Friday, April 30, 2010

Joe Hoeffel's Campaign Finance Reports (Updated)

This post reviews the last (only) 2009 and first 2010 campaign finance reports for Joe Hoeffel’s gubernatorial campaign, for the last 2009 reporting cycle, and updates an earlier post with just 2009 data. He starts with nothing in the bank, raised $586,552.34, spent $484,969.71 and had $101,582.63 cash on hand at the end of the reporting cycle. The reports themselves at are

Contributions are divided into those under $50, $50 to $250, and over $250. Itemized donations are divided into those from political committees and other. Hoeffel raised $8,828 in donations of less than $50.00. For the $50 to 250 range, he received seven donations from political committees, for a total of $1,200. He raised $44,940.91 from a total of 690 donations. In the over $250 categories there are 21 PACs for a total of $103,809.87 and $366,168.40 from 311 others. Of the larger PAC donations, a little over $30,000 came from another of his campaign committees; I think it is the fund from his Montgomery County Commissioner campaign. There is a $20K donation from the Montgomery County Democrats, and $15K from Progressive Agenda PA.. A business PAC donated $10,000; the rest of the PAC donations are smaller.

Trends in occupations of individuals and the focus of PACs include a larger than expected showing from engineers firms. I’m not sure what significance that has. There were only a handful of out of state donations. One of the individuals donating is the VP of the Phillies. There were fewer donations from other campaigns than one might expect for such an experienced politician

There are no limits on donations in Pennsylvania, which can lead to very large donations. Hoeffel seems to get more of the smaller donations. The largest individual donation came, as previously mentioned, from another of his committees. Other than that there is $20K donation from the Montgomery County Democrats, and $15K from Progressive Agenda PA, and one $15,000 donation from a partnership that is known more for donating to Republican candidates and organizations than Democrats. There were three donations for $10,000, one from a woman (you go, girl!). Of the other two one is from someone who works in construction; the other is from a law partnership. That partnership includes Pennsylvania pensions and the PA Turnpike Commission among its clients. It also took a company to court on behalf o the shareholders in response to a large executive budget. I like them for that alone. Among occupations attorneys and construction interests predominate..

In expenditures, Hoeffel invests in people not gadgetry or media. He had seven employees in the 2009 report and 13 in the 2010 report, though not all of these are likely to have been full-time. He also made health insurance payments. In addition he has paid a total of $50,000 to the firm which has been providing campaign management. In addition he has other consultants. There is a pollster, website expenses, postage, and fundraising costs. Hoeffel paid for google ad words and for microblogging.

This is a clean and intriguing report, showing a broad base of support, and no real surprises.

More Murphy Legislation

More on Murphy:

April 28, 2010 Congressman Patrick Murphy’s (D-PA) bipartisan bill to eliminate $98 billion lost to fraud, waste and abuse due to poor oversight on the part of federal agencies passed in the U.S. House of Representatives this afternoon.

“I am proud to pass this bill to ensure we cut down on wasteful government spending,” said Congressman Patrick Murphy.

“Taxpayers demand that there is accountability in their government." said Congressman Brian Bilbray (R-CA), the lead Republican sponsor of the bill. “The Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act of 2009 will finally mandate accountability of all federal agencies and their budgets. We must remember: it is not the government’s money, it is the taxpayers’ money.”

The bill is endorsed by the National Taxpayers Union and Citizens Against Government Waste, who stated in their letter of support that the Congressman’s “pro-taxpayer” bill fulfills the “basic expectation of taxpayers” that their hard-earned dollars “go toward their intended purposes and not to inappropriate uses.”

The legislation, H.R. 3393, The Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act (IPERA) strengthens auditing and recovery requirements within government agencies to help reduce the staggering amount of money lost to improper payments each year. Improper payments are those that occur when a federal agency pays too much or pays twice for a product or service, whether due to fraud or to poor financial management systems that don’t detect mistakes before federal dollars are misspent.

The bill now heads for a vote in the Senate where Senator Tom Carper is the lead sponsor of the bill, and where it has received bipartisan support from Senators John McCain and Tom Coburn.

Included is a link to the Congressman’s floor speech about the legislation as shown on C-SPAN.

Murphy Defense Acquisition Reform Legislation Passes

from the inbox:

Representatives Hail Passage of H.R. 5013, The IMPROVE Acquisition Act, to Better Serve Military and American Taxpayers

$135 billion Amount of money the bill saves taxpayers over 5 years

$32,642 Amount of money the military paid for an aircraft refrigerator that only cost $13,825 two years earlier – 136% higher for exactly the same product

7 years Time it takes the DOD to acquire information technology, when most IT products become obsolete within just 36 months

(Washington, DC) – April 29, 2010, Chairman of the Defense Acquisition Reform (DAR) Panel, Congressmen Rob Andrews (D-NJ), and Patrick Murphy (D-PA), Member of the House Armed Services Committee, have long worked to improve how the military purchases weapons and services. Yesterday, by a vote of 417-3, the House of Representatives passed legislation based on the panel’s recommendations requiring that the federal government improve the defense acquisition process.

“The IMPROVE acquisition Act makes sure the brave men and women who protect our country get the tools they need to fight more efficiently while cutting down on wasteful spending and saving taxpayers $135 billion over five years," said Congressman Rob Andrews.

“I was proud to work with Congressman Andrews to clean up wasteful defense acquisition spending, saving taxpayers billions of dollars and ensuring that the men and women in our military get the best possible equipment, training, and services,” said Congressman Patrick Murphy.

The bipartisan legislation overhauls the defense acquisition system to clean up waste, ensuring our servicemembers have what they need and that taxpayers get the best value for every dollar spent. The first reform entails building a better accountability system so the Department of Defense has a way to measure performance and hold the right people accountable if the goods or services they bought fail to meet standards. This will help the military avoid situations such as what happened in Iraq when it bought thousands of meals that were not needed and were never used.

The second reform improves DOD’s financial management system to make auditable, so that American taxpayers know whether their money is accounted for and are clear exactly where it is going.

Finally, the IMPROVE Acquisition Act builds our industrial base to enhance competition and gain access to more technology. Congressman Murphy offered an amendment, which was included in the bill, to strengthen this reform by requiring the DOD to monitor and assess the services and Information Technology portion of the industrial base for the first time – not just the military’s weapons systems.

One of their central findings of the DAR Panel was that the defense acquisition system focuses almost completely on weapons systems and not enough on services and IT, which actually make up a majority of acquisition spending. As a result, there is often a lack of competition among contractors that leaves the military with only one or two options when evaluating potential contracts. Congressman Murphy’s will help to expand competition in the services and IT sectors with the goal of avoiding a similar dependency in the future.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

PSU Gets Fed Energy Grant

from the inbox:

A University Park, PA university has been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy to receive a $1.5 million grant for a research project that could fundamentally change the way the country uses and produces energy. In an announcement made today by Vice President Biden, the DOE is awarding a total of $106 million, through the Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), for 37 projects that could produce advanced biofuels more efficiently from renewable electricity instead of sunlight; design completely new types of batteries to make electric vehicles more affordable; and remove the carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants in a more cost-effective way.

The Pennsylvania based project selected for award today includes:

Pennsylvania State University (University Park, Pennsylvania) Electron Source – Solar Hydrogen: An oil-producing algae that usually derives its energy from residual light and organic waste at the bottom of ponds will be “rewired” to use electricity. The organism will be able to convert hydrogen and carbon dioxide into a bio-oil that can be refined into gasoline.

“Thanks to the Recovery Act, dozens of cutting-edge research projects with the potential to dramatically transform how we use energy in this country will now be able to get underway,” said Vice President Biden. “By investing in our top researchers, we’re not only continuing in the spirit of American innovation, but helping build a competitive American clean energy industry that will create secure jobs here at home for years to come.”

“These projects show that the U.S. can lead the next Industrial Revolution in clean energy technologies, which will help create new jobs, spur innovation and economic growth while helping to cut carbon pollution dramatically,” said Secretary Chu.

In total, the grants announced today will go to projects in 17 states. Of the lead recipients, 24 percent are small businesses, 57 percent are educational institutions, 11 percent are national labs, and 8 percent are large corporations. In supporting these teams, ARPA-E seeks to bring America's brightest scientists and innovators together from diverse fields to pioneer a secure and prosperous energy future for the nation.

View the project selections announced today.

A third round of ARPA-E funding opportunities was announced in March 2010 with project selections to be announced this summer. Please visit Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy for more information about these selections, upcoming technical workshops, and new funding opportunities.

Hoeffel on Economic Development

from the inbox:

"The number one issue facing the commonwealth today is jobs," said Democrat Joe Hoeffel, candidate for PA governor. "We need a comprehensive strategy to create jobs, build a strong workforce, help small businesses, revitalize our cities, and rebuild our infrastructure as we move Pennsylvania's economy forward. Many see our situation as a problem to solve, but we also have an opportunity."

Investments to revitalize and rehabilitate older communities and downtowns will bring Pennsylvania's cities economic growth they haven't seen in many years, in turn bringing renewed safety, prosperity, and pride. As Montgomery County Commissioner, Joe Hoeffel launched a bold county economic development plan to spur major urban redevelopment projects, attract and retain businesses, and rejuvenate older commercial complexes. Hoeffel's economic development plan balances attracting large businesses to locate in or invest in Pennsylvania with strong support for small and local businesses in the commonwealth.

"I am also deeply committed to infrastructure projects," said Hoeffel. "We both create jobs and improve safety through projects to repair aging road and rail bridges throughout the state."

By investing in our roads, looking not only at maintenance but also at long-deferred upgrades and expansions, we not only increase highway capacity, but also encourage responsible development which will preserve both urban neighborhoods and suburban communities. "These projects can strengthen the connections between cities and suburbs and help both as they help each other."

Hoeffel also knows that investing in mass transit creates jobs in construction, maintenance, and transportation operations. An important by-product of this investment is that it facilitates and supports jobs throughout our cities and their surroundings. Through improved commuting, we improve quality of life for families. Moreover, we help the environment through reduced energy consumption and air pollution.

Revitalizing our urban centers can provide the economic "pull" to complement the "push" of the open space preservation programs. Coupled with transit-oriented design guiding our development, we can help our cities, suburbs, and rural areas work together as never before.

"Creating jobs right away through urban redevelopment and infrastructure rebuilding is the key to getting our economic recovery moving full steam ahead. But we also need to make sure we are creating a sustainable, long-lasting recovery. Through bolstered education and job training programs, we can build a strong workforce," said Hoeffel.

"And through sound investment in the business sectors which have demonstrated they are going to be the backbone of our 21st century economy, we can create high-paying, skilled jobs for Pennsylvania's workers. These are the two things we need most in order to not only recover from our current recession, but maintain a robust economy in the future."

"It is critical that we increase access to community college programs designed to educate and re-train workers in the skills the 21st century demands for Pennsylvanians of all ages. Those who stand to benefit the most from this are those most likely to be out of work. Increased funding and tuition assistance programs are a must if we are to bring this opportunity within their reach."

Hoeffel already has a track record of success in attracting investments from out-of-state and overseas partners for Pennsylvania businesses, from his days as Pennsylvania's Deputy Secretary for the Office of International Business Development. But when looking at businesses in Pennsylvania, Hoeffel wants us to keep a sense of scale: "Only 2% of Pennsylvania businesses have 100 or more employees. The other 98% of Pennsylvania businesses are small businesses, with 62% being sole proprietorships," Hoeffel explained. "And in a down economy, these are the businesses which are hardest hit. They have fewer resources and less money in the bank to help weather the storm, and less access to the financial capital required to right the ship when the seas calm."

To help small, local businesses across the commonwealth, Hoeffel has outlined a plan calling for investment in local and community banks and credit unions and recognizing the added value of awarding contracts to Pennsylvania businesses. He believes Pennsylvania can build a system where taxpayers, financial institutions, and businesses work together with the common interest of investing in our communities and rebuilding Pennsylvania's economy.

“Unlike J.P. Morgan and Citigroup, Pennsylvania’s community banks and credit unions are tied to the success of our towns, schools, and communities. And many are rated as much safer than the big banks," explained Hoeffel recently. "Community banks have unique knowledge of local economies and familiarities with local business prospects, and they have a vested interest in seeing their communities thrive."

Hoeffel said he would encourage municipalities, agencies, and school districts across the commonwealth to rethink the way we use public assets and invest in the institutions that invest in us. “By shifting public assets out of the banks that have bilked us for millions, and into local institutions that support our taxpayers and grow our small businesses, we can make our money work for us, not the tycoons of Wall Street,” he said.

Hoeffel also pledged to create a fair bidding practice for state business contracts. “When the state buys goods from out-of-state businesses, we send money out of the state and never see it again,” he explained. “But when we buy from in-state businesses, some of that money returns to Pennsylvania in the form of taxes from the companies and workers.” By using a net bidding procedure for state contracts, Pennsylvania can more fairly assess the value of bids -- taking into account the money that will return to the state in business and individual taxes, and also the economic benefits to the state from the employment of Pennsylvania workers that the work will maintain or create.

Lentz on Transportation

A statement from Bryan Lentz, Democratic candidate for the 7th congressional district:

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s recent rejection of the plan to turn Interstate 80 into a toll road has left our state’s transportation budget in crisis. Now, tough decisions lie ahead as we look for other ways to fund mass transit and much-needed repairs to Pennsylvania’s roads and bridges.

We cannot keep plugging budget holes with stopgap measures that make no improvements in the long-term strength of our transportation system. This is an opportunity to reevaluate and reform the piecemeal way we look at our state’s transportation infrastructure, and we should seize it. We need a comprehensive, regional approach to our transportation system, not patches to an antiquated process that fails to coordinate across modes of transportation and between transportation hubs.

Last December I reintroduced legislation that would establish a Southeastern Pennsylvania Regional Airport Authority, an organization that would help balance the traffic between underused and overcrowded airports and coordinate air and high-speed rail routes so that travel to all destinations is as fast, affordable, and efficient as possible.

A regional airport authority is just one component within what should be a larger movement to reform how we plan and invest in our transportation infrastructure.

Other states have already created effective intermodal authorities. In New York, for example, the Port Authority controls tunnels, bridges, airports, and seaports. In the Philadelphia region, unfortunately, we have no intermodal entity but separate entities for ports, airports, transit, the turnpike, and so on. Each entity has its own layers of patronage and political appointees, its own budget and ability to invest and incur debt. No single entity can develop and execute a comprehensive plan to transform our region’s transportation infrastructure. Each entity raises and expends funds independently and often on projects unrelated to transportation. This fragmented approach won't work if we are ever going to modernize and transform our transportation system. This transformation must include high-speed rail, but when it came time to campaign for federal investment in our state’s high-speed rail development, Pennsylvania missed out on a large portion of the funds.

We cannot have a first-rate economy without a first-rate transportation system, and for the future, that must include high-speed rail. In China, where much of the country still lives in rural undeveloped conditions, they nonetheless have trains that travel in excess of 300 km/h between their major cities. Other countries in Asia and Europe are already investing billions of dollars in improvements to their roadways, high-speed rail, and light rail.

To remain globally competitive, our state and our country cannot lag behind in the condition of our infrastructure. A modern and efficient transportation system capable of the quick and cost-effective movement of goods and people is a necessary foundation for economic growth. America, and in particular our region, should strive to have the best transportation system in the world bar none, in order to have the best economy in the world bar none.

A special session of the legislature will be required to address the funding gap emergency. We should not let this opportunity for evaluation and real change slip by. Fully funding maintenance and repairs will be easier in a streamlined, modernized transportation system that is designed and run with a common-sense, holistic approach.

A regional transportation authority and new high-speed rail development are the kinds of transformational policies that we need for real progress in our state’s infrastructure and economy.

A former Airborne Ranger, criminal prosecutor and Iraq war veteran Bryan Lentz currently serves in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from Delaware County. Lentz serves on the Appropriations Committee, on the Transportation Committee and as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Federal Relations for the Inter-Governmental Affairs Committee in Harrisburg. He was awarded both the Bronze Star for Service and the War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal for his military service. He lives in Swarthmore with his wife Jennifer and their son Thomas.

New WaPo Site

from yesterday's inbox:

April 28, 2010—The Washington Post, the leading source on politics, today introduces a new politics homepage, The new site offers the best compendium of U.S. political news, as well as the in-depth, original reporting and analysis that has made The Post Washington’s top online destination for politics. brings together political coverage produced across the newsroom, from The Post’s established reporting teams and columnists to its bloggers and online tools. In coming phases, the site also will offer more video, unique perspectives from an expanded number of bloggers, easier ways to share content with social media networks, must-read content aggregated from elsewhere and original polling.

“If you care about American politics, you’ll want to bookmark PostPolitics or make it your homepage,” said Washington Post Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli. “No other politics website in the capital reaches more people than we do, and the reason is our depth, our expertise and our talent. The new site builds on that.”

Chris Cillizza, author of the must-read political blog The Fix, will expand his role to serve as Managing Editor of In addition to seasoned Post writers and opinion columnists such as Dan Balz, David Broder, Eugene Robinson, Kathleen Parker, Ezra Klein, Charles Krauthammer, Steve Pearlstein and Dana Milbank, will be home to recent additions to The Post’ political team, including Karen Tumulty, David Weigel and Nia-Malika Henderson.

The site has a great interactive map of house and senate races, providing info on previous voting in the district and other data.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Quick Look at Anthony Williams Campaign Finance Reports

Quite a lot has been written about the money raised by State Sen. Anthony Williams for his gubernatorial campaign. (For example, see "Why three big donors got behind Williams," by John P. Martin, Inquirer 4/11).

I won't repeat that here but will instead take a look at some of the other money he raised (see his campaign finance reports on state website, From the total $1,725,906.48 raised, $1,640,000.00 came from PACS, $1,500,000 from three PACs (see article above for more discussion on this). There are five other, smaller PAC donations.

Another $1,010 came from individual donations of $50 to $250. There are seven donations in this category. An additional $84,400 came from larger donations, 30 of them, of more than $250.00. There are three donations in this category that are larger than the others. One donation of $15,000 is from a developer in Plymouth, a $10,000 from a Connecticut investment firm owner, and another $10,000 from someone now affiliated with the campaign. Several Ballard Spahr attorneys contributed. Four of these 30 donations are from out of state.

In disbursements, I see 5 people paid for consulting that is probably similar to salaried campaign work. The biggest expense is polling. Two DC polling firms are paid, one $35K and another $25K. A third firm from CA is paid $17K. The campaign paid Stones Phones $32 for phone calls. There is a $9K payment to a direct mail firm. The campaign also bought google ad words.

Kanjorski on Rural Mortgages

from the inbox:

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5017, the Rural Housing Preservation and Stabilization Act of 2010, introduced by Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski (D-PA), the Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises, by a vote of 352-62. The vote now clears the legislation for consideration in the Senate.

“Today, the House passed my much needed legislation to help ensure that families living in rural America can continue to access USDA loan guarantees so that they can buy homes with affordable mortgages,” said Chairman Kanjorski. “Many people living in rural communities do not have as much access to affordable home loans. The USDA program works to fix this problem, but it could run out of federal funding in a matter of days. We must ensure that families continue to have options for accessing affordable home loans. My bill will enable the program to continue its good work at no cost to the taxpayers. I am hopeful that the Senate will soon act on these matters as Senator Bennet of Colorado has already taken the lead in pushing this issue in that chamber. I urge the Senate to act quickly and pass this legislation.”

The House Financial Services Committee unanimously passed H.R. 5017 last week. The bill ensures the continued access of rural homebuyers to affordable mortgages through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) loan guarantee program. The financial crisis has spiked consumer interest in the program, tripling the number of loans annually made since 2006. Because demand continues to grow, the program will exhaust its federal funding within days. H.R. 5017 would solve this problem by making the program self funded, enabling families living in rural communities to continue to access these loan guarantees.

“As a result of this program, I was able to purchase my first home which I have wanted all my life," said Virgie Spruiell from Bushkill, Pennsylvania. “I enjoy it every day and it is a blessing. I greatly appreciate Chairman Kanjorski's efforts to enable the program to continue so that other people can access these guaranteed home loans just as I did. It has had helped me tremendously."

Chairman Kanjorski’s legislation will correct the Section 502 Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program funding shortfall by enabling the program to pay for itself, rather than relying on federal funding. In order to pay for the program, lenders will pay up to a 4 percent fee on new home mortgages and the USDA will have increased loan authority of $30 billion dollars for this fiscal year. As a result of these changes, financing of the program will move from a combination of government funding and industry fees to a self-sustaining initiative.

The USDA’s Rural Housing Service manages the Section 502 program, which provides a vital source of mortgage credit for people living in rural communities. Low- and moderate-income individuals and families in rural communities often have fewer mortgage credit options than those households in urban areas. The program aims to fill that void and lower the costs of homeownership by giving rural areas access to a home loan guarantee program. These guarantees decrease the exposure of home lenders to defaults so that they will underwrite more mortgages. In 2009, loans to more than 115,000 homebuyers guaranteed under the program averaged $112,000. To qualify for the program, borrowers must have good credit and reliable incomes to sustain homeownership.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hoeffel on Banking

from the inbox:

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Joe Hoeffel thinks it is about time Pennsylvania invests in Pennsylvania, and he will do something about it.

At a press conference today, Hoeffel outlined a plan that will encourage investment in Pennsylvania’s banks and credit unions and award contracts to Pennsylvania businesses.

“Homeowners across America entered into mortgages which seemed like good deals at the time -- only to later discover big banks were profiting at their expense,” Hoeffel said. “Pennsylvania's financial crisis, and the difficulties faced by many cities, counties, and school districts across the commonwealth, has similar roots. Municipalities and agencies made risky investments with taxpayer money, and big banks profited while we lost.”

Hoeffel’s plan calls for investment in local and community banks and credit unions and recognizing the added value of awarding contracts to Pennsylvania businesses. He believes Pennsylvania can build a system where taxpayers, financial institutions, and businesses work together with the common interest of investing in our communities and rebuilding Pennsylvania's economy.

Hoeffel explained that in the years leading up to the current financial crisis, a complex and controversial fiscal practice called interest-rate swaps became commonplace in Pennsylvania. These exotic "financial instruments" were supposed to benefit the governments that entered into them, but when the economy changed and floating rates took off, taxpayer dollars became big profits for big banks, according to Hoeffel.

He cited several examples:

* In late 2008, the Bethlehem Area School District spent $10.2 million of taxpayer’s money not on reducing class size or providing activities for their students. They gave it to J.P. Morgan.
* In 2009, Montgomery County paid $12.3 million to two banks, United Bank of Scotland and PNC.
* This past November, the Delaware River Port Authority, the intergovernmental agency that operates ports, bridges, and transportation between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, paid United Bank of Scotland $111 million, even though the agency’s budget for the entire year was supposed to be $159 million.
* On April 8th of this year, the cash-strapped City of Philadelphia, facing a second year of debilitating service cuts and the prospect of charging a fee to collect trash, raised funds not to clean streets or put more cops on them but to pay Citigroup $48.6 million.

“Bethlehem schools, Montgomery County, the DRPA, and the City of Philadelphia paid these exorbitant costs just to get out of reckless investments, Hoeffel said. Today, he said, 86 of Pennsylvania’s municipal governments and 107 school districts have nearly $15 billion in public debt tied up in these interest-rate swaps. The Philadelphia School District alone ties over $1 billion in debt to interest-rate swaps.

Hoeffel said he would ban future interest-rate swaps by adding a provision to the Local Government Unit Debt Act and the Municipal Authorities Act to explicitly prohibit local governments from gambling tax dollars in interest-rate swaps, or any other bizarre "financial instruments." He then would act to end all active swap arrangements as soon as possible and refinance using conventional financial instruments, preferably utilizing responsible Pennsylvania community banks and credit unions.

One of the keys to growing Pennsylvania is investing in Pennsylvania’s financial institutions. “Unlike J.P. Morgan and Citigroup, Pennsylvania’s community banks and credit unions are tied to the success of our towns, schools, and communities. Many are rated as much safer than the big banks.

“According to a study published in January, smaller, safer community banks in Pennsylvania "play a significant role in the economic growth of both rural and urban" parts of the state, he said. “Furthermore, one of the most valuable traits of community banks is their unique knowledge of the local economy and expertise in local business prospects, which makes them integral to growing the economies of communities around the state.”

He said he would encourage municipalities, agencies, and school districts across the Commonwealth to rethink the way we use public assets and invest in the institutions that invest in us. “By shifting public assets out of the banks that have bilked us for millions, and into local institutions that support our taxpayers and grow our small businesses, we can make our money work for us, not the tycoons of Wall Street,” he said.

To make these policies possible, Hoeffel supports two key changes to state law.

* Drop the mandated collateral for state deposits in all banks from the Pennsylvania requirement of 120 percent of the deposit to the more common standard of 102 percent used around the country. "Our higher requirement is unnecessary and puts undue restrictions on community banks and credit unions," Hoeffel said.
* Extend from one year to three years the life of the Certificates of Deposit that the state invests in banks. "Three years will make it much easier for community banks to loan the money into the local community," Hoeffel explained.

Hoeffel said he would also:

* Encourage the state treasurer to increase the investment of state assets into community banks and credit unions, rewarding those that make loans in the state.
* Establish goals for placing unused bond proceeds in community banks and credit unions in the same ratio and shifting the state pension money from big banks into community banks and credit unions.
* Push for a change in the way two percent of the state's pension funds are invested in venture capital funds, from the current directive to "consider geographical diversity" to a strategy of investment in businesses in the commonwealth, which will give businesses a greater incentive to start in Pennsylvania.

Hoeffel also pledged to create fairer bidding practices for Pennsylvania businesses.

“When the state buys goods from out-of-state businesses, we send money out of the state and never see it again,” he explained. “But when we buy from in-state businesses, some of that money returns to Pennsylvania in the form of taxes from the companies and workers.”

Sam Durso, Philadelphia Coordinator of the national Move Your Money Campaign, joined Hoeffel in calling for greater support of community banks and credit unions: "We thank Joe Hoeffel for his timely support, and we call on all candidates across the city and the state to join the Move Your Money campaign in supporting the community banks and credit unions that support our local economies and small businesses. Financial reform is coming, and the message is clear: now is the time to invest in the institutions that invest in us."

For more details on Joe Hoeffel's Banking and Finance platform, visit

Schwartz Introduces Green Job Act

from the inbox:

U.S. Reps. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA), Mark Schauer (D-MI) and Brian Bilbray (R-CA) introduced bipartisan legislation yesterday that will encourage the next generation of biofuels or fuels made from living things such as plants and algae.

The GREEN JOB (Grow Renewable Energy Economy Now, Jumpstart Other Biofuels) Act will create high quality jobs here in America, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, replace fossil energy sources, and bring economic benefits to rural and urban communities across the country.

“We have the opportunity right now for American companies to be at the forefront of producing the next generation of energy sources and creating thousands of clean energy jobs,” Schwartz said. “This legislation will accelerate the construction of these biofuels and encourage cost-effective production right here in America.”

“To fuel our long-term economic recovery, we need to make sure American businesses have the resources they need to fulfill our long-term energy needs,” Schauer said. “By investing in the renewable energy sources of tomorrow, this legislation will help cut our dependence on foreign oil and put people back to work today.”

“Green job creation depends upon strong American enterprise,” Bilbray said. “The GREEN JOB Act provides for greater incentives and investment in the production of sustainable, renewable and green energy from advanced drop-in transportation fuels, such as biofuels created from algae. Our bill will provide the much-needed and long-overdue tax parity for algae-based fuel that will help develop this growing industry.”

The GREEN JOB Act will provide a level playing field between algae-based fuels and cellulosic or plant based fuels by bringing the production tax credits between these two technologies closer together. It will also provide investment for both types of fuels by creating a 30 percent investment tax credit for bio-refineries that will give the biofuel industry equal treatment under the tax code as other renewable energy sectors such as wind and solar. The bill will also provide an extension of the production tax credit until 2016.

Dan Onorato's Campaign Finance Reports

Continuing to look at the campaign finance reports of gubernatorial candidates, in this post we will review those of Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato. There are two reports for Onorato for Governor. However, given that a significant amount of money was transferred from his existing Friends of Onorato campaign account, I have given at least a cursory glance at the most recent two filings for that committee as well. (Reports are available at

In Onorato for Governor’s reports, the campaign raised a total of $7,580,610.30 and spent $878,747.18, leaving him with $6,701,833.12. There are $100,986.50 in in-kind donations. As previously mentioned, a great deal of his money came from his other campaign fund, just over $6 million in fact, which means that around $500,000 was donated directly to his gubernatorial campaign. Six individual donations of $25,000 are recorded. Since Pennsylvania has no limits on campaign donations large donations like this, which are not allowed for federal candidates, are permissible. As Onorato’s campaign has progressed his donors have both broadened and narrowed. His one 2009 report shows about one fourth of his individual donors were from out of state, more West Virginia than any other state, but a smaller percentage were from the Philadelphia area. In his 2010 reports there are fewer out of state donors but more from the Philadelphia area. Since a large percentage of his individual donors are from the Pittsburgh area and I’m not familiar with the political community there I can’t pick out any significant donor names. However, I do see several associated with Grane Health Care and the Berger & Montague law firm. He also received a number of donations associated with Carnegie Mellon University . The only celebrity-ish name I noted is Anthony Podesta. A producer from Lionsgate also donated, providing some Hollywood glitz. He has some union support showing in PAC donations, with a somewhat surprising $5,000 donation from Joe Torsella for Senate.

One thing that needs to be pointed out, and is somewhat distressing to anyone who relies on the state website for accurate campaign finance information, is an error on the 2009 cycle 7 report for Onorato for Governor. The cover sheet lists the total donations as $6,436,710.53. However, schedule 1, the detailed summary of contributions lists the total as $6,661,460.53. That is a difference of about $224,750.00. Looking at the list of contributions on the state’s website there is a $250,000 donation from one person. That seems excessive. I tapped someone with access to the printed reports who told me that there is no $250,000 donation listed there but there is a $25,000 donation from someone with that name. I think that $25,000 donation was given an additional 0 at some point in the translation from printed to online reports and it would account for the discrepancy in the cover sheet and schedule 1. I hope the PA Dept of State will correct that. It impacts not only the Onorato campaign but also the man whose name is listed with the donation. I bet his phone has been ringing off the hook with requests for other large political donations.

In expenditures he pays salaries and health insurance costs. He uses two software packages for campaign uses, which is somewhat unusual but not unheard of. More of his consultants are from out of state than I like, preferring campaign donations to stay in state as much as possible; DC is understandable, but why hire a firm from Little Rock , or North Carolina , or Connecticut ? If you are ever in the Philadelphia office please admire the sign there as it is listed as costing $2,840. The campaign paid for a poll, a fair amount of research, general consulting, and put the Echo Group on a retainer. They have hired the Campaign Group for media. They also paid a sign language interpreter. I haven’t seen this before but heartily encourage it. The campaign groups credit card and related payments together without breaking down costs. This is, to my knowledge, allowed, but it does not provide for much transparency. I also wish the campaign would use something other than “services rendered” to indicate salaries, especially where female campaign workers are concerned, but that is just a personal pet peeve. There are also a lot more “information requested” notes in the occupation / employer fields but that could be an indication of new staff unfamiliar with the software; hopefully a more complete amendment will be forthcoming.

Now for a look at the two more recent Friends of Onorato reports. As previously mentioned that is where the bulk of his gubernatorial money came from. John Micek of the Allentown Morning Call wrote “In tough times, candidates look to themselves for cash,” (4/09) and quoted an Onorato source as saying that sometimes donors sent money to one account when they intended it to go to the other. Plausible, and I did note that one large donor gave to the Friends of Onorato account in 2009 but to the governor campaign account in 2010. To give the campaign credit they have made these reports available on the state website, to provide greater transparency. However, it is worth a look at the donations to one account when money is transferred to the other. In the last report for 2009 the Friends of Onorato account received three donations for $100,000, from Harold Lenfest the retired Philadelphia area executive and philanthropist, Ron Burkle of Yucaipa Companies in LA and also part owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and from Thomas and Gail Buckner of IBIS Tek LLC. The president of Rosebud Mining gave him $50,000. These accounts also have a lot of “information requested” notes in occupation / employer fields. Sloppy, people, sloppy.

[blogger's note: a couple of people helped me out with some details on this report and I am grateful for their help]

Sunday, April 25, 2010

First Quarter FEC Report Round Up

1st Quarter FEC Reports

Okay, here we go again. First off, you can browse these reports yourself at As always I apologize in advance for any errors or misinterpretations. I am neither a lawyer nor an accountant, just an interested observer and these thoughts should be taken as such.

This quarter covers January – March, 2010.

Most candidates leave their reports in alphabetical order. That makes it easy to see who donated what when. Some arrange their reports chronologically so you can see the pattern of donations. Others 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 the amount of the itemized donations., 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.

At this point in the election cycle it is easy to see who has donated the maximum amount possible. People can donate $2400 per “election,” which means $2400 for the primary and another $2400 for the general. Someone who donated $4800 cannot give that candidate any more money until after the November election. You can’t donate retroactively so if someone doesn’t start donating until after the primary they can only donate $2400. Everyone have that? No? I don’t blame you – it’s a little complicated, but we’ll do our best to keep it all straight.

6th Congressional District

This once open race is now more complicated. Current Republican Congressman Jim Gerlach has ended his campaign for governor and decided to run for re-election. Four other Republicans filed FEC reports this quarter and while I know that some of them have withdrawn from the race, I’m not sure of the status of all of them. Thus, their basic financial information is provided, though as a group instead of individual entries. The two Democrats in the race, Doug Pike and Manan Trivedi will have to duke it out in the primary election.

Doug Pike, Democrat
Itemized: 95,508.00
Unitemized 12,547.00
Total Of Contributions From Individuals 108,055.00 / 475,901.07
PACS 14,500.00 / 42,500
The Candidate 100,457.29 / 1,062,705.47
Total Contributions 223,017.83 / 1,581,112.08
Other Receipts 2047.77 / 4257.89
Total Receipts 225,065.60 / 1,585,369.97
Operating Expenditures 153,046.67 / 405,868.21
Refunds: 6,375.00 / 6,375.00
Total Disbursements 159,421.67 / 412,243.21
Cash Summary.
Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period 1,107,482.82
Total Receipts 225,065.60
Total Disbursements 59,421.67
Cash On Hand At Close Of The Reporting Period 1,173,126.76

Quite a few of Pike’s donors are from out of state; my rough count is over a third and less than half, somewhere in that region. Six people have given him $4800 which means they cannot donate again at all. Another nine have donated over 2400, the maximum allowable in the primary. So if Pike does not win the primary he has to at least offer this money back to the donor. I didn’t recognize any big names. In with the usual doctors, lawyers, executives, he has a cluster of donors from the educational / non-profit world, and another cluster in writing and editorial work. One odd note, he received $5.54 as an in-kind donation from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for fundraising services. I think that must be a typo. His PAC donations are primarily union; the exception is a $1000 donation from State Rep. Dwight Evans campaign. Note that Pike has given the campaign another $100,000, bringing his personal donations to just over a million dollars. In disbursements, he paid seven people some salary and an additional two received a stipend. I’m not sure what the difference would be but there must be one. He paid health insurance. In with usual campaign costs I see $25K for research. In the last report he paid nearly $4,000 for research. That’s a lot of research.

Manan Trivedi, Democrat

Itemized 125,075.55
Unitemized 31,531.79
Total of Contributions from Individuals 156,607.34 / 360,338.19
PACs 13,350.00 / 24,450.00
The Candidate: 1024.17 / 16,432.33
Total Contributions: 170,981.51 / 401,220.52
Total Receipts: 170,981.51 /401,220.52
Operating Expenditures: 98,249.27 / 217,777.72
Other Disbursements:
Total Disbursements: 98,249.27 / 217,777.72
Cash Summary.
Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period 123,381.63
Total Receipts 170,981.51
Total Disbursements 98,249.27
Cash On Hand At Close Of The Reporting Period 196.113.87

Trivedi has really broadened his base. While you still see more Ravis and Sanjays in his list of donors than in most finance reports they are outnumbered by the more mainstream names. Of the direct donors less than a fourth are from out of state. Trivedi makes significant use of Act Blue, an online site that allows people to donate to Democratic candidates across the country. Some appear to make use of the feature that allows them to make regular donations; there are monthly donations for the same amount. Many are repeat donors without using that feature (differing donations from the same person). Roughly a third of his Act Blue donations were from out of state. Let’s say of the total a third came from out of state. Only one person has completely topped out at $4800 but nine have given $2400 and an additional four have donated over $2400. Trivedi’s donors are more varied occupationally. As a doctor he does, as one might expect, pull in a lot of money from fellow doctors and other health care researchers, etc. There are also the standard lawyers and executives. However he also has a tax coach, architect, accountant, ESL teacher, SAT tutor, farmer, and poet. A varied group. I see a few former political candidates but no big political names. His PAC donations seem evenly split between political campaign funds, unions, and issue related funds. In disbursements, Trivedi’s campaign had six people on the payroll at various times. He pays health insurance. The campaign paid $17K to a polling firm, hired a consultant and an email management firm.

Other Republicans Candidates

I’m not exactly certain of the status of Curt Schroder’s campaign but he brought in only $413.64 this quarter and spent $15,689.83, leaving him with $112,596.33 on hand. Steve Welch has a totalof $30,237.87 left in his campaign fund, after repaying himself the half a million he had loaned to the campaign earlier. Brian Gordon raised a total of $27,609 from individuals and $50.00 from political committees. He spent $35,310.60, leaving him with $27,373.40 on hand. Walt Hufford raised $3450.00, spent $12,173.35, and has $7,911.06 on hand. I could not find a report for Patrick Sellers. He might have filed a paper report instead of electronic; I didn’t check. Apologies but I’m not paging through a pdf of a campaign finance report. The electronic are mind-boggling enough.

Jim Gerlach, incumbent Republican

Itemized 203,927.99
Unitemized 21,756.50
Total Of Contributions From Individuals 225,684.49 / 396,961.38
Other Political Committees (such as PACS) 289,133.50 / 471,808.50
Total Receipts 515,150.43 / 890,645.26
Operating Expenditures 171,517.75 / 599,347.13
Refunds, other disbursements: 12,750.00 / 172,625.00
Total Disbursements 184,267.75 / 771,972.13
Cash Summary
Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period 5,298.03
Total Receipts This Period 515,150.43
Total Disbursements This Period 184,267.75
Cash On Hand At Close Of The Reporting Period 336,180.71

In this quarter and for the election cycle overall, PAC donations are greater than individual donations. That may be a reason for concern. There are a number of donations from the employees of Bentley Systems. You also see varying occupations that normally mean lobbyist, including lobbyist. Very few of Gerlach’s donations are from out of state. His reports are arranged chronologically not alphabetically by name of donor so they are a little tricky to work with. A wide variety of occupations are represented. He did have over 30 donations of $2400 or more, with 11 of $4800. There are also several instances of donations either been given twice or recorded twice because people are listed as having given $9600 and then there is a note about a refund. I don’t know which is worse, listing a donation twice or the possibility that people will not have realized they already gave nearly $5000 and so they give it again. I myself have never lost track of that much money. His campaign must have been burning up the phones because he has a lot of PAC money. There are over 100 occupational or corporate PACs such as Bank of America PAC, American Bankers PAC, New York Life, and so on. There are a lot of doctor’s and medical organizations listed. There are about 20 political PACs such as Cohen for Congress in state and Eric PAC (I think is Eric Cantor’s leadership PAC) from out of state. Among the few cause oriented funds are the Turkish Coalition USA organization. In disbursements, there are two salaried employees, one of which was reimbursed for health insurance, several campaign functions were done by corporations. Over $30K was paid to a corporate name for finance director and another was paid for campaign work, including $18K for media work. He paid $23K for polling. A fundraising consulting received commissions on her work. Another fundraising firm was hired as well.

7th Congressional District

Bryan Lentz, Democrat

Itemized 135,618.00
Unitemized 27,301.08
Total Of Contributions From Individuals 162,919.08 / 530,048.08
Other Political Committees (such as PACS) 73,500.00 / 221,600.00
Total Receipts 236,419.08 / 751,648.08
Operating Expenditures 88,689.94 / 144,277.21
Total Disbursements 88,689.94 / 144,277.21
Cash Summary
Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period 459,691.73
Total Receipts This Period 236,419.08
Total Disbursements This Period 88,689.94
Cash On Hand At Close Of The Reporting Period 607,420.87

Only about 20 of Lentz’s nearly 370 donors are from out of state. In this reporting period, five donors reached the $2400 level, an additional 10 donated more than $2400, and five above that donated $4800 and thus cannot donate to his campaign again before election day in November. As far as my estimation goes, he only received $3,100 via ActBlue. There are a lot of lawyers in his donor group, but also a cluster of educators, plus a steamfitter and a painter. I counted three elected officials or candidates donating their own money. One other person of note – the COO of the Kimmel Center. Of the PACs the majority, 19 were political in nature. Most of the campaign committees donating were local, Mike Gerber, Josh Shapiro, Dave Frankel. Lentz is personable and appears to have made a lot of friends. He received donations from eight union organizations, seven industry groups, and four cause-related groups (or were groups I couldn’t fit into the other categories. A number of the PAC donations were funneled through the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as memo-ed items. Allyson Schwartz’s leadership PAC donated. In disbursements, there are a total of six employees, though some were probably part-time or short-term employees. He paid for insurance, though I am not sure what kind. He paid $10K for his website and $15K for a legal retainer.

Pat Meehan, Republican

Itemized 183,300.20
Unitemized 19,387.41
Total Of Contributions From Individuals 202,687.61 / 910,627.50
Political Party Committees 1,000.00 / 1,000.00
Other Political Committees (such as PACS) 139,050.00 / 222,500.00
Total Receipts 342,737.61 / 1,124,127.50
Operating Expenditures 161,308.80 / 255,091.55
Refunds: 600.00 / 4000.00
Total Disbursements 161,908.80 / 259,091.55
Cash Summary
Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period 694,207.14
Total Receipts This Period 342,737.61
Total Disbursements This Period 161,908.80
Cash On Hand At Close Of The Reporting Period 875,035.95

Of his roughly 280 itemized donors, 17 were from out of state. A total of five reached the $2400 mark this quarter, an additional 12 donated more than that, and five more reached the $4800 mark. He has a lot of lobbyists among his itemized individual donors, a lot of lawyers, and a priest. There are a lot of PAC donations. I counted 29 politically oriented committees, including those of Mike Huckabee and Eric Cantor, plus a number of PACs with the word conservative in their name. He had 20 corporate PAC donations including Blue Cross and Highmark insurance companies. WaWa and McDonalds also like Meehan. There are 15 industry related PACs, a notable number are medical in nature. There are 16 issue related or otherwise uncategorized PACs. You can draw your own conclusions from all that. Among distributions he has two paid employees but like Gerlach pays retainers to groups that probably provide political services. He bought a digital camcorder. He paid for website hosting retainer, and an additional $20K for database management consulting.

8th Congressional District

Patrick Murphy, Incumbent Democrat (elected 2006)

Individual Itemized 383,708.00
Individual Unitemized 33,265.99
Total Of Contributions From Individuals 416,973.99 / 1,465,308.50
Political Party Committees 0.00 / 1,060.00
PACS 165,400.00 / 579,825.00
Total Contributions 582,373.99 / 2,046,193.50
Transfers from Other Authorized Committees 0.00 / 5,000.00
Offsets to Operating Expenditures (Refunds, Rebates, etc) 3,954.18 / 23,018.63
Other Receipts 2,194.31 / 5,583.07
Total Receipts 588,522.48 / 2.07,795.20
Operating Expenditures 116,535.15 / 1,059,583.20
Total Refunds 0.00 / 1821.20
Other Disbursements 0.00 / 45,502.36
Total Disbursements 116,535.15 / 1,106,906.76
Cash Summary
Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period 847,753.64
Total Receipts This Period 588,522.48
Total Disbursements This Period 116,635.15
Cash On Hand At Close Of The Reporting Period 1,319,740.97

Of the 563 itemized donations I counted 196 as being from out of state. Fifteen donors gave $2400, the maximum allowed for the primary, 30 gave over $2400, and 27 more donated $4800 which means they cannot donate to his campaign again before the November election. Murphy’s donors include the standard doctors, lawyers, and Indian chiefs, including executives at both Urban Outfitters and J. Crew, which might get him some traction with the hipster crowd. There is a cluster of donations from employees of L-3, a cluster of higher education people (both administrators and professors), and a cluster of artsy types, artists, playwrights, agents, some with recognizable names. His PAC donations are a mix. There are about 40 corporate PACs, 12 union PACS, 10 political groups, 11 industry PACs, and 12 cause or unknown PACs. It is a diverse group. Murphy has the support of boilermakers, blacksmiths, and plumbers, and the Communication Workers union as well as Comcast. His disbursements are unremarkable. There are six paid employees at various times over the quarter; he pays for health insurance. He paid his fundraising consultant $13K. The campaign’s printer is local, in Levittown.

Mike Fitzpatrick, Republican

Individual Itemized 414,550.62
Individual Unitemized 35,883.00
Total Of Contributions From Individuals 450,433.62
Other Political Committees (such as PACS) 59,360.00
Total Contributions 509,793.62
Other Receipts 22.73 / 22.73
Total Receipts 509,816.35
Operating Expenditures 37,244.22
Refunds to Individuals/Persons 200.00
Total Contribution Refunds 200.00
Total Disbursements 37,444.22
Cash Summary
Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period 0.00
Total Receipts This Period 509,816.35
Total Disbursements This Period 37,444.22
Cash On Hand At Close Of The Reporting Period 472,372.13

This report is arranged chronologically instead of alphabetically which makes it more difficult to work with. I counted 35 out of state donors from the 502 itemized individuals. There were 24 donations of $2400, 12 of more than $2400, and 26 gave the full $4800 allowed for the entire election cycle. There were quite a few executive positions listed as occupation. Among employment clusters I saw Crown Holdings / Crown Cork & Seal, Bucks County, and the building trades. He also had a geologist listed, which seemed unusual. Most of the PAC money came in through political campaign committees and most of those were local. He received money from several issue PACs, though some might be congressional leadership PACs, it is sometimes hard to tell from the names. There were only four identifiable corporate PACs. In disbursements, one employee is listed. Campaign Financial Services received nearly $8K. He used a Massachusetts printing firm and paid them $9K. Mr. Fitzpatrick has $21,748.89 in debt, a third of it to a country club for catering; this is likely a matter of a bill being held or having come in late and not paid before the report was due. There is another bill for catering. He also owes for telephone service and website development.

Other Republicans

I found reports for two other Republicans; there are or were others in the running but they might be filing their reports on paper instead of electronically. Apologies, dear readers, but I’m not sorting through the pdfs of reports unless someone appears to be a viable candidate. Of the electronic reports, Judith Algeo appears to be shutting down. She did not raise any money this quarter, spent a little over $5,000 had had $48.06 on hand at the end of March. Gail Carlineo fared a little better. She raised $29,978.51 and loaned herself $80,100, for a total of $110,078.51. She spent $16,676.38, and had $93,402.13 on hand at the end of the quarter.

13th Congressional District

Allyson Schwartz, Incumbent District (elected 2004)

Individual Itemized 225,281.84
Individual Unitemized 11,566.00
Total Of Contributions From Individuals 236,847.84 / 1,132,865.92
Political Party Committees 26.37 / 119.65
Other Political Committees (such as PACS) 120,100.00 / 652,152.68
Total Contributions 359,974.21 / 1,785,138.25
Offsets to Operating Expenditures (Refunds, Rebates, etc) 138.60 / 8,530.41
Other Receipts 7,283.20 / 44,141.31
Total Receipts 364,396.01 / 1,837,809.97
Operating Expenditures 151,736.32 / 562,873.09
Refunds to Individuals/Persons 1,000.00 / 2,175.00
Other Political Committees (such as PACs) 0.00 / 1,000.00
Total Contribution Refunds 1,000.00 / 3,175.00
Other Disbursements 950.00 / 240,070.00
Total Disbursements 153,86.32 / 806,118.90
Cash Summary
Cash On Hand At Beginning Of Reporting Period 2,840,475.29
Total Receipts This Period 364,396.01
Total Disbursements This Period 153,686.32 / 806,118.09
Cash On Hand At Close Of The Reporting Period 3,051,184.98

Around a quarter of Schwartz’s donors are from out of state. I counted three donations of $2400, 31 of more than $2400, and 15 additional donors reached the $4800 maximum amount for the election cycle. Occupationally I saw a cluster of health related professions, not just doctors but also heath care administrators, child psychologists, pharmacist, physical therapist, etc. Of course, there are lawyers (including one at NBC Universal), and executives (such as the one at a bicycle company), but there is also a teacher, a social worker, and a minister. The president of the Phillies is also a donor. Her PAC donations are somewhat unusual for a Democrat. There are only five unions represented and no discernible political committees. I counted 34 PACs connected with corporations, and 27 related to industries or occupational groups, many of these are medical in nature. There were seven cause or otherwise unidentifiable PACs. I may have miscategorized some of these – some of the PAC names are not very helpful. Her disbursements are unremarkable. There are two paid staffers and she pays for health insurance. The campaign uses a local printer. There are payments for software, website maintenance, polling ($27K), and so on.

Republican challengers

I found electronic reports for two candidates, though there may be others. Damian Dachowski has, I believe, ended his campaign. In this quarter he raised $1,209, spent $10,320.22, and had $13,569.55 on hand at the end of the quarter. Dee Adcock appears to be the favored candidate. He raised $43,006.00, loaned himself $70,000, spent $72,413.24, and had $44,956.45 at the end of the quarter.

Off Topic: Scalzi Gets Fuzzy

Jon Scalzi, author of The Old Man's War and assorted other science fiction novels has something new in the works. He's revisioning (or rebooting or re-something) H. Beam Piper's Little Fuzzy. I read Piper's Fuzzy books about 30 years ago and they weren't new then. The original was published in 1962; the story held up, though. They were good. I like Scalzi's work and look forward to seeing what he does with Piper's.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Adopt a Matt Bradford Sign

This is clever, from the Matt Bradford campaign:

How would you like to adopt your very own pet lawn sign? We have well behaved lawn signs looking for good homes. These adorable Bradford campaign signs take minimal care.

No need to worry about vaccinations or accidents in the house with a pet sign. All a pet sign needs is to be lovingly placed in your yard with a clear view of the street. They just love to watch traffic go by. When you go on vacation, you don’t have to worry about taking your pet lawn sign to a kennel. The only clean-up needed, is to bring your pet sign indoors for the summer. Your sign will then be well rested for their playtime outside again in the fall. Here are pictures of some of our pet signs out playing in the yard.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cheesesteak, Dad Vail Regatta, IPad

I'll take "Things with Philadelphia origins for $500, Alex." Yes, the IPad has some local roots. Read Joseph DiStefano's "PhillyDeals: The IPad's magic touch has local origins," in today's Inky. Here's the opening paragraph:

Apple Computer Inc.'s iPad runs on touch-pad technology developed by a firm called Fingerworks at the University of Delaware, funded by Main Line investors, then spirited west to Apple's Cupertino, Calif., headquarters, in a quiet deal that left both sides happy, at the time.

It's an interesting story.

Philly Receives Energy Funds

from the inbox:

Vice President Biden will today kick off five days of Administration events around the 40th anniversary of Earth Day with the announcement that Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is one of 25 communities that has been selected to receive up to $452 million in Recovery Act funding to “ramp-up” energy efficiency building retrofits. Philadelphia has been selected to receive $25 million under the Department of Energy’s Retrofit Ramp-Up initiative. These projects will bring together communities, governments, private sector companies and non-profit organizations to implement pioneering and innovative programs for concentrated and broad-based retrofits of neighborhoods and towns – and eventually entire states. These partnerships will support large-scale retrofits and make energy efficiency accessible to hundreds of thousands of homeowners and businesses. The models created through this program are expected to save households and businesses about a $100 million annually in utility bills, while leveraging private sector resources to create what funding recipients estimate at about 30,000 jobs across the country during the next three years.

“For forty years, Earth Day has focused on transforming the way we use energy and reducing our dependence on fossil fuel – but this year, because of the historic clean energy investments in the Recovery Act, we’re poised to make greater strides than ever in building a nationwide clean energy economy,” said Vice President Biden. “This investment in some of the most innovative energy-efficiency projects across the country will not only help homeowners and businesses make cost-cutting retrofit improvements, but also create jobs right here in America.”

“This initiative will help overcome the barriers to making energy efficiency easy and accessible to all – inconvenience, lack of information, and lack of financing,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "Block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, we will make our communities more energy efficient and help families save money. At the same time, we’ll create thousands of jobs and strengthen our economy."

Project Energy Smart: Transforming the High Performance Building Retrofit Market in Southeastern Pennsylvania will accelerate the creation of a robust private retrofit market in the Greater Philadelphia Region by retrofitting thousands of commercial and residential buildings. The project takes a region-based focus designed to help impact larger percentages of buildings within target areas. The project will catalyze growth in both the supply and the demand for high performance retrofits. The program will also allow the expansion of the Expand Smart Rehab program, which includes multi-family housing. The program will be supported by a coordinated outreach and marketing campaign that includes a centralized one-stop shop for consumers. The project expects to create partnerships intended to provide banks with loan performance data, vital to facilitating low-risk opportunities for banks to participate in energy efficiency retrofit loans.

In addition to the $452 million Recovery Act investment, the 25 projects announced today will leverage an estimated $2.8 billion from other sources over the next three years to retrofit hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses across the country. Overall, the program funding was eight times oversubscribed, with more than $3.5 billion in applications received for the just over $450 million in Recovery Act funds available, indicating significant demand for investment in energy-saving and job-creating projects like these nationwide.

Grantees will employ innovative financing models to make these savings accessible, for example by offering low and no-interest loans that are repaid through property tax and utility bills. In implementing these projects, grantees will deliver verified energy savings and incorporate sustainable business models, to ensure that buildings will continue to be retrofitted after Recovery Act funds are spent. The Department will use the lessons learned from these pilot programs to develop best-practice guides to comprehensive retrofit programs that can be adopted and implemented by communities across the country.

The Retrofit Ramp-Up projects, which are part of the overall $80 billion Recovery Act investment in clean energy and energy efficiency, complement the Obama Administration’s ‘Recovery through Retrofit’ initiative, which lays the groundwork for a self-sustaining and robust home energy efficiency industry. The awards are the competitive portion of DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program, which was funded for the first time under the Recovery Act to help state, local, and tribal communities make strategic investments in improving energy efficiency, reduce energy use and fossil fuel emissions.

Secretary Chu, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and Carol Browner, Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, joined Vice President Biden today for the announcement, which was the first of more than two dozen events and activities Administration officials will participate in around Earth Day. In addition to today’s event, the President will host an Earth Day reception with environmental leaders on Thursday, April 22nd, a video message from the President will air as part of events on the National Mall on Sunday, April 25th, and Administration officials will participate in educational programs with school children, visit wetland and coastal restoration projects and participate in community service projects as part of the President’s Earth Day call to action. The events will highlight some of the ways the Administration is working to improve the environment, transform American infrastructure for greater energy-efficiency and build a clean energy economy that supports the jobs of the future.

As part of the events, Administration officials will also continue the push for Congress to act on HOMESTAR legislation and comprehensive energy and climate change legislation. A full roster of Administration Earth Day activities is below and more information on the President’s Earth Day call to action is available at

Schwartz on Veterans Care

from the inbox:

U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz continued her commitment to addressing the needs of America’s service members, veterans and their families by voting for legislation today that provides solutions to the major challenges facing these brave men and women.

The Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act will:

ü Provide support to family and others who care for disabled, ill or injured veterans;
ü Enhance health services for the 1.8 million women veterans, including care for newborns for the first time in history;
ü Expand mental health services for veterans and health care access for veterans in rural areas; and
ü Prohibit co-payments for veterans who are catastrophically disabled.

“Every day mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, grandparents and friends are living with the pain of having their loved one overseas and in harm’s way,” Schwartz said. “When soldiers do come home, they are often faced with deteriorating health issues and trouble overcoming the strains of war. This legislation will make it easier for families and veterans to deal with the challenges they face and will provide them with the health care they need and deserve.”

For the last three years, this Congress has been committed to providing better care for our veterans, troops and military families, including passing the New GI Bill, building more military child care centers and providing better military family housing, and making important investments to strengthen quality veteran’s health care.

The legislation passed by the House today builds on that commitment by providing support services for families and other caregivers of veterans including education on how to be a better caregiver, counseling and mental health services, and a stipend for those living with severely wounded veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.

For the first time in history, this legislation will remove existing barriers to women veterans seeking health care, providing up to seven days of care for newborn children of women veterans and enhancing treatment for sexual trauma for women at the VA.

The bill also improves health care for veterans living in rural areas by expanding transportation to local VA hospitals and clinics.

The legislation is supported by the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, AMVETS, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Wounded Warrior Projects and the National Military Family Association.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Look at Todd Stephens Campaign Finance Reports

A few weeks ago I ran a blog post on one state rep’s campaign finance reports. It was intended as the first in a series. Today we continue, this time looking at the reports of Republican Todd Stephens. He ran against Rick Taylor in the 151st state house district and is running again this year. There are five reports for 2008 and three for 2009.

In 2008, Stephens raised a total of $227,433.69. His campaign had expenditures of $221,701.18, which is a fairly equal number, leaving him with $5732.51 to start with the next year for the 2010 campaign. However, he also received $184,361.97 in in-kind donations. Breaking down the 2008 donations, $106,192.14, not quite half of his total, came from political committees or political action committees. Looking at donations in depth, his PAC donations came in from other campaigns, such as that of Stewart Greenleaf, Bruce Castor, Jim Matthews the Friends of [Jim] Cawley. The Friends of John Perzel donated the most -- $7,000. State and county Republican organizations also donated. The House Republican Campaign Committee (HRCC) donated a cash total of $24,500; the county party $31,000, and the state party $2,000. Other interests donating PAC money include housing and construction, and insurance. His individual donors show similar interests with some notable Republican names, such as former Congressman Jon Fox, Mario Mele, and those involved in property development, construction, and engineering, along with the usual mix of lawyers and executives.

The 2008 disbursements show a pattern I have noticed in other reports, with payments to party organizations, including $40,000 to the HRCC. The campaign paid for postage, google ad words, printing, and about $45000 for media buys.

The in-kind donations are significant, and are a little more than three fourths the amount he received in cash donations. This includes office space from a building firm, and $99,556 from the state Republican party for campaign literature and postage. The HRCC paid $42,000 for an employee’s salary. The Friends of John Perzel also made in-kind donations totaling $27,269.38, most of which was also for salaries.

In 2009, which appeared to be a slow year, between election years, Mr. Stephens brought in a total of $2414.09. He spent $5793.93, which left him $2166.56 to start gearing up for the 2010 election. There were no in-kind donations. He paid website fees and an inexpensive robocall in late 2009.

Congressional Women's Caucus Briefing

Last Wednesday, the Women’s Policy, Inc. (WPI) will hosted a briefing, “Effective Strategies to Improve Maternal and Child Health in Urban Low-Resource Settings in the Developing World,” Featured speakers were the State Department’s Senior Advisor on Global Women’s Issues, Rachel Vogelstein, who will spoke on U.S. efforts to improve maternal and child health in urban communities in resource-poor countries, and Kenyan health advocate, Jane Otai, who will discuss her work in Nairobi’s slums. The briefing was sponsored in conjunction with Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Judy Biggert, co-chairs of the International Women’s Issues Task Force of the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues (CCWI); Reps. Lois Capps and Kay Granger, co-chairs of the Women’s Health Task Force; Rep. Jan Schakowsky, co-chair, Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues; and Reps. Gwen Moore and Kay Granger, vice-chairs of the Women’s Caucus.

Webcast, speaker bios, etc. available at:

Obama: PA A Disaster

catching up. This is from Friday's inbox:

President Obama Signs Pennsylvania Disaster Declaration

The President today declared a major disaster exists in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and ordered Federal aid to supplement the Commonwealth and local recovery efforts in the area struck by severe winter storms and snowstorms during the period of February 5-11, 2010.

Federal funding is available to the Commonwealth and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe winter storms and snowstorms in the counties of Adams, Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Fayette, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Huntingdon, Indiana, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry, Philadelphia, Somerset, Westmoreland, and York.

In addition, assistance is available to the Commonwealth and eligible local governments on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures, including snow assistance, for a continuous 48-hour period during or proximate to the incident period in the counties of Adams, Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Fayette, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Huntingdon, Indiana, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry, Philadelphia, Somerset, Westmoreland, and York and for a continuous 72-hour period during or proximate to the incident period in Delaware County.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures in the counties of Adams, Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Fayette, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Huntingdon, Indiana, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry, Philadelphia, Somerset, Washington, Westmoreland, and York.

W. Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Regis Leo Phelan as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected area.

FEMA said additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the Commonwealth and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.

Kanjorski Testimony

from the inbox, related video of Kanjorski questioning financial regulators at:

Today, Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski (D-PA), the Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises, is participating in a Financial Services Committee hearing entitled “Public Policy Issues Raised by the Report of the Lehman Bankruptcy Examiner.” The text of Chairman Kanjorski’s opening statement for today’s Committee hearing follows:


APRIL 20, 2010


Mr. Chairman, we meet once again to examine yet another massive corporate failure. We have heard this sad song of corporate greed and regulatory breakdowns one too many times in recent years in instances like the accounting misdeeds at Enron, the massive Madoff fraud, and the audacious bets of American International Group. The events that led to Lehman’s collapse add another verse to this troubling refrain in American capitalism.

In the Lehman tune, it deeply troubles me that we must once again explore how reckless Wall Street titans profited at the expense of innocent shareholders on Main Street. I am also deeply disappointed in the performance of auditors and regulators who failed to uncover wrongdoing, mismanagement and capital shortfalls even as they fiddled in Lehman’s offices. The American people -- those who invest their hard earned savings and retirement nest eggs in our markets -- deserve not only answers about what happened, but also the enactment of real solutions designed to reform the way Wall Street functions.

The Valukas report also reveals that Wall Street executives continue to embellish the truth, tell half-truths and hide behind their power in the marketplace. Lehman’s former managers claim not to recall transactions or not to have spent meaningful time examining those very transactions important to investors. I find their excuses difficult to believe, especially in the wake of the corporate accounting and attestation reforms mandated by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Moreover, Lehman’s unscrupulous practices illustrate exactly why the Senate needs to quickly pass -- and the Congress needs to swiftly finalize -- a Wall Street reform bill. The bill already passed by the House would force major participants in our markets to hold more capital and leverage less. Additionally, the House-passed legislation and the pending Senate bill include provisions to end the era of too big to fail, like my amendment directing regulators to break up financial firms that have become too big, too interconnected, too concentrated or too risky.

The thoughtful Valukas report additionally highlights the importance of my whistleblower reforms and tipster bounties contained in the House bill. Furthermore, his report proves the need to fundamentally change the way the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission operates. Among other things, the House bill doubles the Commission’s budget over 5 years and requires a comprehensive review and overhaul of the Commission’s operations.

In sum, today’s hearing builds the case for Wall Street reform. Hopefully, this Lehman hearing will be one of the last arias of this all too gloomy opera about the dark side of American capitalism. The proverbial fat lady has begun to sing; we must now complete our work.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Onorato in P'burgh City Paper

The Pittsburgh City Paper has an interesting article on Dan Onorato. Read "The Two Dan Onoratos," by Chris Potter from their 4/20 issue.

Clean Energy Company in Bucks

from the inbox:

Today, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-8th District) joined local business owners to announce the official opening of clean energy company Y-Carbon, Inc. in Bristol Township. This week, ten new employees will head to work at the Bridge Business Center to perform research and development on renewable energy technology.

Y-Carbon has unique capabilities to alter carbons that will be used in the alternative energy and clean energy sectors, ranging from energy itself to water desalination and medicine. The company was founded based on technology developed at Drexel University’s College of Engineering.

“I’m proud to have helped recruit this innovative company to put down roots here in Bucks County and bring new jobs to the district,” said Congressman Patrick Murphy.

“We are thrilled to partner with Congressman Murphy in moving to Bristol Township to create jobs in Lower Bucks County,” said Jim Horan, CEO of Y-Carbon, Inc.

In addition to the ten workers starting this week, the company plans to hire an additional fifteen employees. Y-Carbon, Inc. has also created two spin-off companies, Y-Energy and Y-Water, both of which will also be located in Bucks County. Jim Horan, CEO of Y-Carbon, estimates that each additional company will employ 25 workers within 18 months.

Y-Carbon Inc.’s expansion was made possible with a $150,000 Small Business Innovation Research grant through the Recovery Act, part of over $18 million made available to support small business innovation, research, development, and deployment of clean energy technologies.

Their move to Bucks County builds on Congressman Murphy’s previous work to develop Bucks County into a hub for green energy companies by recruiting new, innovative firms to the district. Y-Carbon, Inc. will further revitalize the old Rohm and Haas chemical company site, bringing with it good, high-paying jobs to the area. To date, Murphy has helped bring over 2,900 jobs to Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Cillizza on Sestak / Specter

Say the title of the blog post three times -- it's a new political tongue twister. Cillizza has written a new entry on this "The Fix" column / blog on the Pennsylvania senate race. Read "The Pennsylvania Senate ad wars begin."

Update on Shapiro's Health Care Legislation

from the inbox:

State Rep. Josh Shapiro, D-Montgomery, today secured the House Insurance Committee's unanimous bipartisan approval for his bill (H.B. 2392) to strengthen Pennsylvania’s mini-COBRA law to continue health insurance coverage and extend federal subsidies to those who worked for small businesses and lost their jobs.

Shapiro’s bill leverages federal money to provide a 65 percent health insurance premium subsidy for up to 15 months to those who lost their jobs.

“This is a commonsense bill that does not require any state funding to increase access to affordable health insurance coverage and prevents out-of-work Pennsylvanians from joining the ranks of the uninsured,” said Shapiro.

In February 2009, the U.S. Congress first established COBRA subsidies for unemployed workers and extended these subsidies to states with mini-COBRA laws to cover employees of small businesses, which are not covered under the federal legislation.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

WSJ Leftovers

A few tidbits from the last few weeks Wall Street Journals.

"An old gout drug gets new life and a new price, riling patients," by Jonathan D. Rockoff 4/12.

In July 2009, a Philadelphia drug maker received FDA approval to exclusively market colchicine for gout attacks for three years. The company, URL Pharma, Inc., was taking advantage of a push to bring medicines predating the FDA, like colchicine, under the agency's regulatory umbrella. The FDA offers exclusive marketing rights if a drug maker conducts clinical trials.

"Bailout looking much less pricey," by Deborah Solomon 4/12. The headline says it all. There are some multi-color graphics with the article. The total cost is now projected at $89 billion.

"States skip pension payments, delay day of reckoning," by Gina Chon 4/09. The chart with the article says Pennsylvania funded the pension system 86% in 2008 and 56% in 2009. Not as well as Texas did but much much better than Illinois.

"Philadelphia bonds benefits other," by Romy Varghese, 4/09. Excerpt: "Philadelphia, the nation's sixth most-populous city, thus becomes the latest municipality to pay millions of dollars to extricate itself from a money-losing interest-rate swap with a Wall Street bank." [sigh]

Ballooning Pioneer in Philly

From the April 19, 2010 New Yorker, "The Ice Balloon," by Alex Wilkinson (online version only available to subscribers):

There is a mention of the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Here is a brief excerpt:

In Philadelphia, [S. A.] Andree got a job as a janitor at the Swedish Pavilion. The American ballooning pioneer John Wise lived in Philadelphia, and Andree went to see him. Wise had flown balloons "in sunshine, rain, snow, thunder showers and hurricanes," Andree wrote. "He had been stuck on chimneys, smoke stacks, lightning rods and church spires, and he had been dragged through rivers, lakes, and over garden plots and forests primeval. His balloons had whirled like tops, caught fire, exploded and fallen to the ground like stones. The old man himself, however, had always escaped unhurt and counted his experiences as proof of how safe the art of flying really was."

PA Jobs from Recovery Act

from the inbox:

The Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) today released a new analysis that finds that the Recovery Act was responsible for 120,000 jobs in Pennsylvania through the first quarter of 2010. The analysis follows a report released earlier in the week by the CEA that showed that the Recovery Act was responsible for about 2.5 million jobs nationwide in that same period - half of which were as a result of the over $200 billion in Recovery Act tax relief and financial assistance that has gone directly to mostly lower and middle-income families. The original report can be viewed HERE and the new state job impact analysis can be viewed HERE.

“From tax cuts to construction projects, the Recovery Act is now firing on all cylinders when it comes to creating jobs and putting Americans back to work,” said Vice President Biden. “We’re not only providing needed relief and spurring job creation now, but laying a new foundation for economic growth that will create jobs for a long time to come.”

More than $14 billion in Recovery Act funds are already being put to work in Pennsylvania so far creating jobs and driving economic growth. In addition to helping fill state budget gaps and jump-starting job-creating construction projects, the funds are also being used to provide tax cuts and other financial assistance like unemployment benefits to help hard-hit lower and middle-income families get back on firm financial footing.

CEA’s report found that over $200 billion in tax relief and financial assistance has had an important impact on real disposable personal income in the last year and was responsible for 1.1 to 1.4 million of the approximately 2.5 million jobs created or saved by the Recovery Act so far. More than $110 billion in tax relief and $90 billion in other income supports was provided directly to individuals and families through March of 2010. According to the report, without these provisions, household real disposable (or after-tax) income would have fallen substantially in 2009 and consumer spending would not have rebounded as it did. Instead, income in each of the last three quarters of 2009 actually surpassed its level in the fourth quarter of 2008 and the surge in Recovery Act tax relief this tax season is expected to yield the largest Recovery Act impact on household disposable income yet in the first quarter of 2010.

The Recovery Act was signed into law by President Obama on February 17, 2009. The program is a combination of tax relief, financial assistance and infrastructure projects designed to cushion the impact of the downturn and lay a foundation for economic recovery. Since the Recovery Act began a little over a year ago, the economy has posted its largest quarterly GDP growth in six years and largest monthly job gains in three years. So far, $525 billion in Recovery Act funds have been obligated, or committed to specific projects, and, of that, $370 billion has been paid out.

Women Candidates

Killer Campaigning has a great new blog post on why women make great political candidates. Worth a read.

Demographic Data on State Legislators

Our wonderful friends at National Conference of State Legislatures have a new blog post on The Thicket. It discusses the education levels of state legislators across the country. Even better, they have an interactive map that lets you click on a state and get information on age, education, occupation, and other factors of that state's legislators. For some years I have intended to sit down and figure out the occupations of Pennsylvania's state legislators. Now the NCSL has done it for me. I will be referring to this source often.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Sestak Teletown Hall Meeting

This evening I got a call from Joe Sestak, not just me but a lot of Pennsylvanians. It was a teletown hall meeting. The call was already in progress when my phone rang so I can’t report on the first part of it. Some of the topics were complex and I have only the barest of notes for them. I wasn’t prepared for the call and so hadn’t arranged for uninterrupted time beforehand, so at my attention was divided in places.

For those who don't recognize the name, Sestak is a Democrat running for Senate. He and Arlen Specter will face off in the primary; the winner will run against Republican Pat Toomey in November.

That said, these are the notes I took during the call. He was answering a question when the call came through, so my notes begin mid-answer. As always my apologies for any errors or misconceptions.

JS: …the insurance companies are excluded from anti-trust. The House version of the health care bill took away that exclusions but special interests blocked it in the Senate. Up to 700 Pennsylvanians lose their health care every day. Ran for congress because of his daughter’s cancer. She and others can now get health insurance even though they have a pre-existing condition. Insurance companies can’t charge women more than men for insurance. We lose money from productivity because of the under and uninsured. Seniors will now have free screening tests done, no more co-pays. Respects Arlen Specter but disagrees with him.

Q: concerned about good quality jobs
JS: That is the #1 issue facing us today. I am the vice chair of the Small Business Committee. Small business lost 45% of all jobs. We need to give small businesses a 15% tax credit for every job they create. We should also support community banks. Santorum, Toomey, and Specter all helped big business.

Q: education
JS: I am on the education and labor committee. Education is the long pole in the tent of economic viability. 50% of the youth in Philadelphia don’t graduate from high school. We need to invest in early education, preschool, and pre-k. We need to change No Child Left Behind and include a value added model. The health care bill included more money for Pell grants, Perkins loans and Stafford loans, but did not add to the national debt. We should have merit pay for teachers who perform well or work in low-performing schools. The shipyard is bringing in welders from out of state because welding today requires advanced skills and they can’t find those workers here. We are working with those companies to go into middle schools and talk to the kids about the importance of education and training in getting good jobs. The military makes you save but not strong.

[At this point Sestak was going up stairs into the Capitol to vote on a bill to extend COBRA benefits.]

Q: You have my vote! concerned about LIHEAP cuts, and other issues facing seniors.
JS: [Sestak’s phone connection was static-y and I couldn’t catch his comment but it has something to do with a bill he is working on and he encouraged the caller to get in touch with his office.]

Q: woman Marine veteran. She supports Sestak.
JS: I’m not a yes man. I stood up to the Democratic establishment but I want to be Obama’s strongest ally.

Q: Citizens United case and Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance
JS: There should be public financing of campaigns. We need an ethics committee outside of Congress, with retired judges. We should try to reverse the Supreme Court decision. Shareholders should have a vote on who gets corporate political money and on the message. We need to remove the anti-trust exemption for insurance companies. I support “say on pay” so that shareholders get at least a nominal voice in executive pay. I believe in principals and politics will follow.

Q: What do you disagree with Arlen Specter on?
JS: [blogger’s note: this was along list, I only got a few things]: He did nothing to help on health care until he became a Democrat. We disagree on education; Specter voted on cutting education, voted against Pell grants 4 times. Specter voted to privatize social security. He voted lockstep with Santorum and Toomey. Specter voted against “pay go” which requires government to cut spending when it adds a new program.

Q: retired union organizer. unions created the middle class.
JS: I am a strong proponent of reversing tax cuts to the very wealth. Invest where people work, small businesses. I have a rating of over 90% with the AFL-CIO; Specter’s rating is 60-something percent [missed this number]. People need a fair opportunity.

Q: caller is a feminist. Where does he stand on issues concerning women?
JS: I have several sisters, a wife and a daughter. [tells story of woman fighter pilot and the need to retain bright talented people] There are more women in the workforce than men. I introduced the Gender Equality Act. We need flexible hours, maternity leave, and to end discrimination in the workplace.

Q: returning veterans, backlog to get disability
JS: When elected there was a backlog of 600,000. We passed a bill to get more caseworkers and now that number is going down. We underfunded care and need to fix that. Specter voted against post-traumatic stress disorder funding. Of National Guard members coming back from the war, roughly a third have PTSD.

Q: prove to me you can be elected. why only debate Toomey?
JS: I challenged Toomey to a debate. Specter only wanted one debate, in Philadelphia, on a Saturday night, at the same time as a ballgame. Toomey and I want more debates. In polls Toomey does worse against me than he does against Specter. The GOP feels Specter betrayed them and he doesn’t inspire Democrats. Specter ran away from Toomey. I want to win the old-fashioned way with grassroots support.

Q: financial reform bill.
JS: The Senate bill is too weak. The House bill is stronger. You should “expect what you inspect.” We need better oversight; there must be a referee on the football field. [This answer went into a discussion of derivatives and was too complex for me to follow.]

Q: This was a very broad question from Bruce Slater who ran for Congress against Rep. Joe Pitts two years ago. One part of the question was on free trade.
JS: We need fair trade. NAFTA and GATT were bad. We need to bring lawsuits in the World Trade Organization. We need to encourage innovation. [This was another complex answer that escaped me.]

Q: I heard that social security is now taking in less money than it sends out.
JS: Yes, that wasn’t supposed to happen until 2019 but it happened this year. We are now paying out more than we are bringing in. With social security 20% of our seniors live in poverty; without it 50% of our seniors would. We need to reverse the Bush tax breaks for the very rich and go back to Clinton level tax rates. Specter voted for these tax breaks.

Q: What do you plan to do to get the word at?
JS: I’ve held more than 450 events. You may have gotten a brochure in the mail. We plan to be on tv soon. I will work my toes off. [Here he tells a story I have heard a number of times before, about 19 year olds working in aircraft carriers who have to unhook the planes before the pilot shuts off the engine and then stand in front of the plane until the pilot gets out. If they didn’t unhook it correctly they, the plane and the pilot will go overboard. The moral is accountability.]

Throughout the call he gave his campaign website URL and campaign office phone number several times. He also mentioned that most callers were from the Harrisburg area with some from the Philadelphia area as well.