Saturday, April 30, 2005

Abraham Says No to Survey

Dave Davies and Will Bunch posted an article to the Daily News today on a survey distributed by Bruce Crawley, chairman of the African-American Chamber of Commerce.

District Attorney Lynne Abraham has rankled African-American Chamber of Commerce chairman Bruce Crawley by failing to respond to the group's questionnaire for candidates in the city controller and D.A.'s races.

The questionnaire asked candidates to commit to a variety of policies relating to African-American job training, economic empowerment and inclusion in building trades unions.

Abraham explains her decision this way:

"I'm a prosecutor - I don't set social policy," said Abraham, explaining that she believes that it's the job of the mayor and City Council to deal with such issues.

While I agree with her logic, in practice I'm not sure it is sound. Don't prosecutors decide which cases to prosecute and which ones not to? which ones to settle and which ones to take to court? Especially in her case, when to ask for the death penalty? While we want to think these decisions are made without personal beliefs and social agendas, that may not be possible. It might be useful to know what candidates are thinking.

As an aside, Seth Williams did complete the survey, and received an A.

Circus Ticket Sales

For 3 hours this afternoon I staffed a table in a mall selling circus tickets, with some of the proceeds going to a community group I support. Very few tickets were sold before I came on duty. For the first 2 hours I was there not a ticket was sold. Not a one. However, at the magic hour of 4 p.m., sales picked up dramatically. I hung around and did some errands and treated one of the little Janes to a horribly overpriced $4.00 ice cream cone. When I left at 6 p.m. sales had slowed but were still better than the pre-4 p.m. sales. Whether or not this data is transferrable to other situations is questionable, but, if you are selling circus tickets in a mall and want to see some action, go for a slot at 4 p.m. or later.

I had not been to the mall in over 6 months and either I have gotten older or malls and mall goers have gotten stranger. Plus, the observations of some of those around me are definitely correct -- my wardrobe is out of style.

Friday, April 29, 2005

House Journal, Part 2

I had some time this afternoon so I went to the closest law library to browse through the House Journal and see who had been voting how and what the House was generally up to, plus there were some bills in the weekly legislative updates that intrigued me and I wanted to see what, if any, discussion had taken place. If you saw my previous post on this topic you may remember that the voting records of our state officials are not made public anywhere except the House Journal and Senate Journal.

Imagine my surprise to find that the most recent Senate Journal issues were from February and for the House from November. I looked for the check-in stamp and found that the issues tended to come in bunches once a month. The October House Journal issues were received in March and the November issues in April. Ditto for the Senate, although they are not so far behind.

Thinking perhaps it was a quirk of this particular library I checked the online library catalogs of 3 other PA law libraries. None showed any more current issues than the one I had visited. Apparently our state legislative bodies are not only secretive about their voting records, they are dragging their feet in publishing the only method we have of reviewing those voting records.

Every single state representative and senator who serves their term and leaves without making some attempt to let a little more sunshine into the process is condoning it. We're making some headway in the release of lobbying information, let's take this on next.

weekly legislative update

No bills were passed in either state legislative body this week, although some were introduced.

ADAs respond

Check out Young Philly Politics for a thank you from Seth Williams and a note from a group of former Assistant District Attorneys announcing their support for him. It is an excellent letter and I encourage you to read it.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Jane in the News

Good golly, Miss Molly, this blog is mentioned in the Daily New's blog Attytood. Is this my 15 minutes of fame?

More Seth and the City

Dan over at the Young Philly Politics blog has posted another message on Seth Williams, asking specifically for people to volunteer on the campaign. Dan is even offering to house people from out of town. If you see this and volunteer please let me know -- we're trying to gauge the influence of blogs on this race. If you can't donate or volunteer and you live in the city, please remember to vote on May 17.

Monday, April 25, 2005


We have new rules regarding bankruptcy. I have some concerns about them. Two being the homestead exemption and asset protection trusts. Currently Pennsylvania does not seem to recognize these two but I wonder how long it will be before someone introduces a bill to bring them in. One pro football player wanted to use the asset protection trust to allow him to keep a multi-million dollar signing bonus during a bankruptcy. That just can’t be right. The bill seems designed to favor those who have been wealthy for some time and disfavor those of modest means who have hit a snag – health problems or job loss, two of the primary causes of bankruptcy. I contrast this bill with the 1998 government bailout of the Long-Term Capital Management trust fund, whose clients were described by Alan Greenspan as “a small number of highly sophisticated, very wealthy individuals.” Apparently if you have a little money, take a risk and lose, you are up a creek without a paddle. If you have a lot of money, take a risk and lose, the government will bail you out.

Another thing that alarms me about the bill is that is does not seem to curb the credit industry. It is rare that a week goes by without a new credit card offer coming in the mail. I have two credit cards but only use one of them. Ditto for Mr. Jane. Several years ago my primary credit card company kept raising my credit limit until I could have gone out and bought a brand new mid sized car with it. I finally called them and asked that it be lowered to about $5,000.00. This may have hurt my FICO score but I thought it might at least offer a little protection if it were stolen – hopefully I would realize it was gone and call it in by the time the thief had persuaded the company to raise the credit limit. Yet I continue to get offers in the mail and by phone for more credit cards, some with outrageous interest rates. Everyone I have spoken to, regardless of their credit history, is in the same situation.

If it is considered more heinous to sell drugs than use them, and if bartenders can be held liable for giving alcohol to those who have clearly reached, or passed, their limit, why is it still acceptable for credit card and loan companies to continue to offer, aggressively in some cases, more credit to those already deeply in debt? How ethical is it to continually offer drugs to someone trying to kick the habit, or to cajole a gambler into a quick hand of poker? If you know someone has a weight problem, do you hand them a box of donuts? Do you offer another credit card to those with medical needs and no means to pay for them? Offer more credit to someone who hasn’t worked in a year and is behind on their mortgage? I’m all in favor of personal responsibility, but I’m also well aware that tempting the weak is usually considered a moral no-no. I would feel much better about this bill if it were more equitable across monetary lines, and put some limits on the credit industry, especially those despicable payday loans with the sky high interest. We also need to try to find ways of helping those whose medical needs or loss of employment have pushed them into the economic danger zone. While my household is in relatively good shape today, I know that tomorrow may bring the type of sudden tragedy or the beginning of a long slope downward, that has brought many people to the point of bankruptcy, and I would hope in that situation society would temper its judgment with mercy.

weekly legislative update

These bills passed the house, the senate or both this week. Sponsors are listed if there were few enough to fit on one line. Otherwise, in the interest of saving space, I deleted them.

SB 1 An Act providing for lobbying registration, regulation and disclosure; conferring powers and imposing duties on the Department of State, the Office of Attorney General and the State Ethics Commission; imposing penalties; establishing the Lobbying Accountability Fund; and making a related repeal.

SB 86 An Act amending Title 23 (Domestic Relations) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for disposition of complaints received.

SB 300 An Act authorizing the establishment and maintenance of health savings accounts; providing for special tax provisions; and imposing restrictions on health savings accounts.

SB 507 An Act amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949, further providing for the scholarship organization educational improvement tax credit programs.

HB 486 By Representatives McGILL, CORNELL, SHAPIRO and WASHINGTON. An Act authorizing the release of Project 70 restrictions on certain lands owned by the Township of Upper Dublin, Montgomery County, being
conveyed by the township in return for the imposition of Project 70 restrictions on certain lands being conveyed to the township. (passed house last week, this week passed senate)

SB 124 By Senator GREENLEAF. An Act providing for applicability of certain provisions relating to equitable division of marital property in divorce actions; and making a related repeal.

SB 151 An Act amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949, further providing for State Report Card.

SB 158 By Senator EARLL. An Act adding a certain portion of the Bayfront Parkway in the City of Erie, Erie County, to the State Highway System, and transferring to the City of Erie a certain State road.

SB 248 An Act amending the act of August 11, 1967 (P.L.205, No.69), entitled "An act to validate conveyances and other instruments which have been defectively acknowledged," extending the date for validation of certain
conveyances and other instruments.

SB 596 By Senators LAVALLE and STOUT. An Act authorizing and directing the Department of General Services, with the approval of the Governor and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, to accept by donation a tract of land and any improvements thereon situate in the Borough of Ambridge, Beaver County.

SB 608 By Senator THOMPSON. An Act making an appropriation from the State Employees' Retirement Fund to provide for expenses of the State Employees' Retirement Board for the fiscal year July 1, 2005, to June 30, 2006, and for the payment of bills incurred and remaining unpaid at the close of the fiscal year ending June 30, 2005.

SB 609 By Senator THOMPSON. An Act making an appropriation from the Public School Employees' Retirement Fund to provide for expenses of the Public School Employees' Retirement Board for the fiscal year July 1, 2005, to June 30, 2006, and for the payment of bills incurred and remaining unpaid at the close of the fiscal year ending June 30, 2005.

SB 610 By Senator THOMPSON. An Act making appropriations from the Professional Licensure Augmentation Account and from restricted revenue accounts within the General Fund to the Department of State for use by the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs in support of the professional licensure boards assigned thereto.

SB 611 By Senator THOMPSON. An Act making appropriations from the Workmen's Compensation Administration Fund to the Department of Labor and Industry and the Department of Community and Economic Development to provide for the expenses of administering the Workers' Compensation Act, The Pennsylvania Occupational Disease Act and the Office of Small Business Advocate for the fiscal year July 1, 2005, to June 30, 2006, and for the payment of bills incurred and remaining unpaid at the close of the fiscal year ending June 30, 2005.

SB 612 By Senator THOMPSON. An Act making an appropriation from a restricted revenue account within the General Fund and from Federal augmentation funds to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

SB 613 By Senator THOMPSON. An Act making an appropriation from a restricted revenue account within the General Fund to the Office of Consumer Advocate in the Office of Attorney General.

SB 614 By Senator THOMPSON. An Act making an appropriation from a restricted revenue account within the General Fund to the Office of Small Business Advocate in the Department of Community and Economic Development.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Blogs on Williams

For those interested, a list of blogs known to have posted yesterday on Seth Williams is available at Philly Future. Williams sent out a thank you, posted on Young Philly Politics. It was exciting to be involved in such a project.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Another Williams Post

Earlier this week, A Smoke Filled Room, had a post on Williams.

Action Day for Seth Williams

Several bloggers are banding together today to promote Seth Williams' campaign for Philadelphia District Attorney. In addition to my earlier post on Williams, take a look at:

Young Philly Politics

Rowhouse Logic

Philly Future

We are asking people to take at look at Williams. If you like what you see, volunteer for his campaign, or donate. I sent off a small donation. Going by counter on this site, quite a few people have read my Williams post. Please think about getting involved, either with time or money. Even if you don't live in Philly (I don't), you are still affected by the actions of the city's District Attorney. Visit his website, You can donate online or print out a form to mail in. There is a volunteer form as well.

Anything that can get a group of Democrats organized and working together is worth at least a glance. Check him out. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Seth Williams

There is an interesting primary race in Philadelphia this May. District Attorney Lynne Abraham is facing Seth Williams, who was an assistant DA in her office for ten years, earning a fraction of what he could in private practice. There hasn’t been much press on this race. Or maybe there has and it hasn’t filtered out my way. I don’t live in Philadelphia. But there has been enough buzz generally and enough messages about it in my email for me to look into Mr. Williams and what he is about. I searched the backfiles of the Philadelphia Inquirer; specific citations are listed at the end of this entry

Instead of focusing on the race I focused on Mr. Williams himself, and what sort of man he appears to be. What I found blew my socks off. My first glimpse of him is as a college student. For many of us college is a time to explore and, sometimes, misbehave, in the guise of finding ourselves. In the last election we were treated to a candidate for the legislature who had to explain away some of his college shenanigans. Mr. Williams, though, chose to expend his energy in more positive ways. He attended Penn State at a time when only 3.6 percent of the student body was African American. He was elected president of the Black Caucus.

In 1987, instead of going wild at the shore on spring break, Mr. Williams and twenty-four other people, mostly other Penn State students, marched 102 miles, over six days, from State College to Harrisburg, to protest the university’s investment with businesses that dealt with South Africa, and its system of apartheid. When I was in college, a few years before Mr. Williams, and a few states away, I went on a two day, 40 mile march, for a different cause. Let me tell you that after just 40 miles, your feet HURT. What sort of shoes were you wearing in 1987? Nikes hadn’t really permeated the market. Most of the people on my march were in keds or hiking boots. We slept on a church floor and ate food donated and cooked by volunteers. I remember an unappealing vegetarian stew for supper and a big pot of plain oatmeal for breakfast. We packed our lunch the first day and just waited until we reached our destination to eat the second day. Think of the logistics of a six day march. You have to have places to sleep, someone to drive the sleeping bags there, someone to coordinate food and prepare it. Microwaves were not yet commonplace. There were no cell phones. A support vehicle, if you were lucky enough to have one, would just have to drive ahead and wait for you at an agreed upon place. People who passed you on the road might express some dissatisfaction with what you were doing and there was no way to call for help. I remember a few tense moments on my march. We were fortunate enough to have a good group leader who acted as our spokesman with hostile locals. There were places along the way where the shoulder was minimal and we worried about the possibility of being run off the road, or worse. One woman had to drop out when the blisters on her feet began to bleed. We left her and another person behind and let the support van know where they were when we saw it next. They backtracked to pick her up and return the friend to the group.

I marched for two days and 40 miles. At the time it was the most physically grueling thing I had done. Mr. Williams and his team marched for six days and over 100 miles. He has my respect for that alone.

The next year he was elected president of the university’s student government. He lobbied to have the university’s budget opened to the public and spoke before the state legislature on the impact of rising tuition costs. He was arrested as part of a sit-in to protest over racial issues on campus. There were a series of racially motivated incidents during the year, and Williams was the target of a flier distributed on campus. Yet all the quotes from him in the paper are eloquent and evenhanded. If he responded to fiery remarks in kind it wasn’t recorded in what I read. When he was home in Philly he delivered pizzas, the sort of job many working or middle class college kids have.

After graduation he went to law school. Instead of going into private practice he went to work in the DA’s office. He was copresident of the civic association in his neighborhood and is a captain in the Army Reserves. If Mr. Williams spends the rest of his career in pursuit of personal wealth, he will still have done more than his share for the public good. The man is not yet 40; there are lot of things he could still do for his state and for his city. He is the underdog in the DA campaign and it is unlikely that he will win. But, let’s do something unusual for a change, and not eat our own young. This is a man we need much more than he needs us. Let’s treat him with the respect he has earned. Let’s not chew him up and spit him out.

Seth Williams is a good man in a city that isn’t overly burdened with good men. If you live in the city and don’t want to contribute to his campaign or volunteer for him or vote for him, at least say a prayer that we do not lose him, because men like him don’t come along every day.

Sources: Philadelphia Inquirer, March 6, 1987, p. B6, “Apartheid protest targets Penn State”; May 11, 1988, p. B1 “Students ask Penn State: open budget”; May 14, 1988, p. B3, “Penn State plans talks with Blacks”; April 14, 1989, b. B17, “Students hit state college tuition hikes”: February 28, 1989, p. B6, “PA enters Penn State racial inquiry’; October 13, 2001, p. B1, “In Overbrook Park, a quiet change”; January 14, 2005, p. B1 “Ex-prosecutor seeks old boss’s job.”

Saturday, April 16, 2005

A Letter from Afghanistan

If you are a regular reading of this blog you may remember that I helped the kids at church send care packages to soldiers in Iraq. One of the addresses we found at was in Afghanistan so we sent a package there, too. I recently received a response from Abby who has 2 kids back home. She hopes to be home by Christmas. Seriously, folks, this is not hard to do and can really make a difference in someone's life. The site lets the individual soldiers list what they need or want, and provides all the information you need to pack and mail the materials. It is well worth the effort. As the daughter, sister, and aunt of soldiers, I can tell you that you will not only be helping the man or woman in the field, but soothing the worries of their loved ones at home, too.

weekly legislative update

Passed house, senate and signed by the gov
HB 2 Prior Printer's Nos. 219, 623, 1610. Printer's No. 1618.

An Act providing for submission of a question to the electorate authorizing incurring of indebtedness for the maintenance and protection of the environment, open space and farmland preservation, watershed protection, abandoned mine reclamation, acid mine drainage remediation and other environmental initiatives.

Passed either house or senate

HB 616 Prior Printer's No. 689. Printer's No. 1642.

An Act establishing the Independent Higher Education and Community Financing Program and the Board of Review.

HB 395 Printer's No. 422.

An Act prohibiting any municipal pension or retirement system in a city of the first class from denying certain benefits to surviving spouses of firefighters or certain employees upon a subsequent remarriage of the surviving spouse; and making repeals.

SB 256 Printer's No. 260.

An Act amending Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for the right of action regarding profits received as a result of the commission of a crime.

HB 855 Prior Printer's No. 978. Printer's No. 1578.

An Act amending Title 53 (Municipalities Generally) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for limitations on certain municipal powers; and providing for fire company reduction and closure provisions for cities of the first class, second class and third class.

SB 69 Prior Printer's No. 78. Printer's No. 650.
An Act amending Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for employer immunity from liability for disclosure of information regarding former or current employees.

Campaign Web Site Blahs

At the end of last month I received an email from Democracy for America; the last part of the message highlighted three candidates for office around the country, naming them as part of the DFA-List. The last was Leanna Washington, currently a state rep, a candidate in the special election to fill the state senate seat vacated by Allyson Schwartz when she was elected to Congress. Interestingly, the DFA-List email listed three fairly important endorsements for Rep. Washington. There was also a link to her web site, leanna4pasenate. I clicked the link and took a look. The three endorsements were only mentioned as part of a list of article or press release links. No mention of the specific endorsements on the main screen (the reason I’m not giving them by name is, heck, if that aren’t important enough for her to mention by name there’s no reason for me to). I checked back this week. There is a big ad for the DFA-List inclusion, but the endorsements are still only a headline link. Did I miss something, ladies and gentlemen? Did I blink and this became rocket science? So many political web sites just plain poorly done. For something innovative and unusual, take a look at Seth Williams’ site; he is a candidate for Philadelphia DA. If you look at the form the site uses to take people’s contact information, there is a blank for a list of other organizations you belong to or are active in. I have never seen that before and it is a very smart addition. Somebody over there is thinking. I’m very impressed.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Red-faced or Buy Blue?

Check out the April 2005 issue of Fast Company. On page 38 they have a comparison of different company's relative political donations (based on pacs, corporate executive and spouse's donations). For instance, Starbucks is a Democratic company; Dunkin Donuts is Republican. Bed Bath & Beyond is Democratic, JC Penney is Republican. I blush to discover that the brand of makeup I'm wearing, Cover Girl, is a more Republican company than competitor Revlon. Fortunately it can take me years to go through one tube of lipstick (I put it on in the morning, if it wears off it wears off) so I won't have to make any tough decisions immediately.

To look up your favorite products, click on or

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Anonymous Message Boards

This week the politcspa website shut down it’s message boards because someone posted a threat on the board. This is serious. I hope it was an empty threat but I can understand real concern on the part of the person threatened.

But I also hope the message boards re-open and there remains a mechanism for posting anonymously or under a registered pseudonym. Anonymous message boards are always going to attract crackpots and closet thugs. They also serve a real purpose. I followed the message boards, reading three of them regularly and popping in to a few others much less frequently. Much of what I read I dismissed as mean-spirited character assassination. However there were a few times when something I read later turned out to be true, regardless of how improbably it seemed at the time.

I posted a few things now and then, too. Some of my postings were in defense of an official I thought well of, some were queries on specific subjects, others a general response to another posting.

This was all very entertaining and lots of fun, but that’s not the primary reason I hope the message boards are saved. The message boards give people a chance to try to influence things. For example, a few years ago I wanted a chance to meet a candidate; someone who could potentially be representing me. All of the events I could find listed or was informed of for this person were fundraisers, with a fee to attend. So I posted a number of messages asking how people could meet this person without committing to supporting the candidate. Someone else would reply and either agree with me or demure, and I would reply to them and off we would go. After about 10 days I received a campaign email (I was on the campaign email list) announcing some free events and they started regularly appearing on the campaign website. Maybe the campaign would have had them anyway. Maybe they wouldn’t. There’s no telling now, but I would like to think I had some impact.

Why didn’t I just email the campaign and ask? I didn’t think they’d care. My experience to date with elected officials and candidates for office bears out my pessimism. Someone I was acquainted with wanted to be appointed to an opening on the school board. I said I would contact all the current members and voice my support. I was a little nervous about this and decided the call the one I had heard spoken of as the most accessible. She asked my name. I told her. She said “And who’s that?” How does one answer that question? Nobody in particular. Nobody important. Nobody with any influence. In short, nobody. No longer wishing to speak to her, I told her I would send her a note instead, and, indeed, wrote each and every member of the school board. Not a single one bothered to respond and someone else was appointed. Last year I wrote to Senators Specter and Santorum in support of pending legislation. One never responded; the other sent me a letter thanking me for my letter on judicial nominees, which was not what I had written about. So, it’s pretty clear they don’t have any real interest in my opinion, either. I’ve spoken before the school board and local government officials and brought money into the coffers of both, and I still have trouble getting phone calls returned. How to present an idea or make a difference? Writing a letter to the editor is an idea. It gets problematic though. The city paper doesn’t cover races in the smaller areas, or even the smaller races in their own area. The local town paper is weekly and is careful what they print. They can’t afford to upset the powers that be. When a controversial topic is being discussed a calmer letter isn’t going to get published when there are more heated ones available. Some papers won’t run political letters within a certain time before an election. All papers have limited space for letters and are unlikely to print more than one letter on any one issue by any one person or multiple letters on any topic by any one person.

So, in person, I’m met with the response “And who’s that?” I’m not a political juggernaut, not a kingmaker or a powerbroker or even a big contributor. I’m not a committeeperson, an officer in the Kiwanis, or a member of the Chamber of Commerce. I’m just an elementary school room mother, just a small time community activist that most people have never heard of, just one little vote, pissed away as easily as this morning’s coffee. On an anonymous message board, though, it gets a little murkier. The same people who would dismiss me in person without any thought will pause before replying to me electronically. I might be someone, or a group of someones, who should not be so quickly ignored. In the daylight I’m invisible, but in the dark all cats are gray.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

weekly legislative update

There were a lot of bills introduced and shuffled around but only one was passed, in the Senate:


Prior Printer's No. 233. Printer's No. 407.

An Act imposing a moratorium on the closure or reduction of State
mental health and mental retardation facilities and to require the
Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to study the issue of closure of
State mental health and mental retardation facilities and issue report.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Line Jump and Die?

Mr. Jane has been strongly suggesting lately that we take the little Janes to a nationally known theme park in Florida (which I will not mention by name for fear of being sued). He seems to feel that their little psyches will be stunted if we deny them this all-American (indeed, international) experience. I point out that neither of us have ever been there. He smiles in a sad and knowing way.

However, news reports of bills that have passed the Florida State House and State Senate, broadening the circumstances under which people can use deadly force without facing criminal charges gives me pause. I'm not very coordinated at the best of times. What happens if I jostle someone in line for that little teacup ride? I can't find my own car in a parking lot, let alone a rental. What happens if I mistakenly approach a car that looks like the one we rented and someone finds my actions threatening? Heck, I scared the daylights out of a judicial candidate just last week and all I was doing then was stepping off my own front porch. If we were in Florida and he were armed who knows what might have happened.

In any event, I am adding this to the list of reasons why we should stay home.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Rock, Scissors, Paper

The childhood playground chant has been update. It is now Rock, Scissors, Paper, Shoot.



There have been too many deaths and losses lately. I couldn't find my copy of the Vulgate but ran across this in Medieval Latin Lyrics. It is the first stanza of Prudentius' "Burial of the Dead:"

Nunc suscipe, terra, fovendum,
gremioque hunc concipe molli.
hominis tibi membra sequesro,
generosa et fragmina credo.

(Take him, earth, for cherishing,
To thy tender breast receive him.
Body of a man I bring thee,
Noble even in its ruin.)

Sunday, April 03, 2005

You Can't Take Me Anywhere

I’ve been a regular political social butterfly this week. One candidate that I’ve been wanting to meet was having an open house. This wasn’t in the email I received from the campaign last week but it was on the website if you didn’t mind looking around a bit. It was way out of my way but there didn’t seem to be very many other opportunities. I hadn’t thought very well of this person, based on what I had read or seen, but there wasn’t much to read or see, so it was hard to form a valid opinion. Off I went, in a window of time between dropping a kid and cupcakes off at scouts and picking up an empty cupcake pan and a kid at scouts. There weren’t many people at the office when I arrived. My appearance took everyone aback. When I walked in it was like those old movies where someone scraps a needle across a record. I looked around to see what I might have done. Aha, I was the only white person in the room; you could almost hear the alarm “WHOOP WHOOP WHITE LADY WHITE LADY WHOOP WHOOP.” But the candidate, who had been in a back room, came out, perhaps concerned over the sudden silence, and stepped forward to shake hands. I had a few concerns which the candidate listened to and corrected some of my information. It was a nice chat. I left feeling much more positive than when I arrived. This proves the old axiom that you should go to the source. I will try to verify the new information but it does make more sense than what I had originally heard.

Someone already in office had an open house this weekend. Oddly enough this information wasn’t in an email I received from her office earlier this week either (“last day of the campaign finance reporting period – can you spare some change?”) but was left on my phone as one of those annoying prerecorded messages. I was a little wary because two years ago I went one of her open houses and it did not go well. Have we discussed my particular brand of charm? No? Well, it can be a bit “eccentric.” I went to that earlier open house with all good intentions. I chatted with the staff, made nice, ate a petit fours and some crudités. Then I worked by way back to where the official was. She smiled and extended her hand. Unfortunately at that moment I saw another official behind her that had been ducking my phone calls. I pointed at him in my best Javert fashion and said “AHA.” Ditching the hostess with her hand still extended I took off after my quarry and eventually pinned him down to ask my questions.

Were that not bad enough, when I started to work my way out of the room I found myself in the narrow crowded hallway just as someone started taking pictures for the paper. The photographer was trying to take a picture of the hostess and the mayor of a nearby small town. I flattened myself against the wall and looked over at a women doing the same thing on the opposite wall. “Suck it in!” I said to her, meaning that we should avoid having our guts ruin the shot. She laughed. The mayor, a “robust” guy, thought I was talking to him. In short, it was not a flaming success. I have avoided the hostess ever since. However, memories fade and perhaps it would be safe to go back.

Sure enough, this visit went off without a hitch. I also managed to get in and out with out signing in (as hikers say “take only pictures, leave only footprints,” -- I don’t even like to take pictures). She and I exchanged a few words, I ate a cookie, reconnected with one of her staff who has helped me out with letters of support for grants, and took off.

Perhaps the curse has been broken and it’s safe for me to venture out again…. Not one to press my luck, though, I spend this afternoon playing board games (Shaggy in the graveyard with the witchdoctor’s staff) and watching that campy old Adam West Batman movie. Life is good

weekly legislative update

These acts passed the House this week:

An Act amending the act of March 1, 1988 (P.L.82, No.16), known as the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority Act, further providing for definitions.

An Act amending the act of June 24, 1976 (P.L.424, No.101), referred to as the Emergency and Law Enforcement Personnel Death Benefits Act, extending benefits to members of certain hazardous material response teams.

An Act amending the act of January 19, 1968 (1967 P.L.992, No.442), entitled, as amended, "An act authorizing the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the local government units thereof to preserve, acquire or hold land for open space uses," defining "municipal corporation"; further providing for property acquired in fee simple and for local taxing option; and making an editorial change.

An Act amending the act of June 2, 1915 (P.L.736, No.338), known as the Workers' Compensation Act, further defining "occupational disease."

An Act amending the act of January 19, 1968 (1967 P.L.992, No.442), entitled, as amended, "An act authorizing the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the local government units thereof to preserve, acquire or hold land for open space uses," further providing for local taxing options; and providing for land trusts.

An Act amending Title 71 (State Government) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, repealing provisions relating to mandatory and optional membership, retention and reinstatement of service credits and transfer of accumulated deductions for the Juvenile Court Judges'Commission; and making an editorial change.

An Act authorizing the release of Project 70 restrictions on certain lands owned by the Township of Upper Dublin, Montgomery County, being conveyed by the township in return for the imposition of Project 70 restrictions on certain lands being conveyed to the township.

An Act amending the act of June 30, 1981 (P.L.128, No.43), known as the Agricultural Area Security Law, further providing for definitions, for agricultural security areas, for evaluation criteria and for purchase of agricultural conservation easements.

An Act amending the act of June 30, 1981 (P.L.128, No.43), known as the Agricultural Area Security Law, further providing for purchase of agricultural conservation easements; and abrogating a regulation.