Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Endorsement for Jared Solomon

from the inbox:

The Philadelphia Firefighters’ and Paramedics’ Union Local 22 has unanimously endorsed Jared Solomon’s campaign for State Representative of Pennsylvania’s 202nd District. Jared is a Philadelphia native with a long history of public service. This endorsement attests to Jared’s commitment in ensuring the safety of his community.

PA Non-Discrimination Bill Re-introduced

State Rep. Brian Sims today announced his support for bipartisan bills being re-introduced to update the state's non-discrimination laws.  This would provide protections for the LGBTQ community.  

Looking around, I found more details on Sen. Larry Farnese's website.  Here is an excerpt from his press release:

 State Sens. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) and Larry Farnese (D-Philadelphia) and Reps. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny) and Tom Killion (R-Delaware) today announced the introduction of the Pennsylvania Fairness Act.

The legislation (Senate Bill 974 and House Bill 1510) would update Pennsylvania’s current nondiscrimination law – originally written in 1955 – to ensure that all citizens regardless of race, color, religion, ancestry, age, sex, national origin, disability and now – sexual orientation, gender identity and expression – can participate in and contribute to the state’s economy.

It is currently legal in Pennsylvania to fire someone and deny them housing or business services solely on the basis of the person being gay or transgender.

The Commonwealth is behind on this and the legislation is long overdue.  Here's to hoping it passes.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

HB1010 Being Reintroduced

A note from our friends at CeaseFirePA:

HB 1010, the background check bill, is being reintroduced into the PA House. This bill would expand the background check system to close a major loophole -- currently private sales of long guns (rifles, shotguns and semi-automatic rifles) don’t require a background check in PA. This bill would change that.  

There’s also a new piece to this bill -- something that helps law abiding gun owners. The bill would allow a background check performed at a weekend-long gun show to be good for 48 hours, so that a buyer would not have to pay for and undergo multiple background checks for multiple purchases in that period.

HB 1010 is all about safety and keeping guns out the hands of those who should not have them.  

Friday, August 21, 2015

Labor Secretary Perez in Philadelphia

U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez visited the Delaware Valley on Thursday, August 20th.  His Philadelphia stop as at the Energy Coordinating Agency.  Here's an excerpt from the Department of Labor's blog entry on the day:

For the third stop of the day, we crossed the Delaware River to visit Energy Coordinating Agency in Philadelphia. Through hands-on training, ECA is addressing youth unemployment by giving students the skills to build homes from the ground up. At ECA, we were greeted by David, the lead instructor at the facility. He told Secretary Perez that ever since his dad, a plumber, put a tool in his young hand, he has devoted his life to working with his hands and training others. David went through the program at ECA and worked his way up, now sharing his knowledge with other students.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Political Version of Classic Comics has Philly Ties

Remember Classic Comics (later Classics Illustrated)?  In the days before graphic novels, Classic Comics provided an illustrated version of classic literature.

StormFront Publishing (formerly Bluewater Comics) is producing comic versions of political biographies for presidential candidates.  IDW did something similar in 2008.

StormFront's latest release is a comic biography of Jeb Bush, with a local connection.  It features the art of Philadelphia's Joe Paradise.  The writing is by Missouri State University professor Michael Frizell.

Previous StormFront presidential comics focus on Hilary clinton, Donald Trump, Rand Paul, Chris Cristie, Joe Biden, and the Tea Party.  Biographies of Bernie Sanders, Marco Rubio, Rick Perry, and Ted Cruz will be released this fall.  Other titles will follow.

You can order them online at the Comic Flea Market or touch base with your local comic shop.  If they don't have it they can probably get it for you.  While you're there check out Lumberjanes -- my latest new favorite comic.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Open Note to the Governor, State House, and State Senate

Dear Gov. Wolf, State Legislators, and State Senate,

You've had your fun with the annual budget circus, but as the Inquirer notes ("School officials slam Pa. budget stalemate," by Caitlin McCabe 8/19), school is getting ready to start and the schools need to know what their budgets are.

To put it in blunt terms, it is time for you to stop farting around and get down to business.

Here are my personal thoughts on the budget:

Fund the public schools.  Think you're spending a little too much  money there?  Too bad.  Let's see what we can cut from the legislature's budget, tax credits for marcellus shale, special jackets for the state health dept, and so on.

Want to privatize liquor stores?  Sure, just find another revenue stream to replace the lost income from the state stores. I don't drink alcohol and could provide you boatloads of statistics on the social harms caused by it.  You could shut them all down as far as I'm concerned.  Carrie Nation had a good point.

Pension reform?  I'm sure the employees of the state would be happy to follow any example the state government would care to set.  Note this excerpt from "Pennsylvania public pension dilemma rooted in 1990's," by Madison Ross, TribLive 6/15/2014:

Before 9/11 sent financial markets tumbling, the pension funds for public employees were overfunded. In May that year, lawmakers and former Gov. Tom Ridge passed Act 9 of 2001 to raise benefits for employees by about 25 percent, in the future and retroactively.

The law required employees to contribute more to help cover costs. It gave lawmakers a 50 percent pension boost.

So I would expect them to take the lead in reducing benefits as well.  Whatever reductions or changes they pass for state employees and teachers I would expect them to double for themselves.  

But first and foremost -- fund the public schools.

That's my initial budget rant.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Small Town PA Paper in the WSJ

A small town in Western PA made the front page of the Wall Street Journal today (8/17/2015).  Huntingdon, Pennsylvania's local newspaper includes a column called Opinion Line;  people can call in and anonymously leave information for the column but it has to be in small (twitter-size?) bites.  The column sort of serves as a microcosym of the Internet.  It's an interesting read, "Newspaper hotline has some readers hot under the collar," by Erich Schwartzel, is available on the net.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Jared Solomon Running in 202nd

Jared Solomon is taking another run at the 202nd state house district (Castor Gardens, Oxford Circle, Wissinoming, Burholme, Lawncrest, Lawndale, and Summerdale).  His spirited primary campaign in 2014 did well, though not quite well enough to defeat the incumbent.  Perhaps 2nd time will be the charm.  Campaign website:

Obama in Fast Company

The July / August issue of Fast Company has a couple of particular interesting articles.  One is the cover story, "Obama and His Geeks," by Jon Gertner, on the Silicon Valley techies that the president has lured to Washington to work on the digital aspect of the government.  Here's one quote, on one those techies, Michael Weaver:

Even among D.C.'s new technorati, people view Weaver as someone separate from the fray.  Maybe it's because he once lived in a camper in the Google parking lot without going home for a year.  Maybe it's because he was the one guy who, if he didn't answer an emergency call, the whole search engine might go down.  Or maybe it's because in a group of brilliant engineers, Weaver, as one of his new colleagues puts it, stands out as "someone who is, like, superhero-[expletive]-brilliant."
There is also a local note in the article:

A few weeks after the analytics website went live, Philadelphia used the program for its own analytics website, which the 18F team considered a measure of success.

No other details are provided so I'm not sure exactly what was done.

The issue also has an interview with the president himself, by Robert Safian.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Federal Money for PA AP Tests

The U.S. Department of Education announced today that it has awarded $28.4 million in Advanced Placement (AP) grants to 38 states, Washington, D.C., and the Virgin Islands as part of its efforts to boost college- and career-readiness for historically underserved students. The grants will help defray the costs of taking advanced placement tests for low-income students.

Pennsylvania will receive $673,738

Stollsteimer Announces for AG

Regardless of whether or not Kathleen Kane steps down as Pennsylvania Attorney General, the office will be up for election in 2016.  Here is the first candidate announcement for the 2016 election:

Jack Stollsteimer announced today that he is running for Attorney General of Pennsylvania and will be seeking the Democratic nomination in the 2016 Primary.

Stollsteimer has spent much of his legal career as a criminal prosecutor, both as an Assistant District Attorney in Delaware County and as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

In 2006, Stollsteimer was appointed by the Governor of Pennsylvania as the Safe Schools Advocate for the Philadelphia School District. As the Advocate, he brought to light the District’s underreporting of violent crimes in schools and its failure to discipline violent students in accordance with the District’s own Student Code of Conduct. His work resulted in changes in District policy, establishing a safer environment for both children and teachers within Philadelphia’s schools.  

"I have established a long track record for protecting Pennsylvanians from crime," said Stollsteimer. "It is time to take that proven track record and put it to work again so that the citizens of our Commonwealth are assured that they have someone as their chief law enforcement officer who is 100 percent focused on keeping them safe."

Jack Stollsteimer, born in Philadelphia, currently resides in Delaware County with his wife and two children.

Delaware Losing Popularity as Corporate Friendly State?

Over a week ago, on August 3rd, the Wall Street Journal ran an interesting article on Delaware as a place where companies incorporate for favorable legal reasons.  The focus of the article is the number of corporations facing shareholder lawsuits.  "Firms sour on Delaware as corporate haven," by Liz Hoffman goes into a lot of detail on this.

Interesting reading, especially as Pennsylvania has railed against the Delaware Loophole for years.  Maybe this loophole is being to unravel.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Health Fair in Norristown

from the inbox:

Norristown residents can get a bevy of free health services and information this week from two Philadelphia health leaders. Enroll America is joining with Delaware Valley Community Health (DVCH) to celebrate National Health Center Week (August 10-16) by hosting a free health fair at Norristown Regional Health Center from 10am to 2pm Wednesday. There will  be dental and medical screenings, nutrition information and giveaways and a raffle. The event is open to the press.

As part of National Health Center Week, Enroll America today recognized Delaware Valley Community Health for their work to help Philadelphia-area residents get the care they need, educate the community about their health coverage options, and enroll the uninsured in quality coverage.

National Health Center Week aims to create awareness of health center programs and the invaluable work they do in communities across the country to ensure Americans at every income level can get access to affordable health care. Enroll America and Delaware Valley Community Health have partnered on expanding access to affordable health coverage in southeastern Pennsylvania, and due in part to their work, more than 75,000 Philadelphia County residents and nearly 40,000 Montgomery County residents have enrolled in quality, affordable health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

“Delaware Valley Community Health’s work has made them a true cornerstone of our community and a trusted resource to the uninsured here in the Delaware Valley,” said Neil Deegan, Pennsylvania State Director for Enroll America. “Thanks in part to their hard work, we’ve seen a dramatic decline in the uninsured rate, but we know there’s more work to be done. Together, we’ll continue our efforts across the city to ensure that affordable health coverage becomes a way of life in the Delaware Valley.

Special Election in the 195th State House

There are three special elections on Tuesday, August 11th, to fill spots left when three state representatives resigned.  The Inquirer had a nice article outlining the three races and the candidates for each ("'Sting caused 2 of 3 vacancies on Tuesday's special election ballot," by Chris Brennan, 8/09).

I wanted to say a bit about the 195th district.  The paper says it has a 13-1 Democratic advantage.  Democrat Donna Bullock formerly worked for City County President Darrell Clarke.  She's a lawyer and has a really nice campaign website:

The Republican candidate, Adam Lang, whose site ( could look a little snazzier since he's a computer guy, shouldn't be written off, though.  Lang has been an active participant in his community for several years and is well-known in the area.    He's low-key, even-keeled, and has a great sense of humor.  To be honest, he's my favorite city Republican.

Regardless of who you vote for, if you live in the 195th, please go out and vote.  

Hofman Out for Montco Coroner

from the inbox:

 Doctor Walter I. Hofman announces today his decision not to seek re-election for a third term as Coroner of Montgomery County.            

          Having completed two successful terms as Coroner, Dr. Hofman will return to private practice and work for the benefit of the community in other areas. Recently honored by the Commonwealth and the County for his many years of outstanding service in the Medical community, he is a world-renowned, board certified expert in Forensic Pathology, a respected Medical Doctor, and Secretary of the Montgomery County Medical Society.

Mosaic Expert is Philly Guy

Interesting article in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal.  "A Mosaic Expert Packs for Ruins in Tunisia" by Hilary Potkewitz (8/04) highlights the work of Thomas Roby, who grew up in Philadelphia.  He teaches workshops in other countries for mosaic conservators.  Cool.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Leanne Krueger-Braneky Wins

The website is reporting that Leanne Krueger-Braneky won the special election for the 161st state house district.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Who is Leanne Krueger-Braneky?

Leanne Krueger-Braneky ran for the 161st state house district in 2014 and lost by almost 2,700 votes (2,696 to be exact)(Scala, 6/28/2015).  Her Republican rival, the incumbent, won, and was sworn in to his second term in January.  In April, however, he announced that he was resigning at the end of the that month.  The special election to replace him is next Tuesday, August 4th.  She is running again as the Democratic candidate.

The 161st district includes all of Brookhaven, Rose Valley, Rutledge, Swarthmore, and parts of Aston, Marple, Nether Providence, Newtown, Radnor, Ridley, Springfield and Upper Providence.   She won Swarthmore by a large margin and won Nether Providence and the district’s part of Springfield by a slim margin.   Hacket won in Ridley Township, Aston, Brookhaven, Rutledge and Rose Valley (Logue 11/05/2014).  While Democrats have a slight lead in overall county voter registration, in the  161st there are 5,000 more GOP registered voters than Democrats (Scala 6/28/2015).  This doesn’t take into account independent voters, those not registered with any particular party.

Krueger-Braneky was praised by the Delaware County Daily Times, although they eventually endorsed Hackett.  Regarding the special election Phil Heron  wrote “I wish they could just hand her the seat now” (Heron, 4/12/2015).  Alas, democracies don’t work that way.

She grew up in New Jersey and did the sensible thing by attending the state university (Logue 10/27/2014).  In her first job after college she was the after school specialist for the American Red Cross of the Susquehanna Valley, developing programs and services for children.  She was one of three staff people to be granted the Spirit of Excellence Award that year (“Volunteers, 10/24/2000) .  After a year or so, she returned to college for a master’s degree in Urban Economic Development from Eastern University.   In 2001 she married Rev. David Braneky.  Together they led cultural studies trips to South Africa for a year and then settled in the Philadelphia area.  She wrote an article on her visits to South Africa and how they changed her thinking on collaboration and sustainable living.  She was especially inspired by the way the use of water affected people’s lives (Krueger-Braneky, 2005)

For the next eight years she worked as the executive director of the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia, the first person hired for that position.  When Krueger-Braneky was hired SBN had fewer than 100 fee-paying members and an annual budget under $100,000.  In 2012 membership was 450, with a budget of $500,000 (Mastrull 12/17/2012).  Again taking a sensible approach she followed the philosophy that if a sustainable business doesn’t make money it won’t stay in business (Mastrull 5/30/2011).  She tackled issues like green infrastructure, stormwater, a city land bank, and supporting small business and the local economy.  This involved creating partnerships, persuading elected officials,  talking with chambers of commerce, and even working with the White House.  These are all skills that a state representative needs.

In 2011 the SBN issued a report on small businesses in Philadelphia and what can be done to help them (, with nine specific issues identified and tangible steps listed for each.  A year later a follow up was issued giving the status of each step (Mastrull 11/26/2012).   In addition to the land bank, another suggestion that was implemented was a tax credit for sustainable businesses (Mastrull 5/30/2011).

In 2013, after eight years at SBN, she moved to a related national organization, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (Logue 10/27/2014).  The organization website ( now lists her as Senior Director of Strategy and Development.  It includes a long biography listing, among other things, her invitations to speak to the White House Business Council, and her role and Senior Fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program.

She and her husband have one child, a son.


Heron, Philip E. “Letter from the editor:  State Rep. Hackett returning to his roots,” Delaware County Daily Times 4/12/2015

Krueger-Braneky, Leanne, “Connected by a glass of water,” In Business 27 #6 (Nov/ Dec 2005) p. 30

Logue, Tim, “Hackett holds on to 161st legislative district post,” Delaware County Daily Times 11/05/2014

Logue, Tim, “Hackett, Krueger-Braneky square off in 161st district,” Delaware County Daily Times 10/27/14

Mastrull, Diane, “City a bit better at helping small firms,” Philadelphia Inquirer 11/26/2012

Mastrull, Diane, “Greening of business – now a decade old, a network that helps small Philadelphia firms thrive while practicing sustainability intends to keep it growing,” Philadelphia Inquirer 5/30/2011

Mastrull, Diane, “Leader of small-business network heads to new challenge,” Philadelphia Inquirer 12/17/2012

Scala, Kristina, “Mullen gets backing in 161st district race,” Delaware County Daily Times 6/28/2015

“Volunteers get Red Cross award,” Lancaster New Era 10/24/2000