Saturday, September 30, 2006
John Micek has the details
Serious Republican Big-Shot Alert:
The POTUS heads for NePa next month to shake the trees for the suddenly vulnerable U.S. Rep. Don Sherwood. Details are scarce, what with the White House being tight as a drum about security. But we're told that the Oct. 19 fund-raiser will be held at a private residence in the Lackawanna County portion of Sherwood's district. The fund-raiser will be closed to the press. However, we're also told that there could be an event open to the press earlier in the day featuring a certain U.S. senator who has also found himself in a competitive race.
Another super secret fundraiser in a secure undisclosed location. I'm sure the local TV stations will go ga-ga over the whole thing. We can expect pics of Air Force One landing and glimpses of the motorcade that will tie up traffic for miles around. I just hope he doesn't speak to the cameras as everytime I hear the guy's voice it makes my teeth hurt.
I think of him as friend even though I’ve never met the man. We have had vigorous discussions about many issues but never let our differences degenerate into name calling or ridicule. On most national issues we agree to disagree but on the need to reform the state government we are on the same page. Just goes to show if you take the time to listen to your opponents you can find some common ground.
I want to congratulate Randy for putting together a great site with an all-star lineup in a short time. .
A research and development company headed by the nephews of U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski and the recipient of millions of dollars in federal funding has filed for bankruptcy....The company, whose address is listed as a South Franklin Street building co-owned by the congressman, filed for protection from creditors under Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
A call to the congressman was not returned.
The 11th term Democrat from Nanticoke has said he helped insert in the federal budget some of the more than $9 million in funding that went to Cornerstone and a sister company, Pennsylvania Micronics.
In August 2003 Cornerstone moved out of a building it leased in Plains Township and transferred equipment and materials to the basement parking garage of a Nanticoke bowling alley.
Friday, September 29, 2006
No debate between Mundy and Cordora. What entertainment that promised to be. When Cordora announced he was running he said his top priority, if elected, would be banning gay marriage. Like that's a problem. Other press reports quote him as saying the problems in our country and state are caused by liberals and leftists. I've never met the man and was looking forward to seeing him in action. How did this guy ever get nominated when voters of the 120th had 2 sensible candidates in Joe Chacke and Paul Stebbins?
The Republican and Democratic congressional campaign committees have already committed to spend $1.6 million in the bitter Congressional race between Don Sherwood and Chris Carney.
And the committees’ total spending could top $2 million by Election Day, according to a published report......The Democratic committee has already spent $220,587 on pro-Carney or anti-Sherwood television ads, a Times Leader review of local TV stations’ records shows, and has reserved another $450,955 in air time through Election Day on Nov. 7.
The Republicans have spent slightly more than $500,000 and reserved another $450,000 in air time through Nov. 7.
I say let the Republicans spend all this money on TV. Don Sherwood is a walking negative ad. The more you see his face, the more you are reminded of Cynthia Ore.
Two musicians vying to fill a vacated state House seat seemed to be singing the same tunes during a public forum on Thursday night when discussing the importance of reducing crime in Wilkes-Barre, the need to conserve open space and increase the minimum wage and their opposition to legislative pay raises.
David Yonki has a first person account of the event and has some of the same thoughts about the candidates that I have:
Republican Christine Katsock and Democrat Ed Pashinski squared off for a debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters at Wilkes Barre’s King’s College McGowan Center. About 75 people attended the event and the debate was civil, informative, congenial and in effect a draw.
Both candidates acquitted themselves well and if either one wins election to the seat vacated by Kevin Blaum, the district would be a big winner.
Here are some observations: Katsock is the best kept political secret in Luzerne County. She has a command of the issues, is a compelling speaker and in any other area of the state, she’d already be in public office. Pashinski’s performance was steady, less fact filled but relied on his vast experience in music education, business and as a popular teacher. Pashinski was easy going but passionate while making his points.
Note to Christine, fix your website.
Members of 828th Quartermaster Company return home on Saturday
Preparations are under way for the homecoming and parade for the 828th Quartermaster Company, an Army Reserve unit that completed transportation and logistics duty. They’ve been gone since July 2005.The parade will be held Saturday on state Route 309 in Wilkes-Barre Township to the Reserve center on Route 315.
BRING THEM ALL HOME
I must confess that when I was a young man my first apartment wasn't exactly neat. If I actually convinced one of my dates to come back to my place she would run screaming from what she had seen upon entering my lair. My roommates where such pigs.
Sorry Bill. I couldn't resist.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
From Pennsyltucky Politics:
Many candidates want the cash that President Bush can help raise for them, but are cool to being seen with the president, whose popularity remains low. And then there is U.S. Rep. Don Sherwood.
"I think that's a mistake," Sherwood said of Republican candidates who don't want to be seen with Bush.
"Of course" Sherwood says he will be seen publicly with the president when Bush comes to Clark Summit to raise money for Sherwood's tough re-election challenge from Democrat Chris Carney on Oct. 19.
Now Don Sherwood is being forced to raise millions of dollars because because the nasty press keeps saying things like this about him:
Pennsylvania congressman's affair leads to tough election
Sex could be the undoing of a family values Republican....Then last year Sherwood admitted to a five-year extramarital affair with a woman 35 years his junior. He settled a lawsuit claiming he had choked her....The first sign of trouble for Sherwood came in May 2005, when media outlets began reporting that police had investigated an alleged altercation between Sherwood and his mistress, Cynthia Ore, in September 2004. Although criminal charges were never filed, Ore filed a lawsuit against Sherwood, claiming he had choked her while giving her a back rub at his Capitol Hill apartment.....Sherwood denied abusing Ore, but he admitted to an affair with her, apologizing for the "pain and embarrassment" he caused his family and supporters. The married father of three reached a confidential settlement with Ore last November, hoping to put the affair behind him.
HARRISBURG, Sept. 27 – Is the sliding price of gasoline just before the November election a coincidence or spawned by politics? State Rep. Mike McGeehan, D-Phila., wants a House committee to give Pennsylvania citizens an answer.
According to USA Today, 42 percent of respondents nationwide believe the Bush administration “deliberately manipulated the price of gasoline so that it would decrease before this fall’s election,” which is less than six weeks away.
McGeehan said he hears these same sentiments daily from many constituents and that mystery was especially well defined in an e-mail about the gas price drop by Daniel R. Harkness of Farrell, which is outside his legislative district.
“Don’t we have all of the same conditions that pushed gas prices up over the last couple of years?” asked Harkness, who listed them as:
Limited production in Iraq
The Alaskan pipeline down
Limited world reserves
Continued high demand
Oil companies in control of government policies.
Harkness asked if there are any real market factors pushing the crude oil price down and why the factors weren’t in place when oil companies were reaping record profits recently.
“The guy isn’t even a resident of my district, but his argument was compelling. The questions it poses deserve serious consideration,” McGeehan said.
McGeehan has sent a letter to Rep. William Adolph, R-Delaware, chairman of the House Environment Resources and Energy Committee, requesting a hearing within three weeks to find out what is behind the dramatic price drop.
“A hearing could determine if it is market trends that are driving down the price of gas, or if politics is motivating it,” McGeehan said. “Either way, the voters of Pennsylvania would have a better idea of whether they are being manipulated, or just dealing with a growing rumor.”
TL: Leonardi, who visited sites in and around Wilkes-Barre Wednesday, said in a recent interview he’ll work for more federal money for local highways and crime prevention and a shift in farm subsidies to promote ethanol production. His main criticism of Kanjorski centers on Cornerstone Technologies, a now-defunct local firm run by Kanjorski’s nephews that received $9 million in federal contracts secured by the congressman beginning in 1999.
Reacting to criticism about Cornerstone, Kanjorski said he would stop seeking contracts for the firm in 2002 and it soon stopped operations.
“I don’t know if steering the money from the Department of Defense through (Pennsylvania Democratic) Congressman (John) Murtha’s committee for Kanjorski’s nephews was illegal or unethical,” Leonardi said. “I know it wasn’t right. It didn’t create a single sustainable job for our area.”
Leonardi said he has an open invitation to Kanjorski to debate. Kanjorski declined to attend a debate proposed by the Lackawanna League of Women Voters earlier this month because of a scheduling conflict, he said.
Asked if he would debate Leonardi, Kanjorski replied: “If we have the time available.”
Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs is on its way to hosting the first slot machine parlor in the state. Gambling regulators okayed conditional licenses today for five racetracks in Pennsylvania to add slot machines. Mohegan Sun is on track to become the first to open.
The casino isn't open yet, but Michael Bean said it should be before the end of the year, complete with more than 1,000 slot machines....."If the revenue does what it's supposed to then I think it's a good thing. For me working in Plains Township... we can all benefit from it," said James Armento of Hanover Township.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 — Republicans and Democrats began showing at least 30 new campaign advertisements in contested House and Senate districts across the country on Tuesday. Of those, three were positive.
For Republicans, it was the leading edge of a wave of negative advertisements against Democratic candidates, the product of more than a year of research into the personal and professional backgrounds of Democratic challengers.
The result of the dueling accusations has been what both sides described on Tuesday as the most toxic midterm campaign environment in memory. It is a jarring blend of shadowy images, breathless announcers, jagged music and a dizzying array of statistics, counter statistics and vote citations — all intended to present the members of Congress and their challengers in the worst possible light. Democratic and Republican strategists said they expected over 90 percent of the advertisements to be broadcast by Nov. 7 to be negative.
This time the Democrats are not just taking it, they're hitting back. President Clinton showed how on Sunday.
A Big Fat Slob shows us how one citizen can make a difference. Bernie is sending a hoagie and the rest of us are chipping in for wings and a six pack.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
I'm not sure if this is legal but it sure is creative.
House for chance
BY ELIZABETH SKRAPITS
There’s a spacious two-story house on 27 acres of land in the Back Mountain available for only $100, no mortgage.
The catch is — your odds of getting it are one in 5,000. About a month ago, George Bostan decided the best way to put his Lake Township home on the market was raffling it off at $100 a ticket.
Bostan set up a Web site, www.bostan235.com, and advertised in local and regional publications. He said he’s keeping up the raffle until all 5,000 chances are sold, which he hopes will be by Christmas. He has already sold 1,089.
And not just on TV. One thing that saddens and infuriates me is the amount of trash I see everywhere around the area. Broken glass, fast food wrappers, cans, etc. Not a day goes by that I don't walk around my house and pick up litter.
PLAINS TOWNSHIP — Fire Captain and Inspector Mark Ritsick has a 98-percent success rate in catching illegal dumpers and he is frustrated that he can’t find who is discarding piles of trash along Union Street.
Bottles, cans, tires, old furniture and exercise equipment have been discarded next to huge piles of dirt, debris, landscaping material and wood next to Mill Creek, just up the street from Dan’s Keystone Grill in Plains Township......On Friday, State Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen McGinty toured an Avoca site scarred with debris, tires, litter, carpets, white goods and scrap metal. The site is scheduled for cleanup.McGinty announced DEP is expanding its “Cleanup Our Anthracite Lands and Streams” program into Luzerne and Lackawanna counties to clean up illegal dumps and prevent new ones from forming. DEP is processing a $25,000 grant to the Pennsylvania Environment Council to help cleanup efforts in northeastern Pennsylvania, she announced. The funds will support the collection and disposal of junk from dumps.Cleanups are scheduled in Avoca, Duryea, Plymouth Township, Exeter Borough, Ashley, Avondale Hill and Nanticoke.
The fine for illegal dumping is $300, it should be a lot higher.
TL: The death of a witness in the upcoming homicide trials of Hugo Selenski and Paul Weakley may create a legal tussle between prosecutors and defense attorneys.
Michael S. Kerkowski, 64, the father of homicide victim Michael J. Kerkowski, died at his Dallas home Tuesday night.....During the preliminary hearing , the elder Kerkowski said Selenski bilked him out of tens of thousands of dollars, saying it was to aid the younger Kerkowski with his legal problems. Selenski once fired a bullet past the elder Kerkowski’s head, too, he said.
Now, it’s likely a judge will decide if a transcript of that testimony can be used during the upcoming trials for Selenski and Weakley, said Selenski’s lead attorney, John Pike.
On a related note the District Attorney's office of David Lupas dropped the ball in another case. If you remember, the escape charges against Selenski were dropped because the DA didn't file the paperwork on time despite having a year to bring them.
WILKES-BARRE – A judge dismissed an inmate’s assault charges Wednesday after an assistant district attorney failed to show up at trial to prosecute the case.
William Carter, a 52-year-old inmate at the State Correctional Institution at Dallas, was scheduled to stand trial on misdemeanor charges of simple assault and terroristic threats.
His jury was picked, but Luzerne County Assistant District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce wasn’t in court for the start of trial.
Fortunately no harm was done as the man is already serving a life sentence. Which begs the question, why try someone already in jail for the rest of his life?
Saturday, September 23, 2006
The front page starts off with an attack on his opponent:
Chris Carney's cronies are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on deceitful television ads attacking Don Sherwood's record on the minimum wage and Congressional pay.
His bio page is a contradiction:
Don Sherwood is a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, which oversees federal spending and writes the annual laws funding the federal government. He has worked to make sure the federal government is a partner in deserving projects in the 10th District, while working to keep federal spending in check.
After saying he is keeping spending in check he brags about all the bacon he has brought home:
Don Sherwood has brought millions of dollars to the 10th District for local roads, sewer and water systems. He has secured federal funding for area colleges and universities, parks and historic sites. He has worked to protect open spaces and invest in environmental restoration programs.
He does know a lot about pork. Name one program you have ever voted to eliminate or cut Congressman.
But of course he has voted to cut taxes. He doesn't mention that he has been part of the biggest expansion of federal spending since the 1960's without finding a way to pay for it. Resulting in the biggest deficits in our history.
Congressman Sherwood cosponsored and voted for legislation to eliminate the death tax for more than 99 percent of all Americans. Unless Congress acts, in 2011 the estate tax exemption will drop to $1 million per person and the maximum estate tax rate will increase to 55 percent putting asset-rich and cash-poor farms and small businesses in real jeopardy.
That's just a lie. Very few people pay the estate tax and farms and small businesses are protected. The same question, what spending do you want to cut to pay for this giveaway to Paris Hilton?
Congressman Sherwood is firmly committed to protecting Social Security and will keep the promise of Social Security so that no beneficiary and no one nearing retirement will face any reduction in their earned benefits. Congressman Sherwood believes that we can and must protect Social Security without increasing payroll taxes or the retirement age even as we keep the promise of Social Security benefits.
What about the rest of us? Sounds like he wants to privatize the system.
Two things that are not mentioned struck me as odd. Nowhere on the site does he say he is a Republican. And not a word about Iraq.
Schuylkill County Soldier Killed in Iraq
Sergeant Jennifer Hartman of New Ringgold was killed last week while serving in Iraq.
The Pentagon has confirmed that a soldier from our area has been killed in Iraq.
Sergeant Jennifer Hartman, 21, of New Ringgold died last Thursday in Baghdad when a bomb went off near a substation where she and several others were serving.
SGT Hartman graduated from Tamaqua Area High School in 2003. She was with the Fourth Support Battalion, First Brigade of the Fourth Infantry Division at Fort Hood.
How many more will have to die before our so called leaders figure a way out of this mess?
Friday, September 22, 2006
by Eve Fairbanks
It's Labor Day at the Wyoming County Fair in Meshoppen, Pennsylvania, and the campaign season is underway. At the Wyoming County Democrats booth, Chris Carney, an earnest young Naval Reserve commander-turned-professor who is running for Congress, entertains a steady stream of voters. Carney, the challenger, is stumping hard--there's speculation that if he can win in the strongly conservative Tenth District, Democrats can take back the House--and, soon, his booth runs out of yard signs. One might expect a similar scene at the GOP booth a few yards away. But no one, save for a few county party officials, is there--not even the district's incumbent Republican representative, Don Sherwood.
The article recounts the whole sordid affair of Sherwood's backrub that went awry. Here are some choice quotes from the article:
Though he had a wife and kids back home, Sherwood enjoyed the Washington scene. "In most cities, the nightlife's on the weekends, but, in Washington, it's Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday!" he tells me.
"Oh, that?" says Marlene Fuhr, a lively blonde dressed in pink from head to toe, when I ask her about the alleged strangling. "He misbehaved in Washington, but they all do!"
Just ask Wayne Hayes-for those as as old as me- about strippers and swimming in the tidal basin.
Sherwood is surprisingly sanguine about his ability to pull his sled back to Washington. "I'm pretty well-known in the district--it's a lot of country people," he says. "I think we'll have it under control."
Translation: The district is full of rubes that are used to beating their women to keep them in line.
The guy is not to bright. Before the primary he sent out a direct mail piece attacking his opponent by name when most people in the district didn't even know he had a challenger. Then he scheduled a fundraiser on 9/11 that he had to cancel when it was pointed out that it was inappropriate. He blamed it on an aide. One of his first TV spots was about him driving a truck load of water to Louisiana after Katrina which was met with derision if not outright disbelief.
Disclosure. Although I wasn't quoted the reporter interviewed me for this article.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
WILKES-BARRE.....Harold E. Flack II. Flack and his brother Charles were the second largest donors to the campaign of Todd Vonderheid and fellow majority Commissioner Greg Skrepenak, according to state campaign finance records.
They donated $16,000 to PA Clean PAC, a group that gave $40,400 to the duo's individual and joint campaigns. The Flacks also contributed $6,500 to Skrepenak and Vonderheid.
It's their money, I'm sure they work hard for it and they can spend it anyway they want but it points out the problem with the way all political campaigns are financed. Must be nice to have that kind of spare change.
Yankees Farm Team To Play Here
The Lackawanna County commissioners announced Thursday that the New York Yankees Triple-A farm team will play at the stadium next season. The deal was signed last night in New York City.
The specifics of the deal include:
Two years committed from the Yankees with a management agreement that will extend it to two more.
That management agreement with the Mandalay Entertainment Group for at least four years that could go through 2018.
Mandalay currently owns other minor league sports teams and has a movie and television division. That company will have the option to buy the team down the road.
The Lackawanna County Stadium Authority board will be fazed out.
Red Barons employees will keep their jobs.
New natural grass will replace artificial turf at the county's expense.That could happen at the end of November after football season is over. It's unknown if other sports will be played on the new field surface in addition to baseball after this year.
Finally, Lackawanna County Stadium will not be sold.
Although I'm still pissed that the politicians managed to chase the Phillies farm team out of town this is a good result for the team and the area. The good news is that they are getting rid of the useless Stadium Authority and Mandalay may buy the franchise.
SELL THE BARONS
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
SENATOR RICK SANTORUM'S RECORD ON TROOPS AND VETERANS ISSUES
Voted to deny the Veterans Health Administration millions of additional dollars by restoring pre-2001 taxes on those making more than $1m and closing tax loopholes corporations exploit. (Stabenow Amendment No. 3141, 3/16/2006 )
Voted against giving veterans medical care programs an additional $1.5 billion in 2007. (Akaka Amendment No. 3007, 3/14/2006 )
Voted to disallow a vote on an amendment that would ensure that veterans health programs always receive proper funding (Motion to waive CBA, Stabenow Amendment No. 1937, 10/6/2005)
Voted against giving families of the fallen the same amount families of first responders on 9.11 received. Santorum was one of only 25 Senators to take such an extreme stand. (Motion to table Kerry Amendment No. 334, 4/13/2005 )
Voted with the extreme of his party to deny Guardsmen and Reservists called to war and had to leave their jobs without pay do not suffer economically. Only 39 other Senators voted in this way (Motion to table Durbin Amendment No. 356, 4/13/2005 )
Voted against $1.98 billion more for the VA, including hundreds of millions for health care for those fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan when they returned. (Motion to waive CBA, Murray Amendment No. 344, 4/12/2005 )
Voted no to increase veterans' medical care by $2.8 billion in 2006. (Akaka Amendment No. 149, 3/16/2005 )
Voted to disallow even a vote on a bill that would have helped ensure proper funding for veterans health care programs forever. (Motion to waive CBA, Reid (for Daschle) Amendment No. 3409, 6/23/2004 )
Voted against closing corporate tax loopholes to pay for an increase of $1.8 billion in veterans' health programs by billions. (Nelson (FL) Amendment No. 2745, 2/10/2004 )
Voted no to create a reserve fund to allow for an increase in Veterans' medical care by $2.7 billion and lower the national debt by reducing the President's tax breaks for taxpayers with incomes in excess of $1 million a year. (Daschle Amendment No. 2710, 3/9/2004 )
(CBS) Talk show queen Oprah Winfrey has threatened to sue a fan who's been spearheading an Oprah for president drive. The cease-and-desist letter from Oprah's lawyer tells the fan to stop using her name and image on his Oprah for president Web site, The Smoking Gun reports.
Here is the site:
Oprah for President - 2008
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
It's kind of like waiting for a volacano to explode and like the volcano Rick Santorum doesn't dissapoint.
MC: A few minutes before Santorum took to the lectern, he blew up at a newspaper reporter over his coverage of this month's televised Senate debate with Casey on NBC's ''Meet the Press.''''I have to raise tens of millions of dollars because of the junk you feed to the people of Pennsylvania,'' Santorum scolded Brett Lieberman, the Washington, D.C., reporter for the Patriot-News of Harrisburg. Lieberman had approached Santorum to ask him a question about Iran.
If you're a political junkie you have to love Rick Santorum. Watching him flop around the last few months has been great political theater. First he wanted to be Senator Pothole and travelled around PA handing out checks to every local government in sight while telling us he is a fiscal conservative. Then he got Lou Barletta to sponsor a law to further his election year goal of kicking all the Mexicans out of the country. The latest is he wants a war with Iran but that's not gaining traction. So he went nuclear on a reporter. I'm going to miss him.
In the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
From Pittsburgh blogger Froth Slosh B'Gosh: "I guess knocking off [Supreme Court Justice Russell] Nigro didn't send a strong enough message. We need to retire as many legislators as possible who passed the pay raise, and then retire each Supreme Court justice in turn as they come up for retention, with the possible exception of Thomas Saylor, who opined that the pay raise was unconstitutional. But then again, he's facing retention next year."
Mr. Randy Potter in the Patriot News:
"The Supreme Court ruling will re-energize the state government reform movement, because it is a perfect example of everything that is wrong with state government," said Randy Potter, who writes the conservative Penn Patriot Weblog. "I think Pennsylvanians now realize that greed has taken control of every branch of our state government and that reforms are desperately needed."
Who needs Terry Madonna and Tom Baldino to point out the obvious when we have great analysts on the web.
New York Mets representatives are expected to tour Lackawanna County Stadium this afternoon, county press secretary Jenine J. Ikeler said, adding that she had no further information about the visit. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons public relations director Mike Cummings offered a similar report....
There was no news Monday from majority Commissioner Robert C. Cordaro, who has been authorized by the county’s Multi-Purpose Stadium Authority to negotiate on its behalf.Yankees fever seems to have gripped many as the Red Barons seek a successor to the Philadelphia Phillies, but Cordaro and other observers have pegged the Mets as the likely second choice among local fans.
SELL THE BARONS
That's the question I' m hearing from some people who attended the Dave Lupas annual picnic and other recent local political events. I may be wrong but I don't remember him making any appearances in Luzerne County in the last few months. I know his campaign is expecting to roll up big margins in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties but you still have to ask people for their vote. Not to mention stroking some of the egos of the local political class. Don't take us for granted Bob.
Monday, September 18, 2006
-- Duquesne forward Shawn James
CV:The get-together also provided an opportunity for candidates to meet voters and network with other politicians. Although Lupas is a Democrat, he keeps the event non-partisan: everyone is welcome under the big tents.Republican Joe Leonardi of Dupont, who is running for Congress in the 11th district, said the gathering was a great venue for talking to people and getting his platform out.“This is fantastic,” he said, indicating the crowds. Leonardi is feeling confident about challenging 11-term U.S. Rep Paul E. Kanjorski, D-Nanticoke, who also attended.“People want change,” Leonardi said.
CB: Citizens Communication, based in Stamford, cone., announced Monday it has agreed to purchase Commonwealth Telephone Company of Dallas for $1.16 billion in a stock and cash deal. Commonwealth Telephone, with 1,100 employees, provides business and residential customers with telephone and other telecommunications products and services.
I can't say that I like this. Commonwealth has been locally owned since it's founding in 1897 and I know some people who work for the company. You can bet that the local front office operations and sales force will be cut resulting in several hundred good paying jobs being lost. By way of disclosure I stand to benefit financially from the sale as I own some stock in the company, capitalist pig that I am. I bought stock in them after I switched our telephone service from Verizon and have received outstanding service. We have never had an outage and the package of services is $15 dollars a month less than Verizon was charging. As a customer I worry about receiving the same quality service and as a resident I don't want to see my neighbors lose their jobs.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
The following public forums, all of which begin at 7 p.m., are slated for next month:
• Oct. 5, Maureen Tatu and Michael Carroll, running for the 118th Legislative District, will
debate at the Pittston High School Auditorium in Yatesville.
• Oct. 12, state Rep. Phyllis Mundy and John Cordora, running for the 120th Legislative District, will debate at Wyoming Seminary in Kingston.
• Oct. 17, Karen Boback and Fred Nichols, running for the 117th Legislative District, will debate at Penn State’s Hayfield House in Lehman.
• Oct. 19, Lisa Baker and Robert J. McNamara, running for the 20th Senatorial District, will debate at College Misericordia.
• Oct. 26, state Rep. John Yudichak and Ed Sieminski, running for the 119th Legislative District, will debate at Luzerne County Community College’s Conference Center in Nanticoke.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Dick Cheney will be flying into town about 4 p.m. Monday to speak at a private fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Don Sherwood, R-Tunkhannock. The event will begin at 5 p.m. at the Dallas home of Harold Flack, president of Diamond Manufacturing.
But he won’t be staying long. Cheney will be departing the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport at 6:30 p.m., according to a schedule released by his office.
Last October, Cheney’s visit to the area caused traffic tie-ups on I-81 and Route 309. He came to Luzerne County for a similar fundraiser for U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum in which $300,000 was raised.
Monday’s invitation-only fundraiser costs $1,000 for individuals attending alone and $1,500 per couple, according to Sherwood’s office.
Below is a picture of Don Sherwood soliciting a campaign contribution from a reluctant supporter.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
By VAN ROSE and JOE PETRUCCI firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
A source close to the New York Yankees front office said the team will be moving its Triple-A franchise from Columbus, Ohio, to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
The Yankees announced on Thursday they won’t renew their agreement with the Columbus Clippers, according to the Columbus Dispatch. The Clippers have been the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate since 1979. Columbus is more than 500 miles from the Bronx, while Lackawanna County Stadium is only about 120 miles from Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees will pick up where the Philadelphia Phillies left off at Lackawanna County Stadium, according to the source, who requested anonymity. Philadelphia did not renew its agreement with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons because it will move to Allentown for the 2008 season. The Phillies’ Triple-A team will play in Ottawa next season while a new stadium is built in Allentown. Philadelphia’s relationship with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre dates back to the Red Barons’ inception in 1989.
Although official negotiations can’t begin until Friday, it is expected the Red Barons’ deal with the Yankees will be announced at a press conference next week at Lackawanna County Stadium, possibly as early as Wednesday. Teams have until Sept. 30 to sign with a Major League club.
There’s also a chance the Red Barons will no longer be run by Lackawanna County. Rumors have been swirling about a possible sale to Las Vegas-based Mandalay Sports Entertainment. It is also possible Mandalay will be hired to manage the franchise.
Clippers, Yankees part ways
Major-league club ends 28-year affiliation with Columbus
The Columbus Dispatch
The New York Yankees announced today that they will not renew their deal with the Columbus Clippers baseball team, which ended with the Clippers' regular season Sept. 4.
Columbus Baseball Team Inc. is set to begin negotiations with available Major League Baseball teams Saturday and has until Sept. 30 to sign with another major-league club. Major league teams currently without triple-A affiliations include the New York Mets, Washington Nationals and the Baltimore Orioles.
"I can guarantee there will be baseball in Columbus next season," Clippers president Ken Schnacke said.
It is believed that Yankees general manager Brian Cashman wants his triple-A team closer to New York. Scranton, Pa., approximately 120 miles west of New York City, is available since the Philadelphia Phillies allowed their contract to lapse. The team currently known as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barrons will play in Allentown in 2008, and Philadelphia is rumored to be planning to play its top minor-league team in Ottawa for the 2007 season.
Congress Should Pass Plan to Protect Children from Falling TVs an d Furniture - 9/12/2006
U.S. Representative Allyson Y. Schwartz 13th Congressional District of Pennsylvania
Washington, D.C. - Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (PA-13) praised the U.S.Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) for launching a public awareness campaign to raise attention to the dangers of falling furniture and televisions. The campaign alerts parents to the danger of unsecured furniture and provides tips to help safeguard heavy furniture. According to the CPSC, ten children have been killed already this year by falling TVs. In 2005 more than 3,000 children younger than 5 years old were treated in emergency rooms due to injuries associated with television tip-overs.
Schwartz also called for Congress to do its part to help protect children by passing key legislation which would prevent furniture and television tip-over accidents.
In April 2005 Schwartz introduced legislation to help prevent furniture tip-overs.
A law to prevent furniture tip-overs? How about one to prevent hot spoons falling off the stove?
I propose The Acorn and Chestnut Protection Act because every year many children are conked on the head by unthinking vegetation. What about other dangers such as lightening, crossing the street without looking both ways or getting in the way of the TV when daddy is watching the game?
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Or he just hangs around with them. That's the idea I got after just watching Rick Santorum's latest ad. It shows a bunch of guys sitting around a table, smoking cigars and then says Casey has taken money from people with all sorts of legal problems but doesn't name names. It ends by asking where Casey holds his campaign meetings while showing the group in a jail cell.
WOW! It has to be one of the most desperate and dirty ads I've ever seen. And not too smart as little digging into Santorum contributors will surely reveal he has taken a bunch of money from some unsavory characters. I just checked Santorum's website but it's not listed yet.
Update: SantorumBlog has a run down of who is being alluded to and found the link on YouTube.
This guy makes some good points.
Breaking News: McGee: take politics out of baseball
To many, he's known as Mr. Baseball in Northeastern Pennsylvania. On Monday, John J. Mcgee urged the Lackawanna County Commissioners to de-politicize ownership of the local Triple-A franchise and get out of the baseball business.
He also called on the lawmakers never to let the team be sold to a for-profit entity.
"The reputation of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre franchise within the baseball industry is that politics controls this franchise," Mr. McGee said. The Philadelphia Phillies, he ventured, "pulled out because for 18 years they didn't know whether they should deal with the general manager, the stadium authority chairman, or the county commissioners."
He is right, the politicians have made such a mess of the ballclub that the Phillies are rightfully fed-up and don't want to deal with these jerks anymore. I differ on one point, don't create another quasi government agency to run the operation, sell it to people who know the business of baseball. You can write the sales contract in a way to keep the franchise here.
I don't vote in Lackawanna County but if I did I would vote against the bunch of them.
SELL THE BARONS
City and county officials unveiled plans on Monday for a $1.3 million 9/11 memorial during a ceremony honoring those who were killed in the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Monument supporters say it will attract tourists from all over the United States and they're hoping residents and businesses will donate money to make it happen.
"Our goal is to make it the biggest and best across the country," said Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton during the event on Public Square. "So many lost their lives across the county. So many will come to see their 'loved ones' names on it."
The monument would be placed by a pond in Kirby Park. Names of the victims who died in the attacks would be inscribed on 11 granite pillars on the right and the names of the emergency responders who were killed during the attack would be placed on nine granite pillars on the left, said Alexander Belavitz of Facility Design and Development, which designed the plan.
I don't get it. Building an imitation of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to commemorate events that didn't even happen here and hoping to cash in on it is a non-starter. I can think of much better uses locally for $1.3 million. The best comment on this crazy idea:
Why stop at 911? Why not create a whole park of monuments to events NOT associated with Wilkes Barre? You could include the OKC Bombing, the Kent State Massacre throw in some rides, concession stands and games like a Columbine Shooting Range, surround the whole place with a Matthew Shepherd Fence and charge admission!
Posted by: Texas Dave
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Higher-speed electric trains that will begin running between Philadelphia and Harrisburg next month will cut travel times on one of Amtrak's most heavily traveled routes, Gov. Ed Rendell and Amtrak officials announced Tuesday....
With gas prices up and all the congestion on the highways, now is the time for us to step up and provide people with a good, reasonable, fast, clean and efficient alternative, and that's what we're trying to do here," Rendell told reporters at a press conference at the Harrisburg train station.
Reading around the blogs tonight I see that the Flat Earth Society opposes this and an increase of the gas tax to repair our roads and bridges. Yes Amtrack is subsidized but so are highways. So what is the choice? Do we build more mass transit or keep paving everything in sight. We're running out of oil and cars pollute the air. Maybe we can find better ways of moving people around.
h/t to Chris
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Political Notes returns to the CV with an update on the activities of a few state house candidates.
Republican Karen Boback is having a get together to support her quest to become the next representative from the 117th district to succeed George Hasay. Her opponent is Democrat Fred Nichols (no website).
John C. Cordora (no website), Republican candidate for state representative in the 120th district continues his uphill struggle to unseat Democrat Phyllis Mundy. So if you want to hear someone yell liberal and leftist and sound like a transcript of the Rush Windbag show this is a must.
A safety summit, hosted by the Christine Katsock(no website, anybody see a pattern here) for State Representative committee, will be held Sunday, Sept. 24 from 1 to 3 p.m. at The Cafe on Route 315 in Plains Township. Her opponent for the 121st district seat held by the retiring Kevin Blaum is Democrat Eddie Day Pashinski.
A note. The absence of a website shows a lack of understanding of how politics is evolving. I got a campaign flyer from Christine a few weeks ago that listed one but I can't find it.
The Green Party Senate candidate Carl Romanelli is still in limbo but he will be on PCN tonight.
7:00 PM PCN Call-In, Carl Romanelli - LIVE Green for U.S. Senate
At least this whole petition bruhaha has provided some entertainment.
HARRISBURG — The Democrats and the Green Party just can’t seem to get along.
Then again, it’s hard to be friendly toward someone who calls you a slimeball or a maggot. Since mid-August, volunteers for both parties have spent each weekday holed up in a conference room at the Capitol going over the nomination papers of Carl Romanelli, the Green Party’s candidate for U.S. Senate. Democrats claim Mr. Romanelli submitted thousands of bogus voter signatures and should be denied a spot on the Nov. 7 ballot.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Paul Kanjorski's Republican opponent Dr. Joe Leonardi has been the Energizer bunny lately. He has few resources but a lot of enthusiasm and seems to be on a quest to meet every voter in the district. Even some of the local press notices:
GOP congressional challenger talks about Social Security, coal
He is hopeful that the rich farmland of northeast Pennsylvania and deep beds of anthracite coal could create new energy options for the nation and foster economic redevelopment in the region. Leonardi said corn for ethanol fuel production could be grown in the northeast, and that coal could be converted, through a new scientific process, into gas without having to cut up the earth as the strip mines of the past did....
Leonardi wants Social Security to be preserved for future generations. He said it should be removed from the general fund and placed in a ''lock box.'' He said the wealthiest citizens of the country are not paying their fair share of the Social Security tax because of a government cap.''This is a crisis,'' Leonardi said. The government does not apply the Social Security tax to more than $90,000 a year of a person's earned income. Leonardi said the tax could be reduced for all taxpayers if the wealthy would pay based on their entire income.
''A lot of these politicians come up with these grandiose ideas and don't tell you how they're going to pay for it,'' Leonardi said.
The latest is that Paul Kanjorski won't debate him:
On today's Sue Henry Show, carried on the WILK network, Dr. Joe Leonardi expressed his concern that the voters are being denied a debate between the two candidates. Dr. Leonardi explained that about two weeks ago, he received an invitation from the Lackawanna League of Women Voters to debate the incumbent congressman. Dr. Leonardi told Sue Henry that he immediately cleared his schedule and made time to participate. He went on to explain that on Tuesday he received a call from the League of Woman Voters informing him that, the Congressman had declined the invitation to participate. In a discussion with Sue Henry, Dr. Leonardi said he would welcome a debate at the WILK studios. Dr. Leonardi stated that he would make himself available anytime if WILK could set up the debate.
What do you have to lose Congressman? Debate the man and defend your record.
Joe has a blog that tells you where to find him and Kanjo doesn't publish his schedule. Joe has many beefs with the incumbent but the inflatable dam idea just strikes him as stupid.
Dam plan for Susquehanna River would create hazard
I recently heard an area talk show host suggest two ways to revitalize Wilkes-Barre. The first, with which I wholeheartedly agree, is to capitalize on Wilkes and King’s and become a full-fledged college town. The second, with which I vehemently disagree, is to dam the Susquehanna to create a small lake.
I’m not sure where the idea of damming the Susquehanna originated, but it is an idea that must cease to exist. The following are but a few of my many reasons for wanting to terminate this dam project.
1. Basic science. Rivers cleanse themselves through perpetual motion. I didn’t pick this tidbit up in professional school or college. I learned this in Miss Pupa’s 5th grade science class. So why in the name of science would anyone halt the essential, healing motion of a polluted river?
2. The Butler Mine Tunnel. From the EPA Web site – “In 1979, an oily discharge coming from the tunnel created an oil slick on the river.” “The oil contamination was then traced to the illegal dumping of hazardous chemicals into a four-inch borehole located 3 1/2 miles from the outlet of the tunnel. The borehole was found to drain into the Butler Mine system.”
Interestingly, there was another discharge in 1985, approximately one year after the discharge monitors were deemed no longer necessary and removed.
Does illegal dumping continue today? Possibly. Commercials still air from time to time asking people not to dump into bore holes. Obviously there is no predicting when or if there will be another discharge, but if there is, how fast will the contaminants settle in a motionless river? From the same site, “Potential human risks exist if individuals ingest or come into contact with contaminated surface water and groundwater.” Do you really want your children exposed to a “potential human risk” recreating in this contaminated lake?
3. Combined Sewer Outflows. According to the American Rivers Web site there are “16 sewage outflows that pour untreated human waste into the very reach of the river where the current would pool behind the dam.”
4. Potential flooding. I testified at the hearing at King’s College. We were assured that in the event of potential flooding the dam could be deflated in 20 minutes. I’m not sure about you, but I’m glad I don’t live downstream. Can you imagine a 450 acre, 4 1/2 mile long lake rushing over your community? For the sake of argument, what happens if the river crest is underestimated? What will happen to upstream communities? We reside in a flood zone. These questions are real. The wrong answer could make us forget Agnes ever happened.
5. Damming the river is not necessary. I am astonished to be told, that unless we dam the river we cannot utilize it. Well I’m sorry but that is just plain, old hogwash. A free-flowing river can be just as vital a community centerpiece as any lake.
6. A tourist mecca? We need to honestly examine what we are being sold. With our proximity to the Poconos, the shore, Atlantic City, the Finger Lakes, New York and Philadelphia — are we to believe that a polluted, man-made, mini-lake is going to become the tourist destination of the northeast?
7. Political will. I’ve heard that this may create the political will to clean the river. Well, that is flat out the sorriest statement I have ever heard about past and current leaders. The free-flowing Susquehanna River is our heritage and plain and simple it must be saved.
If you want to create the political will to clean this river — elect me to Congress.
Joseph Leonardi Candidate PA-11 U.S. House of Representatives
This week we have seen Congressman Kanjorski doing what he does best, handing out federal largesse and proposing another big idea. I'll still don't understand the structure of the Earth Conservancy that has bought up all of the Blue Coal wasteland and has turned it into useful development and recreation but it has seemed to work. My question is why is it part of the Department of Defense budget? We all know about the inflatable dam and now it's Wall Street West :
Congressman Paul Kanjorski sees Wall Street West as only the dawn of a new era for the region. "In reality, when you look at Northeastern Pennsylvania, it's probably the most ideal expansion of greater New York," he said. That westward movement already is happening in Monroe County and will continue, he believes. "They really don't have much option" to expand in other directions.
"It really can't be looked at as year or two- or three-year program. It's decades."
He also got some federal money to fix the mine subsidences in Pittston.
PITTSTON -Stabilizing the earth beneath one section of Pittston will lead to an analysis of the ground below the entire city and, eventually, a new citywide sewer system.
U.S. Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski, D-Nanticoke, told anxious residents at a public meeting Thursday night that local, state and federal officials had reached a solution to mine subsidences that have plagued the city's Mill Street neighborhood and broken a sewer main there.
If it works people will see an end to having their houses swallowed up by an old mine and Pittston will get a new sewer system.
But everywhere he goes, Sieminski says, he gets tired of people complaining about the lack of jobs and rising property taxes.
"I know there are people in the community that are saying, 'Eddie, you can't win,' Sieminski said Saturday morning. "If I don't put my name up there, I certainly can't win.
"I'm hearing from people that they want a change. They're saying they can't pay their taxes anymore, public education needs to improve and economic development isn't bringing in jobs. Well, stop talking about it and do something about it."
"My opponent started eight years ago and he campaigned on creating jobs. I don't see the results," Sieminski said.
He favors more money for police and fire companies, spend more on education, opposes an expansion of gambling and wants to give seniors a tax break. Are seniors the only people who pay taxes? So in short he wants to spend more money while cutting taxes. It's funny that no politician, Democrat or Republican, ever tells you what spending he wants to cut.
Sieminski, a Republican from Fairview Township, is challenging Democratic state Rep. John Yudichak, who has held the seat since 1998.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Let's Not Mourn Prissies By Mean Old Man
I'm angrier than Bob Casey in a speech therapy class over the way the Commie media has turned Croc Hunter Steve Irwin into a he-man hero!!!
Channel scanning between Matlock and the different Commie Cable news channels all week, my wife Thelma Jean and I nearly lost our supper more than once over the namby pamby coverage of this Aussie hippies death.
Don't get me wrong--I'm not saying this guy didn't have some manliness in him--but let's be serious--he was done in by a stingray--a fish that is known to be so wimpy that amusement parks let the little brat kiddies swim with them!!! Hell, my own little pukey grandson Luke (my commie son Cal's spawn), who is so weak of the knee that he cries at the sight of his own shadow--who is so feminized by his freaky parents that I was basically thrown out of their house last Christmas because I committed the mortal sin of giving my grandson a toy M-16 as a Christmas present!!--who cries at sissy Lion Emporer or King or whatever it is movies (again, made in Commiewood)--Luke swam with stingrays one summer and was giddy and laughing!!!
My point--a real man does not let a fairy fish hurt him! In my day we had wildlife shows too, but the hosts were real men!!! Marlon Perkins could wrestle not only an alligator but a tiger and sell you insurance all at the same time!! And he didn't wear wimpy shorts while doing things--Marlon wore African hunting gear--made in the good ol' USA!!! And another thing--instead of being killed by that homo fish, Marlon would have been having him for supper that night (no doubt, with a bottle of Schlitz next to his plate)!!!!
So, all you drugged out feminized Commies out there--be men for once in your pathetic lives and stop crying over an overexposed and overrated prissy who stole Marlon Perkins act!!!!
Damn Liberals!!!! God Bless our Sainted Senator Santorum.
Using your children to make a few political points is just wrong.
Santorum Ad: Kids
I recently wrote about my frustration when visiting Independence Hall in Philadelphia. I'm not the only one who thinks that the security is overkill. Phillyskyline made a visit and gives a blow by blow account. There are no trackbacks (you have to fix that) but if you scroll down and click on the image above you will find the story.
The Patriot News has a new blog called Pennsyltucky Politics written by veteran reporter Brett Lieberman. He's a natural blogger. Experienced, well connected and funny. The last time I heard the Commonwealth referred to as Pennsyltucky I was in the Air Force. I'm glad he didn't title his blog News from the Alabama of the North.
Froth Slosh B'Gosh is a fun read. The poor guy is a Pirates fan and has been suffering through this season just as he has the last 20. A friend recently visited Pittsburgh and gave rave reviews to PNC Park. He said the only bad thing about it was you had to watch the Pirates.
My name is David Slavick, I am the Democratic Candidate for State Representative in PA's 109Th District. ). I am a 27 year-old alumnus of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, and of Ursinus College where I majored in Politics. Despite studying politics and international relations in college, I did not become personally motivated to get involved in the political system until my motivation literally ran into me one summer.
During the summer leading into my junior year, I was working at a factory that manufactured truck trailers near my hometown of Berwick, PA. Each day I awoke at 4 A.M so I could get to work at the plant that was about an hour away by 5:30 A.M. The days were long and exhausting, but it was "lucrative" summer work for our area, as it paid an unheard of $9.00 an hour and you had most Fridays off.
That summer I earned a few dollars for my textbook fund, made some friends, and even learned how to use an arc welder. Working at the plant also taught me some valuable lessons about the relationship between labor and management in the real world. In the lunchroom, fliers littered the tables where we took our breaks. They stated that workers should be happy and grateful to have their jobs and that under recently passed NAFTA the company could start building trailers in Mexico within a week's time. We all knew what that meant.
One Thursday morning, I went into the lunchroom and heard that our orders were to make 15 trailers that day. At the time, we probably averaged around 11. It was also clear to us that we were "encouraged" to finish the job that day so we would not have to be paid overtime. Despite the warnings of the shop stewards, management had ordered the line to be set at breakneck speed. Trying to keep up, we had to bend safety precautions. Finally, on the last trailer of the day, I stepped into the lunchroom for a cup of vending machine coffee. Upon returning to work, I realized that the line that was moving furiously just minutes ago had completely stopped. That is when my co-worker ran into me, causing me to spill my coffee. As that happened, I noticed everyone in the plant was staring directly at me. I looked down to realize I was standing in a trail of blood that stretched nearly thirty feet across the floor. My co-worker was holding his hand, which had been severed from a piece of sheet metal. That was the only day I left work early.
The next week we heard some news about our co-worker who was injured. Most of it regarded how company officials had tricked him into signing away his right to sue, and had found a way to cheat him out of his worker's compensation insurance. It was at that moment I decided to go to law school to study labor law and help aid the voices of the working person justifiably. During law school, I learned that most jobs as a "labor" attorney were available defending companies from the type of claims I had hoped to defend; so I switched my focus to international development. This interest lead to a number of amazing opportunities to work and travel abroad.
Surprisingly, it was my work abroad, which led me to get my feet wet in Pennsylvania politics. While helping draft trade legislation at the USAID/WTO Accession for Serbia and Montenegro, I had the opportunity to work with talented and dynamic people who were in their twenties like me. Unlike in the United States, Serbian circumstances of regime change and of attenuated war had created a perfect storm where the "next generation" was leading today. The energy and enthusiasm of the twenty-something's leading the charge for reform in the public sector was something I fully embraced and I carry with me today.
The experience of working in an environment where young talented people could take leadership roles, and help achieve noticeable progress in the public sector, was indescribable. The only domestic experience that I think could be comparable is that of the culture of the technology industry during the dot-com boom of the late nineties. The realization that we in the United States were squandering the untapped resource of young leaders pushed me to return home to my hometown in rural Pennsylvania. I wanted to do my part in helping foster the type of political environment I experienced in Belgrade.
However, upon returning to Berwick I had not discovered my niche politically. I realized that many doors were closed to young leaders, and began to use the Internet as a means to help promote several causes that were of personal importance to me. This past year, I began blogging to rally support behind keeping an excellent neighborhood school that served a large number of economically disadvantaged students. The closing of the Mulberry Street Elementary School in Berwick was exactly what was not supposed to happen under President Bush's "No Child Left Behind." It had defied the predictions of numerous people, by being one of the first schools in Pennsylvania to achieve its "No Child Left Behind" goals in reading and math. Despite the miraculous success of the school, the school board made the decision to close it, something I felt could have been avoided had the school district not dug itself into millions of dollars in debt just a few years before by financing a gymnasium that rivals that of the Duke Blue Devils.
Many of us had hoped that our local state representative would help fix the situation with a legislative grant, or some other state money. Yet no help came, despite the fact that this school was a shining example of the good things he hoped would be achieved through rigorous standardized testing. This led me to investigate Pennsylvania's state government to see where its priorities were at, and I read nearly every bill that I could get my hands on.
I was perplexed in understanding how Pennsylvania had no limit on contributions to candidates for the General Assembly and that lobbyists had free reign to shower politicians with gifts. Last year alone Pa. lobbying costs averaged $1.4 million per state senator. I realized that the government in Harrisburg had become a far cry from William Penn's idea of a "Common Weal."
I decided I needed to take a more active role in our state government. I investigated the campaign contributions of my own State Representative, David Millard. Elected in a special election in 2004, and then reelected in the 2004 General, he had come from relative obscurity to become one of the most heavily financed PA House candidates of that year. With no political experience or legal background, he had received over $100,000 in campaign contributions from the RNC and House Republican Campaign Committee. He also had received thousands from clandestine political action committees that would make Jack Abramoff blush.
Despite rarely speaking publicly and receiving little financial support from voters in our district he became the newly anointed darling of donors from the coal, oil, insurance, gambling and tobacco industries. The differences between Mr. Millard and I could not be more different. I recently signed the 25x'25 pledge to pursue policies to ensure 25% of PA's energy supply comes from domestic renewable sources. I've sworn to take on insurance companies who do not come through on their promises, and I believe that regardless of whether you are a smoker or non-smoker that tobacco money has absolutely no place in our political system.
I learned that many of the politicians in Harrisburg were more deeply entrenched and corrupted by the political influence of corporate money than even the government in Washington. As a candidate, I have worked to expose the anti-democratic affect corporate money has had on PA state politics. The "Culture of Corruption" theme is not unique to my campaign. Democratic challengers around the State and around the country are working hard to expose the pernicious influence corporate money has had on our democracy. Many reform minded challengers succumb to the lure of corporate PAC's after realizing the nearly insurmountable burden that challengers must overcome in order to win. The Institute on Money in State Politics (http://tinyurl.com/pxkw6) determined that most state house challengers have a less than one-in-ten chance of beating a well-funded incumbent:
"In 2002, 92 percent of the winners enjoyed either a money or incumbency advantage, or both. In the 2004 cycle, that increased to 94 percent." (http://tinyurl.com/r6m2q)
In Pennsylvania, this trend is particularly disturbing because weak campaign finance laws allow corporations to funnel an unlimited amount of money to incumbent candidates through political action committees. This forces reform-minded candidates like myself to rely on state party committees to provide the bulk of their financing. In Pennsylvania, the HDCC is the committee that serves the primary funding role for Democratic challengers and incumbents. The HDCC also provides other services that are useful and generally do a good job assisting candidates.
However, candidates hailing from rural districts, like myself, are at a distinct disadvantage under the HDCC funding scheme. This is because the HDCC requires that a candidate individually raises a threshold amount of $25,000 before they will contribute to the candidate's campaign.
$25,000 is a very attainable fundraising goal in many urban and suburban races, given the higher median income of these areas and the fact that these districts tend to have more Democratic donors per capita. However, reaching the $25,000 minimum can be nearly impossible in rural races given that rural district's usually have a lower median income and a higher percentage of Republican donors than their suburban and urban counterparts.
This funding system has left a gaping red hole in the middle of the blue state that, true to its name, will serve as a "keystone"( http://tinyurl.com/s9l7z) to a Democratic victory in the 2008 presidential race. Progressive rural Democratic challengers are the unsung foot soldiers that are now fighting the first battles to fill the White House with a Democratic candidate that has more in common with FDR than Joe Lieberman.
Despite the vital role rural progressives will play in the future of the Democratic party, the state system of funding is leaving dynamic and forward thinking candidates from rural areas out in the cold. My race is an excellent example of how a progressive candidate who is helping a rural red district "break blue" can be left out if they do not have adequate funding. The median per capita money income is less than $20,000, and nearly 75% of our districts political donors give to Republicans. Additionally, recent flooding(http://tinyurl.com/s52pn) has decimated many of the areas where most of our county's Democratic donors reside. This makes raising the $25,000 needed to receive PA HDCC funds extremely difficult.
Despite the difficulty of raising campaign funds under these conditions, we are employing all means possible to raise the money needed to defeat the corporate funded Republican Incumbent David Millard (http://tinyurl.com/qs8g5). We have several fundraisers scheduled that will raise approximately $1000 each. Additionally, we have an overwhelming response to our requests for supporters to host neighborhood house parties as a means of raising money and awareness for my campaign.
Despite the fact that our campaign fund is dwarfed by the $134,685 raised by incumbent Millard in 2004, we have actually raised more money from local donors than he has in his entire career. This fact is a great indicator of our chances in this race, given that many people in Columbia County have undergone great hardship this year and do not have much disposable income, giving greater symbolic weight to their contributions.
With less than 80 days, our hard in this campaign work is paying off. The grassroots has invigorated our local party and we are ready for the fight in 2008. We are bringing our message of hope, vision, and progress to all parts of the county, despite the recent national emergency level flooding. We have active volunteers in every precinct in Columbia County. Our county party has made great strides in recent months, nearly doubling the ranks of Democratic committee people, and each of the new committee members embrace a progressive vision for America. Our vision for a better Pennsylvania is spreading like a prairie fire. Independents and Republicans are changing their registrations and becoming Democrats. In the next few weeks, we will likely turn Columbia County blue once again by overcoming the 300-voter registration advantage currently held by Republicans.
Our work towards restoring a Democratic majority to Columbia County is most pronounced in my hometown, the once Democratic stronghold of Berwick. Berwick has produced nearly every Democratic legislator in our district in the past twenty years. Despite its prolific Democratic legacy, Berwick was home to some of the lowest performing democratic voting precincts in the State. Until recently, Berwick had only one or two active committee people. Since we began my campaign, we have recruited seven new committee people, and now represent the largest caucus of our county committee.
We are fostering online advocacy and connectedness by building the infrastructure needed to promote a vibrant local Netroots. We are using technology to bring together our supporters and to create an online buzz in a way that was unprecedented in our rural county just a few months ago. We are using DFA-Link (http://tinyurl.com/msn28) to set up events and trainings, utilizing MySpace (http://tinyurl.com/p5cho) to attract younger voters to our campaign, and using a blog (http://tinyurl.com/ork75) to publicize the issues ignored by the local conservative media.
We are laying the groundwork for Democratic victory in '08, but we need the help of national progressive "Netroots" to show the people of Central Pennsylvania that candidates that are not beholden to corporate interests can win. Help us build upon the progressive victory achieved by the Netroots in the Lamont race by contributing to our campaign. We can prove to the pundits that we have the strength to help ensure victory for progressive candidates whenever and wherever we want.