Publius

Commentary by Tom Ferrick

The Rules Are For Chumps Club

Why follow the rules when you can ignore them? That’s the premise of public officials and the politically connected, as Tom Ferrick illustrates with recent examples.

Buying time

The School Reform Commission bought some time by delaying a vote on the district’s budget. But did it change the fundamental problems the district faces. Tom Ferrick writes about the hurdles that still must be overcome.

Storm clouds gather

Gov. Corbett’s hopes for a gentle spring are being dashed by a dose of reality. State revenues are falling. A deficit looms. He may have to make deep cuts in the state budget. Tom Ferrick examines the governor’s dilemma.

A promising situation

The four Democratic candidates for governor outdid themselves in promising more, more, more for public education if they are elected. As Tom Ferrick explains, promising is the easy part when it comes to the difficult and expensive issues surrounding state support for education.

Ending the hypocrisy on charters

The Corbett administration is “pro-choice” when it comes to education, but refuses to give a dime to local districts to defray charter costs. Funding a fair share of these costs could ease the financial distress of Philadelphia’s public schools.

Frack, baby, frack

Remember when fracking was a bad name? Now, mainstream politicians are embracing the idea of gas drilling because it can be a tax bonanza for the state. Tom Ferrick explains the sea change in thinking about drilling.

The art of the possible

The new Land Bank offers the opportunity for Philadelphia to reverse neighborhood decline by assembling land into tracts suitable for development. Tom Ferrick looks at the history — and the possible future — of abandoned property in the city.

Over before it starts

It’s odd how the race for the Democratic nomination for governor has ended before it ever really began. Tom Ferrick examines the contest as of today and how it impacts Gov. Corbett.

Red light, green light

Pennsylvania campaign finance and ethics law date back to 1978 and have changed little since. Tom Ferrick explores the dangers of having weak laws with little enforcement.

Ten-inch talons

Attorney General Kathleen Kane is slashing at anyone who criticizes her handling of a corruption case involving Philly pols. As Tom Ferrick writes, it’s a desperate maneuver by a desperate politician.

How dumb can you be?

It looks like Sen. Leanna Washington was determined to test the limits of that question, given her indictment last week for using state employees for political purposes. Tom Ferrick examines the case and how it came to be.

The joyless recovery

It’s been slow-going when it comes to recovery after the Great Recession. Tom Ferrick looks at the effect of the lagging economy on the new budgets for the city and the state.

Welcome to Fantasy Island

The city’s unions are looking for a candidate to support for mayor in 2015. The only qualification: you must agree to everything the unions want. Tom Ferrick writes about life on the Fantasy Island of union politics in Philadelphia.

T.H.U.G.S ‘R Us

The Ironworkers indicted for using violence and sabotage to secure jobs represent an extreme version of how local building trade unions handle those who dare to hire non-union workers. Tom Ferrick explains how it works.

The folly before the fire

If only someone in city government had done their job, the tragedy that was the Buck Hosiery factory fire could have been averted. Tom Ferrick reports on a damning grand jury report on the blaze, which killed two firefighters.

Bill Green: plus and minus

Reaction to Bill Green’s appointment to chair the School Reform Commission ranged from winces, perplexed rolls of the eyes to (Enter Mayor Nutter) a mild rant. Tom Ferrick looks at the plus/minus ledger on Green.

Game changer

Here it is just two weeks in 2014 and already I have to break one of my New Year’s resolutions. I promised myself that I would not write a word about the mayor’s race until at least the first day of summer. But, then along comes…

Saving Tom Corbett

Right now, the only person who can save Gov. Tom Corbett from defeat in 2014 is Allyson Schwartz. The Montgomery Co. congresswoman may be a formidable candidate in the Democratic primary, but a weak one against the governor. Tom Ferrick on the geopolitics of the governor’s race.