Endorsement: Rep. Mark Cohen

Mark Cohen was first elected to the Pennsylvania House in 1974, the year I graduated from college.  He is the longest serving member of the state legislature and is one of the last liberal lions in a leadership position in Harrisburg.  With the departures of Rep. Babette Josephs two years ago and Sen. Jim Ferlo this year we have fewer staunch liberals in key positions in our Capitol.  If Sen. Leach is elected to Congress we’ll have one fewer.

I’ve known Rep. Cohen for a number of years and greatly appreciate his determined leadership.  He is a staunch defender of women’s productive rights and LGBT rights.  As Democratic Chair of the State Government Committee he has opposed the extreme politics of Chair Daryl Metcalfe.  I often chat with him in the halls when I’m in Harrisburg and he always has time for a conversation.  He is very gracious and deserves another term.

I don’t know Jared Solomon though I respect some of those supporting his challenge in this race.  I am disturbed by some of the mischaracterizations I have seen come from his campaign however.  Mark is no doddering old fool walking the halls muttering to himself.  I’ve run into him in those halls far too many times to accept this smear.  Unfortunately it says more about Mr. Solomon’s character than Mr. Cohen’s.

Please send Mark Cohen back to Harrisburg.

MontCo Rallies For Bruce Hanes and Marriage Equality

As of closing today Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes has given out 78 marriage licenses to same sex couples and 21 of them have wed.  Sixteen couples applied today alone and last week saw one couple drive from Pittsburgh and another couple from Portland, Maine get a license to marry here.  Many of these couples seem to be from Southeastern Pennsylvania but some are taking advantage of this window to drive from different corners of the Commonwealth to Norristown.  

Today those LGBT and straight allies of Hanes held a rally in frnt of the Montgomery County courthouse to show their appreciation.  Included were three candidates for Congress in the 13th CD.  Also speaking were several House members from Harrisburg:  Mark Cohen, Brendan Boyle, Matt Bradford and Madelein Dean.

Before the event began a couple came by on their way in to get their marriage license and joined the rally.  Lisa Dow Summey and Renee Juliano even got to speak and showed off their newly minted marriage license.  They have three children who now will be able to have more secure futures because their Moms will be legally married and entitled to more than a thousand rights denied them until now.

Sen. Leach:

Dean:

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Boyle:

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Sen. Leach is hugged by a couple he personally married:

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This adorable little boy has a question:

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Summey and Juliano:

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News Tidbits From the Progressive Summit

I’m in Harrisburg for the Pennsylvania Progressive Summit sponsored by Keystone Progress (not this blog) and got a few tidbits at the social receptions tonight.  Expect Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz to formally announce for Governor in April.  The following day State Sen. Daylin Leach will formally announce for her seat in the 13th CD.  State Rep. Mark Cohen is also considering a run for the open Congressional seat.  His state House district lies in the 13th CD, Leach resides just outside of it.

John Hanger was the first Gubernatorial candidate to show up at the Summit, I expect more tomorrow.

News & Notes April 16, 2012

Did everyone finish their taxes and contribute to the success of our civilization?  Taxes are an investment in our communities, our society.  They are the price we pay to live in a civilized society.  Some Americans don’t believe they should pay their fair share which is what the Buffet Rule is all about.  While Mitt Romney pays a measly 14% effective tax rate and deducts expenses for multiple homes and five domestic employees the rest of us are struggling.

Barack Obama and Joe Biden have released twelve years worth of tax returns.  Romney isn’t releasing his, isn’t saying where his investments are (other than Switzerland and the Cayman Islands), how much offshore money he has stashed away or who is contributing all those millions to his Super PAC.  We do know he wants to cut his taxes even further.

The Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers is the latest group to endorse Erin Molchany for the 22nd House seat.  Is anyone outside the Democratic Party organization supporting the crook she’s running against?

In that same race the PA Supreme Court removed Shawn Lundy from the ballot.  Well, not really since the voting machines used there are incapable of being reprogrammed to remove his name.  It’ll still be on the machine next Tuesday although he has been disqualified.  This is yet another argument for voting machines with integrity.

Babette Josephs has a great ad going:

Rep. Mark Cohen is getting some strange publicity because his campaign manager parked in a press area outside City Hall.  Citing the TV show Parking Wars some press outlets went after Cohen.  It’s all much ado about nothing.  The man also works for a weekly Philadelphia paper the Sunday Sun where he’s circulation manager.  So he was allowed to use the parking space, no journalism ethics were breached and Mark got some unjustified bad publicity over nothing.

The ex-gay movement has always been a hoax.  People trying to scam desperate people kept insisting they could change sexual orientations, always for a fee, of course.  One guy has written about his experience in the movement and exposes it for what it is in this essay.  Interesting reading.

The winners in Maryland of that big Mega Millions jackpot are a group of teachers.  In spite of hitting the lottery they plan on keeping their jobs.  There’s some real dedication for you.

Conservation Voters f PA has made four endorsements:  Patrick Murphy for AG, Dave Levdansky, Babette Josephs and James Roebuck for State House.

As Rep. Daryl Metcalfe gets ready to send a bill tot he State House defunding Planned Parenthood he needs to remind himself of the mess Texas created by doing that.  Planned Parenthood is suing Texas and the federal government cut off $35 billion in women’s health care funding there because the action violated the law.

Abstinence only sex education leads to teen pregnancies.  Not educating our young people about the birds and the bees leads to bad outcomes.  Red states with such bad curriculums have the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the country.

If an employer wants your facebook or Twitter passwords you don’t want to work for them.  This is a guaranteed method for driving good people away from your firm.  Maryland is now acting to make it illegal and we should follow their lead.

Gov. Gasbag is delusional in telling taxpayers to blame local school boards for his slashing funding for those schools.  Republicans in Harrisburg refuse to take responsibility and raise some taxes(natural gas extraction), close some loopholes and generate revenue to fund public schools.  By doing so they pass that responsibility down to local school boards whose only source of revenue is the property tax.  Because of their blind obedience to Grover Norquist instead of Pennsylvania’s children they do us all a disservice.  Seniors are losing their homes so corporations can avoid paying their fair share of taxes and then Corbett refuses to accept personal responsibility.

Store managers at GNC’s Pennsylvania stores were forced to work unpaid overtime.  This is theft of wages and the company should lose its license to operate in the Commonwealth as punishment.

After Wisconsin passed Voter ID they conveniently closed DMV offices in Democratic districts so those voters would have great trouble obtaining ID’s.  Here we don’t have DMV places like other states but voters trying to obtain copies of their birth certificates seem to be suddenly running into delays.  How convenient?  Somehow this reminds me of Wisconsin’s antics.

I used to watch the TV show Restaurant Impossible until they came to several regional businesses and made a sham out of reality television.  The producers seem to have a habit of making the places they are “saving” seem extremely dirty, filthy and dangerous.  Its all a sham for the cameras.  Robert Irvine should be ashamed to be affilaited with such scammers.

News & Notes February 6, 2012

I drove into Reading City Hall this morning for a Sen. Casey event.  I had to deal with a double parker on Mineral Spring Road then another right in front of City Hall who decided to pull forward just as I was going around him.  No wonder no one goes into Reading…  I circled around and found a parking space on the street and, foolishly, only brought 4 quarters for the meter thinking that would be enough for an hour.  It bought me forty minutes so I headed home.  You don’t EVER want to get a parking ticket in Reading…  No wonder no one goes into Reading…

Speaking of City Hall, Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer made a classic mistake right off the bat.  He forgot the old homage that you never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.  The Reading Eagle excoriated him yesterday in an editorial for his reneging on a promise for an open and transparent administration.  Right away he issued a policy putting a gag order on all city employees.  No talking to the press means getting nothing but bad press.

Republicans in Harrisburg are discussing having two primaries this year, one in April for federal races and another in July or August for state House and Senate seats.  The Supreme Court decision overturning reapportionment has thrown a huge monkey wrench into the election season.  I know one guy whose thirty minute campaign may be the shortest on record.  Half an hour after he started his campaign the decision came down and he found he was no longer in the district.  Moving a primary to the summer would screw all the candidates out working now getting on the ballot.  

Bill DeWeese remains a free man as the jury remains out in his corruption trial.  Perhaps the loquacious former State House Speaker can teach linguistics and vocabulary while serving his time.

This just in:  DeWeese is guilty on 5 of 6 counts.

State Rep. Mark Cohen, a master of using social media, discovered his primary opponent set up a facebook page so he began asking colleagues why they were friends with her.  It turns out Numa St. Louis had put people on her page without their permission.  That’s a huge gaffe, something you simply don’t do with social media.  Would she also add them as co-sponsors on bills without permission?  She wouldn’t last long in Harrisburg…

Right wing talking heads are saying Planned Parenthood doesn’t do mammograms and so shouldn’t receive funding from the Komen Foundation.  That’s incorrect.  Some PP clinics do do mammograms and rest do breast cancer exams and provide referrals for mammograms.  The head of the Komen Foundation siphons $5 million/year from the “charity” to pad her own pockets before any of it goes to women.  Only 20% of SGK monies go to research.  I guess he needs all that money for her extensive plastic surgery.

Congressman Mark Critz is getting key labor endorsements in his primary runoff against Congressman Jason Altmire.  Republicans put the two incumbents into the same District during reapportionment.  Both are extremely conservative Democrats.  The good news is that one will be out of Washington.

Freedom to Marry Rally 2011

Yesterday’s Freedom to Marry rally in the Capitol Rotunda featured State Representatives, Senators and lay leaders advocate for equality for every Pennsylvanian.  Currently we have a system of sexual apartheid where straight people have a certain set of rights and LGBT people another, lesser slate of rights.  In America we aren’t supposed to have a class or caste system but we do.  Sen. Daylin Leach has introduced his legislation allowing same sex marriage and Rep. Mark Cohen a bill legalizing civil unions.  They, along with Ted Martin of Equality Pennsylvania were among the speakers at the rally.

The rest of the videos are below the fold.

Joe Hoeffel Launches Bid for Governor’s Mansion

Joe Hoeffel launched his campaign for Governor yesterday by visiting Pittsburgh, Harrisburg and Philadelphia.  I attended the event in the Capitol Rotunda where he was joined by an array of State Representatives and introduced by Kate Michelman.  It’s actually easier for me to travel to Harrisburg (and much cheaper to park) than Philadelphia.  My journey to City Hall reminded me why I rarely go to Philly to cover events.  Between the Schuylkill Expressway and sky high parking rates I’ll opt for the ride to Harrisburg any time.  I did miss the Lincoln University Marching Drumline however.

I’ve covered Joe Hoeffel for several years.  He is a real, actual progressive instead of one who may be pretending to be so for political calculation.  Joe has been there for us for years and has a strong, clear record on our issues.  The fact he chose Kate Michelman, former President of NARAL Pro Choice America, to introduce him goes to his solid credentials as a strong advocate for women.

The remainder of the event is below the fold…

State House Holds Hearing on Medical Marajuana

Rep. Mark Cohen’s bill legalizing the use of marajuana for medical purposes got a hearing in Harrisburg yesterday.  The Tweets coming from various participants and observers were interesting.  Oregon and California have already approved such use and the Obama Administration has adopted a policy not prosecuting those who use the plant to alleviate their suffering.  The fact of the matter is that marajuana can and does ease suffering for numerous illnesses and conditions.  For those with eye problems, people receiving chemotherapy and for those needing the munchies (just kidding on that last one) this is serious business.

Opponents brought out all the usual talking points.  Why, first of all, are we filling our prisons, at great expense to the taxpayer, with people smoking a few joints?  Don’t we have better things to do with our money?  While we’re closing libraries, cutting state jobs, destroying DEP and starving our educational institutions we’re expanding and building more and more prisons.  Automatic sentences for possessing small amounts of drugs is bankrupting people.  That’s a separate issue, but, for heavens sake, let’s get smart about how we deal with drugs.

If smoking a joint eases the misery of people suffering who are we to tell them they cannot do it legally?  I laud Rep.Cohen for his forward thinking.  It takes courage to introduce a bill like this in such a backward state as ours.

Medical Marajuana

Rep. Mark Cohen has introduced legislation to make the use of medical marajuana legal in Pennsylvania.  Many people find comfort in the medicinal effects of marajuana for conditions like glaucoma and treatments such as chemotherapy.  California has led the way on this issue but the federal government continues to insist that all use of the drug be prosecuted.  It is time to accept the reality that this drug, properly regulated, can be of significant benefit for patients.  It is time to accept facts.

Now it is time for Congress to revoke archaic laws and allow states to permit the medicinal use of drugs without fear of prosecution.  Rep. Cohen is to be commended for introducing the bill in the face of strong, bigoted opposition.