Monday, May 31, 2010

Expanding Green Energy Programs

from Friday's inbox:

Murphy Measure to Support Green Jobs Training Programs Passes House
Grants Will Support Colleges in Developing Green Jobs and Energy Programs

(Washington, DC) – Today Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-PA) announced that his amendment to create a competitive grant program for colleges, including two year institutions, that create or expand green energy programs has passed the U.S. House of Representatives. His legislation, co-sponsored by Rep. Jason Altmire (D-PA), would help community colleges develop the skilled scientific and technical workforce necessary to meet the serious energy challenges of the 21st century. The program was passed as part of the America COMPETES Act, a bill to strengthen investments in math, science, technology, and engineering education.

“Helping community colleges establish Green Jobs Training programs will increase the competitiveness of our workforce globally and prepare our students for sustainable energy jobs that are high-paying and can’t be outsourced,”
said Congressman Patrick Murphy.

“Congressman Murphy has been a driving force in bringing new green energy companies - and the quality jobs that come with them - to Bucks County,” said Michael Peck, Director of External Relations for Gamesa USA North America. “As a local renewable energy manufacturing company, this is exactly the kind of program we need to ensure our people are equipped to work in this globally competitive, fast-paced and growing field.”

Energy experts predict that global economic growth will lead to a 50% increase in worldwide energy consumption by 2025, meaning that workers trained in the field of renewable energy and sustainability will be in high demand and a vital component of the 21st century workforce. Rep. Murphy’s Green Jobs Training Grant will help community colleges advance the energy sciences education and the career opportunities of their students.

The grants would support quality programs such as The Green Jobs Academy at Bucks County Community College. The Congressman helped create this training program, in coordination with private industry partners and Drexel University, to provide Bucks County students the training they need to work in the growing green energy field in Southeastern Pennsylvania. The program provides both long and shorter-term training programs geared toward workers in the green and sustainability industries. Students are offered courses in subjects including green construction, sustainable building, and wind energy technology. The grant program would help to replicate this successful model nationwide.

America COMPETES Act is supported by a wide range of business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In their endorsement, the Chamber stated that the bill will “strengthen U.S. competitiveness by improving America’s scientific and economic leadership, and making stronger investments in science, innovation, research, and education.”

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Murphy DADT Amendment Passes

from the inbox:

Tonight, Congressman Patrick Murphy’s amendment to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 234-194. The amendment dismantles the policy only after the Pentagon completes its review process and after military leaders certify that repeal would not harm national security or military readiness.

“Tonight, Congress took a historic step toward repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and toward ensuring that every American has the same opportunity I did to defend our nation,” said Rep. Murphy. “Patriotic Americans willing to take a bullet for their country should never be forced to lie about who they are in order to serve the country they love. I will not rest until the repeal of this discriminatory policy that hurts national security is signed into law.”

In his remarks on the floor, Rep. Murphy spoke of Former Air Force Sgt. David Hall, a young man he met who served in the Middle East and dreamed of becoming a pilot. Sgt. Hall didn’t ask, and he didn’t tell. But someone told his commander they thought Sgt. Hall was gay and after an investigation, he was kicked out of the Air Force. “I assure you I am fit for military duty,” Hall told Congressman Murphy. “Please stop discharging patriotic Americans who just want to serve the country they love.”

The amendment was included in the FY 2011 National Defense Authorization Act.

The vote is reported as 234-194, with 5 Republicans voting for and 26 Democrats against.

Lentz on FAA Proposal

from yesterday's inbox:

Lentz, GAO Say Throwing Dirt on PHL’s Congestion Problems Is No Long Term Fix

City of Philadelphia slated to spend 5.2 billion federal dollars to put dirt in the Delaware River to build new runway at Philadelphia International Airport

On the final day to comment on the FAA’s proposal to expand the airport, and coincidentally on the one year anniversary of Tinicum Township and Delaware County’s lawsuit filed against the city of Philadelphia to prevent further encroachment into Tinicum by the Philadelphia Airport, state Representative Bryan Lentz cites the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report in opposing airport expansion.

“The study references the city’s plan for the region and Philadelphia International Airport. It can be summarized as follows: There is no plan,” stated Rep. Lentz (D-161st District). “The long-term solution to this problem is not airport expansion. It is regional planning and integration of airport systems, and regional integration of airports with other transportation systems such as high-speed rail and mass transit.

The GAO report illustrates how this approach has worked in other cities and regions but has been ignored – worse yet rejected by Philadelphia. Instead, the city with the support of the FAA proposes to spend 5.2 billion FEDERAL dollars to put dirt in the Delaware River to build an additional runway at Philadelphia International Airport.”

The study released, “National Airspace System: Regional Airport Planning Could Address Congestion If Plans Were Integrated with FAA and Airport Decision Making” was prompted as a result of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) prediction that the United States’ national airspace systems are on track to become congested beyond their capacity. The GAO was asked to evaluate regional airport planning in congested metropolitan areas like Philadelphia.

“In 2009 Philadelphia International Airport registered 492,000 take-offs and landings; this number is expected to increase to be over 735,000 by the year 2035.,” said Lentz. “Congestion is a serious problem. On the micro-level, passengers are inconvenienced by delays but on a regional basis airports operate as a system and a flight delayed in Philadelphia can affect a traveler in another part of the country. These delays impose economic costs on passengers, airlines, airports and the economy.”

The FAA identified fourteen airports that will experience significant capacity constraint by 2025. Within the fourteen, the GAO report identified several regions that have or will have significantly congested airports including: Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, Philadelphia. The GAO also studied the regional airport planning in Boston.

“The Boston region was part of the study not because of a congestion problem but because they have solved their congestion problem through successful regional airport planning,” said Lentz. “We have the infrastructure in place to expand our reliance on high-speed rail and ample, underused regional airports-Lehigh Valley, Wilmington, Willow Grove, and Atlantic City to name a few.”

The FAA played an important role in Boston by supporting regional airport planning and incorporating the regional approach into its decision making for airport capital improvements. The regional airport planning in Boston was led by local airports and facilitated by the FAA’s regional office, which provided the necessary funding and took a lead role in “demand studies” and the Regional Airport System Plan (RASP).

Massport officials are quick to point out that the regional airports would have been reluctant to participate had the FAA not become involved. Locally, Philadelphia International Airport which is owned and operated by the city of Philadelphia has repeatedly rejected this approach.

According to the GAO report, “Airport officials in Philadelphia told us that they do not want to support federal efforts, including regional airport planning, that could lead to losing or diverting flights from their airport to other airports in the region.”

“This kind of short-sighted thinking is unacceptable for our region.,” continued Lentz. “We will not be a first-class regional economy without a first-class transportation system. Dumping 5.2 billion dollars into the Delaware River is not the path to a first-class system. That money should go into linking our regional rail system and transforming our regional system of airports along the lines of the Boston model. To do otherwise will handicap our region for years.”

Today, Rep. Lentz sent a letter citing the GAO report to the FAA’s Environmental Protection Specialist, Sue McDonald, who has been avoiding addressing Lentz’s objections to date.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Philly Bikecab Starts Memorial Day Weekend

Starting this weekend you will have another transportation option in Philadelphia. Philly Bikecab will begin operations. Here is some background:

Legislation sponsored by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown and Counciman Curtis Jones Jr. to authorize Bike Cabs was adopted in January. Bikecabs carry 2-4 people and are powered by human pedaling. The Cities Street's Department issued regulations for pedicab license and operation in April that go into effect this week.

The Philadelphia Bikecab Alliance is made up of existing Bikecab Companies, including Velo-Park and Chariots of Philly.

Murphy's DADT Amendment

from yesterday's inbox:

Today, Congressman Patrick Murphy introduced an amendment to the Defense policy bill that would repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” In the seventeen years since the policy was enacted, over 13,500 well trained, able-bodied soldiers willing to take a bullet for their country have been kicked out of the military simply because they were gay. As a Captain in the 82nd Airborne Division who served as a paratrooper in the Iraq War, Rep. Murphy has fought tirelessly to repeal a policy he believes damages national security and hurts military readiness.

“Arguments for keeping this policy in place are weak and outdated,” said Rep. Murphy. “To remove honorable, talented and patriotic troops from serving contradicts the American values our military fights for and our nation holds dear.”

Murphy added that more than 20 nations, including Britain, Israel and others fighting alongside our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan today, allow gays and lesbians to serve openly, without any detrimental impact on unit cohesion. At a time when our military is stretched thin fighting two wars and servicemembers are being sent on fourth and fifth deployments, it makes little sense to kick out infantry officers, fighter pilots, and Arabic translators just because of their sexual orientation.

The Congressman’s amendment respects the timeline of the Pentagon’s Implementation Study Group. When the President signs the Department of Defense Authorization bill into law, DADT will not instantly be repealed. Repeal would take place only after the study group completes its work in December 2010 and after the President, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Secretary of Defense all certify that repeal will not hurt military readiness or unit cohesion.

Defense Secretary Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen have voiced support for repeal and said it’s no longer a matter of “if” but “when.” In recent testimony before Congress, Admiral Mullen stated, “It comes down to integrity – theirs as individuals and ours as an institution.” Further, in a letter dated May 24, 2010, the Administration said they support the amendment and noted that this approach “recognizes the critical need to allow our military and their families the full opportunity to inform and shape the implementation process through a thorough understanding of their concerns, insights, and suggestions.”

Obama on PA Teachers

from the inbox:

With state and local budget shortfalls threatening the jobs of hundreds of thousands of educators in Pennsylvania and across the country, the Obama Administration is pressing Congress to approve emergency funding to keep them on the job.

“It is crucial that we keep our teachers in the classroom,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “Our teachers are vital to our students’ success, our economy’s success, and our nation’s success. We must act now to prevent teachers from being laid off and ensure that America’s students have the knowledge and skills to succeed in the 21st century.”

The economic downturn has placed massive strain on state and local budgets. As education makes up one of the largest single items in state budgets, schools, classrooms, and teacher jobs have been targeted for significant cuts. Such a massive loss of jobs will impact students through reductions in core class time, overcrowded classrooms, shortened school calendars, cuts to afterschool programming, fewer early childhood opportunities, and reduced access to college counselors and school nurses.

In response, the Obama Administration is pressing Congress to approve $23 billion in emergency support to preserve education jobs across the country. This funding will keep teachers in the classroom at all levels, including post-secondary, while helping to sustain meaningful and necessary reforms underway in public education. The President also is urging Congress to approve $1 billion to preserve early childhood education jobs to ensure that young children do not lose services critical to their learning and well-being.

According to provisional estimates by the White House Council of Economic Advisers, this funding will support the jobs of approximately 300,000 educators, including approximately 11,680 in Pennsylvania.

“As state lawmakers and school districts across the country are finalizing their budgets for the coming year, we must act quickly and responsibly to offer the assistance they need – to keep our teachers teaching, keep our students learning, and keep our economy growing. Investing in education now will help tens of millions of students become more productive citizens and positively affect America’s long-term fiscal health,” Secretary Duncan said.

New PA Trails

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced the designation of 31 trails in 15 states as national recreation trails, adding more than 716 miles of trails to the National Trails System. The announcement comes in anticipation of National Trails Day on June 5, when trail dedications and other activities will take place at new and existing trails.

Four of those new trails are in Pennsylvania:

Cumberland Valley Rail Trail
The Cumberland Valley Rail Trail follows the old Cumberland Valley Railroad rail corridor for 9.5 miles, from Shippensburg to Newville, through the rich, rolling, picturesque farmlands of western Cumberland County in south-central Pennsylvania. Wooded stands of native trees shade much of this historically significant route. Trail enthusiasts can enjoy walking, jogging, bicycling, horseback riding and other non-motorized recreational uses. A grassy bridle path parallels the pedestrian path along the entire length.

Mason-Dixon Trail
This 30-mile section of the 193-mile Mason-Dixon Trail is a hiking trail that follows the lower Susquehanna River from Wrightsville to the Norman Wood Bridge. There are beautiful views, deep ravines with waterfalls, and several big climbs and descents to where streams have carved out canyons in the river hills.

Three Rivers Heritage Trail
The Three Rivers Heritage Trail is an urban rail-trail paralleling the riverbanks in the Pittsburgh area for about 21 miles, often on both sides of the rivers. The trail is part of the Great Allegheny Passage, the Erie to Pittsburgh Trail, and the Pittsburgh to Erie Mainline Canal and Greenway. It offers spectacular views of the city. Recent surveys indicate diverse use of the trail for recreation and commuting purposes.

Three Rivers Water Trail
The Three Rivers Water Trail is a series of public non-motorized access points within the 90 riverfront municipalities of Allegheny County. It is an urban water trail which follows the Three Rivers in the Pittsburgh area for about 75 miles. The trail extends to Sewickley on the Ohio River, Harrison on the Allegheny River, and Elizabeth on the Monongahela River, and is easily accessed from the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. The Three Rivers Water Trail is part of the statewide water trail system, connecting to the Youghiogheny River Trail and the Kiski-Conemaugh River Water Trail.

Patrick Murphy, Penny Pincher

from the inbox, from Congressman Patrick Murphy:

Earlier this year, I called for a freeze on all non-defense related discretionary spending for Fiscal Year 2011, and cosponsored legislation that creates a Constitutional Amendment to require Congress to balance the budget each year.

While these are positive steps, they are not enough. Americans won't rest easy until the economy stabilizes and the debt is reduced. In this issue of the Murphy Report, I want to tell you about the bipartisan legislation I'm working on to cut spending:

* Recovering Misspent Money The federal government wastes $98 billion a year through improper payments. Improper payments occur when a federal agency pays too much or pays twice for a product or service, whether due to fraud or to poor financial management systems. I introduced a bill, HR 3393, the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act, which weeds out these errors by increasing auditing and recovery standards throughout the federal government. We need to know where these errors are being made, stop them, and make sure they never happen again. This bill, which will save taxpayers billions, passed the House with bipartisan support on April 28, 2010 and awaits action in the Senate.

* Eliminating Wasteful Defense Spending The government loses billions of dollars each year through overpayments to contractors when it makes millitary purchases of weapons and services. The IMPROVE acquisition Act, a bipartisan bill which passed the House by a vote of 417-3, helps eliminate this kind of waste by overhauling the nation's defense acquisition system. I worked with my colleagues on this legislation to build a better accountability system so the Department of Defense has a way to measure performance and hold the right people accountable if the goods or services they bought fail to meet standards. It's estimated that this legislation will save taxpayers $135 billion over five years.
* Ending Congressional Pay Raises While families across the district are struggling in this tough economy, it's outrageous that Congress receives an automatic pay raise each year. I'm happy to say that the pay raise was blocked last year, and we recently voted to prevent the pay raise for the next fiscal year. However, blocking these automatic raises year to year is not enough. I am currently fighting for legislation that would eliminate the pay raise altogether.

Local Architecture Firm on TV

Paul Macht Architects, of Montgomery county, played a behind the scenes role, and a small on camera role, in tonight's episode of HGTV's "Home Rules."

Monday, May 24, 2010

Rick Taylor is Spartacus

Anyone remember the old Spartacus movie? Wasn't there a scene where Spartacus is going to be punished for something and one by one several people step forward and say "I am Spartacus!" State Rep Rick Taylor (D-151) has adopted that strategy. CasablancaPA has a photo of Taylor standing in front of his office door, which has a "I am Signor Ferrari" note on it.

Signor Ferrari is the username of the main blogger at CasablancaPA. Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett, also the Republican candidate for governor, subpoenaed twitter last week to find out who was twittering as CasablancaPA.

Kudos to Taylor for taking the Spartacus approach.

ACLU on Corbett and Twitter

Witold Walczak, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania released the following statement on Friday:

While we are pleased that the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office has withdrawn the subpoena to Twitter for identity information on our clients, Twitter account holders bf barbie and CasablancaPA, the ACLU maintains grave concerns about the AG’s handling of this affair.

The AG’s Office has now confirmed that the information requested by the grand jury subpoena was to be used in connection with today’s sentencing of “Bonusgate” defendant Brett Cott. Two troubling conclusions flow from this admission.

First, this subpoena to Twitter was a serious abuse of the grand jury process. Under Pennsylvania law, investigating grand juries “have the power to inquire into offenses against the criminal laws of the Commonwealth.” See, 45 P.S. § 4548. Obviously, gathering evidence for sentencing is beyond the scope of that authority. More troubling is the contention by the Attorney General’s Office lawyers that they “do this all the time” and that there was nothing wrong with what they did. The ACLU calls on the attorney general to state publicly that his office will immediately stop misusing the grand jury to gather evidence beyond the scope of its statutory authority.

Second, the willingness to use legal process to go on a fishing expedition that would unmask the identities of political critics in order simply to support an argument for extending a criminal defendant’s sentence shows a flagrant disregard for the First Amendment. The fact that tweets have been issued from the two accounts since Mr. Cott was taken into custody – meaning they aren’t Cott -- demonstrates that innocent people’s rights were jeopardized by the attorney general’s action. Had these people not had the fortitude to stand up to the subpoenas their identities might have been unnecessarily exposed.

The ACLU hopes that this incident will cause the Attorney General’s Office to change its practices and desist from similar grand jury abuses in the future. We also hope that the people of Pennsylvania will now have learned that criticizing one’s government officials is a valued constitutional right, that the right can be pursued anonymously, and that the government cannot unmask speaker’s identities without meeting a compelling justification and without following proper legal process, including notice and an opportunity to object. It is now clear that the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General neither followed lawful process nor had sufficient cause to seek the identities of the Twitter users.

Finally, the ACLU applauds Twitter for respecting the privacy rights of its account holders and wishes to thank volunteer lawyers Barbara Zemlock, with the firm Post Schell in Harrisburg , and Mark Sheppard, an attorney in the Philadelphia office of Montgomery McCracken, Walker and Rhoads, LLP.

Facebook Update

Facebook has decided to let me keep my account. You can find me by searching above average jane. I seldom post anything and often don't log in for days at a time but, hey, that makes me a low maintenance friend, right?

Patrick Murphy Update

A few notes on Congressman Patrick Murphy:

He wrote an opinion piece for Politico on Don't Ask Don't Tell last Friday. Read "'Don't ask' counters American values."

Murphy is one of four honorary chairs for "Gen44," the DNC organization for the under-40 set, described as "our newest generation of business, government, public, and private sector leaders."

For accustomed to going to murphy06 and murphy08 for Murphy's campaign site, he has a more permanent address: I thought the 08 site just wasn't being updated then stumbled across the new one.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Are You Smarter Than Congress?

Think you can solve the national budget crisis? Here's your chance.

On June 26, 2010, thousands of Americans across the country will participate in an unprecedented National Town Meeting on our budget and economy. The National Town Meeting will include thousands of people in different locations all across the country connected live via satellite video, webcast and interactive technologies:

* In up to 20 cities, thousands of participants reflecting the political, socio-economic, and ethnic diversity of the United States will attend AmericaSpeaks 21st Century Town Meetings.
* Thousands more Americans will participate that same day in volunteer-organized Community Conversations.
* Many more individuals will be able to tune-in from home to watch live video coverage online, participate in the discussion, and share their own priorities in an online forum.

After June 26, AmericaSpeaks will present the priorities that emerge from the national discussion to Congress and President Obama, as well as the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform and the Bi-Partisan Policy Center’s Debt Reduction Task Force. Find out more about what happens after June 26.

Participation is free and food will be provided at Town Meeting locations, but space is limited. Where possible, childcare, transportation assistance and translation services will be provided. All Town Meeting locations will be ADA accessible. If you don’t find something near you, come back later as more locations will be added over the coming weeks, or consider hosting your own Community Conversation.

Philadelphia is one of the cities hosting a discussion. Register here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

PA Goes Nuclear

from the inbox:

U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu today announced the selection of 42 university-led research and development projects for awards totaling $38 million. These projects, funded over three to four years through the Department’s Nuclear Energy University Program, will help advance nuclear education and develop the next generation of nuclear technologies.

“We are taking action to restart the nuclear industry as part of a broad approach to cut carbon pollution and create new clean energy jobs,” said Secretary Chu. “These projects will help us develop the nuclear technologies of the future and move our domestic nuclear industry forward.”

Twenty-three U.S. universities will act as lead research institutions for projects in 17 states. Other universities, industries, and national laboratories will serve as collaborators and research partners. The projects focus on four nuclear energy research areas:

Fuel Cycle Research and Development (13 projects, $11,823,154)

The goal of this research area is to research and demonstrate technologies that will enable the safe and cost-effective management of the used fuel produced by the current and future nuclear fuel cycle in a manner that reduces proliferation risk. The research conducted in the program is focused on developing novel technology options that will improve used fuel storage, recycling and disposal options, with performance in cost and environmental consequences significantly improved from current technology performance. Project awardees in this area are below. Actual project funding will be established during contract negotiation phase.

PA projects on this list:
# Drexel University - $1,149,327 Freeze‐casting as a Novel Manufacturing Process for Fast Reactor Fuels
# Pennsylvania State University - $1,377,444Exploration and Modeling of Structural Changes in Waste Glass Under Corrosion
Generation IV Reactor Research and Development (20 projects, $19,855,912)

The goal of this research area is to research and develop the next generation of nuclear reactors that will produce more energy and create less waste. The focus is developing new reactor technologies with higher safety, economic, and sustainability performance. The program will involve research on crosscutting technologies that will accelerate the development of advanced reactor concepts, including fuels, materials, and reactor modeling. The program also investigates small and medium-sized reactor concepts. If commercially successful, small modular reactors would significantly expand the options for nuclear power and its applications, and may prove advantageous compared to the Generation III+ nuclear plants in terms of economics, performance, and security. The research program is focused on the key technology challenges for these concepts and supports cross-cutting activities, including Modeling and Simulation, Structural Materials, Energy Conversion, Nuclear Instrumentation and Control, and Innovative Manufacturing Approaches. Project awardees in this area are below. Actual project funding will be established during contract negotiation phase.

PA projects on this list:
Pennsylvania State University - $1,000,000 Monitoring Microstructural Evolution of Alloy 617 with Nonlinear Acoustics for Remaining Useful Life Prediction; Multiaxial Creep‐fatigue and Creep‐ratcheting
Mission-Relevant Investigator-Initiated Research (7 projects, $5,556,816)

This research area focuses on creative, innovative, and "blue sky" research. This area includes research in the fields or disciplines of nuclear science and engineering such as, but not limited to, Nuclear Engineering, Nuclear Physics, Health Physics, Nuclear Materials Science, Radiochemistry or Nuclear Chemistry. Examples of topics of interest are new reactor designs and technologies; advanced fuel cycles, including advanced nuclear fuels; alternate aqueous and dry processes, including volatility and ionic liquids; instrumentation and control/human factors; radiochemistry; and fundamental nuclear science. Project awardees in this area are below. Actual project funding will be established during contract negotiation phase.

PA projects on this list:
Pennsylvania State University - $870,613Understanding the Irradiation Behavior of Zirconium Carbide

Twitter-Dee and Twitter-Dum

As you have probably read, Attorney General and GOP candidate for governor Tom Corbett has subpoenaed the login data for two twitter accounts. He believes one of the bonusgate defendants is blogging and twittering information against him, and wants this information included in the sentencing decision. (John Micek has a good overview of the situation). Neither of these accounts had large followings before his subpoena. One had less than 30 followers, though both have considerably more now, thanks to the free publicity. Yes, these accounts and the blog attached to one of them have been posting derogatory information on Corbett, but I'm not sure that rises to the level of official action by the state attorney general. CasablancaPA clearly has an agenda but whoever is behind it often backs up statements with links to newspaper articles or provides other supporting documentation; the writer isn't necessarily making things up. Between now and November it is entirely possible that I will say a few negative things about the Attorney General. And I also will probably have supporting documentation. Should I expect Attorney General Corbett to subpoena my personal information, too? It's a scary thought.

More "Lost and Stolen" Ordinances Passed

Last week, Charleroi Borough in Washington Township, Catasaqua and Wilson in the Lehigh Valley, and Sharon Hill in Delaware County passed lost or stolen handgun reporting resolutions, bringing the current tally to 40 municipalities statewide that have taken action in support of this commonsense reform. For more info see

Pennsylvania's Bee Team

A note from the WSJ, "A backyard battleground to save the honeybee," by Anne Marie Chaker (5/19):

States are reporting surges in registered beekeepers. In Florida, there are currently 1,615 beekeepers, more than twice the number three years ago. In Pennsylvania, registrations have gone up about 30% to 2500 in that time.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Environmental and Union Support for Patrick Murphy

Today on a conference call Tony Massaro of the League of Conservation Voters and John Meyerson, Chairman of the Southeastern PA Area Federation of Labor announced their support for Congressman Patrick Murphy (PA-08). Murphy ‘s Republican opponent Mike Fitzpatrick represented the district from 2004-2006.

Murphy said one of the inevitabilities in public office is that no one will agree with your actions all of the time, but it is important to vote with conviction and not political whim.

Meyerson said he has watched Murphy’s career closely and said “Murphy is one of us. He shares our values.” When Fitzpatrick was first elected he had some union support. In April, 2005 he signed a pledge to support the Employee Free Choice Act but now opposes it. He promised unions to opposed CAFTA but then voted for it. He said he didn’t always agree with Murphy and they have had discussions and debates, but he always knows where Murphy stands.

Massaro said in 2006 Fitzpatrick was a co-sponsor of climate legislation introduced by Rep. Henry Waxman but now Fitzpatrick now says he no longer supports it and in fact says climate change science is unproven. Massaro said he does not always agree with Murphy, who has a 91% lifetime approval score from his organization, that sometimes Murphy will say “I am not with you and this and here’s why.” Massaro thinks that Fitzpatrick now wants tea party support more than he wants environmentalist’s support. In 2006 the LCV did support Fitzpatrick but his rhetoric and positions have now changed. The facts behind climate science and the need to wean ourselves off dependence on foreign oil have not.

Meyerson also said that he has no problem with people changing their position with new information but on issues like CAFTA there is no new information.

Robophone Survey on PA Senate Election

This evening we received a call from National Opinion Survey -- an automated survey (If you are a Democrat, press 1, etc.). It focused on the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary. There was no mention of who was paying for the survey. The questions were part of a tree structure, one leading to another, so I can only comment on the questions I received. Here that are:

Did you vote (yes/no)
Did you vote for Specter or Sestak?
Did you vote that way to send a message to Washington on jobs in Pennsylvania, because you preferred one candidate over another, both or not sure.
Do you think Congress understands the job crisis in Pennsylvania?
Are you employed?
Full time or part time?
Demographic data: age range, gender, party, college degree, post-graduate degree, Hispanic or not, racial identity, you or family member belong to a union?

Not sure what that is all about.

Allyson Schwartz Has Been Busy

With all the excitement of the primaries a few other things got lost in the shuffle. For example, Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz has been busy. For example she has been:

introducing legislation:

U.S. Reps. Allyson Schwartz (PA-13) and Michael E. McMahon (NY-13) introduced legislation today that will help middle income families afford the rising cost of child care. The Support Working Parents Act will modernize and simplify the tax code to recognize the needs of today’s family, allowing all working parents to receive a 35 percent tax credit for the cost of their child care expenses.

A simple change in the tax law would allow middle-income families to get a bigger tax break to cover the rising cost and necessity of child care. Having a single 35 percent tax credit rate for all families would eliminate the disparities in the tax credit and nearly double the maximum allowable credit from $1,200 to $2,100 to help account for the increased cost of child care.

“Far too many families across the country are faced with the daunting challenge of finding high-quality child care that won’t break the bank,” Schwartz said. “Expanding the child care tax credit for middle-income families will strengthen our economic recovery by helping parents balance their responsibilities at work and at home. During these tough economic times it is more important than ever that parents have the choice to re-enter the workforce and know that high-quality care is available for their children.”

“It makes no sense that families making below the median income but more than $43,000 per year would be ineligible for this credit,” McMahon said. “In an area where the cost of living is high, such as New York City where my district is located, working families need all the help they can get. Changing the tax code so that the child care tax credit is available to all families is the right thing to do. The money that these families will get from the tax credit will be put back into our economy, used for their child’s education or simply help them makes ends meet. I am so proud to partner with Rep. Schwartz on this worthwhile initiative and hope all of our colleagues will support it.”

Under current law, taxpayers earning less than $43,000 a year receive a credit that’s equal to 35 percent of their child care expenses. However, for families earning more than $43,000 a year – a figure well below the median national income for two wage earner families – the tax credit phases out to just 20 percent of expenses.

The proposal introduced by Schwartz and McMahon would eliminate this phase-out and allow all families, regardless of their income, to receive the full credit of 35 percent of their child care expenses.

In 39 states, the cost of one year’s worth of infant child care exceeds the cost of one year’s tuition at a four-year public university. In the state of New York, a parent spends between $11,000 and $14,000 per year on child care; in Pennsylvania, the cost is between $8,000 and $10,000. However, the median income in New York is a little more than $70,000 and in Pennsylvania it’s about $50,000, making most families ineligible for the current 35 percent child care tax credit.

The legislation is supported by numerous organizations devoted to helping today’s families succeed, including Third Way, Early Care & Education Consortium, Every Child Matters, First Focus Campaign for Children, and Voices for America’s Children. Vice President Biden’s Middle Class Task Force has also put forth a similar proposal in January.

“We have an out-of-date tax code that’s out of touch with modern realities,” Tess Stovall, Senior Policy Advisor for Third Way’s Economic Program. “This is a long-overdue expansion of the child care tax credit and an issue of simple fairness for today’s parents.”

and getting awards.
U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz received the 2010 Joseph F. Boyle Award for Distinguished Public Service from the American College of Physicians (ACP) for her outstanding service toward improving the delivery of health care in America. In May 2009, Schwartz introduced the Preserving Patient Access to Primary Care Act, which served as a blueprint for the primary care provisions in the health reform law.

The Joseph F. Boyle Award is given to a current or former government official or physician acting in an official capacity who has provided outstanding public service toward improving the delivery of health care.

The congresswoman was selected for this honor because of her leadership during the health care reform debate to ensure that all individuals have access to health care coverage and a primary care physician.

“I was honored to receive this prestigious award and to be recognized by this extraordinary group of physicians,” Schwartz said. “I share their commitment to improving access to primary care and I have worked successfully to ensure that primary care is the foundation of our health care delivery reform. We now have a law that includes provisions I authored that increases payments to primary care providers, eliminates co-payments for preventive services, and makes significant increases in loan repayment initiatives to encourage more medical students to choose primary care specialties.”

The ACP, an organization representing 129,000 internal medicine physicians and medical students, presented the Congresswoman with the award at their Leadership Day Dinner Tuesday evening in Washington DC.

Schwartz’s brother, Neal S. Young, MD, also received an award from the ACP in Toronto earlier this year. Young received the Award for Outstanding Work in Science Related to Medicine. He is Chief of the Hematology Branch of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and Director of the Trans-NIH Center for Human Immunology, Autoimmunity, and Inflammation.

Biden Statement on Democratic Senate Primary

from in the inbox:

“Arlen Specter is one of my closest friends. He has served Pennsylvania with determination, wisdom, and skill for many years. I was proud to play a role in his return to the Democratic Party; his votes to pass the Recovery Act and health insurance reform were courageous and critical to our success. I look forward to working with him during the rest of this year, and remaining in close contact with him after his term in Washington is finished.

“I spoke to Joe Sestak last night and congratulated him on his impressive victory. He will make a great candidate in the fall, and a wonderful United States Senator. I look forward to campaigning for him in Pennsylvania and celebrating his victory in November.”

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

DGA Congratulates Onorato

from the inbox:

Gov. Jack Markell, chair of the Democratic Governors Association, and Nathan Daschle, the DGA’s executive director, issued the following statements tonight regarding the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race:

"The first time Pennsylvania voters got to see Dan Onorato in a statewide election, they overwhelmingly liked what they saw," Gov. Markell said. "In a rough economy, he's been able to hold the line on property tax increases and create thousands of good jobs for the residents of his county. Dan is a political outsider whose vision for the future is one of growth and transformation."

Nathan Daschle added that Corbett's free ride to the general election leaves him vulnerable.

"Tom Corbett hasn't been tested and is overvalued as a candidate," Daschle said. "He didn't face serious primary opposition and no one has yet exposed his many flaws. Pennsylvania voters will come to know how Corbett personifies politics as usual, uses his office for political ploys and sides with corporations and special interests over working families. Pennsylvanians need a governor with an optimistic vision for the future - not one who would rather cater to special interests than average families."

Election Aftermath

Well, that was fun, wasn't it?

The papers will have all the recap info tomorrow. The Senate race is Sestak v. Toomey. For governor it is Onorato v. Corbett. Saidel and Conklin battling it out for lt. gov on the Democratic side. Dr. Manan Trivedi will face off against Jim Gerlach in the 6th congressional district. The 8th will have a rematch of 2006 with Patrick Murphy v. Mike Fitzpatrick.

As always, my thanks to all those who ran. Candidates work hard at a grueling job. Those of us who want a choice on the ballot need to honor the time and effort of those willing to go out and campaign.

Voter Use of Blog Posts

The chaotic ad campaigns late in the election process and their alarming effectiveness often leave me discouraged about the relative ease with which clever pr people can sway the electorate. If all it takes to win is enough money to hire the Campaign Group then why bother with townhall meetings, debates, policy statements, etc., just hand over the keys to DC and Harrisburg to the few monied individuals who can part with a million or so dollars funneled through the right 527's or what have you.

But then, every election, this one included, I check sitemeter stats and my faith is restored. Blog usage doubled today with people searching for information on candidates and issues. For example, there were a lot of people searching for information on the education policies of the gubernatorial candidates. Yes, that's right, people wanted to know where the men running for governor stood on education issues. Education was far and away the most popular issue, though there were some searches for campaign finance information, organizational endorsements, and so on. (I don't usually post info on endorsements, maybe I should revisit that.) The senate race was another popular topic.

It isn't that people are coming here, though that is always nice, it's that they are looking for solid information before voting, or at least that is how I interpret these search patterns.

One Example of Voter Turnout with Historical Context

In my polling place I was voter #30 at 8:45 a.m. Someone who voted at 5:40 was voter #288.

To put this in some context, in the 2008 primary I was voter #38 at 7:30 a.m. In Nov. 2008 I was voter #288 at 10:00 a.m.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Quick Gov Candidates Comparison

Here are a few quick guides to the candidates for governor:

Bucks County Eco News has a chart comparing the candidates stands on natural gas and drilling.

Capital Ideas has a good general overview of the candidates.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Specter Event in Ambler

Having attended a few events with one of the Democratic senatorial candidates, I took advantage of an opportunity to see the other. Sen. Arlen Specter was the featured speaker at a campaign event in Ambler yesterday. The warm up crew included Gov. Ed Rendell, State Reps Rick Taylor, Mike Gerber, and Matt Bradford, Mayor Bud Wahl, and Montgomery County Democratic chair Marcel Groen. Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz was listed as a host on the invitation but I arrived late so if she attended I missed it. The event was scheduled to start at 2:30 and I got there close to 3:30.

I didn’t get a good count but there were quite a few people there, including some boys in baseball uniforms sponsored by Taylor. Bradford’s young daughter joined him on the stage and was very patient with all the speeches. A dad in the crowd held a baby.

In his remarks Taylor said as an undergraduate political science student he wrote a paper on Specter. He held up a dog-eared copy of Specter’s Learning to Legislate and read a quote on the importance of listening to constitutents.

Rendell said Specter is for Pennsylvanians not for Republicans. He cited times when he tried to get things done and couldn’t but Specter could. One example is the Department of Agriculture’s proposal to end some school lunches in Philadelphia schools. Since Rendell had known the Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, when he was the governor of Iowa, he assumed Vilsack would be receptive to his concerns. He wasn’t, but did respond to Specter’s calls.

Rendell also said Specter could have voted “no” on the stimulus bill and stayed a Republican. Pat Toomey didn’t decide to run until Specter voted “yes” on the stimulus. Specter risked his job for the good of the country and Pennsylvania. He also talked about conference calls he was on with Specter and county Democratic chairs and how many of those chairs knew Specter and said he had helped them with issues or problems.

When Specter arrived he asked Mayor Wahl about his daughter, who had had a stem cell transfer for a medical problem. Wahl pointed out that Specter had voted for stem cell research. Wahl seemed surprised that Specter was asking about it. The question did not seem rehearsed.

Specter described his campaign ad featuring President Obama. He mentioned the part where Obama says “I love Arlen Specter.” At the end of the ad Specter has the required “I approve this ad” tagline. Specter said ‘Who the hell wouldn’t approve that ad?” He said no one had ever make love to him on camera before and he liked it. The line drew a laugh.

He said Toomey is a tough opponent but that he had beaten Toomey before and could do it again. He went on to say Toomey is against a woman’s right to choose, and wanted doctors doing legal abortions to go to jail. He called Toomey a Wall Street operative.

Two side notes:

About 10 to 12 people stood across the street holding Sestak signs. (Really Sestak people, really? Three days before the polls open you don’t have better things to do? No doors to knock on, no undecided voters to call?). Specter said he went over to greet them when he arrived and one woman dropped her sign to hug him.

Second, and this is a purely personal observation, regards the stage. It is a platform about one step up from the floor, large enough to hold a handful of speakers or a small band. The microphone is near the edge. When Rendell spoke the toes of his shoes went over the edge a few times and at one point he wobbled just a bit and shifted his balance back. Knowing Specter’s age I was a little worried about how he would handle this. He toes were over the edge the entire time he spoke and he shifted his direction slightly constantly, turning to face different parts of the room and look at everyone there throughout his remarks. He didn’t wobble once. I was impressed.

Notes from Out and About, Money, and Mailers

Instead of a lot of little posts this will be one big miscellaneous post

Notes from Out and About

At any given time there are about 5 political events on my radar; if I'm lucky I can get to one of them. Over the past few months I've been to a small number of low-dollar fundraisers, rallies, house parties, etc. As a rule I don't write about events held in private residences (it just seems rude) and at many events there are opportunities to say a few words to candidates but not have extended conversations, so they don't lead to a separate blog post.

This is kind of a hodge podge of notes from a variety of events.

Joe Hoeffel, of of the Democratic candidates for governor, is unflappable. I've seen him speak while a young child sitting hear the podium runs a toy car or truck very near his feet, and keep going when a young adult with a developmental challenge wants to speak at the same time. Working with the state legislature is probably very similar.

Walter Waite, Democratic candidate for the 161st state house district, is well-spoken, and resembles "Sully" Sullenberger. This is the district currently held by Bryan Lentz who is running for Congress. I've exchanged words with him at a couple of events.

Margo Davidson, who had been a state senate candidate, decided to run for the 164th state house when the previous candidate exited the race. I heard Davidson speak at the Mid-County Delaware County Democrats forum and talked with her briefly at a smaller event.

Bryan Allen, in a primary race for the 6th state senate district in Bucks County, is personable and can work a crowd well.

I finally met Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. He made a point of stopping to shake hands and say hello, though that may be because I was at a table with a group of influential people (it was my table first; one of their group asked me a directional question which lead to everyone joining me).

Who Got My Money

Going out to political events often means parting with some money. This can be a factor of convenience and information (knowing what events are happening and picking those easiest to get to), but it also indicates some personal interest. I'm not paying money to attend an event for someone I don't like. Some events are sponsored by parties and feature more than one candidate; they are not listed here. That being said, here is a list of campaigns I have donated to in some fashion:

Joe Hoeffel (governor)
Bryan Lentz (7th congressional district)
Manan Trivedi (6th congressional district)
Patrick Murphy (8th congressional district)
Allyson Schwartz (13th congressional district)
Josh Shapiro (153rd state house)
Rick Taylor (151st state house)
Bob Casey (senate)

Mailers and Calls

Unions affiliated with the one I belong to have sent out robocalls encouraging me to vote for Sen. Specter. Someone with State Sen. Anthony Williams gubernatorial campaign (he's running for his state senate seat at the same time) called to trash talk Dan Onorato, another Democrat running for governor. Joe Hoeffel's campaign called. Specter, Onorato, and Williams have also sent mailers.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Penn State Swoosh

From Monday (5/10)'s WSJ, "Nike looks beyond its 'swoosh' for growth," by Miguel Bustillo, I learned that the CEO of Nike is a former Penn State runner. Who knew?

Dog Pile on Mike Fitzpatrick

Mike Fitzpatrick, who held the 8th congressional district from 2004 to 2006, and is one of four Republicans running for that office this year, is being hit from both the left and the right. The Bucks County Democratic Committee has created a YouTube video called "Yikes! Two Mikes!".

On the right, another candidate in the Republican primary, Gail Carlineo, released this statement:

Gloria Carlineo released the following statement with respect to additional issues where Mike Fitzpatrick is reversing his views:

"I am amazed yet again at the attempt by my opponent Mike Fitzpatrick to pander to the voters of the 8th District by conveniently forgetting that he is on the opposite side of an issue from when he was in Congress."

"In recent articles in the Courier Times and Intelligencer and in several recent campaign forums, Fitzpatrick stated he was against providing federal funding to "sanctuary" cities as a part of his solution to address illegal immigration. However, on May 17, 2005, Fitzpatrick stood side-by-side with Nancy Pelosi and voted against Amendment #138 to H.R. 2360 (the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2006) which sought to prevent State and local governments who refuse to share information with Federal immigration authorities from being able to obtain Federal funds."

"I strongly believe that actions speak louder than words and yet Mike Fitzpatrick seems to take the Obama approach by saying one thing while having done another."

"At another campaign forum, Fitzpatrick tried to explain that he only supported Card Check to force President Bush to reinstate the Big Labor-supported Davis-Bacon Act on federally funded Hurricane Katrina projects. Unfortunately, the facts don't support this contention as in a speech on October 27th, 2005, Fitzpatrick thanked the President for agreeing to reinstate the Davis-Bacon Act and later co-sponsored the Employee Free Choice Act on December 5, 2005. I am sure that the more than $88,000 that Fitzpatrick took in from Union PACs in 2005-06 had nothing to do with his support of Card Check."

"For those keeping track, FITZFLOPS in this campaign already include:

· Card Check: Fitzpatrick was a co-sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act and is pictured on the AFL-CIO website signing an enlarged copy of the bill. In 2010, he is against Card Check.

· Cap and Trade: Fitzpatrick was a co-cosponsor with Henry Waxman on the Safe Climate Act of 2006. In 2010, he is against Cap and Trade.

· Earmark Reform: Fitzpatrick continued to fight for Pork Barrel Spending in the 109th Congress. In 2010, he wants earmark reform.

· Government Spending: Fitzpatrick received a "D" letter grade from the National Taxpayer Union in 2006. In 2010, he says we need to spend less.

· Energy/Off-Shore Drilling: Fitzpatrick opposed off-shore and ANWR drilling and voted against the American-Made Energy and Good Jobs Act of 2006. In 2010, he wants to explore drilling.

· Tax Cuts: Fitzpatrick opposed tax cuts and job creation (HR 6, The Energy Policy Act of 2005 - Roll Call #132 - 4/21/05). In 2010, he wants to focus on tax cuts and jobs.

· Statehood for Puerto Rico: Fitzpatrick supported statehood for Puerto Rico and co-sponsored the Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2006 (H.R. 4867). In 2010, he is against statehood for Puerto Rico."

"As Ronald Reagan once stated 'Facts are stubborn things' and in this case, Mike Fitzpatrick is hoping that voters will not know or care. The 8th District deserves a consistent Conservative who will always stand up for what is right not just when it is politically convenient."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Schwartz Backs Specter

Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz has announced her support for incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter. Among her reasons:

When the Bush Administration threatened to cancel Philadelphia’s successful school lunch program, Senator Specter and I joined with other Philadelphia-area congressional delegates to save the program. As a result, 110,000 Philadelphia school children will continue receiving nutritional lunches and we are now pushing to extend the program nationally.

Senator Specter and I also share a commitment to health care excellence. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, he successfully pushed to triple funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from $11 billion to $32 billion. His leadership won an additional $10 billion for NIH in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, investing new dollars in Pennsylvania’s academic institutions and into future drugs and devices that will save lives and save dollars.

Specter’s decisive vote for President Obama’s Recovery Act cost him the support of the Republican Party but won him recognition for political courage. With his support, we averted a national depression and brought $16 billion into Pennsylvania to create jobs, extend unemployment benefits and health care coverage, support renewable energy and repair aging roads and bridges.

Paul Drucker Launches New Website

State Rep. Paul Drucker (D-157) is running for his second term and has launched his campaign website: The 157th Legislative District is comprised of the townships of Tredyffrin & Schuylkill, and the Borough of Phoenixville in Chester County. It also includes several sections of Montgomery County in the townships of Lower Providence and West Norriton.

A Note on Facebook

A few months ago I set up a Facebook profile, not so much to say anything but to follow candidates, causes, etc. I hadn't logged in for a few days and when I tried today Facebook told me it had removed my profile and account. So much for that. If you are one of those who had "friended" me and notice I'm no longer on your friends list, it wasn't me, it was Facebook.

Philly in Top 10 for New Grads

CareerBuilder on CNN has compiled a list of the top 10 best cities for new college graduates. Philadelphia is #6 on the list.

New Local Social Media Apps

Two new local social media applications you might find interesting:, the online site of the local newspapers has an app for Iphones, Ipods, etc. It provides direct links to news stories.

Also, SEPTA has introduced a new online chat service, to provide another venue for customer service.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Report on Philly Media Ecosystem

J-Lab, the Institute for Interactive Journalism, has released "Exploring a Networked Journalism Collaborative in Philadelphia: An Analysis of the City’s Media Ecosystem with Final Recommendations," By Jan Schaffer, J-Lab Executive Director.

This is an interesting look at the Philadelphia area media ecosystem and J-Lab's recommendations on potential new collaborative media outlets.

Full disclosure: I was one of the bloggers contacted during the research phase of the report.

Another Look at the Silverliners

for train fans:

To celebrate Amtrak’s 3rd Annual National Train Day, SEPTA will exhibit one of the new Silverliner V trains at 30th Street Station during the Saturday, May 8, 2010 event. The two-car train will be on display on SEPTA’s Track 4 from 11 am to 4 pm.

Thousands of visitors will be able to get a sneak peak at the state-of-the art train featuring larger windows, wider aisles, an enhanced seating arrangement and the latest in climate control technology and video monitors for real-time broadcast information and advertisements. The cars also fully comply with American with Disabilities (ADA) requirements and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) passenger car strength and safety requirements.

National Train Day commemorates the final railroad tie that joined 1,776 miles of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railways in 1869 resulting in the nation’s first transcontinental railway.

Train service in and around the Philadelphia region played a vital role in the development of commuter rail systems in the United States. Beginning with the Philadelphia, Germantown & Norristown Railroad in 1832, rail service has operated continually in the Philadelphia area.

SEPTA’s current fleet of trains includes 53 Silverliner II’s built in 1963 by the Budd Company and 20 Silverliner III’s built by St. Louis Car Company in 1967. Also servicing the Regional Rail system are 231 Silverliner IV’s built between 1974 and 1976 by General Electric.

Push-Pull Commuter trains built by Bombardier, 35 in 1987 and 10 between 1999 and 2000, round out SEPTA’s commuter rail service equipment.

Currently SEPTA Regional Rail service carries over 34 million passengers annually in the Philadelphia area, significantly reducing environmental pollutants from vehicles and roadway congestion. The arrival of the new Silverliner V Regional Rail train cars will usher in a new era of rail transportation in the Philadelphia region. The new Silverliner Vs, manufactured by Hyundai-Rotem are expected to be placed in service later this year. SEPTA has purchased a total of 120 new railcars.

For more information about the Silverliner V cars visit

Monday, May 10, 2010

Best Mother's Day Email

A flurry of election related Mother's Day emails arrived over the weekend. This was, by State Rep. Rick Taylor's wife, Jeanne Sorg, was the most creative. How do you top bears?

On this Mother's Day, the first one my family will spend after the passing of Rick's mom, I thought it important to recognize and help my children remember their amazing grandmothers both of whom embraced the challenge of entering the bear's den. One did so figuratively to fight gender discrimination in the 1970's workplace and the other did so literally in order to tag a slumbering bear in the wild.

The memory of Rick's mom, Kay, that is most vivid to me occurred while Rick and I were first dating. I was in my senior year of high school in a little town up near the boundary waters in Northern Minnesota. Kay was working as a secretary for the US Forest Service. Not one to pass up an adventure, Kay grabbed her swanky new boots - she was always known for looking her best - and volunteered to take the trip up North to my neck-of-the-woods in the middle of winter to stay at the one-and-only motel in town - The Red Carpet Inn which still advertises "B&W TV in every room" - in order to tag hibernating bears. She didn't complain about the two feet of snow. She didn't worry about being in a hungry bear's den if it was awaken from its slumber. The woman had guts.

Kay needed that spunk. As a young woman, she traveled with her career navy husband from Navy base to Navy base around the world. She raised her young son, you guessed it - Rick, far from family. One of the many stories she told was of living in Ethiopia with an active two-year-old during the tumultuous early 70's. US Forces had been assigned to help protect the government and a key ally of the West, Haile Selassie; and she and her little family were right in the middle of it. Guts.

In the 1970's, women all over the US were building on the work that had been done by their mothers and grandmothers. They were continuing to change their rolls in society. On this Mother's Day, I celebrate the roll my own mother played. The year was 1974, I was two, my older sisters were three and nine. Bernice, my mom, confronted the biggest employer in town and demanded the right to the same good paying jobs up until then only given to men. She faced the threats and scorn of an entire town who saw her as trying to take a job from a man and upsetting the social order. She did not back down but fought and won the right to work in the taconite mines taking her place both in women's history and mining history by becoming the first permanent female miner on the iron range. Her fight opened the way for other women and three months later another woman was hired at a nearby mine. (This woman's story is told in "North Country" starring Charlize Theron. It wasn't completely accurate; but my mom says it was darned close.) My mom is looking forward to retirement this summer. Maybe you can see her when she comes for a visit.

So on this Mother's Day, I celebrate all of the women with guts who have worked for better lives for their families and other women. I especially celebrate the woman who raised me and the woman who raised such a caring son who has taken what he learned from his mother and has worked as a state legislator for the women of this community by fighting to protect families from domestic violence, bringing a mobile breast cancer screening van to the district for women without health insurance and collecting interview clothes for low income women to better their and their families' lives.

Adam Lang Accepts Interim Ward Leader Appointment, Will Not Run for Seat

from the inbox:

With the impending retirement of
29th Republican Ward Leader Talmadge Belo, Ward Chairman Adam Lang has
accepted the recommendation and appointment by Republican City
Committee to the position starting on May 19th. Adam has stated he
will not be running for election of the seat after the May 18th

“It has been a pleasure assisting Talmadge in the duties of the ward
over the last three years. He is a great man who cares deeply for his
neighborhood. He is someone I don't just call Ward Leader, but I call
friend. His integrity will be missed from the ranks of Republican
City Committee,” said Adam Lang. “I will do my best to operate the
ward at the same standard until elections are held. While I am
choosing not to seek the Ward Leader position myself, I will continue
working with Talmadge on increasing the quality of life in our
neighborhood and fight for a better Philadelphia.”

Adam Lang and Talmadge Belo are both board members of the Brewerytown
Sharswood Community Civic Association where they live. Adam's past
and continued political activity can be seen at

The 29th Ward of Philadelphia is a predominantly poor and African
American ward in North Philadelphia bounded by Poplar St. to Oxford
St. and Ridge Ave. to 33rd St. with the inclusion of Boathouse Row and
the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

What I Want for Mother’s Day: A Robust Local Paper

Along with many readers of the Inquirer (and Daily News), I have quietly watched over the past few years as the paper became thinner and more anemic. It’s been like watching a close friend waste away from a terminal illness. You keep saying “you look great” and hoping the truth doesn’t show in your eyes. Now the papers have new owners, new management, and layoff letters have gone out, though that is said to be a technicality (“New owners of PMHs send letter on layoffs,” by Nathan Gorenstein Inky 5/08). So, on Mother’s Day, and knowing that much of parenting is tied in with the community, let me say what I would like to see from the local paper.

1) News, and lots of it. For awhile I used to count the number of locally written stories in the Inquirer, compared to the number of AP stories or bylines from other papers. It was too depressing so I quit. Yes, national and international news will always require the printing of stories from other organizations, and health, business, and entertainment stories sometimes come from the same sources, but, seriously, when the number of locally written stories is such a low percentage of the paper, why wouldn’t people just buy a newsmagazine or the New York Times? Even the material borrowed from other sources is not that good. I subscribe to the Wall Street Journal as well as the Inky and it is often now my main source of originally written national and social interest stories. Their stories are fresher and more detailed.
2) More local news. One of the desired qualities in a local paper is the local angle on national stories. We don’t necessarily see a lot of that in the Inky and DN. While many, if not most, of the paper’s subscribers live in the suburbs, most of the local news is based on the city. In part that is due to a reduced staff. I remember when my part of the county I live in had an assigned Inky reporter. I didn’t like a lot of what she wrote but she knew the area and its players. That was years ago. To provide a distinction between the Inky and the DN, how about having the DN focus more on the city itself and the Inky on the larger region? Or is that already done? I will confess ignorance here as I never buy the Daily News (nothing personal in that, but the Inky delivers).
3) More investigative reporting. The paper’s recent series of articles on the city’s court system is one example. We need a lot more of that.
4) More copyeditors. When I asked Mr. J what he most wanted from the local papers he said “words spelled correctly.” I agree.

How to come up with the money for that? Here are things they could cut:

1) Overpaid columnists. In 2009 the Inky started paying former Sen. Rick Santorum $1750 a column for two columns a month. I wrote at the time:

Figuring two columns a month that's $3,500, or $42,000 a year. According to the census bureau, the average household income in Pennsylvania in 2007 was $48,562.

Ditching Santorum should pay for a good portion of a new copyeditor. Most of the paper’s columnists are giving their opinion. To be blunt, that’s what blogs are for. Why should I pay to read someone else’s opinions when I have more than enough of my own? Santorum isn’t saying anything new. I haven’t followed the John Yoo controversy but I think he could go, too. Lest anyone think I am being partisan, how about getting rid of Buzz Bissinger? I haven’t read any of his columns but the profile in Philadelphia Magazine didn’t present him in a very good light. Early on I read Lisa Scottolini but, here again, it’s not why I read the paper. The only reason I’m naming those four is that none of the other columnists have every really registered so I can’t list them. The whole “Currents” section of the Sunday paper is lost on me. Editorials I’ll read, but not the columns. Stop paying many of the columnists and the paper could hire one or two reporters and a copy editor. Note: Keep Dan Rubin and Monica Yant Kinney. I read those and for whatever reason they don’t register to me as opinion columns but more as informal news columns. Feel free to argue with my categorizations.
2) I’ll pay for the cow. Right now I get the online version of the paper but seldom read it. I can read the paper version at home and it is easier to maneuver. But I’d pay extra for things that didn’t fit in the regular paper for space reasons, and that is one big feature that online has over print – the lack of space restrictions. Put additional background information or reporter notes, etc. online in a “pay only” section. I’d buy it. If the reporters are doing this work already then it wouldn’t cost that much to produce.
3) Pardon the snark but if is going to have so many T&A photos on it, why not just put them in a separate section and charge for them? I swear, some days it is embarrassing to have the main newspaper website page come up on my office pc. If that brings in a lot of traffic and drives up the advertising clicks, just separate it and brand it for what it is.
4) Be the Philly gateway. Charge a little to create links to and categorize other Philly area sites – city government, the Historical Society, the sports teams, airports, museums, zoo, etc.
5) Monetize the photo archives. Digitize photo collections from the paper’s backfile. It might bring in ad revenue or charge for access. Just a thought.

Granted I don't know beans about the newspaper biz but those are some random suggestions / ideas. Just, please, don't cut it any further. It was so exciting to move to a city that had a real paper. Please let us keep that distinction.

Shapiro Quizzo Tomorrow

State Rep. Josh Shapiro is hosting another political quizzo event tomorrow (Monday). A friend took me to one of these earlier in the year. It was a nice low key event, affordable, and brought out some really interesting people. I can't get to this one but encourage others to attend.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

New Endorsements for Trivedi

from the inbox:

Going into the final full week of campaigning during the primary election season, Manan Trivedi has received the endorsement from two very influential women and an organization devoted to advocating for women’s equality.

The National Organization for Women (NOW/PAC) chair, Terry O’Neill stated that “Manan Trivedi has demonstrated to us that he will stand up for the full equality of girls and women. We are looking forward to joining forces with him in that pursuit.”

The National Organization for Women (NOW) is the largest organization of feminist activists in the United States. NOW has 500,000 contributing members and 550 chapters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Kate Michelman, the former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America and a native of Pennsylvania is also throwing her support to Trivedi. News of Michelman’s endorsement broke in an article published by Politico (5/6/2010).

“We’re at a very critical time and we need serious people, people with a history of service to others to take charge of our government,” said Michelman. “We can’t afford to continue to send the same kind of politicians to Washington and expect anything to be different. That is why it is so refreshing that voters in the 6th congressional district have a true opportunity to turn things around by electing Manan Trivedi.”

And political powerhouse state Representative Kathy Manderino placed her endorsement behind Trivedi too. State Rep. Manderino has been serving the 194th legislative district since 1992. Beyond her Health and Human Services committee work, Manderino is also the Chair of the Committee on Ethics and a member on the Appropriations, Insurance, Intergovernmental Affairs, and Judiciary committees.

“Like most voters who take their time to evaluate the candidates in an election, so have I and I am pleased to announce that I am putting my endorsement and support behind Dr. Manan Trivedi,” said Manderino.

“Having served on the Health and Human Services committee in the state legislature, I can tell you that Pennsylvania will benefit by having the unique perspective of a doctor serving them in Congress on important matters like continuing the work of health care reform. In these final days before the primary election, I will be encouraging undecided voters in the 6th congressional district, that a vote for Manan Trivedi is in our best interest,” Manderino concluded.

New father, Manan Trivedi, received the endorsement with great perspective. “As the son of a wonderful mother, the husband to an amazing wife, and the proud dad of our daughter Sonia, I can’t see a day in Congress where I won’t be fighting for the fairness of all women,” said Trivedi. “And I am just as proud of these endorsements today because they mark not only leadership within our community of women, but serve as a reminder of my commitment to working for their rights.”

Thursday, May 06, 2010

A Look at Tom Corbett's Campaign Finance Reports

Having looked at the campaign finance reports of three of the four Democratic candidates it seemed like a good time to skip across the aisle and look at one of the Republicans, Tom Corbett. Keep in mind that I can only go by what is on the state’s website, and I have found an error on there before. Also, I’m neither a lawyer or an accountant, and use paper and pencil instead of a number crunching computer program. Nor is this a complete list of what is on the reports; it is just a selection. Voters are encouraged to review the reports themselves for full information. I did find something rather startling and that information is italicized below.

There are two reports for Corbett for Governor on the state’s website, One is for the end of 2009 and the other for the first part of 2010. During that time he raised a total of $6,022,554.88, spent $2,012,277,65, and had $4,010,277.66 on hand. The campaign received an additional $213,949.11 in in-kind donations. Of the amount raised, a little over half, $1,289,689, came from PACs. There were a total of 405 PAC donations and 4,328 contributions from others; this is not equal to the number of donors as some people and organizations contribute more than once.

Those are very large numbers of donors and many of them donated large amounts. It made my head spin just to review it. Usually in these blog posts I look at donations from $5K up but that just won’t work here,, so we’ll look primarily at total donations between the two reports of $25K or larger with some mention of “smaller” contributions. Perhaps the largest amount came from the Friends of Tom Corbett, $351K. A woman in Florida donated $180K. (She is married to the CEO of a Marcellus Shale drilling firm, see “State needs limits on campaign spending,” Inky 4/02)The Brabender Cox firm donated $120K. Samuel Black of Erie Management gave $100K, as did John Templeton, Jr. and Vahan Gureghian. Robert Asher donated over $90K, and is chairman of the PA Future Fund which donated an additional 74K. Stanton Sheetz of Sheetz Inc, donated $55K and the Sheetz PAC donated a further $15K. In other drilling and energy areas, John Catsimatidis of the Red Apple Group in NY, affiliated with United Refining, donated $50K. James Clifford Forrest III of Rosebud Mining donated $55K. C. Alan Walker of Bradford Energy donated $40K. There are $25K donation from people who work at Blaschak Coal, Vineyard Oil & Gas, S W Jack Drilling, and Gilberton Coal. The First Energy PAC donated $20K; the Independent Oil & Gas Association PAC donated $18,600.

There is another cluster of donors associated with real estate development and construction. Someone at a company that works in construction but also mining equipment donated $30K, individual(s) at West Realty donated a total of $75K. Someone at McCormick & Taylor donated $30K, Berwind Property Group, $25K.

There are an assortment of other $50K donations, and quite a number of smaller donations. It all just boggles the mind.

One other donation jumped out at me. On 3/29/2010 there is a $1,000 donation from Constantine N. Papadakis, whose occupation is listed as being President of Drexel University. This is notable as Mr. Papadakis died on 4/05/2009. It could be a donation made by a family member on an account that still had Mr. Papadakis’s name on it. Or it could be an error made when the information was transferred from paper to digital form before being loaded onto the state’s website. I’ve run into that before when working with these reports. Or the information could have been garbled when it was originally reported. But I rather think that Mr. Papadakis did NOT make a campaign donation a few days before the first anniversary of his death.

The in-kind donations are for the standard office space and food and beverages. A few things caught my eye. Vahan Gureghian, who donated $100K also provided $34K in “ticket costs” as an in-kind donation. That’s a lot of tickets. Mr. Corbett also received over $10K in in-kind air transport. There is also a $162 in-kind donation listed for a website link from the Friends of Jim Cawley site to Corbett’s. Cawley is a lt. gov. candidate. That must be some site he has if a link from it is worth over $100.

Looking at disbursements, there is a whopping $546K total to the PA GOP for salaries and related costs. Brabender Cox, the firm that donated $120K, was paid over $280K Two individuals were paid $18K each in commissions plus what appeared to be a monthly retainer. The campaign paid $24K for a car from a Chevy dealer, and there are several payments to the Harrisburg Parking Authority. KC Consulting received nearly $200K. The campaign paid PNC Bank Credit Card Services received nearly $30K with no breakdown on how the money was spent. The David All Group was paid nearly $70K.

Again, voters are encouraged to review the full reports themselves.

This is going to be an interesting election!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

More on the RGA and Corbett

Yesterday I wrote about the Republican Governors Association promising nearly a third of their cash on hand to a NY candidate. The Politico has an article on the subject today, "RGA ducks Levy's cash claim," by David Catanese (5/04). Excerpt:

The Republican Governors Association has gone silent after New York gubernatorial candidate Steve Levy claimed Friday that the organization plans to spend as much as $10 million to support his campaign.

Levy told the New York Post’s Fred Dicker that RGA Executive Director "Nick Ayers, one of the high-up persons for (RGA chairman) Haley Barbour," made the money pledge in a meeting that included state GOP chairman Ed Cox.

The Wall Street Journal touched on the subject today also, in "GOP governors group swings into action," by Douglas A. Blackmon. Here are two interesting paragraphs:
Governor's races are a critical, and often underestimated, factor in which of the two major parties dominates any election cycle. controlling the governor's office in key swing states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida or New Jersey can give a big advantage to presidential nominees in local publicity for party policies, passage of state election rules and local fund raising and grassroots support.

More important are 17 races still considered toss-ups by Cook, including presidential swing states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida. Mr. Barbour said the swath of industrial states stretching from Iowa in the Midwest to New Jersey in the Northeast were particularly important to winning the White House in 2012.

With the stakes so high, for not only the 2012 presidential election but also the redistricting that will happen after this year's census, it may not be prudent for the RGA to put so many eggs in the NY basket, and might leave candidates in other states, like presumed Republican candidate Tom Corbett here in Pennsylvania, without the national support he might otherwise have and might have been counting on.

Geisinger Part of Pilot Program

Vice President Biden and Congressman Paul Kanjorski announced today that Geisinger Clinic will be part of a pilot health care program.

Here is the press release:

Vice President Biden and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced that the Central Pennsylvania area has been selected as one of 15 communities across the country to serve as pilot communities for eventual wide-scale use of health information technology through the Beacon Community program. The $16,069,110 Recovery Act award to the Geisinger Clinic, a non-profit organization located in Danville, Penn., will not only help achieve meaningful and measurable improvements in health care quality, safety and efficiency in the Central Pennsylvania area, but also help lay the groundwork for an emerging health IT industry that is expected to support tens of thousands of jobs nationwide.

“These pioneering communities are going to lead the way in bringing smarter, lower-cost health care to all Americans through use of electronic health records. Because of their early efforts, doctors across the country will one day be able to coordinate patient care with the stroke of a key or pull up life-saving health information instantly in an emergency – and for the residents of these communities, that future is about to become a reality,” said Vice President Biden. “Thanks to the Recovery Act’s historic investment in health IT, we’re not only advancing the way health care is delivered in this country, we’re also building a whole new industry along with it – one that will shape our 21st Century economy for generations to come and employ tens of thousands of American workers.”

“The most important health care innovations are those that are designed and tested by providers and community leaders all across the country. Beacon Communities will offer insight into how health IT can make a real difference in the delivery of health care,” said Secretary Sebelius. “The Beacon Community Program will tap the best ideas across America and demonstrate the enormous benefit health IT will have to improving health and care within our communities.“

The selected Beacon Communities will use health IT resources within their community as a foundation for bringing doctors, hospitals, community health programs, federal programs and patients together to design new ways of improving quality and efficiency to benefit patients and taxpayers. Each Beacon Community has elected specific and measurable improvement goals in each of three vital areas for health systems improvement: quality, cost-efficiency, and population health. The goals vary according to the needs and priorities of each community. .

Led by Geisinger Clinic, the Keystone Beacon Community of Central Pennsylvania focuses on enhancing care for patients with pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure by creating a community-wide medical home and promoting Health Information Exchange throughout five rural, medically underserved counties. This community-wide collaboration will extend Geisinger’s proven models for practice redesign, quality improvement and cost reduction through iterative, transparent performance monitoring and feedback to independent healthcare organizations and providers throughout region. The community expects these advancements to further reduce healthcare costs by decreasing preventable hospital readmissions and emergency department visits.

Additionally, the Geisinger Clinic will be expected to access existing federal programs that are working to promote health information exchange at the community level. Close coordination with the Pennsylvania regional extension center program, health information exchange program, and the National Health Information Technology Research Center (HITRC), will ensure lessons learned are shared for the benefit of all. Over time, they will also work to leverage other existing federal programs and resources that are working to promote health information exchange at the community level, including the Department of Defense’s and the Department of Veterans Affairs’ development of a Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) for all active duty, Guard and Reserve, retired military personnel, and eligible separated Veterans.

“Communities will be expected to build on an existing infrastructure of interoperable health IT and standards-based information exchange to show the promise for health IT. The Beacon Communities will offer evidence that widespread adoption of health IT and exchange of health information is both feasible and improves care delivery and health outcomes. The lessons learned through the program will be a roadmap for other communities to achieve meaningful use on a community-wide basis,” stated David Blumenthal, MD, MPP, national coordinator for health IT.”

The Geisinger Clinic award is part of an overall $100 billion federal government investment in science, innovation and technology the Administration is making through the Recovery Act to spur domestic job creation in emerging industries and create a long-term foundation for economic growth. The program was significantly oversubscribed with over 130 applications submitted for the initial 15 awards. Today’s awards are part of the $2 billion effort to achieve widespread meaningful use of health IT and provide for the use of an electronic health record (EHR) for each person in the United States by 2014. An additional $30 million is currently available to fund additional Beacon Community cooperative agreement awards. An announcement to apply will be made in the near future.

More information about Beacon Communities can be found at:

For information about other HHS Recovery Act programs, see

Here is Kanjorski's statement:
“Geisinger has been a model for quality and efficient health care throughout the country,” said Congressman Kanjorski. “Today, I joined Vice President Biden to announce funding that will help enable Geisinger to continue its outstanding work for Northeastern Pennsylvania. Through the Beacon Community program and the expansion of health information using new technologies, Geisinger can work to further enhance care for the patients at its facilities, as well as those at other health care institutions. This program helps bring our health care community together for the betterment of patients while also creating jobs at home.”

Video also available (Biden mentions Kanjorski at around 7:35)

Hoeffel On the Air

Joe Hoeffel, Democratic candidate for governor, is going on the air with a very clever ad. See a preview here:

It's beachy!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Murphy to Aappropriations

From Politico "Pennsylvania holds key committee post," by Jonathan Allen 5/4/10


Pennsylvania will hold onto the coveted Appropriations Committee seat vacated by the late Rep. John Murtha, with the Democratic Steering Committee recommending Rep. Patrick Murphy for the job after an intense battle for the slot.

New Congressional Rankings

Two local political sites have started congressional rankings or lists.

Politics PA has House Race Rankings

PA2010 has introduced Congressional Power Rankings.

Check them out!

International Star Wars Day

This evening one of my children told me it is International Star Wars Day today. News to me. I asked for details. The reply: "May the Fourth be with you." Geek genes, the gift that keeps on giving.

Phone Survey

Last night we received one of those automated survey calls that go out this time of year. The call was on the governor's race. I missed the introductory sentences (Mr. J answered the phone and then handed it off). It asked which candidate I intended to vote for governor and listed off the Democratic candidates. Then it asked about lt. gov. candidates (Smith-Ribner, Conklin, and Saidel). Next up was party affiliation, then whether male or female "best described my gender." It also wanted age, grouped by 18-30, 31-45, 46-60, and up (I stopped paying attention after my category).

The part of the call I heard didn't say who paid for it; that info may have been given at the start. Interesting.

CeaseFirePA Voters' Guide

CeaseFirePA has released their voters' guide. The 16 page pdf outlines the group's positions and issues, which gubernatorial candidates responded (Democrats Joe Hoeffel, Dan Onorato, Jack Wagner, Anthony Williams, and Republican Sam Rohrer) and which did not (Republican Tom Corbett).

The issues are:

Requiring reporting of lost or stolen handguns to the police
Closing the terror gap that allows known terrorists to buy guns
Restoring funds to Gun Violence Task Force and expanding Task Force to other cities
Banning the sale and possession of assault weapons
Increasing criminal penalties for persons convicted of illegally possessing handguns
Strengthening law as to how persons prohibited from possessing guns surrender weapons

Their summation is:

Joe Hoeffel was the candidate who most demonstrated agreement with CeaseFirePA's agenda to prevent gun violence. Anthony Williams was second in support for reasonable gun violence prevention policies, with Dan Onorato close behind. While Sen. Williams answered more questions affirmatively than Onorato, Sen.
Williams opposed two questions that Onorato supported. We’re pleased that Jack Wagner supported many of our proposals, but disappointed that he rejected several key policies. Sam Rohrer clearly missed the mark, but at least he answered the questionnaire and provided his views on guns to Pennsylvanians - more than can be said for Attorney General Tom Corbett, who failed to share his views on this vital public safety topic with the citizens of Pennsylvania

Trivedi Expands Office Network and Family

Last week Dr. Manan Trivedi, one of the two Democrats running in the 6th congressional district, and his wife welcomed their first child, a daughter. (Many congratulations!)

This week he has opened two new campaign offices, one in Ardmore, the other in Reading.

Photos of the baby are on his campaign site (; photos of the office openings haven't shown up yet.

Murphy Promotes Energy Rebate

from the inbox:

Today, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-8th District) was at Levittown’s Windowizards on Monday highlighting the potential new HOMESTAR Energy Rebate program to create jobs and save homeowners money. Murphy was joined by local homeowners and David Goodman of the Levittown-based window company to tout the program that, if passed by Congress, will provide rebates to consumers who invest in making their homes more efficient. The program offers homeowners money back on the purchase and installation of specified energy efficiency products, and it offers incentives to those who undertake retrofits to their homes that demonstrate a reduction of 20% or more in energy consumption.

In addition to lowering energy costs, the bill will create jobs for those hardest hit when the housing bubble burst, including builders and contractors, construction material manufacturers, and hardware store owners. According to the HOME STAR Coalition - a group of 700 manufacturing, retail, construction and environmental groups - the program will put an estimated 168,000 skilled Americans back to work in these sectors.

“Providing rebates to families for making their homes more energy efficient not only saves homeowners money; it stimulates job growth as well,” said Congressman Patrick Murphy.

“As a small business owner, I truly appreciate Congressman’s Murphy support for job creation programs like HOME STAR, which would be huge for expanding my company and helping me hire new workers,” said David Goodman, President of the Levittown-based company Windowizards.

“Providing rebates will give a lot of families the incentive they need to make these energy-efficient improvements and lower their monthly energy bills,” said Rita Estulin, a Newtown resident who recently installed energy-efficient replacement windows in her home.

Background on the HOMESTAR program

With unemployment in the construction sector near 25% and with substantial underutilized capacity in our manufacturing sector, the HOMESTAR program has the potential to jumpstart our economic recovery by boosting demand for energy efficiency products and installation services. For middle-class families, this program will help them save hundreds of dollars a year in energy costs while improving the comfort and value of their most important investment – their homes. In addition, the program would help reduce our economy’s dependence on oil and support the development of an energy efficiency services sector in our economy. Key components of the HOMESTAR Program include:

· Rebates delivered directly to consumers: Consumers would be eligible for direct HOMESTAR rebates at the point of sale for a variety of energy-saving investments in their homes. A broad array of vendors, from small independent building material dealers, large national home improvement chains, energy efficiency installation professionals and utility energy efficiency programs (including rural utilities) would market the rebates, provide them directly to consumers and then be reimbursed by the federal government.

· $1,000 - $1,500 Silver Star Rebates: Consumers looking to have simple upgrades performed in their homes would be eligible for 50% rebates up to $1,000 - $1,500 for doing any of a straightforward set of upgrades, including: insulation, duct sealing, water heaters, HVAC units, windows, roofing and doors. Under Silver Star, consumers can choose a combination of upgrades for rebates up to a maximum of $3,000 per home. Rebates would be limited to the most energy efficient categories of upgrades—focusing on products made primarily in the United States and installed by certified contractors.

· $3000 Gold Star Rebates: Consumers interested in more comprehensive energy retrofits would be eligible for a $3,000 rebate for a whole home energy audit and subsequent retrofit tailored to achieve a 20% energy savings in their homes. Consumers could receive additional rebate amounts for energy savings in excess of 20%. Gold Star would build on existing whole home retrofit programs, like EPA’s successful Home Performance with Energy Star program.

· Oversight to Ensure Quality Installations: The program would require that contractors be certified to perform efficiency installations.

The program will result in the creation of tens of thousands of jobs while achieving substantial reductions in energy use – the equivalent of the entire output of three coal-fired power plants each year. Consumers in the program are anticipated to save between $200 - $500 per year in energy costs, while improving the comfort and value of their homes.