Keith Stamm is president of the Reading School Board. He is also the Republican candidate for mayor of Reading.
The current mayor loves to have his picture taken with other politicians and cuts a lot of ribbons, but Tom McMahon hasn't done much in the past four years to deal with serious problems facing the city, including crime, trash piling up on city streets and deteriorating infrastructure.
Stamm, who blogs at http://keithstamm.blogspot.com/, is not afraid to tackle serious fiscal issues and speaks his mind. That would be refreshing in Reading, where the Democratic Party has a monopoly on power. That could also explain why the city is so poorly run.
The reason I wanted to mention Keith Stamm today is that he and another Republican (William Cinfici) on the Reading School Board voted against a plan to give school administrators a 10 percent pay raise this summer. The School Board apparently had $500,000 sitting around and felt compelled to spend it. Not on school supplies or teachers or building upkeep, mind you, but on boosting the salaries of administrators.
Stamm warned his fellow board members that this was not the right time to throw more money at administrators. He predicted that such a move would come back to haunt the district because other employees would expect the same 10 percent pay raise.
Stamm was right.
Less than a month after the Democrats on the Reading School Board handed out the 10 percent pay hikes to administrators, the union representing the district's janitors said it, too, expects 10 percent pay increases. Teamsters Local 429 officials told district negotiators that the 160 janitors deserve 10 percent pay raises, too.
And wait until the School Board has to negotiate a new deal with the teachers. How much do you want to be that the teachers won't settle for the traditional 3 percent or 4 percent pay hike they've been getting, but will demand 10 percent pay raises.
"It (the pay raises) was done at the wrong time," Stamm told the local newspaper. "To think that you were going to negotiate with the Teamsters and with the teachers union after this and think they won't want more than 2 or 3 percent (raises), it's just not going to happen."
Reading needs someone like Keith Stamm as mayor. It's a troubled city that is spinning its wheels under Democratic leadership.
It's an uphill battle for Stamm to become the next mayor of Reading. Registered Democrats far outnumber Republicans in the city. I think one Republican has been elected mayor in Reading in the past 30 years, but Stamm still sounds like he could do more for the city than the current status quo mayor. Stamm is a forward-thinker.
People have seen where the Democrats have taken Reading. Deeper in a hole. Electing Stamm as mayor would be a first step in getting Reading out of the hole.