News & Notes January 29, 2015

I had planned on retiring at the end of 2014 but here it’s 2015 and I’m still going-sort of.  I kind of consider myself a part-time blogger now-semi-retired.   I’ll write when health my health issues allow time and/or topics interest me.

State Treasurer Rob McCord resigned today effective Feb. 12th.  He ran for Governor last year and ran a rather hateful campaign full of personal attacks against now Governor Tom Wolf.  I suppose McCord has some shame left as he seems to feel uncomfortable working with the guy he attacked so shamelessly a year ago.

The problem with making politics personal is that afterwards you can’t work together.  Even the worst ideological foes can usually find some common ground where they can work together.  After an intensely personal campaign that’s impossible.  McCord made the correct decision to step down under those conditions.

Montgomery County has selected Valerie Arkoosh to succeed new Transportation Secretary Leslie Richards as County Commissioner.  The Doctor ran a good campaign for Congress last year in the Democratic primary to succeed Allyson Schwartz who resigned to run for Governor.  Brendan Boyle won the election and is now a Congressman.  She’s a great choice for this post.  I saw Commissioner Josh Shapiro at the inauguration last week and he said a decision would be coming soon to fill the vacancy.

Pittsburgh City Council President Bruce Kraus has announced he is seeking re-election.  Both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have major citywide elections this year.

The PA Democratic Party will be meeting Feb. 21st in Hershey for its annual endorsement meeting.  Numerous appellate Judgeships are on the ballot and some good people are running.  I know several from past campaigns and am looking forward to meeting the others.

“Guantanamo Diary” is a new book written by a prisoner at the infamous facility written from his own experiences.  This is a must read to fully understand the sub human conditions and torture we subjected these people to under the guise of “liberty.”

Beware of Republicans who use the word “reform.”  their definition is “to remove.”  Pension reform is an issue only because the Commonwealth has failed to fully contribute as required to fund public pensions.  Now that it’s at a crisis point they want to use the crisis to gut these pensions.  Let’s remember that these pensions were negotiated under collective bargaining agreements and were part of people’s compensation packages.  By gutting them we’re retroactively voiding those contracts which were entered into in good faith by thousands of workers.  This is called dealing in bad faith and is untrustworthy.  How will we ever attract quality people to public service when we turn around and cheat them?

This is really neat:  pictures taken by the Hubble Space Telescope show the galaxy Andromeda.  It’ll make you feel very small.

The Erik Arneson affair is interesting.  He is a Republican political hack who was appointed by Gov. Corbett in the closing days of his failed Administration to head the Open Records Office.  This job requires its head to be rather non-partisan because it decides which requests for public information are allowed and which are not.  The state law creating the office designed it to rule on challenged requests arbitrarily.  I don’t see how a hack can do the job impartially.

Gov. Wolf was correct in firing Arneson who I first encountered when he was working for Sen. Chip Brightbill.  I was representing Democracy For America on the Raise the Minimum Wage campaign which succeeded in bring our now outdated $7.25 minimum up two dollars an hour.  As part of that effort we staged a rally outside the Senator’s office in Lebanon.  As we were leaving Arneson emerged from the building carrying a sign we’d made with our requests.  He said he was keeping it as a keepsake meaning the Senator never even saw it.  That’s when I knew the man was a hack.

Corbett also made several other questionable nominations before scrambling out of the Capital.  Shell Oil flack john T. Hines was appointed to DEP’s Citizens Advisory Council.  So Gov. Gasbag, as one of his final acts as Governor, put a gas company guy on the Department of Environmental Protection’s Advisory Council.  That’s why he’s now an ex-Governor.

Sen. Bob Casey has had some bad votes but his yes vote for the Keystone XL pipeline last week gave me indigestion.  This “jobs bill” will only create 35-50 [permanent jobs and the oil it transports will be exported to China and elsewhere.  We take all the environmental risk and they get the oil (from Canada).

Why is it that Fox and CNN (fast becoming Fox Light) only broadcast Islamic terrorism?  Every time a Christian commits terrorism they never blame all Christians but when a Muslim does it all Muslims are painted with the same brush.  Based on that logic all Christians should be blamed for what the KKK and Westboro Baptist Church do.

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