News & Notes June 15, 2012

I still haven’t received any apologies from PA Dems or the DNC for being shut out of a Party meeting last Saturday in violation of the DNC Charter.  It appears Democrats do not believe in a free and open press.

I spent Thursday morning at the Kutztown Produce Auction watching rolling farm fields and grazing horses while bidding on local produce and plants.  A thoroughly civilized way to spend a beautiful summer morning.

Penn State VP of Security Gary Schultz maintained a secret file pertaining to Jerry Sandusky.  State prosecutors only obtained it after it was handed over by a commission investigating the university for the university.  The contents of the file were covered by subpoenas issued by the OAG and not provided by Penn State fueling allegations of a cover up and obstruction.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, touted as a possible running mate for Mitt Romney, finds herself mired in an email controversy this week.  Key staffers are being outed for using personal and campaign email accounts for state business and vice versa.  Since personal email cannot be archived for records and are not transparent this is a violation of state law.  It appears they were used to circumvent oversight.

I mentioned a case earlier this week where a man in Texas was fraudulently hiding behind a Stand Your Ground law in a cold blooded murder.  A jury convicted him.  You cannot stalk someone, provoke a fight, kill them then claim self defense.

In a related case George Zimmerman’s wife was arrested this week for perjury.

The right wing noise machine has a new cog.  This one is as reprehensible as the others with no standards for factual reporting.

The WTO has found for the U.S. against China a trade dispute over steel.  The steel industry here in Pennsylvania should gain from this victory.  From the Administration:

The United States alleged that China improperly initiated countervailing duty investigations involving several U.S. laws.  The United States also challenged the manner in which China conducted its investigation, alleging that China violated numerous procedural and due process obligations, impairing the ability of the United States and U.S. companies to defend their interests.  The United States also alleged that China’s finding of injury to its domestic industry was unsupported by the evidence on the record.

The Panel’s favorable decision regarding China’s unfair anti-dumping and countervailing duties on U.S.-manufactured GOES is notable in many regards. The decision confirms that China must do more to meet its transparency and due process commitments.  This decision also carries the potential to strengthen future challenges to China’s trade remedy tactics.

Trade Rep. Ron Kirk reiterated on a conference call this morning that he and the P{resident will not hesitate to protect American workers.  We were given a one minute notification for this conference call…

Mitt Romney will make three campaign stops in the state tomorrow (Saturday).  The first is in Carbon County at Weatherly Casting.  He then goes to the Wawa on Route 663 outside Quakertown.  This is right by the Turnpike interchange and I’ll be there.  He then goes to Lebanon County.

R Allen Stanford was sentenced to 110 years in prison for his Ponzi scheme.  At least one fraudulent banker has gone off to jail.  Now it’s time for the rest.

We could begin with Jamie Dimon who went to Congress and begged to be able to call the shots on all government regulation of the financial sector.  He already has that as evidenced by the groveling paid to him by Senators.  Of course this sort of boot licking is common by people to their bosses.

A PR flack hired by Wal-Mart impersonated a reporter at a union press conference calling attention to labor abuses at Wal-Mart warehouses.  She got caught.  I wonder if she’s done gay porn?

The Tea Party isn’t racist, they just tell racist jokes.

Want to send a message about how much you dislike Gov. Gasbag’s policies?  This article has a poll at its end.

A Michigan lawmaker was reprimanded for using the word vagina.  She was banned from speaking on the floor for two days.  Here’s what she had to say about a bill banning some abortions:

“I have not asked you to adopt and adhere to my religious beliefs. Why are you asking me to adopt yours? And finally, Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but ‘no’ means ‘no.”

Police and private security evicted the remaining residents and protesters at Riverdale Mobile Home Park.  They were forcibly removed so Aqua America can steal water to sell to frackers.

Don’t eat at Red Lobster and Olive Garden restaurants.

News & Notes May 5, 2012

Happy Cinco de Mayo!  Go out and have a burrito and margherita.  Yesterday was Star Wars Day:  May 4th.  May the Fourth be with you…

I went to a fundraiser last night for State House candidate Erik Saar.  The consultant to the Joint Chiefs of Staff has a great resume for a heavily GOP district in western Berks.  Incumbent Jim Cox was Chief of Staff to Tea Party fave Sam Rohrer before winning this seat when Sheila Miller retired.  He is known for being a puppy hater.  Not only has he voted to support puppy mills this week he voted against a tax cut for people who adopt rescue animals.  Why does Jim Cox hate pets?

Mark and Jackie Rozzi (126th House) were also in attendance along with Tim Seip who is running for Dave Argall’s State Senate seat.

Disabled Pennsylvanians descended on Gov. Corbett’s office again this week to protest his cuts to their programs.  This marks the second consecutive Corbett budget to cut services tot he disabled.  The test of a civilization is how we treat those among us who need help most.  Cutting off disabled people is immoral.

A new generation of Romneys is set to threaten prosperity into the future.  Tagg announced yesterday he, his wife and their surrogate mother gave birth to twin sons.  I thought radical conservatives were against any procreation which uses in vitro fertilization?  Did Rick Santorum consider this before meeting Mitt yesterday?  What happens to the rest of the Tagg Romney fertilized eggs?  According tot he “personhood” nuts these are living beings with full human rights.

What’s more ridiculous, giving full rights to fertilized eggs or to corporations?

Senate candidate Tom Smith is a Tea bagger:

Fact based sex education is especially important for gay students who have few reliable sources for factual, age appropriate information.  Missouri not only wants to stifle such real educational curriculums but wishes to muzzle gay students completely.  This prompted a lawmaker to come out of the closet himself.

Congressional Republicans don’t think you deserve protection from domestic abuse if you’re illegal, a Native American or LGBT.  As if this weren’t bad enough if you’re illegal they want to be able to tell your abuser you sought help.  It’s time we abused them at the polls.

More corruption at Wal-Mart hits the news.  Why anyone would patronize these stores is a mystery to me.  Now the Department of Labor has determined they stole $4.8 million in wages from employees.  Maybe they used it to bribe Mexican officials…

Gov. Corbett toured a box plant which is illegally firing workers for union activity.

The state Senate isn’t happy just with destroying democracy in the City of Harrisburg now they also want to take over its school district.  Why do Pennsylvania Republicans hate democracy?

News & Notes April 23, 2012

Tomorrow is election day, don’t let bad weather keep you from exercising your right to vote.  People in Syria are dying in the streets fighting for this right.   On the other hand don’t allow Tom Corbett to rob you of your right to vote.  They’ll be rolling out the Voter ID program though the law says you don’t have to produce an ID until the November election.

Matt Cartwright got the endorsements of three Northeastern PA papers.  Marybeth Kuznick is also racking up endorsements for her House race.

The Reading Eagle isn’t running the news that Frank Denbowski broke state election law.

Denbowski isn’t alone.  Marty Schmotzer didn’t even file a report.  The difference is we already knew Marty was a crook.

The DCCC points out how Jim Gerlach voted to give the Dallas Cowboys a tax break.  Their vote would provide all major sports teams owners another cut.  Have those crumbs trickled down to you yet?  Ronald Reagan promised they would.

NARAL’s pro-choice voters guide is available here.

This week there will be a major women’s rally in Harrisburg.  Join us on April 28th at 10AM on the Capitol steps.

Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer is already tangled up in a web of cronyism and corruption.  That didn’t take long.

It appears fracking is already destroying fish in the Susquehanna River.  Will Corbett’s DEP do anything?

Two notable trials are going on this week:  Roger Clemens and John Edwards.

Wal-Mart spent millions bribing Mexican officials so they could build stores.  How much did they spend here?

The Catholic League got all in a lather over a skit Jon Stewart did.  They responded by showing him amidst fire on the day Jews use to remember victims of the Holocaust.  Very bad idea…

New Mexico Senate candidate Heather Wilson says bullying of gay teens is simply teasing.  Sure, hundreds of kids commit suicide every year over “teasing.”  She lost her Congressional seat over ties to George W. Bush’s GonzalesGate.  Should we tease her about that?

Education Voters PA has endorsed several candidates:  Erin Molchany, Shauna D’Alessandro, Duane Milne, Babette Josephs, James Roebuck and Sen. Patricia Vance.  Milne and Vance are moderate Republicans being challenged from their right (Tea Party).

Mitt Romney stepped in it when he dissed a famous Pittsburgh bakery.  Just when he was making progress trying to win the battleground state this fall he stepped in a pile of sh*t.  Maybe he still has time to come to Philadelphia and say how bad Tastykakes are…  Then he can throw up outside Pat’s Steaks.  Go to Lancaster and say something bad about scrapple?  He may as well try for the whole enchilada!

We’re finally getting some rain.  The last six months have been very dry, months we normally see considerable precipitation.  Climate change is affecting us and rivers are so low we can’t go kayaking.  I drove up along the Delaware Saturday, a stretch I’ve paddled many times, and was shocked at the low levels.  How will climate change affect our state in the future?  Here’s how.

March 11, 2012

I cracked a couple windows in the house for some fresh, spring air, cleaned and scrubbed the inside of the car and enjoyed one of the fruits of climate change:  early spring.

Owning a KIndle this article interested me.  DOJ is investigating price fixing on ebooks.  Is nothing sacred?

If you’re Jewish and considering voting for Mitt Romney or any other Mormon you should think twice.  The LDS church baptizes deceased Jews.  Can you imagine having some cult induct you into their religion without your knowledge or permission?  That’s the Mormon Church.  Plus they wear “magic” underwear.  WTF?

The trial of Sen. Orie continues in Pittsburgh.  Another staffer testified about doing extensive campaign work on taxpayer time.What’s amazing is how many lawmakers continued doing this following Jeff Habay’s conviction and those who continue doing it to this day.  Stupid is as stupid does.

Another school district is cutting curriculum instead of sports and extra curricular activities because of Gov. Gasbag’s massive budget cuts.  I cannot fathom not doing away with these extras.  Have school board members forgotten what the mission of their organizations is?  Hint:  it isn’t entertaining the local populace.

A lead plaintiff against ObamaCare went bankrupt because of medical bills.  Again, stupid is as stupid does…

The Rush Limbaugh scandal is widening as 98 major advertisers have pulled ads from all right wing hate radio shows.

Speaking of hate Rep. Daryl Metcalf has rejuvenated his marriage amendment and this time it would also outlaw domestic partnership benefits.  This hateful, mean spirited legislation is a direct violation of the constitution.  What happened to all that right wing talk about all legislation having to pass a constitutional test?  This one fails.  The State Government Committee holds a hearing on this Tuesday morning at 9 AM.  Be there if possible.

Also on the right wing hate front a legislator in Alabama has come out of the closet and introduced a bill limiting voting rights to white, straight, land owning men.  Maybe a liberal should introduce a companion bill limiting voting to only intelligent people.  Sen. Scott Beason would discover what its like to be disenfranchised.

Questions have been raised regarding Penn State’s close relationship with the gas drilling industry but this is nothing new.  The university has always been close to the mining industries.

New reports say Bank of America defrauded the mortgage program designed to keep homeowners out of foreclosure.  Duh?  What did you expect of a vast criminal enterprise like BoA?

Jamoca wrote an article about the Voter ID law below, here is Sen. Leach speaking about it:

Wal-Mart has long hidden some of its worst labor practices behind subcontractors.  That doesn’t absolve them of responsibility morally.  Theft of wages is theft, pure and simple.  I worked at one time for a company which also required us to sign false time sheets.  This is criminal.

Third and State This Week: The State Budget, Voter ID and CEO Pay

This week, the state budget dominated with the introduction of the House Republican budget. We also weighed in on the cost of a voter ID law and the rules for CEO pay.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On the state budget, Chris Lilienthal shared a Patriot-News feature that asked the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center what a good budget would look like. Chris also wrote an initial take on the House Republican budget plan unveiled on Tuesday and later in the week highlighted the center’s full analysis of that plan.
  • Sharon Ward blogged about another recent Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center report on what it would cost to implement a voter ID law in Pennsylvania.
  • Finally, on income inequality, Mark Price wrote about a change in the rules of measuring CEO pay at Wal-Mart that ensures CEO compensation keeps growing.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

Rules For CEO Pay: Fail by Your Own Standard, Change the Standard

A blog post from Mark Price, originally published on Third and State.

Gretchen Morgenson of The New York Times reports that the executive compensation committee of Wal-Mart has dropped same-store sales from its metric for assesing the performance of Wal-Mart CEO Michael Duke. Morgenson writes:

Why? The change was “intended to align our performance share goals more closely with our evolving business strategy, which emphasizes productive growth, leverage and returns,” Wal-Mart said.

The timing was certainly curious. The switch came amid a sustained decline in Wal-Mart’s same-store sales, which have been falling for nearly two years. The company’s total sales, however, rose 3.4 percent in the latest fiscal year.

Shifting the goal posts meant more money for Mr. Duke in the latest fiscal year than he would have received under the old arrangement. His compensation totaled $18.7 million, more than $16 million of which was performance-based.        

Changing the rules of the game to make sure that CEO compensation keeps growing is why CEO pay has balloned relative to compensation in the rest of the economy.

This news also reminds me of a policy approved by the Pennsylvania-based homebuilder Toll Brothers in March 2008 – at a time when the recession was just three months old, but the toll of the collapsing housing market had not yet taken down the financial system. The company approved a bonus plan that moved away from awarding bonuses based on financial performance:

The chief executive, Robert I. Toll, did not receive a bonus for 2007 as much of the housing market went into a deep slump. But had the new bonus plan been in effect last year, the company said, he would have received $6.56 million.

Albert Einstein famously defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Corporate governance seems to fit that definition to a tee.

Easton Wal-Mart Sued for Bathroom Video Camera

Why does anyone still shop at Wal-Mart?  Haven’t there been enough exposes including their use of hundreds of undocumented workers to build their distribution warehouse in Schuylkill County?  Abusing their employees, discriminating against female workers and contributing huge sums for right wing politics isn’t enough?  Now the Supercenter in Easton, Northampton County, is being sued because employees planted a video camera to observe employees and customers in a unisex bathroom.  Imagine how many babies they watched getting diaper changes?  I suspect their true motivations lay elsewhere than infants however.  On the other hand, anyone still shopping at these stores get what they deserve.  This falls in the category of contributory negligence.