Sen. Pileggi Tweets Bypass The Press

Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-9) has been diligent about tweeting updates to the goings on of the Pennsylvania Senate.

Yesterday, for instance, he informed the world that the Senate Rules Committee has a new website with links to documents filed by cabinet and other nominees.

He notes that Senate Bill 106 has been introducted by Sen. Kim Ward (R-39) to amend the state Constitution to prohibit lame-duck legislative sessions.

He tells us that Senate Bill 107 , introduced by himself, would prohibit contigent-fee lobbying for state grants as is now the case with legislative issues.

He points out that Senate Bill 200 , introduced by Sen. Pat Brown (R-16) aimed at preventing concussions among student-athletes was approved today in committee.  

And he tells us that a hearing is being planned for his own Senate Bill 247 which would make changes to the three-year-old Open Records Law.

And four days ago he told us that Sen. Browne introduced SB 105 which would establish a searchable web-based database for matters involving state spending.

Anybody see a story on that in the old media?

The Senator can be followed here .

Teachers Union Hikes Dues To Fight Choice

The Pennsylvania State Education Association — the union which represents public school teachers, school nurses, guidance counselors, librarians and such — has announced it will raise the dues of its 190,000 members by 11 percent according to Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania . 

The new revenue is apparently aimed at fighting the pending school choice legislation .

The PSEA already gets about $90 million from dues which it uses to pay for 230 employees, including eight full-time lobbyists who make about $150,000 a year apiece.

The dues hike is expected to bring in about $9 million more.

All public school teachers (librarians, nurses etc.) must contribute to this very anti-child union whether they want to or not. The money ultimately comes from the taxpayer anyway.

Hat tip Bob Guzzardi.


Development Trend For Peasantization

There is set of people that has the strange desire for order in the lives of other people and that, that they have been somehow ordained to be the means to do so. Development Trend For Peasantization

One of their latest conceits is the transit-oriented development which is basically putting in a high density development of homes, apartments and offices around a 19th century commuter rail station in the middle of a successful suburb.

Peasant homes for peasants you could call it.

If done properly, the developer will be able to sip a Chablis before the gas-fire in the fireplace of his McMansion’s living room as he watches through arched windows the deer play in the snow of his two-acre backyard and think warm thoughts about his “little people” scurrying about like happy hamsters in his new community, and feel as though he has just saved the world.

An attempt is being made to put one of these in Middletown Township, Delaware County, Pa. on the old Franklin Mint property with the proposed Wawa Station on SEPTA’s Media-Elwyn rail line as the transit hub.

It would have 1,200 residences including “luxury” apartments; 798,000 square feet of office space, and 235,000 square feet of retail space.

And in Montgomery County, Abington Township has signed on to a  transit-oriented development centered on SEPTA’s Noble Station on the West Trenton Line which will allow for increasing the residential unit density from eight per acre to 300 on an 8-acre tract next to the Baederwood Shopping Mall.

Someone is going to point out that starter homes and apartments are needed, and they would be right. But rather than break things that are fixed — like low-density, affluent suburban townships — how about we try to fix things that are broken.

Like, well, Philadelphia.

In 1950, Philly had a population of 2.07 million ; a population density of 16,286 per square mile. Today, it has a population of 1.55 million and a population density of 11,457 per square mile.

Clearly, it can fit more people.

And  historic North Philadelphia Station and the Broad Street Subway line would make great hubs for transit-oriented developments.

Now, some will point out that nobody who loves their children would willingly subject them to the city’s public school system. True!

But  school vouchers would easily solve that.

Other cynics might say that these are very high crime areas. Also true! But if you really had confidence in your ability to order the lives of others you would have the faith that responsible homeowners in self-contained communities would push out the “no-snitch” crowd.

And if not, well, maybe you shouldn’t try to break things that are fixed.

Development Trend For Peasantization

R.I.P. Cliff Rainey

Clifford Rainey died Jan. 29. The one-time editor of the Chester Times was a true journalist and community servant. He is survived by his wife, Judy; son David; son Michael and daughter-in-law Katie; and grandson James.

There will be a service of remembrance, 11 a.m., Tuesday, Feb. 8 at the Cavanaugh-Patterson Family Funeral Home, 43 E. Baltimore Ave., Media, Pa. 19063. Family will receive visitors after 10 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Delaware County Press Club Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 1682, Media, Pa. 19063 or the Heartland Hospice, 5 Christy Drive, Suite 103, Chadds Ford, Pa. 19317.

We will miss you Cliff. R.I.P.

Would SB 1 Have Helped Nadin Khoury?

A nationally publicized incident of teenage cruelty in Upper Darby, Pa. has driven the 13-year-old victim from the public schools and placed the unplanned burden of home school on his parents.

Seven gangsta wannabees brutalized the slight Nadin Khoury Jan. 11 outside the school district’s “Opportunity Center” which is the school district’s facility for behavioral problems.

Nadin said he was targeted because he was small and his mother was from Africa. One of the wannabees posted a video of the attack on YouTube.

Six of the attackers were arrested Jan. 31 with the seventh being brought in the next day They are charged with kidnapping, criminal restraint, recklessly endangering another person,
aggravated assault conspiracy and making terroristic threats.

Despite the arrests, Nadin was terrified of returning to class fearing retaliation from the wannabees’ friends hence the home schooling.

Would the recently introduced school choice bill, SB 1 , help Nadin if it were to become law?  Maybe not, and certainly not with regard to the first two years it would take effect. Leaving aside the financial circumstance of Nadin’s family, the only Upper Darby school that  falls into the category of  “persistently lowest achieving school” as per eligibility for vouchers for years 1 and 2 is Charles Kelly Elementary School , which Nadin does not attend.

SB 1 is a good bill and if it should pass it would one day  deliver thousands of Pennsylvania children from the despair and terror of corrupt and unaccountable failed institutions.

But school choice is a good idea for suburban middle class parents too. Parents who are as happy as clams with their school district until they find their child assigned to crazy Ms. X for a year would be a bit grateful to have a voucher as a parachute. Vouchers would have the additional benefit of communicating to the educational powers-that-be that Ms. X shouldn’t be teaching as parent after parent bailed out on her.

Regardless, for those wishing to expand the benefits of SB 1 to more students more quickly, Nadin’s story makes a compelling case.

Tea Party Group To Train Candidates Sat.

American Majority Action is hosting a candidate/campaign manager training event, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 5 in the lower level meeting room of the Marple Public Library, 2599 Sproul Road, Broomall, Pa. 19008.

The cost is $45 online or $35 at the door. It includes lunch and refreshment.

Freind Wants To Swing For The Fence On Vouchers

Conservative columnist Chris Freind sent me a note in response to yesterday’s item in which I took issue with his opposition to SB 1, the school choice bill recently introduced in the Pennsylvania Senate.

Chris sent me this link to a follow-up column, “Some School Choicers Have Defeatist  Attitude” he wrote on his blog at The Philly Post to clarify his position. The Philly Post is  affiliated with Philadelphia magazine.

The follow-up makes it clear that what Chris is advocating is that all Pennsylvania children should have access to vouchers, not just the poor as would be the case with SB 1 .

Chris wants to swing for the fence which is admirable but to swing for the fence one must be in the game and the only school choice player in the game right now is SB 1, and there is nothing wrong with bunting for a base hit either.

Those who have issues with SB 1 should, rather than attack it, find a legislator willing to introduce a competing bill.

Vouchers for all Pennsylvania children is a wonderfully radical idea. You won’t find any objection to it here.

With that said, Pennsylvania would be much improved if SB 1 should pass and this includes the burden on suburban taxpayers. Not only would less of their money be wasted in incompetent pits of corruption like The School District of Philadelphia, they might actually find an unexpected windfall when the refugees — most of whom would come from loving families eager for them to learn — flock to vacancies in their successful districts carrying that $9,000 in state money with them. Note, vacancy  means no new teachers to hire and no new classrooms to build.

In other words it means found money.

So those with concerns about SB 1, please be careful about attacking it. Be especially careful about giving ammunition to the self-proclaimed “liberal, tolerant, caring, sensitive” crowd who will certainly play the race card in mounting opposition to the bill.

Further, one would not want to alienate allies like state senators Anthony H. Williams and  LeAnna Washington as we do seek to expand choice to all children.

Conservative Takes Fire For Opposing School Choice Step

Conservative columnist Chris Freind is taking heat for opposing the school choice bill recently introduced in the Pennsylvania Senate.

The bill, S.B. 1 , sponsored by Republican Jeff Piccola of the 15th District and Democrat Anthony H. Williams of the 8th District, which includes a large section of Delaware County, would, among other good things,
eventually allow the parents of any needy child in the state to take the
state subsidy — about $9,000 — that would have gone to their home
school district and apply to the public, private or parochial school of
their choice.

This would, for many children, break the chains shackling them to incompetent cesspools of corruption falsely flying the flag of education, and save taxpayers from being forced to throw money into these rat holes.

Freind, however, wrote on his Philadelphia Magazine blog, Jan. 27 , that the bill is merely “legislation stuck in the past, once again pandering to the wrong crowd — the Black Caucus” and said it would be almost impossible to pass comparing it to the failed attempts to bring school choice to Pennsylvania in the 1990s.

He repeated the claims albeit a bit more gently, yesterday, on Philly.Com .

For this he is appropriately being taken to the woodshed by other conservative leaders. Tea Party activist Bob Guzzardi tells Freind and others who live in safe suburban school to re-read the fable of the Dog and The Manger in which the dog would not let the horse eat to the detriment of all.

Further, Guzzardi notes that there has been a “paradigm shift” among the coalitions that support the Pennsylvania Democrat Party. Black legislators such as LeAnna Washington who opposed vouchers during the Ridge years are now 100 percent behind them.

Vouchers would likely not have failed then with the support of Philadelphia Democrats.

In a response to Freind’s Inquirer column, Nathan Benefield of Commonwealth Foundation notes that he is dead wrong with the bill only benefiting the poor. Benefield points out that the bill almost doubles the amount of money available for Educational Improvement Tax Credit scholarships to $75 million. The eligibility for EITC scholarships is $60,000 plus $10,000 per child.

Still, Freind’s reaction brings to light one thing that will be done by defenders of the educrat establishment. The race card will be played.

But that’s nothing new. I have a strong recollection of a certain self-thought sophisticated, tolerant, sensitive suburban school superintendent slickly warning the parents of his district back in the ’90s that their high school will “have a great basketball team” if the choice plan wasn’t defeated.