Pawlowski, Fleck Shut Down As Feds Close In

Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski has suspended his U.S. Senate campaign following a raid on City offices last week by the FBI.  Thursday his political consultant Mike Fleck also shut down his firm H Street Consulting.  Democrats had recruited Pawlowski to run against Joe Sestak in the Senate primary.  Now they, again, have egg on their faces as it appears he’s headed for an indictment.

Allentown just completed the PPL Center, a local convention hall and hotel which hosted the Pennsylvania Democratic Party meeting last month.  It was a horrible venue for such an event and I left early Friday evening and didn’t return because the venue was so bad.  The entire thing was designed to be a launching pad for Pawlowski’s campaign.  Oops.

Fleck has run the Mayor’s political operations for some time and expanded south to Reading where his tendency to ignore election laws and regulations got that Mayor in some hot water recently.  Fleck has never seen an election law he respected.  I always advised candidates going against his clients to expect some last minute illegal shenanigans.  I was never disappointed.

This is yet another black eye for PA Dems who seem to be lost in the woods under Chair Jim Burn.  The decision six years ago to back party switcheroo Arlen Specter blew up in their faces when Sestak beat him in the primary.  In a big GOP sweep year Pat Toomey narrowly beat Sestak for the Senate seat when other Democrats lost in landslides across the Commonwealth.  Then last year they lost Tom Wolf so badly he created a shadow Party apparatus and simply ignored them.  So, in the space of six years the Pennsylvania Democratic Party has completely alienated their two top candidates:  the sitting Governor and their U.S. Senate candidate.  After disrespecting Sestak six years ago they dug their hole deeper by recruiting Pawlowski to challenge him this time.  Oops.  The only seat Ed is going to get next year is likely in a ten by ten cell shared with Fleck.

News and Notes June 23. 2014

PA Dems re=elected Jim Burn to a four year term as Chair Saturday.  I’ve lost all respect for the man after he refused to step aside for Gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf’s choice.  Much as I dislike Katie McGinty and all the energy money she takes she was his choice to lead the Party in November’s general election, a privilege most Governor candidates get to make.  I went kayaking instead of going to Camp Hill.  I’m sick and tired of being kicked out of Democratic Party “open” meetings while to give them coverage and get stories.  It’s a waste of my time and money.

I’ve written about Social Security for years, always pointing out that it has nothing to do with the deficit.  In fact the federal government owes Social Security trillions of dollars, not the other way around.  Regardless Republicans have cut its budget to the extent that they’re being forced to close offices.  Now many seniors will have to drive (if they can) longer distances to obtain benefits they’ve paid for over many years.

President Obama issued an Executive Order last week providing employment discrimination against LGBT persons by any federal contractor.  Kudos.

Now we have to pass an ENDA bill nationally and here in Pennsylvania.  No person should be evicted or refused service at a business due to their real or perceived sexual orientation.  From the ACLU:

House Bill 300 and Senate Bill 300 would amend the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression.”

“Even after the historic achievement of marriage equality in Pennsylvania, the struggle for full equality is far from over,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “When Pennsylvanians go to work, they expect to be judged based on their performance.

“But LGBT workers in the commonwealth can still be fired simply for who they are. It is past time to pass this bill and bring a greater level of fairness in the workplace, in housing, and in public services.”

The PHRA prohibits discrimination in employment, in housing, and in “public accommodations,” such as restaurants and hotels. Seventeen states include legal protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity in their non-discrimination laws, and four additional states include protections based on sexual orientation. In Pennsylvania, 34 municipalities have similar ordinances.

The legislation was introduced this legislative session with a record number of co-sponsors from both parties, with 96 co-sponsors in the state House and 25 in the state Senate. Meanwhile, polling again shows more than 70 percent of Pennsylvanians support this type of legal protection.

“The people of the commonwealth support fairness in daily life,” said Andy Hoover, legislative director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “The public is leading the way for lawmakers on this issue.”

HB 300 is currently in the House State Government Committee. SB 300 is in the Senate State Government Committee.

According to HHS the Affordable Care Act has saved 15,000 lives and $4 billion in health care spending:

The Department of Health and Human Services announced that new preliminary data show an overall nine percent decrease in hospital acquired conditions nationally during 2011 and 2012.  National reductions in adverse drug events, falls, infections, and other forms of hospital-induced harm are estimated to have prevented nearly 15,000 deaths in hospitals, avoided 560,000 patient injuries, and approximately $4 billion in health spending over the same period.

The Affordable Care Act is also helping reduce hospital readmissions.  After holding constant at 19 percent from 2007 to 2011 and decreasing to 18.5 percent in 2012, the Medicare all-cause 30-day readmission rate has further decreased to approximately 17.5 percent in 2013.  This translates into an 8 percent reduction in the rate and an estimated 150,000 fewer hospital readmissions among Medicare beneficiaries between January 2012 and December 2013.

These improvements reflect policies and an unprecedented public-private collaboration made possible by the Affordable Care Act.  The data demonstrates that hospitals and providers across the country are achieving reductions in hospital-induced harm experienced by patients.  These major strides in patient safety are a result of strong, diverse public-private partnerships and active engagement by patients and families, including efforts from the federal Partnership for Patients initiative and Hospital Engagement Networks, Quality Improvement Organizations, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Administration on Community Living, the Indian Health Service, and many others.

 

I don’t understand how some folks who call themselves “pro life” can oppose laws which actually save lives.

The White House is hosting a summit today on working families.  Opening remarks this morning were from Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden.  Other participants include SEIU, Claudia Goldin, Economics Professor at Harvard, the Center For American Progress, Rep. Martha Edwards of Maryland, Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez and closing remarks from the First Lady and Robin Roberts of ABC’s Good Morning America.

Meet The Press simply isn’t  the show it used to be since David Gregory took over.  I won’t even watch it any more.  Sunday he allowed Sen. Paul to repeat debunked lies about Benghazi without challenge.  Shameful journalism.

A scientific study confirms that liberals and atheists are smarter.  I suppose this explains why conservatives don’t believe in science.

The study, published in the March 2010 issue of the peer-reviewed scientific journal Social Psychology Quarterly, advances a new theory to explain why people form particular preferences and values.  The theory suggests that more intelligent people are more likely than less intelligent people to adopt evolutionarily novel preferences and values, but intelligence does not correlate with preferences and values that are old enough to have been shaped by evolution over millions of years.”

“Evolutionarily novel” preferences and values are those that humans are not biologically designed to have and our ancestors probably did not possess.  In contrast, those that our ancestors had for millions of years are “evolutionarily familiar.”

Gov. Corbett says an on time state budget isn’t likely to pass by June 30th.  For someone who has ballyhooed the fact he has passed a budget on time every year this is but one more black eye for the vulnerable sitting Governor.  I love the fact he spent $3 million in campaign ads this spring and moved his approval number all the way from 29% to 30%.  Interestingly the Guv has given $1.5 billion in corporate tax breaks intended to create jobs.  Our current fiscal deficit is $1.4 billion.  His tax breaks haven’t created any jobs.  We rank 49th in the country in job creation so they obviously aren’t working.  Instead of making the state budget worse by privatizing the Wine and Spirit Stores and gutting pensions let’s simply repeal those tax cuts.

Meanwhile the Republican Governors Association made an illegal million dollar contribution towards Gov. gasbag’s re-election in violation of Pennsylvania election law.  Sheldon Adelson gave the money despite the fact he owns the Sands Casino in Bethlehem.  Casino owners are barred from making political contributions in Pennsylvania.

Radiation from Fukushima continues polluting the Pacific Rim.  Tuna being caught are so radioactive they cannot be consumed.

Surprise, surprise, we’re listed as the fifth most corrupt state.

Wheatley Not Suitable For State Vice Chair

Gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf has selected Katie McGinty as his choice to lead the Pennsylvania Democratic Party and Rep. Jake Wheatley to be Vice Chair.  Traditionally the sitting Governor or Gubernatorial candidate gets to appoint the State Chair who is then elected by State Committee.  He/she gets to have the team they want going into the general election and on.  Current Chair Jim Burn however is refusing to go quietly and next weekend the PA Dems will wind up fractured because of Burn’s decision.

The selection of Wheatley as Vice Chair is interesting due to his anti-public education record and a past felony conviction in Michigan.  From PennLive:

Rep. Jake Wheatley Jr., D-Allegheny, pleaded guilty in 1992 to felony larceny and misdemeanor assault charges related to a fight in the parking lot of a Pontiac, Mich., shopping mall when he was 20 years old. He served two years of probation, and two newspapers reported in early 2003 he had the charges expunged shortly before he was sworn in.

He told the New Pittsburgh Courier in 2002 that he threw two punches and took someone’s coat, calling it a heated argument that turned into a brawl.

Wheatley, now 38, also was charged with assault on a female in Guilford County, N.C., in 1995, but that charge was dismissed, according to the district attorney’s office. A 1996 misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge in Guilford County had been “dismissed with leave” in 1998 after Wheatley did not appear in court, said Joe Davis with the Guilford County District Attorney’s Office in a recent interview. But on Oct. 27, after the AP raised questions about the case, the charge was fully dismissed, Davis said. Wheatley did not respond to several messages seeking comment.

Why is he even in the State House?  Past Supreme Court decisions have determined that anyone convicted of a felony is to be barred from any elected office in the Commonwealth.

Wheatley has also voted for Republican anti-education bills supporting vouchers and, just this week, to deny seniority to teachers in the layoff process.  Republicans in Harrisburg have eviscerated K12 public education to such an extent that Mr. Wolf has a 20-25 point lead over Tom Corbett in the race for Governor.  Allowing our experienced educators to be layed off in spite of their seniority and in violation of negotiated contract agreements is shameful.  Some are already hesitant in supporting Wolf over education issues so backing Jake Wheatley for the post of Vice Chair will only exacerbate those misgivings.

I contacted the Wolf campaign for comment and their decision is to stick with Wheatley.  The Vice Chair must be male if Katie McGinty is Chair and they wanted someone from western PA and someone who could add some diversity to leadership.  They say the Representative is embarrassed by his past but has moved past those times.

Of course not all his transgressions are in the distant past.

Democratic State Committee Wrap-Up

Pennsylvania Democrats met today in Hershey and narrowly endorsed Philadelphia Judge Joe Waters for Superior Court.  They also passed a resolution supporting President Obama’s common sense gun safety measures and sent one supporting a fracking moratorium back for revisions.  A proposed by laws change requiring all 67 county committees to adopt a uniform procedure for removing elected Committee persons is advancing.  I was told to leave the By Laws Committee meeting where it was discussed.  That, again, was a violation of the DNC Charter.

Numerous candidates held receptions last night.  Max Myers and John Hanger, both announced candidates for Governor next year, spoke with various State Committee persons for their long shot efforts.  Both Judicial candidates wined and dined the crowd and Lt. Governor candidate Brad Koplinski joined with the Young Dems for a late party in the lobby.

Former Congressman Tim Holden showed up today but wouldn’t say why.  When someone like that suddenly shows up it normally means they’re contemplating a run for some office.

Gubernatorial A-list candidates Rob McCord, Tom Wolf and Ed Pawlowski all milled around the hallways talking about their candidacies.  Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, while not availing herself of the chance to begin gaining valuable endorsement votes for next year, announced she is a candidate.  She hired State Party staffer Aubrey Montgomery immediately for her campaign.  Joe Sestak didn’t make an appearance.  If you’re a serious candidate you needed to be in Hershey this weekend.  The last two years there were only two meetings a year due to circumstances and a golden opportunity to begin talking to those who will be casting the endorsement votes in a year was critical.

Should Schwartz capture the nomination in what appears to be a strong field she wouldn’t run for re-election to Congress.  While legally able to do so from a practical standpoint she really can’t.  That’ll open that seat for State Sen. Daylin Leach.  While wholly supportive of Allyson Schwartz whatever she decides he is poised to succeed her if the opportunity arises.  Obviously it would be premature for him to come out and say so publicly.  Rep. Tim Briggs might be the obvious successor for his seat.  

When the Party went through its list of recently deceased members I half expected them to memorialize the current Governor’s deathly approval ratings (now 26%) and his chances for re-election.  Of course that’s why there’s such a strong field of contenders lusting for his position.

I was disappointed in Judge Waters.  He spent Friday telling people his opponent was anti-labor because some members of his law firm are.  In a large law firm you’ll have that.  What Waters did was guilt by association and showed me flaws in his character.  That would be akin to Mr. Wozcik saying that since Philadelphia Traffic Court Judges were indicted last week therefore Waters is also corrupt.  

Mayor Ed Pawlowski chatting with fellow Gubernatorial hopeful Tom Wolf:

Pawlowski and Wolf photo DSCN2521_zpsa47df23a.jpg

Democratic State Committee Friday Afternoon Sessions

I got to Hershey around 2 PM and sat through two Deminars which discussed circulating candidate’s nominating petitions and issue advocacy.  Election law attorney Adam Bonin conducted the first one on petitions and did a very good job.  That entire process is filled with land mines for candidates and though about fifty people attended I didn’t see many candidates there.  If you can’t get on the ballot winning an elected position is very difficult.

The second seminar had to do with building a campaign around a single issue and the battle over Voter ID was their focus,  It basically became a session where the State Democratic office staff gave themselves a (well earned) pat on the back for their efforts last year.

I milled around and spoke and chatted with numerous people.  There are some interesting ideas being tossed around for the early morning caucuses tomorrow.  A resolution against fracking is on the agenda and proposed by laws change which goes to the issues I had with Berks County Democrats in 2007 is proceeding.  Brad Kirsch from Bucks County is concerned about senior issues and Roger Lund of Gettysburg is concerned about the lack of openness of last year’s LGBT convention delegates.  I’ll be pursuing those two latter issues in more depth this weekend.

The Governor’s privatization of the lottery affects senior citizens directly and I haven’t seen much discussion over that point as yet.  Right now profits from the lottery fund programs for seniors.  The Guv is proposing using the billion dollars he expects to get from selling the state stores for education but that puts a $500 million hole in his General Funds budget.  The obvious place to get those funds would be the lottery.

The Women’s Caucus held a candidates forum between the two men looking for tomorrow’s endorsement for Superior Court.  With but 30 seconds to answer three questions there wasn’t much to discern from them other than individual styles.  The event was so short as to be useless.

Tonight receptions are being held all over the Hershey Lodge by various candidates.  That’s usually when things get interesting and people talk after downing a few drinks.

Rob McCord Sounds Like A Candidate

I had a few minutes to chat with Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord and asked the obvious question:  is he running for Governor next year?  He replied that he’s at State Committee to celebrate last year’s sweep of state row offices and a talk about the Governor’s race was premature.  He and the other two Democratic state Row Officers Kathleen Kane and Eugene Depasquale were joining McCord in a celebration of last year’s victories.  Of course everyone here is really more interested in next year’s race than last year’s.

McCord definitely sounded like a candidate as he mentioned Tom Corbett’s dismal job record.  The Commonwealth has lost so many jobs under Gov. Gasbag that we’re now over the national unemployment rates.  This after he promised a wealth of new jobs from fracking.  Unless you’re a truck driver most of those are filled by temporary transplants from Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas here staying in fleabag motels.  The Treasurer speculated to me that a Democratic nominee with a proven track record of creating jobs (him) would make a good candidate to go against Corbett.  That’s an issue not much of the state’s press has covered yet and I asked if this was an issue on the radar yet.  He responded that economic issues are slower to get on the public’s consciousness as other more scandalous ones.  He intimated that it will.

If you’re a serious candidate for the 2014 Democratic endorsement you need to be in Hershey this weekend.  Last year there were only two State Party conferences due to Hurricane Sandy.  A serious candidate needs to be in Hershey this weekend beginning to talk with those who will be voting next year.  These twelve months will fly past quickly.  If you aren’t here you aren’t a serious candidate.

I haven’t seen any other of the major names being bandied about but Allyson Schwartz stickers are being handed out with no office printed upon them.  John Hanger is hosting a reception tonight as well as Max Myers.  Neither one has much chance of being the nominee.

News & Notes June 13, 2012

I have yet to receive an explanation or apology for being summarily dismissed from a Pennsylvania Democratic Party meeting again Saturday.  Until I get an apology I will discontinue covering the campaigns of Democratic candidates.  This includes Barack Obama’s re-election.  It is a violation of the DNC charter to close Party meetings and this is three times it has happened in a short period.  My Campaign 2012 columns will cease until the DNC responds.

Tom Corbett’s poll numbers continue sinking like a stone.  Pennsylvanians now support him by only 36%.  This was before the Shell Oil giveaway which would hire 30,000 teachers.  What’s more important, 30,000 teachers or one more dirty energy plant?

Commerce Secretary John Bryson has taken a leave of absence after seizures caused him to be involved in hit and run accidents recently.  

A Navy drone crashed on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  President Obama is now using these unmanned planes to spy on us at home.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, closet queen, has broken with Grover Norquist.  As more and more cracks dent the adolescent idea of no new revenues ever his Americans For Tax Reform loses power.

Of course Tea Party extremists like Keith Rothfus are still stupid enough to put extreme politics ahead of the public welfare.  He has signed Norquists idiotic pledge along with others from Club For Growth (Pat Toomey’s organization) and the American Family Business Institute.  He’d rather you pay taxes than people like Alice Walton who is worth $21 billion.

American servicewomen are being raped in alarming numbers.  Even more alarming is the fact that not much is done to those who assault them and abortions for pregnancies resulting from sexual assaults is not readily available.  Sen. Jean Shaheen is proposing a bill guaranteeing abortion coverage for women service members who are raped.  Will Pat Toomey and Bob Casey step forward and protect our fighting women?  Will our Teapublicans in the House also do so?

North Dakota rejected a very radical law which could have restored slavery.  The religious freedom law would have allowed anyone in that deeply red state to disobey any law based on their religious beliefs.  Since the Bible condones slavery…

Arizona also had an election yesterday replacing Congresswoman Gabby Giffords with her former staffer Ron Barber.  Hers was a swing district so this could be a harbinger for the fall.  Of course Wisconsin also could be if you’re into reading political tea leaves.

Cuts to higher education didn’t begin with Tom Corbett though he has taken them to unprecedented levels..  Pennsylvania’s share of operating expenses for our state related universities has been declining for decades.  Toxic Tom’s actions have accelerated the decline dramatically.  We now have the distinction of having the top two most expensive in state tuitions in the country for state related universities.  Penn State is first and Pitt second.  This is a dubious and shameful distinction.

On Thursday the President will make an address at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland if you’re in that area.  He was in Philadelphia last night for a fundraiser at The Franklin Institute.  It was a pool reporter situation so I didn’t have access.  Tom Fitzgerald of The Inquirer was the pool reporter.  Supporters paid up to $40,000 for the privilege of meeting the President.

The Department of Energy has awarded grants to Air Products and Chemicals of Allentown and Lyondell Chemicals of Newtown Square.  13 projects received a total of $54 million to increase energy efficiency.

Citizens of the 8th Congressional District are giving Mike Fitzpatrick fits over recent news he gave federal earmarks to a campaign contributor.  This is called “pay to play.”  Another name for it is corruption.

Constituent Ginny Hoffman of Levittown said it’s time that elected officials get their priorities straight and help people who actually need it. Hoffman attempted to ask Congressman Fitzpatrick about his recent legislation benefiting his donors.

“When I open the newspaper I see that he is giving out a lot of pork to his donors instead of helping middle class people. I tried to tell him to help us, the people that are losing our homes and our jobs, instead of his wealthy donors. But I was blocked by his staff before I could ask my question,” she said.

News & Notes March 27, 2012

As we near the one fourth mark of the year this also means the end of the first quarter fundraising period for federal candidates.  This means our inboxes will be full of emails asking for contributions.  Campaigns cost money so give until it hurts.  We’ve seen what the alternative is…  That’s far more painful.

I’ll be in Philadelphia tomorrow for an interview so blogging will be light.  Unfortunately, with the new texting law blogging while driving is against the law, lol.  I do so wish there was a train!

The Steel City Stonewall Democrats have endorsed Erin Molchany for Chelsa Wagner’s House seat.  Her opponent once stole $50,000 from Allegheny County taxpayers and reneged on $25,000 in taxes to the IRS.  This one’s a no brainer unless you sit on the PA Dems Executive Committee.

Bill Clinton endorsed Kathleen Kane for AG.  The co-owner of an anti-worker, anti-union trucking company co chaired Hillary’s presidential campaign in her region in 2008.  The Clintons are famous for their loyalty.  Its just too  bad they aren’t showing that same loyalty to their union friends.

Meanwhile the AFL-CIO endorsed Patrick Murphy for the post.  If you’re a working person there’s no choice in this primary.  For some insane reason they also endorsed Tim Holden after swearing they wouldn’t following his votes against working people.

The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO is conducting its 40th anniversary state convention in Philadelphia this week.  Speaking tomorrow will be D. Alexander Bullock, Chapter President of Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Foundation in Detroit.  I’ll be interviewing him following his speech about voting rights, union organizing rights, voter education and voting registration.

The Critz campaign says their internal polling has them within 7 points of Jason Altmire.  That still spells defeat.

I applied, yet again, to the Pennsylvania Treasury Department for funds owed me from years ago.  They advertise these unclaimed monies periodically and a relative let me know I was on the list.  I applied for my money two years ago and they never responded.  Rob McCord, I want my money and I want it now.

He’d better listen to me because Pat Robertson says I’m possessed.  Heaven knows what I might do…   Oops, I meant hell.

People on the right wing are asking what makes the Trayvon Martin case national news.  it’s national news because of the Stand Your Ground Law and the fact the local police department didn’t do anything against a man who stalked, attacked then murdered a teenager for the crime of walking while Black.  If you cannot understand how this is major news you are dumb and ignorant.

The Pennsylvania Civil Rights Network has some details on the lawsuit against Tom Corbett filed for his corruption while Attorney General.  Juicy stuff.

Activist Roxanne Pauline shot this video of HHS Regional manager Joanne Grassi speaking recently in Scranton:

Another Black Eye For PA Dems

Remember the debacle the Pennsylvania Democratic Party underwent when they rigged the vote for Mark Critz after Jack Murtha died?  We exposed that misadventure and now have another one to report.  It seems things haven’t changed under Chair Jim Burn.  Executive Board votes for special elections are still being rigged for Party insiders as in the recent case of Chelsa Wagner’s State House seat.  

Marty Schmotzer, the former Allegheny County Deputy Clerk of Courts who stole $50,000 from taxpayers and reneged on $25,000 to the IRS received but 25 legitimate votes from the Party’s Exec Board to fill the special election nomination for Wagner’s vacant seat (she is now Allegheny County Controller).  The State Party by laws are quite clear on the procedures:  fifty members vote and 26 votes are required.  By the close of the voting Schmotzer had 25 votes.  Here’s the really amazing part of this scandal though:  Burn added fifteen additional voters.  Nothing in the By Laws permits this and it has never been done before.  

The “powers that be” decided Marty was their man for this special election even though it’ll be impossible to win.  If I’m a Republican I simply pour money into direct mail and radio ads reminding voters of Schmotzer’s dishonesty and run away with this seat.  I could win this one with a ham sandwich.  Burn seemed to think differently though and forced the guy through by packing the Board and thumbing his nose at the rules.  

Bloodbath

It was a doomsday for Pennsylvania Democrats as Republicans swept to victory everywhere.  Pat Toomey is your new Senator, Tom Corbett Governor-elect and five Congressional seats have flipped to the GOP.  Dahlkemper, Carney, Kanjorski, Patrick Murphy and Lentz have lost and Mark Critz has the narrowest of leads in the 12th CD.  A six seat swing would be a clean sweep for Republicans.  Add to that a Republican State House with what may be a 10-12 seat margin and it was a bloodbath for Democrats.  It all came out to turnout as the vaunted 1.2 million voter registration edge meant nothing because the left wing stayed home again.