Romney Leaves Supporters in Quakertown, Goes Elsewhere to Avoid Dems

Mitt Romney left hundreds of his supporters waiting in the heat at a Quakertown Wawa today as he went elsewhere to avoid about 100 Democrats who also showed up.  Ed Rendell headlined a counter Democratic event beforehand and could now write a book about the wuss Romney.  Ironically a Republican walked over to the Dem event with a sign calling the former Governor “a big, fat wuss.”  It didn’t faze the Governor nor any of the other Democratic leaders there to speak about the Romney record.  I did notice the man, along with an apparently drunken guy with a Santa hat on, leave as Rendell recited actual facts about tax cuts and jobs.  It was as if they couldn’t absorb actual facts.

Congressional candidate Kathryn Boockvar, Auditor General candidate Eugene DePasquale, Treasurer Rob McCord and former Congressman Patrick Murphy spoke.  A local teacher also spoke about cuts to education.  I interviewed both Boockvar and Murphy following the event.

The Wawa convenience store by the Turnpike entrance was host to hundreds as folks began descending on it around 10 AM.  When I arrived at 10:40 I secured one of the last open parking spaces and the managers inside were surprised to discover they would be hosting dueling events.  A bit overwhelmed the asked the Dems to move next door to an empty produce stand.  As I covered that I could see more and more conservatives packing into the Wawa lot.  A man with a large Romney sign put flags on his truck and drove around the parking lot.  State Police showed up, I believe at the store’s request and blocked off the entrances.

Word spread through the press early that the Romney bus would bypass this venue and go elsewhere because of the Democratic turnout.  About 100 protesters were there to “greet” the presumptive GOP nominee.  While the Dems had no issue with the Republicans who crashed and tried to disrupt their event Mitt obviously was so intimidated he went to another Wawa in Quakertown.  As I watched all the TV crews leave I mentioned to some in the crowd that their guy wasn’t coming.  When they doubted me I pointed out that all of the television trucks had gone.  They were still standing in the heat, an hour after the event was scheduled, waiting for the bus.  The Romney bus ran over its own supporters today because he couldn’t stand up to a little dissent.  How will he stand up to President Putin?

More pictures and interviews are below if you click on “there’s more.”

Bill Brosius and Det Ansinn, both from Bucks County:

Kathy Boockvar:

Patrick Murphy:

Pictures:  The hillside you see by the Wawa was completely filled with people awaiting a Romney bus which never arrived.

PA Dems Endorse Marriage Equality, Women’s Rights

I got a tingling sensation all over as Pennsylvania Democrats overwhelmingly approved a resolution endorsing marriage equality today.  In an emotionally charged meeting with impassioned speeches for women’s rights and gay rights the State Committee, meeting in Valley Forge in a hotel infamously built by non union labor, voted to enter the 21st century.  Marybeth Kuznick wrote and introduced the resolution for women, condemning the conservative war on women.  She noted in one of the caucus sessions that there is only one Democratic woman west of Harrisburg serving there in the legislature.  I met Sharon Brown who is running for Jane Orie’s vacant Senate seat to double that number.  Kuznick got a standing ovation from the women as embarrassed me then stood up to join them.

The marriage equality resolution is something I heard about several weeks ago on an “off the record” basis so I couldn’t write about until now.  Inspired by the President’s position Adams County Chair Roger Lund, married to his partner in DC, introduced a motion to waive the rules and pass the resolution.  There was much discussion in every caucus about support for the measure.  As Party Chair Jim Burn said they didn’t want it to fall short of the 2/3 vote needed to suspend the rules.  Because State Committee people weren’t provided a copy of it in their 30 day packets the rules had to be suspended for a vote on the actual resolution.  Afraid of headlines saying they refused to support the President they wanted to be the votes were there.

I went to the Southwestern Caucus thinking it would have the most vocal opposition (the Northwest Caucus actually voted against it) and I wanted to gauge the level of opposition.  Caucus Chair Jack Hanna escorted me out of the meeting and said I couldn’t attend and report on its discussions.  This is the second time in a year I’ve been tossed out of a Pennsylvania Democratic Party meeting.  The first is why I refused to attend and cover its January meeting when Berks Chair Tom Herman said I couldn’t cover his County Committee meeting.  It is against the DNC Charter to bar the public from Party meetings.  It appears I’ll have to call DNC headquarters in DC again and file yet another complaint.

A committeeman from Cambria County got very vocal at that caucus meeting invoking Biblical passages.  Of course this is a legal matter not a religious one.  The Bible also allows slavery, condemns people who eat pork and shellfish and says you shouldn’t cut your hair.  So much for ancient abominations.  The caucus voted 11-7 in support of the bill.  So, so much for throwing me out of your meeting Mr. Hanna…

Other points of contention today centered around procedures for dismissing elected committee people, a subject near and dear to my heart.  The progressive caucus wants set rules and procedures for such actions.  Also, a slate of people to represent the state on the DNC was issued and voted upon by the Chair.  This top down procedure was objected to by progressives who want and open election where anyone can run for the seats.  Burn promised reform and proposed a resolution which passed to set up a committee to devise such a system for the future.  Vice Chair Penny Gerber, off the reservation on the issue, then bemoaned the fact it would lead to floor fights.  Well, elections aren’t always pretty but that’s called democracy.  A Party which calls itself Democratic should be.

Josh Shapiro and Ed Rendell spoke to the gathering.  Montgomery County was hosting the event at the Valley Forge Radisson Hotel and Casino and Josh is now Chair of the MontCo Commissioners.  Democrats control that county for the first time in 130 years.  The former Governor spoke strongly for President Obama but refrained from any mention of his successor.  I’d love to hear his opinions on Tom Corbett.

I touched base with candidates Rob McCord, Eugene DePasquale, Missa Eaton and Rick Daugherty.  I hope to do interviews with all of them soon.

DePasquale Explains Vote on Redistricting

At last Thursday’s event in Allentown I asked State Rep. Eugene DePasquale how he thought his vote for the GOP Congressional redistricting plan might affect his support in the Lehigh Valley.  It is one of the areas in Pennsylvania upset over being split.  Traditionally the entire Lehigh Valley has been kept in a single district but now Easton and other areas of Northampton County have been sectioned off into PA-17.  Charles Dent (PA-15) has represented it in the past.

The Republican Congressional redistricting plan gained considerable bipartisan support from Democrats because several powerful incumbents decided they liked the make-ups of their new districts and forced their local legislators to side with Republicans in Harrisburg.  It was passed in the State Senate without a single public hearing and after its first two readings were waived.  DePasquale was one of 36 Democrats to vote for it in the State House.

His explanation that he voted his District sounds fair and he added, off camera, that if someone feels they don’t wish to vote for him for Auditor General because of this vote that is their right.

The attitude that legislators are in Harrisburg, or Washington, for that matter, to vote their Districts is sad.  If that were the case we wouldn’t need elections or legislators.  We only need switchboards and robots sitting at desks pressing buttons according to feedback.

We elect these people to represent the values and beliefs we feel we share.  We send them there to decide matters for the greater good, not only our little corners of the world.  On a vote such as this we’d like them to look at the big picture and decide if the map represents the best interests of Pennsylvanians, not only those in York.  I like DePasquale a lot but I was disappointed in both his vote and his explanation.  Will I withhold my vote next November because of this?  As he said, that is my right.

Eugene DePasquale Announces for Auditor General

State Representative Eugene DePasquale, a progressive from York, officially announced his candidacy for Auditor General.  Thursday he came to Allentown and sat down with some local officials to discuss the issues.  In attendance were Allentown mayor Ed Pawlowski, Easton Mayor Sal Panto, Allentown City Councilman Mike Schlossberg, political consultant Mike Fleck and others.

Independent Voters Look to Reform Primary Laws

A group for independent progressive voters such as myself is pushing to reform Pennsylvania’s primary election laws to make primaries open to every voter.  As of now primaries are closed to those who belong to each political party.  Because of severely restrictive ballot access laws and abuses by the two major Parties against other candidates the climate for choice in the Keystone State is very negative.  The Green Party of Pennsylvania, the victim of abusive behavior by Democrats, is supporting the initiative:

At Green Night Out on October 1, Jennifer Bullock, founder of Independent Pennsylvanians (IP), www.paindependents.org, explained to the gathered diners that her organization “supports issues and campaigns at the local, state and national level designed to increase the visibility and power of independent voters.”

According to Bullock, “IP is a movement not a party. We are the PA affiliate of the Committee for a Unified Independent Party, www.independentvoting.org, the progressive wing of the independent movement, which works to connect and empower the 38% of Americans who identify themselves as independents.”

“IP is an activist organization of independent voters,” Said Bullock. “Our mission is to serve as a force for progressive, non-partisan reforms, such as Rep. Eugene DePasquale’s reform package of four bills including the Corporate Accountability Act, Early Voting Act (HB1001), Voters Choice Act (SB21) and Open Primary Act (HB 994).” See:

Bullock explained that “Pennsylvania is a closed primary state, and IP is gathering signatures in support of open primaries in PA. We are also on a campaign asking the U.S. Congress to hold hearings on the barriers that independents face.”

In addition to Greens and independents, the event also welcomed Republicans, including City Council candidate David Oh and City Commissioner candidate Al Schmidt, who shared in a lively and wide-ranging discussion.

“Independent Pennsylvanians gave an illuminating and substantive presentation,” said Green Party member Peter Javsicas. “By advocating for reforms such as ballot access (SB21), they bring a valuable message to all the citizens of Pennsylvania.”

While I am a strong advocate for reform of ballot access laws I do not support open primaries.  Each Party has the right to choose its own nominees from their memberships and only those members should be able to vote for its nominees.  Otherwise independent voters could swarm a particular Party primary and elect someone who does not reflect the values, platform or principles of that Party.  I choose not to be a member of the Democratic Party because it no longer shares my values so I should not have a voice in its nominees.  What Democrats and Republicans should do, however, is repeal the laws which require onerous petition signatures and stop challenging third party and independents when they do overcome these daunting legal challenges to the ballot.  Pennsylvanians deserve more choices on our ballots and, perhaps, the trade off of keeping closed primaries is more liberal ballot access.

News & Notes February 16, 2011

Florida Governor Rick Scott has turned down $2.4 billion in federal funds for high speed rail.  This would have created many high paying jobs in a state desperate for them.  The Transportation Department says it made sure no funds would come from Florida for the project.  Isn’t that about the same amount Scott defrauded Medicare for?  Perhaps Obama should simply tell Gov Scott this is Medicare money.

More staffers continue testifying against Sen. Orie.  How many of them will turn against this woman?  The more she tries to pin this as a political prosecution when the tale is getting so repetitive jurors are falling asleep one must wonder about her sanity.

Meanwhile the Mark Ciavarella trial in Luzerne County is wrapping up.  The former Judge took the stand (I wonder if the Judge advised him he didn’t have to testify?) and admitted to tax fraud.  He’s trying to cop a plea to the court that he the “finder’s fees” were legitimate even though he laundered the money.  Why would you try and hide the funds if they were legit?  I foresee federal prison in his future.

Speaking of prognosticators Punxsatawney Phil finally may have gotten one correct.  His prediction of an early spring has coincided with a nice rash of warmer weather.  I may even be able to see my back yard grass again at this rate.  Keep it coming Phil or we’ll roast you over a spit.

State Rep. Eugene Depasquale is exploring a run for Auditor General.

Another major issue which the Republicans are ignoring is foreclosure fraud.   I wrote about this last fall and asked then Congressman Paul Kanjorski about it before the November election.  Nothing got done then and it doesn’t seem to be on anyone’s radar right now.  This is going to explode especially after a recent court decision in Massachusetts.  Now New York state is requiring every homeowner in foreclosure be represented by legal counsel.  Combined with that decision now requiring banks to prove they have standing to foreclose less people should be evicted unlawfully.

Thousands of people in Wisconsin went to the streets in Madison to protest their new Governor’s radical policies.