Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

From City Council to the School Reform Commission?

City Councilman Bill Green has been meeting with Republicans.
City Councilman Bill Green has been meeting with Republicans. CLEM MURRAY / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

COULD CITY Councilman Bill Green IV become the Philadelphia School Reform Commission's next chairman?

We hear Green, a Democrat, is lobbying Republicans in Philly and across the state for support.

The decision will be made by Gov. Corbett, who has to replace Pedro Ramos, the SRC chairman who resigned last month.

Green met yesterday in Harrisburg with state Rep. John Taylor, the new chairman of Philadelphia's Republican Party.

Green and Taylor confirmed the meeting but declined to comment further when asked if they discussed the SRC post.

"I talked to John and lots of other people," said Green, who clammed up when asked if that list included Charles Zogby.

Zogby is Corbett's budget secretary and was education secretary for then-Gov. Tom Ridge when the SRC was created in 2001.

Taylor said he and Green discussed "a number of topics."

Rob Gleason, chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, has known Green's father, former Mayor Bill Green III, for more than 50 years. We asked Gleason if the councilman sought his support for the chairman's post.

"I would rather not comment on that," Gleason responded.

Green is due to have lunch in two weeks with City Commissioner Al Schmidt, another Republican who could support his bid.

"I think he'd be a pretty solid pick and would get a lot of bipartisan support," Schmidt said.

Green, now in his second term on Council, once looked like a sure bet to run for mayor in 2015.

SRC members are not allowed to seek or hold another public office. That means Green would have to resign from Council if appointed SRC chairman.

A successful term as SRC chairman could serve as a strong political platform for the future.

"If someone could solve the problem over there, they probably could be elected to anything they want," Gleason said of the financially and academically struggling school district.

Jay Pagni, Corbett's press secretary, yesterday declined to say if Green was one of the people who have met with the governor about the SRC.

"There are several individuals that continue to be considered," he said. "We'll leave it at that."

There will be two open SRC posts for Corbett to fill in January, when Joseph Dworetzky's term ends.

We hear candidates include Farah Jimenez, who heads the People's Emergency Center, a social services agency for the homeless; Al Mezzaroba, former president of the Pennsylvania Convention Center and former board member for Citizens Alliance for Better Neighborhoods, which was started by former state Sen. Vince Fumo; and Dr. Keith Leaphart, president of Replica Global LLC.

Jimenez, a Republican, said she knew "people have recommended me" for the SRC. Mezzaroba, a Republican, declined to comment. Leaphart, a Democrat, did not respond to messages.

 

'Making Ideas Matter'

State Rep. Dwight Evans has a book - Making Ideas Matter: My Life as a Policy Entrepreneur - being released today by University of Pennsylvania's Fels Institute of Government.

The book, co-written with former Inquirer Harrisburg bureau chief William Ecenbarger, tracks Evans' life from a childhood in working-class North Philly to election as the powerful Democratic chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

The final chapter, "Politics is a Contact Sport," explores the "frustration" Evans felt in failed campaigns for governor, lieutenant governor and mayor.

Evans recounts how political consultants complained that he spoke in "Legis-ease," a wonky language not well-suited for the sound bites of modern politics.

Evans, who was ousted from his chairmanship by fellow Democrats in 2011, tells us he is still listening to people urging him to make a third bid for mayor.

For now, he plans to tour the city, state and country to talk about his new book. All book proceeds will go to the Fels Institute.

We told Evans the tour sounded like a fine stage from which to launch a campaign for a different public office, such as mayor.

"What I want to be judged by is my ideas," Evans said, repeatedly deflecting questions about his political future. "Do they matter? Do they make a difference?"

 

To elect or appoint?

Former U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was in Philly this week and the question of whether judges should be elected or appointed was very much on her mind.

O'Connor spoke Monday at the 25th anniversary event for Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, a judicial-system watchdog group that pushes for merit selection of judges instead of elections.

She spoke Tuesday at the Ballard Spahr law firm, where her thoughts on appointing rather than electing judges were warmly received by the audience.

O'Connor, who retired in 2006, was the last member of the nation's highest court who'd run for elected office. She recounted how she worked, as a member of the Arizona Senate, on legislation to switch from judicial elections to appointments.

She lamented that judges who run for election must "raise money to do all that stuff you have to do to get elected."

"That's not what judges should be doing at all," O'Connor said. "It's just offensive in every way."

 


Email: brennac@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-5973

Twitter: @ChrisBrennanDN

Blog: ph.ly/phillyclout

 

Chris Brennan
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