Friday, October 30, 2009

SEPTA Stimulus Projects in Montco

From the inbox:

SEPTA General Manager Joseph Casey, Pennsylvania State Senator Stewart Greenleaf, and Pennsylvania State Representative Kate Harper, joined with local government and community leaders at North Wales Regional Rail station to announce the start of extensive two-year federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) projects.

Over $17.4 million in federal ARRA funds has been earmarked for the revitalization of 13 Montgomery County SEPTA locations and facilities to include:

 Lansdale (R5) Substation roof replacement
 Glenside Station improvements - The existing station building and canopy will be replaced and painted. A new outbound platform will be constructed complete with new signage, lighting and additional passenger amenities.
 Philmont (R3) Station Rehabilitation – An ADA accessible path between the inbound and outbound platforms will be constructed. Repairs will be made to the exterior facades and the inbound side will be enhanced to provide greater accessibility.
 Bridge 13.04 - This span extending over North Hills Avenue will receive concrete, wall, and waterproofing repairs.
 Bridge 18.87 – This span extending over Penllyn Pike will receive concrete, wall, and waterproofing repairs.
 Bridge 20.25 - Crews will work to replace the aging superstructure over Wissahickon Creek and perform additional repairs.
 Bridge 12.81 - Supporting pedestals were recently repaired on this span over the Schuylkill River. Work included ‘wrapping’ the base with a protective stone layering to help prevent future erosion.
 Bridge 8.38 - Repairs will be made on the girders of the span near Melrose Park Station and new waterproofing installed.
 Gwynedd Cut Stabilization Project – Storm water and erosion controls will be installed and rock /slope stabilization work will be performed to improve safety and service efficiency
 Paoli/Thorndale (R5) Signage Project – This will provide new standardized signage at 17 SEPTA Regional Rail Stations including Merion, Narberth, Wynnwood, Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and Rosemont in Montgomery County.
 Norristown High Speed Line Fiber Optic Cable Project – Fiber optic cable will be installed along the line permitting the future installation of Audio Visual Public Address devices at all passenger stations and improve power substation control.
 Norristown Substation Renewal Project – The work includes the overhaul of the Norristown Traction Power Substations. New transformers, trolley breaker substation switchgear, and protective relaying will be installed.

The ceremony also served as the ground breaking for the nearly $700,000
North Wales Station Renovation Project which will renew the existing 150 year-old station and original hub of the old North Penn Railroad. Improvements include:

 Restoration of existing brick work and interior elements
 New roof
 Energy efficient heating and cooling systems
 New energy efficient lighting and windows

Recently, SEPTA constructed new passenger shelters, new signage, and high-level platforms with ramps at the station.

Upon completion of the construction in the summer of 2010, the station will be fully-compliant with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements. During the construction the station will remain open and there will be minimal impact to normal train service.

It is estimated that over 300 area workers will be hired to help complete these 13 Montgomery County projects. In total, thirty-two SEPTA federally funded ARRA projects are scheduled to improve transportation in the area while invigorating the economy by creating local jobs.

For additional information on ARRA funded projects, visit For service information, contact the SEPTA Customer Service at (215) 580-7800 or access the SEPTA web site at

PA Stimulus Jobs

From the inbox:

The Obama Administration today reported that recipients of Recovery Act funds have informed the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board that they have created or saved 7,427 direct jobs in Pennsylvania in reports covering a little less than half of the funds put to work through September 30, 2009. Nationwide, recipients of Recovery Act funds reported 640,329 direct jobs as a result of this portion of spending. These reports, covering only directly created jobs and less than half the funds, support government and private forecaster’s estimates that overall the Recovery Act has created or saved over one million jobs to-date. To learn more about the jobs created and saved, click HERE.

“These reports are strong confirmation that the Recovery Act is responsible for over one million jobs so far and we are on-track to create and save 3.5 million jobs through the Recovery Act by the end of next year,” said Vice President Biden. “This is another encouraging sign of progress following yesterday’s news that the economy has begun to grow again for the first time in more than a year, but the President and I will not be satisfied until monthly reports show net job growth. We are working every day to create more jobs and we will continue to report on our progress doing so with the Recovery Act in the same transparent way we did today.”

The majority of the jobs reported were in the construction and education sectors, indicating the Recovery Act is not only bolstering private sector companies during the economic downturn, but also making critical investments in keeping America competitive in the 21st century. Of the 640,329 jobs reported nationwide, about 325,000 are in education, and over 80,000 are in construction.

The reports were filed in early October by state and local governments, private companies, colleges and universities and community organizations who received Recovery Act funds and were posted publicly on today following a detailed three-week review process. As mandated by Congress, the reports specifically focused on the approximately $160 billion of the $339 billion in spending through September 30, 2010 that includes projects and activities. The reports do not cover the Act’s significant tax cuts and direct payments to individuals such as Pell Grants and unemployment compensation. Seventy percent of the funds were reported by state governments, with both Republican and Democratic governors participating in the process.

A report released today by Jared Bernstein, Chief Economist and Senior Advisor to the Vice President, notes that the new data confirms the Administration is on-track to meet its goal of creating and saving at least 3.5 million jobs through the Recovery Act by fall of 2010. The report also found that the states with the highest unemployment rates nationwide reported 25 percent more jobs created and saved per capita than the rest of the country. To view the report, click HERE

The recipient reports posted today are part of an historic effort the Administration has undertaken to provide the American people with more information about the Recovery Act at work than with any previous government program. With the collection and posting of this new recipient data – a first for a government program - visitors to the site can now access over 100,000 recipient and sub-recipient filings that show who received the funds, when they received them, how they began to spend them and the related direct job impact to-date. Recently upgraded mapping features on the site now allow visitors to sort this data by state, zip code or Congressional District, enabling the public to monitor Recovery Act activity taking place in their own backyard. Approximately 90 percent of Recovery funding recipients filed these detailed reports on the use of their funds.

Recipients were asked to only report jobs directly funded by the Act and were instructed not to estimate indirect job impact. For estimates of the total job impact of the Recovery Act, including the impact of the tax cuts, aid to individuals directly hurt by the recession, and much of the state fiscal relief, experts rely on macroeconomic modeling. Using these models, the Council of Economic Advisers and private forecasters estimated that the Recovery Act has helped to create or retain more than a million jobs so far.

Today’s news follows the release yesterday of new third quarter GDP figures that show the economy grew at an annual rate of 3.5 percent in the third quarter of the year in stark contrast to the decline of 6.4 percent annual rate just two quarters ago. Analysis by both the Council of Economic Advisers and a wide range of private and public-sector forecasters indicates the Recovery Act contributed between 3 and 4 percentage points to real GDP growth in the third quarter, suggesting that in the absence of the Recovery Act, real GDP would have risen little, if at all, this past quarter.

To learn more about the story of the Recovery Act as it unfolds, visit To follow Recovery Act spending and activity, visit

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Two Good Signs for Chris Asplen

Chris Asplen, Democratic candidate for Bucks County District Attorney has two new heavy hitters in his corner.

He was endorsed by the Bucks County Courier Post. The endorsement is measured and takes into account the pros and cons of each in a more thoughtful way than most newspaper endorsements do.

Secondly, the PennDems are going out campaigning for him. The University of Pennsylvania student group was out in force for Congressman Patrick Murphy's first election and also in the election of Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

Gov Campaign Updates

Hotcha! I've gotten on a few gubernatorial campaign email lists. It is wonderful to be so popular and I only had to ask once!

From Onorato:

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dan Onorato announced that if elected he will veto any legislation that forces the state to “opt out” of the public option included in the emerging national healthcare reform bill. The provision, which first became public yesterday, would allow states to “opt out” of the public option.

“It is critical for Pennsylvania’s employers and workers that we help lower healthcare costs. I believe that the proposed ‘public option’ will help expand competition and reduce prices while maintaining our current fee-for-service system,” said Onorato today. “As governor, I will fight for quality, affordable insurance for every Pennsylvanian by vetoing any opt-out from the public option.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced yesterday that he intends to introduce a healthcare reform bill that would include a provision allowing states to “opt-out” of the public option. Under his bill, states would have the ability to decide whether to offer their residents access to government-run health insurance.

“Increasing competition among insurers and lowering costs for everyone is important to being able to attract and retain companies in Pennsylvania because it will allow us to compete on a level playing field,” Onorato continued. “A public option in Pennsylvania will challenge the insurance industry to lower its prices and increase quality of care. A public option is absolutely vital to the health of every Pennsylvanian and every Pennsylvania business.”

Onorato cited Pennsylvania’s poor record of competition in the insurance industry. “Pennsylvania has one of the least competitive insurance markets in the country. A public option will even the playing field for Pennsylvania’s families and encourage a transparent and competitive healthcare marketplace,” Onorato said.

Jack Wagner wants us to vote next Tuesday and also to tell us he is hard at work as Auditor General:

Jack has spent this week continuing to promote much-needed reform of the state’s contracting process in order to ensure accountability, transparency, and value for Pennsylvania taxpayers; create jobs for Pennsylvania families; and provide a fair opportunity for Pennsylvania businesses.

“Competition is the American way, but, unfortunately it is not in the state government procurement process,” Jack said. He said that if the bidding process was not reformed soon, he would ask the General Assembly to curtail excessive spending as a result of change orders and no-bid, sole-source, and emergency contracts.

SEPTA World Series Service

From the inbox:

Extra Service Ready For Fall Classic & Other Big Weekend Events

PHILADELPHIA, PA (October 29, 2009) – SEPTA is ready for what promises to be a busy weekend at the Sports Complex in South Philadelphia – highlighted by the return of the Phillies and their World Series battle with the Yankees.

SEPTA plans to run extra service for all World Series games at Citizens Bank Park and a host of other events, including the Eagles-Giants game on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. This festive weekend also includes Flyers and Sixers games at the Wachovia Center, and Pearl Jam concerts at the Spectrum.

However, it should be noted that this extra service – and most regularly scheduled subway, bus and trolley service within Philadelphia – would not run in the event of a strike by Transport Workers Union Local 234. Negotiations are ongoing, and SEPTA remains hopeful that a resolution will be reached with no disruption to customers.

Therefore, SEPTA is pressing ahead with a full slate of Sports Express trains to supplement regular service on the Broad Street Line, as well as other plans to accommodate those heading down to the Sports Complex.

• One extra Local train will be deployed on the Broad Street Line at 6:08 p.m. to accommodate fans going to the Wachovia Center for the Sixers-Bucks game at 7 p.m.
• Two extra Local Broad Street Line trains will hit the rails at 7:05 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. to serve concert-goers headed to the Spectrum to see Pearl Jam at 8 p.m.

• What promises to be an eventful Halloween starts with a 1 p.m. Flyers-Hurricanes game at the Wachovia Center. A Broad Street Line Sports Express train will begin service at 12:08 p.m. to accommodate fans.
• As night comes, so does the big game! The Phillies championship quest returns home with Game Three of the World Series against the Yankees. SEPTA will dispatch 10 Sports Express trains on the Broad Street Line, running every 10 minutes starting at 6:18 p.m. to get fans to Citizens Bank Park in time for the 7:57 p.m. start. Extra trains will also run on the Market-Frankford Line. The Market-Frankford Line offers a convenient connection with the Broad Street Line at City Hall.
• Phillies service also accommodates those going to the Spectrum for Pearl Jam at 8 p.m.


• What could be a defining day in the Philadelphia-New York sports rivalry kicks off at 1 p.m., when the Eagles take on the Giants at Lincoln Financial Field. SEPTA is up to the challenge, with Sports Express service on the Broad Street Line every 10 minutes starting at 10:10 a.m. Extra trains will also run on the Market-Frankford Line.
• The Phillies and Yankees are back at Citizens Bank Park for Game 4, which is scheduled to begin at 8:20 p.m. The Sports Express revs its engine back up on the Broad Street Line with 10 trains running every 10 minutes starting at 6:18 p.m. There will also be extra service on the Market-Frankford Line.

SEPTA is working with the Phillies and the City of Philadelphia to get fans to and from the Sports Complex in a timely fashion this weekend. Both the team and the city are strongly encouraging fans and concert-goers to take SEPTA to these events – even if it’s only for part of their trip. To accommodate those who may have to drive, parking fees in Center City will be reduced on Saturday and Sunday – and as usual, parking at SEPTA’s Regional Rail stations is free on Sundays, and just $1 at most stations all other days. These options will allow fans to park away from the Sports Complex crowd, and then take Broad Street Line service into South Philadelphia.

The Broad Street Line is also easily accessible from other modes of public transit. In addition to the Market-Frankford Line, a number of bus and trolley routes provide connections to the subway. Regional Rail riders can also make a quick transfer by getting off at either Suburban or Market East stations. It’s also convenient for those coming in from South Jersey – just take the PATCO High Speedline to the 12th and 13th and Locust Station and follow the signs to the Broad Street Line.

If necessary, a Game Five of the best-of-seven World Series between the Phillies and Yankees is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 2, at Citizens Bank Park. SEPTA is ready once again to dispatch 10 Sports Express trains on the Broad Street Line for a Game Five, and would also add service on the Market-Frankford Line.

For more information on SEPTA’s service for the Phillies-Yankees World Series, visit SEPTA’s Web site also has full schedule and fare information, as well as trip-planning tools.

Two Statements from Schwartz

Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz issued two statements today.

One is on the new health care legislation:

Earlier today, House Democrats unveiled The Affordable Health Care for America Act. U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz’s statement concerning the bill follows.

“Finding a uniquely American solution to ensuring that all Americans have access to meaningful, affordable health coverage has been a national goal for decades. Action is both a moral and economic imperative for our nation.

“Today new health reform legislation, The Affordable Health Care for America Act, was introduced in the House. It builds on the hard work done by the three health care Committees over many months and responds to feedback from the American people.

“It builds on America’s private-public system, and it is paid for.
It also meets the goals of health reform:

• Enhanced protection for those with health coverage
• New, affordable choices for individuals and small business
• Strengthened Medicare for seniors
• Improved delivery of care with better health outcomes for all Americans, and
• Containment of the rapidly rising cost of health care.

“The status quo is unaffordable. Passing health reform benefits all of us — families, seniors, businesses, and the nation.

“Today we get one step closer.”

The second is a more local matter:

Today, October 29, 2009 the House of Representatives passed a resolution authored by U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz and Senator Arlen Specter encouraging the Government of Iran to allow detained American hikers Joshua Fattal, Shane Bauer, and Sarah Shourd to reunite with their families in the United States as soon as possible. The resolution was cosponsored by U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) in the House, and in the Senate by Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Barbara Boxer (D-Ca.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.)

The full resolution is available on Schwartz's website.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Daryl Metcalfe's Worst Nightmare

State Rep Daryl Metcalfe, who seems to react badly to veterans concerned about global warming, the idea that both parties in a relationship can face domestic abuse, and any religion other than Christianity, will probably not be happy to learn that the Chinese are invading Harrisburg.

From the inbox:

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and U.S Trade Representative Ron Kirk today presided over the signing of a business agreement between U.S. and Chinese firms in Hangzhou , China . The U.S. company Harsco Corporation, based in Harrisburg , Pennsylvania , signed a construction service joint venture agreement with a Chinese partner, Zhejiang Construction Materials and Equipment Company, to provide construction services for transportation infrastructure, chemical and petrochemical projects, and civilian nuclear reactor facilities.

“Commercial engagement, built on open markets with fair and effective rules, is the foundation of the healthy, strong and continually growing trade relationship we envision for China and the United States ,” Locke said. “With this partnership, Harsco is doing its part to ensure a growing share of China ’s construction occurs with safer, lighter and more environmentally friendly scaffolding and formwork materials. This project will help retain and create jobs in the U.S. by providing more export opportunities – and it will bring crucial new technology and know-how to China .”

“The Harsco joint venture will help to keep the economy strong back home in Harrisburg , Pennsylvania ,” Ambassador Ron Kirk said. “This agreement will help to create new jobs for American workers and open up new opportunities for this American-based business. That is why USTR is working with the Chinese government to open up more opportunities for American companies like Harsco to do business in China .”

Joining Secretary Locke and Trade Representative Kirk in the ceremony were Zhejiang Province Vice Governor Chen Jiayuan, Director General for American and Oceanic Affairs of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce He Ning, and Director General of the Zhejiang Provincial Government Construction Commission Zhang Miaogen.

Harsco Corporation is a diversified industrial services company serving global industries, including infrastructure, metals, railways and energy. Active in the Chinese market for over 20 years, Harsco conducts over $100 million of business per year in China as part of its overall annual business revenues of $4 billion. Zhejiang Construction is the largest construction company in Zhejiang and ranks as one of the top 10 construction companies in China .

The signing event highlights the growing cooperation between U.S. and Chinese firms in the construction sector and showcases export opportunities for U.S. businesses in China .

Lentz Hires Campaign Manager

From the inbox:

Representative Bryan R. Lentz took another significant step toward formally launching his candidacy for Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District by announcing that former aide to Congressman Sestak, Congressional Campaign Manager and Capitol Hill Communications Director, Vincent A. Rongione has signed on to manage his campaign.

“We are very pleased to have Vince on the team,” Lentz stated. “He brings a lifetime of experience in Delaware County and an excellent track record both on Capitol Hill and on the campaign trail. As a former Airborne Ranger, prosecutor and current legislator from Delaware County, I am confident that Vince shares my spirit of service and determination to run a strong positive campaign about important issues like creating jobs, cutting middle-class taxes and providing for our seniors and veterans.”
Born and raised in Delaware County, Rongione is a graduate of Haverford High School, Villanova University, Villanova School of Law and a member of the Pennsylvania Bar. His father, Nicholas Rongione, served on the Haverford Township School Board from 1985-1997. Vincent was a part of Joe Sestak’s early campaign team in 2006, where he served as Deputy Campaign Manager for Finance. He also served as Finance Director for Congressman Chris Carney’s 2006 campaign and returned as Campaign Manager for Congressman Carney’s 2008 re-election win. After the 2008 cycle he accepted the position of Director of Communications and Special Projects in Congressman Carney’s Capitol Hill office where he served until joining Lentz for Congress earlier this month.

Rongione is widely regarded as a tenacious fundraiser and skillful political manager. In the past three and a half years, he has raised and managed over $5,000,000 while helping launch Joe Sestak’s campaign and helping navigate Chris Carney to a major upset victory in the highly Republican 10th district of Pennsylvania and a commanding re-election win in 2008 after Carney was widely thought to be one of the most vulnerable incumbents in the country. Rongione turned down multiple offers from campaigns nationwide before joining Lentz for Congress.

“I feel incredibly fortunate to be working for a tough independent leader like Bryan and to be able to serve in the place where I grew up,” said Rongione. “Some people work a lifetime in government and never have the opportunity to work in their hometown. That, combined with the chance to join Bryan’s team was an opportunity that I simply could not pass up. I am proud to say that the majority of my family and friends live in this area and I will work hard every day to make sure that all the people of Southeastern Pennsylvania have the leadership they deserve in Congress.”

Press Release Round Up

Went out phone banking for 2 hours this evening. Most people in the campaign office were doing a mailing and had a tv on to keep up with pre-game activities, which sometimes made it hard to hear the people on the phone.

Here are a few press releases and announcements that have accumulated yesterday and today:

Beginning Tuesday, November 3, a day before the one-year anniversary of the 2008 presidential election, HBO is airing By the People: The Election of Barack Obama, a behind-the-scenes documentary about President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and the grassroots effort behind the road to the White House. The film is based on countless hours of exclusive footage that covered the campaign from the inside for more than two years.

HBO is working with Blue State Digital -- that's us -- to allow viewers to create local viewing parties so they can invite friends to watch and discuss the film

You can read more about the project here:

On a local matter, Chester County Democrats want to elect Dems to countywide office for the first time in 150 years and they would like your help in doing so. Contact them for details.

And over in Montco:

The Democratic edge in voter registration in Montgomery County continued to grow during the recently completed registration period, according to registration figures just released.

When registration closed before the 2009 primary election, registered Democrats outnumbered Republicans in the county by 26,635. Currently that edge is 29,979. In May, 45.15 percent of county voters were Democrats, with 41 percent registered Republican and 14 percent registered to other parties or independent. The latest percentage figures are 45.41 percent Democrat, 40.21 percent Republican and 14.38 percent “other”. There are 576,647 voters in Montgomery County.

“Even during a relatively slow period of voter registration, the Democrat Party in Montgomery County continues to grow,” commented Marcel Groen, chair of the Montgomery County Democratic Committee. “I believe the reasons for this growth are that we continue to field stronger candidates; put forth a moderately progressive vision on social issues, while maintaining fiscal responsibility; and the national Republican Party continues to veer rightward leaving Montgomery County’s moderate Republican voters feeling they have no political home.”

Groen pointed out that despite the Democratic majority that has swept Montgomery County over the past several years, there are still residual effects of a Republican monopoly throughout the 20th Century, and he pointed to the county Court of Common Pleas as an example.

“The fact that there are 19 Republican judges on the county bench and no Democrats cries out for more balance,” Groen said. “The fact that only 40 percent of the county electorate is registered Republican, and all 19 judges are Republican is something that should and will change.”

Groen noted that the Democrats this year have the most talented slate of judicial candidates in the history of the county regardless of party. “Our judicial candidates have a broad and deep reservoir of legal, business, prosecutorial, military and educational experience, and will bring that experience along with much needed balance to the county court,” he said.

Registration figures now show a total of 261,861 registered Democrats, and 231,882 registered Republicans. As recently as 2005, Republicans outnumbered Democrats by 47 to 39 percent, and in 1994 the Republicans had a 2-1 edge.

The change in the registration numbers were caused both by the purging of voter rolls, and by new registrations. During the most recent registration period, 2,130 voters registered Democratic, while only 1,169 registered Republican.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Berlin Wind Project and Seven Million Dollars

I don't quite understand all this but it involves money coming into Pennsylvania so it seems worth reporting and maybe someone out there will know what it all means.

From the inbox:

As part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to spur renewable energy production, the U.S. Department of Treasury today announced the allocation of $2.2 billion in Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) for 805 recipients across the country. Funded by the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act), these energy bonds help government agencies, public power providers, and cooperative electric companies obtain lower cost financing for clean energy development projects.

“The Recovery Act’s innovative bond programs provide communities around the country with financing to jump start important development projects,” said Treasury Deputy Secretary Neal Wolin. “Because of the Clean Renewable Energy Bonds awards announced today, energy developers will be able to access lower cost credit to help make the shift to clean renewable energy production, benefitting both our economy and our environment.”

The Treasury Department allocates bond authority to governmental agencies, public power providers, and cooperative electric companies involved in clean renewable energy development and production. The application deadline for the new CREBs allocations was August 4, 2009, with recipients being announced today. These bonds function as tax credit bonds which allow investors to receive federal tax credits in lieu of the payment of a portion of the interest on the bond. For CREBs, the federal tax credits will cover 70 percent of the interest on the bonds.

A complete list of recipients receiving awards of bond authority to issue CREBs can be found here.

The only Pennsylvania project on the list is:

Pennsylvania American Municipal Power, Inc.
Berlin, PA

PECO Smart Energy Grid

From the inbox:

Today, Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-8th District) and Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (D-13th District) praised the announcement by the White House that PECO (Philadelphia Energy Company) will receive a $200 million grant for Smart Energy Grid technology under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which both Rep. Murphy and Rep. Schwartz proudly voted for. The funding will go toward PECO’s “Smart Future Greater Philadelphia” Smart Grid Investment Grant (SGIG), a project which will deliver the benefits of Smart Grid technologies to the more than five million residents of the Delaware Valley .

By creating jobs through long-term investments in critical infrastructure and providing customer benefits in terms of reliability, energy efficiency, emissions reduction, and economic development, the Smart Grid project will serve as a global model in promoting economic growth to an entire region. The Greater Philadelphia area is already a national leader in clean, green technology, and the deployment of innovative Smart Grid technologies available through this grant will continue to promote economic development in Delaware Valley communities. In addition, PECO customers will see everyday cost savings in lower electricity bills and more efficient power to their homes and businesses.

“This grant represents an enormous opportunity for economic growth for Bucks County and the entire Greater Philadelphia region,” said Rep. Murphy. “PECO’s Smart Grid will improve our quality of life, lowering costs for consumers while creating jobs and protecting the environment.”

“American ingenuity and innovation are two of our greatest natural resources, and we see that directly in forward-thinking initiatives such as Smart Grid that have remarkable capability for both strengthening our local economy and helping to move our nation toward a new cleaner, greener energy future,” said Rep. Schwartz.

Congressman Patrick Murphy represents Bucks County , along with portions of Montgomery County and two wards in Northeast Philadelphia . Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz represents much of Northeast Philadelphia and the majority of suburban Montgomery County .

PA Unemployment Rate by County

The Pennsylvania Policy Blog has a really cool map of unemployment by county. It rotates through December 2007 to September 2009. You can watch the colors change as unemployment spreads and changes.

Breaking News: PA Legislature Does Something Right

Today the NCSL Thicket blog ran an entry, "Top Ten for Back to School Progam," by Jan Goehring. She starts out saying:

Each summer, NCSL's Trust for Representative Democracy collects information about how many legislators participated in the America's Legislators Back to School Program the previous school year. The program encourages legislators to visit classrooms and bring civics to life for students all across the country. Each year an average of 1,200 state lawmakers are involved.

Pennsylvania ranked third in the nation for the percentage of legislators participating, with an 80% rate. The Pennsylvania State House had a 100% participation rate.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Conference Call on "Lost or Stolen Guns" Legislation

Today I sat in on a conference call with an assortment of people who supported a requirement to report a lost or stolen handgun; the call was sponsored by CeaseFirePA. My notes from the call are provided below. As always, I apologize in advance for any errors or misconceptions.

Tom McMahon, the mayor of Reading, is the president of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. There are now 150 mayors in the coalition. Our responsibility is to our constituents. No attempt to evade 2nd amendment rights. Pleased to work with state police and state police chiefs association. We don’t want to pass many different city laws but we need to work together since a statewide law was not passed by the legislature.

Margaret Stock, mayor of Butler, Important issue for public safety. Mayors in commonwealth are responsible for police depts. Officers are often target of gun violence, must do whatever we can to control proliferation if illegal guns. Resonsible gun owners like car owners want to follow rules and be responsible. Sept 9th my office received a lot of calls from people saying the same thing, found out the NRA sent out post cards telling people to call. The post cards had incorrect information. That night a man armed with a handgun was involved in a shoot out with police.

Bruce Kraus, Pittsburgh city councilman, got involved when the bill was in the state legislature, invited to go to Harrisburg and speak. The bill was not successful. After Philadelphia passed a citywide ordinance, someone put forward same piece in Pittsburgh. It passed in 8-1. Erie also passed a citywide law. It gave him the idea of building coalition on local level and then return to state level. Wilkinsburg and a number of other municipalities passed legislation. Over 60 mayors from Western PA, over 20 mayors from Northern PA, nearly 50 mayors from Central PA

Mark Whitman, City of York Police Commissioner, not only PA chiefs of police in support of this but also international association of chiefs of police. PA is not a groundbreaker in this type of legislation. It is not about the 2nd amendment right, 75 – 80% of guns begin as legal purchases. People already own the guns, but same as with cars, if lost of stolen you need to report it. This doesn’t prevent someone from purchasing a legal gun. It does help identify straw purchasers. He had to use federal statues to stop straw purchases at local gun gallery. We need to make a point to state legislature, they serve the same constituency, not competing for a share of the market. Not every person who breaks the speed limit gets pulled over and not all pulled over are ticketed. Not every who doesn't report a lost or stolen gun will be charged. The little old lady whose husband brought a gun back from World War 2 and it has been tucked away ever since won't be charged. We will begin with straw purchase or unreported stolen guns.

Rev. Sandra Straus, straw purchasers not limited to urban areas. Majority of Pennsylvanians support lost and stolen gun ordinances.

Closing remarks from Joe Grace and other speakers: Every major city except Scranton has passed legislation or a resolution in favor of legislation; Scranton is working on it. At present roughly 2 million people in the commonwealth live in an area where legislation or a resolution has passed, that is roughly 1/6 of the total state population. The legislation that has passed so far is similar in wording, following the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh ordinances upheld by the Commonwealth Court. He hopes it will be brought up again in the state house early next year. There are currently efforts to pass similar legislation in townships and small towns, to fill in around and in between cities. That will help show state representatives that support exists and there is little political peril in passing it statewide.

You can read more about "lost and stolen" on the website. Here is a summary sent out before the call:

Lost or Stolen Handgun Reporting: At a Glance

Cities across Pennsylvania are considering and passing local “Lost and Stolen” handgun reporting ordinances. So far fourteen cities have made the rule law: Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Pottsville, Reading, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Wilkinsburg, Erie, Homestead, West Homestead, Clairton, and Oxford, and Munhall. Three have passed resolutions requesting action from the State Legislature: Easton, York, and Oxford. Illegal gun violence is not just a “big city” issue. Every community is at risk. Any action that can be taken to stem accessibility to illegal guns, without infringing upon rights of legal ownership is a step in the right direction.

Local lost or stolen handgun reporting had been upheld by PA courts:
• In June, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court passed a decision upholding Philadelphia’s lost or stolen handgun reporting ordinance. The State appellate court held that plaintiffs, who were supported by the gun lobby, lacked legal standing to challenge the ordinance. The court upheld Philadelphia’s ordinance, and it remains on the books today.
• In July, the Allegheny County Common Pleas Court upheld Pittsburgh’s lost or stolen handgun reporting law, citing the PA Commonwealth Court decision as legal precedent.
• These two primary legal challenges brought by the gun lobby against local lost or stolen handgun reporting ordinances in Pennsylvania have been defeated in the courts, paving the way for more cities to pass this local commonsense reform to help police curb illegal gun trafficking.
• Local Lost or Stolen ordinances are not preempted by Pennsylvania law, because Pennsylvania law governs the lawful possession of firearms, while lost or stolen ordinances target unlawful trafficking in firearms.

Why do we need “Lost or Stolen”?
 The vast majority of violent crimes committed with guns – are committed using illegal handguns.
 Often, when a crime gun is traced to an original purchaser, their explanation is, “I lost it,” or, “It was stolen.”
 In the last seven years, 18 Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Officers have been shot and killed in the line of duty. More than half were murdered by felons using illegal guns.

What does “Lost or Stolen” accomplish?
 Reporting Lost or Stolen guns to the police allows law enforcement officers to begin searching for missing guns before they wind up at crime scenes.
 Makes it easier for police to spot “straw purchasers” – people who buy guns legally, and then sell them illegally to people who, by law, are not permitted to possess handguns.
 States that already require lost or stolen handgun reporting, exhibit a 2/3rd reduction in the number of crime guns traced back to within their borders.

What doesn’t “Lost or Stolen” do?
 It does not threaten tradition. This rule will not limit hunters or sportsmen in any way.
 It does not limit self-defense. This does not affect legal purchase, ownership, or use of guns in any way.
 It does not penalize people who are unaware that their gun has been lost or stolen. Owners are only responsible upon “discovery” that their weapon is missing.

Why does “Lost or Stolen” make sense?
 If your car is stolen, you must file a police report to make an insurance claim.
 If valuables were stolen from your home, you’d call the police – wouldn’t you?
 Lost or Stolen handgun reporting costs nothing and can help save lives.

Major police organizations support “Lost or Stolen,” including:
 PA State Police Commissioner Frank Pawlowski
 Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association
 International Association of Chiefs of Police
 Fraternal Police Organizations across the Commonwealth
 Prosecutors across Pennsylvania
 Police Chiefs in every Pennsylvania region

Preliminary Govenor Notes

We have a few (4?) declared Democratic gubernatorial candidates and some ditherers who can't make up their mind yet.

Dan Onorato has opened an office in Philadelphia
Chris Doherty opened one last month.
(See this note at PA2010 for a very humorous welcome note Doherty's people send Onorato's.)

Onorato has a web site up; Doherty plans to retool his old Scranton mayoral website.

Joe Hoeffel has a website but no office.

Tom Knox has both but I'm not sure anyone wants to find them.

The Democratic Governors Association, is a refreshing sign of outreach, has been having monthly conference calls with bloggers. So far they have focused primarily on the two 2009 races in Virginia and Florida New Jersey (note: where would you rather be on a rainy day?), but next month the 37 2010 races should move to the forefront of the conversation.

Proposed Green Jobs Academy in Bucks

From the inbox:

Today, Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-8th District) joined local business leaders, educators, and elected officials to announce funding and partnerships for a Green Jobs Academy in Bucks County . The Academy is the result of a significant public-private partnership, the result of the Congressman’s work to bring together businesses, academic institutions, and government players in workforce development. Major academic partners include Bucks County Community College , Bucks County Technical High School , Drexel University , and Delaware Valley College . The Bridge Business Center , located in a Pennsylvania Keystone Innovation Zone, will serve as the site of the Green Jobs Academy , which will provide students with the training they need to fill new green collar jobs coming to Bucks County . The Bridge Business Center is already home to a number of companies working on green energy and sustainability projects. Congressman Murphy has secured nearly $800,000 in funding for the establishment of the Academy.

Shortly after taking office, Rep. Murphy met with leaders in the renewable energy industry and learned that workforce development was an obstacle to the growth of green energy. To address this need, Rep. Murphy partnered with Bucks County Community College to create the Green Jobs Academy . Its primary goal will be ensuring that Bucks workers, particularly young people, can participate and compete in the renewable energy industry, creating jobs, protecting the environment, and lessening our dependence on foreign oil. The Green Jobs Academy will also provide shorter-term training programs geared toward incumbent workers looking for new skill sets. While some of these trainings already take place, the Academy will provide a centralized clearinghouse for these types of efforts in Bucks County .

Private industry partners will play a pivotal role in the Academy’s success, providing hands-on training, support, curriculum guidance, and help with on-site training and job placement. These partners currently include Dow, Lockheed Martin, AE Polysilicon, Gamesa, PECO, and Rhodia.

“The Green Jobs Academy will be critical in fostering economic growth in Bucks by training workers in the clean, green energy jobs of the future,” said Rep. Murphy. “I’m proud to have fought for funding and worked with these leaders across different sectors to make this private-public partnership possible. This model will prepare students to enter a new, high-tech workforce and will remove a major hurdle to the development of renewable energy.”

“ Bucks County Community College is encouraged by the trust placed in it by Congressman Murphy to develop and deliver on this major new initiative for our citizens and our business community,” said Dr. James Linksz, President of Bucks County Community College. “Our continuing partnership with education and public and private sectors in Bucks County should enable us to create a model academy, bringing the best that each has to offer. This is indeed the right project at the right time with the right partners to make things happen.”

“ Drexel University looks forward to our collaboration with Bucks County Community College in providing new instructional and experiential opportunities for citizens and industries in our region in renewable energy,” said William Lynch, Dean of Goodwin College of Professional Studies at Drexel University . “By co-locating educational initiatives at the Bridge Business Center , Drexel University and Bucks County Community College will contribute a new and unique catalyst for workforce and economic development. We are grateful to Congressman Patrick Murphy for his support and encouragement in making this regional dream a reality for current and future citizens.”

2 PA Energy Research Projects Funded

From the inbox:

The Department of Energy today announced major funding for 37 ambitious research projects – including some that could allow intermittent energy sources like wind and solar to provide a steady flow of power, or use bacteria to produce automotive fuel from sunlight, water and carbon dioxide.

Innovative projects in Pennsylvania selected for awards include:

Pennsylvania State University (University Park, PA) - Catalyst-coated titanium dioxide nanotube membranes to convert sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into methane and other hydrocarbon fuels.

DOE share: $1,900,067

Lehigh University (Bethlehem, PA) - Electric field swing adsorption for carbon capture using high surface area conductive solid carbon sorbents. Uses electric fields to change the interaction of molecules on a surface, capturing and then releasing the CO2 using far less energy than current approaches.

DOE share: $566,641

The $151 million in funding is being awarded through the Department’s recently-formed Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (“ARPA-E”). ARPA-E’s mission is to develop nimble, creative and inventive approaches to transform the global energy landscape while advancing America’s technology leadership. This is the first round of projects funded under ARPA-E, which is receiving total of $400 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

In announcing the selections, Secretary Chu said: “After World War II, America was the unrivaled leader in basic and applied sciences. It was this leadership that led to enormous technological advances. ARPA-E is a crucial part of the new effort by the U.S. to spur the next Industrial Revolution in clean energy technologies, creating thousands of new jobs and helping cut carbon pollution.”

The grants will go to projects with lead researchers in 17 states. Of the lead recipients, 43% are small businesses, 35% are educational institutions, and 19% are large corporations. In supporting these teams, ARPA-E seeks to bring together America's brightest energy innovators to pioneer a low cost, secure, and low carbon energy future for the nation.

ARPA-E was originally established under the America Competes Act of 2007. In April, President Obama announced $400 million in initial funding for the agency. The projects unveiled today are part of the first solicitation from ARPA-E’s $400 million in total Recovery Act funding. The 37 selected projects, which are receiving an average of approximately $4 million each, span the energy sector, including potentially transformative innovations in energy storage, biofuels, carbon capture, renewable power, building efficiency, vehicles, and other energy technology areas.

Inspired by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), ARPA-E was created to support high risk, high reward energy research that can provide transformative new solutions for climate change and energy security.

This first ARPA-E solicitation was highly competitive and oversubscribed, with over 3,600 initial concept papers received. Of those, approximately 300 full applications were requested and ultimately 37 final awardees through a rigorous review process with input from multiple review panels composed of leading U.S. energy science and technology experts and ARPA-E’s program managers. Evaluations were based on the potential for high impact on ARPA-E’s goals and scientific and technical merit.

The project selections announced today can be found here.

A second set of ARPA-E funding opportunities will be announced later this fall. Please visit for more information about these selections, upcoming technical workshops, and new funding opportunities.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bryan Lentz's Clean Energy Summit

This morning I went to an event in Delaware County and took notes. You may notice that they are more cryptic as the event went on. My apologies for that but my hand gets tired. As always I apologize for any errors or misconceptions. Where possible links are included so you may find more information or verify anything that does not seem clear, by checking with the source.

Pennsylvania Clean Energy Summit
Thursday, October 22nd, 2009
10:00 to 12:30
Delaware County Community College

Delaware County Community College President Dr. Jerry Parker made opening remarks.

State Rep. Bryan Lentz: The purpose of this summit is to education the public on the important of energy independence and security. We have an opportunity to make the US a leader on global warming. Soon Pres. Obama will be going to Copenhagen. We can be in a strong position with the US as a leader or a weak position with the US not able to agree on a strategy. We will begin the discussion on the national level and on the state level (HB 80). Why? First because of national security. We purchase energy from nations that don’t have our best interests at heart. In addition, the CIA, Dept. of Defense and National Security Council are now putting climate change into strategic plans, flood, famine, moving people from one area to another. Secondly, 98% of scientists agree on global warming. Thirdly, we need to stop exporting jobs and stop importing solar panels. We can make them here.

Brendan Flynn of the Truman National Security Project, filling in for Jon Powers who is in DC meeting with the president. I graduated from the US Coast Guard Academy. and used to work for Congressman Patrick Murphy. We have an over reliance on oil and other fossil fuels. The money we spend on oil, some goes to terrorist groups that we are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another component is climate change. John Kerry said climate change will act like a lit match on the kindling of extremism.

Dr. Bernard Finel is not an environmentalist but a “guns and bombs” guy. If you look around the world, the political hot spots are where climate change will have the most dramatic effect. Mexico City, Darfur, where Lake Chad is drying up, and Pakistan where the Indus River may become a seasonal stream. The confluence of crises and conflicts will become more difficult to solve. In South Asia water will become scarcer. The Indus River goes through India and Pakistan, both nuclear armed states. We send $400 billion abroad every year, tens of billions end up in Hugo Chavez’s pockets and with Russian businessmen who have different interests than ours. We need to restore our economic leadership. As Tom Friedman has said, “If you love the effects of importing oil you’ll love the effects of importing solar panels form China.”

Dr. Jerry Parker, president of Delaware County Community College. This is the first community college in the nation with a Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics division focused on providing training for this industry. The post recession economy will be slow to recover but will be different. Many of the lost jobs are lost forever. There will be fewer semi-skilled jobs. The remaining jobs will be higher level jobs requiring more education. Existing tradesmen need to acquire additional skills to learn green jobs aspects of existing jobs. New students need better math skills, etc. to learn HVAC, solar panels, etc.

Bryan Lentz: A portion of the trades know where their job will be, example, Boeing. If you learn new skills you probably can get a good job there. High school graduates don’t’ know as much math as they should. We need to catch up. Students need motivation – to know they have a job waiting.

Tony Girifalco, executive VP of the Delaware Valley Industrial Resources Center. There are 5,000 small and medium sized manufacturing firms in SEPA that employ over 100,000 people. Can we engineer our way into the 20th century. American brainpower created entire industries many of them here. Many employment opportunities aren’t there any more – shrinking middle class. Work with independent companies, look at their systems and make recommendations to make systems more efficient. In an innovation economy everything begins and ends with ideas. Everything begins and ends with people. Creating a new kind of citizen – independent critical thinkers. Educating people for jobs that haven’t been invented yet.

State Rep. Greg Vitali (introduction – if you ask anyone, Republican or Democrat in Harrisburg, who knows about the environment they would say Vitali): I view myself as a political technician. Went to see a film “Coal Country.” There were picketers outside with signs that said “coal keeps the lights on.” Quote from (either Sinclair Lewis or Upton Sinclair) “It is difficult to understand something if your paycheck depends on not understanding it.” We need to shift from fossil to renewable fuels. PA produces 1% of the world’s greenhouse gasses. Some local communities in my and Lentz’s districts have energy plans. Five key bills have passed in PA. Four are the governor’s energy independence strategy: increasing the % of renewable materials in fuels, the % of renewable energy from utilities, smart metering, renewable energy fund, climate change action legislation. It took awhile to get them passed – there is no substitute for tenacity. This term the most important piece of legislation is HB 80 / SB 72. 16 million tons of emissions reduced, increases renewable energy standards to 15% by 2024. Still behind NJ but still a good thing. The amount of solar from utilities increases from .5% to 3%. Much resistance from utility companies and unions. Carbon capture and sequestration, sets up framework on PA that pulls CO2 out of coal process and puts it in safe storage.

[short break]

Nathan Wilcox: of PennEnvironment compliments Lentz, like Vitali a friend of the environment. Pollution leads to health problems, asthma, premature deaths. PA has some of the dirtiest coal fired power plants in the nation. Water pollution: nuclear power uses a lot of water, natural gas drilling and water pollution problems, land degradation. In PA we use 60% coal, 35% nuclear power. It is possible to build so called zero energy homes. The wind going over 5 states could power whole country. Concentrated solar panels over 9% of the landmass in Nevada could power whole country. There are some problems with transmission. If we double the use of public transit use we could cut our oil imports by (40?)%

BL: Hopes SEPTA can keep up with demand if there is another Phillies parade this year. The last three panelists will talk on jobs.

Dan Rafter of IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) local 654. (Delaware and Chester Counties). There are 700 members in Delco and they have a 700 sq ft building for a training facility. A major part of IBEW is training. Spend $400K a year. Every apprentice training in photovoltaic solar panels; journeymen also trained in [?]. There are 8000 hours of on the job training and 9000 hours of other training. We are putting solar panels on our building and hope it will pay 90% of the energy bill. Training to make sure things are properly installed and contracts are correctly written.

Eric Thumma of Iberdrola Renewables. helped craft PA Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards when worked for PA DEP. Need to talk about sustainability more broadly. Iberdrola spawned by public policy. Iberdrola is largest owner / operator of renewable energy in the world, located here for policy reasons.

Drew Devitt of New Way Airbearings. not against wind turbines, but the best winds are about 35 miles off our coast. class 6 or 8 winds, as opposed to class 4 inland. If turbines could float wouldn’t have to build foundations. Vertical axis wind turbines can be attached to moorings not foundations. Horizontal axis gets peak power, vertical axis can get broader power. One idea to bring cables to existing power plants, then can use existing grid. Horizontal not suitable for offshore. We can build vertical axis turbines right here.

BL: Summary on pending federal legislation. American Clean Energy and Security Act. June 09 passed House HR 2454 by narrow margin. now in Senate.

Questions (These are just summaries of some of the questions and answers. Some were very specific and others very general. I included information here on what seemed most relevant and what I could understand.)

Mike Fiorintino environmental attorney. to Vitali, is that 15% tier 1 and tier 2. GV 15% is tier 1 – (wind solar geothermal). (Tier 2 is waste coal, etc.) 8% by 2020, 15% by 2024. to Wilcox: cap and trade by auction (anyone can buy) or allocation (goes to existing producers). NW: ideal would be auction. Obama wanted auction. not politically feasible. will be a bit of both.

Mike Gerber’s bill on biofuels, diesel and gasoline, increases renewable content. shifting to cellulosic only for gasoline.

DEP funding a project in Erie on algae as a biofuel, part of energy harvest program

Rebecca Ross of Delco Planning Committee: recently completed greenhouse gas emission inventory. just got $3.6 million from stimulus for energy efficient projects including doing a county wide energy plan.

in schools 2nd most expensive cost in school is energy (behind personnel).

Lentz closed by thanking those attending and Janet Tirado of his staff for organizing the event.

blogger notes: The setting was very nice, although the auditorium was a Verizon dead zone and I had to go outside during the break to check my mail. People with blackberries seemed unaffected. The ferns around the speaker's table added an air of elegance and the greenery was very apt given the subject matter. Other random thoughts -- Lentz is noticeably thinner than when he ran in 2006. Nathan Wilcox's voice sounds a little like Steve Buscemi, at least to my tin ear. All speakers were white men in suits. Women made up roughly one fourth of the audience.

Final note: My thanks to the person who sent me a personal invitation, with enough lead time to arrange work and home schedule to attend.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Redistricting Site

One item of concern to the politically informed is the redistricting that will be done after the 2010 census. To get an idea of how your district stands up compared to others nationally, you can check

The group behind it is Philly-based. Here are some details from their press release:

Avencia is no stranger to political and election-focused projects. Earlier this month, Avencia and Committee of Seventy, the Philadelphia region’s premier non-partisan government watchdog group, launched a sister website to the “Redistricting The Nation” site, dedicated to raising public awareness in the Greater Philadelphia area about the potential impact of the 2010 census on federal, state, and local election districts, available at During the November 2008 presidential election, the firm built a Voting Incident Tracking and Mapping web-based application that tracked voting problems in real-time to enable Committee of Seventy’s record-setting 1,000 person volunteer force to respond faster and more efficiently. Avencia also worked for multiple candidates in races to generate campaign walking and get-out-the-vote (GOTV) maps, and most recently generated over 400 campaign financing analysis maps for for their ‘Remote Control’ report.

“It is exciting to be able to leverage our global database of legislative districts and GIS analysis tools to promote good government and nonpartisan redistricting,” said Robert Cheetham, Avencia’s CEO. “It is a process that can be easily manipulated to protect incumbents and discourage competitive races. Our goal with this new site is to both educate the public early in the Census 2010 cycle, and to create software tools that will promote a more open, citizen-driven and transparent redistricting process in 2011.”

Political geography is at the center of several ongoing projects at Avencia. The white paper analysis of compactness of election districts was made possible by Avencia’s Cicero product, a legislative district matching and elected official lookup web API, developed for local governments, unions, businesses, and non-profit political and advocacy organizations to match citizens with their local, state, and national elected officials. Cicero taps a global database of legislative district maps and information about politicians, legislative bodies, and election events. Initially beginning with only a few cities, Avencia has grown the database to include national, state and local legislatures for the United States and several other countries and made an interactive version available to the public.

An Alternative to Metcalfe

State Rep Daryl Metcalfe has some competition. Zack Byrnes is running againt Metcalfe for the 2010 election. Read more at 2 Political Junkies.

Things To Do Thursday

Two events for your consideration tomorrow, Thursday Oct. 22:

10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Delaware County Community College
901 South Media Line Road
Media, PA 19063

Join state Rep. Bryan R. Lentz as he hosts a panel discussion with regional and national leaders involved in helping America gain its energy independence. This diverse group of experts will talk about putting America back in charge of its own destiny through renewable energy, strengthening our national security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and creating jobs here at home instead of outsourcing manufacturing overseas. Operation Free representatives will be there.

If that doesn't tickle your fancy or if you are in the city, perhaps this would be more to your liking:

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Candidate Debate
The Honorable Joan Orie Melvin (R)
The Honorable Jack Panella (D)

Moderated by Lynn A. Marks, Executive Director, Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts
12:15 – 1:15 pm
(please arrive by noon)
Temple University
Beasley School of Law
Duane Morris Moot Court Room, Klein Law Building
1719 North Broad St. Philadelphia, PA 19122

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Daryl Metcalfe Insults Veterans

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, who thinks including men in a resolution about domestic violence promotes homosexuality (guess he's never heard of Lorena Bobbit), is in the news again.

Metcalfe, a veteran, was sent an email from a group advocating enviromental policy for national security reasons. His response was to say any veteran who was in favor of "cap and trade" is a traitor.

You can read more in an article from Dennis Roddy in the Post-Gazette ("Rep. Metcalfe calls vets on climate change tour 'traitors'")

There are two related events in the Philadelphia area on Oct. 21st.

In Philadelphia, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. you can visit with Operation Free’s “Veterans for American Power” bus, near the intersection of Market & Broad.

In Delaware County, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Event: NO WAR, NO WARMING! at the Peace Center, 1001 Old Sproul Rd., Springfield, PA 19064

More Info on Stoopville Road Project

I posted a note awhile back on the Stoopville Road project in Bucks County. It generated a lot of hits and interest so it makes sense to post an update. From the inbox:

Today, Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-8th District) joined PennDOT and local officials of both parties to announce the start of construction on improvements to Stoopville Road . The infrastructure improvements will include segments of Route 532 ( Washington Crossing Road ) throughout Newtown , Upper Makefield, and Lower Makefield townships.

Congressman Murphy successfully secured over $1.4 million in federal funding for these improvements, and proudly supported the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which provided an additional $1.4 million.

Planned improvements include roadway repairs, landscaping, the installation of traffic signaling devices, and realignment and widening.

The Washington Crossing National Veterans Cemetery will draw thousands of new visitors to the area. Rep. Murphy has worked closely with members of the townships’ Boards of Supervisors to find ways to devote resources to traffic calming measures that will keep local residents, commuters, and school-children safe.

“This funding will create jobs, improve transportation throughout three townships, and it is important to get this work going so that the Washington Crossing National Veterans Cemetery can open quickly,” said Rep. Murphy. “I’m proud to fight for funding that spurs economic growth in Bucks and does right by our veterans.”

“We are very pleased to be a part of this stimulus project that will create a gateway to the Washington Crossing Nation Cemetery ,” PennDOT District Executive Lester C. Toaso said.

“I was proud to work with Congressman Murphy to advocate for the traffic calming, intersection improvements and safety and mobility enhancements along Stoopville Road and Route 532 in Newtown , Upper Makefield and Lower Makefield townships,” said Rep. Steve Santarsiero. “This really was a local, state and federal effort, where we all worked together across party lines to get this project done for our community.”

SEPTA Sports Express Tomorrow (Wed)

From the inbox:

SEPTA has extra service on deck as the Phillies try to close out the Los Angeles Dodgers and move on to the World Series.

The Fightin’ Phils take on the Dodgers in Game Five of the National League Championship Series at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday, October 21. Lefty Cole Hamels is scheduled to throw out the first pitch at 8:07 p.m. A win puts the Phillies back in the World Series – and SEPTA is ready to get fans to the ballpark for all the action.

Sports Express trains on the Broad Street Line will supplement regular service to accommodate Phillies fans, as well as those heading next door to see AC/DC try to blow the roof off the Wachovia Center.

Fans and concert-goers riding SEPTA can expect quick and convenient travel to the Sports Complex:

• Ten Sports Express Trains will be deployed on the Broad Street Line, running every 10 minutes starting at 6:18 p.m.
• Sports Express trains depart at the Fern Rock Transportation Center, and stop at Olney, Erie, Girard, Spring Garden, Race-Vine, City Hall and Walnut-Locust, before reaching the Pattison Avenue Station at the Sports Complex in South Philadelphia. An average Sports Express trip from City Hall to Pattison Avenue takes just 8 minutes.
• There will be extra service on the Market-Frankford Line, which provides an easy connection to the Broad Street Line at City Hall.
• Express and Local trains will be waiting at Pattison Avenue after these events to get fans back home.

The Broad Street Line is easily accessible from other SEPTA services. In addition to the Market-Frankford Line, a number of bus and trolley routes provide connections. Regional Rail riders can also make a quick transfer by getting off at either Suburban or Market East stations. It’s also convenient for those coming in from South Jersey – just take the PATCO High Speedline to the 12th and 13th and Locust Station and follow the signs to the Broad Street Line.

For more information on SEPTA’s service for Phillies’ playoff games and other events – and for full schedule and fare information, as well as trip-planning tools – visit

SEPTA's New Hybrid Buses

This is part of a press release from SEPTA yesterday:

The 40 buses being purchased under the ARRA bolster an already robust and growing number of hybrids in the transit authority’s fleet. SEPTA is purchasing over 400 additional hybrids from New Flyer through 2011 under a four-year deal with the Minnesota-based company.

By the time all of these buses are delivered and put into service, approximately one of every three buses operating on SEPTA routes in the region will be powered by fuel-efficient, diesel-electric hybrid engines.

The hybrid buses are powered by an advanced parallel hybrid-electric power train using an electric battery system and traditional diesel power. The electrical and diesel systems work together to conserve energy during various functions, including starts and braking. By using the conserved energy to recharge the battery, the bus uses less fuel and the power train is designed to significantly reduce various fuel emissions.

Hybrid buses are up to 29 percent more fuel efficient than traditional diesel buses, and can reduce carbon monoxide emissions by 80 percent, and carbon dioxide emissions by 38 percent. They are also quieter-running, reducing noise pollution.

With one of the nation’s largest hybrid bus fleets, SEPTA is becoming an attractive destination for those interested in the growing field of so-called “green careers.” In fact, SEPTA is prominently featured in an educational series about green careers, which can been viewed at

Fed Money for PA First Responders

from yesterday's inbox:

The U.S. Department of Transportation today announced that it is awarding $20.9 million to states, territories and Native American tribes to improve the nation’s response to transportation incidents involving hazardous materials. The grants will help train first responders to react to incidents involving hazardous materials and to meet the safety challenges posed by new chemicals and alternative energy products such as ethanol.

“This program strengthens local emergency response capabilities and serves a vital role in a comprehensive hazmat safety program,” said Secretary LaHood. “Although prevention is our first priority, preparing communities to respond effectively to incidents that do occur is essential to protecting the safety of all Americans.”

The grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) are funded by user fees paid by shippers and carriers of certain hazardous materials.

Since 1993, over 2.4 million emergency responders and others have received training assistance nationwide using Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness (HMEP) grants. Assistance was also given to approximately 1,700 local emergency planning committees each year in preparing and exercising hazardous materials emergency response plans, and in conducting commodity flow studies that identify transportation hazards. Effective in 2008, transportation legislation more than doubled the funding of the HMEP grants program.

All 50 states, one territory, and seven North American tribes received HMEP grant funding this year.

More information on the HMEP grants program can be found at:

PA's piece of the pie: $691,476.00

The only states receiving more were: CA, FL, IL, NY, OH, and TX.

Monday, October 19, 2009

3rd Quarter FEC Report Round Up

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 July – Sept, 2009.

Keep your eye on individual donations vs. PAC’s

Most of the candidates leave their reports in alphabetical order. That makes it easy to see who donated what when. Others 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.

Watch the itemized (over $250 donations), unitemized (smaller donations), and PAC ratios. Generally, you will find unitemized to be about 10% the amount of itemized and PAC’s either a half or quarter of that, at least for incumbents. In open races or in challenger’s reports, there are usually fewer PAC donations. They like to stick with people they are fairly certain are going to win.

6th Congressional District

This is now an open race with two announced Democratic candidates and three announced Republicans.

Doug Pike, Democrat

Itemized 108,242.22
Unitemized 13,112.80
Total Of Contributions From Individuals 121,355.02 / 263,530.63
PACS 5,000.00 / 16,500.00
The Candidate 110,501.99 / 621,779.13
Total Contributions 236,857.01 / 901,809.76
Other Receipts 1,118.23 / 1,118.23
Total Receipts 237,975.24 / 902,927.99
Operating Expenditures 122,179.57 / 157,246.37
Total Disbursements 122,179.57 / 157,246.37
Cash Summary.
Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period 629,885.95
Total Receipts 237,975.24
Total Disbursements 122,179.57
Cash On Hand At Close Of The Reporting Period 745,681.62

Looking at numbers of listed contributors, not amounts, more than half of Pike’s contributors are from out of state. His own contributions to the campaign are listed as in-kind contributions and not loans. The donations were primarily from the standard doctors, lawyers, corporate chiefs. Given Pike’s journalistic past it was surprising that only 3 writers, 1 publisher, and an editor were listed. There are 13 contributors who donated $2400 or more, meaning they have donated all they can for the primary and any new donations must be used for the general election. Of those two donated $4800, and therefore cannot donate any more to this candidate for the 2010 election. No real celebrity contributors, unless you could politicos Connie Williams and former Philadelphia mayor Bill Green, or well known economist Mark Zandi. In disbursements, Pike lists 4 paid staff people, and health insurance payments. He paid the Campaign Group $25K, $2K to a PA fundraiser, $3500 to a DC researcher, and $16K to a DC firm for web development, plus an additional $1800 for photography.

Manan Trivedi, Democrat

Itemized 111,092.86
Unitemized 0.00
Total of Contributions from Individuals 111,092.86
PACs 3,000.00
Total Contributions: 114,092.86
Loans Made or Guaranteed from Candidate: 13,202.28
Total Contributions: 127,295.14
Disbursements: 5,351.98
Total Disbursements: 5,351.98
Cash Summary.
Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period 0.00
Total Receipts 127,295.14
Total Disbursements 5,351.98
Cash On Hand At Close Of The Reporting Period 121,943.16

All of Trivedi’s online donations through ActBlue are reported, regardless of the size ($25.00, etc), which explains why no unitemized donations are listed. In this report, all donations are itemized. In the top part of the report – donations to the campaign via fundraisers, cash, checks, anything but ActBlue, all but a few are from in state, but Act Blue contributors (remember, there are a lot of $25.00 and $50.00 donations in here), 4 to 1 are from out of state – keep in mind, though that it is hard to count these correctly as every other line is the same ActBlue aggregate number. An NBC writer and two congressional staffers are the closest to notable names that I saw. As do most candidates Trivedi taps into his family and ethnic roots for campaign donations, which explains a noticeable number of what I recognized as Indian surnames. There were a lot of doctors and other medical occupations listed, though a large number of “information requested” notes in the occupation / employer fields might mask other industrial groupings. Three donors contributed $2400 or more, one giving $4800. On this report no paid staff are listed. The expenditures are all for things like ActBlue processing fees and stamps. There is something odd about the loans listed. The summary table says the candidate has loaned or guaranteed the loan of $13,202, but if you look at the loan information in depth, Trivedi is listed as only loaning the campaign over $6,000. I don’t know if the rest is a loan from someone else guaranteed by Trivedi or if someone accidentally doubled the loan amount. Either way it is odd.

Ryan Costello, Republican

Itemized 25,100
Unitemized 3,930
Total of Contributions from Individuals 29,030.00
PACs 1,000
The Candidate: 641.79
Total Contributions: 30,671.79
Operating Expenditures: 9,804.64
Other Disbursements: 400.00
Total Disbursements: 10,204.64
Cash Summary.
Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period 0.00
Total Receipts 30,671.79
Total Disbursements 10.204.64
Cash On Hand At Close Of The Reporting Period 20,492.15

Mr. Costello had 31 itemized donors, all but 2 are in Pennsylvania. Five donors contributed $2400. In expenditures, $5K went to a DC firm for his website, another $1500 to a PA firm for FEC conference expenses. A personal note, it is too early in the season and Costello does not have enough money to contribute to other campaigns; they seem to disagree.

Curt Schroder, Republican

Itemized 62,235.75
Unitemized 11,941.00
Total of Contributions from Individuals 74,176.75 / 93,916.86
Politcal Party Committees 0.00 / 400.00
PACs 13,674.99 / 13,199.99
Total Contributions: 87,851.74 / 108,516.85
Other Receipts: 69.56 / 83.86
Total Receipts: 87,921.30 / 108,600.71
Disbursements: 16,547.94 / 21,801.72
Total Disbursements: 16,547.94 / 21,801.72
Cash Summary.
Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period 15,425.63
Total Receipts 87,921.30
Total Disbursements 16,547.95
Cash On Hand At Close Of The Reporting Period 86,798.99

Schroder has a broad spectrum of donors, a bus company manager, engineer, car salesmen, ceo of the Green Energy Foundation, in enough number to stand out among the usual doctors, lawyers, and chiefs. There are five donations of $2400. Either as individuals or PACs he has donations from a number of state reps or senators (I counted 8 but some others are probably in there and I didn’t recognize the names). He has $2000 donations from 3 medical PACs, Highmark, Blue Cross and the PA Medical Society. Over half of his disbursements went to local Republican firm Hallowell, Branstetter, for consulting, printing, and website development, which they seem to have added to their stable of talents. All this points to Schroder being the establishment choice. No paid staff are listed. This was a very well done report, tidy and neat, easy to read. Note: The campaign did file a report in the last quarter but I missed it. My apologies to the candidate, no slight was intended.

Steve Welch, Republican

Itemized 46,150.00
Unitemized 4,080.00
Total of Contributions from Individuals 50,230.00
The Candidate: 8,913.32
Total Contributions: 59,143.32
Loans Made or Guaranteed from Candidate: 500,000
Total Contributions: 559,143.32
Disbursements: 47,878.98
Total Disbursements: 47,878.98
Cash Summary.
Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period 0.00
Total Receipts 559,143.22
Total Disbursements 47,878.98
Cash On Hand At Close Of The Reporting Period 511,264.34

This report just screams “wealthy guy wants to run for office, without real local support.” He might make it, stranger things have happened. Of Mr. Welch’s 39 itemized individual donors, 22 are from out of state, and 11 donated $2400 or more (one gave $4800, another $2500). As you might imagine, investment firms show up frequently in the occupation / employer field. There is not a lot of local strength or depth here, the $500,000 from the candidate notwithstanding. In disbursements, roughly $30K of the $48K in disbursements went to one person, Brendan Benner. Even so, Welch seems to be in for the long haul, prepaying 3 months rent on his office. He has two interns and paid a local law firm $5K for legal advice. Get out the popcorn – this will be an interesting show.

7th Congressional District

Bryan Lentz, Democrat

Itemized 172,860.00
Unitemized 14,460.00
Total Of Contributions From Individuals 187,320.00
Other Political Committees (such as PACS) 33,100.00
Total Receipts 220,420.00
Operating Expenditures 2,374.06
Total Disbursements
Cash Summary
Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period 0.00
Total Receipts This Period 220,420.00
Total Disbursements This Period 2,374.00
Cash On Hand At Close Of The Reporting Period 218,045.94

The earliest itemized donations were dated 8/17/09 so Lentz is late to the party but has raised an impressive amount of money. Twenty-three people gave the full $2400 for the primary, with most donating more; 14 people gave $4800 which means they cannot donate more to the campaign before the 2010 election. About 15% (rough estimate) of the itemized individual donors are from out of state, respectable for a candidate with national ambitions. The preponderance of donors are lawyers, with a smattering of other occupations thrown in. Among those are his colleagues in the state legislature. Either individually or through their PACs, 21 state legislators donated to his campaign, as did 3 unions, including the IBEW. Two congressional representatives, Allyson Schwartz and Patrick Murphy donated through their leadership PACs. Lentz’s disbursements are all for fundraising events, no rent or paid staff.

Pat Meehan, Republican

Itemized 203,202.07
Unitemized 847.00
Total Of Contributions From Individuals 204,049.07
Other Political Committees (such as PACS) 7,500.00
Total Receipts 211,549.07
Disbursements 607.06
Operating Expenditures
Total Disbursements
Cash Summary
Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period 0.00
Total Receipts This Period 211,549.07
Total Disbursements This Period 607.06
Cash On Hand At Close Of The Reporting Period 211,549.07

Wow! Meehan raised over 200K in a few weeks, as the earlier itemized contribution is dated 9/14/09. Of the approximately 81 individual donors, 38 donated $2400, and 23 of those donated $4800, and therefore cannot donate any more money before the 2010 election. Among the individual donors are a few names I have seen in the news for various reasons, Rocco Imperatrice and Vince Galko, State GOP chair Rob Gleason, Delaware County DA Michael Green. The majority of the donors were lawyers with a few lobbyists and a couple of artists thrown in. Two PACs donated a total of $7500. There are virtually no disbursements. My guess is that Mr. Meehan tapped into some personal networks.

8th Congressional District

There is a Republican challenger but he announced late enough that no FEC reports were filed.

Patrick Murphy, Incumbent Democrat (elected 2006)

Itemized 215,746.86
Unitemized 32,832.37
Total Of Contributions From Individuals 248,579.23 / 817,979.04
Political Party Committees 1,160.00 / 1,160.00
PACS 58,375.00 / 323,175.00
Total Contributions 308,114.23 / 1,142,314.04
Transfers from Other Authorized Committees 3,000.00 / 3,000.00
Offsets to Operating Expenditures (Refunds, Rebates, etc) 12,855.85 / 17,771.73
Other Receipts 1, 218.66 / 1,487.74
Total Receipts 325,188.74 / 1,164,573.51
Operating Expenditures 139,517.92 / 845,944.45
Refunds to Individuals: 1,600 / 1,800
Refunds to PACS 21.20 / 21.20
Total Refunds 1621.20 / 1821.20
Other Disbursements 22,902.36 / 42,952.36
Total Disbursements 164,041.48 / 890,718.01
Cash Summary
Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period 459,760.77
Total Receipts This Period 325,188.74
Total Disbursements This Period 164,041.48
Cash On Hand At Close Of The Reporting Period 620,908.03

Roughly a third of Murphy’s individual donors are from out of state. In this report 32 donors gave $2400, 23 donors contributed beyond that, 8 giving $4800 which means they cannot donate any more money before the 2010 election. Some of these donations were in kind items for an auction at a fundraiser. There is an interesting cluster among the donors, a number of ceos and senior executives from a variety of companies, such a J Crew, and Aeropostal, balanced out by someone at Harley Davidson. The are an assortment of people from the arts – a couple of musicians, a writer from Larry David Productions, actress Felicity Huffman, and someone with what many would consider a dream job – “beer writer,” whatever that is. Throw in a midwife, a horse trainer, a veterinarian, some contractors, and the usual assortment of lawyers and doctors. In disbursements, there are 5 paid staff, payments for health insurance, and a note that he also pays for health insurance for staff of the Asplen for DA campaign. The largest payment is around $17K to Sutter’s Mill for fundraising. Liberty concepts received $2700 for his website (note: the “in the news” section showcases an article from a year ago). There are also amounts spent for fundraising events. The campaign also made donations to a number of charitable organizations The only remaining debt is one that has been lingering for some time, for a copier machine lease.

13th Congressional District

Allyson Schwartz, Incumbent District (elected 2004)

Itemized 111,611.82
Unitemized 13,219.78
Total Of Contributions From Individuals 124,831.60 / 695,262.08
Political Party Committees 9.15 / 86.89
Other Political Committees (such as PACS) 106,350.00 / 389,223.26
Total Contributions 231,190.75 / 1,084,572.23
Offsets to Operating Expenditures (Refunds, Rebates, etc) 4723.75 / 5450.09
Other Receipts 6,563.95 / 29,651.77
Total Receipts 242,478.45 / 1,119,674.09
Operating Expenditures 68,153.02 / 310,199.93
Refunds to Individuals/Persons 0.00 / 1,175.00
Other Political Committees (such as PACs) 0.00 / 1,000.00
Total Contribution Refunds 0.00 / 2,175.00
Other Disbursements 110,985.00 / 231,940.00
Total Disbursements 179,138.02 / 544,314.93
Cash Summary
Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period 2,531,511.83
Total Receipts This Period 242,478.45
Total Disbursements This Period 179,138.02
Cash On Hand At Close Of The Reporting Period 2,594,852.26

For some reason the Schwartz campaign scrambled their report this time so it is very difficult to track the items tracked in other report summaries. I counted close to 20 donors who gave $2400 or more but there are some duplicate counts in there. I can’t make any guestimate on how many donors are from out of state. No celebrity names that I recognized. Some interesting occupational clusters – several educational administrators, such a college deans. There were also more than usual notes for “information requested” in the occupation / employer fields. The report was different enough that I checked to see if the campaign had changed treasurers. It hasn’t. Other occupations listed are four lobbyists, an architect, some social workers, in with the usual doctors, lawyers, corporate chiefs. The PAC donations showed nine life insurance firms or associations. That’s quite a few. Under disbursements there are 2 paid staff. A DC fundraiser, Erickson & co, received a total of around $10K, 10K to the DCCC, 5K to the Montco Dems, One debt, to a credit card, was listed.

Damian Dachowski, Republican challenger

To make things simpler, let me just list his numbers. The campaign raised a little over $17,000, about $3,000 in cash or in kind form the candidate and the rest raised from 5 donors. The campaign spent a little over $3,000, leaving $23,000 cash on hand.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Playing Dead

Every year SEPTA is required by federal mandate to conduct a full-scale emergency simulation. This year's practice scenario was the collision of an automobile, a stranded passenger train, and a diesel fueled work train. Volunteers play the role of passengers and SEPTA staff who would be injured or killed during the accident. You see a lot of kids volunteering for the service hours needed for school or other organizations. They are encouraged to scream, yell, and otherwise get into the role. (Neighbors who weren't alerted in advance often get concerned.) I know that in some (all?) scenarios one or more volunteers are asked to simulate people with physical challenges of some kind, for example, wheelchair bound. Some volunteers are told they have an underlying medical problem that may not be evident to the emergency personnel, as an added test. In previous years volunteers have been made up so the pretend injuries are more realistic, but this hasn't happened for the past few years.

This is an excellent opportunity for the community to come together for a common good. The volunteers get a chance to contribute to a good cause and do something out of the ordinary at the same time. SEPTA crews get the chance to hone their skills so they can react more quickly and accurately in a real emergency.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

... And His Lovely Wife: A Local Version

None of our local political spouses have written books, but Young Lawyer published a nice biography of Jenni Murphy, wife of Congressman Patrick Murphy, and a lawyer in her own right, a little over a year ago. The June 12, 2008 issue is available as a pdf document. The story on Mrs. Murphy is on the cover. The Murphys are expecting their second child later this year.

Book Review: ... And His Lovely Wife

…and His Lovely Wife: A Memoir from the Woman Beside the Man, by Connie Schultz. NY: Random House, 2007.

Most political spouses stay on the sidelines or in the shadows. Connie Schultz, who was a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist before her husband, Sherrod Brown, decided to run for a Senate seat in Ohio, is not your standard political spouse. The title of the book is taken from the introduction she received at far too many political events. There are any number of unwritten rules for candidates’ wives, many of them contradictory. They are supposed to be smart and accomplished, but not overshadow the candidate. They should have opinions but never contradict the candidate. In Schultz’s case she also provided much needed health care benefits for the candidate. Brown was in Congress but wouldn’t take the health benefits until all Americans could get coverage.

Like many women who married after establishing a professional reputation she didn’t change her name, something that doesn't go over well with all potential voters or donors. This, as well as the overemphasis on womens' appearance, are among the challenges she had to deal with during the campaign. Trying to keep up with family, both her father (who died before the election), her children, and Brown’s daughters, was also daunting.

Schultz provides an insider’s view of the successful senate campaign, as well as the seldom heard spouse’s story. First ladies have been writing autobiographies recently but it is still a relatively new phenomenon. Schultz offers a glimpse into a race that focuses on a lower level, but still federal, race. One particular section, on the campaign’s plan to counter an expected negative ad involving Brown’s first marriage, takes into account both the political and the personal aspects. Those who write firsthand campaign accounts are usually either victorious candidates or campaign operatives who have achieved some level of celebrity. Here we have a chance to see the inner workings of a campaign from a different viewpoint. The role of the press is also explored, from a professional and personal angle, as she considers when to take a leave from her job at the newspaper to avoid a conflict of interest. It is an easily read narrative, a memoir rather than a policy polemic.

There are few enough political autobiographies written by women (because there are fewer women in office than men) and very few written by spouses of either gender, though when Kay Orr was governor of Nebraska her husband did produce the traditional cookbook to raise funds for the upkeep of the governor’s mansion (see The First Gentleman’s Cookbook). Hopefully there will be more titles of this nature. I enjoyed reading it.

After Brown's election she returned to her job at Cleveland's newspaper The Plain Dealer. You can read more about Schultz in her wikipedia entry.