POLS ON THE STREET: Street Scores a Hit on Gun Bill

Filed under: Featured News,Politics,Pols on the Street,Subject Categories |


Entering the General Assembly as a freshman, in the minority party, is a humbling experience.

Ask any veteran lawmaker how much influence he had during the first six months of his career.

It’s obvious the freshman’s main job is to keep his nose down and his ears open. Rarely does he get a chance to deal a major piece of legislation even a glancing blow.

State Sen. Sharif Street (D-N. Phila.) may have pulled off just such a coup – booby-trapping the mighty National Rifle Association’s chief policy plan for Pennsylvania.

Wending a path through the State Senate this spring was SB 383, introduced by State Sen. Donald White (R-Indiana). This bill that would allow school-district employees to carry guns to school. It passed the Senate and is currently before the House Education Committee.

The bill reads, in part, “The board of school directors in a school district may establish a policy permitting school personnel access to firearms in the buildings or on the grounds of a school.” The district would be expected to prepare a firearms-safety plan and run it past local law enforcement. A 2008 “right-to-know” law would categorize such information as confidential.

That was how White’s bill hit the Senate floor. It was then that senators of both parties were allowed to offer amendments.

Street pitched in two key changes to the bill. One was that school personnel would need a carry permit and proof of firearms training to pack heat at school. They would also be required to pass a psychological screening.

COME AUGUST, the ‘real business’ of politics takes place at shoreside gatherings – or backyard gatherings like Sid Booker’s pool party in Laverock, where, L-R, Councilman Derek Green, Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, Congressional Aide Ducky Birts, Sheriff Jewell Williams, DA candidate Larry Krasner and host Booker hung out with hundreds. Photo by Wendell Douglas

These amendments sailed past the deep-blue Senate and are built into the legislation now before the House of Representatives.

In its first version, the bill met opposition from the Education Law Center and the Pennsylvania State Education Association, which you could roughly characterize as “progressive” in today’s odd world.

But now the National Rifle Association has yanked its support as well – solely because of Street’s amendments. The NRA is a massive financial supporter of favorable Keystone State legislators and no one doubts the core language of SB 383 was drafted by the NRA and signed off on by White.

What the NRA chiefly objects to are the Street amendment language. The NRA is adamant that no school-gun policy is acceptable if it requires pistol-packing professors to demonstrate first that they are not crazy and secondly that they can shoot straight.

The NRA will work hard to delete the Street amendments in the House. But in doing so, they will be placing moderate suburban Republican House members in peril. These are the most-volatile seats in Harrisburg. How many of them wish to go on record advocating that teachers become marksmen as well, in 2018?

Gun violence is a large, long-standing Philadelphia concern to which all its elected officials must respond. Street may have planted an IED in the path of a bill that most Philadelphians don’t want, because they believe it would worsen a local problem with firearms – not in schools, but on the streets.

Brady Slams Trump Talk

Congressman Bob Brady (D-Phila.) released the following statement on President Trump’s remarks at a news conference on the Charlottesville, Va. tragedy:

“President Trump has once again shared his core feelings and once again we are shocked that he chose to defend racists and those who support Nazism rather than the American people.”

A LOCAL hair salon got a new lease on life as State Rep. Jared Solomon cut the ribbon to newly renovated Journey Hair Salon on Castor Avenue. He explained how he assisted the owner, Tomika Miles, in receiving $10,000 in grants from The Merchants Fund to help make the upgrades possible. “I am a strong believer that thriving business corridors are critical in revitalizing a neighborhood,” Solomon explained.

Kenney Approves Pre-K Head

A newly created position in the Mayor’s Office will become a lightning rod for Mayor Jim Kenney’s signature policy.

Kenney named Julie Beamon as PHLpreK director in the Mayor’s Office of Education. Beamon most recently served as provider engagement coordinator for PHLpreK, playing a critical role in the initial development and implementation of the city’s free, quality pre-K program over the previous year. Beamon has spent the past several years working with early-learning programs in Pennsylvania to implement best practices and policies.

“Julie’s commitment to improving quality in the early childhood education sector, combined with her excellent track record working with pre-K providers and key stakeholders make her an excellent choice for PHLpreK director as we continue strengthening the program,” said Kenney. “She has extensive knowledge of early childhood education at the policy and ground level, and has modeled both leadership and collaboration to advance systemic change in the field.”

“I look forward to collaborating with our partners to expand and deepen the impact of PHLpreK, which has already helped so many families and local businesses,” said Beamon. “I am honored to lead a hardworking team that helped to launch the program, and am committed to achieving the Mayor’s vision of ensuring that all Philadelphia children can access quality early education.”

“Julie has been critical to the success of PHLpreK in its formative phase,” said Carol Austin, executive director at Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children and chair of the city’s pre-K advisory board. “Julie is the right person to convene stakeholders, coordinate with providers and partners, and lead the City’s effort to give all children the quality, affordable early education they deserve in order to become kindergarten-ready.”

ISHAQ SAMAI and Ward Leader Pete Wilson, co-founders of Philadelphia Community Outreach Committee, held an “Anti-Drug/Anti-Violence Rally” earlier this month on the 700 block of N. Holly Street in Mill Creek. This corner has been plagued by open-air drug vending. State Sen. Vincent Hughes and Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell joined Holly Street neighbors and civic groups in their vigil. Photo by Morgan Miller

Prior to working in the Mayor’s Office of Education, Beamon was an Early Learning Program Certification Representative for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning, an Early Intervention Service Coordinator and Special Projects Manager for Elwyn SEEDS, and a Site Coordinator in the Southeast Delco School District. She also taught English for six years in the Abington School District.

A graduate of Philadelphia public schools, Beamon earned her BA in English from Howard University and MEd in English education from Ohio State University. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and her son, who is a public-school student.

Beamon will have her work cut out for her as she gears up for the first full year of the mayor’s initiative to expand quality pre-K education in the city. If the Sweetened Drinks Tax fails to deliver enough revenue to support the expansion, she will be tasked with managing the gap – and warding off criticisms as the next round of municipal elections approaches.

COUNCILMAN Mark Squilla, 3rd from R, held his reception at Keenan’s. Well-wishers included Melania Rowan; Pat Christian, 25th Ward Chairman; Senate aide J.R. Rowan (hubby of Melania); Tom Johnson, 25th Ward Leader; Brigit and hubby Mark; Mary Fogg, Golden Rose; and Kensington youth mentor Mark Marco.

Tomlinson Is Sour on Tax

One person who is predicting the Sweetened Drinks tax will fail to deliver the goods for pre-K is Mike Tomlinson, the Republican candidate for city controller. He is placing that message at the core of his campaign.

In a recent statement, Tomlinson said, “I oppose the sugar tax. It punishes the people due to City mismanagement and corruption. My opponent is a flag-waving supporter of this oppressive tax that hurts the middle and working class just trying to make ends meet.”

August is early to be rallying voters But as Republicans face a stiff uphill climb to surmount their disadvantage in voter registrations, Tomlinson cannot waste a minute. He must hope thousands of Philadelphia voters are enjoying their favorite sodas at the shore in August – and will bring their surprise and frustration after Labor Day when they confront the sticker prices for the same items back home.

“Vote against this tax on Nov. 7 and give me your vote for city controller,” Tomlinson concluded.

Appellate Court Goes Green?

In a first for Pennsylvania’s Green Party, a Superior Court candidate will be carrying its banner in the fall general-election campaign.

The campaign to elect Jules Mermelstein to the Pennsylvania Superior Court has announced that thanks to the efforts of volunteers across 44 counties, he will be on the ballot for Nov. 7.

KICKING OFF the pioneering NaturePHL program at the Cobbs Creek Environmental Center, L-R, were Mike Weilbacher, executive director of the Schuylkill Center; Kathryn Ott Lovell, commissioner, Philadelphia Department of Parks & Recreation; Lauren Imgrund, Deputy Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources; Aaliyah Green Ross, director of education at the Schuylkill Center; Tony Ferguson, station director of the US Forest Service’s Northern Research Station; and Dr. Koi Dang, pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s South Philadelphia primary-care facility. Photo by Martin Regusters, Leaping Lion Photography

More than 4,300 Pennsylvania voters submitted their signatures for the campaign to nominate Jules for Judge. On July 28, nearly double the signatures needed to place Mermelstein on the ballot were submitted. None were challenged over the following days.

Mermelstein has worked as an attorney, and both as a high-school and college government teacher. He spent more than two decades teaching Sunday school to teens and was elected five terms as a township official. In two of Mermelstein’s bids for Upper Dublin Township Commissioner, he was endorsed by both major parties. Now, as a Green Party candidate, Mermelstein believes he will bring much-needed nonpartisan integrity to a judicial system that he sees as plagued by corruption.

“As a former criminal defense attorney,” Mermelstein told Green Party members from around the U.S. at a recent national conference, “I am fully aware of the racism inherent in that system. I actually argued a case once to a judge that the Commonwealth hadn’t proven my client guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and his response from the bench in open court was, ‘The fact that your client’s Black makes it worse.’ I took that appeal actually to the court I’m running for and got an order for a new trial before a different judge.”

Mermelstein has vowed to travel tirelessly across the state to press his candidacy.

Join over 3.000 visitors who are receiving our newsletter and learn how to optimize your blog for search engines, find free traffic, and monetize your website.
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.
www.pdf24.org    Send article as PDF   

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *