As the Boyle – Stack feud continues to play out in Northeast Philadelphia, it appears that Congressman Brendan Boyle is running a former lobbyist against State Representative Martina White.
Fran Nelms, the challenger to Martina White, was a legislative intern for then State Representative Brendan Boyle from 2010 to 2012 and then as a Congressional Staffer from August 2015 through the present. Between the time Nelms’ stints with Congressman Boyle, Nelms worked for the Ridge Policy Group, a Harrisburg based lobbying group ran by former republican Governor Tom Ridge.
Philadelinquency points out that the Ridge Group is registered as a member of the Marcellus Shale Coalition. According to Nelms’ personal LinkedIn profile, he helped manage federal grants for Ridge Group Clients and for the firms client’s he “[composed] sign-on letters to be distributed to congressional offices for review.” The National Association of Attorney General’s describes sign-on letters as “policy-oriented letters sent to members of Congress, congressional committees or federal agencies expressing the viewpoint of the signatories.”
The Ridge Policy Group represents a wide range of clients and non-profits. Their clients are interested in the Marcellus Shale and liquid natural gas development, financial consulting for businesses, health care and education.
In the previous session, The Ridge Policy Group published a blog post supporting charter schools and calling for greater charter school reforms by allowing universities to authorize charter schools. Here’s the post:
The theory behind public charter schools is simple: greater flexibility in exchange for increased accountability will produce more high-quality options for families. What’s proven to be the challenge is the “accountability” part of this equation.
Too often, we place blame on the charter operators and ignore the entity responsible for holding charter schools accountable: the authorizer.
In the life cycle of a charter school, it is up to the authorizer to grant or deny the charter, monitor the school’s progress over the life of the charter, and decide whether to renew the school’s charter once its term is over.
Currently in Pennsylvania, local school boards are the sole entity permitted to authorize brick-and-mortar public charter schools. This needs to change if our state wants to provide more high-quality choices for kids and parents.
Right now, there is a bipartisan bill in the General Assembly that would permit colleges and universities to authorize charter schools. Success stories exist across the charter spectrum and across all types of authorizers, but as the charter sector has grown over the last 20 years, certain patterns have started to emerge.
If Nelms is elected to the House, will he carry out the interest of those associated with the Ridge Policy Group? That remains to be seen, but it is something to keep an eye on.