Wednesday, June 29, 2005

And These People Want a Raise?

Oh, this is too rich. You must immdediately follow this link and read Capitol Ideas recounting of name calling in the House. Prepare to laugh.

Bloggers in DC

A couple of Philly area bloggers are in DC talking to Congress about blogging and whether or not it constitutes a political contribution or a collaboration with a campaign if a blogger promotes a candidate and / or received compensation for it. PhillyFuture has a good posting on it which you should read as I'm not sure I've explained it clearly enough.

I did want to make clear, though, that at no point in my illustrious career as a blogger has anyone attempted to buy my influence. Let me speak plainly, no one has tempted me with M&Ms (plain or peanut, but not the peanut butter ones), red licorice (strawberry, not cherry), onion rings (batter-dipped, fried until golden brown and slightly crisp, served hot), a subscription to the Wall St. Journal (which I sometimes get free for one reason or another and enjoy but am too cheap to pay for), or bookstore gift cards (any major chain, Amazon also accepted). No one has offered to come by and clean our the gutters or mop the kitchen floor. No one has offered to play Clue with a pre-literate child who must go find a sibling or the other parent to mark her slip or read her cards every single time and make a game that should be over in 30 minutes last an hour and a half.

In fact, no one in politics has offered me anything, although I get ASKED for money quite often. I just wanted to make sure you understood that my integrity was intact.

More on Lobbying Bill

I still can't find an electronic version of the article on the lobbying bill I read recently; it may have been there and now has scrolled off. In any event it was in the Intelligencer on Sunday, June 26, p. B5, by Alison Hawkes. The bill is currently out of committee and now in the hands of the House Republican leadership. The article quotes Common Cause director Barry Kaufman as saying the recent amendments made water the bill down. Rep. Dave Steil said that the amendments would make tracking lobbying efforts more difficult. He is also concerned about the exemptions made for religious groups, as the term was not defined. I fear the First Church of Blue Cross / Blue Shield is forming even as we speak.

I haven't read the Intelligencer in a while and they have a lot of state government coverage now. It might be worth buying again now. I'll definitely be looking at it more often.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Update on Lobbying Bill

This past week the house did look at SB001, the lobbying bill passed by the senate earlier this year. It was amended. I looked at the amendements but could not figure out if they were good or bad. This Sunday a local paper had an article on the amendements but I could not find it online to link to. By all means, if you want this bill passed, contact your state rep (contact info at

However, these items may explain how varying parties view the subject. Here is a link to Common Cause explaining why we need the legislation. Here is a link to the PA Association of Government Relations (a lobbying trade group) explaining their views. And here is an article explaining what practical applications all this has. Read them and weep. There is little chance of action before the house adjourns. If you are concerned please pass this along to your state rep.

New Topic Poll on Joe's Site

I did finally sign up as a registered user on Joe Hoeffel's site and left one comment. If you take a look the poll for next week's featured topic is up. This week's choices are:

Minimum Wage
Base Closings
Lobbying in PA
H.J.RES.55, the bipartisan resolution calling for a plan to end the war

I'm leaning towards lobbying myself but all of them look good. Someone has remarked, off site, that I seem to be obsessed with Hoeffel. This is not the case. Obsessed people are whacky losers that wander around talking to themselves. I am not obsessed, I am focused. Focused people are functioning and successful and if they appear to be talking to themselves they probably have on a cell phone headset. You see the difference here? Yes, I thought so.

Hoeffel has posted his first local endorsement, of Lori Schreiber for township commissioner in Abington. I met her once in passing at a political event. We didn't actually speak but she was very memorable, if only for having her white blonde hair in something close to a buzz cut. It would be great to get more good people in at the very local level. My township commissioner never holds meetings or forums and the only communication I've ever had is a form letter that said nothing in particular. Even so, this is an improvement over the last one.

I encourage everyone to take an interest in their elected officials at this level. It is often the race you can have the most influence on. I applaud Mr. Hoeffel for not ignoring the local races. They can be very important. I'd love to see more information on these local people. Maybe a Progressive D of the month profile of people from around the state?

But, remember, this is focusing, not obsessing.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

In the Waiting Room

So I’m sitting in the waiting room and browsing through the magazines. Some items of interest:

Details June/July 2205 issue has an article on the “male abortion,” men leaving pregnant girlfriends. It also discussed the percentage of men paying child support who discover through DNA testing that the child is not biologically theirs. They make some good points. I would add a couple of things. One man said his girlfriend of one month told him she was pregnant. There are a lot of things I could say here but I doubt anyone wants to hear them. Another is that I had an absentee parent who did not pay child support and it is not a situation I would recommend for anyone else.

Cooking Light July 2005 issue has a feature on Philly and area restaurants. There is also a very interesting article on Thomas Jefferson’s gardens and the types of food he had grown there and incorporated into his diet. After reading it I went out and bought some bing cherries to eat instead of junk food.

Good Housekeeping July 2005. See “Getting Personal,” on pages 106-108. I don’t know why this is in a women’s magazine instead of, say, Details. It is a list of good answers to questions women often ask men. Example: “Do I look fat in these pants?” Good answers: “You look great. Look at the curve they give you.” Or “You know, those pants aren’t hitting you right.” For the question “Do you remember when we went to [emotionally charge event you swear you didn’t attend]?,” try “All I remember is how gorgeous you were. Everything else is a blur.” One caveat – you have to start using these early in the relationship. If Mr. Jane were to begin saying things like this now I would assume he had been taken by the pod people.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

weekly legislative update

Here is a list of bills passed in the PA House and Senate this week. As usual, the list of sponsors has been deleted if it ran over 2 lines, in the interest of space. Resolutions are not included as they are usually passed without discussion and regard items such as naming Cow Pie Week.

PICPA, the PA CPA organization has updated their weekly legislative materials as well.

HB 137 Prior Printer's No. 138. Printer's No. 2311. An Act amending Title 75
(Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for
lighted lamp requirements for motorcycles and for restrictions on highway and
bridge use.

HB 586 Prior Printer's No. 659. Printer's No. 2314. An Act amending the act
of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949,
further providing for definitions, for distress in school districts of the
first class and for the scholarship organization educational improvement tax
credit programs; and providing for free and reduced-price school lunches in
certain circumstances.

HB 600 Prior Printer's No. 673. Printer's No. 2313. An Act amending the act
of March 4, 1971 (P.L.6, No.2), known as the Tax Reform Code of 1971, providing
for military tax credits for employers who pay or subsidize the wages of an
employee called to active duty.

HB 761 Prior Printer's Nos. 923, 1920. Printer's No. 1992. An Act amending
Titles 18 (Crimes and Offenses) and 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the
Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for the offense of invasion
of privacy; and providing for actions involving products or services used to
invade privacy.

HB 797 Prior Printer's Nos. 959, 1863. Printer's No. 2315. An Act amending the
act of March 4, 1971 (P.L.6, No.2), known as the Tax Reform Code of 1971, further
providing for the definition of "manufacture" and for other sales and use tax
definitions, for sales and use tax exclusions, for personal income tax definitions,
for classes of personal income and for special tax provisions for poverty;
providing for a credit against personal income tax and for contributions to the
Lupus Foundation of Pennsylvania of refunds by checkoff; further providing for
imposition of the corporate net income tax, for realty transfer tax definitions,
for realty transfer tax exclusions and for penalties for failing to fulfill a
historic covenant; and conferring powers and duties on the Pennsylvania Historical
and Museum Commission.

HB 1014 Prior Printer's Nos. 1160, 1965. Printer's No. 2310. An Act amending
Title 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing
for application for certificate of title, for transfer of ownership of vehicle,
for application for certificate of title by agent, for an electronic titling
program and for restrictions on use of highways and bridges.

HB 1055 Prior Printer's No. 1211. Printer's No. 1914. An Act amending Title 23
(Domestic Relations) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for
court-appointed child custody health care practitioners.

HB 1062 Prior Printer's No. 1218. Printer's No. 1961. An Act providing for a
tax credit program to support community-based mental retardation services in this

HB 1317 Printer's No. 1565. An Act to promote the general welfare and stimulate
the economy of the Commonwealth by requiring that all government agencies purchase
only flags manufactured in the United States; and imposing a penalty.

HB 1478 Prior Printer's No. 1796. Printer's No. 2309. An Act amending Titles 7
(Banks and Banking) and 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated
Statutes, regulating payday loans in terms of practice, licensure and penalties;
further providing for deceptive or fraudulent business practices; and providing
for unlicensed payday lending.

HB 1507 Prior Printer's Nos. 1841, 1972. Printer's No. 2312. An Act amending
the act of November 10, 1999 (P.L.491, No.45), known as the Pennsylvania
Construction Code Act, further providing for definitions; and providing for
applicability on certain uncertified buildings.

CALTAGIRONE and MUNDY. Printer's No. 1844. An Act amending the act of March 27,
1852 (P.L.197, No.147), entitled, "An act relative to the collection of taxes,
in Crawford and Lawrence counties; to authorize the Commissioners of Erie county
to borrow money; relative to a State road in Crawford county; extending the time
for the completion of the works of the Centreville Water Company, and relative to
Justices of the Peace of Bedford county," further providing for the collection of
State and county taxes in Lawrence County.

ARMSTRONG, SAYLOR and METCALFE. Printer's No. 1905. An Act amending the act
of June 2, 1915 (P.L.736, No.338), known as the Workers' Compensation Act,
further providing for penalties.

HB 1650 Printer's No. 2061. An Act amending Title 30 (Fish) of the Pennsylvania
Consolidated Statutes, further providing for resident, nonresident and tourist
fishing licenses.

HB 1717 Printer's No. 2174. An Act amending Titles 18 (Crimes and Offenses) and
23 (Domestic Relations) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further
providing for persons not to possess, use, manufacture, control, sell or transfer
firearms, for firearms not to be carried without licenses, for licenses, for loans,
lending or giving of firearms, for definitions, for jurisdiction, for full faith
and credit and foreign protection orders, for responsibilities of law enforcement
agencies, for commencement of proceedings, for hearings and for relief; providing
for return of relinquished firearms, other weapons and ammunition, for
relinquishment for consignment sale or lawful transfer, for relinquishment to
third party for safekeeping and for registry or database of firearm ownership;
further providing for emergency relief by minor judiciary, for arrest for
violation of order, for private criminal complaints for violation of order or
agreement, for contempt for violation of order or agreement and for procedures
and other remedies; and providing for immunity, for inability to pay and for
limitation on warrantless searches.

HB 185 Prior Printer's Nos. 189, 1643. Printer's No. 2277. An Act amending the
act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949,
providing for school district notification of residential development and for
contracts for competitive food or beverage contracts; further providing for
funding for charter schools, for cyber charter school requirements and
prohibitions and for enrollment and notification; and providing for free and
reduced-price school lunches for certain students.

HB 189 Prior Printer's Nos. 192, 1815. Printer's No. 2278. An Act amending the
act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949,
providing for nutritional standards for competitive food sales; further providing
for health services; providing for physical education and recess; and further
providing for physiology and hygiene instruction in public schools and educational
institutions receiving State appropriations, for cyber charter school requirements
and prohibitions and for enrollment and notification.

HB 191 Prior Printer's Nos. 194, 1644. Printer's No. 2279. An Act amending the
act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949,
further providing for advisory health councils; establishing local wellness
policies; and providing for the establishment of a child health and nutrition
advisory committee.

HB Prior Printer's No. 404. Printer's No. 1492. An Act amending the act of March
10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949, further
providing for the definition of "compulsory school age" and for home education

HB 670 Prior Printer's No. 763. Printer's No. 2276. An Act amending Title 42
(Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes,
providing for food purveyor immunity.


HB 815 By Representative FEESE. Prior Printer's Nos. 848, 1641. Printer's No.
2282. [The description of this bill went on for nearly one full printed page and
appears to be a budget bill. It didn’t state how the money would be spent but
where the money would come from and what time period it covered. Check the bill
number on at]

HB 1110 By Representative STAIRS. Printer's No. 1317. An Act designating State
Route 56 in Seward, Westmoreland County, as the Ricky Hafer Highway; and
designating State Route 711 in Seward, Westmoreland County, as Aaron Rusin

SB 361 Printer's No. 366. An Act amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30,
No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949, further providing for home
education programs.

SB 652 Prior Printer's No. 749. Printer's No. 973. An Act amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949, further providing for the establishment of programs, for the Educational Assistance Program and for accountability grants.

Printer's No. 799. Printer's No. 878. An Act amending the act of March 10, 1949
(P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949, further providing for
annual budget; prescribing a penalty; and making editorial changes.

SB 686 Prior Printer's Nos. 782, 813. Printer's No. 974. An Act amending the act
of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949,
repealing provisions relating to cost of tuition and maintenance of certain
exceptional children in approved institutions and in chartered schools for the
education of the deaf and the blind; and providing for cost of tuition and
maintenance of certain children in approved private schools and in chartered

Printer's No. 900. An Act amending the act of June 23, 1931 (P.L.932, No.317),
known as The Third Class City Code, further providing for beneficiaries of fund
not to be employed by the city; and providing for beneficiaries serving in
elective office.

SB 594 Printer's No. 668. An Act providing for the creation of a trust for the
benefit of certain owners of interests in oil and gas; authorizing trustee to
enter into leases of interests in oil and gas under terms and conditions
authorized by the court of common pleas; providing for the administration of the
trust and for payment of moneys to the trustee; and imposing penalties for

SB 722 Prior Printer's Nos. 866, 901. Printer's No. 976. An Act amending the act
of July 6, 1989 (P.L.169, No.32), known as the Storage Tank and Spill Prevention
Act, further providing for definition of "department," for powers and duties of the
Environmental Quality Board, for interim requirements for aboveground storage tanks
and underground storage tanks, for the expiration of the additional allocation and
for the Underground Storage Tank Environmental Cleanup Program; and providing for
investigations and closure costs.

SB 251 Prior Printer's Nos. 248, 657. Printer's No. 899. An Act amending the act
of May 26, 1947 (P.L.318, No.140), known as the CPA Law, further providing for the
title, for definitions, for the State Board of Accountancy, for examinations and
certificates, for education, for experience and for reciprocity; providing for
substantial equivalency; and further providing for fees, for licensing, for peer
review, for grounds for discipline, for ownership of working papers, for unlawful
acts and for lawful acts.

SB 386 Prior Printer's No. 390. Printer's No. 677. An Act amending Title 18
(Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing
for burglary.

SB 410 Prior Printer's Nos. 436, 785, 927. Printer's No. 933. An Act amending
the act of June 22, 1993 (P.L.105, No.24), known as the Environmental Education
Act, providing for the establishment of the Pennsylvania Center for Environmental
Education and the Pennsylvania Center for Environmental Education Board; and making
editorial changes.

GREENLEAF, C. WILLIAMS, PILEGGI and FERLO. Prior Printer's No. 542. Printer's
No. 806. An Act amending Title 20 (Decedents, Estates and Fiduciaries) of the
Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for classification and
order of payment of claims against the estate of a decedent.

Printer's No. 572. Printer's No. 872. An Act amending Title 34 (Game) of the
Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for the offense of trespass
on private property while hunting; and prescribing penalties.

SB 688 By Senator EARLL. Prior Printer's Nos. 783, 874, 922, 934. Printer's
No. 969. An Act authorizing the Department of General Services, with the approval
of the Governor and the Department of Environmental Protection, to grant and
convey to Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority certain lands situate in the
City of Erie, County of Erie.

SB 697 By Senator STOUT. Prior Printer's Nos. 834, 875, 935. Printer's No. 970. An Act authorizing and directing the Department of General Services, with the approval of the Governor, to grant and convey to Basalt Trap Rock Company, a Pennsylvania company, or its assigns, certain lands, situate in Morgan and Franklin Townships, Greene County, Pennsylvania.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Sharing Credits

Every once in a while a piece of legislation catches my eye for one reason or another. Last week, on June 13th, politicspa had an item in their press release list that I took the time to read. State rep. Josh Shapiro and 34 of his fellow legislators, from both sides of the aisle, want to make it easier to transfer from one school in Pennsylvania to another, from community colleges to four-year colleges. The basic structure of the bill calls for a statewide articulation agreement, where a course taken at one school is accepted for equal credit by another. In addition the bill calls for a statewide course numbering system, a common calendar and common prerequisites for all bachelor’s degree programs.

By odd coincidence that same day the Inky had a front page story, “Hope for Phila. In College Dropouts,” on the high rate of college dropouts in the area. “Only 14% of Philadephians 25 years or older have a college degree, but the study (by PA Economy League and the Philadelphia Workforce Investment Board) identified 80,000 more of prime working age with some college experience. If those dropouts can be persuaded to reenroll, they ‘promise the quickest and most effective way to increase our stock of college-educated workers.’” If they do return to school, what are the odds that they will return to the school they first attended? How many of those credits would be accepted?

It struck a personal chord and nudged loose an old memory. I am a “first generation college student,” that means when I went to college neither of my parents had a college degree, although Ma started taking community college classes when I was in high school and later finished up an Associates degree. One year for Christmas everyone in the family receive a tub of popcorn that her business sorority was selling. I'm extremely proud of Ma. I am also very aware that the magic piece of paper known as a diploma has made a dramatic difference in what my life is and what it might have been, and life is much better with. It will not buy you happiness but it certainly can increase your options, not to mention your potential earning power. Easing the path of college students, and making it easier for them to take credits from school to school, or to return to college without having to start over from scratch, could dramatically increase the productivity and wages of those students and their families, as well as increase the educational expectations for their children. One of the ways to drastically change the lifestyle and social class of an entire family for generations is to enhance the education of parents or people who are likely to become parents.

The memory the press release jogged was of an article the Inky ran years ago, “Comparing Classes at Penn and Montco”, by Larry King, published April 7, 1996, p. A14. Biology 102 at Penn had 150 students in the class; second semester anatomy and physiology at Montgomery County Community College had two 15 student sections. Students visited each other’s classes, completed questionnaires and surveys and were interviewed.

The results? “When students visited each other’s classes, none saw much difference in the material, only in the manner and the pace of the presentation. The most noticeable difference, they pointed out, was class size. Students said the classes were equally thorough.” Another article by King that ran the same day, on page 1, “Beating High College Costs: Go the Community College Route,” provides further evidence that students who take their first year or two of college at a community college are not academically disadvantaged and save a significant amount of money.

A statewide articulation agreement would be a real boon to students who intend from the start to transfer, those who decide to change schools later on, and those who return to school after a break. Should Rep. Shapiro and his co-sponsors manage to get all the state supported schools in the state to agree on this they will be accomplishing something with wide-ranging benefits to the state. I imagine it will be a long battle with some resistance from some schools, especially those that cultivate an image of selectivity and that advertise an “experience” as well as an education. The indoctrination starts from day one in these settings and introducing other students midway through who did not have the same orienting early years will bring some disruption and tarnish the mystique.

As for the rest of HB 1706, a statewide course numbering system, a common calendar and common prerequisites for all bachelor’s degree programs, well, good luck. Take the statewide course numbering system, standardizing this would require a lot of shuffling. Does everyone who went to college remember Freshman English? It is either indelibly imprinted on your memory or you have blotted it out altogether. Here is a list of a few local colleges and how they list and describe the course:

Penn State: ENGL 015 (GWS) RHETORIC AND COMPOSITION ( 3) Instruction and practice in writing expository prose that shows sensitivity to audience and purpose.

Rutgers: English Composition 101-102: Instruction and practice in writing expository prose, including a documented research report.

Drexel: ENGL 101-3 In ENGL 101, you learned how to write mainly expository essays; in ENGL 102, you learned how to develop a written argument; in this course, you will learn how to present in writing, your analysis, interpretation, and evaluation of a written text. In ENGL 103, we use works of literature—fiction, poetry, and drama—to hone our analytic and interpretive skills. We will also review—in the context of the study of literary works—the components of the process of writing an academic essay.

U Penn: 001-012,125 Critical Writing Seminars in English fulfill the writing requirement for all undergraduates. As discipline-based writing seminars, these courses introduce students to a topic within the discipline but emphasis throughout is upon the development of critical thinking, analytical, and writing skills.

CCP: ENGL 101-102 English Composition. This course requires the writing of academic essays of about 500 words which develop significant ideas in a sequence of well-organized paragraphs with a minimum of errors. Students are expected to use a variety of rhetorical patterns and respond in writing to assigned reading. Continuing study of the effective use of language and the composition of longer papers in which students respond to literature and/or nonfiction reading, incorporating information and ideas of others along with their own thinking. A substantial research paper is usually required, in which students make use of sources they have located and evaluated.

Villanova: ENG 1010 Composition In this Writing Intensive course, students concentrate on the writing process to produce expository prose that demonstrates analytical thinking skills and the ability to use direct and concise language for effective communication. (3 cr)

If the thought of trying to standardize this one class is daunting, imagine what would happen if you tried to standardize the requirements for a degree! Different schools have different specialties that do not mesh well, even if they are in the same discipline. A statewide calendar? That would be tough, given that most schools have semesters, but others have trimesters.

So, I wish Rep. Shapiro and the others the best of luck. Increased articulation agreements, even if it isn’t statewide but just increases the number of schools that accept each other’s credits, would be a monumental accomplishment. This is a bill, referred to the Education committee on June 20, that I will track with relish.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

IssuesPA / Health Care

IssuesPA has some new information on health care in Pennsylvania. While you are there take a look at the new poll on Santorum / Casey and public perception of issues. It is very enlightening.

The May 2005 issue of Fast Company, a magazine I read regularly, had an interesting article on change and why people do or do not make changes in their lives. Relating to health care the article quotes Raphael Levey, founder of the Global Medical Forum, as saying that "80% of the health-care budget was consumed by five behavioral issues." Edward Miller, dean of the medical school and CEO of the hospital at Johns Hopkins University said that "if you look at people after coronary-artery bypass grafting two years later, 90% of them have not changed their lifestyle."

While I am being preachy, let me put my Mom hat on and say that I caught some of the footage of the skateboarders zooming around Philly yesterday and nary a one had a helmet on. I know I'm stodgy (especially this week, I win the stodgy award) but I'm not supporting skateboarding in LOVE park until I see a lot more helmets and knee and elbow pads, and maybe some signed liability waivers.

Enough of that, lunch beckons.

Dragonballyee's Interview with Joe Hoeffel

One of the aspects of blogging that I have enjoyed the most is emailing and commenting with other bloggers. One of my favorites is the blogger at Philly (dragonballyee). He has a great interview with Joe Hoeffel, posted today. Take a look.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Why I Think Michael Jackson is Guilty

Personally, I tend to think that Michael Jackson has some "out of the ordinary" attraction to children. Whether or not he has done all of things he is accused of, I don't know. What strikes me most about the case is that Jackson does not seem to understand why people think it odd that he likes to share a bed with children, specifically young boys. This crystallized forcefully for me at 3:12 a.m. when I was carrying one of the little Janes (who has been eating more than I realized, at least given the amount of dead weight I was hefting) back to their room. Sharing a bed with children is not especially pleasant even if you love them dearly. They flop, up, down, sideways, snort, flail, kick, cling, and radiate far too much heat. The little Jane had snuck in beside me quietly enough that I didn't notice until I was whacked in the nose by a little fist, acting out who knows what dream. Many a parent has been bruised in the night by offspring sharing their bed. There are a number of reasons why many parents shift babies and young children to a separate sleeping space as quickly as possible, but simply trying to get a good night's sleep is surely chief among them. Michael Jackson may want children to share his bed but I doubt it has to do with rest.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Status of Lobbying Bill

Some of you may be wondering about the status of SB001, the bill proposing to restrict and control the power of lobbyists in Harrisburg. For a more detailed description see State Rep. Mark Cohen's blog entry on the bill.

It passed the Senate and has been in the House for almost 2 months. Here is a history of it's progress through the legislature:

An Act providing for lobbying registration, regulation and disclosure; conferring powers and imposing duties on the Department of State, the Office of Attorney General and the State Ethics Commission; imposing penalties; establishing the Lobbying Accountability Fund; and making a related repeal.

Referred to STATE GOVERNMENT, March 28, 2005
Reported as committed, April 12, 2005
First consideration, April 12, 2005
Second consideration, April 13, 2005
Re-referred to APPROPRIATIONS, April 13, 2005
Re-reported as committed, April 18, 2005
Amended on third consideration, April 20, 2005
Third consideration and final passage, April 20, 2005 (47-0)
(Remarks see Senate Journal), April 20, 2005
In the House
Referred to STATE GOVERNMENT, April 28, 2005

If you would like to contact any members of the House's state government committee, here is a list of committee members. The Philly area is fairly well represented here. If your rep is on the list you might want to contact him or her and urge that some action be taken on this issue.

State Government
Majority (Room 216 ROB)

Clymer, Paul I., Chairman
Hutchinson, Scott E., Vice Chairman
Hickernell, David S., Secretary

Boyd, Scott W.
DiGirolamo, Gene
Gabig, William I.
Gingrich, Mauree A.
Grell, Glen R.
Killion, Tom H.
Metcalfe, Daryl D.
Millard, David
Rapp, Kathy L.
Reed, Dave
Sather, Larry O.
Steil, David J.
Watson, Katharine M.

Minority (Room 300 MC)

Josephs, Babette , Chairman
Bishop, Louise Williams, Vice Chairman
Ramaley, Sean M., Secretary

Blackwell, IV, Thomas W.
Cohen, Mark B.
Curry, Lawrence H.
Fabrizio, Florindo J.
Freeman, Robert L.
Shapiro, Josh
Vitali, Greg S.
Youngblood, Rosita C.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

weekly legislative update

Here is a list of bills that passed this week in the house and senate; as usual, the list of sponsors was deleted if it ran beyond 2 lines, in the interest of saving space. Note that our hardworking legislature named a lot of bridges and highways this week. Both chambers passed a bill stating that if state library funding falls below a certain level libraries do not have to meet certain state standards. Isn't that like saying that if the state doesn't fund schools at a certain level they no longer have to teach math? I just don't like the sound of it. SB 502 (second to the last item on this list) seems very sensible and well worthwhile. Some of the other bills sound like good work as well, but I didn't have the time to read all of them. If you click on the printer's number you can see the actual text of the bill. If the imbedded links don't transfer to blogger, go to There should be a way to check on the status of legislation and read bills. Remember, you, too, can receive daily updates on legislation introduced and acted upon. Visit the state legislature's web site (see URL above) and there is a place to ask for the emails.

PICPA, the PA CPA's organization, has updated their weekly legislative update. Perusing Keystone Politics I found two other sources of legislative information and added them to my links list. Take a look at capitol ideas and Edico.


HB 1589 By Representatives MAJOR, HERMAN, SONNEY, BAKER, HANNA, STERN, CAUSER, PICKETT, RAPP and FEESE. Prior Printer's No. 1990. Printer's No. 2215. An Act amending the act of June 30, 2003 (P.L.15, No.7), known as the Medicare Hospital Service Payment Designation Act, further providing for designation of hospitals.

HB 1534 Printer's No. 1889. An Act establishing a task force on Lyme disease and related maladies; and providing for powers and duties of the task force, the Department of Health, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Game Commission, for certain antibiotic therapies and for misconduct proceedings.

HB 1400 Printer's No. 1688. An Act amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for indecent assault.

HB 1365 Prior Printer's Nos. 1653, 1916. Printer's No. 2214. An Act amending Title 23 (Domestic Relations) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for foreign decree of adoption.

HB 1361 Printer's No. 1636. An Act amending the act of May 16, 2002 (P.L.315, No.46), known as the Community Services Block Grant Act, further providing for the expiration of the act.

HB 1338 By Representative HICKERNELL. Printer's No. 1596. An Act authorizing and directing the Department of General Services, with the approval of the Governor and the Department of Military and Veterans' Affairs, to grant and convey to the Borough of Columbia, Lancaster County, certain lands situate in Columbia Borough, Lancaster County.

HB 1313 Prior Printer's No. 1561. Printer's No. 1971. An Act amending the act of December 5, 1936 (2nd Sp.Sess., 1937 P.L.2897, No.1), known as the Unemployment Compensation Law, further providing for State Unemployment Compensation Advisory Council.

HB 1285 Prior Printer's No. 1529. Printer's No. 1966. An Act amending Title 74 (Transportation) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for administrative practice and procedure; and making a related repeal.

HB 1183 Prior Printer's No. 1389. Printer's No. 1734. An Act redesignating a bridge on that portion of SR (truck route) 271 over the Conemaugh River and the Northfolk Southern mainline, Franklin Borough, Cambria County, as the Sergeant Michael Strank Memorial Bridge.

HB 1168 Prior Printer's No. 1374. Printer's No. 1873. An Act amending the act of June 13, 1967 (P.L.31, No.21), known as the Public Welfare Code, further providing for special provider participation requirements.

HB 742 Printer's No. 833. An Act amending Title 34 (Game) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for unlawful devices and methods for taking furbearers.

HB 566 Printer's No. 639. An Act amending the act of December 19, 1990 (P.L.1234, No.204), known as the Family Caregiver Support Act, further providing for reimbursements.

HB 247 Prior Printer's Nos. 273, 1862. Printer's No. 2216. An Act amending the act of July 19, 1979 (P.L.130, No.48), known as the Health Care Facilities Act, further providing for definitions; providing for licensure of home care agencies; establishing certain consumer rights and protections; and providing for inspections and plans of correction and for applicability of act.

HB 163 Prior Printer's No. 163. Printer's No. 1968. An Act amending the act of December 5, 1936 (2nd Sp.Sess., 1937 P.L.2897, No.1), known as the Unemployment Compensation Law, further providing for compensation rates.

HB 63 Prior Printer's No. 125. Printer's No. 2217. An Act providing for Commonwealth support for an Urban Teacher and Empowerment District Educator Loan Forgiveness Program for Pennsylvania residents who graduate from institutions of higher education and who apply their degrees to teaching in urban public schools in this Commonwealth.

HB 30 Printer's No. 33. An Act amending the act of June 2, 1915 (P.L.736, No.338), known as the Workers' Compensation Act, further providing for the payment of compensation to widows, widowers and children.

HB 1304 Printer's No. 1548. An Act amending the act of June 14, 1961 (P.L.324, No.188), known as The Library Code, providing for fiscal year waiver of standards.

HB 1200 Prior Printer's Nos. 1406, 1615. Printer's No. 2177. An Act amending the act of May 16, 1923 (P.L.207, No.153), referred to as the Municipal Claim and Tax Lien Law, providing for donation of property; and further providing for form of claims, for records of claims and tax liens and for report of nonpayment of taxes.

HB 488 Prior Printer's No. 527. Printer's No. 2178. An Act amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949, providing for a prototypical school facility design clearinghouse and for free and reduced-price school lunches in certain circumstances; and limiting the use of funds for implementation of the clearinghouse.

HB 114 Prior Printer's No. 112. Printer's No. 2176. An Act amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for the offense relating to corrupt organizations; and providing for an offense relating to drug-free park zones.


HB 402 Prior Printer's Nos. 427, 1459. Printer's No. 2067. An Act designating a portion of a State route in the City of Erie as Michael A. Cannavino Way; redesignating the Carey Avenue Bridge between Larksville Borough and Hanover Township, Luzerne County, as the 1st Battalion, 109th Field Artillery, PA Army National Guard Bridge; and designating the portion of State Route 28 in Etna Borough and Shaler Township in Allegheny County as the 28th Signal Battalion Memorial Highway.

SB 651 Printer's No. 748. An Act amending the act of June 14, 1961 (P.L.324, No.188), known as The Library Code, further providing for waiver of standards.

SB Printer's No. 781. An Act amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949, further providing for program of continuing professional education.

SB 706 By Senator M. WHITE. Prior Printer's No. 850. Printer's No. 928. An Act designating the Main Street Bridge in Butler, Butler County, Pennsylvania, as the General Richard Butler Bridge.

SB 721 By Senator LEMMOND. Printer's No. 865. An Act amending Title 74 (Transportation) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, designating a portion of State Route 6 in Wyoming County as a scenic byway; and designating a certain portion of State Route 92 in Susquehanna County as a scenic byway.

SB 677 Printer's No. 815. An Act designating a portion of State Route 322 in Delaware County as the Senator Clarence D. Bell Memorial Highway.

SB 141 By Senators ERICKSON, THOMPSON and PILEGGI. Printer's No. 128. An Act designating a bridge in Westtown Township, Chester County, the L. Charles Scipione Bridge.

SB 126 By Senators WENGER, ARMSTRONG and BRIGHTBILL. Printer's No. 109. An Act designating a certain bridge carrying State Route 322 over Conestoga River in Earl Township, Lancaster County as the Representative Leroy M. Zimmerman Memorial Bridge.

HB 1178 Prior Printer's No. 1384. Printer's No. 2132. An Act repealing the act of April 3, 1872 (1873 P.L.1061, No.1109), entitled "An act to incorporate the State police of Crawford and Erie counties."

SB 599 By Senator D. WHITE. Printer's No. 670. An Act designating State Route 56 in Seward, Westmoreland County, as the Ricky Hafer Highway; and designating State Route 711 in Seward, Westmoreland County, as Aaron Rusin Boulevard.

SB 573 By Senators GORDNER, LOGAN, PILEGGI, RAFFERTY, VANCE and WONDERLING. Printer's No. 623. An Act amending the act of May 21, 1943 (P.L.571, No.254), known as The Fourth to Eighth Class County Assessment Law, further providing for valuation of persons and property.

Prior Printer's No. 535. Printer's No. 717. An Act amending the act of April 6, 1951 (P.L.69, No.20), known as The Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951, requiring the disclosure of flood history to lessees of residential real property.

SB 406 By Senators PIPPY, LAVALLE, KITCHEN, STOUT, COSTA, ORIE, ARMSTRONG and LOGAN. Printer's No. 433. An Act designating SR 65 in the vicinity of Leetsdale, Allegheny County, as the James E. Russo Highway.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Joe's Poll This Week

On Joe Hoeffel's site you can vote on what you would like him to write about next week. To date 34 people have voted and John Bolton / UN is the frontrunner. Honestly, I'm kind of tired of this topic. The site seems to be smart enough to only let you vote once (or maybe the poll is down). I'm too lazy to stop by the library on the way home and run around to all the public pc's voting and rigging the election, so I'm hoping some other people will stop over and vote, unless you were going to vote for John Bolton; in that case I'd encourage you to just give the site a quick once over. I have noticed there isn't a place for write in topics or suggest a future topic. Hmmmmm. This week's choices are Guantanamo Bay, John Bolton / UN, Cable and Satellite Censorship, Africa and Other Foreign Aid, or Filibuster Compromise.

It Could Be Worse.....

Just for advance notice, I am whining in this post. Yesterday someone asked me to do them a favor and I completely botched it.

I usually pack in a lunch: carrots, orange, 2 cookies or cookie-like items, leftovers or crackers and pepperoni, all carefully sealed up because my office has ants every year at this time. Today I did not have the baggie of cookie-like items completely sealed and the ants got in. I would have been much happier if they had gotten into the carrots.

The past few days I have been working on a couple of postings that I think will be worth the read (not this one, mind you) and hope to have one of them up tomorrow. Right now I am still hiding under my desk feeling incredibly stupid and wishing I had dessert.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Joe's Site Now Live

Joe Hoeffel and Friends is now up and running. Please stop by and visit!!! You must register to leave comments but all that is needed is an email and a username. They would like a phone number and zipcode but those fields didn't have a red asterisk so I think they are optional.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Reforming Democratic Philadelphia

Chris Bowers over at MyDD has posted a very thoughtful description of Democratic politics in Philadelphia, why it needs reform, and why it hasn't gotten it yet. I look forward to future posts from Chris on this topic.

Take a few minutes and read this. Don't just skim, but read. It's long but worth it.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Selling My Body

I didn't actually sell it; I gave it away. And not all of it, just part. My hair. It used to be the only time I had a chance to get my hair cut was when I went to professional conferences. They are almost always in places near shopping areas and since I never did get into the whole shoe-buying thing I would get a haircut instead. The last few years, though, I either havent' been able to get away or the trip was cut so short there wasn't any extra time. So my hair grew. A woman at work had breast cancer two years ago and one thing she talked about was how hard it is to find a good wig. Her comments stuck with me. There is an organization called Locks of Love, that will take hair, in lengths of 10 inches or more, and make wigs for children who have medically-related hair loss. Most stylists can accomodate the requirements for sending in hair, but there are participating chains, such as the Hair Cuttery and (I think) Great Clips. These places will cut your hair for free and send your ponytail off to Locks of Love. I went to the Hair Cuttery, got a free cut, and my hair is currently winging its way to a bald kid somewhere who will probably be ecstatic to get it, split ends and all.

When I started talking about wanting to do this, as much to ensure accountability as anything else (if I've told people I intend to do this and don't it makes me look bad; creating the expectation helps me follow through on my intentions), I was surprised at how many people have also done the same thing, a 5 year old girl, a high school boy, a variety of adults. Lots of people. I was afraid my distinguished temples (what Miss Clairol calls "resistant gray") would disqualify me but since everything else as "Dark Champagne Blond" (or so it says on the box), they took it.

If you have long hair and it is starting to get in the way now that warm weather is here, think about giving it away to someone who would be thrilled to have it. You may think your hair is full of faults but to someone without any it is a priceless gift.

weekly legislative update

Below is a list of bills passed in the House or Senate this week. Also, PICPA, the statewide CPA association has a new weekly update. Community activists take note of HB 965, on the Main Street Program. As usual, sponsors were left on if there were only a few; otherwise those names were deleted for space considerations.


HB 1521 By Representatives BUNT and VEON.  Printer's No. 1865.  An Act relating to
compensation for executive branch officials.
HB 1144 By Representative J. TAYLOR.  Printer's No. 1350.  An Act repealing the act
of March 14, 1867 (P.L.440, No.415), entitled "An act for the better regulation of
public halls and places of amusement, in cities of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and
HB 1137 By Representative J. TAYLOR.  Printer's No. 1343.  An Act repealing the act
of May 13, 1927 (P.L.982, No.472), entitled "An act fixing the compensation of the
county commissioners in counties of the second class."
HB 746 Prior Printer's Nos. 837, 1913.  Printer's No. 2136.  An Act amending Title
18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing
for the offense of luring a child into a motor vehicle or structure.
HB 88 Prior Printer's No. 82.  Printer's No. 2135.  An Act enabling certain counties
and municipalities to develop comprehensive watershed storm water plans and to
regulate storm water within designated watershed boundaries; imposing duties and
conferring powers on the Department of Environmental Protection, the Environmental
Quality Board, counties and municipalities; and providing for financing and for
waiver of use of certain grant or loan funds.
HB 86 Prior Printer's No. 80. Printer's No. 1945.  An Act authorizing the Department
of Conservation and Natural Resources on behalf of the Commonwealth to agree to hold
and save the United States Army Corps of Engineers free from certain damages arising
from certain construction projects.
HB 49 Prior Printer's No. 51.  Printer's No. 2108.  An Act providing for Commonwealth
support for a Mental Health and Mental Retardation Staff Member Loan Forgiveness
Program and an Alcohol and Drug Addiction Counselor Loan Forgiveness Program for
Commonwealth residents who graduate from institutions of higher education and who
apply their degrees to careers as mental health and mental retardation staff members
in this Commonwealth.
HB 176 Printer's No. 1586.  An Act amending the act of March 4, 1971 (P.L.6, No.2),
known as the Tax Reform Code of 1971, further providing, in realty transfer tax, for
determination and notice of tax and review; providing, in realty transfer tax, for
sharing information; further providing, in local real estate transfer tax, for
imposition and for administration; providing, in local real estate transfer tax, for
regulations, for documentary stamps, for collection agents, for disbursements, for
judicial sale proceeds, for stamps, for determination and review, for liens, for
refunds, for civil penalties, for violations and for information; and making repeals.
HB 218 Prior Printer's No. 244.  Printer's No. 2104.  An Act amending the act of June
22, 2000 (P.L.318, No.32), known as the Downtown Location Law, further providing for
definitions and for powers and duties of Department of General Services.
HB 249 Printer's No. 275.  An Act amending the act of May 1, 1933 (P.L.103, No.69),
known as The Second Class Township Code, further providing for connection to water
HB 489 Prior Printer's Nos. 528, 2063.  Printer's No. 2112.  An Act amending Title 75
(Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for certain veterans
plates; and further providing for permit for movement of containerized cargo.
HB 965 Prior Printer's No. 1100.  Printer's No. 2064.  An Act amending the act of
April 23, 2002 (P.L.298, No.39), entitled "An act providing for a commercial downtown
enhancement program to be administered by the Department of Community and Economic
Development," further providing for the Main Street Program.
TAYLOR and WALKO. Prior Printer's No. 1181. Printer's No. 1612. An Act amending
Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, defining,
in theft and related offenses, "firearm" and "organized theft"; and further providing
for grading of theft offenses, for the offenses of theft of services, for retail
theft, for library theft and for the offense of bad checks.
HB 1113 Prior Printer's Nos. 1320, 1915.  Printer's No. 2065.  An Act amending Titles
18 (Crimes and Offenses) and 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the
Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for the offense of child abuse
resulting in death; and further providing for sentences for offenses against infant
SB 464 Prior Printer's No. 497.  Printer's No. 765.  An Act amending the act of
December 5, 1936 (2nd Sp.Sess., 1937 P.L. 2897, No.1), known as the Unemployment
Compensation Law, further providing for the definition of "employer" and for general
powers and duties of department, providing for representation in proceedings; further
providing for contributions by employers and employees, for successors-in-interest,
for appeals, for interest on past due contributions and for limitations upon
enforcement of payment of contributions, interest and penalties; providing for
registration and other reports; further providing for the Special Administration
Fund; providing for the Job Training Fund; further providing for the duties of the
State Treasurer as custodian and for offenses relating to false statements and
representations to prevent or reduce compensation and other offenses; and providing
for monetary penalties.
HB 100 Printer's No. 237.  An Act amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14),
known as the Public School Code of 1949, further providing for school lunch and
breakfast reimbursement.
HB 129  Prior Printer's No. 132.  Printer's No. 2066.  An Act amending Title 74
(Transportation) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for flying
while impaired; and imposing penalties.
HB 139  Printer's No. 1313.  An Act amending Title 53 (Municipalities Generally) of
the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, codifying the Optional County Affordable
Housing Funds Act; and making a related repeal.
HB 157 Printer's No. 157.  An Act amending the act of August 9, 1955 (P.L.323,
No.130), known as The County Code, further providing for the authorization of excise
tax, for the authorization of the hotel tax and for hotel room rental tax.
HB 459 Prior Printer's No. 498. Printer's No. 1456.  An Act amending the act of July
7, 1947 (P.L.1368, No.542), known as the Real Estate Tax Sale Law, further providing
for property subject to or exempt from claim and for content of claims entered; and
providing for public record lists and for report of nonpayment of taxes.
HB 654  Printer's No. 747. An Act amending Title 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania
Statutes, further providing for period of revocation or suspension of operating
HB 737  Printer's No. 828.  An Act amending the act of March 4, 1971 (P.L.6, No.2),
known as the Tax Reform Code of 1971, further defining "installment sales method of
reporting" for purposes of the personal income tax; and providing for exclusion of
fire departments from requirements to pay realty transfer tax.
HB 801 Printer's No. 963. An Act authorizing and directing the Department of Health
to establish a Cervical Cancer Task Force to evaluate and make recommendations for
education, prevention and detection of cervical cancer.
SB 124 By Senator GREENLEAF.  Prior Printer's No. 107.  Printer's No. 703.  An Act
providing for applicability of certain provisions relating to equitable division of
marital property in divorce actions; and making a related repeal.
SB 584  Prior Printer's No. 608.  Printer's No. 807.  An Act amending Title 18
(Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, defining the
offense of disarming a law enforcement officer; and providing a penalty.

SB 332 Prior Printer's No. 388. Printer's No. 805.  An Act amending Title 23
Domestic Relations) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for
foreign decree of adoption.
SB 600 By Senator D. WHITE.   Printer's No. 671.  An Act authorizing the release of
Project 70 restrictions imposed on certain land owned by Indiana County, being
conveyed by the county in return for the imposition of Project 70 restrictions on
certain land being conveyed to the county by the Department of Transportation.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

What Howard Really Said

Many of the quotes we have recently heard attributed to Howard Dean are from an interview with Tim Russert of "Meet the Press," which aired on May 22.

If you want to read exactly what was said, the transcript is available here.

Cloudy, My Thoughts are Scattered and They're Cloudy..."

My office has an oddly shaped window, tall and slender, that gives me a little view of the sky (if I stand up and lean I can see buildings, but mostly its just sky). As I write this a cloud has been sitting outside my window, momentarily resting before the wind blows it away. It looks like a lion, sitting, with it's feet pulled in and its tail curled around. It's just been sitting outside my window for a minute or two. Opps, the wind is picking up. There it goes. My brain has been scattered today and, for some reason, that just helped me collect all the thoughts back together.

Sorry for the interruption. Resume your regularly scheduled programs.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

What Gives, Howard?

This year I passed through the veil. I can no longer truthfully describe my age as "early forties." Yes, there is no question that I am a middle-aged woman. Even worse, all the demographic markers attached to me just scream that I am a bland middle-aged woman. I have 2 kids and have been married for more than 20 years to someone I met in 3rd grade. We are not only white but extremely pale. When I get around to buying make-up the shade is "near albino." The number of Sundays in a given year the entire family is not in the pew of a mainstream Protestant church could be counted on one hand. One grandmother's grandparents arrived on these shores in the 1860s. Other than that the last time anyone in my family was an immigrant this country was still a colony. When asked to bring an ethnic food to a gathering the best I can manage is an apple tart or oatmeal cookies. Maybe a bologna sandwich on white bread. No one seems particularly interested in haggis or cornpone.

As a middle-aged woman I am used to being invisible. Clothing stores generally proclaim "We don't want your money, you droopy old bat." I can't find the aptly named Sag Harbor corner of Strawbridges anymore and Talbots is too rich for my budget so I guess the next stop is the rack at Sears with the elastic waist pants. The clerks in the record store snicker when I ask if they carry anything by the Traveling Wilburys. Most new movies and television shows (to say nothing of the commercials) are clearly designed to baffle and repel me. Barnes & Noble is full of literary novels about clever young women sleeping their way to fame and fortune, and diet books loaded with ingredients I've never heard of. Even telemarketers don't want to talk with me. Just last week, after asking my age range, the young woman on the phone said "we have our quota of people in your range," and hung up on me.

But I have politics, right? After all, a vote is a vote. The amounts I donate are too small to impress much of anyone but a reliable Democratic vote has got to be worth something, surely! Alas, no. Howard Dean seems to be kicking me out of the only party I've been invited to in many many years. Howard has gone on record as saying the Republican Party is the "white, Christian party."

Ummm, Howard, .......... you've just described me.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Interesting Blogs

From time to time, while tunneling away at something, I run across interesting items on the web or a blog that speaks to me for one reason or another. Today I would like to share two of them.

For a month or so I have been reading Assembled Reflections, a United Methodist minister's blog. It is often thought-provoking.

On the other end of the spectrum, check out Clublife, a NYC bouncer's blog. His writing reminds me of the world weary policeman or detective who so often plays the protagonist (or the female protagonist's foil) in historical British mysteries.

What's Wrong With This Picture, Joe Hoeffel?

"Oh, no," you say, "not another post on Joe Hoeffel!"

This is more in the way of a visual exercise.

Take a look at The site isn't active yet but you can go ahead and bookmark it to avoid the rush later. I'm sure lots of people will let you know when it goes live.

What do you think of the picture currently on the site?

Two analagies come to mind when I look at it. One is of an angel hoving over the earth. The other has to do with pigeons and statues.

I hope this isn't the title image used when the site is activated. I would rather see a photo of Hoeffel standing in front of or in the midst of a diverse group of people holding signs saying what part of the state they are from. Something like that, where there isn't the great distinction between Joe Hoeffel and his supposed friends.

Just my 2 cents.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Legislative Update / Note to Joe Hoeffel

The state legislature did examine a few bills this week but no actions were taken.

Mr. Hoeffel, in the blogger teleconference that was discussed in some earlier postings in this blog and others, said he wanted to have legislative updates on his site.

I try to keep up with this but it is VERY tricky. You can visit the state legislature's web site and request to receive daily updates on what happens in the legislature. These emails will tell you what bills were introduced, amended, tabled, passed, etc. You can access a copy of the bill electronically or as a link through the email. At times nothing happens, other times over a hundred bills will be introduced or handled in a day. Try as I might I can't keep up with it, although I try to report any bills that have passed.

As as been mentioned here and in other places, Rep. Mark Cohen has a blog that discusses some legislation going through the system. He updated his blog this past Friday.

Keystone Politics and PoliticsPA also sometimes post notes about current legislation.

This is all catch as catch can. Much as I admire and respect Rep. Cohen for being, as far as I can tell, the ONLY elected state representative to provide this service to, not only his constituents, but the state generally, there is only so much he can cover or take the time to type.

Mr. Hoeffel mentioned linking to single issue interest groups that provide legislative information. I have tried to look into these. Most are lobbying groups or government relations arms of professional organizations (I'm not sure there is a difference but I don't want to get sued if there is). Take for example, the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA). Their goverment relations committee provides a weekly update on legislative issues. This week's update can be found here. However, if you take a look at the URL it changes week by week. This means to create a useful link to it, you have to update it weekly, unless you just link to the goverment relations page and instruct people to click on the update link on the left hand column. Considering the number of groups like this that may or may not provide legislative updates, your average citizen would have to check a number of sites weekly and click on the right spot to get the right information. You also have to keep in mind that those presenting the information may not have the most objective viewpoint.

This is just on legislation under consideration. Voting records, oy, I've blogged on that previously. It's public information, you just can't get it in any kind of timely manner.

I really think we should all ask every single state level candidate to do something about this situation.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Act 72

This weekend I hoped to write a pithy blog posting on Act 72, but in between checking one of the Little Janes for lice (a classmate has it), treating the kittens (with us one week now!) for earmites, writing thank you notes to parents who worked in my section of the spring fair, other PTA business, and going in to work for 4 hours on Saturday to catch up on a project so I can take Wednesday off to chaperone a field trip, and listening to a friend who suffered a terrible loss, it just got lost.

Fortunately, Maddona & Young wrote a good analysis that said a lot of what I was going to say, only better. Check it out here.

There are two points I want to make, or expound on. It is my understanding that percentage of school budgets paid by the state has been declining. I'll have to check that out later this week so take it with a grain of salt. What I do know is that when I was in school the school paid for our Weekly Readers and for school assemblies and playground balls and the like. That is no longer true at my local public school. Those costs, and many others, are paid for by the PTA, that is, by the parents. The PTA at the oldest Little Jane's school has an annual budget of around $50,000. That's a lot of bakes sales. Believe me, that money is earned with a lot of sweat. We don't get big donations. It is all made through wrapping paper sales, and t-shirt sales, and the spring fair and so on. When people work that hard to raise money they want a say in how it is spent. When we buy basics that means the school administration has to work with the PTA if they want that money. It shifts the power structure just a bit. The relationship between the two can be stormy. The principal has to come to the PTA and ask for support of programs that parents may not think are working. I saw a principal throw a hissy and leave a budget meeting in a snit because some things she wanted were voted down.

I would like to reaffirm Maddona & Young's theory that people don't support gambling. That includes me. Two years down the road if people arent' losing enough money at the casinos we would be hearing ads saying you could cash your social security check on the premises. That would just be pitiful. The only way we can afford schools is to encourage old people to squander their living expenses. Surely there are other alternatives. I went to Atlantic City shortly after moving to the PA, to try out for "Wheel of Fortune" (I was unemployed and depressed, that's my only excuse. I was even more depressed when I washed out after the first paper test). I lost $0.75 (seventy-five cents) at the slot machines and havent' gambled since. The casinos were just awful, sleazy men and little old ladies in track suits, looking like they spend hours there. The only times I've been back are when professional meetings were held there and it was unavoidable, and then I complained about it. Apparantly others did, too, since the meetings were moved.

I'll blog more on Act 72 later but those are my initial thoughts.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

More of Hoeffel Teleconference

My last post was hurried (rushing to get to a meeting -- the bane of a working blogger), so let me add in a few links.

All but one of the bloggers attending the Hoeffel teleconference have blogged on it. Here is the complete listing:

Maria of 2political junkies
Dan of Young Philly Politics
Albert of Philly (dragonballyee)
Ray of Young Philly Politics has not yet commented (that I know of).

The organization helping set up the site is @dvocacy.

When Joe's site is set up it will be located at

My previous posting on the subject asked for comments but blogger had, for some reason, turned off my comments. So if you tried to comment earlier and could not, please try again.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Hoeffel Blogger Conference Call

Hmmm, looks like most of the people who were in on the conference call regarding Joe Hoeffel's upcoming blog / website are posting comments. I don't want to be left out of the parade so I'll add my comments as well.

Let me start by saying how I was invited. Recently I posted a blog entry on Mr. Hoeffel's proposed new venture. In it I referenced some comments he made at a public meeting several months (a year or more?) ago. Because I was relying on my memory of what he said, and my memory can be faulty, I emailed my posting to Mr. Hoeffel to 1) let him know it would be posted and 2) ask if I remembered his comments correctly. I told him if his memory differed I would find a newspaper quote or some other verifiable source to make my point. To me this seems a basic courtesy. If I had been working with published sources, as I did when writing about Rick Santorum or Seth Williams I would not have felt obligated, but when going by distant memory it seemed like the right thing to do. Mr. Hoeffel confirmed my view of his talk, thanked me for the advance notice, and said he would be passing my name along to the woman who was helping him set up his site. She then invited me to the conference call.

I'm not sure where they got the list of bloggers. A note went out saying several people had been invited but if we had other suggestions to pass them along. Since a list of those invited was not included I had no way of knowing if the people I would suggest were already on the list or not. So I didn't add anything.

The call itself was about 30 minutes long. There were 5 bloggers on the call. Ray and Dan from Young Philly Politics and I were about the only ones to speak up. From what I heard it sounds like the site will have a poll on what issues people are interested in and Mr. Hoeffel will write on the most popular issue and then people can respond. I wonder if that means that no one else can start a conversation. It might be nice if Mr. Hoeffel invites guest bloggers, perhaps rising politicians, especially from the farflung areas that might not get a lot of statewide press, to talk about things that are important to them and their constituents. Perhaps a guest blog from someone visiting the area (Barak Obama??!!!!) on their impressions of the state or issues. Ask Greg Vitalli (state rep -- Delaware County) to write about setting up his campaign finance site. Maybe Seth Williams can write something or some of the people who might run for mayor. Ellen Bard (former Rep state rep -- Montco) had an essay in the Inky about energy a while back, maybe she would write something for him on what she is doing. Mr Hoeffel said it wouldn't always be just people who agreed with him, so let's reach across the aisle every now and then.

I edit a newsletter for a professional society and every issue we have a "my life in the trenches" column. It might be nice to have one of those every month or so, from a lower level official somewhere -- someone who oversees the polls, or a committeeperson or a township commissioner or something. A friend in Abington tells me that John Carlin, although a Republican, is really involved with his area and an all around good guy.

Albert at dragonballyee is correct that Mr. Hoeffel did talk about wanting to post voting records, yet seemed taken aback when I told him what the options were on that. I had really hoped that since he mentioned it he would know more about it than I do. It's a little alarming that he didn't.

My general impression was that the enthusiasm is there, the will is there, the intentions are there, but he doesn't really have a good idea of what he is getting into. It reminds me of an old commercial set in a company. The boss, who seems to be well liked by the employees, is going to an important meeting but he has toilet paper stuck to his shoe. The employees work out an elaborate plan, with walkie talkies and in depth strategies, to remove it before his meeting.

So, my friends, our best hope for a statewide progressive standard bearer is getting ready to start this bold new venture and I am not sure he has a clue what he up against in terms of time and energy required. You know what that means. He has toilet paper on his shoe and we can either let him look foolish in public or we can help him out. I say we give him a lot of support for at least 3 months. Let's make him look as good as we possible can for that trial period while he learns the ropes and rumbles around the blogosphere figuring where the coffee machine and the bathrooms are. After that time, if he is still clueless, we can cut him loose. If he is going strong we can ease off a little and let him fly solo. It will be summertime and lot of college students will be away so he is really going to need those of us who are around permanently to keep things going until fall.

I am making a pledge to keep the toilet paper off Joe's shoe for at least 3 months. Will anyone join me?

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Downing Street Memo

Philly Future's featured blog, Pax Romano (and some other bloggers), have been talking about the Downing Street Memo. I haven't looked into it carefully myself so I'm hesitant to say much, but if accurate, it looks like sure evidence the US government knowing mislead the American public about the reasons why we went to war in Iraq.

It's always good to have evidence that you are right, but one thing I have learned is that being right doesn't mean a darn thing. Cassandra (from the Iliad) was right. My mother was frequently (and annoyingly) right. I am right when I tell my youngest child to eat more fruit. No one wants to hear it.

Trying to make this an effective campaign issue is difficult. As seen in the recent IssuesPA poll, people tend not to trust the government so it is hardly news to discover our officials are corrupt or liars. Nor would this be the first time the government has lied about why we are going in to combat. We are in this mess and we need to figure out a good "exit strategy" that doesn't leave everyone involved worse than they were when started. You don't see any political messages on the Gold Star Mothers website, and if anyone has a right to be roiling mad about why kids are dying in Iraq it is them.

Let's read the Downing Street Memo, digest it, remember it, and then figure out how to elect people who won't do something similar.