT employees (who are listed as real estate assessors). A review found that 74 employees are currently on the District’s payroll. Over 40% of them hold political positions, including two ward leaders and committee leaders.
The article makes it seem like this was just some magical thing that happened when Chairman Archie and Seventy decided something was up. In reality, the groundwork was laid by parents organizing, investigating and screaming about this for a long time. Whether you have a kid in public school or not, if you believe in transparent, efficient and ethical government, then you owe some muckracking parents some thanks.
There are now a couple more questions. This is probably the most important:
It appears that the patronage mill will end, and this will become a fee-for-services type arrangement. But why should the price tag of the BRT be on the District's payroll at all? Wouldn't it would make more sense for the City, like every other City in the Country, just to do this, to not charge the district, and then if need be, adjust school funding or whatever. Why do we need to- again, unlike anyone else- shuffle money back and forth, rather than just eliminating this from the District's budget altogether?