Thursday, December 25, 2014

As Council approves Clarke's schools plan, Nutter considers giving up the fight

It was a battle of wills - and it's starting to look like Council President Darrell Clarke will outlast Mayor Nutter in the standoff over their competing plans to provide a desperately needed $50 million to the Philadelphia School District.

As Council approves Clarke's schools plan, Nutter considers giving up the fight

Mayor Nutter (front) and Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. listen during a symposium on Pennsylvania school funding at City Hall.
Mayor Nutter (front) and Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. listen during a symposium on Pennsylvania school funding at City Hall. ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer

It was a battle of wills - and it's starting to look like Council President Darrell Clarke will outlast Mayor Nutter in the standoff over their competing plans to provide a desperately needed $50 million to the Philadelphia School District.

With City Council unanimously approving Clarke's bill to buy $50 million worth of empty school buildings today, the mayor is now considering going along with the plan, an administration source told the Daily News. 

Another administration source said the mayor's staff will take another look at the buildings that Council says have interested buyers and move forward if there is substantial enough interest. 

Nutter had wanted Council to adopt a plan orchestrated by Gov. Corbett in which the city would make permanent a sales-tax increase expiring this year and borrow $50 million for the schools against its future revenue. No Council member even introduced the bill on Nutter's behalf, leaving the mayor with few options.

- He could continue to fight the Clarke bill and veto it. But there are more than enough votes for an override.

- He could ignore the bill - allowing it to become law without his signature and declining to send the $50 million check to the School District - and continue to call on Council to take up his plan. 

- Or he could raise the white flag and buy the empty school buildings. That would avoid a scenario in which the city comes up with nothing for the district after pledging last month that the $50 million would be there by the middle of the school year - an even uglier scenario for the mayor than surrending to Council.

Nutter spokesman Mark McDonald said he knows nothing about what the two sources said regarding Nutter's plan.

"The administration has been in discussion with Council members, and we look forward to continuing that discussion to fulfill the pledge, the joint pledge, of getting $50 million to the School District of Philadelphia," he said. 

McDonald added that the administration is continuing to help the School District "to sell its surplus property and get the highest price as quickly as possible."

About this blog
Chris Brennan, a native Philadelphian and graduate of Temple University, joined the Daily News in 1999. He has written about SEPTA, the Philadelphia School District, the legalization of casino gambling, state government, the mayor, the governor, City Council and political campaigns. E-mail tips to brennac@phillynews.com
 Follow Chris on Twitter

Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
 Follow Jenny on Twitter.

PhillyClout Team
Also on Philly.com
Stay Connected