Schwank Crushes Medaglia

Final returns tonight gave Judy Schwank a decisive 20,124 to 14,794 victory in the 11th Senate special election.  Mike O’Pake is smiling somewhere.  The contest was to fill the unexpired term of the late Senator who passed away December 27th.  The 58%-42% win was decisive and various factors combined to send the Republican to defeat.  Going extremely negative against a well liked, well known and well regarded woman is always dangerous.  Voters react viscerally when they see a man trying to beat up a woman whether it is literal or figurative.  Add in the effort in Wisconsin and other states to deny people their collective bargaining rights and it was a perfect storm for a Democrat.  Tom Corbett’s extreme budget last week insured that every educator in the District would vote Democratic.

Medaglia Would Be Part Time Senator

Larry Medaglia, already a part time Register of Wills who leaves his courthouse office during working hours to moonlight at Reading Area Community College, would continue to do so as State Senator if elected Tuesday.  Interviewed by the RACC student newspaper here’s what he said in reply to a query about continuing his second job at RACC:

He hopes that if he is elected that he will still be able to teach at RACC because he loves teaching…

The late Senator Mike O’Pake set the standard for what people expect from a public servant, and filling his position would be hard work for either of the candidates.

Larry is correct that whomever succeeds O’Pake has a tough act to follow.  He told me this at the Senator’s funeral also.  How do you do that as a part time Senator though?  Not only does Medaglia intend to finish this semester at RACC instead of being a full time State Senator, he intends to continue moonlighting in the future.  Donm’t we, as the people of the 11th District, deserve a full time State Senator?

Judy Schwank showed her commitment to doing this when she courageously resigned a lucrative, prestigious and important position as Dean of the College of Agriculture at Delaware Valley College in order to devote herself full time to running this race.  I believe it says much about both candidates in how they have approached this challenging short campaign.  Medaglia leaves his elected job as Register of Wills to teach during the day at RACC.  He will continue doing so as Senator.  Schwank left her job to run for the seat and devote herself to it 24/7.

I asked Judy about it this morning:

PA-11: The State of the Race

We’re now a few days away from Tuesday’s special election.  The race is to fill the State Senate seat of the late Michael O’Pake who died December 27th.  The 11th District is entirely within Berks County and includes the City of Reading.  Democrat Judy Schwank is opposed by Republican Larry Medaglia Jr.  She resigned as Dean of the College of Agriculture at Delaware Valley College to run for the position.  He is the Berks County Register of Wills who serves Berks Countians by leaving the courthouse every day to teach at Reading Area Community College.

As Chair of the County Commissioners for four years Schwank had to field continuous calls for pay raises from the various Row Officers, then the highest paid in Pennsylvania.  They were led, as always in this, by Larry Medaglia.  He doesn’t want to increase your taxes unless it means more money in his pocket.

He also supports gutting public employee pensions.  He did say he will accept his own however.  This was stated very clearly by the candidate himself at the GOP candidate’s forum in Exeter.  Asked if he would change the pension system and if he’d accept his own, he said yes to both.  Public employees, especially teachers, are significantly underpaid.  Studies show about by 25%.  To attract capable people better health and pension benefits are offered.  Cutting those will result in fewer college students going into teaching.  Why teach when accounting pays significantly more with far less stress?  They also get paid for all twelve months of the year.

Gov. Corbett unveiled his austerity budget Tuesday including $1.5 billion in cuts to public education and over 50% cut to state related colleges and universities.  This means there will no longer be “in state tuition” at Pitt, Penn State, Temple, Lincoln and the 14 institutions which used to be known as our teaching colleges.  I suppose since we’re gutting public education through budget cuts and vouchers we won’t be needing any new teachers?

The cuts will be passed onto local school boards whose sole source of revenue is the property tax.  Harrisburg Republicans do this every time they’re in power.  It’s a game called “pass the buck.”  Instead of engaging in serious prison reform whose costs are bankrupting the state, closing corporate tax loopholes which result in 2 of every 3 corporations paying no income taxes, streamlining health costs with single payer saving billions of dollars and covering everyone, eliminating school property taxes with a progressive income tax or taxing natural gas extraction Larry Medaglia wants YOU to shoulder the burden alone.  He, as a public servant would accept his annual pay raises, his generous pension and perks.  

There are no proposals to cut government in Pennsylvania.  While 42,000 people were just cut off Adult Basic he’d continue getting a budget for offices and staff.  No House or Senate seats are being eliminated, no cuts to the cost of the legislature, no cuts to Gov. Corbett’s staff salaries.  In fact, while Tom and Larry want to freeze your income the Guv has lavished huge pay raises on his staff.

Here’s the state of the race:  this will be very close.  The vaunted Democratic voter registration edge in the District is imaginary.  It is composed mostly of Hispanic voters in Reading who don’t vote.  Republicans have a better history of voting in special elections.  Schwank has an edge in the agricultural areas of the County due to her impeccable credentials on those issues.  People remember her tenure as Commissioner fondly mostly due to the 25,000 acres of open space preserved.  After 16 years as Register of Wills few people even knew of Medaglia.  The Pennsylvania Republican Party spent over $183,000 sending attack direct mail pieces through the District introducing him as a bully relentlessly attacking a woman.  That’s always bad politics and tends to boomerang.  I think Larry is creating a backlash by voters already disgusted by what has happened in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin effect on this race could be considerable.  Gov. walker and his State Senators voted to revoke basic collective bargaining rights for public workers.  This is a similar State Senate election and Pennsylvanians, asleep at the polls since 2008, are awake, angry and ready for battle.  The turnout may very well be higher for Democrats than Republicans Tuesday due to Wisconsin, Corbett’s budget, and Medaglia’s embracing of austerity.  If so Judy wins handily.

Labor $$ Supporting Medaglia

I traveled to Harrisburg yesterday to secure a copy of Larry Medaglia’s campaign finance report.  It is interesting as these always are.  He has only 20 individual supporters.  Other than Peter Giorgi of Giorgio Foods ($15,000) none are significant.  His money is coming from Senator Dominic Pileggi ($25,000) and the Pennsylvania Republican Party ($181,330) in in-kind contributions (direct mail pieces).  When going through Pileggi’s reports I noted dozens of organized labor unions contributing to the Republican Senator.  These include:

AFL-CIO,Carpenters, IBEW, IUPAT, Plumbers and Pipefitters, Steamfitters, SEIU, AFSCME, Teamsters, Plumbers Local 27, Iron Workers, cement masons, Western PA Laborers, Sprinkler Fitters, Bricklayers, Reinforced Iron Workers, IUEC, Asbestos Workers and Sheet Metal Workers.

Pileggi contributed $25,000 to Larry Medaglia.  Republicans all across the nation, in partnership with their GOP Governors, are now trying to attack worker’s rights to organize and engage in collective bargaining.  GOP State Senators in Wisconsin are leading this effort and this special election is going on in the shadow of those union busting efforts.

So why are so many labor unions supporting Republicans?  Their money is now flowing to someone who has avowed to bust public employee union pensions (though Medaglia will accept his own).

Sheeler Goes After Berks Commissioners for Political Action in Office

Berks County Recorder of Deeds Fred Sheeler went after two County Commissioners yesterday for political advocacy in their official capacities.  Mark Scott and Christian Leinbach recorded a radio ad for Larry Medaglia Jr. and identified themselves as County Commissioners.  The ad begins by saying it wa spaid for by “Friends of Larry Medaglia” then each of the Republicans identifies himself as “Commissioner Mark Scott” and “Commissioner Christian Leinbach.”  

Taking political action in one’s official role is bad ethics.  Of course Mark Scott has never seen ethics for which he agreed or abided by and has absolutely no sense of what ethics are.   Being chided for violating ethics by one of his row officers he had nothing to say in his defense other than what he does on his time is his own business.  The problem is he didn’t do this on his wn time, he did it in his official capacity as County Commissioner.  That makes it unethical.  

Sheeler went on to ask whether or not he regrets his vote to raise taxes, regrets not returning the county surplus to taxpayers as promised or whether he will raise taxes in the next four years to balance a projected revenue deficit.  He said he would raise taxes.  So, after slamming Judy Schwank for raising taxes with him, he admitted he will have to raise them yet again but what was done prior because of his bad financial management skills is bad.

I’m confused…where do Mark Scott and Christian Leinbach stand on this?  Are you for it or against it?  Were you for it before you were against it and then for it yet again?  My head is spinning.

Medaglia’s Negative Ads Becoming Intolerable

As Jamoca noted below Larry Medaglia’s newest attack upon Judy Schwank shows a level of desperation and bullying liable to boomerang on his candidacy.  Men always should be careful in launching attacks on female rivals, they appear to be schoolyard bullies.  Larry passed that point weeks ago and now just appears to be a desperate candidate grasping for votes.  He advocated Sam Rohrer’s Commonwealth Caucus plan without having done his homework.  This has been a hallmark of the teacher’s campaign:  failure to do his research.

Had he done so he might have discovered a consultant’s analysis of the scheme way back when Sam first proposed replacing school property taxes with an expanded sales tax.  At the time it was illustrated quite clearly that his numbers didn’t add up.  They never have.  The Commonwealth Caucus plan, to work requires taxing everything and even raising the rate in order to replace revenues.  It has always proposed taxing funerals.  The scheme simply doesn’t work unless they tax food and clothing.  At the GOP candidate’s night at Exeter Middle School (I was there) Medaglia embraced the plan and even mentioned it would still need additional streams of taxation to work.  He didn’t elaborate but that means either spreading the applicable items to food, clothing and professional services or raising the personal income tax.  Since he then took a pledge for no new taxes or increases he’s backed himself into a corner.  He cannot support an increase in the PIT because that would break his promise.  That means he would have to support taxing food and clothing.

If you’d done your homework Larry you’d have been prepared for your test.  You didn’t so your latest despicable attack on Judy fails the smell test.

His second attack in the mailer is about the Fumo contribution.  Again, Schwank didn’t accept the $12,500 after the Senator was indicted or prosecuted, it was prior to all that.  Medaglia, however, has been endorsed and accepted fundraising support from Tom Corbett who has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from a convicted felon:  Bob Asher.  Asher was convicted of felony political corruption and served prison time.  His co-defendant Treasurer Bud Dwyer killed himself on live TV rather go to jail.  he has donated tons of money to Gov. Corbett since his first run for Attorney General.  You might rcall I challenged Bruce Castor about Asher’s dirty money four years ago.  I asked him where was his outrage now?  I ask it of Larry Medaglia also:  where’s your outrage over Corbett’s dirty money?  Maybe he isn’t outraged because some of it has showed up in Medaglia’s warchest.

Felon contributions are only bad when given before the prosecution Larry?  It’s only bad when your opponent takes it and not YOU?  Give back Dominic Pileggi’s contribution, all $25,000 of it if you don’t want to be a hypocrite.  Asher’s PAC is the Pennsylvania Future Fund where he shovels cash to GOP candidates.

By the way Medaglia filed petitions to run for Register of Wills so he is running for two offices at once.  Which do you want to be, State Senator, Register of Wills or teaching instructor at RACC?  

News & Notes March 7, 2011

It’s shaping up to be a big week.  Tomorrow Gov. Corbett will unveil his budget encompassing a reported $2.5 billion in cuts.  Expect sweeping rollbacks in state aid to education.  In one fell swoop Corbett may undo all the progress made in eight years under Ed Rendell.  The state has spent decades cutting education funding while increasing mandates to schools.  This simply passes the buck to school property taxes.  Corbett and the Repubs aren’t likely to change their game plan.

Sen. Bob Casey was in Sinking Spring to stump for Judy Schwank in the special election held next week.  The event was at the IBEW so I didn’t attend.  I don’t support unions who pour thousands of dollars into Republican campaigns.  The electricians should be looking to Wisconsin to see the end result of such misguided spending.

With the Governor’s budget due out tomorrow and the PA-11 election a week away will Larry Medaglia support austerity spending, cuts to local schools and the resulting increases in property taxes?  With his no new taxes pledge the Berks County Register of Wills is on record as not supporting a tax on the extraction of gas or the closing of corporate tax loopholes.  Closing the Delaware Loophole alone would increase revenues substantially and force major corporations doing business in Pennsylvania to pay their fair share.  Most pay little or nothing and this isn’t fair to state businesses competing against them for business.

I hear calls, from both left and right, for military intervention in Libya.  This is reckless.  The establishment of a no fly zone without UN authority is an act of war.  We know Ghaddafi would then attack American forces and we know he has that capability.  Firing rockets at Naval forces and shooting down American jets would draw us into a civil war in which would become another Vietnam or Iraq.  Very bad policy and very bad judgment.

More fallout from news that fracking fluid is radioactive, something I’ve been pointing out for months, is that now public water systems are going to begin testing drinking water for radioactivity.  I have to say, as a kayaker, I’m worried about paddling Pennsylvania rivers at this point.  We know, for example, that trucks filled with waste fracking fluid are coming from New York state to Pennsylvania water treatment systems such as Fogelsville, and that these systems are totally inadequate for treating such fluids.  Radioactivity is just one of the things they cannot treat, heavy metals and toxic substances are others.  Treating sewage sludge is quite different from treating fracking fluids.  How much poison is being dumped into our rivers?  Millions and millions of gallons per river folks.  Millions…

I watched CNN interview Republican consultant Ed Rollins this morning.  I was so disgusted with their failure to challenge his lies I turned it off.  Rollins repeated the oft told myth that the stimulus was a failure.  In fact it saved all these austerity budgets in the states for two years and saved or created over 3 million jobs.  Almost every working American got a tax cut in the bill.  If CNN isn’t capable of challenging false statements made on the air it shouldn’t be on the air.

BP has stopped paying local people damaged from its giant oil spill last year.  They are reneging (surprise, surprise!) on their obligations.

Medaglia, Corbett Ban Press From Public Property

Larry Medaglia hosted a fundraiser this evening at Reading Country Club to which he invited the press.  Because Gov. Tom Corbett was to attend some of them made the drive only to be barred from entering the venue.  It seems the Corbett people failed to tell Medaglia they don’t allow the press to their events.  The Guv treats the press like sh*t so this is no surprise.  Here’s the kicker:  Reading Country Club is public property.  It is owned and operated by Exeter Township.  This means while they can keep them out of the actual room they cannot bar them from the property.  Oops…  Nothing like ticking off the state press corps eleven days out from the election.

News & Notes February 23, 2011

There’s things going on all around the world this week, lot’s of which to discuss.  Today President Obama announced his DOJ will no longer defend DOMA in court saying they believe the law is unconstitutional.  This is a major turnaround as the Justice Department had been positioning itself very badly on the law.

Gov. Scott Walker got pranked this morning when someone pretending to be David Koch called and spent twenty minutes on the phone with the Guv who is too busy to return phone calls from Democratic Senators blocking his union busting legislation.  The Koch brothers finance the Tea Party fringe groups along with major right wing think tanks.

Here’s some video from last week’s rally for women’s rights in Philadelphia:

Congressional Republicans are even trying to eliminate Obama’s teleprompter.  I haven’t seen any cuts to abstinence only or faith based initiative funding however.

Rush Limbaugh actually had the gall to call Michelle Obama fat.  He criticized her for eating ribs while she’s calling for children to eat better and avoid obesity.  Of course a balanced diet allows for eating ribs or other not as healthy foods sometimes.  Perhaps Rush should look in the mirror before he criticizes someone else’s eating habits.

Gov. Tom Corbett rescinded Rendell’s moratorium on gas drilling in state lands.  This means that private, for profit companies can cut down OUR trees, drill on OUR land and extract OUR resources without paying any taxes on the natural gas.

Speaking of extraction taxes GOP candidate Larry Medaglia Jr has signed a no tax pledge and is touting it in his campaign materials.  This means he would oppose an extraction tax.

Gov. Corbett killed a new prison in Fayette County but did agree to spend $42 million on a shipyard in Philadelphia which builds boats for which there are no buyers.  Smart?  The Commonwealth is building four new prisons at a time of severe budget cutbacks.  We spend $32,000/year for every inmate.  Isn’t it time we revisited mandatory sentencing guidelines for non violent offenders?

Sam Rohrer is the new head of Americans For Prosperity in Pennsylvania.  AFP is one of the Koch brothers primary front groups for funding and organizing the Tea baggers.  Rohrer is out of work since his failed campaign for Governor.  

If you’re searching for a fun and entertaining Twitter account to follow I recommend FakeSantorum.

Clarence Thomas has now gone five years as Justice without asking a single query during oral arguments at the Supreme Court.  I suppose he lives by the maxim that one shouldn’t open their mouths and remove all doubt as to their intelligence.  This guy couldn’t even figure out how to disclose his wife’s $700,000 in income from the Heritage Foundation on his tax returns and financial disclosure forms.  Better to shut up then speak up and remove all doubt right?

AdultBasic ends on Monday for 43,000 Pennsylvanians.  Corbett is defending this indefensible action by blaming Ed Rendell.

Rahm Emmanuel won the Mayor’s race in Chicago yesterday.  The nation’s gain of losing him as Obama CoS is mitigated by Chicago’s loss getting him as Mayor.

Penn State students raised $9,563,016 for kids with cancer during last week’s dance marathon or THON.  The annual event supports the Four Diamonds Fund.  The next time you see young Nittany Lions collecting funds at an intersection be sure to drop a few bucks in their buckets.

Following successful attempts to shut down the internet during revolts in Africa Senators Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins have introduced legislation here authorizing the President to enact a “kill switch” here.  If you still had any doubts about our still having a democracy this is the proof we do not.

Protesters in Madison are running out of water.  There seems to be pizza aplenty thanks to contributions but go here to provide them with water.