Pennsylvania - related items I noticed in the last two weeks of the Wall Street Journal:
Saturday, December 26, 2015
Pennsylvania - related items I noticed in the last two weeks of the Wall Street Journal:
Monday, December 21, 2015
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.
We are past the point where any solution is a win for anyone.
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!
Friday, December 18, 2015
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:
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.
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
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.
Saturday, December 12, 2015
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, www.gordonforcongress.com
Friday, December 11, 2015
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: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/10/21/fact-sheet-obama-administration-announces-public-and-private-sector
The page for the Office of National Drug Control Policy is here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp
One of the links on the page let you find an information sheet for each state. The one for Pennsylvania is at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/state_profile_-_pennyslvania.pdf
Wednesday, December 09, 2015
from the inbox:
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: http://septa.org/schedules/2015-december-airport.html
Sunday, December 06, 2015
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 pa2010.com. Looks like he's hit the big time now.
Thursday, December 03, 2015
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.
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