IF COMMENTATORS paused before making windy statements and got the facts, think how much more focused and informed the public debate might be. That was my impression after reading Phil Goldsmith's latest over-the-top offering in Monday's

Daily News.

Too often, commentators like Goldsmith assume their task is to find "gotcha" moments. That's a lot easier than trying to explain the complex world of government, finance and politics.

He contends that Mayor Nutter promised no new taxes in March only to turn around, after the May primary, to propose new revenue for the school district. Bait and switch, Goldsmith complains. If he reported the facts correctly, Goldsmith would know otherwise.

Mayor Nutter's March budget address noted that the city had reduced spending by $130 million and cut 1,600 jobs, all in response to a brutal recession. With pride, the mayor proposed modest new investments like a class of new police recruits. He also pledged no new taxes for the city budget.

But he warned of a "triple threat" represented by budget problems in Washington, Harrisburg and the school district. He continued to state his concerns all through March and April.

Through the spring, the school district clearly communicated that it faced major reductions, but it was only on May 24 during a City Council budget hearing that district officials identified a precise amount of new funding needed to blunt some of

the worst aspects of a $629 million budget gap.

Now, as we approach a time for a decision, it's clear Philadelphia needs a more accountable school district, and Mayor Nutter has taken concrete steps in that direction.

But without more money from the city, which in turn might encourage Harrisburg legislators to restore some needed funds, Philadelphia's kids will confront a tragically difficult September, with no transportation, more students in each classroom and fewer options for dropouts who want to come back.

In short, it's Philadelphia's kids who will feel the pain of a real "gotcha."

Clarence Armbrister, Philadelphia

Note: Clarence "Clay" Armbrister is Mayor Nutter's chief of staff.

nolead begins

Who's 'Free,' Mike?

Unbelievable! Michael Vick has the audacity to have in the title of his new autobiography the words "Finally Free." Is he serious? I'm sure his dogs in heaven would have loved to have their own book with that title. Sadly, most of them are dead.

No matter how many books he writes, no matter how many NFL records he breaks, no matter what he accomplishes in his life, he'll now and forever always be known for brutally torturing and killing helpless, innocent dogs. Period.

Any profits Vick makes with this book should be given to animal shelters.

Karen Morrissey

Philadelphia