Equality Pennsylvania Roasts Adrian Shanker

I’m not sure when I first met Adrian Shanker.  It may have been a Planned Parenthood event at Muhlenberg College, perhaps Gay Pride, maybe some political debate in the Valley.  I meet a lot of people doing what I do so its tough to recall.  I’ve met few young people with the heart, dedication and the passion that Adrian has though.  His drive to improve the lives of LGBT Pennsylvanians knows no bounds however and today, as President of the Board of Directors, Equality Pennsylvania roasted him on his 25th birthday.

Adrian impressed me when I got to know him.  He was a student leader at Muhlenberg and began working on Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski’s re-election campaign and other important progressive things.  He got involved with the Pennsylvania Diversity Network and then Equality PA.

This morning over 200 people, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and a few straight ones, gathered in Allentown to celebrate his 25th birthday by roasting him.  Adrian is so nice most of the roasters had to roast each other instead.  Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan, rumored to be a somewhat handsome fellow, went first followed by Easton Councilman and consultant Mike Fleck.  Comic Ryan Hill emceed the stage and attempted to teach the others some fine points of comedy.  Lehigh County Dems Chair Bar Johnston went next and then Pawlowski took his turn.  Finally Adrian got the chance to have his fun at their expense.  It was a fun Sunday and raised a good amount for Equality Pennsylvania.  I can’t post all the video because its such good blackmail material…  Opposition researchers would have a field day with it.  Therefore I’ll post a few pics:

The guest of honor Adrian Shanker:

Adrian, the Mayors and Mike Fleck:

The roasters:

Mayor Callahan:

Some of the attendees:

Chris Dietz:

Equality Pennsylvania head (on the left) Ted Martin (aka the Lavendar Light Special):

Jim Schlener:

John Campbell, Alex Reber and Dietz:

Kathryn Boockvar:

Doylestown Councilman Det Ansinn:

Jackson Eaton and his Congressional campaign manager:

The stage:

Lehigh Valley Officials Endorse Patrick Murphy

A slew of elected Democrats from the Lehigh Valley convened at the Hamilton Family Restaurant to endorse Patrick Murphy for Attorney General.  City Council members, State Representatives, Mayors and Controllers were among the audience there to show support in a contested primary for the office.  Kathleen Kane, a highly qualified prosecutor is also running for the nomination along with former Congressman and Auditor General Don Bailey.

Northampton County Controller Steve Barron emceed the event and speakers included Bob Freeman, Sal Panto and Ed Pawlowski.

Patrick and Steve:

Teaching a toddler to high five:

Mayor Pawlowski:

Mayor Panto:

County Chair Walt Garvin (and my fellow co-host at Democratic Talk Radio) with Rep. Bob Freeman:


The Reading Mayor’s Inaugural Ball

This is going to sound like the blog morphed into a society column.  Last night I attended Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer’s inaugural ball at the Sovereign Performing Arts Center where one entered three floors of ballrooms and suspended belief.  Suspended belief that one was in the poorest city in the nation.  For four hours I was surrounded by opulence, men in tuxedos and suits, women in gowns, drinking, eating and dancing to live entertainment on each level.  Entering the ground floor there sat a massive ice sculpture of the famous pagoda, Reading’s landmark.

Dumping my outer garment at the coat check room I sidled past the long line for the bar and was escorted upstairs by Mick Dee, the Mayor’s new Communications Director.  The second and third floors were decked out with tables surrounded by local merchants whose tables were decked with food for the guests.  Dubbed “A Taste of Reading” they donated the gustaceous delights which offered a full range of delicious eating.  There was even a new Jamaican restaurant.  While the food, beer and soft drinks were donated the Mayor’s Transition Team did purchase the wine (state law), cakes rent the facility.

This was a lavish affair.  A long gray, vintage limo parked outside on Sixth Street for most of the evening while Mayor Vaughn Spencer, donned in a stylish tuxedo, held court.  He was joined by City Council and Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski.

I have lots of pictures so let’s take this society column under the fold…

Hello again, here are pictures of the upper ballrooms and a few of the local restaurants which participated:

The view of the first floor from the mezzanine:

There I came upon City Councilwoman Donna Reed and new Council President (succeeding Spencer) Francis Acosta:

Scott Hoh and former Councilman Angel Figueroa:

Mayor and Mrs. Ed Pawlowski:

Labor leader Fred Shaef and former Sixth Congressional District candidate Doug Pike:

Rick Hinnershitz and his wife Councilwoman Marcia Goodman-Hinnershitz:

Retired labor leader Larry Murin and his lovely wife Brenda:

My dear friend Rosie Skomitz:

A few more pictures of the lavish surroundings and the mayor:

How appropriate was all this in the poorest city in America?  How appropriate was it for Spencer to be sworn in in a church?  I found everyone regaling in the special night while thousands of city residents were going to bed hungry.  It might have started his term out on a better foot to invite many of the city’s poverty stricken residents into the ballroom instead for a meal.  Around 75% of Reading School District students qualify for free meals, many toil at multiple jobs making $7.25/hour struggling just to keep roofs over their heads.  At a time when heating assistance has been cut back along with WIC, welfare and access to medical care this lavish evening seemed out of touch with reality.

I suspended belief for four hours then dealt with one of the city’s persistent problems on my short drive home:  double parkers.  They’re the biggest reason I avoid Reading like the plague.

Specter Goes After Toomey

Lehigh County Executive Don Cunningham endorsed Arlen Specter this morning along with five County Chairs (Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Lehigh and Northampton Counties) and several area Mayors (Ed Lawlowski, Sal Panto) and Party leaders from T.J. Rooney to Katie Lynch the new President of the Lehigh Valley Young Democrats.  Sestak didn’t mention his opponent in the Democratic primary but did say he’s in “a tough fight.”  He aimed sharp words at his GOP opponent should he survive Joe Sestak’s challenge.  Being in the Lehigh Valley, Toomey’s home turf, Specter went after him hard on his Wall Street ties and votes against every federal appropriations bill except Defense.

Saying “I beat Pat Toomey before and I’ll beat him again” he is discounting numerous polls showing voter discontent putting Toomey ahead of the thirty year incumbent.  The Senator was feisty this morning and made sure to say, maybe for my benefit, that he never asked anyone to “clear the field” for him.  That doesn’t mean the Governor didn’t try as he usually does in these contests.  Ironically Ed Rendell wouldn’t have been Governor for eight years if he hadn’t opposed the Party establishment and ran against Bob Casey Jr. in the primary.  How soon some forget.

Arlen Specter stressed several points which could come back to haunt him.  For example he mentioned his opposition to Robert Bork as a Justice of the Supreme Court without mentioning the right wing extremists like Clarence Thomas, John Roberts and Samuel Alito whom he shepherded through the process.  While condemning last week’s horrendous ruling he failed to mention how he put those Justices on the Court.  He seems to be using his vote for the stimulus bill (ARRA) as the central theme of his campaign but he failed to mention the $40 billion in state fiscal relief he cut out of the legislation in return for his vote.  As usual with Specter there’s good and bad mixed together.  That was always fairly acceptable when he was a Republican but they aren’t good enough to elect him as a Democrat.  Not when a real progressive Democrat is running.

More video below the fold

Don Cunningham:

TJ Rooney said something noteworthy in his segment.  He lauds Arlen Specter for putting the people ahead of Party.  It reminds me of all the attacks I’ve taken from Democratic officials for doing precisely the same thing.  It’s why I’m no longer a Democrat.

Allentown Mayoral Candidate Caught in Facebook Sex Chat

Republican Mayoral candidate Tony Phillips got caught having a sex chat on Facebook with a woman.  The Allentown hopeful is single but the woman, Delores Rivera is married.  Oops…  At least he didn’t get caught bragging about it on an open mike as happened in California.  Channel 69 has the details.