Thursday, February 04, 2016

Muroff Starts Tour of Gun Violence Sites

Dan Muroff, attorney and past president of CeaseFirePA, is a Democratic candidate for the 2nd congressional district, currently held by Chaka Fattah.  Today Muroff started a series of stops in areas that have been the site of gun violence in the past year.  He plans to talk with people to see how they are impacted by gun violence.  His first stop was on the 8300 block of Gilbert Ave where three people were shot during an Eagles watch party this past December.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

New Resource on New Hampshire Primary

This sounds really interesting, a note from the inbox -- local pol, late Sen. Arlen Specter is included: 

The American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) has acquired New Hampshire Public Radio’s digital collection of interviews and speeches by presidential candidates from 1995-2007. The entire collection—nearly 100 hours of content—has been digitized and is now online, along with other presidential campaign content from the AAPB collection, in a new curated, free presentation, “Voices of Democracy: Public Media and Presidential Elections” at 
AAPB, a collaboration between the Library of Congress and the WGBH Educational Foundation, preserves and makes accessible the most significant public television and radio programs of the past 60-plus years. 
“Voices of Democracy” features historical interviews, panel discussions, speeches and debates among presidential candidates from 1961 to 2008. These historical materials document the evolution of issues and presidential candidates’ positions on important election topics including the American economy, education, religion, civil rights, foreign policy, climate and the environment, labor and unions and campaign and election reform. The materials also document public broadcasting’s coverage of the process of elections and voter rights, as well as commentary and analysis of campaigns. The presidential elections presentation was curated by Lily Troia, a graduate student at Simmons College. 
A centerpiece of the presentation is the new content from New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR). “We are fortunate to live at the epicenter of the political universe every four years. It is from this vantage that we are able to capture and keep some of the most memorable and historic moments in the past 35 years of our democracy,” offered Betsy Gardella, president and CEO of New Hampshire Public Radio. “Knowing that this archive can now be tapped and used by anyone with internet access is an extension of our public service mission realized, we are grateful for the AAPB.” 
Candidates featured in the New Hampshire collection include Lamar Alexander, Gary Bauer, Joe Biden, Bill Bradley, Carol Moseley-Braun, Sam Brownback, Pat Buchanan, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean, Christopher Dodd, Bob Dole, Elizabeth Dole, John Edwards, Steve Forbes, Al Gore, Mike Gravel, Orrin Hatch, Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunt, John Kasich, John Kerry, Alan Keyes, Dennis Kucinich, Joe Lieberman, John McCain, Barack Obama, Dan Quayle, Bill Richardson, Mitt Romney, Bob Smith, Arlen Specter and Tom Tancredo. 
AAPB in October officially launched its Online Reading Room, which now features 2.5 million inventory records and more than 11,500 audiovisual streaming files of historical content dating back to the 1940s, from public media stations across the country. The Library of Congress, WGBH Boston and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, in collaboration with more than 100 stations and archives, have embarked on an unprecedented initiative to preserve historical public television and radio programs. This extraordinary material includes national and local news and public affairs programs, local history productions that document the heritage of our many, varied regions and communities and programs dealing with education, environmental issues, music, art, literature, dance, poetry, religion and filmmaking on a local level. The project ensures that this valuable source of American social, cultural and political history and creativity will be saved and made accessible for current and future generations. 

More information is available at

Monday, February 01, 2016

Two Endorsement Notes

A few interesting endorsement notes.  Normally I don't pay much attention to endorsements, as so few are anything unusual, but these two caught my eye.

Kathy Boockvar, who was the Democratic candidate for congress in the 8th district (Bucks Count) in 2012 has endorsed Steven Santarsiero, one of two Democrats running in 2016.  The other is Shaughnessy Naughton; she ran in the 2014 primary as well, but was defeated by Kevin Strouse, who then lost to incumbent Republican Mike Fitzpatrick.

State Rep. Margo Davidson (D-164, parts of Delaware Co) faced primary challenges in 2014 but this year she has lost the endorsement of the Delaware County Democratic Committee.  The committee instead endorsed Upper Darby Councilwoman Dr. Sekela Coles
The Delaware County Democrats deciding against making an endorsement in the 164th state house district. The incumbent, Margo Davidson, was not endorsed, nor was primary challenger Dr. Sekela Coles. My apologies for an incorrect posting yesterday; I misread a press release.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Mark Zandi in Money Magazine

I used to track quotes from Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics; he was mentioned frequently.  These days he writes regularly in the Inquirer.  Zandi is quoted in the January / February 2016 issue of Money Magazine "Is there a hidden bubble in the market?").

Now that Suze Orman is off the air (at least temporarily -- she is supposedly developing a new television series), there is an opening for a new financial guru on tv.  Personal finance isn't really Zandi's thing (his two books are on finance more generally).

Zandi has several degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and lives in the Philadelphia area.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Shapiro's Campaign is Frosty

Josh Shapiro's campaign for Attorney General seems to be going a little stir crazy with all the snow.  Someone has altered his campaign logo so the "o" in Josh and Shapiro is a snow flake.  Emails with the snow logo are going out from a purported Director of Winter Operations, signed as Snowman with a snowman emoji.

Muroff Announces Candidacy in 2nd Congressional District

from the inbox:

 Tonight before a packed house at Alma Mater in Mt. Airy, Dan Muroff officially announced his candidacy for Pennsylvania’s 2ndCongressional District.  Drawing on his experience as a long time advocate for Philadelphia’s most vulnerable, Muroff decided to run because he was dismayed at the lack of attention on Philadelphia’s gun violence epidemic.
 “Illegal guns unraveled the fabric of our communities, and closed off opportunities for them to thrive.  Gun crimes destroy lives, families and futures.  It’s become America’s present day sin – our deepest despair – because it’s relentless and routine, and it leaves us astounded yet somehow indifferent. We’ve been snookered into believing that we can’t take this on. I don’t accept that,” Muroff stated to attendees. 

He also spoke of his family-particularly his sister who disappeared almost 20 years ago in North Philadelphia while dependent on drugs.  He shared how his sister was unable to secure a job because of a past criminal record, a story not unfamiliar to families across the 2nd District. 

He stated, “a non-violent criminal record in youth must not be an indelible mark, a label that a person is something so much less. There are real consequences when a person can’t rightly put their troubles behind them and find a secure job. It creates a self-defeating cycle – not just for them, but also for their families, and for society. I am committed to fixing this.”

Dan Muroff is an attorney and community leader who has worked tirelessly over the past decade to reduce gun violence in Pennsylvania.  As the most recent past-president of CeasefirePA, he is uniquely qualified to address the growing problem of gun violence in the 2nd Congressional District.  Additionally, Dan has served as the president of East Mt. Airy Neighbors and as the president of Conservation Voters of PA.  He has also worked as a Chief of Staff on Capitol Hill, giving him the opportunity to advance a progressive agenda. 

Dan lives in Mt. Airy with his wife Melissa.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Emerge PA's Inaugural 2016 Class

from the inbox:

Emerge Pennsylvania is proud to announce the following women have been accepted into the Inaugural 2016 Class:

LauraEllen Ashcraft - Pittsburgh
Mary Ellen Balchunis - Ardmore
Heather Boyd - Drexel Hill
Carolyn Comitta - West Chester
Kelly Fraasch - Mount Lebanon
Lissa Geiger Shulman - Pittsburgh
Linda Hee - Abington
Kristine Howard - Malvern
Movita Johnson-Harrell - Philadelphia
Kimberly Kaplan - Pittsburgh
Barbarann Keffer - Drexel Hill
Jasmine Kurjakovic   - Pittsburgh
Gillian Kratzer - Altoona
Nikki Lu - Pittsburgh
Sharon Overton - Elkins Park
Sully Pinos - York
Megan Plinkington - Irwin
Laura Quick - Palmyra
Christine Reuther - Wallingford
Elaine Schaefer - Newtown Square
Lauren Vidas - Philadelphia
Lindsey Williams - Pittsburgh

Since the first Emerge state was launched in 2002 Emerge has trained more than 1,500 Democratic women to run for office to date. Fifty-two percent of Emerge alumnae have run for office or been appointed to local boards or commissions. Of those who have run for office, 70 percent won. Additionally, Emerge has a strong record of diversity - forty percent of alumnae are women of color. Follow Emerge Pennsylvania on Facebookfor more updates on the program.

Why Classroom Libraries (Only) Are a Bad Idea

The Philadelphia schools are talking up classroom libraries, having books in each classroom.  While this sounds great, it is a poor substitute for a school-wide library with a trained librarian.  Having books in each classroom is good, no doubt about that, but as an additional to a school library not a substitute for it.  And that is what Philadelphia schools are talking about.  Note this from the Inquirer ("In city elementary schools, a campaign for libraries," by Kristen A. Graham, 11/15/2015):

On Tuesday, Mayor-elect Jim Kenney, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr., and 30 other leaders gathered at Clara Barton School to launch a $3.5 million fund-raising campaign aimed at placing libraries in every Philadelphia School District elementary classroom.

The need is great, especially in a system where few whole-school libraries remain, and fewer than a dozen librarians are on staff citywide.

Here's the problem with only classroom libraries and not school libraries.  How many copies of Harry Potter are you going to have?  You'd need one or two in each upper elementary classroom.  How many books can you put in each room?  How can you have students do research projects?  The few bookshelves in each room can't fit enough books for each student to find something on a subject they are interested in.  Students reading above or below grade level are going to have slim pickings.

That's the beauty of a school wide library -- there are books at all grade levels.  There are books on all subjects.  There's something for everyone!  But to have a school wide library you need someone to arrange all the books -- to put them in some kind of order, say by call number.  Someone has to know the collection to refer students to books they will enjoy.  Someone to handle book donations.

I volunteered in my kids' elementary school library for one hour a week over several years.  I was very impressed by the librarians there (and we had more than one, plus a staff person).  They knew the collection and the students and did their best to connect kids to books they would like or would need for assignments.

A classroom library is a fine idea but it is no substitute for a school wide library and a librarian.  

Thursday, January 21, 2016

SEPTA Plans to Use Brake Energy

from the inbox:

SEPTA, Constellation, and Viridity Energy are announcing plans to install an 8.75-megawatt battery storage network that will capture and reuse energy generated by braking subway cars.

 An expansion of SEPTA’s 1.8-megawatt battery storage pilot, the 8.75 MW network will help SEPTA reduce operating costs and ensure energy resiliency while providing a clean power source to support the stability of the electrical grid. 

 When complete, the network will be one of the nation’s largest customer-sited battery storage systems -- the first commercially-deployed for a transit operation – and serve as a model for using battery storage assets to supply power in congested parts of the grid.