Monday, January 16, 2017

US Needs Government Cats Who Tweet

After the election I was looking around for things to lift my spirits.

And I found things -- twitter accounts for UK government cats.  That's right, there are moggies at the keyboard in Downing Street and other government buildings.  At least four of them.

Larry the Cat lives with the Prime Minister at #10 Downing Street.  Larry is considered a civil servant and not a personal pet, so he's there regardless of who is in office.   Follow him at

Gladstone counts the mice at the Treasury and tweets at:

Palmerston patrols the Foreign Office and officially tweets at:

Evie is the newest mouser on duty, with her son Ossie.  She patrols part of Whitehall and tweets at:

Even Julian Assange has a tweeting cat:

What does the US have?  Well, John Kerry's dog has a twitter feed:

A few Bo Obama twitter feeds started but none lasted long.

The UK government cats are working cats -- the British press keeps track of their mousing skills (Larry is rumored to be a slacker in this area, but the people and the press like him, so his job is fairly secure for the moment.  Fame is fickle, Larry; step up your game.

Mike Pence has two cats.  Maybe they will follow the trend.  There are surely a few mice around Observatory Circle.

Nice Press for Jared Solomon

The Philadelphia Public Record published a nice article on newly elected State Rep. Jared Solomon.  "Change brings Solomon to the lower northeast," by Tony West 1/13/17 provides a political history and some biographical information on Solomon, who is now representing the 202nd state house district, in Northeast Philadelphia.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Dean New Chair of House SE Delegation

amended press release:

Democratic members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives’ Southeast Delegation on Tuesday elected state Rep. Madeleine Dean as chair of the delegation for the 2017-18 legislative term.
State Reps. Mary Jo Daley and Patty Kim were elected vice chairs, state Rep. Steve McCarter was elected treasurer, and state Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio was elected secretary.
The Southeast Delegation comprises 22 Democratic members. The delegation website can be found Dean replaces former state Rep. Steve Santarsiero, D-Bucks, who did not seek re-election for his Pennsylvania House seat.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

December Dog Licenses in Montco

from the inbox:

Montgomery County Treasurer Jason Salus today announced that beginning December 1st, residents are able to purchase their 2017 dog licenses through his office. 
According to Salus, Pennsylvania state law requires all dogs three months and older be licensed by January 1st of each year. “If your dog is lost, a license is their ticket home. It helps animal control and shelters identify dogs to return them home safely,” said Salus. 
An annual dog license is $8.50, or $6.50 if the animal is spayed or neutered. Lifetime licenses are available for dogs that have permanent identification like a microchip or tattoo. Additionally, older adults and people with disabilities may be eligible for discounts. Owners who do not purchase a license could face state fines and penalties of up to $300 for each unlicensed dog. 
“One of the goals of my office is to make getting a dog license fast and easy,” said Salus. “Licenses can be purchased or renewed online, through the mail or at a number of satellite locations across the County. Salus added, 
“Licenses make a great stocking stuffer – don’t forget your pets this holiday season!” Licenses may be purchased at the Treasurer’s office which is located on the sixth floor of One Montgomery Plaza in Norristown or online at

Leary Nominated to Social Security Administration

The White House released a list of nominations that have been sent to the Senate.  Among them is Michael P. Leary, of Pennsylvania, to be Inspector General, Social Security Administration, vice Patrick P. O'Carroll, Jr., resigned.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Wadlington a Champion of Change

 On Friday September 30, the White House will recognize ten individuals from across the country as White House “Champions of Change” for extracurricular enrichment, afterschool, and summer programming for marginalized girls, including girls of color.  One of the ten is from Pennsylvania:

Cheryl Ann Wadlington – Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaCheryl Ann Wadlington is the Founder and Executive Director of The Evoluer House in Philadelphia. Under Wadlington’s leadership, The Evoluer House has delivered award-winning empowerment programs over the past 12 years to more than 1,200 teen girls of color experiencing unique social and emotional challenges and barriers to success. The Evoluer House works to equip the most underserved and hard-to-reach girls in Philadelphia with essential tools to become college-bound and career-ready and break the cycle of intergenerational poverty. As a testament to its success, 100% of Evoluer House graduates finish high school on time and 90% go on to attend a four-year college. Cheryl is also a fashion and beauty journalist, personal growth consultant, author, and motivational speaker.

Porterfield a Champion of Change

This Friday eleven people will be honored this Friday at the White House as Champions of Change for College Opportunity.  One of the eleven is from Pennsylvania:

Daniel R. Porterfield– Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Daniel R. Porterfield, Ph.D. has served as president of Franklin & Marshall College since 2011. Under his leadership, Franklin & Marshall has developed a distinctive student talent strategy built upon a significant increase in their need-based financial aid budget. Through his work, Franklin & Marshall has seen record application numbers and an increase in the academic profile, diversity, and selectivity of incoming classes. In addition, lower-income and first-generation students at F&M consistently achieve the same average GPA as the student body as a whole and maintaining higher retention and graduation rates. Porterfield sits on the boards of the College Board and the Lenfest College Scholarship Foundation. He has received awards for his work from the KIPP and “I Have A Dream” foundations and in 2016 was named one of the “Sixteen Most Innovative People in Higher Education” by Washington Monthly. Prior to leading Franklin & Marshall, Porterfield served as a Senior Vice President at his alma mater, Georgetown University. He was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship and a Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities and earned his Ph.D. at The City University of New York Graduate Center.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Things to Do: State of Women's Health

from the inbox:

On Wednesday, September 14, 2016 from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Union League of Philadelphia, Lifecycle WomanCare (LWC) will host their second annual health forum on the State of Women’s Health.  The forum will feature keynote speaker Pennsylvania State Senator Judy Schwank and two panel sessions with policymakers, leaders, and experts in women’s health issues.  

At the event health expert panelists and Senator Schwank will discuss important health issues facing women today.  Because 2016 is such a significant election year, participants will focus on the critical impact that public policy has on women and families’ health and well-being.  Topics at the event will include:  integrative care; accessibility and other disability challenges; environmental and occupational health; maternity, lactation and reproductive rights; health disparities; employment accommodations and family and medical leave; violence; midwifery and collaborative partnership models of care; and economic family issues.  

"In an election year such as this, it is critically important to have open dialogue about major issues of health and welfare being faced by women and families today, and bring to light innovative policy approaches that can play a significant role in helping our families," said Kathryn Boockvar, Executive Director of Lifecycle WomanCare.  "This important event brings together some of the nation’s and region’s most innovative thought leaders on these issues, and our unique audience-interactive program allows the audience, as well as the experts, consumers, and practitioners, to interact and participate, in order to identify and deliver the most effective solutions out there."  

LWC, founded in 1978 as a 501c3 non-profit organization, delivers high-quality and empowering women’s healthcare in the greater Philadelphia region.  LWC has served tens of thousands of families and has become a leading hub and a voice for a lifelong and partnership-based approach to healthcare.

The 2016 Keynote Speaker is Pennsylvania State Senator Judith L. Schwank of District 11 Sen. Schwank is CoChair of the Bipartisan Pennsylvania Legislature's Women's Health Caucus, as well as a member of the Senate Public Health & Welfare Committee.    

Last year, she spearheaded legislation in key areas impacting women and family health and wellbeing.  These have included addressing the opioid addiction and overdose epidemic; increasing the effectiveness of funding of services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault; including postpartum depression as an "at risk" category allowing for early intervention tracking and services; prohibiting surprise balance-billing of unaware patients; and criminalizing former intimate partner internet harassment (“revenge porn”). She also led thPA Agenda for Women’s Health, to promote family-friendly working conditions, economic fairness, healthy lives, and support for victims of domestic violence

where she works to ensure the unbiased and fair delivery of justice and application of laws in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  
The 2016 panelists include:

Breakfast Panel  (8:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.)

Workshop Panel (10:30 a.m. – noon)

Panel Moderator

Tickets to the event are $60 for the Breakfast Panel program, and $85 for the full Breakfast Panel, Workshop Panel, and networking sessions, and are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.  Tickets can be purchased at  Sponsorship opportunities are also available for businesses and individuals. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Book Review: Making Ideas Matter by Dwight Evans

Making Ideas Matter:  My Life as a Policy Entrepreneur by Representative Dwight Evans with William Ecenbarger.  Philadelphia: Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania, 2013.

State Representative Dwight Evans is currently the Democratic candidate for the 2nd Congressional District, defeating incumbent Chaka Fattah in the primary. This book was published before his congressional run, but after previous unsuccessful runs for higher office. It is a slim volume (181 pages with an index) providing a history of State Rep. Evan's political career.  The first chapter is biographical, telling the story of his childhood and upbringing. He points out that after getting a part-time job in high school he didn't take money from his mother again, allowing her to focus on his younger siblings.

The rest of the book concerns his work as a state legislator and his personal life is not really mentioned again. Most of the chapters concern a particular subject -- one on education, another on the importance of access to healthy food choices. Others are on aspects of political culture -- there is a chapter on Walking Around Money (WAM) and how it can be used to leverage cooperation from political colleagues.

Evans outlines a number of projects he worked on,priorities he followed, strategies he used to reach out to fellow Democrats as well as Republicans, and how he developed rapport with legislators from other parts of the state to overcome overall hostility towards the Philadelphia area.

There is a focus on his work as chair of the Appropriations Committee, and his disappointment when he lost that position. He writes about his own personal values and how they informed his behavior, expectations of staff, and political behavior, and what happens to politicians who lose their moral compass.

He writes a lot about developing and maintaining relationships, not only with political allies but as ways of reaching across the aisle or to the far corners of the state. He writes about empowering staff (including giving staff the ability to tell him no), and holding them accountable for their work and ethics as well.

Evans only seems to write about one fault and that is the inability to tell his story effectively when running for mayor or governor. He wishes he could have continued as chair of Appropriations and that he could have helped a non-profit he had worked with maintain control of his district's main high school.

This book does explain how State Rep. Evans created some of the coalitions that passed legislation he wanted. It is a first person account and therefore does not include some of the context or reflection that a third person account might have. The writing is fast paced and easily read. The book could easily have gotten bogged down in self-congratulation or unnecessary details. As you might expect from a policy wonk, there are a lot of acronyms, but otherwise it avoids many of the pitfalls that other books of this kind fall into. Co-author William Ecenbarger is a former reporter and I credit his influence with a great deal of the book's readability.

Baring some sort of disaster Mr. Evans will be elected to Congress in November and his tenure in the state legislature will end. I hope that at some point a scholar writes a definitive history of his time there. I'm sure there are a lot more stories to be told. The book left me wanting more, which is surely the sign of a well-written book.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

SEPTA Updates

from the inbox:

 New schedules for SEPTA’s City, Suburban and Victory Transit divisions go into effect beginning Sunday, September 4 and Tuesday, September 6, 2016. Most timetable adjustments are minor and are designed to account for seasonal changes in ridership and to improve customer service. However, SEPTA would like to alert passengers to the following service changes:

 • Route 15: Trolleys return to service between 63rd Street and Girard Avenue and Frankford and Delaware Avenues following summer bus substitution due to a track renewal project. Buses will continue to operate on the portion of the route between Frankford and Girard Avenues and Richmond and Westmoreland Streets.

• Route 40: Added morning and afternoon weekday service. • Route 56: Added morning and afternoon weekday service.

• Routes 201, 204, 205 and 206: These routes will continue to operate on their current schedules as published online at Schedules are subject to change with Regional Rail interim schedule changes and will be updated online.

• Norristown High Speed Line: Trains will operate on the current summer schedule until the end of the service day on Sunday, September 18, when the Radnor Station improvement project will be completed. A new schedule will go into effect beginning at the start of the service day Monday, September 19. Service information will be published on the System Status section of SEPTA’s website ( prior to September 19.

New transit schedules are available at SEPTA customer locations and online at Riders can also access real-time service information by using the official SEPTA App available as a free download for both Apple and Android devices, and by following the @SEPTA Twitter feed. #