Monday, November 24, 2014

Oh, Baby!

The Birth Center in Bryn Mawr is on baby watch.  That's not exactly surprising, but this is a milestone.  Sometime late this month or early next the center expects to assist with it's 10,000th birth.
The Birth Center was founded in 1978 and is the first licensed birth center in Pennsylvania and one of the oldest continually operating birth centers in the United States.  It is staffed by certified nurse-midwives, nurse practitioners,and registered nurses.  The Birth Center allows women to be an active participant in her healthcare decision-making.

Philly a Finalist

Philadelphia has been named one of three finalists to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention.  The other two are Columbus and Brooklyn

Thursday, November 20, 2014

McCarter Office Move

State Rep. Steve McCarter, D-Montgomery/Phila., announced today that his district office, currently located at 215 S. Easton Road, will move on Monday, Nov. 24, to a new location at 115 E. Glenside Ave., Suite 8.

The move will provide more accessibility with designated off-street parking for constituents. The transition is expected to last several days, during which constituents are asked to contact McCarter’s staff at for assistance. 

Obama's Remarks on Immigration

from the inbox:


Cross Hall

8:01 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  My fellow Americans, tonight, I’d like to talk with you about immigration.

For more than 200 years, our tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world has given us a tremendous advantage over other nations.  It’s kept us youthful, dynamic, and entrepreneurial.  It has shaped our character as a people with limitless possibilities –- people not trapped by our past, but able to remake ourselves as we choose.

But today, our immigration system is broken -- and everybody knows it. 

Families who enter our country the right way and play by the rules watch others flout the rules.  Business owners who offer their workers good wages and benefits see the competition exploit undocumented immigrants by paying them far less.  All of us take offense to anyone who reaps the rewards of living in America without taking on the responsibilities of living in America.  And undocumented immigrants who desperately want to embrace those responsibilities see little option but to remain in the shadows, or risk their families being torn apart. 

It’s been this way for decades.  And for decades, we haven’t done much about it.

When I took office, I committed to fixing this broken immigration system.  And I began by doing what I could to secure our borders.  Today, we have more agents and technology deployed to secure our southern border than at any time in our history.  And over the past six years, illegal border crossings have been cut by more than half.  Although this summer, there was a brief spike in unaccompanied children being apprehended at our border, the number of such children is now actually lower than it’s been in nearly two years.  Overall, the number of people trying to cross our border illegally is at its lowest level since the 1970s.  Those are the facts.

Meanwhile, I worked with Congress on a comprehensive fix, and last year, 68 Democrats, Republicans, and independents came together to pass a bipartisan bill in the Senate.  It wasn’t perfect.  It was a compromise.  But it reflected common sense.  It would have doubled the number of border patrol agents while giving undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship if they paid a fine, started paying their taxes, and went to the back of the line.  And independent experts said that it would help grow our economy and shrink our deficits. 

Had the House of Representatives allowed that kind of bill a simple yes-or-no vote, it would have passed with support from both parties, and today it would be the law.  But for a year and a half now, Republican leaders in the House have refused to allow that simple vote.

Now, I continue to believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together to pass that kind of common sense law.  But until that happens, there are actions I have the legal authority to take as President –- the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican presidents before me -– that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just.

Tonight, I am announcing those actions.

First, we’ll build on our progress at the border with additional resources for our law enforcement personnel so that they can stem the flow of illegal crossings, and speed the return of those who do cross over.

Second, I’ll make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates, and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy, as so many business leaders have proposed. 

Third, we’ll take steps to deal responsibly with the millions of undocumented immigrants who already live in our country.

I want to say more about this third issue, because it generates the most passion and controversy.  Even as we are a nation of immigrants, we’re also a nation of laws.  Undocumented workers broke our immigration laws, and I believe that they must be held accountable -– especially those who may be dangerous.  That’s why, over the past six years, deportations of criminals are up 80 percent.  And that’s why we’re going to keep focusing enforcement resources on actual threats to our security.  Felons, not families.  Criminals, not children.  Gang members, not a mom who’s working hard to provide for her kids.  We’ll prioritize, just like law enforcement does every day. 

But even as we focus on deporting criminals, the fact is, millions of immigrants in every state, of every race and nationality still live here illegally.  And let’s be honest -– tracking down, rounding up, and deporting millions of people isn’t realistic.  Anyone who suggests otherwise isn’t being straight with you.  It’s also not who we are as Americans.  After all, most of these immigrants have been here a long time.  They work hard, often in tough, low-paying jobs.  They support their families.  They worship at our churches.  Many of their kids are American-born or spent most of their lives here, and their hopes, dreams, and patriotism are just like ours.  As my predecessor, President Bush, once put it:  “They are a part of American life.”

Now here’s the thing:  We expect people who live in this country to play by the rules.  We expect that those who cut the line will not be unfairly rewarded.  So we’re going to offer the following deal:  If you’ve been in America for more than five years; if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents; if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes -- you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily without fear of deportation.  You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law.  That’s what this deal is. 

Now, let’s be clear about what it isn’t.  This deal does not apply to anyone who has come to this country recently.  It does not apply to anyone who might come to America illegally in the future.  It does not grant citizenship, or the right to stay here permanently, or offer the same benefits that citizens receive -– only Congress can do that.  All we’re saying is we’re not going to deport you. 

I know some of the critics of this action call it amnesty.  Well, it’s not.  Amnesty is the immigration system we have today -– millions of people who live here without paying their taxes or playing by the rules while politicians use the issue to scare people and whip up votes at election time. 

That’s the real amnesty –- leaving this broken system the way it is.  Mass amnesty would be unfair.  Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character.  What I’m describing is accountability –- a common-sense, middle-ground approach:  If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows and get right with the law.  If you’re a criminal, you’ll be deported.  If you plan to enter the U.S. illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back just went up.

The actions I’m taking are not only lawful, they’re the kinds of actions taken by every single Republican President and every single Democratic President for the past half century.  And to those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer:  Pass a bill. 

I want to work with both parties to pass a more permanent legislative solution.  And the day I sign that bill into law, the actions I take will no longer be necessary.  Meanwhile, don’t let a disagreement over a single issue be a dealbreaker on every issue.  That’s not how our democracy works, and Congress certainly shouldn’t shut down our government again just because we disagree on this.  Americans are tired of gridlock.  What our country needs from us right now is a common purpose –- a higher purpose.

Most Americans support the types of reforms I’ve talked about tonight.  But I understand the disagreements held by many of you at home.  Millions of us, myself included, go back generations in this country, with ancestors who put in the painstaking work to become citizens.  So we don’t like the notion that anyone might get a free pass to American citizenship. 

I know some worry immigration will change the very fabric of who we are, or take our jobs, or stick it to middle-class families at a time when they already feel like they’ve gotten the raw deal for over a decade.  I hear these concerns.  But that’s not what these steps would do.  Our history and the facts show that immigrants are a net plus for our economy and our society.  And I believe it’s important that all of us have this debate without impugning each other’s character.

Because for all the back and forth of Washington, we have to remember that this debate is about something bigger.  It’s about who we are as a country, and who we want to be for future generations.

Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law?  Or are we a nation that gives them a chance to make amends, take responsibility, and give their kids a better future?

Are we a nation that accepts the cruelty of ripping children from their parents’ arms?  Or are we a nation that values families, and works together to keep them together?

Are we a nation that educates the world’s best and brightest in our universities, only to send them home to create businesses in countries that compete against us?  Or are we a nation that encourages them to stay and create jobs here, create businesses here, create industries right here in America?

That’s what this debate is all about.  We need more than politics as usual when it comes to immigration.  We need reasoned, thoughtful, compassionate debate that focuses on our hopes, not our fears.  I know the politics of this issue are tough.  But let me tell you why I have come to feel so strongly about it. 

Over the past few years, I have seen the determination of immigrant fathers who worked two or three jobs without taking a dime from the government, and at risk any moment of losing it all, just to build a better life for their kids.  I’ve seen the heartbreak and anxiety of children whose mothers might be taken away from them just because they didn’t have the right papers.  I’ve seen the courage of students who, except for the circumstances of their birth, are as American as Malia or Sasha; students who bravely come out as undocumented in hopes they could make a difference in the country they love. 

These people –- our neighbors, our classmates, our friends –- they did not come here in search of a free ride or an easy life.  They came to work, and study, and serve in our military, and above all, contribute to America’s success.

Tomorrow, I’ll travel to Las Vegas and meet with some of these students, including a young woman named Astrid Silva.  Astrid was brought to America when she was four years old.  Her only possessions were a cross, her doll, and the frilly dress she had on.  When she started school, she didn’t speak any English.  She caught up to other kids by reading newspapers and watching PBS, and she became a good student.  Her father worked in landscaping.  Her mom cleaned other people’s homes.  They wouldn’t let Astrid apply to a technology magnet school, not because they didn’t love her, but because they were afraid the paperwork would out her as an undocumented immigrant –- so she applied behind their back and got in.  Still, she mostly lived in the shadows –- until her grandmother, who visited every year from Mexico, passed away, and she couldn’t travel to the funeral without risk of being found out and deported.  It was around that time she decided to begin advocating for herself and others like her, and today, Astrid Silva is a college student working on her third degree.

Are we a nation that kicks out a striving, hopeful immigrant like Astrid, or are we a nation that finds a way to welcome her in?  Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger –- we were strangers once, too.

My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants.  We were strangers once, too.  And whether our forebears were strangers who crossed the Atlantic, or the Pacific, or the Rio Grande, we are here only because this country welcomed them in, and taught them that to be an American is about something more than what we look like, or what our last names are, or how we worship.  What makes us Americans is our shared commitment to an ideal -– that all of us are created equal, and all of us have the chance to make of our lives what we will.

That’s the country our parents and grandparents and generations before them built for us.  That’s the tradition we must uphold.  That’s the legacy we must leave for those who are yet to come.

Thank you.  God bless you.  And God bless this country we love. 
                        END                  8:16 P.M. EST

George Matysik for Council

George Matysik, government affairs director at Philabundance, has announced that he is running for Philadelphia City Council At Large.  Matysik has volunteered on political campaigns around the city for several years and is familiar with the campaign process.  He already has a website: 

You can read more about Matysik and his campaign at ("East Falls resident announces City Council at-large candidacy," by Neema Roshania 11/19).

Matysik is a great guy and I wish him well in his campaign.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

SelectPlan for Women Gets 6 Month Extension

an edited press release from our friends at

Governor Corbett announced today that the Administration will seek a 6-month extension for SelectPlan for Women, Pennsylvania’s family planning Medicaid waiver program. 

SelectPlan for Women expands the financial eligibility criteria of regular Medicaid coverage to allow women ages 18-44 with somewhat higher incomes to receive free family planning services including birth control, Pap smears, and breast exams.   SelectPlan was set to expire on December 31, 2014 leaving thousands of women without coverage for birth control or other family planning services. 

Even after Healthy PA is implemented, coverage gaps are likely to continue.  Enrollment experiences in other states have highlighted this unfortunate reality.  After Massachusetts implemented full universal healthcare coverage, approximately 2 percent of the population remained uninsured and up to 6 percent reported being without insurance for some portion of the first year of their plan.   

The additional time will allow AccessMatters and other organizations to work with Governor-elect Wolf and his administration to determine the role of SelectPlan in addressing these coverage gaps.  SelectPlan for Women also ensures a level of confidentiality that may not exist in private coverage options offered through Healthy PA. The extension will allow the Department of Health to address how explanations of benefits will be handled under the Healthy PA program to ensure the same level of confidentiality is maintained beyond the SelectPlan for Women program.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Supply and Demand: Gun Sales Drop

This is interesting.  The Wall Street Journal reports that Colt Defense, Smith & Wesson, Remington Arms, and Bushmaster, all report decreased earnings and consumer demand.  (See "Gun manufacturer Colt warns of possible default," by Stephanie Gleason, 11/13).  And here I thought sales were going up.  Seems that's not the case at all.

Trivedi Thank You

This arrived in the inbox just after the election, from Dr. Manan Trivedi:

   From my days of playing sports for Fleetwood High School, good sportsmanship was always a must. With that, I thanked and congratulated Ryan Costello on his win last night and wish him all the best in making decisions that  serve everyone of Pennsylvania's 6th district.
Immediately afterward,  I thanked my wife, Surehka. It is so amazing how she has supported and encouraged me to serve. Whether it was for my country as a Lt. Commander in the Navy, for my community as a doctor or as a candidate for Congress, Surehka has given so much to make that happen. I love her and can never express how grateful I am for her.

And you. No matter the odds, people came together to offer their time, money and words of encouragement. Just like receiving a random letter while on the battlefield in Iraq that lifted my spirits, everyone involved in this campaign gave me the energy and purpose to keep going.

I promise to always stay committed to fighting for economic fairness for all, the care of my fellow veterans, to improve education and to guarantee that everyone truly has affordable access to health care.

Thank you again. What a run it has been. But for now, the only running around I am going to do is as a dad. It's time to play with Sonia and Ashmi.

With so much appreciation,


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Restrepo Nominated to US Court of Appeals

 Today President Obama nominated Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo, currently a US District Judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, to serve on the United States Court of Appeals.  

“These individuals have displayed exceptional dedication to the legal profession through their work, and I am honored to nominate them to serve the American people as judges on the United States Courts of Appeals,” President Obama said.  “They will be diligent, judicious and esteemed additions to the bench.”

Here is his bio from the press release:

Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo has served as a United States District Judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania since June 2013 and previously served as a United States Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania from 2006 to 2013.

 Judge Restrepo was born in Colombia and moved to the United States when he was two.  He received his B.A. in 1981 from the University of Pennsylvania and his J.D. in 1986 from Tulane University Law School. Judge Restrepo began his legal career as a law clerk at the National Prison Project. From 1987 to 1990, he served as an Assistant Defender with the Defender Association of Philadelphia, and, from 1990 to 1993, he served as an Assistant Federal Defender in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  In 1993, Judge Restrepo started the law firm of Krasner & Restrepo, where he handled a wide range of criminal and civil matters in both federal and state courts until his appointment as a federal magistrate judge in 2006. During his time on the bench, he has been actively involved in the reentry program in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, which is a collaborative effort between the court, United States Attorney’s Office, Federal Defenders Office, United States Probation Office, and community partners to promote the successful reintegration of individuals released from federal custody.  

Judge Restrepo has taught courses on trial advocacy and legal research and writing at Temple University Law School since 1993 and also taught trial advocacy at the University of Pennsylvania Law School from 1997 to 2009.

Hansen Thank You

a note from State Senate candidate Jack Hansen:

To all my supporters and helpers;

The 2014 elections are behind us. The results are not what we wanted, but they are what they are. What we can learn from this year is that all committee persons have to work harder for the causes that we believe in, and all the volunteers have to stay engaged through every election cycle.
Elections are not about just one person, rather a common cause that will benefit all of us. I don't think any one of us saw the repeat of 1994 coming where there was a strong swing to the right.
We can take refuge in the fact that we elected Tom Wolf as our Governor, and Mike Stack as our Lieutenant Governor, but now it is our job to support them by staying on top of the issues and making our elected officials do our will and work with them.
I ran for State Senate because I believed that we need a change in our state government, and I still believe that! About 22,000 voters also believe that. It is the job of the candidate to deliver a victory for their supporters. I failed to deliver for you. I am not asking for sympathy in that statement. I am just stating a fact. I truly am humbled by all the support that you gave to me, and I will never forget it. I consider all of you friends even if we didn't have the opportunity to meet personally. Over the six months of this campaign I had the opportunity to travel over 17,000 miles in my old station wagon, and never leave the district, I attended town hall meetings, breakfasts with civic groups, luncheons with retirees, dinners with committees, and even a cruise on the Delaware River. I went to community days, parades, and picnics. I had the opportunity to speak with many people who all felt the same way about our government. They are tired of the gridlock and dis-function of our government that has haunted both Washington and Harrisburg. I knocked on doors and spoke with regular folks who just wanted to vent about their displeasure with the status quo. We all want the same thing. A government that works for all of us, not just the privileged few.
From what I have heard, with the exception of Tom Wolf, our campaign delivered a better showing than any other challenger in the state. I could not have done this without your support
I am proud of my staff, and all of the volunteers who worked so many hours to make a difference. Please stay involved, and informed so you can help candidates in the future.
Thank you for all your hard work!
Jack Hansen

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Boyle Thank You

note from Brendan Boyle, from the inbox:

On behalf of my family, my staff and the hundreds of volunteers who have been a part of our campaign over the past 18 months, I want to extend a heartfelt thank you for your support during what has been an unbelievable journey.

Last week we won 67% of the vote in what was one of the most decisive open seat election victories in the country, and we did it together. Through difficult odds, we've shown that a willingness to work hard can overcome and can give regular Americans a seat at the table. The idea of progress based on hard work and merit is at the heart of what makes our country the great place that it is, and I am proud that our campaign has been able to embody this ideal.

However, we have a great deal of work ahead of us. From promoting good public schools, a fairer tax structure and badly needed investment in our national infrastructure, there are pressing issues that urgently need to be addressed. I am humbled to have the opportunity to work with you to find solutions to these problems, and am eager to get to it.

As we move ahead in the coming weeks toward swearing in day and get to the business that awaits the 114th Congress, I hope you'll continue to stand with me as we continue our journey together.

With Gratitude,

BFB Signature


Thursday, November 06, 2014

Dan LaVallee Thank You

from the inbox:

Dear Friends 
When we started this campaign in late January, we knew it was going to take a lot of hard work, passion and dedication to bring western Pennsylvania the new leadership it deserves. We also knew it was going to take thousands of supporters just like you -- we share a desire to bring the change that is so desperately needed to our region and the rest of America. 

Despite the fact that this campaign raised nearly half a million dollars and communicated with over 700,000 people across all seven counties, we came up short of our goal of bringing new leadership to western Pennsylvania. However, the fact that we got as far as we did is a testimony to you and that when we join together, anything is possible.

Many people said to me before or after they voted and through messages today that “you are not too young and we need new leadership!” New leadership that keeps the American dream alive and well for all Americans – protecting Medicare and Social Security for seniors like my grandmother, creating a climate for job growth, and investing in education for generations to come.

As you have heard me say, Terrina and I want to pass along an America and a western Pennsylvania full of prosperity and opportunity for the next generation and the children we hope to have someday.

I just visited my grandmother in her rehab facility. She wanted me to express her thanks for your belief in what we can do together. You will always be a part of our family.

With deep gratitude,

Balchunis Thank You

from the inbox:

I want to thank you for all your support. I could never have anticipated the immense support we received from the good people of the five counties in the 7th district. When the party asked me to run in February, I knew we had several challenges: a strong incumbent, one of the most gerrymandered districts in the nation, an opponent with a huge war chest and an even bigger staff. In the midst of the campaign, my mom became very sick and later died. But, I knew my mom would want me to run to take a stand for all the issues that were so important to her: stopping the gun violence, increasing minimum wage, equal pay for equal work and decreasing student loans.

I called Congressman Meehan to concede the election last night. I want to congratulate him, and I want to pledge my support in the Congressman’s efforts to obtain Universal Background Checks.

When I was in graduate school, we learned that the nickname for the senate was “the millionaires club”.  Now, half of the House of Representatives are also millionaires. Many of them work to make sure that their wealth is protected while the middle class is getting squeezed and the poor are getting poorer. We need a congress that understands the needs of all the people in the 7th district.

Timing is everything in politics. Although this may have not been my time to enter congress, this does not end our fight on all of the issues that we stood for in this campaign. We must take these next two years to unite as a nation, not a party, to work together to make our nation a more equal, more prosperous, and a safer place for our families. As I said last night, persistence is the key to life, and now is the time to persevere. I am so proud of the campaign that my campaign team and I were able to put forward. We couldn't have done it without your help. I can’t thank you enough.
                                                                                    Mary Ellen