Friday, November 30, 2007

weekly legislative update

As it turns out the only bill that passed the Pennsylvania House or Senate this week was SB 1 in the Senate, the Open Records Law:

SB 1 By Senators PILEGGI, SCARNATI, MELLOW, ORIE, KASUNIC, MUSTO, RAFFERTY, O'PAKE, TOMLINSON, M. WHITE, ERICKSON, WAUGH, FOLMER, COSTA, EARLL, VANCE, BOSCOLA, CORMAN, WONDERLING, GORDNER, RHOADES, D. WHITE, PIPPY, MADIGAN, ARMSTRONG, BAKER, C. WILLIAMS, BRUBAKER, BROWNE, REGOLA, DINNIMAN and EICHELBERGER. Prior Printer's Nos. 772, 1509, 1553, 1562. Printer's No. 1583. An Act providing for access to public information, for a designated open-records officer in each Commonwealth agency, local agency, judicial agency and legislative agency, for procedure, for appeal of agency determination, for judicial review and for an Open Records Clearinghouse; imposing penalties; providing for reporting by State-related institutions; requiring the posting of certain State contract information on the Internet; and making related repeals.

PICPA, in their weekly update, reports that another bill, SB 390, passed the Senate on 11/27, but it didn't come through on the daily update.

Senate Dems have a new weekly update (with one item on it -- SB01)

House Republicans weigh in.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Philly's Inspector General

Today Michael Nutter named three women to important ethics-related posts. Heard in the Hall has the scoop. The Next Mayor has video. Amy Kurland will be the city's new inspector general. Nutter took a moment to mention his high opinion of current inspector general and friend of the blogosphere Seth Williams. Like some other area bloggers I cut my blog teeth on Williams' 2005 campaign for District Attorney and have followed his career with interest.

Young Philly Politics has some commentary on the IG's office. They have also posted Seth's press release, reprinted in it's entirety below:

Inspector General R. Seth Williams on Mayor-Elect Nutter’s appointment of Philadelphia’s new Inspector General

As Mayor-Elect, it is Michael Nutter’s prerogative to make mayoral appointments of his own choosing, and I applaud his selection of Amy Kurland to serve as Philadelphia’s next Inspector General.

I want to first thank Mayor John F. Street for allowing me the opportunity to serve the city I love as Inspector General for the past two years. It has been a position of great challenge and great rewards, and I will always cherish the time I spent here in the service of my fellow Philadelphians.

I also gratefully thank the hard working men and women of the Office of the Inspector General, whose tireless dedication and commitment to the citizens of Philadelphia too often goes ignored. I am honored to have worked with public servants of such outstanding caliber.

When I received this appointment in November 2005, I decided that my tenure would be short. I also knew that few Philadelphians had ever heard of the Inspector General’s Office. With the full support of the Mayor’s Office, we embarked on a citywide campaign to get residents involved in the administration’s anti-corruption endeavors. I deputized private citizens in every corner of our beloved City. Now, the public is a full partner in our efforts to investigate and prevent corruption, fraud and waste. Together, we have begun to reverse Philadelphia’s “corrupt and contented” image, restoring the public’s confidence in city government. The public now knows this office exists. Due to our visible, vocal and aggressive work many cases of misconduct have been prosecuted and hopefully countless more prevented.

I pledge my full support to Mayor-Elect Nutter and will do all that I can to ensure a smooth transition with Inspector General Kurland. I am confident the new Inspector General will continue the progress that our office has made in the past two years, and will expand our vision for a corruption-free city government, and achieve even greater success.

I have more challenges and opportunities to explore, and I look forward to serving my fellow Philadelphians again in the near future.

Shapiro on Reform

State Rep Josh Shapiro has entered the blogosphere. He has a statement on reform cross posted at the PADems site, as well as on Keystone Politics.

Tom Quinn Kicks Off Campaign

Tom Quinn, Democratic candidate for the 165th house district, held a fundraiser this week that brought out State Reps. Greg Vitali, Bryan Lentz, and Daylin Leach. That's a good way to start off.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Few Legislative Notes

The Pennsylvania State Senate passed SB 1, the Open Records law today. I would explain it to you but it's best to read tomorrow's paper and see what people who actually understand it say.

Also, from the inbox:

In our commonwealth, a vote on The Compassionate Assistance for Rape Emergencies Act, aka The CARE Act or House Bill 288, is on the PA House voting calendar for Monday, December 3. Unfortunately, 19 amendments have been introduced, the vast majority of which do not ensure complete or compassionate care to all victims. Some of the amendments would actually ensure a lesser standard of care than the regulations approved by Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) on October 17, which standardize emergency care of sexual assault victims in Pennsylvania hospitals.

If you have strong feelings about this, let your rep know before Monday.

Dave Steil to Retire

The Bucks County Courier Times is reporting that State Rep Dave Steil (R-31) is retiring. (See "Steil won't seek re-election," by Kori Walters. The Liberal Doomsayer also weighs in on this topic. Steil co-chaired the Speaker's Reform Commission with State Rep. Josh Shapiro.

PA Dems Delegate Selection

The Pennsylvania Democratic Party has announced the selection process to be used in picking the state delegates for the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Training sessions and procedures are listed on the padems site. Note that only 103 delegates will be chosen from the entire state, apportioned by congressional district

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

CQPolitics House Race Ratings

CQPolitics has rated the congressional house races for 2008. Here is where the Pennsylvania races are in the charts:

by congressional district
01 - Bob Brady (D), safe
02 - Chaka Fattah (D), safe
03 - Phil English (R), leans Republican
04 - Jason Altmire (D), leans Democratic
05 - John Peterson (R), safe
06 - Jim Gerlach (R), leans Republican
07 - Joe Sestak (D), safe
08 - Patrick Murphy (D), Democrat favored
09 - Bill Shuster (R), safe
10 - Chris Carney (D), leans Democratic
11 - Paul Kanjorski (D), safe
12 - John Murtha (D), safe
13 - Allyson Schwartz (D), safe
14 - Mike Doyle (D), safe
15 - Charlie Dent (R), Republican favored
16 - Joe Pitts (R), safe
17 - Tim Holden (D), safe
18 - Tim Murphy (R), Republican favored
19 - Todd Platts (R), safe

Pennsylvania Society 2007 Schedule

Whoever is behind the curtain over at PoliticsPA has the schedule of events for this year's Pennsylvania Society meeting in New York. This year the bash is on December 7, 8, and 9. Once again, my invitations to the various receptions and parties were lost in the mail. In previous years PCN has broadcast some of the public events and may again this year, but the schedule hasn't been posted that far ahead yet.

Musical Notes

A few items for the musically inclined:

Could be mistaken but I think I saw Anthony Riley, noted area singer, humming a few notes in a train station this week.

While Anthony was away or otherwise occupied his spot at the crossroads was kept warm by the Audible Eye who also plays in assorted city venues. He can sing, play the guitar, and the cymbals of his drum set all at the same time. He can also entertain a variety of audiences. I've seen him keep adults of all ages interested and he is great with kids, keeping a few tambourines and maracas on hand to get the little ones involved (and their parents charmed at the same time).

According to a discarded flyer the Sixth Annual Brian Setzer Orchestra Christmas Extravaganza will be at the Keswick Theatre tomorrow, Nov. 29th, at 7:30. I've seen the orchestra on tv and remember The Stray Cats fondly. This is definitely a show worth seeing. Sorry not to provide more notice.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Josh Shapiro in Philly Mag AGAIN?!

The December issue of Philadelphia Magazine is devoted to Good. When I saw it on the newstand last week I gave it a quick glance, after all, who expects to find politics in a special issue on Good. However, I gave it a second glance today and there is a lengthy article on noted reformer State Rep Josh Shapiro (D-153). Check out "Politics: Cleaning House," by Benjamin Wallace, pp. 90-100.

Another Bryan Lentz Update

Two items relating to Rep. Bryan Lentz (D-161):

State Representative Bryan R. Lentz, D-Delaware, will be hosting a forum on family caregiving, with a focus on Alzheimer’s on November 29th at the Swarthmore Borough Community Room, 121 Park Avenue in Swarthmore. The event will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The event, which is being called “Family Caregivers: Focus on Alzheimer’s Forum,” will feature two guest speakers, Claire Day and Judith Neale. Claire Day, who is a staff member of the Alzheimer’s Association of Delaware Valley, will provide audience members with tips on how to care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. Judith Neale, the Executive Director of Senior Care Cooperative, will be discussing family caregiving. Representative Lentz will also be providing a legislative input on Alzheimer’s legislation and requesting suggestions for possible caregiving legislation in Harrisburg.

On another matter, Lentz wants to make sure any of his constituents are aware of the LIHEAP program, available statewide, to help those in need pay heating bills. For more info see and the Department of Public Welfare page on LIHEAP.

As a personal note, for several years Mr. J and I have participated in the MEAF program, adding $5.00 to our monthly PECO bill. Here is a description of the program:

Matching Energy Assistance Fund (MEAF)
MEAF is an energy assistance program that enables PECO Energy to assist low-income, residential customers in its service territory with bill payment. MEAF is a customer pledge program in which PECO matches customer contributions.

Five dollars may not sound like a lot. It only adds up to $60 a year, $120 with PECO's match, but that might pay somebody's bill for a month. If you are looking for painless ways to contribute to those with fewer material blessings, consider having a few bucks added to your PECO bill every month. You probably won't feel it and someone else might truly benefit.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

weekly legislative update addendum

When the daily legislative updates come in I file them in a folder named legis and then review them Friday evenings to compile the weekly legislative update. Alas, in the excitement and planning for the Thanksgiving holiday Tuesday's daily update wasn't filed; it stayed in the inbox and therefore wasn't included in Friday's post.

Here is the list of bills that passed the Pennsylvania House or Senate on Tuesday.

Apologies for the earlier incomplete posting.

HB 895 Prior Printer's No. 1048.Printer's No. 2748. An Act amending Title 23 (Domestic Relations) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for exception for adopted children; providing for sibling visitation; and making an editorial change.

HB 1961 Prior Printer's No. 2719.Printer's No. 2832. An Act amending Title 23 (Domestic Relations) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for information relating to prospective child-care personnel.

SB 117 By Senators COSTA, BOSCOLA, FONTANA, TARTAGLIONE, KITCHEN, STOUT, EARLL, RAFFERTY, ERICKSON, O'PAKE, C. WILLIAMS, BROWNE, FERLO, LOGAN and WASHINGTON. Prior Printer's Nos. 156, 1429, 1457.Printer's No. 1466. An Act amending Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for the establishment and operation of the Juvenile Court Judges' Commission; prescribing its powers and duties; and repealing provisions relating to Juvenile Court Judges' Commission.

SB 915 Prior Printer's Nos. 1264, 1416, 1430.Printer's No. 1436. An Act amending Title 51 (Military Affairs) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for the establishment of a grant program for designated accredited veterans' service organizations, for defraying the costs for wages, benefits, training and equipment and for improving outreach and delivery of services to Pennsylvania's veterans.


HB 43 Prior Printer's No. 68.Printer's No. 2870. An Act amending Title 27 (Environmental Resources) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for uniform environmental covenants.

SB 266 Prior Printer's Nos. 303, 1487.Printer's No. 1554. An Act providing for a report on potential climate change impacts and economic opportunities for this Commonwealth, for duties of the Department of Environmental Protection, for an inventory of greenhouse gases, for establishment of Climate Change Advisory Committee, for a voluntary registry of greenhouse gas emissions and for a climate change action plan.

SB 777 By Senators BROWNE, BOSCOLA, ERICKSON, COSTA, FERLO, LOGAN, O'PAKE and ORIE. Prior Printer's Nos. 874, 1456.Printer's No. 1560. An Act amending the act of May 16, 1923 (P.L.207, No.153), referred to as the Municipal Claim and Tax Lien Law, changing the date from which, and the rate of which, interest is charged on certain delinquent taxes and other municipal claims; providing for the duties of third-party collectors and for adoption of ordinance for the exclusive collection of taxes; further providing for locality index; modernizing the law relating to collection of such taxes and claims; and providing for severability.

SB 1051 By Senator EARLL. Prior Printer's Nos. 1355, 1472.Printer's No. 1561. An Act amending Title 53 (Municipalities Generally) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in municipal authorities, further providing for governing board and for airport authorities.

Energy Bill News

The good people at Save Our Environment, a impressive coalition of national organizations, would like all of us to let our congressional representatives know that we support an energy bill with strong standards for fuel economy and renewable energy. They have collected a list of supporting documentation, including a not to be missed letter from the Car Guys. For the Facebook inclined there is a group to join.

Holiday Shopping Suggestion: Jane of Pemberley

From time to time between now and Christmas I'll be posting short items on holiday shopping suggestions. I don't have ties to any of these products, beyond thinking they are nifty.

One or twice I've thought about setting up a shop at Cafe Press for Jane related merchandise, vanity and all. It wouldn't be worth the effort and the idea passes quickly.

However, if you would want something with a Jane logo on it, please support the fine folks at the Republic of Pemberley who bring all things Austen to the web. I plan on getting a What Would Jane Blog mug. I might pick up a "Give me an occupation or I shall run mad" t-shirt while I'm there. ("I blame Jane" is another available slogan.)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

PA in the WSJ

This is a list of articles regarding Pennsylvania in this 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

Kanjo does the honors this week. Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-11) is quoted in “Mortgage giant fuels worries with steep loss,” by James R. Hagerty and Damian Paletta (11/21). Here is the relevant paragraph:

Rep. Paul Kanjorksi (D-Pa), who chairs the House subcommittee overseeing Fannie and Freddie, said the increased capital requirements imposed on Fannie and Freddie in recent years by Ofheo are necessary. “By relying on the regulator’s judgment, I hope to avert repeating the mistakes of the savings-and-loan crisis,” said Mr. Kanjorski.

Sen. Casey also makes a passing appearance this week. In “Democrats rework the rhetoric,” by John D. McKinnon (11/23) we find this:
Ms. Vanderslice and a partner started a consultancy, Common Good Strategies, in 2005. Candidates who employed them performed well in the 2006 cycle, including Bob Casey, who won an easy victory over Rick Santorum for Senate in Pennsylvania and involved the theme for a major speech.

Not a politician, but a government agency, the PA Turnpike makes an appearance in “Is family leave act too soft or too tough?” by Kris Maher (11/21):
At the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, FMLA requests around holidays and weekends are known as “get out of jail free” cards according to one comment sent to the Labor Department, because there is no recourse that “we have as an employer to enforce these types of abuses/misuses of leave.”

PA Businesses

H. J. Heinz Co. gets a brief mention in “Tainted ginger’s long trip from China to U.S. stores,” by Nicholas Zamiska and David Kesmodel (11/19)

Other PA

You may know that “The Office” is set in Scranton but you may not appreciate the efforts they show goes to include authentic detail. According to “Clinging to the rolodex,” by Katherine Rosman (11/24), property master Philip Shea flew to Scranton to collect, among other things, local business cards to be put into one character’s rolodex.

Other Interesting Tidbits

Nothing really caught my eye.

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).


Nothing struck me this week.



HB 143 Prior Printer's Nos. 169, 2017, 2530.Printer's No. 2589. An Act amending the act of July 2, 1984 (P.L.561, No.112), known as the Pennsylvania Conservation Corps Act, further providing for supervisors.

HB 958 HB 958 By Representatives CRUZ and YOUNGBLOOD. Prior Printer's No. 1124.Printer's No. 2803. An Act amending Title 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for the judicial imposition of community service as a penalty.

HB 1723 Printer's No. 2282. An Act designating the bridge on State Route 322 joining Clearfield and Centre Counties as the Veterans' Memorial Bridge.

HB 1863 Printer's No. 2549. An Act designating a bridge on PA Route 120 crossing the railroad tracks at the east end of Renovo Borough in Clinton County, Pennsylvania, as the Western Clinton County Veterans Bridge.


SB 390 Prior Printer's Nos. 438, 1489.Printer's No. 1540. An Act amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for the offense of phishing.

SB 1013 By Senators GREENLEAF, RAFFERTY, BOSCOLA, O'PAKE, RHOADES, MUSTO and FONTANA. Printer's No. 1266. An Act amending Title 23 (Domestic Relations) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in liability for tortious acts of children, further providing for monetary limits of liability.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Off Topic: The Sounds of Saturn

The wonders of the universe never cease to amaze and awe me.

I ran across this recently and listening to it did indeed, as the site promised, give me goosebumps. The Cassini-Huygens spacecraft has recorded the natural sounds emanating from Saturn.

That's right, you can listen to the sounds of Saturn.

Very cool.

(hat tip ACM).

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

On to the Next!: State Treasurer

As you have probably read, current Montgomery County Commissioner Tom Ellis is throwing his hat in the ring for the state treasurer position.

See "Head of Montco board to run for Pa. treasurer," by Cheryl McEvoy, Inquirer, 11/15/07

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving Video on PADems Site

The Pennsylvania Democratic Party has posted a great seasonal video on their website. Definitely worth a look. It is from the Miniature Earth group. If the world were defined as a community of 100 people only 25 would have a bed, a roof over their heads, and a closet. Very well done.

Follow Up on Gun-Related Bills

None of the three gun related bills I wrote about earlier this week made it out of committee today, despite a visit to the House Judiciary Committee from the governor. However, one other semi-related bill did. It increases the jail time for people who knowingly shoot at police officers. Read HB 2060 for yourself.

Monday, November 19, 2007

ERN Wants Montco Voter Feedback

From the inbox, the Election Reform Network would like to hear from Montgomery County voters.

Did the polls open promptly at 7 am and stay open until 8 pm? Was your polling place adequately staffed? Were poll workers knowledgeable and helpful? Were there problems with the machines? If you were a poll worker, were there difficulties in opening the back of the machines with the keys provided? Did there appear to be registration foul-ups, e.g., people in the same house registered in two different precincts or not registered at all, while claiming to have registered at the same time? Were there long lines or signs of attempts at voter intimidation? Did things run smoothly at your polling place, or was there confusion when questions arose?

Please let us know how things went, whether you worked at the polls or just came to vote. Include the number of your election district, or at least the site of your polling place.

There is a "contact us" page on their website ( that I think you can use to leave comments answering their questions.

Remember, they are only looking for Montgomery County voters right now. Maybe other areas will be requested later?

My polling place was quiet. The only problem was of our own making. Since we had some local offices to vote on as well as the statewide ones I made up a list of candidates running for various offices for Mr. J and me to work with. But just one copy so I had to wait for him to finish voting before I could get the list back. There was another booth open but I told the poll worker I had to wait for my list. He picked up a discarded GOP sample ballot that had been left on the poll workers' table and offered it to me; I told him that was not the list I needed. Chances are he wasn't supposed to do that but we'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he was just trying to be helpful.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Bang Bang, Shoot'em Up!

This Tuesday the governor is taking the unusual step of speaking before the House Judiciary Committee. The subject will be a series of gun related bills. For those who have not been following the subject in the papers, I have provided brief descriptions of the bills with one or more points for and against. This is limited to my understanding of the arguments; please keep in mind that my understanding is certain to be incomplete and could also be faulty.

Should you have strong feelings on this matter, and especially if your representative is on the House Judiciary Committee, Monday would be the day to let them know, or early Tuesday.

You can link to the bills themselves for a full description.

House Bill 18, sponsored by State Representative Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia), would further provide for limitations on the regulation of firearms and ammunition by local municipalities. Includes wording on how these regulations may be made and what kinds of regulations may be made.

For: This would allow areas with serious crime problems (say, Philadelphia) to implement more stringent firearm regulations.

Against: Having different firearm regulations around the state would make it difficult, if not impossible, for legal owners of guns to keep track of what may be done where. Also, regulations that affect the sale of guns in one location (say, Philadelphia) would not stop people from walking across the city boundary and buying guns in surrounding counties.

House Bill 22, "one-gun-a-month" legislation, sponsored by State Representative John Myers (D-Philadelphia), prohibits citizens (but not dealers, collectors, security firms, those whose guns were stolen, or a number of other exceptions) from purchasing more than one handgun a month. Also calls for background checks on buyers.

For: will cut down on “straw purchases.”

Against: Restricts the rights of legal gun owners.

House Bill 29, "Lost or Stolen Firearms" legislation, sponsored by State Representative Jewell Williams (D-Philadelphia), would create a statewide registry of lost or stolen firearms and make it a crime to fail to report the loss or theft of a firearm to police within 24 hours of discovering the firearm missing.

For: This would prevent straw purchasers or criminals from saying guns that belong to them that were later involved in a crime had previously been lost or stolen

Against: Criminalizes those whose weapons have been lost or stolen.

For more information see:


Hand Gun Sanity (a project of CeaseFirePA)

Rendell puts gun divide to the test,” by Thomas Fitzgerald and Amy Worden, Inquirer 11/18

Rendell to speak to panel on gun control,” by Charles Thompson, Pennlive 11/16

(hat tips to CeaseFirePA and GrassrootsPA)

PA in the WSJ

This is a list of articles regarding Pennsylvania in this 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

Uh oh, Gov. Rendell gets the nod this week. In “How a business flop became political force,” by Ianthe Jeanne Dugan, John R. Emshwiller, Jonathan Cheng and Jim Carlton (11/12) Norman Hsu mentions Rendell’s support to nervous investors when Hsu’s questionable past and political bundling work becomes public. Later in the article it is mentioned that Hsu is a Wharton grad. Bet that won’t be mentioned on the next recruiting brochure.

PA Businesses

“Most of Hershey board replaced in shake-up, by Julie Jargon (11/12). See also, “Trust head may mold Hershey’s future,” by Julie Jargon (11/15)

Toll Brothers is not among the home builders cutting prices to move projects in progress, from “Home builders opt for mothballing,” by Michael Corkery (11/13)

Maple-Vail Book Manufacturing in York, PA is mentioned in “Writing the book on self-help: a publisher’s cautionary tale,” by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg (11/13)

Elliott Building Group is mentioned among the builders having filed for bankruptcy, in “When home builders hit the skids,” by Ruth Simon and Demba J. Dunham (11/14)

Other PA

Arthur Caplan, ethicist at Penn, is quoted in “Kidney shortage inspires a radical idea: organ sales,” by Laura Meckler (11/13)

Mark Zandi of Moody’s in West Chester is again quoted, this time in “House passes bill curbing mortgage brokers,” by Damian Paletta and James R. Hagerty (11/16)

Krisi Essick compiled a series of “Profiles in retirement” (11/17). One is of a Swarthmore grad, Walter Ford Carter. Another is of Irvin Borowsky who founded the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia.

Other Interesting Tidbits

Nothing caught my eye.

Friday, November 16, 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. They have some interesting things to say this week about a possible increase in the sales tax.

Other updates this week:

PA GOP Senate
PA Democratic Senate
PA GOP House
PA Democratic House


Nothing caught my eye this week.



HB 848 By Representatives HALUSKA, ARGALL, CLYMER, CREIGHTON, FABRIZIO, HERSHEY, HORNAMAN, W. KELLER, KIRKLAND, MYERS, NAILOR, YOUNGBLOOD, KORTZ, GEIST, COSTA, THOMAS, PALLONE and CALTAGIRONE. Prior Printer's Nos. 962, 1444.Printer's No. 2807. An Act amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949, further providing for the sale of unused and unnecessary lands and buildings; providing for State reimbursement for mobile classroom facilities; and making editorial changes.

HB 1025 Prior Printer's Nos. 1290, 1988.Printer's No. 2724. An Act amending the act of June 2, 1915 (P.L.736, No.338), known as the Workers' Compensation Act, further defining "occupational disease."

HB 1033 Prior Printer's No. 1205.Printer's No. 2664. An Act designating September 11 of each year as "Pennsylvania Emergency Responders' Day."

HB 1129 Prior Printer's No. 1380.Printer's No. 2773. An Act providing for sexual violence awareness education programs for new students matriculating to institutions of higher education or private licensed schools that receive public funding and for duties of the Department of Education. (vote on final passage reconsidered)

HB 1622 By Representatives READSHAW, BELFANTI, BLACKWELL, BRENNAN, KORTZ, KULA, MARSHALL, McCALL, MUNDY, PETRARCA, RUBLEY, McILVAINE SMITH, SOLOBAY, VULAKOVICH, YOUNGBLOOD, CALTAGIRONE, MILNE, COSTA, M. SMITH and GALLOWAY. Prior Printer's No. 2075.Printer's No. 2720. An Act amending the act of December 18, 1984 (P.L.1004, No.204), entitled "An act extending benefits to police chiefs or heads of police departments of political subdivisions of the Commonwealth who have been removed from bargaining units by the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board," further providing for salary of nonunion police officers.

HB 1693 By Representatives GERGELY, CALTAGIRONE, CAPPELLI, FRANKEL, GOODMAN, JOSEPHS, KORTZ, KULA, LONGIETTI, MAHONEY, McGEEHAN, READSHAW, SHIMKUS, SOLOBAY, YOUNGBLOOD, SIPTROTH and SEIP. Prior Printer's No. 2320.Printer's No. 2665. An Act amending the act of July 9, 1987 (P.L.220, No.39), known as the Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors Act, further defining "practice of social work"; defining "social worker"; providing for endorsement of out-of-State licenses; and further proscribing unlawful practice.


SB 721 By Senators PILEGGI, CORMAN, ERICKSON, PICCOLA, FONTANA, COSTA, RAFFERTY, M. WHITE, MUSTO, DINNIMAN, WAUGH, BAKER and WASHINGTON. Prior Printer's Nos. 788, 933, 1508.Printer's No. 1539. An Act amending the act of July 10, 1990 (P.L.404, No.98), known as the Real Estate Appraisers Certification Act, further providing for real estate appraiser certification required, for powers and duties of board, for application and qualifications, for reciprocity, for certification renewal and record, for disciplinary and corrective measures, for reinstatement, for reporting of multiple certification, for surrender of suspended or revoked certificate, for penalties, for injunctive relief and for scope of practice.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Stuart Rothenberg Says PA 7th & 8th Districts Safe

The Rothenberg Political Report today discussed the 30 congressional seats that switched from Republican to Democratic in the 2006 elections. Of those 30, he names 12 of them safe seats for the Democrats. Among the 12 are Pennsylvania's 7th district, held by Rep. Joe Sestak, and 8th district, held by Rep. Patrick Murphy.

Among the districts he thinks could return to the Republican column is the 10th, held by Rep. Chris Carney.

Read "Fate of '06 House Takeovers May Mirror '08 Party Prospects," 11/15

(hat tip to Capitol Ideas)

Josh Drobnyk at Pennsylvania Avenue writes on a similar theme today, "Murphy, Gerlach off the radar?"

Charlie Dent Feels Left Out

The Politico has a new-ish article on the SCHIP bill, which starts out with:

Democrats are considering giving Republicans a stark choice on the stalled children’s health bill: Cut a deal now or face a politically treacherous vote on the issue a month before next fall’s elections.

Pennsylvania's own Charles Dent, Congressman for the 15th district, has a complaint:

Republican Reps. Deborah Pryce of Ohio and Charles W. Dent of Pennsylvania sent a letter to Democratic leaders on Wednesday, complaining that “there is no official process for members of both parties to evaluate proposed changes to the various legislative proposals.”

This is a standard complaint from the minority party, especially late in the congressional session, when the schedule is tight and lots of legislation needs to be moved.

Read the entire article: "Republicans complain about SCHIP shutout," by Martin Kady II, Nov. 14

Regional Airport Forum Tomorrow

From the inbox:

Tomorrow the Delaware Valley Smart Growth Alliance is sponsoring a forum, "How to Capitalize on Our Region's Airports," from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the lower level of the PECO building. One of the topics to be discussed is State Rep. Bryan Lentz's proposal to create a Southeastern Pennsylvania Regional Airport Authority. Also appearing will be Tom Morr, president and CEO of Select Greater Philadelphia, and airport managers from Philadelphia, the Lehigh Valley, Atlantic City and Delaware.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

On to the Next: the 182nd House District

Another Pennsylvania State House race that is likely to be interesting is the Democratic primary for the 182nd district. The Philadelphia seat is currently held by Rep. Babette Josephs, who has represented the district since 1984.

In 2006 she faced a strong challenge from Larry Farnese, who appears to be going for a rematch.

Joining the fray is Peggy Banaszek.

Josephs has a long history and a number of supporters. Both Farnese and Banaszek have impressive resumes and issue statements on their websites. If have you are interested and have not met either, both also list events they will be attending.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Big News from Bill DeWeese

Democratic Majority Leader and State Rep. Bill DeWeese issued a press release today, notable for two reasons:

1) He shakes up his staff, with several long-time aides leaving, and hiring a number of other people, some of whom have impressive reform credentials.

2) The longest word in the press release, restructured, has only 12 letters, and the only two adjectives in his comments are administrative and additional. No unusual or uncommon words were used at all.

These two points, taken together, and not occurring on April 1, are somewhat baffling. If your favorite movie is "The Body Snatchers" you may go with the pod people theory. Those who prefer "A Christmas Carol" may favor a Tom Corbett as the ghost of Christmas future explanation.

See the Inquirer, "7 Democratic state House aids leave jobs," by Mario Cattabiani and Angela Couloumbis posted today, 11/13.

Monday, November 12, 2007

On to the Next!: The 165th House District

Republican William Adolph has represented Pennsylvania's 165th house district for about 20 years, since 1988. The district is in Delaware County, including Morton and parts of Marple, Radnor, and Springfield townships. I know absolutely nothing about him, but he has a fairly detailed website.

Democrat Tom Quinn has announced his intention to run for the office. I know absolutely nothing about him either, other than what is on his website. He has an interesting biography, background in theater, stay-at-home-dad, writer, history teacher and part-time professor. He has issue positions posted already.

Could be interesting.

A Reminder about

Some time ago I posted a note about a website, Time to refresh the memory, especially on Veterans' Day. A soldier serving abroad, but especially in war zones, can post a note on, telling how many contacts they might have and what those contacts need. Mostly, they ask for things like toothpaste and soap and maybe some snacks, crackers, beef jerky and the like. The site tells you what sort of things you can send and how to send them. You can put together a small parcel and mail it off to the contact listed -- they will distribute the parcels to the people they run into, especially those who don't get much mail from home. It is a fantastic service. They've tightened up security since last time I went there -- now you have to give up your address to get one from the site, sounds like a few people misbehaved so they want to be able to track you down if you do.

The site says the most important thing you can send are letters. As I was looking at the list of contacts I ran across a woman from a unit whose home base is in Pennsylvania. She sounded sad. So I signed up for her address and wrote her a letter. Even used one of my nifty Nancy Drew note cards.

Really, people, for as long as the war has been going on, if you haven't done something for the troops over there you definitely need to. Even if it is just writing a short note to someone. Don't know what to say? Here, how's this:


We really appreciate the work you are doing over there and the sacrifices you are making. Hope you are safely home soon.

[Your name here]

That is not hard. Better yet, get some friends together and assemble a few care packages. Or if you don't want to do that you can order one and it will be mailed for you. There are links on the anysoldier site for doing that.

I'm serious. Do something.

Off Topic: Odd Literary (Sci Fi) Juxtaposition

A new movie, "The Martian Child," is out. I probably won't get a chance to see it for years, if then. If you do, tell me what you think of it. You might not know that it is based on a book. The author, the man who adopts the boy, is David Gerrold. When I saw that name on the cover in the bookstore I just stopped in my tracks. All you Star Trek fans out there recognize that name, right? It's the tribbles guy. He wrote the episode, "The Trouble with Tribbles," and then followed up with a book by the same name. I read that book years ago. So I bought The Martian Child. How could I not? You will get short blog posts tonight instead of anything longer, as I am skipping around, reading snippets of the book.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Another Bucks County Veterans Cemetery Update

I have a number of articles on this topic bookmarked, so let’s review them, most recent going back, for those who want to keep up with all the developments.

All articles are from the site and by Theresa Katalinas so only title, and date are included.

Cemetery deal is almost complete,” 11/09

Toll Brothers and the Department of Veterans Affairs have inked a $10.5 million agreement of sale for the VA's purchase of 200 acres of bucolic Upper Makefield land where a long-awaited cemetery would be built. Department of Justice approval is the only remaining hurdle before the VA takes title, according to Bill Tuerk, VA undersecretary for Memorial Affairs, who confirmed the VA signed a contract with the luxury homebuilder.

Guardians lead the charge for veterans in Bucks County,” 11/09

A brief history and outline of a citizens group in favor of the veterans cemetery.

Melsky’s value in question,” 11/06

This is an interesting discussion about the real estate deal with the school board for the cemetery land.

Future of Melsky tract in limbo,” 11/02

Whether Toll Brothers can buy land owned by the Council Rock School District and build 90 homes on it is in the hands of a Bucks County judge.

Deal for two schools riles residents,” 10/29

This article outlines some residents’ objections to the real estate deals relating to the veterans’ cemetery.

Veterans cautious, hopeful on cemetery,” 10/24

Jubilation. Excitement. Trepidation. Uncertainty.
Those were some of the feelings that Bucks veterans and residents expressed Tuesday after hearing that Toll Brothers received the approvals necessary late Monday to sell a piece of Upper Makefield farmland to the Department of Veterans Affairs for construction of a national veterans cemetery.

Bucks one vote away from cemetery,” 10/18

Municipal approval is needed for the Upper Makefield portion of the 90-home Melsky development, which will be situated on Stoopville Road and split evenly between both townships.

The Nov. 1 deadline approaches and the residents’ lawsuits continues.

Supervisors OK Toll’s 45 homes,” 10/11
The Newtown Township supervisors voted 5-0 to grant preliminary and final land development approval for Toll Brothers to build 45 homes in connection with the 200-acre veterans cemetery. The vote marked the halfway point for Toll's contingencies before the builder would sell Upper Makefield farmland to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Also mentions a lawsuit filed by some residents.

Philly Still Cookin' (Light)

Philadelphia pops up twice in the November issue of Cooking Light. On p. 254-260, the "Enlightened Cook" feature, Chris Rodell notes the 15th annual Native American Thanksgiving dinner at the White Dog Cafe on Nov. 18th. Executive chef Andrew Brown and owner Judy Wicks are featured. Of course, recipes abound, for those who want to add some authenticity to their holiday meal.

Were that not honor enough, Philadelphia is listed as one of 20 Cooking Light Best Cities, defined as "the 20 American cities that best fit our philosophy to eat smart, be fit, and live well." Philly is #9; Pittsburgh is #13.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

PA in the WSJ

This is a list of articles regarding Pennsylvania in this 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 “Banks fear Democrat bids to aid mortgage borrowers,” by Damian Paletta,” (11/05) we find this paragraph:

Sens. Richard Durbin (D., Ill.) and Arlen Specter (R., Pa.) are working on a related bill in the Senate. The Senate Judiciary Committee may take it up early next year, according to a panel aid.

While she is not mentioned in “House appears poised to approve Peru trade deal,” by Gary Hitt (11/07), Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-13) has said she helped lead efforts to pass the legislation.

PA Businesses

A holiday shopping tip in “Well wishes: Highmark’s gift cards can cover insurance, medical fees,” by Kris Maher (11/06). From the article:
Pittsburgh health insurer Highmark, Inc. is selling a Healthcare Visa Gift Card from $25 to $5,000 to cover prescription, co-payments, elective surgery, contact lenses and gym memberships.

Those of you who have watched comedian Wanda Sykes’ routine about health care in which she says she doesn’t want her auntie out “trickin’ for her ‘scripts” might see the potential for giving elderly or ill relatives health care gift cards.

“Nasdaq moves to buy Phil-Ex,” by Aaron Lucchetti and Jed Horowitz (11/07) looks at the sale of the Philadelphia Stock Exchange.

“Toll Brothers’ plunge in orders signals further housing woes,” by John Spence (11/10) has a self-explanatory headline.

Brief mentions: Medecision of Wayne (11/06)

Other PA

University of Pennsylvania Wharton School profs Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers are mentioned in “Marriage undergoes change, causing drop in divorces,” (11/05)

Norman Peltz, of Trian Fund Management LP, and Trairc Companies, is a Wharton School drop out. See “A bite at a time, Peltz reshapes food industry,” by Julie Jargon (11/07)

Even though I always state that I don’t read editorials, sometimes they jump out at me. Two this week focus on Philly. “Educational rewards,” by Paul E. Peterson and Matthew M. Chingos (11/07) looks at the city’s public school. “The other Philadelphia story,” by John J. DiIulio, Jr. (11/10) focuses on the city’s faith based initiatives.

The University of Pennsylvania and a Harriton (Rosemont) High School senior have unrelated mentions in “Big pain on campus: applying to multiple schools,” by Anjali Athavaley (11/08)

Other Interesting Tidbits

Of perhaps some interest to the blogosphere is “Whole Foods bars executives from web forums,” by David Kesmodel (11/07). Execs can no longer write about work on forums that aren’t sponsored by the company. This is in reaction to the current CEO’s past penchant to anonymously writing about Whole Foods and its competitors on stock market forums.

An interesting note on the effect of “paygo” on impending legislation in “Fiscal responsibility proves costly,” by Sarah Leuck (11/09)

Penn researcher and happiness expert Martin Seligman is quoted in “Except in one career, our brains seem build for optimism,” by Robert Lee Hotz (11/09). In case you couldn’t guess the one career where pessimists did better was law.

weekly legislative update

A few bills where shuffled off to committee and some non-controversial resolutions were passed but that was it.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Veterans' Day Events

Two of our area congressional representatives are hosting or sponsoring events this weekend. From the inbox and for your consideration:

This SUNDAY, November 11, 2007, Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-8th District) will be joined by veterans from across the 8th District of Pennsylvania to honor Veteran’s Day. After a speaker’s program and honor and color guards, there will be an outdoor wreath laying ceremony. Generations of veterans, including some from World War II , Korea , Vietnam , the Persian Gulf and the current war in Iraq will be in attendance. The event will take place at the historic site of Washington ’s Crossing. On Christmas night in 1776, from this historic place, General George Washington and men of the Continental Army crossed the Delaware River and marched to Trenton , New Jersey .

Sunday November 11, 4:00-6:00 p.m.
Washington Crossing Historic Park Visitor’s Center Auditorium
1112 River Road
Washington Crossing, PA

And from Rep. Allyson Schwartz:
I would like to extend a special invitation to all local veterans and their family and friends to join me this Veterans Day, Monday, November 12, at an event I am hosting to showcase the honorable service of Pennsylvania veterans. I also encourage the general public to join me at this event to help thank our veterans for their service to our nation.

Preserving Their Stories: A Salute to Veterans History Project Volunteers

WHEN: Monday, November 12, 2007
10:00 a.m.

WHERE: Hiway Theatre
212 Old York Road
Jenkintown, PA 19046
(Parking available at Jenkintown Town Square and Wachovia Bank)

During the event, local veterans will be thanked for their service, as well as acknowledged for their participation in the Veterans History Project. The Veterans History Project is a national effort to preserve the experiences of our war veterans, from World War I to the present day Iraq War, as well as the civilians who supported them.

Firsthand accounts of wartime experiences offer a priceless window into the dedication, courage, and sacrifice of our soldiers. It is critical that as America's veterans grow older, we record their personal stories so that future generations will always know their legacy.

At this event I will be thanking several local organizations for their volunteer efforts with the Veterans History Project. Organizations being recognized include, George Washington High School, The Peak Center, Abington Senior High School, Upper Dublin High School, and the Philadelphia-Montgomery Christian Academy.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Miscellaneous PA Media Sightings

Philadelphia is listed among the 30 big cities in Money Magazine’s Best Places to Retire section. It wasn’t discussed in the printed Nov. issue but you can find the profile online.

Pink Magazine, which I thought had gone out of business, is apparently flourishing, though not always in stock at my local bookstores. Nor am I the only politically inclined Pennsylvania woman to read it. State Rep. Elisabeth (Lisa) Bennington (D-21), who represents part of Pittsburgh wrote a letter to the magazine complimenting them on their articles.

Off Topic: Remember Your First Paycheck?

Remember your first paying job or, for those fortunate enough to find one, an intriguing internship? The media and city officials have often mentioned how important jobs and job training are to the youth of Philadelphia.

A note showed up in my inbox this week mentioning a website designed to match up city teens with entry level jobs or internships:

We're here to help young people find jobs. It's tough out there to earn that first paycheck but we're here to make it easier. is a job posting website for teens by teens. Check out this website to find job postings near you, as well as job advice, and other useful employment resources.

By following our advice and applying to one of the jobs we've posted, we believe you'll get a little closer to earning your first paycheck.

We're going to be constantly updating our site and adding jobs, so keep checking for job advice and job postings for teens like you!

I don't know anything else about it but it sounds intriguing.

Former Nutter Campaign Staff to Run NH Senate Campaign

Bill Hyers who once worked on one of Michael Nutter's campaigns has been hired to run Jeanne Shaheen's senate campaign in New Hampshire. Hynes has also worked on John Edwards presidential campaigns. You, too, can find out political trivia like this if you read the Campaign Insider.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A Few More Election Notes

Larry Ceisler has an interesting essay today on politicspa. He discusses the significance of the row office pickups for the Democrats in Montgomery County. He says that since few people understand what those jobs are they tend to vote by party, which should give the county GOP pause. In the essay he also discusses what the GOP needs to do to bring the county back into the red column for the 2008 presidential race.

John Nagle, whose race for Radnor township commissioner was mentioned on this blog a time or two, missed being elected by 3 votes, which is pretty darn close.

We should also note the passing of Lucille Trench who served as a Bucks County commissioner for years ("Rivals, allies mourn Lucille Trench," by Jenna Portnoy, Phillyburbs, 11/06)

On a personal note, I always split my ticket, just to feel like a maverick independent. Both Republicans that I voted for lost.

A Few Updates on Veterans Legislation

Last July I wrote on HR 2874, which included provisions sponsored by Pennsylvania's Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-08) concerning homeless veterans. HR 2874 passed the House and is currently in the Senate, to be more precise it has been referred to the Committee on Veterans Affairs. In an AP article, "Study: Veterans make up 1 of 4 homeless," posted today on Yahoo, Kimberly Helfing writes:

Some advocates say the early presence of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan at shelters does not bode well for the future. It took roughly a decade for the lives of Vietnam veterans to unravel to the point that they started showing up among the homeless. Advocates worry that intense and repeated deployments leave newer veterans particularly vulnerable.

"We're going to be having a tsunami of them eventually because the mental health toll from this war is enormous," said Daniel Tooth, director of veterans affairs for Lancaster County, Pa.

While services to homeless veterans have improved in the past 20 years, advocates say more financial resources still are needed. With the spotlight on the plight of Iraq veterans, they hope more will be done to prevent homelessness and provide affordable housing to the younger veterans while there's a window of opportunity.

Sen. Specter is fond of telling the story of his father, a World War I veteran, going to Washington to protest unfilled promises to former soldiers. Perhaps he can persuade some of his senatorial colleagues to treat this wars veterans better.

In related veterans legislation (from yesterday's inbox, links mine):

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution introduced by Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-8th District) that supports a 3.5% pay increase for the pay of the U.S. Armed Forces. Rep. Murphy is a former U.S. Army Captain and Iraq war veteran and his resolution – H.Con. Res. 162 – has 63 bipartisan co-sponsors from across the country. Earlier today, in a speech on the floor of the House, Rep. Murphy called on President Bush to drop his opposition to this pay increase. Murphy cited the pay gap between civilian life and military life, the fact that our military is severely overstretched and the responsibility Congress and the president have to do right by American troops. Despite both House and Senate authorization for this 3.5% pay increase, President Bush has called it “unnecessary.” President Bush threatened to veto the Defense Authorization bill, singling out the 3.5% pay raise as one of his objections. Murphy’s resolution expresses the sense of the House that that Congress and the president should raise basic pay for all components of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard by 3.5%. Murphy’s resolution passed the House with unanimous bipartisan support 409 to 0.

Wednesday Morning Election Results

The Inquirer has recently posted the Montgomery county election results. For commissioner it's Bruce Castor, Joe Hoeffel, and Jim Matthews. I predict this turns out to be not much fun for anyone. Several of the row offices, clerk of courts, controller, coroner, prothonotary, and register of wills, were won by Democrats; district attorney, register of wills, treasurer, and sheriff, went Republican.

Bucks County has all precincts reporting but still says the results are unofficial. It shows all row offices going to Republicans and Jim Cawley, Diane Marseglia, and Charles Martin winning county commissioner seats, with less than 800 votes between Martin and Steve Santarsiero.

Delaware County voted in the three Republicans running for county council.

Statewide, with 97% of precincts reporting, Seamus McCaffery and Debra Todd will be joining the Supreme Court. Christine Donohue, Bruce Bratton, and Jackie Shogan will be joining the Superior Court. All statewide judges were retained with percentages somewhere in the 60% range.

The state Democratic party has other county election news.

I'm off to work, and will be back to a late night posting schedule.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Election Update (11 p.m.)

I may call it a night soon.

The best televised election coverage (at least for Bucks and Montgomery County) is channel 69 (

If I read the Delaware County election returns correctly, 399 of 424 precincts have reported and it looks like the county council stays solidly Republican.

Roughly half of Montco's precincts have reported in. More than half of Bucks has reported. Those are still toss ups but at this writing Bucks looks to have a better chance of changing parties on the county commission.

Statewide around 60% is reporting and as of now Democratic candidates are taking the slots for both Supreme Court and Superior Court.

Tracking Election Results

For those interested in tracking election results:

Montgomery County Elections

Bucks County Elections

Delaware County Elections

Pennsylvania state-wide elections

PCN starts having elections results at 10 p.m.

John Micek of the Allentown Morning Call is reporting live at the Allentown NPR affiliate WDIY-FM.

Montco, at this writing, is reporting only 1% of the results in, Delco 0%. How can this be? No one is reporting fast enough for me. We're watching a local station until PCN comes on; they are reporting 5% for Montco. No telling.

It is impossible for me to get much done at work on election day and schools are closed so I'm home. This afternoon and evening I put away the Halloween decorations, touched up my hair dye, baked banana bread, put together two draft blog posts, delicately worked at pulling frayed embroidery off a chenille sweater until I found a hole and threw the whole thing away, and basted together the top, bottom, and batting of a lap robe to be quilted later. Now it's just a matter of going nuts until more numbers come in.

Second Election Day Update

If you haven't voted yet and are wondering if it is worth the bother, I direct your attention yet again to this video prepared for the state Democratic party.

Someone came to the door late this morning to ask if we had voted yet. She had a list in hand and so was apparently walking the street. Interestingly, it is the first time this election season that someone came to the door, but we live on an out of the way street. Usually only the desperate or extremely motivated find us. The robocalls have been rolling in fast and furious for the past few days but all is quiet now.

First Election Day Update

When Clan Jane went to vote about 10:30 a.m. Mr. J and I were voters #82 and #83. The youngest Little J came with us and cast a vote for Debra Todd, being excited about the idea of a woman on the state Supreme Court.

As has been previously discussed here by myself and, in the comments, by other local or regional bloggers, we get a lot of business on state and local races. My sitemeter stats have been double the usual the last few days. People are finding me primarily by searching for judicial and county candidates. So a great many people are trying to find information on the candidates before they vote. I find it quite hopeful.

For those interested in knowing whether or not their county judicial candidates will able to serve out their terms before hitting the mandatory retirement age, check out the Clean Sweep site ( I do not agree with their stance on voting against retention of all current judges but if someone can only serve a year or two of their term it doesn't make much sense to retain them, as they will have to be replaced fairly soon anyway.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Friday's Rally in Love Park

Last Friday I was in the city and skipped lunch to attend the noon rally in Love Park. It was originally intended to be a get out the vote rally but after the shooting of Officer Cassidy it became a rally to mourn him and to reduce gun deaths in the city.

Jeff Shield's "Heard in the Hall" take is worth reading -- they have some better quotes.

Rep. Bob Brady (D-01) was master of ceremonies. A number of dignitaries were on the stage. Some on the list below Brady named, others I recognized. There are doubtless others there whom I missed. This is especially true as I was focused on current, past, and likely future, politicians. Apologies.

John Younge, candidate for superior court
Christine Donohue, candidate for superior court
LeAnna Washington, state senator for 4th district
Curtis Jones, city council candidate for the 4th district
Willie Singletary, judge of traffic court candidate [blogger’s note: the Inky has asked that people not vote for him, as he has accumulated a number of traffic fines; I concur]
John Ianelli, candidate for Delaware County Council
Maria Quinones Sanchez, city council candidate for 7th district
Sean McAleer, city council candidate for 10th district
Larry Curry, state representative for 154th district
Lynn Abraham, Philadelphia District Attorney
Jackie Frazier, judicial candidate
Anna Verna, city councilwoman, 2nd district
Josh Shapiro, state representative for the 153rd district [see tie notes below]
Mickey Simon, Cheltenham Twp commissioner, 6th ward
Cherelle Parker, state representative, 200th district
Tony Payton, state representative, 179th district
Michael Nutter, mayoral candidate
Lisa Nutter, married to Michael Nutter
Bill Greene, city council candidate, at large
Michael [did not catch last name]
Bill Greenlee, city councilman, at large
Jon Saidel
Rep. Chaka Fattah

Time only allowed for a few people to speak. These are just a few notes from comments. It was outside, a little chilly, and there was no hard surface to write on so a few of my notes are indecipherable. The crowd was divided into those in the VIP pen and the rest of us. A woman on the stage signed as people spoke.

Bob Brady: There is a fallen hero in our city. This was to be a get out the vote rally but that it not appropriate now.

John Younge: Let us not forget those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Justice is for law enforcement, too. This has got to stop. New day, new administration.

Jon Saidel: We have an opportunity on Tuesday to change the lives of our friends and family. We live or die together. On Tuesday we vote; on Wednesday we are one city.

Christine Donohue: We share your pain and distaste for the horrible happening. The election is all the more important to make sure something like this never happens again.

Pat Gillespie and another guy named Pat who are union officials (building trades and something else): Somebody knows who that guy is and needs to come forward. There is too much pressure on police. Get behind Nutter. Don’t be petty.

Lynn Abraham: The signer is my former next door neighbor. Look at what our city has become. We have museums, new buildings, people standing together. What to do about people who won’t vote for sensible gun control. Can’t just pray to God. Need to end culture of not talking, not seeing, not testifying. Step up, speak up, say no to gun lobby.

Chaka Fattah: Can’t just be upset for the moment, not a sprint but a long distance run. New buildings in the city but in the neighborhoods there isn’t the same optimism. Where there is crime don’t focus on the criminal but on turning other young people away from life of crime. I pledge to work with Michael Nutter. We must vote our hopes not just our fears.

Bobby Edwards (former head of FOP): Work together to stop burying our offices and our children. It’s got to stop.

Brian McBride, firefighter: [did not catch]

Michael Nutter: [Ironically he had to pause for the sound of sirens to fade]. We are in Love Park for a reason. This is the city of brotherly and sisterly love and we need to start acting like it. Three officers shot in three days, one fatally. How many more? I’ve had enough. Somebody knows who did this. Step up. Be a man. Be a woman. We will find out. It seems to empty to talk about politics. Ask what can I do to make my neighborhood better? What can I do today? Accept some personal responsibility. Take care of your own children. This isn’t a job just for elected officials. Everyone needs to do their part. We won’t do it for you but with you.

The rally ended around 1 p.m.

The most wonderful thing about attending the rally and hearing Nutter speak is that I actually have faith in him, that he believes what he is saying and will work towards common goals for the good of the city.

[Miscellaneous tie note: I couldn’t get a good look at most of the people on the stage and of those I could not much jumped out at me. However, I did note that Josh Shapiro ws wearing a seasonal pale orange tie. As I was walking to the train after my meeting I saw another man wearing a similarly colored tie, although his had a subtle design in it – perhaps Shapiro’s did as well and it was visible from the distance.]

One More Endorsement

I missed this in my endorsement round up last night:

David Landau, Democratic candidate for the Delaware County Council has been endorsed by the Delaware County Times. From the paper:

He [Landau] makes no bones for his high-profile campaign, and it’s clear his tactics have gotten under the powerful GOP’s skin. Landau has been all over the county, pushing his platform of “the case against the courthouse,” in which he has laid out the overwhelming GOP registration in just about every department, as well as what he sees as a network of patronage and GOP cronyism.

But Landau has made clear his belief that voters should vote for the best candidates, not simply a Democrat or Republican. He also clearly believes the county is in dire need of some diversity and change at the top.

The paper also endorses Frank Daly and Mike Farrell for county Court of Common Pleas.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A Few Endorsements

Here is a list of a few endorsements that have come through the inbox:

Joe Hoeffel and Ruth Damsker, Democratic candidates for Montgomery County commissioner, were endorsed by the Intelligencer on Nov. 2. One paragraph:

Still, we think it's time for the Democrats to be given the opportunity to demonstrate their brand of leadership. In Hoeffel, the Dems have a true champion. Of the four candidates, Hoeffel inspires the most trust and confidence. He has a long history of public service (not only as a former county commissioner but also as a former state representative and congressman) and speaks knowledgeably of what the Democrats hope to accomplish if given the chance. Damsker, while she has voted mostly with the Republican majority during her tenure as minority commissioner, is part of the Democratic team that vows a different way of doing business, a more open, aggressive and pro-active approach than the Republicans have followed.

The Morning Call endorsed Democratic candidates for Bucks County commissioner, Diane Marseglia and Steve Santarsiero on Oct. 31. One paragraph:
Mr. Santarsiero has extensive experience with land use issues in Lower Makefield. Ms. Marseglia is well-versed in human services because she is employed as a social worker. Their townships' boards of supervisors have worked in a bipartisan fashion and also have made significant strides with environmental issues.

The Inquirer's list of endorsements from Oct. 30 is here.

Democratic candidate for Montgomery County District Attorney, Peter Amuso, has been endorsed by CeaseFirePA.

Not exactly an endorsement, but a "Broadsides" column by Deede Formichella was slated to appear in last Thursday's Main Line Life noting the positive qualities of John Nagle, Democratic candidate for Radnor's 5th ward. In part:
To begin with, Nagle’s no public service neophyte. He’s been a concerned resident for over twenty years and has been engaged in local leadership for thirteen years as a member of the Parks and Recreation Board. One of the most important issues he confronted there was the use of pesticides and herbicides on our township’s playing fields. Since hundreds of our kids enroll in soccer, Little League, and other sports that are played outdoors, the elimination of those “cides” is a tremendous health plus. Ask any parent who has a son or daughter suffering from asthma or allergies.

In addition, he’s one of the founders of the Radnor Conservancy and is currently its treasurer. Years ago, he fought for the creation of the Radnor Trail- a topic that was divisive, controversial, and not easily understood when it was initially presented. Furthermore, he became the first Chair of the Environmental Advisory Committee, a sub-committee of the Board of Health.

A Note for Women in Montco

On Tuesday voters in all the suburban Philadelphia counties will be selecting county commissioner (or council) candidates. This post is a look at one particular aspect of one of those races.

In Montgomery County each party is fielding an incumbent paired with a familiar name in county politics. For the Democrats the incumbent is Ruth Damsker and her running mate is Joe Hoeffel, who previously served as congressman, county commissioner, and state representative. The Republicans are represented by incumbent Jim Matthews and current county District Attorney Bruce Castor. Those skilled at guessing the someone’s gender based on their first name will have noticed that Ruth Damsker is the only woman running.

Does that matter, you ask? Aren’t we all gender blind? Well, I would say that no we are not. Two points related to this race.

When campaigning for the state Attorney General office in 2004 one message Castor recorded for distribution stated:

Hello, I'm Bruce Castor the conservative, pro-life Republican for attorney general. As a Montgomery County DA, I helped close down a local abortion clinic violating the law. As attorney general, I'll vigorously oppose tax payer funded abortions and physician assisted suicides. Last month I spoke out strongly against same sex marriage, and my opponent, Tom Corbett, strongly criticized me. I've always staunchly supported the pro-life movement, and our traditional values. Now I'm asking for your vote. Tomorrow is election day. Please vote for the conservative pro-life republican -- Bruce Castor for attorney general. Thank you.

Castor is entitled to his beliefs and voters who share them should vote for him. Voters who do not should vote for someone else.

Jim Matthews had an interesting opportunity a few years ago. In 2000 the commissioners created a board to write the rules and advise them on the distribution of $5 million to community revitalization projects. (Source: Diane Marczely Gimpel, “Commissioner chose six men; woman is wanted for seventh slot,” Morning Call April 7, 2000.)

Here was what he came up with:

Chairman of the seven-member board if Kenneth E. Davis of Gladwyne, president of an Ardmore lobbying firm; Other members are Lansdale Borough Manager F. Lee Mangan, Norristown Police Chief Russell Bono, former Springfield Township Supervisor James R. Selsor, civil engineer Stuart L. Rosenthal of Lansdale and Jeremy Nowak of Wynnewood, president of a community development financial institution.

That first name will be familiar to those who have studied Montco’s political history. All those names look pretty masculine to me. Here’s the next paragraph in the article:

The seventh member has yet to be picked by Commissioner James Matthews, who said he is looking for a woman from the western end of the county to fill the volunteer spot.

So I guess he filled the first 6 spots, then looked at the list and thought, “Gosh I need one of those girly things, a whosit, a whachacallit, a woman, that’s it, a woman.”

Or you could say an afterthought. There wasn’t even a single seat on the seven person board designated for a woman. Both the western part of the county and half the human race had to share.

One cannot help but wonder if someone named Ruth had been making the selection if the names would have been different. Yes, Damsker was a commissioner then, but a minority commissioner doesn’t always have a lot of say in such things.

And that’s one of the major reasons why I like to see a little diversity in government.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

For Your Viewing Pleasure

Three videos you might enjoy watching:

Michael Nutter's new ad. (note: it starts playing immediately).

Ruth Damsker and Joe Hoeffel's television ad (note: it starts playing immediately)

A number of reasons why you should vote next Tuesday.

PA in the WSJ

This is a list of articles regarding Pennsylvania in this 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

Rep. John Murtha (D-12) gets publicity he’d probably rather not have in “How lawmaker rebuilt hometown on earmarks,” by John R. Wilke (10/30). According to the article Murtha has brought more bacon home to his district than any other House member. It is a long article, taking up about one full page of the paper, very thorough and I have no reason to doubt its accuracy. The article does point out that under the Democratic congress this year the growth of earmarks has slowed and the total amount is about half of what it was last year.

PA Businesses

Again, no mention of Philly Car Share in “Car-sharing firms to merge,” by Darren Everson (11/01). It does mention that Flexcar, which is merging with Zipcar, does operate in Philadelphia.

Other PA

From “How access-free ruling may hit Verizon rivals,” by Corey Boles (10/29):

The Federal Communications Commission must vote by the end of the year on an attempt by Verizon to be excused from several FCC rules in the commercial telecommunications market, The company has argued there is sufficient compensation in the six East Coast markets in question and therefore it should be excused from the regulations. The markets are Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Providence, R.I. and Virginia Beach, Va.

I have no idea what that means.

In World War I food prices soared and “diet clubs” were formed to prove that people could eat well on very little money. The University of Pennsylvania club managed to eat on 30 cents a day. Rutgers scrimped even more and ate off 27 cents a day. From “WWI ‘dieters’ had a lot on their plates, little in their wallets,” by Cynthai Crossen (10/30)

A mention of Cardinal O’Hara High School (Springfield, Pa) canceling it’s homecoming dance in “Some date: how homecoming is losing out to hanging out,” by Jeffrey Zaslow (11/01)

U Penn’s Kathleen Hall Jamison is quoted in “Talk is cheap in politics, but a deep voice helps,” by June Kronholz (11/03)

Other Interesting Tidbits

There are, apparently, professional pumpkin carvers. Who knew? (“For these sculptors, the medium if big, orange, and stinky,” by Susan Warren 10/31)

“Have a laptop? You, too, can sway New Hampshire race,” by Amy Schatz (11/01) provides an interesting look at the impact of local blogs on the second tier presidential campaigns.

Friday, November 02, 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).

No bills passed the special session on energy.

Our accountant friends at PICPA have provided their usual informative weekly update. They have some interesting things to say this week about a possible increase in the sales tax.

Other updates this week:

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


HR 458 Printer's No. 2671. A Resolution recognizing the week of November 11 through 17, 2007, as "Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week" in Pennsylvania.



HB 31 Printer's No. 56. An Act amending the act of August 6, 1941 (P.L.861, No.323), referred to as the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole Law, further providing for supervision by county probation and parole officers.

HB 110 Prior Printer's Nos. 188, 2721.Printer's No. 2774. An Act providing for a report on potential global warming impacts and economic opportunities for the Commonwealth, for duties of the Department of Environmental Protection, for an inventory of greenhouse gases, for creation of stakeholder process, for a voluntary registry of greenhouse gas emissions and for a climate change action plan.

HB 523 By Representatives YOUNGBLOOD, CRUZ, MELIO, READSHAW, SIPTROTH, MOUL, PAYNE, GODSHALL, HORNAMAN, HESS, K. SMITH, THOMAS and CALTAGIRONE. Prior Printer's Nos. 594, 2634.Printer's No. 2775. An Act amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for trademark counterfeiting; prohibiting the sale of food, nonprescription drugs and cosmetics under certain circumstances; and imposing penalties.

HB 1716 Prior Printer's No. 2301.Printer's No. 2636. An Act amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for grading of theft offenses and for theft of services and certain service provider property.

HB 523 By Representatives YOUNGBLOOD, CRUZ, MELIO, READSHAW, SIPTROTH, MOUL, PAYNE, GODSHALL, HORNAMAN, HESS, K. SMITH, THOMAS and CALTAGIRONE. Prior Printer's Nos. 594, 2634.Printer's No. 2775. An Act amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for trademark counterfeiting; prohibiting the sale of food, nonprescription drugs and cosmetics under certain circumstances; and imposing penalties.

HB 948 Prior Printer's Nos. 1114, 1547.Printer's No. 2723. An Act amending Title 30 (Fish) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for vouchers for licenses.

HB 1096 Prior Printer's Nos. 1327, 2561, 2667.Printer's No. 2725. An Act amending the act of November 10, 1999 (P.L.491, No.45), known as the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act, defining "council"; establishing the Uniform Construction Code Review and Advisory Council; and further providing for revised or successor codes and for training of inspectors.

HB 1548 Prior Printer's No. 1952.Printer's No. 2726. An Act amending Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for disposition of dependent child.

SB 648 By Senator D. WHITE. Prior Printer's Nos. 700, 1198, 1283.Printer's No. 1486. An Act authorizing the Department of General Services, with the approval of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the Governor, to grant and convey, at a price to be determined through a competitive bid process, certain lands, buildings and improvements situate in the Borough of Ligonier, Westmoreland 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 certain lands situate in the City of Connellsville, a third class city, Fayette County, to the City of Connellsville; authorizing and directing the Department of General Services, with the approval of the Governor, to grant and convey to the Allentown Commercial and Industrial Development Authority, or their assigns, certain lands situate in the City of Allentown, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania; and authorizing the Department of General Services, with the approval of the Governor, to grant and convey to Bensalem Township, certain lands situate in Bensalem Township, Bucks County; and 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 191 Prior Printer's No. 216.Printer's No. 1007. An Act providing for the donation of blood by certain persons 16 years of age or older; and making a related repeal.

SB 1068 By Senators M. WHITE, SCARNATI, MUSTO, ERICKSON, EARLL, VANCE, MADIGAN, GORDNER, COSTA, BROWNE, D. WHITE, RHOADES, WOZNIAK, BAKER, ROBBINS, WAUGH, FOLMER, CORMAN and C. WILLIAMS. Printer's No. 1372. An Act amending the act of October 18, 1988 (P.L.756, No.108), known as the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act, further providing for the fund and for civil penalties.

SB 1069 Printer's No. 1373. An Act amending the act of July 2, 1993 (P.L.359, No.50), known as the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund Act, further providing for annual reports; and making editorial changes.

SB 1100 By Senators PILEGGI, M. WHITE, MUSTO, ERICKSON, PUNT, VANCE, GREENLEAF, GORDNER, RHOADES, BOSCOLA, WOZNIAK, MADIGAN, ROBBINS, CORMAN, BAKER, STOUT, FERLO, WAUGH, D. WHITE, PIPPY and BROWNE. Printer's No. 1483. An Act providing for the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund, for its funding, for expenditures from the fund and for audits of the fund; making an appropriation; and making related repeals.

SB 1137 By Senators D. WHITE, RAFFERTY, PILEGGI, ORIE, SCARNATI, ROBBINS, ERICKSON, GORDNER, C. WILLIAMS, FONTANA, MADIGAN, ARMSTRONG, PIPPY, FERLO, WONDERLING, WAUGH, BAKER, REGOLA and BROWNE. Prior Printer's Nos. 1488, 1491.Printer's No. 1510. An Act amending the act of March 20, 2002 (P.L.154, No.13), known as the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error (Mcare) Act, further providing for medical professional liability insurance, for the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Fund and for actuarial data; providing for the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error (Mcare) Reserve Fund; and further providing for abatement program, for the Health Care Provider Retention Account and for expiration.

SB 751 By Senators M. WHITE, FERLO, GORDNER, ERICKSON, COSTA, MELLOW, STOUT, C. WILLIAMS, EARLL, O'PAKE, KITCHEN, ORIE, FONTANA and ROBBINS. Printer's No. 822. An Act amending Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, prohibiting the imposition of the death sentence in cases of mental retardation.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A Poorly Yoked Team

The Republican team running for county commissioner in Montgomery County would seem to be poorly yoked. Jim Matthews is the incumbent; Bruce Castor, currently Montco District Attorney, is running in place of the other incumbent, who decided to sit this one out due to some bad publicity of a personal nature.

Castor had a different running mate in the primary and did not seem pleased at the prospect of being on a ticket with Matthews. Nor has time healed the breach.

From “Montgomery County commissioner candidates’ feud at statewide GOP worry, by Pete DeCoursey in Capitolwire 10/15/07:

Castor’s campaign denies they have any intent but to elect both Republican commissioner candidates. Matthews' campaign says they are working together with Castor to keep the county courthouse under GOP control.
But Matthews’ supporters, as well as some statewide GOP officials, fear Democrats will use Castor’s public criticisms of Matthews in their mailers, TV and radio ads in the campaign's final weeks.

“Democrats criticizing Republicans is nothing new,” said one close Castor ally, who said he has tried and failed to get Castor to stop publicly and privately zinging Matthews. “But when the more popular Republican makes it clear he thinks the less popular Republican has ethical problems and is in cahoots with the wrong crowd, that is the kind of thing voters will notice. And it isn’t old stuff. It’s stuff Bruce said this year, and some stuff he said this fall. Why say it at all if your top goal is to keep control of the courthouse?”

The Bulletin’s “Friendly Fire” column on 10/31/07 is an interview with Bruce Castor (pawatercooler has the full text up):

It is evident to me that the county is going in the wrong direction. I didn’t want to run—I wanted (the Republicans) to win and I wanted to remain as DA. I asked the Party to pull back from Commissioner Ellis, because I did not believe that there was any scenario in which he could win the election this year, and that has certainly proven to be true. Even with the situation we face now, with our opponents led by former Congressman Hoeffel, who is every bit as well known as I am, if I were not in this position of heading our team, I think all eleven of us would go down.


I don’t think the Republican Party is run by Bob Asher, but by me. If we fail, it will be my fault. I do think there are a number of people behind the scenes that are trying to make that happen. Out of the eleven candidates running, there were seven “contested” races—where both Ken Davis and I had candidates— we won six of them. The state Party is, in large measure, run by Asher, so after the disaster at the polls….if you’re the captain, you have to take responsibility for navigating the ship onto a reef. Assuming that all eleven of us win, the challenges will be to put together a government that functions, and then to reorganize and rebuild the Party.


The key is Jim Matthews. When we win the election, Jim has to re-invent himself and be the party leader that is necessary to make Montgomery County that showpiece of change in the Party to get it to where it needs to be.

I don’t think it is ever a good idea to assume a ship sails or sinks on one man’s actions. Usually it is a team effort, even if only in the creation of a work environment. Also, as anyone who has ever been in any kind of partnership can tell you, thinking you can change your partner is usually a mistake. As is hoping they will change themselves. If you can’t live with the person as he is, don’t sign on.