Pennsylvania - related items I noticed in the last two weeks of the Wall Street Journal:
Saturday, December 26, 2015
Pennsylvania - related items I noticed in the last two weeks of the Wall Street Journal:
Monday, December 21, 2015
I haven't said much about the state budget situation, simply because there are very few things to say. It is a national embarrassment, a disaster, and is causing real harm to the commonwealth's schools and social service agencies. As I said on twitter, when / if this is solved, the first state senator or representative that brags about the budget gets hit with a spitwad.
Today's addition to the budgetary swill comes to us from PennLive ("With budget deadlocked House Repubs try to squeeze Tom Wolf," by John Micek, 12/20). The article points out emails sent from one House Republican to another planning ways to ensure money for government is paid but money for schools is not necessarily paid.
We are past the point where any solution is a win for anyone.
Late on Friday I was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve once again in the U.S. Army.
As a third-generation veteran, it has been clear to me, since the day I was born, that there is no greater honor than serving in our nation’s military. It is a humbling honor to continue public service as Under Secretary of the United States Army—the #2 civilian position and the Chief Management Officer. I thank President Obama, Secretary Carter and Acting Secretary Fanning for their trust and confidence and also the United States Senate for their confirmation. Making sure that we have the best Army possible to defend our nation, and that our brave warriors have every tactical and technical advantage over our enemies, is a mission that I accept with extreme dedication.
I also want to take a moment to thank my family for their support and many sacrifices—I wouldn't be who I am without them. And to my friends and colleagues, your unwavering support is a constant source of inspiration—I hope to continue making you proud of my efforts. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Friday, December 18, 2015
Patrick Murphy, who represented Pennsylvania's 8th district (Bucks, and bits of Montgomery and Philadelphia counties) in Congress, was confirmed today as the Undersecretary of the Army. You can find the video of his confirmation hearing before the Senate's Armed Forces committee (two other people nominated for other positions were testifying as well) online. The same site has a 50+ page document with prepared questions and Murphy's answers. I'm not sure how long the document and video will be up and available.
The Inquirer has a short article about his confirmation, "Senate confirms Murphy for Army job," by Jonathan Tamari, posted today.
This press release arrived in today's email:
Today, the Army and the nation are lucky to have former Rep. Patrick Murphy confirmed as undersecretary of the U.S. Army. When he was a member of Congress, CAP was proud to work with Rep. Murphy on issues he championed, such as the Affordable Care Act, and as he led the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. As a Senior Fellow, Murphy contributed greatly to our work by leading on issues that affect 21st-century fighters, and he will no doubt do the same for the Army. Murphy served the country twice, first in the Army and later as the first Iraq War veteran to serve in Congress, and we know he will bring the same service to the Army once again.
Yesterday I drove halfway across the state on I-80. It was the first time I've been on that highway. It rained quite a bit of the time but here are a few impressions:
Trucks. Lots of trucks. If it weren't for the trucks I would have gone for miles without seeing another vehicle.
There aren't a lot of exits. There also aren't rest stops like the rest stops on the Turnpike. These rest stops just have bathrooms (men on one side of the building, women on the other) and vending machines (in the middle), no restaurants, no stores, no seating, no gas pumps. I stopped at one rest area, and as I was leaving I noticed that there was a height strip on the door, like the ones in convenience stores and banks. It marks feet and half feet (4' 4 1/2', 5' 5 1/2', 6', etc) so it is easier to give a good description of suspicious characters you see standing near the door. This was not reassuring. I paused inside to check my phone for accumulated emails. I was the only person in the rest stop until a man stepped in. He looked startled to see me and I could see his eyes dart to the height strip behind me. Five feet, two and a half inches, big guy, and perhaps less dangerous than you seem to think. I left so he could have the place to himself.
At the Turnpike rest stops there are usually opportunities to stretch your legs. If nothing else you can walk around the parking lot. On I-80 the parking lots aren't large enough for that. The one I was at was surrounded by woods, with no visible walking paths. The indoor rest stops weren't large enough to do anything but a tight circle around the vending machines.
It might have been the weather but the landscape looked desolate, sort of like the English moors but with more trees. The mountains are impressive but intimidating. Perhaps at other times of the year the landscape is more inviting but this December, in rain and fog, with alternating stretches of empty road and herds of big trucks, it was not.
This might also have been a function of the rain, but it was hard to find radio stations. For quite a while the clearest station I could find was talk radio. The host was outraged over a proposed regulation mandating paid sick leave. He would rant for a bit, then open the phone lines. All the callers were in favor of paid sick leave. Then he would rant a bit more and open the phones, and all the callers would be in favor of paid sick leave. It was mildly entertaining but I was glad when I could find a station with Christmas songs.
It was an interesting experience. I'm not sure I'd want to make that trip on a regular basis, though.
Monday, December 14, 2015
The cover story in the December 2015 Philadelphia Magazine, "Racial Profiling on the Main Line," by Steve Volk, mentions Brian Gordon, one of the Democratic candidates for Congress in the 2nd district (Philadelphia). Gordon is currently a commissioner in Lower Merion. Here are two quotes referencing Commissioner Gordon:
It was Gordon, a corporate attorney who convened a packed community meeting at the PALM Senior Center to deal with the controversy. Citizens, mostly African-American lined up to speak. "What got me were the stories," remembers Gordon. "Person after person. And they were just so moving." (p. 84 of print copy)
Lower Merion commissioner Brian Gordon is a white progressive. he told me he wants to make sure regular meetings are held in Lower Merion on the subject of race. (p. 123)
The entire article is interesting, and alarming.
Saturday, December 12, 2015
Brian Gordon, a Democratic candidate for the 2nd congressional district (parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery County), the seat currently held by Chaka Fattah, has released an environmental policy.
Gordon is a Lower Merion Township commissioner (yes, he's Commissioner Gordon). You can read more about him on his campaign website, www.gordonforcongress.com
Friday, December 11, 2015
The White House has issued an update on drug control policy and the increased use of heroin and the resulting overdoses. One quote from the press release:
More Americans now die every year from drug overdoses than they do in motor vehicle crashes. The new 2014 CDC data show continued sharp increases in heroin-involved deaths and an emerging increase in deaths involving synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl. According to law enforcement reports, the rise in fentanyl-related deaths is predominantly from increases in illicitly manufactured fentanyl.You can find a White House statement on the official plan to address prescription drug abuse and heroin use here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/10/21/fact-sheet-obama-administration-announces-public-and-private-sector
The page for the Office of National Drug Control Policy is here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp
One of the links on the page let you find an information sheet for each state. The one for Pennsylvania is at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/state_profile_-_pennyslvania.pdf
Wednesday, December 09, 2015
from the inbox:
Our friends at SEPTA are releasing new regional rail schedules on Dec. 13th, and some of the newly printed schedules have errors. Use the online schedules instead. You can read more here: http://septa.org/schedules/2015-december-airport.html
Sunday, December 06, 2015
Mike Allen's Politico Playbook column today contained a note of interest to long-time PA political readers:
Dan Hirschhorn promoted at TIME, becomes its director of news. "Dan will coordinate our news efforts, working with editors and reporters in New York, London, Hong Kong and elsewhere, ensuring that our reporters and editors work seamlessly with their counterparts in video, photography and audience engagement."
Dan was a reporter at the Bulletin, then PolitickerPA, then started and ran pa2010.com. Looks like he's hit the big time now.
Thursday, December 03, 2015
A note from our friends at Enroll America
Two years after the start of Obamacare enrollment, the uninsured rate for the Latino community in Philadelphia is 16%-- four percentage points higher than the overall uninsured rate in Philadelphia of 12%.
To help Latinos get the health coverage that they qualify for, Get Covered America is hosting a series of bilingual Obamacare enrollment events every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 1pm to 7:30pm until the end of open enrollment.
The papers have stacked up for a few weeks but here are the PA related stories I noted in recent issues of the Wall Street Journal
Monday, November 30, 2015
Okay, let's try to follow the bouncing ball.
Congressman Chaka Fattah, facing charges, is still running for re-election for Pennsylvania's 2nd congressional district.
A handful of Democrats have announced campaigns to challenge Fattah. Among them is State Rep. Brian Sims (D-182; state house campaign site, congressional campaign site, legislative site). PoliticsPA is reporting that he will run for re-election in the state house while he runs for Congress.
To fill that void, Ben Waxman is running for Sims's state house. Waxman is the spokesman for State Sen. Vincent Hughes. The Penn Dems (University of Pennsylvania student Democratic organization) is listed him as a candidate in the announcement for their Dec. 2nd meeting. Prior to that the Citified blog at Phillymag.com listed him as a potential candidate and the www.votewaxman.com site is live.
Get your scorecards ready!
Friday, November 20, 2015
Jack Stollsteimer, an announced candidate for Pennsylvania Attorney General, has released a drug market intervention initiative. It is a four page document available on his website. He has a three-pronged approach and spells out specific actions he would have the department and community partners take. It's a pdf and doesn't allow me to cut and paste.
This initiative is related to the increase in misuse of prescription pain killers and the increased use of heroin.
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
from the inbox, a note from Dwight Evans:
Every day, it seems like the Republicans in Washington, D.C. are making it harder for folks to get by -- and now they seem to think people don't even have a right to the dignity of wearing pants:
"You don't have a right to pants, you don't have a right to health care, you don't have a right to water." -- Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)
People do have the right to health care. They do have the right to clean drinking water. And people do have the right to get up in the morning, put on a pair of pants, and feel the pride and security that comes from a good job.
I'm running for Congress to help end this nonsense so we can get to work on a new national plan for America's cities, building up every neighborhood. And that starts with investing in people -- raising the minimum wage, paid family leave, and jobs that can support a family.
I put on my pants just like everyone else: one leg at a time, and I'm going to get up every day and fight for Philadelphia, block by block, just like I've always done.
Jake Faleschini has a good article in yesterday's Huffington Post, "Senate Obstruction of Restrepo Nomination is Simply Inexcusable." Luis Restrepo has been a U.S. District Court judge for two years. His nomination to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals (both in PA) has been on hold for a year.
Marisa McClellan, who blogs at Apartment 2024 and Food in Jars, is part of a new podcast:
Food mavens Joy Manning and Marisa McClellan have created Local Mouthful, a podcast focusing on all things local and tasty.
Check it out.
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Mary Ellen Balchunis, Democratic candidate for the 7th congressional district, has announced some changes to her campaign. For one, her campaign website has a new address, www.balchunis2016.com still works, but you can also go to www.maryellenforcongress.com -- both will take you to the same site. Her twitter handle is the catchy @me4congress .
Secondly, she announces a new campaign manager, Brad Koplinski, who has a lengthy political biography himself.
Lastly, she has added some names to her finance committee, including John Kane, business manager of Plumbers Local 690, and the wonderful Bev Hahn of the Montgomery County DFA
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Fox Rothschild partner Patrick Murphy, the first Iraq War veteran elected to Congress where he served two terms, will cohost a one-hour primetime TV special on Veterans Day about the 2015 Triumph Games in which 12 spectacular veteran-athletes vie in adaptive sports for $240,000 in prize money.
Jody Simon (Los Angeles), who chairs the Production Practice in Fox Rothschild’s Entertainment Department, served as general counsel for the show, which was produced by Our Vets Success.
The program will air on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, at 7 p.m. ET and again at 10 p.m. ET on the CBS Sports Network.
Monday, November 09, 2015
from the inbox:
- Health insurance coverage is affordable. On June 30, 2015, 397,967 people in Pennsylvania were covered through its Health Insurance Exchange, or Marketplace.
- In Pennsylvania, 69 percent of people can find a plan for $100 or less, 63 percent for $75 or less, and 55 percent for $50 or less for 2016.
- The average monthly premium in Philadelphia for the second-lowest cost silver plans will increase by 3 percent from 2015 to 2016 before tax credits.
- Tax credits matter. In 2015, 80 percent of Marketplace enrollees – 320,162 people – in Pennsylvania received a tax credit, and consumers saved an average of $220 per month.
- Consumers have a choice.
- In Pennsylvania, 12 issuers are offering individual health plans in the Marketplace in 2016.
- Issuers are offering an average of 31 plans per county in Pennsylvania in 2016.
- In Philadelphia, 4 issuers are offering individual health plans in the Marketplace in 2016.
- It pays to shop.
- In Pennsylvania, 92 percent of Marketplace consumers who switch to the lowest-cost plan within a coverage level could save on average $38 per month, or $450 per year, on their premium costs in 2016.
- About 21 percent of 2014 enrollees in Pennsylvania switched to a new plan in 2015, saving $603 per year – and $17,578,294 in total statewide – on premium costs.
- While progress has been made, more work is needed to cover the uninsured.
- In Pennsylvania, the adult uninsured rate dropped from 11 percent in 2013 to 7.7 percent in the first half of 2015.
- In Philadelphia and the surrounding region, there are 178,000 uninsured who are eligible for the Marketplace.
(The number of the uninsured is for the Designated Market Area that includes Philadelphia.)
This weekend Sekela Coles announced her candidacy for the PA House of Representatives, in the 164th district. The district contains Millbourne, East Lansdowne, and parts of Upper Darby, and is currently represented by Democrat Margo L. Davidson.
In 2013, Coles was the first African American woman elected to the 7th district of the Upper Darby Township Council. She was part of Gov. Tom Wolf's transition committee. She graduated from Central High School and has a bachelor's degree in Finance and Banking from Lincoln University, an MBA from Penn State, and a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration from Walden University.
The Delaware County Times has a lengthy article by Linda Reilly on Coles's campaign announcement.
Monday, November 02, 2015
Dan Clifford, candidate for the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, is a former head of the Family Law section of Pennsylvania Bar Association. During his term he led a project to create a video to help judges learn or improve their skills in interviewing children. A short trailer is available on youtube. The actual video, also on youtube is over an hour long. Clifford's law firm posted a note about the video. Here is an excerpt:
The video was produced and edited by Clifford who saw the need to create a film that could help new judges, divorcing parents and professionals working with children in custody disputes learn how to interview children in a sensitive way.
SeanP. Kilkenny, Democratic candidate for sheriff in Montgomery County, grew up in New York. His father served in the Army and in the Suffolk County Police Department. As an undergraduate at Villanova in 1994 he ran for studentoffice and listed, among his campus involvement being a resident assistant, an ROTC commander, volunteering with Catholic Worker Program in the Campus Ministry, and being an athlete escort for the Special Olympics. For law school he attended Temple, and then earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of South Carolina.
Sunday, November 01, 2015
A few Pennsylvania-related notes in this week's Wall Street Journal:
Friday, October 30, 2015
Thursday, October 29, 2015
I've done this research before, and earlier this month posted a similar note on state senators. State representatives have the option of making their office expense reports public, what they spend on rent, postage, staff, etc. A list of state reps who do this are listed below.
I started with list of members of the PA state house from the state's web site, then used the caucus pages (www.pahouse.com, www.pahousegop.com) to find links to each state rep's page, then went through clicking on each link. I scanned the links on the home page, and looked at the subject categories on the menu bars, mousing over them to see what options, if any, were on the submenu. It is possible that expense listings are buried further on a site, but, honestly, if it takes more than two clicks to find it people aren't going to drill down far enough to find them.
Most state reps who list their expenses do so for months or years, some provide reports for all years they have been in office. It is impressive. Others list only the current month. A few are in a separate "partial" category -- people who have some reports listed but aren't current.
As a Democrat I find the party distribution disheartening. In this regard, it is clear, the Republicans are the party of transparency. C'mon, Dems!, get it together and post your report! It is also disheartening to see that some state reps I think very highly of don't make their expense reports public.
I make an effort to provide the due diligence necessary to provide accurate information. However it is always possible that I missed something or made an error. If so, I apologize.
Here is the list of state representatives who make their expense reports public:
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Just a reminder, the Pennsylvania Progressive Summit is February 19-21, at the Hilton Harrisburg. Early Early Bird rate is only $50. Rates go up this Saturday; save money by registering early. Senatorial candidates Fetterman, McGinty, and Sestak are confirmed.
from the inbox:
- On Saturday morning, (4) additional trains will operate on the Market Frankford Line. These trains, departing from both 69th Street and Frankford Transportation Center will make all local stops. Riders heading to the Game Day Live broadcast can use 5th Street Station for easy access to Independence Mall. Riders connecting from Regional Rail trains can transfer at Jefferson Station to the Market Frankford Line at 11th Street Station. Free weekend parking is available at all SEPTA-owned Regional Rail Lots.