Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Update on Peter Amuso

Peter Amuso, the Democratic candidate for Montgomery County District Attorney, has opened his campaign headquarters, at 412 East Main Street in Norristown.

He also announced that he is resigning his position at Toll Brothers to campaign full-time.

Update on Homeless Veterans Legislation

Last month I reported on legislation proposed by Rep. Patrick Murphy (PA-08) to assist homeless veterans. Two of Murphy's provisions were folded into HR 2874, which has passed the House. According to the press release sent out by his office:

The first provision from Murphy’s bill would make permanent a program to identify service members on active duty who are at risk of becoming homeless. The second provision from Murphy’s bill calls on the Veterans Administration to take steps to make their homeless vets programs more accommodating for an increasing number of female veterans. It is estimated that there are over 3,300 homeless veterans in Pennsylvania and at least 550 in the greater Philadelphia area alone. Over the last three years, as many as 1,300 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan have participated in homeless outreach programs by the VA or in their own communities.

Let's hope it passes the Senate.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Another VA Cemetery Update

It looked for a moment like things were moving along for the proposed veterans cemetery in Bucks County. Unfortunately another road block has appeared. Theresa Katalinas writes in the Bucks County Courier Times ("Commission sends Toll plan to supervisors," 7/26), that Upper Makefield and Toll Brothers still cannot agree on what to do on the Dolington Tract:

The planning commission on Wednesday voted 6-0 to turn Toll’s plans over to the supervisors for further review. The commission and Toll were at odds over the developer’s perceptions of open space allotment and the preservation of agricultural soils.

On the 27th the same paper ran another article by the same reporter ("Time running out for veterans cemetery,") which says:

Getting it done is exactly what Bill Tuerk, VA undersecretary for Memorial Affairs, hopes to do. Except that these days, building a veterans cemetery on farmland in bucolic Upper Makefield is less of a sure bet. After 18 months of discussions, resident opposition, a controversial land rezoning and legal challenges, the VA still has yet to take ownership of the land. Owning the property is the first step to designing a cemetery and having it built, Tuerk has said.

and later:

But Toll has said it would not sell to the VA at the $7 million asking price until the builder received "unappealable" land development approval. Toll has yet to submit housing plans.

I'd like "unappealable" deals, too, but they just don't show up on my doorstep. Let's hope this can get worked out.

Two More Small Business Resources

I meant to somehow fold these links in to this morning's post on small business in PA and the new Northeast Philly Small Business Development Center, but somehow it didn't work, so they get their own post.

Pennsylvania: Open for Business provides links to information, forms, etc.

The Commonwealth's Department of Community and Economic Development also provides a variety of information for entrepreneurs and other business interests.

New Northeast Philly Small Business Development Center

On July 12th Congressional Representatives Allyson Schwartz (D-13) and Patrick Murphy (D-08) issued a joint press release that read in part:

Today, Pennsylvania Representatives Allyson Schwartz (D-13th District) and Patrick Murphy (D-8th District) and proudly announced federal funding for a Small Business Development Center in Northeast Philadelphia. The Small Business Development Center will be located at the Northeast Philadelphia campus of the Community College of Philadelphia. It is expected to be an economic engine for Northeast Philadelphia and lower Bucks County, providing training and resources for locally owned small businesses. Reps. Murphy and Schwartz announced that the Development Center would receive $231,000 in federal money. This money was approved by the house with the passage of the Financial Services Appropriations bill in June.

"This is a great win for Northeast Philadelphia. Small businesses are the lifeblood of our nation's economy and I am proud to have worked to secure these funds for the Community College of Philadelphia. This Center will be an outstanding asset for the entire region," said Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz.

"I am very proud to support the Small Business Development Center. With these resources it will give the economy in Northeast Philadelphia and lower Bucks County a much-needed boost," said Congressman Patrick Murphy. "Small businesses keep our economy strong and this Center will help those small business owners make the right choices and get the right help to make their businesses a success."

According to the Small Business Administrations’ Pennsylvania page, 98.4% of the employer businesses in the state were small firms (fewer than 500 employees). In 2003 these small businesses provided 2,513,875 jobs in the state and employed half of the non-farm private sector workforce. Small non-farm businesses’ income increased to $35.8 billion in 2005. Small businesses also provide opportunities for demographic groups that, historically, have not flourished in corporate America. Roughly one third of the self-employed in 2004 were women. In 2002 26% of the state’s small businesses were owned by women. Small businesses owned by African-Americans generated $2.1 billion in receipts.

Pennsylvania has 18 university-based small business development centers. Their mission:

The Pennsylvania SBDC provides consulting services and educational programs to entrepreneurs looking to start or grow a small business. SBDC consultants work with entrepreneurs in one-to-one sessions to help test a new business proposition, shape a business plan, or investigate funding opportunities. Addressing topics ranging from compliance issues to marketing tactics, SBDC programs serve to inform and assist entrepreneurs with the many tasks a new business owner faces.

Too many people decide to start up a business without the kind of planning needed for longevity and success, or without the funding needed to get off the ground. Of the clients helped in 1996 or 1998, 80% were still in business in 2004, a significantly higher percentage than the success rate of new small businesses generally (PASBDC).

There are three existing small business development centers in the region, at Temple, Wharton (U Penn), and Widener Universities.

The new center in Northeast Philadelphia will have a slightly different focus and also provide job skills training. According to an article in the Northeast Times (“CCP business center to get federal funding,” by Lauren Fritsky 7/19, see archives on website):

The center also connects with efforts to revitalize Northeast business corridors like Frankford and Torresdale avenues and the development along the Delaware River waterfront. Schwartz, a sophomore congresswoman, has secured more than $21 million for those undertakings.

"Of course this is part of a broader commitment to the business atmosphere," she said. "There is a lot of important, good work going on. We’re seeing the revitalization in the Northeast area…we want to work with our businesses to make sure they thrive."

The small-business development center will also include a conference center to provide short-term training opportunities and meeting space for more than 3,000 local businesses. The college also plans to collaborate with the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce to design programs.

The college will also be revamping existing and creating new associates degree programs in areas where there is high demand for employees and a lack of training programs in the area.

I wish the new venture well and hope that it provides a long-term boost to the economy of the area.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

PA in the WSJ

This is a list of articles regarding Pennsylvania in this past week's Wall Street Journal. Chances are I missed something, but these are the articles that caught my eye.

It should be noted that I routinely do not read the editorials in the WSJ. So any discussions of the state, its elected officials, businesses, or citizens, in editorials will not be mentioned here.

PA Politicians

Not a politician per se but a court case involving Media. “President who?” by Peter Lattman (7/25) gives an overview of the town’s lawyer asking that President Bush’s name not be used in court when a man is tried for displaying an antiwar sign in 2003, due to the president’s poor approval ratings.

Rep. John Murtha is featured in “House Democrats seek new options on Iraq policy,” by David Rogers (7/26)

Hazelton mayor Lou Barletta gets some press (good or bad, depending) in “Judge in Pennsylvania overturns town’s immigration law,” by Miriam Jordan (7/27)

PA Businesses

The Bristol-based company is the focus of “Fate of Jones Apparel Could Hinge on Barneys Deal,” by Rachel Dodes (7/28)

Other PA

From Herrick, Thaddeus "States aim to stem tide of home foreclosures with funds for refinancing" (7/23):

"Hoping so slow the quickening pace of home foreclosures, about a half-dozen states are setting up funds to help homeowners with high-risk subprime mortgages refinance to more-affordable loans. The states -- which include Maryland, Massachusetts, NJ, NY Ohio, and PA -- are expected to invest a total of more than $500 million in the effort."

More on housing in the state in “Bucking a trend, sales of rental units climb,” by Maura Webber Sadovi (7/25):
Many buyers are also betting that Philadelpia rentals are better positioned going forwards than in some other markets that have drawn investors buying condominiums they don’t plan on living in. As such, Philadelphia’s apartment market is steadier than markets where some fear unsold condominiums will be repositioned as rentals, analysts say.

Even more on housing in “The State of the slump,” by James R. Hagerty and Ruth Simon (7/26). Mark Zandi of Economy.com in West Chester is quoted. In a comparative chart of 28 housing markets, Philadelphia is listed with a downward price trend, an 11% increasing in housing inventory, a weak employment outlook, and 2.7% of loan payments 30 or more days delinquent. That last statistic was among the lowest on the chart.

As part of what appears to be a continuing series on the subject we find “Schools beat back demands for special-ed services,” by Daniel Golden (7/24). Pennsylvania is mentioned a number of time and Perry Zirkel of Lehigh University is quoted. The most informative and lengthy PA section is this:
After hearing reviewers in Pennsylvania were accused of bias, the state overhauled its system for choosing them. Until recently, Pennsylvania had four appeals panels, each with a fixed roster of three administrative judges, to review initial rulings. In a federal lawsuit filed in 2005, lawyer Dennis McAndrews accused one of the four panels of bias, saying it decided 45 of 47 appeals for districts between August 2003 and August 2005.

In “Robert A. Heinlein’s legacy,” by Taylor Dinerman (7/26) we learn that the city once hosted a triumvirate of science fiction literary lions: “He [Heinlein] ended the war at the Philadelphia Naval Yard Aircraft Factory, working with fellow writers L. Sprague DeCamp and Isaac Asimov.”

Other Interesting Tidbits

Old media is not dead, according to “Political ads stage a comeback in newspapers,” by Kevin Helliker (7/26). Jordan Lieberman of Campaigns & Elections magazine is quoted as saying that newspapers are “highly effective and highly cost-effective.” So, candidates, please buy lots of newspaper ads so the Inky can hire back some of those reporters they laid off.

A perfect example of why people get so ticked off at the government can be found in “Why Texas firms are keeping cattle on the back forty,” by Jennifer Levitz (7/28) . Texas gives a property tax exemption for agricultural work and the rules have been loosened in recent years. Some examples: Fidelity Investments reduced its property tax bill from $319,417 to $714.57 by housing 24 cattle on its grounds. Samsung cut its taxes from $21,080 to $135.68 by hanging 10 birdhouses and spraying for fire ants. Several others are mentioned. Consider what that has done to local services and school funding in the state.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Off Topic: Sleeping Over in Philly

Ma was in town last month for a visit. Mr J and I took advantage of an in-house grandparent, left her with the kids, and skeedaddled off to the city for a rare overnight outing (Thanks, Ma!!!!)

In our BK (before kids) days Mr. J and I used to lounge away some of our Saturday afternoons in the city. Lunch at IHOP near Rittenhouse Square (no longer there), a leisurely look in Barnes & Noble (still there) or maybe a movie at the Ritz. We revisited those times by staying near Rittenhouse and taking a nice long walk over to the theater, pausing to see the Liberty Bell and sitting on a bench in the shade. On the way back we stopped for dinner. The desserts at the restaurant were not as tempting as one might hope so further along we stopped again at the Naked Chocolate Cafe. Ah, bliss. I had a lemon bar, very tasty. The cupcakes also looked inviting, not the tarted up confections you find in the grocery stores these days, but elegant, classic desserts at home anywhere. Just about everything there looked good. If you haven't been there definitely give it a try.

weekly legislative update

It looks like they are done until the fall. A few emails came though showing bills shuffled off to committee but no real activity.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Perhaps the Last Post on the State Government Shutdown

Recently I spoke with someone who was camping in a state park the day the government furloughed state workers and the parks closed down. He said they were told they had to leave and he asked about a refund as they had prepaid. This is something I had not thought about. If you paid with a credit card the park workers could see that your card was refunded but if you paid with cash you had to fill out forms and mail them in. That is my understanding anyway. Those taking an inexpensive family vacation and who had paid cash in advance would have just been out of luck. Some would probably have found it a financial hardship to scrounge up alternative arrangements at the last minute.

I asked the person who was telling me about this if they had returned to the park the next day when they reopened. The answer was no. They had been able to find another spot and just stayed there.

As one example this wouldn't seem to have much impact, but played out on a larger scale, especially with out of state tourists, who are likely to tell everyone they meet about what happened, it isn't going to help our tourism industry.

Harry Potter's Pennsylvania Connection

I finished the last Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, recently. Turning the last page of the story, I skipped back to the about the author page and the about the illustrator page and then on the very last page of the book, in the diamond of type that describes the process used to actually make it, I read this sentence: The book was typeset by Brad Walrod and was printed and bound at Quebecor World Fairfield in Fairfield, Pennsylvania.

So, there you go.

If you want to know how the book ends, it was Mrs. Plum in the dining room with the knife. [smile]

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Getting Your Shapiro Fix

Now that we aren't seeing live coverage of the state house on PCN or the smiling faces of legislative leaders in the paper or the news some of you might be having withdrawal symptoms. Should you be "jonesing for Josh," here are a few recent / forthcoming tidbits on State Rep. Josh Shapiro (D-153), who will no doubt be leaping over tall buildings near you any day now.

From next month's Philadelphia Magazine, the Best of Philly issue, we find:

What's this? A Pennsylvania legislator who has [this being a G-rated blog let's just say "gentlemanly attributes"] ... and isn't ethically challenged? Just beginning his second term, Josh Shapiro -- a Montgomery County Democrat -- helped engineer the overthrow of Republican House Speaker John Perzel in January. More important, since then he's been one of the leading voices for cleaning up the way things work in Harrisburg, co-chairing the Speaker's Commission on Legislative Reform and helping to pass changes that tighten lawmaker's perks and expand public disclosure. If Shapiro isn't careful, something resembling democracy may soon break out in Harrisburg.

If you've never seen Shapiro, he recently appeared on "Insider Insights." I didn't time the video but it is probably 15 or 20 minutes long. Shapiro is given to thoughtful answers so don't look for sound bites.

More on She Should Run

I wrote earlier about a new website She Should Run, which allows people to nominate one or more women to run for office. According to SSR, most women who do become candidates do so because someone asked them to. Hillary Clinton has added a short video to the site, talking about her decision to run for office. Of all the video footage I have seen of the senator this is the one I like the best.

If you are stumped for ideas on who to nominate let me offer you a sneak peak into next month's Philadelphia Magazine, the Best of Philly issue. They highlight two prospective women candidates but let me share their "Person Who Should Be Elected as Something."

It's embarrassing that six middle-aged men ran for mayor this year. Young, smart Alba Martinez -- currently president and CEO of United Way -- is the kind of woman we'd love to see leading the city someday.

Never heard of Martinez? I hadn't either, though I can think of a number of other women I would like to see in office in the area. However, after a quick look at Martinez's resume, I can see their logic.

So if you can't think of anyone else to nominate at She Should Run (take a look at the presidents of your local PTA, friends of the library, or environmental / preservation organization, that's where you will often find smart, politically savvy, civic minded women; true confessions: I have never held any of those offices), you can always nominate Alba Martinez.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Reading Judge Todd

Debra Todd, currently Judge of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, is a candidate for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. In addition to her JD (Pittsburgh, 1982), she also received an LL.M. (Master of Laws in the Judicial Process) from the University of Virginia in 2004. As part of the requirements for that degree she wrote a masters thesis which she adapted and published as “Sentencing of Adult Offenders in Cases Involving Sexual Abuse of Children: Too Little, Too Late? A View from the Pennsylvania Bench” (109 Penn State Law Review 487).

The article is 77 pages long and very informative, yet accessible to a non-lawyer. I found it an interesting read and have already been able to use some of what I learned from it. It is definitely “chewy” but not dense. I was pleased to note that she mentions the political work of a number of individuals, of both parties. The sources she cites are broad ranging and show effective research; the footnotes are from legal cases, law statutes, statistical sources, journal articles from law, criminal justice, and social science journals, books, poetry. Emile Durkheim and Hillary Clinton are among the names scattered throughout the footnotes.

There are 14 sections to the text.

The introduction sets the tone. The first paragraph reads:

As an appellate judge in my fifth year on the bench, I can state with certainty that no cases have affected me more than those involving the sexual abuse of children. I have been astounded by the sheer number of such cases that come before my court and have, at times, been disturbed by what would appear to be the low-end sentences for these, the most appalling of crimes, perpetrated upon the most innocent and vulnerable members of our society.

The second section gives a concise outline of the historical treatment of children in America, also providing British legal antecedents. As early as 1696 the legal system recognized the ability of the state to intervene in family matters for the protection of children, although early on property interests were also a factor. The 1875 founding of the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children was pattered on the existing Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The legal precedent in Pennsylvania allowing abused children to be removed from their home was set in 1838. Pediatric radiologists were the first medical group to systematically note and categorize injuries that were frequently the result of parental abuse. Their findings were published in a 1962 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Federal legislation to address the problem came in the form of the 1974 Child Abuse and Prevention Act.

The third section discusses the epidemic of child abuse and is chock full of statistics, none of them pleasant. She reports on the prevalence of young abusers; younger children are frequently sexually abused by juveniles. As the age of the victim rises so does the age of the abuser. And, contrasting the stories we read in the news, most abusers are family members of friends of the family, not strangers. For abuse generally she found “The most common pattern of maltreatment was a child victimized by a female parent acting alone.” However, “In contrast, male parents were identified as the perpetrators of sexual abuse for the highest percentage of victims.” Girls are more likely to be sexually abused than boys. She also provides the rather shocking statistic that for children age 4 and younger the leading single cause of death by injury is abuse and neglect. For children under age 1 homicide is the leading cause of death by injury. Two other factors she considers noteworthy are that nearly one-half of the substantiated cases of child neglect and abuse are associated with parental alcohol or drug abuse, and households prone to domestic violence are at higher risk for child abuse as well. She also mentions the long term effects of childhood abuse and the problems those children encounter as adults, such as increased occurrence of depression, substance abuse and the potential to repeat the pattern as an abuser.

The fourth section is entitled “Despite Everything We Have Learned, Have We Really Evolved,” and discusses the language used by judges and the media which implies consent by abused children, such as referring to the sexual abuse as a “relationship.”

The fifth section delves deeper into “Where are the Perpetrators?” It reports a 1997 Dept. of Justice statistic that “60% of the 234,000 convicted sex offenders under the care, custody or control of corrections officials in the United States are on parole or probation.” In other words, out in the world. It also points out that while convicted sex offenders, once outside of prison, are less likely to be arrested again than other violent offenders, if rearrested it is more likely to be for the same crime. So while burglars might murder and murderers might assault, sex offenders tend to commit only sex crimes, and often in alarming numbers. From p. 514:
For example, in a study of pedophiles funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the results revealed that each of the 453 perpetrators studied reported molesting an average of 52 girls or 150 boys. Another study revealed that the pedophiles victimized an average of seventy-two children.

The sixth section, “Criminal Behaviors and Theories of Sentencing,” contrasts those who believe criminals act as individuals and must be punished rather than rehabilitated and those who believe criminal activity is a product of environment (poverty, social conditions). The judge makes an excellent point in reporting research showing 78% of prison inmates have used drugs or alcohol compared with 37% of the general population. She also describes the three categories of correctional action: punishment, treatment, and prevention. Theory is not one of my strengths and those interested in correctional theory would do well to read this section themselves.

Section seven is on “The History of Sentencing in Pennsylvania.” It provides a very interesting but brief description of the influence of Quakerism on early Pennsylvania prisons and corrections, stressing confinement and rehabilitation, and the changes and amendments to the state’s penal code through the years. In 1987 the penal code was amended further to assign new guidelines which take into account the gravity of the offense, the offender’s prior record, mitigating factors, and establish a sentence range chart.

The eighth section, “Appellate Review of Sentencing in Pennsylvania,” discusses the difference between an illegal and a legal sentence, and the difficulty in appealing a legal sentence. Generally, the sentencing court has a closer look at the particulars of a case, including the character of the defendant and any indications of remorse.

The ninth section is on “Megan’s Law.” Then Gov. Ridge signed Pennsylvania’s initial version of Megan’s Law in 1995. It was struck down in 1999 and Megan’s Law II was enacted in 2000. There are significant but detailed differences between the two. One being that sexually violent predators, in lieu of an increased sentence, are required to “undergo lifetime registration, notification, and counseling procedures…” Todd also points out three problems with the registration process. First it requires the cooperation of the offender, to provide accurate information. Second, it may encourage vigilantism. Third, authorities may not have the resources to search for those don’t register, or to ensure that registration is done correctly. She also details some of the work done by then Auditor General Bob Casey, Jr. Among his findings:
According to the Auditor General, the State Police gave incorrect information to local police departments, schools, and child care centers nearly half the time, resulting in families no knowing that a sexually violent predator was living nearby, sometimes for weeks and even months.

Todd also notes the proposal to use a national sex offender registry so that offenders who move from state to state do not become lost in transit.

The tenth section is “Sexual Abuse Crimes in Pennsylvania.” One of Todd’s most important points in this section is that Pennsylvania, like most states, does not separately categorize crimes with underage victims, so sexual assault victims are listed together regardless of the age of the victim, although some crimes, such as statutory rape by definition involve children. The statistics for the years 2000, 2001, and 2002 are similar in that of reports of suspected child abuse, around 21% were substantiated and about half of those involved sexual abuse. Almost half of the abuse children were living in single parent homes, compared with about 30% living in homes with two parents. Almost 80% of the substantiated reports of sexual abuse involved girls. And perhaps most disturbing, “Of all perpetrators, 74% had a parental relationship (mother, father, step-parent or paramour of a parent) to the child.”

The eleventh section, “Some Pennsylvania Stories,” is difficult to read. It provides 19 brief descriptions of particular cases, giving the sentence handed down to the perpetrator.

Section twelve is “Considerations in Sentencing” is relatively short. Some of the concepts it covers are the pros and cons of having children testify (importance to the trial, possible further damage to the child) and thus the possibility of plea bargains to avoid children testifying. Also the reliability of child witnesses who may not be able to remember dates and places as well as adults. Since sexual abuse may not always leave physical evidence the trail can become a he said / she said of the accused and the abused.

The thirteenth section is “Pennsylvania’s Response.” This section covers some of the ways that the state is trying to protect child. One is the change in parole guidelines to put primary consideration on public safety. The legislature also increased the penalties for sexual crimes involving children. Todd quotes from State Rep. Ronald Marsico. She also mentions two 2003 ballot questions regarding legal testimony of children. Other items in this section are changes to law that allow the state to remove children from neglectful or dangerous homes. A kudo is given to Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala, Jr. and his work against domestic violence. Todd cites this alarming statistic:
Recognizing that 37% of Pennsylvania women who visit emergency rooms do so for injuries inflicted by an intimate partner and that domestic violence claimed 115 lives in our Commonwealth during 2000, …”

Some examples of community organizations working against domestic violence and child abuse are also given.

In the “Conclusion,” Judge Todd discusses some of the strategies employed by other countries. She also provides some specific recommendations for prevention and intervention:
better training in identifying and reporting cases of abuse for coroners, police officers, prosecutors, doctors, teachers, and social workers; increased funding for in-home support services for families at risk; teaching children that they have a right to say “no” to physical contact with others if it is sexually threatening; letting children know that they can and should confide in other adults if they are abused or threatened by someone; and establishing community-based crisis intervention services and education programs on child abuse.

More than once in the conclusion, and in earlier sections, Todd contrasts the public outcry when strangers abuse children and the relative ignorance of the large numbers of children abused in their own homes. She ends with this:

Our nation’s children deserve to feel safe and secure, particularly in their own homes. They deserve the carefree days of youth. Those of us whose decisions affect the criminal justice system, and whose voices can be heard, must be vigilant in protecting those children, the most vulnerable among us. Our children are entitles to nothing less.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Bruce Almighty, Part IX

A few odd quotes from Bruce Castor in the past few months. I noted in my post on the May debate between Castor and his fellow Republican candidate for Montgomery County Commissioner Jim Mathews, and Democratic candidates Joe Hoeffel and Ruth Damsker, that in the lightning round there was a question on the possibility of a Republican ending up as minority commissioner. Castor said that if the Democrats won the two majority spots for commissioner he would not want to be the minority commissioner.

Today my fellow bloggers from across the aisle, PA Water Cooler, pointed us to an article by Gary Puleo (“Lights, camera, case…”)in the Times Herald, on a possible tv show focusing on cases that have come before Castor, who has worked in the Montgomery County’s District Attorney’s office for the past 22 years, and is currently the District Attorney. Note this quote from the article:

"I'm hoping that Hollywood will discover me and take me out of politics," Castor joked Thursday evening after a long day of filming the pilot episode of "Probable Cause."

So, does he really want to run for office or not?

I also found this section disturbing:

And if the "props department" - aka the D.A's office - continues to be as cooperative as it has been the last few months, the collaboration will click indefinitely.

"The D.A. says 'get them the murder weapon for this production' and the next day we'll have it," Phucas said. "Without their cooperation we'd have nothing. They've been able to call up a judge and he comes into the courtroom for a scene. They've been terrific throughout the whole project."

My questions here are should the DA’s office be involved so closely in this sort of thing? Surely some sort of general approval can be given and then the film company work with staff on this. Does the DA himself need to be taking the time to make calls about murder weapons for a tv show? Should the DA be calling judges, who rule for or against his cases, and asking them for favors? Aren’t there more pressing matters for him to attend to?

Also, in a region containing Camden and Philadelphia, neither known as crime free zones, do we really want to further advertise the area as a center for murder and mayhem? I like true crime shows as much or more as the next viewer but this would be a bit much.

I also wonder when the show will air. It is my understanding, and it may be wrong, that shows featuring candidates cannot be aired until the race is over. When George Takei ran for city council in San Francisco in 1973 I believe reruns of “Star Trek” (he played Lt. Sulu) were banned until after the election. But, as I say, I may be wrong on this or the laws may have changed. I know it is a matter of current interest in the presidential race with Fred Thompson’s media work. Since he has an exploratory committee and isn’t an officially declared candidate it is merely an academic argument, but Castor is currently involved in a political race that won’t be decided until next November. Perhaps the show will be in post-production until then.

Food for thought, at any rate.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Book Review: Blog Rules

Book review: Blog Rules by Nancy Flynn. NY: Amacom, 2006

Short version: Buy this book.

Long version: While primarily aimed at business blogs and for employees of the corporate world that blog either on or off the clock, much of what Flynn has to say is applicable to all kinds of blogging, including political blogging, though it isn’t really discussed specifically. The chapters on CEO bloggers would work just as well for candidates (should they blog? Pros/cons). There are sample blogging policies for businesses that could just as easily work for campaigns. What a campaign operative (even a volunteer) says on a personal blog can reflect well or poorly on the campaign. There are also tips on contacting bloggers for those wishing to promote products or candidates on blogs. Flynn touches on legal issues, though this is always a moving target. She does suggest caution. She also frowns on anonymous blogging and points out the courts have been inconsistent so far in whether or not anonymous bloggers needed to be outed if sued. All in all very useful, written to be read easily, with a lot of numbered lists, summary rules, and so on.

Summation: Buy this book.

(Full disclosure: I found this book at the library and so while I suggest you buy a copy I have not done so but plan to in the near future.)

PA in the WSJ

This is a list of articles regarding Pennsylvania in this past week's Wall Street Journal. Chances are I missed something, but these are the articles that caught my eye.

It should be noted that I routinely do not read the editorials in the WSJ. So any discussions of the state, its elected officials, businesses, or citizens, in editorials will not be mentioned here.

PA Politicians

In “Senate Democrats take a pause,” by David Rogers (7/19) we find this paragraph:

Rep. John Murtha, the bill’s manager, has used every lever available to try to put pressure on the White House regarding Iraq. But the
Pennsylvania Democrat said he is torn now because another veto fight over Iraq could jeopardize added funding in his bill to improve oversight, for example, of the record number of outside contractors now employed by the Pentagon, including in the Iraq theater.

PA Businesses

Apparently we still need customer service workers here in the US, not all the jobs can be outsourced. Banks are having trouble finding and hiring tellers. PNC Financial Services Group of Pittsburgh is among those mentioned. Some technical and community colleges are starting training programs for tellers. See “Expanding banks bemoan lack of qualified tellers,” by Sudeep Reddy (7/17)

Lice Fighters will comb lice out of your or your family’s head if you live in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania for $200 a head. “A head scratcher: How to get rid of a pesky parasite,” by Joseph DeAvila (7/17)

“Jones apparel names officer,” (7/17)

Brief mentions:

Hershey (7/17)

Harleysville National Corp. (Harleysville) (7/18)

Interdigital Inc. (King of Prussia) (7/18)

Valley National Gases LLC (Washington, PA) (7/18)

Other PA

Susan Gingerich a private practice social worker in Philadelphia is quoted in “Letting your family in on your therapy,” by Elizabeth Bernstein (7/17)

The Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia is mentioned in “Art for less,” by Lauren A. E. Schuker (7/21)

Other Interesting Tidbits

Note this sentence from “Carry-on items taken at airports find happy homes,” by Paulo Prada (7/17):
Pennsylvania, which collects goods at 13 airports including New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, says it collects a total of 2.5 tons of TSA goods a month and that the items, sold on eBay, since 2004 have raised $360,000 for state coffers as of June.

There is a great article on Elizabeth Edwards, “The Nights and days of Elizabeth Edwards,” by Monica Langley on 7/21.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

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 accountant friends at PICPA have provided their usual informative weekly update.

Other updates this week:

PA GOP Senate
PA Democratic Senate
PA GOP House (daily session updates)
PA Democratic House

Nothing caught my eye this week.

HB 874 Prior Printer's No. 1029.Printer's No. 2261. An Act providing for umbilical cord blood banking; requiring health care facilities and providers to give pregnant patients information regarding umbilical cord blood banking; and requiring health care facilities to permit pregnant patients to arrange for umbilical cord blood donations.

HB 1422 Prior Printer's Nos. 1752, 1885, 2293.Printer's No. 2348. An Act amending Title 3 (Agriculture) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, codifying the Public Eating and Drinking Place Law and the Food Act; providing for the protection of public health and for regulations; requiring licensing; further providing for food employee certification and for farmers' market; providing for penalties; and making related repeals.
SB 798 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Prior Printer's Nos. 890, 923, 1153, 1244, 1311.Printer's No. 923. An Act providing for the capital budget for the fiscal year 2007-2008.

SB 246 By Senators GREENLEAF, ERICKSON, O'PAKE, CORMAN, WASHINGTON, C. WILLIAMS, LOGAN, ORIE, STACK, FERLO and DINNIMAN. Prior Printer's Nos. 25, 1227, 1286.Printer's No. 1326. An Act establishing the Smoke Free Pennsylvania Act; prohibiting smoking in enclosed and substantially enclosed areas; imposing duties upon the Department of Health; imposing penalties; and making a related repeal.

SB 413 By Senators BROWNE, WONDERLING, WASHINGTON and BOSCOLA. Prior Printer's No. 460.Printer's No. 1276. An Act amending the act of July 28, 1953 (P.L.723, No.230), known as the Second Class County Code, further providing for assessment of signs and sign structures; and making related repeals.

SB 455 By Senators VANCE, EARLL, BOSCOLA, FONTANA, MADIGAN, O'PAKE, ORIE, PUNT, RAFFERTY, STACK, M. WHITE, WONDERLING, CORMAN, BROWNE, KITCHEN and McILHINNEY. Prior Printer's Nos. 502, 1097, 1186, 1225.Printer's No. 1243. An Act amending the act of May 1, 1933 (P.L.216, No.76), known as The Dental Law, further providing for the definitions of "dental hygienist" and "board"; providing for the definition of "public health dental hygiene practitioner"; further providing for the general powers of the State Board of Dentistry and for radiologic procedures, education and training; and providing for the practice of public health dental hygiene practitioners.

SB 466 By Senators ROBBINS, SCARNATI, O'PAKE, MADIGAN, WOZNIAK, CORMAN, LAVALLE, RHOADES, MUSTO, PUNT, WONDERLING, BOSCOLA, REGOLA, McILHINNEY, BAKER, BRUBAKER and FOLMER. Prior Printer's Nos. 511, 1093, 1226, 1280, 1297.Printer's No. 1329. An Act amending the act of November 10, 1999 (P.L.491, No.45), known as the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act, further providing for application, for changes in the Uniform Construction Code and for exemptions.

SB 548 By Senators CORMAN, ERICKSON, D. WHITE, VANCE, M. WHITE, WONDERLING, FOLMER, WAUGH, GORDNER and C. WILLIAMS. Prior Printer's No. 292.Printer's No. 1299. An Act amending the act of May 17, 1921 (P.L.682, No.284), entitled "An act relating to insurance; amending, revising, and consolidating the law providing for the incorporation of insurance companies, and the regulation, supervision, and protection of home and foreign insurance companies, Lloyds associations, reciprocal and inter-insurance exchanges, and fire insurance rating bureaus, and the regulation and supervision of insurance carried by such companies, associations, and exchanges, including insurance carried by the State Workmen's Insurance Fund; providing penalties; and repealing existing laws," providing for scope of article, for the definition of "long-term care insurance," for the Long-Term Care Partnership Program, for authority to promulgate regulations, for marketing and advertising prohibited and for penalties; and further providing for coverage and limitations.

SB 929 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Prior Printer's No. 1112.Printer's No. 1312. A Supplement to the act of April 1, 1863 (P.L.213, No.227), entitled "An act to accept the grant of Public Lands, by the United States, to the several states, for the endowment of Agricultural Colleges," making appropriations for carrying the same into effect; and providing for a basis for payments of such appropriations, for a method of accounting for the funds appropriated and for certain fiscal information disclosure.

SB 930 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Prior Printer's No. 1113.Printer's No. 1313. A Supplement to the act of July 28, 1966 (3rd Sp.Sess., P.L.87, No.3), known as the University of Pittsburgh--Commonwealth Act, making appropriations for carrying the same into effect; providing for a basis for payments of such appropriations, for a method of accounting for the funds appropriated and for certain fiscal information disclosure.

SB 931 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1114. A Supplement to the act of November 30, 1965 (P.L.843, No.355), known as the Temple University--Commonwealth Act, making appropriations for carrying the same into effect; providing for a basis for payments of such appropriations; and providing a method of accounting for the funds appropriated and for certain fiscal information disclosure.

SB 932 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1115. A Supplement to the act of July 7, 1972 (P.L.743, No.176), known as the Lincoln University-Commonwealth Act, making an appropriation for carrying the same into effect; providing for a basis for payments of the appropriation; and providing a method of accounting for the funds appropriated and for certain fiscal information disclosure.

SB 933 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1116. An Act making an appropriation to the Trustees of Drexel University, Philadelphia.

SB 934 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Prior Printer's No. 1117.Printer's No. 1314. An Act making appropriations to the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania.

SB 935 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1118. An Act making appropriations to the Philadelphia Health and Education Corporation for the Colleges of Medicine, Public Health, Nursing and Health Professions and for continuation of pediatric services.

SB 936 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1119. An Act making appropriations to the Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia.

SB 937 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1120. An Act making an appropriation to the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Philadelphia.

SB 938 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1121. An Act making an appropriation to the Pennsylvania College of Optometry, Philadelphia.

SB 939 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1122. An Act making an appropriation to the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, for instruction and student aid.

SB 940 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1123. An Act making appropriations to the Trustees of the Berean Training and Industrial School at Philadelphia for operation and maintenance expenses.

SB 941 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1124. An Act making an appropriation to the Johnson Technical Institute of Scranton for operation and maintenance expenses.

SB 942 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1125. An Act making an appropriation to the Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades in Delaware County for operation and maintenance expenses.

SB 943 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1126. An Act making an appropriation to the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, Erie.

SB 944 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1127. An Act making an appropriation to the Fox Chase Institute for Cancer Research, Philadelphia, for the operation and maintenance of the cancer research program.

SB 945 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1128. An Act making an appropriation to the Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, for operation and maintenance expenses and for AIDS research.

SB 946 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1129. An Act making an appropriation to the Central Penn Oncology Group.

SB 947 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Prior Printer's No. 1130.Printer's No. 1315. An Act making an appropriation to the Lancaster Cleft Palate for outpatient-inpatient treatment.

SB 948 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1131. An Act making an appropriation to the Burn Foundation, Philadelphia, for outpatient and inpatient treatment.

SB 950 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1132. An Act making an appropriation to The Children's Institute, Pittsburgh, for treatment and rehabilitation of certain persons with disabling diseases.

SB 951 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1133. An Act making an appropriation to The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for comprehensive patient care and general maintenance and operation of the hospital.

SB 952 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1134. An Act making an appropriation to the Beacon Lodge Camp.

SB 953 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Prior Printer's No. 1135.Printer's No. 1316. An Act making appropriations to the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh for operations and maintenance expenses and the purchase of apparatus, supplies and equipment.

SB 954 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Prior Printer's No. 1136.Printer's No. 1317. An Act making an appropriation to the Franklin Institute Science Museum for maintenance expenses.

SB 955 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Prior Printer's No. 1137.Printer's No. 1318. An Act making an appropriation to the Academy of Natural Sciences for maintenance expenses.

SB 956 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Prior Printer's No. 1138.Printer's No. 1319. An Act making an appropriation to the African-American Museum in Philadelphia for operating expenses.

SB 957 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Prior Printer's No. 1139.Printer's No. 1320. An Act making an appropriation to the Everhart Museum in Scranton for operating expenses.

SB 958 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Prior Printer's No. 1140.Printer's No. 1321. An Act making an appropriation to the Mercer Museum in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, for operating expenses.

SB 959 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Prior Printer's No. 1141.Printer's No. 1322. An Act making an appropriation to the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, for operating expenses.


HB 1590 By Representatives MARKOSEK, D. EVANS, McCALL and DeWEESE. Prior Printer's Nos. 1971, 2088, 2170, 2179.Printer's No. 2342. An Act amending Titles 53 (Municipalities Generally), 74 (Transportation) and 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for minority and women-owned business participation; authorizing local taxation for public transportation assistance; repealing provisions relating to public transportation assistance; providing for transportation issues and for sustainable mobility options; consolidating the Turnpike Organization, Extension and Toll Road Conversion Act; providing for Turnpike Commission standards of conduct; in provisions on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, further providing for definitions, for authorizations and for conversion to toll roads and providing for conversion of Interstate 80, for application, for lease of Interstate 80, for payments, for other interstate highways, for fund distribution, for impact, for financial plan and for nonperformance; in taxes for highway maintenance and construction, providing for definitions; further providing for imposition and for allocation of proceeds; providing for special revenue bonds, for expenses, for application of proceeds of obligations, for trust indenture, for exemption, for pledged revenues, for special revenue refunding bonds, for remedies, for Motor License Fund proceeds, for construction and for funding; and making related repeals.

HB 1631 By Representative D. EVANS. Prior Printer's Nos. 2055, 2108, 2112, 2150.Printer's No. 2345. An Act providing for the Pennsylvania Gaming Economic Development and Tourism Fund Capital Budget for 2007; itemizing projects to be assisted by the Department of Community and Economic Development, together with their estimated financial costs; authorizing recurring payments for certain projects; and making appropriations.

HB 1203 Prior Printer's Nos. 1668, 1995, 2057, 2291, 2297, 2340.Printer's No. 2343. An Act amending the act of November 30, 2004 (P.L.1672, No.213), known as the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act, further providing for the definitions of "alternative energy credit," "customer-generator," "force majeure," "net metering," and "Tier I alternative energy source," for alternative energy portfolio standards, for portfolio requirements in other states and for interconnection standards for customer-generator facilities.

HB 1295 By Representatives HANNA, BAKER, BELFANTI, CONKLIN, DENLINGER, FABRIZIO and CALTAGIRONE. Prior Printer's Nos. 1600, 2125, 2173, 2239.Printer's No. 2349. An Act amending the act of April 9, 1929 (P.L.343, No.176), known as The Fiscal Code, providing for Commonwealth employees group life insurance; further providing for the State System of Higher Education and for budget implementation; providing for general budget implementation and for 2007-2008 budget implementation and restrictions on appropriations for funds and accounts; and making a related repeal.

HB 1530 Prior Printer's Nos. 1876, 2182, 2285, 2298.Printer's No. 2344. An Act amending Title 66 (Public Utilities) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in restructuring of electric utility industry, further providing for duties of electric distribution companies.

HB 1656 By Representatives MOYER and MENSCH. Prior Printer's Nos. 2136, 2284, 2294.Printer's No. 2341. An Act authorizing and directing the Department of General Services, with the approval of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Governor, to grant and convey to Skippack Township certain lands situate in Skippack Township, Montgomery County, in exchange for Skippack Township granting and conveying certain lands to the Commonwealth to be added to those existing lands at Evansburg State Park; authorizing and directing the Department of General Services, with the approval of the Governor and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, to grant and convey to Jefferson County certain lands situate in Winslow Township, Jefferson County; 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 the Department of General Services, with the approval of the Governor, to grant and convey, at a price to be determined through a public solicitation for proposals, certain lands, buildings and improvements situate in the First and Second Wards of the City of Pittsburgh, County of Allegheny, known as the Pittsburgh State Office Building; and authorizing the Department of General Services, with the approval of the Governor, to grant and convey, at a price to be determined through a public solicitation for proposals, certain lands, buildings and improvements situate in the City and County of Philadelphia, known as the Philadelphia State Office Building.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

PA in the August Issue of Money

A few Pennsylvania tidbits from the August issue of Money Magazine.

Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania is the first U.S. hospital offering a warranty on surgery (p. 31)

The cover story, "The Best places to live," features 100 towns that have "everything any family could want." Pennsylvania has four towns on the list:

#9 Nether Providence (Wallingford)
#12 West Goshen
#15 Horsham
#87 Emmaus

An accompanying article "Where we'll live tomorrow," (p. 104-105) by Joel Kotkin contains this interesting quote:

One would imagine that the residents of Philadelphia, a city of well-established neighborhoods, would identify strongly with their communities. Yet a recent Temple University study found that nearby suburbanites were considerably more likely than city dwellers to see their neighborhood as "home."

(An abstract of that study "Where We Stand: Community Indicators for Metropolitan Philadelphia," which has multiple authors, is available, with a link to the full study for those interested in more data.)

Furloughed State Works to be Paid

According to today's Inquirer ("No lost state pay in 1-day furlough," by Martha Raeffele), state workers will be paid for the one day they were furloughed during the state budget battle between the governor and the legislature.

The July 9 furlough will be treated as a paid office closing, such as a snow day, Rendell spokesman Doug Rohanna said. Depending on their pay schedules, employees will receive the money in paychecks issued Aug. 3 or Aug. 10, said Mia DeVane, spokeswoman for the Office of Administration.

This is good news, though I think better planning and more cooperation could have prevented the problem in the first place.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Damsker / Hoeffel Video

Democratic candidates for Montgomery County commissioner, Ruth Damsker and Joe Hoeffel have posted video of their joint appearance on a local television program. You can watch for yourself at:


Off Topic: Petsitting Letter

Now that it looks like the legislature is actually done or almost done with business, and staffers can actually think about vacations, let me present the template for a document our family has used for about the past 20 years. When we go away for more than a night or two we have a neighbor look after the cats. Sometimes we hire a college student to house sit but often a teen in the area is anxious for a first paying job and they are usually conscientious and eager to please. An adult who knows us would probably know what to do in case of an emergency, a cat gets sick or gets out of the house and is hit by a car, but a kid is likely to be unprepared for such an event. So, we often leave a letter with the petsitter and send a copy to the vet, spelling out what vet costs we will pre-approve and when we need to be contacted and our wishes in the event of a serious injury.

It is possible I copied it from a printed source somewhere but if so the origins are lost to memory. I don't know if such a document would stand up in court but the vet's staff has always seemed really appreciative when I have sent or taken them this note before we leave.

To Whom It May Concern,

[Names of pet owners] have [number, species], [names of pets], who are patients at [vets office or animal hospital]. From [dates], we will be away and our pets will be in the care of [name, if applicable, give names of teen's parents].

If a medical emergency should occur while we are away we would like it known that we will preauthorize any veterinary care up to the amount of [dollar amount] for each cat. If care should go above that amount we would like to be consulted and [name of petsitter] will know how to reach us.

The quality of life of our pets is important to us and in the event that a veterinarian determines the extent of a cat’s injuries are such that a meaningful recovery is not possible we preauthorize the vet to euthanize the cat.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

More Montco Courthouse Intrigue

For those who haven't been keeping score, the current Republican Montgomery County controller decided not to seek re-election after there was some question of the validity of some signatures on his ballot petitions. One of the assistant district attorneys who was also running for controller is now unopposed. (See my earlier post on that here.)

In the intervening months the county controller has discovered a few things that he thinks might be irregular. The latest is political work done by the administrative assistant of the First Assistant District Attorney, also the Republican candidate for DA since the current district attorney is now one of the Republican candidates for county commissioner. The two articles on this that I have found are by the same reporter but for different papers and some of the details are different. You'll have to read them both and see if you can figure everything out.

"DA claims a political vendetta," by Margaret Gibbons The Reporter Online 7/10

"County controller questions GOP fundraising effort," by Margaret Gibbons, Times Herald 7/02

Democratic candidate for District Attorney, Peter Amuso has said he will stop allowing political campaigns to be run out of the DA's office. (See my brief post on Amuso.)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Ending the Day With PCN

I watched about the last 25 minutes of the Pennsylvania State House this evening, from 10:35 to 11:00 or so. It was not encouraging.

Speaker Dennis O'Brien had to keep asking House members to stop talking over their colleague at the microphone, to stop having conferences in the well of the house, and to generally behave themselves. He looked as tired and exasperated as a parent whose children will not leave the cat alone or pick up their toys or stop drawing on the walls or whatever. Rep. Evans, who was repeatedly called to the microphone to answer questions about budget, also looked exhausted, which may be why he kept calling Rep. Kate Harper Mr. Speaker (usually in her case it would be Madame Speaker). [UPDATE: I am corrected by a commenter who says according to rules of procedure all questions and answers are addressed to whoever is at the podium. In this case it was O'Brien so Mr. Speaker was absolutely correct.]

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe provided the sort of rhetoric that I have come to expect from him. He said the budget did not provide money for treatment, treatment for the spendaholism that the governor so clearly had. When the House, by its own rules, had only 12 minutes to finish important business before suspending for the day, I don't think Rep. Metcalfe helped matters any. Rep. DeWeese called the question and whatever bill (HB 1256?) was under discussion seemed to pass. The House will reconvene tomorrow at 9:30 a.m.

This is no way to run a railroad, let alone a state.

Second Quarter Campaign Finance Reports

Okay, our congressional buddies from the general suburban Philadelphia area have filed their second quarter fundraising reports. Remember that these reports are often amended (you can throw stones if you have ever prepared one, otherwise keep any snark on that topic to yourself).

I have included information on Sam Bennett's campaign. There are no other formally declared candidates in these districts that I know of. If there are two sets of numbers in a category the first is for this past 3 months (April - June), the second is for the campaign cycle total. I did not break down individual contributions by itemized and unitemized (large vs small amounts). I also did not include a category of there were no numbers in it, just to keep this from being any more blindingly difficult to work with than it already is. If you are interested in itemized / unitemized numbers or more information on any of the finance reports, check them out at www.fec.gov

So, in district order, here we go!

6th Congressional District

Incumbent Republican Jim Gerlach

Individuals 188,163.00 / 311,303.09
Political Party Committees 495.00 / 756.32
Other Political Committees (such as PACS) 235,500.00 / 338,500.00
Total Contributions 424,158.00 / 650,559.41
Transfers From Other Authorized Committees 3,424.30 / 3,424.30
Offsets to Operating Expenditures (Refunds, Rebates, etc) 7.00 / 4,445.55
Other Receipts 1,276.78 / 1,813.04
Total Receipts 428,866.08 / 660,242.30

Operating Expenditures 191,057.36 / 421,490.55
Refunds of Contributions 800.00 / 800.00
Other Disbursements 1,500.00 / 1,500.00
Total Disbursements 193,357.36 / 423,790.55

Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period 106,981.16
Total Receipts This Period 428,866.08 / 660,242.30
Subtotal 535,847.24
Total Disbursements This Period 193,357.36 / 423,790.55
Cash On Hand At Close Of The Reporting Period 342,489.88

Personal observation: 45,000 FEC fine listed as a debt or obligation

7th Congressional District

Incumbent Democrat Joe Sestak

Individuals: 330,766.01 / 629,153.15
Political Party Committees 255.58 / 2,112.55
PACS 165,400.19 / 315,500.19
Total Contributions 496,421.78 / 951,365.89
Transfers From Other Authorized Committees 30,550.00 / 33,054.46
(Refunds, Rebates, etc) 292.80 / 22,936.57
Total Receipts 527,264.60 / 987,356.92

Operating Expenditures 41,767.58 / 219,061.04
Total Contribution Refunds 325.00 / 360.00
Total Disbursements 42,092.58 / 219,421.04

Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period 587,264.80
Total Receipts This Period 527,264.60 / 987,356.92
Subtotal 1,114,529.40
Total Disbursements This Period 42,092.58 / 219,421.04
Cash On Hand At Close Of The Reporting Period 1,072,436.82

Personal observation: There are no salaries listed in the disbursements. He appears to have no paid campaign staff at the moment.

8th Congressional District

Incumbent Democrat Patrick Murphy

Individuals/ 512,577.62 / 680,966.74
Political Party Committees 102.22 / 7,056.03
Other Political Committees (such as PACS) 238,150.00 / 472,020.33
Total Contributions 750,829.84 / 1,160,043.10
Transfers From Other Authorized Committees 35,620.48 / 35,620.48
Other Receipts 1,242.44 / 35,900.70
Total Receipts 787,692.76 / 1,231,564.28

Operating Expenditures 121,823.23 / 331,672.43

Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period 298,963.00
Total Receipts This Period 787,692.76 / 1,231,564.28
Subtotal 1,086,655.76
Total Disbursements This Period 121,823.23 / 333,300.43
Cash On Hand At Close Of The Reporting Period 964,832.53

13th Congressional District

Incumbent Democrat Allyson Schwartz

Individuals 352,050.96 / 653,965.35
Political Party Committees 143.24 / 284.14
Other Political Committees (such as PACS) 164,700.00 / 266,900.00
Total Contributions 516,894.20 / 921,149.49
Refunds, Rebates, etc 18,723.50 / 19,993.88
Other Receipts 1,703.55 / 4,400.26
Total Receipts 537,321.25 / 945,543.63

Operating Expenditures 65,991.63 / 232,584.41
Refunds of Contributions: 2,000.00 / 2,700.00
Other Disbursements 56,325.00 / 62800.00
Total Disbursements 124,316.63 / 298,084.41

Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period 885,875.69
Total Receipts This Period 537,321.25 / 945,543.63
Subtotal 1,423,196.94
Total Disbursements This Period 124,316.63 / 298,084.41
Cash On Hand At Close Of The Reporting Period 1,298,880.31

Personal observations: Schwartz's disbursements included paying a parking ticket in Philadelphia and health insurance costs, presumably the health insurance is for a campaign worker. If so, this is unusual and to her credit.

15th Congressional district

Incumbent Charlie Dent (R)

Individuals 114,398.24 / 225,340.44
Political Party Committees 196.00 / 196.00
PACS 109,100.00 / 184,350.00
Total Contributions 223,694.24 / 409,886.44
Other Receipts 129.73 / 386.51
Total Receipts 223,823.97 / 412,901.95

Operating Expenditures 72,759.03 / 315,313.27
Refunds of Contributions: 150.00 / 150.00
Total Disbursements 72,909.03 / 315,463.27

Cash on hand at beginning of reporting period 202,547.75
Total Receipts 223,823.97 / 412,901.05
Subtotal 444,371.72
Total Disbursements this Period 72,909.03 / 315,463.27
Cash on hand at close of reporting period 371,462.69

Democratic Challenger "Sam" Bennett

Contributions from individuals: 39,022.56
PACS 24,000
Total Receipts: 63,022.56

Operating Expenditures 18,692.25

Cash On Hand at Beginning of Reporting Period: 0.00
Total Receipts: 63,022.56
Total Disbursements: 18,692.25
Cash on Hand at Close of the Reporting Period: 44,330.31

Personal Observations: Should Bennett be paying Team Blue Politics Inc $3K a month for consulting at this stage of the game? I don't know enough about the campaign game to say if this is a sound use of money or not.

Regional Caucus at YearlyKos

If you are planning to attend YearlyKos and would like to be involved in a regional caucus, or if you aren't attending but would still like to be involved, contact kidoakland (kidoakland [at] comcast.net)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

SB 913: A Bad Idea

The Pennsylvania Senate passed SB 913, which the Post-Gazette described:

A relatively small item in the recently negotiated state budget deal -- a plan to shift $40 million from parks and libraries to hazardous waste cleanup -- threatens to snag passage of the $27.3 billion spending plan.

("Keystone Fund a hang-up for budget," by Tracy Mauriello (7/13)

This just can't be a good idea. I hope there can be other adjustments made. Pennsylvania's libraries have not done well money-wise in recent years and the competition for recreation money in the state is fierce. Halving Keystone Fund monies to pay for the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Program will, in my opinion, cause more problems than it will solve.

February Pennsylvania House Journals

In a continuing effort to catch up with summarizing previously released state house journals, I bring you February.

The Pennsylvania State House of Representatives met in full session (theoretically at least) on seven days.

Feb. 1 (5 p.)
Feb. 5 (16 p.)
Feb. 6 (22 p.)
Feb. 7 (6 p.)
Feb. 12 (18 p.)
Feb. 13 (15 p.)
Feb. 14 (1 p.)

Most pages of the journal are full of lists of bills being shuffled off to committee or being voted on with little or no discussion. There are also local sports teams and visitors and so on to be congratulated and introduced. What I look for primarily is interesting discussion or quotes that seem noteworthy.

Feb. 5
p. 2-3, Rep. Louise Bishop compares Sen. Marge Tartaglione to Rosa Parks because of the senators fight to raise the state’s minimum wage.

Feb. 6
p. 4-10, Gov. Rendell’s budget address (this is where it all started).
p. 10-12, Rep. Dwight Evans’ address on the budget
p. 12 Rep. Mario Civera’s address on the budget

Feb. 7
Committee membership changes are mentioned.

PA in the WSJ

PA in the WSJ

This is a list of articles regarding Pennsylvania in this past week's Wall Street Journal. Chances are I missed something, but these are the articles that caught my eye.

It should be noted that I routinely do not read the editorials in the WSJ. So any discussions of the state, its elected officials, businesses, or citizens, in editorials will not be mentioned here.

PA Politicians

Sen. Arlen Specter resurfaces as a sponsor of climate-change legislation, with co-sponsor Jeff Bingaman in “Inside messy reality of cutting power plans CO2 output,” by Rebecca Smith (7/12)

PA Businesses

Spain’s Iberdrola purchase of Community Energy of Wayne, as well as the wind energy industry generally is the subject of “Alternative energy hurt by windmill shortage,” by Keith Johnson (7/09)

Jeanne Whalen as an interview with Jean-Pierre Garnier of GlaxoSmithKline notes that it takes place in Glaxo’s Philadelphia office, “Glaxo’s Gernier is taking the heat,” (7/09)

Geisinger Health System of Danville is mentioned in “ICU’s message: Welcome, families,” by Laura Landro (7/12)

The Bristol based company is the focus of “Jones Apparel’s chief quits amid market shift,” by Rachel Dodes and Joann S. Lublin (7/13)

Brief mentions: Lincoln National (7/09)

Mark Volavka, executive director of the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council is quoted in “How to size up your hospital,” by Theo Francis (7/10)

Other PA

Lee Kern a special education professor at Lehigh University is quoted in “When discipline starts a fight,” by Robert Tomsho (7/09)

Former PA resident Nancy Kelly, now executive vp of Huntingon National Bank is profiled in an ad on 7/09)

Temple MBA grad Michele Stafiniak is quoted in “Refresher programs help previous graduates get up to date,” by Ronald Alsop (7/10)

Other Interesting Tidbits

The tenth anniversary of blogging is extolled in “Happy Blogiversary“ by Tunku Varadarajan (7/14)

Another blogging article is found on 7/13, “Executives get the blogging bug,” by Erin White, Joann S. Lublin and David Kesmodel.

weekly legislative update

At least one chamber of the legislature is in session this afternoon but rather than wait for the daily email announcement tonight or tomorrow, I'm posting what has passed since last weekend.

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 accountant friends at PICPA have provided their usual informative weekly update.

Other updates this week:

PA GOP Senate
PA Democratic Senate
PA GOP House (daily session updates)
PA Democratic House


SR 153 By Senators PILEGGI and MELLOW. Printer's No. 1289. A Resolution prohibiting the use of funds appropriated to the Senate to pay or reimburse for costs associated with the use of automatic dialing-announcing devices.


HB 1150 Prior Printer's Nos. 1448, 2237.Printer's No. 2326. An Act amending the act of May 17, 1921 (P.L.682, No.284), known as The Insurance Company Law of 1921, providing, in health and accident insurance, for autism spectrum disorders coverage and for treatment of autism spectrum disorders; and further providing for quality health care procedures.

SB 968 Prior Printer's Nos. 1160, 1169, 1202, 1235, 1281.Printer's No. 1298. 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, providing for reduction and prevention of health care-associated infection and for long-term care nursing facilities.

HB 1152 Printer's No. 1400. An Act amending Title 13 (Commercial Code) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, extensively revising preliminary provisions and provisions relating to warehouse receipts, bills of lading and documents of title; further providing, in secured transactions, for definitions, for perfection and priority in deposit accounts and for perfection upon attachment; and making editorial changes.

HB 1423 By Representatives HANNA, BRENNAN, MAHONEY, SIPTROTH, STABACK, SOLOBAY, CALTAGIRONE, CONKLIN, CAUSER, PETRONE, BARRAR, THOMAS, DeLUCA and JAMES. Prior Printer's Nos. 1753, 1886.Printer's No. 2292. An Act amending Title 3 (Agriculture) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, adding definitions of "certified parking meter inspector" and "local government unit"; and providing for certified parking meter inspectors and for general testing and inspections.

HB 1621 By Representative M. O'BRIEN. Printer's No. 2074. An Act authorizing the Department of General Services, with the concurrence of the Department of Environmental Protection, to lease to VTE Philadelphia, LP, or its nominee, land within the bed of the Delaware River in the City of Philadelphia.

HB 1627

HB 1662 Printer's No. 2197. An Act amending the act of February 14, 1986 (P.L.2, No.2), known as the Acupuncture Registration Act, redesignating registration as licensure.

HB 83 Prior Printer's Nos. 107, 2234.Printer's No. 2265. An Act amending the act of June 13, 1967 (P.L.31, No.21), known as the Public Welfare Code, providing for reporting requirements; further providing for Assistance Recipient Identification Program; providing for income eligibility verification system; further providing for local administration of assistance; providing for fraud detection system and for residency and county assistance offices; and requiring the Department of Public Welfare to provide personal care home information on the department's Internet website.

HB 1329 Printer's No. 1672. An Act amending the act of July 31, 1968 (P.L.805, No.247), known as the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, further providing for jurisdiction of the zoning hearing board and the court of common pleas in challenges to the validity of an ordinance for procedural defects in the process of enactment.

HB 1330 Prior Printer's Nos. 1673, 2148.Printer's No. 2262. An Act amending Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for appeal from ordinances, resolutions, maps, etc.

SB 466 SB 466 By Senators ROBBINS, SCARNATI, O'PAKE, MADIGAN, WOZNIAK, CORMAN, LAVALLE, RHOADES, MUSTO, PUNT, WONDERLING, BOSCOLA, REGOLA, McILHINNEY, BAKER, BRUBAKER and FOLMER. Prior Printer's Nos. 511, 1093, 1226, 1280.Printer's No. 1297. An Act amending the act of November 10, 1999 (P.L.491, No.45), known as the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act, further providing for application, for changes in the Uniform Construction Code and for exemptions.

SB 623 By Senators GREENLEAF, BOSCOLA, RAFFERTY, STACK, BROWNE, O'PAKE, PUNT, TOMLINSON, WAUGH, FOLMER, RHOADES, ERICKSON, LOGAN, WOZNIAK and WONDERLING. Prior Printer's Nos. 677, 1282.Printer's No. 1324. An Act amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, defining "corrections officer"; further providing for use of force in law enforcement; in theft and related offenses, defining "firearm"; and providing for firearm tracing.

HB 289 Prior Printer's Nos. 331, 2053.Printer's No. 2263. An Act amending the act of June 3, 1937 (P.L.1333, No.320), known as the Pennsylvania Election Code, further providing for expenses of county boards and of primaries and elections to be paid by counties, for the date of the general primary and for absentee electors files and lists.

HB 1530 Prior Printer's Nos. 1876, 2182, 2285.Printer's No. 2298. An Act amending Title 66 (Public Utilities) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in restructuring of electric utility industry, further providing for duties of electric distribution companies.

SB 97 By Senators D. WHITE, ARMSTRONG, CORMAN, EARLL, PUNT, RAFFERTY, BRUBAKER, WOZNIAK, PIPPY, BROWNE, STACK, REGOLA and WONDERLING. Prior Printer's Nos. 132, 1166, 1217, 1275.Printer's No. 1285. An Act amending the act of March 4, 1971 (P.L.6, No.2), known as the Tax Reform Code of 1971, in sales and use tax, further defining "manufacture"; further providing, in sales and use tax, for refund of sales tax attributed to bad debt; in personal income tax, for operational provisions; in capital stock franchise tax, for the definition of "capital stock value" and, in bank and trust company shares tax, for ascertainment of taxable amount and exclusion of United States obligations; providing for a film production tax credit and conferring powers and imposing duties upon the Department of Community and Economic Development and for a resource enhancement and protection tax credit; further providing, in neighborhood assistance tax credit, for definitions, for tax credit and for grant of tax credit; and providing for pass-through entities and powdered metallurgy parts.

HB 1235 Prior Printer's Nos. 1519, 2099.Printer's No. 2235. An Act amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for grading the offense of impersonating a public servant, for exceptions to the prohibition of interception and disclosure of certain communications, for challenge to criminal history records, for review of challenge and for appeals.


HB 1253 Prior Printer's Nos. 1548, 1986, 2019, 2176.Printer's No. 2296. An Act amending the act of May 22, 1951 (P.L.317, No.69), known as The Professional Nursing Law, further providing for scope of practice for certified registered nurse practitioners; and providing for professional liability.

HB 1254 Prior Printer's Nos. 1549, 1994, 2289.Printer's No. 2295. An Act amending the act of May 22, 1951 (P.L.317, No.69), known as The Professional Nursing Law, providing for the definition of "clinical nurse specialist"; and providing for clinical nurse specialists.

HB 202 Prior Printer's Nos. 235, 2283.Printer's No. 2286. An Act amending Title 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for conditions of permits and security for damages; and extending provisions regarding reports and removal of abandoned vehicles to cities of the second class.

HB 1251 By Representatives READSHAW, EACHUS, KORTZ, SIPTROTH, TANGRETTI, THOMAS, WOJNAROSKI, FABRIZIO and CALTAGIRONE. Prior Printer's Nos. 1539, 1984, 2174.Printer's No. 2287. An Act amending the act of December 20, 1985 (P.L.457, No.112), known as the Medical Practice Act of 1985, further providing for physician assistants.

HB 1252 By Representatives READSHAW, EACHUS, KORTZ, SIPTROTH, TANGRETTI, THOMAS, WOJNAROSKI, FABRIZIO and CALTAGIRONE. Prior Printer's Nos. 1540, 1985, 2175.Printer's No. 2288. An Act amending the act of October 5, 1978 (P.L.1109, No.261), known as the Osteopathic Medical Practice Act, further providing for physician assistants.

HB 1255 Prior Printer's Nos. 1550, 1987, 2177.Printer's No. 2290. An Act amending the act of December 20, 1985 (P.L.457, No.112), known as the Medical Practice Act of 1985, providing for the definition of "legend drug"; and further providing for nurse-midwife license.

SB 690 By Senators WAUGH, PUNT, STOUT, McILHINNEY, MADIGAN, ORIE, CORMAN, ROBBINS, RAFFERTY, MUSTO, ERICKSON, O'PAKE, RHOADES, FOLMER, BROWNE, ARMSTRONG, BOSCOLA, EICHELBERGER, DINNIMAN, WASHINGTON and PIPPY. Prior Printer's Nos. 1012, 1167.Printer's No. 1290. An Act establishing the Resource Enhancement and Protection Tax Credit Program for the stewardship of agricultural lands and riparian corridors; creating opportunities for private investment in best management practices and riparian corridors; establishing a sponsorship program; authorizing the transferability of the tax credits; and imposing powers and duties on the Department of Revenue and the State Conservation Commission.

SB 917 By Senator WOZNIAK. Printer's No. 1106. An Act authorizing and directing the Department of General Services, with the approval of the Governor, to grant and convey to CDM Ebensburg, LLC, certain lands situate in Cambria Township, Cambria County.

SB 989 By Senator PICCOLA. Printer's No. 1207. An Act authorizing the Department of General Services, with the approval of the Governor, to grant and convey to the Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union, certain lands situate in Susquehanna Township, Dauphin County.

HB 896 Prior Printer's Nos. 1049, 1403, 1844, 2178.Printer's No. 2238. An Act amending the act of April 12, 1951 (P.L.90, No.21), known as the Liquor Code, further providing for definitions, for special occasion permits, for wine auction permits, for limiting number of retail licenses to be issued in each county, for unlawful acts relative to liquor, malt and brewed beverages and licensees, for qualifications for licenses, for applications for certain licenses and for limited wineries.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

New PA Congressmen in the News

I've bookmarked a few articles and they seem to group together nicely, so here is a trio of views on the most recent Democratic Congressional representatives from our general area.

From Salena Zito of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, "The Battle for Pennsylvania," (7/01). Excerpt:

So who's vulnerable?

Not Patrick Murphy. He probably has done the most to establish himself as a quality incumbent who deserves re-election -- certainly more so than the other three. From the work he has done pursuing a national veterans cemetery in Bucks County to securing $1.1 million for Delaware River flood prevention and repairs, he gets the importance of paying attention to local issues. The only veteran of the Iraq war serving in Congress, he also co-authored legislation for a 21st Century GI Bill of Rights.

Probably not Joe Sestak either. His seat in the southeast near Philadelphia has been held by a Democrat in the past and, based on the district's voting performance, likely will be very hard for the GOP to win back.

She thinks Chris Carney is the most endangered with Jason Altmire in the maybe category.

Next up, Chris Cillizza writing for the Washington Post's blog, The Fix, "The Line: GOP Hopes to 'ROMP' Its Way Back to House Majority" (6/29). Excerpt:

Pennsylvania's 10th District (D): U.S. Attorney Tom Marino's decision not to challenge freshman Rep. Chris Carney (D) robbed Republicans of their strongest potential candidate. But wealthy businessman Dan Meuser's (R) almost-certain candidacy means Republicans still plan to seriously contest this seat. By the numbers, it's a district Republicans should have never lost -- Bush won it with 60 percent of the vote in 2004. But former Rep. Don Sherwood's (R) personal problems dominated the '06 race, helping to hand Carney a victory. The freshman Democrat will face a much tougher race this time around.

Zito thinks Gerlach and Dent are on the Democratic hit list; Cillizza presents proof with both of them the ROMP list (seats the GOP has decided next extra help in campaigning)

And last but not least, from Greg Giroux at Cqpolitics.com, "Freshmen, Southerners Among Leading House Dem Dissidents," (7/09), Democrats with the lowest party unity scores (thus able to present themselves as independents):

6. Jason Altmire, Pennsylvania’s 4th (75.7 percent). Altmire was an upset winner in 2006 over three-term Republican Rep. Melissa A. Hart, who has not ruled out a comeback attempt in 2008 in a district that includes suburbs of Pittsburgh and which is socially conservative and economically populist.

Also considering a House bid is Lynn Swann, the former Pittsburgh Steelers football great who was the Republican nominee for governor last year: Though Democratic Gov. Edward G. Rendell won an overall landslide, Swann finished narrowly ahead in the 4th District.

Ron Francis, a former county commissioner, already is running for the Republican nomination.


11. Christopher Carney, Pennsylvania’s 10th (81.4 percent). Carney has one of the more Republican-leaning districts among first-term Democrats, and was greatly aided in 2006 by the fact that Republican incumbent Don Sherwood was badly damaged by a sex scandal. There is a long list of potential GOP candidates, though Democrats took note recently that the Republican field will not include U.S. Attorney Thomas A. Marino — a top prospect who recently said that he will not challenge Carney.

then further down the list

14. Patrick Murphy, Pennsylvania’s 8th (83.2 percent). Murphy, an Iraq war veteran who ousted one-term Republican Rep. Michael G. Fitzpatrick in 2006, has been a vocal party loyalist in promoting a redeployment of U.S. troops from that conflict. He is somewhat less party-line on economic policy. His district, which is dominated by suburban Bucks County north of Philadelphia, is trending more Democratic than Republican.

January Pennsylvania House Journals

The Pennsylvania State House of Representatives met in full session 8 times in January, 2007. This is a brief summary of what was reported in the House Journals for those days. Much of the Journal is taken up with lists of bills voted on without discussion, lists of bills referred to committee, congratulatory notes regarding visitors, and the like. Only pithy discussions or things that randomly catch my eye are noted here.

Jan. 16 (2 p.)
Jan. 17 (1 p.)
Jan. 22 (1 p.)
Jan. 23 (2 p.)
Jan. 24 (1 p.)
Jan. 29 (5 p.)
Jan. 30 (31 p.)
Jan. 31 (6 p.)

Jan. 2
p. 5-12 Dennis O'Brien nominated as Speaker of the House. Bill DeWeese speaks. Much discussion. Since the House had not passed rules for itself yet the Masonic Manual was used to make parliamentary decisions, which usually required a lot of thumbing around.
p. 12 vote on Speaker
p. 13 Josh Shapiro and Barbara McIlvaine Smith escort O'Brien to the rostrum [blogger's note: this custom alarms me -- are they afraid he will be mugged in route?]
p. 15, in a comment from Bill DeWeese: "In the last few years, while it has changed in the business world, the world of the Internet, the world of communications, of bloggers and all of those reams of writing that are out there, out world that we conduct business has changed."
Jan. 29 p. 3, teh number of minority party members on committees increased
Jan. 30, a long list of committees and membership on those committees.

Furloughed Workers May Get Time Not Money

In today's Patriot News, Brett Lieberman (of Pennsyltucky Politics fame) writes in "State looks for ways to pay those furloughed,"

An extra snow day, a personal day or other administrative leave are some of the options the Rendell administration is considering as a way of compensating the nearly 24,000 workers that Gov. Ed Rendell ordered furloughed Sunday night when a budget deal remained elusive.

In other words, they are likely to be paid in time not money. To those with flush bank accounts this might be okay, but not all state workers are in that situation:

PennDOT employee Chiffon Saunders, 21, of Harrisburg, agreed.

"I work from paycheck to paycheck, and I usually don't miss days from work," Saunders said. "I have a 6-month-old son and he needs to eat and the bills need to be paid ... and them keeping me out for a day" will cost about $100, she estimated.

What has bugged her the most, Saunders added, is that those that caused the impasse -- the governor and lawmakers -- will all be paid in full retroactively once the budget is enacted. Paying workers affected by their standoff only seems right, she said.

She has a point there.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Murphy Resolution on Israel Passes

From the inbox:

Today, the House of Representatives passed Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Murphy’s (D-8th District) resolution that repudiates the University and College Union (UCU) of the United Kingdom for their boycott of Israeli academic institutions. This was Rep. Murphy’s first resolution to receive a vote on the floor of the House and it received unanimous bipartisan support. The bill – H.Res 467 – was passed out of the Foreign Affairs Committee late last month, clearing a key hurdle in its path toward a vote on the House floor. Murphy’s legislation condemns the UCU and urges governments and educators throughout the world to reaffirm the importance of academic freedom and open dialogue. The resolution also urges the general members of the UCU to reject the call of the union’s leadership to boycott Israel both economically and culturally. In a similar move recently, the Association of University Teachers and National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education passed resolutions in 2005 and 2006 supporting a boycott of Israeli academia. Those two unions later merged and formed the UCU. Britain ’s National Union of Journalists called for a boycott of Israeli goods earlier this year. The resolution passed the House unanimously by a margin of 414 to 0.

November House Journals

I have, sadly, been neglecting the PA House and Senate Journals, something I hope to rectify in the near future. The House releases their Journals at a slower pace than the Senate so let’s catch them up first.

In November, 2006, the Pennsylvania House met in full session on seven days,

Nov. 13 (41 p.)
Nov. 14 (16 p.)
Nov. 15 (34 p.)
Nov. 20 (37 p.)
Nov. 21 (41 p.)
Nov. 22 (3 p.)
Nov. 27 (3 p.)

A number of those representatives who were taking their leave of the House for whatever reason, chose to make a farewell speech. Some of these were quite classy, some were humorous, some were neither. Below you will find mention of those farewells as well as any interesting conversations or topics discussed.

The page numbers are to the pdf files and not to the printed pages unless otherwise stated. Most of the Journals are taken up with lists of bills shuffled off to committee or voted on with little discussion.

Nov. 13
p. 13, Farewell of Mr. Pistella, very classy
p. 14-16, Mr. Leh, very classy
p. 22-23 Vitali and O’Brien on mandatory sentences
p. 24 Farewell of Mr. Tigue
p. 37-40 inheritance tax

Nov. 14
p. 11-12 Farewell of Mr. Maitland. Near the beginning of his speech he says, “Two years ago in the general election I got 21,000 votes, 75% of the vote and in this past May’s primary I lost by 3,000 votes to 2500. How does that happen? Please permit me to express my frustration.”
p. 14-15 Mr. Birmelin, very classy

Nov. 15
p. 4 Farewell of Mr. T. Stevenson, very classy, points out bills passed, etc.
p. 4-5 Mr. Gruitza, classy
p. 5-6 Mr. Ruffing, mentions he has an autistic son and acknowledges the work of Denny O’Brien in that regard.
p. 6 Mrs. Lederer, mentions she is the fourth member of the Lederer family to serve in the House since 1948, all from the same city block in Philadelphia. She ends with a quite from Helen Keller, worth repeating: “Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness – it is not attained through self gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”
p. 8-10 Mr. Flick, mostly very classy, acknowledging and thanking colleagues and staff, but we find this very odd note on his staff [names redacted]: [Name] has been with me for 24 years, and there have been no sexual harassment cases whatsoever. So I thank [name] and [name]. Back in the district, [name] and [name] have been working with me. [Name] has been there 24 years, and we have a lot of sexual harassment charges, and I filed them all.”
p. 12-13 sentencing guidelines
p. 17-18 Farewell of Mr. McIlhinney
p. 24-25 discussion on whether only ordained clergy as opposed to other church workers can consider communications regarding child abuse confidential
p. 26-28 discussion on the liability of employers for child abuse committed by their employees and the statute of limitations.
p. 29 rules regarding airplane logs for the governor’s plane
p. 29-30 smoking in casinos
p. 32, kudos to the governor. Note this, part of a statement by Mr. Sather: “This amendment amends Act 2 of 1971, the Tax Code, by excluding the active State duty for emergency pay of Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers from the State income tax. This identical language passed the House and Senate under HB 2282 but was vetoed by the Governor this past weekend due to a nonrelated hotel tax issue which was amended into the bill on the floor some time ago. That has been removed from this amendment, and the amendment goes just to the basis of income from the United States government or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for active State duty for emergency within or outside of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania shall not be taxed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

Nov. 20
p. 4-5 Farewell of Zub, submitted but not read
p. 5 Mr. Grell asks his fellow representatives to sign a card for a Missouri State Representative who was injured while on active duty in Iraq.
p. 5-6 Farwell of Mr. McNaughton. This was the most graceful and touching of all the farewell speeches. Picking out a few sentences and taking them out of context would not do them justice. If you only read one of these, read this one.
p. 7-9 Mr. Wright. He mentions plainly that he and others in the chamber were elected because they were relatives, frequently sons of previous representatives and thus had good name recognition. He also takes the media to task and says people do not understand how the legislature works.
p. 9-10 Mr. Fleagle, who took paramedic training some years ago and plans to work in that field now. Godspeed Mr. Fleagle.
p. 13-14 liability of landowners in regards to hunting
p. 21-22 Farewell of Mrs. Crahalla, several negative comments about the media
p. 22 Mr. Flaherty
p. 22-24 Mr. Baldwin
p. 24-28 discussion of tort reform?
p. 29-33 roadside collecting for charity
p. 34-36 environmental regulations

Nov. 21
p. 7-8 Farewell of Mr. Allen
p. 8-9 Mr. Wilt
p. 9-10 Mr. Blaum
p. 16 Mr. Gannon, classy
p. 16-18 Mr. Bruce Smith
p. 19-23 discussion of the Pennsylvania Construction Code
p. 24-25 legislation on amusement tax, written to exempt Kennywood from paying tax to schools and the municipality.
p. 35 Mr. Kirkland says “I just hope and pray, Mr. Speaker, that the members of this body continue to be supportive of one another and not become the best or animal or want-to-be gods on the Senate side and being to continue to do things to being and continue to do things that will be disruptive, mean-spirited for no reason at all.” [bloggers note: Mr. Kirkland was upset, and rightfully so, in the October Journals, because he had proposed legislation to name a highway in his district after a particular pioneer official and the Senate had changed the designee.]
p. 36-39 free liquor in casinos.