Friday, May 31, 2013

Margolies Campaigns for PA-13

Marjorie Margolies is tossing her hat into the ring for the PA-13 congressional district.  The full letter explaining why she decided to run is on her website,  The site also has a lengthy biography, including a number of firsts:

Marjorie’s career has been a career of firsts: one of the first woman television journalist on the ground in Vietnam; the first unmarried U.S. citizen to adopt a foreign child; the first woman ever elected to Congress from Pennsylvania in her own right; the first Democrat since 1916 elected from Pennsylvania’s 13th district.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

DePasquale on Bridges and Roads

from the inbox:

 Auditor General Eugene DePasquale issued the following statement in response to a national report issued today that found Pennsylvania’s crumbling roads and bridges cost drivers about $1,500 per year — enough to buy approximately 400 gallons of gas:

“Today’s report confirms what every Pennsylvanian over the age 16 already knows — we need a comprehensive transportation funding plan to fix our roads and bridges. This report makes the issue personal for each driver because it puts hard numbers to the out-of-pocket costs of using our inadequate transportation infrastructure.

“Every day our transportation needs are not addressed it costs Pennsylvania drivers more money.

“There already is widespread support from the public, and bi-partisan support in the General Assembly, to address the transportation funding issue.

“The fact that a bi-partisan transportation funding plan passed in the Senate Transportation Committee shows that there is a pathway possible to get a plan on the governor’s desk before summer recess.”

Philly Man Goes Hollywood

Long ago there was a psychology professor at Widener Univ named Dr. Donald Jackson, Jr.  Then he went to Hollywood and now he's Donny Jackson.  He's a producer, director, and "miscellaneous crew."  The Internet Movie Database lists some of this credits.  Brittany Spears to Tony Danza, with a side trip to The Bachelor.  A brief bio at "One Man Shown" gives a little more of this Philadelphia background.  In addition to his directing work he also has writing credits.  He had his acting and playwrighting debuts in Philadelphia, and is, or was, affiliated with the Ogranization of Black Screenwriters.  You can hear some of his work on YouTube.  (Caveat -- his delivery style is intense, but enjoyable.)

Who knew?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Patrick Murphy on Memorial Day

from the inbox, a message from Patrick Murphy:

Jenni, the kids, and I want to wish you and your family a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. As you enjoy the long weekend and the beautiful weather, I ask that you take a moment to think about and honor the American troops who have given the ultimate sacrifice. I will especially think about my namesake, Specialist Patrick Ward, who gave his life in Vietnam, and the 19 men I served with in the 82nd Airborne, who gave their lives almost ten years ago while serving in Iraq. Their service and their sacrifice will never be forgotten.
Today, I am at the West Point graduation. It will be an honor to see the cadets I nominated four years ago graduate from an institution where I was proud to teach, and now continue to serve as a member of their board. These charges will be commissioned leaders of character and will face many challenges, but I know they will rise to meet them with strength and dignity.
Please continue to keep our men and women in harm's way in all your thoughts and prayers.

McCord on Memorial Day

from the inbox, a message from State Treasurer Rob McCord:

As we gather together with family and friends this Memorial Day weekend, let us not forget the reason behind this national holiday. Our armed forces put their lives on the line to defend the freedoms we hold dear – they deserve our thanks and they deserve our constant support, in the warzone and on the home front. 

Schwartz on Memorial Day

from the inbox, a note from Allyson Schwartz:

As you and your family look ahead to the Memorial Day weekend, please think of our service members, veterans, and their families for the enormous sacrifices they have made to defend America’s freedoms. Since September 2001, 93,501 Pennsylvanians have been deployed, and of those, 286 have made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan or Iraq. 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 5,460 Pennsylvanians currently deployed in our Armed Forces and of the 980,529 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 and prayers are extended to their families as we honor their memory. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Boy Scouts Take Step in Right Direction

The Boy Scouts of America has approved a change to their national policy.  Boys and young men who are openly gay will now be allowed to formally be scouts.  To be sure, gays have always been scouts but if they openly declared their orientation they could be kicked out.

BSA maintains a ban on openly gay or lesbian scout leaders.  Given time I think this policy will be revisited and changed.

New Charter School Reform Proposal

from the inbox:

State Rep. Steve McCarter, D-Montgomery/Phila., today was joined by the Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., to announce a new charter school reform proposal, the Charter Learning Accountability School Sustainability Act, or CLASS. The CLASS Act is aimed at achieving greater academic accountability, funding equalization and transparency within the charter and cyber charter school system.
 McCarter’s legislation would offer several key revisions to the current charter school law to provide much needed relief to local taxpayers by creating one statewide cyber charter school district to be administered by the state Department of Education. It is estimated that this component of the CLASS Act couldeventually save school districts approximately $230 million to $250 million annually statewide.
A second component of McCarter’s plan would stipulate that students enrolled in charter schools and cyber charter schools with special needs receive the services they require by assigning responsibility to the local intermediate unit.
"By requiring that special education services be assigned to the local intermediate unit, we can assure that there are no overpayments of services to charter schools or cyber charter schools for special needs services," McCarter said.
As an individual who cares deeply about the quality of public education in Pennsylvania, I believe these reforms aimed at the governance, academic accountability, funding equalization and financing of charter and cyber charter schools are essential to ensure our children are getting the best education possible," McCarter said. "This legislation, along with Rep. Roebuck’s HB 934, would go beyond other charter and cyber charter school reform proposals and I urge my fellow legislator’s support." 
"I commend Rep. McCarter for his efforts to hold these publicly funded schools accountable and protect students and taxpayers," Roebuck said. "The recent report by the Democratic staff of the Education Committee shows the need for reforms of charter and cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania, and I believe support for reform is growing."

McCarter’s bill would also eliminate overpayments currently allowed under existing law commonly referred to as the "double dip." Under current Pennsylvania law, the formula for calculating how much school districts pay charter schools for each student includes funding for employee pensions, even though the state reimburses charter schools for these costs. Charter schools are paid twice, once from the school district and once from the state.
"This bill would also benefit the taxpayers of Pennsylvania as it aims to create more transparency in the governance and business operation of charter schools by limiting charter school’s ability to amass large surplus accounts and ensure that precious taxpayer dollars are used for the delivery of education, not for profit-sharing investors," McCarter said. "By ensuring that money allocated to charter schools is used to benefit students and not spent on advertising or lobbying, we ensure that our tax dollars are spent properly."
The total savings from these reforms would make an estimated $500 million available for public school funding. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Unofficial Suburban Voter Turnout

The county election results websites offer some unofficial turnout statistics. 

Montgomery County 

Republican Registration & Turnout
208,545 Voters
Vote CountPercent
Cartridge Turnout23,59111.31%
Absentee Turnout3470.17%

Democratic Registration & Turnout
248,996 Voters
Vote CountPercent
Cartridge Turnout25,25810.14%
Absentee Turnout2710.11%

So while there are more registered Democrats than Republicans and more Democrats turned out to vote numberwise, Republicans came out in a slightly larger percentage.

Bucks County


As of May 8, 2013:
Republican - 175,105
Democrat - 186,222
Others - 66,911
Total - 428,238

Bucks does not (that I could find) provide an overall vote total by party, but looking at election results and taking the largest number of votes for any county-wide candidate, here is an estimate of the number of voters by party

Republican: 25,605 (number of total R votes for prothonotary) (14.6% of registered voters)
Democrat:  16,621 (number of total R votes for Superior Court judge) (8.9% of registered voters)

If my numbers are correct (never a sure thing), the R's came out in much greater numbers than the D's.

Delaware County

The Delaware County Daily Times reported on October 26, ("Democrats close gap with GOP among registered voters in Delaware County " by Danielle Lynch):

As of Monday, there were 397,773 registered voters in Delaware County, according to figures released by the county and Pennsylvania Department of State. Of that total, 176,252 are Republicans and 174,890 are Democrats, which leaves 46,631 registered with other parties or without affiliation.
Looking at the unofficial election results and, again taking the largest number of votes for any county-wide candidate, here is an estimate of the number of voters by party:

Republican:  23,243 (for Mary McFall Hopper for Sheriff) (13.2%)
Democrat:  14,482 (for Superior Court judge candidates) (8.2%)

Again, a notably larger group of Republicans came out to vote than did Democrats.

It looks like Dems need to shift manpower from registration to turnout.

National Constitution Center Event

Two interesting events coming up at the National Constitution Center:

There is a party in honor of the new 1968 exhibit -- no word on whether or not Austin Powers will make an appearance:

Dig deep into the closet for those bell bottom jeans, suede vests, and psychedelic tie-dye t-shirts as the National Constitution Center kicks off its summer feature exhibition The 1968 Exhibit, with a groovy, ’60s-inspired shindig celebrating all things peace, love, and freedom.  Aptly dubbed Retro-Rama, the party will take place in the Center’s Grand Hall Lobby on Thursday, June 13, 2013 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The Center will also be displaying an original copy of the Bill of Rights:

As part of a landmark, 100-year agreement between the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and The New York Public Library, the National Constitution Center will display one of the 12 surviving copies of the Bill of Rights starting in fall of 2014. The museum of “We the People” will be the first institution in the Pennsylvania to exhibit this historic document to the general public.
After being approved by Congress, this rare original copy of the Bill of Rights was signed by Vice President John Adams (president of the Senate) and dispatched by President George Washington to consider for ratification in 1789. The New York Public Library acquired the document in 1896, when John S. Kennedy – a trustee of The New York Public Library – donated it along with other items he purchased from Dr. Thomas Addis Emmet, a noted surgeon and collector of Americana. The Emmet Collection has been accessible to researchers ever since, currently in the Manuscripts and Archives Division. The Library last displayed the document several decades ago, and has never displayed it for an extended period of time for preservation reasons. As part of the historic agreement, the Center announced today it will display the document to the general public for three years starting in the fall of 2014.

PA Lawmakers: Don't Obey Federal Laws

A group of Pennsylvania lawmakers have introduced a bill, HB 357, that states:

Providing that any Federal law which attempts to register, restrict or ban a firearm or to limit the size of a magazine of a firearm in this Commonwealth shall be unenforceable in this Commonwealth; and imposing penalties.
It was introduced in January, was referred to the Judiciary Committee and is still sitting there.  These are the loons who sponsored or co-sponsored this bill:


Think of all the things our state legislature could be doing if they weren't taking up time with bills like this.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Jeanne Sorg is Democratic Candidate for Ambler Mayor

Montco election results are filtering in.  The official county website lists 100% of the Ambler votes are in and Jeanne Sorg has won the Democratic mayoral primary with 67% of the votes.  Congrats, Jeanne!

Karma and Disaster Funding

Remember the brouhaha over disaster relief for Hurricane Sandy?  When some Congressmen wouldn't vote for money for NJ?  Some of those guys were from ..... Oklahoma.  So, now, shoe's on the other foot and it isn't a comfortable fit.

Chris Cillizza of the WaPo's Fix blog, puts it in political and economic perspective, read "Jim Inhofe and the reverse "NIMBY" phenomenon"  Interesting stuff.

Election Day

It's now election day.  Please vote while the polls are open (7 a.m. to 8 p.m.).  There aren't many contested races but the voter turnout is taken as an indication of support for candidates going into the general election.  There are some primary races, for example the Mayor of Ambler (shout out for Jeanne Sorg whose path I have crossed in passed years).  There are a lot of local commissioner and school board races.

For some races, especially the judicial races, candidates can cross register so if you vote by party it's important to check party websites for endorsed candidates.  For Montgomery County, check for Democratic candidates, for Delaware County, and for Bucks County (although, inexplicably they don't list any candidates for 2013).   In Montco the endorsed Democratic candidates for Court of Common Pleas are Gail Weilheimer and Steve Tolliver.

There is a contested primary for Democratic candidate for Superior Court.  Joe Waters is from the Philly area, Jack McVay is the Pittsburgh area candidate.

Phillyburbs has a great interactive election site.  I'm not sure the exact geographic area it covers but if you put in an address it will show all the races for that address, including local elections.  Check it out at: .  The Delaware County Daily Times also has a voters guide but it is not as snazzy:

Philadelphia voters have a number of races, include a primary for city controller (I favor Brett Mandel, though I question his judgement in posting photos to twitter) and judicial races.  Please consider Giovanni Campbell, Stephanie Sawyer and Inja Coates for court of common pleas.

Above, all, VOTE!!!!

Note from Jeanne Sorg

an election eve email from the Jeanne Sorg for (Ambler) Mayor campaign:

Wow!  This the final update before the election. 
The doors have all been knocked.  Our get out the vote efforts are winding down.  Now it’s time to vote.  
Voting starts on Tuesday at 7:00 a.m. and goes through 8:00 p.m. in Ambler.   Make your plan now on when you will vote.  Find your voting location here.This campaign has been a rewarding opportunity to meet and get to better know my neighbors in Ambler as I went around more than three times.  I shared with them my positive vision for Ambler’s future and they told me the issues important to them.  This time spent with the citizens of Ambler has made me a better candidate and will help me to effectively lead Ambler.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Montco Natural GasVehicle Conversion Initiative

from the inbox, amended press release:

State Reps. Mary Jo Daley, Madeleine Dean, Mark Painter, Pam DeLissio and Brendan Boyle praised an Act 13 grant of $492,216 by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to the Montgomery County Natural Gas Vehicle Conversion Initiative.
The award, which was applied for through Greater Philadelphia Clean Cities, will go towards helping some of Pennsylvania’s largest companies utilize compressed natural gas as a fuel for their vehicle fleets.
The use of Pennsylvania’s supply of natural gas would create an alternative to imported petroleum. The successful implementation of this project will convert an estimated 35 vehicles to CNG and aims to facilitate further CNG utilization throughout the region.
Act 13 of 2012, through the Marcellus Shale impact fee, created a new three-year Natural Gas Energy Development Program administered by the Department of Environmental Protection. The program will make $20 million in grant funds available on a competitive basis to purchase or convert eligible vehicles to natural gas.
To learn more about the Act 13 grant program, visit and click on the “Natural Gas Vehicle Grant Program” button.

Legislative Infobits

A few notes from the state senate and house for the past few days.

HB 1399 was introduced in the state house on May 15.  It amends the Pennsylvania Election Code by adding in fees to filing election petitions; the fees will go to the state's general fund.  I can't tell from the language if it is a fee for each individual petition (which could be pricey) or for the campaign generally.  The fees are graduated with, for example, a $200 fee for president and $100 for state house and senate.

HB 1403, also introduced on May 15, changes the Pennsylvania Election Code, in the section regarding recounts.  The bill changes this phrase:

A candidate for a public office which appears on the ballot in every election district in this Commonwealth was defeated by one-half of a percent or less of the votes cast for the office. This subclause includes a candidate for retention to a Statewide judicial office.

to this phrase

A candidate for a public office which appears on the ballot in a countywide election or in an election in a State legislative district was defeated by one-half of a percent or less of the votes cast for the office.

I have no idea what effect this would have on elections.

Being Biden and North Philly

The latest episode of "Being Biden" is the Vice President's response to letters from North Philadelphia students on reducing gun violence.  Take a listen.

Understanding Campaign Finance

The Sunlight Foundation has produced a very informative graphic on campaign finance and how and to whom fundraising is reported.  Some types of committees report to the FEC and some to the IRS.  Check it out:

(h/t Chris Cillizza's The Fix blog)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Showdown in Hatboro

Back in January, 2011, I wrote a post on non-discrimination ordinances and mentioned that the mayor of Hatboro had vetoed such an ordinance when the town council passed it.

Well, the mayor is up for re-election and the chickens have come home to roost.

Andrea Myers, Army veteran and community volunteer, is one of four Democrats running for four open town council seats.  (Four Republicans are also running.)  Myers is an out lesbian and supported the non-discrimination ordinance in 2010.  You can read more about her at www.hatborodems and also at Philadelphia Gay News, "Out Hatboro activist runs for council," by Angela Thomas, May 2.

Mayor Norm Hawkes is facing a primary challenge from Bill Godshall.  Like Myers, Godshall is a veteran and active in community activities, including being a Boy Scout troop leader.  He and his wife moved to Hatboro five years ago and he relocated his small business there.  Godshall supports the non-discrimination ordinance.  You can read Theresa Katalinas's interview with Godshall on the Horsham patch site (4/01).  Interesting trivia -- Godshall's website is paid for by the Hatboro Democrats, who aresupporting the challenger, not the incumbent.

It will be interesting to see what happens in Hatboro.  I hope there is a reasonable turnout in the primary there.

Boyle Brothers Send Out Their Troops

The local elections this year don't get a lot of press.  County judicial races, township / municipal offices, school boards and the like are low key and don't attract a lot of attention from donors or voters either.  The voter turnout for the May 21st primary will probably be embarrassingly slim (you, dear Reader, will be voting, won't you?).

The political eye is already focusing on 2014 congressional elections, if not looking ahead to the 2016 presidential.  Local candidates have to work hard to raise money, and retail politics is essential in local races.  Candidates have to go door to door in township and municipal races because television ads are too expensive and impossible to focus that narrowly.  Even online ads can be tricky at this election level.

Local officials are already being tapped for support in the 2014 races, as if they don't have their own races to win this year.  It is unusual for politicians to look down the ladder and ask what they can do to help.  So it was refreshing to find out that State Reps. Brendan and Kevin Boyle have enlisted their supporters and volunteers to go out to knock on doors and distribute campaign literature for local candidates.

Kudos to the Boyle brothers for asking "what can I do for you" as opposed to saying "here's what you can do for me."  They're paying it forward and that will most surely help them in the future.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

WSJ: Deficit Falling Faster Than Expected

The Wall Street Journal has an article today stating that, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the federal budget deficit is shrinking faster than expected.  Read "CBO sees deficit narrowing quickly" by Damian Paletta.  Here's the first two paragraphs:

A rapidly shrinking federal budget deficit is upending bipartisan talks to reach a federal budget deal, illustrating the conundrum Washington faces with an improving near-term fiscal outlook but continued longer-term pressures tied to aging baby boomers. 
The Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday the federal deficit is expected to shrink to $642 billion in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, narrowing from the agency's estimate of $845 billion three months ago and sharply lower than last year's $1.087 trillion shortfall.

The article has a cool graphic.

(h/t Mike Allen's Politico Playbook)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

New Bill on Falsifying Petition Signatures

HB 1371, introduced in the state house today, makes falsifying election petition signatures a third class felony with a fine of $15,000.

Here is the text of the bill:

Section 1813.1. False Signatures; Offenses by Circulators.--
If any person who is a circulator of nomination petitions or papers shall knowingly make a false statement in any affidavit required by the provisions of this act, to be appended to or to accompany a nomination petition or a nomination paper in which multiple signatures are determined to be in the same handwriting as one signer of the same petition or paper, he shall be guilty of a felony of the third degree, and, upon conviction thereof,
shall be sentenced to pay a fine not exceeding fifteen thousand ($15,000) dollars, or to undergo imprisonment of not more than seven (7) years, or both, in the discretion of the court.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Interactive Legislative District Maps

So now we're stuck with the poorly drawn state legislative districts.  We already knew we were stuck with the embarrassingly awful congressional districts.  And we're stuck with them until 2020.  Take a look at poor Upper Dublin Township in Montgomery County.  Could it possibly be chopped up into smaller bits?  The 6th, 7th, and 13th congressional districts are poster children for politically driven district boundaries.

You can take a look at the districts, compare them with previous district boundaries, and overlay the districts with county, municipal, and school board boundaries.  You can also download the map data.

Interactive Economic Data

Is the economy getting better, worse, or standing still?  It depends.  Chris Wilson of Yahoo has put together an interactive map that lets you adjust the time period measured and shift from the entire economy to areas or industries.  Very cool.

(h/t Chris Cillizza's The Fix blog)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz on Mother's Day

from Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz on Mother's Day:

I want to wish a happy Mother’s Day to all the proud parents of Southeastern Pennsylvania. As a mother and grandmother, I know how challenging it can be to balance the demands of family and work, whether it’s shuttling between sports practices and music lessons, staying on the job late into the night, or welcoming a new baby or grandchild into the world. Parenting is more than a full-time job, and Mother’s Day gives us the chance to thank the women whose love, support and encouragement has such a crucial impact on our lives.

As the only woman in Pennsylvania’s 20-member Congressional delegation, I am committed to ensuring that working mothers and fathers across our state are able to provide the best care possible for their children. Over the last 35 years, the number of two-income families has nearly doubled and the cost of child care has skyrocketed. Working parents are the backbone of our economy, and too many families in Pennsylvania are struggling to find high-quality care for their children that won’t break the bank.   

That's why I will be reintroducing the  Support Working Parents Act this week to help ease this financial burden by allowing all working families nationwide, regardless of their income, to receive a 35 percent tax credit for the cost of their child care expenses. This will almost double the current tax break middle-income families receive for child care costs. Under my legislation, a typical American family with two children would receive a tax credit to cover up to $2,100 in childcare costs, up from $1,200 under current law.  

The costs of child care are staggering. In 39 states, one year’s worth of infant day care costs more than a year’s tuition at a four-year public university. In Pennsylvania, quality child care can easily top $10,000 annually, with the average cost of full-time day care for an infant ranging from about $8,000 to roughly $10,500. Meanwhile, the average annual in-state tuition and fees for a public four-year college in Pennsylvania is about $12,000.  

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. In these challenging economic times, I will continue to make every effort to give parents the flexibility to return to the workforce knowing they can afford high-quality care for their children.

Allyson Schwartz for Governor on Mother's Day

from the Allyson Schwartz for Governor campaign:

My best wishes to mothers, grandmothers, and our families, as we take a moment - or more - to acknowledge and celebrate the love we share.

We so often take for granted the sacrifices, support, and infinite love between mothers and our children.

As the mother of two wonderful sons, and now a daughter-in-law and granddaughter, I appreciate the time with family and the extraordinary bond we share.

Enjoy the day together.

Stephanie Singer's Mother's Day Note

A Mother's Day note from Philadelphia City Commissioner Stephanie Singer:

Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms in Philly.

One thing you should be proud of is your role in keeping our democracy strong. When you are voting, talking with neighbors about issues or discussing candidates in the upcoming election, your children are listening and learning from what you do. When you take your kids and grandkids to the polls, you introduce them to voting in a positive, proactive way. My mom shared her opinions and her dedication to voting with me, and I did the same for my daughter.

Thanks, Moms, and please continue to tend the garden of democracy.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Katie McGinty's Mother's Day Message

from the inbox:

Growing up, our house was filled with lots of love and laughter --- and hard work. At the center of it all was my late mom, Alma Berry McGinty. She raised ten kids --- I'm the ninth --- while working as a restaurant hostess.
It was a challenge for her. As a Philadelphia police officer, my dad sometimes worked days, sometimes nights. Mom covered the shifts, always finding ways to be there for us. She did whatever it took.
Mother's Day is made for moms like her.
My parents taught me the value of hard work --- and they inspired me into public service. That's why I'm running for Governor of Pennsylvania:
I'm a working mom with three daughters of my own now. I understand the challenges families face. Gov. Tom Corbett is not only out of touch with what Pennsylvanians need to succeed, but he is creating obstacles that make it harder for families like yours to make it these days.
.       Gov. Corbett has slashed education funding, forcing school districts to lay off good teachers and cutting important programs like full-day kindergarten. Tuition costs are skyrocketing, putting college out of reach for many hardworking Pennsylvanians.
.       Gov. Corbett is neglecting our economic future. Pennsylvania ranks rock-bottom in job creation. We need job-training programs that teach our young people the skills and trades they need not only to compete, but also to lead a manufacturing renaissance.
.       Gov. Corbett is turning his back on families in need, denying health-care coverage to more than 482,700 uninsured Pennsylvanians who would qualify for insurance under the Medicaid expansion he continues to reject.
.       Gov. Corbett has weakened environmental programs that clean our air, protect our water and preserve our natural resources for our children and grandchildren. A clean environment is vital to ensuring vibrant, healthy communities for Pennsylvania families.
.       Gov. Corbett has attacked women's health and privacy, dismissively suggesting that women just "close your eyes" as he supported legislation that would require mandatory ultrasounds.
Pennsylvania is only as strong as its families. Under Tom Corbett's leadership, our state is falling behind. We can do better. And I'm ready to lead the way:

Mother's Day Note from PA Budget and Policy Center

truncated press release:

With Mother’s Day this Sunday, the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center and Public Citizens for Children and Youth are highlighting new research showing just how many moms in Pennsylvania rely on the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC).
The federal tax credits benefit 670,000 working moms in the Keystone state. The 2013 Mother’s Day Report also shows that the EITC and CTC lifted nearly 118,000 Pennsylvania children out of poverty annually between 2009 and 2011. Learn more at

Friday, May 10, 2013

Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas

Philly for Change has endorsed three candidates for Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, as follows:

Giovanni Campbell

Stephanie Sawyer

Inja Coates

Giovanni Campbell for Philly Common Pleas

from the inbox:

Philadelphia. Common Pleas Court judges make decisions that affect every individual in the city.  A judicial candidate should have integrity, experience, community involvement, and judicial temperament in order to serve our city in that capacity.  Giovanni Campbell is such a candidate.  Born in Panama,  Mr. Campbell’s multicultural perspective is congruent with Philadelphia’s growing diversity and will help to bring balance to the bench. 
  • Recommended by the Philadelphia Bar Association's Committee on Judicial Selection and Retention.
  • Temple Law School graduate. 1993.
  • 20 years of trial and appellate experience in federal and state courts.
  • Manages a dynamic law practice focused on criminal defense and civil rights.
  • Championed the rights of students with learning differences.
  • Giovanni Campbell is an active member of the Federal Bar Association, Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (PACDL), the  Philadelphia Bar Association, and Council for Parent and Attorney Advocates (COPAA)
  • Giovanni Campbell served as a faculty member with the National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA) training lawyers to enhance their trial skills.
  • Participates in Law Related Education (LRE) Programs teaching in high school classrooms and presiding as judge in mock trial tournaments.
  • Provides pro bono representation, independently and in partnership with organizations, including the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Bar Association, Philadelphia Bar Association, and Volunteers for the Indigent Program (VIP).
  • Assists first responders and their spouses with basic estate planning through the “Wills for Heroes” program and participates in the Senior Law Center’s “hotline” for indigent senior citizens.
 Giovanni Campbell has been endorsed by: Philadelphia Democratic City Committee; Philadelphia AFL-CIO; AFSCME District Council 33; AFSCME District Council 47; Americans for Democratic Action – Philadelphia Chapter; Equality Pennsylvania; Laborers District Council; Laborers Local 332; Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club;  Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals; Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council; Philadelphia Neighborhood Networks;Philly for Change;Transport Workers Local 234; and United Steelworkers Local 10-1.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Franklin Institute Hawks Update

Those who do not follow urban wildlife may not be familiar with the Franklin Institute hawks.  Their nest is on a windowsill at the Institute.  Last year the male hawk was killed before the baby hawks left the nest.  A younger(?) male took over the food providing role.  This year he and the female hawk returned to the nest and have hatched three eggs of their own.

There is a Hawkwatch blog, frequently updated and hosting a number of photographs.  We've had a lot of bad news days lately and checking in with the hawks can be a welcome change of pace.

Change in SEPTA for Komen Race

from the inbox:

SEPTA would like to advise customers about a number of bus detours that will be in place on Sunday, May 12, 2013 for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. There will also be extra pre-race service on some Regional Rail lines.
More than a dozen bus routes operating on and around the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and JFK Boulevard in the Art Museum area and parts of Center City will be adjusted due to road closures for the race.
Starting at approximately 7 a.m. Sunday, the following SEPTA bus routes will be detoured: 2, 7, 9, 17, 27, 31, 32, 33, 38, 43, 44, 48, 124 and 125. SEPTA will resume normal operations on these bus routes as soon as possible after the race.
Detour route information for all these buses, and any additional service adjustments that may be necessary, will be posted in the System Status section of SEPTA’s Website at
SEPTA will also add six inbound Regional Rail trains on Sunday morning to accommodate runners and others traveling to the event. These trips, which supplement regularly scheduled
Regional Rail service, will arrive at Center City stations between 6 a.m. and 6:45 a.m.
The extra trip schedule for Regional Rail is as follows:
 Media/Elwyn Line: Extra trip departs from the Elwyn Station at 5:33 a.m.
 Wilmington/Newark Line: Extra trip departs from the Marcus Hook Station at 5:48 a.m.
 Lansdale/Doylestown Line: Extra trip departs from the Lansdale Station at 5:12 a.m.
 Manayunk/Norristown Line: Extra trip departs from the Elm Street Station at 5:48 a.m.
 Paoli/Thorndale Line: Extra trip departs from the Malvern Station at 5:20 a.m.
 West Trenton Line: Extra trip departs from the West Trenton Station at 5:18 a.m.
For more information, including full schedules and fares, visit SEPTA Customer Service representatives are also available by phone at (215) 580-7800.

Rob McCord's Mother's Day Message

from the inbox, a Mother's Day note from State Treasurer Rob McCord:

Each day, I am amazed at the care and affection my wife Leigh shows our two sons. This Mother’s Day, I join husbands, fathers, and children across Pennsylvania to celebrate the women who play the important role of mom in our lives.

There are many ways we can express our appreciation to the mothers in our lives – gifts of pampering, some high quality family time, or a meal cooked in her honor. But there is a gift you can give back to your mother that she may not have realized was hers in the first place – unclaimed property from the Pennsylvania Treasury.

Many people don’t realize they have unclaimed property – things like forgotten bank accounts, lost stocks or bonds, or uncashed checks. We estimate that Pennsylvanians have a one-in-10 chance of finding property in their name at, so chances are good that you can find something for mom. This is one time that “re-gifting” won’t land you in the doghouse!

While you are spending time with your mother this weekend, don’t forget to help her find out if she can benefit from these other government programs and services:

·         Homestead Exclusion property tax reduction
·         Property Tax/Rent Rebate
·         PACE and PACENET prescription assistance programs

And please be sure to visit or call 1-800-222-2046 to find out if we are holding any property for the mother you celebrate this weekend. It’s free to search and claim property. If you find something in her name, you can let her know on Sunday that you are helping her put her money back in her wallet!

Legislative Notes for May 8th

HB 1354 was introduced in the State House.  It would change the way legislators are reimbursed for work-related expenses.  It sounds very reasonable to me.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Guns and Little League Don't Mix

from the inbox:

CeaseFirePA and Mayors Against Illegal Guns issued the following joint statement on the May 11th Coalition for Peace Action gun violence prevention rally and the armed counter-protest:

Several weeks ago, more than a dozen grassroots gun violence prevention organizations came together to plan a peaceful rally for background checks and other common sense gun reforms.
Unfortunately, some individuals who disagree with this message have decided to stage an armed counter-protest in order to bully and intimidate the participants. It’s no surprise that the presence of armed bullies has led the police to recommend that the Little League consider relocating their games. Mayors Against Illegal Guns and CeaseFirePA continue to support the rally and the right of all the groups involved to peacefully assemble and loudly speak their minds. We respect the rights of those with differing views, but we urge them to refrain from intimidation and confrontation and leave their guns at home so the kids can play ball.

Background:On Monday, May 6, 2013, Morrisville Little League President Dan O’Connell was quoted in the Bucks County Courier Times:“I’m not upset with the Bux-Mont Coalition for Peace. I am not against the Second Amendment, and I have no problem with what they are looking to do, but now I hear pro-gun groups are going to be involved and they will be carrying firearms. How can I have all these kids playing baseball with that as a backdrop?”

Legislative Update for May 7th

A few notes from yesterday's daily legislative activity email:

These bills were introduced and / or acted upon:

HB 764 on creating and using online accounts in someone's name (or a fictitious name) to harass or stalk another person, and the penalties for doing so.  (I may not have described this correctly; please read the text of the bill for clarification).

HB 818 prohibits any state health exchange set up under the Affordable Care Act from offering abortion coverage (with exceptions which are referenced by another law and not spelled out), but insists that all state exchange programs offer care for postabortion complications and care for miscarriages.

SB5 really stumps me.  It amends a community health bill to remove language specifying the provision for a mobile prenatal and natal education lab.  It also amends the credentials required by people who staff clinics.  The Senate journal could probably provide some context but today's Journal won't be available for awhile.

Marriage Equality News

Today Delaware became the 11th state to approve a bill recognizing same sex marriage.  Governor Jack Markell is expected to sign the bill.

Pennsylvania seems intent on moving backward in this regard.  Today legislation was introduced that would begin to process to amend the state's constitution in opposition to same sex marriage.  Since the state has already limited marriage to one man and one woman a constitutional amendment serves no additional purpose.

Also today legislation was introduced to end anti-LGBT discrimination in the workplace, housing and places such as restaurants and hotel rooms.  The legislation was co-sponsored by 77 members of the state house and 25 senators.  Both the House and Senate Bills are numbered 300.  According to one press release:

A recent poll showed the bills have 72 percent support statewide, consistent with Pennsylvania polling results on the issue over the past decade. The poll was conducted by Susquehanna Polling and Research, a firm with many Republican and business clients. Regional results of the poll are available at

Sponsors of the House bill include: Reps. Frankel, Ross, Bishop, Bizzarro, B. Boyle, K. Boyle, Bradford, Briggs, R. Brown, V. Brown, Brownlee, Caltagirone, Carroll, Clay, Cohen, D. Costa, P. Costa, Cruz, M. Daley, P. Daley, Davis, Dean, DeLissio, DeLuca, Dermody, Donatucci, D. Evans, Fabrizio, Farina, Fleck, Flynn, Freeman, Gainey, Galloway, Gergely, Harkins, J. Harris, Kavulich, W. Keller, Kim, Kinsey, Kirkland, Mahoney, Markosek, McCarter, McGeehan, McNeill, Miranda, Molchany, Mullery, Mundy, Murt, Neilson, Neuman, O'Brien, Painter, Parker, Pashinski, Peifer, Ravenstahl, Readshaw, Roebuck, Rozzi, Sabatina, Samuelson, Santarsiero, Scavello, Schlossberg, Sims, Snyder, Sturla, Taylor, Thomas, Vitali, Waters, Wheatley and Youngblood.
Sponsors of the Senate bill include: Sens. Farnese, Browne, Ferlo, Washington, Stack, Teplitz, Fontana, Costa, Smith, Blake, Schwank, Williams, Wozniak, Hughes, Leach, Tartaglione, Dinniman, Kitchen, Wiley, Boscola, Yudichak, McIlhinney and Brewster.

Pittsburgh-based UPMC health care system announced public support for the bill.

Boyle Bros. Host Academic Challenge

State Reps. Kevin and Brendan Boyle are hosting their 3rd annual Boyle Academic Challenge this Saturday.  Eight schools in Montgomery County and Northeast Philadelphia will participate in three rounds followed by a championship round.  The goal of the event is to promote academic achievement and scholarship.  In one of the previous years the challenge was held over 150 students participated.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Rob Teplitz on PCN's "Freshman Focus"

Sen. Rob Teplitz, newly elected in the 15th state senate district which includes Harrisburg, is among the legislators featured on PCN's "Freshman Focus" series.  These are short video interviews, done around the time the officials took office in January.  The information is a little dated now but does provide a glimpse of their priorities and personality.  I've heard Sen. Teplitz speak a few times and have been very impressed with him.  This is not intended to be a full transcript but are rough notes.  Interested readers are encouraged to listen to the video themselves.

Q: What was your motivation?

RT:  I grew up in this area.  My wife and I are raising our two young boys here.  I have a passion for public service.  I’ve worked for Bob Casey and Jack Wagner.    I looked for other ways to serve and am honored to have this opportunity.

Q:  Solve one problem for district?

RT:  City of Harrisburg debt crisis.  Want to come in, get all parties around the table.

Q:  Committees?

RT:  Education, local government, appropriations, transportation.  Gave long wish list to Senate Dems

Q:  Background as a lawyer and in govt.

RT:  Experience in private and public sector.  Public sector experience very important, worked in auditor general’s office.  Had my sleeves rolled up, feel prepared

Q:  Hobbies?

RT:  Free time is with family, driving kids around, spent time with wife and kids.  They are excited, happy to have Daddy back.  Excited, honored to have this opportunity.  Providing good constituent services.  

More Being Biden

Vice President Joe Biden has released a few more episodes of the "Being Biden" audio series.  These are short (about a minute) recordings by Biden.  The most recent is a note on Sen. John McCain.  Before that Biden met Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, who plays the vice president on the HBO series VEEP.  

Painter on Property Tax Rebates

from the inbox:

 State Rep. Mark Painter joined his House Democratic colleagues in voting for an amendment recently that would have expanded a program that helps eligible homeowners with property tax rebates, but which was defeated by the state House on a party-line vote with all Republicans voting no.

"My constituents have made it clear that high property taxes are one of their top concerns," said Painter, D-Montgomery. "While we have yet to achieve consensus on how to fund education through another means, without hurting school district budgets on a statewide basis, we had an opportunity to reduce the burden for many people through an expansion of the highly successful Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. However, the majority party decided to vote against helping taxpayers." 
The amendment to H.B. 468 would have tapped $57 million of the Pennsylvania Lottery's $100 million surplus to expand the program. It would have increased the amount of the property tax rebate by $100 in each of the four income categories already in place. It also would have increased the eligibility limit from $35,000 to $45,000. 
House Bill 468 would:
·       permanently extend the program's deadline to Dec. 31;·       double the amount of death benefits to $10,000 that may be exempted when considering income for program eligibility;·       allow an executor to apply for the rebate on behalf of a deceased applicant if the individual was eligible for the program on the date he or she died.
Painter joined the House in passing the bill and sent it to the state Senate for consideration.
The Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program, funded by lottery proceeds, helps hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians to pay their property taxes. According to the Department of Revenue, as of Dec. 31, more than 411,000 homeowners applied for assistance and 79,805 of those will pay no school property taxes.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Darrell Clarke on Boy Scout Settlement

from the inbox:

 Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District) made the following statement on the settlement reached by the City of Philadelphia and the Cradle of Liberty Council, Boy Scouts of America (COLBSA):

“It is unfortunate that the City’s dispute with the Cradle of Liberty Council over its headquarters at 22nd and Winter Streets could not be resolved outside of the courts. The Cradle of Liberty Council has a long and admirable history of working with young people. I’m disappointed COLBSA was not permitted by the Boy Scouts of America to adopt its own, more reasonable policy of inclusion. 
“That the Boy Scouts of America appears willing to end a ban on openly gay children is just one step in the right direction. As the birthplace of liberty, the City of Philadelphia must expect organizations that partner with us to abhor discrimination as much as we do. I will continue to support COLBSA’s great work with our youth as much as I continue to hope COLBSA will one day ban discrimination against gay children and adults.”

Thursday, May 02, 2013

New Montco Planner

from the inbox:

The Montgomery County Commissioners today announced the appointment of Jody L. Holton, AICP, as the new executive director of the county Planning Commission. Holton comes to Montgomery County from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) where she was manager of long range planning.  She has more than a decade of experience as a project manager and planner for a wide range of projects, many of them in Montgomery County. 

An Open Note to CNN

Dear CNN,

Family circumstances leave my only television news viewing time to 9:00 p.m. and later.  My channel of choice is CNN.  For many years my favorite daily news program is AC 360.  I often watch Erin Burnett after that.  

Lately you have been mixing up the programming.  For a week or so there was a shoutfest on in the AC 360 time slot; the group sat around a table and yelled.  I had no idea who most of them were.

Now AC 360 is back but the format has changed.  There are people sitting around a table yelling at each other but I know who some of them are.  The same thing is happening on Erin Burnett.

There are many opportunities during my day to hear people talking over each other and bickering.  It is not my favorite thing.

I'd rather you didn't adopt the "circle of shouting 'experts,'" but if you are, get better behaved guests.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Legislative Infobits: Unions, Booze, and Voter ID

A few interesting notes from today's legislative activity.

HB 50 is one of several bills relating to unions that the House acted upon today.  HB 50 states that people cannot be forced to join a union or contribute to a union, and that a strike or other action that directly or indirectly imposes those conditions on people, is illegal and can be punished by a $1000 fine or 6 months in jail.  As I read it, and I'm not a lawyer, that would outlaw all strikes.  The lead sponsor of this bill is State Rep. Metcalfe (go figure).

Note to college students -- HB 1264 has college police officers (or security) notify the school AND the student's parents if a student is found to have alcohol in his or her possession.   The definitions of types of school seem a little odd to me and I wonder if some categories are left out.  The lead sponsor is State Rep. Kavulich.

Remember Voter ID?  It's still here.  HB 1295 shifts some of the definitions so that student IDs and care facility id's are acceptable even if they don't have an expiration date.

Delco Candidate Website

The Delaware County Democrats have a combined website for county level candidates:

Nancy A. Walker and Steve Chanenson are the Democratic candidates for the court of common pleas.  Candidates from other parties can cross file and also appear on the ballot as Democrats.

At present, according to the county Democratic party, there is only a slight difference in voter registration between Republicans and Democrats.  There are 737 more Rs than Ds in Delco.

SEPTA Bus Routes

from the inbox:

SEPTA is alerting customers to a number of bus detours that will be in place on Sunday, May 5 for the Blue Cross Broad Street Run. SEPTA will also run extra service on the Broad Street Line subway to accommodate the event.
Dozens of bus routes operating on, across and around Broad Street in parts of North Philadelphia, Center City and South Philadelphia will be altered due road closures that will be in place for the race. Detours are expected to start at approximately 8 a.m. Sunday. SEPTA will resume regular service as soon as possible after the race.
Detours are currently scheduled on the following bus routes: 3, 4, 7, 9, 12, 16, 17, 21, 42, 23, 27, 29, 31, 32, 33, 37, 38, 39, 40, 43, 44, 48, 53, 54, 56, 60, 61, 64, 68, 75, 79, 124, 125, G, J, H, XH and R. The Route 15 Trolley shuttle bus will also be detoured. For details on detours for specific routes, customers can visit the System Status section of SEPTA’s Website at System Status will also have up-to-the-minute updates on detours before, during and after the race.
[paragraph removed by blogger]
SEPTA will run extra subway service on the Broad Street Line before the race. Special northbound trips will run every 10 minutes from AT&T Station, which is located near the finish line, from 5:35 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. These trains will stop only at Walnut/Locust and City Hall stations en route to Olney Transportation Center, which is a short walk from the starting point of the race. SEPTA is offering this trip free to registered runners. Participants must display their official race bib with their competitor number to ride for free.
SEPTA will also run extra Broad Street Line service for Sunday’s Phillies-Marlins Game at Citizens Bank Park. Four additional Express trips will be deployed, running every 10 minutes during the hour leading up to the first pitch at 2:35 p.m.
For more information, visit