Lawmakers buck Markell on education

The News Journal | by Matthew Albright & Jonathan Starkey After years of pushing education reforms in Delaware, Gov. Jack Markell is facing a revolt in the General Assembly. Lawmakers, including many from his own party, have little faith Markell’s Department of Education knows what everyday educators think is the best way to improve schools. They are skeptical the $119 million federal Race to the Top grant, one of Markell’s signature education achievements, has done any lasting good. Legislators are sending a clear message that they need to more actively […]

First Person: Government transparency

Newsworks | by Brian Drouin Transparency is a big part of government. An issue brewing in Governor Jack Markell’s office over the use of a private email account. That forms the conversation in our First Person segment this week. Joining us in the First studios are Rep. John Kowalko and John Flaherty of the Delaware Coalition for Open Government. Read original article and watch video interview.

‘Rebel’ John Kowalko refuses to keep quiet

The News Journal | by Jeff Montgomery Some describe him as a political maverick. Others say he’s the Rebel Without a Pause. Democratic state Rep. John Kowalko of Newark is easily riled, a trait of affection for some around Legislative Hall in the state capitol, a turnoff for others. “You either love him or hate him,” one insider said. Lately the fifth-term representative has been worked up more than ever. And after being stripped of committee leadership roles, he’s making sure he’s still heard from deep at the back of […]

Kowalko joined by supporters to protest removal from House committee

The News Journal | by Jonathan Starkey House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf denied he removed Rep. John Kowalko, D-Newark, from the House Education committee because of differences over education policy or Kowalko’s boisterous opposition to Gov. Jack Markell’s plan to turn around six Wilmington schools. In his first comments on the dust-up, Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, told reporters Tuesday that Kowalko has lost the ability to cooperate with colleagues on education issues, citing his inability to compromise as the reason behind Kowalko’s removal. The speaker also called the controversy, stoked by Kowalko’s […]

Kowalko blasts House Speaker

The News Journal | by Jonathan Starkey Rep. John Kowalko apparently has had enough. The Newark Democrat fired off a letter to Democratic House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, accusing the speaker of creating an “atmosphere of intimidation and coercion that threatens to envelop our caucus and the entire House of Representatives.” Kowalko sent the letter after Schwartzkopf left him off the House Education committee, a panel on which he had served for eight years. The six-page missive offers a rare show of deep disunity within the House Democratic caucus and accuses […]

Kowalko calls his removal from education committee ‘abuse of power’

WDEL | by Amy Cherry State Rep. John Kowalko (D-Newark South) has been ousted from the influential House education committee after nearly a decade of service. Kowalko told WDEL he learned of the news in a phone call this weekend from House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf (D-Rehoboth Beach). “He said, ‘Well you’ve become an activist. You carry your message to the blogs, to the papers, and on the radio, and you can’t be a legislator and be an activist,’” Kowalko alleged. Kowalko, who has been extremely outspoken against the state’s priority […]

Kowalko bounced from House education committee after opposing governor

The News Journal | by Jonathan Starkey Democratic leaders have sent a message to Newark Rep. John Kowalko: back off. House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf has bounced Kowalko, a Democrat who has loudly opposed Gov. Jack Markell’s plan to turn around six Wilmington schools, from the House education committee and stripped his chairmanship of the House Energy committee. Top House Democrats, who do not tolerate dissent among the ranks, also yanked Rep. Helene Keeley, D-Wilmington, from the capital budget committee after she mounted and lost a leadership challenge last month to […]

Delaware House discusses safety of oil-by-rail

Newsworks | by Shana O’Malley With increased deliveries of oil by rail in Delaware, state officials want to ensure that safety comes first. On Wednesday afternoon, legislators met with approximately two dozen officials from Norfolk Southern, the Delaware City Oil Refinery and state emergency management to discuss potential safety concerns with the delivery of oil by rail. The Delaware City Oil Refinery is experiencing a significant increase of oil-by-rail shipments, and state officials want to see that all safety scenarios are being addressed. At the meeting, state leaders inquired about maintenance […]

People of Influence: John Kowalko

Delaware Today | September 2009 Issue | by Matt Amis John Kowalko — Environment Who has clout? There’s a new generation of movers and shakers emerging who are shaping policies and making things happen. John Kowalko considers himself a conduit, a voice, not just for constituents in his 25th Representative District, but for those who are passionate about the environment. Kowalko, himself a former activist, is one of the few who have successfully reconciled a merger of activism and politics. His secret weapon: economics. “Once you track these issues and make an […]