Saturday, August 01, 2015

Who is Leanne Krueger-Braneky?

Leanne Krueger-Braneky ran for the 161st state house district in 2014 and lost by almost 2,700 votes (2,696 to be exact)(Scala, 6/28/2015).  Her Republican rival, the incumbent, won, and was sworn in to his second term in January.  In April, however, he announced that he was resigning at the end of the that month.  The special election to replace him is next Tuesday, August 4th.  She is running again as the Democratic candidate.

The 161st district includes all of Brookhaven, Rose Valley, Rutledge, Swarthmore, and parts of Aston, Marple, Nether Providence, Newtown, Radnor, Ridley, Springfield and Upper Providence.   She won Swarthmore by a large margin and won Nether Providence and the district’s part of Springfield by a slim margin.   Hacket won in Ridley Township, Aston, Brookhaven, Rutledge and Rose Valley (Logue 11/05/2014).  While Democrats have a slight lead in overall county voter registration, in the  161st there are 5,000 more GOP registered voters than Democrats (Scala 6/28/2015).  This doesn’t take into account independent voters, those not registered with any particular party.

Krueger-Braneky was praised by the Delaware County Daily Times, although they eventually endorsed Hackett.  Regarding the special election Phil Heron  wrote “I wish they could just hand her the seat now” (Heron, 4/12/2015).  Alas, democracies don’t work that way.

She grew up in New Jersey and did the sensible thing by attending the state university (Logue 10/27/2014).  In her first job after college she was the after school specialist for the American Red Cross of the Susquehanna Valley, developing programs and services for children.  She was one of three staff people to be granted the Spirit of Excellence Award that year (“Volunteers, 10/24/2000) .  After a year or so, she returned to college for a master’s degree in Urban Economic Development from Eastern University.   In 2001 she married Rev. David Braneky.  Together they led cultural studies trips to South Africa for a year and then settled in the Philadelphia area.  She wrote an article on her visits to South Africa and how they changed her thinking on collaboration and sustainable living.  She was especially inspired by the way the use of water affected people’s lives (Krueger-Braneky, 2005)

For the next eight years she worked as the executive director of the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia, the first person hired for that position.  When Krueger-Braneky was hired SBN had fewer than 100 fee-paying members and an annual budget under $100,000.  In 2012 membership was 450, with a budget of $500,000 (Mastrull 12/17/2012).  Again taking a sensible approach she followed the philosophy that if a sustainable business doesn’t make money it won’t stay in business (Mastrull 5/30/2011).  She tackled issues like green infrastructure, stormwater, a city land bank, and supporting small business and the local economy.  This involved creating partnerships, persuading elected officials,  talking with chambers of commerce, and even working with the White House.  These are all skills that a state representative needs.

In 2011 the SBN issued a report on small businesses in Philadelphia and what can be done to help them (, with nine specific issues identified and tangible steps listed for each.  A year later a follow up was issued giving the status of each step (Mastrull 11/26/2012).   In addition to the land bank, another suggestion that was implemented was a tax credit for sustainable businesses (Mastrull 5/30/2011).

In 2013, after eight years at SBN, she moved to a related national organization, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (Logue 10/27/2014).  The organization website ( now lists her as Senior Director of Strategy and Development.  It includes a long biography listing, among other things, her invitations to speak to the White House Business Council, and her role and Senior Fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program.

She and her husband have one child, a son.


Heron, Philip E. “Letter from the editor:  State Rep. Hackett returning to his roots,” Delaware County Daily Times 4/12/2015

Krueger-Braneky, Leanne, “Connected by a glass of water,” In Business 27 #6 (Nov/ Dec 2005) p. 30

Logue, Tim, “Hackett holds on to 161st legislative district post,” Delaware County Daily Times 11/05/2014

Logue, Tim, “Hackett, Krueger-Braneky square off in 161st district,” Delaware County Daily Times 10/27/14

Mastrull, Diane, “City a bit better at helping small firms,” Philadelphia Inquirer 11/26/2012

Mastrull, Diane, “Greening of business – now a decade old, a network that helps small Philadelphia firms thrive while practicing sustainability intends to keep it growing,” Philadelphia Inquirer 5/30/2011

Mastrull, Diane, “Leader of small-business network heads to new challenge,” Philadelphia Inquirer 12/17/2012

Scala, Kristina, “Mullen gets backing in 161st district race,” Delaware County Daily Times 6/28/2015

“Volunteers get Red Cross award,” Lancaster New Era 10/24/2000

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.