Thursday, October 08, 2015

Christine Donohue Ad Released

Christine Donohue, one of the Democratic candidates for PA Supreme Court Justice has released a campaign ad.  (available here)

from the press release:

Donohue, who has never lost an election, led the ticket in the 2007 Primary and General elections for Superior Court and won nomination for Supreme Court Justice in May earlier this year in a crowded six-way Democratic Primary. She has never before aired a television campaign ad in any of her winning campaigns.

 Donohue, a graduate of Duquesne University School of Law who practiced law in Pittsburgh for 27 years before being elected to the Superior Court,  has the highest recommendation for Supreme Court Justice from the Pennsylvania Bar Association. She is the longest serving appellate court judge in the race. Her campaign reported having $510,000 cash on hand in the most recent campaign finance report.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

PA in the WSJ notes

A few Pennsylvania related notes from this week's Wall Street Journal:

Monday, Sept. 14th

Quality Bicycle Products' warehouse in Lancaster is highlighted in "Companies are seeing the light on energy efficiency," by David Winning.  Their investment in LED lights paid over in a year and a half.

Tuesday, Sept. 15th

"The best ways to network at a party," by Sue Shellenbarger quotes three Pennsylvania experts.  Anne Baber, of Contacts Count, a networking consultant in Newtown talked at nonverbal cues.  Luiz Vieira is mentioned as "president of Philadelphia technology and consumer-product materials company and a member of an association of CEO's."  He works with Karen Kaufman, a Philadelphia impression management coach.  (Note:  Baber is the co-author of a book Making your contacts count.)

All Theresa Zelonis had to do to get mentioned in the WSJ was visit North Dakota.  See "If North Dakota is the last state you'd ever visit, you are welcome," by Natalie Andrews.  Ms. Zelonis is listed as being from Pennsylvania, no town given.

Wednesday, Sept. 16th

Someone's going to hell. "The Pope's visit is one hot ticket," by Lisa Beilfuss discusses several attempts at scalping tickets to papal events.  The one that caught my eye was the offer to trade papl access for four Eagles tickets.  Get those priorities in order!

Saturday / Sunday Sept. 19th-20th

In a review of two books on refrigeration, reviewer Bee Wilson notes that in Tom Jackson's book Chilled there is a description of ice taken from the Schuylkill River in Philly.  It was dark green.  This is provided as evidence that in the late 1800's the river water wasn't clean.

"Fans press Penn State to restore a coach's legacy," by Kris Maher.  The title is self-explanatory.  You know of whom they write.

Rev. Bill Gaius, of West Mifflin, who is living in a small structure designed to look like a space capsule, is the focus of "'Pastornaut' on a mission," by Kris Maher.  It is a fundraiser for his church's youth program.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Miller Lite Will Pay Your Train Fare

from the inbox:

SEPTA has partnered with Miller Lite to provide free rides on the Broad Street Line for Sunday’s Eagles Home Opener Game. 

From 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on game day – Sunday, September 20, 2014 - free rides will available on the Broad Street Line. This includes no charges for regular fares or transfers. The eight-hour free-ride window provides plenty of time for travel to and from Lincoln Financial Field, where the Eagles and Cowboys will face-off at 4:25 p.m.

Patriotic Millionaires Call for End of Carried Interest

from the inbox:

Today, the Patriotic Millionaires reiterated their call to end the carried interest tax loophole which allows hedge fund managers to pay capital gains rates on income that logically should be characterized as ordinary income. This comes just hours after President Obama called for the closure of the loophole in the upcoming budget showdown with congressional Republicans. Read about the President’s remarks HERE.

Who are the Patriotic Millionaries?

The Patriotic Millionaires are a group of more than 200 Americans with annual incomes over $1 million and/or assets of more than $5 million who believe that the country’s current level of economic inequality is both dangerous and immoral. They recognize that while there are many causes of inequality, the current level of economic disparity is largely the result of a multi-decade effort by wealthy elites to enact legislation designed to enhance their personal wealth and their political power. The Patriotic Millionaires are dedicated to reversing these policies and ensuring that the legislative capture that led to their adoption comes to an end. They have been covered by major news outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, The Daily Show, PBS NewsHour and many others. You can find more coverage at and more on the group at

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Philly's Park Chops

NY landscape architecture firm Mathews Neilsen discuss several parks they have designed in the September issue of Fast Company,  including a park near the University of Pennsylvania's Hospital.  Read "Park Chops" by Julie Taraska.

Here is the relevant excerpt:

Humans are creatures of habit, so it's important to design spaces that complement people's daily rhythms. When the firm built a park adjacent to the University of Pennsylvania's hospital, it took into account how foot traffic would actually function. "We created three types of circulation: a fast lane along the street curb, a slow lane that skirts the interior of the park, and a meandering path that's a stopping lane," says Mathews. The different routes allow one person to dash to class, another to stroll while talking on her cell phone, and a third to stop and take in the space during a work break, all without getting in each other's way.
The firm is owned by Kim Mathews and Signe Nielsen

More Neepery on Sestak's Book

Let’s have a little more fun with Joe Sestak’s book, Walking in Your Shoes to Restore the American Dream.  Since I read it on my Kindle I wasn’t able to take the kind of detailed notes that a printed book and a bunch of post-its allows.  However, with the search function it is easy to see how many times the author(s) use(s) any given word.  So, let’s root around a bit and see what comes up. The search function looks for the group of letters so Iran includes Iranian.  Senate would include senatorial but not senator (so I truncated that concept to senat).  

Here are a few randomly chosen words that appeared at least a few times in the book.

Rugged:  appears 50 times,  most often in the phrase rugged individual or rugged individualism.  You would probably have to look quite a while to find another book that uses this word as often.

China:  54 times, Chinese 4 times for a total of 58

Sailor 23 times, Navy 35 times, naval 4 times, for a total of 64 times

Woman 2 times, 14 times, she 18 times – it was more than that but I counted only the word she not words with those letters in them, (her came up with 500 hits but a lot of those were parts of other words and it was too much to count out the uses of just the word her).  When I reviewed Pat Toomey's book I gave him a hard time because there were so few mentions of women.

Shoes 8 times

Economy 82 times, economic 112 times, business 251 times

School  44 times, education 63 times, student 104 times

America 308 times

Iran (includes Iranian) 6 times

Pennsylvania 51 times

Senat (senator, Senate, senatorial, etc) 30 times

Dream 37

Security 115 times

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Matysik to Head Philadelphia Parks Alliance

from the inbox:

Philadelphia-- On Tuesday, September 8, 2015, the Philadelphia Parks Alliance Board of Directors announced the appointment of George Matysik as its new Executive Director.  A lifelong Philadelphian, George Matysik has dedicated his career to developing and advocating for public policy solutions to the big issues that face our city and region. George most recently served as Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy for Philabundance, where he led the development of Fare & Square, the nation’s first non-profit grocery store.
“I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to continue serving my city in this new role as Executive Director of the Philadelphia Parks Alliance” said Matysik. “From my days growing up at Jardel Rec in the Northeast to my near daily visits today to the Wissahickon, Philadelphia’s parks and recreation system has been an integral part of my life. Today I have the wonderful and unique opportunity to help foster investment into the Parks and Recreation system in this new role.”
“The Philadelphia Parks Alliance is thrilled to welcome George Matysik as our new Executive Director” said Derek Freres, interim Executive Director. “George has been an advocacy and non-profit staple in Philadelphia for years, and we are elated to welcome someone with his level of experience and leadership to build on the Philadelphia Parks Alliance’s success.”
In addition to George’s role at Philabundance, he also recently served as President of country’s preeminent senior hunger relief organization—the National CSFP Association—which oversees advocacy and programming for the $202 million national Commodity Supplemental Food Program, and was founding Executive Director of Feeding Pennsylvania, the collaborative non-profit of the Commonwealth’s food banks.
Born in the Olney neighborhood and raised in the Lower Northeast, George is a lifelong Philadelphia Parks and Recreation user—from his youth spent at Burholme Park and Jardel Recreation Center, to his jogs and hikes today at Fern Hill and the Wissahickon.
George is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, having worked his way through the school as a janitor.  At Penn, George received his bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies, concentrating on economic development and urban planning—the foundation of his career in public policy and advocacy. 
George’s civic engagement extends beyond his career. He is Founder and former Co-Chair of the Friends of Mifflin School, an organization dedicated to providing resources to his neighborhood’s community public school.  He also serves on the board of his high school alma mater, Mercy Vocational, a career and technical training school, and the Pennsylvania Resources Council, the Commonwealth's oldest environmental advocacy organization. George lives in the East Falls neighborhood with his wife, Alix.

The mission of the Philadelphia Parks Alliance is to champion the public’s interest in outstanding parks, recreation, and open spaces - key to making Philadelphia a healthy, vibrant and sustainable city for all.
The Parks Alliance’s vision of a great city is one with great parks and interconnected green spaces.  The Parks Alliance leads the diverse and expanding citizens’ movement which shapes public policies required to build the nation’s premier parks and recreation system. 

Monday, September 07, 2015

Slumming for Subs

The Philadelphia schools outsourced the hiring of substitute teachers, to a firm called Source4Teachers.  According to an article in the Inquirer on Aug. 31 ("Philadelphia searching for thousands of substitutes," by Kristen A. Graham).  Source4Teachers if offering a rate of $75 to $90 per day for uncertified substitutes and $90 to $110 per day for certified substitutes.  When the school district hired substitutes it was $126.76 for uncertified, $160.10 for certified, and retired teachers could earn more than that.  So this is a pay cut, although the company does offer health care and retirement (no details on these were offered in the article).

In the school system were I live the school day is seven hours long.  Teacher, and subs, need to arrive at least a little early to get settled and probably don't head out the door as soon as the last class ends.  There is bound to be paperwork somewhere.  A $75.00 day would come out to $10.00 per hour or less, for someone with a college degree, and possibly a master's degree.  The top rate for certified subs doesn't quite equal $15.00 per hour.  A spokesman for the firm is quoted in the article as saying "A lot of these teachers are not in it for the money.  They find themselves missing teaching, and have caught up on all the books they want to read, and now they crave being back in the classroom."  The Source4Teachers CEO suggests that people who hope to get a permanent job with the schools will substitute as a way of getting their foot in the door.  Their ads will highlight the "social value of teaching."

Teaching does have great social value, and I don't know a single teacher who went into that line of work for the money, but shouldn't social value have some connection to economic value?  Why are people who are doing good expected to do it for little or nothing?  I'm really looking forward to seeing articles discussing the reasons why bankers and hedge fund managers should work for peanuts because of the social value of what they do.  Or superintendents ... why aren't superintendents and assistant superintendents expected to work for $15.00 per hour?  I'm sure there are some retired superintendents and administrators out there who have read all the books the want to read and would be thrilled to step back into the educational stew just for the social value of it.  Or corporate CEOs and company spokesmen, maybe they could work for $10.00 or $15.00 per hour, because there is social value to their jobs, too!

If the city and the state want good schools they have to pay for them.  (BTW, state legislature, where's that budget?)  Every student deserves trained qualified teachers, fluent speakers in languages classes, AP instructors with degrees and work backgrounds in those areas, art and music teachers who have some talent and familiarity with those areas.  Even subs should have some familiarity with the subject matter.  I don't think anyone wants to walk into a classroom without having any background in the subject matter they are expected to teach.

Good schools cost money.  There's no way to do it on the cheap.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Another Endorsement for Jared Solomon

Plumbers Union Local 690 endorses Jared Solomon for State Representative of Pennsylvania’s 202nd Legislative District. Jared is a Philadelphia native with a long history of public service. Jared was recently endorsed by the Philadelphia Firefighters’ and Paramedics’ Union, Local 22.

Bryn Mawr Hospital Partners With Lifecycle WomanCare

from the inbox:

Bryn Mawr Hospital, part of Main Line Health, and Lifecycle WomanCare, formerly known as The Birth Center, are proud to announce their new collaborative partnership to provide high quality and family-focused health care to pregnant and postpartum families throughout the Main Line community and beyond.

 This partnership will magnify the impact of two dynamic pillars of healthcare in the greater Philadelphia region. Bryn Mawr Hospital’s longstanding reputation for excellent obstetric care, close proximity to Lifecycle WomanCare, and both entities’ commitment to providing more options for patient-centered, natural birth experiences for their patients make this an ideal partnership. 

As part of this collaboration, Lifecycle WomanCare will transfer patients to Bryn Mawr Hospital should the mother and/or baby be in need of a wider scope of medical options during antepartum, intra-partum, or postpartum care. Bryn Mawr Hospital’s planned construction of family-centered, state-of-the-art maternity suites will provide even greater continuity of care for patients who transfer. Lifecycle WomanCare’s certified nurse midwives will have privileges at Bryn Mawr Hospital, and will continue to care for patients during labor and birth, while working collaboratively with Bryn Mawr Hospital staff and their on-call physician coverage team, to guarantee that both parents and baby receive superior, patient-centered, and timely obstetric care. 

New SEPTA Schedules

Our friends at SEPTA have announced some changes to transit routes, as follows:

New schedules for City, Suburban, and Victory Transit divisions go into effect beginning Sunday, September 6, Monday, September 7, and Tuesday, September 8, 2015.

Major changes include a return to rail service for Routes 15, 101, and 102, new weekend service added to Routes 11, 13, 34, and 36 and weekday midday schedule changes on the Norristown High Speed Line.

All SEPTA riders are being encouraged to check online and at service locations for new timetables.