Saturday, December 29, 2012

SEPTA New Year's Schedule

from the inbox:

SEPTA would like to advise customers about extra late-night Regional Rail service available on New Year’s Eve, and some adjustments to bus service on New Year’s Day to accommodate the Mummers Parade.
New Year’s Eve
SEPTA Regional Rail riders traveling to Philadelphia’s Penn’s Landing and New York City’s Times Square to ring in the New Year can take advantage of extended late night service to get home from the celebrations.
Additional late night train service has been added for passengers traveling from Philadelphia to Warminster, West Trenton, Lansdale, Manayunk-Norristown, Fox Chase, Chestnut Hill East, Trenton, Elwyn, Wilmington, Malvern and Chestnut Hill West. The late night New Year’s Eve trains are scheduled to leave Center City after the midnight fireworks display at Penn’s Landing.
After watching the ball drop in Times Square, passengers taking early morning New Jersey Transit trains can connect with SEPTA at the Trenton Transportation Center. SEPTA trains will depart from Trenton at 2:03 a.m., 3:30 a.m., 5 a.m. and 6 a.m.
For SEPTA’s complete New Year’s Eve late night Regional Rail schedules, visit: http://www.septa.org/schedules/modified/index.html
New Year’s Day
Road closures for the Mummers Parade will impact travel on a number of bus routes that operate on and around Broad Street in South Philadelphia and Center City on New Year’s Day.
Starting at 7 a.m., the following bus routes will go on detour to accommodate the parade: 2, 4, 7, 9, 12, 16, 17, 21, 23, 27, 29, 31, 32, 33, 37, 38, 42, 44, 48, 62, 64, 68, 79, 124/125 and G.
Some bus customers may be able to use the Broad Street Line subway as an alternate for travel to-and-from points in Center City and South Philadelphia during the parade. Buses will resume normal operations as soon as possible after the parade. Details on the routing for each detour will be available at http://www.septa.org/realtime/status/system-status.shtml.
For more information, including schedules and fares, visit www.septa.org.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Update on SEPTA Routes

from the inbox:

As a result of the loss of county funding, SEPTA held public hearings in mid-October to consider discontinuing weekday evening and selected Saturday and Sunday trips on Routes 94 and 132. Route 94 connects Montgomery Mall and Chestnut Hill, serving Montgomery County Community College and Ambler. Route 132 connects Telford and Montgomery Mall, serving Lansdale.

Based on the feedback received during the public hearings, SEPTA re-evaluated the proposal, with the goal of preserving the most critical service in a cost-efficient manner. The new service plan retains trips that serve the needs of evening shift workers and Community College students. The plan has been developed in conjunction with Montgomery County officials.

While schedule details are being finalized, with changes to be effective February 17, 2013, the plan is as follows:
Route 94
 The last nighttime trips from Montgomery Mall and Montgomery County Community College will be retained at or near the current time, allowing workers who close stores at the mall or who have evening classes to retain service.
 Some evening trip times are being modified to allow for more efficient use of SEPTA buses and financial resources.
 Sunday service will be scaled to reflect retail opening and closing times, with limited midday service.
Route 132
 The last nighttime trips from Montgomery Mall will be retained at the current time, allowing workers who close stores at the mall to retain service.
 Saturday morning trips, while adjusted, will still provide access to retail businesses prior to store opening times.
 Some evening trip times are being modified to allow for more efficient use of SEPTA buses and financial resources. The last nighttime trip from Telford will operate earlier than currently scheduled.
 Sunday service will be scaled to reflect retail opening and closing times, with limited midday service.

With this plan, many passengers should see minimal or no change to their service. The greatest change will occur on Sundays, where service frequencies will be limited at times of lowest ridership.

SEPTA appreciates the response of riders, businesses, institutions and local governments in this process. Those comments were strongly considered in the development of the new Route 94 and 132 service plan.
Current service remains in effect until February 17, 2013. The new Route 94 and 132 schedules will be available at www.septa.org on or about February 3, 2013. Look for an announcement in the News and Events section of the homepage.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Lancaster Mayor on NRA Gun Plan

from our friends at PA branch of Mayors Against Illegal Guns on 12/21:

  Lancaster Mayor J. Richard Gray issued the following statement in response to the NRA’s press conference minutes after a shooting spree in Blair County killed four people, including the gunman, and injured three state troopers:

            “Today, in a bizarre and chilling press conference, the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre offered a plan to install armed guards in every U.S. elementary school. ‘The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,’ he said. But he was dead wrong. Just before that press conference took place in the nation’s capital, a gunman shot and killed three people, and wounded three State Troopers in Blair County, Pennsylvania. It’s never been more clear to me that the gun lobby’s vision for this country is not just misguided; it poses a danger to all of us. There are 12,000 gun murders every year in the U.S. To stem that violence, we need to require a criminal background check for every gun sale and keep military style weapons off our streets. But the absolute last thing we need is more guns near our first graders. If that’s the NRA’s top solution, then I’d recommend that responsible gun owners in Pennsylvania find themselves a more rational organization to support.”

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Book Review: The Victory Lab

The Victory Lab:  The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns, by Sasha Issenberg.  (NY:  Crown Publishers, 2012.

Issenberg writes a detailed history of the science of willing winning elections.  He focuses on the 1900s through Obama's election.  The book is not a quick or necessarily easy read -- there is a large cast of characters and I found it difficult to keep everyone straight.  However, he does provide an interesting history of things anyone interested in politics would want to know.  Several academic publications and experiments are mentioned, with varying degrees of detail.  For example, shame is a very effective motivator in voting (and other matters as well).  People are more likely to vote if they think their neighbors will get a list of who on their street voted, but campaigns are loathe to use that tactic.

Issenberg used to write for Philadelphia Magazine and he references his Philly background in places.

If you're looking for a last minute holiday gift for the politico on your list, this book would be welcomed and appreciated by most.  I've enjoyed it.

Strange Bedfellows

from the inbox:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich shifted his position on marriage for same-sex couples this week, urging Republicans to heed public opinion and move toward acceptance of the freedom to marry.

Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry released the following statement:

"Newt Gingrich's new position shows that when conservatives truly examine their core values -- family, individual freedom and limited government -- we see that the freedom to marry is fundamentally in line with those beliefs.

"Our party must keep pace with the American people if it is to remain relevant in the political process, and as we saw in the recent election, we have some changes to make. Mr. Gingrich's call for Republicans to acknowledge widespread support for equal treatment of all loving, committed couples is a good start. We hope other leading Republicans will follow suit."

***
Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry is a campaign to highlight and build support for the freedom to marry among young conservatives across America. They represent the rapidly growing numbers of young conservatives across the country that agree all Americans should be able to share in the freedom to marry.

SEPTA Holiday Schedule

from the inbox:

SEPTA is adjusting some services over the upcoming holiday week, in an effort to keep schedules consistent with changes in riders’ needs. Service will also be added where possible for special events, including New Year’s Eve celebrations.
All SEPTA services will be available throughout the holidays, with some modifications between Monday Dec. 24-Tuesday, Jan.1. This is due to expected reductions in ridership as students and some other regular SEPTA customers won’t be headed out for their normal commutes.

SEPTA has launched a special section on its Website with full details on holiday service, including schedules for routes on which service will be adjusted. For details, visit
http://www.septa.org/schedules/modified/index.html.

The following is a summary of SEPTA’s service plan for the holidays:

• Christmas Eve, Monday, Dec. 24: Service on some city trolley and bus routes will run on limited schedules. All other services – including the Market-Frankford Line, the Broad Street Line, all Regional Rail lines and suburban bus and trolley routes – will run on normal weekday schedules.
• Christmas Day, Tuesday, Dec. 25: All Services will run on a Sunday/Holiday Schedule.
• Wednesday, Dec. 26 – Friday, Dec. 28: Service on some city trolley and bus routes will run on limited schedules. All other services – including the Market-Frankford Line, the Broad Street Line, all Regional Rail lines and suburban bus and trolley routes – will run on normal weekday schedules.
• Sunday, Dec. 29 & Sunday, Dec. 30: Regular Saturday and Sunday schedules.
• New Year’s Eve, Monday, Dec. 31: Service on some city trolley and bus routes will run on limited schedules. The Market-Frankford Line, the Broad Street Line and suburban bus and trolley routes will run on normal weekday schedules. Regional Rail lines will operate on regular weekday schedules, with additional late-night New Year’s Eve service. For the New Year’s Eve Regional Rail schedules, visit http://www.septa.org/schedules/modified/rail/pdf/RRLeavingPhila-NYE.pdf.
• New Year’s Day, Tuesday, Jan. 1: All services will run on Sunday schedules. A number of city bus routes will operate with detours to accommodate the Mummer’s Parade. Real-time bus detour and other service information is available at http://www.septa.org/realtime/status/systemstatus.shtml.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Philly Presence in Inaugural Parade

Pennsylvania will be represented in the Inaugural Parade this year by Boy Scout Troop 358 of the Grace Baptist Church of Germantown, in Philadelphia.  Organizations participating in the parade must pay their own travel and housing costs, though local governments, civic associations and non-profits are encouraged to help defray these expenses.

The full list of groups in the parade is available online and invitations are still being issued so it is possible that other Pennsylvania groups will be added.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Statement from Mayors Against Illegal Guns

from the national Mayors Against Illegal Guns organization:

Mayors Against Illegal Guns Co-Chair and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg was joined today by survivors and family members of victims of gun violence to release personal videos demanding that elected officials in Washington D.C. take immediate action to reduce gun violence in America. The videos can be viewed at www.DemandAPlan.org
 
The videos tell the stories of 34 Americans whose lives have been forever changed – whether in mass shootings in Aurora, Oak Creek, Tucson and Virginia Tech or in the daily gun violence that kills 34 Americans every day. The diverse voices hail from urban and suburban areas across the country, young and old, of different races and religious backgrounds. Every story is different, but all survivors are united in their belief that something must be done to prevent more tragedies like the one in Newtown, Connecticut and like the tragedy they personally experienced.
 
“What happened in Newtown was an unspeakable crime – a mass murder in which six- and seven-year-old children were gunned down in their classrooms, along with their elementary school teachers and administrators,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Gun violence is a national epidemic – and a national tragedy – that demands more than words. It demands immediate national action, from the President and from Congress.  It needs to be at the top of their agenda.”
 
“There are too many stories of those who have lost loved ones to gun violence – and far too many were added from Newtown just days ago,” Mayors Against Illegal Guns Co-Chair and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino said. “To honor those we’ve lost, we must continue to demand a plan from lawmakers that will keep gun violence from taking more lives.”
 
When the 113th Congress convenes in January 2013, the videos will be delivered to members to prompt leaders in Washington to pass common sense legislation to reduce gun violence.

Obama's Remarks at Memorial Service

I had things prepared to post this weekend but political and social matters seem trivial and inappropriate this weekend, after the school shooting in Connecticut. 

Here is an excerpt of Pres. Obama's remarks at today's memorial service.  A full transcript is available online via the Washington Post.

This is our first task, caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged.

And by that measure, can we truly say, as a nation, that we’re meeting our obligations?

Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children, all of them, safe from harm?

Can we claim, as a nation, that we’re all together there, letting them know they are loved and teaching them to love in return?

Can we say that we’re truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose?

I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer’s no. We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change. Since I’ve been president, this is the fourth time we have come together to comfort a grieving community torn apart by mass shootings, fourth time we’ve hugged survivors, the fourth time we’ve consoled the families of victims.

And in between, there have been an endless series of deadly shootings across the country, almost daily reports of victims, many of them children, in small towns and in big cities all across America, victims whose -- much of the time their only fault was being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Obama on Connecticut Shootings

President Obama's remarks on the shootings in Connecticut:

This afternoon, I spoke with Governor Malloy and FBI Director Mueller. I offered Governor Malloy my condolences on behalf of the nation, and made it clear he will have every single resource that he needs to investigate this heinous crime, care for the victims, counsel their families.

We've endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years. And each time I learn the news I react not as a President, but as anybody else would -- as a parent. And that was especially true today. I know there's not a parent in America who doesn't feel the same overwhelming grief that I do.

The majority of those who died today were children -- beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them -- birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. Among the fallen were also teachers -- men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams.

So our hearts are broken today -- for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children, and for the families of the adults who were lost. Our hearts are broken for the parents of the survivors as well, for as blessed as they are to have their children home tonight, they know that their children's innocence has been torn away from them too early, and there are no words that will ease their pain.

As a country, we have been through this too many times. Whether it's an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago -- these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children. And we're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.

This evening, Michelle and I will do what I know every parent in America will do, which is hug our children a little tighter and we'll tell them that we love them, and we'll remind each other how deeply we love one another. But there are families in Connecticut who cannot do that tonight. And they need all of us right now. In the hard days to come, that community needs us to be at our best as Americans. And I will do everything in my power as President to help.

Because while nothing can fill the space of a lost child or loved one, all of us can extend a hand to those in need -- to remind them that we are there for them, that we are praying for them, that the love they felt for those they lost endures not just in their memories but also in ours.

May God bless the memory of the victims and, in the words of Scripture, heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds.


Weekend Reading

Patrick Kerkstra of Philadelphia Magazine wrote a profile of Rob McCord, current State Treasurer and possible candidate for governor.  Read "Is Rob McCord the Corbett Slayer?" in the current issue or online.

Patrick Murphy has a new post on the MSNBC site on judicial nominations.  Read "With nominations on hold, justice delayed is democracy denied."

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Satullo and Auth, a Christmas Story

from the inbox, registration for this event is very reasonably priced., especially if, like me, you are a WHYY member.


Since 1996, news readers in the Philadelphia region have delighted each holiday season with a serialized tale of Christmas written by WHYY Vice President for News and Civic Dialogue, Chris Satullo and illustrated by Pulitzer Prize winning political cartoonist, Tony Auth. The stories began when Chris and Tony worked together at The Philadelphia Inquirer, and continues at WHYY/NewsWorks -- since 2009, WHYY has produced a radio play featuring WHYY reporters and staff, based on that year's tale.

This year, the tradition continues!

Visit WHYY's
Philadelphia studios on Thursday, December 20th for an evening with Tony and Chris and learn the inside story of how this long standing tradition developed.

Guests to this festive special event will get a sneak peek at this year's story, radio play, Auth illustrations, and enjoy some holiday refreshments.

A NewsWorks Christmas with Tony Auth and Chris Satullo

Thursday, December 20th, 2012
6:30 pm - Doors Open with Festive Refreshments
7:00 pm - Panel Discussion and Q&A
WHYY's Philadelphia Studios
150 North 6th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

(wheelchair accessible)

The McCord Report



There have been eight issues of The McCord Report:  a Quarterly Look at Pennsylvania’s Economic Vital Signs, published by State Treasurer Rob McCord and his office.   The issues are available at:  http://www.patreasury.gov/newsMediaMcCordReport.html.  I love the main page for it.  The image bar across the top is a stack of newspapers, some right side up, some upside down.  You can read a word here and there on the fold.  One newspapers has words in two columns showing.  One column has the words “appeared unimpressed” and the other “had little to recommend it.”  The bottom paper has the words “opening three car garages” but it’s upside down so it may be difficult for some people to read.  Personally I just think it’s a very cool graphic.

Now to the issues of the McCord Report.  The title banner on the first issue is blue; it is green on all the others.  There was one issue in 2010, five in 2011, and two in 2012.   All issues include a lot of graphics.  Let’s take a look issue by issue and then summarize.

The first issue is listed as being published on Nov. 15, 2010 but the actual report just says First Quarter 2010-2011 Fiscal Year.   There is an opening statement from McCord:  “As Pennsylvania’s independently-elected chief financial officer, I am uniquely positioned to promote useful conersations about our Commonwealth’s economic health.  My colleagues and I rely on many data points to gauge the temperature of Pennyslvani’s economy, and we offer The McCord Report for those who may be interested in the data we track.”  The issue has a lot of general information – tax revenue, appropriations, gaming revenue, public pensions, unemployment rate in PA as compared to the national average and neighboring states, top 25 PA employers (#1?  Walmart, of the 25, 9 are governmental agencies of some kind, an additional 3 are universities), foreclosure statistics, treasury performance, and 529 college savings plans.  It ends with another statement from McCord.  Here is an excerpt:  “My goal as Treasurer is simple:  to increase the economic security and prosperity of Pennsylvanians any way I can.  Good information fuels that effort, and it seems to me that if I’m interested in data about the economic health of our Commonwealth, you might be too.”

The second issue is listed as being published on Feb. 7, 2011 but the report is dated Second Quarter 2010-11 Fiscal Year.  It has only three pages and focuses on alcohol sales and tax revenue.  There is a sidebar box giving a history of the alcohol tax, which originated as the Johnstown Flood Tax, but was made permanent in 1951.  General data, on pensions, debt, revenue, employment, gaming revenue, investments, and PA Treasury performance is included.  There is a general statement from McCord on the last page.

On April 8th a “special edition” was published.  The opening note from McCord states that it is devoted to one topic:  “privatization of the state’s liquor store system.”  The three page issues does exactly that, with the last page devoted to a “liquor system revenue calculator.”  

The official third quarter issue was published May 16, 2011.  In his statement on the last (4th) page, he notes that he has recently visited several colleges and universities.  “In this edition, we focus on the issue of state funding for high education as well as related matters.”  Graphics show educational attainment and median earning by education level for Pennsylvania and neighboring states (no shocker here – more education equals greater income).  Additional graphics show state higher education funding vs enrollment (appropriations are dropping but enrollment is skyrocketing).  The issue also provides information on college graduates and debt, education and unemployment, and a few other charts.  It is interesting to note that Pennsylvanians rank 7th in the nation for average student debt, with an average debt of $27,066.  The last two pages provide standard information on revenues, unemployment and Pennsylvania Treasury performance.  There is also a shaded state map showing Marcellus Shale activity by county. 

That was the last formal quarterly issue, though the reports continued to be called “a quarterly look at Pennsylvania’s economic vital signs,” they were given dates and not labeled by quarters.  The next issue was published August 1, 2011.  The focus of it was transportation, specifically highways and roads.  Quick fact:  Pennsylvania has more than 45,000 miles of public roads, the 5th most of any state.  Graphics include state/local gasoline taxes as of January 2010, a statewide map showing structurally deficient bridges by county (in SEPA Montgomery and Bucks are in the 30%+ category), PA gasoline consumption, estimated miles driven, regional comparisons for state registration fees, and structurally deficient bridges, liquid fuels tax revenue in Pennsylvania and revenues and expenditures for the motor license fund.  The last page has some general statistics on the PA 529 college savings plan and the usual statement from McCord.

The November 22, 2011 issue focuses on public debt.  There is a simple graphic on the capital budget process, and other visuals on the stat’s debt limit, borrowing cap, annual debt service, the top 10 counties for capital project funding per capita, tax revenues, agency and authority debt, and then general PA Treasury performance.  The last page has the usual statement from McCord – excerpt:  “Ideally, public debt would be used to finance something that has a useful life beyond the borrowing term – or for investments that have a return greater than the cost of capital.” 

The February 22, 2012 issue mixes up the format a bit, with the McCord statement on the first page.  This issue provides a general overview of the first seven months of the fiscal year’s finances.  There are graphics for collections vs estimates, major revenue sources by fiscal year, budget funding sources, foreclosures by county, corporate tax collections, unemployment (several graphs on this), and some general PA Treasury figures.  Interesting takeaways, four counties in the Commonwealth had unemployment rates of 9.5% or higher.  One was Philadelphia.  Another fun fact:  wondering if education is worth the investment?  People with at least a four year college degree have an unemployment rate roughly one third of the percentage of unemployed people with less than a high school diploma.  Stay in school, kids!

The most recent issue is dated June 5, 2012.  It focuses on the Lottery Fund.  Excerpt from McCord’s statement (hidden on the second page):  “It is important that we manage it property, because the Lottery helped seniors get more than 8 million hot meals and nearly 11.4 million low-cost prescription medications in the last fiscal year. “  Graphics include total sales and net revenue, lottery proceeds per senior by county, where the money goes, program benefits, performance comparisons of top 10 US lotteries, information on lotteries of selected other states, followed by some general state economic indicators. 

The graphics in the reports are very well done.  They are informative and attractive, even in black and white printed copies.  My middle-aged eyes had trouble reading some of the fine print, like the names of counties on some of the statewide maps with varied shading by county.   It is easier to read in color online where the images are a little larger.  I can’t tell from a cursory search if McCord is the first Pennsylvania State Treasurer to provide this kind of report but it’s an interesting publication and I hope it is something that continues.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Book Review: Toomey's Triumph by Harold I. Gullan



Book Review:  Toomey’s Triumph:  Inside a Key Senate Campaign, by Harold I. Gullan.  Philadelphia:  Temple University Press, 2012.

Gullan, an advertising executive turned history professor, writes about the 2010 Senate race.  Instead of taking a standard historical approach he sort of embeds himself in the Toomey campaign and writes chronologically, so at the start of the book he isn’t sure who will be running, let alone who wins. 

Chapter  1 Prelude (March 2010).  Gullan explains how the book got started and introduces the cast of characters.  He approached the campaign and asks if they would be willing to grant him access to campaign activities and interview staff.  At this point Toomey is the Republican candidate.  Incumbent Arlen Specter, who switched from the Republican to the Democratic party, faces Joe Sestak, then the congressman representing the 7th district.

Chapter 2 Three Paths to April.  This chapter provides family and political background on the three major candidates, including a shorter amount of information on Peggy Luksik, another Republican seeking the office, but given little chance of winning.  The author also goes into detail on Specter’s party switch.

Chapter 3 Setting the Table (May).  The focus here is on the Democratic primary.  There is also biographical information on Toomey’s campaign staff.  This chapter has two rather glaring typographical errors.  Congressman Bob Brady is referred to as “Bill Brady,” (52) and Inquirer reporter Tom Fitzgerald is referred to as “Tom Fitzpatrick” (61).    While Specter’s most recent book said the (in)famous “re-elected” ad did not have much effect on the campaign, Gullan says it is “devasting (59).  Gullan’s powers of observation and writing style are on display when he remarks that Dr. G. Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College “may use an excess of hair dye” (72).

Chapter 4 “Nothing inappropriate happened” (June).  The chapter title is in reference to the rumor of a job offer in the federal government used as a failed enticement to Joe Sestak to drop out of the race.  The chapter itself focuses on the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  John Hanger, then the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and current candidate for governor, is described (77) as having a “strong background in the realities of resources exploration.” 

Chatper 5 The 80 Percent Solution (July).  Gullan focuses on campaign events, such as Joe Sestak’s talk before the PA Press Club, and television ads for the candidates.  He also notes that at campaign stops Sestak will so thoroughly answer questions that reporters will eventually end the conversation so they can write up their story before deadline.  [blogger note:  I can confirm this having personally observed the same phenomenon.]  Gullan also briefly discusses the Corbett / Onorato governor’s race.  He also writes about polls and polling.  


Chapter 6 Maintaining Momentum (August).  Toomey’s consultants (and the fact that he has two primary consultants) are described.  The chapter also has information on debates, interviews, television ads, and campaign positions.  

A few interesting quotes:


As each candidate’s staff seeks to define (and malign) their opponent, with multiple pronouncements emerging each day, this campaign cam sometimes seem like a contest between Sestak’s “Extreme Makeover” and Toomey’s Who wants to be a Millionaire.” (148)

And

Neither Joe Sestak nor Pat Toomey is a particularly compelling orator, nor do their diametrically opposed message really require one.  The difference is that Sestak at least tries for some semblance of oratory, while Toomey does not. (150)



Chapter 7  Seeking the Summit (September).  Another of Gullan’s peculiarities is his use of the term “tea bag” instead of Tea Party.  On p. 169 he refers to “tea bag supported Sharon Angle.”  Personally I think it is best to refer to individuals or groups by the name they use to refer to themselves.  Gullan also notes Sestak’s unusual speech patterns and delivery.  He discusses earmarks and both candidates’ current and past positions on earmarks.  Like many Pennsylvania politicos he is fond of Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN), and he writes about watching some of their televised political events.

Chapter 8 Driving it Home (October).  The race heats up.  Gullan focuses on campaign events and ads.

Chapter 9 Toomsday (Nov 2, 2010).  Election day and the immediate aftermath.

See other reviews and articles on the book at "Mt. Airy author's book recounts Toomey's campaign," by Lou Mancinelli, Chestnuthilllocal.com

PA Judicial Nominee Makes the News


Nitza QuiƱones Alejandro, who was nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and whose nomination is awaiting Senate confirmation, is mentioned in "Senate panel advances lesbian judicial nominee," by Chris Johnson in the Dec. 6th Washington Blade.  She isn't the focus of the article but is mentioned in the latter part, in a list of pending nominations.  If the Senate doesn't approve the nominations by the end of the year they will expire.  My fingers are crossed for her to take the bench.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

PCN To Televise PA Society Dinner

from the inbox:

The Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN) will once again provide coverage of the Pennsylvania Society Dinner from the Grand Ballroom of New York City's Waldorf Astoria hotel.  The annual holiday gathering will air LIVE statewide on PCN beginning at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 8. Additional airings have been scheduled for Sunday, December 9 at 2:00 p.m. and Monday, December 10 at 8:30 p.m. This is the network’s 13th year covering this event.

Since 1908, the Society has recognized prominent persons for their citizenship, leadership and contributions to the arts, education, industry and science with the Society’s Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement.  This year’s Gold Medal recipient is film writer, director and producer, M. Night Shyamalan. Shyamalan, who grew up in suburban Philadelphia, is known for such films as The Sixth Sense, Signs and The Village. Some past recipients of the honor include General Dwight D. Eisenhower, George H.W. Bush, Bill Cosby, Chris Matthews, Tom Ridge, Judith Rodin, Dan Rooney and Arlen Specter.

The Society is a non-profit, charitable organization with nearly two-thousand members around the Commonwealth, the United States and the world.  This year marks the 114th gathering of the Society.

PoliticsPA has posted a full list of PA Society events.

Where The Action Is At

The Action, a coalition of grassroots groups is focused on ending the Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest 2%.  This has two prongs.  One is a call for House of Representatives to pass Discharge Petition 0006, called the Pelosi Discharge, which would change the tax rate for the top 2%.  The Action is urging like-minded people to contact their congressional representatives about this if they have not already signed on.

The other is a list of events taking place this weekend, encouraging like-minded people to attend.  There are a few in the greater Philadelphia area.

New Penn Dems Board

The student Democratic organization at the University of Pennsylvania have had a significant impact on a number of local elections.  They provide interns and boots in the grand to area congressional, state, and local races.  The Penn Dems recently elected a new board. 

Congratulations to the new officers and leaders:

President: Matthew Kalmans

Vice President: Daniel Levinson
 

Legislative Director: Sean Foley
 

Communications Director: Jane Meyer
 

Political Director: Brian Goldman
 

Membership Director: Emma Connolly
 

Treasurer: Amiyr Jackson
 

Outreach Director: Amelie Dougherty
 

Secretary: Tara Kutzbach

Sims Comments on Fleck

State Rep-elect Brian Sims has published an op-ed on the Huffington Post in response to a recent announcement by State Rep. Mike Fleck.   Democrat Sims, running in a diverse community, was forthright about being gay.  Republican Fleck, running for re-election in a conservative district, waited until after the election to tell a local newspaper that he is gay.  The two of them could work together, in a bipartisan fashion, to push for a state non-discrimination law, or work towards other similar legislation.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Call for Toner Prize Entries

from the inbox:



Entries for the $5,000 Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting are now being accepted by the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Entries can be submitted online at http://tonerprogram.syr.edu. Deadline is January 20, 2013.
 
The Toner Prize recognizes outstanding political reporting in a tribute to the late Robin Toner ’76, who was the first woman to serve as national political correspondent for The New York Times. Toner was a summa cum laude graduate of SU with a dual degree in journalism and political science.
 
“The 2012 coverage of elections gives a special significance for the Toner Prize this year,” says Charlotte Grimes, Newhouse’s Knight Chair in Political Reporting and administrator of the Robin Toner Program in Political Reporting. “Giving voters solid, insightful and factual information to make informed decisions is the core mission of political reporting—and a hallmark of the work of Robin Toner.” 
 
The Toner Prize will go to the best national or local political reporting on any platform—print, broadcast or online. Entries must be fact-based reporting, not commentary. Single articles, series or a body of work are eligible. The work must have been published, posted or broadcast between January 1 and December 31, 2012.
 
Entries will be judged on how well they reflect the high standards and depth of reporting that marked Toner’s work. In particular, the judges will look for how well the entries:  
  • Illuminate the electoral process or
  • Reveal the politics of policy and
  • Engage the public in democracy.
 
“We strongly encourage entries of election coverage – presidential, congressional or local elections,” says Grimes.
 
This is the third year of the Toner Prize. The first prize, in 2010, went to Craig Harris of The Arizona Republic for an eight-part series on Arizona’s broken and expensive public pension plan. The 2011 Toner Prize was awarded to Jane Mayer of The New Yorker for her in-depth look at a prominent political donor’s influence on North Carolina politics.  
 
The Toner Prize is part of the Robin Toner Program in Political Reporting created by the Newhouse School and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. Toner’s family, friends and classmates are raising $1 million for the Robin Toner Endowment to support the program.
 
In her journalism career, Toner spent nearly 25 years with The New York Times, covering five presidential campaigns, scores of congressional and gubernatorial races and many of the country’s major political and policy issues. She died in December 2008.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Painter by the Numbers

Let's take a look at one PA House race in the November elections, and drill down through the numbers a bit.  My apologies for the presentation of the statistics -- I haven't quite figured out how to post a spreadsheet in a blog post.

The district we are looking at is the 146th state house district, recently won by Mark Painter with a slim margin, 50.33%.  I wrote a few posts about Painter when he ran the first time in 2010 and then again this year, but I didn't follow the campaign closely and do not recall meeting him in person.

To provide some context the turnout numbers for each township in the Montgomery County district are given for the 2008 race between incumbent Republican Tom Quigley and Democratic challenger James Prendergast (abbreviated as Prender), the 2010 race between Quigley and Painter, and the 2012 re-match.  In the text accompanying each year's township statistics, I'll prove some additional text about turnout in other races for that area. 

This is not particularly entrancing data but hopefully it will be informative.  When the vote numbers don't quite add up there is either a third party candidate, write in votes, or both.  You can review the numbers yourself, for verification or further research on the Montgomery County election results site.

The 146th contains part or all of seven townships or muncipalities.  Let's take them alphabetically.

Limerick


Place
Limerick



2008

R-Quigley
5,445
D-Prender
3,249
Total
8,694



2010

R-Quigley
3,623
D-Painter
2,430
Total
6,054



2012

R-Quigley
4,835
D-Painter
4,041
Total
8,878  

All of Limerick is in the 146th.  In 2008 John McCain (R) received 46% of the vote and Congressman Gerlach (R) received 61%.  Quigley (R) received 62%, so he outperformed John McCain by a considerable amount and Gerlach by just over 1%.  In 2010 Quigley won with 60% of the vote, a lower percentage than Gerlach (66%) and Republican State Senator John Rafferty (66%).  In 2012 Quigley received 54% of the Limerick vote, compared with 58% for Gerlach and 52% for Mitt Romney.  You can see that the vote was split far more evenly in 2012 than it was in either 2008 or 2012 in the state house race.   Painter is the elected tax collector for Limerick and significantly cut into the Republican's vote total, making it almost even by 2012.  The huge turnout for Obama in 2008 didn't impact the down ticket races as Quigley received a higher percentage of the votes in 2008 election in Limerick than he did in 2012.  The question is, will the erosion of Republic votes in this area continue or is it a phenomenon related specific to Painter?

Lower Pottsgrove


Place
L Pottsgrove



2008

R-Quigley
3,184
D-Prender
2,391
Total
5,575



2010

R-Quigley
2,238
D-Painter
1,390
Total
3,630



2012

R-Quigley
2,945
D-Painter
2,438
Total
5,386

Like Limerick, Quigley won this area (55%) but by a lower percentage than he did in 2010 (62%)  and in 2008 (57%).  Obama won with 55% in 2008 and 50% in 2012.  It is difficult to make comparisons the congressional races as Lower Pottsgrove was part of the 15th district in 2008 and 2010 but had shifted to the 6th in 2012.  Looking solely at the state house race, there is a consistent erosion of Republican votes, though the percentages bounce around a little.

New Hanover


Place
N Hanover



2008

R-Quigley
1,070
D-Prender
608
Total
1,678



2010

R-Quigley
725
D-Painter
431
Total
1,156



2012

R-Quigley
1,019
D-Painter
722
Total
1,742

New Hanover, like Lower Pottsgrove, shifted from one congressional district to another after the 2012 redistricting.  It is also split between two state house districts.  The 146th has about a third of the voters in the township.  Looking solely at the percentages in that race, Quigley received 64% of the vote in 2008, 63% in 2010, but only 58% in 2012.  Again, there is an erosion of Republican voters over the four year period.

Pottstown


Place
Pottstown



2008

R-Quigley
3,501
D-Prender
5,381
Total
8,882



2010

R-Quigley
2,338
D-Painter
2,892
Total
5,234



2012

R-Quigley
3,026
D-Painter
4,987
Total
8,016

All of Pottstown is in the 146th state house district, and remained in the 6th congressional district.   In presidential politics, Barack Obama won Pottstown with 69% in 2008 but only 65% in 2012.  Democratic candidates in the congressional races also did well in Pottstown, Bob Roggio received 61% of the vote in 2008, Manan Trivedi 54% in 2010, and 62% in the 2012 rematch.  By comparison, Prendergast won with 61% in 2008, Painter 55% in 2010, and 62% in 2012.  While Obama's vote total went down in 2012, the state house and congressional districts mirrored each other in win percentages.

Royersford


Place
Royersford



2008

R-Quigley
989
D-Prender
865
Total
1,854



2010

R-Quigley
686
D-Painter
538
Total
1,225



2012

R-Quigley
911
D-Painter
1,004
Total
1,916

Royersford shifted from one congressional district to another but has only one state house district.  As with Pottstown, Obama's percentage decreased, from 61% in 2008 to 58% in 2012.  Painter, by contrast gained voters.  Quigley won with 53% in 2008, 56% in his first race with Painter in 2010, but lost when Painter took 52% of the vote in 2012. 

Upper Pottsgrove


Place
U Pottsgrove



2008

R-Quigley
1,377
D-Prender
973
Total
2,350



2010

R-Quigley
1,009
D-Painter
576
Total
1,586



2012

R-Quigley
1,290
D-Painter
986
Total
2,277

Here also Painter's percentage increased (36% in 2010 to 43% in 2012, compared to Prendergasts 41% in 2008).  Again, Obama lost votes, receiving 54% of the vote in 2008 and 49% in 2012.  Upper Pottsgrove was moved from the 15th congressional district to the 6th congressional district in 2012. 

West Pottsgrove


Place
W Pottsgrove



2008

R-Quigley
703
D-Prender
731
Total
1,434



2010

R-Quigley
441
D-Painter
368
Total
810



2012

R-Quigley
654
D-Painter
710
Total
1,364

This area also shifted from the 15th congressional district to the 6th.  In presidential elections, Obama won with 61% of the vote in 2008 and 54% in 2012.  In contrast, Prendergast received 51% of the vote in 2008, Painter 45% in 2010, but rared back in 2012 with 52%. 

Summary

While Painter certainly did well in areas where other Democrats did well, his percentage of votes frequently increased, not only compared to his own 2010 showing but also to the turnout in 2008, even while the President's percentage of the votes decreased.  Looking at the absolute numbers, there is clearly a shift; it was not simply a matter of different in the number of voters coming out.  The turnout numbers were not always that different, but more people were voting for Painter.