Goode rips Street over delay of school-budget hearing

City Councilman Wilson Goode Jr. doesn't sugarcoat the message. Just ask Mayor Street.

After Council President Anna Verna announced during the weekly Council session yesterday that at the mayor's request, she was postponing the school district budget hearing on Monday, Goode was irritated.

On the agenda for Monday - aside from school district officials defending their proposed budget and two routine school-tax bills - was Goode's proposal to shift about $19 million in real-estate taxes per year from the city treasury to the fiscally beleaguered school system.

If Street opposes his bill, "so what," said Goode. "He's pretty much a lameduck on this issue."

Moments later in an interview with the media, Goode said Street doesn't want to shift city tax dollars to the school district, adding, "I think that's selfish, it's egotistical. It shows he doesn't really care about the education of our children."

On his way to open three new curfew centers as part of his anti-violence campaign, Street said, "I just don't understand why he's so upset" about the postponed hearing.

The current school budget proposal, Street said, is drowning in red ink and a lack of public support. Having a Council hearing on a bogus budget makes no sense, he said.

Gov. Rendell and his key budget officials are working with city officials to review School Reform Commission finances in order to get a more accurate fiscal picture, Street said. That process should be completed in less than 30 days.

"I've also been very, very clear that I'm for the school district, and I know the city is going to have to put up additional resources," Street said. "But I don't know why we would want to go through a charade when the governor himself has said we don't understand the finances."

When the review is complete, Street said that either he or his education secretary, Jacqueline Barnett, will testify before Council. The district's budget hearing has been rescheduled for May 23.

As for the shot Goode took at him, Street, who has created a network of after-school programs for thousands of city children, said, "I care a lot about children and I think my record speaks for itself."

In other business, Councilman Darrell Clarke introduced a half-dozen gun-control bills that mirror other bills that have been stalled on Council's calendar since 2004.

But the new legislation makes no mention of a requirement that the Legislature change Pennsylvania law so that the city can legislate in an area exclusively controlled by the commonwealth.

Clarke said the new legislative wrinkle is "part of a strategy that will be implemented very soon." *