State Rep.Rick Taylor and his Republican challenger Todd Stephens appeared on one of my favorite radio show, WNPV's Comment Please by Univest,on Oct. 17th. Darryl Berger is a very skillful interviewer
Comment Please by Univest
Host: Darryl Berger
(incumbent Democrat) Rick Taylor and (Republican) Todd Stephens
Friday, Oct. 17
151st district state house district
1 minute opening, questions, 1 minute closing
RT: Thank you. It’s good to be here as always. Thank listeners. [describes district] Two years ago when I ran for this office I ran because I believed I could make peoples lives better. I’ve been fighting for that. Health care, education, dignity for older citizens. Ambler, fight over asbestos. Willow Grove Naval Air Station. Fight for quality of life to be preserved. My experience in public and private industry has taught me how to work with all kinds of people.
TS: Appreciate opportunity to be here. Been an assistant district attorney in Montgomery County for almost 8 yrs. Opportunity to serve the people of Montco in that capacity and US Attorney’s office in Philadelphia. Being a state rep provides opportunity to serve people in a greater way. Disappointed in state house of rep. Too much time spent bickering. Indictments and continuing investigation. As it relates to the average individual. No one says how great state legislature is. In fact, headlines to the contrary. Lived in Horsham all my life. Time we made some changes. Been fighting for people in the courthouse and would like to move on to state house and fight for people there.
Q: bonusgate. Rick, you are involved in this to some degree. One of the people indicted was your cm for a brief time. Have you answered all the questions on that? You ran as a reformer.
RT: Yes, what has happened as far as Bonusgate goes. If allegations are true it is saddening and disappointing. Let me be clear, there has never been an accusation that I did anything wrong. Two weeks before the election there was a need to replace my campaign manager. We called state party as the campaign manager was not my employee. Said I could go it alone but called them first. I did not know she was on state money until the day indictments announced. While in Harrisburg I have worked to change the problems that have eroded the trust. First issues were legislation being rammed down people’s throats late at night. Lessened power of leadership on rules committee. Increased time for legislators to review legislation. Used to be asked to vote on legislation with no time to read it. Worked on open financing. Need campaign finance reform. Worked with Common Cause. Redistricting reform is another thing. Upper Dublin. 8 years ago there was one representative. Now in 4 different districts in Upper Dublin. Would like a nonpartisan commission. Rep. Samuelson has a nice bill on that. As soon as Bonusgate came out I introduced a bill to ban bonuses. We have to deal with systemic issues.
TS: quite frankly, with all due respect to Rep. Taylor it’s great to talk about redistricting reform but now the time has passed. Can’t happen before 2010 when redistricts. Had 2 years to address it and didn’t. Bonusgate issues. Rep. Taylor hasn’t ever shown on his campaign finance report the in kind donation for Rachel Manzo’s work. He hasn’t amended his report to show he received her work for 2 weeks. There was already a bill banning bonuses sitting in the house, passed in the senate. Sat in committee. But he introduces another bill. This whole notion that the rules were tightened is wrong. The most important bill that comes up is the budget but they suspended the rules on the budget bill. We need to make sure the caucus expenses are put online. I and others have asked about the amount spent on Rep. Taylor’s newsletters. He didn’t start putting his expenses online until Dec. of last year. Nothing in there about newsletters or tv commercials. Need to make sure one committee chair, like chair of State Govt committee chair, can’t derail legislation. We have got to stop allowing our tax dollars to defend against criminal investigations. When legislature said they were in favor of open records but D caucus fought Bonusgate subpoenas they were using tax dollars. Whole lot of lip service but no substantial changes.
RT: As far as the bonus issue goes. The existing bill banning bonuses was on all of state government. Too broad in scope. We were really concerned about people using it for political purposes. So that’s why I introduced the bill to fastrack it. On committee chair bottling legislation, just had a discharge resolution on MCare abatement (helps doctors pay medical liability). On the budget. I voted against suspending the 24 hour deadline. I agree the budget is important but the majority voted to suspend.
Q: Leadership has too much power?
RT: Having a strong leadership is frustrating. They still have a lot of powers. It’s not all bad. The legislative accounts not all bad, sometimes all four caucuses will share costs of something with the governor. I believe in kind services were reported from HDCC. They gave us a statement saying what services were rendered. Both campaign managers were same, an in kind service provided. On the mailings, I think these mailings serve an educational purpose for constituents. For example, announce free breast cancer screenings for low income women. Not excessive. Property tax rebates for seniors. Education people about these services. Has gone to visit constituents even in off years to help them and educate them. I have more constituent service hours than any other rep according to a survey. Televised publis service announcements also serve to educate public. One early PSA on TAP 529 programs. Dual enrollment, get college credits while in high school. Work on making college more affordable.
TS: Still confused. Open records. How much did we spend on newsletters. You don’t’ even know how much you spent?
RT: That comes through the caucus.
TS I don’t disagree that there is important issue information to disseminate to constituents. I worked on Internet crime safety. Developed on my own time and distributed Mouse pads with Internet safety. Got corporate sponsorship. Ricks’ tv ads, 45K spent on 529 programs. If every state legislator spent that kind of money wouldn’t it be smarter if there was one commercial from the treasurer’s office instead of individual ad from each legislator.
Q: RT not the only one doing this.
TS: We need to change these things.
Q: Willow Grove Naval Air Station (Joint Air Reserve Station at Willow Grove)
RT: There are 3 principles I’ve been working with. Base and runway is important. After 9/11 it became apparent that the old way of working needed change. We need to keep it and keep runway. Need for national defense, emergency preparedness. Whatever happens at the base should not diminish quality of life who live in the surrounding communities. Been a strong proponent of working with both sides. Been working with the state and local representatives. Greatest concern being commercial flights. Two pieces of legislation given to locals to mark up until they are comfortable with it. I’ve been working in a very bipartisan fashion. Have worked with different cultures and be an honest mediator. Legislation would block commercial flights and narrow definition of associated user. I’ve spurred the debate and brought Gov. Rendell in to meet with some of the township officials. At the end of the day you cannot diminish quality of life in Horsham.
TS: On Horsham planning commission for years. We need to abate traffic around Horsham. Maybe use some of the land to decrease traffic. When the military said they don’t want it ever other gov’t agency given the option of coming to WG for free. All declined. Gov. came in and said it should be preserved as joint agency installation. I have mixed feelings on whether it is necessary or not. All agencies had previously declined. Gov. has found he can’t possibly afford to maintain base with just gov’t monies. Kimball Report said some private use. RT said he endorsed Kimball Plan, more buildings and hangars. Issue is you will be using commercial air traffic to foot the bill for the base. Congress passed legislation to allow for commercial and cargo air traffic for WG. Keeps trying to wrap this up in national security but ask and pharmaceutical companies keep coming up. I was at the meeting when Burger King was listed as being part of national security. [read from committee minutes]. If you told me this was going to be a gov’t facility with gov’t planes and gov’t pilots for national defense and homeland security, I could support it. I’ve been a neighbor of the naval air base all my life. There’s nothing like watching a fighter taking off. But that’s not what is happening here. Those associated users would access to the runway so they will foot the bill.
RT: What I endorsed was the vision of a homeland security hub with a runway. The associated user is part of the discussion the township and the state need to have. We do need to make sure the township has a say. The governor said the township would have a say. I am trying to work with the township to make sure they have a say. Trying to be an honest broker. I’ve knocked on thousands and thousands of doors. We’ve got to define what associated users are. Taxation issues. Sovereignty of the state should not be given up. Fed legislation said no commercial and cargo flights.
TS: You can’t be a broker you’ve got to take a side. Horsham declared a great place to live. We didn’t get that by letting the state come in and dictate what happens to all these acres. The decisions need to be made in Horsham and Montgomery townships. If we’re going to relocate businesses from Montgomery Township to federal land in Horsham where they won’t pass taxes; that is a concern. Never once has RT talked about land use or local taxes. Just ban non-gov’t flights. None of that has happened. We heard from the state there would be a public meeting back in March. There have been no public meetings. All closed door meetings. Kimball Plan made in closed door meeting. Footing the bill for that facility is wrong. I would fight tooth and nail.
RT: Horsham also part of this Kimball Report. I was supporting the vision. There was legislation we were going to run right before we broke for the budget. A lot of the issues the twp wanted to deal with and they asked me to hold up that legislation. We redrafted the legislation.
TS: When you were asked if you will support this legislation you said you didn’t know and then made a phone call and said you would support it.
RT: At the meeting I said to the twp I said I supported what they were doing in principal but wanted the conversation to continue. You have to have a number of legislators and the governor to pass legislation. I told Horsham I believed in the principal but did not want dialogue to end.
TS: you didn’t go and introduce the legislation. Tom Murt did and you jumped on. How are you going to pay for that runway unless you’re going to use commercial tenants to pay the bill.
RT: We drafted the legislation, sent it to solicitor of Horsham twp, didn’t hear back. It was after Murt’s bill was introduced that we heard back. Rep. Murt and I are communicating but I heard about the bill after it was introduced.
TS: I certainly appreciate you having me here. I would love to have another debate. We need some new leadership, someone who understands the issues are it relates to WG, traffic issues. I have a 98% conviction record in DA’s office. Deserve and opportunity to go Harrisburg www.toddstephens08.com
RT: In the last 2 years I have worked hard to make a difference in people’s lives. Helping push Bo-Rite on national list. Dual enrollment. Asbestos. Work for those who don’t have a voice. www.taylorforpa.com
Friday, October 31, 2008
State Rep.Rick Taylor and his Republican challenger Todd Stephens appeared on one of my favorite radio show, WNPV's Comment Please by Univest,on Oct. 17th. Darryl Berger is a very skillful interviewer
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Having been to all the political events I can stand for awhile, I stayed in with the family tonight. We're still a little shaken as Mr. J's car was nearly hit by a tree yesterday and felt a need to cocoon.
First up was Barack Obama's infomercial. I thought it was very well done, excellent writing and production. Mr. J's favorite part was the man putting on the Wal-Mart name tag.
Next was the Phillies game. The last time I watched part of a ballgame Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire were trying to break a record of some kind. This was, honest, the first time I'd watched the Phillies play. It was a good starting point since they won. Must be because of the William Penn statue put on the top of the Comcast building. Stranger things have happened.
The race for the 172nd, between former House Speaker John Perzel and Rich Costello, former head of the Fraternal Order of Police, is not completely unrelated. For one thing, John Perzel is paying for the nasty anti-Boyle ads.
But that's only the latest in Perzel's list of transgressions.
Perzel, who could conceivably become speaker again if the political balance in Harrisburg shifts to Republican, was wrong on the legislative pay raise, wrong on the idea of limiting property-tax relief from casino revenues only to seniors, wrong on his lack of action on common-sense gun laws. He grabbed the Parking Authority for state oversight, but failed to deliver on the revenues promised to the schools from that grab. There are concerns about how he will fair in the Bonusgate probe and investigations surrounding a taxpayer-sponsored computer program possibly used for campaign purposes.
Rich Costello, whom we endorse, is smart and thoughtful. He was a popular police leader, and his experience as a police officer -and one who was shot at twice- should at the very least translate into a new, welcome direction for the conversation about guns that happens in Harrisburg.
Also this week, the Inquirer, published an article on the race this week ("Perzel has high-profile opponent in Costello," by Marcia Gelbart, 10/27). If you click on the link and look at the picture, for some reason John Perzel seems to be standing in front of a bunch of Taubenberger lawn signs. Here is an excerpt:
This time, Perzel faces former Fraternal Order of Police president Rich Costello, perhaps his most formidable opponent ever.
Costello's 34-year police career and vocal leadership for 10 years of Lodge 5 of the Fraternal Order of Police gives his campaign instant credibility.
"When a guy has been in Harrisburg for 30 years and forgets where he came from, that makes him dangerous," says the 57-year-old Costello, who believes Perzel is too cozy with lobbyists. "I don't think at the grassroots level he has the support of the rowhouse Republicans he thinks he has."
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
There have been, I think, seven debates in the 8th congressional district race. There is one more tomorrow night, Oct. 29th; the debate is taking place at Central Bucks High School West, 375 W. Court Street, in Doylestown. Doors open at 6:30pm and the debate begins at 7pm.
I've watched four of the debates, three in person and one replayed on PCN, and written on two of them (Shir Ami, PCN broadcast of Bristol Riverside Theater ). If you haven't attended any of the previous debates you should go out to the Oct 29th event. Here's a quick preview:
Tom Lingenfelter (Independent): Get government out of the way.
Tom Manion (Republican): Washington is broken.
Patrick Murphy (incumbent Democrat): Green energy jobs. Fourth largest solar field in the US being built in Bucks County. Increased veterans benefits. Veterans cemetery. Need to bring our troops home. Voted my conscience.
Mr. Lingenfelter has, in my opinion, grown more cantankerous as the debates have done on. At the last one I attended he seemed to have progressed from trying to educate the audience to hectoring them.
Mr. Manion is very low-key and often starts sentences with "Well, ..." The exception is when he got angry at Murphy for talking about naming a post office for a Bucks County resident who died in the war. Manion, who also lost a son in Iraq jabbed his finger at Murphy and shouted "Watch yourself!" two or three times. He also said at every debate I attended that Murphy's work to increase veterans benefits took no effort because, after all, who would oppose that? Actually Sen. McCain voted against increased educational benefits for veterans who served for only a few years because it would discourage people from re-enlisting. Manion also hits Murphy for voting against war funding bills that did not include a timeline for troop redeployment (bringing the troops home).
Murphy does well in these debates, though I may be prejudiced having following his 2006 campaign closely. He discusses his record and emphasizes his bipartisan approach in Congress. He often recognizes community leaders or businessmen in the audience that he knows. He mentions his family. At one event a man wearing a Manion button started kibbitzing; Murphy handled it well.
If you live in the 8th and haven't been to one of the previous debates, please try to attend the one on the 29th.
Another review of the 157th state house seat. Democrat Paul Drucker is running against Republican Guy Ciarrocchi. There is no incument; it is an open seat. Each candidate has a campaign website (http://www.votepauldrucker.com/ and http://www.guyciarrocchi.com/). Each has a negative site as well (http://slipandfallpaul.com and http//www.whatkindofguy.com).
Let's take a look at one of these sites. Ciarrocchi's campaign claims that Drucker has filed a number of lawsuits. "His focus wasn't on helping taxpayers, lowering healthcare costs, creating jobs or improving the quality of life in his community."
I call foul. True, I was able to verify one of the cases mentioned on his site. However, I also found these legal cases that Drucker was involved in. Ciarrocchi did not mention them:
In 1994, Drucker represented a former policeman who shot and killed two young men who stole his car and abducted him. One of the carjackers pulled a gun which jammed. It was then that Drucker's client fired (Nolan, Jim, "Carjack victim 'didn't wait for 2nd click'," Daily News 10/22/1994)
In 1995, Drucker represented a disc jockey who was fired because of his ethnic background. The jury awarded him $68,888.("Disc jockey gets $68,000 in a bias suit in Reading" Inquirer 3/15/1995)
In 1996, Drucker represented the widower and daughter of a teacher who was shot and killed in front of her class. The suit was dismissed. (Martinez, Julia C., "In classroom murder, suit is dismissed," Inquirer 11/23/1996)
In 1999, Drucker represented a man who was supposed to be jailed for 72 hours for contempt of court, and was instead held for 28 days. (Naedele, Walter F., "Suit: man jailed too long at Delaware County prison," Inquirer 09/02/1999)
In 2000, Drucker represented a school district employee who said she was fired after reporting a bid-rigging scheme. (McCrary, Lacy, "A former employees sues Bensalem School District," Inquirer 3/25/2000)
In 2005, Drucker represented a man who house was sold out from under him by someone submitting a fraudulent deed; he was able to have his ownership restored. (Porter, Jill, "Fraud-fighting plan is working here," Daily News 4/22/2005)
These are not the wealthy or powerful. They are regular folks. They were taxpayers and Drucker tried to improve their quality of life.
A recent theme of the John McCain's campaign has been that Barack Obama intends to institute government redistribution of wealth. This has actually been around for quite some time. As someone who has been the recipient of it more than a few times, I can hardly argue against it now.
I was an olive drab baby. My father, who served in the U.S. Army for over 20 years, was an active duty serviceman when I was born. The only medical expenses for my birth that were not covered by tax dollars were my mother's meals ($3/day for 7 days). At that time fathers were not normally in the delivery room but were encouraged, at least at that hospital, to "share the experience" by donating blood. (Don't scoff, ladies, it was better than nothing.) So Pa used to tell me that I cost him $21 and a pint of blood. Up until my parents' divorce, and for a short time after that, my medical care was covered by the military, and that means the tax payers.
The American tax payers sent me to college, as it was entirely funded by grants and loans. (I wrote about this in 2005). I was extremely conscious of being a public works project and of the shift away from grants to loans and so graduated in three years instead of the usual four. A college education is always a good investment of public money as it is usually repaid many times over in the taxes on higher wages over the person's lifetime.
Anyone who received grants for college or took advantage of the GI Bill or benefited from a government program or business incentive has been the recipient of wealth redistribution. We take tax money from some people and give it to others, with the assumption that in some way that money will come back into the economy.
I'm really confused about this becoming an election issue. And certainly, it would be hypocritical of me to try to turn off the water for those behind me when I drank from the community well.
Sorry this is late.
This is a list of articles regarding Pennsylvania in this week's Wall Street Journal. Chances are I missed something, but these are the articles that caught my eye.
It should be noted that I routinely do not read the editorials in the WSJ. So any discussions of the state, its elected officials, businesses, or citizens, in editorials will not be mentioned here.
Charles Aulino, directory of financial planning at Glenmede Trust Company is quoted in “Why now is the time to help you heirs,” by Anne Tergesen 10/18
Critical Homecare Solutions of Conshohocken is mentioned in “As home IVs grow, Medicare patients miss out,” by Laura Landro 10/15
Toll Brothers is mentioned in “Jersey City’s boom is set back,” by Dawn Wotapka 10/15
“Sovereign sells itself to Spain’s Santander,” by Robin Sidel 10/14 and “Santander nears Sovereign deal,” by Matthew Karnitschnig, Robin Sidel, and David Enrich 10/13 discuss the sale of the bank based in this area.
Scranton is the focus of “Behind a blue-collar cliché,” by Kevin Hellicker, 10/18
Jamie Moyer is the focus of “What’s a geezer worth?” by Matthew Futterman 10/17. This is an important question for me as I’m easing into geezer territory myself.
Carnegie Mellon is mentioned in “Duke expands India offerings as U.S. schools seek foothold,” by Geeta Anand and Brittany Hite 10/16
From “School efforts to stem violence offer a textbook case of limits on speech,” by Dan Slater 10/16
Late last month, a federal judge in Pennsylvania sided with a school district in its decision to bar a student from wearing a T-shirt imprinted with images of guns and phrases such as “Volunteer Homeland Security” and “Terrorist Hunting Permit … No Bag Limit.”
Gettysburg and Valley Force parks are mentioned in “Developers and conservationists battle over national parks,” by Jonathan Karp 10/15
Richard J. Herring, co-director of the Financial Institutions Center at Wharton is quoted in “Devil is in the bailout’s details,” by Deborah Solomon and David Enrich 10/15
This week’s requisite Mark Zandi quote is in “Problems of home prices remain,” by Ruth Simon and Michael Corkery 10/15
“NFL’s Eagles tackle drunken, rowdy fans,” by Mark Yost 10/14
Monday, October 27, 2008
While most people in the region are fixated on the Phillies, a few of us are engaged in normal activities, like seeing if candidate's names are ever incorrectly spelled in the newspapers.
In researching the 157th state house race, between Democrat Paul Drucker and Republican Guy Ciarrocchi, I ran across a rather odd footnote in Ciarrocchi's past that hasn't, to my knowledge, been mentioned recently.
Here's where I started:
She was asked why she had never been invited to Joe's family's home. Her answer indicated that, indeed, she hadn't and that Joe had always told her he didn't like the home and didn't care for his father.
"When I realized that Guy (Ciarocchi, Joe Waldholtz's closest friend) hadn't been to Joe's home either, it seemed to make sense."
But Joe Waldholtz said Enid had visited and in fact stayed at his father's relatively modest split-level home on Darlington Avenue in Squirrel Hill. (Roddy, Dennis, “Politics, bedfellows Joe Waldholtz says he loves Enid, but will tell the truth,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 2/11/1996)
The woman speaking is former Utah Congresswoman Enid Greene Waldholtz. She's talking about her then husband and campaign manager Joe Waldholtz, whose financial irregularities earned him some jail time and ended her congressional career. In addition to mismanaging campaign funds he embezzled from his family. But is Joe's Guy Ciarocchi the same as our Guy Ciarrocchi? Let's see.
Here's a brief history of Joe's political history in Pennsylvania:
He played roles ranging from volunteer to senior staffer in several GOP campaigns in the late 1980s, including those of unsuccessful Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Bill Scranton and now-Sen. Rick Santorum's House race.
Joe rose through the ranks of his native Allegheny County's Young Republicans, once offering a free trip to Washington to whoever registered the most Young Republicans in the suburban congressional district encircling Pittsburgh.
Joe became a senior aide and eventually chief of staff to Republican National Committeewoman Elsie Hillman, a personal confidante to President Bush. The post won Joe periodic visits to the White House -- and a taste for the trappings of national politics.
At 25, Joe held a top position with the Bush-Quayle campaign in 1988. Four years later, he was named executive director of Bush's 1992 Pennsylvania re-election bid, putting him in charge of strategy for a state with the fifth-largest block of electoral votes in the country. (Semerad, Tony, “Waldholtz: He Plays Hardball,” Salt Lake Tribune, 11/14/1995)
Where was Ciarrocchi during those years?
In 1987 he was president of the University of Pennsylvania College Republicans (Walsh, Edward, “Publicity and pressure focus on an uncommitted Sen. Specter,” Washington Post 9/29/1987). In 1988 Ciarrocchi was the national co-chairman of College Republicans and a law student at Villanova University. (Simmons, Rose, “Republicans are succeeding at attracting the young,” Inquirer 11/12/1988). Some time before 1992 he was the head of the Young Republicans of Pennsylvania (Hollman, Laurie, “Barbs, sparks, fur fly in S. Phila race,” Inquirer 10/19/1992). In 1994, he was working for then state senator Melissa Hart of the Pittsburgh area (Hammonds, Donald I., “Controversy rages over tax proposal in state senate,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 4/07/1994)
Back to Utah. When an warrant was issued for Waldholtz's arrest he disappeared for several days and then resurfaced as the friend, client and houseguest of Jeffery Liebmann, a lawyer living in the Philadelphia area (Harrie, Dan, Semerad, Tony and Maddox, Laurie Sullivan, “Blame Game: Joe May Cut A Deal, Turn Against Enid,” Salt Lake Tribune, 11/23/1995). Ciarrocchi and Liebmann were photographed together in a Wynnewood restaurant listening to Rush Limbaugh (Logan, Joe, “Limbaugh fans get a rush in new bonding experience,” Inquirer 7/14/1993).
So I think there is good reason to believe that Waldholtz's one time bff, Guy Ciarocch,i is the same as the 157th district Republican candidate Guy Ciarrocchi. Of course, the fact that Waldholtz's then estranged wife thought Ciarrocchi was his closest friend does not mean that Ciarrocchi viewed the relationship the same way. Does something this far back in Ciarrocchi's past have any bearing in the election? There are some other questions about Ciarrocchi's ethics, past and present (see whatkindofguy.com for examples). Ciarrocchi's campaign has a similar site about his opponent Paul Drucker (see slipandfallpaul.com). I found the Waldholtz connection while trying to verify and find a context for the claims on both of these sites. For the curious I did verify the information on Ciarrocchi's first house run in the early 1990's against Rep. Donatucci, the Archdiocese and HUD job experience. On the Drucker side, I did find that he was a lawyer on one of the suits the anti-Drucker site discusses but did not get much farther than that. Those who have qualms about Ciarrocchi might see the Waldholtz information as another example of questionable connections or behavior.
If time allows before the election I would like to write more about this race.
From the inbox:
A coalition of Pennsylvania voters and civil rights groups, led by the NAACP State Conference of Pennsylvania, filed a lawsuit today in federal court in Philadelphia seeking to ensure that voters receive emergency paper ballots on Election Day when 50% or more voting machines become inoperable at any polling site in the state. The lawsuit, filed against Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Pedro A. Cortés, alleges that voters will be disenfranchised when they face the burden of having to wait hours in line, due to voting machine breakdowns, in order to exercise their constitutional right to vote.
“In Pennsylvania this year,” the complaint states, “an unprecedented interest in voting, a record number of newly registered voters, and a well-established history of widespread electronic voting machine failures have converged to create a perfect storm that, left unaddressed, unquestionably will result in the disenfranchisement of substantial numbers of citizens.”
The lawsuit follows numerous reports during Pennsylvania’s primary election in April of voters facing long lines when electronic voting machines became inoperable at their polling sites. Voters called national election protection hotlines on primary day, including 866-MYVOTE1, reporting that election officials were not providing the safeguard of emergency paper ballots when voting machines malfunctioned. Callers stated that voters were told either to wait in line – sometimes for hours – or to come back later to vote. The reports revealed that many voters left their polling locations without casting their votes.
“Voters should not be forced to wait hours in line in order to exercise their fundamental right to vote,” says John Bonifaz, legal director for Voter Action and co-counsel for the plaintiffs. “While the use of electronic voting machines continues to pose a separate threat to the integrity of the vote-counting process, federal court intervention is necessary to ensure that voters will not be disenfranchised by long lines on Election Day in Pennsylvania, when these machines become inoperable.”
“Pennsylvania’s Secretary of the Commonwealth has issued a directive to all Pennsylvania counties requiring that emergency paper ballots be distributed only when 100% of voting machines malfunction on Election Day,” says Jonathan Abady, a partner at the New York-based law firm Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady, and co-counsel for the plaintiffs. “If left unchanged, this standard will place an undue burden on voters across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
In his declaration filed with the lawsuit, J. Whyatt Mondesire, the president of the NAACP State Conference of Pennsylvania, states: “One of the major impediments to members exercising their right to vote is the long lines frequently encountered on election day…Thousands of members have faced serious delays in voting when machines have broken down in the past and this problem will be much more severe this year when unprecedented numbers of voters will be coming to the polls.”
In addition to the NAACP State Conference of Pennsylvania, the plaintiffs include individual voters who reported long lines and voting machine breakdowns during the state’s primary election in April, as well as the Election Reform Network, a local election integrity organization. The plaintiffs are represented by Voter Action, a national voting rights organization, the law firm of Emery Cell Brinckerhoff & Abady, and the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia.
For twitter users:
With less than 15 days until Election Day, the non-partisan Election Protection coalition is enhancing its outreach efforts through a partnership with the Twitter Vote Report project, Rock the Vote, and other coalition partners. With more than 125 million voters projected for this year, issues at the polls are inevitable. Citizens can help Election Protection as they work with election officials to find ways to fix any problems, on the spot, at the polls, and in doing so ensure that millions of Americans have their votes counted.
Twitter's text-messaging and web capabilities and its vast network of active users allow all voters to become election monitors. Users will send "tweets" indicating problem areas, which will make it possible for Election Protection to identify issues in real time and immediately deploy legal volunteers to polling locations where trouble is brewing when necessary.
"The Election Protection coalition is constantly exploring new ways to engage all Americans in the effort to make sure every vote is counted, and we have a special focus on connecting with the youth who represent a large block of first time voters," said Jonah Goldman, director of the National Campaign for Fair Elections at the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. "This new initiative with Twitter Vote Report gives us the opportunity to penetrate communications streams that youth and others use in their everyday lives to communicate with friends and stay informed on the news of the day. We are eager to observe the myriad ways in which voters are empowered through the ability to provide real time updates as they vote."
Heather Smith, Executive Director of Rock the Vote said, “We are thrilled to partner with Election Protection and techPresident to give young people the opportunity to share election related questions and problems through Twitter. This program creates a new way to ensure that every young voter will be able to cast a ballot this year.”
Election Protection is partnering with Twitter Vote Report, an effort launched on Personal Democracy Forum's techPresident and energized by a group of volunteer technologists, to encourage citizens to broadcast text messages to Twitter.com that can be then be aggregated and mapped so voting problems around the country can be “seen” in real-time. These reports can then be relayed to the experts at the Election Protection Coalition who will, in turn, relay information to their teams on the ground.
"The goal of Twitter Vote Report is to expand the ways in which Americans participate in the electoral process this Election Day," said Nancy Scola of techPresident.
Allison Fine, of Personal Democracy Forum and a Senior Fellow at Demos, added, "On November 4, citizens will be able to "tweet" their vote using the identifying tag of #votereport to Twitter Vote Report. Our partnership with Election Protection and Rock the Vote will greatly expand the role and ability of citizens to protect the election for themselves and their neighbors."
From now until November 4, users can access the Election Protection Twitter account at http://twitter.com/866ourvote and tweet with questions and voting problem reports. On Election Day, voters will be able share their experiences and report problems using the #EP + State Abbreviation (i.e. #EPVA for Virginia) and #votereport tags. Election Protection state teams will monitor and confirm tweet-reports, then work to resolve any issues.
Election Protection will also be posting a comprehensive Twitter toolkit on the 866OURVOTE.org website for those who want to tweet us on Election Day. Voters can also access Election Protection's other free resources, the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline and the voting information at 866OURVOTE.org.
Friday, October 24, 2008
From the inbox:
On September 3rd, 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] proposed adding the BoRit Asbestos Site to the Superfund National Priority List [NPL]. The EPA is currently seeking public comment on the proposal.
Located by the Wissahickon Creek at the intersection of Whitpain Township , Upper Dublin Township and Ambler Borough, the BoRit site has been waiting for clean-up for decades. Getting it placed on the NPL is the best way to insure that the surrounding community and future generations will be free from the health and environmental threats the site poses.
“Having the BoRit Asbestos Site recommended to be placed on the National Priority List is a victory for the community and for the hard working individuals who united with the specific intent to protect the safety and well being for generations to come. I am very proud of all that has been accomplished and look forward to continuing the task of protecting and preserving our community,” said Rick Taylor, PA House Representative for District 151, one of the elected leaders involved in working with the EPA on the BoRit site.
Community and environmental groups like Clean Water Action, Citizens for a Better Ambler and the Community Advisory Group have been working alongside local politicians like Rep. Taylor and Rep. Mike Gerber and the EPA to address this long overdue problem.
“This is the largest asbestos waste pile in the United States and it has never been properly dealt with. The site is hazardous to the health and environment of the communities living by it and should have been made a Superfund site long ago,” said Anne Misak, Program Organizer for Clean Water Action and a member of the Community Advisory Group for the BoRit site.
Citizens and organizations in the area are encouraged to submit comments in favor of the site being listed. The comment period is open through November 3rd. To submit a comment, visit http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/pubcom.htm and make sure to include the docket number for this site: EPA-HQ-SFUND-2008-0582.
“Clean Water Action encourages everyone to take a few minutes to post a comment in favor of the BoRit site becoming a national priority for clean up,” said Misak.
From the inbox:
9th District Democratic State Senate candidate John Linder today accepted the endorsement of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 10-1. USW Local 10-1 represents over 700 workers at the Sunoco Philadelphia refinery, the oldest continuously operating petroleum facility in the world.
Local 10-1 President Jim Savage released a statement in support of Linder’s candidacy.
"Working families in Pennsylvania deserve a government that serves their needs, not the same old partisan gridlock," Savage said. "While health care costs continue to spiral out of control and squeeze working family budgets, Senator Pileggi seems to take pride in being an obstructionist. The people of the 9th District deserve results, not partisan games. That is why USW Local 10-1 overwhelmingly endorses John Linder for State Senate."
Linder accepted the endorsement and spoke of the growing support for his candidacy.
"I graciously accept the endorsement of United Steelworkers Local 10-1," Linder said. "The hardworking people of Chester and Delaware Counties understand that I am the candidate who will best represent their interests in the State Senate. I will fight to enact meaningful health care reform, reduce energy costs, and adequately fund our schools.
"My campaign’s momentum is growing by the day. With only eleven days left until the election, I am confident that we have a real chance to win. My campaign will continue working hard until the votes are counted. We can win this race."
You have to read this. Really. John McDermott, third party candidate in the 13th congressional district, called the police because someone in the campaign office of the Republican candidate was taking his campaign signs. You can read the police report here on his website.
Seriously, it will give give you a real appreciation for campaign comedy.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Someone wrote and asked me if my appearance on Portland's KPOJ Thom Hartmann show. Honest, someone did. The podcast is available, at least for now. I am on the 10-22 show, the 7-8 segment, at about the :45 minute mark.
Earlier this month Kate Harper and Frank Custer were on "Comment Please" by Univest, a talk show on wnpv1440. Host Darryl Berger does a fantastic job of talking with candidates. Not all of his comments are represented here as he is very skillful at guiding the conversation in an understated way.
At present the debate is available on the Comment Please website. This blog post is not intended as a full transcript but notes typed while listening; interested parties are encouraged to listen for themselves or to contact the campaigns for clarification of the candidates' positions on the issues.
Comment Please by Univest.
Host: Darryl Berger
Taped Oct 2nd.
Incumbent Republican Kate Harper / Democrat Frank Custer
61st state house district
Good afternoon and welcome, Oct 2nd. 1 minute open and closing statement.
KH: Happy to be here. In the few years I’ve been in Harrisburg I’m most proud of my work on the environment. Growing Greener II, working with people on both sides of aisle to come up with energy program for PA. Require power companies to buy alternative energy. Recently increased the amount of this. Combining it with economic development money, attracted a windmill manufacturer to PA. Creating clean energy industries and creating jobs.
FC: Happy to be here. Excited to be running in this race. This race is vitally important to PA. The Democrats have a one vote margin in the house. In my view we need to increase that on the D side. Long career in politics in private and public, state and federal levels, served as Congressman Hoeffel’s press secretary, now have a consulting firm. Looks forward to putting experience to work in Harrisburg.
Q: economic bailout, a federal issues, but people worried about the economy. What should be happening in Harrisburg to brace the state.
KH: PA doesn’t have as many mortgage foreclosures as other states. Passed a bill on mortgage foreclosures. PA budget depending on state’s economy. PA must have a balanced budget by June 30 each year. Beginning to tighten budget and watching projections on a monthly basis. We won’t know until April next year. Next year may be very difficult year, may need to cut existing programs.
FC: We all know what the problems are at the federal level with subprime mortgages and things like that. What we’ve watched over the past couple of weeks is lack of leadership on both sides of the aisle. People are not stepping up the plate in DC. Colossal lack of leadership. When PA faces shortfalls next year I hope people in H’burg and I hope I’m one of them exhibit leadership lacking in DC. Current leadership in H’burg not up to the task. There are going to have to be cuts or re-prioritizing.
Q: tax reform. Every time the legislature tries to do something it doesn’t work. Act 1 rejected across the state.
KH: That was actually Act 50, Act 1 is in effect across the state. You’re right that the school districts don’t like it. It has had a very beneficial effect in some school districts where school board can turn to teachers and say if we raise your salaries that much we’ll have to ask for a increase on the ballot. One of the difficulties in PA is that in some areas property taxes are paying a lot of the school’s costs. If we abolished the property tax in some areas it would mean individuals would have to make up the difference. Maybe what we need is a way to benefit seniors and some others that can’t pay. In addition this year some taxpayers saw the effects of the Homestead Act. In affluent districts people pay 90% of education costs and not much from the state.
FC: I think the state has to begin to pay more and more of its fair share for education. Over time it has eroded it is supposed to be up around 50% and it has fallen. Over the course of several years if we can get that back up to around 50% that will help a lot. We need to make sure that revenue from casinos and gambling goes to education.
Q if you could vote to expand the types of gambling to table games in order to provide more prop tax relief would you do it?
FC: Probably would. Not a big fan of gambling but if people are going to gamble would rather they didn’t go to NJ or NY.
KH: would not at this time support an expansion of gambling. It has not lived up to expectations but not all casinos are open yet. Average resident will lose $200 in gambling this year. Since I don’t gamble someone else is losing more.
FC: It hasn’t lived up to expectations because two casinos have not opened up in Philly. I have the same reservations that Kate does.
Q: Back end referendum has some meaning
KH: The reasons areas have not had an opportunity to vote because school districts have made an effort to stay in budget. The school board does not want to go out to the voters. Two third of districts budget set because it is salaries. If they grant higher contracts they will need to go to referendum.
Q: would you vote to repeal teachers right to strike
KH: I would. Teachers like firefighters and police officers should not be able to strike. Would vote for binding arbitration.
FC: I think they should be able to strike. I grew up in a union household. The right to strike is one of the basic premises to collective bargaining. I would not vote to remove that form the teachers.
Q: Frank, questioning incumbent’s commitment to job because she represents municipalities as a solicitor
FC: Issue not outside income or another job. The issue is when given a choice between being in H’burg doing her duties and having the responsibility of being a solicitor for a local twp or borough she had opted to be at home as a solicitor. I believe that if you are elected by the people it should be your primary responsibility. You should be in H’burg to vote. People do miss votes, doctor’s appointments, weddings, deaths, etc. Outside income is another thing. I am a writer of sorts. If I write an article on a weekend or an attorney does that in his own time. But Kate has missed votes to come back and act as a solicitor. PA is considered a full time legislature.
KH: As of Sept. 1, I have a 98% attendance record. I’m deeply committed to the job. There have been a few occasions when I’ve missed late night votes, almost all were unanimous, almost all of them I voted for in committee. Most people don’t have a 98% attendance record in their job. No one works harder than I do for the 61st district. I’m at boy scout ceremonies, firefighters dinners, etc.
FC: You are at all those things but when is the conflict between your two masters you don’t chose H’burg. If those votes are unanimous, they certainly were important for 200 of her colleagues to be there.
KH: municipal meetings at night so usually doesn’t conflict. D’s in charge of House and calendar. Occasionally there are unpredictable votes on Monday night and if I know then I can get another lawyer to be at the municipal meeting for me. I selected municipal work because it wouldn’t conflict with the House calendar. Generally not a conflict. If I were late or had to send a substitute it’s okay.
Q: did you miss the payraise vote
KH: no I didn’t.
FC: So you don’t want votes after 5 p.m.?
KH: I didn’t say that.
FC: When this article was in the paper and Rep. Harper responded. She said she needed to have the second job so she could have the integrity to stand up to her leadership in H’burg.
KH: if you’re going to quote me quote me directly. The ability to earn an outside job is a good thing. I don’t ever want to be in a situation where I am so desperate for a job that I’ll vote for something to keep my job. I can make it in the private sector and support my family. It is important to the integrity of the public sector for people to know they can support themselves outside of office. John Adams told his son make sure you are never dependent on the public job.
Q: votes late at night, early in the morning. This cloud called Bonusgate. Indictments directed at Ds in the House. Attorney Gen said no other indictments before the election
FC: When I heard about Bonusgate I was sickened. It was abominable. I also said I would not vote to reelect current D leadership. There are many things that could be changed in H’burg. One thing that is tremendously needed is a campaign finance law. The idea that anyone can donate anything to anyone is ridiculous. Bipartisan commission needed to redraw districts every 10 years. I am against term limits. That came up in a forum last Saturday. I’m against them more at federal level than state level. Need for institutional knowledge. You can have term limits – they are called elections.
KH: I think one of the easiest things that could be done fairly simply. Campaign manager for Rick Tayler paid for by tax dollars. Easiest thing done could be sunshine on leadership accounts. Some of my colleagues said “I didn’t know how they were paying that guy.” Nobody knew that because leadership accounts are not accountable. That is a fairly easy fix. Two very dangerous times -- sine die, the days after the election when legislators are lame ducks, late at night when people are tired and just want to get things done. We stopped that – bills have to be amended on second considerations and 24 hour delay before voting. That rule is good. We don’t meet past 11 p.m. and that is good. Truth is you have to have committee meetings before the legislature starts. Those rules are good reforms. Nervous about constitutional convention. Afraid of a runaway. If it is not strictly limited. Constitution is deliberately difficult to amend. Let’s talk about the size of the legislature. We do have one of the larger legislatures but we also have one of the largest populations. Montco is fortunate in that we have fine reps on both sides of the aisle but another rep’s district covers 3 counties. Going door to door is very difficult . dilutes the voice of rural people. Let’s go for making transparent how things happen and how money is spent.
FC: would not be for a constitutional convention. We can fix what’s wrong without changing constitution. There was talk of a special session on ethics. Kate was against that. She brought up the Rick Tayler situation. In the last couple of weeks of the campaign if you get a new campaign manager. If she comes from the state you assume she is being paid by party and not state money. It has only been D’s indicted so far because the Attorney General is a Republican. It is assumed that next group will be Republicans. To the point of a smaller legislature. If you go to a smaller legislature you will need more staff and more resources to serve those 120,000 people or whatever.
KH: Frank’s making my argument. If leadership accounts were public this wouldn’t have happened. Leadership won’t agree.
FC: That’s why we need new leadership. There are people who want reform, Josh Shapiro is one of them.
KH: we haven’t talked about the things important to the people of the 61st, like traffic and the environment.
FC: Thank you for having us today. There are important issues today. Health care is one of them. When I knock on doors health care comes up again and again. I was walking in Whitpain township in an area where houses must be worth over 300,000 a woman told me her health care cost more than their mortgage. Met a couple expecting a baby who haven’t seen a doctor because they don’t have insurance. The constituents of the 61st will always know how I stand. www.votecuster.org
KH: You just threw me a curve ball by saying I waffle. If there is anything I am known for it is speaking my mind. Redesigned roads so it wouldn’t interfere with people. On Rte 202 worked with people directly. Longstanding supporter of environmental issues. I think I’ve been an effective legislature. Don’t have a campaign website, legislative. www.kateharper.net.
This Sunday evening, CN8, The Comcast Network will broadcast two programs on behind-the-scenes campaign issues; they will also be available via Comcast On Demand. Both have local politicos on.
At 9:30 Larry Kane will look at the presidential race. State Rep. Josh Shapiro and Inquirer columnist Dick Polman are among his scheduled guests.
At 10:00 p.m. Robert Traynham's "Roll Call" will discuss the role of woman in the campaign. His guests will include Pennsylvania State Treasurer Robin Weissmann and Renee Amoore, vice chair of the Pennsylvania Republican Party.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Main Line Life ran a nice article ("Briggs thinks he's ready after working behind the scenes," by Cheryl Allison) on Tim Briggs, Democratic candidate for the open 149th state house seat. The site does not have permalinks (or at least as far as I can tell) but the article is reproduced on Briggs's campaign website. Here is an excerpt:
"When people talk about education in Lower Merion," for example, "it's more about the services, the special education needs, redistricting," he said. However, he said he backs Gov. Ed Rendell's program to infuse more state funding, and said that finding a way to get all districts to minimum funding levels "is a mission for the commonwealth."
The "rising cost of health care, gas prices, infrastructure improvements, political reform" all are concerns he is hearing from voters. And, as the country seemed mired in an economic crisis in recent weeks, that, certainly, has been their first topic, Briggs said.
"The last couple of weeks have really shown me why I want to go to Harrisburg and fight for working families and the future," he said. By "rescuing" banks and other financial institutions, "We're saddling generations to come with a huge burden. We need to deal with the situation, but not leave out Main Street." The way to do that, he said, is "to build jobs, invest in our infrastructure, build a green economy, and not just turtle up and wait till the next crisis."
From the inbox:
On Saturday, October 25, 2008 Children’s Scholarship Fund Philadelphia (CSFP) will hold a benefit, hosted by Urban Outfitters. The Urban design team is creating an indoor carnival filled with incredible visual treats which will include mechanical bull(s), skeet ball, caricaturists and a host of other carnival activities. Philly celebrity chefs will provide the food. Text-to pledge, a novel fund raising activity technique will take the place of an auction. Dick Hayne (President of Urban Outfitters) and Mike O’Neill (CEO of Preferred Properties) will lead this segment of the evening’s activities.
Helping to reach the one million dollar mark are CSFP’s lead corporate sponsors: Wawa, PNC, Urban Outfitters, AmerisourceBergen, Verizon Wireless, Mass Marketing Insurance Group and Cigna. “We began this program nine years ago using simple and unchanging principles – hope, opportunity and success” said CSFP President Evie McNiff. “We believed then as we do now that when families are given hope in the form of educational opportunity, they can achieve success,” she added. A recent program evaluation demonstrates the long-term benefit of early scholarship support for these disadvantaged children.
In the first class of CSFP alumni, 95 % graduated high school on-time and 90% are enrolled in college this fall. CSFP is a simple and direct program that works and works today.
WHEN: Saturday, October 25th, 7 PM to Midnight
WHERE: Urban Outfitters / Navy Yard Headquarters / 5000 South Broad Street, Building #543 / Philadelphia, PA
For readers from the center of the state:
WPSU-TV, the PBS affiliate for Central Pennsylvania has developed a non-partisan website for congressional, state senate, and state house candidates in their listening area, over 80 candidates from 27 counties. It is non-partisan and features video, audio, and interactive activities. It features over 80 candidate profiles from 27 counties. Take a look at http://www.wpsu.org/vote08.
If you aren't already in political event overload, here are a few items for your consideration:
The Media Area Branch of the NAACP, in cooperation with the Cheyney University Student Unit of the NAACP has organized an open forum for area candidates. All candidates seeking election in the 9th Senate District, the 165th Legislative District, the 168th Legislative District and the 7th Congressional District have been invited to participate. The Forum will be held on Thursday, October 23, from 7:00 to 8:30 PM in the auditorium of Duckrey Social Science Building on the campus of Cheyney University of Pennsylvania. This event is open to the general public and the hope is that concerned voters from Delaware and Chester Counties will attend and interact with the candidates on their issues of concern.
Rally for Change, Friday, Oct. 24th, 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.Thomas Hall, Bryn Mawr College. Expected speakers, Sen. Bob Casey, Jr., Bob Roggio, Democratic candidate for the 6th congressional district, Daylin Leach, Democratic candidate for 17th state senate district, and Tim Briggs, Democratic candidate for the 149th state house district.
I'm hoping to get to one of these.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Shameless plug -- Before the primary the nice folks at the KPOJ Morning Show, on KPOJ (Portland's progressive talk station Portland) in Oregon, invited me on their show to discuss the election. I must have done okay because they've invited me back on tomorrow around 10:30 a.m. EST. I think it streams live at www.620kpoj.com.
Sorry this took so long -- it's a lot to slog through.
Okay, here we go again. First off, you can browse these reports yourself at www.fec.gov. As always I apologize in advance for any errors or misinterpretations. I am neither a lawyer nor an accountant, just an interested observer and these thoughts should be taken as such.
This quarter covers July – Sept. of 2008.
Itemized donations are those that accumulate to over $200. Unitemized donations are from people like me, who make smaller donations. Itemized donations show the donor’s name occupation, employer, and the amount of the donation plus the total the person who had donated in this election cycle. Unitemized donations are just recorded as a number. When two numbers are listed the first is for this quarter, the second number is for the election cycle overall.
Keep your eye on individual donations vs. PAC’s
At this point in the campaign counting the number of maxed out donors is tricky. Individuals can donate up to $2300 per election. The primary and the general count as two elections so before the primary an individual can donate up to $4600, but after the primary only $2300. Are you still with me? Okay, so if someone donated $1000 on 4/21, before the primary, and $2300 on 4/23 they are maxed out because you can’t donate retroactively and they have donated the maximum amount for the general. But if someone donated $2300 on 4/21 and $1000 on 4/23 they can still donate another $1300. Does that make sense? If it does you are probably someone who files FEC reports or represents people who do.
Some candidates, such as Allyson Schwartz and Patrick Murphy, leave their reports in alphabetical order. That makes it easy to see who donated what when. Others, most of the other candidates listed here, scramble their reports so the names are not in alphabetical order and that makes it darn difficult to keep track of them. Transparency, folks, a little more transparency please. Yes, this thwarts your opponent but it thwarts your constituents too.
6th Congressional District
Jim Gerlach, Republican incumbent
Individual, itemized: 119,045.06
Individual, unitemized: 20,266.50
Individual, total: 139,311.56 / 1,019,293.61
Political Party committees: 0.00 / 1,662.82
PACs: 144,993.18 / 1,083,164.15
Total: 284,304.74 / 2,104,120.58
Transfers: 13,864.27 / 55,162.68
Refunds: 81.41 / 5,885.38
Other Receipts: 4,403.18 / 23,574.87
Total Receipts: 302,653.60 / 2,188,743.51
Operating Expenditures: 338,612.90 / 1,539,979.83
Refunds: 125.00 / 4,975.00
Other: 24,044.00 / 48,344.00
Total: 362,781.90 / 1,593,298.83
Beginning Cash on hand: 761,611.11
Contributions: 302,653.60 / 2,188,743.51
Disbursements: 362,781.90 / 1,593,298.83
Ending cash on hand: 701,482.81
Personal Observations: Donations arranged chronologically not alphabetically. 14 newly maxed out donors. The greatest majority of individual donors from in-state. There are a number of donations on 9/22 from people who work at various credit unions, often for the same amount – must have been an industry fundraiser. Interesting PACs – Seneca Nation of Indians, Zurich Holding Company (a Swiss based financial firm), a lot of other finance-related PACs, some medical and trucking firms, and oddly. Land o’Lakes, Hershey, and a baker’s PAC. In disbursements, there are 6 paid employees, and reimbursement for health care, He sent 25K to national party organizations and other candidates, 2 (Hackett, English) in PA. He paid 18K to a PA printer, over 13K to a DC fundraiser, the big winner is a NJ media consultant that received around $89K. A TX direct mail firm was paid $73K. A VA polling firm got $19K. He also had some in-state fundraising consultants, but they received a little over $10K total.
Bob Roggio, Democratic challenger
Individual, itemized: 130,408.17
Individual, unitemized: 29,033.77
Individual, total: 159,441.94 / 450,229.35
PACs: 18,250.00 / 52,150.00
Total: 177,691.94 / 502,379.35
Loans: 0.00 / 80,500.00
Refunds: 762.20 / 792.52
Total Receipts: 178,454.14 / 583,671.87
Operating Expenditures: 221,540.95 / 366,812.03
Refunds: 265.00 / 265.00
Other: 186.25 / 186/25
Total: 221,992.20 / 367,263.28
Beginning Cash on hand: 259,946.65
Contributions: 178,454.14 / 583,671.87
Disbursements: 221,992.20 / 367,263.28
Ending cash on hand: 216,408.59
Personal Observations: Scrambled. 8 newly maxed out donors. All but a few donors from in-state. Over $25K to Paychex. 12 people receiving a salary, most just a few checks. Payments for health insurance. A DC media consultant received 55K, a NY polling firm 28K. Roggio has loaned his campaign over $80K. Debts – 1300 for accounting, 1900 for insurance.
7th Congressional District
Joe Sestak, Incumbent Democrat (elected 2006)
Individual, itemized: 495,453.87
Individual, unitemized: 63,351.29
Individual, total: 558, 805.16 / 2,581,873.47
Political Party committees: 1,581.46 / 3,964.55
PACs: 165,692.65 / 957,779.54
The Candidate: 0.00 / 4,600.00
Total: 726,079.27 / 3,548,217.56
Transfers: 0.00 / 35,154.46
Refunds: 0.00 / 3,452.40
Other Receipts: 17,862.68 / 52,922.24
Total Receipts: 743,941.95 / 3,639,746.66
Operating Expenditures: 129,892.89 / 730,797.68
Refunds: 0.00 / 8,259.76
Total: 129,892.89 / 739,057.44
Beginning Cash on hand: 2,591,116.10
Contributions: 743,941.95 / 3,639,746.66
Disbursements: 129,892.89 / 739,057.44
Ending cash on hand: 3,205,165.16
Personal observations: Sestak’s report is almost impossible to work with. It is scrambled, alphabetically and chronologically and he raises a boatload of money. So we are talking about wading through 4 screens of 500 items. There were 1,650 itemized receipts. There were 72 easily identifiable newly maxed out donors. I noted some from Genzyme and Enzybiotics, as well as a number of people in higher education. Four people named Veloric. Quite a few people were listed as not employed or retired. He has received a total of 10K from the Air Traffic Controllers PAC. Other PAC clusters are health care, banking, construction, and a total of 7K from the credit union pac. In large part though, it isn’t possible to glean much from the report as it is. I’ve tried downloading reports instead of viewing them but it doesn’t work well for me. On the disbursement side, nine people were paid, though most are clearly very part time or temporary. Close to $20K went to Paychex. Two firms in PA were paid a total of $7500 for grassroots promotional materials. There weren’t any pricey consultants. Note that his operating expenditures are lower than many other candidates.
Craig Williams, Republican
Individual, itemized: 105,239.94
Individual, unitemized: 32,217.00
Individual, total: 137,456.94 / 499,422.83
Political Party committees: 6,250.00
PACs: 1,100.00 / 46,350.00
Total Receipts: 138,556.94 / 553,402.65
Operating Expenditures: 225,513.39 / 289,966.50
Total: 225,513.39 / 289,966.50
Beginning Cash on hand: 350,392.60
Contributions: 138,556.94 / 553,402.65
Disbursements: 225,513.39 / 289,966.50
Ending cash on hand: 263,436.15
Personal observations: 16 news maxed out donors. Donor clusters in health care administration or corporate health care and lawyers. There was a donation from Greg Bentley of Bentley Systems and from the Bentley PAC. On disbursements, $2380 to a PA web designer, 26K to a VA polling firm, 100K (is that a typo?) for a media buy from a DC firm, 18K to a PA firm for a press secretary. 22K to a TX firm for direct mail and postage. There is one salaried employee, a campaign manager. 19K to Keystone Strategies for FEC compliance, and an additional 13K in debts to the same firm. Over 27K in debt to various vendors, including Keystone Strategies. I have some concerns about Mr. Williams spending habits.
8th Congressional District
Patrick Murphy, Incumbent Democrat (elected 2006)
Individual, itemized: 423,938.46
Individual, unitemized: 64,444.52
Individual, total: 488,382.98 / 2,449,970.70
Political Party committees: 300.00 / 7,395.13
PACs: 160,937.29 / 1,130,788.23
Total: 649,620.27 / 3,588,154.06
Transfers: 0.00 / 35,620.48
Other Receipts: 15,911.76 / 83,902.03
Total Receipts: 665,532.03 / 3,707,676.57
Operating Expenditures: 681,830.38 / 1,527,217.15
Refunds: 7,010.00 / 23,500.81
Other: 0.00 / 5,350.00
Total: 688,840.38 / 1,556,067.96
Beginning Cash on hand: 2,238,287.22
Contributions: 665,532.03 / 3,707,676.57
Disbursements: 688,840.38 / 1,556,067.96
Ending cash on hand: 2,214,978.87
Personal observations: Murphy’s reports are easy to read, very transparent. There are at least 52 newly maxed out donors. Some people made multiple contributions which makes it a little difficult to judge in vs out of state donations but I would say roughly two-thirds of his donors are in state – but that should be taken as a guess and nothing more. 37 Toll employees, with varying jobs within the company, executives, surveyors, etc., made donations in September; no itemized Toll donations in July and August. There were a handful of contributors from Urban Outfitters, Turner Investments, and Doylestown Hospital employees. In addition to the standard doctors, lawyers, Indian chiefs, there was a cluster of contributors from the arts, artists and those in the arts business; also some from the book trade. There are also clerks, a paralegal, a horse trainer, a general contractor, and an archeologist. The Pakistani American Leadership Center also made a donation. It is a very varied group of contributors. In the PAC list there are a lot of health care related groups. There are around 10 campaign committees or leadership pacs listed (Wolverine PAC and Badger PAC are leadership PACS, affiliated with a current or former lawmaker, and do not indicate a fondness for wild animals or sports teams with those names). The Air Traffic Controllers PAC made a donation, as did the pilots association. There is a total of $14K from the Realtors PAC. Murphy has received a total of $3500 from Treasury Dept. employees PAC, $9500 from Sallie Mae, and $3K from Fannie. Murphy was the only congressional representative to vote against the resolution congratulating the team that won the Super Bowl last year, because that team had beaten the Eagles (something like that – I don’t know sports). It seems to have paid off as the CEO of the Eagles donated $2300 to his campaign. On disbursements, there are payments for health insurance. A total of 19 people were on the payroll, though some were employed longer than others. A few other people received money for reimbursements of some kind. I thought some of the reimbursements were a little high, but perhaps circumstances called for it. A DC media firm received $283K, 13K to a DC fundraising firm, 12K to Verizon for phones, 20K to a CA firm for something concerning phones, 47K to a DC firm for printing, 89K for polling, 10K to a PA firm for printing, 25K to Paychex.
Tom Manion, Republican
Individual, itemized: 160,699.59
Individual, unitemized: 37,970.50
Individual, total: 198,670.09 / 714,689.73
Political Party committees: 4,500.00 / 9,800.00
PACs: 46,980.00 / 189,990.00
Total: 250,150.09 / 914,479.73
Refunds: 15,870.23 / 15,884.39
Other Receipts: 846.54 / 1,320.63
Total Receipts: 266,866.86 / 931,684.75
Operating Expenditures: 400,011.78 / 558,469.33
Refunds: 1,300.00 / 2,700.00
Other: 600.00 / 600.00
Total: 401,911.78 / 561,769.33
Beginning Cash on hand: 504,960.34
Contributions: 266,866.86 / 931,684.75
Disbursements: 401,911.78 / 561,769.33
Ending cash on hand: 369,915.42
Personal observations: Arranged chronologically not alphabetically. 14 newly maxed out contributors. I see some signs that whoever is preparing the FEC reports is a little inexperienced. A few people made donations of $2500 when the maximum allowed at this point is $2300, so a partial refund had to be made. The person taking the checks should have caught that. Also, about half of the donations list occupation and employer as “information requested.” One of these people is Renee Amoore, who owns her own firm and is the deputy chairman of the state Republican party. This makes it impossible to tell where exactly the money is coming from. Manion’s brother, who died a few months ago, had been listed as his treasurer, and that may be a factor in the lapses in this report. However, usually the actual work is done by someone other than the person listed as treasurer. $10K total from the Freedom Project. On disbursements, four staff members are listed in donations with “offset – payroll;” I’m not sure what that means. Many of the PACs listed are candidate committees or local Republican organizations. There are quite a few consultants and vendors. $7k to a media firm. 9K to a VA polling firm. 5K to a PA marketing firm. 15K to a Missouri lawyer. 4,600 to a MN consultant. 9K to a MD bookkeeping consultant. The webdesigner(s) are in state. Brabender Cox was paid $160K. A DC fundraiser received $8,500. A variety of PA printers received around $24K; one received an additional $4K in consulting fees. Again, Paychex was paid quite a bit, close to $100K but a few refunds were paid. I’m not sure what this is all about. There is a note to see a memo item but those aren’t included so there’s no way to know what it says.
13th Congressional District
Allyson Schwartz, Incumbent District (elected 2004)
Individual, itemized: 190,290.00
Individual, unitemized: 20,514.00
Individual, total: 210,804.00 / 1,782,145.59
Political Party committees: 0.00 / 998.06
PACs: 143,275.00 / 967,935.00
Total: 354,079.00 / 2,751,078.65
Refunds: 2,224.58 / 22,680.46
Other Receipts: 13,225.38 / 51,683.61
Total Receipts: 369,528.96 / 2,825,442.72
Operating Expenditures: 190,097.03 / 797,675.08
Refunds: 1,700.00 / 9,000.00
Other: 107,236.00 / 333,686.00
Total: 299,033.03 / 1,140,361.08
Beginning Cash on hand: 2,266,006.80
Contributions: 369,528.96 / 2,825,442.72
Disbursements: 299,033.03 / 1,140,361.08
Ending cash on hand: 2,336,502.73
Personal observations: There were at least 14 newly maxed out donors. Just a rough guess, between a fourth and a third of donors were from out of state. Along with the usual doctors, lawyers, and Indian chiefs, we find someone from the Pakistani-American Christian Association, the Christian Voice of Pakistan, and the Women’s Christian Alliance among the contributors. There was also a ski instructor, a publisher, editor and a number of people in higher education. Ruth Damsker, former Montgomery County commissioner is listed with “information requested” for occupation and none for employer. That seems like a real oversight. On PACs, the health care industry, but mostly health care workers as opposed to health care administration. The National Treasury Employees Union is listed, as are the airline pilots and the air traffic controllers PACs. Six people named Lindy donated money and, interestingly, the campaign pays rent to Lindy Property Management, which is listed as the employer for some of the contributors. In other disbursements, there are three paid staff people. One is paid what might be a full-time salary and the other roughly half time. The third came onto the scene in September. The campaign pays health insurance costs. A VA polling firm received $27K, a CT printer $7K, a MD firm for lawn signs $5,700. A CA firm received $40K for phones or phone calls, I’m not sure which. A DC fundraiser was paid $12,500. There are around $10K in credit card payments but that isn’t broken down in the report though it may be in a memo that is not available. Schwartz gave $100K to the DCCC. This is a tidy report and a pleasure to work with.
Marina Kats, Republican
Individual, itemized: 44,905.76
Individual, unitemized: 3,612.00
Individual, total: 48,517.76 / 131,587.76
Political Party committees: 0.00 / 1,000.00
PACs: 6,550.00 / 15,350.00
Total: 55,067.76 / 147,937.76
Loans: 300,000.00 / 300,000.00
Other: 1,524.14 / 1,524.14
Total Receipts: 356,591.90 / 449,461.90
Operating Expenditures: 115,426.09 / 157,752.14
Total: 115,426.09 / 157,752.14
Beginning Cash on hand: 50,543.95
Contributions: 356,591.90 / 449,461.90
Disbursements: 115,426.09 / 157,752.14
Ending cash on hand: 291,709.76
Personal observations: Four newly maxed out contributors. One of the individual donors is the owner of the Eagles. Famed chef Georges Perrier is also a contributor. I counted seven out of state contributors. The candidate has loaned her campaign $300K. The candidate also received over $18K from the campaign for printing, catering, and phones, plus an additional $4,500 for catering and signs. One salaried worker. Website design cost $5k. A PA fundraising consultant received $3,800, another received $3K. 5K was spent on credit card bills but the online FEC reports don’t show memos so there is no way to tell what it was spent on. A MD bookkeeping consultant was paid $6,500. A DC fundraiser received $39K, and is listed as being owed an additional $5K loan. Over $4K was paid to printers located in Pennsylvania.
Monday, October 20, 2008
A few notes on this morning's House Budget Committee hearing on the economy and possible measures Congress may take. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testified before the committee.
For the national take, see "Momentum building for new economy-boosting package," by the AP's Jennine Aversa.
For the local angle, Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, the only Pennsylvania representative on the committee, held a conference call today to discuss her views on it. I am paraphrasing but this was her gist.
Chairman Bernanke was very clear about the importance of the action Congress took to stabilize the market; it was extremely important to avert a serious crash of the market. The stimulus package a year and a half ago for the economy was good but we need to do more. Creating and supporting new jobs and new businesses would take action by the federal government as well. Congresswoman Schwartz asked Bernanke whether it was important for us to make new investments for new jobs, for example a short term stimulus particularly in providing dollars to our states and localities for roads, bridges, and schools. He said yes especially if it happened quickly. In the long term he felt it was also important for us to make investments in new jobs, new technologies, but did not get into specifics. Clearly we aren't getting out of this troubled economy quickly.
A blast email I received today on the same hearing mentioned that 14 Democrats and 4 Republicans attended. There are 22 Democrats and 17 Republicans on the House Budget Committee. Guess some people had better things to do.
Lately whenever I read about green collar jobs the name Van Jones is mentioned. Mr. Jones, of California, will be in our area tomorrow signing copies of his new book, The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems. The event it Tuesday, Oct. 21, 7-9 p.m., in Stein Auditorium, Nesbitt Hall, Drexel University.
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the Center for Integrative Environmental Research (CIER) at the University of Maryland have released the final four State Economic and Environmental Costs of Climate Change reports. The four page report (pdf) on climate change in Pennsylvania is very interesting, especially in regards to flooding. (hat tip to the NCSL blog The Thicket).
The 157th state house district has been held by Republican Carole Rubley. The district represents parts of Chester and Montgomery County, including Lower Providence Twp, Phoenixville, Schuylkill Twp, Tredyffrin Twp, and West Norriton Twp. She is not running so it is an open seat. Candidates are:
Democrat Paul Drucker, http://www.votepauldrucker.com/
The anti-Ciarrocchi site it: www.whatkindofguy.com
A newspaper blog interview from Mainline Politics is available.
Republican Guy Ciarrocchi http://www.guyciarrocchi.com/
The anti-Drucker site is: www.slipandfallpaul.com
A few more sources on the race:
article from MainLine Life on race, mudslinging
Tredyffin Township Political Notebook posts on 157th race
I hope to write more about the race before the election.
Mark you calendars: John Linder - Dominic Pileggi Debate: Monday, October 20th - 7:30-9pm. Riddle Village Retirement Community. 1048 W. Baltimore Pike. Media, PA 19063.
I would like to attend but the schedule is not looking good. If any readers go please email or leave a comment and let us know how it went.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Joe Sestak, the freshman Democratic congressman from the 7th district, has noted a number of times that his Republican opponent used to live in Alaska and knows Sarah Palin; in fact Craig William's brother used to be Palin's speechwriter. Sestak is now trying to trump the real Palin with her most famous imitator. Tina Fey was born and raised in the 7th, graduating from the Upper Darby High School in 1988. Sestak is asking supporters to donate 19.88 in her honor. No word yet on how Ms. Fey feels about this.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Around 25 journalists from other countries, such as Kenya and Namibia, are visiting Bucks County to see democracy in action. This morning they watched a debate between congressional candidates Patrick Murphy, Tom Manion, and Thomas Lingenfelter. The debate was sponsored by the Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce.
If any of my Republican readers are finding our suburban congressional races unexciting, please allow me to point out a Pennsylvania connection in a Florida congressional race. Rep. Tim Mahoney in Florida's 16th congressional district has hit some rough sledding recently. His Republican opponent, Tom Rooney, is the grandson of Art Rooney, who founded the Pittsburgh Steelers. Tom went to college at Washington and Jefferson University outside of Pittsburgh. So if you want to contribute to a candidate and aren't all that enthusiastic about the local prospects, you might look into Rooney.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Someone emailed to let me know that yesterday's 8th congressional district debate, with Thomas Lingenfelter, Tom Manion, and Patrick Murphy, was being replayed on PCN. The debate was sponsored by the Bucks County Courier Times and the Doylestown Intelligencer (the phillyburbs people). It was held at the Bristol Riverside Theater.
The liveliest part of the debate came in the closing statements. If you want issues go through the whole thing. If you want drama, skip to the end.
As always, keep in mind that I am typing while watching and this is not intended to be, and not represented as, a complete or accurate transcript. It is the rough notes of what I could catch as the candidates talked. If you have any questions about anything that was said, please contact the relevant campaigns for clarification. Apologies in advance for any errors or misconceptions.
Dale Larson, publisher of the Bucks county Courier Times, introduces the debate. Thanks Susan Atkinson of the Bristol Riverside Theater. Guy Petroziello will be the moderator. Lanny Morgnanesi, of the Intelligencer, and Gary Weckselblatt, political reporter for both papers, will ask questions. Thanks PCN. Paper will be publishing endorsement. A separate decision from daily reporting. Invite people to send letters to the editor. Timekeeper is executive editor Patricia Walker.
Incumbent Democrat Patrick Murphy (red striped tie) www.murphy08.com, patrickmurphy.house.gov
Republican Tom Manion (yellow tie) www.votemanion.com
Independent Thomas Lingenfelter (yellow tie) www.tomlingenfelter.com/
Format: 2 minute opening statements, questions 90 second responses, 45-60 second rebuttal. 2 minute closing statements.
TL: I believe personal freedom is the top priority. Anything else is bad government. decrease taxes and spending. Fair trade not free trade. Enforce immigration laws. Personal freedom. Government overly intrusive in personal lives. Government should prevent problems not cause them. Education should be local. Abolish income tax. Government too intrusive in other countries’ governments. Preparing for war is the best assurance of peace. Right to bear arms. Freedom implies responsibility.
PM: Thanks everyone. [Gives boundaries of district.] I live down the street. I went to Bucks County Community College, Kings College, earned a law degree, joined the Judge Adjutant Generals Corp in the Army, rose through ranks to become a professor at West Point. When 9/11 happened I volunteered and was deployed twice for our county, Bosnia under Petraeus, later to Baghdad part of 82nd Airborne. 19 men in my unit did not come home. Two years ago I stood here and said I would fight for district, vote my conscience. Military fighting two wars. No challenge we cannot meet if we work together. Worked in bipartisan fashion.
TM: Thanks everyone. Challenges facing nation. Election will impact us, our children and our grandchildren. Grew up in Philly area, went to Widener. 19 years in Marines, 11 in Reserves. Worked at Johnson & Johnson for 18 years. Daughter lives in the community. Son Travis did two tours of Iraq and gave his life. He’s my inspiration. Leadership in DC is broken. Deserve more than they are getting. Try to make a different. Infuse something besides politics as usual. Anxious to be here and share my views. Hoping you decide in Nov. where we will take our county.
Q: policy position on current fix on fiscal crisis, do you support current fix, ensure accountability.
TL: No one can seem to answer that question. Must understand what is the problem. Budget is out of control. Cut taxes and spending, that will be a great stimulus. The two political parties have put us in this fix and now we are asking them to solve the problem. First they will cover up what they did and blame someone else. Would not have voted for the first or second plan. Already changes on second plan. Must understand the problem first.
PM: Economy in crisis. We have a struggling economy and are a nation at war and a nation in debt. Three pieces of legislation that Bush and Paulson put forward. I support the last one and did not like having to support it. The provisions I fought for were in the legislation. Taxpayers would become equity taxpayers. Make sure this would never happen again. Cap on executive pay for top 5 exec, no golden parachutes if government had to put money into their industry. Prosecute people who got us into this mess.
TM: Talked to a financial expert the other day. Greed was everywhere. We count on our leaders in congress to provide the oversight and our current leadership didn’t do their job. Legislation pushed through quickly, did not deal with what was systemically wrong. Did not deal with risky loans. Look at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Privatize them. Understand what is right level of oversight. Need checks and balances. Still a lot of work to do. Look at how Congress handled this crisis. Put together a bill. Not good enough. Senate had to put a bill together quickly.
TL: You must know what the problem is before you can solve it. Two party system. Cannot cooperate, always fighting for power. Allowed special interests to call the shots. Have the wrong people in there. More of the same. These two guys might be good guys but they work for their party. They are bought and paid for. Have to do what they are told. I am an independent.
PM: There was need to act. Cannot play Russian roulette with the American economy. Talk to small businesses in Bucks. Couldn’t get credit to pay for inventory and have to lay off people. Manion said he would vote for the bill that passed. Greed was responsible. Lack of oversight. I fought for the proper legislation and oversight.
TM: clearly not put together in the right way because we have so much work to do. Washington doesn’t work on an effective way. Time to act was years ago. Time to act was when took office. Waited to last minute to address it.
Q: NYT gives updated cost of bailout as $2.25T up from original. Increased debt. When it is time to fix medicare and social security will there be any money left.
PM: Proud to be a Blue Dog Democrat, fiscal conservatives, cut fraud and waste, protect seniors. The relief bill I voted for made sure we would get our taxpayer money back. Improper Payments Act – took the floor and spoke on it. A doctor in NY charge government for over 900 operations in one day. Clear fraud. Voted against Dem budget because it didn’t do enough to rein in spending. When you spend $3T in Iraq that is money that can’t go to property tax relief, social security and medicare. Voted to protect lock box.
TM: Great to call yourself a Blue Dog Dem but if that is fiscal conservatism the results don’t show it. Raised debt ceiling three times. The facts just don’t bear out. Costs are out of control. No discipline on priorities. Need balanced budget. Strengthen dollar. Work across the aisle. Just not happening right now. All sorts of opportunities to look at inefficiencies in government. would put a freeze on spending down there to put house in order. Using my experience in business. Always balanced budget in Marines, Johnson & Johnson and at home.
TL: have my own business so I understand importance of balanced budget. Go back to problem, politicians spending money to buy votes to maintain their power to get more money for the special interest. You’re going to hire one of these two guys who work for a company and they have to do what they are told or they will lose their job.
Q: follow up. In your hearts when it comes time to fix social security and medicare do you think the money will be there?
PM: It will be there if we do what needs to be done. Actions speaking louder than words. Co-sponsor of balanced budget amendment. In my first floor speech in the house I talked about how if small businesses in Bucks have to balance their budget, government should too. Every American owes $30,000 as part of debt. Social security, thank goodness 8 years ago we didn’t privatize it which George Bush tried to do. Do everything in my power to make sure it is there. Republican opponent says he is open to privatization. That isn’t a good idea.
TM: I’ve never said anything about privatization, I said we need to set up a sustainable program. 170% increase in deficit. In 2006 during the campaign all the discussion about social security but nothing has been done. They don’t want to touch it. Important issues aren’t being dealt with. Need to look at earmark process. Another key topic in 2006. Murphy signed a bill for 9,000 earmarks. Approved Charlie Rangel’s library, approved Murtha’s [something – security organization?] that was a duplicate organization.
[The moderator forgot TL and was reminded]
TL: Used to getting forgotten or ignored. No, the money won’t be there. It is impossible under the current situation. Needs to restore the situation to where it belongs. How long have you heard talk about the lockbox. When will they do it.
Q: regarding social security, would you vote to increase the retirement age or lower monetary benefits, what should congress do to protect the program for future generations.
TM: I wouldn’t support that approach. We need to keep social security for parents, children and grandchildren. Need a sustainable program. A lot of waste, fraud, and abuse. In favor of sitting down in bipartisan way to develop a sustainable program.
TL: No, it will probably happen because money won’t be there. Another example of politicians promising something and then not doing it. Needs to be nonpartisan not bipartisan. They go from two extremes. Only get sides from special interests, R and D. both trying to distance themselves from their own party.
PM: I’m Patrick Murphy. Please vote for me because I’m a Dem. If you’re an R vote for me because my wife is an R. One of my first pieces of legislation as a cosponsor was lockbox. Voted to cut $3B in overall budget of wasteful spending. I want to make sure we answered and did everything we can. Rangel earmark was for a public university and a public service library. Public service is how I was raised, father a police office, brother just came back from overseas. Sister a schoolteacher. Washington is broken but I’m trying to solve it.
TM: I guess the whole answer is stop what we are doing in Iraq and that will solve our economic problems. But I don’t think so. We are in global war on terror. Need to look at what is happening in Afghanistan. We know what happened when 9/11 hit and we have young men and women overseas. Murphy talks about not supporting budget. That’s a plan. He doesn’t have discipline when it comes to the checkbook. Constantly signs on or doesn’t vote against spending cuts.
Q: epidemic of corruption in dc, would you not take earmarks?
TL: would not go along with any earmarks. Job of congressmen is to provide earmarks, bring money home. Will vote for no earmarks.
PM: we have to lead by example. Lead by example. Voted against payraise. Donated money to charity. Wife not happy with me. Cut earmarks by $7M, now transparent process. In Yardley borough R manager, 3 floods, went to congressman, went to fema. I was able to get Yardley over $1M. Look at Neshaminy Creek we got $2.5M to elevate homes. Stood there with Cawley, R county commissioner. We need to do more. Not going to apologize for fighting for my district. [blogger’s note: the tv froze for a second so I may have missed something]
TM: absolute denial. Talk transparency all you want but earmarks broken. Your money goes to pay for earmarks all over the country. No oversight. We need to make sure that your tax money that goes outside your district is for good projects.
TL: If Murphy is fighting for money for you it is coming from someone else who needs it. By the time it comes to you it probably costs 3 times as much. We have local and state government. it would be more efficient to go through state and local. We have to realize the money comes from someone else. Why should they pay your bills because your congressman made you like him by getting money.
PM: Flooding is an interstate problem, a federal problem, because of development and water management. Proud to have brought money back and process transparent. We can’t talk just about budget and earmark we have to look at the bigger picture. We are spending $3T in Iraq and the Iraqi government is not spending their money. They need to spend their own money.
TM: We are talking about the earmark process and not the Iraq War. Would call for a moratorium on the earmark process until get proper oversight. Iraq is not an earmark.
Q: Lobbyists spend over $2M a year to influence Congress. What does that get them. How much is at expense of taxpayers.
PM: In my office they aren’t getting their money’s worth. I listen to everyone, lobbyists, constituents, R, D, everyone. Number of lobbyists doubled under Bush. I am transparent, let you know who I meet with. I vote my conscience even at political costs.
TM: Again, the problem is not just the Bush administration, the problem is congress and the administration. We need to look to have a time line whether they work on the hill and then go into a lobbying role. There’s some oversight there and we need to continue looking at the problem. Find a way so they don’t influence the situation. Look at Chris Dodd and the money he is getting through those organizations. Even if there is no intent there it is a bad atmosphere. Good examples in the bailout. Need course correction.
TL: First order of business of special interests is to co-opt parties. If coopted at the beginning how can you fix it? How can they solve their own problems. Control of government, control of money. We live in a totalitarian system, control the government while we are distracted by issues.
PM: Underdog in my party. Too many lobbyists in DC. We passed most sweeping ethics legislation in a generation. Closed loophole allowing people to go from government to lobbying. [Tells story about buying Phillies tickets at the window.]
TM: Fact is most of us pay for our tickets at the window. We really do need to do something further. Legislation isn’t enough. Rules in place and still have situation with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
TL: American people don’t believe the problem has been solved. Only 9% approve of congress’s work. Talk is cheap. You are being distracted. Nothing has changed. Two parties fighting each other. Need a third party or a third voice. Political parties shouldn’t even exist. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison warned against formation of political parties.
Q: Can anything can be done to make health care costs more affordable and insure more people?
TM: Clearly we’ve got major challenges. Sense of urgency. We need to do that now. More government intervention is not the way to go. Address challenges in open market way. Patient centric, physician centric way. Tax credits, allow patients to own their own decisions, allow insurance to work across states. Health savings accounts. Quality and cost. Look for opportunities for more preventive care. Newer technologies. Electronic records. Do not bring down system like in Canada.
TL: Lobbyists are why we have trouble in health care. Too many middlemen between doctor and patient. Need to simplify it. Get rid of middleman. Lobbyists want government to control it because they can control government. we cannot change it by putting more regulation in. Create a level playing field and watch – that is government’s job.
PM: We do need to have health care reform. Not advocating single payer system. But not advocating staying where we are. Small businesses in Bucks having trouble providing employees with health insurance. We passed children’s health insurance three times, vetoed by president. What we are doing at Doylestown Hospital. They are doing a fantastic job with electronic medical records. Need to bring everyone together, doctors, patients, insurance co, hospitals, trial attorneys. Shared sacrifice. If an attorney files three frivolous lawsuits he or she should be disbarred.
TM: Also for tort reform. Need to look at small business community. Would also work closely with them. Much more portability. Tax incentive to own their own insurance. Allows a lot more freedom for individual.
TL: Mr. Murphy wants everyone to cooperate with each other to solve the problem. Everyone is going to agree to sacrifice? Not going to happen. Government must be referee. Can’t ask them to do the right thing. They won’t do it.
PM: We have to solve this problem in a bipartisan way. We need to move the ball forward for our communities. We are losing jobs because our employers need some relief. Look at VA, group pharmaceutical buys.
Q: Need a strong industrial base. Higher tariffs?
TL: Problem is we have free trade but we are the only ones practicing it. If another country wants to disadvantage us with tariffs we need to do the same.
PM: Putting tariffs on other countries is protectionism. Not a good idea. Need a fair way not a free way. Child labor standards and environmental standards – other countries don’t have. They don’t have to have the same standards we do but need comparable standards. Voted against trade agreement with Peru, going against party. Look at Jones Apparel – used to manufacture clothes here. Building 4th largest solar field in the US, green jobs at old U.S. Steel plant. Increase in minimum wage.
TM: For making sure we have the right type of regulatory oversight. We know that part of the trade agreement is not only imports but exports. Need to create an environment that has more exports. Canada has 40% of GDP is exports. Need to create more jobs locally. Need to put more resources in this. All too often at the lower end of the stick. Would work closely with trade community to make sure have more scrutiny on what we are doing.
TL: One of our greatest problems is we are in an economic war. Special interests that control our government. our government should not support exporting of American jobs. Should not put our people at a disadvantage. Return to basic free market system.
PM: Partner with business community. Sponsored more than 2 dozen bills for tax relief for small businesses. Believe in free trade but we need to invest in education. Our graduates are competing with jobs in China, India, and Japan. That has been my record.
TM: What I’m hearing in community is too many jobs are leaving the area. Put tax incentives in place to make sure jobs stay here at home. We are not now educating our students for challenges ahead.
Q: About 25,000 public schools labeled failing because of No Child Left Behind. Do we need to keep this law, change it or repeal it.
PM: Absolutely need to make sure we change the law. Do not teach to the test. Unfunded mandates. So many seniors that are having a hard time staying in their own home because of property tax. Hill Murphy tax bill allows their tax bills to be above the line. 60% of our national debt is to foreign countries. We spend $21B a month to pay off debt, only 5B on education. Part of our national security.
TM: Our education system ranks 17th in the world. We should be ranked #1. NCLB is not getting us to where we need to be. Teachers do teach to the test. Three most important things for our future. Leaders of tomorrow need problem solving skills. Need upfront technical skills. I see this at J&J, workers not prepared. Local educators don’t believe NCLB works. We need to sit down and think about where we are going with this.
TL: Education is local not national. Education has gotten worse with involvement of government. Everybody wants somebody else to pay for it. Why do teachers and superintendents need a government bureaucrat telling them what to do. Everyone lobbying for money from Harrisburg and DC. We carry places that can’t pay anything. Too many middlemen. In 1840 we had a better education than we do today.
PM: I am a former west point professor. Sister teaches 6th grade social studies. Agree with TL. Money should go to teachers. We need to focus on educating future workers.
TM: another important area for us. Hasn’t been adequately addressed for our community. Do nothing congress. Need people to go down to DC to deal with it. 110th congress hasn’t done anything. Look at social security, education, health care. Got to get some leadership down there and get started.
Q: What would do in the next 2 years for Bucks?
TM: Jobs jobs and jobs. Need to create more jobs. Have so much to offer. So many knowledge workers. Our infrastructure is outstanding, port, railways, roads. These opportunities will appear if we do the right thing. Partner with ideas like green jobs. Partner with state and local level, attract small businesses to our area. No. 1 would be there for jobs, education.
TL: Steal as much money as I can from anyone else and bring it back here. Oh, someone else said that. That’s what they’re supposed to do. Get government out of our lives as much as possible. Mr. Murphy keeps pushing bipartisan solutions. Nonpartisan is the solution. This country was founded on nonpartisan solutions. Make political parties illegal. They are organizations that have been taken over by special interests.
PM: I’m going to steal nothing. When I was blessed to win two years ago, I sat down with Mike Fitzpatrick, Jim Greenwood, and Pete Kostmeyer [blogger’s note: former 8th district congressional representatives] asked what they would do if they were starting out in congress. They said to focus on two or three things. Focused on green jobs. AE Polysilicon, Gamesa – 3 year backorder, at about 50% capacity, second focus is veterans, fight for veterans, treat with dignity and respect. Passed increase in veterans benefits, veterans cemetery in Bucks, flooding issue.
TM: Great to hear that we have some of these alternative energy companies. They were here before the congressman took office. Want to do new things not take credit for things that were well underway before he showed up on the scene.
TL: Interesting he brought up Jim Greenwood. Where is he now? Making big bucks. Same old problem. Bipartisan. I want no partisan. If Ds and Rs have their special interests. Where are you. I’m not there to please anyone. I’m there looking for the truth. I take no money. A true independent.
PM: correct the record. August 2007 we broke the ground on solar field. Broke ground on AE Polysilicon. Worked with local officials. Worked with Arlen Specter on veterans cemetery. Talked about education and what we have done in this congress. Put in a piece of legislation to create green jobs in Bucks.
TM: thanks again. Great opportunity for us to come here and talk about where I am and where I stand on the issues. Not part of the local R party but running as an R. broken system in DC. Need a change. 30 years in Marines, 18 years at Johnson & Johnson. I want to build relationships at this critical time. Get country on track. Do nothing congress. Passed lowest number of bills in history. Many of them renaming post offices. Talk about run away spending and earmarks. Leadership is broken. Patrick talks about bipartisanship down there. Votes 93% with party leadership. I’ve been down there and they aren’t working across the aisle. Our country can’t afford that any longer.
PM: Proud that one of those post offices was named for Bucks County’s Nate DeTample who was killed in Iraq
[TM breaks in and says his son died in Iraq and tells Murphy “Watch yourself!” and points at him. Says this and jabs his finger at Murphy two or three times.]
I respect your son’s service. Respect your service. [blogger’s note: Manion was talking over Murphy and I may have missed some of Murphy’s remarks.] I am for stem cell research. Proud of my record. Vote my conscience.
TL: Military service seems to be very important. I served in military. Counter intelligence. Top secret clearance. In charge of getting top clearances for other people. I realize how important it is to have good security. We all served. We should all be part of that. Should not be used as a political issue but if you want to do that. I served too. Having an election. Free and fair elections. Does anyone think we will have a free and fair election in Bucks. I have circumstantial evidence that they can be tampered with. With this system you cannot have a recount. That is illegal. Filed a lawsuit so we can have a recount.
Moderator: thanks everyone.