Friday, July 31, 2015

Presidential Nominees in PA District Courts

The following names were listed yesterday among the nominees for federal district courts.  Local politicos might remember some of these names from past judicial campaigns.

Judge Susan Paradise Baxter:  Nominee for the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania     Judge Susan Paradise Baxter has been a United States Magistrate Judge in the Western District of Pennsylvania since 1995, where she served as Chief Magistrate Judge from 2005 to 2009.  Prior to her appointment as a Magistrate Judge, she worked briefly as the Court Solicitor for the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County.  From 1983 to 1992, Judge Baxter worked at the Washington, D.C. law firm of Cole, Raywid & Braverman (now Davis Wright Tremaine LLP), where she was elevated to partner in 1989.  Judge Baxter received her J.D. from Temple University School of Law in 1983, a M.Ed. from Temple University in 1980, and a B.S. from Pennsylvania State University in 1978.

Judge Robert John Colville:  Nominee for the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania     Judge Robert John Colville has served as a judge on the Court of Common Pleas for Allegheny County since 2000, where he currently presides over civil matters.  Since 2012, he has also served as a judge on the Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline.  Previously, Judge Colville worked as an associate at the law firm of Pietragallo Bosick & Gordon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from 1994 to 1999.  He began his legal career by serving as a law clerk from 1992 to 1994 to the Honorable Ralph J. Cappy, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.  Judge Colville received his J.D. from Duquesne University School of Law in 1992 and his B.A. from Pennsylvania State University in 1989.

 Judge Marilyn Jean Horan:  Nominee for the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania     Judge Marilyn Jean Horan has been a judge on the Court of Common Pleas for Butler County, Pennsylvania since 1996, where she currently serves in the civil division.  During her tenure on the bench, she has also presided over criminal and family law cases.  Previously, from 1979 to 1996, Judge Horan worked at the law firm of Murrin, Taylor, Flach and Horan, where she was elevated to partner in 1982.  Judge Horan received her J.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1979 and her B.A. magna cum laude from Pennsylvania State University in 1976.  

Judge John Milton Younge:  Nominee for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania     Judge John Milton Younge has been a Judge on the Court of Comment Pleas for the First Judicial Circuit of Pennsylvania since 1996, where he has presides over both criminal and civil cases.  From 1985 to 1995, Judge Younge worked at the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, serving as Deputy Executive Director and subsequently as General Counsel from 1991 to 1995.  He began his legal career as a solo practitioner in Philadelphia from 1982 to 1985.  Judge Younge received his M.J.S. in 2011 from the University of Nevada, Reno, his J.D. in 1981 from Howard University School of Law, and his B.S. in 1977 from Boston University.  

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Possibly An Overstatement

A variety of emails arrive in a variety of inboxes every day.  One caught my eye in particular.  It highlighted a campaign volunteer and included this statement:

She's here almost as much as the staff, and she always meets her weekly contact goals -- just last week she made 1,881 calls to supporters encouraging them to volunteer in their communities, too.
I'll not name the campaign, other than to say it wasn't Joe Sestak.

Let's do the math.  1,881 calls in a week.  If the volunteer is working 7 days a week that is 268.7 calls per day.  To be kind let's limit the work day to 8 hours, that's 33.5 calls per hour, that's two per minute.  Granted the email didn't say how many of those calls were answered, but if voicemail messages were left that might take 30 seconds.

I think the campaign worker who sent this out was exaggerating.  Otherwise it's considered the norm ("weekly contact goals") to work 7 days a week and even then I'm not sure there would be time for meal and bathroom breaks.  Unless the norm is 10 hours a day 7 days a week.  I'm not sure how many people would be inspired to join a campaign that expects this kind of obsessive dedication, which must be to the exclusion of all else.

On the Larry Wilmore Show I think this email would have gotten weak tea.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Christina M. Hartman in the 16th

part of a message from Christina M. Hartman the inbox:

For far too long, the people in Lancaster, Chester, and Berks counties have not been getting the representation and support they need to be successful.
 I’m running for Congress because the people of Pennsylvania’s 16th District deserve better. It’s time to listen to what the diverse communities in Lancaster, Chester and Berks have to say and support them in pursuing a better life for themselves and their families, through education, training, support to small businesses, and care for our aging population.
Raised in Manheim Township, I took what Lancaster taught me about community and shared those lessons around the world. After graduating from George Washington University (Washington, DC) and Fordham University (New York City), I took on some of the world’s toughest dictatorships, leading numerous high-profile organizations and advocating for freedom and democracy in those countries and in Washington. From South Sudan to Afghanistan, I helped organizations strengthen their countries’ democracies through civic education, elections, and youth leadership development. 
Here at home, I have continued to focus on community development initiatives. I worked with the Joyful Heart Foundation, a national organization pursuing justice for sexual assault and domestic violence survivors. Today, I bring my expertise to organizations in Lancaster such as the Non-Profit Resource Network at Millersville University and the Parish Resource Center, providing leadership in strategic planning, fundraising, and communications to enhance the services that these organizations provide.

Christina M. Hartman's campaign website is

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Pennsylvania and the Clean Power Plan

Some energy and environmental news that might have slipped by you:  The EPA’s Clean Power Plan requires states that have fossil fuel power plants to develop a plan to reduce carbon emissions by 2030 or the government will develop its own plan for that state.  The Pennsylvania state legislature passed a law, signed by Gov. Corbett last October, saying the legislature has a role in the process.  This law is being used as a model by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to slow down the EPA’s process in other states as well.  You can read more about the entire matter in a wonderfully concise article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette by Michael Sanserino (“With GOP in Command, States Look to Tweak Clean Power Plan,” 12/30/2014)  There are several quotes by one of my favorite PA state representatives, Greg Vitali,who has made environmental concern a hallmark of his career in public service, on the plan and how it might or might not be affected by the state law.

The Natural Resource Defense Council has produced a colorful six page pamphlet titled “Pennsylvania’s Clean Energy Future” which spells out how reducing the state’s carbon emissions will impact our economy and health, and providing some policy options.  To meet federal requirements the state will have to reduce its carbon emissions by 32% below 2012 levels and prepare a plan to do so by June 2016.    A report by the Union of Concerned Scientists says that many states have already made significant progress towards this goal.  Pennsylvania is one of them. The White House prepared a special (short)report on what the goals mean for Pennsylvania and the Northeast (including a shoutout for Mayor Nutter   

Several environmental groups have formed Clean Power PA to present information on how the state can prepare a Clean Power Plan.  Their website,, has a number of resources for further study, and some very cool infographics.  The site's home page describes the organization and it's purpose:

The Clean Power PA Coalition is a group of clean energy, business, faith, and community leaders committed to protecting Pennsylvania’s environment and powering its economy through clean energy. The coalition is led by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC),PennFutureClean Air CouncilMoms’ Clean Air ForcePenn EnvironmentNextGen Climate AmericaConservation Voters of PAClean Water ActionVoces Verdes, the Sierra Club, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Audubon Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania has a long history as a leading energy producer in the United States. It’s one of the industries that fuels our economy and sustains our quality of life. But pollution and climate change threaten our health, our children’s health, and the natural beauty of our most treasured places. Now is the time to invest in a clean energy future for the Keystone State. 

Pennsylvania is poised to become a leader in renewable energy, creating thousands of sustainable jobs, reducing carbon pollution, and keeping our air and water clean in the process. PA Clean Energy Initiative, through its campaign Clean Power PA, advocates for the policies and investments that can bring our clean energy future to fruition.

This is something we will all be hearing about in the next year so we should start reading up now.

Monday, July 13, 2015

PA Background Checks for Gun Purchases

A note from our friends at CeaseFirePA:

What happened with the Charleston shooter’s background check? Did he pass it? Did he fail?

Here’s what happened: the background check was never completed.  Most background checks take just minutes for an approval or denial to register. But some take a bit longer, and under federal law, if a clear answer doesn’t come back in three days, the seller can sell the gun.  

Moving forward with a sale like this means putting guns in the hands of people who are dangerous. As we saw with the tragedy in Charleston, allowing sales to go forward without a completed check can be a death sentence for mothers, fathers, and children.

Fortunately, in PA, our background check system (PICS) allows extra time for a background check to be completed. The default is to protect safety, not to let a sale go through in the absence of a completed check.

PICS and the federal system work in tandem to keep PA safe. We’re fortunate to have this system in PA. But wouldn’t you know -- the gun lobby doesn’t like it, and yet again is pushing a bill that would eliminate it.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Another Grant for AccessMatters

modified press release:

AccessMatters has received a two year $1,706,922 grant to provide coordinated health care for HIV positive women, youth and their families in the Philadelphia area.  This will enhance the organization's existing AccessMatters' Community-based Health Services.  The program served over 2,300 clients in 2014.

Through this funding  from the Ryan White Part D Program, Health Resources and Services Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, AccessMatters’ Community-based Health Services partners with ActionAIDS, BEBASHI, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s (CHOP) Adolescent Initiative and Special Immunology Family Care Center, Philadelphia FIGHT, Temple University Comprehensive HIV Program, and Penn Community Clinic at Presbyterian Hospital where women, infants, children, and youth receive comprehensive, family-centered care.

Adult women over the age of 25 and adolescents ages 13 to 24 make up approximately 25% of all new HIV cases in Philadelphia.  While the proportion of newly infected women has stabilized over the past few years, they still represent 34% of the population living with HIV in Philadelphia and 52% of the consumers served through AccessMatters program in 2014.  Typically adolescents receiving HIV primary medical care through AccessMatters’ Community-based Health Services and its’ network of over 70 health centers are young African American men who have sex with men, and under the age of 20.     

Through research, training, delivery of evidenced-based programs, community engagement and advocacy, AccessMatters is leading the way in transforming access to sexual and reproductive health. 

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

NAACP Plenary Session Info

more news on the NAACP Annual Convention being held in Philadelphia:

On Monday, July 13th, NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks will address NAACP delegates at the First Plenary Session of the 106th NAACP Annual Convention.

President Brooks will articulate his vision for the NAACP, discuss the recent events occurring across the country including the fight over taking down the Confederate Battle flag, the recent string of church burnings in the south, the tragic shooting and loss of nine lives at Emanuel AME Church, the on-going campaign against excessive use of force by police and the discriminatory criminal justice policies that negatively affect communities of color. The theme of this year’s convention is, “Pursuing Liberty in the Face of Injustice.”

Brooks, a longtime lawyer and human rights activist, formerly served as the President and CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice based in Newark, N.J. Brooks earned a Bachelor of Arts from Jackson State University, a Master of Divinity from Boston University and JD from Yale Law School.

The plenary session will also feature a panel discussion on the role of prosecutors in criminal justice reform. The session will focus on the role prosecutors are playing in the administration of justice in this country. The panelist will discuss how prosecutors are using their discretionary power to address inequities in the justice system. Additionally, the panel will discuss the efforts of prosecutors to overturn wrongful convictions of innocent citizens, and efforts by advocates, legislators and academics to reform the grand jury process and take other measures to make sure the criminal justice system operates fairly and free from bias.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Another Pronunciation Snafu

I was trying to watch the Hillary Clinton interview on CNN when the phone rang.  It was the DCCC wanting money, and not happy about taking no for an answer.  The young man was persistent.  He had a long sales pitch and several rejoinders when I declined.  He also called John Boehner [pr. Bayner] ad John Boner.  [sigh].  It is hard to take view someone as a politically serious person when they make mistakes like that.

NAACP Conference Events in Philadelphia

Mushed together from a variety of press releases:

The NAACP will celebrate 106 years of civil rights advocacy by holding its annual national convention in Philadelphia, PA. The convention will feature dozens of events, including remarks from The Honorable Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States of America; The Honorable Marilyn Mosby, State's Attorney for Baltimore; The Honorable Michael Nutter, Mayor, City of Philadelphia; The Honorable Chaka Fattah, United States House of Representatives; The Honorable Corey Booker, United States Senate, Charlie Wilson, Recording Artist and many more!

·    Keynote Speaker Marilyn Mosby, the State’s Attorney of Baltimore, will discuss the incredible ways in which women of color are breaking barriers and beating the odds through self empowerment.  Ms. Mosby will offer unique perspective as to how women are maximizing their value on their jobs and in their communities. Following Ms. Mosby’s speech, panelists Stephanie Brown James, the Founder & Executive Director of Brown Girls Lead, and Monique W. Morris, the Co-Founder of the National Black Women’s Justice Institute, will address the ways that we can strive for justice for women and assist Black girls in finding positive pathways in life. 

     The Author Pavilion celebrates books written by and about African Americans. The event, which is free and open to the public, provides convention goers with a unique opportunity to meet and greet with some of their favorite authors  Charlie Wilson will be in conversation with Frankie Darcell of WDAS radio, discussing his new autobiography, I Am Charlie Wilson, in which he explains how he overcame drugs, prostate cancer and homelessness.  It is a remarkable story of hope and an inspirational example of why one should never give up.  Julian Bond and Phyllis Leffler will be discussing their new book, Blacks In Leadership: A Conversation with Julian Bond, which uses the lives of prominent African Americans from all sectors of society to trace the contours of Black leadership in America.  Seven year-old author, Natalie McGriff will be discussing her book, Moxie Girl, which celebrates natural hair care and self love. Motivational speaker James Edwards will host a panel on the Black Lives Matter movement. Panelists include authors Jean Love Cush and Eric Broyles.  The NAACP Author Pavilion is sponsored by the NAACP National Office and managed by The Oracle Group International.  The Oracle Group is an internationally recognized literary public relations and marketing agency that specializes in producing events that promote literacy.  Our primary focus is to connect authors with events that engage, uplift and promote the local, national and global community.

·    Career Fair

Commerce and Industry Show -- Join Chairman Roslyn M. Brock, Vice Chair Leon W. Russell, President and CEO Cornell William Brooks as they officially open the 46th Annual Commerce and Industry Show alongside nine-time Grammy nominated recording artist Charlie Wilson. From July 11 - July 14th, the show will feature exhibits and booths from industry and emerging businesses leaders, a health fair, an author pavilion, has been a cornerstone of the NAACP’s convention for nearly half a century. This year, the Commerce and Industry Show will also feature an open casting call for the show “Shark Tank” and the ACT – SO culinary arts competition.  ACT – SO is the Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics, a yearlong achievement program designed to recruit, stimulate, and encourage high academic and cultural achievement among African-American high school students.

Pennsylvania is Champion of Change

from the inbox:

 On Wednesday, July 8th, the White House will recognize nine individuals as “Champions of Change” for Precision Medicine who are making a difference in transforming the way we improve health and treat disease.  These individuals embody the promise of the President’s Precision Medicine Initiative, which was launched earlier this year to enable a new era of medicine through research and technology that empowers patients, researchers, and providers to work together toward development of individualized treatments.  The program will feature remarks by Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Senior Advisor to the President Brian Deese and Director of National Institutes of Health Francis Collins.

The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. The event will be live streamed on the White House website. To watch this event live,  on July 8th at 2:00 PM ET.  To learn more about the White House Champions of Change program, visit to learn more about the Precision Medicine Initiative, visit Follow the conversation at #WHChamps.

There is one Pennsylvanian on the list:

Emily Kramer-Golinkoff, Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania
Emily Kramer-Golinkoff, a 30 year old with advanced stage cystic fibrosis and cystic fibrosis-related diabetes, is co-founder of Emily's Entourage, a 501(c)3 that raises funds and awareness to accelerate new treatments and a cure for rare (nonsense) mutations of Cystic Fibrosis (CF). She is also Manager of Strategic Initiatives and Operations at the Penn Medicine Social Media and Health Innovation Lab. Energized by recent breakthroughs for other CF mutations, Emily and her Entourage have raised over $1.5 million since the organization's founding in 2011, and led worldwide efforts to fast track research on rare nonsense CF mutations through research grants, scientific symposia, and collaboration among leading scientists in this area.  With only 35 percent lung function, Emily spends over 3 – 4 hours a day on treatments, injects multiple insulin shots, and takes countless pills to slow progression of her disease.

Monday, July 06, 2015

A Miscellany of Items on the Dining Room Table

A few things that have accumulated:

The April issue of More Magazine had a short feature on celebrity women that people would most want to be friends with.  Our own Tina Fey was the most popular, with 28% saying they wanted to be her BFF.

Philadelphia Magazine has run a couple of articles recently on the Gallery Mall and it's future.  FInd a list here:

The June issue of Philadelphia Magazine had an in depth profile of Attorney General Kathleen Kane.  Read it here:

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Michelle Obama Guest Edits More Magazine

First Lady Michelle Obama guest edited the July / August issue of More Magazine.  I'm not sure what that means from a practical standpoint but can tell you what's inside the issue of interest to politicos.

She has an opening letter talking about the balancing act all working mothers do.  She asks the questions all of us ask "Is this really worth it?  Is my family OK? Am I OK?"

Lesley Jane Seymour follows with a letter from the editor, calling Mrs. Obama "The Inspirer - in - Chief."

This is followed by a lot of ads for things that are very pretty but I don't have any idea what most of them are.

One non-political item of note on pages 26-27.  There is a new thing called "beauty-concierge apps" which means you can hit a button on your phone and people will show up on your doorstep and make you beautiful.  Who knew?  Seven apps are profiled, including the cities in which they operate.  None are available in Philly.  So, there's a lead for an entrepreneurial fashionista.

Mrs. Obama penned a short article on p. 34 on interesting places she has traveled (all domestic).

There is a profile of Catherine Russell, US Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues on pages 52-53.

Veterans can have a difficult time transitioning to civilian employment after leaving the armed services.  An article on pages 56-61 profiles a few women who made that transition and how they did so.

Statistics and a short explanation of each, all pertaining to fitness in the US, is on p. 62.  For example, there was a 43% drop in the obesity rate of children age 2 to 5 from 2004 to 2012.  That's good news.

Mrs. Obama persuaded her husband to write a short essay (p. 68-69) on "How the presidency made me a better father," complete with a row of photos.

Melissa Winter, Mrs. Obama's chief of staff, and later deputy chief of staff, pens a memoir on pages 74-76.  It is interesting to read about her job, which runs the gamut from policy to babysitting.

An unusual but star-powered feature, is a conversation / interview with Mrs. Obama and Meryl Streep (p. 83-85, 140).  There is some friendly and witty banter and some in-depth answers on significant questions.  I enjoyed this feature quite a bit.

There is a long color photo spread of the White House on pages 86-95, with a few short descriptive paragraphs.  We're getting ready to do some redecorating at Casa Jane and I picked up a few ideas from the pictures.  Honest.

A topic near and dear to my heart, first generation college students, is the focus of an article on pages 96-103, 140-141, with a few pull out features on individual women.  This is a really good article, with some concrete suggestions for people who want to help.

The younger Barbara Bush (daughter not wife) is one of the women profiled in "women working wonders" (p. 113-119).

The First Lady provides the backstory to some better known photos of her and her family.  I like the one of her and the President in inaugural dress riding in the back of a golf cart.  (The golf cart shuttled them from one inaugural ball to another so she wouldn't have to walk in heels.)

Not political but very useful nonetheless is the Findings feature on pages 130- 138.  It provides snippets of research on effective strategies to adopt healthier habits.  After I read it I put my toaster away.  I also learned an interesting stretching exercise for people who spend a lot of time hunched over a computer.  Mrs. Obama's "chill-out" playlist is included.  I actually recognized some of the songs.

Mrs. Obama ends the issue with an essay entitled "What women owe one another."

The issue is still on the news stands and is worth picking up.