Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Patrick Murphy Endorsed by Mydd

Patrick Murphy has been added to mydd's netroots page on Act Blue. If you look at Act Blue you will see that this is one way of raising cash, sometimes lots of cash.

Max Cleland, Bryan Lentz, Paul Lang, and Me

Yesterday I took half a day of vacation to hit a couple of political events, both free (my favorite kind). Both featured former Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia. I’m late posting on this so links to other posts or articles on these events are included; you can see other points of view as well.

First stop, the Iron Hill Brewery in Media, for a rally highlighting Cleland and Bryan Lentz, Democratic candidate for the 161st state house seat. It was a short event, lasting about 30 minutes once it got started.

Cleland and Lentz had toured a veteran’s museum before the rally and Cleland had a number of positive things to say about it. He also spoke about the Pennsylvania legislature’s ill-fated pay raise, saying it was a violation of trust. In the military he said officers eat last (coming from a family of NCO’s and enlisted men I was a little surprised at this) and the legislature had eaten first. Lentz’s incumbent Republican opponent voted for the pay raise.

Lentz introduced some people in the crowd, including Mike Farrell, candidate for 26th state senate district, and some of the people who had served with Lentz in Iraq. The man who had served as the translator for their unit was also there. Lentz and his fellow soldiers are hoping to help him find a way to immigrate. You have to love that. How many people would have walked away and forgotten him?

Lentz pointed out that he took a pay cut to join the Reserves and go to Iraq, in contrast to the legislative payraise. He asked that we judge his future actions by his past actions. In his case, those are pretty good actions. (read Inky article here and Atrios’ take here). Lentz's web site has video of part of the rally here. I counted 30 some people but there may have been more.

Back to the car and off we go, heading northeast on the Blue Route and then the Turnpike.

Cleland appeared at an event for Paul Lang at the Disabled American Veterans post in Levittown. The room was chock full of candidates. Lentz accompanied Cleland. Mike Diamond, candidate for 31st state house district against incumbent David Steil, and Republican Joe Hogan who is running for the 141st state house district was there as was his incumbent Democratic incumbent Tony Melio. (Everyone was civil.) Bucks County Commissioner Sandy Miller, Milt Berkes and other local officials were also there. Patrick Murphy stopped in and was loudly applauded.

Cleland’s remarks were similar to the ones he gave at the Lentz event. He is a very approachable fellow and can tell a good story.

Lang gave a short biography. He graduated from Council Rock High School. He was initially turned down by the Coast Guard Academy but the baseball coach noted his skills in that area and next thing you know he’s in and eventually captain of the baseball team. Lang outlined his service in the Coast Guard, working as a law enforcement officer (wearing a 9 mm on his hip), stopping drug smugglers and unlawful immigrants. One point he made was that the crew often worked with outdated equipment and that his bulletproof vest had expired 6 years earlier. He discussed the incident when faulty equipment broke and dumped him and 8 other men (he was at the bottom of the pile) into the 32 degree Bering Sea. Initially doctors didn’t think he would walk again but with extensive physical therapy he recovered. He has also worked as a congressional liaison and the Department of Homeland Security.

He says he is running for veterans and the middle class, and that Republicans in Harrisburg have made the race a class issue (this point was met with great applause). As a contrast to the incumbent, Lang said he had more supporters with callouses on their hands than connections to special interests.

See the Bucks County Courier Times article here and eRobin’s take here. I counted about 45 in attendance.

It was great of Max Cleland to stop in and be seen with local candidates. Over the weekend he was campaigning with Chris Carney. My thanks for the Lentz and Lang campaigns for letting me know what was going on.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Last Refuge of Scoundrels

Both patriotism and prayer have been described as the last refuge of scoundrels. Combining these, you might come up with the prayers offered at the opening of each day's session of the legislature. Now that the Senate Journals are online it is interesting to browse the opening prayers. If you know a theology student or a dual religion / poli sci major, you might suggest these as a thesis topic.

In the "when will the lightening bolts strike" category, here are some phrases I liked:

"We come to ask Your wisdom and guidance from above, that the things that take place here would be in accordance with your purposes and they they would result in blessings and good things for the people of this state." (3/15/06)

O holy and loving God, every one of our great religious traditions require us to remember the least, the lost, the lonely, the poor, the marginalized, and the disenfranchised among us. May we always keep in mind our children, young, and senior adults, for they are often the ones who have no voice and need to be heard. Help us remember those who are different from us in race or ethnicity, orientation, or ability, and may every citizen of Pennsylvania benefit from the work being done in this body today. (3/21/06)

and my personal favorite:

Lord, help us in our weaknesses, deliver us from jealousy, selfish amibition, and denial of the truth, but let us seek instead that wisdom which is from above, which is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, and impartial, so that in finding this wisdom, we will see a harvest of righteousness, the righteousness which exalts a nation. (3/22/06)

and then you have this phrase:

We pray also for the Members of this Senate. We pray for their health, and we pray for any who are going through treatment for illness or injury. We pray for Your blessings upon them. We pray for their families. We pray for their other personal needs, financial and otherwise. (3/15/06)

I think some of those folks are praying for their financial needs enough themselves so maybe the public prayer can skip that part.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Reminder: Fun Times on Tuesday

In a previous post I listed two events for tomorrow, Tuesday, May 30, featuring Max Cleland, former US Senator. One is for Bryan Lentz (Democratic candidate for state house district 161), the other for Paul Lang (Democratic candidate for state senate district 6). Both free of charge. See my previous post or either candidate's web site for details.

Our Part of the Bargain

We in the blogosphere write and comment a lot on what we want from candidates and elected officials. Things are seldom a one way street however; other than voting, what is our part of the bargain? What should we be doing during campaign season? If our candidates are elected, then what? Do we just sit around until the next election? I asked Joe Hoeffel this question in the most recent interview and he gave this answer

Q.: In the bargain between elected officials and voters, what are the responsibilities of each?

A.: Great question with a simple answer. Voters must stay informed, and officials must stay honest.

What do you think? Are we making a bargain with candidates? If so, what is our part? If you have your own blog and are interested, write on a posting on this topic sometime next week and let me know when your posting is up. I’ll compile a list of all of them on Friday. If you don't have your own blog, leave a comment on this or another participating blog. Let's see what we can come up with.

weekly legislative update

A few bills were shuffled, a few "cause of the month" resolutions introduced, otherwise our legislature was quiet this week. Our accountant friends at PICPA did compile an update of other news.

Memorial Day Memories

When I was a girl Memorial Day was a working holiday, a ritual that I enjoyed and looked foward to. My grandfather and my mother would cut some of the better looking flowers from their yards, peonies mostly, with some others thrown in. They would have saved up orange juice concentrate cans, which were then covered with aluminum foil to use as vases. My grandfather had moved into the area as a boy and his parents and some of his siblings were buried nearby. We made the round of cemeteries. There was almost always someone at the gate of the graveyard collecting money for upkeep. My grandfather would hand over a plain white envelope to each one. My mother would bring clippers and we'd spruce up the graves we visited, trimming back any encroaching weeds.

I've moved away from those cemeteries. In fact, I haven't visited my father's grave since his death, and my grandfather's only once or twice. It bothers me this time of year that I am not close enough to visit my dead. In rural areas old family cemeteries that were tucked away in an unused section of farmland are falling into disrepair. Mr. J's family helped care for a small graveyard that housed many of his ancestors as well as other pioneer settlers in that township. But most of the families have moved away or died out. The tombstones are broken and weathered to the point of near illegibility. (We took rubbings of some of them and trascribed as many as possible years ago.) Soon the cemetery records in the local public library will be all that remains of them.

While this bothers me, it is not the first time our families have faced this dilemma. With each wave of immigration or internal migration, we move away from our dead. The only way to avoid it is to never leave your birthplace. I miss the ritual though and have not found a way to replace it.

How to Work This Blog

Various segments of the political and activist communities are looking for ways to publicize their candidates or causes through blogs, and working with blogs and bloggers is a topic often seen in the schedules of training sessions for activists and operatives. While there are likely to be commonalities it seemed prudent to spell out the best ways of utilizing this blog in particular.

First off, my readers aren’t going to send you money. To the best of my knowledge, candidate mentions on this blog have resulted in exactly two campaign contributions, one of $50.00 and the other denomination unknown. There may be others but these are the only ones I’m aware of (see “the nicest thing….” below). For big money you need the big dogs.

What you can get here is exposure. As for the blog audience, sitemeter statistics tell me the greatest majority of my readers are from Pennsylvania (go figure). Many are from within government, federal, state, and local, or associated industries (lawyers, lobbying firms, media), but there are also quite a few readers coming in from verizon, comcast, etc., that appear to be just interested folks. At least a third of my business comes from search engines, people looking for specific information. Searches for candidates or causes will retrieve interviews, descriptions of events featuring candidates, information on organizations, and so on, months after those postings appeared. Since the blog is updated frequently it often shows up higher than might be expected in search engine results. The rest come straight to the blog or from aggregators such as Philly Future, Leftyblogs, or PoliticsPA.

I focus on the Philadelphia suburbs (Montgomery, Bucks, and Delaware counties, sometimes Chester), but occasionally venture into the city or further afield geographically. I am a Democrat and focus on Democratic candidates and progressive causes, but I’ve highlighted a few Republicans along the way.

The blog is written under a pseudonym; I don’t meet candidates or officials in person or talk with people on the phone. The easiest way to approach me is just to email me (see “view my complete profile” for the email). People do that all the time. They send me press releases, notices of events, links to relevant articles, and information on what they are doing. Sometimes I post it, sometimes I don’t. It depends on what else is going on and whether or not I agree with you and how substantive what you’ve sent is, and how often I’ve written about that candidate / cause lately. I may post on your topic but take the opposite or a variant stance on it. It may take a few days for a posting on your topic to show up. The blog is a hobby, shoehorned into days already full with work and family, so it can take time for me to investigate something.

Your email doesn’t have to be fancy – in fact the plainer the better. Flattery is neither sought nor appreciated, but “please” and “thank you” are always welcome. Heated campaign rhetoric will not win points. A long string of press releases on how awful the opposition is won’t have as much impact as a few examples of what you are doing, not what you plan to do or believe, but what you are actually doing or have done. I don’t always open attachments and won’t use your fancy graphics anyway, so cutting and pasting into an email is easier, at least for me. If the info is available online, provide a link, too.

Interviews with candidates and officials have been popular posts and I am open to doing more. If you are interested, let me know; interviews are done via email. The questions I prepare are detailed and specific to the candidate and the district. I’m told they are tough to answer. Since it takes time to research and prepare the questions and often takes weeks (sometimes months) to get the answers back, I won’t be taking interview requests after Sept. 1 for candidates running for office in the November elections. I don’t think there would be time to do a good job before the big day.

If you plan on a continuing contact with blogs, appoint a blog liaison. Personally, I like to have one main contact with a campaign or cause. That’s not to say that others shouldn’t get in touch; they are welcome to do so – it’s just easier to develop good communication with one person. Then I know what is an official communiqué and what is a side conversation. Otherwise there are bound to be conflicting messages and I get frustrated with that – trying to figure out whose messages take precedence or what is the burning issue of the day. The primary contact can be anyone from a volunteer to the candidate. It doesn’t matter to me, as long as I know who to contact with questions.

The nicest possible thing you can do for me is give me feedback. If you are working on a campaign and people tell you they have read about your candidate here, let me know. It will make my day. I can get some idea of what posts are being read and see what posts elicit comments but beyond that I’m in the dark.

That’s about it. As the song goes, “send me a postcard, drop me a line, stating point of view…”

Saturday, May 27, 2006

A Few Links

eRobin was part of the MurphyCorps day of action last week. Read her report here.

BenPA at Young Philly Politics has a few things to say about the Lynn Swann campaign.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Max Cleland, Bryan Lentz, Paul Lang, and You


Max Cleland, former U.S. Senator, will be in Pennsylvania on a whistle stop campaign to support local candidates.

2:30 Bryan Lentz, Democratic candidate for the 161st house district. Join Lentz and Cleland for a rally at the Iron Hill Brewery, 30 East State Street, Media, PA. details and directions here.

5:30 - 6:30 Paul Lang Democratic candidate for the 6th state senate district (and one of my favorite people) will be joined by Cleland for a coffee and cheesecake reception. Disabled American Veterans Chapter 117
5915 Bristol Emilie Road, Levittown, PA 19057. details and directions here. RSVP to to reserve a spot, they are going fast!!

There is no charge for either event, but I'm sure both candidates would be more than happy to accept contributions.

2005 House Journals Online

My thanks to Russ Shade for letting me know -- the 2005 House Journals are now online. Oh, huzzah!!! Progress!!

Of course, it would be better if at least some 2006 issues were there, but this is definitely a move in the right direction. I will be skipping around all day.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Senate Journal Update

As promised I’ve read through the newest group of Senate Journal issues made available. Issues are released mid-month and are one month behind. So for May we have journals for March 14, 15, 20, 21, and 22.

There wasn’t much in the journal for March 14th.

Two items of interest in the 15th. Sen. Tartaglione brings up the minimum wage and wants to know what is going on with that bill (see p. 1357). On pages 1358 and 1359 there is an interesting exchange between Sen. Brightbill and Lt. Gov. Knoll on whether or not it is legal for her to sign a bill on Monday or if it has to be signed that day. You would think she would know this and not have to ask him.

Also on the 15th, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, Pat Dugan is introduced as the winner of the National Sean MacBride Humanitarian Award from the Ancient Order of Hibernians. Dugan is a member of the Army Reserves, headquartered in Norristown and served most of 2004 in Iraq. He gave a speech, a very good one that I would recommend you read. One paragraph jumped out at me though. Dugan also wrote about this in a letter to the Inky. He describes his commander, who happened to be Bryan Lentz who is running for the state house seat in district 161 against Tom Gannon. Read:

You have not heard about my commander, Major Bryan Lentz, a Philadelphia attorney and former prosecutor who gave up his practice of law to serve and lead our company in Iraq. One time we were in a village just outside of Telafar, a town that was depicted on “60 Minutes” last Sunday. A small village just south of there, a hotbed of insurgency, an old man there held up a container of water and went up to my Commander to thank him and said every time I drink from this I will thank America. Now, this is a village in Mesopotamia, the land where the Ottomans came through and never took the time to dig a water well for this village. It was the first time they had water running in their village. The Ottomans did not to it, the Romans did not do it, Alexander the Great did not do it, Saddam did not do it, but every time anybody in that village drinks a glass of water, they will remember that Americans were there.

On March 20, on p. 18, Sen. Vince Fumo gave a speech that focused on President Bush and his policies that I thought was ill-timed and out of place with the business at hand.

On March 21, if you look at pages 5-6 you will find some examples of senators doing good, with some heartfelt discussion on the Ounce of Prevention Bill for early intervention in fragile families. I recommend you read through that as well.

On the 22nd, though, I found some very entertaining passages. Again the topic was the minimum wage bill. In the pdf version online check pages 9-17. I have referenced here the official page numbers. If you are familiar with Shakespeare, you may remember his play “Julius Caeser.” When I read it in high school my English teacher pointed out that Marc Antony appealed to emotion and Brutus to reason and that appealing to emotion most often wins out. Many of our political figures seem to have noticed this as well. In any event, after Sen. Tartaglione again brings up the minimum wage bill, Sen. Piccola and Sen. Hughes get into a discussion that reminds me of the dichotomy represented in “Julius Caesar.” You can guess who plays what part.

Sen. Piccola: Madam President, over the last few months I have been listening to the debate on the minimum wage, and while I am a Member of the Committee on Labor and Industry, I am not engaged in that debate. But last week during this part of our agenda, the lady from Philadelphia [Sen. Tartaglione] challenged those of us on this side of the aisle who do not support minimum wage to, I believe her words were, search your souls. I took her challenge to heart, Madam President, and I searched my soul. I looked in every nook and cranny, I turned it inside out, and I also searched the library, because this is not just about feeling good, this is about facts, this is about economics, it is about reality and it is about jobs. After I did that search of my soul in the library, I found that I am on the side of the angels, at least in my view. (p. 1401)

I love that imagery – searching your soul in the library. More of us should search our soul and search the library and perhaps both at the same time. Piccola even includes a chart to enforce his views.

In page 1403, Senator Hughes makes some interesting statements:

So here we have voodoo economics, the costs are going up, the incomes are going down. Look at this spread, look at the spread between the two, and you are telling me that all my people are doing better with less money in their pocket? What kind of drugs are you on? What kind of hallucinates are you doing? What kind of chemical medications are you investing in? That is ridiculous. That is absurd. Okay, if it is that good, you work for less. Why do we not all work for minimum wage around here? Lord knows, if Mr. Diamond and his whole crew had their way, we would be paying people to work this job. Why do we not try that? Let us see how great that would be. Voodoo economics, costs going up, income going down, the spread is greater, the spread is increasing, and I am supposed to be happy. I have $20 in the right pocket, $5 in the left pocket and the left pocket is really going to get me to the promised land. Right? That is the idea?

On page 1404, Sen. Piccola picks up again:

Madam President, very briefly, I just took a couple of Excedrin before I came up, but that is all, no illegal drugs.

On page 1405 Sen. Conti offers this in part of his remarks:

I will be brief, because I know the hour is running late for a Wednesday. Having my good friend from Philadelphia confide how much money he has in his pocket, which is much more than I have in mine, I would like to meet him for lunch shortly, so I will get through this as quickly as I can.

Of course, much of the debate focuses on the particulars of minimum wage and how raising it would affect the state’s economy and again, I urge you to read it for yourself.

Unfortunately I cannot report on anything happening in the House because they don't make the House Journal available online and it takes several months for it to show up in the law library closest to me, where I go to search the nooks and crannies of my soul. [Update: I am corrected on this -- the 2005 House Journals are now online.]

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Coming Attractions

Tomorrow I'll be posting some of the highlights of the most recently released Senate journals. For those leaving town for the holiday weekend, I'll try to post earlier than usual.

More on Weldon

As has been widely reported, yesterday's Wall Street Journal had an article ("Backing Away From Bush" by John D. McKinnon) that discussed Republican candidates preferring to avoid being seen or associated with the president. One mentioned was Rep. Curt Weldon (PA-07) who is quoted as saying (in reference to why he was not attending a fund raiser with Pres. Bush and area congressmen Gerlach and Fitzpatrick today):

"Mr. Bush is really doing poorly in our state." and "I've got to win this by myself."

Weldon's campaign had another story:

Tuesday, Pete Peterson, a Weldon spokesman, said Weldon's planned absence at Bush's Philadelphia appearance had nothing to do with the president's unpopularity in Pennsylvania. Instead, Peterson said Weldon “simply wasn't invited” to the event.

Just a quick note on Pres. Bush's visit today:
A third congressional candidate attended the fundraiser but did not share the dais with Gerlach, Fitzpatrick and Bush.

Mingling among the GOP supporters was Raj Bhakta, best known for being fired by Donald Trump during the second season of the NBC reality show "The Apprentice." He is the Republican challenging Democratic U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz for the state's 13th District seat representing suburban Philadelphia.

News Round Up

A few tidbits from here and there:

**Lynn Swann decides to campaign with tom Ridge instead of appearing at the West Branch Manufacturers's Association. Read through the entire article (via politicspa). This could prove costly. He may not find people as eager to book him for speaking engagements. As is customary the group had raised money for him:

The campaign manager will usually suggest a figure that should be met by the fundraiser, Metzger said. In this case, the amount was $10,000.

“We raised in excess of $15,000,” he said.

Funds raised specifically for Swann’s campaign were made out to “Swann for Governor.”

“I returned those checks to each of the donors. It’s the donor’s choice now” whether to give the money to Swann’s campaign, he said.

**Swann discussed his property tax reform plan this week. BenPA at Young Philly Politics points out that it applies to vacation properties as well. Another maybe not so good thing.

**Patrick Murphy and MurphyCorps did some good deeds today to point out the hardships caused by Pres. Bush's budget and incumbent GOP Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick's support of it.

As of 3PM today, the MurphyCorps:
Donated 249 food items to the Bucks County Housing Group in Penndel;
Donated 252 books to the community library at Foxwood Manor in Levittown;
Donated 115 toiletry items to the Delaware Valley Veterans Home;
Worked 65 man hours cleaning 1.2 miles of trail at Tyler Park in Newtown;
Worked 15 man hours assisting senior citizens at Twining Village in
Delivered 12 meals with Meals on Wheels in Abington;
Sorted 492 items of clothing for a local non-profit thrift store;
Helped 20 kids with homework in Levittown.

**Our friends at Campaigns & Elections would like us to cast a vote in a mock Santorum / Casey election.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Montco #3: Trouble in the GOP

PoliticsPA has posted two letters from Montoc GOP officers. The first, dated May 21, from William Donnelly, treasurer of the Montgomery County Republican Committee, lists recet party losses and suggests a change in party leadership. He backs Bob Kerns, instead of incumbent county party chair, Ken Davis.

The second letter, undated, signed by Rick Santorum, Arlen Spector, Jim Gerlach, Charlie Dent, and Mike Fitzpatrick, lists party successes and asks for Ken Davis to be re-elected.

The election will be held June 1. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Montco #2: Wanted -- One Muzzle

The New York Post on American Idol (via politicspa)



May 23, 2006 -- Mario (R&B singer): "I think Katharine will win despite Taylor's great talent. She has a big voice and sings with great passion."

Raj Bhakta (former "Apprentice" lothario turned Pa. congressional candidate): "Taylor and Katharine are obviously both talented, but as I am a man, I am rooting for Katharine to win it all."

Raj is running against incumbent Democrat Allyson Schwartz for the 13th congressional district. Wonder how the GOP will view this latest gaffe. First the DUIs, then the "congressional run as reality show" concept, and now this. Allyson, I think you can stop raising money. He seems to be self-destructing all on his own.

Montco #1: Learning the Political Ropes

This arrived in my inbox today, note the reasonable cost:

We are pleased to announce the second Montgomery County Democratic Committee's Surburban Victory Campaign Camp training program! With the important 2006 elections looming, now is the time to polish our skills and further develop our grassroots campaign techinques.

If you are a candidate, future paid campaign staffer, state or local party member, or grassroots volunteer, this training will help you build your campaign and networking skills.

We hope you can join us for the two-and-a-half-day campaign training, which will be held during the weekend of June 23-25 in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.


Camp participants are encouraged to sign up for one of the following training tracks:

* How to be a Better Candidate- The candidate track offers an introduction to and preparation for a run at elected office. Anyone thinking about running for elected office should attend this training. Participants will have the opportunity to be mentored by elected officials and some of the top political consultants in the country.

* Campaign Management for Future Paid Professionals - If you are interested in becoming paid staff on a campaign within two years, then join this track. This is an introduction to the fundamentals of political campaign management. During this two-and-a-half-day training you will learn the basics of fundraising, field organizing, media relations, advance, volunteer coordination, get out the vote, targeting, candidate relations, and the latest campaign technology. Attendees will be divided up into teams to write and present components of a campaign plan that will later be critiqued by respected, nationally known consultants.

* Campaign Management for Political Veterans/Party Leaders - This track is designed to give you and your election team the modern management fundamentals necessary to be successful at the grassroots level. Topics will include: voter contact programs, budgeting, planning, recruitment and the role of the volunteer coordinator, event fundraising, earned media, and creating a local party plan. You will learn the basic skills that are essential to putting your candidate or local committee in the best position to win.

The registration fee is $40 and covers dinner on Friday, lunch on Saturday, and lunch on Sunday. The training schedule is Friday from 3:00 until 9:00 PM, Saturday from 9:00 AM until 6:00 PM, and Sunday from 9:30 AM until 3:00 PM. Camp participants are responsible for their own accommodations.


The deadline for applications is Friday, June 16 at 5 PM.
Two weeks before camp, we will send a confirmation email with the precise location of camp. For more information about this training, please contact Tyler Rosen at 202.419.1040 or

Monday, May 22, 2006

News Round Up

Attytood has a nice feature on Santorum and his status as #1 in taking lobbyist money.

Team (Patrick) Murphy is planning some strategic community service to highlight some deficiencies in Pres. Bush's domestic policy while the president is in town to help raise money for incumbent GOP congressman Mike Fitzpatrick.

Russ Shade would like us to know he is still in the race for the 183rd state house district. They are currently waiting for the definitive write-in vote results.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

A Quick Look at the 13th Congressional District

This is just a quick look at the 13th congressional district, between incumbent Democrat Allyson Schwartz and Republican challenger Raj Bhakta. This is a lopsided race, especially considering that the has changed hands between parties within the last decade. A real GOP contender would be cause for some alarm, but, happy day for her, that isn't the case this time around.

On one hand we have Rep. Schwartz who is known for her fundraising abilities. Living up to her reputation she has, as of April 26, $1,331,222, 81% of it coming from individuals, 60% from in state. While some of her recent votes (bankruptcy, eminent domain, and so on) have disturbed the progressive netroots, she has a solid reputation.

One the other hand we have Raj Bhakta, who has, as of April 26, $78,806 on hand, 99% of it from individuals, 88% of it from out of state. In addition to confessing to 2 DUI's, he has decided to run his campaign as a reality show. On the news section of his website he includes this statement:

Right now, the former star of The Apprentice 2 is hiring between 50 and 100 young people to work for his campaign this summer. He will pay them a weekly stipend and provide housing for them. Heading into the fall campaign, he will select a smaller, undetermined number of those aides to stay on the payroll. If he wins, he’ll hire the three best campaign workers for his congressional staff. (from Northeast Times 5/04/06)

I don't know that this method would provide better staffers than some of the party hacks I've encountered in congressional offices but it would surely provide far worse than some of the truly dedicated staff I've encountered.

However, considering that Bhakta is probably not the most serious opponent that Rep. Schwartz could have, her recent email to supporters including the following passage is suprising:

But here in the 13th Congressional District, the Republican establishment has cleared the primary field for my opponent. Today they will nominate a candidate who has made clear his unyielding support of the failed policies of President Bush. In his eagerness to gain favor with the Republican right wing, he told the Washington Post, "I am VERY HAPPY with the second term agenda."

The Republicans are hoping to win this seat back and they are using any means necessary to ensure their success. But you can help me prepare for whatever they throw at me.

She asked for contributions. The $1.3 million she is sitting on is, at present, a war chest. It's certainly not being spent on her campaign website which remains primarily a place for contributions. There is very little content. Compare it to her congressional site (see link on her name above). If she doesn't intend to spend any of it on her own campaign, perhaps she would be willing to share the wealth among fellow Democrats challenging incumbent Repulicans, who, with proper funding, have a good chance of winning (hint, hint, hint) or any of the state level races being run in her district.

Just a thought.

[Update: taking the advice of one of the comments on this post I looked at the expenditure column on Schwartz's Open Secrets page. In 2005 she donated over $40,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. In 2006 she did donate $2000 to Lois Murphy. There are similar donations to Bob Casey and a number of candidates in ohter states, and smaller donations to Philly area groups. I would still like to see donations to other individual candidates in the area. These may be filtered through the DCCC but, honestly, I don't trust them very much.]

Sources: Opensecrets (

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Off Topic: Business Reading

You probably didn't notice but Working Woman magazine ceased publication in late 2001. I'd been a subscriber for over a decade (and still have most of those issues in boxes in the laundry room) and felt the loss keenly. After bouncing around the newstand for a few years I've finally found a new business reading routine. These are just for general knowledge. Professional journals keep me up to date at work, but I like to have a taste of things outside the bureaucracy that pays my mortgage. Fast Company is published 10 times a year and focuses a little more on the creative class and design issues than I'm comfortable with but a lot of the articles look at innovation through a variety of lenses. Take this article, "Record Time" by Charles Fishman from the April issue. It looks at a company that is computerizing medical records. Why should you care?

There is a sense of urgency about digitizing medical record-keeping--one study estimated that 100,000 people in the United States die each year (twice the number killed in car accidents) because of the sort of preventable medical errors that digital medical records help eliminate. A Rand study published last fall (paid for, in part, by Cerner) estimated that at the low end, the United States could save $140 billion a year if digital record-keeping were in place.

For gender related issues I've been reading Pink, which, like Fast Company, is aimed at a younger demographic than my own but there's not a lot else out there. American Business Woman published one issue but I haven't seen any others. NAFE (National Association for Female Executives) has a quarterly journal but it comes out too seldom and doesn't have enough content to keep me happy. For oldster news there's nothing like the Wall Street Journal.

weekly legislative update

A few bills were shuffled, two resolutions introduced, that's it. Everyone was out campaigning. My state rep was catching up on constituent service and called me to talk about a matter of mutual concern. The personal touch, you have to like that.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Politicspa Gives Mydd Up Arrow

In more surprising political news, politicspa's weekly up and down gave an up arrow this week to Chris Bowers of mydd for winning a write-in spot on the state Democratic committee. Perhaps not as gracious a compliment as it could have been, but small steps are still steps.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

"Harrisburg Hogs" in today's WSJ

In the "Review & Outlook" of today's Wall Street Journal, p. A14, there is an editorial called "Harrisburg Hogs." The first paragraph reads as follows:

No, this isn't the name of a new Pennsylvania football team. It's the term of ridicule Pennsylvanians have been using for the gang of 15 incumbent, big-government Republicans swept out of office in this week's Bloody Tuesday primary elections. If Republican leaders in Washington still think their break-the-bank spending won't cause trouble with voters in November, they'd better pay attention to what just happened in the Quaker State's elections.

Interesting. Has anyone heard the term Harrisburg Hogs? It's new to me.

Class Act #2: Mike Paston

Tom Murt defeated Sue Cornell, incumbent Republican legislator in the 152nd state house district. In the fall he will face Democrat Mike Paston. In today's Inky ("Hatboro legislator swept out with tide," by Jeff Shields), we find this statement:

"I think it was more specifically a Sue Cornell backlash," said Michael Paston, owner of a local printing company and vice president of the Upper Dublin school board. "Tom's a better person, and I think his win assures us that we will have someone who will do a good job representing the district."

As I will say many times between now and November, the 152nd is a lucky district.

Class Act #1: Patrick Murphy

An email from Patrick Murphy to his supporters and volunteers:


Three days ago, we asked you to raise your voice for change.

Well, you raised it alright - and it was heard loud and clear throughout Bucks County and the 8th District of Pennsylvania!

I share this victory with all of you. To those who attended the victory party Tuesday night and those who were there in spirit, to those who knocked on doors and those who manned the phones, to those who gave so much of their time and resources and heart to this campaign:

Thank you.

Andy Warren, a man who has served Bucks County all his life, deserves our thanks as well. He should be commended for his honorable campaign, and united, nothing can stop us now.

Last night saw the end of an important chapter in our campaign, a chapter that could never have been written without all of you. But we know this is just the beginning of the tough fight through to victory in November. Mike Fitzpatrick is gearing up for the race of his life because he knows that we are united, we are strong, and we are ready.

Let's send a message: we're here to fight, we're here to win, and we're here to take back our country!

Looking forward to seeing you out there on the campaign trail!


Off Topic: One Less Bright Light

My weekend routine changed a few months ago. When I took the kids from one place to another, we used to cross paths with a young man, a graduate student. We would stop and talk for a minute or two when we ran into him. Since I hadn't seen him in a while I asked someone who worked with him how he was. Not long ago he killed himself. As all too often happens no one had any idea he was troubled. You just never know. A lot of people, my family included, will miss him.

Fitzpatrick Toddles into the Fray

GOP incumbent Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-08) didn't even let the ink dry on the election papers before issuing a press release (via politicspa) on Patrick Murphy's status as his Democratic challenger. Here are the first two paragraphs:

“I’d like to congratulate Pat Murphy on his nomination.”

“The voters now have a clear choice between Pat Murphy, a ‘cut and run’ liberal and me, Mike Fitzpatrick, a proven independent leader who knows we need a new plan for success in Iraq – and calls for an independent commission to develop it – but who won’t risk our families’ security by cutting and running.”

Hey, that's some congratulations. The press release goes on in the same vein. If he had waited a day or two, and hadn't used such overblown rhetoric (it gets much worse as you go on) he wouldn't sound quite so much like a scared rabbit.

One of the little Janes has been dealing with a bully at school and we've been practicing some comeback remarks at the dinner table. I'd like to offer this response:

independent? precipitous? tenuous? I'm surprised you know big words like that.

Election Recap

Jon Delano has a really good recap of the election over at politicspa -- who won and what it means. In state senate and house races he focuses on the Pittsburgh area.

Locally, Chris Bowers of mydd won a spot on the state Democratic committee. has a complete wrap up of the numbers on contested primaries.

Valerie McDonald Roberts send out a great statement on her unsuccessful bid for lt. gov.:

"We have made history. Last year, we set out to offer a fresh perspective to Pennsylvania by bringing the localities back into state government and making government work for the people. And we have done that.

Through the efforts of people in the community and the power of the internet, we have changed expectations of what citizens should demand from candidates and public servants.

I continue to stand ready to serve as a watch dog and a voice for the people. Now is not the time to give up hope on good government. We must continue to hold government accountable and demand excellence from our elected officials.

I have served my community for 16 years as an elected official. It has always been my honor and privilege to serve the people. This is not over. I have committed-as have you all-to making our communities and our state a place where we can all flourish. And I will not ever turn my back on that commitment.

I would like to extend my appreciation to the other candidates in this race, and I offer my congratulations to Catherine Baker Knoll.

I also want to thank all of my supporters here and across the state. I am overwhelmed by the support from Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery, Chester and Delaware Counties, Allegheny, Washington, Westmoreland, Crawford, and Erie Counties, and from the middle of the state, places like Bradford, Tioga and Center County, and North East in Schuylkill, Lehigh, Lackawanna and Northampton Counties. The response from around Pennsylvania has been so heartening.

Again thank you to all of my supporters and especially to the online community, who helped spread the word. And thank you to my staff, friends, and family and most importantly to God. I am humbled by your faith and trust in me."

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Off Topic: Preconception Health Care

An article in the Washington Post ("Forever Pregnant Guidelines: Treat Nearly All Women as Pre-Pregnant" by January W. Payne May 16, 2006; Page HE01) and a similar article in the Wall Street Journal have caused a stir by recommending that physicians encourage all women of child bearing years to consider themselves "pre-pregnant."

Among other things, this means all women between first menstrual period and menopause should take folic acid supplements, refrain from smoking, maintain a healthy weight and keep chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes under control.

Generally, this seems to be good overall medical advice and, other than the folic acid part, would be applicable to men as well. Yet it has caused some concern in the blogosphere. I have a hard time getting too upset about it, in part because of this statistic:

The U.S. infant mortality rate is higher than those of most other industrialized nations -- it's three times that of Japan and 2.5 times those of Norway, Finland and Iceland, according to a report released last week by Save the Children, an advocacy group.

Better preconception and early pregnancy care could decrease the infant mortality rate. Susie over at the Suburban Guerilla has some stories about her experiences as a midwife and the lack of knowledge she encountered. I was at the other end of the spectrum. I had pre-conception checkups before each pregnancy, and a full quota of prenatal medical visits. At no point did anyone discuss nutrition with me, other than to ask if I understand what a good diet was. I said yes, and that answer was accepted without question. I learned more from reading the "What To Expect" book than I did from the docs.

The general state of health knowledge, especially where reproduction is concerned, is poor in this country. If you ever want to have some really wicked fun, talk to a group of high school or college women and casually mention that many standard antiobiotics will interfere with birth control pills and anyone who uses the pill for contraception should use an alternative method while taking antibiotics and for some weeks afterward (ask your doc for details). Every time I've done this at least 3/4 of the women will be so startled they nearly fall out of their chair.

Any kind of life planning that would include some basic health information could only be an improvement.

Quick Morning Roundup

Just a few notes from the final results off

Valerie McDonald Roberts recieved almost 20% of the votes for lt. gov. Not bad. Not bad at all. She had a good team and worked hard at this. I hope we see more of her.

Enough incumbents will be clearing out their desks in December that the legislature might listen up. Let's focus on a few key issues (lobbying disclosure, more transparency, etc.) and give some clear direction on what we want.

Mike Paston and Tom Murt will face off in the 152nd. That's a lucky district. Two good candidates.

As reported last night, Patrick Murphy will run against incumbent Mike Fitzpatrick in the 8th congressional district. He will need your contributions to do that, so trot over to and toss some coins in the bucket, folding money if you have it to spare.

Lois Murphy will, as we all expected, run against Jim Gerlach in the 6th district.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

One Last Update for the Night has called the lt. gov. Democratic primary for Knoll, with McDonald Roberts coming in second.

Brightbill may not be the only legislative leader to fall this evening. It isn't looking good for Jubilerer either, but the race has not been called. (oop! WFMZ just said Jubilerer has lost.) Okay, we have the legislature's attention, now what are we going to do with it?

WFMZ has Warren's concession speech and has called the race for Murphy! Warren's speech focused primarily on his disappointment in the low turnout, in not being able to run in November, and on his dismay at how much money it costs to run. You know that I am strongly biased for Murphy but Warren's speech did not seem as gracious as it could have been.

The other races I have been watching are still up for grabs but it's late. Check or tomorrow's papers for the final word.

Youngblood and Gingrich Called

10:24 is calling the GOP primary in house 101 for gingrich with 72% of the vote, 80% of the vote in. In the 198 Democratic primary, they are calling the race for incumbent Youngblood who has 69% of the votes, with 90% of hte precincts in.

Warren Concedes!

WFMZ channel 69 is saying Andy Warren is condeding the PA-08 race to Patrick Murphy!!! reports Murphy ahead 67% with 41% of the returns in.

Brightbill Concedes

Chip Brightbill concedes to Folmer (via channel 69).

Is this the revenge of Twister the Cat?

Slavic, Rapp, Cruz Called

9:46, calls it for Democratic primaries in house races: Salvick with 73% in district 109 with 86% of the vote in

district 180, Cruz with 61% of the vote and 81% of the returns

district 181, Thomas

GOP primary Rapp at 72% with 88% retursn in

PA-08 with 26.88% returns in, Murphy at 66.92% and Warren at 33%.

PA-08 Update

13.29% of the returns in -- 66% Patrick Murphy, 33% Andy Warren.

Yes on Video Surveillance, Yes on Ethics has called it as a "yes" for both of the referendums in Philly -- video surveillance and an ethics commission. 51% of the returns in. Calls It for Casey

9:28 p.m. With a little over 14% of the returns in, has called the senate race for Casey, who has 82% of the vote. At this point Sandals has 10% and Pennacchio 6%.

Checking Returns

Okay, I've got 3 Firefox windows open for election returns:

Philly News, just refresh every few minutes

The Next Mayor which is liveblogging from WHYY (reporting 10% of returns in from PA-08 with Patrick Murphy at 68.5% of that. The night is still young but I am hopeful).

WFMZ has a results page, refresh this one also.

Watching channel 69 WFMZ for live returns.

Voter #4

When I voted at 7:40 a.m., I was voter #4 in my precinct. [sigh]

Usually I have to wait in line for at least a minute or two. This morning the place was deserted. The only good thing was that with the rain the people who loiter at the doors handing out paper weren't there and I didn't have to run the gauntlet.

Oh, I hope people go out and vote today. I've chatted it up with people I see regularly so much that they back away when they see me coming or dodge me completely. [another sigh]

As soon as the polls close I'll be glued to the tv for election results.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Bad Election Poetry

I worked on some bad electin poetry today but nothing worth posting. However, if you hurry over to politicspa, they have a nice parody of the Night Before Christmas up. Hopefully it will still be there tomorrow.

Election Reminder

I'm blogging from the local public library. There is a thunderstorm near my house and it is playing havoc with dsl. The Friends of the Library's meeting conflicts with the kid's school PTA so for several years my contribution to the Friends (besides membership) has been a pan of brownies for each Friends election day bake sale. While I'm here and their internet is working I thought I'd blog just in case it doesn't get resolved at home.

As a side note, GOP incumbent Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-08) has introduced legislation that would make it impossible for me to do this (read more here on Blinq). He wants filters in schools and public libraries that would block social spaces like myspace and blogger. While I agree strongly that children do need to be protected from online predators I think they are far more at risk from the unsupervised pc in their room than a terminal in public view at the local library. Plus, those who do not have internet access at home and depend on the library for their connections are also cut off. That's a lot of senior citizens and lower income people of all ages. Not good. Public libraries are the people's university.

On a purely personal note I have always depended on libraries for my internet access while on vacation. No matter how remote the location there is bound to be a public library with a terminal available somewhere within driving distance. Tiny modular buildings near the beach, double wide trails in the mountains, you name it, there is a library near it. Restricting access in these places would be, in effect, restricting access for much of the public at large.

But, I digress. My main point for tonight's post is how disappointed I've been by the response from people at church, at the kids' school, along the street, etc. to my reminders about tomorrow's election. Most people have no idea that there is one, let alone who is running. Sad, very sad.

Remember to vote tomorrow. I'll be out bright and early (or rainy and early as the case may be). In statewide races I'm going for Sandals (senate) and McDonald Roberts (lt gov). Vote for whoever you want, just vote.

Off Topic: The Weekend

Today is Mother's Day and it's customary to say something profound or tug at the heartstrings. Something has been running around the mousetrack in my head but it hasn't come out yet so thoughts motherhood will have to wait.

This weekend Casa Jane had 5 kid-related events, the shortest 30 minutes, the longest 6 hours. (It involved me wearing an apron, safety googles, and plastic gloves, being splattered by sticky kid food, and then rained on. Yeehaw.) However, one of these events involved the kids going somewhere else for 2 hours and that coincided with the dinner hour on Saturday. Mr. J and I went out for dinner, no place fancy, something we get to do, oh, maybe 2 or 3 times a year. Driving to pick up the kids, the sun had gone down and we got to listen to whatever we wanted on the radio. Those readers in the same spot on the parenting cycle will recognize this as the big deal it is. Those who aren't, take my word for it, it's a big deal. Later in the evening we stumbled onto an Eddie Izzard show on BBC America. He did the riff on Darth Vader in the Death Star cafeteria. Hilarious. If you are in the midst of a primary campaign and find it annoying that people are going about their business when so much is at stake, I apologize, but let me assure you that, given a choice, I would gladly have traded 6 hours of your hectic schedule for the safety googles and the sticky kid food. I've shampooed twice but still find bits of it in my hair.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Does It Matter Who Lives in Your House?

One of my email buddies brought this to my attention. People applying for jobs at the Gaming Control Board are being asked a lot of questions. One is who else lives at their house. Some are taking this as a way of identifying applicant's sexual orientation. Rep. Babette Josephs has asked for further explanation on why these questions are necessary. (see story from KYW here).

Smoke and Mirrors and Lots of Mud

When I talk to people outside politics about politics the one thing I hear over and over is how distasteful they find the mean-spiritedness of campaigns and campaign literature. Many of the people in politics that I respect say the same thing. It's one thing I watch for in a campaign -- how do they present themselves? What language do they use?

So, I took note of a press release on politicspa in a race I have been watching closely. And I see utter nonsense like this:

[candidate's name] is the creation of the Philadelphia political machine which appears to be hell bent on extending its empire into the suburbs.

Is there just ONE political machine in the city? Every time I pick up the paper I read about intra-party fighting and jockeying for power. One faction backs one candidate, another faction backs another. The creation of bogeymen with intent to frighten is a very old advertising and political trick. It never speaks well of people who use it.

All I hear from [candidate] are platitudes and talking points spoon fed to him by someone in a place far away from [district].

Ditto for this. No examples are given. No evidence is provided. It's trash talk from a campaign that I have come to expect that from. I find this particularly irksome because a few years ago I was involved in an argument between two battling politicians. One made it very clear that he considered me incapable of independent thought and viewed me as no more than a wheezing rheumy-eyed attack poodle for the other politican. He had spent enough time in my company to know better. Any time I hear someone dismissed as a brainless agent or water carrier for someone else I become very suspicious, unless specific details can be given. It is the rallying cry of those who have nothing substantive to say and are usually trying to hide their own inadequacies.

To be honest, I think highly of the candidate being dissed in the press release, but I have reasons for doing so (here here and here). I think poorly of the candidate opposing him (for reasons specified here). The person sending out the press release was the attorney representing the plantiff in this case. If you have the time, listen to the two candidates in a joint appearance on Radio Times (either this link or this one).

Everyone is entitled to an opinion. I have a very strong one on this race (as you might have guessed). However, empty rhetoric and baseless mudslinging never reflect well on the people slinging the mud.

(doomsy has a few things to say on this also.)

Friday, May 12, 2006

A Real Political Cat Fight

John Micek's Capitol Ideas column is especially amusing today. Check out the "Quick Primary Update" section and "File Under Pandering Dept."

I would like to note that Casa Jane keeps its cats indoors, except for supervised play in the fenced backyard.

Your Semi-Weekly PA-08 Update

From today's "up and down" list on politicspa:

Meanwhile, PA8 Democratic candidate Andy Warren goes up as he picked up endorsements of the the Intelligencer and Courier Times. The bad news, he is still going to lose the primary to Patrick Murphy.

Murphy is having an online fundraiser. They took my money; I'm sure they'd take yours, too.

Off Topic: PA Bagpipers

Carnegie Mellon University has the nation's only bagpipe major. There are a few other schools that teach the bagpipes but CMU has the only student who is a full bagpipe major.

(Source: Paul Glader, "Scholarship Package is $7,000 a year and Subsidized Kilts," Wall Street Journal May 11, 2006, p. A1)

YPP Happy Hour

I stopped in briefly at the YPP (Young Philly Politics) Happy Hour this evening. There were a lot of interesting people there. I had a chance to see Valerie McDonald Roberts again, and plan to vote for her on Tuesday. Anne Dicker and Tony Payton were there but always surrounded by crowds so I wasn't able to get a close look or listen. As a very pleasant surprise, someone I had written about earlier was there and I elbowed a path over to say hello. I'm not sure he/she was supposed to be there so I won't mention any names. There were a few other candidates around, too. Some big name bloggers as well. Atrios, Daniel UA of YPP, and Chris Bowers of mydd among them. Ray Murphy played host admirably.

The room was packed and everyone seemed to be having a good time. My special thanks to the man in the blue shirt who struck up a conversation while I was still trying to find my "party feet."

weekly legislative update

No bills were voted on in the Pennsylvania house or senate this week. A few were shuffled around to committees.

There are some weekly updates, though.

Our accountant friends at PICPA
Senate GOP
House Democrats

Thursday, May 11, 2006

WSJ on Gerlach: Vulnerable

In today's Wall Street Journal (Calmes, Jackie, "Local Politics Turns National," p. A4):

With their House and Senate majorities at stake, Republicans are swimming against a national tide of voter unrest in the presidential midterm elections.


His (Rep. Rob Simmons) rival, former state rep. Joe Courtney, and other Democrats are running "nationalized" campaigns. They are hoping to capitalize on anger about the Iraq war, gas prices, congressional corruption and a White House seemingly at sea, to unseat enough "Bush Rubberstamps" -- as they call all Republican incumbents -- to recapture a majority.


"is her (Anne Northrup) seat a likely turn for Democrats?" Mr. Rothenberg asks. "No. but it's sure possible in a dramatically Democratic national environment." Much the same goes for Republican Reps. J. D. Hayworth in Arizona, Clay Shaw in Florida, Jim Gerlach in Pennsylvania and both Steve Chabot and Deborah Pryce in Ohio.

Voters' Views on Government

I've been neglecting IssuesPA. It's on my sidebar but I haven't looked at it in some time. Today someone emailed me about a new poll so I took a look at what they've done lately. In March and then again in April they've had polls looking at voters' views on government.

In March this was reported:

How vulnerable are incumbent state legislators in this year’s elections? While confidence ratings are down somewhat from pre-pay raise levels, people’s own state senators and representatives continue to be held in much higher regard than state legislators collectively. Sixty percent of state residents have a lot or some confidence in their own state senator and 63% have similar confidence in their own state representative. Political Independents, a bellwether of anti-incumbent sentiment, are more likely to have confidence in their own state senator (55%) and representative (55%) than in Governor Rendell (50%) and the legislature as a whole (44%).

In April it is not so rosy:

Asked for a one-word description that best describes the legislature, the largest number of Pennsylvanians surveyed – 69 respondents – said, “Greedy.” Though the top 10 list of responses included some positive or neutral words like “good,” “okay,” and “fair,” most had a negative connotation such as “crook,” “poor,” and “corrupt.”

It could be that, in usual fashion, people think their own legislator is okay but all the others are dishonest. (True to form I think my own state rep is okay but I'm wary of everyone else's.)

Read the full reports for more information on this and other topics. The polls have numbers on support for gubernatorial candidates, voter views on issues, and tons of other interesting stuff.

Chris Bowers Running for State Democratic Committee

Chris Bowers of mydd and Kevin Scott are running a write in campaign for state Democratic committee in the 8th state senate district. If you are, or think you are, in that district, check out Chris's mydd post for a district map and instructions on how to write in a name.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Board. And Furious.

Last week there was a lot of buzz in the papers and on the blogs over John Perzel's absence at the big property tax non-vote in the state house. Turns out he was off in Florida attending a corporate board meeting. Here's an excerpt from the Inky's story on it ("Perzel's absence puzzles Capitol The property tax bill unraveled as he tended to a business duty," by Mario F. Cattabiani, May 5, 2006):

Perzel (R., Phila.) was in Florida, preparing for an entirely different kind of vote.

He was attending corporate meetings of GEO Group Inc., the Boca Raton company of which he is a board member.

At yesterday's annual meeting at the Boca Raton Resort & Club, where Perzel was staying, shareholders of the publicly traded company voted to give him another term on the board. The job pays $20,000 a year, plus stock options and thousands of dollars more to attend meetings - including about $5,000 to attend this week's.

One repeated defense of the ill-fated pay raise was that you had to pay more to get good people. One rationale for paying corporate board members additional money to show up for the meetings of the boards they are paid to be on, is that you have to do that to get good people. That just makes me furious. Isn't that saying that the "good" people you are paying $20K to be on the board have to be bribed with additional money to show up for work?

Like a lot of people involved in their community, I sit on the board of a small local organization. I'm trying to get off of it in case the blog explodes one of these days (I don't want the group to be caught in the debris). I get no money to be on the board and nothing to show up for board meetings. There are tons of people out there who serve on local boards and they show up for meetings and do their job for absolutely nothing. Aren't we "good people," too?

Battling Endorsements in 10th State Senate District

As previously reported, Democratic primary candidate for the 10th State Senate district, Robin Rosenthal, has been endorsed by the Inquirer.

Chris Serpico, the other Democrat in the race, has been endorsed by the Bucks County Courier Times.

Curt Weldon Links (PA-07)

A few links to information on the GOP incumbent congressman in the 7th district, Curt Weldon, have shown up in my mail recently (hat tip Colin). For your perusal:

An article in Harper's on Weldon's use of campaign funds.

An article from CQ Politics on another of Weldon's conspiracy theories.

An article from the Inky on Weldon's defense industry ties.

Art of Political Campaigning Deadline

The nice folks at Campaigns & Elections would like to remind us that the deadline for advance registration to attend their 3 day Art of Political Campaigning workshop is coming up soon. The schedule of events is now online. My personal favorite is this session on Friday, June 2nd:

Handling Bloggers and Using Them to Help Your Campaign
Michael Turk, National Cable & Telecommunications Association
Taming the blogosphere is a time-consuming effort that involves reading and writing constantly. These prolific bloggers talk about the care and feeding of their brethern so you'll know how to work with them during campaigns.

Because, you know, taming the blogsphere and handling those bloggers is, indeed, a time consuming effort.

Monday, May 08, 2006

More on Paul Lang

Paul Lang, Democratic candidate for the 6th state senate district, is now writing for the Huffington Post. To date he is the only state-level candidate to be highlighted. His first post is here.


As I continue my run for state Senate in Pennsylvania, I discover that our country is rich with hard-working candidates fighting for our values at the community level. Often, they are overshadowed by Fox News, Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews, and big bloggers who cannot risk losing their national audience by focusing on “small races”. However, the candidates in these local races will impact your life more immediately and more deeply and they need your help. Progressive candidates from all over the country need you to put their lawn signs up, hand out their literature, and throw them a donation (even if it is only the price of the appetizer you order the next time you are out).

I agree completely. Watch your local races carefully. Get out and meet the candidates. If you live in the 6th state senate district, vote for Paul. For more information on him see his web site or his interview on this blog earlier this year.

More Inky Endorsements

I neglected to mention the Inquirer's endorsement of Lois Murphy in the Democratic primary in PA-06.

Today the Inquirer endorsed Valerie McDonald Roberts. Excerpt:

That leaves VALERIE MCDONALD ROBERTS.As a former Pittsburgh city councilwoman and school board president who is now Allegheny County recorder of deeds, she is far and away the Democrats' most plausible choice.

She's had to balance government budgets and manage a bureaucracy. She's been on the front lines of decision-making about crime, community development and education.

The two main roles of the lieutenant governor are leading the state's emergency services and chairing the parole board. After the Hurricane Katrina debacle, no state should be cavalier about the former duty. Of the four, Roberts promises the steadiest hand in a crisis.

Good choices all around.

More on Andy Warren

In the May 6th Morning Call, there is an article on Andy Warren, saying he mortgaged his house and used the proceeds to loan his campaign $75,000, in addition to the $50,000 he has already loaned the campaign. I always want to see a candidate donate some money to their campaign, but anything that is primarily self-funded doesn't show a lot of public support.

In yesterday's Bucks County Courier Times article (on phillyburbs), Warren said this:

Warren said he always dreamed of becoming Pennsylvania’s governor, a hope he admits is no longer a possibility. He lost his only race for state office in 1986, when he was defeated by then-state Rep. Jim Greenwood for a seat in the state Senate.

Ever since he left Doylestown for his job at PennDOT, he said he has itched to get into another race and, he believes, Congress might be his last run.

I'm not sure that is a good reason to vote for him. He is running against Patrick Murphy for the Democratic spot in the 8th congressional district.

Your Semi-Weekly PA-08 Update

Sorry, I just can't stay away from this one.

Here are a few PA-08 links.

Phillyburbs profile of Patrick Murphy.

Phillyburbs profile of Andy Warren.

Murphy press release on their Radio Times appearance.

The WSJ on PA Flooding

In Saturday / Sunday's Wall Street Journal:

For instance, Pennsylvania, which has no oceanfront, had more flood-insurance claims in 2004 that any state except Florida, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The reason? Heavy rains from Tropical Storms Ivan and Frances. ("Who Needs A Flood Policy?" by M. P. McQueen, May 6-7, 2006, p. B1)

Reading Valerie McDonald Roberts

On her campaign website Valerie McDonald Roberts has some notes on her activities on the Pittsburgh City Council. It is labeled Feb. 1995 - July 2005, but actually only goes 2001, 32 pages in all. When I heard her speak she talked about working with the Pittsburgh police on police reform. You can see that thread in her city council work. Another thread I saw was the importance of helping and understanding and paying attention to the impoverished and disinfranchised. A third is on community / job / school / training partnerships. One might expect that to fade over time but in the five years worth of notes on her site it did not. I have pulled out a few quotes that I think are illustrative of her better work. You should take the time to read through all of it yourself, especially before the primary.

On the Three Rivers Stadium:

"I'm having a real hard time with this. When I see neighborhoods falling apart, youth hanging out on the streets, we're talking about picking them up, locking them up, throwing away the key, and we can't give a lousy stinkin' $1 million to a neighborhood for a youth organization for some kind of recreational center? These kids have been crying for a youth recreational center for years and we're putting $27 million into the Stadium -- they can't even get to the Stadium?" (3/08/95)

On a Police Sensitivity Bill:

"We need to open up to a concept citizen police academy to train the residents. We talk about community oriented policing, it works both ways. The police officers need to be trained to work better with the community, to have the right attitude and the community needs to understand and have more respect for what a police officer has to do and why they act the way they do and they may have to be tough." (11/01/95)

On recycling:

"I think that the problem that you're going to find in the public housing is just plain apathy. The don't care because they're living hand to mouth and day to day. A lot of them don't see a future. They don't feel that they are empowered whatsoever. When you feel that way, you're not going to say, let me just put the cans out in the blue bags. It doesn't work that way. They have other concerns that are overwhelming them." (05/15/96)

On historic preservation:

"I don't know what the debate was in terms of balancing against the whole historic designation process and the work therein butI think there can be some happy medium but if there is a decision that has to be made I am going to be siding with the owner of the property. I take more stock in a human being than a building." (6/19/96)

On job training partnerships:

"I've often asked employers, particular high tech employers, when they say we don't have anyone, what are you all doing to encourage, not even just to encourage, but insist that these new employees have more contact with our universities. We have a whole bunch of college and universities that are pumping out a lot of skills and a lot of talent, academically and otherwise, and they're going out of the City. I would like to see a lot of these young people, these young adults stay in the City and become a viable workforce. What type of communication or what type of recruiting is being done in the University?" (03/12/97)

As I said, these are just a few examples. Some of the other good ones, especially later on, were just too long to retype. Read for yourself.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Philly Car Share Honored

This arrived in my inbox this week (hat tip Jeff):

PhillyCarShare and City of Philadelphia Named Finalists for Harvard "Oscar”

Compete for Prestigious $100K Prize

Philadelphia, PA – PhillyCarShare’s groundbreaking car-reduction initiative with the City of Philadelphia is among 18 pioneering Finalists for Harvard’s prestigious Innovations in American Government Award, the “Oscar” of American government. More than 1,000 forward-thinking programs from across the country submitted applications to compete for the seven final $100,000 prizes.

PhillyCarShare’s project is among “the best and brightest, and represents government’s great capacity for creating positive change and achieving results,” says Gowher Rizvi, Director of Harvard’s Ash Institute. The project “takes a creative approach to a significant problem and demonstrates that [the] solution works.”

PhillyCarShare and the City of Philadelphia teamed in 2004 to create the first system worldwide in which government employees and local residents would share vehicles by the hour in a major car-reduction effort. Advanced technology facilitates easy independent access to vehicles 24/7, automated cost allocation, and unprecedented superb accountability.

The pioneering project has leveraged the City’s elimination of 330 vehicles, saving taxpayers nearly $2 million annually. Philadelphia residents have sold or avoided purchasing another 1,500 vehicles through the program. They drive 9.9 million fewer miles per year; walk, bike, and take transit 37% more; and save about $6 million annually versus owning cars, according to detailed participant surveys. All participants pollute 90% less while driving PhillyCarShare’s hybrid gas-electric vehicles.

The prize money is awarded specifically to support winning programs in the teaching of their model to other jurisdictions. “By celebrating and disseminating this kind of creative thinking at all levels of government, the awards program helps turn innovative ideas into commonly accepted practices,” said Patricia McGinnis, President of the Council for Excellence in Government.

Stephen Goldsmith, Director of the Innovations in American Government Awards at the Ash Institute says, “When you learn about the variety of programs, the range of problems they tackle, and the creative ways they do it, it gives you a renewed confidence in the quality and commitment of our public servants. By shining a bright light on these innovators, we hope to encourage others in government to follow their amazing lead.”

Winners will be selected later this month following presentations they will make to the National Selection Committee at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government on May 25, 2006. The seven final winners will be announced on July 10 at a dinner ceremony in Washington, D.C., during the 2006 Excellence in Government Conference.

PhillyCarShare, a non-profit organization founded in 2002 by five local Philadelphians, operates a rapidly growing fleet of hybrids, wagons, and fun vehicle models from 40+ locations in central Philadelphia and Mt. Airy. Each member receives a personal key and 24-hour access to the entire fleet. Then driving is easy: reserve online, hop in, and go! Affordable hourly and mileage rates cover gas, premium insurance, and reserved parking. Members enjoy the convenience of driving, without the hassles of ownership.

The Innovations in American Government Awards, founded in 1986, is a program of the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. The award is administered in partnership with the Council for Excellence in Government in Washington.

The Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government fosters excellence in government around the world in order to generate and strengthen democracy. Through its awards program, research, publications, curriculum support, and global network, the Institute champions critical milestones in creative and effective governance and democratic

The Council for Excellence in Government is a national, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization whose mission is to improve government performance by strengthening results-oriented management and creative leadership in the public sector, and to build understanding by focusing public discussion on government’s role and responsibilities.

For more information on the Innovations in American Government program and this year’s finalists, please visit or

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).

I assume that at this point everyone knows the property tax bill met a sad end in the House.

As for resolutions, there were a number of environmentally related issues passed.

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

Monday In the House, HB1 and SB 30 laid on the table and removed
Tuesday In the House, HB 40, 41, 43 were laid on the table and removed, HB 39 conference committee report presented to and adopted by the Senate, presented to the House
Wednesday no action
Thursday no action
Friday no action

Regular Session


HB 711 A Resolution designating the month of May 2006 as Watershed Awareness Month" in Pennsylvania.

HR 456 A Resolution directing the Joint State Government Commission to conduct a study and report on the use of rubberized asphalt in the other 49 states and to indicate the number of waste tires consumed in the highways and the new markets created for recycled rubber.

HR 480 A Resolution supporting a Pennsylvania high-speed maglev industry.

HR 747 A Resolution recognizing the month of May 2006 as "National Bike Month," the week of May 15 through 19, 2006, as "Bike-to-Work Week" and May 19, 2006, as "Bike-to-Work Day" in Pennsylvania.

HR 680 A Resolution designating the week of May 27 through June 4, 2006, as "Pennsylvania Hiking Week."

HR 706 A Resolution recognizing April 28, 2006, as "Arbor Day"; promoting public participation in the celebration; and further recognizing the value of trees to our environment.

HR 742 A Resolution designating the month of May 2006 as "Community Action Month" in Pennsylvania.



HB 382 Prior Printer's No. 409. Printer's No. 3527. An Act amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949, further providing for powers and duties of the intermediate unit board of directors; providing for State reimbursement for mobile classroom facilities; and making editorial changes.

HB 2042 Prior Printer's No. 2819. Printer's No. 3962. An Act amending the act of June 22, 1937 (P.L.1987, No.394), known as The Clean Streams Law, further providing for penalties; and providing for limitation on certain actions.

HB 2375 Prior Printer's No. 3391. Printer's No. 4054. An Act requiring institutions of higher education to implement alcohol policies; providing for enforcement by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board; and prescribing a penalty.

HB 2472 Prior Printer's No. 3605. Printer's No. 4055. An Act establishing a farmers' market development grant program to develop or expand farmers' markets; conferring powers and duties on the Department of Agriculture; and providing for funding.

HB 2542 By Representatives BAKER, CAUSER, RAPP, DiGIROLAMO, CAPPELLI, DALLY, HARPER, PHILLIPS, SIPTROTH, THOMAS, TIGUE, WILT and DENLINGER. Prior Printer's No. 3748. Printer's No. 4003. An Act amending Title 13 (Commercial Code) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing, in secured transactions, for effectiveness of actions prior to amendment and for continued effectiveness of financing statements.

HB 2627 By Representatives FLICK and MELIO. Prior Printer's No. 3958. Printer's No. 4053. An Act amending the act of October 6, 2005 (P.L.319, No.59), entitled, "An act amending the act of June 24, 1976 (P.L.424, No.101), entitled, as amended, 'An act providing for the payment of death benefits to the surviving spouse or children or parents of firefighters, ambulance service or rescue squad members, law enforcement officers or National Guard members killed in the performance of their duties,' further providing for death benefit eligibility and for definitions," further providing for retroactivity of death benefit eligibility.

SB 583 By Senators BOSCOLA, GREENLEAF, EARLL, LAVALLE, KASUNIC, MUSTO, TOMLINSON, ERICKSON, KITCHEN, WAUGH, TARTAGLIONE, RAFFERTY and PILEGGI. Prior Printer's Nos. 607, 1485. Printer's No. 1792. An Act amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for arson and related offenses, for the offense of endangering welfare of children and for the offense of unsworn falsification to authorities.

SB 601 Prior Printer's Nos. 633, 896, 1142, 1239, 1692. Printer's No. 1791. An Act relating to confidentiality of Social Security numbers; and making a related repeal.

SB 711 Prior Printer's Nos. 858, 897, 1110, 1524. Printer's No. 1793. An Act providing for the protection of consumers from having spyware deceptively installed on their computers and for criminal and civil enforcement; and providing for civil immunity under certain circumstances.

SB 997 By Senators ERICKSON, ORIE, RAFFERTY, M. WHITE, PILEGGI, KITCHEN, D. WHITE, VANCE, EARLL, WONDERLING, REGOLA and ROBBINS. Prior Printer's No. 1337. Printer's No. 1629. An Act amending the act of June 13, 1967 (P.L.31, No.21), known as the Public Welfare Code, further providing for medical assistance payments for institutional care.

SB 999 By Senators LEMMOND, THOMPSON, EARLL, D. WHITE, RAFFERTY, MUSTO, PILEGGI, GORDNER, WENGER, WAUGH, WONDERLING, ROBBINS and ARMSTRONG. Prior Printer's No. 1327. Printer's No. 1790. An Act amending the act of June 3, 1937 (P.L.1333, No.320), entitled "An act concerning elections, including general, municipal, special and primary elections, the nomination of candidates, primary and election expenses and election contests; creating and defining membership of county boards of elections; imposing duties upon the Secretary of the Commonwealth, courts, county boards of elections, county commissioners; imposing penalties for violation of the act, and codifying, revising and consolidating the laws relating thereto; and repealing certain acts and parts of acts relating to elections," further providing for Voting Standards Development Board, for compensation of district election officers, for polling places selected by county boards and for public buildings to be used where possible and portable polling places and for prohibiting polling places in buildings or rooms where malt or brewed beverages or liquor dispensed; providing for polling places in other buildings; further providing for nominations by political bodies and for affidavits of candidates; further providing for opening of polls, posting cards of instruction and notices of penalties and voters' rights and examination of voting machines, for voting procedures, for date of application for absentee ballots, for canvassing of official absentee ballots and for violation of provisions relating to absentee voting; and making a repeal of the act of October 8, 2004 (P.L.830, No.98).

HB 2295 Prior Printer's No. 3220. Printer's No. 3734. An Act amending Title 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for a special registration plate for recipients of the Korean Defense Service Medal.

HB 2468 By Representatives GOOD, GEIST and McCALL. Prior Printer's No. 3600. Printer's No. 4006. An Act providing for the highway capital budget project itemization for the fiscal year 2005-2006.

HB 1503 By Representatives PAYNE, CAPPELLI, CREIGHTON, J. EVANS, GILLESPIE, GINGRICH, HARRIS, HERSHEY, M. KELLER, MUSTIO, PYLE, SCHRODER, SOLOBAY, E. Z. TAYLOR, J. TAYLOR and YOUNGBLOOD. Prior Printer's No. 1837. Printer's No. 3733. An Act amending Title 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for the offense of fleeing or attempting to elude police officer.

HB 1895 A Joint Resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, providing for special tax provisions relating to land conservation.

HB 2169 By Representatives McGILL, BUNT, CALTAGIRONE, FABRIZIO, GEIST, HENNESSEY, READSHAW, SHAPIRO, E. Z. TAYLOR, YOUNGBLOOD and BEYER. Printer's No. 3008. An Act amending Title 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, defining "governmental incident responder," "incident," "incident area," "incident clearance," "responder" and "response personnel"; further providing for accidents involving damage to attended vehicle or property; providing for vehicles involved in accidents and spilled cargo on freeway or limited access highway, for immediate custody and removal of vehicle constituting hazard, for road user duties approaching incidents, for avoidance of lane blockage and expedited removal of vehicles and for liability for authorized incident clearance functions; and establishing the Incident Management Committee and providing for its composition and duties.

HB 2368 Prior Printer's Nos. 3377, 3453. Printer's No. 4007. An Act amending Title 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, providing for driving under influence of alcohol or controlled substance with a certain occupant; and further providing for prior offenses, for accelerated rehabilitative disposition and for operation of all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles by persons under age sixteen.

HB 2437 An Act amending Title 51 (Military Affairs) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for the amounts of part-time student assistance grants.

HB 2441 An Act amending Title 62 (Procurement) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for application of part; and providing for electronic bidding by local government units.

HB 2457 An Act redesignating the bridge carrying section A80 of the East Side Access Highway, SR 4034, over Fourmile Creek and the Wintergreen Gorge in Harborcreek Township, Erie County, as the Sergeant Donald S. Oaks Memorial Bridge.

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.


HB 2319 Prior Printer's Nos. 3281, 3560, 4004, 4043. Printer's No. 4052. 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 750 By Representatives SCAVELLO, BOYD, CAPPELLI, CREIGHTON, FAIRCHILD, GILLESPIE, GINGRICH, HENNESSEY, LEACH, PALLONE, PAYNE, REICHLEY, SATHER, SCHRODER, THOMAS, TIGUE, YOUNGBLOOD, HARPER and DENLINGER. Printer's No. 841. An Act amending Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, further providing for compulsory arbitration.

HB 2319 Prior Printer's Nos. 3281, 3560, 4004, 4043. Printer's No. 4052. 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.

SB 238 By Senators WENGER, PICCOLA, WONDERLING, CORMAN, KITCHEN, GORDNER, PILEGGI, EARLL, RAFFERTY, WOZNIAK, COSTA, BOSCOLA, WAUGH, RHOADES, M. WHITE, ARMSTRONG, GREENLEAF, ERICKSON and TOMLINSON. Prior Printer's No. 237. Printer's No. 1771. An Act amending the act of April 9, 1929 (P.L.177, No.175), known as The Administrative Code of 1929, further providing for fees chargeable by Department of State; and providing for a uniform form.

SB 1114 By Senators ROBBINS, CONTI, STOUT and WOZNIAK. Prior Printer's Nos. 1581, 1655, 1715. Printer's No. 1782. An Act amending the act of May 1, 1933 (P.L.103, No.69), known as The Second Class Township Code, further providing for county associations; and authorizing appropriations to counties.

HB 15 Prior Printer's Nos. 2632, 3167, 3448, 3876. Printer's No. 4008. 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.

SB 809 By Senators THOMPSON, ROBBINS, STOUT and WOZNIAK. Printer's No. 1020. An Act amending the act of May 1, 1933 (P.L.103, No.69), known as The Second Class Township Code, further providing for the duties of township supervisors.

SB 261 By Senators ROBBINS, PUNT, THOMPSON, LAVALLE, RHOADES, COSTA, RAFFERTY, MUSTO, ORIE, WOZNIAK, PILEGGI, KITCHEN and GORDNER. Printer's No. 265. An Act amending the act of June 27, 1996 (P.L.403, No.58), known as the Community and Economic Development Enhancement Act, providing for a Deputy Secretary for Local Government Services in the Department of Community and Economic Development.

SB 810 By Senators CONTI, THOMPSON, ROBBINS, STOUT and WOZNIAK. Printer's No. 1021. An Act amending the act of April 9, 1929 (P.L.177, No.175), known as The Administrative Code of 1929, further regulating duties of Department of Community and Economic Development.