Friday, February 29, 2008

weekly legislative update

The legislature wasn't in session this week, though some bills were shuffled off to committee and some non-controversial resolutions were introduced. This is not to say your elected officials were lounging by the pool. A number of committee meetings were held. I caught part of a meeting on PCN and watched Bryan Lentz (D-161) asking the state secretary of transportation some good questions, and taking the time to thank the secretary for things he thought were done well.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Kanjo and Barletta in Politico

Yesterday's issue of the Politico had an article on Pennsylvania's 12th 11th congressional district race. Josh Kraushaar wrote "Both parties eyeing tough PA race," posted 2/27, on the race between incumbent Democrat Paul Kanjorski and Republican challenger Lou Barletta.

Gov. Rendell on Comcast Newsmakers

This past weekend Gov. Ed Rendell (ER) was on Comcast Newsmakers. You can watch the video on Pennsyltucky Politics. I've typed up my rough notes of the interview. For convenience I have used the Democratic presidential candidate's initials (BO for Barack Obama and HRC for Hillary Clinton). As always, I apologize in advance for any errors or misconceptions.

Gov Rendell on Comcast Newsmakers (2/23/08)

Host: Did not catch his name

Interviewers: Brett Lieberman of the Patriot News (and Pennsyltucky Politics) and Charlie Mahtesian of politico. Their voices are similar so I just indicated questions and not who asked them. My apologies. In a few cases a follow up question was asked and I just folded that answer into the larger one.

Gov. Rendell is in Washington D.C. for the National Governor’s Association Meeting.

Q: April 22nd is the state’s primary, will PA be consequential?

ER: I believe HRC will win in Texas and Ohio that will keep her candidacy very very viable. Those are the states we have to win in the fall, the large industrial states. Then the nation’s attention will move to Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania state legislature declined to move up primary.

Q: Daily drip drip of bad news for HRC, once had big lead, how can she turn it around.

ER: Campaign on both sides have had hills and valleys. HRC won Super Tuesday. Then it hit a valley. You’ve got to give Obama credit, not exactly a pushover. He is a wonderful candidate, getting people stirred up and appealing to their better instincts. HRC has staying power because she’s so smart. I believe she has won every single debate. No one has the grasp on the issues that she has. I’ve been doing this for 31 years, had close contact with every potential Democratic presidential candidate, no one comes close to her on knowledge, look at her plans for energy, healthcare, education, economy, no one else is even close. Especially large states with economic challenges need that kind of leadership. If she wins March 4th she’s back in the game big time.

Q: Obama has had 11 consecutive wins, what does HRC need to do?

ER: She needs to win Texas and Ohio, if she does she’s back as a strong contender, if not she will have to make some decisions. March 4th is a deciding day.

Q: What does she have to do differently?

ER: That’s fodder for the media, what changes needed. The only thing I would like to see her do more of, we’re both policy wonks, she gets involved in nuances of health care and education. Important stuff, should be how we decide how to vote for, but we don’t, we do it more on an instinctual level, do I like this person, will they represent me, she needs to let people know who she is as a person. People who know her like her. Even Republicans like her. She needs to drop her guard and let people see who she is and how she feels. She’s got to do more of that. Also press her plans. Her plans are extraordinary.

Q: Is it too late for her? She showed emotion before New Hampshire, is that why she won?

ER: It might be. A lot of us wish she had campaigned that way from the get go, in this business its never too late. Most of us wish it had been a little different.

Q: Are you frustrated with the Clinton campaign?

ER: Most of us who know her and care about her as a leader are frustrated. Campaign has not served her well in expressing who she is and what she would do and what she really cares about. Yes we are frustrated because only because we know her more than the average voter. She has such a great command of the issues. I wish she had done town meetings from the day she announced. If you listen to one of those meetings you go away you won’t believe it. You won’t believe someone running for office actually knows that much.

Q: You refer to yourself as a policy wonk. What is the key to your success as 2nd term as governor of the 6th largest state

ER: I’m a little happier than usual policy wonk, that allows me to convey things to people and listen a little bit more. I’m lucky that I can communicate ideas. No one in politics today is universally popular. My dad died when I was 14. He told me FDR most popular politician in his lifetime and a third of the people hate him. If people got to know HRC there would be a different result

Q: Maybe people know her too well. HRC unfavorable ratings. Compared to Santorum?

ER: Those people have formed an opinion but an uniformed opinion, based on a few things, relationship with Pres. Clinton. They don’t know how smart and funny and warm she is. People say she would be divisive, but ask McCain and Orin Hatch. She has worked very well with Republican senators, and is a leader in the senate because she can form those alliances. She’s anything but divisive. In fact she’s proven, on the ground in DC, that she can surmount divisiveness

Q: Would she be a stronger top of ticket than Obama?

ER: Yes, no doubt of this, but no attempt to denigrate BO, also good top of ticket. A statistic from Wisconsin, 81% of all Democrats voting said they would be satisfied with BO as top of ticket, 79% said satisfied with HRC, two terrific candidates. I think Sen. Clinton has the best ideas.

Q: You said whites not ready to vote for an African America, common thought but not often spoken on the record. You thought opponent Lynn Swann had a vote drag due to race.

ER: I was talking about a general election not a primary. BO more than any politician in my lifetime has taken strides with his personality and presentation to surmount that. Just as many people worried about a woman has head of military, two trailblazers both have handicaps, but look at BO ability to bring new people into the process, people who have never voted or registered before. Said that comment about white voters as I was leaving the Post Gazette editorial board interview about education budget when they asked about the primary. I think BO has diminished that effect more than any other African American candidate. He counterbalances it by having gotten new people to register and vote. Thinks BO would carry PA in the fall. So would HRC.

Q: Many who do know HRC, Democratic leaders, are worried about her being drag on the ticket.

ER: Relevant point. In terms of political life span we don’t know much about BO yet. This has been a tremendously polite primary, every one very polite, no attack ads, no negative ads, no 527s. It’s been a remarkably positive campaign. It won’t be once we have a putative nominee, not because McCain will run a negative campaign but because of 527s. But as these 527s come out and as more and more things are brought to people’s attention, who knows. Can you predict will come out if BO is the nominee? We can predict what will come out if HRC nominee, we know about her, we don’t know about BO. There’s good stuff we don’t know but we don’t know other stuff as will

Q: It’s hard when 40% of the people say will never vote for her

ER: If you win elective office, you get paid the same if you win by 50.3% as if you win by 68%. You still take the same oath of office. You can make a case that both of our candidates have potential liabilities going into the race. I admire McC but potential negatives because of health and age. Hard to find a perfect candidate, particularly with the job you guys do. If Jesus or Moses or Mohammed came back to life and wanted to campaign for political office, imagine what the press would say.

Q: next year you will be chair of the National Governor’s Association. What’s on the agenda?

ER: energy and renewables and how we get going. Tom Friedman spoke. We can win the battle and become primary producer of renewable energy but have to get on the stick now. We have called on President Bush and next president to have a program similar to Marshall Plan to produce clean and renewable energy and quickly and price efficiently and environmental friendly as possible. Great minds should work on this. Coal producers know it is impossible to site a traditional coal burning plant. Coal producers understand clean coal production is their future. We are not about to discard coal. Got to find a way to produce it cleanly. Still enough coal in the ground in America to take care of our energy needs for the next 200 years if we can find a way to produce it cleanly

Q: Must the Democratic nominee pick a governor as vp?

ER: That is one argument. If HRC she might pick a governor or someone with executive experience. Maybe someone like Evan Byah. If BO, temptation would be to take a governor, but BO potential weakness is the doesn’t have a lot of experience in foreign policy and terrorism though he has great ideas on both, maybe pick Biden, who is arguably reigning Democratic senator on terrorism. Also want a good campaigner. Sen. Clinton could look at a governor a little bit more.

Q: what does she need?

ER: Many people believe she has great experience. She has more leeway and could pick a good campaigner, who can help geographically. Every one would love the perfect vp candidate but it’s hard to find, you have to find what are their assets, downsides and make your best choice. Both HRC and BO are responsible and serious enough to pick a good candidate, someone who could themselves be president, more important that geographic balance or other factors.

Q: what does McCain need

ER: Sen McCain has a big problem. Does he pick a vp to appease the conservative wing of the party, find someone who is younger more vital, maybe Tom Ridge, perfect fit except he is pro choice, not extremely pro choice but pro choice, would that enrage conservative wing? Ridge a great asset, very popular in PA. Or does he pick someone more traditionally conservative. Sen McCain will pick someone who is ready to be president.

Q: Do you want to be vp nominee?

ER: I think I have demonstrated that I would be a terrible liability. If asked a question I answer it and tell the truth. I’ve been very fortunate, I always run as top of ticket, if I say something politically incorrect it only affects me. I’m willing to win or lose based on that. I hate to think comments would hurt running mate who is running for president. Believe politicians make a contract, I ran for second term, will finish term. Feel strongly about that. I finished 2 terms as DA, 2 terms as mayor. During those terms I was rumored to be running for several offices. I love what I do, even love dealing with legislature, really is exciting. Vp does what president asks him or her to do. Not the primary driver. I would be much happier finishing out term. If in 2011 if then president HRC or BO asks me to be secretary of transportation or energy, but not until 2011. If PA were a sep nation it would have 19th largest economy in the world. This is a big state. Being governor is an important, exciting and energizing job.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Congressional Races Take Noah's Ark Approach

Two by two. The Congressional races are quickly winnowing down candidates until the primaries will be mere formalities. Yesterday I reported that in the 6th congressional district now has one Democratic candidate, Bob Roggio, and one Republican, incumbent Jim Gerlach.

The 8th and 13th district races now have just two candidates each as well.

In the 13, incumbent Democrat Allyson Schwartz will now face just one Republican, Marina Kats. Lee Falgoust decided to end his campaign after losing the part endorsement. ("Kats gets nod to oppose Schwartz," Northeast Times 2/28/08).

In the 8th, Joe Montone has dropped out of the race, leaving Tom Manion as the sole Republican candidate running against freshman Democrat Patrick Murphy. (See "Montone drops out of 8th district race," by Brian Scheid, 2/27/08) (Upcoming post alert: I will be posting a review of Murphy's recently published book sometime next week.)

Tim Briggs Launches Website

Tim Briggs, Democratic candidate for the 149th state house district, has a campaign website up and running, though enhancements may be added. Check out

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

3 G's in the 6th

It looks like Roggio vs Gerlach in the 6th congressional district.

From the inbox:

Following an enthusiastic endorsement by the Montgomery Country Democrats last Thursday, Bob Roggio has united Democratic support for what promises to be one of the most hotly contested congressional races in the country against Jim Gerlach in the 6th District.

As of yesterday, former Democratic candidates Bob Rovner and Mike Lebowitz have withdrew from the race and formally endorsed Roggio.

“I’m thrilled to have the support of Bob Rovner and Mike Lebowitz,” said Roggio. “The 6th district is ready for a real change, and ready to unite around a candidate who can defeat Jim Gerlach. We need someone with real world experience in order to tackle the tough problems that are facing our district, and our country.”

Rovner, a former State Senator and active Democratic Committee Member in Montgomery County has already pledged to help Roggio defeat Gerlach.

“Bob Roggio would make an excellent Congressman,” said Rovner. “He is right on the issues, and I am already impressed by his organized campaign. I am asking my supporters to support Roggio, and am looking forward to helping him win in November.”

Lebowitz has also voiced his enthusiastic support. He has offered to assist Bob Roggio in building relationships throughout the district and will encourage his donors to make contributions to Roggio’s campaign.

For those counting that makes a total of 3 g's in the candidates' surnames, more than usual in a Pennsylvania congressional race and more, I think, than in any other race this year. In fact, Phil English is the only other "g'ed" congressional representative in the state.For those with an interest in phonetics (phoenicians?) Gerlach is pronounced with a hard g (guh) as in gather or germ. Roggio is pronounced with a soft g (juh) as in giraffe or gym. Trivia fans (trivialists?) may know that the word gadget has both.

Rendell in the Washington Post

Gov. Rendell has a starring role in today's "The Fix" column in the Washington Post. Chris Cillizza writes in "Rendell: 'the media does not like the Clintons'," that Rendell thinks the media treatment of the Clintons is the worst he has seen in his 30 years in politics. Video of the interview should be available today on

Rendell was also the featured guest on "Newsmakers" this past Sunday with blogger Brett Lieberman of Pennsyltucky Politics (and the Patriot News) asking some of the questions. Interview video on his site.

Monday, February 25, 2008

A Few Campaign Updates

The Reading Eagle had a nice article yesterday on 6th congressional district Democratic candidate Bob Roggio, "Third Democrat enters 6th district congressional race," by Mary E. Young. (h/t grassrootspa).

Steve Rovner, Democratic candidate for the 178th state house seat officially kicks off his campaign Wed. March 12th.

Bucks County Democrats who support Hillary Clinton are having an organizational meeting this Saturday.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Many Worlds of Marina Kats

In a political case of 6 degrees of separation, or, if you will, strange bedfellows, there are several places where the paths of 13th congressional district Republican candidate Marina Kats and 6th congressional district Democratic candidate Bob Rovner cross. Both are Temple Law School grads (Kats in ’88, Rovner in ’68). Before starting her own firm, Kats was part of the then named Rovner, Allen, Rovner, Zimmerman and Kats. They were among the partners in a venture called All Star Radio, Inc. in the early 1990’s that once owned WPGR (Logan). According to the Pennsylvania Department of State, Kats is still the president of All Star Radio. Both have shows on WNWR (I think, but am not certain, that this station is currently owned by All Star Radio), “The Marina Kats Show” and “Senator Bob Rovner Interviews the Stars.” Who knew? An example of each show is available as an audio file on the station’s website. She translates her into (Russian?) as she goes along which makes listening a very interesting experience.

Kats is definitely an entrepreneur. Kats, Jamison, Van der Veen, and Associates, as well as Kats, Rovner, and Associates, two law firms, are listed as being owned by Kats and Associates. Marina Kats is listed as both President and Treasurer of that professional corporation. also lists Kats and Associates with this note:

Marina Kats is the principal owner of a financial services company that provides funding and financial services for independent businesses. She is also the principal of a well-respected litigation firm with offices in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.

Marina Kats is listed as president of MK Sansom Group II, Ltd. of New Hope, though I cannot guarantee it is the same Marina Kats. However, the Marina Kats listed as an owner of MK South Group III lists an address on the same street as her law firm. There is the MK Warminster, LP, listing Marina Kats as general partner, but has a different address from the MK Warminster Group, Inc, which shares the same street address as MK South Group III but has a different name attached. (You can check this by searching the Dept. of State’s list of businesses.) She may have other business interests; I could only search by business name and so was making guesses as to what names to search. Maybe I’m slow but I have trouble keeping my real life and my blogging persona straight. Keeping track of six or more businesses would be beyond my abilities.

This is not her first brush with running for office. Kats was a potential candidate for the 174th state house district for the special election when Alan Butkovitz city controller in 2005, but John Sabatina, Jr., became the Republican candidates. In 2006, she considered a run for the 13th congressional district but decided against it, saying (Runyon):
Without missing a beat, though, she emphasized that she has a successful law practice, and doesn't know if she'd be able to devote the time necessary to win a Republican primary and then take on a career politician of the likes of Schwartz.

One factor in her favor is her ability to self-finance (Fenton):
Republicans hope that Kats, a Ukrainian immigrant who's lived in the area for 16 years, will siphon off Russian American votes, especially from the overwhelmingly Democratic piece of the district in Philadelphia. A wealthy law firm president, Kats said she planned to pay for part of her own campaign, and expected overall costs to top $2 million.

In 2006 it was noted (Runyon):
Speaking by phone from her Bucks County office, she mentioned that a Republican activist was waiting to talk to her in the next room. At the time, she seemed to be more excited about her firm's winning a $10 million verdict last Thursday, an award The Legal Intelligencer claimed was the fourth-largest reported by the newspaper in the last 18 months.

Wow! Well. I look forward to reading how our intrepid local reporters examine all the facets of the 13th district challenger.


Fenton, Jacob, “Abington lawyer to challenge Schwartz,” Intelligencer 1/25/08

Logan, Joe, “What Sandy Starobin overcomes to report,” Philadelphia Daily News 4/13/1992

PAC to host Sabatina, Jr., fundraiser,” Northeast Times July 21, 2005.

Runyon, Joshua, “Political Notes,” The Jewish Exponent, Feb. 16, 2006.

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.

Also, I couldn't find my usual highlighter and had to work with a new one. Somehow I'm certain this has led to me missing things that I had thought were marked.

This is the second or more week in a row that I didn't see a Mark Zandi quote; he is usually in at least once a week. Is he sick? Out of town? Should we be concerned?

PA Politicians

Rep. John Murtha does the honors this week. In “Weapons debate puts China in focus,” by August Cole (2/19) we find this:

”I’m trying to look beyond Iraq and Afghanistan. I’m trying to look at what is the threat down the road,” Pennsylvania Rep. John Murtha, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s Defense Subcommittee, told an audience at an industry conference last week.

Mr. Murtha said that he recently spoke with Mr. [Robert] Gates about the F-22 program and that his committee is negotiating with the Air Force about adding more of the jets in the supplemental budget.

In the politics in Pennsylvania category we find “White men hold key for Democrats,” Jonathan Kaufman (12/19), which says that in Pennsylvania working-class men make up 27% of the population.

Pennsylvania is mentioned again in “Clinton looks to regain support Obama eroded,” by Amy Chozick (2/22)

PA Businesses

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is the focus of “Auction-rate turmoil hits Pittsburgh Medical Center,” by Randall Smith (2/19), and “Auction-rate headaches,” by Randall Smith, Tom McGinty, and Liz Rappaport (2/21)

I started humming the Beverly Hillbillies theme while reading “As oil prices soar, prospectors return to Pennsylvania,” by Neil King, Jr., (2/19) on the commonwealth’s oil industry.

Amelia’s and Sharpshopper, two discount stores in Pennsylvania selling expired or slightly damaged foodstuffs, are highlighted in “One store’s old food is other’s bread and butter,” by David Kesmodel (2/22)

“How Hershey went sour,” by Julie Jargon, Matthew Karnitschnig, and Joann S. Lublin focuses on our favorite candy maker (2/23)

Other PA

“Grading neighborhood schools,” by Walter S. Mossberg (2/20) compares three websites that provide information on schools. Philadelphia or Pennsylvania are used as search examples in two of them. The sites are,, and

An alarming legal maneuver, “civil recovery,” is allowed in Pennsylvania, among other states, as pointed out in “Big retail chains dun mere suspects in theft,” by Ann Zimmerman (2/20) A 2005 Philadelphia case is mentioned.

A number of suburban Philadelphia examples are used in “The brat race: in diapers and on a day-care wait list,” by Sue Shellenbarger (2/21).

The University of Pennsylvania is joining the Ivy League schools that are offering better financial aid packages, as noted in “Stanford joins its elite peers in boosting aid,” by Robert Tomsho (2/21).

Kathleen Hall Jamison of Penn is quoted in “Two debates may be Clinton’s last, best hope,” by June Kronholz and Elizabeth Holmes (2/12)

Friday, February 22, 2008

weekly legislative update

The Pennsylvania state house and state senate did not pass any laws this week, though some were shuffled off to committee. The House Republicans published a weekly update; there were no other updates.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Roggio Gets Montco Nod

According to a post on (and likely to appear in tomorrow's paper), "Montco Democrats endorse Roggio for Congress," by Nancy Petersen, Bob Roggio has been endorsed as the party's candidate of choice for the 6th congressional district. Frank Custer is the party's choice for the 61st state house district.

Perhaps most telling is the ending paragraph:

If voter registration numbers are any indication, the string of victories could continue. Since the November election, nearly half of the 6,032 new registrations recorded as of Wednesday have been Democratic, according to figures from the county's voter registration office.

Off Topic: One Simple Thing

Last year Mr. J replaced most of the light bulbs in the house with those newfangled curlique’d CFL bulbs. He had been reading about the energy and environmental benefits of this and decided to act. Nearly a year out we’ve had no problems.

For several years we have bought bottled water in bulk and when the kids were thirsty they went to the cupboard and got a water bottle. After reading several newspaper articles around the end of 2007 about the environmental impact of all those empty plastic bottles and the lack of any real benefit of bottled water, we talked about our options. To me the tap water just has an odd taste, though a home test kit turned up no chemical problems. As an experiment I used one of the Target holiday gift cards I got for Christmas I bought a large Brita water filter water cooler that sits on the kitchen counter. We’ve been using it for about 6 weeks now and everyone is happy with it. The kids can still get their own water. It tastes good.

If slow and steady wins the race and our household makes one permanent pro-environmental change a year then over time we can make a significant reduction in our carbon footprint.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I'm Rubber, You're Glue

The 11th congressional district race is already starting to heat up. Republican challenger Lou Barletta, the mayor of Hazleton, who has made illegal immigration his signature issue, is taking on incumbent Democrat Paul Kanjorski.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission which references an unpaid bank loan Barletta received during his 2002 congressional campaign. Barletta says the loan was to him personally and then he made a personal loan to the campaign.

The National Republican Congressional Committee has come back with comments about Kanjorski putting relatives on his campaign payroll. No formal complaints filed in this regard (I don't think there are rules against this.)

Read the whole story in a 2/20 Politico blog entry, "DCCC files complaint against top GOP recruit," by Josh Kraushaar

Oh Captain! My Captain!

A little over a year ago I gave a salute to the sergeants, "the enlisted leaders who do most of the day-to-day supervising of the rank-and-file soldiers."

Now the Army is concerned about losing those in another crucial rank, captains. From “Army effort to retain captains falls short of goal,” by Yochi J. Dreazen (Wall Street Journal 1/26):

An expensive Army effort to retain young officers with big cash bonuses has fallen short of its target, underscoring the military’s continuing struggle to recruit and keep troops.

The program persuaded 11,933 captains to commit to additional Army service, short of the 14,184 goal. The military will pay out more than $349 million in bonuses to the officers who took the incentives.


In Iraq, captains – who have usually served multiple tours in Iraq – are crucial to the counterinsurgency strategy that military commanders credit with a sharp and sustained decline in the country’s violence.

With more troops at his disposal because of last year’s surge strategy, Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander there, pushed small units of soldiers, generally led by captains, off of larger bases and out into Iraqi neighborhoods. In many parts of the country, those captains brokered local cease-fires and persuaded Sunni tribesmen to join the fight against al-Qaeda in Iraq, developments credited with sharply reducing Iraq’s bloodshed.

Large numbers of captains also serve on the military training teams that live alongside, and mentor, the fledgling Iraqi army. That means that captains are essential to the eventual U.S. exit strategy from Iraq, which depends on standing up an Iraqi military capable of defending the country on its own.

But the military’s heavy reliance on captains comes at an enormous cost. Many captains – generally in their late 20s or early 30s – have done two, three and in some cases four tours in Iraq or Afghanistan.

On trips to the war zones, it is common to meet captains who have young children they have never met or ex-wives who left after growing tired of waiting for the soldiers to return home.

A salute to the captains. Our thanks for your service.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Hazleton, Home of Takeout

The March 2008 issue of Fast Company is my current train reading. On page 35 there is a brief note on the book The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food by Jennifer 8. Lee.

Here is an excerpt:

Lee, a Chinese-American reporter for the New York Times, traces the roots of the innovations that helped make the cuisine ubiquitous, including chop suey (San Francisco), fortune cookies (Japan), takeout containers (Hazleton, Pennsylvania), delivery (New York), and soy-sauce packets (Totowa, New Jersey).

Hazleton is the home of Chinese food takeout containers? That seems so ironic for some reason .....

PA Building Blue

The Pennsylvania Democratic Party has introduced a new slogan and accompanying web site. Building Blue is envisioned as a one-stop shopping location for anyone interested in becoming involved in Democratic campaigns during the 2008 election cycle. Parts of it are still under construction but stop by and give it a look.

Custer Makes It Official

Frank Custer turned in nominating petitions for the 61th district state house race but made his candidacy official today. According to his press release:

“I know how government should work and the way it should
serve the people, and I want to take the good characteristics of the
hundreds of elected officials I’ve worked with and observed over the
years and try to make a difference in Harrisburg,” Custer said.

“I am not so naïve to believe that one member of a large body like the General Assembly can single-handedly change the way it operates, but I am idealistic enough to want to roll up my sleeves, work with Republicans and Democrats and try to do more than simply protect power and turf.”

Custer, a Navy veteran, has a long history of community service and political experience. He was the press secretary and a senior advisor to then Congressman Joe Hoeffel and later formed a public relations consulting firm. In addition:

He was a mainstay in youth sports in the Harleysville area when his family lived there. He coached youth basketball, baseball and softball. In addition, he was the founder and first commissioner of the Souderton-Harleysville Youth Basketball Association (SHYBA) and was a board member of the Harleysville Girls Softball League for many years. He also was a PIAA basketball referee from 1992 to 2000.

He has served as a volunteer with ActionAIDS in Philadelphia, and is now a member of the North Penn Symphony Orchestra board of directors, the Nor-Gwyn Pool Commission and the board of directors of the Gwynedale Homeowners Association.

Before running against incumbent Republican Kate Harper he is seeking the endorsement of the Montgomery County Democratic Party. Another Democrat filed papers in this district so he may also have a primary race.

The 61st district includes all of Upper Gwynedd and North Wales, and parts of Plymouth, Whitpain, Lower Gwynedd and Towamencin Townships and one voting precinct in Montgomery Township.

This information taken from an emailed press release. No word yet on a campaign website.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Net Neutrality Concert

From the inbox:

On Saturday, February 23, a bevy of woman-centric bands and DJs will play South Street music hub Tritone. Part of a series of monthly events showcasing female musicians, the show is also in support of “Rock the Net” — Future of Music Coalition’s ongoing campaign for net neutrality. Appearing at the “Sugar Town” concert are Beretta 76, Victor Victor Band, KeN, Surgeon and DJ Chatty Cathy.

The Internet is an increasingly powerful tool for musicians. The current structure of the web lets the biggest record labels and smallest bedroom recording artists exist on a more or less equal technological playing field. But some telecoms would like to charge content providers a fee for the faster loading of their sites. Those who couldn’t afford to — or didn’t want to — pay a toll would be relegated the slow lane. Net neutrality preserves everyone’s access to the varied, exciting and legal musical offerings online.

When: Saturday, February 23 at 9 PM
Where: Tritone, 1508 South St. Philadelphia, PA
Admission: $7. 21+.

Robert Traynham Week Last Week

Last week it appears to have been Robert Traynham Week. Who, you may ask, is Robert Traynham? He's a Pennsylvania native, (Lansdowne?), graduate of Cheyney University. Then the world of politics beckoned. He worked in the Clinton White House and then wound up in Sen. Santorum's office for 10 years, eventually as communications director and deputy chief of staff. Traynham is now the DC Bureau Chief for CN8 and has his own interview show. Those who keep track of political trivia may remember the minor media dustup when it was made public that his personal inclinations were more Log Cabin Republican than Santorum Republican, though the senator stood by his man admirably.

Capitol Ideas has a short interview with Traynham.

There is also an interview in the February issue of Politics magazine.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

DVRPC Survey

The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission would like your opinion. From the inbox:

The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) is conducting a public outreach survey to gather opinions on the vision for transportation and land use in the greater Philadelphia region. This is laying the groundwork for the update to the nine-county long-range plan. Please take a few minutes to fill out this short survey and give us your input at By doing so you could be eligible to win an 8 GB iPod Touch. Survey ends March 7, 2008.

I have had dealings with DVRPC in working with community groups and found the people there to be uniformly knowledgeable, helpful, and pleasant.

Please take a moment and give them your thoughts.

More Petition Notes

The press releases are flying furiously. Here are a few notes from emails received, regarding candidate petitions turned in last week.

Patrick Murphy, the freshman Democrat representing the 8th congressional district, turned in over 5,750 signatures.

Republican Dan Meuser, trying to unseat freshman Democrat Chris Carney who represents the 10th congrssional district, turned in over 4,100 signatures.

Democrat Bob Roggio, who would like to defeat Republican Rep. Jim Gerlach of the 6th congressional district, was the first congressional candidate in the state to quality for the ballot. While not providing the number of signatures, the press release did say that over 100 volunteers circulated his petitions.

Tom Ferrick Leaves the Inquirer

On Sunday, February 3rd, Tom Ferrick, Jr., wrote his last column for the Inquirer. I have been a fan of Mr. Ferrick since he began writing his column in 1998 (info taken from Wikipedia). The quality of his writing stayed high to the end. In January he wrote an excellent series on the lack of diversity of the city's unions. There was no announcement as to his plans or whether his relationship with the paper would continue. Mr. J, also a fan, and I wish him well in his future endeavors whatever they may be.

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 again. From “Government faces pressures over student loans,” by Robert Tomsho (2/16):

On Friday, U.S. Rep Paul Kanjorski (D, Pa.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee’s subcommittee on capital markets, sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Education Secretary Margaret Spellings urging them to mount a federal effort to maintain liquidity and stability in the $77 billion student-loan market.

Pennsylvania is mentioned a few times in “Clinton team seeks to calm turmoil,” by Monica Langley and Amy Chozick (2/14). Most are simply including Pennsylvania in a list of upcoming primaries. However, there is also a mention that finance director Jonathan Mantz has been to Philadelphia to meet with Gov. Rendell

PA Businesses

Comcast is in the news a number of times this week. The company is the focus of “Comcast plans $7 billion buyback,” by Dionne Searcey and Vishesh Kumar (2/15) and “Comcast scraps payout plan for founder after criticism,” by Vishesh Kumar and Dionne Searcey (2/14). There is a brief mention in “Cable prepares an answer to FiOS,” by Vishnesh Kumar (2/14) and also in “Net-neutrality debate kicks into high gear,” by Amy Schatz, Dionne Searcey, and Vishesh Kumar (21/3)

Dick’s Diner in Murrysville’s use of special germ killing lamps to sanitize door handles is mentioned in “Restroom décor: germy doorknobs inspire inventors,” by Conor Dougherty (2/15)

Alcoa is mentioned in “Rio Tinto’s earnings illustrate why it’s in play,” by Robert Guy Matthews (2/14) and “BHP investors awaiting long-term rewards,” by Stephen Bell (2/12)

William Lerach, who was raised in Pittsburgh, is the subject of “Closing argument: Mr. Lerach mulls life behind bars,” by Peter Lattman (2/12)

“Toll Brothers’ no-sale is a family matter,” by Michael Corkery (2/11) focuses on the local real estate firm.

Brief notice: Knoll of East Greenville (2/13)
Quaker Steak & Lube of Sharon (2/11)

Other PA

The Inky’s Kevin Ferris pens an editorial called “Philly’s war on the Boy Scouts,” on 2/16.

Philly area businessman and helicopter inventor, Frank Piasecki, is remembered in “Inventor pioneered military helicopters,” by Stephen Miller (2/16).

Other Interesting Tidbits

“Primary sends shivers through capitol moderates,” by Amy Schatz and Brody Mullins (2/14) quotes bloggers Matt Stoller and Markos Moulitsas Zuniga.

Those with an interest (either pro or con) in the proposed “smart meter” aspect of the governor’s energy plan might enjoy reading “In the dark: the monthly utility bill typically reveals little. And that’s a missed opportunity for reducing energy demand,” by Rebecca Smith (2/11)

Friday, February 15, 2008

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).

A number of bills passed this week relate to the activities allowed by health care workers. Check out the senate weekly reports for the scoop on SB 1172, something to do with guns.

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
PA Democratic House


Resolution No. 224 By Senators VANCE, BRUBAKER, CORMAN, M. WHITE, MUSTO, TOMLINSON, WONDERLING, SCARNATI, ARMSTRONG, BAKER, EARLL, FERLO, GORDNER, PICCOLA, PUNT, RAFFERTY, REGOLA and C. WILLIAMS. Printer's No. 1703. A Resolution directing the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to study the cost for wastewater treatment plants to comply with Pennsylvania's Chesapeake Bay Tributary Strategy.



HB 1804 Prior Printer's Nos. 2612, 3013.Printer's No. 3223. 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 definitions and for the State Board of Medicine; providing for jointly promulgated regulations; and further providing for respiratory care practitioners and for respiratory care practitioner certificates and permits.

HB 1999 Prior Printer's Nos. 2869, 3014.Printer's No. 3224. 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 and for respiratory care practitioners.

HB 2051 Prior Printer's Nos. 2936, 3015.Printer's No. 3225. 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 and for respiratory care practitioners; and making inconsistent repeals.

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.

HB 949 Prior Printer's No. 1115.Printer's No. 2933. 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 State Board of Certified Real Estate Appraisers, for powers and duties of board, for application and qualifications, for reciprocity, for certification and licensure renewal, for disciplinary and corrective measures, for reinstatement, for reporting of multiple certification, for surrender of suspended or revoked certificate, for penalties and for injunctive relief.

HB 1257 By Representatives PASHINSKI, KORTZ, FREEMAN, JOSEPHS, MUNDY and JAMES. Prior Printer's No. 1628.Printer's No. 2934. An Act amending the act of May 1, 1933 (P.L.216, No.76), known as The Dental Law, further defining "expanded function dental assistant"; defining "certified dental assistant"; further providing for general powers of the State Board of Dentistry, for fees, for reason for refusal, revocation or suspension of license or certificate, for penalties, for civil penalties, for right of dentists to practice as dental hygienists and expanded function dental assistants, for reporting of multiple licensure or certification and for the definition of "assignment of duties"; and providing for scope of practice of expanded function dental assistant and for scope of practice for certified dental assistant.

HB 2088 Printer's No. 3007. An Act amending the act of October 5, 1978 (P.L.1109, No.261), known as the Osteopathic Medical Practice Act, further providing for definitions, for the State Board of Osteopathic Medicine, for respiratory care practitioners, for respiratory care practitioner certificates and permits and for reasons for refusal, revocation or suspension of license; and providing for regulations.

HB 2200 Prior Printer's Nos. 3089, 3176, 3218.Printer's No. 3233. An Act amending Title 66 (Public Utilities) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for recovery of certain labor relations expenses; further providing for definitions; providing for adoption of energy efficiency and demand-side response; and further providing for duties of electric distribution companies.

HB 494 Printer's No. 549. An Act amending the act of May 1, 1933 (P.L.216, No.76), known as The Dental Law, further providing for State Board of Dentistry.

HB 1752 Prior Printer's Nos. 2334, 3000.Printer's No. 3194. An Act providing for education for parents relating to sudden infant death syndrome and sudden unexpected death of infants; establishing the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Education and Prevention Program; and providing for duties of the Department of Health.

HB 1867 Prior Printer's Nos. 2553, 2728.Printer's No. 3174. An Act requiring a circulating nurse in certain operating rooms.


HB 1691 By Representatives W. KELLER, BLACKWELL, M. O'BRIEN, SABATINA, PAYTON, DONATUCCI, McGEEHAN, RAYMOND, MYERS, YOUNGBLOOD and CALTAGIRONE. Printer's No. 2225. An Act authorizing the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Department of Transportation, Department of Environmental Protection and Philadelphia Regional Port Authority, on behalf of the Commonwealth, to agree to hold and save the United States Army Corps of Engineers free from certain damages arising from certain construction projects.

SB 1027 By Senators GREENLEAF, BOSCOLA, ERICKSON, O'PAKE, KITCHEN, FERLO, STACK, BROWNE and WASHINGTON. Printer's No. 1302. An Act amending Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in State intermediate punishment provisions, further providing for referral to State intermediate punishment program.

SB 1172 By Senators ROBBINS, SCARNATI, WAUGH, LAVALLE, ARMSTRONG, FERLO, FOLMER, FONTANA, GORDNER, KASUNIC, LOGAN, RAFFERTY, REGOLA, RHOADES, D. WHITE, M. WHITE, WONDERLING, WOZNIAK and STACK. Printer's No. 1588. An Act amending Title 35 (Health and Safety) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing, in provisions relating to the Governor and disaster emergencies, for general authority of the Governor.

SB 949 Prior Printer's Nos. 1675, 1685, 1710.Printer's No. 1744. An Act providing for bituminous coal mines; and making a repeal.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Gov Rendell Press Conference on Open Records Bill

Governor Ed Rendell signing SB 1, the open records law today. He held a press conference to do so and he and others took some questions about the bill.

The press conference was replayed on PCN at 10 p.m. Here are my notes from it. Most of the questions were inaudible.

As always, remember I am taking notes as people talk and often cannot get more than the gist or passing phrases. Please check with the person speaking for exact words, or read newspapers tomorrow for more reliable quotes. My apologies in advance for any errors or misconceptions.

Rendell commends the State House and Senate for working together and working in a bipartisan fashion. Not a perfect bill but a good bill and a step on the road to reform. [lists some postitive aspects of bill]. Received a letter from the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association praising the bill. Many people responsible for this, singles out four: Sen. Dominic Pileggi, Rep. Bill DeWeese, Rep. Tim Mahoney, and Rep. Josh Shapiro.

Pileggi says this is historic legislation, first updating of law in 50 years, will substantially change dynamic between citizenship and government. This will pay dividends for years to come. Special thanks to Sen. Jake Corman, Sen. Mellow, Sen. Anthony Williams, and Sen. Jim Ferlo. In the house thanks Rep. Sam Smith and Rep. Maher [not sure I heard this correctly], Rep. DeWeese, Rep. Mahoney, and Rep. Shapiro. Thanks two members of his staff. Many public interest groups involved, thanks Penn Newspapers Association

DeWeese: No doubt that new representatives helped bring this about. Praises Speaker O’Brien. This is a major change in how we do business. Would not have happened in the same way without Tim Mahoney, [mentions others including Rick Taylor and Bryan Lentz whom I could see in the background]. We are a new caucus in many many ways.

Mahoney: Praises Pileggi, DeWeese and Shapiro. People ask me what I like about Harrisburg the best. There are good days and bad days and this is one of the best days.

Shapiro: It truly was Tim Mahoney’s heart and his passion for this reform issue that helped it pass. Thanks DeWeese and others. Part of speakers commission recommendations. I realized that we had accomplished something quite great, set for a template of bipartisanship and both houses working together for good. If we apply this template to energy and other issues it will be a benefit for the people of Pennsylvania.

ER: [signing] It isn’t health care but it is a pretty good Valentine’s Day present.

Q: [could not hear]

DP: Law applies to requests made after Jan 1, 2009. There is a ramp up time to start up process.

Q: [could not hear]

ER: Going to rest on the fact that it is a very good bill. Told PA Newspaper Assoc if they didn’t like the bill he wouldn’t sign it. They did and he did.

Q: [could not hear]

ER: This is the first major reform bill. Want to compliment both senate and house for internal reforms. Would like to see in legislation redistricting to open up political process, and campaign finance reform.

Q: [could not hear]

ER: Stimulus package and energy bill. Two similar bills on fuels and conservation and renewable energy and growth. Health care goes before the house in March also. Budget, most important part is education. On reform, would like to see those issues get done before the end of the year. Compliments legislature, has more session days, get things done more quickly. More new young members responsive to pubic and get things done.

Q: include emails between lobbyists and members?

TM: yes, included. This new law will be one of the 10 best in the country.

Q: changes of getting information out

DeW: Certainly there’s a new attitude and approach, try to coordinate and expedite.
DP: Senate has a history of being responsive, become more standardized.

Q: specific documents and records now available that weren’t before

ER: The administration gave out most documentation. We will all try to live up to the spirit of the legislation even though not active until 2009.

Q: [could not hear]

ER: In terms of administration, if can’t get info in a timely manner call the gov and he will try to expedite.

Q: campaign finance reform, limits?

ER: limits on total and amounts in election cycle. There are bills in the hopper. Would like to see some progress.

Q: [could not hear]

DP: Specific provisions in the law that agencies are free to release records that aren’t mandated to be released. Sets a floor for records available, many records now routinely make available that are required to be made available.

Q: office of open records in DCED up and running in Jan 2009

DP: Yes, and room for input in process.

Tie Notes: ER blue & silver striped tie, DP blue and yellow striped tie, BDeW black turtleneck / no tie, Mahoney red patterned tie, Shapiro in previously unseen orange and black striped tie. [photo of signing, Shapiro and Rendell ties visible, more photos of bill signing here]

Notes From the Final Candidates List

The Department of State’s list is time stamped 3:35 so we might assume it is final; the deadline to turn in election petitions was noon.

One Republican (Thomas Ellis) and four Democrats lined up for state treasurer:
Jennifer Mann
Dennis Morrison-Wesley
John Cordisco
Rob McCord

The congressional races are crowded:

In the 3rd district, four Democrats are lined up against incumbent Republican Phil English

The 5th district is an open seat; nine Republicans and three Democrats turned in petitions.

In the 6th, incumbent Republican Jim Gerlach has three Democratic challengers, Bob Rovner, Bob Roggio and Mike Leibowitz.

In the 8th, incumbent Democrat Patrick Murphy has two Republican challengers, Tom Manion and Joseph Montone

In the 10th, incumbent Democrat Chris Carney faces off against three Republicans.

In the 13th, incumbent Democrat Allyson Schwartz still has two Republican opponents, Marina Kats and Lee Falgoust.

In the 18th, incumbent Republican Tim Murphy has four Democratic challengers.

Only Democrat Mike Doyle of the 14th district gets off scot free with no opponents of any party.

In the state senate (with an emphasis on unusual races):

In the 1st district Vince Fumo has three Democratic challengers in the primary and the winner of that scuffle has a nominal Republican opponents.

The 13th district (open seat) has one Democrat and four Republicans in the mix.

The 17th district (another open seat) has one Democrat (Daylin Leach) and three Republicans (Lisa Paolino, Lance Rogers and John Durante) listed though I am told one has dropped out.

The 23rd district also has three Republicans and one Democrat.

The 33rd district has four Republicans in the mix.

The 47th has three Democrats and two Republicans.

Five of the 25 state senators up for election or reelection have no competition at all. They are: Mary Jo White (R-21), John Gordner (R-27), Don White (R-41), Jay Costa (D-43), and Sean Logan (D-45).

There are too many state house races to really keep track of. Most contested races have just two candidates, though some have significantly more.

In the 149th Tim Briggs now has an opponent, Republican Michael Fiore

Of the 203 house seats, over one third (78) have only one candidate, running unopposed. Oddly enough these are evenly split, 39 Democrats get a free ride, as do 39 Republicans. (Remember, I'm a liberal arts major -- double check the math.) The Speaker of the House, Republican Dennis O'Brien (R-169), and the Deputy Speaker, Josh Shapiro (D-153) are among those who can eat a lot more dinners at home with the family instead of running around campaigning.

Patrick Murphy, Eagles Fan

Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-08), who worked as a security guard in the 700 level of Veterans Stadium in high school, was the sole no vote on a resolution to congratulate the New York Giants on whatever it was that they did recently. DMac at Philadelphia Will Do has the details and further links. (h/t ACM)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

House Bill to Cut the Legislative Budget

Two freshman state representatives from the Pittsburgh area, Matt Smith and Randy Vulakovich, have introduced legislation to cut the budget for the state house by 20 percent.

They got support for their idea from other newer legislators from southwestern Pennsylvania, but long-time legislative observers say such a funding cut will be difficult to actually enact. The money goes for legislators' salaries, their staff salaries, office expenses at the Capitol and in the districts, public service announcements, mailings to constituents and other functions. (Source: "Freshmen seek to cut legislature's budget," by Tom Barnes, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, 2/13)

I don't know the ins and outs of the budget (and no one else does either right now -- maybe after the open records law takes effect) but there may be some wiggle room there. For example, state senators and state legislators have bare bones websites on the state's page, but their more detailed websites are provided by the caucuses, senate Democrats, senate Republicans, house Democrats, and house Republicans. They use templates so all the sites in each caucus look the same. That probably means two or four different tech groups, servers and the like. Maybe they can be consolidated. If public service announcements are produced by the parties there are probably two sets of staff there. Maybe they can be consolidated. Templates are used for newsletters and sometimes the exact same information is found on more than one person's newsletter. Why can't they use just one template instead of different ones for each party?

And then there's all those fancy lunches party leadership puts on the tab. Those could be pared down some, surely.

Not to sound cynical but I kind of doubt this will get out of committee

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Woo Hoo! Open Records!

Early articles are saying that the House and Senate and agreed on an open records law which will now go the the governor for official signing. Posted this afternoon on Phillyburbs, from the Associated Press, "Pa. Legislature sends open records law overhaul to governor."

Here are the first two paragraphs:

The Pennsylvania Senate on Tuesday approved a drastic overhaul of the state's open records law, a central element of the reform agenda the Legislature adopted after some lawmakers were ousted in the wake of the 2005 pay raise debacle.

The Senate unanimously approved changes to the Right-to-Know Law that are designed to let people know far more about the actions of state and local government. It passed the House unanimously Monday, and Gov. Ed Rendell's office said he will sign it.

More details at

Gleanings From the Official Candidate List

A few things that caught my eye from the Department of State's list of people who filed petitions to run for office. I am told that the governor might have extended the deadline for an extra two days. The list I looked at was time stamped 5:35 p.m. and the office closed today at 5:00. Someone told me the deadline had been extended for an extra two days but I don't have official verification of that. Far too many people are running unopposed. No one should get a free ride to reelection.

Once the list if formally set I'll check it again.

John Cordisco’s name is not listed for state treasurer but he may have turned in petitions late in the day and they haven't made it to the list yet.

Only two Republican challengers at present for Allyson Schwartz of the 13th congressional district, Marina Kats and Lee Falgoust

Jim Gerlach of the 6th congressional district, will face three Democrats, Bob Roggio, Mike Leibowitz, and Bob Rovner.

In the open 17th state senate district, Daylin Leach has three Republican opponents, John Durante, Lance Rogers, and Lisa Paolino.

In the open 31st state house district, it is Steve Santarsiero for the Democrats and Norman Stainthorpe for the Republicans.

Kate Harper, Republican from the 61st state house district will face two Democrats, Frank Custer (friend of Joe Hoeffel) and Todd Eisenberg

In the 150th house district Republican Mike Vereb faces Democrat Kelbin Carolina who ran for a Montgomery County row office last year.

The 181st will wind up with a Democrat Rep. Thomas, as W. Curtis Thomas is facing off against Lewis Thomas III.

Election Resources

John Micek of Capitol Ideas has posted the Ultimate ABC List of races he has been watching.

His steely-eyed DC compadre Josh Drobnyk of Pennsylvania Avenue has posted a list of the commonwealth's Democratic superdelegates and whether or not they have committed to either Sen. Clinton or Sen. Obama.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Lentz vs Hackett in 161st.

The race is set for the 161st state house district. Freshman Democrat Bryan Lentz will face Republican challenger Joseph Hackett. An article by Alex Rose in the Delaware County Daily Times, "Lentz will put record on line against Hackett,"," discusses the race. (The link is to a repost of the article on Lentz's campaign site because the Delco Times often doesn't have permalinks to articles.

Hackett is a former police officer with a history of community service. Lentz is a former assistant district attorney and Iraq War veteran. (Note: Lentz was interviewed on this blog before the 2006 election.) Apparently Hackett is running as a "regular guy." Lentz claims regular guy status as well. I'm not sure about that; he seems kind of extraordinary to me.

In this excerpt from Rose's article, Lentz discusses his first year in office:

“The first law that I introduced that was signed into law by (Gov. Ed Rendell) was House Bill 906, the Firefighters Emergency Services Grant program, which brought over $1 million in grants to fire companies in Delaware County,” said Lentz.

Lentz also cited his work in bringing a dedicated funding source to the mass transit system that will grow over time, and on the issues of energy independence, creating a regional airport authority, and reducing property taxes.

Lentz noted his support for Philadelphia Republican State Rep. John Perzel’s plan to use state gambling revenues to pay property taxes for seniors with incomes of less than $40,000.

“I supported it because I thought it was a good starting concept,” said Lentz, relating a military saying about consolidating combat power.

“If we take that money and concentrate it, we can give substantial relief to people who really need it,” he said, rather than dolling it out to everyone in small amounts.

The 161st district is shaped like a lightning bolt and represents these sections of Delaware County: TOWNSHIPS of Aston, (PART, Ward 06), Marple (PART, Ward 05 [PART, Division 02]), Nether Providence (PART, Wards 01, 02, 03, 04 and 05), Newtown (PART, Precincts 02 and 07), Radnor (PART, Wards 03 [PART, Divisions 01 (hd165) and 01 (hd167)], 04 [PART, Division 01] and 06 [PART, Division 01(hd167) and 02]), Ridley (PART, Wards 01 [PART, Division 03], 02 [PART, Divisions 01 and 03], 03, 05, 07 and 08 [PART, Division 01]), and Springfield (PART, Ward 03 [PART, Division 02 (hd161)]) and Upper Providence (PART, Precincts 02 and 03) and the BOROUGHS of Brookhaven, Rutledge and Swarthmore.

Tim Briggs to Run in 149th

The 149th state house district is an open seat this year. The current representative, Daylin Leach, is running for the state senate. Democrat Tim Briggs has announced his candidacy. No mention of a campaign website. His press release reads as follows:

Democrat Tim Briggs of Upper Merion has announced his candidacy to succeed State Rep. Daylin Leach in the 149th legislative district, which includes Upper Merion, Bridgeport, West Conshohocken and a portion of Lower Merion.

On Monday, February 11th, Briggs filed over 500 nominating signatures with the Department of State in order to be placed on the ballot for the Democratic primary.

"I want to continue the tradition of excellent public service provided to this district by Sen. Williams and Rep. Leach," Briggs said. "They are examples of what a good public servant should be".

Briggs has been committed to public service for practically his entire adult life and has served reform-minded, committed public servants such as Joe Hoeffel, Leach, Williams and former Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies Mezvinsky.

Having a young family has framed the issues he most wants to tackle in Harrisburg, including better and safer public schools, affordable higher education, better and more affordable healthcare and a clean environment.

"Having children has really changed my perspective on politics and government, and they are the main reason I am taking this step to become a candidate," Briggs said.

Briggs has the support of Commissioner Joe Hoeffel, the campaign's Chair, as well as Congressman Joe Sestak, Senator Connie Williams and Representative Daylin Leach, who are serving as honorary Co-chairs. "In all of my years in public life, I haven't seen anyone that has been more committed to the Democratic party and supporting progressive issues and bi-partisan solutions than Tim". Hoeffel said.

A native of Montgomery County, Briggs has been an Upper Merion resident for the past decade. He is currently an attorney with Hamburg, Rubin, Mullin, Maxwell & Lupin, a prominent Montgomery county law firm in its real estate and municipal law departments. He is a graduate of West Chester University and Temple University Law School.

Upper Merion Township has recently appointed Briggs to an ad hoc committee to explore the feasibility of building a recreation and/or cultural center in the township. He also serves on the board of directors of the James A. Finnegan Fellowship Foundation, a statewide organization that provides scholarships, stipends and internships to Pennsylvania students who express an interest in state government. He has previously served on the board of directors for Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Montgomery County, and was a volunteer fireman for several years.

Briggs and his wife, Robyn, have two children, Emily and Jack, ages seven and five respectively, who attend public schools in Upper Merion . Both Briggs and his wife are active in school and township recreational activities.

Blogger Loses 168 Pounds

CNN is reporting that a Clarion, PA woman who weighed 296 pounds started a blog in or around February 2005 and in the ensuing three years has lost 168 pounds. (see "Writer drops 168 pounds, blogs to inspire others," by Jackie Adams, 2/08).

This has not been my experience.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Debra Todd, Chanteuse

Some people collect salt & pepper shakers, others matchboxes or golf balls; I take note of singing politicians.

Before last November's election it came to my attention, while research judicial candidates, that one of the commonwealth's new Supreme Court judges has displayed notable musical talent.

Judge Debra Todd frequently performed, either solo or as part of a group, at bar association events.

For particulars see:

Walsh, Larry, "Bar Association does 'Sopranos" to raise funds for Legal Services," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (June 12, 2000)

Walsh, Lawrence, "County's legal types to present satirical look at year's events,"
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (June 9, 1997)

Walsh, Larry, "Judicial wheels greased in hills," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (June 17, 1995)

Walsh, Lawrence, "Lawyers prosecute for laughs," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (June 16, 1998)

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

Not Pennsylvania politicians but politics in Pennsylvania, “Candidates plot day-after moves,” by Amy Chozick and Christopher Cooper (2/05) states:

The Clinton campaign has offices and active volunteer bases in many of these states. In a conference call yesterday, chief campaign strategist Mark Penn said the nomination wouldn’t be decided today and stressed the importance of Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania.

PA Businesses

The Vanguard Group of Valley Forge is mentioned in “The Boss lends a hand,” by Jennifer Levitz (2/04)

This week’s requisite Mark Zandi (of West Chester based Moody’s quote is in “As houses empty, cities seek ways to fill the void,” by Michael Corkery and Ruth Simon (2/06)

D.C. Yuengling & Son, Inc. is mentioned in “Beer distributors want more than one best Bud,” by David Kesmodel (2/06)

Uh oh! “Charming to close nearly 150 stores,” (2/06) is on Charming Shoppes plan to close 150 stores and its new Petite Sophisticate chain.

Verispan of Yardley, a drug data vendor, provides some statistics for “Generic-drug firms get bolder,” by Thomas Gryta (2/06)

Robert Toll of Toll Brothers is quoted in “Speculators may have accelerated housing downturn,” by Ruth Simon and Michael Corkery (2/06). The company is the entire focus on “Toll sees no housing relief on horizon as home-construction revenue drops,” (2/07).

Egan-Jones Rating of Haverford is the focus of “Tiny firm gives ratings giants another worry,” by Aaron Lucchetti (2/09)

Alcoa is mentioned in a number of articles this week. I know I missed at least one other, but here are the others: “BHP boosts offer for Rio Tinto,” by Robert Guy Matthews and Matthew Karnitschnig (2/06), “China shows deal savvy in Rio Tinto move,” by Rick Carew and Andrew Batson (2/06), “Rio can play a long game,” by John Foley, Lauren Silva and Rob Cox (2/07), “Rio Tinto’s board rejects sweetened bid,” by Robert Guy Matthews and Matthew Karnitschnig (2/07)

Gary Miller of Eckert Seamens in Philadelphia is quoted in “Yahoo studies alternatives to Microsoft,” by Kevin J. Delaney and Matthew Karnitschnig (2/06)

Brief mention: Targetrx Inc. of Horsham (2/05)
Rite Aid (2/06)
Penn National Gaming of Wyomissing (2/07)

Other PA

In “States scooping up assets from millions of Americans,” by Scott Thurm and Pui-Wing Tam (2/04), we learn that Pennsylvania collected $150M in unclaimed property in 2006, return $200M to owners, and current holds $1,000M.

Other Interesting Tidbits

There were a number of articles on the presidential race but too many to list here.

Friday, February 08, 2008

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
PA Democratic House


HB 1742 Prior Printer's Nos. 2321, 3008.Printer's No. 3091. An Act requiring scrap processors and recycling facility operators to collect certain information relating to the purchase of scrap material; requiring commercial accounts; and restricting scrap processors and recycling facility operators from purchasing certain materials.

HB 706 Prior Printer's No. 791.Printer's No. 1882. An Act amending the act of July 10, 1981 (P.L.214, No.67), known as the Bingo Law, further defining "bona fide member"; and further providing for rules for licensing and operation.


HB 1131 Prior Printer's No. 1382.Printer's No. 3178. An Act amending the act of May 1, 1933 (P.L.103, No.69), known as The Second Class Township Code, providing for the establishment of fire and emergency medical services.

HB 1133 Prior Printer's No. 1384.Printer's No. 3179. An Act amending the act of February 1, 1966 (1965 P.L.1656, No.581), known as The Borough Code, providing for specific powers of boroughs relating to emergency services.

HB 1134 Prior Printer's No. 1385.Printer's No. 3180. An Act amending the act of June 24, 1931 (P.L.1206, No.331), known as The First Class Township Code, providing for specific powers relating to emergency services.

SB 295 By Senators BROWNE, BOSCOLA, FERLO, COSTA, RAFFERTY, ORIE, ERICKSON and VANCE. Prior Printer's Nos. 332, 1707.Printer's No. 1739. An Act providing for idling restrictions on diesel-powered commercial vehicles; and imposing a penalty.

SB 776 By Senators WONDERLING, TOMLINSON, PUNT, RAFFERTY, O'PAKE, STOUT, WAUGH, M. WHITE, FUMO, GREENLEAF, RHOADES, ERICKSON, C. WILLIAMS, COSTA, LAVALLE, ROBBINS, MADIGAN, EARLL, ARMSTRONG and BROWNE. Prior Printer's Nos. 873, 1719.Printer's No. 1740. An Act amending the act of June 29, 1953 (P.L.304, No.66), known as the Vital Statistics Law of 1953, further providing for registration districts and local registrars' duties, for death and fetal death registrations and for reports.

SB 987 By Senators BAKER, WAUGH, MUSTO, BOSCOLA, RAFFERTY and RHOADES. Prior Printer's Nos. 1205, 1620.Printer's No. 1741. An Act amending the act of June 23, 1931 (P.L.932, No.317), known as The Third Class City Code, providing for emergency services.

SB 1201 Prior Printer's Nos. 1629, 1709.Printer's No. 1742. An Act amending Title 74 (Transportation) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for logging of certain aircraft flights.

SB 1019 By Senators GORDNER, CORMAN, ERICKSON, TARTAGLIONE, BAKER, WAUGH, WOZNIAK, KASUNIC, MADIGAN, WONDERLING, MUSTO, LOGAN and FERLO. Prior Printer's Nos. 1277, 1584.Printer's No. 1711. An Act amending the act of December 22, 1983 (P.L.306, No.84), known as the Board of Vehicles Act, further providing for definitions, for grounds for disciplinary proceedings for vehicle shows, off-premise sales and exhibitions; providing for recreational vehicle shows, recreational vehicle off-premise sales, recreational vehicle exhibitions and recreational vehicle rallies; and further providing for vehicle shows, off-premise sales and exhibitions on Sundays.

SB 1122 By Senators PICCOLA, ORIE, WAUGH, WONDERLING, CORMAN, GREENLEAF, McILHINNEY, ARMSTRONG, BAKER, BROWNE, SCARNATI, REGOLA and GORDNER. Printer's No. 1503. An Act amending the act of April 9, 1929 (P.L.177, No.175), known as The Administrative Code of 1929, prohibiting the furlough of Commonwealth employees.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

142nd to be King vs. Farry

The ballot has been set for the 142nd state house district in Bucks County. Freshman Democrat Chris King will be running against Frank Farry, chief of the Langhorne-Middletown Fire Co., and assistant township manager of Middletown. (See "Fire chief to challenge King," by Danny Adler, Bucks County Courier Times 2/07). In 2006 King's campaign site was but that does not seem to be in service at this time.

The 142nd district represents Langhorne Boro, Penndel, Langhorne Manor, Hulmeville, most of Middletown Township and most of Lower Southampton Township.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Open Records Update

In this evening's legislative email (which you, too, can sign to receive by visiting the state general assembly's website) the House did vote on SB001, the open records law. This is what the most recent bill history lists as activity:

Referred to RULES, Feb. 4, 2008
Re-reported on concurrence, as committed, Feb. 6, 2008
Motion to postpone on concurrence until, Feb. 12, 2008 (100-98), Feb. 6, 2008
(Remarks see House Journal Page ....), Feb. 6, 2008

I'm not sure what this means except they are delaying further. We could read the remarks in the House Journal, oh, wait, no we can't. The most recent issue of the House Journal available to the public is July 14, 2007. So maybe in 6 month we can read what was said.

Check your newspapers tomorrow or read Capitol Ideas or Pennsyltucky Politics or the open records website. They should have all the details.

Rick Taylor Media Alert

For those who read Tuesday's post about the legislator's forum in Montco last week and wondered exactly what State Rep. Rick Taylor's tie looked it, he is wearing it in the photo accompanying an article in the ReporterOnline. See "Taylor relying on pragmatism in Harrisburg," by Bradley Schlegel, posted 2/05. Here is an excerpt:

During his freshman stint in the state House, Taylor, D-151st District, contributed language to a law that would allow seniors to enter a nursing home without having to liquidate their assets to apply for Medicaid.

He submitted a bill that would strengthen legal control over convicted sexual predators, and worked to prevent private airplanes from using the Willow Grove Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base, which the military is scheduled to close in 2010.

Lentz to Hold Seminars on Senior Safety

Also from the inbox:

State Rep. Bryan R. Lentz, D-Delaware, will host the first of three senior safety seminars at noon, Thursday, Feb. 21 at the Country Squire in Broomall.
A representative from Senior Victim Services in Media will discuss the organization and the services they offer, as well as tools to prevent becoming a victim of identification fraud and other scams directed toward seniors. While the topic of the event is senior safety, attendees can discuss with Lentz any issue that is important to them and their family.
This free event is offered as a community service. Because seating is limited, constituents interested in attending the luncheon are asked to R.S.V.P. by Feb.14.

R.S.V.P and other information on Lentz's website.

Veterans History Project Training Workshop

From the inbox:

Help Preserve the Stories of Pennsylvania’s Veterans:

News on Upcoming Veterans History Project Training Workshops

Washington, D.C. – With over one million veterans, Pennsylvania is home to one of the nation’s largest populations of Americans who have served in the armed forces. To ensure that the stories of bravery and sacrifice of these men and women who have defended our nation are not forgotten, U.S. Representative Allyson Schwartz has partnered with the Library of Congress Veterans History Project to offer winter training workshops on February 19 and 20 in Philadelphia and Jenkintown.

The goal of the Veterans History Project is to establish a permanent national collection that preserves the experiences of war veterans by creating videotaped or recorded interviews and gathering written memoirs, as well as wartime letters, diaries and photographs. This collection captures the experiences of war veterans from all service branches, as well as the civilians who supported them on the home front.

During the February workshops, experts from the Library of Congress will present on how citizens and organizations can become involved with the Veterans History Project. Topics to be covered include oral history interviewing, audio and video documentation, and Veterans History Project guidelines.

Veterans History Project Training Workshop


Tuesday, February 19, 2008, 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Klein Branch Jewish Community Center
10100 Jamison Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19116


Wednesday, February 20, 2008, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Jenkintown Library
460 York Road
Jenkintown, PA 19046

For more information or to register see Congresswoman Schwartz's website.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Bucks Co State House Race Updates

While we are all waiting for the final Super Tuesday results, here is an update on some Bucks County state house races.

On the 26th Brian Scheid posted an article, "Democrats hand out election endorsements," at Phillyburbs which provided a lot of good information on Bucks County state house races.

I've checked for campaign websites and added in a few other info bits for the contested races. The Bucks County Republicans have their endorsement meeting this coming Thursday so more information will be available then.

Here goes:

In the 18th district, incumbent Republican Gene DiGirolamo is likely to face a second challenge by Harris Martin, an environmental scientist from Bensalem. In 2006 Martin's campaign website was The 18th district represents part or all of Bensalem and Lower Southhampton Townships.

In the 29th district, incumbent Republican Bernie O'Neill is likely to face a second challenge from Brad Kirsch, a former Centennial school board member from Warminster. In 2006, Kirsch's campaign website was The 29th district represents part or all of these townships: Buckingham, Solebury, Upper Southampton, Warminster, and Warwick, as well as part or all of New Hope.

The 31st district is an open seat this time as incumbent Republican Dave Steil is not running again. The endorsed Democratic candidate is Steve Santarsiero, vice-chairman of the Lower Makefield Board of Supervisors, who ran for Bucks County Commissioner last year. He may have a primary challenge from Mike Diamond who ran against Steil in 2006. Diamond looks like a young Josh Shapiro, if such a thing is possible. There are two possible Republican candidates. The 31st district represents part or all of Yardley, Newtown, and the part or all of the townships of Newtown, Upper Makefield, and Lower Makefield.

In the 178th district, incumbent Republican Scott Petri faces a challenge from Steve Rovner, an attorney from Northampton. Rovner has a current, active campaign site at The 178th represents parts or all of Ivytown and part or all of the townships of Northampton, Upper Makefield, Upper Southampton, Warwick Twp, and Wrightstown.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Three Montco Reps, Two Calling Birds ....

Last Thursday I attended a multi-legislator / candidate forum. It is one of my favorite types of events (free, open to the public, more than one candidate in a single setting). If you know of any other events like this please let me know. I was able to attend this one because someone told me about it a few weeks before it happened.

As always, keep in mind that I was taking notes as people spoke. I apologize in advance for any errors or misconceptions. It is impossible to catch all the examples or allusions that people use and my aim is to get the gist, so remarks sound much choppier than they actually are (were?).

Abington Township Building. January 31, 2008

Hosted by League of Women Voters of Abington, Cheltenham and Jenkintown, and Eastern Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce

State Legislators in attendance:
Rep. Josh Shapiro (D-153) (,
Rep. Rick Taylor (D-151) (,
Rep. Larry Curry (D-154) (

State Senator LeAnna Washington was not able to attend due to a family emergency.

LWV questions

Q: Will you actively support amending the Pennsylvania Constitution to provide for an independent commission to draw districts?

RT: Thanks LWV and EMCC. Voting is fundamental to democracy. We must make sure we are doing everything to make your vote count. Districts should be compact, contiguous, non-discriminatory, respect geographic and political boundaries, and not designed to protect incumbents. The process has become highly partisan. Currently 98% of incumbents win nationally. Upper Dublin Township has is split among four different state house districts. Legislators are choosing their constituents. I am in favor of nonpartisan redistricting.

JS: Thanks LWV and EMCC. Redistricting is a key reform needed in Harrisburg. If we don’t make districts more fair we will continue to see elected officials run to the far left and right, not working together. I favor a nine person committee and their plan should be voted up or down.

LC: Thanks LWV and EMCC. I am opposed to the general assembly voting on congressional districts. I would like a commission to draw congressional lines. A great deal of mischief can occur when the legislature votes on districts. We need to get a report from a commission. We should keep school districts and municipalities together.

Q: Do you support an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution for merit selection of judges?

RT: I am supportive of the concept.

JS: I support merit selection and am going to introduce a bill to that effect. We should also be sensitive to the will of the people. I would like a diverse citizen nomination commission to submit names to the governor who would then submit names to the state senate.

LC: I have moved my position on this. I used to favor electing judges but now selection appeals to me.

Q: School funding. Do you favor established minimum level or realistic expenditure?

LC: I served on a bipartisan commission for two years on educational funding. We made recommendations. Nothing happens. We need to move but it is hard to get institutions to respond. In Philadelphia, with $4700 per student; they are underfunded. Look at special education funding.

JS: With strong public education there is less crime, better jobs, dollars, quality teachers, curriculum, less stress from the federal government needed. I am on a committee to study this, found costing out study. Abington, Cheltenham and Jenkintown are overfunded but getting less and less from the state. We get .12 on the dollar from the state and .02 from the federal government. The rest comes from property taxes. We need to adequately fund public education. I hope to come up with a better formula.

RT: We are fortunate in this area. There is inequity across the state. I have visited lower funded schools. We’ve got to do a better job.

Q: Do you support a 3.5% in library funding?

JS: Absolutely, I am a strong supporter of libraries. We need to increase funding to get them back on track where they were. We can’t fund everything but libraries are a huge part of education and enrichment. This is a critical issue.

RT: My wife works in a library. [Quotes Ben Franklin on the democratizing effect of libraries.]

LC: I am a library supporter.

EMCC questions

Q: Rising cost of health care for small businesses

RT: Mentions the governor’s Cover All Pennsylvanians plan. Medical costs have gone up over 70%. Hospital acquired infections are a problem. We need to let nurses practice to the fullest extent of their training. There are 800,000 uninsured people in Pennsylvania.

Q: Do you support the Family and Business Support Act (HB 1660)?

JS: With Cover All Kids, every kid has access to health care. Under Adult Basic 40,000 to 50,000 adults are covered but there are over 100,000 on a waiting list to join. There are 800,000 uninsured people in Pennsylvania, 74% of them are working but can’t afford health insurance. This is our #1 issue. We can’t fund it on the backs of small business. I went to let small businesses join up to negotiate with insurance companies. We need to make sure doctors practice in our communities and I support MCARE abatements.

LC: In this session we have passed 7 [did not catch the rest of this], part of the governor’s plan. Five more bills are moving through committee, HB 1601 & 2005 money bills, that has slowed things done. HB 1660 sponsored by concerned citizens is being considered.

Q: Act 44 and sale of the turnpike?

RT: We need dedicated funds for mass transit. I liked the concept of tolling I-80 but am skeptical about leasing the turnpike. We need to figure out how to fund bridges and mass transit.

JS: I support Act 44, increase tolls, toll I-80. Federal approval is required for tolling I-80. We need to fund our infrastructure. Approve of leasing the turnpike only if Act 44 goes down. [He explains the process it has to go through.] Says okay to lease if there are strict guidelines.

LC: Not so supportive of leasing. Concerned that there is also language to toll I-95 and the expressway.

Audience questions

Q: Should we allow people to register to vote through welfare agencies?

JS: We should allow people to vote through the most convenient way possible, and allow same day registration and voting.

RT: Agree, it should be as easy as possible.

LC: We have mail in registration.

Q: Should we have voter verified paper trail for ballots?

JS: I co-sponsored a bill, HB 2000, on this, currently in committee.

RT: Also co-sponsored legislation on this.

Q: Is the House working in a bipartisan fashion?

JS: For the first time in 12 years the Democrats are in the majority but we voted a Republican in as Speaker of the House. This set a tone of bipartisanship and cooperation. We need to do more and better but the groundwork is there.

LC: There was a strong spirit of reform in the spring; the relationship among the rank and file is better. I have seen bills go down on partisanship. The Senate won’t vote on bills because they don’t like the governor’s plan. Partisanship has clogged up the process especially in the Senate.

RT: Rep. Shapiro is has really worked on reform. Some honest differences lead to partisanship.

Q: Some legislators are retiring because they feel ineffective.

LC: Partisanship. Three of the most thoughtful Republicans are leaving.

JS: People who don’t feel effective should make room for others.

Q: Clean air standards, climate change

LC: We did adopt California standards. The governor has a proposal for renewable energy. It won’t happen overnight but we are moving along.

RT: Other proactive steps. Rep. Vitali has some legislation to inventory greenhouse gasses. The governor has energy proposals.

JS: The EPA sued Pennsylvania and other states over using the California standards. Tax credits for renewable and alternative energy. The governor wants energy conservation funds. The proposed smart meter would cost $5.40 a year but save over $70 a year.

Q: Gun control in Pennsylvania or Philadelphia?

LC: Met with the director of CeaseFirePA. The NRA has such a death grip on central Pennsylvania.

RT: Reporting a lost firearm is common sense but the NRA is opposed to it. One handgun a month purchase regulations went down in committee. I respect the rights of hunters, collectors and homeowners to protect themselves

JS: There are many common sense approaches to gun control. We need to invest more in early childhood education, faith-based opportunities, parents must set good examples at home.

[blogger’s note: There were three other questions but time did not allow for any more than one legislator to answer and one question referenced a bill that did not exist, so I have not included those questions here.]

Wardrobe notes: Regular readers may have noted my penchant for commenting on the ties worn by male legislators or candidates. For many years one of my marital duties has been to select or approve of Mr. J’s ties on days when he wears a suit so I have become much more cognizant of neckwear. There may also be some truth to the theory that commenting on ties is a backlash against the media attention given to the clothing choices of women in the public eye.

In any event, Rep. Shapiro was again sporting an orange tie. This is at least the third public event I have covered at which he wore an orange tie so it is either a favorite or he has a limited selection to work with. In any event I approve. It is a good color for him. Rep. Taylor was wearing a solid tie somewhere in the gold / yellow range. Rep. Curry was wearing a patterned tie featuring red and green but it was difficult to determine at a distance so I could be wrong on this.

Does Spelling Count?

Alex over at the PAWaterCooler has posted a letter send out by Montgomery County Commissioner Jim Matthews, a Republican, explaining his power sharing agreement with Democrat Joe Hoeffel. One of his points is the loss of the county controller's office, formerly held by Republican Eric Kretschman, who did not run for a second term. The office is now held by Democrat Diane Morgan. Matthews says Kretschman had a "winning profile." Unfortunately, though Mr. Matthews praises Mr. Kretschman he can't spell his name, typing Kretchman instead; the "s" is missing. It is an unusual name and the few times I've used it on the blog I've had to verify it. But if you are singing someone's praises it's nice if you get their name right. It is interesting to note, however, that someone claiming to be Kretschman himself made the same spelling error in a post on a blog in a galaxy far far away. The pseudo-Kretschman claims to support Ron Paul. Probably just a coincidence.