Years of civil disobedience from Philadelphians preceded Tom Corbett’s loss in PA Governor’s Race.
On election night I took a moment to sift through Techbook Online’s vast content library to see if I noticed any patterns in news coverage or social trends that would either make for a good story or help give context to the current state of local politics.
What I found was sort of interesting: Governor Corbett’s entire term in office was plagued with protests, marches and rallies organized by Philadelphians who believed he wasn’t doing enough to help the Philadelphia School District.
For those who live in the nation’s fifth largest city, this trend isn’t a big surprise, though it may provide color as to why Mr. Corbett’s popularity was in the toilet. For my larger audience, however, this trend may represent a more significant social happening: four years of consistent and sometimes creative – though not always effective or strategic – inter-generational activism that eventually led to the election of a new Governor, one who’s pledging to be pro-public education.
And though Mr. Corbett oversaw a period in which the state contributed an all-time high to public education, that wasn’t the mainstream narrative and the way he choose to generate those funds didn’t satisfy taxpayers.
For example, Mr. Emmanuel Bussie, an activist and familiar face on the Philadelphia education scene, condemned Mr. Corbett in June of 2011 for not taxing the extraction of natural gas and sending more than a billion dollars to breed race horses, while the schools in Philadelphia were barely getting by.
“I don’t have anything against horse racing, but I’d much rather develop engineers, architects, businesses and scientists, said Mr. Bussie, as he stood in front of the School District of Philadelphia’s headquarters.
Though Mr. Bussie’s plans to reallocate the horse racing for public education didn’t gain much traction four years ago, Rep. Todd Stephens, a state legislator from Montgomery County, in the beginning of 2014, proposed gutting the state’s Race Horse Development Fund in favor of increasing state funding to school districts that receive less than 35 percent of their funding from the Commonwealth, according to Philly.com.
Horse racing aside; Governor Corbett was often criticized for what the public believed was the erection of the school-to-prison pipeline: slashing public education budgets in order to pay for new prisons.
In September of 2012, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, during a wide-ranging interview with Dom Giordano, Governor Corbett began to expound on how natural gas – which he called the “future of energy” – was boosting Pennsylvania’s economy when activists jumped out their seats with signs and shouted:
“Fund education, not incarceration.”
The embattled governor seemed unmoved by the interruption and tongue lashings from the activists in attendance, many of whom were present at a massive protest in May of 2012 in front of and around the Prince Music Theater.
As a matter of fact, every time Governor Corbett came to Philadelphia for an appearance, a fundraiser or to work from his Center City office – which is in a private hotel building that taxpayers are routinely denied access to – he was met with protesters.
And though most times it was the issue of funding education that attracted the masses, there were a couple of occasions in which Governor Corbett was lambasted on other important issues.
Like in April of 2013, for example, when hundreds of protesters frustrated with Governor Corbett’s refusal to accept the Medicaid expansion marched to his Center City office and demanded he do the right thing for Pennsylvanians.
During the protest, State Senator Vincent Hughes, who chairs the state’s appropriations committee, touted the economic impacts of Obamacare and suggested the Governor’s procrastination was costing Pennsylvania an opportunity to snatch up $4 billion dollars a year, which would be used to provide healthcare to families and children.
And as recent as two weeks ago, Governor Corbett was drowned out by protesters as he signed the Revictimization Relief Act into law just feet from where Mr. Mumia Abu-Jamal is believed to have murdered Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.
During the extremely polarizing and racially tense event you could hear protesters and those passing by shouting:
“One term Tom.”
Those chants proved prophetic as Governor Tom Corbett was unable to garner enough votes to keep him in office. As of January 2015, Mr. Tom Wolf will be the 47th Governor of Pennsylvania. Here’s hoping to four years of progress, not protests.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™