Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Recent WSJ Notes

While the Wall Street Journal is generally perceived as a conservative publication I continue to be surprised by the evenhanded writing in the news pages.  (The editorial section is a different matter entirely but as I never read the editorials and op-eds, regardless of who writes them, it is immaterial.)

Here are few quotes from recent issues, as examples.

"With Congress poised to extend a raft of tax breaks, consider this:  One such break has helped AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. slash their recent tax bills by billions of dollars without leading to the intended increase in investment ad jobs."  ("A tax break fails to produce jobs," by Thomas Gryta, 12/12/2014)

"U.S. families' debt burdens have settled at their lowest level in more than a decade, putting the economy on a stronger footing relative to global rivals going into 2015," ("Family finances looking up," by Neil Shah, 12/12/2014

I regularly read about how effective the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) is, and how worrisome increased income inequality is.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Draft DVRPC Document: 2015 Money and Planning Version

The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission is inviting comments on the Draft Fiscal Year 2016 Planning Work Program.  This outlines all of the federally funded planning projects for the nine county region from July1, 2015 to June 30, 2016, and includes projects planned by government and transit agencies, as well as DVRPC projects. This plan is prepared annually.   

While this plan is released for public comments (due by January 12, 2015 -- details on submitting comments at: ), if I were still in the community activist / volunteer grant writer mode I would be reading this over carefully as a possible source of funding.  I'm not sure what any of the monies involved can be used for but it would certainly be worth reading it over to see what how these project plans are funded, where the money will be going, and what the time frame might be for the actual projects as opposed to simply planning.  The document is long, over 300 pages, and most of that is program descriptions and funding information.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Campaign Finance: More of the Same

Two recent news notes on campaign finance and funding.

First from Mike Allen's Political Playbook, Dec. 8th,:

BEHIND THE CURTAIN - New Koch: big enough to elect a president? Piece by piece, the magnates build the machinery - Mike Allen and Ken Vogel: "The Koch brothers and their allies are pumping tens of millions of dollars into a data company that has built state-of-the-art profiles of 250 million Americans ... The Koch network also has developed in-house expertise in polling, message-testing, fact-checking, advertising, media buying, dial groups and donor maintenance. ... 'The Koch operations are the most important non-party political players in the U.S. today, and no one else is even close,' said a top Republican who was involved in the last eight presidential campaigns.
"The least-known vehicle for the Kochs is a for-profit company, i360, that has spent more than $50 million on building data bases and tools over the past four years. 'Right now, we're talking about and btouilding things that you won't see in 2016, because it's not going to be ready until 2018,' [said i360 President Michael] Palmer. ... i360 links voter information ... with any interaction the voter may have had with affiliated campaigns and advocacy groups. Then comes estimated income, recent addresses, how often a person has voted, and even the brand of car ...

Second, also from Politico, "Tea party fumes over campaign finance plan," by Tarini Parti and Anna Palmer, 12/11/2014.  There is a provision tucked into the spending bill that passed the House today:

The provision would increase the amount of money a single donor could give to national party committees each year from $97,200 to as much as $777,600 by allowing them to set up different funds for certain expenses. The change would be a huge boost for party committees that have faced steep challenges in recent years from well-funded outside groups.

None of this is good news.

Friday, December 05, 2014

What is Prez O Doing Tomorrow?

President Obama's public schedule tomorrow includes two interesting items.  He is meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan.  (Vice President Biden will also attend that meeting.)  Later in the day the president is meeting with some newly elected governors, including Pennsylvania's Tom Wolf.

Birth Center Welcomes 10,000th Baby

Yesterday, December 3rd, The Birth Center in Bryn Mawr, welcomed their 10,000th baby!  The Birth Center is the first licensed birth center in Pennsylvania and one of the oldest  continually operating birth centers in the United States. TBC’s team of certified nurse-midwives (CNMs), nurse-practitioners (NPs) and registered nurses (RNs) have been delivering this model of care to our clients and families for 36 years. Demand for their service is growing;  Ten years ago TBC assisted in the birth of 350 babies; in 2014 that has increased to 550 babies.

They plan to expand their services in the future:

While TBC is well-known and regarded for its maternity and breastfeeding care and services, many people do not realize that our services expand well beyond that, into well-woman care throughout the lifecycle.  Over the next decade, TBC seeks to expand greater access to our model of care, including more grants to those who are uninsured or underinsured, expanding breast-feeding services and support groups to all new mothers and families, and building a stronger voice - in government and in the community - on behalf of the healthcare needs of all women and families.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Vitali to Receive Bob Edgar Public Service Award

Tomorrow (Friday) evening the Delaware County Democrats will host their annual holiday cocktail party.  At this event they will present the Bob Edgar Public Service Award to State Rep. Greg Vitali, in recognition of his many years of distinguished service.

According to the press release:

Recently elected to his 13th term, Vitali has been leader on environmental issues and open government. He has consistently stood up for the values and ideals of the Democratic Party no matter what the consequence. 

Named after the late Congressman Bob Edgar, the award is presented annually by the Delaware County Democratic Committee. Edgar represented Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District for six terms from 1975 until 1987, breaking Delaware County's Republican "machine". Edgar was known for his independence and as a reformer. While in Congress he led efforts to improve public transportation, authored the community Right to Know provisions of Super Fund legislation, co-authored the new GI bill for the all-volunteer service, fought wasteful water projects, and supported tougher environmental laws.

Vitali is one of my favorite state reps and it is delightful to see him receive this award.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Other Interesting Articles This Week

Catching up on the papers this weekend, I noticed a couple of interesting articles in the Wall Street Journal and the Inquirer.

"Made in the U.S.A.:  A sweater travels from sheep to shelf," by Christina Binkley, WSJ 11/26/2014, recounts the route small business Zady took to manufacture a wool sweater complete in the US, from, as the article title says, sheep to shelf.  Two stops along the way are in Pennsylvania.  The wool for the sweaters was dyed at a Philadelphia company, G. J. Littlewood, which has been in the city since the Civil War; Littlewood reportedly made uniforms for both the Union and the Confederacy.  The dyed wool was spun into yard at Kraemer Yarns in Nazareth, PA.  Interesting and cool.

Don't read this unless you want to raise your bloodpressure or get depressed.  Joann S. Lublin writes "The boss makes how much more than you?" in the WSJ, 11/26/2014.  Companies may not have to report how the CEO's salary compares to that of the average worker.

Trudy Rubin continues her efforts to remind us all of a forgotten obligation.  "Iraqi helps now need help," Philadelphia Inquirer 11/27/2014.  Iraqis who served as translators or otherwise helped US troops and civilians.  In doing so they put themselves and their families at risk or retribution.  They were promised special visas but 2,400 are still waiting.  We need to get this done.

Area Girl Now Head of USPS

Megan J. Brennan, graduate of Immaculata College, joined the United States Postal Service as a letter carrier in Lancaster, PA.  Hers is a postal family, with her father and two of her brothers working at the USPS, too.  Megan stayed with the postal service, and was recently named COO, also called the postmaster general.  She is the first woman to hold the job.  (You go, Megan!).

You can read more at the USPS website:  and in a recent WSJ article ("New postmaster's goal:  act like private sector," by Laura Stevens, 11/24/2014)