AFT President Randi Weingarten, PFT President Jerry Jordan and AFT-PA President Ted Kirsch are asking Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett for full school funding following report of a 7-year-old, whose death might have been prevented had a nurse been on hand.
â€œDear Governor Corbett:
â€œSince you took office in 2011, you slashed school funding by $1 billion and turned down Medicaid funding that could have helped many of Philadelphiaâ€™s children. The number of school nurses in Philadelphia has fallen from 289 to 179. Now, instead of focusing on the health needs of students at one school, nurses in Philadelphiaâ€™s public schools cover five or six schools, sometimes visiting each school only once every other week.
â€œWe do know all parents deserve to know that their child will be safe and his or her most basic needs will be tended to at school. We do know that all Philadelphia children deserve better.
â€œMr. Governor, You have the power to fix what you have broken. Restore full and fair funding to all Pennsylvania schools. And do it now.â€
SEN. FARNESE CALLS FOR END TO CONVENTION DISPUTE
State Sen. Larry Farnese (D-S. Phila.) has urged the board of the Pennsylvania Convention Center to exercise fairness and respect the Customer Satisfaction Agreement reached with the Carpenters Local 8 and Teamsters Local 107 on May 9.
The Board, citing a May 5 deadline, did not accept the CSA and has reopened it without the participation of the unions.
â€œThe Pennsylvania Convention Center is a valuable asset to the 1st Senatorial Dist., but it cannot run without the hard-working men and women of Carpentersâ€™ Local 8 and Teamstersâ€™ Local 107,â€ said Farnese. â€œTo lock the unions out because of an oversight and deprive the workers and their families of their jobs is unconscionable.â€
UNION LEADERS UNDER FIRE AS LOBBYISTS
Wendell Young IV was doing his job as he visited lawmakers last year trying to convince lawmakers privatizing Pennsylvaniaâ€™s liquor stores wasnâ€™t the correct move. For his work, the president of the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1776, has earned criticism for being an unregistered lobbyist.
This was leveled at him and other union leaders by Commonwealth Foundation President Matthew J. Brouillette.
The issue might not be so cut and dry, even though Pennsylvania law defines lobbying as â€œan effort to influence legislative action or administrative actionâ€ and requires that lobbyists, lobbying firms or principals register with the state.
Wendell Young IV, the president of Local 1176, contends he doesnâ€™t need to register as a lobbyist. Thatâ€™s because while someoneâ€™s actions could fall under the definition of lobbying, they donâ€™t always have to register, thanks to exceptions in Pennsylvaniaâ€™s lobbying law.
Robert Caruso, executive director of the stateâ€™s Ethics Commission, said individuals donâ€™t have to register if they lobby less than 20 hours a quarter or if their lobbying expenses donâ€™t exceed $2,500 a quarter.
While Caruso said those are the most commonly seen exceptions, the law also gives leeway to individuals that limit their lobbying to testimony before a committee or agency and representatives of a church lobbying to protect the right to free exercise of religion, among other exclusions.
The issue has seldom come before the Ethics Commission, Caruso said, and he added it can be hard to generally say what someone can do without knowing all the variables.
The Commonwealth Foundationâ€™s criticism also targeted Rick Bloomingdale, president of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, and David Fillman, executive director of AFSCME Council 13.
When learning that Gene Barr, president of Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, is registered as a lobbyist, Bloomingdale said itâ€™s probably a good idea for him to register, too.
â€œWeâ€™ve got nothing to hide,â€ Bloomingdale said. â€œIf weâ€™ve got to do it, weâ€™ll do it, and thatâ€™ll be the end of it.â€
HINT TO CONTROLLER: RUN, ALAN, RUN
Controller Alan Butkovitz has won the affections of some unions, a feather in his cap should he seek higher office.
Recently he received this supportive letter from Lorenzo North, president of AFSCME Local 159, which represents city correctional officers:
â€œSince taking office as Philadelphia City Controller on Jan. 2, 2006, you have shown nothing but respect for my membership in Local 159. You have attended every Correctional Officersâ€™ graduation ceremony. In addition, you have been a strong supporter of unions in this city. You have not forgotten the workers of this city and you have done a great job looking out for the taxpayers of Philadelphia by making sure that our funds are not being wasted.
â€œPhiladelphia needs a Mayor that will fund our public schools (and not use the funds for charter schools), build up and clean our neighborhoods, create jobs, put more police officers on the streets and in our neighborhoods, bring manufacturing businesses back to Philadelphia and find the creative solutions to solve our many problems. In short, we need a good leader who will make Philadelphia a better place to live.
â€œI strongly urge you to run for Mayor of Philadelphia and help make this city a better place for all taxpayers, not just those in certain neighborhoods. I hope you will think about the leadership you can bring to the citizens of Philadelphia.â€