Thursday, May 31, 2012

Campus Philly Opportunity Fair

from the inbox:

College students have a lot more to smile about after graduation. A recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers reveals that businesses expect to hire 9.5% more college graduates this year than last, signaling a recovery from 2009 when such hiring plummeted 22%.

Campus Philly’s Opportunity Fair takes place Monday, June 18, 2012, 12pm-3pm at Villanova University’s Connelly Center. This event is open to all recent college graduates (2008-2012) and will showcase the wide range of career opportunities available to graduates interested in working and living in Greater Philadelphia.

Drexel's Annual Student Fashion Show

This Saturday, June 2nd, the Fashion and Design & Merchandising programs at Drexel University’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design will host their annual fashion show.  Thirty three senior and graduates students will show their collections.

It features eveningwear, women’s wear, menswear, sportswear, swimwear, children’s wear, lingerie and more. Student work is inspired by a spectrum of influences, including medieval armor, the life of Marilyn Monroe, Carnevale di Venezia, shattered glass, urban explorers, steam punk, skiwear and human anatomy.

Judges include  include: Missy Dietz, Neiman Marcus; Megan Gfroerer, Carole Hochman Designs; Damian Ruth, Burberry; Frank Agostino, Agostino; Jayoon Jeong, Jayoon Jeong, NY; John Wind, Maximal Art; Lisa Hendrickson, Destination Maternity; Mary Dougherty, Nicole Miller; and Ali McCloud, Stephanie Schaich Bricken and Althea Harper.

SEPTA Service for Manayunk Bike Race

from the inbox:

SEPTA will nearly double normal Sunday service on its Manayunk/Norristown line for the annual Pro-Cycling Tour Crown of Racing event scheduled on Sunday, June 3, 2012. Train stations along the cycling route include East Falls, Wissahickon and Manayunk Station.

Manayunk Station, located near the corner of Carson & Cresson Streets, will provide race-goers with easy walking distance to “The Wall” and other prime viewing spots. Trains to Manayunk Station will operate every 30 minutes inbound and outbound from 7:25 a.m. until 7:30 p.m.

After the first three inbound train trips, rail service will originate at Norristown Transportation Center. Shuttle bus service will be provided every 30 minutes from Elm Street and Main Street Stations to Norristown Transportation Center from 8:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m.

Shuttle buses will also meet outbound trains at the Norristown Transportation Center every 30 minutes from 8:47 a.m. until 7:23 p.m., before transporting passengers to Main and Elm Street Stations.

Regular Sunday schedules will be in effect for all other Regional Rail Lines. Customers should check the schedules at to ensure their return trips can be completed.

Customers can view the special race day schedule at

Single and Family One-Day Independence passes provide unlimited travel on all SEPTA services including Regional Rail to the race for one low price. Advance tickets can be purchased from SEPTA ticket agents or at

Things to Read and Watch

Here are a few things that crossed my screen today, that are well worth the read / viewing.

Update on PA VoterID requirements from Emily DiCiccio at PoliticsPA.

The DNC has released a Facebook-themed video called "Mitt Romney:  Little to Like"

The Sunlight Foundation today announces a new web tool that reviews the tweets of elected officials and identifies when one goes missing or is edited. The tool, called Politwoops, monitors Twitter’s API and archives tweets from U.S. politicians that get removed. On the site at, you can view the latest deleted tweets in near-real time or check out deleted tweets for a particular politician. Politwoops follows the official Twitter account for members of Congress, as well as President Obama and Mitt Romney, 435 in all.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

SEPTA: Stop Hunger at Your Station

Tomorrow SEPTA will launch the 4th annual "Stop Hunger at Your Station," food drive.  The program will last for two weeks.  Food collected in the drive will be donated to Philabundance's "Summer Meals Campaigns" to help provide food for children no longer receiving the free and reduced-cost meals they get during the school year.

In 2011 17.8 tons of food were donated and given to Philabundance.  Please participate in this very important charity food drive.

Canine Welcome Committee

One last Memorial Day thought -- should you ever need a quick pick-me-up, watch some of the online videos of dogs welcoming home their soldier owners.  Here is one montage video:

There are a number of other similar videos.

I put considerable effort into finding even one similar video of a cat.  So far nothing. 

Iraq War Veteran Injuries

Those who do not read Mike Allen's Politico Playbook every morning (it can be delivered via email for your convenience) miss quotes from and links to articles like "Almost half of new vets seek disability," by Marilyn Marchione, AP 5/27/2012:

Just over half of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans eligible for VA care have used it so far.
Of those who have sought VA care:
—More than 1,600 of them lost a limb; many others lost fingers or toes.
—At least 156 are blind, and thousands of others have impaired vision.
—More than 177,000 have hearing loss, and more than 350,000 report tinnitus — noise or ringing in the ears.
—Thousands are disfigured, as many as 200 of them so badly that they may need face transplants. One-quarter of battlefield injuries requiring evacuation included wounds to the face or jaw, one study found.

If you see someone in uniform or know someone who served, remember to thank them for their service.  And let's fund veterans care.   All to often veterans are forgotten and that's just not right.

Memorial Day Messages

A variety of Memorial Day messages arrived over the weekend.  

Dr. Manan Trivedi, Democratic candidate for 6th Congressional district:
Parades and picnics - - I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t like either one of them. 

But on holidays like Memorial Day, we need to remember to not only honor the loss of our fallen military service members in our thoughts, but we should also honor them by taking action.

For the past couple of years, I have been going over to a local Veterans cemetery in Berks County and taking part in what is known as “Flag In.” This weekend was no different. Often, cemeteries like these are forgotten about and by simply taking a couple hours to place flags in front on each grave means a great deal to their families and the community.

So make a small act of remembrance today. Fly your American flag at half mast/staff. Vounteer at a VA Hospital. Heck, just give a Veteran a hug or a handshake and thank them for their service and for still being with us.

As an Iraq War Veteran, I know these women and men don’t ask for much in return for their service to our nation. But that shouldn’t stop any one of us from giving them the thanks and honor they deserve.

Happy Memorial Day.


Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, 13th Congressional district:

Dear Friend,
As you and your family look ahead to the Memorial Day weekend, please think of our service members, veterans, and their families and the enormous sacrifices they have made to defend America’s freedoms. 
Since World War II, an estimated 26,694 Pennsylvanians have lost their lives for our country. We must never forget the commitment and courage shown by the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for America. 
It is my hope that everyone takes a moment on Memorial Day to acknowledge the tremendous service of the 2,949 Pennsylvanians currently serving in our Armed Forces and of the 933,404 veterans that have served from Pennsylvania. 
As the daughter of a Korean War veteran, I take very personally my responsibility to ensure that our troops receive the respect that their service has earned them. In Congress, I have been a steadfast supporter of our men and women in uniform, ensuring they have the health care, educational, and career opportunities they deserve. 
On this Memorial Day, please join me in remembering those who have paid the ultimate price by giving their lives in service to our nation. Our thoughts are with their families as we honor their memory.


Allyson Y. Schwartz

Mark Painter, Democratic candidate for 146th state house district

I just wanted to wish you and yours a happy Memorial Day weekend! Enjoy the holiday.

We think of Memorial Day primarily as an opportunity to take a break, get out, enjoy ourselves, and celebrate the coming of the warm weather months. And that's great! But do take a moment to remember the men and women who sacrificed everything so that we could celebrate the blessings we all enjoy this weekend: our liberty and the right to choose our own government, which is what political campaigns are all about.


Mark Painter

Thursday, May 24, 2012

K'nex: Made in America

K'nex are wonderful imaginative toys.  They have been a feature in my household for many years now and never seem to get old.  There is always something that can be built out of K'nex.  The company is based in Montgomery County, and most parts are manufactured at their plant in Hatfield.  Only 5% of K'nex items are made in other counties.  Kudos K'nex!!!

For more information see "Made in America makes sense again, K'nex brands CEO says," by Mike Armstrong, Inquirere 5/24.

PA River Projected Highlighted

from the inbox:

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today highlighted projects in 10 northeastern states that serve as models of the America’s Great Outdoors River Initiative to conserve and restore key rivers across the nation, expand outdoor recreational opportunities and support jobs in local communities.
The 10 river projects are part of a list of 51 ongoing projects that the Secretary is highlighting nationwide, one in each state and the District of Columbia.

Here are the PA and NJ entries (the NJ River borders on PA):

Pennsylvania: Susquehanna River Lower Susquehanna River Conservation Landscape Initiative
The National Park Service, other federal, state, and local agencies, and non-governmental organizations are expanding and improving and recreation and education opportunities and public access along the Susquehanna River, which is an important link to Pennsylvania’s natural and cultural heritage. On May 16, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar designated the Susquehanna River as a historic connecting trail and integral part of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.

New Jersey: Delaware River Athos Oil Spill Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Project
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, other federal, state and local agencies, and non-governmental organizations are working to restore habitat and recreational opportunities on the Delaware River, which was impacted by the 2004 Athos oil spill, including creating 17 acres of oyster reef.

Hispanic Community Action Summit in Philly

from the inbox:

The White House will host four more Hispanic Community Action Summits in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Arlington, Virginia; Silver Spring, Maryland; and Livermore, California in the coming weeks. The events are the latest in an ongoing series of regional meetings across the country providing an opportunity for Senior Administration Officials to engage members of the Hispanic community on a wide range of issues critical to creating an economy built to last, including the President’s “To Do List” for Congress that would create jobs and help restore middle class security.

Participants in the upcoming summits will discuss topics including jobs and the economy, education, healthcare, housing and the need to fix our nation’s broken immigration system. The summits will begin with a morning plenary session followed by a set of open space dialogues, in which participants set the agenda and identify follow up actions with officials throughout the afternoon to address issues critically important to the Hispanic community and all Americans.

These regional meetings have helped establish dozens of new partnerships; provide technical assistance and support to small businesses and educate employers and employees on workplace protections; improve access to quality health care under the Affordable Care Act; expand nutrition assistance; promote diversity and inclusion in federal programs and workforce; and protect civil rights in education, housing and immigration. We have also seen the development of new impactful initiatives. For example, a pilot program to expand contracting opportunities for low-income workers and the businesses that employ them was announced at one regional summit. Thousands in back wages were secured for local workers who attended one gathering as well, while a public-private partnership established at another will help mentor a thousand Hispanic students through college. To learn more about these successes click HERE for the Interim Report: White House Hispanic Community Action Summits.
The Philadelphia Summit is scheduled for June 2nd. Registration is required.

Daryl Metcalfe, Women's Health Expert

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, as he promised, introduced a bill today on women's health.  HB 2405 is available on the state website.  Here is a list of the bill's sponsors:

It is a short bill, 4 pages long.  Here is one of the key definitions in the bill:
"Abortion." The use of any means to terminate the clinically diagnosable pregnancy of a woman with knowledge that the termination by those means will cause, with reasonable likelihood, the death of the unborn child. The term does not include birth control devices, oral contraceptives used to inhibit or prevent ovulation, conception or the implantation of a fertilized ovum in the uterus or the use of any means to increase the probability of a live birth, to preserve the life or health of the child after a live birth, to terminate an ectopic pregnancy or to remove a dead fetus.

I noted a couple of things.  First it refers to the pregnancy of a woman.  It does not cover the disposal of fertilized embryos intended, but not used for, in vitro fertilization.  Second, it says this does not refer to actions taken to preserve the life or health of the child after a live birth.  There is no age restriction on that.  Suppose that child grows up to be a woman whose health is compromised by a pregnancy.  Whose life takes precedence?  

The bulk of the bill concerns funding of women's health providers.  Media outlets and organizations whose mission involves women's health say the purpose of this bill is to defund Planned Parenthood.  Personally I'm a big fan of Planned Parenthood.  Here is some information on Planned Parenthood's impact on Pennsylvania:
FACT: In 2011, Planned Parenthood provided over 44,000 breast wellness exams, 200,000 STD tests, and 40,000 cervical cancer screenings - detecting over 5,000 abnormal pap tests which if untreated can lead to cancer.
FACT: The “Whole Woman’s Health Funding Priorities Act” is expected to eliminate Planned Parenthood from funding to provide affordable birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, and STI testing and treatment for low income patients through Department of Health programs.
FACT: Each year, Planned Parenthood’s 42 nonprofit health centers in Pennsylvania care for more than 120,000 men and women.
FACT: There is overwhelming public support for state funding for Planned Parenthood. A February Susquehanna Polling and Research survey shows that 65 percent of Pennsylvania voters and a majority from every region of the state and of every political party support state funding for Planned Parenthood’s preventive services.

Sari Stevens, executive director of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates issued this statement:
“In these difficult economic times, it’s disappointing some politicians in Harrisburg would rather block women’s access to cancer screenings, birth control, and annual exams than address the real needs of the Commonwealth. Women and families need high quality, affordable health care, not more political meddling. "Planned Parenthood won't let politics interfere with the health care that one in five women in America relies on at some point in her life. Planned Parenthood health centers are open in Pennsylvania today, and they’ll be open tomorrow. Women are counting on us to protect their cancer screenings, birth control and basic, preventive care – and we will fight for them."

I think this is bad legislation and encourage the state house to vote against it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tougher Illegal Gun Law Introduced

from the inbox:
On Wednesday afternoon the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed HB 2331, with an overwhelming majority in support of the bill: 190 votes in favor to only 7 opposed. The bill now goes to the State Senate for consideration.

CeaseFirePA, the Pennsylvania Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition, and statewide law enforcement associations including the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, weighed in heavily in support of the proposed legislation, while the National Rifle Association has remained silent.

“The passage of this bill in the House is a step in the right direction toward a Pennsylvania safer from gun violence,” said CeaseFirePA Executive Director Max Nacheman. “Legislators from both sides of this often polarized issue can all agree that criminals who use guns illegally are a major part of the problem, and deserve punishment for endangering Pennsylvania communities. From this common ground, it seems possible to tackle the greater challenge of gun violence prevention.”
Pennsylvania law currently establishes that an individual prohibited from firearm activity by Pennsylvania law, who commits a crime using a firearm, must serve a sentence of at least five years in jail. However, there is no similar requirement for an individual convicted of illegal firearm possession if no other crime was committed at the time, besides illegal possession of a firearm.
"When a felon or other prohibited person is caught with an illegal gun, it is only thanks to good police work and luck that he or she was apprehended before there was an opportunity to pull the trigger,” said Nacheman. “When law enforcement officers are able to apprehend a criminal carrying an illegal gun before they use it to maim or murder an innocent person, prosecutors should have the tools to pursue penalties that fit the severity of the threat to which the community was exposed.”
HB 2331 would establish a minimum penalty of five years in jail for any previously convicted felon found illegally in possession of a firearm or engaged in other prohibited firearm activity, whether or not the felon was committing another crime in addition illegal firearm possession or activity.

Further, HB 2331 would classify a second offense of unlawful firearm activity, by any person prohibited from firearm activity under Pennsylvania law, as a “crime of violence” and therefore subject to penalties of escalating severity for subsequent similar offenses. People prohibited from using firearms in Pennsylvania include individuals who have been convicted of aggravated assault, kidnapping, rape, escape from prison, impersonating a police officer, fugitives, and false report of a missing firearm. For a complete list, visit

Now the bill must be considered by the Pennsylvania State Senate. While the bill faced little opposition in the House, concerns remain that the gun lobby, more concerned with their extreme political agenda than with public safety, may attempt to use HB 2331 as a vehicle for other proposals that have been denounced by municipal and law enforcement officials – such as creating special legal standing for the gun lobby to sue municipalities that have taken local action to crack down on illegal gun traffickers (based on HB 1523 and SB 1438), or prematurely eliminating the state background check system (based on HB 2127).

CeaseFirePA congratulates the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for taking a decisive stand against felons and other criminals who flout Pennsylvania law and continue to endanger communities by carrying, using, transferring guns illegally – and encourages the Pennsylvania Senate to take similar action by considering HB 2331 quickly and without distractions from unrelated amendments.

Metcalfe Again Goes After Planned Parenthood

State Rep Daryl Metcalfe tilts at a number of windmills.  For many years he has been working against Planned Parenthood.  In a 2011 letter to Gov. Tom Corbett, Metcalfe outlines his opposition the organization over time.  He is at it against it again; this time trying to defund Planned Parenthood.  You can read more at "State Planned Parenthood funds in peril," by Clare Ritger, Tribune Live 5/23/2012

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ryers Station

On May 23rd SEPTA will have a ribbon cutting at the newly renovated Ryers Station (749 Cottman Avenue
Philadelphia) on the Fox Chase Regional Rail Line.  Thanks to a federally funded $7.9 million improvement project, Ryers Station is a new and improved facility. The new station is completely modernized and is American With Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible. Approximately 700 riders use the station each day and are benefiting from the new amenities and improved access to the station.

Sunlight Foundation: Dumbing Down of Political Speech

This is interesting.  Check and see where the PA delegation is listed.  Some of the results are surprising.

The U.S. Congress speaks at nearly a full grade level lower than it did seven years ago, according to a new Sunlight Foundation analysis. Using the website -- which features the most popular words and phrases in the Congressional Record since 1996 -- Sunlight reviewed the vocabulary and sentence structure of what members of Congress are saying.

Today’s Congress speaks at about a 10.6 grade level, down from a high of 11.5 in 2005. By comparison, the U.S. Constitution is written at a 17.8 grade level, the Federalist Papers at a 17.1 grade level and the Declaration of Independence at a 15.1 grade level. The Flesch-Kincaid test was used to conduct the analysis, which equates higher-grade levels with longer words and longer sentences.

A complete database of how each member in the current Congress ranks in the analysis is available.

The analysis, written by Senior Fellow Lee Drutman in collaboration with Software Developer Dan Drinkard, is broken into three parts on the Sunlight blog:

Endorsements for Dietz

from the inbox:

Chris Dietz has been endorsed by Progressive Majority,, joining a small group of only 20 candidates from across the United States. Chris is running to advocate for quality education, government reform, and to foster job creation in the 104th House District and across the Commonwealth. Jobs are important to Chris because he learned firsthand of the importance of family sustaining jobs after being laid off for more than a year, before being rehired by his previous employer. Chris has three young nephews, so quality public education is a priority for him. Pennsylvania must ensure future generations have equal or better opportunities to learn the necessary skills to compete for careers in the global economy. With the reapportionment process continuing to drag on, it is quite apparent that we need to reform our state government procedures. In times when few workers are seeing raises, when many citizens are unable to find work, when schools districts are cutting education programs and closing schools, the fact that our legislators receive an automatic cost of living increase is out of touch with the people of our great state.

Chris is proud to continue building a broad based coalition with those concerned about job creation, public education, government reform, conservation, equal rights, women’s rights, mental health, veteran’s affairs and the middle class.
Organizations that have endorsed Chris Dietz:
·         Progressive Majority
·         Victory Fund
·         PSEA
·         SEIU State Council
·         Equality PA
·         Planned Parenthood PA Advocates
·         PA NOW
·         Central PA Building Trades
·         Capital Region Stonewall Democrats
·         Plumbers and Pipe Fitters Local 520
·         IBEW Local 143

Endorsement for Mark Painter

from the inbox, a note from Mark Painter, Democratic candidate for the 146th  state house seat:

I want to share some important news with you. I have been endorsed by the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties.
The Association (APSCUF for short) represents the 6,000 faculty members and coaches of Pennsylvania's fourteen state-owned universities. Their endorsement means a lot to me and to my campaign. The politicians in Harrisburg have been making radical cuts to state support for our public universities. I think that's wrong. The members of APSCUF, who are on the front lines of public higher education agree with me. And they know I'll do something about it.

I was the son of a factory worker who got a shot at a university education and the chance to make something of myself. Today's young people deserve no less. Not to mention that an educated work force is more productive, boosts our economy, and makes all of us better off.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Montco Biker Girls

In honor of Bike to Work Day, Montgomery County Commissioner Leslie Richards, Montgomery County Sheriff Eileen Behr, and over 20 other county employees will be riding their bikes to work in Norristown tomorrow.  Richards and Behr will be riding in along the Schuylkill River Trail.  Other employees will be riding in from other parts of the county.  The bikers will meet up in the courthouse plaza for coffee and doughnuts. 

This is a great example and I hope it encourages others to use pedal power  in their daily routines.  Bike safely and remember those helmuts!

(For those whose daily commute involves SEPTA, the transit agency has a bike policy -- see their SEPTA Bike & Ride webpage:

Two New PA Judges

from the inbox:

Today, President Obama nominated Matthew W. Brann and Judge Malachy Edward Mannion to serve on the United States District Court.
“I am pleased to nominate these distinguished individuals to serve on the United States District Court bench,” said President Obama.  “I am confident they will serve the American people with integrity and a steadfast commitment to justice.”
Matthew W. Brann:  Nominee for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
Matthew W. Brann has been a partner at the law firm of Brann, Williams, Caldwell & Sheetz since 1995, where he concentrates his practice in the area of tort, contract, commercial, and real property litigation.  Prior to joining the firm as an associate in 1991, Brann served as a law clerk with the Court of Common Pleas in Bradford County, Pennsylvania.  Brann received his J.D. in 1990 from the Dickinson School of Law and his B.A. in 1987 from the University of Notre Dame.
Judge Malachy Edward Mannion:  Nominee for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
Judge Malachy Edward Mannion has been a United States Magistrate Judge for the Middle District of Pennsylvania since 2001.  Apart from a four-year stint as a partner at the law firm of Hourigan, Kluger, Spohrer & Quinn PC in the mid-90s, Judge Mannion spent the fifteen years prior to his appointment to the bench serving as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Middle District of Pennsylvania.  While a federal prosecutor, he served as Chief of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force from 1989 to 1993.  From 1980 to 1986, Judge Mannion was an Assistant District Attorney in the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office.  He began his legal career as an associate at the law firm of Bartels, Pykett & Aronwald.  Judge Mannion received his J.D. in 1979 from Pace University School of Law and his B.S. in 1976 from the University of Scranton.

No Candidate for America Elects

from the inbox:

Statement by Americans Elect
May 17, 2012
There is a desire among Delegates and millions of Americans who have supported Americans Elect to see a credible candidate emerge from this process.

However, the rules, as developed in consultation with the Americans Elect Delegates, are clear. As of this week, no candidate achieved the national support threshold required to enter the Americans Elect Online Convention in June. The primary process for the Americans Elect nomination has come to an end.

Americans Elect, from the outset, has been a rules-based process, with the rules publicly available and open to debate by the Delegates. Our key priorities have been to: 1) honor the trust Americans Elect has built with the Delegates and American public; 2) require candidates to earn the nomination by building support among the Americans Elect Delegate community and American voters; and 3) create a basis for a solid future for the Americans Elect movement.

This decision honors these priorities.

Through the efforts of thousands of staffers, volunteers and leadership, Americans Elect has achieved its operational goals, including:
·       Creating a pathway for nationwide ballot access for a balanced presidential ticket
        unaffiliated with the nominating process of either major party to compete in the
        2012 race;
·       Building the technological platform for the first nonpartisan secure national online
        primary at;
·       Attracting a significant base of more than 4 million supporters, including Delegates,
        petition signers and volunteers;
·       Educating the national and local media on the Americans Elect mission; and
·       Finishing an extensive candidate briefing program involving more than 100
        potential candidates.

As always, we thank everyone who has helped build this organization and are grateful for the work, efforts, and trust so many people have placed in Americans Elect. We are continuing the Americans Elect mission of creating more choice in our political system, giving candidates unaffiliated with the nominating process of either major party an authentic way to run for office and giving the American people a greater voice in our political process.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Chris Dietz in 104th District

Chris Dietz is the Democratic candidate for the 104th state house district.  The 104th is just north of Harrisburg, a little outside the usual geographic footprint of this blog, but we'll make an exception.    Dietz was appointed to the Millersburg Borrough Council in 2006.  He served as Chair of the Parks and Recreation and was later elected Chair of the Council.  He is an engineer by training, a graduate of Penn State's Engineering School.  You can find out more about Chris at:

Buddy Roemer on Americans Elect

from the inbox:

Baton Rouge, LA –Governor Buddy Roemer issued the following statement concerning the Americans Elect nomination process: 

Many media outlets are calling the visionary organization “dead,” “a failure,” or “ahead of it’s time.” I disagree with all of these assessments. What Americans Elect has done for our country is revolutionary. It is my sincere hope that they continue on their mission of putting forth a credible candidate to face the bought candidates – Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. The pundits must understand that radical change such as this does not happen over night or without growing pains. The American people are hungry for reform and both parties are not providing it because they are too busy fighting like school children.

My latest polling has me at 7% nationally prior to selecting a vice president, raising much money, or getting much media attention. If I am the nominee for Americans Elect, I will be a factor in this race.                  


Governor Buddy Roemer is a four-term Congressman and former Governor of Louisiana. He is now participating in the first national online primary for President of the United States as an candidate.  He is known for refusing PAC and special interest money, implementing campaign finance reform, turning around Louisiana’s failing economy and cutting the state’s unemployment rate in half in just four years. You can cast your vote at  His website is

Parkside Bus Loop

Our friends at SEPTA cut the ribbon on the Parkside Bus Loop today:

SEPTA’s Parkside Bus Loop is now a state-of-the-art transit hub at the center of a growing community, following the completion of a $2.2 million construction and relocation project. Nearly 1,100 riders a day use the loop each day for service on routes 43, 64 and 52. The new loop provides first-class customer amenities and improves transit access for residents and businesses.

APIARY 4 Launches June 1

mark your calendar:

On June 1, APIARY Magazine launches its 4th collection of Philadelphia writing with a late-night literary carnival. Not only is this APIARY’s biggest issue yet — featuring work by 45 local poets and prose writers — but it defies national industry trends, having slowly but confidently grown its circulation from a tiny initial print run of 300 copies in 2010 to 7,000 copies this summer. Those copies will be available free of charge to Philly readers in coffee shops, community centers, bars, libraries, and even a few laundromats.

Recently highlighted in the Philadelphia Inquirer, APIARY has emerged as the go-to publication for anyone curious about local literature, offering readers a biannual cross-section of Philly’s creative communities. APIARY 4 features college professors and high school prodigies, cubicle dwellers and student activists, performance poets and nationally established authors, an anthropologist, a rabbi, a Vietnam vet, and a Pew Fellow within its 80 pages.

This kaleidoscopic mix is no accident. In 2009, APIARY’s founding members created the organization expressly to reflect the diversity and excellence of writing in Philadelphia. The magazine’s all-volunteer staff spends months before every submissions deadline scouring the city for talented new voices. They listen in on open mics and reading series, visit college classrooms, and offer youth workshops in order to ensure that APIARY continues to be, in the words of American Book Award-winning poet Lamont Steptoe, “the journal to watch for future scholars and critics in their efforts to understand the twenty-first century in literary Philadelphia.”

Pitts Sees Dead People

from the inbox:

Congressman Joe Pitts seems to be a little bit behind the times. Apparently, he has been a little out of touch with recent Middle East relations. In a letter to a constituent, Rep. Pitts recommended that the Israelis and Palestinians restart talks with their leaders Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat. Arafat passed away almost a decade ago and Sharon has been in a coma for six years.


'Arafat, Sharon must do more for peace' (Times of Israel) It seems that Congressman Joe Pitts (R-PA) is a tad out of the loop on matters of Middle East peace. If it were up to him, Israelis and Palestinians would restart peace talks under the guidance of their respective leaders, Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Civics in a Minute

Remember those old Schoolhouse Rock! videos -- "Conjunction Junction" and "How a Bill Becomes a Law?"  I loved those and, like most people of my general, can still sing along to several of them.  Today's youth have been deprived of their own set of civics videos.  The Khan Academy has a lot of math but not much on civics.

However, a new system is being unveiled on May 16th.  Civics in a Minute is a new series breaks down politics to its nuts and bolts to show how government and the elections process works.  There are currently five videos:
  • The Electoral College 
  • Primaries vs. Caucuses 
  • Who Picks the Vice President? 
  • What the Heck is a Super Pac? 
  • How Do Elections Polls Work? 
The host is Jacob Soboroff who has created and hosted programming for CNN, AMC, and MTV.  It is produced by TakePart, a digital media organization and content-driven social action platform of people, non-profit organizations and brands that are working together to drive positive change on big issues.

I watched the video on polls and thought it was something kids and adults alike would enjoy.

Murphy Endorses Kane

from the inbox:

Today, Iraq war veteran and former prosecutor Patrick Murphy endorsed his Democratic primary opponent, Kathleen Kane, for Pennsylvania Attorney General.

“Primaries are never easy. But it’s important to remember that this was a family fight. Now that it’s over, we must come together and rally behind our nominee. That’s why I am endorsing Kathleen Kane for Attorney General. Because in the end, Kathleen is Pennsylvania’s best choice for Attorney General,” Murphy said.

“Kathleen is a fierce competitor. But she also has a vision for this office. We agree that consumer protection must be the cornerstone of this office and that we must do more to protect children from sexual abuse. We need an Attorney General who will protect the middle class and defend the rights of every Pennsylvanian, not just those with money or power. So now, we Democrats must come together, beat David Freed, and deny Governor Corbett the Attorney General he hand-picked to protect his radical agenda,” Murphy added.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day Thoughts

Today is Mother's Day.  This is not necessarily the standard MD post but it's what's been on my mind lately.  Recently the Obama campaign released a website about a fictional woman named Julia and how her life is impacted by government policy.  There was some pushback about it in the press and from the other side of the aisle. 

It's not a slick website but it made me think a bit about how my life has been influenced by government spending and policy.  So here's a brief narrative of my version.

I'm an Army brat.  My birth was paid for by the military, and by extension the government.  Like most children I had some scrapes and a few surgeries.  While I was a military dependent the government paid for those, too. 

My public school education was sufficient to allow me to test out of some basic college courses, and this was before AP classes and in a school system that did not have an Honors program.

A previous post, My Life as a Public Works Project, outlines the public costs of sending me to college, as tuition was paid through grants, loans, and a work study job.  All told it was less than $10,000 for a B.A. degree.  I pay more than that in taxes every year now.  It was a good investment on the public's part and I am grateful. 

My children attend a good public school.  The local community is willing to pay for education and I think it pays off.

In future years I hope to partake of social security and also hope that my children will have access to good health care.  In the short term I hope they can at least stay on my insurance until they are 26.

It's not quite the same as Julia's story but there are many parallels. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Obama's Congressional "To Do" List

This has been posted in several places.  The text below was in a press release.  Here is President Obama's "to do" list for Congress:

1. Reward American Jobs, Eliminate Tax Incentives To Ship Jobs Overseas: Congress needs to attract and keep good jobs in the United States by passing legislation that gives companies a new 20 percent tax credit for the cost of moving their operations back to the U.S. and pay for it by eliminating tax incentives that allow companies to deduct the costs of moving their business abroad. 
2. Cut Red Tape So Responsible Homeowners Can Refinance: Congress needs to pass legislation to cut red tape in the mortgage market so that responsible families who have been paying their mortgages on time can feel secure in their home by refinancing at today’s lower rates.
3. Invest in a New Hire Tax Credit For Small Businesses: Congress needs to invest in small businesses and jumpstart new hiring by passing legislation that gives a 10 percent income tax credit for firms that create new jobs or increase wages in 2012 and that extends 100 percent expensing in 2012 for all businesses.
4. Create Jobs By Investing In Affordable Clean Energy: Congress needs to help put America in control of its energy future by passing legislation that will extend the Production Tax Credit to support American jobs and manufacturing alongside an expansion of the 30 percent tax credit to investments in clean energy manufacturing (48C Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit)
5. Put Returning Veterans to Work Using Skills Developed in the Military: Congress needs to honor our commitment to returning veterans by passing legislation that creates a Veterans Job Corps to help Afghanistan and Iraq veterans get jobs as cops, firefighters, and serving their communities.

Buddy Roemer on Being a "Spoiler"

from the inbox:

Governor Buddy Roemer issued the following statement in regard to speculation of him being a "spoiler" for Governor Romney and/or President Obama:

We believe that our nation is facing difficult times. We believe that the best decisions in these difficult times will be made when we have a president truly 
Free to Lead. A president who commits to working with all Americans, not just Democrats, and not just Republicans. We need to rebuild a nation, not a political party.

This election is wide open, which is exactly as it should be for a nation in trouble with the nominee from both major parties addicted to and controlled by the special interest checks of the favored few who continue to steal our future to feed the greed of their present. Enough!

I run to win. I am not a single-issue candidate or someone who is merely trying to make a statement. I am not Ralph Nader. I am a former Governor of a corrupt state that I helped clean up; I am former four-term Congressman who worked closely with President Reagan to help our country; and for the last twenty years I have been a successful businessman creating jobs.

I am currently polling at 7% in the most recent national survey and I am confident once I receive the Americans Elect nomination that I can attain 15% standing which will then qualify me to participate in the national debates this fall. Obama, Romney and Roemer. Again, I run to win.

If, during the last month of the campaign I discover I have no realistic chance of winning, I will ask my supporters to vote their conscience or for their second choice so the issue of spoiler can be dropped once and for all.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Stamp Out Hunger

Dr. Manan Trivedi, candidate in the 6th congressional district, sends out this message:

This past week, your local letter carrier probably dropped off a grocery bag or maybe placed a postcard in your mailbox like they did at our house.

Tomorrow, May 12 is the national Stamp Out Hunger food drive and thanks to your letter carrier, they are making it easy for you to participate.

Just take the bag they provided or use your own. Place non-perishable food items in the bag and set it next to your mailbox. A letter carrier will pick it up on Saturday and deliver it to a local food bank or pantry.

And after you have placed your bag at your mailbox, let us know about it.

If you are on Twitter, simply use the following hashtag and we will ReTweet your message:    #StampedOutHungerWithTfC

Or come to our Facebook page and post a comment:

In each of our communities we know there are those in need. You may even know someone personally. If we all just make a small donation like a can of soup, box of cereal or a bag of rice, it will go a long way in combating hunger locally.

I know I sign-off with this often and it is just as important now - - Thank you for all you are doing to help build a better community.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

My Life as a Union President

Unions have been getting a bad rap.  I keep reading articles about problems with unions and union officials.  While there are always bad actors in any occupation or national organization, including unions, what gets lost in all the chatter is that unions are employee-based groups.    These are the folks who go to bat for you in employment disputes, represent your interests, and negotiate your benefits.  

I didn’t grow up in a union family but have been a union member, though not always the same union, for almost 20 years.  In recent years I’ve taken a more active role.  A few years ago I was elected to a one year term as the president of our local.  This is a volunteer position that most people hold for just one or two terms, though the cast of characters does get recycled.  There is paid union staff at the next largest  organization level and part of my job was doing triage – answering what questions I could from those I represented, and talking to the staff about who I should refer the most complicated matters to. 

Union presidents are usually portrayed as burly men in logoed  jackets.  I didn’t fit the stereotype.  We don’t have jackets.  I did get a notebook with policies, a copy of the current contract, and other assorted paperwork in it.

During my year as president I fielded about one question a month, mc’ed meetings, and sent out letters to potential new members.  The questions fell into two main categories.  One was contract interpretation.  I would get a call or email asking me what the contract said about a particular topic.  In the case of a phone call fairly often I could call up the contract on the internet and the other person would, too, and we would talk through their question.  Parking was a big issue.  If we couldn’t come to a confident and shared conclusion then I would call the regional staff and ask them for their interpretation.    Mostly I was a sounding board.

The second category was job actions.  People would come to my office angry (primarily male) or in tears (primarily female).  Someone approached me about filing a grievance.  While I agreed with their view, their argument was not supported by the contract so I discouraged them.  I commiserated with someone feeling alienated in their work group.  I helped steer someone through the process of deciding to take a severance offer because it was clear an exit strategy was best for everyone.   Again, I was primarily a sounding board.

No one offered me money or a bribe of any kind.  I didn’t try to bribe anyone.  I did start keeping a box of tissues in my office but paid for that out of pocket.  There was no slush fund, no shadowy deals, no threats or violence.   It was extra work on top of my regular job.

Unions serve a valuable service to both employees and employers.  HR is easily viewed as taking the side of the employer.  My role was to represent the interests of the employees as a group.  Just as both parties in a mortgage closing or a pre-nup will have their own lawyers, employees should be able to ask for representation in disputes with an employer.  I was pleased and honored to serve in that role for a year.