Keeping Corbett Honest

In addition to restoring a balance of power in Harrisburg, another step we can take as voters to do this is to make sure that Tom Corbett is kept honest by having a few other key positions occupied by Democrats.  

State Treasurer:  (D) Rob McCord has been a good steward of state finances and revenue and is working well with all elements of state government and is a very strong and independent voice for the people and the doing an excellent job.   (R) Diana Irey Vaughan is not a well-known candidate and we need to keep a check on Corbett’s power at this point.  

State Auditor General: The position that helps keep all state agencies and the State Assembly very honest as an auditor of the budget and auditing of other public bodies within the state, including local governments and school districts and such.  They also house the Bureau of State Ethics that all elected and public officials are answerable to in some way or other.    This year we have an open seat being contested by (D) Eugene DePasquale & (R) John Maher & (L) Betsy Summers.  Betsy doesn’t seem to have the requisite skills or understanding of state government to be a good Auditor General.   John is a Republican and a current State Rep., and as we discussed before, we need to flip the State Assembly to Democrat, so selecting John Maher is not a good idea to keep Corbett honest.  Eugene DePasquale is also a current State Rep. and knows all about the tricks and dirty deals of the Republicans in the last 2 years, and will certainly know how to keep Corbett and state government honest.  

State Attorney General:  This position has become so important in light of the Sandusky scandal at Penn State and in light of recent county judicial criminal investigations as well, we need to have a strong, firm individual in this position and clearly when Tom Corbett was Attorney General, there was extreme prosecution of Democrats for violations of state election and ethics laws and abuse of power, but left Republicans off the hook for the same things during that time.  He also ignored the Sandusky matter and now we’re dealing with the enormous fall-out from that situation that finally came to light.  There was also the case of the 2 Lackawanna County judges that were taking kick-backs for sending juveniles to facilities that weren’t even guilty.  Also, we have a current PA Supreme Court justice under criminal investigation who has been suspended from the bench for her conduct and conflict of interest.  We NEED a Democrat to be Attorney General to truly provide a check and balance on the State’s executive power and to be a protector of the citizens and our children and consumers from shady businesses and to protect seniors from scams.  (D) Kathleen Kane, has been a tough prosecutor that helped take down corrupt judges and will stand up to anybody who crosses the law in PA.  She’s running against Cumberland County prosecutor (R) David Freed & (L) Marakay Rogers.  

It is important to keep these public offices in the hands of people and representatives that can keep a check on the continued unbridled policies and dealings of our state executive leaders and local governments as well.  If both houses of the State Assembly can’t be flipped, we need to at least seek to provide some measure of balance and check on Corbett’s agenda and the Republican aims for the coming 2 years and beyond.  

I want to see a Commonwealth I can be proud of and one that treats its people fairly and reasonably and keeps opportunities and safety nets in place to keep large groups of my fellow citizens from falling through society and into total abject poverty and indigence.  You can lift people up and give them the tools to succeed and spur them to do so, but it is near impossible to expect that when you’re expecting them to literally operate out of the gutter.  

If Corbett and the Republicans had shown us any measure of true leadership and of looking out for the citizens of PA, then I’d not be so adamant about changing the composition of the State Assembly and other offices.  However, their actions, and their actions alone are the driving reasons behind this and they have no one to blame for that but themselves and their choices in the last 2 years.  

PA State Elections: Time to Play the Blues

I don’t mean 12-bar blues, or southern blues, I mean Democrat Blue.  

It’s been 2 years since PA opted to put Tom Corbett in as Governor and at the same time, pair him with a Republican majority State Assembly and I think I speak for many Pennsylvanians when I say that there’s something very rotten in the City of Harrisburg and it isn’t the smell of the Susquehanna.  

It is the foul odor of the dirty deeds and policies coming from both Corbett and the General Assembly in the last 2 years.  We’ve seen women, children, families, and our state’s environment suffer intensely under the current exclusive Republican regime.  We’ve seen the poor targeted by the very director of the PA Department of Public Welfare and we’ve seen business not just get help, but be given sweetheart deals in exchange for not much in the way of new employment to help PA families and individuals get back to a life that isn’t hanging by a thread.  

We’ve seen the General Assembly refuse to hold even the Governor accountable for his misconduct while he was Attorney General for why it took 3 years to finally investigate, what it took 1 dedicated investigator a few months to piece together, in the form of the Sandusky case.  When you have the level of corruption and dirty deeds that have been done in the capital in Harrisburg over the years, you’re going to end up with some big scandals, like the Penn State debacle, because you’ve got political pets and favorites and they get a free pass while peoples’ lives end up ruined and when it finally comes to light, you suddenly are left with more questions than answers and the answers you get are not going make it any easier to avoid the realization that those who had oversight and those who had direct knowledge of what could’ve been going on didn’t act and now, we’re seeing the typical tactic of hanging out to dry those who you can pin stuff on, but the full measure of accountability is not being taken or sought.  

Aside of that nasty scandal, there’ve been several other measures to keep the public from having their proper and guaranteed right to vote in this state, so that “to enable Mitt Romney to win Pennsylvania”, according to Republican State Rep. Mike Turzai.  This is just one of many off-the-cuff, callous, and scandalous statements made by Republican State Reps. & Senators in the last couple of years.  It should leave most any voter who sees the problems and the disdain for the voters that this represents, mad as hell.  It also should tell any reasonable voter in PA that it is TIME for serious change in our State Assembly.  

We need to give a check and balance to the unbridled power of Tom Corbett and the way to do that is by replacing a lot of the current Republican representatives and senators with Democratic candidates and those who will stand up for us as citizens who don’t forget where they came from and who won’t simply add to the already corrupt and contrived system.  A lot of the current Republican candidates who want to join the Republican “party” in the State Assembly are as bad or worse than the ones there now.  They are more TEA Party based, which again is “I got mine, to hell with you” mentality in action.  

Think about our recent storm and any future disasters and imagine what kind of added disaster we’d see from having those kind of people running our government agencies and directing the funding and policies of our emergency response agencies.  They’d probably turn away FEMA help, because after all they abhor any kind of government spending unless it is to make more war or to help tell you how you can raise your family or have a family or who can vote or who can have babies and still have help if they need it.  Is that the kind of Pennsylvania you want to live in folks?!  I sure as heck don’t and that’s a real possibility if Corbett and his allies in Harrisburg continue to strengthen their grip on power.  

We must take voter action on Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 and send a reality check to Tom Corbett and the reckless behaviors of the Republicans in Harrisburg and begin to set things back on the right track.  When you can fund a $300 million tax credit for business, but you can’t stand up for the least of our citizens and yank the $150 million cash assistance subsistence benefit for 68,000 people in PA, that’s some pretty depraved values in action.  

So, when you step into the voting booth on Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 between the hours of 7am and 8pm, and you don’t let somebody tell you that you have to produce photo ID, unless it is your first time voting, and you don’t let some 3rd party, outside poll watcher give you grief about voting, and try to bully you out of voting, get in that voting booth and find the Democratic column of candidates and hit the “straight ticket” button, that way you know you’ve voted for the right people that will listen to the people, that will stand up and do right by us.  

Specifically, in the local region here I am endorsing:

(D) Mark Rozzi 126th against (R) Jim Billman (head of the Berks County TEA Party Patriots) : Jim’s been at war with the City of Reading over their enforcement and issues with building codes enforcement and such, as the Reading Eagle and wfmz.com noted at one point this year, but seeing a Rozzi ad recently makes me better understand why he might have an issue with the City of Reading, he’s had violations at some of his properties according to the ad.  If he hates dealing with the city now, if he gets elected he’ll really have fits.  Let’s save him the trouble and elect Mark Rozzi, who will do an admirable job for the people of the 126th as Dante Santoni retires from public life after a long, distinguished tenure of service.  

(D) Erik Saar 129th against (R) Jim Cox (protégé and close friend of Sam Rohrer, the man who thinks being a sovereign citizen makes you exempt from most laws and driver’s licenses and such):  Erik has not just leadership experience, he counsels the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington DC, you can’t get much more leadership experience than that.  He’ll be a great asset for the district and PA!  

(D) Russ Diesinger 130th against (R) Dave Maloney:   Dave is a TEA Party darling that hates the idea of government, so let’s help him overcome that problem by retiring him from the State Assembly and restoring sanity to Harrisburg with the election of Russ Diesinger, a school teacher who can help reshape the education policy with firsthand knowledge and experience from having been there and done that.  

(D) Joe Haas against 187th against (R) Gary Day: Northeast Berks really needs better representation and Joe Haas can help provide that.  Gary has pretty much gone along with all the Republican platform of shenanigans that they’ve done in the last 2 years.  We need change in Harrisburg, Gary has to go!

(I) Dante Picciano 124th against (R) Jerry Knowles: Again, it is important to bring new voices and more sensible people to Harrisburg, and Jerry Knowles pretty much followed in the shoes of David Argall and we don’t need more of the that same type of mindset in Harrisburg.  

(D) Vicki Harman 125th against (R) Mike Tobash:  Mike has been pretty much following lock step with the Republican agenda in Harrisburg and turned his back on the least of Pennsylvania by voting for the budget and bills that ended general cash assistance for the poorest Pennsylvanians.  We don’t need to support those who can’t stand up for the least among us.

(D) John Reynard 134th against (R) Ryan Mackenzie: Ryan has pretty much just been another hack for the Republican party leadership since he got elected in a special election to fill out Doug Reichley’s term.  

It is a shame that nobody is running against (D) Tom Caltigirone  or (R) Mark Gillen for their seats, because both of them more than deserve to be replaced for the shameful things they have both supported in the last few years, neither of them have earned a vote as far as I am concerned.  There aren’t many Democrats that I would single out, but Tom is one of them for how he has abandoned even his own City constituents and is willing to buy into the drastic measures introduced by the Republicans, he might as well change his registration.  

For State Senate…

(D) Judy Schwank 11th against (R) Karen Mogel: Judy is an experienced leader and knows what matters to the people of the 11th district.  She has proudly continued the legacy of the late great State Senator Mike O’Pake and it would be horrible to lose that kind of energy and enthusiasm in Harrisburg that Judy brings to the position.  Karen is a newcomer and I’m not even sure she knows where her district is, because I’ve seen signs for her scattered into Mike Folmer’s district area and he’s not even up for re-election this time around.  She was thrown into the race at the last minute somewhat and seems to be propped up by TEA Party groups and sounds like she’d support that kind of agenda from what I know thus far of her, which sadly isn’t much.  Again, we need more Democrats in Harrisburg right now to balance out Corbett’s power and Judy being there does that.

(D) Tim Seip 29th against (R) David Argall:  Argall has made a career out of politics and in some things he’s done, in the past, have been worthy goals and aims, but alas he’s tended to fall more into line with the prevailing Republican party agenda in Harrisburg and quite frankly we just can’t afford that kind of continued influence upon our state.   It is time for change and Tim Seip will bring that because he has been a state rep before and hasn’t forgotten what is important and can work to take care of the issues that really matter to us in PA as well as the district.

For those State Reps and State Senators who are in other areas, check your local paper or news websites for voter guides on who is running for each race and please strongly consider voting for the Democratic candidate, so that we can begin to bring sanity and balance back to Harrisburg.  We have to deal with Corbett for 2 more years, but we can help make that easier to bear, if we balance and check his power with a State Assembly that is solidly Democratic and can bring about more sane compromise and solutions.  

Planned Parenthood Jumps Into Philly Ad Market

Planned Parenthood Action Fund is launching a $100,000 radio campaign in the Philadelphia market prior to Tuesday’s election:

WASHINGTON-Planned Parenthood Action Fund is out with a new radio ad today in the Philadelphia area to drive home the groups pro-women’s health message and support for President Obama throughout the week leading into the election. The ad “Mitt Romney Completely Wrong For Women” is part of the Action Fund’s biggest-ever voter education and outreach program, undertaken in partnership with Planned Parenthood advocacy organizations across the country to make sure every woman understands the stark difference between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney when it comes to women’s health and economic security when they head to the polls on November 6. The Action Fund is the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

It highlights that Mitt Romney has yet to say whether he supports the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which guarantees women get paid the same amount of money for their work as men, his vow to overturn Roe v. Wade, which would end safe and legal abortion, and his promise to “get rid” of Planned Parenthood. The ad goes on to say that President Obama has “things headed in the right direction” and notes that he “stood up to insurance companies to make them cover birth control and to stop charging women more, simply because we’re women.”

According to an October 22 survey, seven out of 10 Americans believe that health insurance companies should cover the full cost of birth control, as required by the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) birth control benefit. Mitt Romney has vowed to repeal the birth control benefit and the ACA if he is elected. More than three-quarters of Americans – including two out of three Republicans – think the government should continue to help low-income women access birth control, which is what Title X does – another program that Mitt Romney has vowed to eliminate.

According to an October 29 battleground tracking poll from Lake Research Partners, the gender gap is widening back out and women are returning in favor of President Obama. According to the poll, “Obama has increased his margin over Romney among women, as women have gone from supporting the President by 6 points last week (51% Obama to 45% Romney) to 11 points today (54% Obama to 43% Romney).”

In reference to Romney, the woman narrating the ad says, “I just don’t think Mitt Romney is looking out for us. Plus his views on women seem like they’re from the 1950s.” Later on, she says this about President Obama, “We’re not there yet, but President Obama has things heading in the right direction.” The ad ends with “at the end of the day, I trust President Obama.”

“Women’s health is truly on the ballot this year and what we’re hearing from women across Pennsylvania is that they have serious concerns about Mitt Romney’s dangerous agenda to end safe and legal abortion and end funding for Planned Parenthood preventive health services,” said Sari Stevens, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates and PAC. “These are not so-called ‘women’s issues’ – these are economic issues for millions of women and families, and their votes will reflect that on Election Day. The Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania PAC has invested nearly a quarter of a million dollars in six state legislative districts across the state and will be driving home a women’s health message over the next four days to defeat politicians who believe government, and not women, should have control over their own healthcare decisions.”

The Romney/Ryan administration would:

Overturn Roe v. Wade and end safe/legal abortion.

The president holds sway over what abortion rights look like. According to the Washington Post, “The Supreme Court is certainly the only body that can overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion. But that does not mean the president does not hold sway over what abortion rights look like in a wide variety of ways,” such as regulating Medicaid, passing federal abortion regulations, and appointing Supreme Court judges.

“Get rid” of Planned Parenthood, which would deny women access to birth control and cancer screenings.

End the nation’s family planning program, which provides preventive care to nearly five million women, and cut off access to birth control for women who need it the most.

Repeal the Affordable Care Act, undoing the greatest advance for women’s health in a generation, and cut off millions of women from no co-pay birth control and other preventive health services.

Support “personhood” efforts, which have been rejected in MS, CO, and OK, and that could ban forms of birth control and IVF.

Disclosure:  I am a Director of Planned Parenthood Association of Pennsylvania, Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates and Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania PAC.

Pennsylvania In Play? Experts Say No

Republicans are putting several million dollars into Pennsylvania the final week of the election.  Obama/Biden is responding with ads of their own to counter the effort.  Our twenty electoral votes are normally contested as Ohio and Iowa are this year.  Polls at one time gave the President a healthy 12 point lead, one which has whittled down to 4-5 because of the first debate debacle.  That remains a good margin for Obama.  The Vice President will be in Scranton today, the first visit by either Democrat this fall.

Why the sudden thrust into the Keystone State?  Mitt Romney’s path to 270 electoral votes doesn’t exist a week out and he must expand the map in a final, desperate bid.  By adding PA, Michigan and Minnesota he hopes to squeeze enough votes in the Electoral College to gain the White House.  Hotly contested states like Iowa are now a 6 point margin for the President.  If you watched the Penn State-Iowa football game you were inundated with ads, mostly by Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, aimed at Iowans.

Our votes next Tuesday will be determined by turnout.  If Democrats turn out for the first time in four years polls show we’ll remain Blue.  It’s too late for Romney to turn a 4-5 point lead in his favor but he has no choice.

Sandusky Doing Hard Time, Spanier Charged

Jerry Sandusky is now doing hard time at the state prison in Greene County in southwestern Pennsylvania.  He was evaluated at the institution in Camp Hill where all new prisoners are sent initially.  His sentence is 30-60 years.

Meanwhile former University President Graham Spanier was charged today with perjury, obstruction and failure to report child abuse.  Those charges come from the Freeh investigation which uncovered emails which show he and others covered up the Sandusky crimes for 14 years.  I did a brief interview with Spanier about on February 4, 2011 when President Obama was on campus.  He rudely cut off the interview.  It has been more than a few times lately as people do internet searches for the guy.  I wonder if he’s as smug today?