Friday, February 27, 2009

Green Jobs / Middle Class Task Force Links

A few links to resources for today's Middle Class Task Force meeting on green jobs, held in Philadelphia:

Joe Biden's op-ed in today's Inquirer (from The White House blog)

Live blogging from the meeting by Greg Nelson (from The White House blog)

Staff Report -- Green Jobs: A Pathway to a Strong Middle Class (33 page pdf)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Murphy's Role in Stopping Congressional Payraise

Patrick Murphy (D-08) started his first term in Congress in January 2007. About six months later he signed on to co-sponsor a bill that would stop an automatic congressional payraise.

Title: To prevent Members of Congress from receiving the automatic pay adjustment scheduled to take effect in 2008.
Sponsor: Rep Mitchell, Harry E. [AZ-5] (introduced 6/28/2007) Cosponsors (29)
Related Bills: H.R.2916
Latest Major Action: 6/28/2007 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on House Administration, and in addition to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

Murphy signed on as a co-sponsor on July 10th. The other bill on that topic, HR 2916, had only four co-sponsors. Neither bill went very far.

The following January, he was one of 34 co-sponsors to a similar bill; it was introduced on January 22nd and he signed on the next day.
Title: To prevent Members of Congress from receiving the automatic pay adjustment scheduled to take effect in 2009.
Sponsor: Rep Mitchell, Harry E. [AZ-5] (introduced 1/22/2008) Cosponsors (34)
Related Bills: H.R.5091, H.R.6417
Latest Major Action: 1/22/2008 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on House Administration, and in addition to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

There were no co-sponsors on either of the related bills. All three remained in committee.

The third time being the charm, the bill was introduced again in January 2009. This time 50 representatives, including Murphy signed on as co-sponsors the day it was introduced.
Title: To prevent Members of Congress from receiving any automatic pay adjustment in 2010.
Sponsor: Rep Mitchell, Harry E. [AZ-5] (introduced 1/6/2009) Cosponsors (112)
Related Bills: H.R.215, H.R.282, H.R.395
Latest Major Action: 1/6/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on House Administration, and in addition to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

Oddly enough, HR 282, similar in content, was introduced on January 7th by Rep. Sestak (D-07) with no co-sponsors. The other two related bills had one or two co-sponsors.

According to a press release from Murphy’s office:
For the third year in a row, Rep. Murphy worked against party leaders to stop an automatic pay increase for members of Congress. In 2007 he voted against the pay raise, and when it went through anyway, he donated his increase to charity. In 2008, he tried to stop the increase. As 2009 began, he was again an original cosponsor of legislation to stop the congressional pay raise.

“This is the worst economy since the Great Depression and hard working families across our community are struggling to make ends meet. I believe it is wrong for Congress to be voting themselves a pay increase – especially in these dire economic conditions – and I applaud the House leadership for coming to the same conclusion,” said Congressman Patrick Murphy. “We should be working on putting people back to work – and as members of Congress we can set an example everyone must do their part to tighten our fiscal belts.”

During his first campaign for Congress, Rep. Murphy pledged not to vote for a congressional pay raise until the minimum wage was increased. Even though Murphy helped pass the first increase in the minimum wage in 10 years, Murphy still votes against the congressional pay raise stating that with our economy in trouble, our nation at war and our budget deficit at record levels, it is wrong to raise congressional pay.

Rep. Patrick Murphy is a member of the fiscally responsible Democratic Blue Dog Coalition. The Blue Dogs are dedicated to a core set of beliefs that transcend partisan politics, including a deep commitment to the financial stability and national security of the United States .

He was not alone this time – nearly a fourth of his fellow congressional representatives signed on also. It was enough to tip the balance. Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that there would be no cost of living increases in 2010

According to the Washington Post (“No Pay Raise for Lawmakers Next Year,” by Ben Pershing 2/10) :
If Democratic leaders hadn't made this decision today it likely would have been made for them. Every year there is an effort on the House floor, usually by fiscal conservatives, to block lawmakers' annual raise. In most years that effort gets voted down, but given the current economic climate members would likely have been chomping at the bit to vote for a pay freeze. Dozens lawmakers had already signed on to measures to block the COLA for 2010.

Persistence is important in legislative work; Murphy clearly felt this was an issue worthy of perseverance.

Note: Use to verify the information on these bills and to research others.

An Open Note to Amtrak

This blog post is in response to a phone survey I received this week. I like Amtrak's trains and take them whenever travel plans allow.

Amtrak should stick with running railroads and stay out of the survey business because the questions on the call were awful. There was an assumption that people knew the difference between Amtrak, Acela, the Metroliner, Northeast, and regional trains. Several of the questions did not allow for "not applicable." I was asked to rate Acela's service when I've never ridden Acela (the speedier trains are pricier also. I was also asked to rate car travel for safety, enjoyment, etc. Doesnt' that depend a lot on where you are going? Being stuck on the Schuylkill Expressway is no picnic, a country drive with good company and no deadlines is a lot of fun. The questions were just poorly designed.

The company calling, Western Watts(?) did a good job, though.

Montco Democratic Candidates for Court of Common Pleas

From the inbox:

The Montgomery County Democratic Executive Committee voted unanimously last week to recommend a slate of seven candidates for the county Court of Common Pleas to the full MCDC committee. The endorsement meeting will be held March 12.

Below is a thumbnail sketch of each recommended candidate and their reaction to the executive committee’s action.

Cheryl Lynne Austin, Esquire

"I am honored to receive this endorsement. It demonstrates the Party's commitment to offer voters a credible choice of candidates that reflect the competency and diversity of Montgomery County citizens."

Abington resident Cheryl Lynne Austin is an attorney practicing elder law, criminal defense and estate resolution. She also serves as a Montgomery County Assistant Public Defender. Previously, Austin held the position of Assistant District Attorney for Montgomery County , where she prosecuted individuals charged with felony and white collar crimes. Ms. Austin is an adjunct professor at Palmer Theological Seminary in Wynnewood , PA , teaching a course titled, “Counseling Families Undergoing Legal Crises.”

At Northwestern University, Austin entered the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps in its first class of women. Upon graduation from Northwestern, she was commissioned an officer in the U.S. Navy. In 2004, she retired as a U.S. Navy Captain, after 24 years of active duty and reserve service. Cheryl attended Capital University Law School in Columbus , Ohio at night, while working as Human Resources Director for the Ohio Secretary of State.

Cheryl Austin has been recognized by the American Business Women’s Association as an “Outstanding Business Woman” and was named a “Rising Star” among Elder Law attorneys by Philadelphia Magazine. She was also featured in the PA Commission on Women-sponsored book Voices.

Ms. Austin is co-chair of the Diversity Committee of the Montgomery Bar Association, vice-chair of the Military and Veterans Affairs Committee of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, and serves on the Executive Committee of the Willow Grove , PA chapter of the NAACP. She is a member of the Laurel House Advisory Board and the Willow Grove , PA chapter of the Military Officers Association of America.

Cheryl Austin and her husband, Mike, reside in Roslyn, PA with their daughter, Jessie. They enjoy traveling and biking.

Joel B. Bernbaum, Esquire

“I am honored to be recommended by the MCDC and proud to be with such highly qualified candidates in this historic election for Common Pleas Court in Montgomery County.”

Mr. Bernbaum is Special Counsel to the Montgomery County law firm of Kane, Pugh, Knoell, Troy and Kramer, LLP; his practice is concentrated in family law. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers , serving as President of the PA Chapter in 2007. He is a member of the American, Pennsylvania , Illinois and Montgomery Bar Associations with active participation in their respective family law sections and/or committees. He is currently Co-Chair of the PBA’s Technology Taskforce. He is a former Director and Chair of the Family Law Section of the Montgomery Bar Association and served two terms on the Council of the Pennsylvania Bar Association's Family Law Section.

He is a frequent writer and lecturer for continuing legal education programs, business groups and community organizations. He received his B.A. from Long Island University and his J.D. in 1977 from John Marshall Law School in Chicago , Illinois .

He is married to Debra Bernbaum for 21 years and resides with Debra and their son Myles, a 10th grade student of Lower Merion H.S., in Bala Cynwyd, PA. He coached baseball in the Lower Merion Little League for 10 years, serving as the league’s President in 2005 and 2006. He served on the Board of Directors of the Lupus Foundation of Delaware Valley from 1987 to 2006 and has been active in many other charities.

Richard P. Haaz, Esquire

“I am honored to be recommended by the Executive Committee and I will work hard for this entire slate of candidates.”

Richard P. Haaz, Esquire, is a trial attorney who has represented victims of discrimination, abuse and neglect for over thirty years. Mr. Haaz is “highly recommended” by the Judiciary Committee of the Montgomery County Bar Association regarding his qualifications, demeanor and experience to become a judge. Mr. Haaz is also “AV” rated which is the highest rating awarded by his peers.

Mr. Haaz is a hearing committee member for the Disciplinary Board of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Mr. Haaz started his career as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable I. Raymond Kremer. Mr. Haaz is chairman of the Medical/Legal Committee for the Montgomery County Bar Association and Solicitor and long-time board member to the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania (SEPA) which serves over 4,000 “at risk” children.

Rich and his wife, Jennifer, celebrated their thirtieth wedding anniversary this past Valentine’s Day and have three children, Ben, Sam and Chloe and two dogs. Rich is a graduate of Abington High School , Penn State University and the Franklin Pierce Law Center and has been a resident of Montgomery County for over thirty-five years.

Jeffrey M. Lindy, Esquire

"I am deeply gratified to have the support of the Executive Committee of the Montgomery County Democratic Committee in my campaign to be a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas and look forward to working with all of the members of the County Committee during this election year.”

Jeffrey M. Lindy, Esquire, is a former federal and state prosecutor having served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and as an Assistant District Attorney for the Kings County District Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, New York. Mr. Lindy has owned and operated his own law firm since 1995 where he concentrates his practice in federal and state criminal defense and commercial litigation. He has conducted numerous jury trials and argued many appeals in both federal and state trial and appellate courts. In 1992, the U.S. Attorney General personally presented Mr. Lindy with the John Marshall Award for outstanding legal achievement.

Mr. Lindy is an Assistant County Solicitor having been appointed by the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners to represent County mental health facilities on a part time basis during involuntary commitment hearings. He formerly served as President of The Neighborhood Club of Bala Cynwyd and as a Board member of the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women. Mr. Lindy currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Union Fire Association and the Board of the Education Foundation of Lower Merion. In 2006, the Bala Cynwyd civic association honored Mr. Lindy by presenting him with the Citizen of the Year Award.

Mr. Lindy is a graduate of the Temple University School of Law and Cornell University, and earned Dean’s List distinction at both universities.

Mr. Lindy was born in Montgomery County and now lives in Bala Cynwyd with his wife Nancy, and their two children, Isaac and Olivia, who attend the Lower Merion public schools.

Lois Murphy, Esquire

“I am honored and humbled to be recommended for endorsement as a candidate for judge by Montgomery County’s Democratic Committee. I would consider it a great privilege to serve the people of Montgomery County as a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas.”

Lois Murphy met her husband of nearly 20 years, Benjamin Eisner, while attending Harvard Law School. Lois and Ben have lived in Lower Merion for 16 years and have two daughters, Emily and Lily, who attend Lower Merion public schools.

Ms. Murphy served as a law clerk for Judge Pratt of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and served in the Honors Program of the United States Department of Justice as a trial and appellate litigator. Murphy was associate legal counsel to the NARAL Pro-Choice America, a non-profit advocacy organization, where she contributed to two briefs to the United States Supreme Court and assisted in crafting state and federal legislation and litigation strategies to protect fundamental constitutional rights. Murphy has practiced law with Heckscher, Teillon, Terrill & Sager, in West Conshohocken , where she became a partner in the field of trusts and estates, Orphans’ Court litigation and charitable planning. She has substantial experience appearing in court in Montgomery County .

Lois Murphy currently serves as a Commissioner on the Pennsylvania Commission for Women. In 2004 and 2006 Murphy was a candidate for United States Congress in Pennsylvania ’s 6th Congressional District, which includes portions of Montgomery County , Chester County and Berks County Pennsylvania, in one of the closest and most hotly contested contests in the nation.

Michael Shields, Esquire

"Having practiced law in Montgomery County during my entire legal career, I am honored to have received the recommendation of the Democratic Executive Committee for a position as Judge of the Court of Common Pleas. I have no doubt that I and our entire judicial slate will more than justify the Committee's confidence in each of us."

Michael C. Shields, Esquire, established his own private practice in 1984 concentrating in civil, criminal and family court matters. Currently, Michael specializes in civil litigation, estates, zoning and alternative dispute resolution in which area he serves as an arbitrator and a mediator selected by trial counsel to resolve civil actions which would otherwise be decided by the Court of Common Pleas. He has served as a Court-appointed Discovery Master since 1996 in which he capacity he hears civil motions pending before the Court and makes recommendations to the Court on the merits of such motions. Mr. Shields has also served as Solicitor to the Zoning Hearing Board of Norristown and has been Solicitor to the Zoning Hearing Board of West Conshohocken for twenty (20) years.

Mr. Shields has been a resident of Montgomery County since childhood. He was raised in Flourtown and has lived in Upper Dublin Township since 1975. Michael and Christine are the parents of two (2) adult sons, Michael and Colin, and the proud grandparents of James and Maggie.

Mr. Shields is a graduate of St. Joseph ’s Preparatory School, Villanova University and Villanova Law School . His legal education was interrupted by military service from 1968 to 1970 during which time he served in the Republic of Korea as a member of the 7th Infantry Division.

Mr. Shields was evaluated by the Judiciary Committee of the Montgomery Bar Association and rated “Highly Recommended.”

Ann Thornburg Weiss, Esquire

Ann Thornburg Weiss has been a lawyer with the Timoney Knox law firm in Fort Washington, Montgomery County since 1984. She is a graduate of Gettysburg College and Temple University School of Law. Following law school, she served as Law Clerk to the Hon. Donald E. Wieand of the PA Superior Court. The focus of her law practice at present is on municipal and real estate law, including zoning and land development, and litigation. She has served as Solicitor and Special Litigation Council for municipal governments and authorities in Montgomery , Bucks and Lehigh Counties and has also represented private clients on real estate zoning, land development and condemnation matters before local municipalities and agencies and in court. Ms. Weiss worked for approximately ten years as Special Counsel to the North Penn and North Wales Water Authorities in connection with the Point Pleasant Water Diversion Project, known as “the PUMP.”

Ms. Weiss is the Clerk of Courts in Montgomery County , a position to which she was elected in 2007. She served on the Board of Commissioners of Upper Dublin Township from 2002 through 2007. She is very active in the community, presently serving on the Board of Directors of the Ambler Community Ambulance and volunteering with the Interfaith Hospitality Network. She was a Council Member and President of Upper Dublin Lutheran Church, where she teaches first grade Sunday School and serves as Coordinator of the Cradle Roll. Ms. Weiss has been married to John Weiss since 1979; they have one son, John Jr., a freshman at the University of Michigan.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

More PA Stimulus Info

Our steely-eyed reporter friend Josh Drobnyk over at Pennsylvania Avenue has noted that the Department of Housing and Urban Development released a list of Community Development Block Grant allocations. Here are the specifics for Pennsylvania:

PA ABINGTON $226,676
PA ALTOONA $535,897
PA CARLISLE $113,704
PA CHESTER $383,609
PA EASTON $257,151
PA ERIE $953,386
PA HAZLETON $255,058
PA LEBANON $225,453
PA PENN HILLS $200,233
PA PITTSBURGH $4,478,251
PA READING $828,217
PA SCRANTON $916,485
PA SHARON $184,525
PA YORK $453,416

If that is not enough stimulus info for you, Congressman Paul Kanjorski has put together a guidebook. From the inbox:
Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski (D-PA) released his extensive guidebook detailing how individuals, families, businesses, community organizations, and local governments can more easily navigate the extensive recovery package. Among other things, the guidebook explains how municipalities can try to secure funding from the recovery package. For municipalities to receive funding through the bill, they must apply to the appropriate federal or state agencies. The guidebook also provides constituents with valuable information as to how the legislation could directly affect them, their families, and their communities.

Update on Biden Philly Meeting This Friday

From the White House Blog:

As Vice President Joe Biden often says, let's roll up our sleeves.

Vice President Biden and the rest of the Middle Class Task Force get down to (official) business for the first time Friday, Feb. 27, at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

On the agenda: jobs. Green jobs. Lots of 'em.

Half the cabinet will be there, along with top domestic policy aide Melody Barnes, top environmental policy aide Carol Browner, and Pennsylvania's Gov. Rendell, Sens. Specter and Casey, and Reps. Chaka Fattah and Robert Brady.

But what are green jobs? Where are they? And how do you get one?

Beyond the political heavy-hitters, a lot of clean energy leaders -- including prominent voices from the worlds of policy, non-profits, local government, labor, and business -- will be on hand to try to answer those questions, and these:

--How can we change Washington to make green jobs a political reality? (John Podesta, President and CEO, Center for American Progress)
--How can we ensure access to green jobs to everyone? (Van Jones, founding President, Green for All)
--How do we connect people who need jobs to companies that need people? (Fred Krupp, President, the Environmental Defense Fund)
--How can the federal government help bring green jobs to the middle class? (Carol Browner, Assistant to President Obama for Energy and Climate Change)
--What's the role of the labor movement in creating green jobs and training workers for them? (Leo Gerard, International President of the Steelworkers of America
--How do you create green jobs in a city? (Michael Nutter, Mayor of Philadelphia)
--How can public-private partnerships help train people for green jobs? (Cecilia Estolano, CEO of the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Authority)
--What's the role for business? (Mark Edlen, President, Gerding-Edlen)

Budget Sumit on PCN

Tomorrow (Thursday, 2/26) the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center is hosting a Budget Summit at the Harrisburg Hilton from 11:00 to 3:00. Later in the day, at 9:00 p.m. PCN will broadcast part of the proceedings. Below is the agenda for that part that will be on PCN.

Summit Agenda

11:00 - 11:10 Welcome / Sharon Ward, Director, Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center

11:10 - 11:50 Federal Budget and Economic Recovery Plan / Kris Cox, Research Assistant, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

11:50 - 12:30 2009-10 State Budget: The Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly / Michael Wood, Research Director, Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center

12:30 - 12:45 Lunch buffet – pick up lunch and return to Allegheny Room

12:45 - 1:30 Federal Fiscal Relief and the Pennsylvania Budget / Donna Cooper, Secretary of the Governor's Office of Policy and Planning

1:30 - 1:45 Responding to Pennsylvania’s Budget Crisis: A Plan of Action / Sharon Ward, Director, Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center

Off Topic: A Cat in the Arctic

This has nothing to do with politics. Along with the many dogs that accompanied Ernest Shackleton's Arctic expedition (1914-1917) was a tabby cat named Mrs. Chippy. According to his (regardless of the misnomer, Chippy was male) wikipedia entry, Mrs. Chippy met a bad end but was lives on artistically in a sculpture at his owner's grave.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Some PA Congressional Responses to Obama's Speech

Those press secretaries are quick -- here are the official statements of three Pennsylvania congressional representatives to Pres. Obama's speech.

From the inbox:

Patrick Murphy (D-08):

“President Obama laid out in very clear terms the challenges we face and his plan to get us through this dark period in our economy. He didn’t just say what people wanted to hear – he said what we needed to hear,” said Congressman Patrick Murphy. “He confidently and specifically told us how he will pull our nation together, boldly face down the tasks ahead and through responsibility, bipartisan cooperation and hard work, emerge even stronger than before.

“I look forward to working with the President and my colleagues from both parties as we work to put our economy back on track and our country back to work. I am proud that we have already come together to pass the largest tax cut in history, fair pay for women and children’s health care. With so many families struggling, we have much more to do to keep our economy strong, our country safe and finally declare our energy independence. It’s time to get to work,” added Murphy.

Allyson Schwartz (D-13):
“President Obama was refreshingly frank and forthcoming with the American people about the enormous challenges ahead of us. He laid out where we are, and a path forward to return America to economic strength and stability with honest budgeting, wise investments, and a shared responsibility in our future.

“The President is absolutely right that we must address healthcare reform. And I share his commitment to not only tackle the challenges facing Medicare, but to also find a uniquely American solution to ensuring quality, affordable healthcare to all Americans.

“There is no denying that hard work and tough choices lay ahead of us, yet I have confidence in our President and in the American people that by working together we will build a stronger, greater America.”

Paul Kanjorski (D-11):
“I applaud President Obama for speaking candidly to the American public about the difficult economic situation we now face. He has set significant goals for himself, the Congress, and the American people as he addressed new policies in dealing with the economy, the national budget, and our actions abroad. These are not light topics and the President has stated that he intends to deal with all of them simultaneously. But, it is this type of thoughtful and assertive thinking that will help move this country forward and take us out of the troubled situation in which we find ourselves.

“As the President stressed, we must come together for the sake of every American. Partisanship is not an option. While we may disagree, we must try to move past these obstacles. Our primary responsibility is helping every American recover from the economic crisis, and as a result boosting our nation’s economy. Just since President Obama was sworn into office, we have already taken momentous steps towards such progress. While there is certainly room for improvement, President Obama has shown a distinct willingness to turn this country around.

“As we work to turn the tide on our economic problems, we must also work to ensure that a financial crisis of this magnitude does not happen again. The President stressed the need to pursue regulatory reforms of the financial services industry, and I strongly support this idea. I have long stressed the need for comprehensive regulatory reform, and I have already held two hearings this year to highlight why the Congress must expeditiously address this issue in the 111th Congress. I applaud President Obama for also recognizing the importance of this issue.

“As I have continued to stress, fixing our economy will not happen overnight, but I have faith that we will emerge from these tough times stronger than ever.”

I have asked (nicely, three times) for another area congressional representative to add me to their press release list but as yet they have not replied, other than to suggest I check their website for news. This is something I have no intention of doing. So if you feel my list is incomplete, I would agree with you and have tried, to no avail, to rectify the situation.

The Stimulus and the greater Philadelphia infrastructure

Our friends at the Economy League have put together a brief report on what the stimulus package means for the greater Philadelphia area. Below is a short excerpt:

* Greater Philadelphia will likely receive more than $600 million from the $48.1 billion in transportation stimulus funds, including approximately $318 for highways in southeastern Pennsylvania, $120 million for highways in southern New Jersey, and $193 million for SEPTA.
* The “shovel-ready” stipulation limits use of stimulus funds for vision investment. Most of the region’s candidate projects focus on clearing deferred maintenance.
* The stimulus package will not blaze any new trails, but it is an opportunity for the region to play catch up and look to the future on better footing.

A few specifics -- repaving the Blue Route, new PATCO cars, and repairing the Girard Street bridge.

Drexel Dems Back Williams

The Drexel Dems have endorsed Seth Williams for Philadelphia District Attorney. According to their website:

The Drexel Democrats voted overwhelmingly in support of Williams because of the range of experience and initiatives that he will bring to the office. The endorsement kicks off three months of support and volunteer efforts for Williams’ campaign in anticipation of the May 19 Democratic primary. For more information about Seth William’s campaign, visit

Monday, February 23, 2009

Obama: Medicaid Relief for PA

From the inbox:

President Obama Announces More Than $680 Million in Medicaid Relief from ARRA for Pennsylvania

Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) funding available for states on Wednesday in special Treasury accounts

President Barack Obama announced this morning in a meeting with the Nation’s Governors that states will be able to access the first two quarters of Federal Medical Assistance Percentage funding (FMAP) – the federal match for Medicaid – starting this Wednesday, February 25. FMAP funding helps pay for health care for the families hit hard by the economic crisis and some of the nation’s most vulnerable citizens. More than 49 million Americans rely on Medicaid for health care coverage and this funding could help 20 million more Americans get covered.

Pennsylvania will be eligible for $680,278,921 under the bill. A chart detailing funding by state can be found HERE.

“This plan will also help ensure that you don’t need to make cuts to essential services Americans rely on now more than ever,” the President told the Nation’s Governors in a meeting at the White House this morning. “To show you we’re serious about putting this recovery plan into action swiftly, I am announcing today that this Wednesday, our administration will begin distributing more than $15 billion in federal assistance under the Recovery Act to help you cover the costs of your Medicaid programs.”

"That means that by the time most of you get home, money will be waiting to help 20 million vulnerable Americans in your states get health coverage. Children with asthma will be able to breathe easier, seniors won’t need to fear losing their doctors, and pregnant women with limited means won’t need to worry about the health of their babies.”

Beginning Wednesday, February 25, the first installment of more than $15 billion included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will be available to States.

The first two quarters of FY 2009 funding for states has been set up in special Treasury accounts so that states, the District of Columbia, and the territories can start drawing down on those funds. This special, temporary increase in funding will be administered by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

States will need to meet Medicaid eligibility requirements outlined in the law to receive the new funding. CMS will be working with the States to ensure they meet the requirements as long as they wish to access the increased in Medicaid funding.

THE WHITE HOUSE, February 23, 2009.

A Note on Arlen Specter and the 2010 Senate Race

Politico had a note late last week that noted GOP "strategist" Roger Stone and his wife hosted a fundraiser for Arlen Specter at the Stone's Florida home. (see "Shenanigans: Specter's fundraiser: Roger Stone, anyone?" by Anne Schroeder Mullins 02/19). Some, myself among them, might remember Stone as the man behind the group formed to oppose Hillary Clinton; given the name Citizens United Not Timid (think about the acronym). If you didn't see the logo they used, you didn't miss anything. (See Carol Lloyd "The C-word as a political tool," Salon, January 24, 2008)..

On the opposite side of the universe, Politico also recently an article on potential women candidates for senate. (Josh Kraushaar, "Female candidates line up for 2010," 2/23). Among those mentioned is Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (D-13) as a prospective challenger to Specter. Hopefully she has a better class of friends.

Buy a Paper Already!!!!

A rare daytime post as I have the night shift today and so am home this morning.

By now you will have read that the parent company of the Philadelphia newspapers has gone into bankruptcy. This isn't good. If you don't subscribe to the paper already, please sign up pronto. Our house has two subscriptions, one print and one electronic, so Mr. J and I don't have to fight over it in the morning.

One very alarming possibility is raised by Tom Ferrick who used to work at the papers and is now at WHYY, which seems to have become a primary employer of former reporters and editor. Ferrick has a blog entry, "A Sad Day at the White Tower," on WHYY's It's Our City blog. In it he writes:

In recent years, the internal dynamic of union politics was this: the crafts and Teamsters often teamed up to isolate the Guild so that it ended up eating the cuts and layoffs the company demanded as its revenues began to decline. They were very good at it. It is one reason the Inquirer Newsroom is about half the size it was when this decade began.

When it comes to the Guild, management’s main goal probably will be to end or cripple the seniority system so it can lay off senior staffers (many of whom make between $70,000-$80,000 a year) and replace them with cheaper labor (at $26,000-$46,000 a year). They tried hard in the last contract talks to do it. Under Chapter 11, they have a new chance.

Seniority counts quite a bit in journalism, especially local reporting. It takes time, often years, to build up the kind of contacts that allow for good, in-depth stories. You have to know the cast of characters, their histories, and how they have worked together (or not) over the years. The coverage of the Fumo trial is a case in point. Someone coming in new to the city will have to spend a lot more time researching databases and digging into the archives to know the nuances of witness testimony and statements from Fumo himself.

We've lost too many seasoned reporters already. There is a terrible turnover on the local suburban paper I read, which means coverage is thin since the reporters are always on a learning curve and leave before they really get the lay of the land. People like John Micek of the Allentown Morning Call and Mario Cattabiani of the Philadelphia Inquirer really know state government; they've been covering it for years. There are others as well, at those papers and more besides. We need all of them. New blood is always good but in the best of circumstances there is some overlap between a retiring reporter and the new kid so the ropes can be learned and the contacts (hopefully) passed on.

We need a robust press, and reporters with seniority are part of that.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Jane Interviewed by Newstex

Last June the nice people at Newstex, who syndicate this blog through their Blogs on Demand service, asked if I would do a phone interview with them. I had kind of forgotten about it as time passed but it was posted on their site last weekend. Here is the link if you want to have a read:

Yes, I really do say "well" that often. It is a family trait and one that Mr. J has commented on a few times over the years. Clearly something I need to work on.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Some Notes on a Philadelphia Velodrome and Major Taylor

Once upon a time, a little over 100 years ago, Philadelphia was a big bicycling town. The bike racing track at Willow Grove Park, now the site of the Willow Grove Mall, hosted national events.

It could be again if David Chauner of Velodrome Management Group L.L.C in Montgomery County is successful. He wants to build an indoor velodrome in Chester County. Plans for a site in Montco a few years ago fell through. I hope he can find the financing and make the project a reality. For more info see "Bike-race promoter seeks Pennsylvania velodrome site," by Christopher K. Hepp (Inquirer 2/04)

Wikipedia has an entry with a description of a modern velodrome and links to some existing velodromes. Pennsylvania is already home to the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, and outdoor velodrome.

One of the more fascinating people in the 1890s cycling craze was Major Taylor, an African American. He won national races and in 1898 set record speeds in Philadelphia. Before Tiger Woods, Jackie Robinson, and Jesse Owens, Major Taylor broke barriers. Taylor wrote an autobiography, published around 1928. I had an opportunity to browse an old crumbling copy a few years ago. Very interesting. There has been a resurgence of interest in Taylor in recent years, with a handful of new books published. The latest is Major by Todd Balf, currently in bookstores. Taylor's daughter Sidney (named for the Australian city where the family lived when she was born), lived in Pittsburgh for much of her adult life, and died there.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

PennDems Endorse Seth Williams

The University of Pennsylvania Democratic organization, the PennDems have endorsed Seth Williams for Philadelphia District Attorney. Press release on the PennDems site.

Schwartz and Health IT

Interesting article in yesterday's Inquirer -- see Joseph DiStefano's "Stimulus has billions for health technology." Here's an excerpt:

There's $2 billion in loans and grants, and $17 billion in Medicare reimbursement for health-related information-technology spending, says U.S. Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Phila.), who represents Northeast Philadelphia and part of Montgomery County. Plus, $10 billion in tech-spending incentives that also could be used for health-care IT.

If online records were such a great idea, why didn't doctors shred manila files long ago? "The savings would have accrued to the insurance companies or the government," Schwartz says. "We had to change the financial incentives" so it helped the doctors and hospitals who have to pay for the tech, too.

[Charlie] Jarvis credits Schwartz, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, with finding a path for medical IT subsidies with a law she wrote last year that provided similar incentives for doctors who wrote online "e-prescriptions."

What's the bill give away? Incentives and financing for doctors ready to "share data by October 2010" will range from around $50,000 for a small practice to "a couple of million, depending on the practice," Jarvis says.

The accompanying photo is a rare shot of Schwartz laughing.

Sorry this is a day late. My e-Inquirer was not [ahem] delivered to my email inbox yesterday and it took this long for me to find the time to read the print.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Robots Invade Bucks County

Not really but the headline was too tempting to pass up.

A fledgling company is shifting from Philadelphia to Bucks County, and has been awarded a $2 million Dept. of Defense grant. Humanistic Robotics wants to produce remote controlled minesweepers that can detonate any landmines found.

Landmines are, to put it mildly, a problem. If you were unaware of this, review the websites at The International Campaign to Ban Landmines and Unicef’s page on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children, but be forewarned that some of the photos are graphic. Landmines, leftover from previous wars, can also be an issue for American troops serving overseas. Countries don’t clear or remove their landmines when a war or conflict is over. They are left for others to find, usually when they explode.

Current de-mining devices are heavy and expensive, essentially very heavy machines roll over a suspected minefield and explode any mines found. Poorer countries couldn’t afford them even if the infrastructure (bridges, roads) could support their weight; in many cases it cannot. At present, in poorer areas, mine removal consists of a person with a metal detector and a screwdriver. He or she scans an area with the metal detector and uses the screwdriver to remove whatever is detected, including mines. It is not very effective or efficient. (Description taken from Brook; see source list below.)

Enter Samuel Reeves and Josh Koplin, the founders of Humanistic Robotics. They have developed a (relatively) lightweight, robotic device, that does essentially what the heavier machines do, only at considerably less expense. It looks like a series of rollers driven by a remote controlled lawnmower, minus the lawnmower handle. You can see a drawing of the device on a patent site; the Inquirer article referenced below has a photograph of an actual device.

Reeves is a Wharton grad; he and Koplin (an industrial designer from Massachusetts), developed the idea while Reeves was still in college. The idea won first place in the 2005 PennVention contest, a competition supported by the Weiss Tech House:

The Weiss Tech House is a student-run hub of technological innovation at the University of Pennsylvania that encourages and supports students in the creation, development and commercialization of innovative technologies. Students with a range of technological interest and skill can learn about technology, collaborate with peers, and take advantage of our in-house Innovation Fund, PennVention inventors’ competition, educational workshops, speaker series, and business mentoring programs.

This is the kind of homegrown company that would be a real asset to the region. It combines new technology (robotics), with a manufacturing aspect, which solves a real, existing, international problem. Reeves, originally from Ft. Worth, and Koplin, have kept their company here and some of Reeves’ Wharton professors are on the corporate board. Originally located in Philadelphia the company is shifting across borders into Bucks County. As noted in a press release today from a Congressman Patrick Murphy:
Today, Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-8th District) welcomed a company with a life-saving mission and brand new jobs to Bristol, Bucks County. Rep. Murphy fought for and secured $2 million for this project over the last two years. Thanks to the federal funding secured by Murphy, Humanistic Robotics moved their operation from Philadelphia to Bristol and will be creating more than a dozen jobs at their new facility. Humanistic Robotics is working on developing a versatile and cost-effective landmine clearing device that is easy to transport, safer to use than current devices and could save the lives of soldiers and civilians across the world. Current mine-clearing techniques are slow, labor-intensive, dangerous, expensive and difficult to transport to remote areas where mines exist. Humanistic Robotics Specialized Compact Automated Mechanical Clearance Platform is a new method that is smaller, lighter, more affordable and more effective. It will reduce the risk of debilitating injuries and clear access to blocked agriculture and infrastructure opportunities in over 60 countries. Today’s event featured prototypes and demonstrations of their products

Reeves and Koplin sound like interesting people. Reeves set up a plant watering / pet sitting business when he was five and as a sophomore in high school regularly read the Wall Street Journal. They are the kind of people we want to stay in the region, to build not only this company but the others they are surely going to start. For more information on them see the sources listed below:


Photo / intellectual property info

Undated interview with Reeves on Wharton website

The Trap: Selling Out to Stay Afloat in Winner-Take-All America, by Daniel Brook. Macmillan, 2007. some pages available in Google book search. The section pertains more to Josh Koplin than Samuel Reeves.

Fall 2004 Wharton Entrepreneurial Programs Newsletter, “Inspired by Tragedy

Kramer, Melody Joy, “Minesweeper,” thirtyfourthstreet magazine, Sept. 15, 2005

Hepp, Christopher K, “Bucks-born minesweeper gets $2M DOD grant," Inquirer2/17/09

Schwartz Honors Military Families

From the inbox:

Tomorrow, February 18th, Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz will host her third annual “Unsung Heroines Ceremony” in Northeast Philadelphia and North Wales, Montgomery County to thank World War II and Korean War veterans’ wives for their own service and dedication to America. Schwartz is hosting these ceremonies in appreciation of the tremendous sacrifices that military families make while their loved ones are defending our nation.

Murphy Statement on Stimulus

From the inbox, statement from Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-08) on the stimulus package:

After a year where we witnessed more than 3.6 million jobs lost, Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-8th District) voted today to take urgent action and help our ailing economy recover. Rep. Murphy voted for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which is estimated to create or save 143,000 jobs in Pennsylvania and 7,800 jobs right here in the Eighth District. The measure will create these important jobs, cut taxes for businesses and home buyers, improve education, health care and encourage growth in the green technology sector. This legislation comes at a time when our country faces dire economic straits. The plan lays out swift and bold steps to save or create 3.5 million jobs nationally, and provide hundreds of dollars in tax relief to 95 percent of American workers. This bill will strengthen schools, modernize our health care system, make it easier for students to go to college and update our ailing infrastructure for the 21st century and make it easier for families to buy a home. In the last year, the United States has lost millions of jobs, hundreds of thousands of families have lost their homes and the savings and retirements of millions are at great risk. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will provide immediate and direct tax relief to working families, help create jobs and modernize the Pennsylvania infrastructure through roads, bridges, schools and broadband. The plan will also invest in 21st century energy, health care and local law enforcement.

“We need to put Bucks County back to work. This vote ensures that we create or save almost 8,000 jobs in the Eighth District as well as providing help to thousands of ailing homeowners right in our community,” said Congressman Patrick Murphy. “We have lost millions of jobs in the last year and the road to recovery may not be easy or brief – but we have to act. If we continue to make the tough choices and work together, we will emerge with an even stronger economy.”

“Economists agree – something must be done. That’s why I voted to act swiftly and boldly on behalf of hard-working families who want to get or keep their job, stay in their home and send their kids to good schools,” added Murphy.

Job Creation: The recovery package is the first crucial step in a concerted effort to create and save 3.5 million jobs, jumpstart our economy, and transform it for the 21st century.

Tax Cuts to Make Work Pay and Create Jobs: We will provide direct tax relief to 95 percent of American workers and spur investment and job growth for American businesses.

Help Workers Hurt by the Economy: High unemployment and rising costs have outpaced Americans’ paychecks. We will help workers train and find jobs, and help struggling families make ends meet. Every dollar in unemployment or food stamp creates at least $1.63 in economic activity, as these funds are spent quickly.

Unprecedented Accountability: An historic level of transparency, oversight and accountability will help guarantee taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and ensure that Americans can see the results of their investment.

* No earmarks.

§ In many cases, funds are distributed to existing initiatives with proven track records and with tough accountability measures already in place.

§ Website to track how funds are spent, all announcements of contract and grant competitions and awards, and formula grant allocations.

Clean, Efficient, American Energy: To put people back to work today and reduce our dependence on foreign oil tomorrow, we will increase renewable energy production and renovate public buildings to make them more energy efficient.

* More than $20 billion in tax cuts for clean, renewable energy, including a new enhanced tax credit for research and development focusing on smart energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy, and a multi-year extension of the production tax credit for wind, hydro, geothermal, and bioenergy.

Education for the 21st Century: We will enable students of all ages to learn in 21st century classrooms, labs, and libraries to help our students compete with any worker in the world.

* Prevents teacher layoffs and other cutbacks in education and other key services, by establishing a $53.6 billion State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, including $39.5 billion to local school districts using existing funding formulas, which can be used for preventing cutbacks, preventing layoffs, school modernization, or other purposes; $5 billion to states as bonus grants for meeting key performance measures in education; and $8.8 billion to states for high priority needs such as public safety and other critical services, which may include education and for modernization, renovation, and repairs of public school facilities and institutions of higher education facilities.

* Making college more affordable through tax credits for college tuition for up to $2,500 per year of school and increasing the Pell Grant by $500.

Lower Health Care Costs: To save not only jobs, but money and lives, we will update and computerize our health care system to cut red tape, prevent medical mistakes, and help reduce health care costs by billions of dollars each year.

* Provides $19 billion to accelerate adoption of Health Information Technology (HIT) systems by doctors and hospitals, in order to modernize the health care system, save billions of dollars, reduce medical errors and improve quality. Creates hundreds of thousands of jobs – many in high-tech sectors – by promoting the adoption of HIT.

Transform our Economy with Science and Technology: To secure America ’s role as a world leader in a competitive global economy, we are renewing America ’s investments in basic research and development, in training students for an innovation economy, and in deploying new technologies into the marketplace. This will help businesses in every community succeed in a global economy.

§ $10 billion for science facilities, research, and instrumentation – to focus American brainpower on solving the energy and climate challenges and finding cures and treatments for diseases.

§ $6 billion to expand broadband internet access.

Modernize Roads, Bridges, Transit and Waterways: To build a 21st century economy, we must create jobs rebuilding our crumbling roads, and bridges, modernize public buildings, and put people to work cleaning our air, water and land. These provisions in total would create nearly 1.8 million American jobs

§ Provides $27.5 billion for modernizing roads and bridges. This investment creates jobs in the short term while saving commuters time and money in the long term.

§ $19 billion to create jobs on clean water, flood control, and environmental restoration initiatives, which will create more hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Schwartz Statement on Stimulus

From the inbox, concerning Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (D-13):

Schwartz’s statement concerning the recovery act follows below.

“The economy is in crisis – my constituents in Southeastern Pennsylvania and I see it every day.

“Our families are struggling with lost income and lost health insurance – even as the demands on household budgets grow. Our businesses are struggling with lost consumers, increased costs, and difficulties in accessing capital. Our state, cities and towns are struggling with shrinking revenues in the face of increased demand for services, aging infrastructure and other obligations.

“It was essential that we took action today. That is why we passed a bold, innovative recovery plan that will provide relief to families and business; create jobs; and lay the groundwork for future economic growth.

“Today we voted to:

· Cut taxes for 95% of American workers;

· Reduce the cost of COBRA health coverage for the unemployed;

· Improve access to capital and stimulate growth;

· Repair infrastructure;

· Invest in new energy sources and energy efficiencies; and

· Drive the innovation that will keep America competitive in the global market place.

“I am particularly proud of the major new investment in health information technology that will lead to near universal use of electronic medical records within 10 years – improving the quality and coordination of care, saving lives, and saving costs for patients, employers, and taxpayers.

“This recovery package is a smart, timely investment to meet today's challenges and fulfill America's promise.”

Economic Impact of Ben Franklin Technology Partners

The Economy League of Greater Philadelphia was commissioned by Ben Franklin Technology Partners to conduct an independent, objective evaluation of the economic impact of their program. The report, "A Continuing Record of Achievement: The Economic Impact of Ben Franklin Technology Partners 2002 - 2006," has been released. Among the findings:

* BFTP boosted the Pennsylvania economy (Gross State Product) by $9.3 billion from 2002 through 2006, or $8.7 billion after adjusting for inflation.
* Since 1989, BFTP has boosted the state’s economy by more than $17 billion.
* From 2002 though 2006, the Commonwealth received more than $517 million in additional state tax revenues as a direct result of BFTP. That represents a 3½-to-1 payback to the state on its $140 million investment during the same period.
* From 2002 through 2006, BFTP generated 10,165 additional job-years* in client firms.
* Client impacts ripple throughout the Pennsylvania economy, contributing to higher Gross State Product and additional employment across the state. From 2002 through 2006, BFTP generated an additional 22,667 job-years in the state beyond those in client firms.
* BFTP produced a total of 32,832 job-years in the Commonwealth between 2002 and 2006 that otherwise would not have existed.
* Since 1989, BFTP has generated 45,667 additional job-years in client firms.
* Since 1989, BFTP generated 80,160 additional job-years beyond those in client firms, for a total of 125,827 additional job-years.

* Job-years are equivalent to the number of years of full-time work created by the program. For example, if a BFTP client firm employed three more workers for five years as a direct result of the program, that is expressed as 15 additional job-years

The full report and a 3 page executive summary are available on the Economy League's webpage.

Delco Resolution

Tomorrow night at the Delaware County Democratic Convention's annual meeting Bill Thomas intends to introduce a resolution in support of HR 676 the Conyers bill on single payer health insurance.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Stimulus Resources

For those who want to get a better view of the stimulus and what it means for Pennsylvania, these two resources might prove interesting:

Center for American Progress; provides information on how much of the stimulus money will be coming to Pennsylvania and in what general categories

Stimulus Watch; a list of shovel ready projects, searchable by state. Note what cities are listed -- there are only about half a dozen. I was also surprised by the number of projects for the Free Library of Philadelphia, including expansion of some branches. What is that about?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

PA's connection to the Speaker's office

From today's Mark Allen's Politico Playbook:

SPOTTED: Tom Manatos of the Speaker's office and his bride, Dana Edwards, rushing home to help her family in their Pittsburgh chocolate store on one of the business's biggest days. They drive this morning and will be in the store by 11 a.m. Still time to sign up for the indulgence-of-the-month program.

Penn Dems Philly DA Debate

This Monday, Feb. 16th, the University of Pennsylvania Democrats are hosting a debate among the five candidates for Philadelphia District Attorney. See the PennDems site for details. These folks host great political events

Thursday, February 12, 2009

White House Outreach

Jared Bernstein, Executive Director of the Middle Class Task Force, and Chief Economist and Economic Policy Advisor to the Vice President, has started posting to the White House Blog. His initial post is a discussion of the task force, and a thanks for the 34,700 messages left so far on, providing input and suggestions.

Bernstein also hosted a conference call for media and bloggers this week, talking about the economy and the stimulus package. The technicalities were beyond me, but I did catch that details of the package, when signed, will be available at The inclusion of bloggers, especially state level bloggers (John Morgan of the Pennsylvania Progressive was also on the call), in contacts with higher level officials, is new, at least to me. The direct outreach to the public is also welcome.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Economic Downturn and Congressional Redistricting

One interesting aspect of the economic downturn is that people aren't moving as much. June Kronholz took a political look at this in "When people stop moving, so do Congressional seats," in the 2/06 Wall Street Journal. Since people will often move to follow jobs, if there are no jobs to follow they stay put. After the 2010 census congressional districts will shift to reflect population shifts. Conventional wisdom is saying that Pennsylvania will lose a seat. Texas is slated to gain four. There are other states assume to gain or lose as well. Existing demographic changes will probably still result in the loss of a PA congressional district but may affect other shifts.

Budget Summit

From the inbox, open to the public:

DATE: Thursday, February 26
TIME: 11:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. (Lunch is included)
PLACE: Harrisburg Hilton, 1 N. Second Street, Harrisburg


President Obama’s Budget
Kris Cox, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Washington, D.C.

Pennsylvania 2009-10 Budget: The Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly
Michael Wood, Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center

Lunch Program

Protecting Our Investments: Building a Winning Budget Strategy

Concurrent Workshops

Taking on Poverty: State Efforts to Reduce the Number of Families and Children in Poverty

Tax Loopholes, Credits, and Rebates: The Impact on Tax Revenue and Tax Fairness

Responding to Pennsylvania’s Budget Crisis: A Plan of Action

Details and registration info (by Monday, February 23, please)at the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.

PA on President's Faith-Based Council

In looking at the list of people on the President's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, you will find two Philadelphia names:

Judith N. Vredenburgh, President and Chief Executive Officer, Big Brothers / Big Sisters of America Philadelphia, PA

Dr. William J. Shaw, President, National Baptist Convention, USA Philadelphia, PA

The full list of the 15 people on the committee is available on the White House blog.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Budget Resources

The nice folks at the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center have put together a 52 page guide to the state budget, with a lot of a simple explanatory graphs and easy to read text. If you don't want to slog through 52 pages they have also designed a 3 page summary. It is interesting reading.

The Pa Budget and Policy Center is a project of the Keystone Research Center. You can follow both on twitter: and

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Shapiro News

If State Rep Josh Shapiro misses a few meetings this week he has an excellent reason. Shapiro and his wife welcomed a new baby this weekend. Mazel Tov to the entire Shapiro family.

Political Consultant's Scorecard: PA Version

Politics Magazine, formerly Campaigns & Elections, publishes an annual “Who won, who lost” consultant scorecard. It is my understanding that consultants can submit a list of their clients early in the electoral cycle and the magazine tabulates winners and losers. Some consultants chose not to play, so it is not, by any means, a complete list. I went through the scorecard in the December issue, and the additions in the January issue, and pulled out the Pennsylvania candidates listed. Next year maybe we will see those new kids over at 3-D on the boards.

Links to firms are added on a whim. I started out looking for the URL of all the consultants but that got very old very quickly. If the firm had an ad among the scorecard pages with a URL listed, or if I knew someone at the firm or just felt like looking it up I did. Otherwise I didn’t. That’s a difference between blogging and journalism. I can get away with that kind of laziness, a paid reporter couldn’t.

The firm name is followed by their party affiliation (B for bipartisan?, N for neutral?), if any, and their primary service offered. Candidates Won or Lost; two letters separated by a slash indicate primary and general elections. In indicates an incumbent; I-E indicates independent expenditure or issue advocacy effort, which may or may not be affiliated with a candidate

At the end of the list is another list, taken from the ads in the scorecard pages. Why these folks didn’t sign up to be part of the official scorecard is beyond me.

Advocacy Inc. / D – Internet
Rob McCord, PA State Treasurer -- W

Anzalone Liszt Research / D – polling
Bob Brady (in), PA, H01 – W
Mike Doyle (in), PA, H14 – W
Patrick Murphy (in), PA H08 – W
Steve O’Donnell, PA, H18 – L
Rob McCord, PA Treasurer – W

Arena Communications / B – direct mail
Phil English (in), PA, H03 – L

Avenet’s CampaignOffice / N – Web Development
Denny O’Brien (in), PA, state Rep. – W

Bennett, Petts & Normington / D – polling
Joe Sestak (in), PA H07 – W
Eugene Depasquale (in), PA, state Rep. -- W

Bluestocking Consulting / D – campaign management
Kathy Dahlkemper, PA H03

BrabenderCox / R – general
Jim Gerlach (in), PA, H06 – W
Melissa Hart, PA, H04 – L
Tom Manion, PA, H08 – L
Tom Corbett (in), PA, Att. Gen. – W
Tim Murphy (in), PA, state Rep. – W

Braynard Group, Inc. / R – voter targeting, walk list development
William Russell, PA, H12 – L

The Campaign Group / D – media
Kathy Dahlkemper, PA, H03 – W/W
Jose Sestak (in), PA, H07 – W
Rob McCord, PA, state Treasurer – W/W

Campaign Spark / D – general
Bill DeWeese (in), PA, state Rep. – W

Campbell Holste / R – general, media, direct mail, Internet
Phil English (in), PA, H03 – L
Jim Gerlach (in), PA, H06 – W
Tim Murphy (in), PA, H18 – W
Bill Shuster (in), PA, H09 – W
Glenn Thompson, PA, H05 – W
Lance Rogers, PA, state Sen. – W/L
Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania

Compass Media Group / D – direct mail, general, media
SEIU COPE Pennsylvania for Barack Obama – I-E, W
Pennsylvania Credit Union Association, for Paul Kanjorski, PA, H11 – I-E, W

Connell Donatelli, Inc. / R – online advertising, search marketing, email marketing
Republican Party of Pennsylvania

David Millner Group / R – media, strategy
Lou Barletta, PA, H11 – L

DiSantis-Runge Consulting / D – research and general
Jason Altmire (in), PA, H04 – W

The Dover Group / D – fundraising, communications, earned media, field organizing, general
Bob Roggio, PA H06 – L
Rob McCord, PA, state Treasurer – W

Edward Mitchell Communications / D – media
Paul Kanjorski (in), PA, H11 – W
John Murtha (in), PA, H12 – W
Keith McCall (in), PA, State Rep. – W

Engage, LLC / R – general, Internet
Lou Barletta, PA, H11 – L
Chris Hackett, PA, H10 – L

Fundraising Management Group / D –fundraising
Bob Roggio, PA, H06 – L

Global Strategy Group / D – polling
Patrick Murphy (in), PA, H08 – W
Jack Wagner, PA, Auditor General – W
America Votes PA
PA Democratic State Senate Campaign Committee, PA
PA House Democratic Campaign Committee, PA

Grove Insight, D – polling
DCCC for:
Sam Bennett, PA, H15 – L
Paul Kanjorski (in), PA, H11 – W
Bob Roggio, PA, H06 – L
SEIU for -- I-E
Barack Obama, U.S. Pres, PA -- W

Kennedy Communications / D – direct mail
Joe Sestak (in), PA, H07 – W
Brendan Boyle, PA, state Rep – W
John DeFrancisco, PA, state Rep – L
Mike Gerber (in), PA, state Rep – W
Jaret Gibbons (in), PA, state Rep – W
Tom Houghton, PA, state Rep – W
Chris King (in), PA, state Rep – L
Bryan Lentz (in), PA, state Rep – W
Steve Rovner, PA, state Rep – L
John Siproth (in), state Rep – W
Matt Smith (in), PA state Rep – W
Rick Taylor (in), PA, state Rep – W
John Woodward, PA, state Rep – L

Kennedy Communications / D – research
Bryan Barbin, PA, state Rep – W
Vince Biancucci (in), PA, state Rep – L
Brendan Boyle, PA, state Rep -- W
John Boyle, PA, state Rep -- L
Matt Bradford, PA, state Rep -- W
Frank Burns, PA, state Rep -- W
Rich Costello, PA, state Rep -- L
John DeFrancisco, PA, state Rep -- L
Eugene DePasquale (in), PA, state Rep -- W
Jaret Gibbons (in), PA, state Rep -- W
Tom Houghton, PA, state Rep -- W
Fern Kaufman, PA, state Rep -- L
Chris King (in), PA, state Rep -- L
Ayanna Lee, PA, state Rep -- L
Kevin Lee, PA, state Rep -- L
Bryan Lentz (in), state Rep -- W
Carol Palmaccio, PA, state Rep -- L
Lisa Romaniello, PA, state Rep -- L
Dennis Rousseau, PA, state Rep -- L
Steve Rovner, PA, state Rep -- L
Barbara McIlvaine Smith (in), PA, state Rep -- W
Matt Smith (in), PA, state Rep -- W
John Siptroth (in), PA, state Rep -- W
Rick Taylor (in), PA, state Rep -- W
Jessie White (in), PA, state Rep -- W

Kimberly A. Morewood Consulting / R – strategy, outreach, fundraising, media & public relations
Bill Cornell, PA, state Rep – Lp
Jason Owen, PA, state Rep – Wp/L

Liberty Concepts / D – web
Jason Altmire (in), PA, H04 – W
Allyson Schwartz (in), PA, H13 – W

Mack/Crounse, D – direct mail
Paul Kanjorski (in), PA, H11 – W
John Murtha (in), PA, H12 -- W
PA Democratic House Caucus Committee for – I-E
Vince Biancucci, state Rep – L
John Boyle, state Rep – L
Tim Briggs, state Rep – W
Frank Burns, state Rep – W
Paul Drucker, state Rep – W
Dave Kessler, state Rep – W
Barb McIlvaine Smith, state Rep – W
PA Democratic Senate Caucus Committee for – IE
Dr. Tony Bompiani, state Sen – L
Andy Dinniman, state Sen – W
Daylin Leach, state Sen – W
Mike O’Pake, state Sen – W
Jason Petrella, state Sen – L

Mad Dog Mail / D – direct mail
Chris Carney (in), PA, H10 – W

McLaughlin & Associates / R – polling
Richard Cutler, PA, Whitemarsh Town Supervisor – L

Message & Media, Inc / D – strategy, media, direct mail
Mike Doyle (in), PA, H14 W

Mission Control / D – direct mail
Allyson Schwartz, PA, H13 -- W
Rob McCord, PA, state Treasurer – W/W
John Murtha, PA, H12 – W
NEA for – IE
Jason Altmire (in), PA, H04 – W
Chris Carney (in), PA, H10 – W
Paul Kanjorski (in), PA, H11 – W

Momentum Analysis / D – polling
Sam Bennett, PA, H15 – L
Chris Carney (in), PA, H10
Kathy Dahlkemper, PA, H03 – W

Northeast Tele-Services Inc / R – grassroots
Lou Barletta, PA, H11 – L

Petel & Company / D – direct mail
Jason Altmire (in), PA, H04 – W
Pennsylvania Democratic Party

Political Ink, R – direct mail
John Stroup, PA, H05 – Lp

Premiere Political Communications, LLC / D -- telephone contact services
Carol Palmaccio, PA, state Rep -- L

Public Opinion Strategies / R – polling
Phil English, PA, H03 – L
Jim Gerlach, PA, H06 – W
Melissa Hart, PA, H04 – L
Tom Manion, PA, H08 – L
Tim Murphy, PA, H18 – W
Glenn Thompson, PA, H05 – W
Dominic Pileggi, PA, state Sen – W

Richard Norman Company / R – direct mail fundraising
Melissa Hart, PA, H04 – L

Saler Republican Strategies LLC / R – general
Chris Hackett, PA, H10 – L

Stones’ Phones / D – telephone contact services
Jason Altmire (in), PA, H04 – W
Sam Bennett, PA, H15 – L
Patrick Murphy (in), PA, H08 – W
Allyson Schwartz (in), PA, H13 – W
PA House Democratic Campaign Committee for (I-E)
Vince Biancucci (in), PA, state Rep – L
John Boyle, PA, state Rep – L
Fern Kaufman, PA, state Rep – L
Barb McIlvaine Smith (in), PA, state Rep – W

The Strategy Group for Media / R -- media
Rich Alloway, PA, state Sen -- W/W
Jeff Piccola (in), PA, State Sen -- W
Dominic Pileggi (in), PA, state Sen -- W
Elder Vogel, PA, state Sen – W/W
Kim Ward, PA, state Sen – W
Gene Yaw, PA, state Sen – W/W
Michele Brooks (in), PA, state Rep – W
Kate Harper (in), PA, state Rep – W

Sutter’s Mill Fundraising & Strategy / D – PAC fundraising
Jason Altmire (in), PA, H04 – W
Patrick Murphy (in), PA, H08 – W

TenCAPITOL / R – advertising and public affairs
Phil English (in), PA, H03 – L

Trippi Multimedia / D – media and Internet
Tim Holden, PA, H17 – W

Voter Survey Service division of Susquehanna Polling & Research / R – polling and research
Lou Barletta, PA, H11 – L
Derek Walker, PA, H05 – L
Steven Cappelli, PA, state Sen – L
Jane Earll (in), PA, state Sen – W
Jeff Piccola (in), PA, state Sen – W
Lloyd Smucker, PA, state Sen. – W
David Argall (in), PA, state Rep – W
Gene DiGirolamo (in), PA, state Rep – W
Dave Hickernell (in), PA, state Rep – W
John M. Perzel (in), PA, state Rep – W
Scott Petri (in), PA, state Rep – W
Mike Turzai (in), PA, state Rep – W
Lancaster Co. Home Rule Ballot Referendum, PA – L

Wilson Research Strategies / R – general
Lou Barletta, PA, H11 – L
Ron Francis, PA, H04 – Lp
Paul Thibault, PA, state Sen – Lp
Gene Yaw, PA, state Sen – W/W
Frank Farry, PA, state Rep – W
Mauree Gingrich, PA, state Rep – W/W
Richard Gokey, PA, state Rep – W
Nick Miccarelli, PA, state Rep – W
John Perzel (in), PA, state Rep – W
Matt Taubenberger, PA, state Rep – L
Pennsylvania Leadership PAC, PA

Winning Connections / D – telephone contact services
Barack Obama, PA, U.S. Pres – W
Kathy Dahlkenper, PA, H03 – W
AFL-CIO for (I-E)
Tony Bompiani, PA, state Sen. – L
Jaston Petrella, PA, state Sen – L
Bryan Barbin, PA, state Rep – W
John Boyle, PA, state Rep – L
John DeFrancisco, state Rep – L
Paul Drucker, PA, state Rep – W
Sam Hirsch, PA, state Rep – L
Chris King, PA, state Rep – L
John Olesnevich, PA, state Rep – L
Dennis Rousseau, PA, state Rep – L
Jim Siproth, PA, state Rep -- L


Jackson Group / D – strategic communication, media consulting
Pennsylvania House Democratic Campaign (Eachus, Kessler, Gerber, R Taylor, Lentz, Dermody, J Gibbons, DeWeese, Houghton, Drucker, Santarsiero, F Burns, Barbin, Bradford, Morabito, J Shafer, N Williams)

Mentzer Media
Bill Shuster (in), PA, H09
Glenn Thompson, PA, H05
State Senator Elect Lloyd Smucker PA/13
State Rep. Elect Matt Gabler, PA/75

National Research, Inc.
Club for Growth in PA’a 10th GOP Primary

Gallagher Hollenbeck / R
Pennsylvania Senate Republican Campaign Committee

Friday, February 06, 2009

Geisinger Mentioned on Washington Week

Tonight on Washington Week in Review, Ceci Connolly from the Washington Post said something interesting. In talking about the now open cabinet spot for Health and Human Services she suggested that Obama might look for someone outside the box, possibly someone from outside government. She mentioned that Kaiser in California and Geisinger in Pennsylvania were doing some innovative things and that someone from either of those organizations might be a dark horse candidate.

Calling Arlen

Today I called Sen. Specter's office to voice my support for the stimulus bill. Possibly other people had the same idea. His Washington office number was busy, so was his Philadelphia number the two times I called. I had to go to one of the other offices in Pennsylvania to finally get through. The person who answered the phone did not seem pleased to hear from me, though I was polite as could be.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Rendell on Maddow

This evening I watched part of the Rachel Maddow Show since Attytood blogger Will Bunch of the Inquirer was on plugging his new book. As a pleasant surprise it turned out to be a Pennsylvania two-fer. Gov. Ed Rendell was also a guest, to speak in favor of Pres. Obama's stimulus proposal.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Schwartz Statement on SCHIP

From the inbox:

In recognition of over a decade’s work on the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz was among the invited guests at the White House today as President Obama signed into law a plan to strengthen SCHIP. This plan, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) Reauthorization Act, will provide healthcare coverage for 11 million children.

Schwartz released the following statement concerning the bill signing.

“It was an honor and a great privilege to be with President Obama, Mrs. Obama and others on such an important day for America’s kids.

“In these difficult economic times families tell me what they need is stability and an opportunity to meet their responsibilities. We are providing this opportunity by strengthening CHIP to reach more than 11 million American children.

“Today’s bill signing demonstrates that we can tackle the tough economic concerns of middle income American families, and provide them with the confidence that even in this economic downturn, access to health coverage for their kids will be okay.”

Stimulus Plan Impact on Pennsylvania

The White House has assembled fact sheets on how the proposed stimulus plan will affect each state. The full list is available here. These are the specifics for Pennsylvania:


The American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan is a nationwide effort to create jobs, jumpstart growth and transform our economy for the 21st century. Across the country, this plan will help businesses create jobs and families afford their bills while laying a foundation for future economic growth in key areas like health care, clean energy, education and a 21st century infrastructure. In Pennsylvania, this plan will deliver immediate, tangible impacts, including:

· Creating or saving 151,700 jobs over the next two years. Jobs created will be in a range of industries from clean energy to health care, with over 90% in the private sector. [Source: White House Estimate based on Romer and Bernstein, “The Job Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan.” January 9, 2009.]

· Providing a making work pay tax cut of up to $1,000 for 4,910,000 workers and their families. The plan will make a down payment on the President’s Making Work Pay tax cut for 95% of workers and their families, designed to pay out immediately into workers’ paychecks. [Source: White House Estimate based on IRS Statistics of Income]

· Making 138,000 families eligible for a new American Opportunity Tax Credit to make college affordable. By creating a new $2,500 partially refundable tax credit for four years of college, this plan will give 3.8 million families nationwide – and 138,000 families in Pennsylvania – new assistance to put college within their reach. [Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis of U.S. Census data]

· Offering an additional $100 per month in unemployment insurance benefits to 1,056,000 workers in Pennsylvania who have lost their jobs in this recession, and providing extended unemployment benefits to an additional 156,000 laid-off workers. [Source: National Employment Law Project]

· Providing funding sufficient to modernize at least 409 schools in Pennsylvania so our children have the labs, classrooms and libraries they need to compete in the 21st century economy. [Source: White House Estimate]

In addition to this immediate assistance for Pennsylvania, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan will help transform our economy by:

· Doubling renewable energy generating capacity over three years, creating enough renewable energy to power 6 million American homes.

· Computerizing every American’s health record in five years, reducing medical errors and saving billions of dollars in health care costs.

· Launching the most ambitious school modernization program on record, sufficient to upgrade 10,000 schools.

· Enacting the largest investment increase in our nation’s roads, bridges and mass transit systems since the creation of the national highway system in the 1950s.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Pennsylvania VOICE Report

In late January Pennsylvania VOICE released a preliminary report on its effectiveness during the November election. The pdf version of Pennsylvania VOICE: Building a Community-Driven Public Policy Voice through Nonprofit Collaboration and Civic Participation, 2008 Outcomes and Initial Reporting is a little hinky at the moment but an html version is available.

According to the press release announcing the report's released:

Pennsylvania VOICE partner organizations were responsible for registering 294,225 voters across the state during the 2008 calendar year (for the primary and general elections), and awarded 12 Pennsylvania nonprofit organizations a total of more than $40,000 in re-grants to support their work in helping to engage under-participating constituencies in the voting process.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

The Latin is usually translated "who watches the watchers?" or "who guards the guards?" (see wikipedia for fuller explication).

In this case I use it to mean who's keeping track of who is watching the Super Bowl with the president and vice president. Mike Allen has the answer in his Politico Playbook Daily Update (Pennsylvania officials are in bold):

THE PRESIDENT'S GUEST LIST, from the White House: 'The following is a list of elected officials who will be guests at the President's Super Bowl party. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Congressman Artur Davis (D-AL), Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Congressman Charlie Dent (R-PA), Congressman Mike Doyle (D-PA), Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ), Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Congressman Paul Hodes (D-NH), Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-DC), Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-PA), Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI).'

THE V.P.'s GUEST LIST, from the White House: 'The Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden will host members of the House and Senate, along with their families, at the Naval Observatory to watch the Super Bowl. The following elected officials will be guests ... Sen. Max Baucus, Sen. Tom Carper, Sen. Kent Conrad, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Bill Nelson, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Rep. Robert Brady, Rep. Jim Clyburn, Rep. Steny Hoyer, Rep. John Larson.'