Just because I like doing this sort of thing and there may be one or two people out there who want to have the information organized this way, I have checked to see what committees Pennsylvania congressional representatives are on. First is a list of reps and their committees, then a list of committees with Pennsylvania reps on them and any subcommittees those reps might be on.
Please note that there are still a few vacancies out there that PA folks might be asked to fill. Also note that there are no Pennsylvanians on the Foreign Affairs (2 vacancies), Judiciary (1 vacancy), or Rules committees. The House Intelligence Committee’s website does not list members as yet but I found a list of Democratic members on the web generally. There is no information on Republican members or subcommittee membership.
There are three joint committees and no House membership is listed for them for this congress either. However, Sen. Robert Casey, Jr. is on the Joint Economic Committee. In the 109th Congress (last year), Rep. Fattah and Sen. Santorum served on the Joint Committee on Printing. There are 5 House members on the Joint Committee for Taxation, taken from the Ways & Means Committee; two Pennsylvanians, Phil English and Allyson Schwartz serve on Ways & Means and could be chosen.
I will check back and see if the list needs to be updated later. If you want more information look at the House website (www.house.gov), which will provide links to individual congressional representatives as well as House committees.
One thing I can’t help but point out is that among the House Administration Committee’s duties is overseeing the National Zoo. No wonder Rep. Bob Brady can manage the Philadelphia Democratic Party; he’s had practice with that sort of thing [joke]. It might also explain his interest in bringing elephants back to the Philadelphia Zoo.
This list was compiled over time. I made every effort to be accurate and apologize in advance for any errors.
Pennsylvania Congressional Representatives
Bob Brady (D-01) – Armed Services, House Administration
Chaka Fattah (D-02) -- Appropriations
Phil English (R-03) – Ways & Means
Jason Altmire (D-04) – Education & Labor, Small Business, Transportation & Infrastructure
John Peterson (R-05) -- Appropriations
Jim Gerlach (R-06) – Financial Services, Transportation & Infrastructure
Joe Sestak (D-07) – Armed Services, Education & Labor, Small Business
Patrick Murphy (D-08) – Armed Services, Intelligence
Bill Shuster (R-09) – Natural Resources, Small Business, Transportation & Infrastructure
Chris Carney (D-10) – Homeland Security, Transportation & Infrastructure
Paul Kanjorski (D-11) – Financial Services, Oversight & Government Reform, Science & Technology
John Murtha (D-12) -- Appropriations
Allyson Schwartz (D-13) – Budget, Ways & Means
Mike Doyle (D-14) – Energy & Commerce, Standards on Official Conduct, Veterans Affairs
Charlie Dent (R-15) – Homeland Security, Transportation & Infrastructure
Joe Pitts (R-16) – Energy & Commerce
Tim Holden (D-17) – Agriculture, Transportation & Infrastructure
Tim Murphy (R-18) – Energy & Commerce
Todd Platts (R-19) – Education & Labor, Oversight & Government Reform, Transportation & Infrastructure
House Committees and Subcommittees with PA Representation
Agriculture – Tim Holden (vice chair)
Conservation Credit Energy & Resources – Holden (chair)
Livestock, Dairy & Poultry – Holden
Appropriations – John Murtha, Chaka Fattah, John Peterson
Commerce, Justice, Science & Related Industries – Fattah
Defense – Murtha (chair)
Energy & Water Development – Fattah
Homeland Security – Fattah Peterson
Interior, Environment & Related Agencies – Peterson
Labor, Health & Human Services, Education & Related Agencies – Peterson
Armed Services – Bob Brady, Patrick Murphy, Joe Sestak
Readiness – Brady
Seapower & Expeditionary Forces – Sestak
Air & Land Forces – Brady, Sestak
Oversight & Investigations – Sestak
Military Personnel – Patrick Murphy
Budget – Allyson Schwartz
Education & Labor – Joe Sestak, Jason Altmire, Todd Platts
Early Childhood, Elementary & Secondary – Sestak, Platts
Healthy Families and Communities – Altmire, Platts (ranking member)
Higher Education, Lifelong Learning & Competitiveness – Altmire
Health, Employment, Labor & Pensions – Sestak
Energy & Commerce – Mike Doyle, Tim Murphy, Joseph Pitts
Telecommunications & the Internet – Doyle (chair)
Energy & Air Quality – Doyle
Health – Pitts, Tim Murphy
Trade & Consumer Protection – Pitts
Environment & Hazardous Waste – Pitts, Tim Murphy
Oversight & Investigations – Doyle, Tim Murphy
Financial Services – Paul Kanjorski, Jim Gerlach
Capital Markets, Insurance, & Government Sponsored Enterprises – Kanjorski (chair), Gerlach
Financial Institutions & Consumer Credit – Kanjorski
Domestic & International Monetary Policy, Trade & Technology – Kanjorski
Homeland Security – Chris Carney, Charlie Dent
Management, Investigations & Oversight – Carney (chair)
Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment – Carney, Dent
Emergency Communications Preparedness & Response -- Dent
House Administration – Bob Brady
Natural Resources – Bill Shuster
Energy & Mineral Resources – Shuster
Oversight & Government Reform – Paul Kanjorski, Todd Platts
Government Management Organizations & Procurement – Kanjorski, Platts
National Security & Foreign Affairs – Platts
Science & Technology – Paul Kanjorski
Energy & Environment News – Kanjorski
Small Business – Jason Altmire, Joe Sestak, Bill Shuster
Finance & Tax – Sestak, Shuster
Contracting & Technology – Sestak
Regulations, Healthcare & Trade – Altmire, Sestak, Shuster (ranking member)
Investigations & Oversight – Altmire (chair)
Standards of Official Conduct – Mike Doyle
Transportation & Infrastructure – Tim Holden, Jason Altmire, Chris Carney, Charlie Dent, Jim Gerlach, Todd Platts, Bill Shuster
Aviation – Holden, Gerlach, Dent
Economic Development, Public Buildings & Emergency Management – Altmire, Carney, Shuster, Dent
Highways & Transportation – Holden, Altmire, Carney, Dent, Gerlach, Platts
Railroads, Pipelines & Hazardous Materials – Shuster (ranking member), Platts, Gerlach
Water Resources & Environment – Platts, Shuster
Veterans Affairs – Mike Doyle
Health – Doyle
Ways & Means – Allyson Schwartz, Phil English
Health – English
Social Security – Schwartz
Income Security & Family Support – English
Select Revenue Measures – Schwartz, English
House Select Committee on Intelligence – Patrick Murphy (list of GOP members and subcommittee memberships not currently available)
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Just because I like doing this sort of thing and there may be one or two people out there who want to have the information organized this way, I have checked to see what committees Pennsylvania congressional representatives are on. First is a list of reps and their committees, then a list of committees with Pennsylvania reps on them and any subcommittees those reps might be on.
Monday, February 26, 2007
I think this forum was held earlier today and then rebroadcast on PCN tonight. There was one section of the debate that I could not keep up with. As for the rest, as usual my notes are rough and I apologize for any errors or misconceptions. There are a number of forums planned and I encourage everyone to try to attend or watch at least one (hopefully more)to get some sense of the candidates. Dwight Evans was unable to attend this event.
Philadelphia Mayoral Forum / Central High School
Chaka Fattah (note: this site comes with audio, you may want to turn the volume down or off if you are looking at this at work and don't have a private office)
Al Taubenberger (no website at present)
CF: Two of his children graduates of Central, one now an attorney, the other at Drexel.
TK: Thank you. No kids at school. Mayor cut budget for community college. CC last resort for those most in need. State does not put all its money in. Need to be able to fully fund cc and endowment fund. Kids most in need. If we can raise $68 million to buy one painting should be able to raise this.
MN: Pleasure to be here. Daughter only in 6th grade. Making Central a coed school a good decision.
AT: President of NE Philly Chamber of Commerce. Daughter at Central School. AT went to Northeast High. All my sports career I tried to beat you but now that my daughter is here you have no bigger supporter. Without support of servicemen and women people this forum would not exist.
Part I: Question to one candidate, others can respond
Q: Fattah, recent incident on I 78 and Katrina. What would you do to avoid breakdown in communication in govt.
CF: Anyone leading a major city must be prepared for emergencies. Street administration has a 2M initiative to review disaster preparedness. Make sure we can communicate with govt and people. Health care system that can handle mass casualty events. Not there yet. Working on some things. His campaign features more Central grads than any other campaigns.
TK: Reading the reports put out by the city and newscasts. Philly not prepared. We do plow the streets and that can be an emergency. Mayor’s first priority to keep streets safe. Then clean.
MN: Significant work done by Street. Report issued some time ago. Second report overdue. Later on MN today releasing emergency preparedness plan. Joint command center, ability to communicate underground.
AT: All departments need to talk with each other. Mayor Frank Rizzo at the scene himself. So was Guliani.
Q: Knox, with over 400 murders last year, on track to have more this year. What steps other than adding officers to the force?
TK: Crime, short and long term solutions. Long term all revolve around education. Get people to lay down their guns and pick up books. Get police force in the 21s century (technology). Have a deputy mayor for public safety. Lobby for tougher gun laws.
MN: targeted enforcement zones, take illegal weapons away from people, additional social services support, repeat offenders violate probation out of communities, focus on re-entry. Hard to get a job if have a criminal record.
AT: Education always a cornerstone in stopping crime. Educated populace something we all desire. Enforcing the gun laws on the book. Increase amount of police, minimum of 600. Bill in state house for new police officers. Increase and empower parole officers. Stop those on parole and see if they have weapons on them. Jobs very important.
CF: We have instituted programs, got 497 guns off the street, anonymous tip line if report someone with an illegal gun. We need to all work together. We should not politicize violence.
Q: Nutter, perception that neighborhood schools failing students, outside agency schools not doing so well. Make schools safer, regain local control?
MN: Mayor must make sure all citizens safe, but especially school students. Building safety. Philly city police and school district police coordinate. School governance, strong supporter of SRC, ultimately Mayor accountable, let mayor appoint all members of school board. Local control should return. Partnership with gov and city. Funding formula changed.
AT: Teachers are not policeman. Safety must be absolute in a school. Parents must be able to send children to safe school. Local control must be back in Philly.
[Bob Brady arrives.]
BB: Apologize for being late. Security guards wouldn’t let him in. Take back local control. School not a prison. Increase funding for school. [his phone goes off, apologizes]
CF: Believe and big supporter of Paul Vallas and SRC. Edison schools should never have been allowed in and should be ushered out as soon as possible. Will not push for local controls. Governance almost a distraction. Change ratio on board, betw/ govt appointees and mayoral appointees.
TK: Local control is important. Early start and career training important. Cuts down on truancy. Improves attendance in college. Make sure state continues its funding and maintain bond rating.
Q: Taubenberger, why would your promises of honesty be better than pay to play predecessors.
AT: Any admin full of people, but mayor reponsible for their character. Before hiring get to know people and their character.
BB: It’s about your character and the people you employ. I’ve never been mentioned on any indictment. I don’t know some of these people. You have to have character, make sure people you hire represent you and have good character.
CF: Our website has ethics and openness program for govt. Open up budget process. Accountability system. A few bad characters does not imply that everyone in govt is dishonest. Don’t paint everyone with the same brush.
TK: Mayor should hire best people possible and take responsibility for their actions. Sick of pay to play, etc. Tired of patronage and nepotism.
MN: Try to hire the best people. On issue of credibility I am the person who literally wrote the law. Put in place new transparency. I have put things in place. I can tell you what I have already done.
Part II, questions from the audience for just one candidate
Q: Fattah, congestion charge, what other environmental policy
CF: Need to be concerned about the environment. President put forth idea of studying congestion. Transportation policy on web site. Make city bicycle friendly. Hybrid vehicles. Enhance Philly Car Share. Put shelters at every single bus stop. Solar heating at those shelters. More people out of their cars and into mass transit. Privatize turnpike.
Q: Knox, Your wife is strongly dedicated to the arts. Worried about losing arts and sports in schools.
TK: I am committed to the arts and fully funding the arts in Philadelphia. Past chairman of Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. Need a director of arts in Philly. Bring Barnes Museum to Philly.
Q: Brady, what bill are you most proud of and why?
BB: Co-sponsored a lot of bills, now as majority can sponsor our own bills. We do bring home a lot of funding. Brought back 3.2 (m? B?) A lot of funding for schools and universities. Most important is proton beam (knife?) for prostate cancer. [He pronounced it prostrate.] gamma knife, picking up more funding to look into use for women with breast cancer.
Q: Nutter, What plans do you have to reduce wage taxes?
MN: Helped lead 2002 march against wage tax. In 2004 got a bill passed in city council for a 10 year reduction in wage tax. There will be additional cuts in wage tax due to gaming. Proposed business tax cuts. Tax situation in Philly chokes off jobs, must be changed to grow economy. Can find info on my website.
Q: Taubenberger, plans for development of Delaware WaterFront?
AT: supports open access for all citizens. Riverfront produced a lot of jobs for many years. Mixed use with industry and residential. Has to be encouraged and worked on. Must work closely with the state. Currently freeze on that right now. Must provide jobs and places to live. Lucky to have Del River.
Part III, lightning round, limit answer to one word or sentence [Blogger’s note: This was just too quick for me to keep up with so I have no transcript from this section. Many apologies.]
BB: Walk child to school in safety, to a safe school, have an affordable house and a job that can support job. First one to sign on Committee of 70 ethics program
CF: Work every day to make sure every student in our city can go to a school as good as Central. Create an endowment so Philly kids will be able to go to college. Philly has lowest % of college educated populace in large cities. Create real opportunities. If we all work at it we can make Philly a better city.
TK: Mayor’s first responsibility is to public safety. Rid city of pay to play politics. Fully fund community college. Trained and educated work force. Affordable housing. Environmental protection in order. Emergency services in order. Transportation rates looked at.
MN: Thanks Central and PCN. Your futures are critically important. Worked in city govt for 15 years. Has the experience and the independence.
AT: Thanks Central. This is one of the premier schools in the country; you have a duty to get involved. Clean and safe city. Plentiful jobs. Good schools.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Yowza!! The Bucks County Democrats have declined to endorse incumbent Democratic County Commissioner Sandy Miller. According to their website:
Middletown Supervisor Diane Marseglia and Lower Makefield Supervisor Steve Santarsiero have received the endorsement of the Bucks County Democratic Committee for the two County Commissioner slots on this year's ballot.
More on these two in coming days.
A few more campaigns are finding me and here are some items from my inbox.
Damon K. Roberts is running for the 2nd Philadelphia City Council district seat against incumbent Anna Verna. The biography on his campaign site is impressive and there are links to assorted newspaper and magazine articles about him, and some media links as well. A campaign media spot is also available on YouTube (
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=liWeyLtt4fI). He has also posted on YoungPhillyPolitics (Damon's YPP diaries here).
Vern Anastasio is running for the 1st Philadelphia City Council district seat against incumbent Frank DiCicco. He also has an impressive biography and is a local boy, born and raised here. Check out his campaign site and video on YouTube.
A number of candidates are running against incumbents for the five at-large seats. Check out Matt Ruben, Marc Stier, and Derek S. Green.
Young Philly Politics has a complete list of candidates for city council
Tomorrow (Monday 2/26) evening PCN has two shows that might pique your interest.
At 7 p.m. Sen. Vince Fumo will be one of two guests on the PCN Call-In Show. He will be appearing with Sen. Gib Armstrong to discuss the budget. Yes, that is correct, Vince Fumo will be on a live show that lets people call in and ask questions. Now, I'm sure PCN and the senators would all like callers to stay on topic, but I've watched the show and people's questions do stray into other areas. Far be it from me to suggest anyone do such a thing. I'm just saying it's been done before. I won't be able to watch it live but hope to catch it on replay some time.
Those interested in the Philadelphia mayoral race might enjoy a 9 p.m. PCN broadcast of a mayoral debate. I hope to watch this and take notes. The schedule doesn't say but I think this is a rebroadcast of an earlier event. One of the mayoral campaigns was kind enough to send me a list of mayoral forums (thank you!) and there are none on the list for 2/26 at 9 p.m.
The truly wonkish might enjoy the 9 a.m. PennPIRG discussion on Media Ownership.
Or maybe the station will rearrange the schedule at the last minute. You just never know....
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Once again I bring you a list of Pennslyvania related items from this week's Wall Street Journal. No guarantee this is everything, just the things I noticed.
“Forget Austerity, State Spending Ratchets Higher,” by Christopher Cooper (2/24) mentions Pennsylvania in passing as one of the state’s wanting to set up funds for state energy independence.
An upbeat note for a Canonsburg company in “Mylan Goes for the Sweet Spot,” by Heather Won Tesoriero (2/21)
Less happy news here, “Toll Brothers Net Falls 67%; Outlook is Cut,” by Judy Lam and Michael Corkery (2/23)
In “Success in Restarting Shutdown Steel Plants,” by Stephen Miller and Paul Glader, an obituary of Clifford Borland, his ties to Aspinwall, Pa, and his work in Pennsylvania generally, is mentioned. (2/24)
Air Products & Chemicals (2/21)
In an article on parents moving to be near private schools, “Anxiety High: Moving for Schools,” by Suein Hwang (2/20), Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia is one of the schools mentioned. In the past two years four families have moved to the area primarily for that reason.
Some unnamed individual from Mt. Pleasant, PA is mentioned as a problem caller for a computer customer service center in “’It Says Press Any Key. Where’s the Any Key?’” by Jared Sandberg (2/20)
An opinion piece – “The Philadelphia Story,” by Paul E. Peterson, on Philadelphia school test scores and a RAND study.
Other Interesting Things
As Ma says, too bad common sense isn’t. From “A Retreat from Major Cities Hurts ROTC Recuiting,” by Greg Jaffe (2/22)
There is no Army ROTC program in the Detroit area, with its large middle-class Muslim population, and only one in Miami and Chicago. In New York City, which produced more than 500 military officers a year in the 1950s and early 1960s, the two remaining ROTC programs last year yielded 34 Army officers.
The article goes on to note that there are 10 ROTC programs in Alabama. By reducing programs in urban areas with diverse populations the military is missing out on potential recruits with desired linguistic and cultural skills.
Friday, February 23, 2007
From the “to be blogged about” pile. I read these two pieces within a few days of each other and the similarities between the two really struck me. Admittedly, I am pulling quotes out of context, but I think they are representative of each piece’s general theme, and not used incorrectly.
From the February 2007 Philadelphia Magazine, “Off the Cuff” column, written by D. Herbert Lipson, whose title, according to the magazine’s masthead, is chairman. In part he quotes current Philadelphia District Attorney Lynn Abraham.
Lynn Abraham thinks, for example, that too many young people in Philadelphia are having children without getting married, and that too many girls have several children while they’re still teenagers.
Okay, so far I’m on board. But she goes on:
“What do you want us to do about your kid that you conceived when you were drunk or high,” Abraham asks rhetorically, “and you don’t care about your kid, don’t even know who the partner was, and never go to a doctor?”
Here she is addressing parents but, from what she says, I would guess she is primarily addressing mothers. I guess those “unknown partners” get a pass?
Taking this train of thought a little further we have Jonathan Last’s “One More Thing” column from the Inquirer on January 28, 2007, entitled “A picture so stark, it’s horrifying.” He takes up the issue of abortion. At one point he notes that nearly a fifth of all abortions are requested by married women. Near the end he makes this statement:
In fact, the numbers show that the individual abortion usually does not involve one of those tragic, heart-wrenching archetypes. Rather, it is simply a matter of an adult woman deciding she doesn’t want to be burdened with bearing the child she has created.
Hey! Whoa!! Since when did humans start to reproduce by parthenogenesis (development of an embryo without fertilization by a male). Last I heard it took two (with some noted historical exceptions, perhaps).
Now if someone wants to write about the circumstances that have grown out of the decoupling of sexual intimacy, established relationships, and childbearing, I’m all ears. I’m with you. I’m there. But if we’re going to have a serious conversation about this, let’s bring all the parties to the table.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
It is always interesting to see how candidates act when they are out among the great unwashed. I was on my way to work one morning recently when a candidate and two volunteers were handing out campaign flyers. It is early in the season for train station stops. One other thing that sparked my interest was the low-key and earnest demeanor of the volunteers. Some people can get a little pushy when distributing brochures but these folks were not. I approached one to see what the race du jour was and walked away reading the flyer. I passed a woman holding another stack of flyers, and realized she was the candidate.
Beverly Muldrow is running for judge of the court of common pleas in Philadelphia. We talked for a minute or two. You can’t get a good sense of a person from such a short conversation but you can develop a first impression, which hopefully can be confirmed with further observation or greater acquaintance. My first impression of Ms. Muldrow was a positive one. She answered my questions without hesitation or noticeable artifice. I asked them as neutrally as possible to see what she would say and was pleased with her responses. Just on a purely personal note, she was wearing a very elegant coat. That coat would have swallowed me up. She carried it off with aplomb.
In the intervening days I have looked into Ms. Muldrow and did some spot checking of the resume items listed on the campaign flyer. So far everything checks out and everything I have read about her is positive. Some of the court cases she worked on as an ADA were heartbreaking and the newspaper articles I read led me to believe she had worked hard on them. Many of these cases were heard in the court of common pleas so she is familiar with how it works and would, I think, be a good judge there. Two years ago she ran for Municipal Court Judge and had a weighty list of endorsements including the FOP and my fellow blogger at A Smoke-Filled Room, both of whose good opinion are not easily earned.
Ms. Muldrow’s credentials as listed on her flyer are as follows:
Former Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney for 10 years – convicted child molesters
Former Regional Counsel – U.S. Environmental Protection – instructed agency lawyers on trial and negotiating skills
Former Corporate Counsel for major corporations – 7 years
Adjunct Professor, Philadelphia Community College
Serves are Arbitrator and Hearing Officer
Attorney on dependent, delinquent and adult criminal matters
Mentor, Philadelphia Futures – assist inner city youth to attend college
Speaker – Rhodes Leadership High School
Member – Community College of Philadelphia Minority Fellow Council
Past President of Women Lawyers Division of National Bar Association
Presenter on Environmental justice issues for NAACP and City of Philadelphia
I hope to have other opportunities to see and talk with Ms. Muldrow and encourage you to take an interest in the judicial races.
A few new videos, of two Philadelphia mayoral candidates, for your viewing pleasure:
There is a variety of short videos of Michael Nutter on YouTube. Some are on policy issues, in one he is welcoming campaign volunteers.
Dwight Evans' second live videoconference is now available on his website. I thought he did a great job.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
This evening I sat in on Dwight Evans' second live videoconference. It lasted an hour and for most of that time there were 20-25 people logged in at any one time, or at least that's the number shown on the feed I could see. There may have been more listed elsewhere. He fielded a variety of questions and for the one or two he could not answer he asked the questionner to send in their suggestions. (True confessions, one of these was my question on his thoughts on regional flood prevention.) Evans also said that if he is elected mayor he will continue to have live videoconferences, from the mayor's office. The campaign says the video will be available on their campaign website in the next few days. It was an interesting experience and I appreciate his efforts to reach out and interact with people.
Campaigns never end, do they? Right after the election results are announced the fundraising race starts up again. It is time for one of those online fundraising polls. Russ Feingold's Progressive Patriots Fund is asking people to vote for one of 10 House incumbents who won by a narrow margin. The eventual winner gets a $5,000 donation. There are 2 Pennsylvania Congressmen on the list, the 4th district's Jason Altmire and the 8th district's Patrick Murphy. New York's John Hall is also on the list. Of course, to vote you have to hand over an email, state and zip, so expect more emails.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
K'Nex, those fine people who make a variety of construction toys, are celebrating their 15th anniversary this year. Based in Hatfield, the privately owned company has about 12% of the national construction toy market. It is considerably higher in my house where the living room is often decorated with some form of one or more K'Nex structures. From a parents' viewpoint K'Nex is a superior product as the pieces are large enough that they are easy to spot on the carpet but small and sleek enough that if you step on a stray one while going to the bathroom in the middle of the night you don't maim yourself. (Source: "Connector of Sales and Marketing," by Janet Pinkerton, Inquirer 2/19)
From The Bucks County Courier Post ("Ethanol Maker Eyes Riverfront," by James Mcginnis, 2/19):
Rohm and Haas is considering the sale of its waterfront property to a petroleum company that wants to build an ethanol plant on the banks of the Delaware River near Maple Beach and north of the Burlington-Bristol Bridge.
Welcome news, or not, depending on your viewpoint.
Two Democratic Pennsylvania Congressman, Chris Carney of the 10th district and Patrick Murphy of the 8th district, are joining four other House members on a fact-finding trip to Germany, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Kuwait. The group will meet with American troops and area government officials. (Source: "Murphy returns to Iraq -- as lawmaker," by Brian Scheid, Bucks County Courier Post 2/20)
Monday, February 19, 2007
Oh dear, the plot thickens. Some harsh words from current Montgomery County District Attorney and candidate for County Commissioner, Republican Bruce Castor. It seems that the current commissioners hired a lobbying firm which was founded by and still employees the current county party chair, Ken Davis, for $7,500 a month to lobby on behalf of the county. Davis is, surprise!, supporting the incumbent commissioners, Jim Mathews and Tom Ellis. It is a month to month contract but no written reports were requested until a year into the deal. The only Democrat on the board of commissioners, Ruth Damsker, also approved the contract as the firm does other business in the county. You can read more in the article ("Castor rips deal with GOP chief," by Jeff Shields) in today's Inquirer.
To add to the fun, some of the commenters over at GrassrootsPA are noting that the county controller maybe should have looked into this. I wrote about the county controller's office on this blog last month. This could be a very lively county election!
If you have any opinions on media ownership and live in the Harrisburg, PA area, there is a public forum you might want to attend this Thursday[UPDATE: It is FRIDAY the 23rd]. Stop Big Media would like you to know that you can speak up on Feb. 23rd starting at 9:00 a.m. at the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts. There is more at Stop Big Media's web site.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
A few links and tidbits for your perusal.
Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania's 7th district is or has answered questions for one of the Inky's Q&A sessions.
In more Sestak news, he is featured on "A Day in the Life of Congressman Joe Sestak" on February 22 at 6:00 pm to 6:30 pm on CN8.
For those in the 8th congressional district, Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy is featured in the most recent issue of The Hill. Just as a teaser, we find out that he likes Hot Pockets and that the fellow congressman he rents a room from tends to take them. The article also touches on political matters. (link found on A Smoke-Filled Room)
It was a slow week for Pennsylvania in the Wall Street Journal. There are a few things but nowhere near as much as the deluge last week. Or at least not that I saw. In trying to find a pattern it looks like I see more PA-related materials when I read stretched out on the living room floor in front of the heater vent than when I read sitting up in the den with a laprobe around my knees. Could be a coincidence.
“Iraq Debate in Congress Shifts Focus,” by David Rogers (2/13/07). There are several quotes from Rep. John Murtha (D., Pa.) but the entire passage discussing his tactics and thoughts takes up 4 paragraphs and including all of it might be too much of the article for copyright compliance. A quick summary is that he recommends that each unit sent to Iraq have the special training and equipment needed, restrict procedures used to keep soldiers in units about to deploy even when their enlistment is about to run out, and guarantee a year at home between deployments.
From “U.S. to Take More Iraqi Refugees,” by John D. McKinnon (2/15/07):
The results was a two-hour snapshot of a growing party split that poses the most serious threat to the White House as it tries to sustain long-term support for the way. Those opposing the president include Reps. Phil English (R., Pa.) and Fred Upton (R., Mich.) with coveted seats on leadership committees such as Ways and Means, and Energy and Commerce.
Pepper Hamilton, a Philadelphia-based law firm named Nina Gussack as chair of the executive committee. She is the first woman in the firm’s 117 year history to be chair.
“Jones Bets on a Klein Revival,” by Rachel Dodes (2/15/07) on the Jones Apparel Co., based in Bristol.
Other Interesting Things
“Candidates Find a New Stump: the Blogosphere,” by Amy Schatz (2/14/07), on the place of the blogosphere in presidential and lower level elections, most especially the comparatively small amount it costs to advertise on political blogs versus television.
“So Long to the Suite Life,” by Russell Adams 2/17/07, on stadiums taking out skyboxes since they aren’t bringing in the money they used to. Interesting.
“Patching Things Up,” by Gwendolyn Brooks 2/17/07, on the interaction between interpersonal relationships and home repair projects. I laughed at this quote from Andy Bell, CEO of Handyman Matters, a franchise of home-improvement services:
When disputes arise on the job, his advice to his handymen is firm: “Always side with the lady, but try to keep the pride of the man intact. Dig up something small – like “you did a really good job removing all that drywall, buddy.”
Ms. Brooks writes about the way she and her girlfriend have divided up the home repair chores. If Mr. Bell reads the article and sees that he might need to come up with some alternate scenarios.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Dan Rubin, once upon a time blogger for the Inquirer had said he was shuttering his blog, Blinq, to be a metro columnist, but today he posted a note on the transition process.
It must be like washing a car if you want it to rain. I had just deleted the link to Blinq on my sidebar....
There were a number of resolutions and a few bills passed in the Pennsylvania legislature this week. Most of the resolutions were designating a week or month or day in honor of a cause or a person. Some honored fallen soldiers or others who died in the line of duty. One concerned a specific Pennsylvania project and that one is noted here.
Other weekly updates include our accountant friends at PICPA, and the Republican Senate caucus.
Resolution No. 14 By Senators ORIE, RAFFERTY, PIPPY, WOZNIAK, REGOLA, COSTA, LAVALLE, FONTANA and D. WHITE. Printer's No. 15. A Concurrent Resolution resolving that it is the intent of the Pennsylvania General Assembly to appropriate no additional funds for the construction of the North Shore Connector, the twin tunnels which are slated to be built under the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh.
SB10 Prior Printer's No. 28.Printer's No. 107. An Act amending the act of July 31, 2003 (P.L.73, No.17), known as the Volunteer Fire Company and Volunteer Ambulance Service Grant Act, further providing for guidelines and procedures, for award of grants and for expiration of authority; providing for publication and notice, for special provisions and for a Legislative Budget and Finance Committee performance review; and repealing an obsolete act.
SB218 Prior Printer's No. 23.Printer's No. 39. An Act amending the act of December 31, 1965 (P.L.1257, No.511), known as The Local Tax Enabling Act, providing for local services taxes; repealing provisions relating to emergency and municipal services taxes and to continuation of occupational privilege taxes; and making editorial changes.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Peter Amuso is the declared Democratic candidate for District Attorney in Montgomery County. Amuso adds to the ranks of Army lawyers who are running for office these days. He is a former U.S. Army prosecutor, serving as a Judge Advocate in Albania and Germany. A Harvard Law School graduate in 1997, he served in the military from 1998 to 2002. After leaving the military he worked at Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll in Philadelphia. In 2003, he and the future Deputy Speaker of the House, Josh Shapiro (D-153) were both on the firm’s Government Enforcement / White Collar Crime Group. While there he was also involved in product liability; one case involved medical devices. Most recently he has been an attorney at Toll Brothers.
His father is a school superintendent and Peter Amuso currently serves on the Springfield School Board, but he seems to have found inspiration in the life of his maternal grandfather, who emigrated from Italy. Both attended Georgetown (Peter on an ROTC scholarship). His grandfather was also a lawyer and also served with the Judge Advocate General’s Corp, though in World War II.
The general view at the outset is that this is likely a difficult race to win. Regardless, Amuso should not be taken lightly. For one thing he was a Pennsylvania State Political Leader Fellow in 2005. Other fellows that year were Derek Green, currently running an at large seat on the Philadelphia City Council, recently elected state Rep. Tony Payton, Jr., and Marc Stier of the city’s Neighborhood Networks and also a candidate for at large city councilman. In his bio for the Fellowship he listed his ambitions as running for District Attorney or the state house. He stepped down as chair of the Springfield Township Democrats this month to focus on the campaign. Amuso is also one of the founders of the Blue Future PAC, which raises money for state and local candidates in the state. Politics must to be in the blood; the grandfather who seems to have inspired him once served as an assistant Attorney General of Ohio
Amuso to Seek Democratic Nomination for Montco District Attorney [press release, 2/07/07]
2006 Pennsylvania State Political Leader Fellows
Augustine "Gus" Leonard [obituary, 2/09/06]
"Wyndmoor Resident Amuso Announces Run for DA Post," by Carl Hessler, Jr., Springfield Sun 2/08/07
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Two area Democratic congressmen, Patrick Murphy (D-08) and Joe Sestak (D-07) have sponsored or co-sponsored legislation to bring troops home from Iraq. Just for lack of anything else to do on a snowy evening, let’s take a look at the bills and see where they are alike and how they differ. Is it apples and oranges, or Red Delicious vs. Golden? You decide.
Both begin with praise for the troops, both set deadlines for American troops leaving Iraq, though one is a hard and fast deadline, with exceptions on which personnel might remain; the other sets reasons why troops might remain generally and benchmarks for the Iraqis to meet to keep American troops there. I have included links to the bill information (including text of the bills) in Thomas (links off the bill number), a list of newspaper articles for more information, and links to the remarks of both Murphy and Sestak on the House floor regarding Iraq. Because I’m sure all of you will want to look more fully into both of these pieces of suggested legislation.
Murphy’s bill, HR 787, was formally introduced by Rep. Mike Thompson with Murphy as the primary co-sponsor. A companion bill was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Barack Obama. The House bill currently has 21 co-sponsors, including Pennsylvanians Bob Brady, Chris Carney, and Paul Kanjorski. It has been referred to three committees: Armed Services, Foreign Relations and Rules. It is called the Iraq War De-Escalation Act of 2007, with this summary: To state United States policy for Iraq, and for other purposes.
The introduction goes into a lot of detail, citing comments by the President and others who have been policymakers on the war. Redeployment is to begin May 1, 2007 and be completed by March 31, 2008. The redeployment is to be planned by military personnel, possibly in consultation with the Iraqi government. There are 13 conditions for halting troop removal, many pertaining to actions by the Iraqis. The President is to report to Congress every 90 days on progress. Troops may be left in Iraq for these purposes: to protect United States personnel and facilities in Iraq, to conduct targeted counter-terrorism operations, to provide training for Iraqi security forces, and to conduct the routine functions of the Office of Defense Attache. There are also sections in the bill relating to troop size, and political and economic assistance to Iraq. It is a thoughtful piece of legislation, clearly a lot of planning and consideration went into it.
For more information
Murphy Obama lay out Iraq plan, the Intelligencer 2/07/07 by Brian Scheid
Murphy Obama team on troop plan, Inquirer 2/07/07 Steve Goldstein
Murphy co-sponsors bill to force pullout from Iraq, Allentown Morning Call 2/07/07 by Josh Drobnyk
Murphy’s remarks on the House floor
Sestak is the sponsor of HR 960, two other representatives (Carol Shea-Porter of NJ and Steve Cohen of TN) are primary co-sponsors. The only other co-sponsor is Pennsylvania's Bob Brady. It has been referred to Armed Services and Foreign Relations.
The bill summary is this: To enhance the national security interests of the United States both at home and abroad by setting a deliberate timetable for the redeployment of United States Armed Forces from Iraq by December 31, 2007, and for other purposes.
This bill calls for all US troops to be redeployed (removed from) Iraq by Dec. 31, 2007 except: special operations forces, military liaison teams, air support, counter-terrorism operations, security for United States diplomatic missions in Iraq, and the defense attaché.
A few articles mention Sestak’s bill in passing but I’ve only seen one that goes into anything close to depth.
Sestak’s bill setting date for troop withdrawal ignites furor 2/09/07 by William Bender, Delcotimes.com
Sestak’s remarks on the House floor
I will check back from time to time and see what happens with these bills.
According to Dave Davies of the Daily News, Joe Hoeffel, will run for Montgomery County Commissioner. Here is an excerpt:
Hoeffel is a high-profile Democrat. He and his running mate, incumbent commissioner Ruth Damsker, hope to capture a majority of the three-member commission and break a pattern of Republican control more than 100 years old.
"I'm told the high-water mark for the Democrats in the Montgomery County Courthouse was last reached in the administration of Ulysses S. Grant," Hoeffel said in a telephone interview yesterday. "But the county is changing. Democratic performance in recent elections shows that, and polling we've taken shows that."
Hoeffel has held elective office as state representative for the seat now held by Josh Shapiro, Montgomery County Commissioner, and later congressional representative for the 13 district, now held by Allyson Schwartz.
The University of Pennsylvania's student Democratic organization, the Penn Dems, who showed their muscle during last year's 8th congressional district campaign, have endorsed Michael Nutter for mayor. If their work for Patrick Murphy was any indication, Nutter will have a formidable force on his side. Here is a portion of their press release:
The University of Pennsylvania Democrats are proud to announce their endorsement of Michael A. Nutter for Philadelphia Mayor. Nutter -- a lifetime Philadelphia resident and Penn graduate with an accomplished career of public service, business, and financial administration -- impressed the student organization's members with his reform agenda.
Councilman Nutter supports the gradual elimination of the Business Privilege Tax and adding more uniformed officers to the Philadelphia Police Department. Moreover, his Neighborhood Benefits Strategy would require housing and community development projects financed with federal funds to employ low-income neighborhood residents.
Furthermore, Nutter has long been a voice for reforming Philadelphia politics. He is one of the only candidates for mayor who has pledged to adhere to campaign finance limits enacted three years ago.
Nutter served as a City Councilman for nearly 15 years before resigning to run for Mayor. His tenure was marked by several leadership triumphs, including steering the effort to pass a citywide smoking ban and spearheading the creation of an Ethics Reform Board and Ethics Code to provide routine training for City Officers and officials.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
This evening I sat in on part of a live video chat with mayoral candidate and current state rep. Dwight Evans. I had some technical difficulties, a frozen screen for about 10 minutes, more questions and then another freeze. After waiting another 10 minutes I closed it down, so I actually only heard a total of about 10 or 15 minutes. According to Evan’s web site (www.evansformayor.com), over 260 people attended and video highlights will be posted there. It is an interesting concept. You click in, the screen is divided with people typing in questions in one section and a video of Evans answering them in another. Here are the questions and answers I caught, even if only partially. The little Janes were doing homework at the same time and I was interrupted for help with math a few times.
Q: plans for reducing crime
A: leadership, personal and individual responsibility, better gun policy
Q: should the party have endorsed Brady
A: didn’t ask for the endorsement – there should be an open primary.
Q: gun control legislation
A: This coming Friday there will be a committee meeting. Judiciary committee, there will be a number of hearings, some in Philadelphia. He encourages people to attend and voice opinions. It’s not just a Philly problem, but also a problem in Allentown and Reading and other places. There are too many guns on the street.
Q: gentrification and center city sprawl
A: There should be a balance between growth and preservation. We need to be sensitive to the people who are already there.
Q: public transportation
A: The mayor can put 2 people on the SEPTA board. Mass transit is important for a number of reasons, including environmental concerns and economic development. We need a point person on this and a relationship with both Harrisburg and Washington.
The next two questions dealt with getting young people involved in the political process but I didn’t catch enough of the answers to make any notes.
Monday, February 12, 2007
Taking a page from the state senate's book, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives is now making their daily votes available online. They are up for voting days since January 2, 2007. Many kudos to the house!
No doubt this has been widely reported, but it's the first time the information has jumped out at me. From "Kerry, Casey Benefit from Indicted Philly Pols Favors," by Kenneth Vogel over at Politico.
According to a 139-count federal indictment returned Tuesday, Vincent J. Fumo, an eight-term Democratic Pennsylvania senator, dispatched a state computer technician to help set up campaign operations for a 2004 presidential candidate, a 2002 Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate and a congressional candidate.
Later there is some clarification:
The indictment does not name the candidates. But it is clear from context of the indictment, interviews and media reports that the 2004 presidential candidate was Kerry and the 2002 gubernatorial candidate was Casey, who was the state auditor general. The congressional candidate could not be identified, and the aides for five Democrats representing the Philadelphia area denied it was any of those members of Congress.
No date was given for the congressional candidate, so there's no telling, though Bob Brady's people pointed out that he hasn't had a real opponent and therefore no need for a campaign office for years....
Campaigns & Elections is having a conference in campaign ethics next month:
All Things Ethical is March 15-16, 2007 in Las Vegas, NV at the extravagant Flamingo Las Vegas!
Handling Ethical Dilemmas
Fund Raising Ethics and The Law
Direct Mail Standards – How far can you go?
Internet Ethics: Changing Concepts, Changing Ethics?
Negative Television Advertising – Is negative the new positive?
Polling – Defining your message
...........and surprise entertainment!
I hate to think....
Sunday, February 11, 2007
I've run across some interesting new resources lately, though they may not be new to you.
The Pennsylvania Women's Campaign Fund -- I had no idea it existed.
The Pennsylvania Women's Campaign Fund is the only state-chartered political
action committee that works to elect progressive women to the Pennsylvania
General Assembly, regardless of political affiliation. In 2007, we will
celebrate 25 years of helping women succeed in politics. We also partner
with educational institutions and community groups to sponsor Campaign
Schools in various regions of the Commonwealth.
Faith in Public Life has release a new dvd:
Emblematic of the growing movement that pairs religious leaders with scientists, a national coalition of clergy, religious groups, policymakers, scientists and environmental groups today announced the DVD release of the critically-acclaimed climate change film The Great Warming and the goal of getting the movie screened in 10,000 churches prior to the 2008 election. Already seen in 500 churches by at least 30,000 people, The Great Warming presents climate change as a moral, ethical and spiritual issue.
The DVD release is part of a major initiative to engage Americans in proactive action and advocacy to make environmental stewardship and creation care a top policy priority. A special package is being offered to churches, which includes a copy of the DVD and a set of downloadable guides specifically designed for religious audiences, including a Sunday School discussion guide and a 60-page Creation Care
sermon guide with source material from the Old and New Testaments.
IssuesPA has posted information on a study town gown relations:
The Town and Gown Dilemma: The Impact of Universities on their
Pennsylvania’s universities are terrific economic and social
assets, both regionally and statewide. But what’s the bottom
line impact on their host municipalities? IssuesPA takes a
For those who like to get out and about, and also those who like to stay in, here is a quick review of some upcoming events:
Vern Anastasio, Democratic candidate for the 1st city council district, is having a campaign kick off this Thursday, Feb. 15th, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Downey's Pub.
Next Tuesday, Feb. 20th, BlueFuturePA is having an event at Bar Noir, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. Congressman Joe Sestak will be speaking. ($25 donation). Blue Future works to support quality Democratic candidates for state and local office in the five-county Philadelphia area and across Pennsylvania.
Like to stay in?
Tomorrow, Monday, Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives will appear on the PCN Call-in Show. Live at 7 p.m., repeated over the next few days, usually available on www.pcntv.com the next day.
On Tuesday, the 13th, Dwight Evans, one of the Democratic candidates for Philadelphia mayor, is having a live video webchat at 7 p.m.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
I don't know if some weeks are just chock full of PA-related news and others lacking or if things just jump out at me more some weeks. Last week there was so little PA news in the Wall Street Journal that I didn't even write it up. This week there was a ton of materials. No guarantees that this is everything, but it is a lot.
From “Opening Bid on Health Care,” by Sarah Lueck, 2/06
Patrick Toomey, president of the Republican antitax group Club for Growth, said Mr. Edwards’s plan wouldn’t sit well with most voters, who, he said “already think taxes are too high.” The idea is “very good news for the Republican candidate, whoever that may be.”
Watch out Baby Einstein, West Chester, PA’s So Smart! Productions (sosmart.com) also produces “animated programs for babies, toddlers and preschool kids.” Started in 1997, by Scott and Alexandra Tornek, it is part of a group of small producers of children’s DVDs to work with one distributor and package their products together in a single product line. (“Small Makers of Children’s DVDs Unite to Take on Big Rival,” by Raymund Flandez, 2/06)
Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial Services Group is the focus of “Help Wanted: Bank Officials to Watch Cash,” by Clint Riley (2/06), or more specifically, one of their vice presidents, Jon Elvin, is.
This may be old news:
The case originated as Wal-Mart was gathering increased attention by unions and others for labor practices that critics said were unfair to workers. Since then, courts in Pennsylvania, California and Colorado have issues judgments of as much as $100 million in cases where store employees were made to work off the clock and through rest breaks. (Wal-Mart to Seek Further Hearing,” by Gary McWilliams and Ann Zimmerman 2/07)
A silver lining? “Toll CEO Sees Uptick Behind Grim Numbers,” by Janet Morrissey (2/09)
I wonder who is behind the Pennsylvania part of this. Anyone know? In “Senate Weighs Spending Bill,” by David Rogers (2/09), we find this:
But under the current bill, both the 2006 appropriations and the extra money authorized by the energy bill look available. Sen. Byrd isn’t alone among NETL’s [National Energy Technology Laboratory] champions. It also has a big campus in Pennsylvania and smaller offices in three other states.
Lincoln National Corp (Philadelphia, 2/06)
Penn Mutual Life Insurance (Horsham, 2/07)
Franklin Mint (2/05)
American Eagle Outfitters (Warrendale, 2/09)
The book Monkey Girl, by Edward Humes, on the Dover intelligent design court case is reviewed by Pamela Winnick in “Dover Meets Darwin,” on 2/08.
On 2/08 Mark Yost reports from the Eastern sports and Outdoor Show, hosted by Harrisburg, in “Scoping Out the Hunting Gear.”
Rebecca Rimel, head of the Pew Charitable Trusts is profiled in “A Foundation Head Central to the Philadelphia Story,” by Judith Dobrzynski (2/08). For those who were curious, the article says Rimel is pronounced RHYME-el. I had no idea.
Only twice since 2001 have air marshals drawn their weapons. One of those times was ”in August 2002, an agent held the entire coach section of a Delta flight to Philadelphia at gunpoint while his partner restrained an unruly passenger.” (“U.S. Air Marshal Service Navigates Turbulent Times,” by Laura Meckler and Susan Carey, 2/09)
Other Interesting Things
There is a synopsis of the Atlantic article on the group of gay millionaires that banded together to support candidates at the state and local level who would be more receptive to social issues of their interest than the incumbents. (“Millionaires’ Electoral Campaign to Defeat Antigay Candidates Receives Little Notice,” 2/07)
One of the little known disasters that can befall a campaign is highlighted in “Political Hazard: Candidates Bilked by Their Treasurer,” by Jeanne Cummings (2/08)
The power of blogging – from “The Snake Eater,” by Daniel Henninger (2/08), “This is a story of can-do in a no-can-do world, a story of how a Marine officer in Iraq, a small network design company in California, a nonprofit troop-support group, a blogger and other undeterrable folk designed a hand-held insurgent-identification device, built it, shopped it and deployed it in Anbar province. They did this in 30 days, from Dec. 15 to Jan. 15. Compared to standard operating procedure for Iraq, this is a nanosecond.” The blogger is from New Jersey, otherwise there’s no local angle, but it’s a great story nonetheless.
In other blogging news, the 2/06 “paygrade” feature says “most self-employed bloggers take home between $2,000 and $10,000 a month in ad revenue…” It goes on to add “During election time, for example, a political blogger can bring in $20,000 to $30,000 a month,” says Ken Layne, West Coast bureau chief for Wonkette. According to the article, it takes at least 6 months to build a readership. Authors Sarah Needleman and Aja Carmichael are certainly presenting a very rosy picture. I think this is like discussing the acting profession but limiting your data to the salaries of box office stars.
Even more blogging news, especially for conspiracy theorists: “Senate Republicans Aim to split Democrats from liberal bloggers on Iraq,” part of the Washington Wire (2/09) by John Harwood says, in part,
McConnell’s insistence on Gregg’s war-funding resolution aims to divide antiwar blogosphere from Democrats wary of cutting money for troops. Though squeeze is toughest on 2008 contenders, other Democrats may be forced to wrestle with it for months in votes on war appropriations.
Friday, February 09, 2007
Dan Rubin, who has been writing Blinq, a daily blog for the Inquirer, for the past two years, is moving to print. He will be writing a regular column for the paper. I'm more than happy to read his work in whatever format he choses to present it, but I will sorely miss checking Blinq every morning.
Only one bill passed the Pennsylvania state House or Senate this week and it looks like they took that decision back. A lot of resolutions were passed, some serious, some frivolous. Bills are working their way through committee so eventually there should be some legislation coming to the floor. The senate had the second consideration on some bills so maybe next week some of those will have passed.
PICPA's weekly update focuses on the governor's budget. None of the four caucuses provide a weekly update.
The senate passed one bill and then reconsidered. I have no idea what the current status of this bill is. The senate is doing much better on releasing their daily journals so maybe in a few weeks we can read the journal and see what happened.
SB 218 By Senators BROWNE, KASUNIC, BOSCOLA, FONTANA, ROBBINS, STOUT, COSTA, FOLMER, ARMSTRONG, PUNT, REGOLA, GORDNER, PILEGGI, ERICKSON, O'PAKE, VANCE, C. WILLIAMS, LOGAN, WAUGH, BRUBAKER, PIPPY, WONDERLING, SCARNATI, BAKER and FUMO.
Prior Printer's No. 23.Printer's No. 39. An Act amending the act of December 31, 1965 (P.L.1257, No.511), known as The Local Tax Enabling Act, providing for local services taxes; repealing provisions relating to emergency and municipal services taxes and to continuation of occupational privilege taxes; and making editorial changes.
Referred to FINANCE, Jan. 29, 2007
Reported as committed, Jan. 30, 2007
First consideration, Jan. 30, 2007
Re-referred to APPROPRIATIONS, Jan. 31, 2007
Re-reported as amended, Feb. 5, 2007
Second consideration, Feb. 6, 2007
Third consideration and final passage, Feb. 7, 2007 (47-2)
Vote on final passage reconsidered, Feb. 7, 2007
Vote on third consideration reconsidered, Feb. 7, 2007
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Alex C over at the PA Water Cooler posts the results of "secret" ballots for Montgomery County offices. His info shows County Commissioner candidates Bruce Castor and Melissa Murphy Weber ahead of both incumbents, Jim Matthews and Tom Ellis, as well as additional newcomers Kate Harper and Jill Govberg. Incumbent county controller Eric Kretschman beats out challenger Robert Sander by only one vote.
With apologies to Devo, this arrived in the inbox today:
Late yesterday, Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-8th district) was selected by Democrats in the House of Representatives from the states of Pennsylvania , Ohio and Kentucky to represent them as a Regional Whip.
Congressman Murphy, a former U.S. Army Captain and Iraq war veteran will join the whip team of House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-SC) for the 110th Congress. In this leadership role, Rep. Murphy will lend greater voice to the needs of Pennsylvania families in Congress.
"As an Iraq war veteran and former constitutional law professor at West Point , Patrick Murphy is a born leader who will deliver for the families back home," said Rep. James E. Clyburn, House Majority Whip. "Few freshmen were selected for this position, and as a regional whip, he will be a valuable asset both to Pennsylvania families and to his fellow members of Congress."
For those who hear "whip" and think leather, etc. the press release offers this historical tidbit:
The term "whip" is derived from the British Parliament which adopted the term from the fox-hunting position "whipper-in," the rider who kept the fox hounds gathered together behind their mission. The whip's job in Congress is to gather support for legislation when it comes to the floor for a vote. The Democratic Caucus relies on the whip team to pull together the votes to pass its agenda.
Thank you for clearing that up.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Tonight's post is a hodge podge.
The PA House's Bipartisan Reform Commission has asked for citizen input and here is what I will be sending them.
We need more transparency:
Voting records and house journals made available in a timely manner. Bills and amendments made available in advance (before they are voted on), and I always like it when Greg Vitali asks who will benefit from the legislation – that should be included more often.
Other things to be made public: if bonuses are to be given out, legislative salaries; expenditures of legislative accounts (all those pricey lunches); lobbyist spending (bmore detailed than what we have now); easier access to other jobs legislators may hold (many have second jobs, some that pay more than they receive from the state), including directorships and unpaid positions on corporate or non-profit boards.
Regular business hours for the legislature. If they knew business would close at a certain hour they might use better time management.
Less power for committee chairs -- people should be able to introduce legislation and know that it will be seen and considered by more than a few people. Knowing everyone would have to vote on bills might keep people from clogging up the works with frivilous ones. Maybe not, let's give it a try.
Per Diems -- no unvouchered expenses, receipts for everything and the money must be claimed in a timely fashion, no claiming months or years worth of expenses at once.
That would be a good start.
A few news stories I meant to write on and missed. Hats off to these folks.
Former Rep. Jerry Birmelin who, alone among those returning pay raise money, paid it directly to the state treasury and not to legislative accounts.
Rep. Eugene DePasquale, D-West Manchester Township, is voluntarily posting the expense reports that show how much he spends on things such as a state car and district office. (“Area lawmaker puts light on expenses,” by Richard Fellinger York Daily Record 1/28/07)
Rep. Dennis O’Brien (currently Speaker of the House) for saying legislative salaries would be made available annually. (“Speaker to release salaries of legislative employees,” by Tom Barnes Pittsburgh Post Gazette 2/06/07)
I have neglected a few posts in progress tonight and have instead been watching an unfolding saga within the progressive blogging community. All I can say is I'm glad to have just this one little half acre of the blogosphere to tend and not one of the larger plots. It is amazing the things that get people riled up.
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
I had PCN on in the background this evening while folding laundry. Gov. Rendell was addressing the state legislature on his proposed budget. In the parts I heard Rendell was his usual earnest self. He really enjoys his job and seems to relish the details of the budget. At one point when a noticeable part of the audience was rumbling about the concept of asking for more money from the oil companies he stopped and said "Think!" and explained his logic. I didn't pay close enough attention to what he was saying to comment on it.
After the speech reporters were talking with legislators to get their impressions. Rep. Dwight Evans, as might be expected, agreed with much of what Rendell said. He was wearing a light gray suit and a diagonally striped tie, gray, white, and light blue. It was the first time I've heard him speak and he expresses himself well. In the background I could see Rep. Bryan Lentz being interviewed by a print reporter (notebook but no cameras). Blue suit, red in the tie.
Politico's David Mark has an interesting article, "In Mayor's Races Capitol Hill Often Doesn't Lead to City Hall," on the historically poor showing of Congressmen running for mayor. With two Congressmen in the Philadelphia mayoral race, this might be of interest. Here's an excerpt:
Most others [other than NYC's Koch] haven't succeeded. [John] Conyers -- now the House Judiciary Committee chairman -- lost his 1989 and 1993 mayoral bids in Detroit. Rep. Bobby L. Rush, D-Ill., got crushed when he ran for mayor of Chicago in 1999. Congressman Anthony D. Weiner, D-N.Y., didn't make it out of his party's primary when he sought to challenge New York City's Republican mayor, Michael Bloomberg, in 2005. And Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., came in near the back of the primary pack when he ran for mayor of Los Angeles in 2001.
Food for thought.
From the inbox:
Today, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-PA) called for a stop to President Bush's escalation in Iraq and for an end to the war. At a press conference in the U.S. Capitol, Senator Obama and Reps. Thompson and Murphy discussed the Iraq War De-Escalation Act of 2007 - legislation they introduced in the Senate and the House which puts forward a plan to stop the recent escalation in forces and a plan to redeploy American troops from Iraq starting May 1, 2007. Senator Obama introduced the bill in the Senate and Reps. Thompson and Murphy introduced the companion legislation in the House of Representatives. Congressman Thompson is a Vietnam Veteran and a former U.S. Army staff sergeant/platoon leader with the 173rd Airborne Brigade and Congressman Murphy is a former U.S. Army Captain and Iraq war veteran.
Full remarks and summary of the bill are available on Murphy's congressional website.
It's now official. Bruce Castor and Melissa Murphy Weber are running as a team for the GOP spots on the ballot for Montgomery County Commissioner. Their website is up, check out www.webercastor07.com.
Their "in the news" page has links to two newspaper stories about their official announcement. One nitpick, you can't sign up for updates without providing a full name and postal address as well as an email. If all someone wants are email updates why is anything beyond an email required?
Monday, February 05, 2007
Rep. Rick Taylor (D-151) is extending his district office hours. The office in Horsham (701 Horsham Rd) will be open until 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.
This Friday Congressman Joe Sestak (PA-07) is hosting and moderating a town hall, public meeting on the FAA’s proposed airspace redesign and airport expansion at Philadelphia International Airport. The event will be held at the Ridley Township Municipal Building on Friday, February 9, 2007 at 7:30PM. The FAA’s Airspace Redesign Manager and the Congressman’s Expert Advisory Board will be in attendance to update the public on the current status of the FAA projects, discuss next steps, and take questions from concerned residents.
The first Monday of the month is set aside by some area bloggers to highlight a local missing person's case. Since this is February let's remember the second anniversary of the disappearance of Richard Petrone and Danielle Imbo.
This is from the Petrone family's website:
February 19, 2005. Richard Petrone Jr. of South Philadelphia, and his girlfriend, Danielle (Ottobre) Imbo of Mount Laurel, N.J., were last seen at around 11:45 pm on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2005 after leaving Abilene's bar at 429 South Street in Philadelphia, where they met with some friends. They were heading for Richard's 2001 black Dodge Dakota pickup truck, PA license plate # YFH-2319 parked in the area.
Danielle, Richard, or the truck haven't been seen since and there have been no traces or clues as to their whereabouts.
The couple planned to spend the night at Danielle's house in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. The next day, Richard was to come back to his apartment on Snyder Avenue near 16th Street to watch the Daytona 500. No one knows if the couple ever made it to Danielle's house Saturday night.
Richard is 35 years old, 5 feet 9 inches tall, 200 pounds and has brown hair, and blue eyes. He has an "Angela" tattoo on his left arm and clowns on his right arm. Richard was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, jeans, and sneakers. Danielle is 5 feet 5 inches tall, 117 pounds, with hazel eyes, fair skin and brown hair. She has a tattoo of flowers on her lower back. She was wearing a black jacket, cream-colored sweater and blue jeans.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
Reading through last week's Wall Street Journal's, I noted the following references to Pennsylvania businesses, politicians, trivia, and other interesting tidbits. This may not be a complete list, just things that caught my eye.
In “Harley Isn’t Expected to Take Big Long-Term Hit from Strike,” by Ilan Brat and Kris Maher doesn’t think the strike at Harley’s York PA plant won’t have a serious long-term effect. (2/03)
Horsham-based Nutrisystem is the focus of “Investor Appetite is What Diet Firm May Really Lose,” by Joseph T. Hallinan (2/01). It is a brief article and discusses the firm’s primary clientel (the average customer is a middle aged woman who weighs 210 pounds), and its attempts to attract men and senior citizens. After a few bad years the company’s profit grew 2,000% in 2005.
Good news/ bad news, depending on your outlook: “Wyeth Loses Prempro Trial in Philadelphia,” (1/30)
Brief mentions: Mylan Laboratories (Pittsburgh, 2/02), a pharmaceutical firm
ICG Commerce (Philadelphia, 1/31), procurement services provider
Rebecca Rimel, president and CEO of the Pew Charitable Trust, was appointed to the board of Viasys Healthcare in Conshohocken. ((1/30)
In “Senators to Seek Vote Backing Iraq Mission,” by David Rogers (2/02) we find this paragraph:
Rep. John Murtha (D., Pa), chairman of the House Appropriations panel that oversees funding for Iraq, said he warned government officials during the visit that unless more progress was made, Congress would be reluctant to fund billions of dollars sough by the White House to help equip the Iraqi forces. Mr. Murtha and others in the delegation said the Iraqi reply was that if Congress didn’t provide the money, he Maliki government would secure it from other sources.
The (in)famous Big Mac was created in 1968 by Jim Delligatti, a McDonald’s franchisee in Pittsburgh. (For McDonald’s, It’s a Wrap,” by Janet Adamy, 1/30).
From “New Airline to Link Small, Midsize Cities,” by Scott McCartney, we find this sentence: “In addition, Southwest, long king of point-to-point airline service from medium-size cities, has increasingly put its new airplanes into big hubs like Philadelphia and Denver.” (1/30)
Other Interesting Tidbits
This is of interest to me but probably not to most if not all of my readers. I have written about belonging to an investment club. We began under the auspices of what was then NAIC, now BetterInvesting. The organization has been hit with some controversy lately, as reflected in the article “Peeved Members of Investing Clubs Turn on Leaders,” by Diya Gullapalli, 1/31). The article is accompanied by a woodcut of Richard Holthaus, now the chief executive of BI. A few years ago I had the opportunity of speaking at length with Holthaus. This is the first time anyone I can claim to have met in more than passing fashion has been a Wall Street Journal woodcut. I did sit next to Hank McKinnell, then CEO of Pfizer, for a couple of hours years ago, but we didn’t say more than a few words to each other. I noted that the soles of his shoes were worn so whatever he spends his money on, it isn’t footwear.
Saturday, February 03, 2007
I noticed in last Sunday's Inquirer that two more writers are leaving. Jeff Brown, the personal finance columnist, is going freelance. John Grogan, the suburban columnist, will focus on other writing projects. I always enjoyed reading both columns and will miss them. Former globe trotter Andrew Maykuth, who has reported from Africa, Afghanistan and who knows where else, has been writing about city matters with a Philly byline lately. None of this bodes well.
Friday, February 02, 2007
A lot of legislation is moving through committee so eventually some of it will pop out and be voted on. At present, however, the pickings are still very slim. The Pennsylvania State House and Senate passed a number of noncontroverial resolutions, such as the ones naming February African American History Month and Economic Literacy Month, and so on.
The House did pass one significant resolution:
Resolution No. 22 By Representatives DeWEESE, S. H. SMITH and McCALL. Prior Printer's No. 3.Printer's No. 15. A Resolution adopting as temporary rules for the House of Representatives the Rules of the House of Representatives (2005-2006), further providing for fiscal notes, for standing committees and subcommittees, for functions of standing committees, for voting and for financial interests in gaming entities; and making editorial changes.
Our accountant friends at PICPA are back with their weekly updates. The respective house and senate caucuses have not resumed posting their weekly summaries. Maybe next week.
Thursday, February 01, 2007
These are rough notes from PCN's Call-In Show on the Pennsylvania House's Bipartisan Reform Commission which originally aired on January 30, 2007. It is presently available on the PCN website (www.pcntv.com) and I encourage you to watch it yourself to get the full flavor of the conversation. As always I apologize in advance for any errors or misrepresentations. You can send your suggestions to the commission at reform [at] pahouse.net
One observation, both men wore diagonally striped ties. Shapiro's was primarily orange, Steil's was red and gray. This has no significance or political importance; I just noticed it.
PCN Call-In Show
January 30, 2007
Brian Lockman, host
Topic: The PA House’s Bipartisan Reform Commission with co-chairs
Josh Shapiro, Democrat from Montgomery County’s 153rd district
David Steil, Republican from Bucks County’s 31st district
Q: what is the commission about?
JS: bringing transparency and openness, making govt better, Speaker O’Brien created commission, honored to be a co-chair, look at process and broader institutional reforms
Q: Why now
DS: important now especially for younger members, 50 new members, need to play a role in this process,
Q: Shapiro you were a freshman 2 year ago, what is different for new freshman
JS: new day that has dawned, election of Speaker O’Brien, 50+ new members, opportunity to really reform the way PA works, not just internal opportunity, if do jobs better will produce better legislation, better state govt, optimism hope and belief that we can reform the system
Q: David, first elected in 1992,
DS: we had a significant reform effort in 96, group of about 8 legislators, R and D, included a lot of the ideas we have today, approached leaders and colleague, visited editorial boards, got little support, not of interest to media or legislative leadership
Q: Happening because of pay raise?
DS: a stimulus, but new members, issues of concern that people didn’t feel legislature was addressing,
Q: Anyone a stumbling block?
JS; not a particular somebody, a number of somebodies, more of a culture, veterans had become used to a system, comfortable doing business the way it has always been done. The way it had been done not the right way. Can say yes to a new way
Q: What trying to find out with commission hearings?
JS: he and DS co-chairman, equal number of D and R, not minority or majority, equal, bipartisan, hope to give every member of the house a chance to testify before commission, should be complete end of this week, next week will go through proposals, look at member and public proposals, created email address to give public opportunity to send ideas, then move into second phase, to evaluate, then submit to speaker
Q: Have any clout?
DS: yes, because speaker asked for results, never had that before
Q: Anyone against reform?
DS: No but devil in the details
Q: [graphic showing proposed changes] legislative session should be held between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m.
DS: because pay raise happened after 11 p.m. legislators get tired, hard to understand amendments coming at you late at night, danger that drafting of late amendments not entirely correct, have to go back and correct, not as much public scrutiny at 2 a.m.
Q: Why done that way?
JS: bills have to work through committee process, takes time, that’s natural, politicians and businesspeople work better under deadline, budget must be passed in June, other deadlines in fall. Not justifying, not saying it the right way, but that’s how it works. Will have reform process regardless of what this commission does.
Q: What happens when it’s July 3 and late and people say if we work a little longer we can get out sooner
DS: can work late but not well accepted unless can finish up in 30 minutes or so, rules must be suspended, takes 2/3 vote so must be bipartisan
Q: Bills must be on legislative calendar 3 days before vote
JS: members want an opportunity to know what they are going to vote on before going on the floor and seeing it, public should be able to see it also, want time period for members to know what the bills are, and bills listed are bills voted on, now sometimes a “gut and replace” amendment changes bill, want to end practice, give public and members more notice
DS: bills complex, especially amendments added at last minute, if members and public can scrutinize, better legislation
Q: At end of session day, all votes posted on legislative web site
DS: so constituents can see how rep voted
Caller: size of legislative body, suggest two legislators fore each senatorial district
JS: encourages caller to submit proposal, many people talking about reducing size of legislature
DS: save money by reducing number of members, but would it reduce by much? because staff needed to do some of the work legislators done. In House each member rep 60,000, 14th largest number of voters in a legislative district in nation
Caller: thank Speaker O’Brien for leadership. Use of phones while driving, Joe Conti tried to enact bill to cancel car phones
JS: JS’s legislation would ban use of handheld phones while driving, could not pass through both houses in last session
Q: Asks JS to explain role in O’Brien becoming speaker
JS: each party put forth a nominee, Perzel and DeWeese, each party realized could not get enough votes, prior to that JS talked with many D and R in house to put together bipartisan leadership team, through courageous vote of 6 R including DS, able to make history by having majority party with minority speaker, chance to pass good quality legislation, people work across the aisle, JS called O’Brien new years eve, just put kids to bed, could not get it out of his head called O’Brien, DeWeese willing to step aside, now we have this opportunity
Q: Have either spoken to Perzel?
Caller: state spending caps, each year spending 9% more a year, inflation 3.5% , look at capping? Prop tax reform?
DS: caps on spending not part of commission’s charge, policy item, a lot of interest in looking at spending levels in the state, continuing action this session, on bipartisan conf committee that drafted act 1 last year, we all agree it didn’t go far enough, but it was the only legislation that could get enough votes
Q: changes – all accounts including leadership accounts open? Mentions Rep. DePasquale posting expenses?
JS: DePaquale testified today and others wanting more sunshine, commission will address this issue
Q: Which issues will each dig heels on
JS: we need to create more transparent process, focused on reforms that have better work product to it, not reform for sake of reform, but more input from rank and file members and public
DS: make sure what we do is sustainable in the long run, having a functioning rules committee
C: receives daily legislative action emails, concerned about number of legislators that don’t have email addresses or at least none listed and sufficient staff to receive phone and email and snail mail messages from citizens
DS: every legislator has an email address, maybe its just getting message out
C: pay raise generating changes, how many people really know how pa state govt works?
JS: people very aware, received emails and phone calls from people all over the state, people are paying attention,
Q: Rules committee, appropriations should not be able to substantively change a bill that has gone through committee
DS: every bill goes through appropriations because they deal with fiscal matters, in past has changed bill that has nothing to do with fiscal matters, prime sponsor may not know or approve, outside scope of rules of house
Q: What is rules committee?
DS: originally established to do what this commission is doing, rules for how legislation passes through house, over the years taken on other responsibilities, all bills returning from senate for concurrence referred to rules comm., amends bills, does not allow opportunity to deal with amendment before vote on floor
C: term limits?
DS; in last 2 years no one has contacted him about term limits , active voter population in his district, in last election 25% of members turned over, he came in with 23 members only 8 still there
JS: opposed to term limits, has not heard from constituents, in states with term limits dangerous cycle with people looking to run in another body when reach limit, lose expertise of members, only staff and lobbyists have expertise. Make sure public more engaged, 50 new members very engaged,
C: Act 1 a joke, two choices personal income tax or earned income tax, should have had a 3rd choice, do nothing at all
DS: Act 1 did what we set out to do, help those most affected by high prop taxes, laid foundation for future tax reform, limitations on school spending, need to find way to find more revenue to fund more prop tax reform, we believe it is always right to always ask people who have to pay how they want the money raised
C: congrats JS on O’Brien, prospects for true prop tax reform
DS: been involved in debate for 10 or 12 years now, a multistep process, no strong support across the state for any one method, realize it’s a series of steps, finding a relief and a formula that works for everyone
JS: how we fund public schools in pa, when Gov. Rendell took office state paid 35 cents / pupil, now up in 40s, but not equitable, Abington gets 12 cents from state, 2 from federal govt, 86 cents made up from local taxpayer in form of prop taxes, when funding stream goes down at fed or state level must be made up locally
C: large bonuses paid to staff based on campaign work and contributions? DeWeese refused to release info, are you concerned?
JS: not aware of specific, those decisions made by leadership, cannot use state money to pay for campaign work, no knowledge of what transpired, knows leader DeWeese and he knows difference between campaign and other work
Q: What is deputy speaker?
JS: more responsibility and help be a bridge between speaker an drank and file members
C: why pa doesn’t have open primary
DS: don’t know legislative history of this. Only members of party can vote for candidate in that party in primary, generally believed that political party can select candidates for their party
JS: agree, should make it easier for 3rd party candidates but parties should reserve right to elect their party’s representative
C: funds going to schools for salaries not the kids
Ds: major accomplishments of act 1, spending limits for school districts, they don’t like it but we’ve done that
Q: House voted to eliminate ghost voting
JS: house voted on temporary rules, to serve until new rules voted on in march. Eliminated voting by proxy, changed committee membership so the difference between majority and minority parties reduced from 4 to 3 (16/12 now 16/13)
DS: gone back to pre-2005 rules, member in their seat to vote, in dc when vote announced a 15 window to vote, pa house doesn’t have a process
C: state retiree, smoking regulations, would you support
JS: Gov has proposed as part of health care package, would vote for it
DS: co-sponsor of bill in last session, would support
C: lack of public trust by general assembly’s pension increase, judicial pay raise
DS: pension issue affected all state employees, in hindsight that action at that time things looked pretty good, believed that was a way to keep qualified people, a few low return years, now returns doing better, did allow pension contributions by employees to drop to zero, have now set a higher base to contributions, baby boomers beginning to retire, will no longer contribute to system, we expect by 2012 will have handled that issue
JS: when pay raise repealed it was intended to repeal for everyone
C: prop tax
C: open primaries, improving ballot access in pa,
JS: legislation to reduce number of signatures required to get on ballot, third parties must get more signaturess, should be a little higher because they don’t have a primary but not be so high
C: Act 1, slap in the face to prop owners and taxpayers, would you back a binding referendum to fund public education by sales tax
DS: that is where we are headed if we are going to eliminate prop taxes, tried last year but did not have 102 votes
JS: need to look at formula to reduce taxes and not transfer from one tax to another
C: prop tax replace with combination of sales and income tax
Q: When will the commission meet next
JS: meet this week, go over proposals next week
Q: How long in business
DS: this entire session because adopt permanent rules in March but beyond that will continue to work on issues