Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Parsing the Parodies

Last Friday, Chris Cillizza's "The Fix" column in the Washington Post was titled "Colbert vs Stewart".

For those who wondered about the viewer demographics breakdown between John Stewart and Stephen Colbert, here goes:

Males tend to favor Stewart (38 percent to 31 percent) while women go narrowly for Colbert. Democrats are Stewart people (43-31) while Republicans are part of the Colbert Nation (49 percent to 21 percent). Those who say they are following the campaign closely opt for Stewart by a 46 percent to 33 percent margin; those not following the race all that closely prefer Colbert 31 percent to 25 percent.

Perhaps the most fascinating divide in preference is age. Eighteen and 19 year olds prefer Colbert solidly (41 percent to 25 percent) while those between 22 and 24 are Stewart supporters by a similar -- 43 percent to 26 percent -- margin. The swing group appears to be 20 and 21 year olds; they split relatively evenly between Stewart (33 percent) and Colbert (32 percent).

Now you know.


The League of Women Voters has launched a new website,, that provides basic voter information on topics like registration deadlines, on a state by state basic. Actress Virginia Madsen has recorded a PSA announcing the new service.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

AFL-CIO Video Contest

A reminder from the inbox:

How do you feel about the direction in which America is headed? Now is the time to get your cameras rolling, creativity flowing and tell us what you think!

The AFL-CIO is sponsoring an online video competition to engage and inspire people to speak up and create a short video that addresses how we should turn around America. The winner will receive $2,000 and their video will be part of a national television spot.

Videos can be submitted from now through May 20.

To learn more, visit Turn Around America TODAY at

Sitemeter Follies

Everyone seems to still be in the post-primary hangover / catch up on sleep stupor, so while no one's paying attention ... let's dish!

Over 90% of the time, when I take a look at my usage stats from sitemeter, I can't tell much of anything about who is using the blog. The record of each hit gives an approximate geographic location but these are notoriously wrong. In the 3 1/2 years I've been writing this blog sitemeter has never once pinpointed me in the right area. Plus, the partial IP and town shift every few months so it's an everchanging list of locales. Most hits come through as being from comcast, verizon, AOL, with no identifying information. Some corporate computers have the company name attached; some don't.

Once in a blue moon, though, a hit comes through with the veil dropped and, oh my!

In the interest of letting you know what kind of tracks you might leave, here are the top 3 sitemeter follies from the past year:

1) There is a computer server out there somewhere named HOUSE OF REPRESETATIVES. Yes, they are shouting their inability to spell. I have no idea which (if any) government office the server is attached to.

2) Most pr people who approach me do so in a very straightforward manner. One fellow did get caught being sneaky. He wrote from a gmail address suggesting my readers might be very interested in a particular event that would also be televised. As I usually do when contacted by people who don't state an affiliation I tried to look into him but the name was too common to find any reliable information. It did look like an interesting event so I wrote about it and let him know. One of the first hits directly on that post was one of those very very rare IP's that has an actual name attached. In that case the name was unusual enough to find. And it happened to be someone who worked at a local pr firm that happened to be representing one of the event sponsors and that happened to also employ someone with the same name as the person who first approached me (client and staff list on their website). Coincidence? I think not. Honestly, I still would have written about the event if he had said he worked at the firm. It is one that has a good reputation, as did the event sponsor. But now I tend to view the whole outfit with a jaundiced eye.

3) If any of you save links on your hard drive and use them to revisit websites, be aware that you may be leaving some very specific tracks; the file name shows up as the entry and exit points. If you access the links from home and have the links on your C drive you are probably still anonymous. However, people who use file folders or filing systems and work from business computers may be telling more than they know. I learned that someone at a local university is using some of my blog posts as research for a doctoral dissertation, with enough info to find out their name and dissertation topic. They saved links in a file that included the word dissertation and their first initial and last name.

3a) The winner of this year's sitemeter follies, though, goes to a firm that specializes in integrity and background searches. Their IP address lists the company's name. Someone there is visiting and revisiting some of my blog posts on a particular politician using a file saved on their computer drive, with a filename that includes the name of the politician. So basically the firm is shouting from the mountaintop, to anyone who will listen, who they are researching. If I were paying these folks for a confidential search I'd be ticked enough to ask for a refund.

Really and truly all this is TMI. I'd rather not know. So in the interest of helping you pull up your socks and not let it all hang out, here are some tips on keeping your digital bra straps under your blouse:

* When following a link in an email or on a saved list of links, put the cursor on the link, right click on the mouse, copy the link location, and paste it into a new tab or window. It's a little cumbersome but it leaves no referral footprints.

* Use bloglines or a similar feed service. The feed stat service I use doesn't provide me with any identifiable data on who is accessing the RSS feed. While I enjoy seeing those hits on my sitemeter stats, and have no idea which office they are attached to, the House offices may prefer to be less obvious.

* Whether it is actually true or not assume that everything you do from a work computer will leave a footprint with your company's name on it.

* Make sure your IT people can spell.

Let me repeat, I know absolutely nothing about 90% of the people who come directly to the blog and 100% of those who read it on a feed. However, about 10% of those who visit the blog leave tracks; sometimes very entertaining ones.

More sophisticated tracking systems can probably tell a lot more about a lot more visitors. Larger websites and blogs, with greater traffic, probably can't spare the time it takes to go through their individual hits. But it's a tough world out there, take care of your self. And pull up your socks.

Schwartz at Health Care Debate

I listed to the webcast of the Congressional Health Care debate this afternoon in Cincinnati. It was on in the background while working and so I can only provide a general gist instead of rough notes or a transcript. A podcast may be available later.

Those participating included Pennsylvania's Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-13) and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Rep. Marion Berry (D-AR), Rep. Charles Boustany, M.D. (R-LA), Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL), Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA), and Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ).

Some of the points Schwartz made during the debate were:

1) a priority in making access to affordable health care available to all Americans. This includes looking at a variety of options, such as allowing small businesses to pool purchasing power.

2) As the mother of a young physician she understand the problems associated with the high cost of medical and health care education

3) Pres. Bush vetoed the expansion of the SCHIP program. While the GOP says it wants family based coverage, it won't let parents be included in the program.

4) The SCHIP expansion was designed not to produce any new costs.

5) We need integrated electronic medical records.

She spoke a number of times so there are no doubt things I missed or missed her emphasis of.

It was an interesting debate. The GOP seemed to favor preventive care and "putting families back in control" and various pooling mechanisms. One gentleman spoke of letting associations offer medical coverage to members. The idea of individual coverage is great but many people, myself included, would find the idea of sorting through plans and picking one overwhelming. I just look at the copay and whether or not our doctors are in the plan, but freely admit to being very ignorant of the topic generally.

Harris Martin's Website

Harris Martin, Democratic candidate for the 18th state house district in Bucks County, has launched his campaign website,

Monday, April 28, 2008

Allyson Schwartz Update

As previously reported, Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (D-13) has made her list of earmark requests public. You can find a link to them on her legislative website.

To see the congresswoman in action, set aside some time this afternoon (Monday). From the inbox:

This Monday, April 28th, U.S. Representative Allyson Schwartz will be participating in a bipartisan congressional debate on the state of health care in America and ways it can be made more affordable and accessible. The debate, to be held at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, is the second debate in the “Congress Debates” series. Participants in the second debate, in addition to Schwartz, include Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Rep. Marion Berry (D-AR), Rep. Charles Boustany, M.D. (R-LA), Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL), Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA), and Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ).

The debate can be watched via webcast at

It may also be on CNN.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

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

We have only the remainders of the presidential primary.

Filed from Pittsburgh, “Voters: tuned in, turned off, by Clare Ansberry and Suzanne Vranica (4/22)

“Delegate-allocation rules mean vote may have minimal impact,” by June Kronholz (4/23) discusses delegate allocation in Pennsylvania.

PA Businesses

Sovereign Bancorp of Pennsylvania is the focus of “Smaller banks begin to pay price for their boomtime expansion,” by Robin Sidel (4/21)

In “Free-dailies publisher Metro feels pinch,” by Aaron O. Patrick (4/22), we find this note:

Metro is reviewing the fate of its Metro papers in New York, Boston and Philadelphia and could sell them to another media company, Mr. [Per Mikael] Jensen said. The three papers lost [euro] 2 million in the first quarter. Sales fell 12% at Philadelphia Metro and 8% at Boston Metro, which is run through a joint-venture with the New York Times Co.

Spin-Farming LLC, “a Philadelphia company started in 2005 that sells guides and holds seminars eaching a small-scle farming technique,” published by Roxanne Christensen is mentioned in “Green Acres II: when neighbors become farmers,” by Kelly K. Spors (4/22).

Philadelphia area realtor Chris Talone is mentioned in “Drinks? DJs? See realtor inside,” by Sara Schaefer Munoz (4/24)

Brief mention: Pep Boys (4/24)

Other PA

The Philadelphia diocese is celebrating it’s bicentennial, as mentioned in “Pope calls for healing of divisions, by Suzanne Sataline (4/21)

Victoria Vetter of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is quoted in “New guidelines urge heart tests before kids take ADHD drugs,” by Ron Winslow (4/22)

Swarthmore student Christian Nunez is quoted in “Economic bumps bounce interns,” by Erin White (4/22)

“Pittsburgh subway mural valued at $15 million,” appeared on 4/25

A Pittsburgh surrogate mother is quoted in “Outsourcing childbirth,” by Cheryl Miller (4/25)

Charming Shoppes may sell some assets,” by Mike Barris (4/26)

Other Interesting Tidbits

Peter Orszag, director of the Congressional Budget Office, has a blog,

weekly legislative update

The Senate shuffled some bills off to committee but nothing was introduced or passed in either the Pennsylvania Senate or House. Our friends at PICPA nonetheless posted an update.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Schwartz Earmarks Made Public

An item that got lost in the pre-primary activity:

According to an article on Phillyburbs (Portnoy, Jenna, "Schwartz requests $100M in earmarks," 4/16), Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (D-13) released a list of earmarks she has requested. A few details:

Of the list of 44 projects Schwartz's office released to the public last week, six would fund municipalities and local police departments, including Hatboro where police would receive $128,533 to buy and install communications equipment, including digital two-way radios and computer software.

The Sound of Silence

One of the things I learned early on as a political blogger is that just after an election there is a "thud." That's the sound of a large number of people dropping my email address out of their address book or off of their distribution lists. If I've gotten attached to people as individuals it stings a little but, by and large, it is just the way of things. Campaigns end; people move on or just need a break. There's nothing personal about it. But, wow!, after Monday night there was a seriously loud THUD! For a few weeks before the primary my inbox was overflowing with invitations to presidential campaign conference calls, press release after press release, notes on upcoming events, tons of stuff. In the past 2 days I think I've received a total of 7 messages. Time to switch gears to a slower pace. Maybe I can finish some of those longer posts I've been working on.

Update on PennDems Soiree

If you are interested in attending the University of Pennsylvania Democrats Spring Soiree, this coming Monday, April 25th, details and RSVP are on facebook.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Quick Link for Election Results

John Micek of Capitol Ideas has a quick run down of congressional and state senate/house races.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Jane on the Radio in Oregon Again

The nice folks at KPOJ Mornings with Thom, Heidi & Carl show for Portland's Progressive Talk Station, AM 620 KPOJ have invited me back for a post primary report tomorrow morning, around 10 a.m. EST.

Election Update (11 p.m.)

I've been watching the results on the site, which has been reporting the state election returns. A few things of note, why are the results from Montco and Chester Co so slow to come in. I don't think either of those are above 25% while Bucks, Delaware, and Philadelphia are over 70%. Something needs to be fixed there. Montco has some heavily populated areas that could have an impact one way or the other on some races.

Clinton takes the state in the presidential race. Looks like Rob McCord will be the Democratic candidate for state treasurer. Tony Payton is ahead in his race to defeat Guy Lewis for the state house seat he has represented for the past 2 years. In the first state senate district, Larry Farnese is ahead of John Dougherty.

I'm calling it a night. Check the papers and websites tomorrow for the final results. And someone ask Montgomery and Chester Counties why it takes so long to report their results.

The Merchandise Poll

The Inquirer had a story this morning about political merchandise, "Selling the stuff of politics," by Elizabeth Wellington.

Those who do business online might be familiar with cafepress, which lets individuals set up online stores and design their own merchandise. They make available some information on whose political wares sell more frequently. I received an email providing more detail and post this with permission:

Beer Primary - Clinton leads with 2x in sales over Obama for Beer Steins
Race for User-Generated Products - 1,200,000 Obama products, Clinton has 790,000 products in CafePress
Kids Clothing Primary - Obama receives parental approval by selling 6x as much kids clothing than Hillary
Puppy Primary - Dogs (and their owners) support Obama over Hillary, by a 2 to 1 margin in dog t-shirt sales

There is also data on the [ladies' unmentionables] primary, which I allude to in the gentlest terms to avoid having frightful searches show up on my sitemeter stats (learned my lesson there when I complained about inappropriate commercials on a network aimed at children and am now among the top results when people search for cringe-making topics). Obama leads Clinton 57% to 43%. The email, in perhaps an unintentional double entendre said Clinton was behind in this race.

GO VOTE!!!!!

Election Day Update #2

Mr. J went to vote at 7:45 and there was no line. A neighbor voted about 8:05 and was voter #68. Since I was #38 at 7:30, in the "before work" rush there is one voter every minute. (One machine for people in my voting district.)

When I was there only one or two poll workers were present. I know candidates consider them essential but it always seems like running a gauntlet. It was nice to get in and out without having hordes of people pushing paper at me.

Election Day Update #1

At 7:30 a.m. I was voter #38, with 7 people in line ahead of me to get into the booth.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Penn Dems Fundraising Event

From the inbox:

The University of Pennsylvania Democrats are thrilled to invite you to attend our annual fundraising gala, the Penn Democrats Spring Soiree. The event will occur from 4:30 – 6:30 PM on Monday, April 28, 2008 in the Hall of Flags in the University of Pennsylvania’s historic Houston Hall (3417 Spruce Street) in Philadelphia.

As a partisan organization, the Penn Democrats do not receive funding from the University of Pennsylvania. Despite a lack of institutional support, we are one of the largest and most active college Democratic associations in the country. As such, our annual fundraising event is extremely important to our organization and is the major resource for our support of campaigns throughout the year.

In the past, successful Penn Democrats fundraisers have allowed us to definitively aid local, regional, and national Democratic candidates. For example, we were able to knock on over 15,000 doors and contact thousands through mail and phone in order to ensure victory for Patrick Murphy (PA-8) in one of the nation’s most competitive House races.

For only a $10 donation, friends of the Penn Democrats will ensure the continued success of the Penn Democrats and enjoy a party with the best of the Party. Our cocktail-attire event will include a keynote speech from Congressman Murphy, light appetizers and desserts, musical entertainment, a silent auction, great networking opportunities, and a screening of a short youth voting documentary, 18 in ‘08. This year’s soiree promises to be an unforgettable time.

I've been to some of the Penn Dems events and they throw a good party. Not sure what cocktail-attire means, perhaps the good sneakers.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Clinton or Obama?

A few people have emailed to ask who I am supporting in the Democratic presidential primary. We have two good choices, two very capable senators. Both candidates have talked about experience and readiness. However, if people voted for candidates based on governmental experience and good legislative records we would all be writing a lot more about Sen. Chris Dodd.

People don’t usually choose a candidate based on policy plans or the source of their campaign funds or even their legislative voting records. Our selections tend to be much more intangible. You run the numbers, read the info, but in the voting booth, we tend to listen to our guts. In 2006 I outlined my criteria for evaluating candidates. It works better for state and local races but with some adaptations it can be applied at the national level.

I’ve listened to the candidates, read their autobiographies, looked over the analyses in newspapers, and watched a few debates. I don’t watch much tv so all that money spent on ads is lost on me. The shiny flyers that come in the mail are counted and filed but not really examined. Robocalls are also counted but they don’t have much influence. No one has come to the door (we live on an out of the way street; candidates very seldom find us). I’ve listened in on about four Clinton press conference calls. I’ve been to the local Obama office twice in search of a sign.

Letting all that roll around what I come up with is Barack Obama. The best way to express the tipping factor is the difference between leadership and management. I could go into the passages in their writings that pushed me in one direction or another or my reactions to their speeches or my views on health care and foreign policy or the aspects of their biographies or past that attracted me or gave me pause. But these are not logical decisions. I think Sen. Clinton would be an excellent manager, someone who is well-versed in matters of policy. I think Sen. Obama would be an excellent leader, inspiring not only those in government but Americans generally. My gut says go with Obama. So that’s what I’ll do.

You may agree; you may not. You may be planning to vote for Ron Paul. Regardless of your views, I urge you to vote. The best thing that could come out of this election is a substantially increased voter turnout.

Jane on the Radio in Oregon

I've been asked to be on the KPOJ Mornings with Thom, Heidi & Carl show for Portland's Progressive Talk Station, AM 620 KPOJ. It airs from 9-12 EST. I'm slated for 10:30 to 10:45 slot on Monday, as part of their series of discussions with bloggers in primary states. These things can be very fluid so plans might change.

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

Filed from Grantham, “Obama misstep gives rivals an opening,” by Amy Chozick and Nick Timiraos (4/14)

In the chart accompanying “No-bid defense pacts scrutinized,” by John R. Wilke (4/14), Rep. John Murtha ranks second in the house for obtaining earmarks in 2008.

Sen. Specter is quoted in “Patient bill hits impasse in the Senate,” by Greg Hitt (4/18)

More on the PA primary, “Obama remarks change the campaign conversation,” by Nick Timiraos and Amy Chozick (4/15), “Obama stresses humble roots to deflect ‘elitist’ tag,” by Nick Timiraos and Amy Chozick (4/16), “Clinton might need big win in Pennsylvania to derail Obama,” by Amy Chozick (4/18)

Filed from Pittsburgh, “McCain reverses position to support Bush tax cuts,” by Laura Meckler (4/16)

Pennsylvania congressmen Jason Altmire and Chris Carney (or, to be more exact, their district numbers) are included in the chart accompanying “Freshmen Democrats pack strong cash cushion,” by Mary Jacoby and T. W. Farnam (4/17)

PA Businesses

Former ultimate Frisbee champion at the University of Pennsylvania, Marc Stuart, is one of “Two carbon-market millionaires take a hit as U.S. clamps down,” by Jeffrey Ball (4/14)

The two paragraph of “Boards flex their pay muscles,” by Joann S. Lublin (4/14):

Dorrit Bern, chief executive of Charming Shoppes Inc., recently signed a new employment contract that she found less charming than her three prior pacts.

The latest agreement dropped $154,760 of annual perquisites, including the Philadelphia apartment and weekend flights to Chicago that Ms. Bern had enjoyed since arriving in 1995. She also lost the $1 million singing bonus she had received with previous contracts, as well as the right for the contract to automatically renew on the same terms without negotiation. In addition, Charming Shoppes pegged more of her equity grants to performance – picking a tough external measure for the first time.

Cry me a river.

Brief mentions: Susquehanna Bancshares of Lititz (4/17)

Other PA

“Coalfields turn into battlefields,” by Stephen Power and Nick Timiroas (4/14) mentions Pennsylvania in several places.

“Factories fading, hospitals step in,” by Conor Dougherty (4/15) also mentions the commonwealth.

Phyllis Dennery at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and later Melony Sorbero a Rand Corp researcher in Pittsburgh are quoted in “Weighing which babies get a costly drug,” by Laura Landro (4/16)

The tale of an aging rabbit in Pittsburgh is the focus on “Pets, like wine, often age well but have issues,” by Clare Ansberry (4/17)

Three nuclear power plants in Pennsylvania are noted on the map accompanying “Nuclear-plant analyses ordered,” by Rebecca Smith (4/18)

There are a few Pennsylvania mentions in “Campaign hook-ups,” by Amy Chozick (4/18)

Filed from Lancaster, “Trapped in the middle,” by Justin Lahart and Kelly Evans (4/19), on shrinking incomes and Pennsylvania voters.

In the new movie, “Baby Mama,” Amy Poehler’s character is from South Philly. Who knew? “Going for belly laughs,” by Lauren. A. E. Schuker (4/19)

The Pennsylvania Builders Association and member Frank Thompson are mentioned in “My $1,200 Radon Job,” by Gwendolyn Bounds (4/19)

Other Interesting Tidbits

I found this interesting, “Getting on the radar of an industry’s top bloggers,” by Raymund Flandez (4/15)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Patrick Murphy on the Colbert Report

Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-08) was all smiles on the Colbert Report last night. Video available on the Comedy Central website. Murphy discussed his support for Sen. Obama, as well as his regard for Sen. Clinton. Other topics included his military service in Iraq.

weekly legislative update

It is difficult to be certain but I don't think any bills passed the state house or senate this week. Some days I get multiple copies of the daily update, some days I get copies from a week or more earlier. It's a new system and I don't think all the bugs are worked out yet.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Interview with Betsy Myers

Betsy Myers, Chief Operation Officer, Chair, Women for Obama, Obama for America kindly took time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions via email. There are many facets to the presidency so I focused on "mom-ish" issues, suburban mom-ish issues at that, and tried to ask questions that I hadn't, for the most part, seen elsewhere.

Jane, thanks for the opportunity to be with you in Pennsylvania. I am here currently in your beautiful state and have appreciated the conversations with voters about the many issues that matter to them and their families.

I want to begin by sharing a few of my personal insights about why I chose to work for this campaign for change. This was not an easy decision for two reasons. First, I am the mother of a small child and campaigns are long hours. Second, I worked for the President and Hillary Clinton in the White House as the Director of Women’s Initiatives and Outreach. Politics are about relationships and loyalty. I am about both. My time in the White House was a highlight of my career. It is an enormous privilege to serve a President. So, this was not a decision that I took lightly.

All of my life, I have been fascinated with leadership. Why is one leader more effective than another? Why do people respect and follow one leader and distrust another? My career includes several presidential campaigns as well as working as a senior official in the government. I have spent the last 7 years at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government studying and working on issues of leadership. Most recently, I was the executive director of the center for public leadership with my friend, David Gergen. At the Center for Leadership, we pursued new thinking about leadership. The latest thinking is about leaders who have the skills to collaborate and build coalitions of disparate voices. They listen to their teams because they respect their input and are open to different views. They have good judgment and the courage to speak the truth. They are authentic and comfortable in their own skin, never trying to be someone they aren’t.

In the context of this new leadership style, we began to study Barack Obama as an example of a new generational, transformational, collaborative leader. I began to explore his background and legislative history. I was taken with his lifelong passion to fight for the voiceless by listening and motivating others to join his cause. His personal experience and legislative record shows his unique ability to work across the aisle with Republicans and Democrats, and to build coalitions for change on difficult challenges. They included ethics reform, racial profiling, health care, welfare reform, and standing up for working families. His dedication to stand up for the voiceless and to bring about change for ordinary Americans is part of his story and who he is.

Why is this important for our future president? Simply, a President is only as good as the legislation that he/she can get passed. There is only so much that can be done by bully pulpit or executive order. The looming problems for our next president begin with an enormous budget deficit and include issues such as the economy, Iraq, an energy crisis, education and health reform, to name a few. These difficult issues will be tackled and solved by working with Congress to get legislation passed, and that takes getting beyond the division and distraction in Washington.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have similar policy proposals but very different leadership skills. It is a defining moment for our country. We must choose the candidate that has the leadership ability and judgment to make progress on the difficult issues facing our country. Barack Obama is the only candidate that can get the work done. It is not every day or every decade or even every century that a leader like Barack Obama comes onto the world stage.

As the COO of this campaign, I have also observed Barack’s leadership abilities up close. He challenged us from day one to build a campaign that is run like a business. Most people don’t realize that presidential campaigns are $200 million start-up operations. He also inspired us to run our campaign with a customer service attitude. He wanted to ensure that his campaign treated staff, volunteers, donors and most importantly, the American voters with respect. This is not something you hear every day in the world of politics. Campaigns are chaotic by their very nature. This campaign has been run like a tight ship, with no drama (Barack’s insistence) and no staff shake-ups.

Many times when we see a leader up close, we end up having less respect for them. Over the past 16 months, I can truthfully say that my respect for Barack has grown. You really learn about someone when the chips are down. Barack has always been calm and steady. He takes personal responsibility for our disappointments and is willing to learn from our mistakes. He challenges us to support each other. He reminds us of why this campaign is so important. We are working for the American people, and for change they can believe in. We are all part of something so much bigger than ourselves.

It has truly been a privilege to be part of this historic campaign. This grass roots movement for change has been life changing. As I travel throughout the country I have come to understand – by hundreds of conversations — that the dreams and hopes of the American people are not different in New Hampshire or California than they are in Pennsylvania. As a mother of a 5 year old daughter, I am even more excited to think we actually have a chance to improve the lives of so many Americans with the leadership of President Barack Obama.

The senator has lived in a number of household types: married parents, single mother, stepfather, grandparents, and now as a father in his own married parents with children setting. Has this diversity affected his policy decisions and if so how?

Senator Obama’s two books, Dreams from My Father and Audacity of Hope, and the perspective he shares in many of his speeches, illustrate the great impact his upbringing had on his outlook and the choices he has made throughout his life.

On the campaign trail, he has said, “For most of my youth and childhood . . . my mother was working at the same time, she was going to school at the same time, she was trying to raise us. And it was tough. There were a couple of times when she had to go on food stamps. . . . She was constantly trying to patch things together - scholarships, loans, grants. It took her a long time to complete her education…Part of the reason I got into public services was because I saw people's lives could be tough, and they often didn't have a lot of help. My mother's experience is duplicated all across the country each and every day."

Senator Obama has also discussed the struggles he and his wife Michelle have faced as they balance work and caring for their two young girls – and how that has helped him to appreciate how tough life is for so many working families. He recognizes that, “The burden on ordinary families has never been higher,” and has admonished that, “The burdens of juggling family, and work and medical leave, etc., are everybody's responsibility. The burden should be placed on the entire family, the entire community", including government.

Senator Obama has detailed the ways in which he believes the government should lighten the burdens on families, including: reforming health care so that it is accessible and affordable for all Americans; cutting taxes on working families; expanding the Child and Dependent Care Tax credit so that it gives more relief to families that struggle to afford child care; expanding and improving early childhood education; bringing our K-12 system up to world-class standards; expanding high-quality after-school opportunities; requiring employers to provide paid sick day; expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act; encouraging states to adopt paid leave; prohibiting discrimination against workers with care giving responsibilities; and making college more affordable.

He has specifically outlined proposals to strengthen fatherhood, including removing some of the government penalties on married families, cracking down on men avoiding child support payments, ensuring that support payments go to families instead of state bureaucracies, funding support services for fathers and their families, and supporting domestic violence prevention efforts.

It is sometimes said that men become involved in politics through business, women through their children. Would you agree? How can we persuade more women to become politically active?

My experience is that many men and women today get involved in politics to make the world a better a place for their children. It is also interesting that in this campaign many younger voters and first time voters have been so energized by Barack Obama and his message that they are bringing their parents into the effort.

In his own life, Barack Obama turned down high-paying Wall Street jobs, and decided to become a community organizer, working in the shadow of shuttered steel plants. As an organizer, civil rights lawyer and law professor, Senator Obama learned that change comes from families and communities – and he was able to win a Senate seat and build a powerful grassroots movement based on that insight. His work in the community also gave him a real sense of how working people have been left behind in parts of America. He has said that, “Part of the reason I got into public services was because I saw people's lives could be tough, and they often didn't have a lot of help.”

Senator Obama’s own example may inspire others who are involved in community service to seek a life in public service. Some of our most talented and dedicated staff and volunteers, many of them women, are people who have been involved in their communities and neighborhoods, but are engaging in national politics for the first time, because they see someone who knows, like they do, how to make real change happen: from the bottom up.

But I also believe that both men and women can get involved in politics through business. I served as the Director of the Office of Women's Business Ownership at the SBA and know that the number of women-owned small businesses is growing as is the number of women at all levels of business.

I also know women to be creative in the ways they influence public policy discussions, and to benefit from the flexibility the internet affords in influencing public policy discussions. Your initiative in creating this blog is the kind of leadership women are showing – and benefitting from – in growing numbers.

In order to get more women involved in politics, we need to make it easier for women to take on even more leadership roles in general and we need to take their experiences – whether in the boardroom or in the community -- seriously. In addition, we need to change politics so that more people feel it is worthwhile: we have to reduce the influence of special interests and the need to constantly raise money, we have to increase citizen participation so that it is easier to pass good laws and we have to restore civility and respect for each other so that we can come together to meet our common challenges.

On the “Women for Obama” site, it states under healthcare “More than 19 million women are uninsured in this country, and women are more likely than men to delay or not get medical care because of high costs. Barack Obama is committed to ensuring that all Americans have health care coverage by the end of his first term in office.” Is that possible? Surely it would take four years to just to get the paperwork going.

Senator Obama has said that making sure that every American has health insurance is his top domestic priority. His plan begins by offering affordable, comprehensive coverage to every American. If you already have health insurance, the only thing that will change for you under this plan is the amount of money you will spend on premiums. That will be $2500 less per family per year. If you are one of the 45 million Americans who don't have health insurance, you will have it after this plan becomes law. No one will be turned away because of a preexisting condition or illness. Parents will be required to cover their children.

Senator Obama has said that affordable health insurance can be funded in part by saving $75 billion per year through having more people use regular doctor checkups instead of more expensive emergency room visits, improving treatment of chronic illnesses and relying more on technology to reduce paperwork. He said medical records can be put onto a digital chip that can be carried around on a key chain, for instance. Obama also would support rolling back the Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans.

Senator Obama is the candidate best able to get the job done not only because of his commitment to the issue but because he succeeded in expanding health insurance to 150,000 kids and parents in Illinois and because he will change the culture of Washington that allows special interests to prevent reform that is in the best interest of the nation and ordinary American families. He has said that under his administration the drug companies and the insurance companies can have a seat at the table, but they will not get to buy every seat at the table. He will insist on transparency and invite the American people into the process of debating health care so that special interests cannot cut deals behind closed doors.

Reform will not come easy but by bringing the American people together and standing up to special interests, Barack Obama will get it done.

What guidelines does the senator use in deciding the line between personal responsibility and public obligation to offer opportunities? (Examples would be educational assistance, job training, and related areas)

Senator Obama has said that government has an obligation to give people the basic tools they need and to set the rules of the road. Government must make affordable health care available to all Americas; help make college affordable for every American; set rules so that we chart a course to a clean energy future; end tax breaks for the biggest corporations and the wealthiest few who don't need them and instead address the issues of the struggling middle class and those who are stuck in poverty. But Senator Obama also believes that Americans need to do their part. They need to study and work hard, take responsibility for their children and participate in our democracy so that it reflects all of us rather than the interests of a powerful few.

Senator Obama has spoken often about the responsibility of parents to be more involved with their children, imparting the values they will need to compete in a global economy. Senator Obama recently told an audience that parents should “turn off the television, turn off the video games. Buy a little desk or put that child at the kitchen table. Watch them do their homework. If they don’t know how to do it, give them help. If you don’t know how to do it, call the teacher. Make them go to bed at a reasonable time. Keep them off the streets. Give them some breakfast...”

Senator Obama expressed these complementary responsibilities in Texas a few weeks ago when he said:

Americans know that government cannot solve all of our problems, and they don't expect it to. Americans know that we have to work harder and study more to compete in a global economy. We know that we need to take responsibility for ourselves and our children - which we need to spend more time with them, and teach them well, and put a book in their hands instead of a video game once in awhile. We know this.

But we also believe that there is a larger responsibility we have to one another as Americans.

We believe that we rise or fall as one nation - as one people. That we are our brother's keeper. That we are our sister's keeper.

We believe that a child born tonight should have the same chances whether she arrives in the barrios of San Antonio or the suburbs of St. Louis; on the streets of Chicago or the hills of Appalachia.

We believe that when she goes to school for the first time, it should be in a place where the rats don't outnumber the computers; that when she applies to college, cost is no barrier to a degree that will allow her to compete with children in China or India for the jobs of the twenty-first century.

We believe that these jobs should provide wages that can raise her family, health care for when she gets sick and a pension for when she retires.

We believe that when she tucks her own children into bed, she should feel safe knowing that they are protected from the threats we face by the bravest, best-equipped, military in the world, led by a Commander-in-Chief who has the judgment to know when to send them into battle and which battlefield to fight on.

On p. 61 of Audacity of Hope the senator talks about the coarsening of culture. What recommendations would he have to keep this from going further or perhaps decrease it?

Senator Obama believes that the openness of the new media world should be seen as an opportunity as much as some see it as a threat. We live in the most information-abundant age in history and the people who develop the skills to utilize its benefits are the people who will succeed in the 21st century. But Senator Obama also recognizes that there are darker corners of the media world: from Internet predators to hateful messages to graphic violence and sex. In addition, our children spend too much time passively watching TV --an average of three hours a day - for African-American children, its four hours – while two out of every three households have the TV on during meals.

As a constitutional lawyer, Senator Obama is a defender of the first amendment. But he also believes that “just because you can say something doesn’t mean you should say something. And … we have not talked enough about the harmful images and messages that are sent.” As a result, an Obama administration will give parents the tools and information they need to control what their children see on television and the Internet in ways fully consistent with the first amendment and will encourage the creation of Public Media 2.0., the next generation of public media that will create the Sesame Street of the Digital Age and other video and interactive programming that educates and informs. Obama will support the transition of existing public broadcasting entities and help renew their founding vision in the digital world.

Most successful public policy behavior modification campaigns have dealt with visible public behaviors by increasing punishment and social stigma (seat belt use and driving while intoxicated being examples). With behaviors that primarily occur in private and for which there is already severe punishment, such extreme domestic violence and spousal murder (studies have shown homicide to be a leading cause of death for pregnant women), trying to change behaviors is much harder. Can you point to a program that has been successful and that the campaign is using as a model?

Reducing violence against women will be a top priority of an Obama Administration. It will require an integrated approach that attacks the problem at all of its many sources, including: economic empowerment and anti-poverty initiatives; substance abuse prevention; robust protections and remedies that give women maximum access to legal remedies and enforcement. Often, women are unable to talk about domestic violence and do not have the economic means to escape from the abusive environment. Too often state law provides an inadequate remedy for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

That is why Senator Obama supported the passage of the Illinois Gender Violence Act; This legislation provides survivors of gender-based violence a private right of action and is the most comprehensive remedy for gender-based violence in the country. Often a private right of action is necessary to empower women to pursue legal remedies on their own without having to convince enforcement authorities to pursue their case. This legislation was particularly important in light of the Supreme Courts misguided decision in US v Morrison.

In addition, in the Illinois State Senate, Barack Obama successfully passed legislation to increase penalties on certain domestic violence offenders. Obama was chief cosponsor of a bill providing that domestic battery or a violation of an order of protection is a Class 4 felony if the offender was previously convicted of certain offenses. Obama was also chief cosponsor of a law increasing penalties for committing battery against an individual in or near a domestic violence shelter. Obama cosponsored and helped pass a law that requires the government to be specific about restrictions placed on the recipient of an emergency order of protection so that perpetrators of domestic violence cannot claim ignorance of the law. As president, Obama will continue to work to ensure that offenders are appropriately punished and that women and children are not deterred from seeking treatment or shelter.

The senator “supports efforts to guarantee workers seven days of paid sick leave per year” to allow working parents to stay home with sick children. Previous employee rights mandates, such as overtime, the 5 day work week, family leave, etc., have come about with strong union support. With unions in decline, do you think there will be enough willpower in government to enforce a sick leave guarantee by law?

Barack Obama will be a President who will fight for working families every day that he is in the White House. Too many politicians have talked about family values, but haven’t passed policies that balanced work and family. Barack Obama will change that.

Labor unions have played a critical role in many of the major reforms that created the great American middle class, including establishing the 40-hour workweek and the minimum wage and the family and medical leave. Senator Obama is committed to strengthening the ability of workers to organize and will fight for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, will ensure that his labor appointees support workers' rights and will work to ban the permanent replacement of striking workers. At the same time, he will work with unions to expand the support for other worker- and family-friendly reforms, including providing American workers seven sick days a year.

Today, in over 70 percent of families with children, both parents work or a single parent works for pay. Yet half of all private sector employees are without a single paid sick day for themselves or to care for a sick child. More and more families are forced to choose between work and their health, or the health of their family.

Too often, Washington has ignored the needs of families struggling to do their best on the job and as parents, but a coalition of over 100 organizations has come together to support the Healthy Families Act which was introduced in the Senate by Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Ted Kennedy and in the House by Representative Rosa DeLauro. The efforts of a similarly broad coalition were critical to passage of the Family Medical Leave Act. Senator Obama has lent his support to this effort, cosponsoring the Healthy Families Act, and as President he would call on Congress to pass this minimum standard so essential to working families.

A number of the issues listed on the Women for Obama page, such as enforcing child support payments, domestic violence, preventing unwanted pregnancy, are a result of people not living up to familial responsibilities or not taking steps to avoid having familial responsibilities. How can government encourage healthy families?

Senator Obama understands the struggles of low income Americans. As the son of a single mother who had to go on food stamps, he knows the financial struggles families encounter. He believes deeply that the government is for the people and by the people. He has spent his entire life working on behalf of the voiceless and improving the lives of the less fortunate. An Obama administration would work tirelessly on behalf of American families. This is truly why he is running for president.

Senator Obama recognizes the heavy burden on ordinary families and has outlined proposals that would reduce the strain on families. He is committed to passing universal health care legislation by the end of his first term that ensures all American’s have access to high quality, affordable healthcare. His plan would save a typical American family up to $2,500 every year on medical expenditures. Obama has also outlined plans to cut taxes on working families and expand the Child and Dependent Care Tax credit. Government can also do more to increase the quality of education. Obama is committed to bringing our K-12 system up to world-class standards, expanding after school opportunities, and making college more affordable.

Obama has outlined specific plans that would help working parents balance work and family responsibilities, including: requiring employers to provide paid sick days, expanding the Family Medical Leave Act, encouraging states to adopt paid leave, expanding opportunities for flexible work schedules,

Obama has also outlined plans to encourage fathers to meet their responsibilities to their families. He has re-introduced the Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Act to crack down on men avoiding child support payments, and reverse some of the government penalties on married families. Obama has said he will sign this bill into law and continue to pursue innovative measures to bolster parents and strengthen families.

Governmental support of daycare is often used to pit two parent families who have chosen to reduce their income by having one parent stay home against single parent families or families where both parents work, either by choice or necessity. How can a policy be enacted on this subject without inflaming the “mommy wars?”

One of the destructive consequences of the culture wars is that childcare has been used as a political football rather than treated as a common challenge that must be solved, the way it has been in most other developed countries. When in the overwhelming majority of families with children both parents – and a single parent – are working, our failure to help parents afford quality childcare hurts our nation’s children and families – and therefore hurts all of us.

Throughout his career, from community organizer to US Senator, Barack Obama has forged coalitions by encouraging people to look beyond differences to common interests. No one benefits when a child has inadequate care, or when a parent is overwhelmed or distracted at work.

Senator Obama would take childcare out of the culture war zone in three ways. First, he has a robust “zero to five” early education plan. This program would create early learning challenge grants to promote “zero to five” efforts and help states move toward universal pre-school. He would also quadruple Early Head Start and expand Head Start while improving quality in both.

Second, he would also expand the Child and Dependent Care tax credit to help low-income families with the high costs of childcare.

Third, Senator Obama would lighten the financial burden and help all families, whether they are paying for childcare or not. He has proposed a tax credit of $1,000 for working families, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit and reforming healthcare to decrease the annual cost to a typical family by $2,500. He would also reform our K-12 public education system. And he would expand after-school and summer-learning programs.

Pay equity is easy to talk about but more difficult to enact, especially when trying to equate jobs that are usually occupied by one gender, such as office work (women) and construction work (men). Nursing seems to be one of the few areas where an increase in pay and opportunities has drawn men into a previously primarily female occupation. What are a few specifics that the senator favors in regards to pay equity?

Senator Obama has sponsored legislation to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., which would curtail the ability of racial minorities and women to challenge their employers’ discriminatory pay decisions under Title VII. Senator Obama is also a cosponsor of Senator Tom Harkin’s Fair Pay Act. As president, Senator Obama will support legislation to promote paycheck equity – the right of women to receive equal compensation to that provided comparably qualified men. Senator Obama also joined Senator Edward Kennedy in introducing the Equal Remedies Act to do away with the caps on compensatory and punitive damages under Title VII that make it more difficult for victims of discrimination to recover the full amounts they are due. In addition, as President, Senator Obama would select a Solicitor General committed to vigorously enforcing the nation’s anti-discrimination laws.

Senator Obama also recognizes that women pay a disproportionate price when they need flexibility or time off to care for family members – in terms of hourly pay, pension, employer-provided health care and job security. He has called for updating the social contract to make it easier for women and men to care for family members without being punished in the workplace.

The Save More for Retirement Act (S.875 109th), which would flip our current “opt in” approach to corporate 401k programs to an “opt out” approach would, according to a study mentioned on your site, increase participation among low income workers from 12% to 79%. The bill was introduced in 2005 and didn’t make it out of committee. Are there plans to reintroduce it?

Senator Obama has proposed a plan to increase retirement security that would automatically enroll workers in a workplace pension plan. Under his plan, employers who do not currently offer a retirement plan, will be required to enroll their employees in a direct-deposit IRA account that is comparable to existing direct-deposit payroll systems. Employees may opt-out if they choose. Experts estimate that this program will increase the savings participation rate for low and middle-income workers from its current 15 percent level to around 80 percent. As President, Senator Obama would work to get this legislation passed.

On the Women for Obama site, early childhood education is listed as a goal and the Illinois program Preschool for All is given as a model. (See lengthy pdf Preschool for All report). One theme apparent throughout the report was that all parties were at the table from the beginning, parents and early childhood teachers and care givers, as well as policy makers and legislators. How does that kind of cooperation get started? It has been my experience that while a chamber of commerce office holder can get phone calls returned, a PTA official might not.

Senator Obama has proposed a comprehensive “Zero to Five” plan to provide critical supports to young children and their parents. The cornerstone of this plan is the creation of Early Learning Challenge Grants that will foster exactly the kind of cooperation you mention. In addition, Senator Obama has said he will create a Presidential Early Learning Council to increase collaboration among the different players in early childhood education, as well as coordinate across different levels of government.

The issue you raise is a critical one throughout government. All too often the special interests have access while families do not. This is why Senator Obama is committed to campaign finance and ethics reform – to lessen the influence of special interests and their lobbyists – but also to transparency and bringing the American people into the policymaking process. If he is going to change this country so that we can meet the challenges of the 21st Century, we will need to change the way Washington works.

In the web site section on improving schools the senator mentions programs for school leaders, teachers and teachers’ unions. Nothing is said about the third leg of the stool – parental involvement. Why? Students seldom achieve without support and guidance at home and good schools usually have a strong level of involvement from parents.

Senator Obama believes that we need both school reform and increased parental involvement. Because education begins at home, parents must set high standards and inspirational examples for their children. As a father, Senator Obama believes we need to find the time and the energy to help motivate our kids to love learning. Parents can read to their children, discuss what they read, and make time for this by turning off the TV.

All social programs cost money and even the cost savings of ending the war in Iraq would probably not cover increasing financial aid and offering preschool to all and job training programs, etc. What programs would the senator have in mind to cut to fund all of the programs he wants?

Senator Obama is committed to restoring fiscal discipline. Under President Bush, the federal debt has increased from $5.7 trillion to $8.8 trillion, an increase of more than 50 percent. President Bush's policies of giving tax breaks for the wealthy will cost the nation over $2.3 trillion by the time they expire in 2009. Obama would take the following steps:

Reinstate PAYGO Rules: Obama believes that a critical step in restoring fiscal discipline is enforcing pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) budgeting rules which require new spending commitments or tax changes to be paid for by cuts to other programs or new revenue.

Reverse Bush Tax Cuts for the Wealthy: Obama will protect tax cuts for poor and middle class families, but he will reverse most of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest taxpayers.

Cut Pork Barrel Spending: Obama introduced and passed bipartisan legislation that would require more disclosure and transparency for special-interest earmarks. Obama believes that spending that cannot withstand public scrutiny cannot be justified. Obama will slash earmarks to no greater than year 2001 levels and ensure all spending decisions are open to the public.

Make Government Spending More Accountable and Efficient: Obama will ensure that federal contracts over $25,000 are competitively bid. Obama will also increase the efficiency of government programs through better use of technology, stronger management that demands accountability and by leveraging the government's high-volume purchasing power to get lower prices.

End Wasteful Government Spending: Obama will stop funding wasteful, obsolete federal government programs that make no financial sense. Obama has called for an end to subsidies for oil and gas companies that are enjoying record profits, as well as the elimination of subsidies to the private student loan industry which has repeatedly used unethical business practices. Obama will also tackle wasteful spending in the Medicare program.

End Tax Haven Abuse: Building on his bipartisan work in the Senate, Obama will give the Treasury Department the tools it needs to stop the abuse of tax shelters and offshore tax havens and help close the $350 billion tax gap between taxes owed and taxes paid.

Close Special Interest Corporate Loopholes: Obama will level the playing field for all businesses by eliminating special-interest loopholes and deductions, such as those for the oil and gas industry.

His record on this issue is clear:
PAYGO: Obama voted in 2005, 2006, and 2007 to reinstate pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) federal budget rules.

No-Bid Contracts: Obama has introduced and helped pass bipartisan legislation to limit the abuse of no-bid federal contracts.

Against Raising the Federal Debt Limit: In 2006, Obama voted against misguided Republican efforts to raise the statutory debt limit at the same time the Republicans were pushing through massive debt-financed tax cuts for the wealthy.

My thanks to Betsy for answering my questions. It is a sign of commitment to reaching individual voters for someone at this level of a national campaign to work with a state-level blog like mine. I hope my readers find this information interesting and useful.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Few Notes on Tonight's Debate

People who know far more about such things than I will be parsing the words of Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama. So let me comment on some things they will not.

I have been watching the post-debate show on ABC Channel 6. All of the elected politicians interviewed or quoted have been male. The state's only female congressional representative, Rep. Allyson Schwartz, is a strong Clinton supporter. Maybe she was in DC working? I saw Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia (Clinton), Gov. Ed Rendell (Clinton), Rep. Chaka Fattah (Obama), and Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel (Clinton) interviewed. All male. Rep. Patrick Murphy (Obama) was quoted but not seen.

All of the political science professors I saw interviewed were male (and all white males at that). Terry Madonna was wearing a very spiffy tie.

There's five minutes left, maybe there will be a veritable parade of female elected officials or experts. Of course, I was distracted at times during the show so it is possible that I missed something. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Lisa Romaniello Website

Lisa Romaniello, Democratic candidate for the 152nd state house seat (Montgomery County), has a campaign website up,

Bryan Lentz Fundraiser

Bryan Lentz, incumbent Democratic state representative for the 161st district held a fundraiser this past Saturday. I am told that one of the guests had cancelled her own party, scheduled at the same time, and invited friends and family to the fundraiser instead. Kudos to birthday girl Barb.

A few other candidates were also in attendance:

John Linder (not to be confused with the Georgia congressman with the same name) 9th state senate district (Chester and Delaware Counties)

John DeFrancisco, (not to be confused with the New York state senator with the same name), 162nd state house district (Delaware County)

Ian Thomas, 168th state house (Delaware and Chester Counties). He has an interesting biography; take a look if you get the chance.

A "Bitter" Eyewitness

David Coleman, who attended the fundraiser in San Francisco where Sen. Obama made remarks that have been in the news of late, has written his memory and impressions of the occasion. See "David Coleman: I Was There: What Obama Really Said About Pennsylvania," in the Huffington Post

Monday, April 14, 2008

Habeo Signum Obamae

The local Obama hq had a few signs and so I have redeemed myself in the eyes of my children. It is the only political sign on the street. Mr. J is taking bets on how long it lasts; a small crowd of kids cuts through the yard on the way home from school.

A few other presidential campaign updates:

Two more calls from Clinton or Emily's List. Total: Obama 1 / Clinton 8
A few more flyers came in from both sides, more from Clinton than Obama. I didn't keep exact count. Interestingly, we receive two copies of Obama's, one each for Mr. J and myself, but the Clinton ones all seemed to be addressed just to me. Hmmmm.

Mark Your Calendars

A few upcoming events from the inbox:

Rally for Fairmount Park - tomorrow, April 15th, at 12 noon in front of City Hall. Mayor Nutter has proposed $3 million in increased funding for the Park this year. Come out and let Council know you support the Park and the Mayor.

Sunday, April 27th Frank Custer kicks off his campaign for the the 61st Legislative District seat. 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM, Cravings Café in Lansdale.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Altmire in Washington Post

Pennsylvania Congressman Jason Altmire (D-04) is the focus of this Sunday's "The Fix" column by Chris Cillizza and Shailagh Murray. Altmire is, to date, an undeclared superdelegate

Clinton Push Poll

Well, that didn't take long. My email inbox was inundated by messages from both the Clinton and Obama campaigns regarding Sen. Obama's remarks on small towns and cities in Pennsylvania.

Let me start by saying that while half of my childhood was lived in and around military bases, the other half was lived in a town of about 10,000. It was not in Pennsylvania but was probably similar to many towns here. I was not offended by his comments.

The emails were much as you might expect, with lists of mayors supporting each candidate and comments and responses to comments by both camps. Each campaign had a conference call on Saturday. I listened in to the Clinton call (it was my fourth Clinton conference call), with a list of PA mayors announcing their outrage over Obama's comments and their support for Clinton. The Obama campaign also had a call. However, I did not see announcement until after the call was over (and my previous two attempts to listen in to their calls have been unsuccessful for various reasons).

Most interesting was a call I received this evening from PSA Interviews in what they said was a double blind poll -- the caller did not know who was paying for the poll or who they were calling; the numbers were dialed by computer. However, I have a good idea who might have been footing the bill.

At the start I was asked if I worked in politics, journalism or the media. Nope. Other questions were on the likelihood I would vote in the primary, what party I was registered in, who I favored among the candidates, whether I had already voted by absentee ballot, the likelihood that I would vote by absentee ballot. The caller gave a list of traits (ready to be president, able to lead the country out of Iraq, elitist, etc) and asked which of the two candidates I thought they best described.

Then it got interesting. Had I read anything about Sen. Obama in the papers lately? What had I read? Then the caller read a short version of the "bitter" quote and asked if it changed my views. He read a longer quote of Sen. Clinton's response and asked if that changed my views. He told me Sen. Obama had not yet decided if he would boycott the Olympics opening and how would he then deal with China as president (this may have been a Clinton quote). Would this change my view? How did Bill Clinton affect my view of Sen. Clinton?

The last part was a laundry list of questions about me and my family, age, urban/suburban/rural, occupations categories, religious views, gun ownership, veterans, labor union, and so on.

I wasn't taking notes during the call and so have missed some questions. It did seem to be a long survey. And, of course, I may have misunderstood some of what the caller said.

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

We make up for lost time this week.

Rep. John Murtha is mentioned in “Republican Iraq vets seek 17 house seats,” by Joel Millman and T. W. Farnam (4/08).

A bevy of Democratic Pennsylvania congressional representatives, Allyson Schwartz (D-13), Patrick Murphy (D-08), and Joe Sestak (D-07) are present in “Clinton and Obama vie for women of Philadelphia suburbs,” (4/10). I would like it noted that none of these people, to the best of my knowledge, have vied for me at all. No candy, no notes, nothing.

Filed from Pennsylvania, “Sen. Clinton addresses the rising crime rate,” by Amy Chozick and Gary Fields (4/12)

PA Businesses

American Business Financial Services of Philadelphia and some unfortunate clients are the focus of “Subprime lender’s failure sparks lawsuit against Wall Street banks,” by Steve Stecklow (4/09)

Herculite Products of Emigsville, maker of engineered textiles is mentioned in “Ads prod candidates on issues of trade, especially with China,” by Kris Maher and Timothy Aeppel (4/09)

“Alcoa net falls amid U.S. slowdown,” by Robert Guy Matthews (4/08)

“Hershey trust president retires,” by Julei Jargon (4/10)

Other PA

Mark Zandi of West Chester-based Moody’s appears twice this week, in “IMF tallies credit-crunch toll,” by Bob Davis (4/09), and in “Rate of mortgage delinquencies rises,” by Ruth Simon (4/10). According to that article the rate of delinquencies of mortgages in Pennsylvania is now between 3 and 4%

Beaver County resident and former Pittsburgh resident Dave Anton is highlighted in “Old tractors, Maserati prices,” by Jonathan Welsh (4/09)

Pennsylvania is in the second most costly category of average medicare spending during the last two years for chronically ill patients, “More choices drive cost of health care,” by Theo Francis (4/07)

Wharton prof Todd Sinia is quoted in “McCain, in reversal, asks government to step up in housing crisis,” by Laura Meckler and Elizabeth Holmes (4/11)

The movie “Smart People” is set in Pittsburgh, see the review on 4/11.

Douglas Feith, who has ties to this area, and former undersecretary of policy in Rumsfeld, has written a book “War and Decision,” as reviewed on 4/08)

Other Interesting Tidbits

An interesting idea, CEOs donating or redirecting their bonuses to the non-executive employees’ bonus pool, “More CEOs area saying no (voluntarily) to bonuses, by Joann S. Lublin (4/07)

Saturday, April 12, 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


SR 252 A Resolution urging the citizens of this Commonwealth to participate in the In Case of Emergency campaign by entering information, under the acronym of ICE, into the memory of their cellular phones in order to assist medical and other emergency personnel in contacting designated persons in the case of an emergency.



HB 1845 Prior Printer's No. 2516.Printer's No. 3514. An Act amending Titles 18 (Crimes and Offenses) and 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for false reports to law enforcement authorities; in firearms, further providing for ineligibility for possession or dealing, for required licensure, for emergency prohibitions, for licenses, for possession with altered manufacturer's number, for sale or transfer, for the Pennsylvania State Police and for registration; further providing for limitation of actions; and abrogating a regulation.

HB 1761 By Representatives BELFANTI, CASORIO, M. O'BRIEN, PASHINSKI, KOTIK, COHEN, KORTZ, MAHONEY, PALLONE, PETRONE, JAMES, BRENNAN, SHIMKUS, McGEEHAN, CALTAGIRONE and DONATUCCI. Prior Printer's No. 2365.Printer's No. 2722. An Act amending Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for law enforcement officers of limited jurisdiction.

HB 4 Prior Printer's No. 2394.Printer's No. 3537. An Act amending Titles 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) and 44 (Law and Justice) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for definitions of "board" and "department"; further providing for composition of the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing, for powers and duties and for adoption of guidelines for sentencing; providing for adoption of guidelines for resentencing, adoption of guidelines for parole and adoption of recommitment ranges following revocation of parole by the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole; further providing for publication of guidelines, for sentencing generally, for sentence of total confinement, for sentencing proceeding and place of confinement, for information required upon commitment and subsequent disposition and for referral to State intermediate punishment program; providing for work release or other court order and for recidivism risk reduction incentive; and making a related repeal.

HB 5 Printer's No. 2241. An Act amending the act of July 11, 1923 (P.L.1044, No.425), referred to as the Prisoner Transfer Law, further providing for transfer of inmates.

HB 6 Prior Printer's Nos. 2395, 2931.Printer's No. 3538. 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 intent, for business of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, for powers and duties of the board, for duties of the chairman of the board, for supervision of parole and probation, for power to parole, for commission of crime during parole and for victim of the offense.

Prior Printer's No. 2906.Printer's No. 3539. An Act amending the act of May 31, 1919 (P.L.356, No.170), entitled, as amended, "An act authorizing courts of record to remove convicts and persons confined in jails, workhouses, reformatories, reform or industrial schools, penitentiaries, prisons, houses of correction or any other penal institutions, who are seriously ill, to other institutions; and providing penalties for breach of prison," further providing for removal of certain convicts who are seriously ill.

HB 1081 By Representatives LONGIETTI, DALEY, SIPTROTH, BRENNAN, SCAVELLO, McGEEHAN, CALTAGIRONE, KULA, KOTIK, JAMES, GIBBONS, DeLUCA, YOUNGBLOOD, HARKINS, HENNESSEY, KORTZ, D. EVANS and GEORGE. Prior Printer's No. 1316.Printer's No. 3234. 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 State Board of Certified Real Estate Appraisers, for disciplinary and corrective measures and for penalties.

HB 1082 Prior Printer's Nos. 1317, 3235.Printer's No. 3579. An Act amending the act of May 15, 1933 (P.L.565, No.111), known as the Department of Banking Code, permitting national electronic licensing; further prohibiting disclosure of certain information; further providing for criminal history; and providing for conduct of administrative proceedings relating to institutions and credit unions.

HB 1083 Prior Printer's No. 1318.Printer's No. 3236. An Act amending the act of December 3, 1959 (P.L.1688, No.621), known as the Housing Finance Agency Law, further providing for general authority, for notice and institution of foreclosure proceedings, for notice requirements, for assistance payments and for repayment; and providing for an ongoing foreclosure study.

HB 1084 By Representatives M. SMITH, DALEY, BRENNAN, CONKLIN, FABRIZIO, GEORGE, KORTZ, KULA, MAHONEY, MANN, McCALL, McGEEHAN, SIPTROTH, THOMAS, WALKO, D. EVANS, JOSEPHS, PARKER, SWANGER and CALTAGIRONE. Printer's No. 1319. An Act amending the act of January 30, 1974 (P.L.13, No.6), referred to as the Loan Interest and Protection Law, defining "department"; and further providing for the definition of "residential mortgage" and for the duties of the Department of Banking.

HB 1152 By Representatives GIBBONS, BAKER, DENLINGER, DePASQUALE, HALUSKA, HENNESSEY, JOSEPHS, KORTZ, McILHATTAN, PETRARCA, RUBLEY, SOLOBAY, J. WHITE, YOUNGBLOOD, LONGIETTI, MARSHALL, HORNAMAN, MAHONEY, WANSACZ, CALTAGIRONE and SIPTROTH. Printer's No. 1400. An Act amending Title 13 (Commercial Code) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, extensively revising preliminary provisions and provisions relating to warehouse receipts, bills of lading and documents of title; further providing, in secured transactions, for definitions, for perfection and priority in deposit accounts and for perfection upon attachment; and making editorial changes.

HB 2179 By Representatives DALEY, HESS, THOMAS, SIPTROTH, SCAVELLO, McGEEHAN, GEORGE, BELFANTI, BRENNAN, CARROLL, JAMES, JOSEPHS, MAHONEY, MYERS, SANTONI, WALKO, BENNINGTON, HARHAI, KOTIK, WAGNER, J. WHITE, YEWCIC and CALTAGIRONE. Prior Printer's Nos. 3197, 3237.Printer's No. 3578. An Act amending Titles 7 (Banks and Banking) and 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, regulating the mortgage loan industry in terms of practice, licensure and penalties; providing for unlicensed mortgage loan activity; and making related repeals.


SB9 Prior Printer's Nos. 763, 1771, 1870, 1915.Printer's No. 1924. An Act requiring identification of lawful presence in the United States as a prerequisite to the receipt of public benefits.

SB 1332 By Senators REGOLA, PILEGGI, ROBBINS, WOZNIAK, FOLMER, GORDNER, PUNT and WASHINGTON. Printer's No. 1866. An Act amending Title 53 (Municipalities Generally) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in general provisions, providing for form of oaths of office.

SB 1344 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1900. An Act making an appropriation from the State Employees' Retirement Fund to provide for expenses of the State Employees' Retirement Board for the fiscal year July 1, 2008, to June 30, 2009, and for the payment of bills incurred and remaining unpaid at the close of the fiscal year ending June 30, 2008.

SB 1345 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1901. An Act making an appropriation from the Public School Employees' Retirement Fund to provide for expenses of the Public School Employees' Retirement Board for the fiscal year July 1, 2008, to June 30, 2009, and for the payment of bills incurred and remaining unpaid at the close of the fiscal year ending June 30, 2008.

SB 1346 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1902. An Act making appropriations from the Professional Licensure Augmentation Account and from restricted revenue accounts within the General Fund to the Department of State for use by the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs in support of the professional licensure boards assigned thereto.

SB 1347 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1903. An Act making appropriations from the Workmen's Compensation Administration Fund to the Department of Labor and Industry and the Department of Community and Economic Development to provide for the expenses of administering the Workers' Compensation Act, The Pennsylvania Occupational Disease Act and the Office of Small Business Advocate for the fiscal year July 1, 2008, to June 30, 2009, and for the payment of bills incurred and remaining unpaid at the close of the fiscal year ending June 30, 2008.

SB 1348 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1904. An Act making an appropriation from a restricted revenue account within the General Fund and from Federal augmentation funds to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

SB 1349 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1905. An Act making an appropriation from a restricted revenue account within the General Fund to the Office of Consumer Advocate in the Office of Attorney General.

SB 1351 By Senator ARMSTRONG. Printer's No. 1906. An Act making an appropriation from a restricted revenue account within the General Fund to the Office of Small Business Advocate in the Department of Community and Economic Development.

SB 1254 By Senators D. WHITE, REGOLA, WAUGH, CORMAN, C. WILLIAMS, WOZNIAK, TOMLINSON, ARMSTRONG and STACK. Prior Printer's No. 1702.Printer's No. 1841. An Act amending the act of May 17, 1921 (P.L.682, No.284), known as The Insurance Company Law of 1921, further providing for marketing and administration of service contracts being distinct from the business of insurance.

SB 638 Prior Printer's Nos. 690, 1218, 1411.Printer's No. 1615. An Act establishing the Cancer Drug Repository Program for accepting donated cancer drugs and dispensing cancer drugs; and providing for the powers and duties of the State Board of Pharmacy.

SB 822 By Senators CORMAN, ERICKSON, GORDNER, TOMLINSON, WAUGH, ROBBINS, BRUBAKER, D. WHITE and EARLL. Prior Printer's No. 956.Printer's No. 1842. A Joint Resolution proposing integrated amendments to the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, further providing for disqualification to hold other office and for vacancy in the office of Lieutenant Governor.

SB 998 By Senators McILHINNEY, O'PAKE, WASHINGTON, RAFFERTY and RHOADES. Prior Printer's Nos. 1215, 1840, 1878.Printer's No. 1840. An Act amending Title 40 (Insurance) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for clinical social work services.

Prior Printer's Nos. 1278, 1586.Printer's No. 1871. An Act amending the act of May 15, 1945 (P.L.547, No.217), known as the Conservation District Law, further providing for declaration of policy, for the State Conservation Commission, for creation of conservation districts, for designation of district directors, for appointment, qualifications, compensation and tenure of directors, for organization of directors, for powers of districts and directors, for Commonwealth agencies to cooperate and for discontinuation of districts; and making a repeal.

SB 1033 By Senators REGOLA, PICCOLA, BAKER, PIPPY, FUMO, ARMSTRONG, PUNT, KITCHEN, ORIE, WAUGH, FOLMER, FONTANA, ERICKSON, M. WHITE, RHOADES, BRUBAKER, BROWNE and WASHINGTON. Prior Printer's No. 1325.Printer's No. 1880. An Act amending Title 51 (Military Affairs) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for the composition of the State Veterans' Commission.

SB 1225 Prior Printer's Nos. 1674, 1738.Printer's No. 1876. An Act amending Title 35 (Health and Safety) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for mutual aid.

SB 1278 By Senators GREENLEAF, COSTA, MELLOW, ERICKSON, M. WHITE, RAFFERTY, ORIE, FONTANA, WOZNIAK, O'PAKE, VANCE, C. WILLIAMS, BROWNE and WASHINGTON. Prior Printer's No. 1768.Printer's No. 1844. An Act amending Title 23 (Domestic Relations) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for child medical support, annual fees, review of orders of support, effect of incarceration, pass-through of support and assignment of support.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Patrick Murphy in the Politico

It is kind of old news to those of us in the region, but the Politico has an article on the 8th congressional district, currently represented by Democrat Patrick Murphy. ("GOP recruits Marine to challenge Murphy," by Josh Kraushaar (4/10). It starts out:

Rep. Patrick J. Murphy (D-Pa.) has been one of the most high-profile freshman members of Congress in his first term.

As one of Barack Obama’s most visible supporters in Pennsylvania, he routinely appears as a surrogate to tout Obama’s candidacy. And because he is the only Iraq war veteran serving in Congress, Democrats have turned to Murphy as someone with the credibility to speak out against the war.

But while Murphy has emerged as a rising star in Democratic circles, Republicans have quietly recruited a candidate with an equally compelling story who is now on pace to raise the amount of money necessary to seriously contest the suburban Philadelphia seat. And the Iraq war — a topic that seemed to propel Murphy to his 2006 win — also will be the key issue for his challenger.

Wind Not Windfalls

On Monday, the Sierra Club will hold a Wind Not Windfalls press conference at 3:30 p.m. at the corner of Broad St. and Bainbridge St.

With gas and diesel prices back to a record high, and Pennsylvania ’s working families paying more for basic items such as bread and milk, the Sierra Club is launching a campaign through the PA primary to bring attention to taxpayer subsidies for big oil companies and the need to shift to renewable energy sources.

Last year, the country’s five largest oil companies made $123 billion in profits, while benefiting from billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies. Meanwhile, critical renewable energy tax incentives are set to expire at the end of this year. The America Wind Energy Association estimates that up to 75,000 America jobs could be lost if these incentives are not renewed early this year.

“Right now, Pennsylvanians have choices to make. We can either support subsidies for Big Oil, or support creating a new energy future for America , built on clean renewable energy’” said Rachel Martin, Sierra Club Regional Representative. “Taxpayer subsidies for big oil companies have brought us nothing but soaring gas prices and inflation. Shifting to renewable sources of energy like wind and solar, however, will help build our economy, create good, green jobs, and help solve global warming.”

Over the next two weeks, Sierra Club activists will be circulating petitions and raising awareness about this issue at candidate events and at polling places, and holding major events in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia .

“Soon, Senators McCain, Clinton , Obama, and Specter will have the opportunity to vote on redirecting subsidies from the oil companies to incentives for job-creating renewable energy, and to demonstrate whether they stand for PA’s working families, or for big oil companies,” said Martin. “It’s time for the Senators to move forward and vote for clean energy, not Big Oil. We are asking them to vote yes on HR 5351, the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2008.”

Community Banking Week, PA Version

Buy Local is a common theme in progressive circles. There are various ways of doing that; with food it is farmers market. With retail it is buying from locally owned businesses. Financially, it is keeping your money in a community bank.

This is Community Banking Week, with the theme “Where Tradition and Innovation Meet.” The Pennsylvania Association of Community Banks represents nearly 260 banks in the state. According to their website:

You know the owners of your community bank. You know the managers who work there. You know them because they live in your community. They work where you can see them and reach them by telephone. Decisions and policies are not made by a nameless "board" or handed down by bank officers hundreds or thousands of miles away. The community banker makes decisions based on what he sees happening to the people he knows and cares about, not solely on computer printouts and trends reported in the financial papers.

The people who manage a community bank are accessible. They listen and respond promptly. They are committed to the community they serve, not a corporate headquarters far away. They make policy and credit decisions based on local factors, which they understand because they see them evolving and affecting their own lives every day.

Only through a community bank do dollars earned at home, spent at home, and banked at home make their way into investments which nourish the community which made them possible.

This is backed up by research. National banks may have specialized services and personnel but they also have set standards and policies. As noted by American Banker last month:
Because community banks have the flexibility to customize the service offered to current and potential customers, they have a significant competitive advantage over the multibillion-dollar banks that must offer standardized products and service across different target markets and different geographical areas. (Bills)

It is also said that these community ties mean community banks can take into account more than just a credit score when evaluating a loan application; they can also look at the individual and, if applicable, the family’s history in the community.

There is still much to be said for local market knowledge. It’s an advantage that usually trumps low-ball appeals from newcomers. Every bank has its share of price-sensitive customers, of course, but for many community banks, and some larger institutions, as well, market knowledge, customer knowledge, expertise, and service are still selling points. (Streeter).

This goes both ways. Like community based agriculture, the money you deposit in a community bank stays in the community. According to PACB:

Your local community bank works to put Pennsylvania First by circulating its monies right back into Pennsylvania. On the average, approximately 95% of the typical community bank's loan portfolio is reinvested in the community, usually within 50 miles of a bank office, and almost entirely within the borders of Pennsylvania. The average community bank in Pennsylvania has over 30% of its holdings in commercial loans with local businesses, and more than 50% in mortgage loans to local homeowners.

Promotions can also be localized. In 2006 the Harleysville Savings Bank of Harleysville, PA won a national award for its “Trusty Club,” program for kids under 15. Named after the bank’s mascot, Trusty, the program encouraged kids to start savings accounts and offered reward incentives. Trusty also makes classroom visits. Trusty Club accounts brought the bank over a million dollars in deposits (Holliday).

Most local banks were able to avoid the worst of the subprime mess; some did not offer subprime loans at all. Note these quotes:

Despite an inverted yield curve, increased reliance on higher-rate deposit funding, and slowing loan growth, banks with total assets of less than $3 billion posted higher net interest margins, on average, than their larger competitors, and the gap between the two groups continued to widen (Mambrino).


Community banks’ wealth management businesses are holding their own as weakness in housing has thrown major banks into turmoil and the declining stock market has shrunk the values of assets in investment accounts throughout the country (Ryst).

To put this in local perspective:

The day after Fulton Financial Corp. in Lancaster, Pa., reported last week that is fourth quarter earnings fell 18% and nonperforming assets more than doubled, its stock shot up roughly 14% and has held steady since.

The $14.9 billion asset Fulton is just one of many community banking companies whose share prices soared last week, even after they reported less than spectacular earnings. (McGeer)

Later in the same article:

Consequently bargain hunters are on the prowl for community bank and thrift companies that, though hardly immune to the souring real estate markets, are weathering the downturn better than expected. (McGeer)

Even in better times, the chance to have your money going directly back out into the community allows you to have a more direct impact in the businesses, especially the small businesses, that start up on your Main Street.

As a personal note, Mr. J and I moved savings and checking accounts to a community bank about 15 years ago. We also own a few shares of stock in the bank. I do see the president of our bank out at community events and feel comfortable going over and saying hello. The woman who arranged our loan for a home repair project asks me at PTA meetings what kind of job the workmen did and if we would recommend them. Interactions like this strengthen the social fabric of our towns and neighborhoods.


Bennett, Rex, “Can David compete with Goliath?” Bank Marketing 40 #1 (January / February 2008): 30-35.

Bills, Steve, “Core vendors find a market for small bank mobile tools,” American Banker 173 #52 (March 17, 2008): 11.

Holliday, Kalen, “Beyond the bottom line,” Community Banker 16 #1 (Jan 2007): 46-50.

McGeer, Bonnie, “Absent credit meltdowns, small banks gain favor,” American Banker 173 #19 (January 29, 2008): 5.

Mambrino, Vanessa, “Banking’s top performers,” ABA Banking Journal 99 #6 (June 2007): 28-64.

Ryst, Sonja, “Small-bank wealth units weather market turmoil,” American Banker 173 #47 (March 10, 2008): 16.

Streeter, William W. “The chief business of banking is business,” ABA Banking Journal 98 #7 (July 2006): 6