Friday, March 30, 2012

The Specialties of Kathleen Kane

I learned several things today.  A few of them are applicable to current political races.  Here goes:

The American Bar Association has a Code of Ethics, as many professional associations do.  For a non-blog project I've looked at several such codes but not the ABA's.  Today I did.  Like others the ABA's spells out confidentiality rules, behavioral expectations and so on.  Another common feature is a list of guidelines for how someone in that profession presents themselves.  Occupational groups tend to have their own terminologies or jargon.  For example, point 7.4 of the ABA Code of Ethics states:

(d) A lawyer shall not state or imply that a lawyer is certified as a specialist in a particular field of law, unless:
(1) the lawyer has been certified as a specialist by an organization that has been approved by an appropriate state authority or that has been accredited by the American Bar Association; and
(2) the name of the certifying organization is clearly identified in the communication

That seemed odd since many law firm advertisements that I'd seen mentioned they worked with a particular issue or part of the law, but, as in all things, it is the wording that counts.  This is why, kids, you really need to have a firm grasp of a large vocabulary.  Those small differences in meaning can be important.  Lawyers and law firms will talk about "practice areas" or will say "with a focus on."  I checked out about half a dozen law firms in the area whose URLs or names I knew and they all used words like that.  My standard reference point for lawyers is Martindale and looking at their search interface, it also uses the phrase "practice area."  Where I did find the word "specialize" used on a firm's site, there would be a note of the certifying organization.  To double check I googled a few key phrases, such as "specializes in child abuse law" and "specializes in elder abuse law."   There were remarkably few results and most of those were not law firms but articles that use those terms. 

So it was odd to see that Kathleen Kane, a Democratic candidate for Attorney General, uses that phrase on her campaign website: 
As an Assistant District Attorney for Lackawanna County, Kathleen began in the child abuse/sexual assault unit spending several years prosecuting gruesome cases of physical and sexual abuse of children and adults. Simultaneous to the duties of this unit, Kathleen specialized in cases involving elder abuse, prosecuted white-collar criminals, and exposed abuses in Orphans’ Court.

The National Elder Law Foundation states that:

The National Elder Law Foundation is the only national organization certifying practitioners of elder and special needs law. NELF's Certified Elder Law Attorney designation is itself certified by the American Bar Association.

You can search for a certified lawyer by state.  Kathleen Kane is not listed, not under Kane or Granahan, on the PA list.   

This may be significant.  It may not.  In the law, as in many things, the devil is in the details.  This seemed like a detail.

Kathleen Kane, Patrick Murphy, and Bill Clinton

There are two Democratic candidates for Attorney General in Pennsylvania, Kathleen Kane and Patrick Murphy.  Former Pres. Bill Clinton has talked about both of them.

Bill Clinton on Kathleen Kane, March 26, 2012:

“The first elected office I ever held was Attorney-General, so it’s a job I know something about. The Attorney General can have an enormous positive impact, so it’s important to elect someone who understands how to use the office and the legal system to protect and advance the lives of Pennsylvanians.  Kathleen Kane would make a great Attorney General. She’s smart and tough. She’s prosecuted more than 3000 cases, protected senior citizens, and put child molesters and violent criminals behind bars,” remarked President Clinton.  “Kathleen is a great Democrat who understands that an Attorney General’s job is to stand up for consumers and people. I’m proud to endorse my friend Kathleen Kane and I hope she’ll become the first woman ever elected Attorney General by the people of Pennsylvania.”

Bill Clinton on Patrick Murphy (then running for Pennsylvania's 8th congressional district), Oct 11, 2006:

"Do we got a great candidate or what?" (source:  Scheid, Brian.  "Clinton stumps for Murphy," Intelligencer 10/12/2006)

Murphy supported Obama in the 2008 presidential election; Kane supported Hillary Clinton.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Kathleen Kane Video

Kathleen Kane, one of the Democratic candidates for Attorney General, released an introductory video today.  You can watch it at:

The Incredible Shrinking Paper

The Philadelphia papers recently reduced their news staff again.  Now there is the possibility cutting even more staff.  The paper is already a shadow of its former self, thinner and lighter in size and content.  There is nothing left to cut.  Just as disturbing are some of the names in the group hoping to buy the papers.  Any successful growing city needs a robust local media.  Right now Philadelphia doesn't have it and what it does have is in danger. 

I read the paper on one of their Philly Tablets.  There are a few sponsors whose ads briefly appear on the tablet but I kind of miss seeing the multiple daily advertisements in the printed paper.  Surely there must be some way of creating an advertisement section for the tablet.  I don't read any of the sports section and usually skip the comics (since "For Better or Worse" ended the only one that appeals is "Zits") but I'd scan through the ads. 

We need a local paper with good investigative reporters, political reporters, feature writers, business writers, etc., and at least a few copy editors.  Without this counterbalance corruption and apathy run amok.  Bloggers and citizen journalists cannot pick up the slack.

This is a serious problem.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Details on the Phone Poll in the 153rd

Recently a phone poll was taken on the special election in the 153rd state house district.  Josh Shapiro resigned his state house seat when he took office as a Montgomery County commissioner.  Madeleine Dean is the Democratic candidate and Nick Mattiacci (no website located) is the Republican candidate.  Both are running to fill out Shapiro’s term and also as their party’s primary candidate. 

Over the past few days I’ve received some emails about the calls and have collected information from what I consider to be reputable sources.  Here is what I’ve learned:

The poll was taken by VSS, Voter Survey Service, a part of Susquehanna Polling and Research .  This a respected local firm, not some fly by night group that snuck across state lines in the dark of night.  No one has taken responsibility for requesting or paying for the poll, but the political client list on their website does show a partisan bias, with Jim Gerlach, Lou Barletta, Stewart Greenleaf, all Republicans, and the House Republican Campaign Committee and the Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania among the clients listed.  In fact, none of the partial list of Pennsylvania clients presented ran as Democrats.  Perhaps they have an equal number of Democratic clients and just don’t list them.  No telling.     

The poll started out with one of those annoying and vague questions about whether or not we are headed in the right direction.  Next the poll asked people whether they had a positive or negative view of some elected officials and candidates.  I don’t have a full list but in addition to Dean and Mattiacci, former State Rep. Ellen Bard (the Republican who held the seat before Shapiro), and former Gov. Tom Ridge were included.

There was a list of issues and people were asked to rank them in order of importance.  I do not have a representative list of those issues, but crime, education, and the economy were included. 

Next there was a list of statements about Dean and Mattiacci and callers were asked if this statement would change their view of the candidates.    I don’t have a full list and only have pieces of some of the statements.  One had something to do with Dean no longer practicing law.  One was about Mattiacci being a lawyer at the Philadelphia Parking Authority.  I checked and neither are listed as currently practicing lawyers on the site.  One statement compared Mattiacci to Shapiro, saying both are young lawyers.  One mentioned that Dean was only recently elected to the Abington Township Board of Commissioners.  One connected Mattiacci to the tea party.  One suggested a connection between Dean’s husband and Vince Fumo.  I checked on that.  Dean’s husband is one of those fabled “job creators” who moved a firm into Philadelphia from out of state.  I think any connection would be far-fetched and tenuous, something like both have thumbs or go to the same barber.  I don’t know.  I’m making up possible connections.

I don’t know what else was on the poll and cannot guarantee that the items presented here are completely representative of the entire poll.  However, I am confident that the items presented here were on the poll. 

You can read more about the poll on the phillyburbs site, in “Poll causes waves in 153rd state house district" by Margaret Gibbons, 3/27. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Two Campaign Websites Launched

Two Montgomery County candidates for the state house launched campaign websites recently.  Check out:

Ronald Kolla, Democratic candidate for the 152nd state house district:

Kelly Devine, Democratic candidate for the 150th state house district:

DeLissio Small Business Tour

State Rep. Pam DeLissio (D-194) has launched her re-election campaign with an unusual series of events.  She is visiting local small businesses and holding events there, as a way of bringing people into businesses they may not have been familiar with.  She has held two events at a local eateries and this week  at a local car wash.  This is a great idea and I wish her well with it.

Big Bloggy Welcome to Jan Jarrett

Jan Jarrett, former head of PennFuture, has started a blog, Jan Jarrett's Ad Hoc Blog, which focuses on PA policy.  Worth a read:

Two Noted Authors with PA Roots

Looking around in Barnes & Noble this weekend I noticed something interesting.  Two award winning authors, most notable for their young adult books, have Pennsylvania connections.

Lois Duncan, whose novel I Know What You Did Last Summer was made into a movie some years ago, was one of my favorite authors when I was in high school and it is wonderful to see that she is still writing, moreso that her works are still popular.  Another of her books, Killing Mr. Griffin, is often required reading in high school English or reading classes.  She also wrote a heart-breaking book about her daughter's murder.  She was born in Philadelphia.

E. L. Konigsburg, won the Newbery Medal for From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and has written a number of other titles, grew up in Pennsylvania.  As a kid, I loved the idea of living in a museum.  As an adult, and having slept on the floor of the Franklin Institute while chaperoning youth groups, I changed my mind.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Patrick Murphy's First TV Ad

Patrick Murphy, one of the Democratic candidates for Attorney General, has released his campaign's first television ad (also available online).  The text of the ad is as follows:

Patrick Murphy: “My dad was a cop for 22 years. He taught me early on the importance of fighting for what’s right, no matter what.”

Narrator: “Patrick Murphy: Husband, father, Army paratrooper, West Point law professor. Murphy prosecuted terrorists in Iraq and came home to help end the war.”

“As attorney general, he’ll enforce the law fairly, to protect the rights of workers, our environment, and protect a woman’s right to choose.”

“Patrick Murphy: Democrat for Attorney General.”

PECO Hits the Green Button

from the inbox:
Responding to President Obama’s call for an “all-of-the-above” strategy to help consumers reduce their energy costs, the Administration announced today that nine major utilities and electricity suppliers will commit to providing more than 15 million households access to data about their own energy use with a simple click of an online “Green Button.”  By providing consumers with secure, easy-to-understand information about how they are using energy in their households, Green Button can help them reduce waste and shrink bills.

The only Pennsylvania utility company on the list:

 PECO, serving 1.4 million households in Pennsylvania;

What does this mean?

These utilities have agreed to base their Green Buttons on a common technical standard developed in collaboration with a public-private partnership supported by the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology.  Adoption of a consensus standard by utilities across the Nation means software developers and other entrepreneurs have a sufficiently large market to support the creation of innovative applications that can help consumers make the most of their energy information.  Companies announcing today commitments to support utility deployment of Green Button includeItron, Oracle, and Silver Spring Networks, joining existing commitments from Aclara and Tendril.
Green-Button-enabled web and smartphone applications promise to help consumers choose the most economical rate plan for their use patterns; provide customized energy efficiency tips; provide easy-to-use tools to size and finance rooftop solar panels; and deliver virtual energy audit software that cuts costs for building owners and gets retrofits started sooner.  Companies announcing today that they are developing applications or services for businesses and consumers using this industry data standard include: Belkin, Efficiency 2.0, EnergySavvy, FirstFuel, Honest Buildings, Lucid, OPower, Plotwatt, Schneider-Electric, Simple Energy, and Sunrun.

ACA Videos

Friday is the second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act.  To celebrate the Obama campaign has created / released a series of videos.  My visually inclined readers might enjoy:

·         Do you know what the Medicare doughnut hole is?

·         Or that 2.5 million young people now have health insurance?

·         Or that you soon won’t have to pay a co-pay for preventative health care?

·         Or that those on Medicare can already get mammograms and bone screenings for free?

·         Or that soon you can’t be dropped from health insurance for a pre-existing condition:

·         Learn all the ways the health care law is benefitting you:

·         Or just go to the site and try out our tool yourself:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Schulkyll Trail Construction

from the inbox:

Anyone using the Schuylkill River Bike Trail traveling east towards Philadelphia should be aware that a trail construction project in Philadelphia has closed the trail from the Montgomery County/Philadelphia line to Port Royal Avenue in Philadelphia. 

The Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Department has begun a trail restoration project that is expected to last three to four months.  The project will widen and resurface the trail and match it up with Montgomery County’s existing section.

Trail users are being asked to please avoid the construction area and plan trips accordingly.  The construction is open on week nights and weekends when construction is suspended, but caution should be used.

West Nile Virus Season in Montco

Montgomery County is sending out information about the West Nile Virus.  The county has started some spraying to kills off mosquito larvae and may be spraying to kill adult mosquito later.  Residents who wish to be notified of this can sign up for the ReadyNotify alerts at https://montco.alertpa.orgResidents must register for “Health Alerts” to get notifications from the Health Department about WNV sprays and other emergent and non-emergent issues. Other information about WNV, including products used can be found at the Health Department website,

Here are some safety tips:

Reduce Exposure to Mosquitoes
  • Check and repair windows and screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home.
  • Eliminate any standing water that collects on your property.
  • Survey your property and dispose of containers that can collect standing water such as: old tires, cans, bottles, buckets, toys.
  • After it rains empty any plant containers, bird baths, flowerpots, kiddie pools and pool covers to keep water from collecting in these items.
  • Make sure roof gutters drain properly and rooftops are free of standing water.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs. Keep them empty and covered if not in use; drain water that collects in pool covers.
  • Drill several holes in the bottom of recycling buckets so water can drain from them. Trash containers should be covered so no rain can accumulate in them.
  • Use an approved mosquito repellant when outdoors in areas where mosquitoes are active. Apply insect repellent sparingly to exposed skin. FOLLOW THE LABEL DIRECTIONS CAREFULLY. Do NOT apply to face.
  • NEVER ALLOW CHILDREN TO APPLY REPELLENTS. Parents should avoid applying repellents to the hands of children
  • Check with a physician before applying repellents to very young children (less than 3 years old).
  • Avoid mosquito-breeding areas during peak periods of mosquito activity.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, making sure to cover feet and ankles.
  • Discuss any concerns with your private physician.