Sunday, May 31, 2009

Lentz Edges Forward with Congressional Run

As Congressman Joe Sestak (D-07) moves closer to a primary run for Senate, State Rep Bryan Lentz (D-161) shadows his steps into a run for the congressional seat. Shira Toeplitz of Roll Call wrote on Friday ("State lawmaker preparing to run for Sestak's house seat"). In part the article says:

Lentz said he has tapped Aubrey Montgomery, a veteran Philadelphia-area Democratic fundraiser, as his finance director to help him raised the $3 million that he needs to run his campaign.

“I’m going to take the next week or so and form a top-notch finance committee with the bigger political fundraisers and contributors from Delaware County and the region, and shortly thereafter file the papers,” Lentz said in a phone interview.

It should be noted that Montgomery worked with Seth Williams's successful DA campaign and also on Daylin Leach's winning state senate campaign (see 12/15/08 "In Philly DA race, Williams seems to emerge with early edge -- an plenty of challenges" by Dan Hirschhorn then of PolitickerPA, now at

PA Congressmen on Twitter

I've noted a couple of these twitter feeds but dhmeiser has compiled a complete list of Pennsylvania congressional representatives who are on twitter: (Glenn Thompson)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

An Assortment of Twits

Here are a few new additions to the list of people / groups I follow on Twitter:

Josh Shapiro:

Montgomery County Democrats:

Jim Gerlach:

PA House Dems:

PA Senate Dems:

Dan Hirschhorn:

Arlen Specter:

Of course, all of you already read Capitol Ideas:

I am at:, but mostly post notices of new blog posts, or quick notes.

Green Education in Bucks

From the inbox:

Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-8th District) today joined Senior Vice President of Exelon Generation Doyle Beneby, local officials, and business leaders for the dedication and ribbon-cutting of the Exelon Fairless Hills Renewable Energy Education Center. The facility, which is attached to a fully-operational landfill gas (LFG) electric power-generating station, recently earned the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver Certification.

Additionally, the Center serves as an important resource for Bucks County students and citizens by providing valuable information and hands-on experiences to demonstrate the possibilities surrounding renewable energy technologies, energy efficiency, resource conservation, and recycling technologies.

“It’s great to see Exelon’s strong commitment to green education and environmentally-sound technology right in our own backyard,” said Congressman Patrick Murphy. “The Renewable Energy Education Center is a welcome addition to our district, and it highlights the importance of green technology’s role in our economic future. We’re confident that our region’s commitment to renewable energy will continue to bring good-paying green jobs to Bucks.”

“As a leader in the energy industry, Exelon feels a strong obligation and responsibility to educate the community about the environmental benefits of renewable energy,” said Doyle Beneby, senior vice president, Exelon Power. “This facility should help make that goal a reality. We hope students of all ages will take advantage of the opportunity to learn about alternative energy sources and their role in the future.”

The Renewable Energy Education Center at Fairless Hills features a curriculum based upon the Pennsylvania Board of Education’s Environment and Ecology standards. Geared toward fourth- through eighth-grade students, the education center provides an interactive experience for students, giving them the opportunity to see first-hand how energy is manufactured from renewable resources.

G20 to Pittsburgh

There were two items in the inbox today about the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh. The first is a general announcement. The second is an excerpt of a press conference with Robert Gibbs comments on the upcoming event.


Fact Sheet: United States to Host Next G20 Summit in Pittsburgh

The United States will host the next G20 Summit September 24-25, 2009, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At the Pittsburgh Summit, President Obama will meet with leaders representing 85 percent of the world’s economy to take stock of progress made since the Washington and London Summits and discuss further actions to assure a sound and sustainable recovery from the global economic and financial crisis.

About the G20

Invited leaders represent approximately 85% of the world’s GDP and come from all regions of the globe. The United Nations Secretary General and heads of International Financial Institutions and appropriate International Organizations and groupings also participate.

G20 finance ministers have met regularly to coordinate policy since the Asian financial crisis in the 1990’s. At the leaders level, the G20 is not an institutionalized process, but a response to the global economic and financial crisis. The G20 leaders held their first summit in Washington in November 2008 and met again in April in London.

How the Pittsburgh Summit Came About

At the meeting in London in April, leaders decided that, given the nature of the crisis and the importance of a robust response, it would be useful to meet again in September to assess the status of the economy and to discuss further actions. With leaders already scheduled to be in the United States in September to attend the United Nations General Assembly, President Obama offered to host the Summit and leaders of the G20 welcomed the invitation.

About the Summit Location

Pittsburgh has demonstrated a commitment to employing new and green technology to further economic recovery and development. The Summit will be held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh, an exemplar of that commitment. The facility is proud to have a LEED Gold Certification from the U.S Green Building Council for leadership in energy and environmental design.

Here is the press conference excerpt:
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
1:54 P.M. EDT

MR. GIBBS: One quick announcement before we get started. The United States will host the next G20 summit, September 24th through the 25th, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Q Where?

Q What?

MR. GIBBS: Did I get a little murmur there? That's -- there's a Terrible Towel back there somewhere, wasn’t there? There you go.

At the Pittsburgh summit, President Obama will meet with leaders representing 85 percent of the world's economy, take stock of the progress made since the Washington and London summits, and discuss further actions to assure a sound and sustainable recovery from the global economic and financial crisis.

Q Why Pittsburgh?

MR. GIBBS: At the conclusion of the meeting in London the group had to make a decision about where the next summit would be. Because a lot of people will be in our country for the U.N. General Assembly meeting, the President offered to host the next meeting; the group agreed with that, and we identified Pittsburgh as a good place to do that.

Q Why?

MR. GIBBS: I think it's an area that has seen its share of economic woes in the past but because of foresight and investment is now renewed -- giving birth to renewed industries that are creating the jobs of the future. And I think the President believes it would be a good place to highlight some of that.

Q Isn't it unusual to have two meetings in here?

MR. GIBBS: For the G20? This is -- they were going to do this at some point in the next -- after London, so it's not --it's on the regular schedule of things.

HHS Money to PA

From the inbox:

Sebelius Marks 100 Day Anniversary of Recovery Act, Highlights Community Health Centers’ Work to Aid Rising Number of Uninsured in Pennsylvania

Secretary Releases $3,087,408 to Expand Health Center Services in Pennsylvania

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today marked the first 100 Days of the Recovery Act and discussed the Act’s critical support for Community Health Centers. Sebelius was joined by Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Administrator Mary K. Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N. and leaders from Community Health Centers across the country.

Sebelius also announced the release of $3,087,408 to support services offered at health centers in Pennsylvania. The grants are funded through the Health Center Program, which helped more than 17 million individuals last year by providing access to high quality, family-oriented, comprehensive primary and preventive health care. HRSA, an agency within HHS, oversees the Health Center Program, a major component of America's health care safety net. In a typical year, about 40 percent of health center patients have no insurance coverage.

“The economic downturn is hurting all of us and when workers lose their jobs, they often lose their health insurance, too,” said Secretary Sebelius. “Community Health Centers provide essential care for families in Pennsylvania and across the country that do not have insurance or cannot afford the high cost of care. The Recovery Act grants and the funding we have released are key investments that will help deliver care to millions of Americans.”

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provides $2 billion for grants to
health centers over a 2-year period. $500 million will be used to support new health center sites and service areas, increase services at existing sites, and address spikes in uninsured populations. The additional $1.5 billion will be used to support construction, renovation and equipment, including health information technology systems, in health centers and health center controlled networks.

HHS has already awarded approximately $155 million in Recovery Act grant funds to support 126 community health center sites across the country. The 126 New Access Point (NAP) grants were awarded to applicants that were approved but unfunded in 2008. These grants will provide access to health center care for 750,000 people in 39 states and two territories.

HHS has also awarded $338 Million in Increased Demand for Services grants for health centers. Health centers will use these funds provide care to more than 2 million additional patients over the next two years, including approximately 1 million uninsured people. In addition, over the next two years, health centers will use the funds to create and retain approximately 6,500 health center jobs.

The non-Recovery Act grants awarded today include $1,522,013 to expand medical capacity at 3 existing health centers in Pennsylvania. Centers receiving funding include:

Community Health Net / Erie Pa. / $522,013
Delaware Valley Com. Health / Philadelphia Pa. / $600,000
Primary Health Network / Sharon Pa. / $400,000

An additional $1,565,395 will be distributed among all 36 Community Health Centers in Pennsylvania to supplement all health centers' base grant awards and offset rising costs associated with maintaining current service levels.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

PA Leadership in 2009 House Caucuses

In 2007 I posted a note about Pennsylvania congressional representatives holding leadership positions on House caucuses. This is an update for the new congress.

The House Administration Committee collects together a list of House Member Organizations. These are bipartisan and not the same as party-specific groups such as the Blue Dog Democrats. Feel free to review the entire list of caucuses, available on the House Administration Committee's website. The site doesn't list all members, but only officers of the caucus.

Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-06)
Congressional Ukrainian Caucus
Land Conservation Caucus

Rep. Bill Shuster (R-09)
Congressional Georgia Caucus
Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus

Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-13)
Congressional Georgia Caucus

Rep. Michael Doyle (D-14)
Coalition on Autism Research and Education (CARE)

Rep. Joe Pitts (R-16)
Electronic Warfare Working Group (EWWG)
Land Conservation Caucus
U.S. Mongolia Friendship Caucus

Rep. Tim Holden (D-17)
Congressional Correctional Officers Caucus
Lyme Disease Caucus

Rep. Tim Murphy (R-18)
Congressional 21st Century Health Care Caucus
Congressional Mental Health Caucus
Congressional Steel Caucus
GOP Doctors Caucus

Rep. Todd Russell Platts (R-19)
Congressional Arts Caucus
Congressional Heart and Stroke Coalition
House National Service Caucus

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Flu Pandemic Preparation and Delco

When David Landau ran for Delaware County Council in 2007, one of his issues was the lack of a county health department (see his interview here). Democratic candidates this year have also mentioned it as a concern. This came to mind when ran an AP article, "Flu scare reveals strapped local health agencies," by Rita Beamish and Frank Bass this morning. Here are a few excerpts:

The swine flu outbreak fell short of a full-blown international crisis, but revealed the precarious state of local health departments, the community bulwarks against disease and health emergencies in the United States.


Decreases in the Public Health Emergency Preparedness program were most significant in Iowa, Mississippi, Colorado, Missouri, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Louisiana. After a pair of killer hurricanes hit Louisiana in 2005, Washington sent nearly $15 million in 2006 health emergency help. This year, it's down to $9.8 million.

Existing county health departments might be stretched thin but counties without a health department at all might be in more trouble. But that's just my opinion.

Art of Political Campaigning

From the inbox:

The June 11- 13 Art of Political Campaigning conference in Washington, DC is set to once again be the most important stop this year for anyone in politics. If you’re involved in campaigns or elections, you should not miss this conference. This year our 26th annual conference, features dozens of training sessions and several important networking events.

I went to this for a day two years ago and really enjoyed it.

Expanded Property Tax Relief for Disabled Vets

from the inbox:

In a showing of ongoing support for veterans and military personnel, state Rep. Steven J. Santarsiero, D-Bucks, today joined other area lawmakers at a news conference to announce legislation that would expedite the process that exempts disabled veterans from paying real estate property taxes.

Santarsiero said the exemptions discussed at the news conference apply to veterans and military personnel who have become permanently disabled as a result of their service to the U.S.

"While a program already exists to exempt disabled veterans from paying property taxes, veterans often must wait as long as a year and a half before learning whether they will be exempt," Santarsiero said. "This can be an eternity for veterans and their families who must pay for expensive medicine and equipment, while making ends meet and paying other bills. My proposal would immediately suspend property tax payments for disabled veterans as soon as they apply for the program."

Currently, disabled veterans can receive a property tax exemption through the Disabled Veterans’ Real Estate Tax Exemption program, provided they make no more than $79,050 annually. Veterans who apply are placed on a waiting list while the state Veterans Commission, which oversees the program, processes their applications to determine whether they are eligible for an exemption.

Santarsiero's proposal would provide an immediate suspension of property tax payments for any veteran while the commission reviews the application. He said veterans who meet the program guidelines would be exempt from all future property taxes and those suspended during the certification process. Ineligible veterans would be responsible for paying the property taxes suspended during the application process, but would not incur any penalties or have to pay interest accrued during the suspension.

U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Murphy and state Rep. Bryan Lentz, D-Delaware, also discussed their efforts to ensure that disabled veterans and spouses of military personnel killed in action receive property tax exemptions.

"Easing the burden of our brave men and women who must readjust to civilian life when they return home is a responsibility that I take very seriously," said Murphy, D-8th District. "This legislation will ensure that vets who have served and sacrificed for their country receive the benefits they’ve earned as soon as they get home."

Lentz has introduced a bill that would further the state's current Disabled Veterans’ Real Estate Tax Exemption program by removing the need provision requiring disabled veterans to provide proof of their annual income and expenses every two years to demonstrate financial need in order to retain the exemption. The exemption would also pass on to the surviving spouse upon the death of an eligible veteran.

The Disabled Veterans’ Real Estate Tax Exemption program exempts permanently disabled veterans from paying property taxes on residences they occupy if they are blind, amputees, paralyzed or otherwise declared 100 percent permanently disabled as a result of a service-related injury, and if they meet the need provision.

Map the Fallen

The Pennsylvania Democratic Party is encouraging those with friends or family who died while in military service, to participate in the Map the Fallen Google Map. This will provide a visual representation of the country's sacrifice, and allow a chance for each soldier's story to be told.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Schwartz Message on Memorial Day

Allyson Schwartz sent out this reminder of Pennsylvanians in uniform:

As you and your family look ahead to the Memorial Day weekend, please think of our soldiers, veterans and their families and of the enormous sacrifices that they have made for our country.

It is especially important to acknowledge the tremendous service of Pennsylvania troops currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in other missions around the world. Today, there are more 11,750 Pennsylvania soldiers currently deployed around the world, including in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Since 2001, 223 Pennsylvania soldiers have given their lives and 1,418 others have been wounded while deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. We must never forget the commitment and courage shown by these men and women who have sacrificed so much for America.

I am the daughter of a Korean War veteran, so I take very personally my responsibility to ensure that our troops receive the respect that their service has earned them. In Congress, I have been a steadfast supporter of our men and women in uniform.

On this Memorial Day, please join with me in remembering those who have paid the ultimate price by giving their lives in service to our nation. Our thoughts are extended to their families as we honor their memory.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Arlen Specter and the Day the Earth Stood Still

The family watched the original (1951) version of "The Day the Earth Stood Still" this evening. Professor Barnhardt is the character based on Albert Einstein. He is played by Sam Jaffe. It's been awhile since I've seen the film and I didn't notice last time around, but Jaffe looks an awful lot like Sen. Arlen Specter.

(As an aside, everyone sing along now "Michael Rennie was ill / the day the Earth stood still ..." You bring the rice; I'll bring the newspapers. Costumes are optional, but the doing the Time Warp is required.)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Roll Call on Specter / Sestak

Shira Toeplitz, of Roll Call, has a nice summation of the potential Specter / Sestak senatorial primary. See "Specter's Welcome Party Hasn't Fully Arrived in PA," 5/21

1st Quarter FEC Report Roundup

1st Quarter FEC Reports

Okay, here we go again. First off, you can browse these reports yourself at 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 January – March, 2009.

Keep your eye on individual donations vs. PAC’s

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. Some arrange their reports chronologically so you can see the pattern of donations. Others, most of the other candidates listed here, scramble their reports so the names are not in alphabetical order or the donations on chronological 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.

If there are two numbers one is for the quarter, the other for the election cycle to date.

6th Congressional District

Jim Gerlach, Republican incumbent (elected 2002)

Column A This Period Column B Election Cycle-To-Date
11. Contributions (other than loans) From:
(a) Individuals
(i) Itemized 56,900.00
(ii) Unitemized 1,706.00
(iii) Total Contributions From Individuals 58,606.00 / 61,397.00
(c) Other Political Committees (such as PACS) 87,750.00 / 88,750.00
(e) Total Contributions 146,356.00 / 150,147.00
14. Refunds, Rebates, etc 2,441.92 / 3,274.92
15. Other Receipts 5,249.95 / 6,016.20
16. Total Receipts 154,047.87 / 160,056.36
17. Operating Expenditures 99,370.04 / 249,324.56
21. Other Disbursements 1,450.00 / 3,950.00
22. Total Disbursements 100,820.04 / 253,274.56
23. Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period 71,061.55
24. Total Receipts This Period 154,047.87 / 160,056.36
25. Subtotal 225,109.42
26. Total Disbursements This Period 100,820.04 / 253,274.56
27. Cash On Hand At Close Of The Reporting Period 124,289.38

Arranged chronologically. Four new maxed out contributors. There are four donations from people who work at DC based pr firm Cavarocchi, Ruscio, Dennis. Contributions from three employees of Blank Rome plus $1K from the Blank Rome PAC. Among the PACs are those from flight attendants, aircraft owners, and pilots. Financial and health industries also represented. Interestingly, the congressional campaign pays his gubernatorial campaign for office space and Two paid employees, reimbursed for health insurance; media ($43K) and fundraising consultants ($15K)

7th Congressional District

Joe Sestak, Incumbent Democrat (elected 2006)

11. Contributions (other than loans) From:
(a) Individuals/Persons Other than Political Committees
(i) Itemized 338,310.00
(ii) Unitemized 25,421.35
(iii) Total Contributions From Individuals 363,731.35 / 371,051.02
(b) Political Party Commitees 94.82 / 94.82
(c) Other Political Committees (such as PACS) 176,000.00 / 176,000.00
(e) Total Contributions (11(a)(iii) + (b) + (c)) 539,826.17 / 547,145.84
15. Other Receipts 10,598.08 / 19,995.89
16. Total Receipts 550,424.25 / 567,319.96
17. Operating Expenditures 133,683.12 / 288,270.89
Total Contribution Refunds 5,180.00 / 11,241.71
21. Other Disbursements 5,000.00 / 5,000.00
22. Total Disbursements 143,863.12 / 304,512.60
23. Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period 2,937,140.09
24. Total Receipts This Period (line 16) 550,424.25 / 567,319.96
25. Subtotal 3,487,564.34
26. Total Disbursements This Period 143,863.12 / 304,512.60
27. Cash On Hand 3,343,701.22

25 newly maxed out contributors. Local economist and one-time McCain advisor Mark Zandi donated $4800, as did someone else with the same last name. Zandi spoke at Sestak’s business summit last month. Vanguard’s John Bogle is also a donor. Among individual donors there seemed to be quite a few people in various aspects of the financial industry. One of the more unusual names is someone at the San Francisco Zoo. Among disbursements there is a $5K donation to Children’s National Medical Center in Maryland. $10K to The Campaign Group for general political consulting. Six employees, two named Sestak; Richard Sestak is well paid for a campaign worker. Local website company. As always Sestak’s report is scrambled making it very difficult to work with.

8th Congressional District

Patrick Murphy, Incumbent Democrat (elected 2006)

11. Contributions (other than loans) From:
(a) Individuals/Persons Other than Political Committees
(i) Itemized 220,999.80
(ii) Unitemized 5,733.62
(iii) Total Of Contributions From Individuals 226,733.42
(c) PACS 137,550.00
(e) Total Contributions 364,283.42
14. (Refunds, Rebates, etc) 2,612.17
15. Other Receipts 133.67
16. Total Receipts 367,029.26

The end of year campaign finance report for this campaign has been amended and, going by a letter from the FEC on file with the pdfs of printed reports, will have to be amended again. The first quarter report will also need to be amended. Instead of holding the blog post until the reports are amended I’m going ahead with partial data. The receipts are unlikely to change so I’ve included them, and my notes below. You can see the reports online at if you would like to review them in their current state. Hopefully all will be fixed by the end of the second quarter.

11 newly maxed out contributors. A good percentage of the individual contributors are attorneys. Other frequent businesses, occupations are consultants and the like. Actress Felicity Huffman is among the contributors. In the PAC contributions we find $10K from the Blue Dog PAC. 11 people on the payroll, though many are for short periods of time. $1200 to a business in New Orleans for event expenses. Nearly $25K to a DC hotel for event expenses [Update: someone emailed to say this was probably an inaugural reception; indeed, the payment is dated 1/20]. $8500 to the Spectrum for event expenses. $10K to Stones Phones for phone calls. $19K to Sutters Mill for fundraising consultant. There are a lot of travel expenses. There is a $39K debt to Squier Knapp Dunn for media purchase; nearly $39K in debt to Stones Phones.

13th Congressional District

Allyson Schwartz, Incumbent District (elected 2004)

11. Contributions (other than loans) From:
(a) Individuals/Persons Other than Political Committees
(i) Itemized 239,994.69
(ii) Unitemized 5,205.00
(iii) Total Of Contributions From Individuals 245,199.69 / 259,558.19
(b) Political Party Committees 58.88 / 58.88
(c) Other Political Committees (such as PACS) 125,500.00 / 129,500.00
(e) Total Contributions 370,758.57 / 389,117.07
15. Other Receipts 8,449.83 / 14,501.72
16. Total Receipts 379,208.40 / 403,618.79
17. Operating Expenditures 93,773.06 / 156,052.19
20. Refunds of Contributions To:
(a) Individuals/Persons 0.00 / 1,000.00
(d) Total Contribution Refunds 0.00 / 1,000.00
21. Other Disbursements 119,380.00 / 119,480.00
22. Total Disbursements 213,153.06 / 276,532.19
23. Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period 1,980,215.91
24. Total Receipts This Period 379,208.40 / 403,618.79
25. Subtotal 2,359,424.31
26. Total Disbursements This Period 213,153.06 / 276,532.19
27. Cash On Hand At Close Of The Reporting Period 2,146,271.25

There are only TWO newly maxed out contributors. A number came in at $4600 which means they can only contribute $200 more, but at this point in the game, to have only two newly maxed out contributors is amazing, especially considering she only paid a little over $7K to a fundraising firm/consultant. This means she can go back to the well at least one more time. There is a real occupational diversity among contributors. Her celebrity contributor is the CEO of the Eagles. There is a lot of health care in the PACs. 2 paid staff. $100K to DCCC, $17K to FOP Survivors Fund. The campaign is renting a storage unit.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What the Heck Happened?

I was surprised by some of the judicial race results last night, especially by the poor showing for SEPA candidates. Apparently the western areas just got the vote out better. From Capitol Ideas:

Writing for Capitolwire this morning, our colleague Pete DeCoursey gives it up for western voters, who turned out in droves yesterday. According to DeCoursey, eight of 12 statewide judicial candidates this year will be from Allegheny County. And the secret to that success lies in the numbers: In Allegheny, 83,000 Democrats and 43,000 Republicans voted for Supreme Court. In Philadelphia, which has 300,000 more people and more than 100,000 more voters, only 69,000 Democrats voted for Supreme Court and about 11,000 Republicans. In higher-turnout Montgomery County, only 32,000 Republicans voted in the contested GOP Supreme Court race, DeCoursey wrote.

Stimulus Funding for PA II: Transportation

For ease of reading I am combining six separate emails into one blog post:

* Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will receive $9.4 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) funds for the renovation of the Elizabethtown Train Station. “By reinvesting in our nation’s transit infrastructure, we are making our communities more livable, invigorating the local economy, and putting America back to work,” Secretary LaHood said. The funds, awarded in two separate grants in the amounts of $8 million and $1.4 million, will be used to renovate the vacant train station to serve passengers traveling on the AMTRAK-operated Keystone Corridor service from Philadelphia to Harrisburg. The renovation will include painting, lighting, plumbing, installation of windows and doors, heating and air conditioning, and electrical upgrades. Also, improved and increased parking facilities will include areas for taxi and bus pick-up and drop-off areas, improved area landscaping and storm drainage management, and bicycle racks. ADA-compliant full-length high-level boarding platforms and ADA-compliant access to other station facilities will accommodate Persons with Disabilities. Improved outside lighting and signage will also be installed. The ARRA, signed into law by President Barack Obama on February 17, 2009, includes $8.4 billion for transit capital improvements. These funds are made available through the Federal Transit Administration assistance programs.

Other project funding announced today by LaHood:

* the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority will receive $1.7 Million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) to improve transit in the State College, Pa. urbanized area. These funds will be used to rebuild approximately four 35-foot and six 40-foot buses.

* the Luzerne County Transportation Authority will receive $3.1 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) to improve transit in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Penn. area. The funds will buy five hybrid electric buses and bike racks, which will cut down on pollutions and provide commuters with alternatives to driving. The funds will also provide for enhanced security and communications.

* the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority will receive two grants, one for $62.9 million and a second for $65.7 Million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) funds for several capital, rail and station improvements in the Philadelphia area. The first grant of $62.9 million will be used to make computer-based train control upgrades, make station improvements, and replace 40 aging buses with new hybrid buses. The buses will not only offer commuters a smoother ride but will also cut down on pollution in the city. The second grant of $65.7 million will pay for fixed guideway rail and station improvement projects.

* that the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority will receive $62.9 Million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) funds for several capital projects. The funds will be used to purchase 40 replacement hybrid buses, make station improvements and for Computer Based Train Control upgrades. The buses will not only offer commuters a smoother ride but will also cut down on pollution in the city.

* the Centre Area Transportation Authority will receive $1.7 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) funds to rebuild city buses. CATA plans to rebuild as many as ten buses—four 35-foot and six 40-foot vehicles—with the funds being approved in this grant. The rebuilding will be completed one bus at a time until all funds are spent.

Stimulus Funding for PA I: Attorney General

From the inbox:

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder today announced that more than $45 million in Recovery Act funds will go to the State of Pennsylvania to maintain or increase public safety in the state, while creating or retaining jobs within the law enforcement community. These Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program funds are part of more than $4 billion in Justice Department Recovery Act funds available to assist state, local and tribal law enforcement and for other criminal justice activities that help to prevent crime and improve the criminal justice system in the United States while supporting the creation of jobs and much needed resources for states and local communities.

As submitted in their application, the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency plans to support initiatives that focus on the improvement of criminal record databases; the development or adaptation of new technologies for law enforcement, corrections, and the courts; the support of comprehensive, proactive law enforcement programs aimed at reducing crime; the development of victim services leadership training to promote organizational stability; the support of alternatives to incarceration programs and problem solving courts for non-violent offenders and reentry services, that includes resources for juvenile day/evening reporting centers, mental health initiatives aimed at reducing the number of justice involved individuals with co-occurring disorders, and reentry programs that provide jail-based and community supervision and treatment; the sustainment of probation officer positions that would otherwise be eliminated due to agency budget cuts; prevention and intervention programs aimed at truancy abatement, services for at-risk youth, and victim services; and the removal of vacant and blighted properties in an effort to reduce crime and revitalize communities. Pennsylvania is required to provide a portion of the $45.4 million to the local jurisdictions.


“By addressing Pennsylvania’s economic challenges while simultaneously meeting the state’s public safety priorities, these funds represent the best of what the Recovery Act can do for our communities,” Attorney General Eric Holder said. “This vital funding will help fight crime and build safer communities, and we look forward to continued work with Pennsylvania to address these criminal justice goals.”

The procedure for allocating JAG grants is based on a formula of population and violent crime statistics, in combination with a minimum allocation to ensure that each state and territory receives an appropriate share of funding. Sixty percent of the allocation is awarded directly to a state and 40 percent is set aside for units of local government. States are required to sub-grant a portion of the funds to local units of government, such as a city, county, township or town. Faith-based and other community organizations are also eligible to receive pass-through funding from the state, as are Tribal governments.

Local Recovery Act JAG awards will be announced at a later date. The deadline for local units of government to submit their Recovery Act applications to the Department of Justice has been extended to June 17, 2009. The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), a component of the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, established the previous deadline of May 18 to encourage early submission of applications in an effort to provide economic stimulus as soon as possible. Because this is a non-competitive formula grant program, the extension of this deadline does not impact either eligibility or funding determinations. For more information on the local solicitation, visit

The JAG Program is the primary provider of federal criminal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions and is managed by BJA. JAG funds support all components of the criminal justice system, from multi-jurisdictional drug and gang task forces to crime prevention and domestic violence programs, courts, corrections, treatment, and justice information sharing initiatives. Projects may address crime through the provision of services directly to individuals and/or communities and by improving the effectiveness and efficiency of criminal justice systems, processes, and procedures. For more details on the JAG Program or to track the use of Recovery Act funds, visit For more details on how to apply for the state managed, pass-through funding, visit

The Office of Justice Programs, headed by Acting Assistant Attorney General Laurie O. Robinson, provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP has five component bureaus: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and the Office for Victims of Crime. Additionally, OJP has two program offices: the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed strategy, and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART). More information can be found at

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Election Results

With 91% of results in statewide it looks like:

State Supreme Court, Jack Panella (D) against Jane Orie Melvin

Superior Court: the Democratic candidates are: Robert Colville, Anne Lazarus, and Kevin McCarthy; there were only 3 GOP candidates so all will be on the Nov. ballot.

Commonwealth Court: Dems: Linda Judson and Barbara Ernsburger against GOP: Patricia McCollough and Kevin Brobson

Delaware County Court of Common Pleas: Both candidates cross-listed but each won her own party so Nancy Rhoads Koons (D) will face Linda Cartisano (R)

Bucks County Court of Common Pleas: The endorsed candidates cross-listed. D's: Baldi, Gilman and Zellis, R's: Baldi, Gilman and Bateman.

Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas: D's: Cheryl Lynne Austin, Lois Murphy, Jeff Lindy, Ann Thornburg Weiss, Joel Bernbaum, Richard Haaz, and Michael Shields; R's : Patricia Coonahan, Kelly Wall, Carolyn Carluccio, Joanna Cruz, Gary Silow, Gary Page, Wendy Damchick-Alloy

Since not all results are in, and those reported may change, please check your newspapers tomorrow morning.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Election Day Tomorrow

It's primary today tomorrow. Please go out and vote for the candidates of your choice. Statewide judicial races, as well as county offices and judicial seats, and a variety of local offices are up for grabs.

I have a subject category for "judicial races" (see right sidebar) if you want to review previous blog posts on candidates.

A very light turnout is expected. While every vote always counts, tomorrow your vote may be one of the few, and therefore perhaps more important.

In keeping with recent practice, I'll be twittering election results tomorrow with short blog posts with aggregate data.

USDA Recovery Projects in PA

As part of the federal stimulus / recovery project, the USDA is funding a number of projects in rural areas:

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the selection of more than $60 million in essential community facilities and emergency responder projects that are being funded immediately with federal funds provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The 280 projects will help communities in 39 states.

Three of these projects are in Pennsylvania, with a total of $1,405,000 intended for the Commonwealth. For more information on the program see the USDA site.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Quick Look at Linda Judson

There are a number of Democrats running for Commonwealth Court. Linda Judson is one of them. Her biography is not your standard judicial bio. Here is an excerpt from her campaign website:

Linda is a lifelong Pittsburgher educated in the public school system. She is a University of Pittsburgh alum and a graduate of Duquesne University School of Law. After high school, Linda’s dream was to attend medical school. Coming from a family of modest means headed by her widowed mother, Linda knew she would have to work her way through college.

To that end, in 1978 she enrolled in the Licensed Practical Nursing program at St. Francis Hospital. The next year she married and started a family of her own. And, with her LPN license in hand, Linda began night school at University of Pittsburgh and spent the next six years earning a degree in political science, working full-time as a nurse and raising her son, Anthony.

While attending Pitt, Linda became interested in studying law. She saw an opportunity to apply her interest and knowledge of medicine to the practice of law and found the legal profession eager to encourage her. She was accepted in the night program at Duquesne University School of Law and spent the next four years studying law while clerking full-time at law firms that recognized the value of her medical background.

You don't often see nurses running for judge. Her website shows an unusual amount of helpful information, something you might expect from a nurse. There is a page with links to or copies of judicial questionnaires from a variety of organizations. Her questionnaire from the PA Bar Association is not one of them (perhaps they don't allow it?) but it is on the pabar site. As you might expect from someone with a medical background she was worked often in the insurance and workman's compensation fields. The PA Bar rates her as "recommended."

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Huffington Post on Bryan Lentz

Hal Donohue wrote a long piece on the Huffington Post about Bryan Lentz, who is likely to run in the 6th 7th congressional district if Congressman Joe Sestak decides to challenge Arlen Specter in a Democratic primary for Senate. See "Is Specter in a Primary Fight? Yes!"

Here is an excerpt:

Bryan Lentz is a former ranger and paratrooper and recipient of the Bronze Star for Service. He was deployed to Bosnia in 1998 and when asked in 2003 by his former commander to return to active duty, he volunteered to go to Iraq to serve with his old unit. During his 2004 tour of duty in Iraq, Bryan rightly earned the respect of his troops. Wayne Bowen, author of the book "Undoing Saddam" and a Republican and Army vet who served under Lentz in Iraq, cited Bryan's leadership and valor in the book recounting Bowen's time in Iraq: "Bryan Lentz was the finest example of wartime leadership that I saw in Iraq, and he will always have my respect and admiration." That literally says it all to my mind.

Playing Telephone

You know election day is coming up when the robocalls start flowing in. I've had three in the past two days. Two from Gov. Ed Rendell and one from Sen. Bob Casey. Rendell wants me to vote, and mentioned some local candidates. He also made a call on behalf of Judge John Younge (candidate for Superior Court). Senator Casey wanted to put in a good work for Judge Jimmy Lynn who is running for the state Commonwealth Court.

In one of Rendell's calls he acknowledged that they are annoying but robocalls allow him to contact a lot of people without spending a lot of money. Some of these calls seem to go straight to voicemail without even ringing but I could be wrong on that.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Late Notice: Anne Lazarus on PCN Tonight!

From the inbox:

Tonight, Anne will appear on PCN to discuss her judicial background and her campaign for Superior Court. The broadcast begins at 7:30.

**Can't watch tonight? PCN will be re-broadcasting the interview on Monday night, 10:50pm.**

I plan on voting for Anne Lazarus on Tuesday.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Look at Stephen Pollock

Stephen G. Pollock is one of six Democratic candidates for two spots on the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, which hears cases on topics like eminent domain, disputes over elections, zoning, public utilities, banking, and so on. The 2005 pay raise dispute ended up in Commonwealth Court.

Pollock has experience in many of the areas heard by the Commonwealth Court but among those his specialty is zoning. This is the biography on his campaign website:

Steve Pollock has over 32 years legal experience, practicing in zoning, land use and development, and municipal code enforcement. He has expertise in workers' compensation, eminent domain, historic preservation, environmental and commercial litigation. Steve has provided volunteer service to communities in Southeast Pennsylvania. He was a partner in his own two-person law firm for 13 years. He currently practices law at Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads LLP, where he serves Of Counsel to the Business Department.

When Gov. Ed Rendell revived the Pennsylvania State Planning Board, Steve Pollock was among the first appointees. He is a longstanding member of the Lower Moreland Township Planning Commission, where he has served as chair for five years. Steve is a former chair of the Real Property Section of the Philadelphia Bar Association and currently serves as co-chair of its Zoning and Land Use Committee. He is also a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association.

Steve is the son of a public school teacher and a bookkeeper. A graduate of the public schools of Philadelphia, Steve received his B.A. from Muhlenberg College and his J.D. from Temple University Beasley School of Law. A past president of the South Street Neighborhood Association, Steve has frequently served as a volunteer attorney for many civic associations in the Delaware Valley. He is the former counsel and past president of Old York Road Temple – Beth Am in Abington, a former president of the Huntingdon Valley Library, and has served on the transition teams for the past three mayors of Philadelphia.

In 1993, Pollock and another lawyer worked with a private publisher to make a copy of the Philadelphia zoning code available:
The two, Stephen G. Pollock and Peter F. Kelsen, co-chaired a zoning committee for the Philadelphia Bar Association. Their objective was to make it easier for residents, developers, neighborhood zoning committees, lawyers, and others to get hold of the city zoning code. They were, said Pollock, “complete frustrated” that the code was no longer easily available. (Caba 1993)

In his PA Bar Association questionnaire he says his first 10 years of practice were very general and then he was given his first zoning case and decided he wanted to specialize in that area. His private clients have included two grocery stores trying to open in Philadelphia(Davis, 1998, Van Atta, 1990), two check cashing companies (Marder, 1997, Meltzer, 1995), a union (Lines, 1994), a deli with an ice cream window (Copeland, 1994), and numerous real estate issues such as building on watersheds, property subdivision, and so on. Of the five cases he chose to cite in his PABAR forms, four concern zoning matters, two of these with billboards (he tangled with SCRUB), the other with governing bodies, and the fifth case revolved around pension procedures.

His answers on the PABAR form show repeated efforts to make legal matters more transparent and fair to all parties. Examples would be his work to make the zoning code more readily available and his efforts to find an alternative to the Commonwealth Court ruling “opinion not recorded. His writing is thoughtful and citizen centered. I encourage you to read his entire questionnaire. Pollock received the bar association’s “recommended” rating. He appears to be the only Commonwealth Court candidate with a specialization in real estate zoning matters, at least going by the brief description’s on the PA Bar website.

I have met Mr. Pollock and spoke to him once for a few minutes. He is personable and well-spoken though perhaps not chummy, which is a very judicial demeanor. Pollock is also making very impressive use of social media and has a twitter account, His notes there are thoughtful and often intriguing.


Caba, Susan, “New manual takes city’s zoning rules out of the twilight: an updated code is now available for the firsr time since 1981,” Inquirer 11/03/1993

Copeland, Larry, “Ice cream window becomes a hot issue,” Inquirer 3/12/1994

Davis, Mark, “Fresh fields plan for South St. wins board vote,” Inquirer 10/31/1998

Lines, John P., “Job Center hearing lasts 7 hours,” Intelligencer Journal 9/30/1994

Marder, Dianna, “Law would cancel his setup,” Inquirer 1/30/1997

Meltzer, Marc, “Pawn shop proposal draws fire,” Daily News 10/31/1995

Van Atta, Burr, “Solicitor’s opinion sought on Pathmark project,” Inquirer 5/16/1990

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Breakfast Club, Congressional Chicks Version

Happening tomorrow:

U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis will be featured at a Capitol Hill forum with members of the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues and leading experts to discuss the impact of the current economy on women and their families.

The breakfast forum is hosted in cooperation with Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Mary Fallin (R-OK), Co-Chairs of the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues, Reps. Gwen Moore (D-WI) and Kay Granger (R-TX), Vice-Chairs, and Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA), Chair, Women and the Economy/Business Task Force.

The event is sponsored by Women's Policy, Inc., and made possible through a grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Montco Candidates on TV

A note from the inbox, for those in the channel's viewing area:

On Thursday night, you will have the unique opportunity to hear directly from all seven endorsed Montgomery County Democratic judicial candidates. At 7pm, interviews with Cheryl Austin, Joel Bernbaum, Richard Haaz, Jeff Lindy, Lois Murphy, Michael Shields, and Ann Thornburg Weiss will air on Comcast's Channel 190, as part of a special broadcast of Abington News & Views.

Currently there are no Democrats on the Montgomery County Court of Common Please. For more information on the candidates, look at

Lentz School Safety Bill Goes to House

There was an .... "incident" .... at my neighborhood elementary school within the past few years. I wonder if something like this would have prevented it:

State Rep. Bryan Lentz, D-Delaware, said his legislation to increase safety for school children was unanimously approved by the House Education Committee today.

House Bill 1304 would require the state Education Department to set up telephone hotlines through which students, parents and others could safely and anonymously report school threats and potential violent situations involving schools to the appropriate authorities.

Similar programs exist in other states, such as Alabama, Colorado and Michigan.

Lentz explained that upon making initial contact with the Colorado hotline, a staff member assigns the caller a code number used to track the tip information. All tips are immediately investigated by appropriate school and/or law enforcement officials.

In Colorado alone, since its inception in 1999, there have been more than 3,000 calls to the hotline, 744 of which resulted in investigation, early intervention and prevention. These reports led to 24 arrests, 120 counseling referrals, 152 school disciplinary actions and 107 prevention plans. The Colorado hotline also lists among its accomplishments 27 prevented school attacks.

"My bill would provide a simple, low-cost way to allow individuals to report threats and event attacks on our schools," Lentz said. "I am pleased the Education Committee recognized the importance of this legislation, and I look forward to its passage in the House."

He added that the Pennsylvania School Board Association supports his measure.

The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.

PA Students Among EPA Winners

From the inbox:

(Washington, D.C. – May 13, 2009) EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson will recognize young people from across the country at the 2008 President’s Environmental Youth Awards (PEYA) ceremony today. These students have made outstanding contributions to environmental protection through projects that help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality and protect America’s waters.

“The President joins me in honoring these students for leading the way towards a brighter future for their communities and our planet,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “In each of these amazing projects we see our country’s future for clean energy, preservation, healthy communities and a well-protected planet.”

The 10 individuals or teams of students who will be awarded are from Derry, N.H.; Pittsford, N.Y.; Moscow, Pa; Lewisville, N.C.; Chesterland, Ohio; Edmond, Okla.; Scottsbluff, Neb.; Provo, Utah; San Leandro, Calif.; and Kenai, Alaska.

These dedicated youth developed projects in both urban and rural settings that involved hundreds of community members, educators, policy makers and national celebrities in environmental science research, community recycling, wetlands and coastal ecosystem education and restoration, energy conservation and climate change education campaigns.

Winners were selected from among applicants to EPA’s 10 regional offices. Regional EPA panels judged the projects on environmental need, accomplishments of goals, long-term environmental benefits and positive impact on local communities. The panels also consider project design, coordination, implementation, innovation and soundness of approach.

PEYA has been presented annually since 1971 to honor students in kindergarten through 12th grade who design and implement innovative environmental projects.

More information on winners and project descriptions:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

John Younge Media Alerts

From the inbox:

Judge John Younge will have a solid broadcast schedule this week, starting tomorrow! Tune in at 11:05 a.m. on Wednesday when the judge joins 900 AM WURD host Thera Martin-Connelly in discussing the upcoming primary election and his candidacy for the Pennsylvania Superior Court. Or, join via the web here.

Then roll up the dial to 1540 AM WNWR when Judge Younge offers a few thoughts with the host and audience of "A New Day with Micah Sims" at 12:45 p.m. Or listen over the web by clicking here.

On Thursday, the Pennsylvania Cable Network profiles Judge Younge in a half-hour segment, discussing his candidacy for the Pennsylvania Superior Court, the impact of this appellate bench and his judicial philosophy. The show airs at 9 p.m. and will be re-broadcast on Monday at 12:35 a.m.

PCN airs on most cable networks around the state; check your local listings. Or, watch the video on the PCN web site. Click on the "Election 2009" tab here!

Local GOP News

Two local GOP politicos have shifted onwards and upwards.

According to GrassrootsPA:

Rob Bickhhart, President of Capitol Resource Group of Conshohocken, PA and longtime GOP Fundraiser is said to have accepted the job of RNC National Finance Director…

And from pa2010 ("PA GOP hires congressional liaison," by Dan Hirshhorn):
The state Republican Party has hired a longtime political consultant from Pittsburgh to be its dedicated liaison to Congressional campaigns for 2010, party chairman Rob Gleason said.

Jerry Morgan was recently brought on to fill the position, which Gleason told last month was being created to give the party more influence in recruiting candidates and developing Congressional campaigns.

Morgan managed Tom Manion's 2008 congressional campaign againt Rep. Patrick Murphy.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Quick Look at Judge Jimmy Lynn

Another judge on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas is running for a higher bench. Judge James Lynn would like to serve on the Commonwealth Court. He is rated "recommended" by the Pennsylvania Bar Association. His questionnaire for them is online.

A few notes from his answers:

* he has been both and assistant district attorney and an defense attorney; both sides of the legal system
* he sings opera, on stage, in front of people, once with Luciano Pavarotti
* if you want Irish you want Lynn -- he's been involved with Irish music groups, St. Patrick's Day parades, helped found an organization for judges of Irish descent, etc
* he went to NYC after 9/11 and New Orleans after Katrina to help out however he could

Another John Younge Update

John Younge, currently on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, is a candidate for the Pennsylvania Superior Court. His website has a lengthy list of endorsements. The Pennsylvania Bar Association rates him as "recommended."

Some infobits from his PA Bar questionnaire:

* he has served on both criminal and civil trials
* in 1983 he ran for a seat on the Philadelphia city council
* he was never sued by a client (some other judicial candidates have, but usually a good explanation is provided)
* he has served as president of the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges
* in June, 2008 he was named Father of the Year by the Father's Day Rally Committee

On page 16 of the questionnaire you can find his essay on why he wants to serve on the Court. It is well-written and those with a serious interest in evaluating the candidate should read it. I can't cut and paste from the pdf so no excerpts are included here.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Delco OFC Event

Last Friday, May 8th, I attended the Delaware County Organizing for Change gathering in Media. These are my impressions and rough notes. Apologies in advance for any errors or misconceptions.

This is one of the better organized events I‘ve been to. There were even parking attendants. While the group was expecting around 30 people my estimate is around 150, possibly more. Even so, the event flowed smoothly. There was an abundance of food, all good.

For the first part of the evening, as people arrived, there was a very social atmosphere, eating and greeting. Then the formal program began. In the final portion of the evening local officials and candidates talked with prospective constituents. The benches in the meetinghouse were labeled by area within the county so that people could sit by township or borough to facilitate this.

One of the event organizers Michael Ceci (pr. ChayChee) served as emcee. The event was intended to maintain the connections among Obama volunteers and to keep them involved in the local political process.

Congressman Joe Sestak (,, Mr. Velvet Voice himself, was the first speaker. He did not address his rumored potential Senate campaign or mention newly Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter who would be his primary opponent if he ran. Sestak said his office is open seven days a week. In the past two years his staff has answered 10,000 constituent questions; the average is 3,200. He asked “How much do we want to make government accessible.” Sestak is a little craggier than he was when he first ran for office in 2006 but his voice is still as lyrical and compelling and he has some new stories to tell.

Second, Ceci introduced candidates for county council and asked one, as one example of the office, to speak. The three Democratics running for two possible slots on the County Council are Nancy Baulis, Liz Williams (website, if extant, unknown), and Keith Collins. Collins was the candidate who spoke. He mentioned that Delaware County is the only county without representation from the minority party on the county’s governing board. One of his (and Baulis’s) issues is that the county is also the only one without a health department. Ethics was also mentioned.

Nancy Rhoads Koons, candidate for the county Court of Common Pleas, spoke next. She said she wants to help people save their homes from sheriff’s sales. The President Judge rejected one idea she brought forward, which mirrored tactics in some other counties. Between January and March, Rep. Sestak and his staff have helped 145 people keep their homes. [Personal note: Looking at Koon’s campaign card I am impressed to see that she is involved with Big Brothers / Big Sisters. This isn’t administrative support; she actually has a Little Sister.]

Matt Silva, one of the event organizers, who is working with Koons’ campaign and also running for judge of elections, spoke briefly.

State Rep. Bryan Lentz (, took the floor. He is noticeably thinner than he was when I saw him last, in the fall. Like Sestak, he is a more comfortable and skilled speaker than he used to be. His theme was that if you aren’t good at politics you can’t make good policy. You only get ideas when you have a debate. In many parts of Delaware County, all local officials are Republican which means this less debate than if there was at least one Democrat in office. Lentz did not say this in his remarks but he is considered the most likely candidate for the 7th congressional seat if Sestak runs for Senate.

State Rep. Greg Vitali (, one of my all time favorite elected officials, encouraged those attending to stay active and take the energy they devoted to the Obama to local elections. He also mentioned that Michael Ceci is running for office in Aldan Borough. He also said that school board candidates are very important for education.

At this point the formal presentations ended and people sought out candidates for their local elections and vice versa. Asking people to sit in designated areas for their township or borough cut down on the milling and confusion.

Personal observations: The event organizer’s have clearly watched “Babette’s Feast.” People are much more willing to work together when they are fed and happy. The program stayed on schedule. There was a ton of food. The people out in parking area saved everyone a lot of problems. The crowd was orderly and energetic. There was a great feel in the room. Michael Ceci and the rest of the crew at should be proud of the job they did. One personal note – I realized at one point I was standing next to a “help stamp out anonymity” sign, encouraging those attending Quaker meeting to wear a nametag. It seemed incongruous so I shifted to a spot closer to the brownie tray.

Mother's Day Movie Review: Star Trek

We trooped off to see the new "Star Trek" movie this afternoon, fitting as a character's relationship with his mother has a significant impact on the film. Alternate reality / time stream plot lines can be tedious but this one hangs together well. The casting is exceptional; the dialogue brilliant. I say this as a fan of the series from it's original broadcast. In fact, the first television show I remember watching was an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, down to the episode and plot line. Trekkers who wish to place me on the fan continuum can do so by the fact that I own a plastic phaser (original series), an assortment of autographed photos from my high school convention going days, and a Star Fleet Academy Athletic Department t-shirt, but I don't know any Klingon and think their opera sounds like of chorus of sodden and complaining cats.

This new movie takes some liberties with the basic series backstory but not too much. Spock is a little too wide-eyed but otherwise the casting is flawless. Oh, maybe Chekhov's hair is not quite right, nowhere near Koenig's Beatle wig 'do. Scotty, Uhura, and McCoy are especially well-cast. The banter is spot on. Leonard Nimoy puts in an appearance or two. It is hard to see someone other than Mark Leonard playing Sarek but the actress playing Amanda (Mrs. Sarek, Spock's mother) does an excellent job. Bruce Greenwood, who works steadily in films but never in standout roles, picks up the role of Chris Pike with pinache. You may remember him as the father in "Racing Stripes" (the zebra movie a few years ago, not the old Bill Murray film) and as the president in National Treasure II.

The film is rated PG-13 but that is probably for the cartoonish fist fights. Other than a few planetary explosions and photon torpedo battles there is no other violence. There is only one bedroom scene and it quickly turns to comedy; all involved have on underwear (what it is with Kirk and green women?). One instance of smooching in the turbolift and a similar scene in the transporter room. None involving the people you would expect.

Fans will love it. The uninitiated, even those with no prior knowledge of the series, will enjoy it.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Satellites Over Bucks County

First it was robots, not it is satellites:

At a press conference at the Lockheed Martin Facility in Newtown today, Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-8th District) joined NOAA National Weather Service Forecast and Lockheed Martin officials to announce the construction of the next generation of the GOES R Series geostationary weather satellites in Bucks County. The NASA contract, worth approximately $1.09 billion, will enable Lockheed Martin to construct revolutionary imaging technology for NOAA, which is used to generate critically important severe weather forecasts. Over 50 new jobs will come to Bucks County through this project, with many more expected through 2010.

“I want thank NOAA and Lockheed Martin, because partnerships like these are key to bringing good-paying jobs to Bucks County,” said Congressman Patrick Murphy. “Fighting to bring new jobs to the 8th District is a crucial part of my job, and I’m proud that we’ve added over 250 jobs right here at the Newtown Lockheed Martin facility since I’ve taken office.”

Joe Miketta, Warning Coordination Meteorologist from NOAA's National Weather Service Facility in Mt. Holly, NJ, added “"NOAA's weather forecasters use satellites every day to provide crucial weather information to citizens throughout eastern Pennsylvania. The GOES-R series of weather satellites will provide improved data in a more timely way to better predict severe weather."

“This new contract to build the next series of Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) will benefit the economies of Newtown, Bucks County, the Delaware Valley and Pennsylvania,” said Lockheed Martin Newtown General Manager Marshall Byrd. “We are extremely grateful to Congressman Murphy for his support of this important weather forecasting system and for economic growth in Bucks County.”

GOES R is the next generation in the series of geostationary operational environmental satellites (GOES) that observe the earth from a distance of 22,300 miles and act as the nation’s weather sentinels monitoring tropical stores and hurricanes that threaten our shores, and providing data for short and long-range weather and climate forecasting.

Federal Money to Philly Calcutta House

From the inbox:

HIV/AIDS are being awarded $8 million in grants announced today by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. These grants will help hundreds of persons and their families struggling to find a stable home as they receive the services they need to manage their illnesses.

The funding announced today is offered through HUD's Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS Program (HOPWA) and will renew HUD's support of seven projects in Alabama, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York and Pennsylvania (see attached project descriptions). Later this year, HUD will award an additional $22.6 million in renewal grants to other existing HIV/AIDS housing programs with expiring grants.

"These programs are on the front lines of saving lives and preventing homelessness," said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. "We know that a stable home is so important to staying healthy for these individuals. By working closely with our local partners, we are offering real hope for those who might otherwise face a life on the streets."

HUD is awarding grants to the following local projects:

State Grantee Name City Grant Amount

Alabama AIDS Alabama, Inc. Birmingham $ 937,228.00
Hawaii Maui AIDS Foundation Wailuku $ 1,381,163.00
Maine Frannie Peabody Center Portland $ 1,053,524.00
Michigan City of Detroit, Health
Department Detroit $ 1,348,680.00
New Hampshire City of Nashua, Div. of
Public Health and
Community Services Nashua $ 1,430,000.00
New York Bailey House, Inc. New York $ 1,043,465.00
Pennsylvania Calcutta House Philadelphia $ 819,748.00
Total $ 8,013,808.00

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Reading Judicial Questionnaires

I've spent part of this evening reading the PA Bar Association's questionnaires for statewide judicial offices. Candidates provide biographical information, and select a few of their judicial opinions they feel are significant. You should review these before the election later this month. Here are a few tidbits from some Superior Court candidates, and their ranking from the association:

Robert J. Colville (Recommended):
His selected cases to highlight include a ruling in favor of mayoral power to make decisions for the city, against health insurance companies investigating a patient's unrelated personal habits, whether or not a juvenile with a low IQ can be tried as an adult, and others. He worked on a highway construction crew in college and law school. In addition to occasional continuing ed courses for lawyers, and law courses, he sometimes teaches an undergraduate class on The Rule of Law. His answers are crisp and detailed. I tried to find a few good quotes to pull out but much of what he says is really good. This is well worth the effort to read.

Anne Lazarus (Highly Recommended)
She was the first woman judge to be on the "Rocket Docket" in Philadelphia (no idea what this is but it sounds impressive). Judge Lazarus has published a number of articles, many concerned with elder law and mental capacity rulings. She ran for Superior Court in 2007 and lost in the primary by 1/2 of 1%. Her answers aren't lengthy but the bar association says of her, in part:

The Candidate is intelligent, thoughtful, candid and scholarly, and she demonstrates superior writing ability, knowledge of the law and exceptional judicial temperament. Her advocacy of pro bono service has encouraged lawyers to participate in these programs. The candidate has mentored law students and young lawyers and has served in many capacities in community organizations. The Commission concludes that the Candidate would bring exceptional skills, experience and personal qualities to the Superior Court and would serve the court and the commonwealth with distinction.

This is only two of the many candidates for this office. More info forthcoming, or, as I say, you can check for yourself.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Another Judicial Candidate Resource

PCN has been broadcasting interviews with judicial candidates (but never at good times for me). Some of the interviews are also available on the PCN website (

And, We're Back to Blue

Last month the Pennsylvania Democratic Party's website ( went green temporarily for Earth Day. The site is now draped in its more traditional blue. The new buttons and bars are really nifty. As someone who used to handcode, I think that shade is either #000099 but it might be #0000FF. There are also some nice photos from Earth Day events. Take a look.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Delco Event

Anyone who has picked up a newspaper, watched a political talk show or read a political blog recently knows that Congressman Joe Sestak (D-07) is considering a senatorial primary challenge to newly Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter. Rumor has it that if Sestak does run State Rep. Bryan Lentz is waiting in the wings to run for Sestak's congressional seat.

Should you want to look these guys over, you may be interested in an event this Friday evening.

From the inbox:

A group of local leaders and volunteers for the Obama campaign will be hosting an event to celebrate the President’s first hundred days in office on Friday, May 8, 2009 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Providence Friends Meeting House.

Speakers will include U.S. Representative Joe Sestak and State Representative Bryan Lentz along with Democratic Delaware County candidates, Nancy Rhoads Koons and Keith Collins. Additionally, Democratic candidates running for local offices throughout the county will be on-hand to meet the attendees and answer questions about their own campaigns. Light refreshments will be served.

More details on their website:

Sestak (or, more likely, someone on his staff), frequently twitters about other events his will attend or has attended.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Peas in a Pod: Three Green Things in Philly

An assortment of green related items in the city came across my screen this week. Here they are, in random order:

Mayor Michael Nutter, or at least his Office of Sustainability has released their plan to make Philadelphia the greenest city in the country. The full report, Greenworks Philadelphia, is available online, as is an executive summary. The Inky had a nice article on it ("Nutter envisions green city by 2015," by Marcia Gelbart 4/29).

Two items now posted on The Next Great City website provide information on the new Green Jobs Training Center. See "A path to a greener life," by Annette John-Hall Inquirer 4/24, and "Get your green collar jobs here," Daily News 3/27. The first 20 students in the weatherization started their 4 week program on April 21st.

To keep up with local happenings, watch the

Sunday, May 03, 2009

More Senate News

A few updates on the 2010 senate race.

On the Republican side, Shira Toeplitz reported on Roll Call on Friday that Tom Ridge is considering a Senate run ("Ridge weighing senate bid," 5/02).

On the Democratic side, Politico is saying that Joe Sestak continues to make public noises about taking on newly Democratic incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter ("Sestak is miffed," by Josh Gerstein, 5/03).

More Bad News for Journalism

Print journalism and the online political community both had some bad news this weekend. The Morning Call said it would cut its workforce by 10%. The newspaper is home to John Micek and Josh Drobnyk who not only write for print but also blog at Capitol Ideas and Pennsylvania Avenue. (Source: "70 more Morning Call layoffs," ABC News 5/03)

This weekend one of the state's political websites, Keystone Politics, announced that it was shutting down, or at least no longer actively adding content.

This is unnerving.


From "PhillyDeals: Roundtable was where CEOs, pols let hair down," by Joseph DiStefano, Inquirer 5/01:

When bank CEOs trooped down to Capitol Hill for a public scolding by U.S. House members in March, the proceedings led the TV news.

And why? Bankers and congressmen, in those situations, don't say what they really think, says Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D., Pa.), head of the House subcommittee on capital markets that is helping rewrite bank regulations in response to the financial crisis.

"That's oatmeal," Kanjorski said of members' public remarks. "It's sanitized. Nobody wants to say things that will be held up against us."

Candor is saved for private meetings, like the second gathering of the Bipartisan Financial Regulatory Roundtable on April 27, where JPMorgan chief executive officer Jamie Dimon and Stanford economics professor John Taylor met with Kanjorski, U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett (R., N.J.), and 10 committee members for dinner, drinks, questions, and answers.

From a press release from Rep. Kanjorski's office dated 5/01:
Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski (D-PA), Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises, today announced that the Subcommittee will hold a hearing to examine the need for hedge fund registration and the need to protect investors by increasing transparency in financial markets.

“At this hearing, I intend to examine hedge fund registration, institutional investor and pension fund investment in hedge funds, and the need for transparency in this area of the financial services sector,” said Chairman Kanjorski. “I look forward to hearing from a variety of witnesses who will help shed light on this issue and engage in thoughtful and constructive conversation. Though this hearing will focus specifically on hedge funds, other pools of private capital, such as private equity, venture capital, and real estate trusts, must also be similarly examined as we further consider regulatory reform. I hope that we can work in a bipartisan manner to achieve an appropriate amount of regulation of the financial services industry without stifling the vitality of the markets.”

Perhaps I'm misreading something but there just seems to be a disconnect between these two statements.

Mark Your Calendars: Wagner Free Institute of Science

The Wagner Free Institute of Science, one of Philadelphia's little known gems, is normally open Tuesday - Friday, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. During the school year this would exclude most families from attending. This coming Saturday is one of their rare weekend openings, from 12-4. It is billed as a Family Open House and also as Road Show 2009.

The museum is described on the website as:

The Wagner Institute’s nineteenth century exhibit hall – a soaring three-story space – houses an extraordinary collection of natural history specimens including mounted birds and mammals, fossils, rocks and minerals, insects, shells, dinosaur bones, and the first American saber-toothed tiger, discovered on a museum-sponsored expedition to Florida in 1886. Gathered largely by founder William Wagner and Institute curators and faculty during the nineteenth century, the collections are displayed in cherry-wood and glass cabinets dating from the 1880s and maintain their original “systematic” scheme, providing a rare view of a Victorian science museum.

Might be worth a trip out.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

An Update on the National Women's History Museum

From the inbox:

There is an effort to secure a permanent home on the National Mall for the National Women’s History Museum’s. The legislative fight continues this year as Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) re-introduced The National Women’s History Museum Act (H.R. 1700) with bipartisan support on March 25, 2009.

In the meantime, the Museum continues to operate online. At this time, the Museum’s staffers are working on two cyber exhibits – one on women in film and one on African-American women. The Museum wants to hear from YOU what subject they should cover next in their cyber museum.

If you have suggestions for potential exhibits, please visit their blog ( and leave a comment with your recommendations. You might see them come to life in the very near future!