What’s that, Mr. Hamlet?

What’s that, Mr. Hamlet?

One cannot help but be struck by the continued tone deafness of Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Anthony Hamlet.

The man who took over the helm of a district plagued by flailing academic performance and astoundingly high student absenteeism under a cloud (“his” stated education philosophy appeared to have been lifted from another source) has been a continual storm-cloud magnet.

The latest cloud to form over Hamlet comes in the form of a state audit that documents “runaway” travel costs for district officials. Worse, most of that travel is said to have had questionable educational benefits.

And do remember this: All this comes in a district that’s floated a trial balloon for a tax increase next year in an effort to erase a multimillion-dollar budget deficit.

Indeed, the audit findings are eye-popping. The travel expense amount has nearly doubled since the beginning of Hamlet’s tenure about three years ago. State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale found the spending so egregious that he plans to refer his findings to the State Ethics Commission. (That said, he told KDKA’s Marty Griffin that he’s found nothing that rises to the level of criminality.)

Past being prologue – Hamlet invariably deflects criticism by blaming those who deliver repeated bad news — Hamlet has attempted to discredit the audit as some sort of statistical sleight of hand.

And then he dropped this gem, apparently with a straight face, defending the district’s travel spendthrift proclivities:

“We cannot continue to follow the same practices that have led to stagnation or deficits in student achievement – sometimes, to achieve different results, change is necessary.”

But, in too many cases, the pathetic academic results for Pittsburgh Public Schools have only grown worse under Hamlet. The proverbial pig, all gussied up, is same old pig – only more expensive.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposal to force Pennsylvania into the economy-killing Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)  — a dubious carbon cap-and-trade program (a government-created “market” — is so bad that even a fellow Democrat is a prime sponsor of a measure that would require legislative approval for such a move.

Make no mistake, it’s a necessary poison pill for a market-destroying program that should be euthanized.

Wolf continues to claim unilateral authority to join the consortium under the commonwealth’s Air Pollution Control Act. Thus, it’s highly unlikely he’d sign such legislation.

And House Speaker Mike Turzai, in remarks obtained by the Post-Gazette, says the case ultimately will end up in the courts. He’s hoping to make it a federal case, given the left-leaning majority on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

That Democrat legislator, by the way, is Pam Snyder, who represents Greene, Fayette and Washington counties. She told the P-G that while she supports “a cleaner planet for my children and grandchildren,” she does not support “completely crushing the economy” to do so.

It’s the forest the Wolf administration can’t see for the trees.

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).