Philly teachers' union to pull new ad attacking Mayor Nutter
The Philadelphia teachers' union said it is putting on hold a new ad that blasts Mayor Nutter and Gov. Corbett over the school district's budget woes.
George Jackson, spokesman for the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, said the union has made the decision because Nutter and PFT president Jerry Jordan have scheduled a private meeting this week.
"We think we got [Nutter's] attention," said Jackson. "In the interest of fostering a productive dialogue, for right now, we're going to suspend the ads."
[Update: The ad reportedly aired on NBC10 Wednesday after the PFT said it was pulled. Jackson said there was a "miscommunication" with the station, and that it should be off the airwaves by Thursday.]
The mayor's office declined to comment on the meeting.
The new commercial, which had been expected to start airing on TV and radio stations Wednesday, begins with a narration about schools opening: "The start of school. The excitement of new classes. Old friends."
Then it lambasts city and state leaders: "Governor Corbett and Mayor Nutter, they failed to provide the funding Philadelphia schools need. They failed to lead. Failed our kids. Tell Mayor Nutter and Governor Corbett, stop cutting funding for our schools now."
Mark McDonald, Nutter's spokesman, shot back at the PFT for the ad.
"Where the PFT ad says the mayor cut funding for the schools, we respond that this statement is a lie," he said. "Plain and simple."
Rob Dubow, Nutter's finance director, said last month that the city has increased annual aid to the Philadelphia School District by $155 million since mid-2010, while the state has cut $145 million.
The PFT is standing by the advertisement, which was still available online Wednesday. Jackson said it is a reference to the two School Reform Commissioners appointed by Nutter, who, he said, regularly vote with Corbett's two appointees to the board. (Joseph Dworetzky, the third gubernatorial appointee on the five-member SRC, was appointed by former Gov. Rendell.)
The PFT declined to say how much the new ad cost. The American Federation of Teachers contributed to the purchase.
Last month, the PFT launched another series of advertisements that slammed Nutter and Corbett over school funding. Nutter responded that the commercials were inaccurate and a distraction from the PFT's current contract negotiations with the school district.
The PFT and district missed a deadline this weekend to reach an agreement on a new contract. The district is asking the PFT for $103 million in concessions, including pay cuts ranging from 5 percent to 13 percent, in order to help shore up the budget.
Jackson said about the status of the talks: "They're still negotiating."