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.
Pennsylvania-related mentions I noticed reading last week's Wall Street Journal
Monday, October 26, 2015
Today I took a call about online gambling in Pennsylvania. It sounded to me like a push poll. The bulk of it was listening to a series of statements about online gambling and then saying whether or not it affected my views. At least I think that's what it was -- the woman on the phone was not a native speaker of English and had trouble with some of the words. She kept calling racinos ratios. At least I think that's what she meant.
Interestingly one of the first questions was the biggest issue facing the state. I said the state budget. The woman on the phone said a lot of people were saying that. Later in the call there was a question on where I would want gambling money to go, with a list of options, one being schools and education. I picked that one and, again, she said that's what most people were saying.
The gist of the questions was that people are gambling online and wouldn't it better if they were playing games based and regulated in PA instead of games owned by foreign countries and unregulated. Wouldn't it be better to have that money stay in the state and benefit the residents? I remember hearing that sort of argument regarding casinos and table games, etc. It didn't make sense to me then. It doesn't make sense to me now.
Thursday, October 22, 2015
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has an interesting article on the financial contributions from Koch Industries intended to influence the Pennsylvania Supreme Court judicial race. Read more at "More negative ad airing in state Supreme Court race," by Chris Potter (10/21). The ad cited is a negative ad aimed at Kevin Dougherty.
Today SEPTA’s Board approved two sustainability projects that will reduce energy consumption and improve resilience – at no cost to the Authority.
The two projects –first, an $18.2 million energy retrofit of SEPTA five facilities and railcar fleets with high-efficiency technologies; and second, an estimated $26.8 million natural gas plant to power part of SEPTA’s Regional Rail system and its largest bus garage – will be financed entirely through energy savings guaranteed to SEPTA under the Pennsylvania Guaranteed Energy Savings Act (GESA).
Both projects will be designed and built by a certified energy savings company (ESCO) that specializes in energy efficient technologies to be deployed at each project location. Together, the $45.0 million in energy projects reflect a continued commitment to “budget neutral” implementation of SEPTA’s award-winning Sustainability Program. The ESCOs will be responsible for providing private capital and a savings guarantee; if the savings do not materialize, the ESCOs will be responsible for covering the difference in repayment. For this reason, SEPTA is able to use the self-funding approach to improve its environmental performance without utilizing the Authority’s own capital resources.
Energy Retrofits, SEPTA Facilities & Railcar Fleets SEPTA has finalized the design of an $18.2 million project with Constellation to retrofit five SEPTA facilities and railcar fleets with high-efficiency technologies. Construction will begin in Fall 2015. Facilities and railcar fleets to be retrofitted include:
o Southern Bus Garage (1934 Johnston Street, Philadelphia)
o Berridge/Courtland Shop (200 W. Wyoming Avenue, Philadelphia)
o Fern Rock Shop (5801 N. 11th Street, Philadelphia)
o Germantown Shop (6721 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia) -
o Regional Rail (Silverliner IV, Silverliner V, Push-Pull Fleets)
o Broad Street Line (B-IV Fleet)
o Norristown High Speed Line (N-5 Fleet)
The retrofits reflect a broad range of improvements including: LED lighting, building insulation, HVAC controls, and water conservation. In total, the retrofits will generate more than $26 million in guaranteed energy savings over 17 years, an amount sufficient to pay for the entire project and still provide additional net savings to the Operating Budget.
Combined Heat & Power (CHP) Plant, Midvale Complex, North Philadelphia SEPTA has selected Noresco, LLC as the ESCO to design an estimated $26.8 million Combined Heat & Energy (CHP) Plant at SEPTA’s Midvale Complex in North Philadelphia. The proposed CHP plant would use twin natural gas generators to power the Wayne Junction Substation (serving the old Reading Railroad network) and Midvale Bus Garage (SEPTA’s largest, housing more than 300 buses) with clean, abundant and low-cost Pennsylvania natural gas.
Noresco will now conduct an investment grade audit (IGA) to determine the optimal configuration of the CHP Plant. To maximize the efficiency of the gas-powered equipment, the design will size the plant to provide base load power while assigning peak loads to the commercial power system. Excess heat from the CHP plant will cover the heating load at three additional nearby SEPTA facilities. Importantly, the CHP Plant would provide SEPTA with a resilient source of power in the event of a regional electrical grid outage, allowing trains to continue to operate to transport passengers safely to their destinations, even during a blackout. If the IGA determines the CHP Plant can be self-funded under the Pennsylvania Guaranteed Savings Act, the plant could be operational by 2017.
Monday, October 19, 2015
PA in the WSJ
Here are a few Pennsylvania - related items I noticed in the Wall Street Journal last week.
Tuesday, Oct. 13
"Casino Glut Adds to Racetracks' Woes," by Jon Kamp -- There is a note on the effect of Pennsylvania and Maryland casinos on gambling in Delaware is mentioned.
"New Mission for Videogame Heroes: Save the Symphony Orchestra" by Sara E. Needleman -- The focus is on symphony orchestra's performances of videogame music, with a noteable mention of the Philadelphia Mann Center for the Performing Arts.
Wednesday, Oct 14
"Companies try 'Firm 40' Workweeks," by Rachel Feintzeig --Allentown based myHR Partner, Inc is mentioned.
Thursday, Oct 15
"Hurdle Rises for Job-Seeking Nurses," by Anna Louie Sussman -- Megan Goodman of Downingtown is quoted.
Friday, Oct 16
"Men Who Beat Gay Couple Avoid Prison" -- Another bit of bad publicity for Philadelphia
One non-PA article of note. "Deficit Shrinks, but Spending Fight Goes On," by Nick Timiroas (10/16). "The budget shortfall fell to its lowest level since 2007 ...." Good news all around.
Friday, October 16, 2015
In 2011, only one state senator, Republican Jeff Piccola of the 15th district, put his reports on his website. In 2014 there were two, Democrat Rob Teplitz, who was elected to the 15th when Piccola decided not to run for another term, and Republican Lloyd Smucker of the 13th district. Also in 2014 several Republican senators included a section called “It’s Your Money” that connected to information on the state budget but not their own spending.
There is a standard template for Democrats and Republicans but there is a lot of individualization, too: color schemes, links, types of information can all be customized. You can find links to all of the Republican state senators' sites at: http://www.pasenategop.com/; Democrats are at: http://www.pasenate.com/.
Last month I decided to update the research and see if any more senators are providing their expense accounts. I looked at the home page of each senator's site, and reviewed all of the links available on the main menu (mouse over the main menu bar to see the links on that topic). It is possible that some senators included their expense reports on a secondary screen menu, but that seemed unlikely, and honestly, who is going to drill down that far?
So, who posts their expense reports? Republicans Ryan P. Aument (36th district) and Democrat Rob Teplitz (15th district). I have met Sen. Teplitz a few times and find him extraordinary; this is just more evidence of his exceptional character. Teplitz's quarterly expenses are listed under the "about" tab. Aument has a section under about the "about" tab called "It's Your Money" that lists some personal expenses. He has nearly a year of monthly expenses listed but I looked at all of them and all have a total of zero. So, while he gets credit for posting something, his information has no value. However, he does provide his office rent, salary, and the zeroed out expenses for a state care or reimbursements. That's something.
Lisa Baker (R-20)
Jake Corman (R-34)
Scott E Hutchinson (R-21)
Charles T McIlhinney, Jr (R-10)
Dominic Pileggi (R-9)
John C. Rafferty, Jr. (R-44)
Lloyd K. Smucker (R-13)
Patricia H. Vance (R-31)
Elder A. Vogel, Jr. (R-47)
Donald C. White (R-41)
Thursday, October 15, 2015
Monday, October 12, 2015
Mark Peters and Kris Maher highlight state budget battles in Pennsylvania and Illinois in their Oct. 7th Wall Street Journal article, "State budget fighters fester." We do not come out of this looking good. The article mentions school districts and social service groups taking out loans to function while they wait for the governor and the legislature to get their act together.
It's not like the budget deadline snuck up on everyone; we all knew the budget was due months ago. This is self-inflicted damage. There really isn't anything more to say. It's a complete failure.
Thursday, October 08, 2015
Donohue, who has never lost an election, led the ticket in the 2007 Primary and General elections for Superior Court and won nomination for Supreme Court Justice in May earlier this year in a crowded six-way Democratic Primary. She has never before aired a television campaign ad in any of her winning campaigns.
Donohue, a graduate of Duquesne University School of Law who practiced law in Pittsburgh for 27 years before being elected to the Superior Court, has the highest recommendation for Supreme Court Justice from the Pennsylvania Bar Association. She is the longest serving appellate court judge in the race. Her campaign reported having $510,000 cash on hand in the most recent campaign finance report.