Sandy: The Departure

Our dear friend Sandy departed yesterday leaving us without internet service all day.  Our lights flickered for a second Monday evening but we never lost power.  We have some small branches down and some plant debris all over the pool cover but that’s the extent of the hurt felt here in Mt. Penn.  I’ll head up to the Fleetwood house after lunch and I expect a lot of tree damage there.

We made every preparation we could save buying a generator and that’s on the list for the future.  Luckily Berks was close enough to the eye that we missed the devastating rain and winds.  I spent my early years outside New York City in North Jersey and feel for those whom the storm devastated.  The damage on the news is sickening.  The only positive from all of this are the jobs created for the clean up and rebuilding.

Remember, Mitt Romney said he’d privatize FEMA.  If you vote Republican please go out and repair your own roads, bridges, electrical grid and public works.

Billman, Rozzi Spar Over Marriage Equality, Planned Parenthood

Tea bagger Jim Billman is attacking Mark Rozzi for supporting the constitution:

I thought the Tea Party ilk revered the constitution?  Aren’t these the morons who went around all summer in 2010 waving it at us and insisting we follow it?

Why then is he running this commercial?  The constitution guarantees equal justice for all.  The 14th Amendment provides for equal protection under the law.  That means we cannot have one law for straight people and something else for LGBT citizens.  That’s why Rozzi supports marriage equality, it’s the American thing to do.

Perhaps Billman wants to revert to times when “traditional marriage” meant you could sell your daughter, marry multiple women (as Mitt Romney’s grandfather did) or have to marry your sister-in-law if your brother died (even if you were already wed).

I have a question for Mr. Billman:  why should you have a right I don’t have?  That’s Unamerican.

I won’t comment on the Planned Parenthood part of the attack ad that’s for our staff to do.

Billman ran a commercial for a short while wherein he waved a wad of municipal citations and claimed he was being targeted by the City of Reading for running.  He seems to own a number of investment properties for which he can’t pay his mortgages (they’re for sale on a short sale basis) or keep up.  Many of these citations predate his running.  He’s a typical tea bagger:  the perpetual victim.

Here’s Mark Rozzi’s response:

As State Representative I will represent each and every member of my District, whether they are a man or women, gay or straight, Republican or Democrat. I am a strong supporter of individual rights. I also understand that millions of American women rely on organizations like Planned Parenthood for health care services including regular checkups, breast cancer screenings and reproductive screenings. Women have the right to affordable and quality health care. What we can’t do is listen to the extreme Tea Party voices like my opponent who make outrageous claims that there is such a thing as “legitimate rape” or that pregnancy from rape is something “God intended to happen”.

Update:  From Adrian Shanker, President of Equality Pennsylvania:

“Jim Billman’s offensive and frankly, ignorant, ad makes it abundantly clear that he is out of touch with a majority of Pennsylvanians who support marriage equality. There could not be a clearer choice in this election. Mark Rozzi believes in equality, while his opponent wants to ensure inequality for generations to come.” – Adrian Shanker, President, Equality Pennsylvania

FEMA Update

The latest FEMA update call at 2:30 said Sandy is speeding up as it hits the warm Gulf Stream.  This means the storm is gaining energy.  Landfall is estimated to be between 7-8PM tonight.  It will come across New Jersey and come across southern Pennsylvania.  The hardest hit counties are going to be Philadelphia, Delaware, Chester, York, Adams and Franklin, the southern tier.  The storm will slow down once it hits land.  It is expected to sit over us.

They estimate the storm surge along the Jersey shore to last until late Wednesday.  Tonight’s full moon will contribute to, perhaps, an additional foot storm surge but not significant considering the huge scope of this storm.

People are advised to remain off the roads, Pennsylvania has reduced speed limits on interstates to 45 mph in the region and banned trailers.  

Our conditions here in Reading as steady hard rainfall and increasing winds.

Not Exactly a Mahogany-paneled Corporate Boardroom

By Kate Atkins, Third and State

A hundred days after passage of the state budget, it is too soon to fully assess the impact of cuts to human services, Montgomery County's administrator for behavioral health and developmental disabilities told a group of 50 consumers and social service providers at a budget forum last week.

Still, Administrator Eric Goldstein told the forum at the Norristown Recovery and Education Center that he has concerns about the state's move toward block grants for human services funding. Unlike Bucks, Chester, and Delaware counties, Montgomery County did not apply to be part of this year’s new pilot block grant for the Human Services Development Fund.

Eric Goldstein was joined by speaker after speaker who testified to the importance of the modest dollars invested in prevention and community supports for people struggling with mental illness or substance abuse.

One speaker, Troy, a solidly built man with a confident manner and a winning smile, said people call him a “success story,” but he remembered the days when he struggled with drug addiction. He described how he would walk into the Norristown Center and feel a lift from the friendly and familiar faces of the staff, who would ask him how he was doing.

“I’m looking for a job,” he would tell them.

“Really?” they would reply.

“No,” he would admit. “Not really.”

Through the Center, which is run by the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Troy built up his self-esteem and was able to find work counseling others.

In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t cost a lot of money to maintain a drop-in center in Norristown. Eric Goldstein, gesturing to the neatly-painted cinder block walls and freshly waxed linoleum floor, pointed out that it wasn’t exactly a mahogany-paneled corporate boardroom. But the cost of not having local community resources like this one would be enormous.

Another speaker began by saying she had not wanted to speak, but realized she had to. She was an elementary school teacher, she began, from a family of ministers, educators, and lawyers. In her late thirties, she went through a difficult period after the death of her mother and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She was not able to keep her job. Her family did not believe the diagnosis, she told us, and shut their doors to her.

“Strangers had to take me in,” she said, tears in her eyes. “Strangers.”

She is now living in the Halfway There shelter as she puts her life back together.

Eric Goldstein closed the evening by reminding the crowd that we are in this together. The line, he said, between people with mental illness and the rest of us is very thin.

Representative Matt Bradford also spoke, reminding us that the state is facing hard economic times but does have choices in how to respond to the challenging fiscal reality. He cited the Legislature’s decision to give up to $1.6 billion in tax credits to Shell Oil at the same time the state is cutting funding for human services.

Get more information on how you can advocate with Better Choices for Pennsylvania for supports for people struggling with mental illness and substance abuse.

News & Notes October 29, 2012

It’s time to clear out the inbox before the power goes out.  A reminder:  Romney said he’d disband FEMA and cut all federal disaster assistance.

If our power is out for an extended period I’ll continue doing updates (as I have been) on my Twitter feed via my iPhone.  My Twitter handle is JohnPMorgan.

A mobile billboard paid for by Blue America is targeting Congressman Joe “He’s the” Pitts.  Howie Klein has the lowdown.

Westmoreland Republicans seem to think Steve Welch is the GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate.  People, update your websites more than once a year!

Mitt still hasn’t disowned Richard Mourdock for his “gift from god” comment last week.  Obama/Biden is running a clock on it.  Technically he didn’t say rape was a gift he said the baby is a gift from god.  Logically however that means the rape is too if it produces the infant.  All these media types claiming that’s taking his comment out of context are wrong.  Since you can’t have the baby without the rape both are gifts from god according to these extremists.  Tom Smith, by the way, agrees.

Todd Akin has deep ties to the Missouri militias.

Will next week’s election be hacked and rigged again?  Maybe getting this storm is a blessing in disguise if electronic voting machines can’t be used because of power outages.  Ohio has been especially susceptible.

When Tea Party morons (apology for the redundancy) tell you you must have photo ID to board a plane tell them they’re stupid, you don’t.

Tom Corbett said he’d welcome an examination of his conduct leading the Sandusky investigation.  Why, then, are House Republicans running from it?

The ten biggest campaign donors from Pennsylvania thus far.

Eugene Depasquale has one of the best commercials you’ll ever see because he pokes fun at himself:

Eugene is one of the really good guys in Harrisburg and a true progressive.

Brace For Sandy

Hurricane sandy is headed directly towards us today.  The eye is set to hit New Jersey and the storm is due to pass over Philadelphia, swing across southern PA then west.  This puts a major storm surge into New York City and all of northeastern Pennsylvania in the brunt of the northeastern winds.  We’ll be getting the worst of this massive storm so be prepared.  Schools have closed and most businesses should be also:  there’s no reason anyone should be anywhere today unless you’re in emergency preparedness.  

Weather experts are predicting today to be the worst.  5-10 inches of rain.  Much preparation has been done.  Here in Berks County, for example, Blue Marsh lake was dropped five feet to prevent the Schuylkill River from flooding.  Flashlight batteries have been impossible to find and folks were stocking up on water.  Fill your bathtub an duse that water for flushing toilets.  Keep a radio tuned in to a local station for local announcements.  If you live in Lancaster listening to a Harrisburg station won’t help you.

Keep your cell phone charged.  If you have a smart phone disable things like wifi and bluetooth.  Close any apps which are running to save juice.  I turned mine off last night.  I have a car charger and will use that to recharge it if the power is out for an extended period of time.

If nothing gets posted for several days assume our power is out here.  Be safe and stay indoors.  Don’t remain near glass doors and large windows.

Sandy Advances

Experts say u to 50 million people will be impacted as Hurricane Sandy advances on the Mid Atlantic region.  New York City is evacuating and all transit in the Big Apple will shut down at 7PM.  Delaware closed Route 1 in the Dewey Beach area this morning.  FEMA and the National Weather Service will not issue tropical storm warning so as not to confuse people when it loses tropical status.  They are simply issuing storm watches and warnings and encouraging everyone to tune in to their local authorities, local weather services and emergency preparedness instructions.

Though this is just a Category 1 storm it is hitting another storm moving east with a cold front moving south and all three will merge into a super storm.  President Obama is being briefed regularly and will return to the White House Monday to supervise the federal response.

Forecasters are predicting Sandy will stall over us and drop rain for two days.  Please prepare as best you can but don’t panic.  I spent all of yesterday afternoon searching for D cell batteries with little luck.  I’m hoping stores will be restocked Monday and try again.  I did get all of our water containers filled and will move some additional firewood down from our old house.  Power could be lost for several days so we aren’t stocking up on additional food.  Bring in any items which could blow around.  If you have yard signs out for your candidates also please take them in.

The storm could very well impact the election due to widespread flooding.  If we had early voting as they do elsewhere that would mitigate the impact on polling but, unfortunately Republicans here block those efforts.  If you think flooding may impact your ability to vote contact your county election services about an absentee ballot.

Health Care Forum Held in Kutztown

I was in Kutztown last evening covering a forum on single payer healthcare and got to see my old friend Chuck Pennacchio for the time in ages.  He is Executive Director of Healthcare4AllPA.org and was accompanied by Board President Dave Steil.  Dave is a former businessman and retired State Representative.  They were joined by dedicated activists Rosie Skomitz and Ron Stouffer while Chuck Brown emceed the evening.  A lot of old friends from the Kutztown area were there and I don’t get up to that neck of the woods as much since moving to Mt. Penn a year ago.  It was nice to see old friends.

Healthcare has been bankrupting this country and giving us a poor return in terms of outcomes for too many people.  I’ve been a strong supporter of single payer and helped this organization in its early years with a bit of consulting (for disclosure purposes).  Chuck spoke first followed by Dave.  Rosie then spoke for a time before a lengthy question and answer period began.  There were good questions and good answers.  I jumped in at one point to further clarify steps being taken to expand medical services ahead of ObamaCare’s implementation with my knowledge as a Planned Parenthood Board member.

Emcee Chuck Brown, publisher of Common Sense 2:

Healthcare For All PA Executive Director Chuck Pennacchio:

Healthcare For All PA Board President Dave Steil:

Activist Rosie Skomitz:

Video:

Visit From Sandy: Preparations

Sandy is coming sometime Monday night and everyone and their uncle is out today gathering emergency supplies.  On a FEMA conference call this afternoon federal officials, including the head of FEMA Craig Fugate, said they expect the eastern third of the nation to feel her presence.  Florida is the only eastern state which will miss her.  West Virginia expects up to two feet of snow and we’ll see between 5-8 inches of rain.  A cold front moving south from Canada will join the tropical storm and another storm front moving eastward to create what’s being called a Frankenstorm.  This one is of our own creation, a result of climate change.

FEMA has moved emergency personnel into Pennsylvania and has supplies stored in New Jersey which expects a ten foot storm surge along its coast.  Winds are expected to hit 60 mph.  The Defense Department has also pre-positioned personnel to assist if needed.

Water and batteries are now scarce commodities.  Get your while you can, the stores are mobbed.

Joe Sestak Hits the Stump for Haas

Joe Sestak found the right exit for the Bowers Hotel (inside local joke) last night and appeared at an event for 187th House candidate Joe Haas.  The Admiral and former Congressman has been traveling all across the state supporting individual candidates.  He even made it all the way to Erie.  I noticed he’s inserted new material pertinent to the Governor’s race into his stump speech.

The video: