Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Serpico Posts at the Next Direction

A fellow blogger at the Next Direction has been writing some good detailed posts on the 10th state senate race between Democrat Chris Serpico and Republican Chuck McIlhinny. They are well worth a look.

Who Owns the House?

You learn something new everyday. Yesterday I learned that the PA State House of Representatives copyrights the rebroadcasts of its sessions that air on PCN. Democat Chris King, who is running against incumbent Republican Matt Wright for the 142nd state house district, used a snippet of video showing Wright speaking in the House. John Perzel, Speaker of the House, responded by having a lawyer write King threatening a lawsuit if the footage wasnt' removed. According to the Bucks County Courier Times ("Attorney: King’s TV ad violates copyright law," by Alison Hawkes)

The letter cited the House’s 1996 registration with the United State Copyright Office of “video of all sessions of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives” and noted a restricted use of such video for education and instructional purposes only.


The Pennsylvania Senate has a similar requirement barring floor footage in political ads.

The House and Senate also restrict media cameras, permitting credentialed still photographers and videographers to the floor on a limited basis.

According to the lawyer's letter each PCN broadcast of the House or Senate has a disclaimer on it stating how it can and cannot be used. I don't remember ever seeing that when I've watched PCN but if they say it's there, it's likely that I just missed it.

People who work in government should be able to have discussions without fear of someone using video of it for political or other purposes. Yet, I've seen enough political ads for incumbents with photos or footage of them on official business that it seems those lines are blurred.

It is a tricky line to walk, this tightrope between the public's right to know and a legislator's right to do their job without undue stress or interference. Perzel himself got into a little hotwater in August of 2003 when he mailed out over 20,000 copies of a DVD commemorating his swearing-in as Speaker, originally billed to the taxpayers, but the cost was later reimbursed and paid by his campaign. As noted by the Inquirer ("DVDs honoring Perzel are billed to taxpayers - It was a mistake, the speaker of the House's spokesman says. His campaign fund will reimburse the state for the mailing," by Mario F. Cattabiani, August 27, 2003)

The DVD allows viewers to pick from 20 chapters chronicling the April 15 swearing-in ceremony, from testimonials by Perzel's colleagues to the new speaker assuming the gavel. It ends with a disclaimer standard on House floor proceedings - that the footage cannot be used for political or campaign activities.

Someone forgot to tell the fund-raisers.

Perzel scheduled a campaign stop at the Philadelphia Ritz-Carlton for next week organized by his supporters to publicly debut the DVD.

"Please join us in viewing the Swearing-In Ceremony," reads the invitation, for which tickets range from $150 for a "friend" of the campaign, to $1,000 for "VIPs."

Told of the seeming contradiction, Miskin said that Perzel had authorized the fund-raiser but had no idea the DVD was the attraction. The event is still on, but the DVD "won't be shown," said Miskin, explaining Perzel's second corrective step on the DVD issue.

So you'd think Perzel would have a little more sympathy for Chris King, but that doesn't appear to be the case. I suppose it's all a matter of whether or not the official in question likes the footage....

The House and Senate Journals are available online now and I wonder what copyright restrictions are in place for those. I have excerpted them on this blog in previous posts. Generally speaking government documents are outside regular copyright rules, at least at the federal level, and I thought these transcripts were considered government documents. Guess I'll have to brush up on intellectual property law before one of those letters arrives on my doorstep.

This Blog's Sitemeter Chart for the Past Year

Sometime last October I added sitemeter's free usage tracking to my blog, to get a better idea of what was being read and when and by who, etc. It has been very useful information to have. Sitemeter also allows you to see the usage changes in graph form. I keep the data passworded so no one else can see it, for privacy and other concerns. However, I did want to share the usage graph for the past year. The blip in February was because politicspa linked to two postings on their front page. The blip in May was due to the primary and the increase in readership over the past few months is due to the upcoming November elections. Starting Nov. 8th I expect the stats to drop by about half.

Monday, October 30, 2006

GOTV on Halloween

If, like me, you have school age kids you've packed up Halloween costumes, put them and plates or napkins for the classroom party in their backpacks, or dropped off cupcakes or a veggie tray with a room mom (or maybe you're the room mom/parent). Tomorrow night someone in your house will have "door duty" handing out treats while someone else takes the kids around the neighborhood. For those of us who live in quiet areas not given to yardsigns or leafletting this is the perfect opportunity to encourage people to vote. As you go door to door or as parents bring their kids to yours, remind them that Tuesday is election day.

Philadelphians Against Santorum has a few more suggestions.

The Haunting of Rick Santorum has some seasonal humor.

Patrick Murphy Endorsed by the Bucks County Courier Times

Patrick Murphy, Democratic candidate for the 8th congressional district, has been endorsed by the Bucks County Courier Times. Though I have been a long-time supporter of Murphy's this surprises me. The paper is usually conservative politically and I expected them to endorse incumbent Republican Mike Fitzpatrick. Read the full endorsement here or here. This is an excerpt:

This is our central fear in returning Fitzpatrick to Congress - that he will not be as strong a force for change as Murphy.


In his race against Democrat Ginny Schrader two years ago, the congressman failed to keep a check on the tactics of national party operatives. When Schrader was slimed, Fitzpatrick said he wasn't responsible.

He sang the same refrain when Iraq War vets questioned Murphy's war record while appearing at a press conference he convened a few weeks ago. Fitzpatrick should have prevented this from happening at his own event - or at least denounced their comments immediately.

We are likewise offended by Fitzpatrick's television ads and mailings.

They diminish the quality of character we've come to expect from him. They also raise legitimate questions about how independent he can really be within his own party if he can't control the tone of his own campaign.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Wishing Upon a Star

It has been too cloudy to do much star gazing lately but if you see a falling star wish for two things: 1) Brian Tierney doesn't follow through with the possibility of layoffs at the Inquirer or Daily News. The papers have been cut to the bone with repeated layoffs and it shows in the level of reporting the remaining staff can accomplish. They are dedicated, talented people but there are only so many hours in the day.... and 2) The papers' employees don't strike.

National Congressional Committees Peddle Trash

I've seen a little more tv than usual the past few days and it seems like every show on has a commercial paid for by one or the other of the national party congressional committees and they are all ugly trash. Over a year ago I wrote a blog entry explaining why I no longer donated to a party but only to individual candidates that I could check out myself. I don't want my money going to pay for things like the stuff that is airing these days. Candidate-sponsored negative ads are bad enough but the ones paid for by the parties are even worse. Can't we do better?

Two More Endorsements

The Delaware County Times has endorsed Joe Sestak for the 7th congressional district. Read the entire endorsement here.

Rick Taylor has been endorsed by the Intelligencer for the 151st state house district.

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Quick Rick Taylor Round Up

Rick Taylor, Democratic candidate for the 151st state house seat, has gotten some good press lately. The Intelligencer ("A tough race in 151st," by Jacob Fendon) has a good article on the campaign. The race was listed as one of the top 22 state races by Pete DeCoursey of CapitolWire. It was also the focus of an article in the Ambler Gazette (" The 151st Legislative District is heating up," by Nick Norlen, 10/25/2006)

weekly legislative update

This is a list of bills that passed the Pennsylvania House or Senate this week, and mention of any noteworthy resolutions. Standard caveats apply (resolutions not generally included, list of sponsors deleted if it was too long - three lines in the originally formatting).

Our accountants friends at PICPA have updated their legislative page.

Other weekly updates are available for this week:

PA House Democrats
PA House GOP daily updates
PA Senate Democrats
PA Senate Republicans

Regular Session


Take a look at HB471, passed by the Senate. Aren't bills supposed to focus on one subject for the whole bill? That one seems all over the place.


HB534 Printer's No. 582. An Act amending the act of July 2, 1984 (P.L.561, No.112), known as the Pennsylvania Conservation Corps Act, further providing for supervisors.

HB2046 Printer's No. 2823. An Act amending Title 8 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for the offense of sale or transfer of firearms.

HB 2047 By Representatives GODSHALL, THOMAS, DeWEESE, BOYD, BUNT, CAPPELLI, CRAHALLA, DeLUCA, FRANKEL, GEIST, GERGELY, GINGRICH, GOODMAN, O'NEILL, QUIGLEY, SHANER, STABACK, HARPER, YOUNGBLOOD, REICHLEY, TRUE and MELIO. Prior Printer's No. 2824.Printer's No. 4881. An Act amending Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for sentences for offenses committed with firearms.

HB2312Prior Printer's No. 3273.Printer's No. 4386. An Act amending the act of February 1, 1966 (1965 P.L.1656, No.581), known as The Borough Code, providing for specific powers of boroughs relating to emergency services.

HB2313Prior Printer's No. 3274.Printer's No. 4387. An Act amending the act of June 24, 1931 (P.L.1206, No.331), known as The First Class Township Code, providing for specific powers relating to emergency services.

HB2314 Prior Printer's No. 3275.Printer's No. 4388. An Act amending the act of May 1, 1933 (P.L.103, No.69), known as The Second Class Township Code, providing for the establishment of fire and emergency medical services.

HB 2420 By Representatives D. EVANS, FRANKEL, GEORGE, KIRKLAND, MANDERINO, MANN, MARKOSEK, MELIO, PALLONE, PARKER, SOLOBAY, STABACK, WALKO, JOSEPHS, YOUNGBLOOD and J. TAYLOR. Printer's No. 3477. An Act amending the act of April 21, 1949 (P.L.665, No.155), known as the First Class City Home Rule Act, further providing for the general grant of power.

HB2696 Prior Printer's Nos. 4106, 4732.Printer's No. 4882. An Act amending the act of November 10, 1999 (P.L.491, No.45), known as the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act, providing for the Uniform Construction Code Advisory Council; and further providing for penalties.

HB2897 Prior Printer's Nos. 4543, 4664.Printer's No. 4883. An Act amending Title 71 (State Government) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for credited State service and for classes of service.

SB957 Prior Printer's Nos. 1254, 1550, 1720.Printer's No. 2205. An Act amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for the offense of robbery on the premises of a financial institution; and further providing for grading of theft offenses and for persons not to possess, use, manufacture, control, sell or transfer firearms.

SB 983 By Senators WONDERLING, PICCOLA, JUBELIRER, BRIGHTBILL, CORMAN, FONTANA, ERICKSON, PIPPY, PUNT, WENGER, ORIE, BROWNE, RAFFERTY, BOSCOLA, MADIGAN, GREENLEAF, RHOADES, ARMSTRONG, PILEGGI, REGOLA and CONTI. Prior Printer's No. 1325.Printer's No. 2112. An Act amending the act of June 29, 1953 (P.L.304, No.66), known as the Vital Statistics Law of 1953, further providing for registration districts and local registrars' duties and for death and fetal death registration.

SB 1148 By Senators PIPPY, LOGAN, COSTA, FERLO, WAUGH, RAFFERTY, PILEGGI, WONDERLING and TARTAGLIONE. Prior Printer's No. 1615.Printer's No. 1894. An Act amending the act of May 22, 1935 (P.L.233, No.99), referred to as the Second Class City Policemen Relief Law, further providing for benefits for pensioners, surviving spouses, children and parents of police officers.

HB331 Prior Printer's No. 352.Printer's No. 4813. An Act amending the act of October 30, 1996 (P.L.732, No.131), known as the Pennsylvania Innkeepers' Rights Act, providing for prospective employee background checks; and requiring deadbolt locks in hotels.

HB1071 Prior Printer's No. 1230.Printer's No. 1969. An Act amending the act of December 18, 2001 (P.L.949, No.114), known as the Workforce Development Act, providing for preference for training programs.

HB2269 Prior Printer's Nos. 3179, 4731.Printer's No. 4902. An Act providing for protection of abused, neglected, exploited or abandoned adults; establishing a uniform Statewide reporting and investigative system for suspected abuse, neglect, exploitation or abandonment of adults; providing for protective services and for funding; and prescribing penalties.

HB 2919 By Representative B. SMITH. Printer's No. 4599. An Act amending Title 30 (Fish) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for restrictions on the issuance of one-day tourist fishing licenses and one-day resident fishing licenses.

HB2971 Prior Printer's Nos. 4693, 4877.Printer's No. 4900. An Act establishing the Emergency Demand Reduction Program in the Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Programs of the Department of Health.

HB2978 Prior Printer's Nos. 4700, 4751.Printer's No. 4903. An Act amending the act of March 4, 1971 (P.L.6, No.2), known as the Tax Reform Code of 1971, further providing for exclusions from sales and use tax.

SB 439 By Senators ORIE, STOUT, COSTA, TARTAGLIONE, TOMLINSON, WONDERLING, GORDNER, RAFFERTY, KITCHEN, REGOLA, GREENLEAF, LEMMOND, STACK, BRIGHTBILL and BOSCOLA. Prior Printer's Nos. 462, 1797, 2074.Printer's No. 2203. An Act providing for a sexual assault evidence collection program and for powers and duties of the Department of Health and the Pennsylvania State Police; and establishing civil immunity.

SB 592 By Senators ARMSTRONG, LEMMOND, COSTA and MADIGAN. Prior Printer's Nos. 632, 1418, 1656.Printer's No. 2044. An Act amending Title 24 (Education) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, defining "alternative investment" and "alternative investment vehicle"; and further providing for administrative duties of the board.

SB 770 By Senators C. WILLIAMS, WONDERLING, FUMO, WOZNIAK, O'PAKE, BOSCOLA, LOGAN and FERLO. Prior Printer's Nos. 949, 1408, 1416, 2192.Printer's No. 2215. An Act amending the act of December 16, 1999 (P.L.971, No.69), known as the Electronic Transactions Act, providing for the definition of "United States Postal Service Electronic Postmark"; and further providing for acceptance and distribution of electronic records.

SB 812 By Senators THOMPSON, ROBBINS, STOUT and WOZNIAK. Prior Printer's Nos. 1023, 1787.Printer's No. 2220. An Act amending the act of April 9, 1929 (P.L.343, No.176), known as The Fiscal Code, further providing for property held by courts and public officers and agencies; providing for Commonwealth support for hiring municipal police officers; and making an appropriation.

SB 1104 By Senators TOMLINSON, RHOADES, LEMMOND, VANCE, PILEGGI, KITCHEN, COSTA, EARLL, PIPPY, RAFFERTY, FONTANA, KASUNIC, ORIE, WAUGH, BROWNE, WONDERLING, O'PAKE, LOGAN and FERLO. Prior Printer's Nos. 1526, 1545, 1801, 1920.Printer's No. 2127. An Act amending the act of December 10, 1974 (P.L.852, No.287), referred to as the Underground Utility Line Protection Law, further providing for the title of the act, for definitions, for duties of facility owners and for the duties of the One Call System; providing for liability, fees and governance of the One Call System; further providing for applicability; providing for the duties of project owners and for rights of the Auditor General; further providing for the governing board of the One Call System, for fines and penalties and for applicability to certain pipeline systems and facilities; providing for a voluntary payment dispute resolution process, for best efforts, for removal or tampering with a marking, for determination of position and type of lines and for impairment of rights and immunities; further providing for expiration; repealing provisions of the act of June 19, 2002 (P.L.421, No.61), known as the Propane and Liquefied Petroleum Gas Act, concerning the prohibition of certain liquefied petroleum gas facilities or distributors from being subject to the Underground Utility Line Protection Law; and making an editorial change.

SB 1206 By Senator SCARNATI. Prior Printer's Nos. 1763, 2128.Printer's No. 2216. An Act amending the act of June 15, 2006 (P.L.200, No.47), entitled "An act designating the bridge carrying State Route 1025 over Interstate 79 in North Strabane Township, Washington County, as the Canon-McMillan Alumni Bridge," further providing for the Canon-McMillan Alumni Bridge designation; designating State Route 830 extending from Interstate 80 to the DuBois-Jefferson County Airport in Washington Township, Jefferson County, as the Francis H. "Bud" Scherer Memorial Highway; designating a portion of State Route 291 in Delaware County as the Willie Mae James Leake Memorial Highway; designating the bridge on Interstate 79 crossing U.S. Route 6N in Washington Township, Erie County, as the Dr. Ray F. Birchard Memorial Bridge; designating Front Street, from Allegheny Avenue to Rocky Grove Avenue in the Borough of Sugarcreek, Venango County, as the Mayor John D. McClelland Honorary Highway; and designating SR 255 from SR 948, Fox Township, Elk County, to the former St. Marys Borough line in Elk County, as the William F. Renwick Memorial Highway.

SB 1262 By Senators CONTI and PIPPY. Printer's No. 1877. An Act amending Title 30 (Fish) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for chemical testing to determine amounts of alcohol or controlled substances and for operating a watercraft under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances; and providing for aggravated assault by watercraft while operating under influence.

SB1266 Prior Printer's Nos. 1935, 1946.Printer's No. 2085. An Act amending Title 51 (Military Affairs) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for certain leaves of absence.

SB 1335 By Senators ARMSTRONG and STACK. Prior Printer's No. 2050.Printer's No. 2219. An Act amending the act of May 17, 1921 (P.L.682, No.284), known as The Insurance Company Law of 1921, further providing, in casualty insurance, for policy conditions and for group accident and sickness insurance; providing, in casualty insurance, for autism spectrum disorders coverage and for tick-borne illnesses; providing for retroactive denial of reimbursements; and further providing, in health care insurance, for individual accessibility, for conversion policies and for sunset.


HB552 Prior Printer's Nos. 600, 3388, 3825, 4640, 4820.Printer's No. 4879. An Act amending the act of April 9, 1929 (P.L.343, No.176), known as The Fiscal Code, further providing for the authority to invest and reinvest certain moneys; defining "general use prepaid cards," "gift card," "gift certificate" and "qualified gift certificate"; further providing for unclaimed property and for property held by courts and public officers and agencies; and clarifying provisions relating to notice and publication of lists.

HB2090 Printer's No. 2880. An Act amending Title 34 (Game) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for powers of director of the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

HB2447 Prior Printer's No. 3523.Printer's No. 3982. An Act amending Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for collection of restitution, reparation, fees, costs, fines and penalties; and for, in registration of sexual offenders, information made available on the Internet.

HB2639 Prior Printer's Nos. 3993, 4306.Printer's No. 4878. An Act amending the act of September 26, 1951 (P.L.1539, No.389), known as The Clinical Laboratory Act, providing for glomerular filtration rate testing.

HB2667 Prior Printer's Nos. 4051, 4315, 4418.Printer's No. 4848. An Act amending the act of May 28, 1937 (P.L.955, No.265), known as the Housing Authorities Law, providing for the definition of "mixed-use projects"; further providing for powers of the authority; and providing for mixed-use projects.

SB 668 By Senators COSTA, M. WHITE, EARLL, O'PAKE, LOGAN, WOZNIAK, TARTAGLIONE, STOUT, MUSTO, KASUNIC, LAVALLE, KITCHEN, C. WILLIAMS and WASHINGTON. Prior Printer's No. 796.Printer's No. 1623. An Act amending Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for selection of prospective jurors.

SB 1140 By Senators REGOLA, ORIE, RAFFERTY, PILEGGI, LEMMOND, PICCOLA, ERICKSON and ROBBINS. Prior Printer's Nos. 1588, 1867.Printer's No. 2194. An Act amending Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, imposing a central or regional booking fee on criminal convictions to fund the start-up, operation or maintenance of a central or regional booking center; and providing for a countywide booking center plan.

SB1353 Printer's No. 2145. An Act amending Title 62 (Procurement) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for contracting with veteran -owned businesses; and imposing duties on the Department of General Services.

HB471 Prior Printer's Nos. 510, 2280, 4761.Printer's No. 4885. An Act amending the act of April 9, 1929 (P.L.177, No.175), known as The Administrative Code of 1929, providing for transfers of appropriations and for notice of transfers and loans between funds; extending the time period covered by an application considered for the Merchant Marine World War II Veterans Bonus and the expiration of the Merchant Marine World War II Veterans Bonus Act; providing for State plane logs; establishing the Cardiovascular Disease Advisory Committee and a Statewide stroke database; providing for regulation by political subdivisions of public smoking at certain licensed facilities and reporting by Department of Health on public smoking ordinances; and making inconsistent repeals relating to the Merchant Marine World War II Veterans Bonus Act.

HB 2186 By Representatives TANGRETTI, HERMAN, ROSS, GINGRICH and LESCOVITZ. Prior Printer's Nos. 3042, 4818.Printer's No. 4880. An Act amending the act of July 28, 1953 (P.L.723, No.230), known as the Second Class County Code, providing for assessment of signs and sign structures; further providing for required financial reporting; providing for preemption of regulations relating to smoking; making related repeals; and making editorial changes.

HB 2202 By Representatives REICHLEY, ALLEN, BEBKO-JONES, BELFANTI, BEYER, BUNT, CALTAGIRONE, GINGRICH, HENNESSEY, MANDERINO, MANN, MARKOSEK, E. Z. TAYLOR, J. TAYLOR and SIPTROTH. Prior Printer's No. 3070.Printer's No. 4285. An Act amending the act of June 13, 1967 (P.L.31, No.21), known as the Public Welfare Code, providing for home infusion therapy to be available to all eligible recipients and adding a definition of "home infusion therapy."

HB2699 Prior Printer's Nos. 4132, 4366.Printer's No. 4886. An Act amending the act of May 17, 1921 (P.L.682, No.284), known as The Insurance Company Law of 1921, further providing, in health care insurance individual accessibility, for expiration; providing, in quality health care accountability, for managed care plans participating in the medical assistance program; further providing, in children's health care, for legislative findings and intent, for definitions, for free and subsidized health care, for outreach and for payor of last resort and insurance coverage; and providing, in children's health care, for Federal waivers and for expiration.

SB 1368 By Senator JUBELIRER. Printer's No. 2154. An Act amending the act of February 9, 1999 (P.L.1, No.1), known as the Capital Facilities Debt Enabling Act, further providing for appropriation for and limitation on redevelopment assistance capital projects.

Lentz Endorsed by Delco Times

The Delaware County Times has endorsed Bryan Lentz in the 161st state house district. It is the last of a long list of endorsements so scroll to the end for this race.

Mike Fitzpatrick, Letter Writer

In the first debate between Mike Fitzpatrick, incumbent Republican Representative for the 8th congressional district, and his Democratic opponent, Patrick Murphy, Fitzpatrick mentioned twice that he wrote letters expressing his opposition to parts of Medicare D. (In my posting on the debate, see questions #3 and #1). Murphy said specifically “I don’t write letters.”

In the second debate he mentioned sending the Dept. of State a copy of one of JFK’s state of the union addresses for them to think about. (link, question #10). I know what would cross my mind if I opened that particular envelope and it would not be to thank Rep. Fitzpatrick unless the words came through clenched teeth.

Every once in a while I get a letter from my elected officials, usually either telling me how wonderful they are or implying they do a great job. The bulk of these letters arrive in election years as close to the general or primary elections as possible. I will confess some skepticism about them. So, I wondered if there was a different culture among the elected. Do they take letters from each other more seriously than I and, perhaps other voters, do? Is it a customary form of communication and persuasion? (It brings up the image of dueling inkpots at dawn!) Personally I tend to think that phone calls, either sweetly or harshly worded, depending on the situation, would be more effective, but I will confess great ignorance as to the inner workings of government.

I wondered if letter writing was a particular talent of Rep. Fitzpatrick. Perhaps he is a master of the feather quill. I had already examined some of the writings of Patrick Murphy so it seems only fair to look at Fitzpatrick’s as well. Searching through newspaper databases I found a number of examples of him mentioning letters he has written. These are not cherry picked. It is a complete list of those I found. However, I focused on letters that he sent individually and did not include references to letters signed by a number of congressmen.

Please pardon my cynicism but fairly often I think letters released to or mentioned in the press are meant to communicate far more to the public than they are to the person to whom they are addressed.

Here is the list of Rep. Fitzpatrick’s letters mentioned in a variety of Pennsylvania newspapers:

“Last week, Fitzpatrick send a letter to Gov. Rendell asking him to push for an agreement with New York City and New York, New Jersey and Delaware officials that would require water levels in three reservoirs in the Catskill Mountains – reservoirs which ultimately feed the Delaware River between Pennsylvania and New Jersey – be kept at 85 percent or below. (“Lowering reservoir levels” Bucks County Courier Times, Sept. 2, 2005)

This is admirable – flooding is a real problem in parts of his district.

“On Thursday, Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, R-Bucks County, penned a letter to constituents declaring that he was saying “’No’” to President Bush’s “stay-the-course” strategy” in Iraq. That followed a Fitzpatrick statement earlier this month saying, “When it comes to the war in Iraq, President Bush has been bold, principled, resolute, but mistaken in crucial ways.” (“Wiretap ruling sets off new partisan flurry – but GOP division on Iraq hampers exploiting national security issues,” by Jonathan Weisman of the Washington Post, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Aug. 19, 2006)

It probably is important to let your constituents know you have changed your position, but doing so less than 3 months before an election can look a little like campaigning instead of legislating.

“On Monday, Fitzpatrick sent a letter to the Iraq Study Group with the United States Institute of Peace, a bipartisan, independent group working on an assessment of the war and a possible new strategy for the United States’ role in Iraq.

later in the article

Fitzpatrick wrote that the group should consider what more can be done to train and equip Iraqi military and police forces, speed up Iraq’s economic recovery and make sure American soldiers are properly equipped.” (“Fitzpatrick breaks with Bush,” by Brian Scheid, The Intelligencer Aug. 8, 2006)

As with the state department example above, I wonder if this missive was met with enthusiasm or rolled eyes. After all, one must assume that the Iraq Study Group was probably already focused on studying Iraq before Rep. Fitzpatrick wrote them. I wonder if they would have considered training and equipping Iraqi military and police forces, speeding up the economic recovery and making sure American forces were properly equipped without having been encouraged to do so by Fitzpatrick. My guess is that they would. Somehow I doubt these ideas originated with Fitzpatrick and were probably floating around long before he brought out a sheet of stationery and sat to compose his words.

“Fitzpatrick has sent a letter to Philadelphia Mayor John Street, blasting the city’s pending decision to oust the Boy Scouts from their Philadelphia headquarters for refusing to change their policy prohibiting gay members.” (“Fitzpatrick blasts city effort to oust scouts.” By Brian Scheid, The Intelligencer July 29, 2006)

I know Fitzpatrick has been a big supporter of the Boy Scouts, but is this in his district?

“Meanwhile, Bucks County Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, R-8, sent President Bush a letter urging him to direct the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to extend the deadline six months or waive penalties for seniors who missed Monday’s enrollment deadline.” (“Health,” by Jo Ciavaglia Bucks County Courier Times May 16, 2006)

Wouldn’t it have been better to have passed legislation of some kind about this, or was this a procedural, not a legislative, matter? Is sending a letter to the president the best action, instead of sending it directly to the Centers? Again, wouldn’t a phone call have been more effective?

“Last week, Fitzpatrick sent House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, a letter outlining his dissatisfaction with the direction the Republican-controlled Congress is moving in and his plan to bring agreement between party politicians.” (“Fitzpatrick calls for unity” by Brian Scheid, Intelligencer, March 29, 2006)

Well, I’m dissatisfied with the direction of the Republican-controlled Congress, too, and maybe Fitzpatrick, a Republican himself, could best help change the direction by going back to Levittown, which is what he said he would do when he left office.

“Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick is joining the opposition to a proposed rule change that would allow tax preparers to sell taxpayer information to third parties. While the proposal would require payers to sign a disclosure for private information to be released, many are calling the tentative ruling wrong. Fitzpatrick in a letter to Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Mark W. Everson released Thursday, wrote that the proposed regulation is “patently unfair to the taxpayer.”” (“Fitzpatrick opposes IRS rule change,” Intelligencer, March 24, 2006)

I would think it would be better to pass a law stating that government agencies can’t sell private identifiable information to private companies. That would solve things.

” U.S. Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick said the federal government should give county governments more time to research and buy new voting systems and comply with a federal law.
"I am concerned that the county government is being pushed to make a decision that may not be in the best interest of the voters," Fitzpatrick said in a letter sent Friday to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez.” (“Fitzpatrick wants voting machine deadline extended,” by Harry Yanoshak, Bucks County Courier Times, February 26, 2006)

I am concerned about the integrity of the ballot and would like to see letters written and laws passed requiring a paper trail for ballots so numbers can be checked against voting machine tallies.

“On Monday, Fitzpatrick sent a letter to President Bush that conveyed his concerns with the sale [of port operations to a company from the United Arab Emirates].” (“Fitzpatrick plans to fight port sales,” by Brian Scheid, Bucks County Courier Times, February 22, 2006 – note he also says in this article that he will introduce legislation to hold up the sale if he has to).

I’m not sure the president is impressed by letters from congressional representatives. Wouldn’t a phone call have been better?

“On Thursday he [Fitzpatrick] sent a letter to Rep. Jim Nussle, R-Iowa, chairman of the House Committee on the Budget, to increase proposed funding to Amtrak.” (“Fitzpatrick seeks more funds for Amtrak,” by Brian Scheid, February 20, 2006)

"I'm very, very disappointed in Amtrak's decision," Fitzpatrick said. "I'm committed to taking every action, scheduling any meeting and writing any letter to convince Amtrak that they are making a serious mistake." [closing Cornwell Heights Amtrak station] (“Amtrak plans to eliminate Bucks stop,” by Brian Scheid, Bucks County Courier Times, 8/31/05)

According to the Amtrak website (www.amtrak.com) this station is still open.

Fitzpatrick has sent a letter to the White House requesting a federal disaster declaration after flooding (“Still no disaster status” by Brian Callaway, Bucks County Courier Times, April 15, 2005)

Now this I understand is necessary before the area can be cleared a federal disaster area.

”He [Fitzpatrick] wrote a letter this week to Jim Nicholson, secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, to express his support for Dolington [as the site for a veterans cemetery], and he plans to set up meetings with Nicholson and with the staffs of U.S. Sens. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and Rick Santorum, R-Pa. (“Fitzpatrick joins cemetery fight,” by Samantha Fredrickson, Bucks County Courier Times, 1/21/05)

This issue is still undecided.

“Fitzpatrick, the GOP’s candidate in the district, sent letters to both the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee asking them to “refrain from communicating messages that may conflict with the issue-based messages my campaign has put forth.””

Later in that article “Fitzpatrick sent a new letter Tuesday to the NRCC saying the most recent commercial [noting that opponent Ginny Schrader took contributions from MoveOn.org and tying that to the Taliban and the rape of little girls] was “inconsistent” with his campaign, and saying the district’s voters want “to make decisions based on records and issues, not innuendo.” (“Schrader – Fitzpatrick trade barbs,” by Alison Hawkes, Bucks County Courier Times, Oct 27, 2004)

A note in the same article states “The national, groups, meanwhile, had little response to Fitzpatrick’s letter.” So his own party campaign organizations didn’t pay much attention to his letters.

After looking over this list I again wonder if phone calls, emails, or other forms of communication wouldn't have been more effective in many, if not, most of these instances, and if some of these letters weren't written more for the public relations benefits of releasing them to the press. As someone who is not privy to the ways congress works, I can only guess at how congressional letters are received, but Rep. Fitzpatrick does seem to write a lot of them.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Even More Endorsements

Jeff Albert has been endorsed by the Bucks County Courier Times for the 12th state senate district. excerpt:

He is a reformer and speaks to the need for reform in Harrisburg. His patient delivery and meticulous accounting of the Legislature’s deficiencies is compelling. A proponent of the Keystone Contract mentioned above, Albert is indeed an uncommon and impressive candidate.

The Intelligencer has also endorsed Mike Paston for the 152nd state house seat. excerpt:
Our short meeting revealed two good candidates of different temperament and demeanor. We liked Paston's fire and the edge we think he'll bring to the job in Harrisburg.

The Morning Call is recommending Russ Shade for the 183rd state house seat. excerpt:
In challenging Mrs. Harhart's incumbency, his issue is reform, and he is persuasive on the point that voters who want Harrisburg to be more accountable should send him there. He wants to expand the state's open records laws to apply to the Legislature itself. This would include transparent accounting of the leadership accounts that the caucus chairs use to enforce party discipline. He would pursue a smaller Legislature and would downsize the benefits that members now get. And, he would require first-dollar reporting of expenditures by Harrisburg's intrepid corps of lobbyists.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

More Inky Endorsements

The Inquirer has issued endorsements in the 6th and 8th congressional districts, although they say both were close calls. In the 8th they went with incumbent Republican Mike Fitzpatrick, though the paper also had fine things to say about his opponent (and my choice), Democrat Patrick Murphy. In the 6th they went with Democratic challenger Lois Murphy over incumbent Republican Jim Gerlach. Here also the paper said both were good candidates but that Lois Murphy was the better of the two.

Lobbyist Reform Live

Trying to avoid finishing a work project that should have been done before I left the office, I'm watching the live house proceedings on PCN. From what I can tell the Senate passed a lobbyist reform bill but voted on a different version of the bill than they thought they had. The "wrong" bill then came over to the House and they are currently discussing whether or not to vote on that bill or the "right" bill. Rep. Vitali (my hero) wants tougher lobbying reform. Rep. Maher wants to get on with what they have at hand. I know it is late and they have all been talking about this much longer than I have been watching but Maher seems a little condescending. Bill DeWeese pipes in now and then to throw around some big words. He has already quoted (Otto von) Bismarck, with an explanation of who Bismarck was.

I fear the whole thing will be tossed out because the bill numbers were wrong. Not that I distrust any of these folks mind you, especially when it comes to lobbyist reform.

Now, back to work.

Monday, October 23, 2006

More Candidate Resources

The Inquirer has released audio feed of the interviews the have with candidates in preparation for endorsement. I've listened to the first Patrick Murphy / Mike Fitzpatrick segment. Murphy explains in depth why he supported the recent Military Commissions Act (I"m not sure I have the right name for this). Good stuff.

The Philadelphia Jewish Voice (www.pjvoice.com) has released their voter guide. Also good stuff.

Recent News Links

A few linkworthy articles for your perusal.

Jeff Albert issues a very thoughtful and very powerful press release, stating a number of his positions. I tried to find some sections to excerpt but all of it is good. If you live in the 12st state senate district you ought to read through it.

Phillyburbs reports on a debate between one of my favorite candidates, Paul Lang, Democratic candidate for the 6th state senate district, and Republican incumbent Tommy Tomlinson. I had hoped to get out to report on one of his debates but current car troubles are making that look doubtful.

The Inquirer recently published an in-depth article on the state house race in the 161th district. Bryan Lentz is the Democratic candidate for that seat.

Listening to Barack Obama

This past Saturday I had a chance to see and hear Barack Obama, the junior senator from Illinois who has become such a big name in the Democratic Party in the past few years and who is mentioned as a possible presidential candidate (and he himself says he is considering it). He was appearing with Bob Casey, Jr., who would like to join Obama in the Senate, and Gov. Ed Rendell. The price tag was within my budget (free) and the event was sponsored in part by Gov. Rendell’s reelection campaign (or at least I got my ticket at his website, and without having to promise to contribute or donate).

I did not try to record everything that was said. Many of the speakers gave “get out the vote” talks and those can quickly become repetitive. So I only noted things that caught my interest or were unusual or striking in some way. It was a long event and I was jotting things down with paper on my lap. The young child behind me had a tendency to jog my elbow and that also made things difficult. I encourage you to read news reports of the event and hope that at least parts of it have been, or will be, televised. As always, my apologies for any errors or misinterpretations.

It was held in McGonigle Hall on Temple University’s main campus. Temple, a fine state institution, believes in frequently posting and maintaining campus maps. Just at the bottom of the SEPTA station steps my new train friend, the Woman in the Blue Jacket, and I found a colorful easy to read map. Were that not enough a policeman was stationed across the street to tell people how to find McGonigle. That is what I call service. So off we went, just as we were told (straight ahead, turn left at North Broad), and sure enough, there it was, just a brisk walk away, the time passed easily in casual conversation. We parted at the foot of the stairs so she could meet with her group.

Flyers and tickets gave the starting time as 12:30, and I arrived at 12:40. Those attending could stand around the base of the speaker’s platform or sit in the bleachers where the view was not as good but it was infinitely more comfortable. The people at the doors and those inside directing foot traffic were courteous but professional. I opted for the bleachers and found a seat on the aisle with a clear sight path of the speakers. At 12:50 Rep. Bob Brady (D-01), in whose district the event was held, the master of ceremonies, came out to welcome everyone. Joining him on the platform were Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-13), Lois Murphy, Democratic candidate for the 6th congressional district, Joe Sestak, Democratic candidate for the 7th congressional district, and two men I didn’t recognize.

I had never seen Brady before and it was an experience. He encouraged the crowd to give the others “a warm Philadelphia welcome or I’ll come up and holler at you.” And so cheer we did, because I for one did not want Bob Brady to come up and holler at me. Brady introduced one of the men on the platform as Marcus Simmons who sang the National Anthem. He has a beautiful voice. The Rev. James Morehead of the Black Clergy of Philadelphia gave the invocation.

Then the onslaught of speakers began. Brady talked about the importance of bringing the House of Representatives back to the Democrats, the party of working people and those who want to be working people. He then introduced Joe Sestak (pronouncing it Sistak).

Sestak, running against incumbent Republican Curt Weldon, said he loved the warmth and loved the welcome. He talked about his work in the Clinton White House and the meeting Clinton had with survivors of Omaha Beach, and the stories they told of America’s youth persevering in the face of adversity. Then he shifted to the war on terror and I must have missed something because he was asking a series of questions like, “what about the terror of worrying about getting a pink slip, what about the terror of wondering which of your children you will cover with health insurance.” After his remarks, Sestak had to leave to continue campaigning in Delaware County.

Brady then brought out Philadelphia Mayor John Street who had to walk down a runway to get to the platform. Here is where it got a little surreal. Brady told Street he had to walk like a model on the runway. Brady, a man of substantial presence in more ways than one, put one hand on the back of his head and the other on his waist and gave a brief sashaying, swivel-hipped demonstration. I have seen many things at political events but this was a first. Rep. Brady is clearly a man comfortable in his own skin and that is a quality I admire. Street, however, chose not to follow the congressman’s example.

The mayor thanked Brady whom he said was the longest reigning party chair in Philadelphia history. He went on the discuss issues such as unemployment, saying there were 7 million unemployed which is 1 million more than when President Bush was elected. He also said people were working longer hours, were more productive but earning less money. I didn’t note his other remarks except for his statement that if you don’t vote you don’t count.

Brady took the microphone again and recognized former Senator Hardy Williams, who was apparently among those standing near the platform. He then introduced Lois Murphy, although he said she was running for Senate not the House. She corrected him and then asked a series of yes or no questions (Do we need ……? Do we want …..?) designed to elicit a response from the audience. She also said elections were won on the ground and encouraged people to volunteer or be active in campaigns.

Brady returned to the podium and mentioned Patrick Murphy, the Democratic candidate for the 8th congressional district, who was campaigning and could not attend. Brady referred to him as a lieutenant but I believe his rank was captain. He then introduced Allyson Schwartz.

Schwartz said this election is a battle for what we believe as a country and who we are. She gave some biographical background. Her mother came to this country virtually as an orphan at age 16 and went to Girls High. America offered security and safety and economic opportunity.

Brady introduced Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-02) who talked about his first election which he won by one vote per precinct. The Democratic Party is not perfect, he said, but it is the best we have right now. He gave a rousing get out the vote speech. (Note, he mentioned Joe Sestak but pronounced it SighStack.)

Brady commented on the time the headliners, Casey, Rendell and Obama were expected and said first he was told to wrap it up and then asked to take up more time. He then brought out Philadelphia Councilman Darrell Clarke, who represents the city’s 5th district, who said the 5th district was the best district in the city “second only to yours” he said, getting a laugh. He also said the talking heads on the Sunday morning shows were talking “crap” and we need to elect the Democrats on the stage so they can be on the Sunday morning talk shows.

State Senator Shirley Kitchen, of the 3rd district, also spoke, saying that social programs were not an expansion of welfare, increasing the education budget is not an expansion of welfare. Her remarks were good and I’m sorry not to have recorded more of them.

At last and finally, at 1:50 p.m., the big three arrived. Rep. Fattah introduced state treasurer Bob Casey, Jr., who is running for senate. Casey talked about living near Temple 25 years ago. He also showed signs of humor. He said last night he and Rendell were on the same plane coming back from Pittsburgh and that while a state trooper escorted Rendell to the plane there were no troopers on the plane. Casey said he provided security for the governor, and he held the camera when people wanted a photo with Rendell.

Rendell took the microphone as the crowed shouted “4 more years.” He said the only thing wrong with that chant was its association with Richard Nixon. I’m not sure if I heard him correctly but he said we needed more of the same in Pennsylvania except with a Democratic state house of representatives. He also told a joke, thanking everyone for coming out to see him and that he would give us all amnesty on our state income tax for waiting so long. Marcus Simmons, who sang the national anthem at the start of the event, also sang at Rendell’s inauguration. Rendell said he hoped to have Simmons sing at his next inauguration as well.

Here Rendell won my heart. He brought up onto the stage 3 young students from Overlook High School who, earlier this year, went into a burning building to rescue a woman trapped inside. Rendell said people only hear the bad things about Philly and he wanted to highlight a positive occurrence. Billy King, president of the 76’ers had promised them tickets to the first championship game (the crowd rumbled and Rendell said something along the lines that we needed to have some hope). In the interim, King, who also came to the platform, gave each of the 3 a certificate for 2 tickets each to the opening game and they will be able to go into the locker room and meet the players.

Rendell told the same hypothetical story he told earlier in the day, about the tragedy of being a parent whose child is diagnosed with pediatric leukemia, which is treatable, but only if you have insurance that will pay or can afford treatment out of pocket. He said it would only cost 100 million dollars to provide all children in the state with health insurance but Republicans say it might be too expensive, yet they want to cut the estate tax, which would cost 700 million dollars.

At around 2:07 p.m., Rendell introduced Sen. Obama. The crowd loved Obama. There were occasional calls from the audience for him to run for president. Obama’s Kenyan heritage shows in his build. He is not very tall. From where I sat he looked about as tall as Allyson Schwartz, and he is very thin. His suit jacket hangs loosely from his shoulders. If he weighs more than I do it can’t be by much. In photos it looks like his ears stick out and indeed they do. You would think that a skinny guy with ears like that wouldn’t catch your eye in a positive way but he does. He moves easily with grace and confidence.

Obama started off with comments about Philadelphia, including pointing out that Donovan McNabb is from Southside Chicago. He mentioned Congressional representatives Schwartz and Fattah, and candidates Lois Murphy, Patrick Murphy and Joe Sestak (pronounced correctly). He said Ed Rendell was one of the best governors in the country and that he couldn’t say THE best because he would get into trouble from other governors. Rendell, he said, showed that you can run an efficient and compassionate government at the same time. He also said Bob Casey will take the Capitol by storm. Let me say that I want front row seats AND the popcorn concession for that. At this point Rendell whispers something in Obama’s ear and Obama said he forgot to acknowledge Rep. Brady which he now does. Having heard his televised speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004 I was a little disappointed in the choppiness of his remarks so far.

However, here the timbre of Obama’s voice changed and he moved into what I assumed would be a standard stump speech. If it is, I would gladly sit on the stump and listen for hours. His oratory skills are phenomenal. I tucked my pencil behind my ear to just sit and take his words in, but sometimes something he said was so remarkable that I jotted it down. Here are a few of the things he said:

The country is in a somber mood. (This wouldn't have been remarkable if anyone else had said it -- it wasn't so much the words as the tone.)
The people believe in limitless possibilities but aren’t sure if their leaders do; they believe in big dreams but aren’t sure if their leaders do.
When asked to run he prayed and asked his wife.
At most people hope the government does them no harm.
Parents must parent. Students must hit the books; education is not a passive endeavor.
We also believe we have some stake in each other.
Children deserve some level of support from all of us.
He is struck by how decent the American people are at their core.

Obama told a number of stories. Those who study rhetoric know that the ability to tell a good story is a necessity in holding and keeping an audience’s attention. Obama’s unique experiences provide him with an authenticity and give him the raw material for a number of stories that, at present, only he can tell. His earnest and hopeful qualities put a positive spin on those stories that let us all believe anything is possible. He had all of us eating out of his hand. I would buy anything he was selling. I would vote for him for any office. If anyone so much as coughed while he was speaking I didn’t notice. I couldn’t even tell you who was on the platform with him while he talked. They just blended into the background. After he finished speaking Obama took the time to sign photos that people on the floor were handing up.

I let the crowd thin out and then started back to the train station, where the SEPTA employee on duty cautioned me nicely against running up the stairs. This event was definitely worth the effort. It was free, gave me an opportunity to see a number of officials and candidates that I hadn’t seen before, listen to a talented and skilled speaker who may be a future president, and meet some nice people. If you think that only the wealthy, the connected, and the powerful can hear these people, you are wrong. These opportunities are out there, though you may have to look for them a little bit.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A Morning in Upper Dublin

I was able to get out and about some this weekend. This is the first of two planned reports on political events I attended.

A group in Upper Dublin hosted one of those multi-candidate events that I like so much. The governor was expected so I didn’t rush to get there on time and, sure enough, it kicked off about 40 minutes late. We did get underway with a bang, singing “God Bless America,” led a cappella by a gentleman with a beautiful voice.

The president of the Upper Dublin Township Board of Commissioners, Bob Pesavento, introduced his fellow commissioners Jules Mermelstein and Ann Thornburg Weiss, as well as the president of the school board Joe Chmielewski.

State Rep Josh Shapiro (D-153) took the podium next and introduced Abington Township Commissioner Lori Schrieber, former commissioner Greg Holt, Aleta Ostrander of the Hatboro borough council, Norm Hawkes, mayor of Hatboro, and former congressman Joe Hoeffel, amiable as always. Shapiro also acknowledged the support of labor organizations and recognized representatives of the carpenters and teachers unions in the crowd.

He then introduced the next speaker, Rick Taylor, Democratic candidate for the 151st state house district, whom he described as having a heart of gold. Taylor spoke briefly, saying government is about the representation of people. As the son of a single mother he said he took advantage of educational and other opportunities to better himself and is now in a position to give back. [blogger’s note: Taylor was interviewed on this blog this summer. As a personal aside I agree with Shapiro’s description; Taylor does have a heart of gold.]

Olivia Brady, Democratic candidate for the 150th district, served on the Norristown Council for 5 years. She fought corruption and put more cops on the street. She said people were tired of arrogance and disdain from politicians.

Jeff Albert was introduced but did not have a chance to speak. He is running against incumbent Republican Stewart Greenleaf for the 12th state senate seat. [blogger's note: Albert was interviewed on this blog here.]

Mike Paston, Democratic candidate for the 152nd state house district took the microphone next. He told a wonderful story of the first time he met now Gov. Ed Rendell. He said at that time Rendell was not in office, but working in private practice as a lawyer. They were both involved in an organization called Philly Kids Play It Safe. Michael talked about how involved Rendell was, often hosting board meetings at his law office. A few years later, when Rendell was mayor of Philadelphia and Paston was living in Mt. Laurel, NJ (a very Republican area) he invited Rendell to come to a meeting, which he did. Paston pointed out that Rendell was willing to give his time to people who couldn’t vote for him. He mentioned that a high school near where today’s event was held was busy this morning as students were taking the PSATs. He said many kids in the state don’t take the PSATs because they don’t think they can afford college or didn’t get the support they needed in school. [blogger’s note: Paston was interviewed on this blog earlier this year.]

State Rep. Mike Gerber (D-148) was up next. He called the Democratic Party the party of personal accountability and fiscal responsibility and said the Democrats had always cared about education [and other things I didn’t catch]. In closing he mentioned a list of people running for office, most of them there in person. One exception was Netta Young Hughes, Democratic candidate for 70th district state house seat.

Governor Rendell spoke about some of the successes of his administration. One is the Advanced Energy Portfolio Standards (info here, here, and here), another is Pennsylvania’s place as the top state in the country in new business investments both domestic and foreign. A priority for the future is offering health coverage for every child in the state. The governor said it would be terrible for a parent to be told that a child had pediatric leukemia which could be cured with treatment but since the family had no health insurance the child couldn’t be treated. [I’m hoping this is a hypothetical situation.]

As the festivities were winding down a number of people took off to get home in time for the Penn State game; I left when they did. If anything interesting happened afterwards I missed it.

Off Topic: Memories of Merrymead

Today was pumpkin day. Every year since the oldest little Jane was two we have taken an annual pilgrimage to Merrymead Farm, in Lansdale. I remember that first trip very well because the oldest little Jane (then the only little Jane) wanted to ride in the wagon train (several high-sided wagons in a line, pulled by a lawn tractor). Mr. J and I were concerned about LJ falling out or getting scared or any number of other things that first time parents worry about. But we put LJ in the wagon and off they went around the corner of cornstalk tunnel. When they came back into view LJ was all smiles and waves. And so it has become a yearly ritual, though the wagon train was outgrown long ago. We ride the hay wagon and pick up a few pumpkins in the pumpkin corral. I go nuts in the two on-site shops, the Apple Shed and the Dairy Barn, but, honestly, where else can I find banana butter (wonderful on warm banana bread)? Not to mention the wide selection of soup mixes and cupcake sprinkles. (True confessions: I also bought some gummy pumpkins to sustain us on the long drive home.) If you like hormone free milk, they have that too, as well as ice cream in a number of flavors. On the October weekends that we have gone we have seen primarily other families with small children, who give every appearance of never having known want or fear. They gape at the goats and cows and llamas and rabbits while parents eye the “Caution: Llamas Spit” signs. (For health reasons visitors are no longer allowed to touch the animals.) You can have a great time there without spending a lot of money but it is easy to do if you have it. I think we have another two years, maybe three, before the oldest little Jane starts to balk. I hope the kids have good memories of “the pumpkin patch” as Merrymead is known in our house. As we were bumping along in the hay wagon this year and reminiscing about previous visits I leaned over and mentioned to Mr. J that in 20 years we might be bringing our grandchildren out to the farm. He blanched but did the math and agreed. It is wonderful to think that the farm would still be there then, and not turned into another homogenous grouping of McMansions or a gated community. You never know, though; our stories about the farm might become stories about something that no longer exists, like trying to tell the kids that you used to actually roll down car windows or describing the rural one room elementary school that Mr. J's older siblings attended. But, for today, the family ritual continued and that's all you can really ask.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

A Call for Callers

eRobin of Factesque has posted a note calling for volunteers to make "get out the vote" calls from home. See details here.

weekly legislative update

This is a list of bills that passed the Pennsylvania House or Senate this week, and mention of any noteworthy resolutions. Standard caveats apply (resolutions not generally included, list of sponsors deleted if it was too long - three lines in the originally formatting).

Our accountants friends at PICPA have updated their legislative page.

Other weekly updates are available for this week:

PA House Democrats
PA House GOP daily updates
PA Senate Democrats
PA Senate Republicans

The Philadelphia Inquirer is now posting more information on state legislative matters. This link is to “Penna. legislators stall on slots and other bills,” (10/19/06)


Hr890 Printer's No. 4769. A Resolution designating the month of October 2006 as "Ethics Awareness Month" in Pennsylvania.



HB412 Prior Printer's No. 437.Printer's No. 4755. An Act establishing the Pennsylvania Long-term Care Council and providing for its powers and duties; and making a repeal.

HB2553Prior Printer's Nos. 3797, 4035.Printer's No. 4756. An Act providing for local senior citizen property tax and rent rebates.

SB 1217 by Senator MELLOW. Prior Printer’s No. 1842. Printer’s No. 2163. An Act authorizing the Department of General Services, with the approval of the Governor, to grant and convey to the County of Lackawanna Transit System Authority (COLTS), certain lands situate in the City of Scranton, Lackawanna County, in exchange for a certain tract of land from COLTS situate in the City of Scranton, Lackawanna County; authorizing the Department of General Services, with the concurrence of the Department of Environmental Protection, to lease to Philadelphia Waterfront Partners, LLC, land within the bed of the Delaware River within the City of Philadelphia; authorizing the Department of General Services, with the approval of the Governor, to dedicate, grant and convey to the Strasburg, Lancaster County, Borough Authority, a water main and appurtenances to be constructed by the Department of General Services, together with easements for public water purposes, situate in Strasburg Township, Lancaster County, and to grant such further easements and licenses as may be necessary to provide the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania with access to public sewer service; and authorizing and directing the Department of General Services, with the approval of the Governor and the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, to grant and convey to the Borough of Mansfield certain lands situate in the Borough of Mansfield, Tioga County.

HB 1249. Prior Printer’s No. 1476. Printer’s No. 4735. An Act amending Title 27 (Environmental Resources) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for uniform environmental covenants.

HB 2634 By Representatives CLYMER, BOYD, CALTAGIRONE, HENNESSEY, STEIL, HERSHEY and E. Z. TAYLOR. Prior Printer’s Nos. 3974, 4227. Printer’s No. 4819. An Act amending Title 53 (Municipalities Generally) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for procedure for conveyance of established projects.

HB814 Prior Printer's No. 976.Printer's No. 4842. An Act amending the act of July 22, 1974 (P.L.589, No.205), known as the Unfair Insurance Practices Act, further providing for definitions, for unfair acts and for exclusions.

HB 2063 By Representatives BOYD, ARMSTRONG, HERMAN, CRAHALLA, KOTIK, BALDWIN, HICKERNELL, MUSTIO, O'NEILL, SONNEY, FREEMAN, HERSHEY, MARSICO, TIGUE, STEIL, DENLINGER, MACKERETH, SIPTROTH and GINGRICH. Prior Printer's No. 2839.Printer's No. 4840. An Act amending the act of July 31, 1968 (P.L.805, No.247), known as the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, further providing for adoption of municipal, multimunicipal and county comprehensive plans and plan amendments, for adoption of the official map and amendments thereto, for publication, advertisement and availability of ordinance relating to subdivision and land development and relating to zoning and for implementation agreements.

HB 2551 By Representatives SURRA, BELFANTI, CALTAGIRONE, COHEN, FABRIZIO, GRUCELA, HESS, JAMES, MAHER, PALLONE, SIPTROTH, SOLOBAY, STABACK, THOMAS, WOJNAROSKI, YOUNGBLOOD, FREEMAN and HUTCHINSON. Prior Printer’s Nos. 3795, 4363. Printer’s No. 4839. An Act amending the act of August 9, 1955 (P.L.323, No.130), known as The County Code, further providing for meetings of auditors and for audit of accounts by auditors and financial report to Department of Community Affairs.

HB 2619. Prior Printer’s No. 3934. Printer’s No. 4843. An Act establishing the Mine Families First Program; providing assistance to persons whose family members are trapped, injured or waiting rescue during an underground mine emergency, for duties of the Department of Environmental Protection and for surface use agreements for coal bed methane wells.

HB2666 Printer's No. 4050. An Act amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for the offense of sexual abuse of children.

HB2703 Printer's No. 4112. An Act amending Title 51 (Military Affairs) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for burial details for veterans.

HB2706. Prior Printer’s No. 4115. Printer’s No. 4841. An Act amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for the offense of sexual crimes against mentally disabled youth; and further providing for sentencing and penalties for trafficking drugs to minors.

HB2708 Prior Printer’s No. 4117. Printer’s No. 4197. An Act amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for persons not to possess, use, manufacture, control, sell or transfer firearms.

HB 2729 By Representative CLYMER. Prior Printer’s No. 4151. Printer’s No. 4838. An Act authorizing and directing the Department of General Services, with the approval of the Governor and the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, to grant and convey to the Borough of Mansfield certain lands situate in the Borough of Mansfield, Tioga County; authorizing and directing the Department of General Services, with the concurrence of the Department of Environmental Protection, to lease land within the bed of the Delaware River within the City of Philadelphia; and authorizing and directing the Department of General Services, with the approval of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Governor, to lease to Pine Township, Clearfield County, a certain tract of land situate in Pine Township, Clearfield County, for a consideration of $1.
HB2751 Printer's No. 4202. An Act amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for grading of theft offenses.

HB2765Prior Printer's No. 4224.Printer's No. 4397. An Act amending Title 44 (Law and Justice) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for policy and for DNA sample required; providing for collection from persons accepted from other jurisdictions; and further providing for procedures for withdrawal, collection and transmission of DNA samples and for expungement.

HB2774Prior Printer's Nos. 4242, 4708.Printer's No. 4844. An Act amending the act of March 4, 1971 (P.L.6, No.2), known as the Tax Reform Code of 1971, further providing, in bank and trust company shares tax, for ascertainment of taxable amount and exclusion of United States obligations; and providing for a small business health care tax credit. HB2824Prior Printer's No. 4328.Printer's No. 4846. An Act amending Title 30 (Fish) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for exemptions from license requirements and for the fees, powers and duties, rules and regulations and records of issuing agents; and making an editorial change.

HB2973 Printer's No. 4695. An Act designating SR 263 in Hatboro, Montgomery County, as the Roy W. Cornell Memorial Highway.

SB972Prior Printer's Nos. 1309, 2052.Printer's No. 2098. An Act amending the act of March 20, 2002 (P.L.154, No.13), known as the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error (Mcare) Act, further providing, in Health Care Provider Retention Program, for the definition of "emergency physician," for abatement program and for expiration.

SB1158Prior Printer's Nos. 1661, 2125.Printer's No 1661. An Act providing for a tax credit to encourage property owners to include visitability design features on their properties.


HB1813Prior Printer's Nos. 2386, 3214, 3725.Printer's No. 4619. An Act providing for the allocation of funds to county mental health and mental retardation programs.

HB2631Prior Printer's Nos. 3971, 4039, 4394.Printer's No. 4639. An Act amending the act of February 19, 1980 (P.L.15, No.9), known as the Real Estate Licensing and Registration Act, defining “commercial property"; and further providing for disclosure at initial interview.

SB 19 By Senators TOMLINSON, ORIE, D. WHITE, CORMAN, KASUNIC, MUSTO, COSTA, M. WHITE, WONDERLING, RHOADES and BOSCOLA. Prior Printer’s NO.12. Printer’s No. 1827. An Act amending Title 51 (Military Affairs) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for disabled veterans' real estate tax exemption and for duty of commission.

SB 628 By Senators GREENLEAF, LEMMOND, ORIE, O'PAKE, COSTA, ERICKSON, BRIGHTBILL, MADIGAN, WENGER, RAFFERTY, RHOADES, BOSCOLA, PILEGGI, ROBBINS and PICCOLA.Prior Printer's Nos. 693, 1943.Printer's No. 2117. An Act amending Titles 18 (Crimes and Offenses) and 20 (Decedents, Estates and Fiduciaries) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for the offenses of neglect of care-dependent person and for living wills and health care powers of attorney; further providing for implementation of out-of-hospital nonresuscitation; making conforming amendments; and repealing provisions of 20 Pa.C.S. Chs. 54 and 54A.

SB 808 By Senators ARMSTRONG, FERLO, BROWNE, M. WHITE, TARTAGLIONE, PIPPY, WOZNIAK, RAFFERTY, LEMMOND and WASHINGTON. Prior Printer’s Nos. 1019, 1888.Printer's No. 2045. An Act providing for long-term care patient access to pharmaceuticals; and conferring powers and duties on the State Board of Pharmacy.

SB 934 By Senators WONDERLING, CORMAN, ORIE, FONTANA, ERICKSON, RAFFERTY, PIPPY, COSTA, BOSCOLA, RHOADES, KITCHEN, GORDNER, WOZNIAK, LEMMOND, M. WHITE, STACK, BROWNE, VANCE and CONTI. Prior Printer’s No. 1225.Printer's No. 2084. An Act establishing the Medical Safety Automation Account; and providing grants to implement medical safety automation systems.

Printer's No. 1849. An Act amending the act of June 3, 1937 (P.L.1333, No.320), known as the Pennsylvania Election Code, further providing for vacancies in election boards and for election boards in new districts.

SB 1332 By Senator CONTI.
Prior Printer's Nos. 2071, 2097.Printer's No. 2115. 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 school health services definitions, for health services, for dental examinations and dental hygiene services, for facilities, for examinations and for recommendations of health professionals; deleting provisions relating to examination by family physician or dentist; and further providing for care and treatment of school-age children, for precautions against spread of certain diseases and for medical examination of school personnel.

Prior Printer's Nos. 172, 613, 3762.Printer's No. 4579. An Act amending Title 71 (State Government) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, defining "alternative investment" and "alternative investment vehicle"; and further providing for administrative duties of the State Employees' Retirement Board.

HB632Prior Printer's Nos. 705, 3824.Printer's No. 4757. An Act amending the act of December 19, 1990 (P.L.1200, No.202), known as the Solicitation of Funds for Charitable Purposes Act, further providing for audit of certain financial reports.

HB2042Prior Printer's No. 2819.Printer's No. 3962. An Act amending the act of June 22, 1937 (P.L.1987, No.394), known as The Clean Streams Law, further providing for penalties; and providing for limitation on certain actions.

Prior Printer's Nos. 586, 1421.Printer's No. 2083. An Act relating to the protection of victims of sexual violence.

Prior Printer's Nos. 632, 1418, 1656.Printer's No. 2044. An Act amending Title 24 (Education) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, defining "alternative investment" and "alternative investment vehicle"; and further providing for administrative duties of the board.

SB 1095 By Senators STOUT and MADIGAN.
Prior Printer's No. 1563.Printer's No. 2113. An Act amending the act of July 5, 1984 (P.L.587, No.119), known as the Rail Freight Preservation and Improvement Act, further providing for definitions and for program authority.

Prior Printer's No. 1577.Printer's No. 2164. An Act amending the act of April 9, 1929 (P.L.177, No.175), known as The Administrative Code of 1929, providing for residency requirements for administrative agencies.

Prior Printer's Nos. 2030, 2082.Printer's No. 2165. An Act amending Title 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, authorizing certain charitable organizations to solicit funds on highways.

SB1331 Prior Printer's No. 2070.Printer's No. 2166. An Act amending the act of March 4, 1971 (P.L.6, No.2), known as the Tax Reform Code of 1971, further providing for exclusions from sales and use tax.

HB236 Prior Printer's Nos. 262, 1577.Printer's No. 1949. An Act amending the act of June 25, 1982 (P.L.633, No.181), known as the Regulatory Review Act, further providing for legislative intent, for definitions and for proposed regulations and procedure for review.

HB469 Prior Printer's Nos. 508, 2137, 2373, 4713, 4814.Printer's No. 4847. An Act amending the act of June 3, 1937 (P.L.1333, No.320), known as the Pennsylvania Election Code, further providing for date of application for absentee ballot, for voting by absentee electors and for canvassing of official absentee ballots; and limiting contributions by partnerships, limited partnerships and limited liability companies.

HB854 Prior Printer's Nos. 977, 1174, 4638, 4758.Printer's No. 4845. An Act relating to confidential security information of public utilities; and imposing penalties.

HB1112 Prior Printer's Nos. 1319, 3212.Printer's No. 4821. An Act amending Titles 18 (Crimes and Offenses) and 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for the offense of corrupt organizations; providing for the offense of trafficking in persons; further providing for order authorizing interception of wire, electronic or oral communications; and providing for sentencing for trafficking of persons and for criminal forfeiture.

HB1902 Prior Printer's Nos. 2603, 2950, 3513.Printer's No. 4662. An Act amending the act of July 28, 1988 (P.L.556, No.101), known as the Municipal Waste Planning, Recycling and Waste Reduction Act, further providing for sunset for recycling fee and for performance grants for municipal recycling programs.
HB2001 Prior Printer's Nos. 2771, 3234, 3310, 4582.Printer's No. 4759. An Act prohibiting price gouging; and imposing penalties.

HB 2134 By Representative FAIRCHILD.
Prior Printer's Nos. 2938, 3030, 4384, 4620.Printer's No. 4816. An Act limiting the collection of Social Security numbers on State and local government forms; prohibiting health insurers from using Social Security numbers; and further providing for duties of the Department of Transportation.

Prior Printer's No. 3041.Printer's No. 4817. An Act amending the act of August 9, 1955 (P.L.323, No.130), known as The County Code, further providing for excluded provisions; providing for assessment of signs and sign structures; further providing for required financial reporting; and making related repeals.

HB2282 Prior Printer's No. 3194.Printer's No. 4823. An Act amending the act of March 4, 1971 (P.L.6, No.2), known as the Tax Reform Code of 1971, further providing, in personal income tax, for classes of income.

HB2670 Prior Printer's Nos. 4063, 4164, 4712.Printer's No. 4849. An Act amending Title 23 (Domestic Relations) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for grounds for involuntary termination of parental rights; and, in child protective services, further providing for definitions, further providing for release of information in confidential reports, providing for citizen review panels, further providing for reports; and providing for mandatory reporting of substance abuse births.

HB2738 Prior Printer's Nos. 4162, 4191, 4364, 4637.Printer's No. 4760. An Act amending the act of June 2, 1915 (P.L.736, No.338), known as the Workers' Compensation Act, further providing for schedule of compensation, for definitions relating to procedure and for enforcement of standards and processing of claims; providing for the Workers' Compensation Appeal Board; further providing for assignment of claims to referees, and for counsel fees; providing for an Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund; and making a related repeal.

SB 642 By Senators ARMSTRONG and LEMMOND.
Prior Printer's Nos. 740, 2116.Printer's No. 2184. An Act amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949, authorizing a school district to purchase or acquire by other means real property owned by a school director under certain conditions.

Prior Printer's No. 745.Printer's No. 2185. 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 background checks of prospective employees and for disqualifications relating to teacher's certificate.

SB1263 Printer's No. 1932. An Act amending the act of April 9, 1929 (P.L.343, No.176), known as The Fiscal Code, further providing, in abandoned and unclaimed property, for property subject to custody and control of Commonwealth.

Prior Printer's Nos. 2001, 2123, 2193.Printer's No. 2202. An Act amending Title 71 (State Government) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for credited State service.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Happy Birthday, Patrick Murphy!

Someone tells me today is Patrick Murphy's birthday. Murphy is the Democratic challenger in the 8th congressional district. Happy Birthday, Patrick!!! If you are at odds for a gift, he is registered here. (h/t jn)

Morning Call Endorses Lois Murphy

The Allentown Morning Call has endorses Lois Murphy for the 6th congressional district in Pennsylvania. Murphy is the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican Jim Gerlach. The full endorsement is here. This is an excerpt:

Mrs. Murphy has developed a detailed list of reforms regarding lobbyist disclosure, including: Registered federal lobbyists and members of Congress must disclose quarterly the names of those they met with on Capitol Hill, with a database kept on the Internet for public review. Members and their staffs should wait for two years after leaving before they can be registered lobbyists.

Mrs. Murphy has both ethical and fiscal concerns regarding earmarks in federal legislation. She believes members of Congress should disclose personal or financial interests in people or organizations with control over earmarks. Members also would be prohibited from supporting funding for earmarks requested by other members in exchange for specific votes on legislation.

Two More Videos

Sometimes things dovetail so nicely that you have to put them together. These two videos, as difficult as they may be to watch, clearly demonstrate a connection between government policy and the lives of soldiers in Iraq.

The first is from CNN and shows sniper teams in Iraq targeting American solider. It is about 5 minutes long.

The second is on the difference between the type of body armor many US soldiers were issued in Iraq and the type they could have been given.

Happy Birthday PoliticsPA

There is a note on PoliticsPA stating that the site launched 5 years ago Monday, on Oct. 23rd, 2001. I discovered it a few months later and, to my delight, was granted an "up arrow" in the spring of 2002 (not one of the pages captured by the Wayback Machine so don't browse through the backfiles linked on the PPA homepage on my account).

Many thanks to the anonymous editor(s), Sy Snyder, for 5 years of political news and scoop. How would we track all those press releases and articles without you?

As an aside, Sy has posted an update on John Stouffer, a long-time political employee in Harrisburg, who is battling a rare illness. The update is currently on the main www.politicspa.com page.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Two Ads

Two ads came to my attention in the last day or so.

The first is an excellent ad from the Patrick Murphy campaign, responding to recent criticism of his service record during a press conference held by incumbent Republican Mike Fitzpatrick. Watch it here.

The other is from National Wildlife Action and available at YouTube here. It targets Sen. Santorum's environmental record.

Mount Doom, Pennsylvania?

As you may have already heard, incumbent Republican Sen. Rick Santorum got a little goofy in his meeting with the editorial board of the Bucks County Courier Times. Here's an excerpt from "Santorum defends Iraq war," by Alison Hawkes, Intelligencer (sister paper of the Bucks County Courier Times) 10/18/06 (full text here):

Santorum used the analogy from one of his favorite books, J.R.R. Tolkien's 1950s fantasy classic “Lord of the Rings,” to put an increasingly unpopular war in Iraq into terms any school kid could easily understand.

“As the hobbits are going up Mount Doom, the Eye of Mordor is being drawn somewhere else,” Santorum said, describing the tool the evil Lord Sauron used in search of the magical ring that would consolidate his power over Middle-earth.

“It's being drawn to Iraq and it's not being drawn to the U.S.,” Santorum continued. “You know what? I want to keep it on Iraq. I don't want the Eye to come back here to the United States.”

Mr. J took a look at this and said "Does that mean Mount Doom is somewhere in Pennsylvania? Where exactly are the hobbits?" Good questions. Santorum went on to say he had read The Hobbit to his children. When I read through his book I noted that he refers to the Lord of the Rings movies but not the books, so maybe he read The Hobbit and watched the rest.

I lived and breathed Tolkien in my younger years, learned the runic alphabet and interspersed runes in my college course notes to discourage "note moochers." But even I do not want a US senator who thinks it's okay to compare a war with real soldiers and a real death count to fiction. There are other ways to explain this to children.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Dash for Democracy

The Committee of Seventy invites all of us to run in Philadelphia on Saturday, Nov. 4th, in the Dash for Democracy. We are encouraged to dress in such a way to draw attetion to our favorite issue or perhaps carry a sign that does the same thing. (via politicspa)

Casey / Santorum Debate in Philadelphia

Here are my rough notes on the debate between Sen. Rick Santorum (RS) and Bob Casey (BC) in Philadelphia. As always my apologies for any errors or misinterpretations. Enough hours passed between taking the notes and cleaning them up for posting that my memory did not allow me to fill in all the missing pieces. So they are rougher than usual. My apologies for that as well.

Sponsored by WPVI, LVW of PA and The National Constitution Center. Rebroadcast on PCN. Moderators. Jim Gardner and George Stephanopoulos

No opening statements.

Q1: Quoting BC, The US had to “do everything possible” to make sure North Korea and Iran did not get nuclear weapons. What lines would they have to cross before you would vote for military option?

BC: Make sure government exercises every option on the table. Diplomatic, economic and political power. All of those levers degraded by this government. 3 Axis of evil, focused on weakest of the three. Will this admin competently exercise all options before using the military option. We should listen to military experts.

RS: Thanks debate sponsors. Great to be here. The Constitution Center is a great example of teamwork, Rendell, Specter and RS together delivered for PA in Constitution Center. BC not answering question. BC against missile defense system. BC against bunker busting bombs. RS in favor of both.

BC: You’ve just heard more of the same, more fiction. Not against bunker busting bombs. Must do everything possible to keep North Korea from advancing. RS didn’t answer the question.

RS: With respect to Iran, RS would strike without question. Iran cannot have nuclear weapon. Strike before they get that weapon

BC: RS talking about Iran but not saying how he would close the Halliburton loophole.

Q2: On Iraq, agree to talks with insurgents and/or agree with new bill???

RS: Cong. Frank Wolfe and RS sent letter to pres asking them to work with Iraq ?? have a second look.. Partitioning something to look at. Don’t talk with insurgents, don’t negotiate with terrorist. We have not been attacked in 5 years because we have been taking it to them.

BC: RS more of the same. RS satisfied with where we are. One measure of accountability is to replace Don Rumsfeld. Need to change course in Iraq. Need clear and measurable benchmarks. RS rubberstamping. No, we should not negotiate w/ insurgents. Work for political settlement.

RS: Two questions, 2 nonanswers from BC. Rumsfeld follows policy doesn’t make policy. Authored 2 bills [did not get names]. Already illegal for Halliburton to do business in Iraq.

BC: prevents American business with subsidiaries from doing business in Iran.

Q3: James Baker says you should talk to your enemies. Bilateral talks with North Korea?

BC: At beginning of the current administration we should have had a stronger engagement. Now game has changed dramatically. Don’t take any option off the table. RS joked about North Korea this summer. This is serious. You should not joke.

RS: 3 for 3. BC says stay the course. Absolutely no bilateral talks. Need to engage the North Koreans. A website says BC opposes bunker busting bombs. I did not joke about N. Korea.

BC: You don’t joke about these things. In RS statement about North Korea he took a shot at me, not something a senator should do.

Q4: Military leaders say the military is stretched thin. Would a 3 pronged war require a draft?

RS; At odds with admin for 2 years. Iran Freedom of Support act. Because of Iran’s sectarian violence. Iran is bad actor in region not just in nuclear program but in others as well. Administration opposes Iran Free of Support act. Tough sanctions against businesses that do business with Iran, help pro-democracy in Iran. Worked with exiled community in Iran. Now we have a new Iran policy thanks to me.

BC: I agree with much of what he said about the bill. Problem is loophole still there, needs to be plugged. Before we jump to military option we should bring every possible sanction to bear. We could stop them from developing ballistic missiles. 40% of Iran’s gas comes from outside of the country. This could be tough sanction.

RS: As state treasurer of PA BC invested funds in Halliburton. Lautenberg, no subsidiaries of US companies can invest in Iran. Only subsidiaries separate from American companies can invest.

Q5: The President says we are engaged in divisive struggle of the century. War on Islamic fascism. Is this right?

BC: I do think that virtually every Am agrees that the biggest threat of our age is terrorism. We must do all we can to confront that threat. Islamic jihadists. Have outlined specific steps we can take to confront this threat. Wants to double number of special forces to hunt down and kill terrorists. Intercept their weapons. Strategy not terminology.

RS: It is important in a war to define your enemy. We’ve sold American public short in not being direct in letting them know about religious zealotry we are fighting. I’ve given speeches all over the state. Must respect and know our enemy. [follow up, is term Islamic fascist alienating people?] We must call a spade a spade.

BC: I still don’t think RS is telling us anything new. We need a specific plan. We should have an energy strategy. This admin talks about the greatest threat of our age but uses it to divide the country.

RS to BC: In South East Pennsylvania health care very important. We are losing doctors. You have opposed liability reform and caps. You are for importation of drugs.

BC: You and I disagree. I oppose caps on damages, especially in cases of negligence or intentional damage. We have to make sure we have a real strategy on health care. On prescription drugs, the safe FDA-approved importation from places like Canada.

BC to RS: tomorrow afternoon I will release 5 years of tax returns. Will you do the same?

RS: I will do so. I have to find them. It will be embarrassing for me, given the amount of money of I have.

Q6: RS voted against senate immigration bill with pathway for citizenships, and legitimizes underground economy. You can’t jail or deport 11 million people. Isn’t it tacit approval?

RS: Doesn’t believe in amnesty. First need border security. Voted for every single border agent that department said they could train. Built more detention facilities. Voted for a fence. Second, improve employer verification system. Third, set up a temporary worker program.

BC: This question has become central to RS’s campaign. More about hypocrisy than anything else. RS in DC for 16 years but only discovered this issue 6 weeks ago that he thinks will get him reelected. RS voted against border control. Under current senate leadership worksite arrests down, increase in undocumented immigrants, fines against employers down 99%.

RS: Voted for Specter employer id bill, replaced by another. Wants an issue to be part of this campaign instead of where my children sleep at night. Look at my record on immigration.

Q7: Is social security in crisis? Privatization or raising age limit?

RS: BC talks about a new direction – do nothing on social security. RS believes social security in crisis over the long term. Start to see huge deficits in social security. Tried to put together bipartisan plan. 10 years ago Bill Clinton said it was a crisis. BC says grow the economy and raise taxes. RS for personal retirement accounts, against raising retirement age.

BC: I agree there is a huge problem. Crisis is RS’s privatization scheme. Does nothing for solvency. AARP would tell you that. We should stop the thievery from social security system to finance deficits. Growing the economy is part of it. Must stop privatization.

RS: His answer is do nothing. I authored Social Security Guarantee Act. Won’t cut benefits now. Crisis out a few years. Takes current surplus and lets people invest.

Q8: Gun violence plague Philly and large cities. Gun control?

BC: Must focus on solutions that will work. New gun laws not the answer. Areas of consensus: must not try to eliminate safe and drug free schools act, must not cut back COPS program (put more cops on streets), Philly has 5200 gun dealer, ATF only has 27 agents on the street. We need to fund more ATF agents. Lynn Abraham has supported my campaign.

RS: FOP and PA State Troopers both endorsed me. ATF agent walked up to RS and said only 22 gun dealers in Philly. Worked with Lynn Abraham to reduce gun violence. Worked on anti-gang violence. Stop internet predators. School Safe act – background checks on everyone who works in a PA school.

BC: I think we increase budget for ATF. Endorsed by Philly FOP.

Q9: The Heritage Foundation says GB and GOP Congress has increased spending. What can be done?

RS: We have had problems with spending. We’re in a recession and a war and some severe natural disasters. Cut deficit in half in 2 years. Criticized for cutting things but that’s how you cut costs. Voted for Medicare drug program even though expensive. Would cut Medicaid reduction, problems in medicare and Medicaid. Need to cut fraud and abuse.

BC: Important question. Only 1 person who has voted for big deficits and that is RS. Voted to incur debt to foreign governments. Makes us more dependent on those countries when we are trying to fight terrorism, etc. Drug coverage was a giveaway to special interests. Donut hole is a nightmare.

RS: Costs came in 1/3 less than we thought. BC didn’t say where we’d cut.

BC: We can cut on consultants and contractors, cut pork, oil company subsidies. Plan to reduce deficit.

Q10: Oil and dependence on foreign countries.

BC: Most important thing is to make a full commitment to energy independence. Vote for legislation to pursue renewable sources of energy. CAFÉ standards, get that up to 40 mpg. Combat global warming. RS doesn’t think it’s a threat.

RS: BC supports Kyoto, which would destroy manufacturing economy of PA. Mandatory CAFÉ standards destroying tool and die manufacturing, decimate economy of Western PA. Need environmentally and economically friendly.

BC: CAFÉ standards central to the strategy to be committed to this. We can keep environment clean and keep economy strong.

Q11: Why do political ads have to be so negative?

RS: I was a leader on a coal to liquid fuels thing. The first 6 weeks of the campaign ran only positive ads. BC’s gubernatorial campaign was most negative in PA history. Has nothing concrete, dodges and bobs and weaves. My commercials lay out where I want to go. BC only does 2 events a week. I do 2 events a day by 10 a.m.

BC: I lost that race and he should learn something from it. RS is a negative campaigner. One editorial board called one of his ads “particularly sleazy.” This has to be about the people out there. It’s a joke what RS has been saying.

Q12: Ethics in government. Congress can’t police themselves need independent ethics commission?

BC: I have a specific ethics plan. More disclosure. Should shut down K Street program. More sunlight and more scrutiny.

RS: I led the charge on ethics in the senate. Most papers favorably commented on it.

Closing statement:

BC: Thanks sponsors and panelists. Profound difference between candidates. RS stay the course. BC for change, new agenda.

RS: I’ve worked hard for people of PA. Projects all over the state. I had to earn this job, not given to me because of my last name. Grew up in public housing on grounds of VA Hospital.