Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Shapiro Updates

This evening I have two bits of information updating previous posts, both concerning legislation introduced by Rep. Josh Shapiro (D-153).

The State House's latest podcast concerns two bills relating to children. The first is on the proposed Katie Elise Lambert Commission to study of causes of accidental death among children. Shapiro is a prime sponsor of this bill and is interviewed in the podcast. Rep. Allyson Schwartz has introduced similar legislation on the federal level. My previous post on this subject is here.

The second Shapiro update is on HB 1706 which would allow create an articulation system among the states 14 community colleges and state-owned and state-related universities, allowing students to transfer credits from one school to another. Shapiro testified before the House Appropriation committee in support of the bill earlier this month. I wrote on this bill and the general topic here earlier, and on why this is of particular interest to me here earlier.

Anne Dicker for State Rep!

Starting this blog brought me into contact, at least virtually, with the Philadelphia blogosphere and progressive Philadelphia politics. I was quick to learn that it is impossible to do so without tripping over Anne Dicker (or, at least her name) on a regular basis. She seems to have been involved with many of the major organizations and worked for many of the candidates. She sets up meetings, drives people around, gets things going, you name it. These are not prima donna tasks but the activities of someone willing to do what is needed. I've never met her but I've been very impressed with what I have read about her and what other people have said about her.

Yesterday I was very pleased to read that she has decided to run for office, the 175th house district (part of Philadelphia County, including the neighborhoods of Queen Village, Society Hill, Old City, Northern Liberties, and Fishtown). This will be an open seat.

Good luck, Anne!!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Polling: Reader Beware

Polls and polling are an important part of politics, and one I don't know much about. To remedy this situation, and so I can write on the topic without flaunting my ignorance, I've been reading the 6th edition of Polling and the Public: What Every Citizen Should Know by Herbert Asher. Take a look at this passage from p. 53:

For example, in surveys in which the wife and husband were interviewed independently, their responses did not agree perfectly about such factual items as the number of children they had. Perhaps errors were made in transcribing their responses. Or perhaps the question was ambiguous. One spouse might have responded in terms of children living at home; the other in terms of the total number. Or one on spouse might have included children from a previous marriage, and the other might not have.

Something to make you think next time you read poll numbers.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

A Note on Andy Warren

I've written several times, positively, about Patrick Murphy, who would like to be the Democratic candidate for the 8th Congressional district (Bucks Co, part of Northeast Philadelphia, and a tiny bit of Montgomery County). I've written not so positively about Fred Viskovich, another potential Democratic candidate. That leaves only Andy Warren, the third Democratic hopeful. After reviewing the public record, here are a few of my observations. Sources are listed at the end of this post.

The History

Warren was a high school social studies teacher for 15 years. He was elected, as a Republican, to four terms as Bucks County commissioner, serving from 1979 to 1995, when he resigned to become regional supervisor at PennDOT. A full biography is available on his website.

The Opportunism

Andy Warren has wanted to be in office for a number of years. Warren once dreamed of being governor (6/16/03). In 1995, when he resigned as Bucks County commissioner, he said he eventually intended to run for office in the county again, and specifically mentioned the 8th congressional district, then held by Republican Jim Greenwood, or state office (4/17/95). In 2003 he mentioned again the possibility of running for office:

"I don't want to retire," he says. "If I retired from here [PennDOT], I would want to run for office," Are there options for this polemical figure who views elected office as the highest calling? "In Bucks County, the opportunity has not presented itself," he said. (6/16/03)

In 2004, when Greenwood suddenly withdrew from the race, Warren expressed interest in being picked by Republican leaders as Greenwood's successor, although county commissioner Mike Fitzpatrick and state senator Joe Conti were considered the frontrunners (7/22/04). Fitzpatrick was selected and ran against Democrat Ginny Schrader, winning the seat. Bucks County Republican party officials then had to select a replacement for Fitzpatrick on the county board of commissioners.

"Warren, 61, of Middletown Township gave his reason for wanting to rejoin the county board [of commissioners]: "I always believed that it was the most effective elective office that one could hold" (12/09/2004)

On his website he says something similar: “a County Commissioner is one of the few positions where one experiences the entire spectrum of human life issues.” So much for wanting to run for Congress. However, he was not as quick to round up support as some of the others interested.

"[Warren] agrees that Komelasky, Scarborough and Cawley are the front-runners at this point, in large part because they've already been contacting members of the executive committee about their interest in Fitzpatrick's seat. But he said he isn't worried that he and other potential nominees will be blocked out of the process. "They have declared, they are out running, if you will, he said. "I am technically still on the sidelines -- you can't be upset with people who are in the race." (11/29/04)

His lack of initiative wasn't the only problem. As Republican county chair Harry Fawkes said in an interview with the editorial board of the Bucks County Courier Times, Warren had been involved in some "very negative" meetings. "Once we pick him," he asserted, "we've got to get him elected." (12/13/04). The job went to Jim Cawley.

On June 2, 2005, newspapers reported that Warren was switching parties and becoming a Democrat. Fawkes said Warren "mentioned" the county party's snub of him, when the executive committee failed to nominate him for the commissioner's seat Fitzpatrick vacated to run for Congress. (6/02/05) As for his future amibitions, Warren said he did not swtich parties for the express purpose of running for any office. (6/02/05) He also did not rule out the possibility. Nor did Democratic county chair, John Cordisco who said Warren definitely would be considered for a high-level candidacy. (6/02/05) In August, though, Cordisco said of the 8th district race, "I don't know whether (Warren) will be the candidate; that's not been decided" (8/24/05). Warren admitted he's still be a Republican if he'd returned to county office, and said he would try have"'tried to change the direction' of the party from within" (9/24/05).

To be fair, Warren also mentioned that he felt out of step with Republican policies. "When one finds that his philosophy is so out of step with the organization, you either sit silently by, hypocritically, or you do something about it, he said. "It was time to move on. So I did." (6/02/05). He made similar statements in at least two other newspaper articles (2/14/06 and 7/21/05). Even so, he has said if he'd been selected for office he would still be a Republican, which is a pretty clear indication that policy matters were not his primary concern.

Seven weeks later he said people were approaching him about running for office.
"Some people have expressed interest in me as a possible candidate," Warren said. "I wouldn't say no." The Middletown resident said he hasn't been approached by the Democratic leadership, including Gov. Ed Rendell, about the possibility of running for Congress." (7/21/05).
Although he had indicated he would stay at his job at PennDOT until January, he suddenly resigned in September to campaign full-time (9/24/05).

I found two of his statements to be indicative of his current campaign. In September he said, "When I was a county commissioner, I always said I was a county commissioner that happened to be a Republican," he said. "I will be a congressman ... who happens to be registered as a Democrat." (9/24/05). Although it may have just been a slip of the tongue, I found it interesting that he happened to be a Republican, but happens to be registered as a Democrat. Those two aren't necessarily equal signs of commitment to the party and it's ideals. He has also said that he might stay in race even if Bucks County's Democratic Party endorses someone else. (2/14/06).

Since 1995 Mr. Warren has been talking about running for Congress, unless, of course, there was the possibility that he might regain his seat on the county commissioners board, and then it is the most effective elective position he could hold. He was a Republican until he disagreed with their policies, which happened to coincide with his not being selected for either office. Now he's registered as a Democrat, although he won't necessarily abide by the county party's wishes. It seems that Mr. Warren is determined to return to office, any office, and representing any party. That has to give you pause. I can understand the desire to be in the public eye and have an effect on policy, but there are many ways of doing that which do not require running for office. He was influencing regional transportation policy at PennDOT and there are similar organizations and a lot of community groups that would no doubt have welcomed Warren's participation. I am always wary of people who want to be in office, any office, any party, any time.

The Presumption

I have noticed that people who have been in office or have held office for a number of years sometimes begin to think they are coated with teflon and universally loved. Warren seems to have succombed to this syndrome. Someone in his position usually has to have a strong ego, but he can get carried away.

"Between the two of us [Warren and Schrader], I think everbody in Bucks County has voted for one of us at one time or another," Warren said (2/17/06)

"I believe I'm one of the two or three most recognizable names in Bucks County, so I have that," he said (9/24/05)

"I could be selling flowers out on the street and I would be the most visible flower seller," Warren said. (6/16/03)

He thinks he is one of the two or three most recognizable names in the county? Pick ten county residents at random and ask them who he is. Most people have a hard time telling you who their senators are, let alone county commissioners or PennDOT employees. His ego shows through in other places, too. For example, on his website biography he notes that he was voted "Most Outstanding Senior Boy" in high school. Generally speaking people stop including high school accomplishments, unless it involves something truly extraordinary (this wouldn't count) as soon as they get into college.

The Rough Edges

We can all appreciate that a congressional representative needs to have a strong personality and the ability to push for his beliefs and the best interests of the district. But they also have to have the ability to work with people, and not to unduly aggravate the rest of the House. Warren doesn't always choose his words carefully. Telling voters they are uncivilized or anarchists doesn't seem to be the best way to go about getting into office.

"It's more difficult to build [roads] in Bucks because if Newtown says it's Wednesday, Lower Makefield says, "No, it's not. It's the day before Thursday," said Warren. "And you can substitute any two municipalities in Bucks for Newtown and Lower Makefield." .... "You don't have that in places like Lackawanna county," Warren said. (2/127/05)

It's nice that he thinks so highly of the people he has and hopes again to represent. However, they come off better than his prospective Montgomery County constituents:

"PennDOT district Andy Warren says cooperative communities are far more likely to get road projects approved. The difference between Bucks County and Montgomery County is the difference between civilization and anarchy." Later in the same article "Bucks County is innately more civilized than Montgomery County -- it's that simple," said Warren after last week's so-called 'historic' conference that brought together five Bucks townships to start a dialogue for the first time over what to do with traffic, namely trucks. As an afterthought, the Bucks resident and former county commissioner urged a reporter to add to his quote, 'he said with a chuckle."" later in same article "So is Warren implying that Woodhaven Road residents -- who have sought to shut down the proejct -- are engaged in anarchy? "That impression has often crossed my mind," he said" (4/30/04)

That will like very nice on campaign brochures mailed to the Montco section of the district, but, then it's such a small part that perhaps they can be overlooked.

"A group called Residents for Regional Traffic Solutions has taken credit for getting the detour put in place. They claimed that the detour reoute was safer because it directed trucks to wider roads intended for heavy, non-residential use. [Warren] added that if other residents were upset about not being consulted, they should have been as proactive as Tonge's group. The supervisors obviously disagreed with their actions and PennDOT's. At that point Warren apologized." (8/28/2003)

While a PennDOT supervisor might get away with telling residents that if they aren't organized their opinions don't count, elected officials are probably asking for trouble saying the same things. It does certainly imply that those with the money and time to put a group together are going to get preferential treatment. I'm not saying this isn't true, just that voicing it might not work to your advantage in an election.

"This is just lunacy," Warren retorted in 1998 to a Buckingham supervisor's charge that PennDOT was purposely slowing completion of a Wycombe bridge. "If (Henry) Rowan tells me it's Friday, I'll look at a calendar." (6/16/03)

That attitude will really help form the relationships necessary to get things done in Congress.

"When the 202 issue was discussed in Solebury, he told residents there they could choke on their own congestion -- at a meeting of 150 people," Buckingham Supervisor Henry Rowan said. "Obviously, that didn't go over very well," (6/16/03).

Can't imagine why people didn't care for that comment. Another one of those comments often made in private but usually not said in public.

"Warren, a feisty official, said he thinks he could have been reelected to a fifth term as commissioner this year but he decided to take the job with PennDOT because of the opportunity to join the Ridge administration, and the money. With two sons in college, one of them in graduate school, teh $76,400 salary that comes with the PennDOT job will come in handy. he earned about $50,100 as commissioner. Warren said he also has plans to marry Shelley Gardner, a former county employee, this summer. Warren's relationship with Gardner became a political flap when he voted to increase her pay. Gardner eventually resigned from the county." (4/17/95)

"Recently [county Democrats] have returned the GOP fire, directing most of it at Warren, who opinion polls have shown generates a high negative response among county voters." (10/30/1987)

So, if I understand his comments over time, Bucks County residents are more civilized than those in Montgomery County. That should go over well with the section of Montgomery County gerrymandered into the district to siphon Democratic voters out of the 13th district. But Bucks County residents aren't all that nifty either, as they can't agree among themselves. Citizens who can muster their resources the fastest are going to get his ear, and the rest can go hang, or perhaps "choke on their own congestion." That's a great quote for the campaign brochure. He finds it appropriate to pubicly denigrate the other elected officials he has to work with, and thinks its okay to give his girlfriend a raise. Some people might think it best to recuse themselves from that sort of decision. Unfortunately the marriage did not last and Warren is currently married to his third wife.

The Campaign Talk

Warren currently has at least three campaign co-chairs. Originally he started with Milt Berkes, and Lucille Trench (2/14/06). Recently he added Ginny Schrader. Readers may remember Schrader ran against Jim Greenwood and, when he dropped out of the race, Mike Fitzpatrick two years ago for the 8th Congressional district. She initially entered that race this year, but dropped out in September. Later she announced her intention to run for the 10th Senate district. A month later she dropped out of that race, for "personal reasons." Now she has become the co-chairwoman of Andy Warren's campaign. "He's a good Democrat with good Democratic principles. When I say's he's a good Democrat, I think that will go a long way [with voters]" (2/17/06). I admire her confidence, although I'm not sure I share it.

Schrader herself was once a Republican but changed parties. In 2004, Tom Ligenfelter lost the Democratic primary to her. Ligenfelter ran as a Democrat after running for office several times as a Republican. He changed his party registration in 2003 "saying Republicans were cutting interested candidates out of the running." "Ligenfelter said party labels are largely immaterial -- they're important only because you need to be a Republican or Democrat to win public office," he says. "[Schrader] said Ligenfelter, in comparison, changed his registration for the wrong reason. When you change parties, you should be changing because you believe in the principles of the party you're changing to ... not because you want to run for office," she said (4/16/2004).

And yet, it would seem that this was, without question, and by his own admission, a factor in Warren's change of parties as well. While one cannot expect absolute consistency from campaigns, some semblance of it always adds an extra layer or credibility.


Warren intends to run for the 8th congressional district, regardless of party endorsement, as a Democrat, a party he has been a member of for all of 8 months. I would, quite honestly, hope that the party does not endorse him. Warren has said that being county commissioner is the most effective office so perhaps he would like to run for that office, for whatever party he wishes, against whatever other candidates seem to be running, next time it is up for election. He is quite sure he would have been reelected had he stayed in office so surely he would see no problems in running for it again.

I took note of an editorial he wrote in January (1/19/06), supporting our troops in Iraq. I'm pulling this phrase out of a sentence on the proposed veterans cemetery in Bucks County: "Every living soldier represents the best and bravest of our country......" In this I would agree with him wholeheartedly, and would recommend this soldier in particular.


Callaway, Brian, "GOP: He'll quit today," Bucks County Courier Times 7/22/2004 p. A1.

Callaway, Brian, "Two Democrats bucking the odds in the 8th," Intelligencer 41/6/2004 p. B3.

Callaway, Brian, "Warren quits post to run," Intelligencer 9/24/05 p. B1.

Callaway, Brian, "Warren shoring up support from Democrats, GOP," Bucks County Courier Times 2/14/06, p. A2.

Callaway, Brian, "Zeroing in on Fitzpatrick's successor," Intelligencer 11/29/05, p. B1.

Fernandez, Bob, "A new job today for ex-official in Bucks, Andy Warrent will help oversee the state road system," Philadelphia Inquirer 4/17/1995 p. N1.

Hawkes, Alison, "'Civilized' approach pays off for Bucks," Bucks County Courier Times 4/30/2004, p. A1

Hawkes, Alison, "Warren's rocky road," Intelligencer 6/16/2003, p. A1.

Klein, Julia M. "GOP mirrors Democrats in courting swing vote," Philadelphia Inquirer 10/30/1987 p. B6

Larson, Sarah and Brian Callaway, "Former commissioner switches parties," Intelligencer 6/02/2005, p. A1.

Martinez, Rick, "Building highways not in Bucks' nature," Intelligencer 2/27/2005, p. A1.

Patel, Ushma, "PennDOT truck detour signs expect to stay until Swamp Road reopens," Bucks County Courier Times 8/28/2003, p. C8.

Scheid, Brian, "Schrader quits, endorses Warren," Bucks County Courier Times 2/17/06 p.A1.

Scheid, Brian, "Warren considers run for Fitzpatrick's seat," Bucks County Courier Times 7/21/05, p. C1.

"Shallow thinking," [editorial] Intelligencer 12/13/2004 p. A6.

Turner, Dave and Christine Schiavo, "GOP candidates vie for seat -- county party leaders will nominate three among 11 seeking to replace a county commissioner," Philadelphia Inquirer 12/09/2004 p. B5.

Warren, Andy, "Unconscionable disgrace: soldiers left unprotected," [editorial] Bucks County Courier Times 1/19/2006 p. A10.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Paul Lang Update

eRobin, in her guise as Philly Burbs blogger, has a nice post on Paul Lang, state senate candidate, and referenced a Philly Burbs story on him.

weekly legislative update

On Friday the state senate shuffled 10 bills off to committees. Other than that no bills were introduced, moved, or voted on.

However, there are some weekly updates for those who wish to keep up.


GOP Senate

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Marriage Amendment

I'm late on the "marriage amendment" issue. BenP at Young Philly Politics weighed in, as has ACM at A Smoke-Filled Room. Ben had sent me the link to an article in the Beaver County Times, and I've hung on to it. I just wanted to think through what I was going to post.

For some time my stance on domestic partnerships has been that I don't like them. Now, hold off on the pitchforks and torches. Let me explain. I think any two people who want to get should married should be able to, regardless of gender, provided both are of legal age and have the capacity to consent. For the twenty-some years that I have been married to Mr. J, the marriages of our gay and lesbian friends and acquantainces have never struck me as a threat to my own.

Two people can love each other for 50 years, have children, live together, take care of each other in sickness and health, until one of them dies, but unless they sign that piece of paper they are not married. You can haul two perfect strangers into the courthouse, have them sign, and they are. We may think love and marriage go together, and they should, but are two different things. Marriage is a legal matter. Cut and dried, stripped to its essence, it is a cold legal document. One minute you are responsible only for yourself, the next you get to decide whether or not to pull the plug on someone and are liable for their debts. You may be eligible for your spouse's health benefits. You are the presumed heir of their property (and their bills). You can collect your spouse's social security benefits. We can put all kinds of religious and romantic draperies on it, but that is what marriage actually is. And it should be available to people who wish to marry someone of the same gender, equally with those of differing genders.

The "One Family's Money" column in March's Money magazine was on two women who live together as a married couple, sharing most of the traits of most married couples. Take note of this paragraph

"Because however committed they may be as a couple, Mercer and Smoot-Mercer by law have no more rights or responsibilities to each other's health and financial well-being than passers-by in the street. They can't transfer property to each other, as married people can, without paying gift tax on amounts over $12,000 (in 2006). One can't collect the other's Social Security benefits. And unless they have drafted ironclad legal documents, if one of them becomes ill, the other will not be allowed to make medical and financial decisions on her behalf." (p. 118).

The article goes over the kind of paperwork people who aren't or can't get married need to pull together to cover all their bases. If you don't have money or access to the right professionals, I think you are out of luck.

If there are people who cannot legally marry but want the protections of marriage then domestic partnerships are necessary. What I dislike about domestic partnerships is their use by people who can legally marry and would not suffer unduly from doing so (loss of pension, for instance), but simply chose not to. That's just a personal opinion.

However, reading through the problems getting rid of domestic partnerships can cause I've changed my mind. I still think those who want to marry, regardless of gender, should be able to, but am willing to concede that those who can but choose not to marry, need a legal category.

Here was the kicker for me:

Beaver County Times: Ohio marriage law created legal quagmire

[In Ohio,] Magistrates in some cases are also refusing protection from abuse requests for assault victims "living as a spouse" because it conflicts with the marriage act.

And the text of the proposed PA "marriage amendment" is equally sweeping (H.B. 2381 / S.B. 1084): "Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this Commonwealth, and neither the Commonwealth nor any of its political subdivisions shall create or recognize a legal status identical or substantially equivalent to that of marriage for unmarried individuals."

I've known women who have taken out protection orders. They don't need any more problems.

Linkin' Lois

There is a series of Lois Murphy links today. She has released a statement on the security of US ports.

We also have a triumverate of links regarding her ethics plan. She has released a statement on it, the full plan is available on her website, and the Inky had a nice article on it.

Around the Blogs

Russ Shade, candidate for the 183rd house district is interviewed by LVDem.

Capitol Ideas was especially entertaining today. Worth the read just for John Perzel's denials that he has ever been influenced by lobbyists.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Young Democrats Meeting

As mentioned earlier, the Young Democrats of America met in Philadelphia this past weekend. Here is a recap from their web page:

YDA had a crazy delicious time in the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia, PA during our Winter Conference Feb. 17-19, 2006. We had some of our best speakers to date and trainings that armed our members with skills needed to get our peers to the polls, to build up our chapters and to get more Democrats elected. New information and updates were given about our Chapter Revolution program and Alliance peer-to-peer campaigns.

We also elected new leadership for the College Caucus and High School Caucus. We look forward to seeing great things from all of the energetic student leaders of these two new caucuses.

Thank you Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Young Democrats for hosting a great conference!

Speakers included:
Governor Ed Rendell
Bob Casey
Lois Murphy
Bob Brady
Joe Hoeffel
Patrick Murphy
Leecia Roberta Eve
Blondell Reynolds-Brown
Fran Fattah
Juan Ramos
Joanne Tosti-Vasey
And many more...

A full list of the events held is at the Pennsylvania Young Democrats site.

News Round Up

From all around:

Rep. Mark Cohen has been recognized for three energy-related bills he has introduced:

On Monday, the environmental group Apollo Alliance released a report,
"New Energy for States," that outlines the best state-based clean energy
solutions. In the report, the group identified Cohen's recent
introduction of three bills to promote the use of plug-in hybrid
gas-electric vehicles and applauded him, saying that Cohen is "providing
a model the nation should follow."

details here

A Smoke-Filled Room gives a synopsis of the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce's efforts to rein in campaign spending.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Progressive Policy Program for States

The Progressive Legislation Action Network has formally and officially launched the Progressive States web site. It will focus on monitoring and encouraging progressive laws and programs at the state level. In an article in In These Times, the rational is given as follows:

Most progressives fail to realize that state governments collectively have as much—and in some cases, more—power over the issues they care about as the federal government. State and local revenues are about equal to federal tax revenue, and in an era of “flexibility” and “waivers,” federal money is increasingly handed over to the states with few strings attached. In explaining conservatives’ focus on state legislation, ALEC’s Medicaid specialist James Frogue observed, “Innovations and reforms in Medicaid will come from the states. They will not come from D.C.”

(Note: ALEC is the American Legislative Exchance Council, the existing and very active GOP version.)

PLAN has a lengthy report outlining the reason they formed, what the conversatives are doing along these same lines, and what they propose to do in response. The executive summary is here, and there is a link to the full report if you want to read through that.

This is an interesting idea and one that I hope takes off. You will be hearing more about it here, I'm sure.

Will Bunch on Santorum

I'm sure by the time you see this blog entry you will have already read Will Bunch's article in the American Prospect on Rick Santorum, his mortgage, and the odd expenses paid by his leadership pack. But, if you haven't, be sure to take the time to do so. Bunch is a reporter and blogger for the Daily News.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Another Senate Race Update

According to a press release:

Alan Sandals spoke at the Hunting and Fishing Expo about the need to "preserve the rights of lawful gun owners at the same time that we protect children from gun violence in our cities." While he was initially met with skepticism by the rural hunting community, Mr. Sandals made the case that the safety of urban children should be a top concern. Mr. Sandals regularly visits minority Churches in Philadelphia to support community efforts such as Mayor John Street's "Operation Safer Streets."

Bloggers affiliated with Chuck Pennacchio's campaign are having an online petition drive. I'm not sure I grasp the concept but a lot of people are enthusiastic about it.

Joe's Got Mo'

From politicspa:

Joe Hoeffel who has announced that he is circulating petitions to run for lt. gov. has recieved his first endorsement, from John Morganelli, Northampton County District Attorney.

The Montgomery County Democratic Executive Committee has recommend a Hoeffel endorsement at the county convention next month. Cumberland and Lancast County Democrats voted for an open primary. Delware County Democrats have postponed their lt. gov. endorements until April.

Like every other candidate in the state, Joe is looking for people to get petition signatures. It you are carrying around one petition, it won't be any extra effort to carry around another one. (see his website for details)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

2 Rosses, Not One Rachel

I have two new state house campaign web sites to report on this week. Take careful notes are they are easy to confuse.

Ross Schriftman who wants to be the Democratic candidate in House district 152 against either incumbent Sue Cornell or Republican primary challenger Tom Murt. Schriftman's web site? www.rossfor152.org/

Russ Shade has declared his candidacy for house district 183 against Republican incumbent Julie Harhart. His web site? www.russforpa183.com

To date, I am unaware of any Rachels running for office in the state this year. If you know of any, or of any Phoebes or Joeys (not Joe, we have those, but Joeys) we can have our own version of "Friends."

[Note: I originally misread Russ Shade's name as Ross and thus the title of this post. I've corrected it now and apologize to Mr. Shade for the mistake. This is what happens when you blog past your bedtime.]

weekly legislative update

As I mentioned in the previous posting, the governor called a special legislative session to look into property tax reform. Information from that session is included here as well. Standard caveats apply (resolutions not generally included, list of sponsors deleted if it was too long - three lines in the originally formatting).

Our accountants friends at PICPA have updated their legislative page, and have a lot to say about property tax reform.

Other weekly updates are available for this week:

PA House Democrats
PA House GOP daily updates
PA Senate Democrats
PA Senate Republicans

Special Session

These bills were introduced, or referred to a committee, not voted on. The descriptions tended to be pretty much the same, with only a few variations.

Monday HB 39, the House reported as committed, and non-concurred with Senate amendments
Tuesday no action
Wednesday HB 39 Senate insists on its amendments non-concurred in the House
Thursday Sr 5 A Resolution adopting additional rules of the Senate for Special Session No. 1 of 2005.
Friday no action

Regular Session

These bills were passed.



HB617 Prior Printer's No. 690. Printer's No. 3401. An Act relating to crane operator licensure; establishing the State Board of Crane Operators; conferring powers and imposing duties; making an appropriation; and imposing penalties.

HB1472 Printer's No. 1790 An Act amending Titles 18 (Crimes and Offenses) and 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for invasion of privacy and for registration.

HB 2234 Prior Printer's No. 3113. Printer's No. 3559. An Act providing for eligibility for the PACE AND PACENET programs and for expiration of act.

HB 2303 By Representatives BOYD, DENLINGER, MACKERETH, FREEMAN and GANNON. Printer's No. 3227. An Act amending the act of September 27, 1961 (P.L.1700, No.699), known as the Pharmacy Act, further providing for licensure; and imposing functions on the Commissioner of Professional and Occupational Affairs and the Legislative Reference Bureau.

HB 2319 Prior Printer's No. 3281. Printer's No. 3560. An Act prohibiting the use of illegal immigrant labor on projects; imposing powers and duties on executive agencies of the Commonwealth; and providing for remedies.

HB 2376 Prior Printer's No. 3392. Printer's No. 3454. An Act amending the act of April 12, 1951 (P.L.90, No.21), known as the Liquor Code, further providing for responsible alcohol management remediation for licensees.

HB 2383 Prior Printer's Nos. 3399, 3456. Printer's No. 3574. An Act amending the act of April 12, 1951 (P.L.90, No.21), known as the Liquor Code, further providing for definitions; and requiring the Bureau of Alcohol Education to make certain reports to the General Assembly.

SB 509 By Senators WAUGH, D. WHITE, RAFFERTY, KITCHEN, LEMMOND, THOMPSON, WOZNIAK, 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.


SB 1081 Prior Printer's Nos. 1458, 1499. Printer's No. 1512. An Act amending Title 51 (Military Affairs) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for limitations and eligibility in educational assistance program.

SB 733 By Senators GORDNER, TARTAGLIONE, LEMMOND, MUSTO, WONDERLING, LAVALLE, PIPPY, COSTA, TOMLINSON, RAFFERTY, LOGAN, BOSCOLA, RHOADES, FERLO and KASUNIC. Prior Printer's Nos. 886, 1497. Printer's No. 1522. An Act amending the act of June 21, 1939 (P.L.566, No.284), known as The Pennsylvania Occupational Disease Act, providing further benefits.

SB 1025 By Senators MADIGAN, M. WHITE, BRIGHTBILL, STOUT, PICCOLA, PUNT, PILEGGI, LAVALLE, EARLL, THOMPSON, ORIE, WOZNIAK, SCARNATI, CORMAN, WAUGH, RHOADES, ROBBINS, LEMMOND, WENGER, KASUNIC and ARMSTRONG. Prior Printer's Nos. 1394, 1415. Printer's No. 1523. An Act limiting the authority of the Environmental Quality Board over the Pennsylvania Clean Vehicles Program; establishing the Pennsylvania Clean Vehicles Program; imposing duties and responsibilities on the Department of Transportation and the Department of Environmental Protection; and abrogating a regulation.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Hoeffel Definite (Sort of) for Lt. Gov.

According to today's Inky, Joe Hoeffel has definite plans to run for lt. gov.

Receiving no objection from Gov. Rendell, former U.S. Rep. Joseph Hoeffel said yesterday he would move ahead with his planned campaign for lieutenant governor.

I've made my regard for Hoeffel clear in previous posts. This will be an interesting race to watch.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A Chain of Links

Some interesting posts around on the net the past few days.

Check out LVDem's interview with Justin Behrens (sometimes called Justin Valera Behrens), candidate for congress in PA-15. State Rep Josh Shapiro (D-153) is interviewed / featured in PennEnvironment's Winter Report, focusing on Growing Greener II.

Philadelphians Against Santorum (www.phillyagainstsantorum.org) is designed to highlight the effects of Santorum's legislation on the city.

There are a number of interesting postings out there on the Mike Fitzpatrick / Patrick Murphy PA-06 congressional race. Check out this blog by eRobin from Phillyburbs, this mydd posting, and this press release from the Murphy campaign. (There may be more on this later).

Spotlight on: The Garnet Donkeys

Over 200 Young Democrats from across the nation will gather in Philadelphia on Presidents' Weekend for the Young Democrats of America (YDA) Winter National Conference, February 17-19, 2006. (press release here)

Young Democrats of America is the official youth outreach arm of the Democratic National Committee and the largest Democratic youth political organization. Four times a year, young democrats from around the country come together to meet their counterparts in other states, organize strategic partnerships, get trained in critical skills and plan for the year ahead.

In honor of this event, I'd like to highlight one of the local organizations. The Garnet Donkeys of Swarthmore College. I've been watching their blog for awhile and have been impressed with it for a number of reasons.

One is that the postings are thoughtful and well-written. There isn't a lot of "in your face" rhetoric or name calling or vulgar language. These are pieces actually worth reading.

Even though most of the students at Swarthmore are from outside the region, they are very involved with local races. They've had some excellent postings on the PA-07 race and it sounds like they are involved with the other local democratic organizations.

The blog is actually kept up – there are regular posts written by a variety of students. As with all group blogs some people write more than others but they do have a diversity of voices, respectful even in disagreement.

The entire website speaks of civility. There is a very clear statement on the home page that speaks to the acceptance of varying opinions: "I've never attended a Swat Dems meeting where we all uniformly agreed on something."

Their list of accomplishments over the last few years is very impressive.

I like the logo!

Hats off to the Garnet Donkeys generally, and the leadership in particular for setting the tone.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


It's petition time. You may see candidates or volunteers at train stations or going door to door or at events. Take pity on them and, if you can, sign. It doesn't commit you to voting for that person or even necessarily supporting them; its just saying they can be on the ballot. Sign petitions only for candidates in the party you are registered with and sign only one per race.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Online Resource Guide

Taking a break from politics tonight. In honor of the sentiments of the day, I'm highlighting a community building publication available free on the web (pdf file).

Discovering Community Power: A Guide to Mobilizing Local Assets and Your Organization's Capacity, by John P. Kretzmann and John L. McKnight, with Sarah Dobrowolski and Deborah Puntenney.

It is a 34 page workbook designed to help organizations realize what their connections and strengths are. If you are new to community work it might prove very useful in mapping out what your assets are. Experienced community builders and elected officials may want to have a copy on hand to use with new organizations or to develop community groups where needed.

Tomorrow we will return to our previously scheduled political snark.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Bad Valentines Poetry

With all the snow and attendant chaos I imagine a few Valentine's dinners and outings will be postponed or canceled. Although this is one of the harsher examples, take note of your options:

If your honey's gone and left you
just before V-Day
Hock the sparklies, take the money
send it Patrick Murphy's way.

If you prefer to send your money to a statewide race consider this guy or this guy. GOP? there's this guy.

As incentive, if any of these campaigns send me any indication that they received any contributions as a result of this post, or if any readers leaves a comment or email to that effect, I promise there will be no more bad poetry this calendar year, except for election days. I can't let an election day go by without bad poetry.

So, it's a deal, yes?

Another Phone Survey

Tonight I got another of those survey phone calls. This one dealt with education. The questions covered how I viewed education in the state and in my local area. Also a lot of questions on No Child Left Behind, Act 72, and what I thought should be educational priorities (athletics, performing arts, academics, etc.) Most questions had a 1-5 scale, some had A-F grades (for the schools -- how clever). They also asked was radio, tv, and newspaper media I listened to, watched or read, as well as whether or not I was involved in the pta/pto for my kids' school and if I voted in the last municipal and school board elections (yessiree Bob to both).

The man asking the questions was a velvet-voiced smoothie so he was able to weasle a little more personal info out of me than I usually give. However, when I turned the tables and asked who the survey was for he said they weren't given that information. The firm was ICT, American Market Research Corp. It will be interesting to see where this data ends up.

Reading Patrick Murphy

Patrick Murphy is running for Congress in PA-08, which includes Bucks County, part of Northeast Philadelphia, and an oddly shaped drop of Montgomery County. When he was a professor at West Point, Murphy wrote a column, called Murphy's Law, for the school paper. By nosing around I found 38 of these columns, from 2000 through 2003. I'm sure there are some that I missed and there are earlier columns that I could not find. But 38 is a good number. Each is between two and three pages long, for a total of about 80 pages or so. You can tell a lot about someone from their writing. Only the most skilled of speech or ghost writers can keep their personality from showing through.

For instance, I have lived in the Delaware Valley for about 15 years now and have managed to avoid learning anything about Philadelphia sports besides which teams play which game (Eagles = football, Flyers = hockey, etc.) Patrick Murphy lives and breathes his Phillies, his Eagles, his Flyers, and so on. He can't put pen to paper without mentioning them, if only in passing. Let there be no doubt that wherever he was stationed his heart and attention were never from from his hometown. I think of the 38 columns I looked at, he mentioned Philadelpia sports in all but something like three of them. He knew the teams, the players, their rankings, their wins and losses. Should you ever meet him and are stuck for a conversation topic, ask about sports.

He likes quotes. There are usually one or two on his web site. He had at least one quote on all but a few of his columns. The sources are wide-ranging, too. He either keeps a copy of Bartlett's Quotations on his desk or he is very widely read.

Initially I wondered if other professors at the college wrote columns and his was one of many, but I didn't see any evidence of that. When Murphy was deployed to Bosnia a few other people stepped in but no one took over temporarily. This leads me to believe that he simply wanted to do it and the powers that be found it to be a good way of distributing information to the readership at large. In other words, he likes communicating and can keep up with a writing schedule. It isn't always fun writing a column (or a blog) on a regular basis and it takes self-discipline, especially over a period of years. If this was in addition to his regular duties, as I imagine it to have been, it shows a strength of character. The columns show a continuity of voice and the tenor of that voice changed when other people wrote while he was away. To me, this is an indication that he wrote all of the columns that appeared under his name. A few times, when dealing with a very specific topic an expert in that area was listed as co-author, but the words themselves were still his.

Murphy writes well. Many of his columns dealt with mundane matters, insurance, taxation, estate plans, identity theft, ethics and rules of gift giving, parking, snow removal, and so on. These topics are important, but not exactly enthralling. These are the kinds of matters that Congress deals with and to be a good congressman you have to really take an interest in such stuff. Murphy presents them in an understandable fashion and always provides phone numbers and/or web sites for follow-up. He says just enough to get the point across but doesn't weigh everyone down with details. I think this would be an important characteristic in someone who has to communicate the happenings of Congress to his constituents and vice versa. He also discusses historical events, encourages charity work, community service and even organ donation! He writes about the heritage of West Point. The breadth of subjects is the sign of an inquisitive mind and a broad education.

There are certain things he said in a few of his columns that I really liked and that resonated with me as a voter. One was his mentions those who worked and served in less than glamorous occupations. Here are two that stood out:

"Often, when looking at the cadets past and present, it's easy to overlook the people behind the scenes who help make this nation's treasure a reality. From civilians who cut the cadet's hair or make their meals, to the 'non-grad' soldiers who patch their wounds and guard their gates -- these are people who also make this institution so legendary." (March 15, 2002)

"It is a team effort here -- with soldiers, cafeteria workers, janitors. teachers, mentors, civilians, fellow cadets, parents and siblings sharing their life with cadets -- and make this a premier leadership institution." (May 30, 2003)

This shows respect for those who may not have a lot of political pull or money to toss around and is another characteristic I would look for in an elected representative.

It is difficult to talk about patriotism without sounding corny, even if your heart is in it. Simply mouthing the words without any meaning behind them has always seemed somewhat blasphemous to me. Murphy writes of patriotism often, in a sincere fashion, and not with the stereotypic military rhetoric that I would have expected. Here are a few examples of this:

"Our nation was attacked because it is a beacon of liberty. Our Constitution and our leadership will not let justice and freedom be compromised." (September 14, 2001)

"More than 270 million Americans who love peace, justice and equality for all is a beautiful thing and something to be truly thankful for. Hopefully we'll continue to come together and learn to put some of our pre-September 11 issues into their proper persepctives. Murphy's Law tips its cap to this great nation and to all the ideals it stands for." (November 21, 2001)

As I read through these columns I was impressed with the breadth of topics he wrote about, his devotion to the Philadelphia area, the sincerity of his writing and the humor he used to explain difficult topics. I was especially impressed with his writings on ethics. For example,
"Because our fellow citizens place a special trust in the military service and federal employment, we are held to a high standard of professional behavior. (December 7, 2001)."

I wish that more of our elected officials felt this way!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Senate Race Briefs

Two brief notes from the contenders for the Democratic senate nomination:

Alan Sandals was interviewed in the City Paper.

Chuck Pennacchio wants your view on his radio spots. Listen and vote.

(Note: I originally wrote that Pennacchio's ads were tv. My thanks to a reader who caught the error and let me know.)

weather report

I trekked out for a paper this morning (only to see the blue plastic delivery bag peeking through the snow on the driveway as I came home). My street was plowed sometime during the night but still has about a foot of snow on it. There was little traffic on the main road (about 9 a.m.), but I didn't see any cars slide or get stuck. The plow hasn't been by again (it's now 11:20 a.m.). The snow on the sidewalks is roughly a foot and a half high (measured against my knee and then a yardstick when I got home). Church was cancelled and I doubt ours was the only one.

It isn't good sledding snow -- the kids just sink. But a sidewalk that has been cleared provides a pretty slick surface and they went down that a few times. The youngest little Jane can't get around well -- not tall enough yet to get through the deep spots without getting stuck. The kids look like little butterballs in snowsuits and boots and coats, etc.

This morning when I went out there was still a stinging snow coming down but it seems to have stopped now. Other than forced ventures out for tag team parenting / sled & snow supervision, I plan on staying indoors today. It's cold and wet and very deep.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

More on Patrick Murphy

In article from The Hill (as in Capitol Hill) on the number of Iraqi vets running for office as Democrats, we find this sentence:

A Democratic campaign aide in Washington, asked which veterans showed the most promise, listed two: Tammy Duckworth, in Ill.-6, and Patrick Murphy, in Pa.-8.

There was also a note about this on phillyburbs.com

weekly legislative update

As I mentioned in the previous posting, the governor called a special legislative session to look into property tax reform. Information from that session is included here as well. Standard caveats apply (resolutions not generally included, list of sponsors deleted if it was too long - three lines in the originally formatting).

Our accountants friends at PICPA have updated their legislative page, and have a lot to say about property tax reform.

Other weekly updates are available for this week:

PA House Democrats
PA House GOP daily updates
PA Senate Democrats
PA Senate Republicans

Special Session

This bill passed the house on Monday:

HB 39 Prior Printer's Nos. 41, 62. Printer's No. 91.An Act providing for taxation by school districts, for the State funds formula, for tax relief in first class cities, for school district choice and voter participation and for other school district options; making an appropriation; prohibiting prior authorized taxation; providing for installment payment of taxes; restricting the power of certain school districts to levy, assess and collect taxes; and making related repeals.

These bills were introduced, or referred to a committee, not voted on. The descriptions tended to be pretty much the same, with only a few variations.

Monday The Senate referred SB04 and SB36 to the Legislation committee
Tuesday no action
Wednesday HB39 referred to Rules, HB42 laid on the table and removed from the table
Thursday no action
Friday no action

Regular Session


Here are some of the resolutions that caught my eye.

Serial No. 160 By Senators GREENLEAF, COSTA, LEMMOND, ORIE, EARLL, RAFFERTY, O'PAKE, FERLO, ERICKSON, ARMSTRONG, WONDERLING, WASHINGTON, BOSCOLA and STACK. Printer's No. 1112. A Concurrent Resolution directing the Joint State Government Commission to establish a bipartisan task force with an advisory committee to conduct a comprehensive review of the current status of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services within the panoply of methods of conflict resolution available in this Commonwealth, to identify relevant best practices in the delivery of ADR services locally and nationally and how to improve conflict resolution in this Commonwealth by incorporating these best practices, to develop a plan for educating the citizens of this Commonwealth about conflict resolution in general and the use of ADR services in particular, as well as ensuring access to all needed ADR services, utilizing best practices and to propose legislation as may be required to implement the proposed plan and advance the use of innovative conflict resolution methods Statewide in the civil courts and in schools, businesses, government, criminal and juvenile justice systems and other community settings.

HR 562 A Resolution establishing and directing a select committee to examine matters relating to influenza vaccine supplies and the Commonwealth's preparedness for an influenza outbreak.

HR 583 Printer's No. 3517. A Resolution calling on the Department of Public Welfare to address legitimate grievances of Pennsylvania's pharmacies and to explore options which preserve the ability of pharmacies, especially independent, family-owned pharmacies, to continue providing quality pharmaceutical services to department clients.


Please take note of HB1260 -- polka and square dancing. This could impact the future of Philadelphia as the new borough of NYC. I'm not sure those two things are really popular in the Big Apple. However, I do-si-do-ed a number of times during my wild and crazy undergraduate years and can tell it is good exercise and helps with coordination. Maybe not as much as a good tango, but you can involve a larger social circle in square dancing. Gingham and denim are optional.

Please also note HB 2337, to include economic and personal financial literacy programs in schools. Given that this is Financial Literacy Month in PA, and that our state legislature has rammed legalized gambling down our throats whether we want it or not (guess where I fall on this question), and that the county as a whole now has a negative savings rate, I think this is a grand idea.


HB 1902 Prior Printer's Nos. 2603, 2950. Printer's No. 3513. An Act amending the act of July 28, 1988 (P.L.556, No.101), known as the Municipal Waste Planning, Recycling and Waste Reduction Act, further providing for sunset for recycling fee and for performance grants for municipal recycling programs.

HB 671 Prior Printer's No. 764. Printer's No. 3531. An Act amending the act of June 30, 1981 (P.L.128, No.43), known as the Agricultural Area Security Law, further providing for purchase of agricultural conservation easements.

HB1260 Prior Printer's No. 1486. Printer's No. 3533. An Act designating polka music as the official folk music of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; and designating the American square dance as the official folk dance of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

HB 1637 By Representatives KENNEY, J. TAYLOR, BELFANTI, CALTAGIRONE, CRAHALLA, CREIGHTON, DENLINGER, JAMES, KOTIK, PYLE, STABACK, THOMAS, WALKO, YOUNGBLOOD, MUSTIO, M. KELLER, BEYER, FAIRCHILD and LEH. Prior Printer's No. 2022. Printer's No. 3530. An Act amending the act of August 24, 1963 (P.L.1175, No.497), known as the Mechanics' Lien Law of 1963, further providing for definitions, for waiver of liens, for effect of waiver of liens, for rescission of contracts between contractors and subcontractors and for priority of liens.

HB 2337 Prior Printer's Nos. 3343, 3416. Printer's No. 3532. An Act amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949, providing for development of economic education and personal financial literacy programs.

SB 929 By Senators ROBBINS, M. WHITE, BOSCOLA, ERICKSON, WOZNIAK, LEMMOND, PILEGGI, COSTA, RAFFERTY, D. WHITE, KITCHEN, WASHINGTON, FONTANA and MUSTO. Printer's No. 1218. An Act prohibiting the advertising and conducting of certain live musical performances or productions; providing for enforcement; and imposing a penalty.


HB 1114 Prior Printer's No. 1321. Printer's No. 1946. An Act amending the act of December 19, 1996 (P.L.1478, No.190), entitled "An act relating to the recycling and reuse of waste tires; providing for the proper disposal of waste tires and the cleanup of stockpiled tires; authorizing investment tax credits for utilizing waste tires; providing remediation grants for the cleanup of tire piles and for
pollution prevention programs for small business and households; establishing the Small Business and Household Pollution Prevention Program and management standards for small business hazardous waste; providing for a household hazardous waste program and for grant programs; making appropriations; and making repeals," further providing for the definition of "waste tire"; defining "recycled tire product" and "waste tire recycling facility"; and further providing for the disposal of whole waste tires, for Environmental Quality Board regulations, for waste tire registry and for remediation liens.

HB 1455 By Representative WILT. Printer's No. 1753. An Act designating the intersection of State Route 18 and State Route 58 in Greenville, Mercer County, as the Joseph J. Lininger Intersection.

SB 303 By Senators PILEGGI, PUNT, GREENLEAF, ERICKSON, THOMPSON, RHOADES, WOZNIAK, TOMLINSON, KITCHEN, WONDERLING, TARTAGLIONE, LOGAN, KASUNIC, MUSTO, WAUGH, LEMMOND, RAFFERTY and STOUT. Prior Printer's No. 315. Printer's No. 1356. An Act amending Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for fees for constables.

HB 599 Prior Printer's Nos. 672, 2341, 2395. Printer's No. 3528. An Act amending the act of July 31, 2003 (P.L.73, No.17), known as the Volunteer Fire Company and Volunteer Ambulance Service Grant Act, further providing for award of grants and for expiration of authority; and making an appropriation.

HB1401 Printer's No. 1691. An Act designating a bridge on State Route 150 crossing the Beech Creek in Clinton and Centre Counties, Pennsylvania, as the Beech Creek Veterans Memorial Bridge.

HB 1525 Prior Printer's Nos. 1858, 2398. Printer's No. 2743. An Act amending the act of April 12, 1951 (P.L.90, No.21), known as the Liquor Code, further providing for limiting the number of retail licenses to be issued in each county.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Lentz to Run for State House

Bryan Lentz has decided to withdraw his candidacy to be the Democratic candidate for the 7th Congressional district, currently held by Republican Curt Weldon. Instead he will run for the state house seat currently held by Tom Gannon.

According to the Times Leader:

Bryan Lentz said that after conversations with Delaware County Democratic Party officials and Gov. Ed Rendell, he decided it was in the best interest of the party to step aside. He said he will run for the state House instead.

Later in the same article:

"I met with Joe Sestak and I met with my close supporters and we assessed that the best way to bring change to Washington and to Harrisburg was to move forward on a unified front," Lentz said.

Sestak, who served in Afghanistan, praised Lentz as a good soldier and candidate. The two are scheduled to appear together at a news conference Friday afternoon in Media.

(via politicspa)

This one hurts.

Source: Hefling, Kimberly, "Iraq War Veteran Drops Out of U.S. House Race," Times Leader, Feb. 9, 2006

GOP Ticket Set

Rep. Mike Turzai has announced that he is dropping out of the lt. gov. race, clearing the way for Jim Matthews. This means the GOP gobernatorial ticket is set. Lynn Swann for Governor, Jim Matthews for the second spot. (details, via politicspa)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Are You Ready for Your Close-Up?

This came in over the transom this week:

Lewisburg – The Pennsylvania Election Project is seeking volunteer “field correspondents” to help produce online video coverage of the Commonwealth’s 2006 elections.

“We are asking Pennsylvanians to get out their digital camcorders and make video of the political process in their communities this year,” said Peter Wiley, organizer of the Election Project.

“We’ll take the submitted video and make it available online for everyone in the state to see. The result, we hope, will be a unique online document that will tell the story of Pennsylvania’s democracy in action through the eyes of its citizens over the course of the year,” said Wiley.

Anyone interested in contributing video to the Election Project should visit the project Web site at www.paelection2006.com for information on how to make a submission.

It sounds like an interesting project but sets off alarm bells for someone like me, who ducks cameras at every opportunity. I've been at two political events this month and at each I've had to find some tall person to quietly step behind when the guy with the public access channel camera starts panning the room. But some people like to be on film so, hey, if you have a camera, give it some thought. Just take a hint if there are people in the room who suddenly hold a sign up in front of their face or have to stoop down and tie a shoe every time the red light goes on, and point the thing somewhere else.

Endorsements for Lentz

February 8, 2006 Over 40 former prosecutors and retired police officers
announced their support today of Bryan Lentz, the frontrunner for the
Democratic nomination in Pennsylvania’s seventh congressional district.
Lentz, an Iraq war veteran who virtually matched incumbent U.S. Rep. Curt
Weldon dollar-for-dollar in fundraising last quarter, served from 1993 to
1999 as an Assistant District Attorney in Philadelphia. (via press release on politicspa)

Special Election Set

The special election to fill the remaining term of State Sen. Robert Thompson, who died recently, will be May 16th. This is the same day the primary election. (via today's Inquirer, p. B3)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Two Unrelated Things

For anyone who has been disconnected from any sort of news media, Bill Scranton has withdrawn his bid to be the Republican gubneratorial candidate and thus leaves the way clear for Lynn Swann. (press release via politicspa). The GOP seems to hope that Scranton's announcement will heal any cleavage within the party.

And speaking of cleavage, the current (Feb/March 2006)issue of Pink magazine has an article entitled "Cleavage Crisis," (p. 80-83)that quotes Bucks County image consultant Georgia Donovan, on her views of appropriate business attire.

These two things have nothing to do with each other, besides crossing my desk on the same day, and it has been a very long day.

News Round Up

Just a few bits of news:

Patrick Murphy has been getting some good press, both domesticly and internationally.

I've been following the state house race in the 152nd district. So far Republican challenger Tom Murt is taking on incumbent Republican Sue Cornell. Democrat Ross Schriftman, who ran against Cornell two years ago, has announced that he is tossing his hat in the ring again. (press release on politicspa).

In shopper news, we find this item from today's Inky (p. C1): Boscov's will buy ten stores from Federated Department Stores, Inc., including four Strawbridges stores in the Philly area. The four are at: Deptford Mall, Montgomery Mall, Oxford Valley Mall, and Willow Grove Park Mall.

Conference Tips

Yesterday's Inquirer had a front page story on state legislators' cumulative $130,000 bill to attend the National Conference of State Legislators. Some of the legislators mentioned in the story didn't bill the state for their travel, but some did. Topping the list was Marc Cohen who piggybacked the conference with another conference just before the NCSL conference (on labor) and another right after (for state government reporters). Cohen's airfare was $898.00 and his nightly hotel bill was $231.00. For legislators who did not want to bill for specific items the state provided a $204 per diem for food and lodging.

I think it is a good idea for our legislators to meet with their counterparts from other states and a $204 per diem sounds reasonable to me. The conference topic strikes home for me right now because for years I was a regular at my professional association's annual conference. While Rep. Cohen pointed out this his conference work ate into his weekends, the one I attended was always held over a weekend to avoid cutting into the work week. Just a different view, I guess. I've missed the conference for the past few years and probably a one or two more in the future due to family and financial concerns. However, my years of conference hopping did teach me a few cost-saving tips that I'm happy to pass on to our elected officials.

Find a buddy -- many people I know professionally have one or more conference buddies they share a hotel room with a split costs. It's a good way to catch up with what people in other states are doing. We also keep foodstuffs in the room to cut down on restaurant costs. Someone brings or picks up Ritz crackers and apples, someone else brings or picks up bagels or muffins. It's not as tasty as a pricey meal but if you eat in for breakfast you can afford to go out for a nice lunch or dinner with your buds. I knew one guy who would pack his favorite breakfast cereal by putting it in a baggie and tucking it into a shoe in his suitcase so it wouldn't get crushed.

Take the red eye -- for long flights try flying at night. You can usually get a little sleep and you don't waste valuable daylight hours traveling. An $898 airline ticket sounds a little expensive to me. Maybe the state should investgate priceline?

NCSL is a good organization and I like the idea of our folks going but I wish they would cut a few corners.

As an aside, John Micek has an interesting anecdote about running into a state legislator out in Seattle.

Source: Cattabiani, Mario E. and Angela Couloumbis, "trip west cost Pa. taxpayers $130,000," Philadelphia Inquirer February 6, 2006, p. A1

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Missing Monday

I have updated the missing person case on the sidebar. It was one year ago this month that Danielle Imbo and Richard Petrone disappeared. Their cell phones and credit cards have not been used. Their car has not been seen. They seem to have vanished into thin air. Please click the links and read the details of their case. If you have any information, please contact the authorities listed.

weekly legislative update

As I mentioned in the previous posting, the governor called a special legislative session to look into property tax reform. Information from that session is included here as well. Standard caveats apply (resolutions not generally included, list of sponsors deleted if it was too long - three lines in the originally formatting).

Our accountants friends at PICPA have updated their legislative page, and have a lot to say about property tax reform.

Other weekly updates are available for this week:

PA House Democrats
PA House GOP daily updates
PA Senate Democrats
PA Senate Republicans

Special Session

These bills were introduced, or referred to a committee, not voted on. The descriptions tended to be pretty much the same, with only a few variations.

Monday no action HB40, HB41, and HB43 were laid on the table and removed from the table.
Tuesday no action
Wednesday HB59 laid on the table and removed from the table
Thursday no action
Friday no action

Regular Session


Here are some of the resolutions that caught my eye.

HR540 A Resolution expressing the disappointment of the House of
Representatives on the filing of a lawsuit by certain judges in this
Commonwealth to have declared unconstitutional Act 72 of 2005.

SR143 A Resolution urging the Governor to accelerate the deployment of
traffic sensor networks across this Commonwealth.

SR207 A Resolution directing the Department of Environmental Protection to
place a moratorium on all actions required of affected entities relating to
implementation of the Pennsylvania Chesapeake Bay Tributary Strategy for a
period of nine months from the date the adoption of this resolution.



HB 1854 Prior Printer's No. 2496. Printer's No. 3241. An Act amending the act of May 1, 1933 (P.L.103, No.69), known as The Second Class Township Code, further providing for competitive bidding of contracts.

HB 1855 Prior Printer's No. 2497. Printer's No. 3242. An Act amending the act of June 24, 1931 (P.L.1206, No.331), known as The First Class Township Code, further providing for contracts and acquisition of property and for general regulations concerning contracts.

HB 1856 Prior Printer's No. 2498. Printer's No. 3243. An Act amending the act of June 23, 1931 (P.L.932, No.317), known as The Third Class City Code, further regulating contracts as to purchasing and advertising requirements.

HB 1857 Prior Printer's No. 2499. Printer's No. 3244. An Act amending the act of February 1, 1966 (1965 P.L.1656, No.581), known as The Borough Code, further providing for regulation of contracts, for evasion of advertising requirements and for certain purchase contracts.

HB 1858 Prior Printer's No. 2500. Printer's No. 3245. An Act amending the act of May 27, 1953 (P.L.244, No.34), entitled "An act relating to and regulating the contracts of incorporated towns and providing penalties," further providing for regulation of contracts; providing for annual adjustment; further providing for evasion of advertising requirements, for contracts between $750 and $10,000 and for separate bids for plumbing, heating, ventilating and electrical work.

HB 1861 Prior Printer's No. 2503. Printer's No. 3247. An Act amending Titles 53 (Municipalities Generally) and 74 (Transportation) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for competitive bidding of contracts by intergovernmental units, by parking authorities, by municipal authorities and by metropolitan transportation authorities.

HB 1862 Prior Printer's No. 2504. Printer's No. 3248. An Act amending the act of August 6, 1936 (Sp.Sess., P.L.95, No.38 1/2), entitled "An act to authorize and empower cities, boroughs, towns, and townships, separately or jointly, to provide for protection against floods by erecting and constructing certain works and improvements, located within or without their territorial limits, and within or without the county in which situate; and to expend moneys and incur indebtedness; to assess benefits against property benefited; to issue improvement bonds imposing no municipal liability; and to acquire, take, injure or destroy property for such purposes," further providing for competitive bidding of contracts.

HB 1863 Prior Printer's No. 2505. Printer's No. 3249. An Act amending the act of August 9, 1955 (P.L.323, No.130), known as The County Code, further providing for commissioners sole contractors for county, for contract procedures, terms and bonds and advertising for bids and for evasion of advertising requirements.

HB 1864 Prior Printer's No. 2506. Printer's No. 3250. An Act amending the act of August 7, 1936 (1st Sp.Sess., P.L.106, No.46), referred to as the Flood Control Law, further providing for contracts and acquisition of property; and providing for annual adjustment and for evasion of advertising requirements.

HB 1866 Prior Printer's No. 2508. Printer's No. 3252. An Act amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949, providing for adjustments based on Consumer Price Index; and further providing for work to be done under contract let on bids, for purchase of supplies, for contracts for construction, repair, renovation or maintenance, for project contracts and for powers and duties of institution presidents.

HB 1867 Prior Printer's No. 2509. Printer's No. 3253. An Act amending the act of April 29, 1937 (P.L.526, No.118), entitled, as reenacted and amended, "An act providing for and regulating joint purchases by counties (other than counties of the first class), cities of the second and third class, boroughs, towns, townships, school districts, institution districts, and poor districts," increasing the amount of purchases that may be made subject to certain conditions.

HB 1868 Prior Printer's No. 2510. Printer's No. 3254. An Act amending the act of March 7, 1901 (P.L.20, No.14), referred to as the Second Class City Law, further regulating contracts, contract procedures and advertising for bids; and providing for evasion of advertising requirements.

HB 1869 Prior Printer's No. 2511. Printer's No. 3255. An Act amending the act of May 28, 1937 (P.L.955, No.265), known as the Housing Authorities Law, further providing for awards of contracts, completion bond, additional bond for protection of materialmen and others.

HB 1870 Prior Printer's No. 2512. Printer's No. 3256. An Act amending the act of May 1, 1913 (P.L.155, No.104), entitled "An act regulating the letting of certain contracts for the erection, construction, and alteration of public buildings," increasing the minimum bid requirement; and providing for evasion of requirements.

HB 1871 Prior Printer's No. 2513. Printer's No. 3257. An Act amending the act of July 29, 1953 (P.L.1034, No.270), known as the Public Auditorium Authorities Law, increasing the dollar amount of supplies and materials which may be purchased without advertising.

HB 1872 Prior Printer's No. 2514. Printer's No. 3258. An Act amending the act of July 28, 1953 (P.L.723, No.230), known as the Second Class County Code, further regulating contracts and purchases.

HB 15 Prior Printer's Nos. 2632, 3167. Printer's No. 3448. An Act amending Titles 18 (Crimes and Offenses) and 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for the Substance Abuse Education and Demand Reduction Fund, for driving under influence of alcohol or controlled substance and for penalties.

HB 1294 Prior Printer's Nos. 1538, 2358. Printer's No. 3233. An Act providing for notice of motor vehicle event data recorders and for information retrieval; imposing penalties; and providing for evidentiary rules.

HB 1591 Printer's No. 1997. An Act amending the act of March 20, 2002 (P.L.154, No.13), known as the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error (Mcare) Act, extending patient safety standards to certain abortion facilities.

HB 1992 Printer's No. 2733. An Act amending the act of April 9, 1929 (P.L.343, No.176), known as The Fiscal Code, further providing, in the Local Government Capital Project Loan Fund provisions, for assistance to municipalities.

SB 63 By Senators KASUNIC, O'PAKE, C. WILLIAMS, REGOLA, TARTAGLIONE, COSTA, LAVALLE, KITCHEN, M. WHITE, STOUT, LOGAN, CORMAN, LEMMOND, MUSTO, PILEGGI, RHOADES, EARLL, WOZNIAK, BOSCOLA, MELLOW and FERLO. Prior Printer's Nos. 187, 271. Printer's No. 1490. An Act amending Title 23 (Domestic Relations) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing an exception to the oral examination for members of the active military, reserves or Pennsylvania National Guard who are currently deployed in an active military operation or national emergency; and further providing for, in child protective services, investigation of reports and for county agency requirements for general protective services.

SB 640 By Senators PILEGGI, EARLL, ERICKSON, THOMPSON, WONDERLING, PIPPY, TOMLINSON, STACK, LEMMOND, RAFFERTY, COSTA and M. WHITE. Prior Printer's Nos. 738, 1407. Printer's No. 1491. 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 in lieu of taxes; further providing for claims for taxes, water rents or rates and lighting, power and sewer rates and for contents of claims; and providing for a public record of all properties against which taxes were levied and remain unpaid.

SB 595 By Senators PRIME SPONSOR WITHDREW, BOSCOLA, THOMPSON, KITCHEN, TOMLINSON, COSTA, ORIE, O'PAKE, BRIGHTBILL, LEMMOND, RHOADES and BROWNE. Prior Printer's Nos. 615, 1265, 1486. Printer's No. 1496. An Act amending Title 15 (Corporations and Unincorporated Associations) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for removal of directors, for control persons and for qualifications of directors.


HB 1281 By Representative HARRIS. Prior Printer's Nos. 1525, 2849. Printer's No. 3386. An Act designating State Route 104 as the Timberwolves Memorial Highway - 104th Infantry Division, United States Army.

HB 1504 Prior Printer's Nos. 1838, 2369, 3308. Printer's No. 3467. An Act amending Title 30 (Fish) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for reduced license fees for former prisoners of war.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

An Interview with John Featherman

Regular readers may have noticed that the other Republican candidate for Senate, John Featherman, has been stopping by regularly and leaving some thoughtful comments. It’s a given that if you go to someone’s house for dinner often enough you will be asked to help with the dishes. So, I have asked Mr. Featherman to do the blogger version of that and take the time to answer some interview questions. He kindly consented.

You’ve said that Santorum’s book It Takes a Family was the final push for you to run for Senate. What was it about the book that brought you into the race?

Arguably, I know Rick Santorum better than any other declared candidate in the race. I can say that confidently because I ran against him 6 years ago in 2000. The current Democratic contenders -- Bob Casey, Chuck Pennacchio and Alan Sandals – have never campaigned against Santorum. I know firsthand what a ferocious campaigner he is. They don’t. I know how strong a debater he is. They underestimate his skills simply because they don’t agree with him on many issues (with Casey an obvious exception on the social side). So I have seen Santorum evolve – perhaps it should be devolve -- over the past 6 years. Does “man on dog” or comparing abortion to slavery or blaming the priest scandal on Boston being liberal drive home my point or what? So I watched a number of events last year. I saw him get into people’s private medical affairs with his butting into the Shiavo case. And finally, when I read his book, it fired me up. That was it. I saw nobody from the Republican Party – and I’ve been a Republican since 2001 – standing up to challenge his ridiculous views, and, quite frankly, I saw no strong Democrats emerging. I’ve always believed – and people that know me know this – that when there’s a political stand to make, I will make it. Look, I know the odds. But I’m not running because of the odds. I’m running because this man cannot go unchallenged. He has a responsibility to share his views with Pennsylvanians, and, as a man, he has a responsibility to address those that he degrades. Rest assured, if he agrees to debate – and thus far, he refuses – I will address the many groups he has offended. What’s shocking is that no other Republican has had the courage to stand up to him. It’s almost as if it’s the kiss of death to run against Rick Santorum. But ultimately, I am not running as a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian or anything else. I’m running as John Featherman, a socially liberal, fiscally conservative Pennsylvania who wants to bring statesmanship and dignity back to the U.S. Senate seat.

You’ve also said that Pennsylvanians deserve a senator who doesn’t really offend other groups. What did you mean by that?

I support gay marriage. Rick Santorum is against gay marriage. Fine, we can debate that. But “man on dog” is remarkably offensive. Every family has gay members. If he has a gay family member, will he say to them, “Well, at least it’s not man on dog.” Remember that I’m a Republican, and although I’ve received lots of kind words from Democrats because of my socially liberal viewpoints, there will be those who don’t agree with me on the money side. But I’m not going to insult their group. I’m not going to call them names. I’m not going to be hostile to them. Likewise, many social conservatives may not like my view on abortion. I’ve been on talk radio before and been labeled a “baby killer.” I don’t like that term. Also, I’ve been referred to as “pro-abortion.” I’m pro-choice. But simply because someone is pro-life, I’m not going to call them names. I’m not going to insult them. If anything, I will try to find a common ground. Where’s the common ground with Santorum?

As an expert on privacy, how secure do you think voting machines are? Can anyone find out how we voted? There were some reports that you actually received more votes than the official count showed because votes for the Libertarian Party were not transcribed onto counting sheets. Do you agree with this theory? What can be done to ensure more accurate voting results?

I’m glad you asked this question. I’ve written on the subject, and I’ve spoken about it in the classes I teach at Temple University. There’s no magic bullet. There are several issues involved. First, there are voting machines to consider, and then there is Internet voting. Both are subject to fraud, yet both offer amazing potential. Internet voting offers the ability for so many more citizens to participate, including, but not limited to, seniors, handicapped persons, poor people, and those traveling. These are also different kinds of fraud – there is fraud when returns can be manipulated, and there is fraud when dead people vote, or when identity theft happens in the voting booth. There’s no short answer, but I do believe fraud is widespread. However, we must see if we can harness the power of technology to provide checks and balances. I was told I received many more votes than I did, but it wasn’t close, and so I didn’t think that was a battle worth fighting for. Trust me, in 2000, some things going on down in Florida were much more important than John Featherman’s candidacy in PA.

In 1996 the Inquirer published a feature on you and your privacy newsletter. To quote one paragraph: “Following the Oklahoma City bombing, he listed phone privacy tips – [list of tips deleted] – tips, that he agrees, could be useful to a potential terrorist. ‘I’m not that far away from people who write stuff like How to Build a Bomb,’ he says.” That sounds inflammatory. Can you explain that remark a little?

Michael Rozansky wrote a great article about my newsletter – Privacy Newsletter – as the cover story in the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Business section. I started the newsletter from nothing, and he originally didn’t want to write about it. Yet, in the months before the Inquirer article, he saw my newsletter got quoted on the front page of the Wall Street Journal and was receiving press coverage in other popular media, so he decided to interview. As is the case with many reporters, he asked a lead in question which was whether these tips could be used by a potential terrorist. I said that it could be. So there you go. You have to understand the media and how people get quoted. Perfect example: In a fair, but somewhat mean-spirited article in the Citypaper, Doron Tausigg said about me: “He doesn't plan to bring up Santorum's gay staffer or controversial use of state funds to homeschool his children, he says (never mind that once he said this, he had brought up both those things).”

What Tausigg doesn’t tell you – and he recorded the interview with me in front of my campaign treasurer – was that he asked me to comment on Rick Santorum’s personal life, specifically Santorum’s religious conversion. So I said I wasn’t going there, that I wasn’t going to discuss his personal life, his family’s or his staffer’s. I said it’s not my style to get personal and that it’s also political suicide. But Tausigg doesn’t tell you that. So you see what I mean? Even this interview will probably be quoted out of context by my opponents. It almost makes a candidate who is thoughtful afraid to make any statement, unless the statement is quoted in its full context.

What, if any, legislation should be passed to help prevent identity theft?

This is easy. Two pieces of legislation can significantly cut down on identity theft cases, which are now over 10 million reported cases in the United States alone. First, expand a current California law and require all financial organizations that manage personally identifiable information to notify those affected when their personal information is lost or stolen. In fact, I would add on all healthcare providers and maybe some other industries as well. Second, mandate affordable rates for consumers to have daily credit monitoring, so that they can be notified when someone looks into their credit. You do these two things, and you can nip it in the bud and stop identity theft before it occurs.

You have done research on how race affects voting behavior and found that, at least in Philadelphia mayoral races, people tend to vote for someone of the same race. What other voting patterns have you observed?

The interesting thing we found out is why people often vote for members of the same race or ethnicity. It’s often due to an inherent assumption – sometimes right, sometimes wrong -- that someone of the same race or ethnicity will share the same views as them. In the absence of information about a candidate, people often look at the last name and guess an ethnicity. There was one case where South Philadelphia voters in a predominantly white precinct voted for a candidate with an Italian-sounding last name. Many of the voters admitted afterwards that they were unaware the candidate was indeed African-American. The moral of the story is that names matter when it comes to voting.

When running for congress against Bob Brady you criticized him for missing a vote in Washington to be in Philadelphia to meet with negotiators in a SEPTA strike and also for leaving a debate to go to a ward meeting. Shouldn’t federal representatives be concerned about matters in their district? How would you handle that dichotomy?

Bob Brady left the debate when it got heated between us. It’s reckless to leave a scheduled debate – the only debate, I mind you – to go to a ward meeting. Is that a lame excuse or what? For what it’s worth, the Philadelphia Inquirer endorsed me in the Special Election race for U.S. House. Keep in mind that I was a Libertarian, and they endorsed me over a Democrat and a Republican. They endorsed me because I had the right views.

It’s 8 years later, and I still have the right views. And I’m still an underdog against a Republican and a Democrat. But I’m no invisible man, and my energy and enthusiasm will guide me through this.

In previous campaigns you have called for decriminalizing drug use. Can you tell us where you would draw the lines on that issue? Would you want to see all drug use be decriminalized?

The war on drugs is a failure. It’s turned into a racist war, and it’s a war on our own people. I want to repeal all laws that outlaw consensual behavior between consenting adults. I would call for everyone who’s in jail for a victimless crime to be released. I want to start by having pilot programs that look at decriminalizing the hardest drugs. If the pilot program works, then we make it permanent. We would put all this money into rehabilitating the addicts, not putting them in jail. Also, it’s inhumane not to let very sick people take whatever medicine they want to feel better. Medicine marijuana should be decriminalized immediately.

Politicians talk about how they would reduce crime. Democrats blame all guns; Republicans blame illegal guns. John Featherman blames the war on drugs. Once we decriminalize drugs, street crime is gone. Poof! You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that crime went away after prohibition was repealed. Bootleggers were out of business. And so will be the street-corner drug dealers. Once the government decriminalizes drugs, the financial incentives will disappear, and gun-related crime will go down significantly.

But I remain the only candidate in the race who brings up this issue. And I won’t let it die. Because too many people are dying because of this failed war.

You’ve called yourself a Libertarian with a little “l.” What do you mean by that?

I am no longer a registered Libertarian. I am a registered Republican. But I am still a civil libertarian.

Personally I tend to think of Libertarians as people who want to cut government spending so severely that it shuts down public libraries, forces people to take their own trash to the landfill, and leaves huge potholes in the road. How far off the mark am I?

I can’t comment on all registered Libertarians. I find most not to fit that stereotype. I have never been an extreme person, and I support funding libraries, public trash pick-up, and having the government fix potholes. Every party has a host of characters – some great, some not so great. The Democratic Party has Bill Clinton, Al Sharpton. Bob Casey, Robert Byrd, and John Street. The Republican Party has George Bush, Condi Rice, Arlen Specter, Rudy Guiliani and John Featherman.

If elected, what would you do to stimulate the state’s economy?

Other candidates – specifically the three Democrats in this race -- talk about increasing the minimum wage or creating universal healthcare or supporting protectionism. They say that this will help the economy. Who are these guys kidding? Let’s be clear. I believe all the Democrats mean well and sincerely want to help the average worker. But if you increase the costs of doing business without letting them pass on the costs to their customers, then they will soon be out of business. Of course, there are exceptions, such as the carmakers who have record profits and reward the executives but not the workers – that is just flat wrong and unacceptable.

The area where I distinguish myself from all the candidates – including Santorum – is that I recognize that the real way to create a living wage is to encourage entrepreneurship and to get small businesses to expand. The way you stimulate an economy is by welcoming businesses. Instead of jamming high wage taxes and draconian business privilege taxes down their throat and making them feel unwelcome, we should be taking steps to encourage them to come here, such as tax incentives and repeals of unreimbursed government mandates that scare them off.

Two years ago, AAA decided to move its headquarters from Philadelphia to Wilmington, DE. Pennsylvania lost over 400 jobs because Wilmington and Delaware officials played the game and offered $7 million to lure them. If it sounds like Art Model and sports welfare, it ain't far off. You can't force businesses to stay in business, and they often play one city against another, one state against another. Ultimately, a pro-business attitude and a competitive business tax structure is the only way you can encourage them to come to town. As a real estate agent, I can tell you that companies will start leasing space in Philadelphia -- as an example -- when we reduce or, better yet, eliminate the Draconian wage and business privilege taxes.

A magic genie allows you to pass one law without amendments. What would that law be?

Repeal all laws that outlaw consensual behavior between consenting adults. That should cover ending the war on drugs and ending draconian blue laws invading people’s bedrooms.

Your father owned a steel business and your mother is a college president, not exactly humble origins. What experiences would allow you to understand the problems of Pennsylvanians on fixed incomes or struggling financially?

You’re looking at the result not the origins. My mother came from a lower-middle class family and could not have attended college without a scholarship. My father started out working in a small shop owned by his father, who previously lost just about everything in the stockmarket crash in the 1920s. So they came from quite humble origins. What they did with their lives to achieve their success is what has turned me into such a motivated person. My parents give a lot back to the community, and so do I. I teach courses at Temple University that help people with identity theft – specifically, with repairing their credit. As a Realtor, the majority of my rental clients are either students or people on very fixed budgets with very low credit scores. So I deal with “creative financing” everyday. I don’t spend any of my day with aristocrats and lobbyists.

The issues page on your website says that “law-abiding gun owners should not be under attack. Conversely, we must protect the public from the onslaught of illegal weapons and random acts of gun violence….” How do you do both at the same time? What regulations would you like to see?

I am not in favor of allowing the gun industry to be immune to lawsuits. I am in favor of laws that require gun owners to report lost or stolen guns. I am in favor of mandatory gun locks. I am in favor of a gun tax that goes to sponsor a “gun control commission.”

Also on your website, on social security, you say “Means testing determine whether or not an individual or family is eligible to receive Social Security benefits from the government. The test can consist of quantifying the party’s income, or assets, or a combination of both.” Now, I harbor a secret hope that the sale of those limited edition Batman prints I picked up a few years ago will help pay my kids’ college tuition or my retirement or both. Would I have to have them appraised and included in my assets? Would someone’s income or assets be assessed through tax returns? Investments often don’t show up on documents like that. How would you assess assets?

We have to do the calculations. We would start with means testing of income. If that’s not enough, then Batman becomes part of it. Sorry. But this is a real problem. Privatization is a scam; it won’t work. And increasing social security levels is unfair. Call it what it is. Social security is not insurance; otherwise, it would be in an annuity that can’t be touched. It’s a tax, and if you don’t want the tax increased, you means test it. Every year. Same bat time, same bat channel.

You are running to represent the entire state of Pennsylvania. What parts of the state have you lived in or spent a lot of time in?

Born and raised in Philadelphia. I love it here. If I win, I’d probably move to the Western part of the state at the half way point of my 6 year term. I like Pittsburgh. Half in Philly; half in Pittsburgh.

What is one question you wanted to answer that I didn’t ask?

With tremendous odds against you, why would you ever think of running against Rick Santorum? The answer is because someone has to step up to the plate and put an end to the politics of divisiveness in Pennsylvania. I am not wealthy, and I am giving up most of my income during the race, but it’s important that I let Pennsylvanians know that I had the courage to put my name on the line, my reputation on the line, and my passion on the line. I welcome them to join me in giving Rick Santorum a run for the money.

Thank you, John Featherman!



Benson, Clea, “3d parties: small, but driven / Phila’s other parties are organizing for election day. Besides hoping to win, they want their voices heard,” Sept. 12, 1999, p. B1.

Fitzgerald, Thomas, “Old rival to run against Santorum in GOP primary,” Philadelphia Inquirer August 18, 2005 p. B3

Infield, Tom, “Brady takes the heat for skipping debate / The Democratic Congressional candidate was accused of attending fund-raisers instead of tackling issues,” Philadelphia Inquirer May 9, 1998, p. B4

Infield, Tom, “Race played large part in Phila. Mayoral election results, report says the analysis by an ex-Temple professor and her son found most blacks voting for Street and most white for Katz,” Philadelphia Inquirer Feb. 29, 2000, B1.

Infield, Tom and Russ Eshleman, “ Congress candidates debate,” Philadelphia Inquirer May 12, 1998, p. B1

Lowe, Herbert,” For Brady, victory seems a certainty/ the first district race really isn’t one,” October 29, 198, p. B1.

Rozansky, Michael, “He’s watching big brother – it’s a nosy world and you can get plenty of tips – from a privacy newsletter’s editor on fending it off,” Philadelphia Inquirer January 14, 1996, p. C1

Toland, Bill, “Underdogs growl at Casey, Santorum” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Sept. 2, 2005,