Thursday, March 28, 2013

PA Gun Safety Ads

Two organizations are starting new gun safety ad campaigns in Pennsylvania

Vote Vets, which has over 220,000 members has an ad supporting universal background checks for gun sales.  It is airing in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and North Dakota.  The ad, narrated by Iraq War veteran and Purple Heart recipient Glenn Kunkel, is available on You Tube.  Kunkel holds and fires an AR-15 rifle and says "I had to pass a background check to join the Marine Corps, before I could carry a weapon similar to this one in Iraq.  Here at home, anyone can purchase this weapon, no questions asked.”

Mayors Against Illegal Guns is also starting an ad campaign, encouraging people to contact their elected representatives while they are home from DC over the spring recess.  Other organizations, including Organizing for Action and American for Responsible Solutions, working with MAIG, held several events and petition drives in support of background checks.  They are also sponsoring ads, which can be viewed online.  Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Deputy Police Commissioner Keven Bethel and gun violence victim Joe Davis of Magee Rehabilition gathered today as part of MAIG's National Day to Demand Action to end gun violence.

Open Letter from Brian Sims to Sen. Bob Casey

from the inbox:

PA State Rep. Brian Sims issues open letter to U.S. Senator Bob Casey on issues of LGBT equality(Full text of letter below)
 Good morning Senator Casey, 
As you know, this week saw the two most important cases in LGBT civil rights history argued before the Supreme Court. These cases, even if not decided fully in favor of LGBT civil rights are still going to be the foundation for all equality legislation and litigation to follow, which will ultimately lead to full LGBT equality in the next decade. Today is the morning after.
I am writing to you this morning not as a friend, not as a constituent, nor as a former volunteer. While I am all of these things, I am also a State Representative in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and one whose rights as an openly gay man are being directly impacted by your silence, especially in the face of so much support from your colleagues.
Like countless Americans and millions of Pennsylvanians, I watched these last two days as my fundamental rights as an LGBT American have been at the front and center of the national debate. In fact, that’s exactly where we want them to be; in the public eye, at kitchen tables, at coffee counters, and in conference rooms from Scranton to Santa Fe. 
The next few months before the decisions are announced mark the most critical time in LGBT civil rights history. These cases are our Dred Scott, our Loving v. Virginia, perhaps even our Brown v. Board of Education. To the delight of so many, the people of this great nation are standing up with voices stentorian to proclaim their support for equality in record numbers. 
Senator Casey, seven years ago I joined hundreds of thousands of LGBT Pennsylvanians in support of your candidacy in an effort to remove Senator Rick Santorum, one of the most anti-LGBT legislators in modern history, from public office. We worked tirelessly and we celebrated your victory, even as many of us struggled to reconcile our support for you with our fundamental beliefs in women’s reproductive rights, beliefs which you do not share. 
We have believed since you were sworn in that when the time was right, when it really mattered, you would be there for equality. The time is right and we need you to be here. 
But your voice is silent. And I am angry. 
Senator, I know you. I know how we have interacted and I know that you have respect for me as a gay man. More importantly, I know that LGBT people surround you in virtually every area of your life, personal and professional. You have never had a shortage of interaction with the LGBT community and that is what makes it so confusing that you have not made up your mind on equality. Or have you? 
Several weeks ago your colleague, Senator Portman, very eloquently announced his support for marriage equality after coming to terms with his gay son. The Senator actually said that he’d never given the issue much thought before being confronted with it at his kitchen table. Once confronted, he came to the conclusion that LGBT people like his son deserve to have their rights recognized. To be clear, Senator Portman is a national figure in a political party that has never supported LGBT civil rights; nor had he ever done so personally. Yet with those political obstacles, and that personal history, he was still able to come to the conclusion that equality was morally and politically necessary. 
Even some of the most conservative members of the Republican Party are now more supportive of equality than you, based solely on their personal experiences with just a single LGBT family member. For lesser men than you Senator, with far less experience with LGBT Americans, it took only one gay person to make them speak out against the conventions of their parties and their faiths. 
I know that you are a man of deep faith and that your faith guides many of your life’s decisions. I also know that faith itself evolves. Faith has been used by the opponents of virtually every civil rights battle in our history to impede progress and evade equality. Yet as each battle ended, we did not look back and say that the faith was wrong, just perhaps the faithful. Today, Catholic Americans support LGBT equality at greater levels than even the U.S. population as a whole. 
Senator, the same people who voted for me, voted for you, and I am so excited to report that a vast majority of them now support LGBT equality. So too do a majority of your Democratic colleagues. In fact, as of this morning you are one of only nine Democrats in the Senate who does not support marriage equality! 
You have had more opportunities, and come from more supportive communities than so many others who have voiced their support in these critical weeks. History, as well as your constituents, is demanding that you speak now on this issue and I hope that your conscience compels you to rise to the occasion. 
Please, Senator, don’t wait any longer to take a stand. Show and voice your support for full equality for LGBT Americans today.
Rep. Brian Sims
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
182nd Legislative District 

Philly Traffic Court Candidates

Two articles today on candidates for Philadelphia Traffic Court

From the Inquirer:  Chris Brennan writes "Four traffic court candidates removed from ballot, 11 withdraw."

A little more detail can be found in Tom Ferrick's "A great job if you can get it," AXIS Philly

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

PA House: Separate Insurance for Vasectomies

The PA House has introduced three bills that, to my quick reading, seem to cover the exact same thing.  HB 1049, HB 1050, HB 1051 all concern insurance coverage for contraception, sterilization and abortifacient drugs and devices.  All three are six pages long but they don't end on the same line number so there are differences in the text of the three.  One requires that any insurance companies operating in the public sphere offering coverage for the items mentioned above, also provide an insurance policy that is identical except for the exclusion of those items. One says people have to request coverage for those items.  Third says insurance companies are not required to cover these items.  The meat of the bills don't start until page 5; the first four pages are diatribes about the founding fathers.

I have two thoughts on this.  

The first is that, with the exception of vasectomies, all of the items listed affect women's bodies.  I wonder if all hysterectomies would be considered sterilization?  What about women who are passed menopause and can no longer have children, would a D&C or a hysterectomy for other reasons still fall under this bill if it became a law?  What about young women who hysterectomies because of family health issues -- would they have to specifically request coverage for such an event?    I have no medical training so this is all ignorant conjecture on my part but these bills do make me wonder.  Men would lose the ability to decide they didn't want any more children, unless they were going to be celibate.  

The second is that we do not have a state religion in this country.  I understand that some people do not believe in birth control of any kind, and this objection is primarily based on religious beliefs.  There are a lot of religions in the US and a lot of branches of Christianity.  Should Quakers be exempt from paying taxes that support the military?  My branch of Christianity is "dry," no alcohol at church functions and people tend not to drink much at home.  My annual alcohol intake is maybe  2 glasses of wine.  In wine there may be truth but there's a lot of trouble, too.  How many crimes on the news are alcohol-based?  Quite a few I would guess.  You could close down all the liquor stores and take it off the menu in restaurants, close the bars, and I would be just as happy.  Ditto with gambling.  But I don't think my beliefs should be forced upon anyone else.

These bills say that some people's religious beliefs outweigh others.  They also do not distinguish between medical procedures used for contraceptive purposes and those same medical procedures used for other purposes.  Hopefully they won't move out of committee.

DePasquale on Booze

from the inbox, March 21:

 Auditor General Eugene DePasquale today issued the following statement on legislation moving through the General Assembly to change the way alcohol is sold in Pennsylvania: 
“I am looking forward to working with Senators to ensure that any changes to the Liquor Code include transparency and accountability measures that the Department of the Auditor General’s office can bring to the issue. Regardless of how and where alcohol is sold in Pennsylvania, independent audits are essential to ensure complete compliance with conditions established by law.” 
The House of Representatives today passed House Bill 790 to allow private retailers to sell alcohol in Pennsylvania. The bill now moves to the Senate which is scheduled to return to Harrisburg on April 8.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Two Politicos to Lenfest Foundation Board

Peter Dobrin wrote "Lenfest Foundation maps out a path to its end," in the March 25th Inquirer.  I noted that two of the people appointed to the board have political ties.  Joe Sestak, who represented Pennsylvania's 7th district in Congress for two terms is on the board.  The new chairman is Dr. Keith Leaphart who briefly challenged Congressman Bob Brady in a primary election.  Good luck to both of them, and the others on the board.

Prez O Statement on Passover

from the inbox:

As we prepare for our fifth Seder in the White House, Michelle and I send our warmest wishes to all those celebrating Passover here in America, in the State of Israel, and around the world.

Tonight, Jewish families will gather with family and friends to celebrate with songs, wine, and food. They will read from the Haggadah, and retell the story that makes this holiday so powerful.

Last week, I visited the state of Israel for the third time, my first as President. I reaffirmed our countries’ unbreakable bonds with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Peres. I had the chance to speak directly with young Israelis about the future they wanted for their country, their region, and the world. And I saw once again how the dream of true freedom found its full expression in those words of hope from Hatikvah, lihyot ‘am chofshi be’artzeinu, “To be a free people in our land.”
Passover is a celebration of the freedom our ancestors dreamed of, fought for, and ultimately won. But even as we give thanks, we are called to look to the future. We are reminded that responsibility does not end when we reach the promised land, it only begins. As my family and I prepare to once again take part in this ancient and powerful tradition, I am hopeful that we can draw upon the best in ourselves to find the promise in the days that lie ahead, meet the challenges that will come, and continuing the hard work of repairing the world. Chag sameach.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Montco County-Wide Nondiscrimination Ordinance?

from the inbox:

Josh Shapiro, chairman of the Montgomery County Commissioners, has instructed the county solicitor to assemble a work group to explore the possibility of the county passing a county-wide non-discrimination ordinance. One of the issues that the group assembled by Solicitor Ray McGarry will study is whether the county has the ability to pass such an ordinance under the Class 2A County Code.  Most of the counties that have passed similar ordinances are "home rule" counties.  Montgomery County is not. "This is an issue of basic fairness for all Montgomery County residents, and the action I took today will allow us to explore the possibility of enacting such an ordinance," Shapiro said at the bi-weekly county commissioners meeting. "Such an ordinance would ensure the rights of every county resident, including those who aren't protected now like the LGBT community," Shapiro said.

Obama on Affordable Care Act Anniversary

from the inbox, President Obama's statement on the 3rd anniversary of signing the Affordable Care Act:

Three years ago today, I signed into law the principle that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one should go broke just because they get sick. The Affordable Care Act will give hard-working, middle class families the health care security they deserve and protect every American from the worst insurance company abuses.  Already, millions of seniors are saving $600 a year on their prescription drugs. Millions of young people have been able to stay on their family’s health plan until age 26.  Preventive care, like mammograms for women and wellness visits for seniors, is covered free of charge. Most importantly, for the sake of our fiscal future, the growth of health care costs is beginning to slow. In fact, last year, Medicaid costs fell for the first time in decades. 
Because of the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies will no longer have unchecked power to cancel your policy, deny you coverage, or charge women more than men.  And soon, no American will ever again be denied care or charged more due to a pre-existing condition, like cancer or even asthma.
 Later this year, millions of Americans will finally have the opportunity to buy the same kind of health care Members of Congress give themselves. Beginning in October, you'll be able to sign up for new private health care plans through a new health insurance marketplace where private plans will compete to save middle class families money.  Through these marketplaces, Americans and small business owners will be able to choose from a menu of health plans that fit their budget and provide quality coverage they can count on when they need it most.  If you like the plan you have, you can keep it. If you cannot afford a plan, you or your small business may get financial assistance to make it affordable. 

There's more work to do to implement this law, and I look forward to working with leaders of both parties to help Americans save money on health care and extend the security of coverage to every family. 

Local Women Writers Update

A few notes about local(ish) women writers.

Sheila Connolly has published the third in her "Museum Mystery" series, set in Philadelphia.  Fire Engine Dead is the new book.

Sandy Hingston, of Philadelphia Magazine, has an article in the latest issue of More magazine, on family finances.  It isn't available online but the issue should be on the newstand.  Looking (fruitlessly) for an Internet version, I found out that Hingston has published a number of books under her own name and two pseudonyms.

Victoria Thompson, author of the Gaslight mystery series, is publishing her latest book, Murder in Chelsea, on May 1.

Required Reading for Sen. Toomey

Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey commented recently that government benefits were too generous and people would rather take a handout than work ("Toomey:  welfare spending too generous," by Jonathan Tamari, Inquirer 3/07/13).  Sen. Toomey should read Alfred Lubrano's article "Of big cities, Phila. worst for people in deep poverty," 3/24/2013.  I would also recommend writer John Scalzi's short essay called "Being Poor."

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Senate as Facebook

Chris Cillizza, of the Washington Post blog / column The Fix, has produced an interesting graphic.  In "the Senate as Facebook," you can see how each senator ranks in voting with people in the same party and the other major party.  The results show up in a pin chart.  It's cool.  Send it to your geeky political friends; they'll be entertained for hours.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Millionaires Need Apply (for Tax Credits)

Legislation seems to either be overly vague or overly specific.  Take a bill in the PA House, House Bill 36An Act amending Title 12 (Commerce and Trade) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for an angel investment tax credit.  That's an innocent enough title.  But the bill applies to a very narrow group of people.  Here are the criteria for the tax credit:

"Accredited investor." Any of the following: 
17(1) An individual whose net worth or joint net worth with the individual's spouse exceeds $1,000,000.
19(2) An individual who had individual income in excess of 20$200,000 in each of the two most recent years or joint income21 with that individual's spouse in excess of $300,000 in each22 of those years and has a reasonable expectation of reaching23 the same income level in the current year. 
24(3) Any entity in which all of the equity owners meet 25paragraph (1) or (2).
Among the criteria for the businesses these investors will help support include maintaining its headquarters in Pennsylvania for 5 years after the credit is applied for, and having 51% of their workforce employed in Pennsylvania.  If the investor doesn't use the entire tax credit the first year it can be carried over and used in subsequent years for seven years.  Note, that's 2 years after the company has to stay in Pennsylvania.  There is also wording on pass throughs and S corporations.  I don't quite grasp all of that.  Interested parties are encouraged to read the legislation for themselves.

The bill was introduced in January and is currently "laid on the table."

Murphy New MSNBC Contributor

Patrick Murphy, former 8th district congressional representative, added to his resume last night.  He is now an official MSNBC contributor.  His inaugural spot was on the Rachel Maddow Show discussing possibly changes to the US unmanned  drone aircraft program.  [video available]

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Constitution Center on 1968

The National Constitution Center is opening a new exhibit, on 1968.  The official opening is June 14.  A few of the artifacts included in the exhibit are:

·         A reconstructed Bell UH-1 Iroquois “Huey” helicopter used in the conflict in Vietnam
·         A full-size replica of the Apollo 8 command module and the actual pressure bubble helmet used by James Lovell who served as the command module pilot for Apollo 8
·         Funeral program for Martin Luther King, Jr.
·         Chicago police riot helmet from the Democratic National Convention in Chicago
·         Mattel Co.’s talking “Mrs. Beasley” doll from the television show “Family Affair”
·         Sweater and sneakers worn by Fred Rogers in the television show, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”

The exhibition also features three immersive, interactive “lounges” focusing on movies, music, television and design from 1968.

·         Visitors can settle into bean-bag chairs to watch TV clips from shows such as “Laugh-In,” “Gunsmoke” and “The Monkees” and films such as “Bonnie and Clyde,” and “Funny Girl.” Highlights from the Olympic Games, Super Bowl II and the World Series also are shown on monitors.

·         In the “Music Lounge,” original albums cover the wall and shadow boxes display concert tickets, programs, posters and autographs from musicians of the era. Visitors also can take a 1968 music quiz and make their own album covers that they can share on Facebook.

·         In the “Style Lounge,” visitors can explore the world of consumer goods from 1968, including plastics—molded into furniture, stitched into clothing and shaped into household goods—along with denim jeans, wood paneling and shag carpeting.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Where Did the State Legislature Go?

This evening I wanted to review the text of a bill in the state senate.  In the past the easiest way to get to it was via the state's webpage (; there's always been a tab or link for government in PA.  Either I'm missing it completely or it has been removed.  I types legislature and then state senate into the search box but neither came up in the first 20 hits for each search.  State government seems to  have disappeared.

You can still find the state legislature directly going to

Movie Night in Roslyn

This Saturday (Mar. 23rd) is the Roslyn Film Festival.   Stroll down the red carpet at 6:30; screenings start at 7:00.   Tickets are $5.00 but take some extra pocket change for refreshments.

Murphy on Coming Home

Patrick Murphy's latest blog post on MSNBC recalls the fellow soldiers he knew in Iraq and what has happened to some of them.  Read "A soldier reflects:  Those who had the least to lose sent us to war."

By coincidence I was revisiting tours of duty this evening myself.  As has been mentioned here before I am an Army brat.  When I was in first grade my father was a platoon sergeant in Viet Nam.  He and my mother sent tapes back and forth.  I recently rediscovered some of those old tapes and a recording was recoverable on one of them.  My father died in 1993 so I was listening to a voice I hadn't heard in 20 years.  My children never met him so they were hearing their grandfather for the first time.  I made a copy for his only surviving sibling.

Soldiers overseas leave families at home; it's hard on everyone and the homecomings can be a difficult adjustment for all concerned.  Right now a lot of soldiers are coming home.  They need our support.

Monday, March 18, 2013

International Bus Driver Appreciation Day

I ride the trains not the buses but am still willing to tout International Bus Driver Appreciation Day.  SEPTA commends the following drivers in particular:

 Welton Cannon, 47-year SEPTA veteran. He has been recognized with safe operator awards 19 times, and currently operates the Route 27.
 Johnnie Singleton, 38 years of service at SEPTA, has been recognized for safe operations 27 times. He also operates the Route 27..
 Terry “Tomato” Bell has been with the Authority 41 years. He has been recognized 32 times as a safe operator, and was also named the Callowhill District Operator of the Year in 2011. He currently works on the Route 40.
 Robert L. Alexander, 39-year veteran, was Callowhill’s Operator of the Year in 2012. He’s been recognized for safe operations 35 times, and currently operates the Route 46.
 George John Borowiec, 38 years on the road with SEPTA’s customers. He’s received multiple accommodations and commendations for safe operations.
 Bernard Eckenrode, a 39-year veteran, has numerous accommodations for safe operation and outstanding performance.
 Lawrence Roberson, 31 years at SEPTA. He is a peer mentor at the Elmwood District, and currently operates the Route 34.
 Aaron Shelton, 27-year veteran. Outstanding record for safety and performance. Currently works on the Route 11.
 Robert Buggy, 40 years’ service, 28 years of recognition for safe operations. He runs the Route 88 bus, and will begin enjoying retirement next year.
 Richard Borowiec, a 40-year veteran with 28 years of safety honors. He runs the Route 59.
 Thomas Slaven, 34 years honored for safe operations. He operates the Route 73.
 John Becker has 34 years worth of honors for safe operations. He operates the Route 66.
 David Viglione, 33 years of service with an outstanding safety record. Currently working Routes 127 and 128.
 David Harris, 26 years of service with 23 years of safe operations recognition. He can be found operating routes 129, 130, and 133.
 Robert Downer, 43 years of service, with multiple safety recognitions. He works on the Route 56.
 Stephen Vaughn, 35 years of service and 30 years of safe driving. He is currently on the Route 61.
 Robert Colburn Jr., 39 years of service, 31 years of safe driving recognition and numerous accommodations. He operates the Route 64.
 Kevin Baldwin, 41 years of service and the same number of safety awards. He is a yardmaster at Victory District.
Hopefully there is an International Train Conductor Day coming up sometime this year.

Marsha Tansy Four a Champion of Change

Tomorrow Marsha Tansy Four will be honored by the White House as one of fourteen women veterans who are Champions of Change .

Marsha Tansey FourPhiladelphia, PA Marsha Four, residing in the Philadelphia area, is an in-country Vietnam Veteran, sits on the National Board of Directors of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), and is the Chair of its National Women Veterans Committee. She has devoted the past 24 years to working with and advocating for Veterans by contributing, writing, and delivering testimony related to Veterans issues on the local, state and federal levels. Marsha was appointed twice to the VA Secretarial Committee on Women Veterans. She organized a joint VVA/VA community-wide PTSD day-long workshop for emergency, hospital and social service personnel. In 1993, Marsha initiated the Philadelphia Stand Down for Homeless Veterans and recently retired as the Executive Director of The Philadelphia Veterans Multi-Service and Education Center, a non-profit agency providing free, comprehensive services to regional Veterans. As such, she took the developmental lead on establishing the Mary E. Walker House, a nationally recognized transitional residence for homeless women Veterans. Her service to county and community continues to impact the lives of thousands upon thousands of Veterans in need and their families.

Philly's Appmeister

Great Philly PR in today's Wall Street Journal.  Read "High priest of app design at home in Philly," by Jessica E. Lessin.  When you are using an app and pull down on the screen to refresh -- you know that maneuver?  It was invented by Loren Brichter, who lives in Philadelphia.  Even though that would be enough to be a geek god, it's not the only thing he's invented.  Read for the details.

WSJ on Schwartz Bill

On Thursday, March 14th, Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D), of Pennsylvania's 13th congressional district, and Aaron Schock (R), of Illinois's 18th congressional district, introduced HR 1201, a bill to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for the distribution of additional residency positions, and for other purposes.  So far there is only one other co-sponsor.  The text of the bill is not yet on Thomas.

However, the Wall Street Journal had an interesting article on the bill and the general subject it addresses on Thursday.  "Squeeze looms for doctors," by Melinda Beck describes the current shortage of available residency positions for new doctors, and how this bill is designed to address it.

There is a shortage of primary care physicians.  New medical schools have opened to train more doctors.  However, there is a bottleneck in the educational process.  All medical school graduates must complete a residency, lasting between three and seven years, of work under the general supervision of one or more physicians before they can practice on their own.  Residency positions are funded by Medicare and the number of available slots was last set by law in 1997.  No new positions can be created unless the cap is lifted.

The bill that Schwarz and Schock introduced would do just that.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Being Biden Recordings

Vice President Joe Biden has initiated a multi-media series called "Being Biden."  The initial brief recording is an audio introduction to the series, which he says will consist of images and his descriptions of the events and people involved.  The first in the series is on sportsman's ethics with an image of Biden serving sportsmen a meal.  Biden has an interesting voice and I hope to keep up with the series as it develops.

Prez O Statement on Senate and Gun Safety

from Thursday's inbox:

Statement by the President I thank the Senate for taking another step forward in our common effort to help reduce gun violence by advancing a bill that would reinstate and strengthen a ban on the sale of military-style assault weapons and set a 10-round limit for magazines.  These weapons of war, when combined with high-capacity magazines, have one purpose: to inflict maximum damage as quickly as possible.  They are designed for the battlefield, and they have no place on our streets, in our schools, or threatening our law enforcement officers.   The Senate has now advanced legislation addressing three of the most important elements of my proposal to help reduce the epidemic of gun violence in this country.  Now the full Senate and the House need to vote on this bill, as well as the measures advanced in the past week that would impose serious penalties on anyone who buys a gun as part of a scheme to arm criminals, improve school safety, and help keep guns out of the hands of criminals, people with a severe mental illness, and others who shouldn’t have them.  Each of these proposals deserves a vote.

Friday, March 15, 2013

DVLF Announces Heroes (including Patrick Murphy)

The Delaware Valley Legacy Fund, an organization that supports the community needs of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex and straight-allied communities, will hold their 7th annual Heroes celebration on May 19th.  DVLF works to increase philanthropic awareness and grantmaking through endowment building, fundraising, outreach, and education.

At the Heroes event

DVLF seeks to identify youth, adults, non-profits, straight-allies & businesses who have bold ideas, act with selfless intention, are admired for their integrity, and are regarded as courageous in advancing the equality of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, & transgender community in the Delaware Valley and beyond. DVLF honors these Heroes annually in celebration of their character & in encouragement of others to act heroically.
This year's heroes include:

Individual HERO Award:
Franny Price

Straight Ally HERO Award:
Patrick Murphy
Lifetime Legacy Award:
John Cunningham
Youth HERO Award:
Chantel Wilson

Nonprofit Organization HERO Award:
The Philadelphia Foundation

Business/Corporation HERO Award:
Rossi Wellness Center

Murphy represented the 8th congressional district (primarily Bucks County) for two terms and was a leader in the successful effort to change the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" rule.  Murphy was the first Iraq War veteran elected to Congress and is currently a lawyer in Philadelphia.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Eatin' of the Greens

from our friends at Montgomery County:

March begins the season of green. Spring is coming, St Patrick’s Day celebrations are in order, and Earth Day is just around the corner. The color green is synonymous with a time of renewal and vital energy. If there’s one color that Americans can strive to have more of on their plates, it’s green! March is also National Nutrition Month, an opportunity to take notice of the benefits of healthy eating. 
According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 25% of adults consume the recommended daily allowance of vegetables (3 or more servings per day). Leafy green vegetables are the most lacking of all. Leafy green vegetables are nutrition powerhouses and adding them to the diet is essential for lasting health. Greens are a rich source of calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E, and K. They also boast fiber and a range of phytonutrients (plant-based nutrients that are health protective). Research suggests that the nutrients in dark leafy greens may prevent certain types of cancer and promote heart health. Chlorophyll is responsible for the green pigment of leafy greens and is essential in supporting the health of the circulatory, digestive, immune, and detoxification systems. Note that most of the vitamins in dark leafy greens are fat soluble, meaning it’s best to eat them with a healthy source of fat such as virgin olive oil or flax seed oil.  There are many types of dark leafy greens. Some of the most common (and easy to find in the produce section of the grocery store) include: spinach, kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, arugula, bok choy, and cabbage. They can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, or sautéed in oil, broth, or water. Spinach and Swiss chard are best eaten when cooked because they are high in oxalic acid, which can deplete calcium. Three cups of raw spinach, for example, have 90 milligrams of calcium, whereas one cup of cooked spinach has nearly three times that amount (259 milligrams). Cooking vegetables also increases the amount of magnesium and iron that's available to the body. Cooking with these greens is quick and easy – and nearly impossible to mess up!  Plus, they store easily in the refrigerator, making them ideal for busy lifestyles! Generally, the darker green the vegetable, the more nutrient-dense it will be. Look for opportunities to make a simple shift to get more of these dark leafy greens into meals! Here are some ideas:·         Shift from iceberg or romaine lettuce to mixed greens, arugula, or another dark leafy green·         Blend cooked greens into tomato sauce to get some extra nutrients·         Add chopped greens to a morning omelet to get a serving of greens for breakfast·         Use a heartier green leaf (kale, Swiss chard, cabbage) as a wrap, and skip the tortilla·         Add chopped greens to soups or stews – they’ll cook faster than most other veggies, so add them within the last 5-15 minutes of cooking In recognition of National Nutrition Month, go for the greens!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Delaware County Candidates

The Delaware County Democratic Committee has released it's slate of candidates.  This may or may not be a complete list for county-wide office.

As your eyes drop to the list, be aware that their Bill Clinton is not the Bill Clinton you are thinking of.

Bill Clinton, candidate for County Council, is currently the twice-elected member of Upper Providence Township Council and is a faculty member at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine where he teaches in the organizational development and leadership master’s degree program.
Patricia Worrell, candidate for County Council is a businessperson in Chester has been active in disciplines such as finance analysis, credit and collections, business-to-business collections and human resources. Currently, Worrell is both a business owner and a real estate broker 
Frank Daly, candidate for register of wills, served as Mayor of Media for ten years as well President of Borough Council.  Daly has a law degree from the Dickinson School of Law.  He also has a graduate law degree in taxation from Temple University. He has vast experience in wills, trusts and estates.  
Rocco Polidoro, candidate for Sheriff, owns a Nationwide Insurance Agency in Springfield and is the Commander of Springfield’s American Legion Post.  He is a decorated veteran, including service in Germany during the Cold War.  He earned a Bachelors degree in economics from Temple University. 
David Boonin, candidate for County Controller, has performed financial analysis for local, state and federal governments, saving utility customers over a billion dollars.  He runs his own economic and financial consulting business.  He received his Masters and Bachelor of Science degrees in economics form Brown University and the Wharton school at the University of Pennsylvania. 
Nancy A. Walker, candidate for Common Pleas Judge, has her law office in Media, and practices in the areas of labor, employment and special education law.  Walker has been a volunteer child advocate for fifteen years and has served on the boards of professional and nonprofit organizations in the community.  She interned for a federal judge and served as an executive editor on the University of Pittsburgh Law Review while in law school at that University.   
Steven Chanenson, candidate for Common Pleas Judge, is a professor at Villanova Law School and the chair of Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing.  He clerked for two US Supreme Court Justices and is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania (B.A. in economics and M.S. in criminology). Chanenson also received his J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School, where he was a Comment Editor of the University of Chicago Law Review. 

York Mayor Announces Re-Election Campaign

from the inbox:

York Mayor Kim Bracey will launch her re-election bid on Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 6 p.m. at her campaign headquarters, 6 South Queen Street, York. Mayor Bracey was elected the first African American Mayor of York in 2009.  She was sworn in as the 24th Mayor of York in January, 2010. In her first term, Mayor Bracey has focused on professionalizing all aspects of York City government.  She consolidated all city offices under one roof, regionalized fire rescue services and launched six new neighborhood policing units.  She has generated new revenue for the City by collecting delinquent sewer and refuse accounts. Under Mayor Bracey’s leadership, new business has thrived in the City.  She has overseen $125 million in economic and community development initiatives.  Mayor Bracey has secured state investment funding for York’s historic markets and to build the community cultural arts center. Mayor Bracey has visited every school in York and launched First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative to combat childhood obesity.  Her Take 10 program has cleaned up our streets and the Bring on Play initiative has rebuilt four city parks. Mayor Bracey is an active participant in the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities and the Pennsylvania League of Municipalities.  She served on the boards of York Hospital, The Martin Library, The York County Community Foundation and Habitat for Humanity. Mayor Bracey attended York City Schools, Bloomberg University and was honorably discharged from the United States Air Force.  She received the National Defense Service Medal and the Air Force Good Conduct Medal.

White House Statements on Pope Francis I

Statement from President Obama:

On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I offer our warm wishes to His Holiness Pope Francis as he ascends to the Chair of Saint Peter and begins his papacy.  As a champion of the poor and the most vulnerable among us, he carries forth the message of love and compassion that has inspired the world for more than two thousand years—that in each other we see the face of God.  As the first pope from the Americas, his selection also speaks to the strength and vitality of a region that is increasingly shaping our world, and alongside millions of Hispanic Americans, those of us in the United States share the joy of this historic day.  Just as I appreciated our work with Pope Benedict XVI, I look forward to working with His Holiness to advance peace, security and dignity for our fellow human beings, regardless of their faith.  We join with people around the world in offering our prayers for the Holy Father as he begins the sacred work of leading the Catholic Church in our modern world.

Statement from Vice President Biden:

Jill and I want to offer our congratulations to His Holiness Pope Francis, and extend our prayers as he takes on this holy responsibility. I am happy to have the chance to personally relay my well wishes, and those of the American people, when I travel to Rome for his Inaugural Mass. The Catholic Church plays an essential role in my life and the lives of more than a billion people in America and around the world, not just in matters of our faith, but in pursuit of peace and human dignity for all faiths. I look forward to our work together in the coming years on many important issues.

Why Churches are Important to Boy Scouts

I, like many people, hoped that the Boy Scouts of America would end the official discrimination against gays.  There were hopeful signs a month or so ago but it didn't happen (yet).  Some religious denominations have concerns.  Why should this matter?  Because scout troops must have chartering organizations.  This is not sponsorship in terms of money.  The BSA website provides this information on chartering organizations:

  • Responsibilities of chartered organizations include:
  • Providing adequate meeting facilities.
  • Providing quality leadership for the Scouting unit.
  • Appointing a chartered organization representative to coordinate all Scouting unit operations within the organization.
The same site lists three categories of chartering organizations, 70.3% are faith based organizations, 20% are civic organizations, and  7.5% are educational organizations.  The largest faith based group are the Mormons, followed by the United Methodist Church.  Some denominations want to keep the ban on gays, others don't, and some are keeping quiet.

Religious, civic, and educational organizations are the most common chartering organizations for a reason, well, okay, for a few reasons.  One, if you think about it, how many other types of organizations have the meeting space?  Better yet, space in residential areas where kids live?  Second, how many organizations can come up with the volunteers?  Granted schools and churches don't always provide the actual leaders, but often there is a connection.  Scout leaders show up week after week, campout after campout, and that is a serious commitment.

In May the BSA leadership group will decide whether or not to allow individual chartering organizations to allow openly gay scouts and scout leaders to join (surely everyone knows that gay scouts and leaders have been and continue to participate, not announcing their orientation).  If chartering organizations are allowed to make that decision, I hope a lot of social organizations will decide to start troops.  It is not an easy thing to do, especially finding volunteers to devote the amount of time needed to effectively run a troop.

If we don't want religious groups to have such sway over an iconic organization like the scouts, then a lot of other groups and volunteers need to step up.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Little History on Voter ID in PA

Pennsylvania is still sorting through the legality of the voter ID bill passed in the legislature (Republican majority) and signed by the governor (also a Republican) last year.  It wasn't the first time the state considered legislation on voter ID.  This is a very brief history, giving just cursory information.  Interested readers are encouraged to do further research on their own.

In 2002 State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (Republican) introduced a bill in the House that would require voters to show a photo identification at the polls.  It passed the house but the Senate adjourned before voting on their version of the bill.   The legislation mirrored a federal bill being considered at the same time.

The 2004 election was the first in which voters in new locations or first time voters had to show a voter ID card or a photo ID.  Student IDs were acceptable.  People who didn't have those could show a firearm permit, current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck or government check.  Voters who did not have any id could cast a provisional ballot.  It was a complicated process, though, requiring the provisional ballot to be placed in an envelope signed by the voter.

In 2006 both the Pennsylvania state senate and house (both having a Republican majority) passed voter ID legislation but it was vetoed by Gov. Rendell.  The bill would have required all voters to file a provisional ballot if they didn't have identification.

In 2008 Metcalfe introduced another bill requiring voter identification but it didn't pass.

In 2009 State Sen. Jane Orie (Republican)  sponsored a bill that would require voters to show a government-issued photo ID or two other kids of identification of which one would have a photo.

In 2011 Metcalfe tried again and succeeded.  Voter ID passed the house, the senate and was signed by Gov. Corbett.  It is now in the courts.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Possible PA Control Tower Closures

The FAA has released a list of airport control towers that might be closed due to the federal budget sequester.  That doesn't mean the airport will close -- at small airports planes can land without a control tower, at busier airports pilots can work with towers at neighboring airports.  However, this is an item that might be of concern to those who live near or do business with those airports.  The towers in Pennsylvania on the list are:

Capitol City in Harrisburg
Williamsport Regional in Williamsport
Arnold Palmer Regional in Latrobe
Lancaster in Lancaster
Northeast Philadelphia in Philadelphia
Reading Regional -- Carl A Spaatz Field in Reading

Future Wegmans Locations In PA

For those who like shopping at Wegmans -- there are two planned new stores in Pennsylvania, both in greater Philadelphia area.  One is in Concordville, Delaware County.  There is no listed opening date, but the location is listed as Route 202 near Route 1.  The other, in Montgomeryville, Montgomery County, is slated to open in the Fall of 2013.  The location is listed as Route 309 & North Wales Road.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Sorg Kicks Off Mayoral Campaign in Ambler

Jeanne Sorg has formally announced her mayoral campaign in Ambler.  Sorg currently works for State Rep. Stephen McCarter and was formerly the Assistant Director of the Montgomery County Democratic Committee.  This is an open seat as the current mayor, Bud Wahl, is not seeking re-election.  Sorg and her family have lived in Ambler for around a dozen years.  She and her husband, former State Rep. Rick Taylor, are very involved with civic life in Ambler.

I've spoken to Jeanne Sorg several times at a variety of political events over the years of writing this blog.  She's one of my favorite people.  We frequently talked about mom stuff but I've always been impressed by her political acumen.  

Democratic Jewish Organization Now on Facebook

The Obama Jewish Outreach Pennsylvania (OJOP) organization was founded in 2008 and has been active in political races at a variety of levels. The group has changed its name to the Democratic Jewish Outreach Pennsylvania (DJOP).  DJOP has set up a Facebook page.  There were issues transferring the page for the previous name to the new one so they've just set up another page for DJOP.  If you are so inclined please stop by on Facebook and "like" them.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

PCN's Focus on Education

from the inbox:

The Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN) and the Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC) are partnering together this year for a special monthly program called “Focus on Education.” The new program, which offers a panel discussion concerning current issues facing education, airs on PCN the second Wednesday of each month beginning at 9:00 p.m.  The upcoming March 13 episode will be devoted to the subject of student testing. During the program, Ron Cowell, president of EPLC, will give an overview of the  featured topic and will then sit in on the panel discussion concerning the subject. For those without access to cable or those unable to get to a TV, streaming of this program will also be made available online during the network airing by subscribing to PCN Select at For more information about the streaming service, visit 

Adult Basic Update

from the inbox:

Today the law firm of Caroselli, Beachler, McTiernan & Conboy announced that the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled that the Corbett Administration must reinstate the AdultBasic Care program beginning in fiscal year 2013-14.
“This is a significant victory for people in Pennsylvania who work hard and play by the rules, but can’t afford private insurance,” said William R. Caroselli.  “AdultBasic was created to help the working poor.  It’s not a handout and it presents no cost to the taxpayers.  It’s affordable care that is fully funded by the tobacco settlement.  What the administration did was reprehensible and we are pleased that the Commonwealth Court ordered them to reinstate this important program.”
AdultBasic was created to allow low-income workers to purchase health care insurance at a minimal cost. It was funded by law by the Pennsylvania Tobacco Settlement Act which required that federal tobacco settlement monies would be “used to make Pennsylvanians healthier and provide for the health of future generations of Pennsylvanians,” and specifically that 30% of the proceeds would be shared between adultBasic Insurance and Medicaid for workers with disabilities. Pennsylvania receives annual settlement payments from tobacco companies, which amounted to more than $340 million in fiscal year 2009-2010. 
In February of 2011, the Corbett Administration ended the AdultBasic program, redirected the tobacco settlement money to the state’s general fund, and essentially left 41,000 working, low-income Pennsylvanians without coverage.  Caroselli Beachler filed a civil action in March of 2011 to save AdultBasic.
In his opinion, President Judge Dan Pellegrini wrote that the Corbett Administration’s actions to eliminate AdultBasic were unconstitutional and that the court “direct[s] them to appropriate the 30% of the [tobacco settlement fund] to ‘health investment insurance pursuant to Chapter 13 and for the purchase of Medicaid benefits for workers with disabilities pursuant to Chapter 15,’ i.e., the MAWD [Medicare assistance for workers with disabilities] and AdultBasic programs.”
“This is a great win for low-income Pennsylvanians,” added David S. Senoff of Caroselli Beachler. “It confirms what we’ve been saying all along: killing the AdultBasic Care program was not only mean spirited; it was against the law.”

Patrick Murphy on DOMA

Former Congressman Patrick Murphy's latest post on MSNBC is on the Defense of Marriage Act as it affects military families.  Murphy is known for his work to rescind "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."  Read "DOMA hurts our military families," 3/04/2013

Monday, March 04, 2013

Two WHYY Events

Mark your calendars!

Registration required for these events:

I:  Wonder Woman

ITVS Community Cinema and WHYY, in partnership with West Chester University Women's Center, Vision 2020 and Eileen Fisher, present FREE screening of the PBS documentary Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines Monday, March 25th7:30pm (Doors open 7:00pm)Sykes Theater110 W. Rosedale AvenueWest Chester, PA 19383

II.  World Class City

A world class region invests in the present with an eye toward the future. Over the past year, the Economy League and its World Class partners have convened cross-sector teams to develop strategy frameworks for our region in three key areas: Education and Talent DevelopmentBusiness Growth, and Infrastructure.
Join us on the evening of Monday, March 18, as we introduce Global Positioning Strategies - or GPSes - for World Class Education and Talent Development and Business Growth in Greater Philadelphia. Don't miss this opportunity to join a diverse and passionate group of regional leaders and learn more about exciting initiatives related to the emerging World Class agenda.
And following the presentation, enjoy one of the best networking receptions of the season. Monday, March 18, 20135:30pm-7:30pmWHYY150 N 6th Street, Philadelphia

New PCN Show

from the inbox:

The Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN) is bringing an insightful look ahead to the happenings at the state Capitol with a new, LIVE Monday morning program.  “This Week: PA” airs every Monday morning at 9:30 when the state legislature is in session. Encore presentations are shown throughout the morning until the opening gavel sounds for the week. “This Week: PA” is hosted by PCN’s Francine Schertzer. The program breaks down the day’s top headlines with unbiased analysis from those who cover the Capitol, while taking a look at the issues that face the state.  The show also offers exclusive interviews with state lawmakers in order to gain insight into the week ahead for the state legislature. The program, which first debuted on January 22, will return on Monday, March 11 at 9:30 a.m. The program did not air during for the past few weeks due to coverage of the House and Senate Appropriations budget hearings. PCN is a nonprofit, noncommercial news organization created and supported by cable television companies. PCN receives no state or federal funding. Network programming is distributed by participating cable systems in Pennsylvania serving more than 10 million Pennsylvanians in 3.3 million homes.

Friday, March 01, 2013

PA Congressmen Who Voted Against VAWA

Both of Pennsylvania's senators voted to renew the Violence Against Women Act.  Today the House voted. Here is a list of Pennsylvania Congressmen who voted against it (final vote count):

Congressman  Mike Kelly (R-03)
Congressman Tom Marino (R-10)
Congressman Tim Murphy (R-18)
Congressman Scott Perry (R-04)
Congressman Joe Pitts (R-16)
Congressman Keith Rothfus (R-12)

While I have not looked to see what, if anything, any of these men said regarding their votes, the standard objections to this bill are that it extended protections to LGBT people, Native Americans, and illegal immigrants.

These six men will be up for re-election in 2014.  I hope the women in their district remember this vote.