Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Like most of you I have been anxiously watching and reading about the flooding and devastation in Louisiana and Mississippi. Philly Future has links to places accepting donations. Matt at the Tattered Coat has been gathering information as well. Attytood and Blinq both have very good posts on Katrina and the aftermath. Read the Attytood post careful and think about it as you read the last part of this post, on local flooding issues.

As I watch I think of my own, very limited experiences with flooding. One of the more dramatic stories in my family's mythology is of another hurricane and a relative in the path of the storm who put his very pregnant wife in the bathtub (he was told it was the safest place if the house collapsed), and gathered his three other children close to it. The baby was named after the hurricane.

My father died the year of a big flood. We stayed with my mother since, at the time, my father lived close by. Mr. Jane’s parents lived a 20 or 30 minute drive away but we were unable to visit them because the bridge had washed out and it would have taken us about 3 hours to get there. A woman I used to work with lost her husband in the flood. His truck was washed off the road. Rescue workers could see it but could not get to it for months until the water went down.

I was in San Francisco a few years ago for a conference and turned on the evening news only to see reports of deaths in Willow Grove due to massive flooding. It is scary to be that far away and see disaster so close to home.

Philadelphia is built along two rivers. We don’t often think about this. For those who are new to the area, here is a short history of recent floods. The city government even has a “what to do” flooding page on its website. Here’s a link on finding out if you need flood insurance. Flooding is not covered in standard homeowner’s policies. Here is a link on flooding in New Jersey. Someone has provided a link to an analysis of PA laws regarding flooding (not sure if this is current). This past spring, Yardley updated some of it's ordinances on flooding.

Here are more links on local flooding:

The 1955 flood

Hurricane Floyd

Eyewitness account of flooding on Lincoln Drive

Flooding in Upper Moreland

Philadelphia airport closed, evacuations

Why am I providing these links? Flooding affects everyone in this region. How prepared are we? While our attention is focused on the issue, try to remember to ask your elected officials next time you see them for their views on watershed management, reforestation, development in flood plains, and regional planning. If they don’t know what you are talking about, vote for the other guy. We will hopefully never see the kind of catastrophic damage that the Gulf Coast is having, but we are not immune to raging, overflowing waters, either. Will Bunch talks about Louisian funds being moved from levy repair to security measures and support for the war. I wonder what's going on here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

What Dems Need to Do

There is a very interesting dicussion going on over at Joe Hoeffel's site ( The topics is what the Democrats need to do to reconnect with the American people. I've been chiming in and hope many of you will also.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

East is East and West is West

Capitol Ideas has found the real reason why Pennsylvania politics are so dysfunctional. The government buildings are facing the wrong direction. I'm so glad someone has figured this out. Now we just need a Keystone version of Abbie Hoffman and his gang to levitate the building, like they did the Pentagon so many years ago. While it is dangling in mid-air maybe we can shift it around.


Here are a few updates on recent postings:

Earlier this week I mentioned in passing that Joel Rice, a longshot candidate for Philly city council has a blog. Young Philly Politics has an extended posting on this young man. We need a few more people willing to tilt at windmills.

I've noted earlier that Greg Vitali was being penalized for coming out against the legislative payraise. The Inky this week had another story on that. Someone left a comment on a earlier posting here to say their legislator, Jim Casorio, was also being penalized.

Also this week I posted a note on Patrick Murphy being on AirAmericaradio. As is my usual practice when I say something nice about a politician, I sent an email to him (or to the email on his website) to let them know. (It is very hypocritica,l but when I bash someone I never say a word to them. Color my belly yellow.) In the past someone at the person's office or campaign has been quick to respond. Joe Hoeffel. Greg Vitali. Both quick, both very gracious. So I sent a note to Murphy's campaign. So far nary a peep. I also investigated Chuck Pennacchio's web site. It is very well done with lots of issue materials. Extremely thorough. There is a page that asks you to list your blog and they can contact you with information. I filled out the form and clicked submit but it came back to my email as undeliverable. That isn't good.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Patriot Act and Libaries

Susie Madrak and the Tattered Coat have been blogging about the Patriot Act. I have a few things to say on this myself.

It isn’t the first time the FBI has been looking over people’s shoulders in the library. Like many students, when I was in college I had a part-time job on campus. In my case it was in the library. While I was there the FBI had a program called the FBI Library Awareness Program (here and here). Library workers were to keep an eye open for foreigners wanting to look at certain items. The area I worked in was regarded as low risk so we didn’t think about it much. No one was comfortable with it.

Most libraries don’t keep records of who has checked out what book once the book has been returned (another nifty reason to turn things in early and avoid those pesky overdue fines), so there isn’t that much to be found out by trying to grab someone’s library records. Plus, law enforcement has not needed circulation records to nail people who are up to no good in our public libraries. After all, merely checking a book out of the library is no indication that you have read it, as everyone who has checked out more than one book knows. Traditional police methods have been sufficient to convict at least one woman of murder based on her fingerprints on a particular page of a library book (here and here).

What offends me most about the library sections of the Patriot Act are the way critics of it are treated, specifically the words used to describe librarians with questions. Forms of “hysterical” and “easily led,” are what the Attorney General’s office under John Ashcroft used (here and here). Think about those words. Are doctors hysterical and easily led? Architects? Accountants? Not usually. Would teachers be “hysterical” and “easily led?” Nurses? Homemakers? “Hysterical” is a woman’s word, not only in origin (“wandering womb”) but also in implication. Men may become outraged or angry but they are not hysterical. Children are easily led. Grownups are not. Librarians are overwhelmingly female and Ashcroft’s office chose their words accordingly. That strikes me as slimy.

The freedom to read and learn is a cherished American virtue. Personally, I am grateful for the breadth of material found in our public libraries. At a tender age I checked out “The Wonderful Story of How You Were Born,” a book which cleared up a number of early adolescent misconceptions. Had I suspected the library might be required by law to tell the FBI (or worse, my mother) I had that book, I might still be in the dark about some basic biology.

Quality of Life on IssuesPA

The site has pulled together some interesting data on the demographic future of PA and related issues, including quality of life. It is a little hard to navigate but well worth it to find some interesting bit.

Nonpartisan? Unbiased? I Don't Think So

Last night I received a call from a young woman who wanted me to join an organization. There are no membership costs and they would never ask me for money. The organization was energy-related and they wanted to send me information from time to time on energy-related issues in an unbiased nonpartisan way so that I could contact policymakers and legislators if I wanted. I asked her where the organization's funding came from if they didn't plan on asking members for money. She said it was funded by electric companies and the coal industry. I thanked her kindly and said I did not think the information I would receive would be nonpartisan or unbiased and declined to join. It's kind of scary when you think about it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

New PoliticsPA Layout

The PoliticsPA website has changed their layout. It still has 4 columns but they have been rearranged somewhat and the color scheme is different. I noticed a few more candidates have started blogs and have listed them there. James Babb, a candidate for the state house, and Joel Rice, candidate for Philly city council (both look like longshots to my uneducated eye), have blogs that weren't there last time I checked. It would be great if more politicians did this. We have Joe Hoeffel locally. The mayor of Washington, D.C. apparantly has a blog now (via Philly (dragonballyee), who wonders what a John Street blog would look like). As noted in my previous posting on Casey, we're lucky to get an issues page on the campaign website.

PA-08 on Air America

I don't know why I get emails from congressional candidates if I don't live in their district, but this was received recently:

Tune in to WHAT-AM 1340 or log onto today at 5:30 P.M. to listen to Patrick J. Murphy, Democratic Candidate for the 8th District of Pennsylvania. Patrick will call into Air America's Randi Rhodes Show today at 5:30 P.M.

I hope someone can listen and report on this as I will be in transit, without radio or computer access at that time.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

More New Yorker

In the August 8 &15 issue of the New Yorker, there is a lengthy (p. 42-49) profile of Harry Reid, the Senate Minority Leader. On p. 42, there is a quote from a local law prof:

[John] Robert's view of precedent is likely to be an important issue during the upcoming confirmation hearings. Earl Maltz, a conservative and a professor at the Rutgers University School of Law at Camden, says that what Roberts told Reid [he would be reluctant to overturn precedents] could be "very significant," because it runs counter to the "originalist" approach of Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, who believe that the constitution should be strictly interpreted, according to the original intent of the Founding Fathers; on that premise, some previously decided cases, including Roe v. Wade, would be ripe for overturning.

My goodness, first it's an invasion of New Yorkers seeking "affordable" housing and now all this press attention. What could be next?

K-Street Project and Santorum

I'm behind on the New Yorker again, working my way through the August 1 issue. On pages 42-53 there is a story by John Cassidy called "The Ringleader" on Grover Norquist, a leading Republican conservative activist. Note this passage on p. 51:

In recent years, he [Grover Norquist] has also been involved in the K-Street Project, an audacious attempt by Republican leaders on Capital Hill, including Tom DeLay and Senator Rick Santorum, of Pennsylvania, to turn the busy thoroughfare where many corporate influence peddlers have their offices into an affiliate of the Republican Party. Republicans have warned lobbying firms not to hire any Democrats or contribute to Democratic causes if they wish to influence legislation. In 1999, Americans for Tax Reform began posting on its Web site information about which candidates and parties individual lobbyists have made contributions to, and Norquist started echoing the DeLay-Santorum line, calling for even secretaries to be Republicans.

Great move -- let's pick on secretaries and office workers and try to deny them jobs unless they belong to a particular party. This is a tactic I would find reprehensible by any political organization.

Pat Robertson Said What??!!!!!!!

Every time I see something like this I hope Robertson has finally and completely "jumped the shark," yet his followers seem to find him infallible. No Christian church, of any denomination, that I have ever attended, has, at any time, voiced or supported such views. Nor have any of the uniquely Christian sacred works I've read (currently finishing a study of the book of James, a terse, uncompromising "to do" list) voiced or supported any such views.

The man needs to review the red letter words in his Bible. Calling for the assassination of anyone, including corrupt political leaders isn't in there.

Missing Monday

PoliticsPhilly has a new Missing Monday post. Please take a look and see if you recognize this woman.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

PA in Fast Company

Just finished the Sept. issue of Fast Company. Two PA-related tidbits:

1) In an interview with Greg Daniels, the man in charge of the America version of the BBC's "The Office," he says this:

One of our actors went to the town of Scranton, Pennsylvania, with video equipment ot interview people who worked at different paper companies for research. It turned out to be very similar to what's on our show. (p. 37)

2) "The Fall and Rise of David Pottruck," on the former CEO of Charles Schwab. Turns out he went to U Penn and was captain of the wrestling team (p.60). Last November he guest lectured at Wharton (p. 61). (article pp. 56-62)

[Disclaimer: Neither I nor anyone I know or am related to is employed by or benefits personally from this publication. I often buy it on the newstand but currently have a limited free subscription exchanged for some not likely to be used airline miles.]

Santorum Security Behaving Badly (Again)

The Disenchanted Forest has a rather alarming story about in-uniform but off-duty Delaware State Troopers behaving badly while providing security for Rick Santorum. Barnes & Noble are likely to suffer from the bad publicity. I certainly wouldn't go to a book signing there now.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Lotoyia Found?

Both Pax Romano and Ol' Cranky have reported on Philly Future that a body has been found in Chester and suspicions are that it is Latoyia Figueroa. News report here. An announcement is expected around 10:00 a.m. today.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Wireless Philly

A Smoke-Filled Room reported on the city's wireless bidding process. The Wall Street Journal also has an article on that subject today (p. B3). It reports that customers will get the service free for the first year while th winning company builds the wireless network, after that the standard monthly fee will be less than $20, with lower fees for the disadvantated and lower-income residents. The two finalists in the bidding are Earthlink and Hewlett-Packard. The WSJ says a third company, Intel, is helping set up pilot wireless programs in 13 cities to "improve the communications of meter readers, building inspectors, police and fire companies."

Thursday, August 18, 2005

PA GOP in the News

I previously blogged on, the conversative organization formed to keep the legislative pay increase in the public spotlight. Seems the state GOP is turning on its young, based on this letter. (via PoliticsPA and GrassrootsPA)

Both A Smoke-Filled Room and Keystone Politicsreported earlier this week on a Philadephia City Council staffer's suggestion that hourly legal work for hearings on take-out beer licenses be given to lawyers who "do favors for their political parties, represent people in court pro bono, and represent the politicans and community groups pro bono." I'm all for rewarding pro bono work but this seems open to misinterpretation and misuse. The staffer who suggested it was Aaron Finestone, a Republican ward leader. That must be a common name for Philadelphia Republicans, going by this.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Another Missing Monday

The Disenchanged Forest has another local missing person photo and description. Please take a look.

PA-08 websites / transcripts

Earlier today or late yesterday both Young Philly Politics and The Tattered Coat had postings on the PA-08 race, specifically on Patrick Murphy, who appeared on Hardball last night with Chris Matthews (transcript here). Matthews is the brother of GOP Montco commissioner Jim Matthews and since PA-08 includes a spec of that county I think it would have been nice if he mentioned that, as it may be perceived as a conflict of interest.

For those interested, the three declared Democratic contenders for the race are:

Ginny Schrader (

Patrick Murphy (

Paul Lang (

Lang is the only one whose website actually includes much issue-related material. None of them outline much community service to the area and none of them speak to local issues in any detail. I know it is a federal race but local issues are still important. Murphy's page looked the sleekest to me. Lang's has a blog that has been going for a few months.

We watch. We wait.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Web Sites Against Pay Raise

These websites have been mentioned all over the place so I am way behind, but check them out: -- started by Russ Diamond, Operation Clean Sweep is aimed at one simple goal: cleaning house in the Pennsylvania General Assembly by defeating every single incumbent officeholder up for re-election in 2006. -- started by the Young Conservatives of PA (!), includes great billboards and a cool bumpersticker you can order. (via

Delco Flood Insurance Maps

Check out this post from I Live in Delaware County on new flood insurance maps. Interesting stuff.

Philly in the News

Two new unusual Philly area sightings in the press:

Family Fun Sept. 2005 ("Secrets of Great Classroom Moms" -- a must read for me)
p. 60 "Family Traveler" highlights the Adventure Aquarium in Camden.

Better Investing Sept. 2005, p. 15
What's up with Aqua America (our local water co.). First there's the article in the Inky and now this ad, encouraging investment clubs to purchase stock in the company. Catch phrase "71 percent of the earth is covered in water. 60 percent of the human body is water. So, how much is in your portfolio?" (Disclaimer: I don't own this stock myself, although it may be in a fund somewhere)

Magic and Mystery at Gitmo?

In the August 9 WSJ, p. D8, taken from the August 8 Washington Times:

The woman who oversees the library in the US prision at Guantanamo Bay reports that the Harry Potter books are at the top of the request list for the 520 Al Qaeda and Taliban suspects. Agatha Christie comes in second.

There's something significant at work here but I can't figure it out.

Comments Generally

While the kerfuffle has been front and center on this blog lately, there is an entry that scrolled off the front page getting MORE comments. I've been disturbed by this because it appears to be 3 or 4 people arguing amongst themselves on the same subject over a number of blogs. The language is sometimes profane and some comments contain personal statements aimed at others leaving comments. I've gone round and round about this -- should the comments be removed? should they stay? What criteria should I use for removal?

There haven't been any new comments there for a few days so I think I will leave them for the moment, in case removal would start the cycle up again, and since they are far enough down that I dont' think anyone else will see them. Generally, however, profane name calling and vulgar insults aimed at anyone other than me will be removed. That sounds like a good policy.

Missing Monday

PolitcsPhilly has posted a Missing Monday report on Carrie Ann Rivera. Take a look here.

Kerfuffle Comments

I have regular computer access again and am back from
a family event this weekend and am hopefully caught up
with enough things to get the blog up to speed.

First off, I need to acknowledge an error in my
Tempost in a Teapot posting. I had initially written
that I did not announce Ginny Schrader’s candidacy.
That was based on my memory and a review of my posting
titles. However, after I posted my initial note, it
occurred to me to check by date and I found that I had
included a sentence about her announcement in a
posting I had made that evening, but the posting title was
on the big Meet up so I had missed it. My mistake, and a
careless one at that. I did remove the incorrect
paragraph as soon as I could.

Secondly, let’s talk about conference calls. I took a
lot of anthropology classes in college and tend to look at
things in cultural context. There are a lot of unwritten
rules in all societies, and it is incumbent upon newcomers
to learn them as people immersed in the culture take
unwritten rules for granted and usually can’t tell you what
they are. I’ve been a licensed driver in three states and in
each one there was a drivers’ manual and local customs. I
can read the drivers’ manual but the unwritten rules must
be learned through observation or trial and error. In some
areas a yellow light is the equivalent of a green; in others
it is a red. In some areas drivers make left turns as the light
turns yellow; in other it is just as the light turns green.
I worked at one place where birthdays were a big deal, with
presents and food. At the first such event I brought in a
pan of brownies. Everyone had to give me the cold
shoulder for days before I realized that each person had
staked out a territory and the brownie slot was taken.
Sometimes I’m just slow on the uptake.

So it is not surprising that I made a faux pas on my
second politically related conference call. Chris Bowers is
concerned that this will have a negative impact on the
willingness of other politicians to participate in such
events. This distresses me and I think the easiest and
most truthful thing for him to do is tell candidates that
someone messed up once but she has said she won’t
participate anymore. He can throw in an eye roll, a
smack on the forehead, shake his head in despair, sigh,
whatever seems necessary. Problem solved. Unless he
thinks this might happen again and then he might consider
actions that could be taken from his end.

Thirdly, some of those leaving comments seemed to think
that I sent an email describing the conference call to
PoliticsPA with the intention of having something posted
there. This is not the case. I discussed the call with one
person in person, one person on the phone, in an email
with one other blogger who was on the call, and in an email
to the editor of PoliticsPA. It was water cooler
conversation. I did not think that any of these people would
make those comments public, but neither did I ask any of
them to keep it in confidence, as I was not asked to keep
my thoughts in confidence, only to be discussed in this
blog. Generally speaking, once information is out, it is hard
to control where it goes. I’ve signed confidentiality
agreements in some work and consulting projects and keep
those to the best of my ability. When people ask me in
advance to keep something confidential I try to honor that,
provided it does not conflict with a larger imperative. (If
you work with me and tell me you have embezzled money
from our employer you have made me an accessory after
the fact and I will rat you out.) The guy in the office next to
mine is good friends with a reporter. Someone I know went
to college with an Inky reporter; someone else I know is
related to someone who writes for another Philly
publication. In the odd event that I ever say anything
interesting, these people may repeat it to their reporter
buddies and relatives who may work it into a story. I can’t
do anything about this except to get everyone I speak
or email with to sign non-disclosure statements and that
seems unwieldy. Recently I emailed some of the bloggers
I have had ongoing emails with and suggested maybe we all
try to get together for lunch. In that initial email I also
suggested that before any real plans were made we agree
on confidentiality issues, such as whether or not we would
blog about it, and the use of real names, etc. Sometimes
these things needs to be outlined in advance, even
though it seems dreary to do so.

I’ve blogged twice about PoliticsPA and in one posting
indicated an acquaintance with the editor; while I don’t
expect everyone to read everything I say and remember it,
it can also hardly be said that I was keeping it a secret.
When the PPA up and down about the call appeared, there
with a note that it was from numerous sources. I took that
at face value and was surprised later to learn that a second
source for the call could not be confirmed.

That’s about all I can think of to say on the matter, except
that I have been pleased to see the word kerfuffle used a
few times on area blogs recently. It’s a nice word and tickles
the tongue when spoken so I’m glad to see it getting out
and about more.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

weekly legislative update

Daily emails from the state legislature carry the note that some legislation may be distributed after the date it was acted upon. As proof of that three bills came through on email this week.

As usual, the list of sponsors was delete if it went over three lines. The date of passage is given after the bill number.


SB 69 (5/11/05) Prior Printer's No. 78. Printer's No. 650. An Act amending Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for employer immunity from liability for disclosure of information regarding former or current employees.


SB 69 (4/11/05) Prior Printer's No. 78. Printer's No. 650. An Act amending Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for employer immunity from liability for disclosure of information regarding former or current employees.

SB 723. (6/29/05) Prior Printer's Nos. 867, 879, 975. Printer's No. 1026. An Act amending the act of June 30, 1981 (P.L.128, No.43), known as the Agricultural Area Security Law, further providing for statement of legislative findings, for definitions, for purchase of agricultural conservation easements and for legislative report.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

State and Federal Legislation on Domestic Violence

As I mentioned last Friday, I have very limited Internet access this week so I haven't been able to answer the comments on a couple of postings that have been piling up. Hopefully next week I will.

In the meantime, here is something I wrote in late July, had stored in email and hadn't gotten around to posting.

Sometimes there seems to be a synergy between state
and federal legislation. Sometimes that is because
some issues just come up in both places a lot.
Sometimes it is planned (more on this in another
post). Sometimes it could be that I just see two
things that hit me for some reason, in the sea of
material that crosses by desk at a certain time.

For instance I noticed on Daily Sally recently, a
posting on federal legislation to change federal laws
to stop violence against women. Here is an excerpt.

So the Violence Against Women Act must be revamped,
strengthened, enlarged. Biden, Green and Lofgren
stepped up with new bills, along with 148 cosponsors
in the House and 44 in the Senate. But Congress being
Congress, look where those bills are now.

S. 1197: A bill to reauthorize the Violence Against
Women Act of 1994. (Introduced; Jul 18, 2005)
Committee on the Judiciary. Hearings held Jul 18,
2005. [Well. At least there were some hearings.]

H.R. 2876: To reauthorize the Violence Against Women
Act of 1994 (Introduced Jun 13, 2005) Referred to
House Ways and Means [Why?]

H.R. 3171: To reauthorize the Violence Against Women
Act of 1994 (Introduced Jun 29, 2005) Referred to
House Agriculture [Where??]

In my “to blog about” pile I have an article, “Law
would disarm domestic abusers,” from the June 26th
Intelligencer (p. B4), on HB1717. The bill has passed
the house and is currently in the appropriations
committee in the senate. The newspaper article says
the bill would “require PFA [protection from abuse]
defendants to hand over all their guns for the length
of the order. Failure to do so could net abusers up
to five years in jail, a $10,000 fine and a lifetime
ban on gun ownership.” The article lists the sponsor
as Katie True, R-41. I checked the description online
at the state legislature and didn’t think it quite
matched the one in the paper, but what do I know, and
the bill had umpteen sponsors, but it sounds like True
did a lot of the ground work, “consulted domestic
violence opponents and gun rights advocates before
drafting the legislation.”

True has asked for an amendmentl that would allow
defendants to sue if a PFA is filed against them under
false pretenses, but these things are really hard to
judge in many cases. Is it something filed in revenge
or is the woman in real danger? If the law passes
PFAs, currently limited to a maximum of 18 months,
could be extended to 3 years.

The idea of having someone who is stalking or
harassing another person turn in their guns sounds
like a great idea. I have some qualms, though. After
all, in PA how hard is it to get another gun? The
bill, if passed, will probably slow down the amateurs
or the frivolous, but there is little that will slow
or stop the determined.

Like many women, I have known people who have lost
loved ones to domestic violence, and also lost people
I have known. A woman I used to work with had a
daughter that was murdered by her estranged husband,
shot to death in front of their preschool children.
(The oldest told police “Daddy hurt Mommy. Mommy
bleed.”) A relative I had not seen in more than 30
years was murdered a few years ago. Her estranged
husband threw a homemade incendiary device into their
home (without checking to see if their teenage
daughter was home – fortunately she was not). A
friend who lived in that area sent me a news tape that
showed the responding police car’s tape of the woman
running from her house, clothes melted to her body,
and dropping onto the grass, pulling up her legs and
raising her arms into the air, as the feel of grass on
her burns would have been excruciatingly painful. She
died about a month later, never leaving the burn unit
of the hospital. The news tape also showed her
husband smirking at the cameras as he was taken into
custody. He is currently serving a life sentence. If
I had a choice between those two deaths, I would
definitely take the gun.

That is neither here nor there regarding the proposed
legislation, but it was what came to mind, and
probably why I saved the article.

Overall, taking the guns from those who have a PFA
against them may not save a lot of lives, but if it
saves a few, that is a good thing.

For more information, see the PA Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Tempest in a Teapot?

[Note: About 2 hours after I posted this I realized I had made an error and deleted a pargraph.]

From time to time there are big kerfuffles and voices are raised and great anger and angst ensues and everyone wonders “what the heck happened?” Well, there is a kerfuffle, the size of which depends on your proximity to it, and I fear the root cause, or one of the root causes, leads back to me.

Let me give you the backstory. For about three years I have had an ongoing but not constant email correspondence with the editor(s) of the PoliticsPA website, who uses the name Sy Snyder (the named of a deceased PA governor). I don’t know who the person or people are behind it. I don’t know the gender of the editor(s) or even if I have always emailed with the same person, although there has been enough continuity in the language used for me to believe that I have emailed with the same person for much of that time. The conversation has primarily been on technical, not political matters, although it has ventured into baking and television and other assorted topics. I have complained about the attention (good and bad) that some politicians have received on the site, but I haven’t really detected any definite party bias in the selection of favorites. Sy has been unfailingly polite, even when I have not, and pleasant, even when I’m sure I’ve been annoying. On the rare times when he/she has given me information it has proven accurate.

It was Sy who suggested I take up blogging but he/she has never asked me to write about a topic or person and I’ve never had any indication that Sy follows this or any other blog regularly. So I took it upon myself to bring blogging to Sy, whether Sy wanted it or not. When I discovered politically-related blogs in PA that weren’t on the PoliticsPA blog list, I would email Sy about them. When the blogging world as I knew it championed a candidate or a cause I would sometimes send an email saying “you should pay attention to this,” with links to relevant blog postings, especially if it was something the MSM was missing Sometimes it would show up on the site (probably after 400 or 500 other people had emailed about it); sometimes it would not.

As the writer of this blog I have been invited to sit in on two conference calls, one with Joe Hoeffel and one with Ginny Schrader. I chose to blog about the Hoeffel call and his new web venture, a number of times. The three most frequent topics to show up here are postings in favor of Joe Hoeffel, in favor of Seth Williams, and against the legislative pay raise.

I chose not to write about the Schrader call [beyond a brief mention]. I have been out that evening and did not get in on the call until it was half over, and already into the question and answer phase. I asked about flooding, a problem in that area. Schrader said her opponent had called for a study but she thought something needed to be done about flooding, although she didn’t know what. That did not strike me as being a well-formed answer, especially from someone who ran for the office before and has had additional time since then to work on policy positions. I also noted that she described a neighboring county as having a better organized Democratic party than the county she would primarily represent. I was not surprised at the notion of one county’s party being better organized but that she picked the one she did as an example, as I had heard it described as being unorganized as well. I don’t have a transcript of the call but my memory is that she did say another county’s party was better organized, possibly because there was a higher percentage of D’s there.

In any event, I chose not to write about the call because I missed so much of it, but also because my impressions of the candidate were not that great. For the record, I saw Ms. Schrader once at a rally but did not speak to her. An area blogger is a big supporter of Schrader’s and had been sending out advance emails about her candidacy announcement and the conference call, had moderated the call, and had invited me to participate. I didn’t want to rain on his parade so I said nothing about it in the blog. However, I discussed it with Mr. Jane, talked about the candidate generally with a friend who is familiar with Bucks County, and mentioned my impressions in an email to Sy. That Friday Sy gave Schrader a down arrow in the weekly up and down list, mentioning the conference call, and giving as examples not being informed on an issue and denigrating the county party. Sy cited “numerous sources.” I am assuming I was one of them, although what I said and what Sy said were not quite the same things. To the best of my knowledge none of my previous emails with Sy have found their way into an up and down list. Sy has political contacts light years ahead of anything I have ever heard or found out. If Sy has my email and wishes to release it I give my permission to do so.; I didn’t keep a copy.

The up and down list is updated every Friday and backfiles are not available so the note would have faded into oblivion in a matter of days. Unless, of course, someone takes offense and calls everyone’s attention to it and that is what has happened. Chris Bowers of, who volunteered on Schrader’s campaign last time and moderated the conference call, has made public a letter he sent to Sy reagarding the up and down note. There are a few things in the letter I would like to clear up.

Chris says he personally knows all the bloggers who were invited. I have never met Chris, never spoken to him on the phone, and never, to my knowledge, even been in the same room with him. Our acquaintance has consisted of a half dozen emails sent out over the past few months. Perhaps one of those was sent to me individually; the others were group emails, usually with recipients “bcc’ed” so I do not know who else, if anyone, they were sent to. Also to the best of my knowledge Chris has no idea what my real name is or anything about me, other than that I write a blog. I did not initiate contact with him; he initiated it with me. When he has sent out notes in advance of upcoming events and asked us to not to write about them until after the fact, I have honored that request. He placed far more trust in an unknown person (me) than I would have had the situation been reversed.

[This paragraph deleted when I discovered an error in it, roughly 2 hours after posting.]

I received an email from Chris, again with recipients bcc’ed so I don’t know who else received it, complaining about the note showing up on PoliticsPA and saying this would jeopardize future conference calls and that someone had “snuck in” or that PoliticsPA was making things up. I have problems with this. There were no conditions sent on attendance at the call. If those attending are only supposed to write or say good things this should be made clear from the start. Even those who take the “if you can’t blog anything nice don’t blog anything at all” attitude surely can’t be expected to never mention the call to anyone ever. Suppose I had blogged my comments and someone picked them up from there – is that better or worse? I’m not sure what the expectations were but I do expect not to be invited to any more conference calls and I hope those invited to future ones understand that they are only to write or say positive things about them, not only in their own blogs but generally in emails or conversation. Or perhaps there should be a list of people participants can NOT talk to about the calls.

Chris also sent out links to stories stating that PoliticsPA is run by a conservative think tank in California. I read through this briefly but the only connection I can see is that they have a similar name and were started about the same time. This seems to me to be a real stretch of logic. From my own research and my email with Sy I doubt the think tank and the website are run by the same people. I admire Chris’s passion and enthusiasm and he works hard on his blog; it shows in his readership.

I wish Ms. Schrader the best. I wish Chris the best. I wish Sy the best. It amazes me that writing a blog that, at most, 40 people at day look at has put me in so much hot water and caused, at least in part, such a tempest.

Friday, August 05, 2005


Postings may be sparse next week. My home pc is acting up and may need repair. Casa Jane seems to be having lots of problems. The water went out last night. The electricity has gone out a few times. It is stinking hot. I may take off a few days and head for cooler climes. All these factors lead to a good probability of only sketchy Internet access. So an absence of postings doesn't mean I'm in a snit or aboard the mother ship somewhere, just momentarily disconnected.

DeWeese Won't Budge

According to today's Inky, House Democratic Leader Bill DeWeese refuses to reverse himself on demoting subcommittee chairs who voted against the pay raise. The Inky goes on to say:

DeWeese, who has been minority leader since 1995, has a history of retaliating against Democratic members who did not vote his way.

That's a quality I look for in a leader. Those who have read previous posts know I think highly of Rep. Greg Vitali, whom DeWeese really seems to have it in for. Can't we get rid of DeWeese somehow?

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Another Missing Person?

I finally got around to thinking about the Democratic contenders for Senate in 06. The primary is roughly 9 months away. I've been pregnant. I know how quickly and slowly (at the same time) 9 months can pass.

I've seen the polls putting Bob Casey ahead. I've read about the MoveOn endorsement for him that didn't leave much time for actual grassroots input. I know Joe Hoeffel and Ed Rendell have endorsed him. So, I decided to check him out for myself.

Starting with his website. I looked it over and what came to mind is a comment an old friend one received on a college paper. "You write very well. You don't know what you are talking about." In other words, it looks pretty but it doesn't say much. All style, little substance.

Plus, it wants an email before you can even get in to look at it. There is a "skip" feature but it is in small print.

There are jazzy banners and icons you can add to your website, a Casey "buddy icon" you can use in IMing. All that fancy schmancy stuff. On the home page you can find some info on Santorum's new book, Santorum's treatment of veterans, Rendell's endorsement of Casey, etc.

There is a very pretty bio of Bob Casey with a very pretty picture of his very pretty family.

Did I see one jot of information that would lead me to return to the site or vote for the man? Nope Nope Nope Nope Nope. What I see is an attitude of "I'm ahead in the polls and Rick Santorum is bad. Here are some nifty Internet things. Because you know you'll support me and vote for me. Yes you will." It reminds me of an old commercial that seemed somewhat threatening to me: "Someday we'll be your bank." Whether I wanted them to be my bank or not was apparantly not an issue. That's what I see on Casey's site, an assumption of support.

Bob Casey better get on the case or there could be some nasty surprises ahead.

Good News for Once

I saw this on CNN. It doesn't have any Philly ties but, to me, is an example of what good, involved government can do, at least on a small scale. It is also heartwarming to read that a few people were giving icy stares to the sausage stand worker (if that doesn't intrigue you enough to click on the link, nothing will).

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Updated Cohen Blog

Rep. Mark Cohen has updated his blog on PA legislation. There are a number of new postings on legislation in progress. Scanning through his entries gives me a new perspective on how my long legislative updates much look (whew!). Check out Comment on PA Legislation on the links list to your right.

Big Honkin' Meetup Reminder

Just a reminder to everyone that the big DFA Meetup is tonight at 7pm. It is a consolidated Meetup for all five local Philadelphia counties.

Chris Bowers of Mydd be speaking. Five Democratic candidates for Congressional seats currently held by Republicans are expected to attend: Lois Murphy, Lois Herr, Paul Scoles, Ginny Schrader and Patrick Murphy. This is your chance to look them over.

The address is Yards Brewery, 2439 Amber St, Philadelphia, PA 19125, 215.634.2600

Should be a couple of hundred people. For more info visit this site:

Announcements that went out to bloggers for this event often had the tag line "Oh yeah, and free beer." As the resident wet blanket in the Philly blogosphere, let me remind everyone who plans to indulge to do so responsibly and to do what you can to see that people get home, to their cars, or the bus stop safely. It's easy for one loopy person to get lost in a big crowd, so please look out for each other. And, remember, its okay to have a soda if you prefer or if it's just what you feel like this evening. Those who think it odd for people to decline, keep your opinions to yourself. Remember, its a big blue tent these days.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

weekly legislative update

Believe it or not a few resolutions were introducted into the house (or was it the senate?) last week. I may have to start paying more attention to them. Also, I noticed a note that comes with the daily legislative updates stating that the date something is introduced is not necessarily the date it goes out on the emails. In fact I have noticed a few things not showing up until days later. Hmmmmm....

Our good friends at PICPA have posted their weekly legislative update from last week. Interesting stuff on the division of damages in lawsuits and on a bill currently in the Judiciary Committee on protecting the privacy of social security numbers. Interesting stuff. I am very grateful to PICPA for providing this information.

Big Honkin' Meetup Details

For more information on the big meet up on Wednesday, please visit either of these two sites. A number of blogs have the information, these are just the two links I grabbed quickly.


Rowhouse Logic

Both also provide links to the web pages of the candidates who are slated to speak.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Wednesday Big Honkin' Meetup

Chris over at is mc'ing the event. It is a joint meetup with Philly, Bucks, Chester, Delco, Montco DFA groups. Currently five congressional candidates are listed as featured speakers.

The meetup will be held this Wed, 7 p.m. at Yard's Brewery, 2439 Amber St. Philly. More on this tomorrow. It has been a very long day.

I did get to listen in on the last half of a conference call tonight with Ginny Schrader who declared her candidacy for the 8th district today.