Saturday, December 26, 2015

PA in the WSJ

Pennsylvania - related items I noticed in the last two weeks of the Wall Street Journal:


Two Pittsburgh residents are quoted in “Yes, Mom, there is a Santa,” by Clare Aksberry (12/23).  Nickie Manning talks about her holiday plans. An unidentified man discusses Santa.

Three Pennsylvania residents are mentioned in “A secret to great hair (and sales):  stop shampooing,” by Anna Marie Chaker 12/23.  Krista Huxta Bradley of Philadelphia and Lauren Scheiber of Pittsburgh discuss their hairstyle routines.   Christine Cummings is president of Turbie Twist of Butler, a company making turbans and shower caps. 

Susan McHale, a professor at Penn State is quoted in “Is he son-in-law material?” by Sue Shellenbarger (12/16)


The Budweiser Clydesdales appeared at a parade in Ambler earlier this year.  Approximately 20,000 people came out the see them.  See “You can lead horse fans to beer, but can you make them drink?” by Tripp Mickle (12/23).  Though she isn’t mentioned in the article, I feel sure that Mayor Jeanne Sorg was involved or at least there.

“Apartments rising in Philadelphia,” by Matt Hudgins (12/16)

Longwood Gardens and plant designer Jim Sutton gets a mention in “Spring flowers bloom months early,” by Bart Ziegler (12/26-27) 


“RV sales revive, but without frills,” by James R. Hagerty (12/23) includes information on Cooper’s RV Center, near Pittsburgh, and quotes general manager Paul Willis. 

Adam Fein of Philadelphia/s Pembroke Consulting is quoted on tracking drug distribution in “Valeant taking title to drugs already on shelves at Walgreens,” by Jonathan D. Rockoff (12/22)

“Steelworkers face tough talks,” by John W. Miller (12/21) focuses on union negotiations between Pittsburgh based United Steelworkers and U.S. Steel Corp, Allegheny Technologies Inc., and Arcelor Mittal. 

“Baby, it’s warm outside,” by Jim Carlton (12/17) quotes Mark Daubert of Jack Frost ski resort.


“Impasse on budget continues in Pennsylvania,” by Kris Maher (12/24)

“Sen. Mitch McConnell, in discussion the 2016 elections, says ‘What we decide to allocate floor time to in the Senate, to be quite candid with you, is going to be to some extent … dictated by concerns I have about places like New Hampshire and Pennsylvania and Ohio and Wisconsin and Illinois’.”  See “Republic leaders set low bar for 2016,” by Siobhan Hughes (12/21)

Rick Santorum gets a mention in “Long-shots emphasize security,” by Reid J. Epstein and Rebecca Ballhaus (12/16)

Monday, December 21, 2015

Another PA Budget Embarrassment

I haven't said much about the state budget situation, simply because there are very few things to say.  It is a national embarrassment, a disaster, and is causing real harm to the commonwealth's schools and social service agencies.  As I said on twitter, when / if this is solved, the first state senator or representative that brags about the budget gets hit with a spitwad.

Today's addition to the budgetary swill comes to us from PennLive ("With budget deadlocked House Repubs try to squeeze Tom Wolf," by John Micek, 12/20).  The article points out emails sent from one House Republican to another planning ways to ensure money for government is paid but money for schools is not necessarily paid.

Just infuriating!!!!

We are past the point where any solution is a win for anyone.

Note From Patrick Murphy

This message was sent out from the Center for American Progress, signed by Patrick Murphy, recently confirmed by the Senate as Undersecretary of the Army:

Late on Friday I was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve once again in the U.S. Army.

As a third-generation veteran, it has been clear to me, since the day I was born, that there is no greater honor than serving in our nation’s military. It is a humbling honor to continue public service as Under Secretary of the United States Army—the #2 civilian position and the Chief Management Officer. I thank President Obama, Secretary Carter and Acting Secretary Fanning for their trust and confidence and also the United States Senate for their confirmation. Making sure that we have the best Army possible to defend our nation, and that our brave warriors have every tactical and technical advantage over our enemies, is a mission that I accept with extreme dedication.

I also want to take a moment to thank my family for their support and many sacrifices—I wouldn't be who I am without them. And to my friends and colleagues, your unwavering support is a constant source of inspiration—I hope to continue making you proud of my efforts. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Go Army!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Patrick Murphy Confirmed as Undersecretary of the Army

Patrick Murphy, who represented Pennsylvania's 8th district (Bucks, and bits of Montgomery and Philadelphia counties) in Congress, was confirmed today as the Undersecretary of the Army.  You can find the video of his confirmation hearing before the Senate's Armed Forces committee (two other people nominated for other positions were testifying as well) online.  The same site has a 50+ page document with prepared questions and Murphy's answers.  I'm not sure how long the document and video will be up and available.

The Inquirer has a short article about his confirmation, "Senate confirms Murphy for Army job," by Jonathan Tamari, posted today.

This press release arrived in today's email:

Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden released to following statement after former CAP Senior Fellow Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA) was confirmed to be undersecretary of the U.S. Army today:
Today, the Army and the nation are lucky to have former Rep. Patrick Murphy confirmed as undersecretary of the U.S. Army. When he was a member of Congress, CAP was proud to work with Rep. Murphy on issues he championed, such as the Affordable Care Act, and as he led the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. As a Senior Fellow, Murphy contributed greatly to our work by leading on issues that affect 21st-century fighters, and he will no doubt do the same for the Army. Murphy served the country twice, first in the Army and later as the first Iraq War veteran to serve in Congress, and we know he will bring the same service to the Army once again.

Driving on I-80

Yesterday I drove halfway across the state on I-80.  It was the first time I've been on that highway.  It rained quite a bit of the time but here are a few impressions:

Trucks.  Lots of trucks.  If it weren't for the trucks I would have gone for miles without seeing another vehicle.

There aren't a lot of exits.  There also aren't rest stops like the rest stops on the Turnpike.  These rest stops just have bathrooms (men on one side of the building, women on the other) and vending machines (in the middle), no restaurants, no stores, no seating, no gas pumps.  I stopped at one rest area, and as I was leaving I noticed that there was a height strip on the door, like the ones in convenience stores and banks.  It marks feet and half feet (4' 4 1/2', 5' 5 1/2', 6', etc) so it is easier to give a good description of suspicious characters you see standing near the door.  This was not reassuring.  I paused inside to check my phone for accumulated emails.  I was the only person in the rest stop until a man stepped in.  He looked startled to see me and I could see his eyes dart to the height strip behind me.  Five feet, two and a half inches, big guy, and perhaps less dangerous than you seem to think.  I left so he could have the place to himself.

At the Turnpike rest stops there are usually opportunities to stretch your legs.  If nothing else you can walk around the parking lot. On I-80 the parking lots aren't large enough for that.  The one I was at was surrounded by woods, with no visible walking paths.  The indoor rest stops weren't large enough to do anything but a tight circle around the vending machines.

It might have been the weather but the landscape looked desolate, sort of like the English moors but with more trees.  The mountains are impressive but intimidating.  Perhaps at other times of the year the landscape is more inviting but this December, in rain and fog, with alternating stretches of empty road and herds of big trucks, it was not.

This might also have been a function of the rain, but it was hard to find radio stations.  For quite a while the clearest station I could find was talk radio.  The host was outraged over a proposed regulation mandating paid sick leave.  He would rant for a bit, then open the phone lines.  All the callers were in favor of paid sick leave.  Then he would rant a bit more and open the phones, and all the callers would be in favor of paid sick leave.  It was mildly entertaining but I was glad when I could find a station with Christmas songs.

It was an interesting experience.  I'm not sure I'd want to make that trip on a regular basis, though.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Brian Gordon in Philly Mag

The cover story in the December 2015 Philadelphia Magazine, "Racial Profiling on the Main Line," by Steve Volk, mentions Brian Gordon, one of the Democratic candidates for Congress in the 2nd district (Philadelphia).  Gordon is currently a commissioner in Lower Merion.  Here are two quotes referencing Commissioner Gordon:

It was Gordon, a corporate attorney who convened a packed community meeting at the PALM Senior Center to deal with the controversy.  Citizens, mostly African-American lined up to speak.  "What got me were the stories," remembers Gordon.  "Person after person.  And they were just so moving." (p. 84 of print copy)


Lower Merion commissioner Brian Gordon is a white progressive.  he told me he wants to make sure regular meetings are held in Lower Merion on the subject of race. (p. 123)

The entire article is interesting, and alarming.

PA in the WSJ

Pennsylvania-related mentions I found in this week’s Wall Street Journal

“Inheriting the holidays from mom,” by Clare Ansberry focuses on the Allen family of Bethel Park (12/10)

Marc Porter, who recently moved from Christie’s International auction house to Sotheby’s, assisted in the sale of the painting “The Gross Clinic,” to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.   He is the subject of “Sotheby’s hires deal maker from Christie’s,” by Kelly Crow (12/08)

University of Pennsylvania neurologist Anjan Chatterjee is quoted in “Is it beautiful?  How our brains judge art in seconds,” by Robert Lee Hotz (12/08)

Dr. Wanda Filer, a family physician in York, is quoted in “The new boundaries between doctors and patients,” by Andrea Petersen (12/08)

Joseph Schwartz, Temple University professor, is a vice chairman of the national Democratic Socialists organization.  The group held a convention in Pennsylvania in November.  See “Socialism network finds new friends,” by Peter Nicholas (12/12-13)

“Concealed-carry requests jump,” by Ashby Jones references the increase in concealed carry gun requests in Allegheny County.  (12/12-13).

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Gordon Releases Environmental Policy

Brian Gordon, a Democratic candidate for the 2nd congressional district (parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery County), the seat currently  held by Chaka Fattah, has released an environmental policy.

Gordon is a Lower Merion Township commissioner (yes, he's Commissioner Gordon).  You can read more about him on his campaign website,

Friday, December 11, 2015

Information Sheet on Pennsylvania Drug Control

The White House has issued an update on drug control policy and the increased use of heroin and the resulting overdoses.  One quote from the press release:

More Americans now die every year from drug overdoses than they do in motor vehicle crashes. The new 2014 CDC data show continued sharp increases in heroin-involved deaths and an emerging increase in deaths involving synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl. According to law enforcement reports, the rise in fentanyl-related deaths is predominantly from increases in illicitly manufactured fentanyl.
You can find a White House statement on the official plan to address prescription drug abuse and heroin use here:

The page for the Office of National Drug Control Policy is here:

One of the links on the page let you find an information sheet for each state.  The one for Pennsylvania is at:

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Wakabayashi to head Emerge Pennsylvania

from the inbox:

Today the Board of Emerge Pennsylvania announced it has named Anne Wakabayashi as the organization’s new Executive Director. 

Wakabayashi comes to Emerge after having spent years working on campaigns across Pennsylvania.  Before joining Emerge Pennsylvania, Wakabayashi served as the Campaign Manager for Allan Domb’s campaign for Philadelphia City Council and Anne Lazarus’ campaign for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. She also has extensive experience working on legislative races, serving first as the Political Director and later the Communications Director for the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Campaign Committee. Wakabayashi will serve as Emerge Pennsylvania’s first Executive Director.  

"While more than 50 percent of the state's population are women, women make up less than 18 percent of our legislature,” said State Rep. Tina Davis, Co-Founder and Co-Chair of Emerge Pennsylvania. “Having a democracy that is not representative of the people is holding our state back. I'm tired of it, and it is time for a change. We're so excited to have Anne join Emerge Pennsylvania as our first Executive Director and kick-start the program to train more Democratic women to run for public office - and win public office!"

"Emerge America has a fantastic track record of success in 14 other states where hundreds of alumnae are now in office. Pennsylvania absolutely needs this program,” said State Rep. Mary Jo Daley, Co-Founder and Co-Chair of Emerge Pennsylvania. “Emerge has changed the culture of other state legislatures, and Harrisburg demonstrates time and time again that it is desperately in need of an evolution. Anne is a great addition to our Emerge team and we're thrilled that she's bringing her statewide political experience to our program."

"I am thrilled that Anne will join the Emerge network as the founding Executive Director of Emerge Pennsylvania. Her experience working on state and local campaigns across the state, as well as her fundraising and communications background, will be critical to advancing the Emerge mission in Pennsylvania," said Andrea Dew Steele, Founder and President of Emerge America.

“I’m excited to work with Reps. Daley and Davis and entire Emerge Pennsylvania Board to bring this much-needed program to Pennsylvania,” said Emerge Executive Director Wakabayashi, “I’ve worked across the state and I’ve seen firsthand the importance of electing smart, qualified women to every level of government. Women bring a unique and essential voice to public service and we need to do more to ensure that voice is heard across the Commonwealth.” 

Wakabayashi continued: “It’s worth noting that when the federal government shutdown in 2013, it was the women in the Senate that got our nation back on track. I think we can all agree that Harrisburg, which has now gone 160 days without a budget, could benefit from more women.”

Pennsylvania is ranked 39 out of 50 for the percentage of women elected to its state legislature. While Pennsylvania has voted for the Democratic candidate in the last six presidential campaigns, it has never elected a female governor or U.S. senator, something Emerge Pennsylvania will work to change. The Emerge program will bring an intensive 70-hour training curriculum to a cohort of Democratic women who want to run for office. Applications are open now and can be found here. Women of all ages, backgrounds, and communities across Pennsylvania are encouraged to apply.

Since the first Emerge state was launched in 2002 Emerge has trained more than 1,500 Democratic women to run for office to date. Fifty-two percent of Emerge alumnae have run for office or been appointed to local boards or commissions. Of those who have run for office, 70 percent won. Additionally, Emerge has a strong record of diversity - forty percent of alumnae are women of color. Follow Emerge Pennsylvania on Facebook for more updates on the program. 

New SEPTA Schedules

Our friends at SEPTA are releasing new regional rail schedules on Dec. 13th, and some of the newly printed schedules have errors.  Use the online schedules instead.  You can read more here:

Sunday, December 06, 2015

PA in the WSJ

Pennsylvania related items I noticed in this week's Wall Street Journal


Carnegie Mellon prof Jeff Galak gets a shoutout for a study he co-authored with Yang Yang (U Florida) about the sentimental vs economic value of gifts; see “What economists fail to see in the act of gift giving,” by Melvin Konner 12/05-06

“The Seacrests,” by Laurence Lowe (Wall Street Journal Magazine, Dec 2015 – Jan 2016) features Ryan Seacrest and his parents, both of whom grew up in southern Pennsylvania.

“Less sleep can feel better than interruptions,” by Sumath Reddy (12/01).  New parents take note:  researchers at Pitt “show sleeping fewer hours with no interruptions is better than longer time with interruptions.  Prof. Kristine Wilckens is mentioned specifically.


Broad Street Ministry’s partnership with local restaurants, specifically the Rooster Soup Company, gets an entire article in the Dec 2015 / Jan 2016 Wall Street Journal Magazine.  See “Eat, pay, give,” by Howie Kahn. 

Hershey is among the companies trying out the SmartLabel initiative, which allows shoppers to use smartphones to get more data on what’s in their food.  See “Food firms tackle labeling,” by Annie Gasparro 12/03

Good news here:  “American Eagle’s earnings surged in quarter,” by Josh Beckerman 12/03

Lynne Waymon, co-owner of Contacts Count, networking consulting firm in Newtown is quoted in “At your next party, have a conversation exit plan,” by Sue Shellenbarger 12/02

Endo Pharmaceuticals of Malvern, purveyors of Valtaren Gel (used for knee arthritis) is mentioned in “A way to fight pain and skip the pills,” by Laura Johannes 12/01

Storeroom Solutions of Radnor and executive Carlos Tellez are mentioned in “Firms shy away from spending “ by Eric Morath (12/01).  The company sells systems or organize and manage supplies.


Former PA Senator and occasional presidential candidate Rick Santorum gets a mention (as the candidate appealing social conservative working class voters), in “Trump forges a coalition:  Blue-collar not religious,” by Aaron Zitner and Dante Chinni 12/05-06

Congressman Tom Marino (R – 10) is quoted in “Washington divided on fix for Puerto Rico debt woes,” by Nick Timiraos and Aaron Kuriloff 12/04


Wharton is included in a graph in “Stanford tells M.B.A.s to wait on startups,” by Lindsay Gellman 12/03

The May Amtrak crash is mentioned in “Amtrak operating loss widened in fiscal year 2015,” by Andrew Tangel 12/02

Dan Hirschhorn Update

Mike Allen's Politico Playbook column today contained a note of interest to long-time PA political readers:

Dan Hirschhorn promoted at TIME, becomes its director of news. "Dan will coordinate our news efforts, working with editors and reporters in New York, London, Hong Kong and elsewhere, ensuring that our reporters and editors work seamlessly with their counterparts in video, photography and audience engagement."

Dan was a reporter at the Bulletin, then PolitickerPA, then started and ran  Looks like he's hit the big time now.    

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Latino Health Care Rate in Philadelphia

A note from our friends at Enroll America

Two years after the start of Obamacare enrollment, the uninsured rate for the Latino community in Philadelphia is 16%-- four percentage points higher than the overall uninsured rate in Philadelphia of 12%.
To help Latinos get the health coverage that they qualify for, Get Covered America is hosting a series of bilingual Obamacare enrollment events every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 1pm to 7:30pm until the end of open enrollment.


PA in the WSJ

The papers have stacked up for a few weeks but here are the PA related stories I noted in recent issues of the Wall Street Journal


Miranda Rosenberg, a third year medical student at Penn, is the lead author in a study on the price of prescription drugs for skin conditions.  “Prices of skin drugs climb, study finds,” by Ron Winslow, 11/27

Judge Jan DuBois of Philadelphia is working to reduce the mandatory life sentence of a street-level drug dealer, saying that the average federal sentence for murder was less than that.  Read “Judges rethink sentences,” by Joe Palazzolo 11/24 blogger Amy Wright Glenn is interviewed about meditating with her four year old son in “Families that meditate together de-stress together,” by Sue Shellenbarger 11/18

Dr. John M. Maris, a pediatric oncologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is quoted in an article about genetic predisposition for pediatric cancers.  “New light shed on cancer mystery,” by Ron Winslow 11/19

Robert Thornton wrote a paper on occupational regulations and is quoted in “License law is nixed in D.C.” by Eric Morath 11/14-15

Michael Ramsey is the geologist mentioned in “Between a rock and a renovation:  a Pittsburgh geologist uses his expertise to transform an old office into a modern loft,” by Nancy Keates 11/06

“After an accident, a couple’s path to rebuild together,” by Clare Ansberry tells a sweet story of Philadelphia couple Kirby Smith and Suria Nordin

Carnegie Mellon economist Saurabh Bhargava’s study on how people pick health care plans is mentioned in “Algorithms help workers pick health plans,” by Rachel Emma Silverman 11/11

Penn state accounting prof J. Edward Ketz is quoted in “The new $2 trillion hit:  leases,” by Michael Rapoport 11/11

Unnamed Penn State researchers studied the effects of siblings on social relationships, as discussed in “A sister helps a boy’s confidence in romance,” by Ann Lukits 11/10

Nehal Chopra,  a Wharton alum, is the focus of “A hedge fund prodigy takes $300 million hit,” by Rob Copeland 11/09


Timothy Puko and Ryan Dezember write about the Utica Shale Basin, which includes most of Pennsylvania, in “Gas market hit by gusher of woe,” 11/27

“Urban outfitters’ sales fall short of estimates,” by Maria Armental and Miriam Gottfried mentions the company’s purchase of the Vetri restaurant group (11/17)

Cybergenetics Corp, based in Pittsburgh, is mentioned in “DNA software riles defense,” by Joe Palazzolo 11/19

Valeant is mentioned in “Drug prices draw more scrutiny,” by Peter Loftus 11/07-08, and the US Attorney for the Eastern District of PA is also mentioned

The Smith Island Baking Company was founded by Brian Murphy, Wharton alum, is the focus of  “When trapped on a dessert island, keep on baking,” by Josh Zumbrun 11/07-08

Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel reports a loss, in “U.S. tariffs target Chinese Steel,” by John W. Miller 11/04


Swarthmore is used as a comparison to Princeton in “Liberal arts yield low pay,” by Andrea Fuller 11/04

The Philadelphia School District is one of the schools mentioned in “Cost woes plague common-core rollout,” by Michael Rothfeld 11/03