Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Recent WSJ Notes

While the Wall Street Journal is generally perceived as a conservative publication I continue to be surprised by the evenhanded writing in the news pages.  (The editorial section is a different matter entirely but as I never read the editorials and op-eds, regardless of who writes them, it is immaterial.)

Here are few quotes from recent issues, as examples.

"With Congress poised to extend a raft of tax breaks, consider this:  One such break has helped AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. slash their recent tax bills by billions of dollars without leading to the intended increase in investment ad jobs."  ("A tax break fails to produce jobs," by Thomas Gryta, 12/12/2014)

"U.S. families' debt burdens have settled at their lowest level in more than a decade, putting the economy on a stronger footing relative to global rivals going into 2015," ("Family finances looking up," by Neil Shah, 12/12/2014

I regularly read about how effective the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) is, and how worrisome increased income inequality is.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Draft DVRPC Document: 2015 Money and Planning Version

The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission is inviting comments on the Draft Fiscal Year 2016 Planning Work Program.  This outlines all of the federally funded planning projects for the nine county region from July1, 2015 to June 30, 2016, and includes projects planned by government and transit agencies, as well as DVRPC projects. This plan is prepared annually.   

While this plan is released for public comments (due by January 12, 2015 -- details on submitting comments at: ), if I were still in the community activist / volunteer grant writer mode I would be reading this over carefully as a possible source of funding.  I'm not sure what any of the monies involved can be used for but it would certainly be worth reading it over to see what how these project plans are funded, where the money will be going, and what the time frame might be for the actual projects as opposed to simply planning.  The document is long, over 300 pages, and most of that is program descriptions and funding information.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Campaign Finance: More of the Same

Two recent news notes on campaign finance and funding.

First from Mike Allen's Political Playbook, Dec. 8th,:

BEHIND THE CURTAIN - New Koch: big enough to elect a president? Piece by piece, the magnates build the machinery - Mike Allen and Ken Vogel: "The Koch brothers and their allies are pumping tens of millions of dollars into a data company that has built state-of-the-art profiles of 250 million Americans ... The Koch network also has developed in-house expertise in polling, message-testing, fact-checking, advertising, media buying, dial groups and donor maintenance. ... 'The Koch operations are the most important non-party political players in the U.S. today, and no one else is even close,' said a top Republican who was involved in the last eight presidential campaigns.
"The least-known vehicle for the Kochs is a for-profit company, i360, that has spent more than $50 million on building data bases and tools over the past four years. 'Right now, we're talking about and btouilding things that you won't see in 2016, because it's not going to be ready until 2018,' [said i360 President Michael] Palmer. ... i360 links voter information ... with any interaction the voter may have had with affiliated campaigns and advocacy groups. Then comes estimated income, recent addresses, how often a person has voted, and even the brand of car ...

Second, also from Politico, "Tea party fumes over campaign finance plan," by Tarini Parti and Anna Palmer, 12/11/2014.  There is a provision tucked into the spending bill that passed the House today:

The provision would increase the amount of money a single donor could give to national party committees each year from $97,200 to as much as $777,600 by allowing them to set up different funds for certain expenses. The change would be a huge boost for party committees that have faced steep challenges in recent years from well-funded outside groups.

None of this is good news.

Friday, December 05, 2014

What is Prez O Doing Tomorrow?

President Obama's public schedule tomorrow includes two interesting items.  He is meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan.  (Vice President Biden will also attend that meeting.)  Later in the day the president is meeting with some newly elected governors, including Pennsylvania's Tom Wolf.

Birth Center Welcomes 10,000th Baby

Yesterday, December 3rd, The Birth Center in Bryn Mawr, welcomed their 10,000th baby!  The Birth Center is the first licensed birth center in Pennsylvania and one of the oldest  continually operating birth centers in the United States. TBC’s team of certified nurse-midwives (CNMs), nurse-practitioners (NPs) and registered nurses (RNs) have been delivering this model of care to our clients and families for 36 years. Demand for their service is growing;  Ten years ago TBC assisted in the birth of 350 babies; in 2014 that has increased to 550 babies.

They plan to expand their services in the future:

While TBC is well-known and regarded for its maternity and breastfeeding care and services, many people do not realize that our services expand well beyond that, into well-woman care throughout the lifecycle.  Over the next decade, TBC seeks to expand greater access to our model of care, including more grants to those who are uninsured or underinsured, expanding breast-feeding services and support groups to all new mothers and families, and building a stronger voice - in government and in the community - on behalf of the healthcare needs of all women and families.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Vitali to Receive Bob Edgar Public Service Award

Tomorrow (Friday) evening the Delaware County Democrats will host their annual holiday cocktail party.  At this event they will present the Bob Edgar Public Service Award to State Rep. Greg Vitali, in recognition of his many years of distinguished service.

According to the press release:

Recently elected to his 13th term, Vitali has been leader on environmental issues and open government. He has consistently stood up for the values and ideals of the Democratic Party no matter what the consequence. 

Named after the late Congressman Bob Edgar, the award is presented annually by the Delaware County Democratic Committee. Edgar represented Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District for six terms from 1975 until 1987, breaking Delaware County's Republican "machine". Edgar was known for his independence and as a reformer. While in Congress he led efforts to improve public transportation, authored the community Right to Know provisions of Super Fund legislation, co-authored the new GI bill for the all-volunteer service, fought wasteful water projects, and supported tougher environmental laws.

Vitali is one of my favorite state reps and it is delightful to see him receive this award.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Other Interesting Articles This Week

Catching up on the papers this weekend, I noticed a couple of interesting articles in the Wall Street Journal and the Inquirer.

"Made in the U.S.A.:  A sweater travels from sheep to shelf," by Christina Binkley, WSJ 11/26/2014, recounts the route small business Zady took to manufacture a wool sweater complete in the US, from, as the article title says, sheep to shelf.  Two stops along the way are in Pennsylvania.  The wool for the sweaters was dyed at a Philadelphia company, G. J. Littlewood, which has been in the city since the Civil War; Littlewood reportedly made uniforms for both the Union and the Confederacy.  The dyed wool was spun into yard at Kraemer Yarns in Nazareth, PA.  Interesting and cool.

Don't read this unless you want to raise your bloodpressure or get depressed.  Joann S. Lublin writes "The boss makes how much more than you?" in the WSJ, 11/26/2014.  Companies may not have to report how the CEO's salary compares to that of the average worker.

Trudy Rubin continues her efforts to remind us all of a forgotten obligation.  "Iraqi helps now need help," Philadelphia Inquirer 11/27/2014.  Iraqis who served as translators or otherwise helped US troops and civilians.  In doing so they put themselves and their families at risk or retribution.  They were promised special visas but 2,400 are still waiting.  We need to get this done.

Area Girl Now Head of USPS

Megan J. Brennan, graduate of Immaculata College, joined the United States Postal Service as a letter carrier in Lancaster, PA.  Hers is a postal family, with her father and two of her brothers working at the USPS, too.  Megan stayed with the postal service, and was recently named COO, also called the postmaster general.  She is the first woman to hold the job.  (You go, Megan!).

You can read more at the USPS website:  and in a recent WSJ article ("New postmaster's goal:  act like private sector," by Laura Stevens, 11/24/2014)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Gone Fishin'

Give a man a fish or teach a man to fish, both will be less expensive in Pennsylvania next year, if he buys his license in December.   The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is lowering the cost of fishing licenses.  You can see a list of prices on their website (there are different prices for residents and non-residents, seniors, reservists, etc).  A resident annual license is $21.70.  You can read more here:

Painter Thank You

A note from Mark Painter in the inbox:

The election is over and we're winding down the campaign. We came up short, but we fought the good fight and I'm proud of the effort we made.

And with the Thanksgiving holiday upon us, there's no better time for me to say "Thank you" to all my friends and supporters for all you did for my campaign. I said from the beginning there was no way I could do all this on my own. How lucky I am that so many of you stepped up and helped us put together a strong campaign. It was all that I could have hoped for, and for that I am truly grateful.

All of you will be in my thoughts this Thanksgiving. And I wish you and your loved ones the best of holidays.
Yours truly,

Mark Painter

Monday, November 24, 2014

Oh, Baby!

The Birth Center in Bryn Mawr is on baby watch.  That's not exactly surprising, but this is a milestone.  Sometime late this month or early next the center expects to assist with it's 10,000th birth.
The Birth Center was founded in 1978 and is the first licensed birth center in Pennsylvania and one of the oldest continually operating birth centers in the United States.  It is staffed by certified nurse-midwives, nurse practitioners,and registered nurses.  The Birth Center allows women to be an active participant in her healthcare decision-making.

Philly a Finalist

Philadelphia has been named one of three finalists to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention.  The other two are Columbus and Brooklyn

Thursday, November 20, 2014

McCarter Office Move

State Rep. Steve McCarter, D-Montgomery/Phila., announced today that his district office, currently located at 215 S. Easton Road, will move on Monday, Nov. 24, to a new location at 115 E. Glenside Ave., Suite 8.

The move will provide more accessibility with designated off-street parking for constituents. The transition is expected to last several days, during which constituents are asked to contact McCarter’s staff at for assistance. 

Obama's Remarks on Immigration

from the inbox:


Cross Hall

8:01 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  My fellow Americans, tonight, I’d like to talk with you about immigration.

For more than 200 years, our tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world has given us a tremendous advantage over other nations.  It’s kept us youthful, dynamic, and entrepreneurial.  It has shaped our character as a people with limitless possibilities –- people not trapped by our past, but able to remake ourselves as we choose.

But today, our immigration system is broken -- and everybody knows it. 

Families who enter our country the right way and play by the rules watch others flout the rules.  Business owners who offer their workers good wages and benefits see the competition exploit undocumented immigrants by paying them far less.  All of us take offense to anyone who reaps the rewards of living in America without taking on the responsibilities of living in America.  And undocumented immigrants who desperately want to embrace those responsibilities see little option but to remain in the shadows, or risk their families being torn apart. 

It’s been this way for decades.  And for decades, we haven’t done much about it.

When I took office, I committed to fixing this broken immigration system.  And I began by doing what I could to secure our borders.  Today, we have more agents and technology deployed to secure our southern border than at any time in our history.  And over the past six years, illegal border crossings have been cut by more than half.  Although this summer, there was a brief spike in unaccompanied children being apprehended at our border, the number of such children is now actually lower than it’s been in nearly two years.  Overall, the number of people trying to cross our border illegally is at its lowest level since the 1970s.  Those are the facts.

Meanwhile, I worked with Congress on a comprehensive fix, and last year, 68 Democrats, Republicans, and independents came together to pass a bipartisan bill in the Senate.  It wasn’t perfect.  It was a compromise.  But it reflected common sense.  It would have doubled the number of border patrol agents while giving undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship if they paid a fine, started paying their taxes, and went to the back of the line.  And independent experts said that it would help grow our economy and shrink our deficits. 

Had the House of Representatives allowed that kind of bill a simple yes-or-no vote, it would have passed with support from both parties, and today it would be the law.  But for a year and a half now, Republican leaders in the House have refused to allow that simple vote.

Now, I continue to believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together to pass that kind of common sense law.  But until that happens, there are actions I have the legal authority to take as President –- the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican presidents before me -– that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just.

Tonight, I am announcing those actions.

First, we’ll build on our progress at the border with additional resources for our law enforcement personnel so that they can stem the flow of illegal crossings, and speed the return of those who do cross over.

Second, I’ll make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates, and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy, as so many business leaders have proposed. 

Third, we’ll take steps to deal responsibly with the millions of undocumented immigrants who already live in our country.

I want to say more about this third issue, because it generates the most passion and controversy.  Even as we are a nation of immigrants, we’re also a nation of laws.  Undocumented workers broke our immigration laws, and I believe that they must be held accountable -– especially those who may be dangerous.  That’s why, over the past six years, deportations of criminals are up 80 percent.  And that’s why we’re going to keep focusing enforcement resources on actual threats to our security.  Felons, not families.  Criminals, not children.  Gang members, not a mom who’s working hard to provide for her kids.  We’ll prioritize, just like law enforcement does every day. 

But even as we focus on deporting criminals, the fact is, millions of immigrants in every state, of every race and nationality still live here illegally.  And let’s be honest -– tracking down, rounding up, and deporting millions of people isn’t realistic.  Anyone who suggests otherwise isn’t being straight with you.  It’s also not who we are as Americans.  After all, most of these immigrants have been here a long time.  They work hard, often in tough, low-paying jobs.  They support their families.  They worship at our churches.  Many of their kids are American-born or spent most of their lives here, and their hopes, dreams, and patriotism are just like ours.  As my predecessor, President Bush, once put it:  “They are a part of American life.”

Now here’s the thing:  We expect people who live in this country to play by the rules.  We expect that those who cut the line will not be unfairly rewarded.  So we’re going to offer the following deal:  If you’ve been in America for more than five years; if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents; if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes -- you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily without fear of deportation.  You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law.  That’s what this deal is. 

Now, let’s be clear about what it isn’t.  This deal does not apply to anyone who has come to this country recently.  It does not apply to anyone who might come to America illegally in the future.  It does not grant citizenship, or the right to stay here permanently, or offer the same benefits that citizens receive -– only Congress can do that.  All we’re saying is we’re not going to deport you. 

I know some of the critics of this action call it amnesty.  Well, it’s not.  Amnesty is the immigration system we have today -– millions of people who live here without paying their taxes or playing by the rules while politicians use the issue to scare people and whip up votes at election time. 

That’s the real amnesty –- leaving this broken system the way it is.  Mass amnesty would be unfair.  Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character.  What I’m describing is accountability –- a common-sense, middle-ground approach:  If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law.  If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported.  If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up.

The actions I’m taking are not only lawful, they’re the kinds of actions taken by every single Republican President and every single Democratic President for the past half century.  And to those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer:  Pass a bill. 

I want to work with both parties to pass a more permanent legislative solution.  And the day I sign that bill into law, the actions I take will no longer be necessary.  Meanwhile, don’t let a disagreement over a single issue be a dealbreaker on every issue.  That’s not how our democracy works, and Congress certainly shouldn’t shut down our government again just because we disagree on this.  Americans are tired of gridlock.  What our country needs from us right now is a common purpose –- a higher purpose.

Most Americans support the types of reforms I’ve talked about tonight.  But I understand the disagreements held by many of you at home.  Millions of us, myself included, go back generations in this country, with ancestors who put in the painstaking work to become citizens.  So we don’t like the notion that anyone might get a free pass to American citizenship. 

I know some worry immigration will change the very fabric of who we are, or take our jobs, or stick it to middle-class families at a time when they already feel like they’ve gotten the raw deal for over a decade.  I hear these concerns.  But that’s not what these steps would do.  Our history and the facts show that immigrants are a net plus for our economy and our society.  And I believe it’s important that all of us have this debate without impugning each other’s character.

Because for all the back and forth of Washington, we have to remember that this debate is about something bigger.  It’s about who we are as a country, and who we want to be for future generations.

Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law?  Or are we a nation that gives them a chance to make amends, take responsibility, and give their kids a better future?

Are we a nation that accepts the cruelty of ripping children from their parents’ arms?  Or are we a nation that values families, and works together to keep them together?

Are we a nation that educates the world’s best and brightest in our universities, only to send them home to create businesses in countries that compete against us?  Or are we a nation that encourages them to stay and create jobs here, create businesses here, create industries right here in America?

That’s what this debate is all about.  We need more than politics as usual when it comes to immigration.  We need reasoned, thoughtful, compassionate debate that focuses on our hopes, not our fears.  I know the politics of this issue are tough.  But let me tell you why I have come to feel so strongly about it. 

Over the past few years, I have seen the determination of immigrant fathers who worked two or three jobs without taking a dime from the government, and at risk any moment of losing it all, just to build a better life for their kids.  I’ve seen the heartbreak and anxiety of children whose mothers might be taken away from them just because they didn’t have the right papers.  I’ve seen the courage of students who, except for the circumstances of their birth, are as American as Malia or Sasha; students who bravely come out as undocumented in hopes they could make a difference in the country they love. 

These people –- our neighbors, our classmates, our friends –- they did not come here in search of a free ride or an easy life.  They came to work, and study, and serve in our military, and above all, contribute to America’s success.

Tomorrow, I’ll travel to Las Vegas and meet with some of these students, including a young woman named Astrid Silva.  Astrid was brought to America when she was four years old.  Her only possessions were a cross, her doll, and the frilly dress she had on.  When she started school, she didn’t speak any English.  She caught up to other kids by reading newspapers and watching PBS, and she became a good student.  Her father worked in landscaping.  Her mom cleaned other people’s homes.  They wouldn’t let Astrid apply to a technology magnet school, not because they didn’t love her, but because they were afraid the paperwork would out her as an undocumented immigrant –- so she applied behind their back and got in.  Still, she mostly lived in the shadows –- until her grandmother, who visited every year from Mexico, passed away, and she couldn’t travel to the funeral without risk of being found out and deported.  It was around that time she decided to begin advocating for herself and others like her, and today, Astrid Silva is a college student working on her third degree.

Are we a nation that kicks out a striving, hopeful immigrant like Astrid, or are we a nation that finds a way to welcome her in?  Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger –- we were strangers once, too.

My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants.  We were strangers once, too.  And whether our forebears were strangers who crossed the Atlantic, or the Pacific, or the Rio Grande, we are here only because this country welcomed them in, and taught them that to be an American is about something more than what we look like, or what our last names are, or how we worship.  What makes us Americans is our shared commitment to an ideal -– that all of us are created equal, and all of us have the chance to make of our lives what we will.

That’s the country our parents and grandparents and generations before them built for us.  That’s the tradition we must uphold.  That’s the legacy we must leave for those who are yet to come.

Thank you.  God bless you.  And God bless this country we love. 
                        END                  8:16 P.M. EST

George Matysik for Council

George Matysik, government affairs director at Philabundance, has announced that he is running for Philadelphia City Council At Large.  Matysik has volunteered on political campaigns around the city for several years and is familiar with the campaign process.  He already has a website: 

You can read more about Matysik and his campaign at ("East Falls resident announces City Council at-large candidacy," by Neema Roshania 11/19).

Matysik is a great guy and I wish him well in his campaign.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

SelectPlan for Women Gets 6 Month Extension

an edited press release from our friends at

Governor Corbett announced today that the Administration will seek a 6-month extension for SelectPlan for Women, Pennsylvania’s family planning Medicaid waiver program. 

SelectPlan for Women expands the financial eligibility criteria of regular Medicaid coverage to allow women ages 18-44 with somewhat higher incomes to receive free family planning services including birth control, Pap smears, and breast exams.   SelectPlan was set to expire on December 31, 2014 leaving thousands of women without coverage for birth control or other family planning services. 

Even after Healthy PA is implemented, coverage gaps are likely to continue.  Enrollment experiences in other states have highlighted this unfortunate reality.  After Massachusetts implemented full universal healthcare coverage, approximately 2 percent of the population remained uninsured and up to 6 percent reported being without insurance for some portion of the first year of their plan.   

The additional time will allow AccessMatters and other organizations to work with Governor-elect Wolf and his administration to determine the role of SelectPlan in addressing these coverage gaps.  SelectPlan for Women also ensures a level of confidentiality that may not exist in private coverage options offered through Healthy PA. The extension will allow the Department of Health to address how explanations of benefits will be handled under the Healthy PA program to ensure the same level of confidentiality is maintained beyond the SelectPlan for Women program.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Supply and Demand: Gun Sales Drop

This is interesting.  The Wall Street Journal reports that Colt Defense, Smith & Wesson, Remington Arms, and Bushmaster, all report decreased earnings and consumer demand.  (See "Gun manufacturer Colt warns of possible default," by Stephanie Gleason, 11/13).  And here I thought sales were going up.  Seems that's not the case at all.

Trivedi Thank You

This arrived in the inbox just after the election, from Dr. Manan Trivedi:

   From my days of playing sports for Fleetwood High School, good sportsmanship was always a must. With that, I thanked and congratulated Ryan Costello on his win last night and wish him all the best in making decisions that  serve everyone of Pennsylvania's 6th district.
Immediately afterward,  I thanked my wife, Surehka. It is so amazing how she has supported and encouraged me to serve. Whether it was for my country as a Lt. Commander in the Navy, for my community as a doctor or as a candidate for Congress, Surehka has given so much to make that happen. I love her and can never express how grateful I am for her.

And you. No matter the odds, people came together to offer their time, money and words of encouragement. Just like receiving a random letter while on the battlefield in Iraq that lifted my spirits, everyone involved in this campaign gave me the energy and purpose to keep going.

I promise to always stay committed to fighting for economic fairness for all, the care of my fellow veterans, to improve education and to guarantee that everyone truly has affordable access to health care.

Thank you again. What a run it has been. But for now, the only running around I am going to do is as a dad. It's time to play with Sonia and Ashmi.

With so much appreciation,


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Restrepo Nominated to US Court of Appeals

 Today President Obama nominated Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo, currently a US District Judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, to serve on the United States Court of Appeals.  

“These individuals have displayed exceptional dedication to the legal profession through their work, and I am honored to nominate them to serve the American people as judges on the United States Courts of Appeals,” President Obama said.  “They will be diligent, judicious and esteemed additions to the bench.”

Here is his bio from the press release:

Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo has served as a United States District Judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania since June 2013 and previously served as a United States Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania from 2006 to 2013.

 Judge Restrepo was born in Colombia and moved to the United States when he was two.  He received his B.A. in 1981 from the University of Pennsylvania and his J.D. in 1986 from Tulane University Law School. Judge Restrepo began his legal career as a law clerk at the National Prison Project. From 1987 to 1990, he served as an Assistant Defender with the Defender Association of Philadelphia, and, from 1990 to 1993, he served as an Assistant Federal Defender in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  In 1993, Judge Restrepo started the law firm of Krasner & Restrepo, where he handled a wide range of criminal and civil matters in both federal and state courts until his appointment as a federal magistrate judge in 2006. During his time on the bench, he has been actively involved in the reentry program in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, which is a collaborative effort between the court, United States Attorney’s Office, Federal Defenders Office, United States Probation Office, and community partners to promote the successful reintegration of individuals released from federal custody.  

Judge Restrepo has taught courses on trial advocacy and legal research and writing at Temple University Law School since 1993 and also taught trial advocacy at the University of Pennsylvania Law School from 1997 to 2009.

Hansen Thank You

a note from State Senate candidate Jack Hansen:

To all my supporters and helpers;

The 2014 elections are behind us. The results are not what we wanted, but they are what they are. What we can learn from this year is that all committee persons have to work harder for the causes that we believe in, and all the volunteers have to stay engaged through every election cycle.
Elections are not about just one person, rather a common cause that will benefit all of us. I don't think any one of us saw the repeat of 1994 coming where there was a strong swing to the right.
We can take refuge in the fact that we elected Tom Wolf as our Governor, and Mike Stack as our Lieutenant Governor, but now it is our job to support them by staying on top of the issues and making our elected officials do our will and work with them.
I ran for State Senate because I believed that we need a change in our state government, and I still believe that! About 22,000 voters also believe that. It is the job of the candidate to deliver a victory for their supporters. I failed to deliver for you. I am not asking for sympathy in that statement. I am just stating a fact. I truly am humbled by all the support that you gave to me, and I will never forget it. I consider all of you friends even if we didn't have the opportunity to meet personally. Over the six months of this campaign I had the opportunity to travel over 17,000 miles in my old station wagon, and never leave the district, I attended town hall meetings, breakfasts with civic groups, luncheons with retirees, dinners with committees, and even a cruise on the Delaware River. I went to community days, parades, and picnics. I had the opportunity to speak with many people who all felt the same way about our government. They are tired of the gridlock and dis-function of our government that has haunted both Washington and Harrisburg. I knocked on doors and spoke with regular folks who just wanted to vent about their displeasure with the status quo. We all want the same thing. A government that works for all of us, not just the privileged few.
From what I have heard, with the exception of Tom Wolf, our campaign delivered a better showing than any other challenger in the state. I could not have done this without your support
I am proud of my staff, and all of the volunteers who worked so many hours to make a difference. Please stay involved, and informed so you can help candidates in the future.
Thank you for all your hard work!
Jack Hansen

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Boyle Thank You

note from Brendan Boyle, from the inbox:

On behalf of my family, my staff and the hundreds of volunteers who have been a part of our campaign over the past 18 months, I want to extend a heartfelt thank you for your support during what has been an unbelievable journey.

Last week we won 67% of the vote in what was one of the most decisive open seat election victories in the country, and we did it together. Through difficult odds, we've shown that a willingness to work hard can overcome and can give regular Americans a seat at the table. The idea of progress based on hard work and merit is at the heart of what makes our country the great place that it is, and I am proud that our campaign has been able to embody this ideal.

However, we have a great deal of work ahead of us. From promoting good public schools, a fairer tax structure and badly needed investment in our national infrastructure, there are pressing issues that urgently need to be addressed. I am humbled to have the opportunity to work with you to find solutions to these problems, and am eager to get to it.

As we move ahead in the coming weeks toward swearing in day and get to the business that awaits the 114th Congress, I hope you'll continue to stand with me as we continue our journey together.

With Gratitude,

BFB Signature


Thursday, November 06, 2014

Dan LaVallee Thank You

from the inbox:

Dear Friends 
When we started this campaign in late January, we knew it was going to take a lot of hard work, passion and dedication to bring western Pennsylvania the new leadership it deserves. We also knew it was going to take thousands of supporters just like you -- we share a desire to bring the change that is so desperately needed to our region and the rest of America. 

Despite the fact that this campaign raised nearly half a million dollars and communicated with over 700,000 people across all seven counties, we came up short of our goal of bringing new leadership to western Pennsylvania. However, the fact that we got as far as we did is a testimony to you and that when we join together, anything is possible.

Many people said to me before or after they voted and through messages today that “you are not too young and we need new leadership!” New leadership that keeps the American dream alive and well for all Americans – protecting Medicare and Social Security for seniors like my grandmother, creating a climate for job growth, and investing in education for generations to come.

As you have heard me say, Terrina and I want to pass along an America and a western Pennsylvania full of prosperity and opportunity for the next generation and the children we hope to have someday.

I just visited my grandmother in her rehab facility. She wanted me to express her thanks for your belief in what we can do together. You will always be a part of our family.

With deep gratitude,

Balchunis Thank You

from the inbox:

I want to thank you for all your support. I could never have anticipated the immense support we received from the good people of the five counties in the 7th district. When the party asked me to run in February, I knew we had several challenges: a strong incumbent, one of the most gerrymandered districts in the nation, an opponent with a huge war chest and an even bigger staff. In the midst of the campaign, my mom became very sick and later died. But, I knew my mom would want me to run to take a stand for all the issues that were so important to her: stopping the gun violence, increasing minimum wage, equal pay for equal work and decreasing student loans.

I called Congressman Meehan to concede the election last night. I want to congratulate him, and I want to pledge my support in the Congressman’s efforts to obtain Universal Background Checks.

When I was in graduate school, we learned that the nickname for the senate was “the millionaires club”.  Now, half of the House of Representatives are also millionaires. Many of them work to make sure that their wealth is protected while the middle class is getting squeezed and the poor are getting poorer. We need a congress that understands the needs of all the people in the 7th district.

Timing is everything in politics. Although this may have not been my time to enter congress, this does not end our fight on all of the issues that we stood for in this campaign. We must take these next two years to unite as a nation, not a party, to work together to make our nation a more equal, more prosperous, and a safer place for our families. As I said last night, persistence is the key to life, and now is the time to persevere. I am so proud of the campaign that my campaign team and I were able to put forward. We couldn't have done it without your help. I can’t thank you enough.
                                                                                    Mary Ellen

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Post-Election Note from Marcel Groen

A note from Marcel Groen, chair of Montgomery County Democratic Party:

Congratulations to all of us for a remarkable victory last night for our next governor, Tom Wolf, and our next lieutenant governor, Mike Stack.

Tom ran a remarkable race, and I know that all of you share my sentiments not only in congratulating him and his wife, Frances, as well as Mike, but also in our belief that he will be a great governor and make us proud.  We, in Montgomery County have much to be proud of in helping him get elected. We provided him with a greater margin of victory than any County in the Commonwealth other than Philadelphia and Allegheny County -- and we almost matched Allegheny. With all of your collected efforts, we gave him a 51,000 vote margin. That represents five times the margin we gave to Dan Onorato in 2010.

We continue to add to our status as one of the two or three best County organizations in the State. Our turnout was similar to what it was in 2010, and we won the County by twenty percentage points -- an unbelievable number and one of the top percentages in the State, as well. As always, we accomplished what we did by all of us working together for a common cause. Thank you for all of your work and effort.

Obviously, while we were thrilled by the outcome of the gubernatorial race, we had mixed results in the legislative races. While we overwhelmingly reelected eight State House members and elected a new State Senator and Congressman, we also lost Mark Painter's bid for reelection. Mark has been a phenomenal legislator these last two years, and we are proud of him. We hope that, in two years, there will be another rematch in which we recapture that seat.

Congratulations to our incumbent House members who were re-elected; Matt Bradford (70th), Mary Jo Daley (148th), Tim Briggs (149th), Madeleine Dean (153rd), Steve McCarter (154th), Greg Vitali (166th), Kevin Boyle (172nd), and Pam DeLissio (194th).  Our delegation will be one to be reckoned with.

Congratulations to our new State Senator, Art Haywood, for his resounding win in the 4th senatorial district; to Congressman Chaka Fattah in his reelection and to our new congressman Brendan Boyle in the 13th. Brendan, of course, is replacing Allyson Schwartz. While we are confident that Brendan will do a great job, we want to thank Allyson for many years of dedicated service to the people of this County.

I also want to take a minute to thank and congratulate the challengers who were not successful. They all worked hard, gave it everything they had, and we owe them a heartfelt "thank you." As I am sure you all recognize, it is not easy to run against an incumbent or in a seat which has a significant registration advantage for the other side. Their efforts are significant and helps us to continue building our Party. When you see Ruth Damsker, Jack Hansen, or Kathi Cozzone, our state senate candidates; Dottie Miller, Suzan Leonard, Michael Beyer, David McKenzie or Marian Moskowitz, our State House candidates;  Manan Trivedi, Kevin Strouse, or Mary Ellen Balchunis, our Congressional candidates, give them a thanks or a hug for their efforts.

We are not judged only by our victories, but also by our losses, by the quality of our candidates and the realization that these candidates will make it possible for us to win these races in the future.

Now that this election cycle is over, we must turn our attention to 2015. A smart person once told me, winning the second time is more important than the first because you are being reelected on the basis of your performance, not about how bad the other person was who preceded you. In that vein, next year will be a truly exciting year for us.  Like me, take a day or two off and then let's get started towards next year's goals.

Again thank you, for your efforts and for giving me the opportunity to be the chairman of such a truly remarkable organization.

Concession Note from Kevin Strouse

a note from Kevin Strouse, who ran for Congress in the 8th district (Bucks Co)


We came up short last night. It's never fun to be on the losing side of things, but as I reflect on our effort I know that my team did everything it could to win this race, including working many late nights to get out the vote. Thanks to your efforts, we reached out to over 220,000 voters throughout this campaign. In fact, we knocked over 20,000 doors just in the last four days.

I am so grateful for your loyal support. I asked constantly for your help, and you always came up big for us. I am deeply flattered you were willing to stand with me. 

Ultimately, we talked about the issues that matter most. We stood up for improving our education system, we pushed for equality, and we tirelessly fought for opportunity for all.

I do have one final request of you: please stay involved. The issues are too important and our problems are too large to stop working towards a better country. If good people like you don't continue fighting, who will? 

Thank you for all you've done. 

Kevin Strouse

Joel Cohen at Constitution Center

On November 12th, Joel Cohen, author of Blindfolds Off, will be part of a discussion at the Constitution Center.  His book is based on interviews with 12 federal district judges, asking how they make decisions.  Joining Cohen will be five former and current justices; they will be discussion controversial court rulings.

The judges on the panel will include Judge John Cleland, Judge Nathaniel Jones, and Judge Marjorie Rendell. The program starts at 6:30 p.m.

Veteran trial lawyer Joel Cohen, and author of Blindfolds Off, will join the Constitution Center on November 12 at 6:30 p.m. for a discussion with five former and current judges to candidly discuss a number of controversial rulings.

The distinguished panel will include Judge John Cleland (who recently handled the Sandusky case), Judge Nathaniel Jones (who’s also handled a number of high-profile cases in PA), former first lady of PA Majorie Rendell, among others. The program will draw from Cohen’s book and will shed light on the decision-making processes of America’s judges.

Obama's Remarks at Temple Nov. 2nd

from the inbox:

 November 2, 2014


Liacouras Center
Temple University
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

7:29 P.M. EST

     THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Philly!  (Applause.)  Hello, Temple! (Applause.)  Give it up for your next governor, Tom Wolf!  (Applause.)  We've also got one of the best senators in the country -- Bob Casey.  (Applause.)  Congressman Chaka Fattah.  (Applause.)  Your Mayor, Michael Nutter.  (Applause.)  One of your state senators, and your next lieutenant governor, Mike Stack!  (Applause.)   

We’ve got three outstanding congressional candidates here today that deserve your vote, so I want you guys to pay attention -- you got to go all the way down the ballot.  We've got Dr. Manan Trivedi who is going to be a great member of Congress -- (applause) -- served his country with the Marines in Iraq.  We've got Kevin Strouse, who served his country as an Army Ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan.  (Applause.)  We've got Brendan Boyle, who’s lived out the American Dream as the first in his family to go to college.  (Applause.)  All three of them, they’re young, they’re sharp, they’re hardworking.  They’re ready to fight for you if you send them to Washington.  Make sure to vote for them. (Applause.)

And we’ve got all of you.  (Applause.)  This is a good-looking crowd right here.  (Applause.)  Now, those of you, if you’ve got a seat, if you want to sit down feel free. 

AUDIENCE:  Nooo --

THE PRESIDENT:  You want to stand up.  All right, that's good.  (Laughter.)  That's good, because I'm going to try to get you out of your seats, because we've got some work to do.  (Applause.)  Because two days from now, you get to choose your future.  Now, if you came to this rally, I suspect you already know there’s an election and you are planning to vote.  (Applause.)  Otherwise you thought there was a basketball game here, and that's not the case.  (Laughter.)  So I need all of you to go grab your friends, grab your classmates, talk to your coworkers.  Knock on some doors.  Make some phone calls.  Check out --


THE PRESIDENT:  I love you, too, but I need you to vote.  (Applause.)  So go to, find out where your polling place is.  And then take your people -- your friends, your neighbors -- to the polls.  (Applause.)  And when you do, make sure they vote for Tom Wolf.  (Applause.) 

Let me tell you why.  Let me tell you why.  First of all, Tom is just a nice guy.  (Laughter.)  You can tell he’s a sincere person.  He’s not a professional politician.  He’s somebody who knows how to create jobs, knows how to start a business, knows how to serve the public.  He’s in it for the right reasons.  You know he’s going to do a good job.  But also I need everybody to recognize the moment we're in.  The country has made real progress since the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes.  (Applause.) 

You think about where we were when I came into office.  The economy was in free fall.  The auto industry was about to disappear.  Housing prices were collapsing, financial system in chaos.  Our unemployment rate went over 10 percent.  And now, over the past four and a half years, America’s businesses have created more than 10 million new jobs.  (Applause.)  Over the past six months, our economy has grown at the fastest pace in more than a decade.  (Applause.)  There’s almost no economic measure where we're not doing better -- deficits cut by more than half; energy production up; high school graduation rates up; college attendance rates up.  (Applause.)  Clean energy, we've doubled.  Carbon emissions, we have slowed.  So we've made progress on every item.    

But what we also know, the reason we're here, is because we've got so much more work to do.  Not everybody has felt growth in the economy.  You know right here in Pennsylvania that, unfortunately, because we've had a governor who doesn’t always work with us, Pennsylvania ranks second to last in the country in job growth.  Second to last.  You don't want to be second to last. 


THE PRESIDENT:  And over the next week, you’ve got a chance to change that.  You can choose a governor who doesn’t put political ideology first, he puts you first.  (Applause.)  And that's the kind of governor you want.  (Applause.) 

And Tom understands the economy.  As a successful businessman, Tom helped grow his family’s company into the largest supplier of kitchen cabinets in the United States.  Now, there are a lot of kitchen cabinets in the United States, so -- (laughter) -- I'm just saying.  You think about how many kitchen cabinets there are.  If you're the largest, that's a lot of kitchen cabinets.  (Laughter.)     

In 2006, he left that business to serve as your Secretary of Revenue.  Then in 2009, he was getting ready to run for governor, but he got a phone call.  The company he had spent 25 years growing -- the company he had left three years earlier -- was facing a very tough time because it was right when the recession was hitting, so like thousands of other businesses across the country, it was on the brink of bankruptcy.  And Tom could have decided, you know what, that’s not my problem anymore.  But he wasn’t going to turn his back on his former employees.  So he put his future on hold, bought the company back, started sourcing cabinets made in America to compete with Chinese imports.  (Applause.)  Made sure his workers earned good benefits and good wages.  He gave more than 20 percent of his profits back to his employees -- (applause) -- because Tom believes if you work hard, then everybody in your company should share its success -- not just folks at the top, but the workers who are actually doing the work.  (Applause.)   

So Tom doesn’t just -- he doesn’t just talk the talk.  Talk is cheap.  He walked the walk.  (Applause.)  He’s walking that walk.  Tom knows how to create jobs here in Pennsylvania.  He’s done it.  And now he’s running because he believes that if you work hard in this state, if you work hard in this country, you should share in the country’s success.  (Applause.)  And Tom has proven that when the going gets tough, he’s got your back.

That’s what this election is all about.  When you step in the voting booth, you’re making a choice not just about party, not just about candidates.  You're making a choice about two very different visions of America.  And you’ve got to ask yourself who is going to be fighting for you?  Who going to be on your side?  Who cares about the single mom?  Who cares about the student who’s maybe the first in their family to go to college?  (Applause.)  Who’s going to fight for you?

AUDIENCE:  Tom Wolf!

THE PRESIDENT:  Tom Wolf -- that's a good answer.  (Laughter.)  You're paying attention.     

Now, listen.  Listen, I want to say this.  Republicans are patriots, too.  They love their families.  They want what’s best for the country.  But I was trying to explain -- I was down in Connecticut -- I was trying to explain there are a lot of people in my family who I really love, but I wouldn't put them in charge.  (Laughter.)  Because they got bad ideas.  (Laughter.)  Right?  So I'm not saying there’s anything wrong with the Republican leadership as sort of like -- as Americans.  I'm just saying they’ve got bad ideas.  (Applause.)

They keep on offering this theory of the economy -- you give more tax breaks to folks at the top; you cut investments in things like education; you loosen up regulations on the big banks and polluters and credit card companies; you cut the safety net for folks who’ve fallen on hard times -- and somehow everybody is going to get better off.

Here’s the thing.  I guess if we hadn’t tried that for 10 years, resulting in ultimate disaster, maybe they’d have an argument.  But we did try it.  It didn’t work.  We can't go back to that.  We've got to go forward with Tom Wolf.  (Applause.)

Tom has a different vision for what this country should look like, and it's rooted in that core belief in America, the notion that prosperity doesn’t trickle down from the top.  Prosperity derives from a thriving middle class and folks working their way up into the middle class.  And when everybody is doing well, then the entire country does well.  That's his understanding of how the economy works.  (Applause.) 

Tom wants to build Pennsylvania’s economy from the middle class out.  And he’s not ideological about it.  Look, here’s the thing you know about Tom.  He doesn’t care whether the idea is  Republican or Democrat as long as it works.  He’s a practical person who just wants to make it work for the people of Pennsylvania. 

So he knows, for example, that education is the key not just to economic growth but also to personal advancement in a modern economy.  So he’s not going to run on an agenda of slashing budgets for our schools, or laying off thousands of teachers.  He knows teachers matter.  He knows you should support teachers, not run down teachers -- (applause) -- that we should respect teachers and treat them as the professionals they are.  (Applause.)

He knows we should invest in our kids and early childhood education, and make college a reality for more young people, and make it more affordable.  That's Tom’s plan for Pennsylvania.  (Applause.)

Tom believes that in a democracy like ours, elected officials serve the public, not the other way around.  So he's not running to serve special interests or the status quo.  He’s running to change the way business is done in Harrisburg.  

He believes that nobody who works full-time in this country should have to raise a family in poverty.  (Applause.)  We had one Republican governor recently say the minimum wage “serves no purpose.”  You're not going to hear Tom say that -- because he knows the difference that a little bit of money can make for that hardworking mom or dad who’s trying to make ends meet, save maybe for their kids’ college education, pay a few bills.  (Applause.)
That's why Tom isn't running against a minimum wage increase; he’s running to give Pennsylvania a raise.  (Applause.)   

Tom Wolf believes that America is stronger when women are full and equal participants in the economy.  (Applause.)  It's bad enough that we got Republicans in Congress who voted no on a fair pay law.  You had one Republican who’s running for national office say, “You could argue that money is more important for men.”  That's a quote.  He said that.  Now, I know he didn’t talk to Michelle when he said that.  (Laughter.)  I know he didn’t talk -- he didn’t talk to you, either, did he?


THE PRESIDENT:  If we’re going to strengthen the middle class for the 21st century, we need leaders who understand the 21st century, and understand that women are in the workforce, and understand that women are increasingly breadwinners in their family, and understand that they should be able to get paid the same as men for doing the same job.  (Applause.)  And while we're at it, we should make sure that women have control of their health care choices -- not some politician.  (Applause.)  

You know, it’s funny -- when you ask Republicans about climate change, they say, “I’m not a scientist.”  (Laughter.)  That's what they say.  But when you ask them about a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions, they all act like they’re doctors.  (Applause.)  I want women to make those decisions.  I mean, “Mad Men” is a good show, but we don't want that show in Harrisburg. 


THE PRESIDENT:  Because when women succeed, America succeeds.  (Applause.)  And I want Malia and Sasha to have the same opportunities as somebody’s son.  (Applause.)  That should be common sense. 

So, look, here’s the bottom line.  The biggest corporations, they don’t need another champion.  The wealthiest Americans don’t need another champion.  They’re doing just fine.  But what is in need of a champion is somebody who understands opportunity for all is what America is all about, opportunity for all is what  Pennsylvania is all about.  (Applause.)  And that's what Tom believes.    

But, listen, you all have to vote.  That's what this comes down to.  You’ve got to vote! 

You know, I was talking to one of my staff members, and we were just running through the numbers.  The number of eligible voters who vote typically in a midterm is like in the 30s.  I mean, Ukraine just went through an election -- they got a war going on, they had about 60 percent turnout.  (Laughter.)  There is no excuse for us to just give away our power.  (Applause.)  If you wonder why things don't happen, if you wonder why sometimes elected officials don't seem responsive, it's because so many of us stay at home.  (Applause.) 

So I know I'm preaching to the choir, but I'm hoping you then take this message to folks who aren't planning to vote.  If you believe that we don't need to give millionaires another tax break, maybe give child care tax breaks to families who are really struggling -- (applause) -- you’ve got to vote for it.  If you believe that our kids should have the best schools, then you’ve got to vote for it.  (Applause.)  If you think that we should make it easier for young people to go to college without ending up with tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of debt, you’ve got to vote for it.  (Applause.)  If you believe that an honest day’s work deserves an honest day’s pay, you’ve got to vote for it.  (Applause.)

You got to vote!  You got to vote!  (Applause.)  Vote!  (Applause.)  You got to vote!


THE PRESIDENT:  This is straightforward.  I got a simple message:  We got to vote. 

AUDIENCE:  Got to vote!

THE PRESIDENT:  Four years ago, Democrats lost --


THE PRESIDENT:  Vote!  (Applause.)  Vote!  Vote!  Vote!

AUDIENCE:  Vote, vote, vote, vote, vote --

Good job!  Can I just say, by the way, it took me forever to cut those letters out.  (Laughter.)  I mean, I had one of those little scissors and I mean -- (laughter.)

Listen, four years ago, the Democrats lost the governor’s race in Pennsylvania by 20 votes per precinct -- 20 votes.  That was your cousin Pookie -- (laughter) -- not voting.  That was Jim, who was like drinking beer -- (laughter) -- and playing his -- setting up his fantasy football for next week, and he didn’t vote.  That's what happens.  Twenty votes could decide whether millions of hardworking Pennsylvanians get the raise they deserve.  Those 20 votes could decide whether teachers get the support they need, and whether our kids get a fair shot.  (Applause.)  Twenty votes.  Your vote matters.  It decides the course that Pennsylvania will take. 

So I don't just need you to vote -- because I know all of you are going to vote.  (Applause.)   You’ve got to get involved. There are organizers here.  As you’re going out, you should try to hook up with them and talk to them about volunteering.  Go to, volunteer.  Make some phone calls.  Knock on some doors.  Grab people you know.  The election is too important to leave it to somebody else.  It's up to you.  And you.  Make a difference.  (Applause.) 

Listen, I know that the hardest thing in politics is changing a stubborn status quo.  And to the young people here especially, I want to emphasize this.  Sometimes it seems like folks in power care more about power than they care about you.  I know that.  And you’re fed information every day that says nothing is changing and everything is terrible.  And when we do make progress, you don't hear about that.  You hear about some conflict or phony controversy.  And over time, you get cynical and you think, you know what, what I do doesn’t make a difference.  And so you don't get involved.  You don't go out there and organize.  Sometimes you don't even bother to vote. 

And I'm just here to say, especially to the young people, don't buy that.  Don't buy it.  (Applause.)  Because despite the cynics, America is making progress.  This country always makes progress.  Despite unyielding opposition, there are workers right now who have jobs who didn’t have them before.  There are families who have health insurance who didn’t have them before.  (Applause.)  There are students who are going to college who couldn’t afford it before.  (Applause.)  There are troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan with their families who weren't at home before.  (Applause.)   

Cynicism is sometimes passed off as wisdom.  There’s nothing wise about it.  Cynicism didn’t put a man on the moon.  Cynicism never started a business, or cured a disease, or fueled a young mind.  Cynicism is a choice.  And hope is a better choice.  (Applause.)   

Hope is what gave young people the courage to march for civil rights, and voting rights, and workers’ rights, and women’s rights, and immigrants’ rights, and gay rights.  (Applause.)    Hope is what built this country -- a belief that there are better days ahead; a belief that together, we can build up our middle class; that we can pass down something better for our kids.  That's what built Pennsylvania.  That's what built America
-- the belief that America’s best days are still ahead. 

You’ve got to believe it, and you’ve got to act on it.  You’ve got to vote.  And you’ve got to vote for Tom Wolf.  And when you do, I guarantee you a better future for the people of Pennsylvania and the people of this country.  (Applause.)  

God bless you.  God bless America.  Let’s get to work!  (Applause.) 

                        END                7:51 P.M. EST