Vol. I No. 150
Keeping You Posted With The Politics Of Philadelphia
January 28, 2011
OFFICIAL SNOW EMERGENCY ended yesterday – but not so you could notice. Philadelphians still struggled to move about after city’s ninth-deepest snowfall. Numerous political and public events were canceled. On the upside: People with snow shovels, like these crossing Baltimore Avenue in West Philadelphia, didn’t have to walk far to find work.
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Casey To Chair Joint Economic Committee S Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) was today named chairman of the Joint Economic Committee. As chairman of this committee consisting of members of the Senate and House, Casey will focus additional attention on jobs, the economy and working families.
“The top priorities of Congress should be putting Americans back to work, improving competitiveness to spur economic growth and helping working families hit hard by the recession,” said the Senator. “As Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, I intend to focus on policies and strategies to create jobs, incentivize the creation of jobs and prepare workers for the jobs of the future. I also look forward to working with the House Republican Vice Chairman and the other members of the committee to help create jobs and grow the economy.” Casey continued, “This new position will also allow me to continue to work for the people of Pennsylvania on job creation and to have a larger role on economic policy. High on my agenda will be issues like promoting American manufacturing, workforce development, preparing children for the jobs of the future, export promotion, tar-
geting unfair trade practices from countries like China and boosting working families. “An important component of my work as chairman will be working with business leaders in Pennsylvania and around the country to explore new strategies to help workers and the economy to prosper.” The Joint Economic Committee, established under the Employment Act of 1946, was created by Congress to review economic conditions and to analyze the effectiveness of economic policy. The JEC is a bicameral Congressional Committee composed of ten members from each the Senate and the House of Representatives. The JEC has the authority to hold hearings, research economic issues, release reports and advise the Congress on economic policy. With this appointment, Casey becomes the first Senator elected in 2006 to chair a committee.
Sen. Williams Named Democratic Whip tate Senate Democrats have chosen Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams (D-W. Phila.) to serve as Democratic Whip.
Having previously served as Democratic Caucus Chair, Williams
For more information, call William Hanna
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now assumes the second-highest-ranking position in caucus leadership. Williams succeeds State Sen. Michael A. O’Pake (D-Berks), who died in December. Williams listed his legislative priorities as improving the state’s economy, protecting our natural environment and providing a quality education for all of our children. “I appreciate this vote of confidence from my Democratic colleagues,” said Williams. “I look forward to working with them, as well as with Senate Republicans and Gov. Corbett, to resolve the serious issues facing our Commonwealth.” First elected to the Senate in 1998, after having served five two-year terms in the State House of Representatives, Williams represents the 8th Senatorial Dist., including Southwest Philadelphia and parts of South and West Philadelphia, along with 12 suburban communities in Delaware County (Collingdale, Colwyn, Darby Borough, part of Darby Township, Folcroft, Glenolden, Lansdowne, Norwood, Prospect Park, Ridley Park, Sharon Hill and Yeadon).
Third-Party Activists Applaud Volmer Bill he Pennsylvania Ballot Access Coalition was pleased its Voters’ Choice Act has been introduced in the Pennsylvania Senate as SB 21.
The prime sponsor of the Act, originally authored by the PBAC in 2005, is State Sen. Mike Folmer (RLebanon). According to Folmer, “Both the federal and State Constitutions begin with the same three words: ‘We The People.’ In order to give the people a stronger voice in their State government, we need to eliminate barriers for candidates seeking office. No State makes it more difficult for third-party and independent candidates to run for office than Pennsylvania. My ‘Voters’ Choice Act’ significantly eases these restrictions.” 28 JANUARY, 2011
The Act offers greater freedom of choice to Pennsylvania voters by making it much less difficult for independent and third-party candidates to get their names on the November ballot. Under current law, Democratic and Republican candidates are required to collect between 1,000 and 2,000 signatures to get their names on the statewide ballot, while all others must collect as many as 67,000 signatures in recent years. But under the Voters’’ Choice Act, independents and candidates of political bodies would need to collect the same number of signatures as the candidates of the two old parties, and once a third party registers 0.05% of the electorate as members of that party (approximately 4,200 voters), its candidates may be nominated according to the party’s rules, and at the party’s expense, without having to collect signatures. Ken Krawchuk, a Libertarian member of the PBAC and two-time candidate for Pennsylvania Governor, applauded Folmer’s initiative. “Why should one candidate be forced to collect 33 times as many signatures as another?” Krawchuk asked. “The only thing the existing law does is stifle competition at the ballot box and prevent new ideas from being introduced into the political debate. In a land that’s known for freedom, how can such a thing be fair?”
According to Carl Romanelli, a Green Party member of the PBAC, “Passage of the VCA will demonstrate legislators are serious about reform and leveling the playing field. It is heartening to see support for this legislation among Greens, Libertarians, Constitutionalists, Reformers and independents. We are respectfully requesting all Pennsylvania Senators of goodwill to lead this effort for Pennsylvania.” The Pennsylvania Ballot Access Coalition is a group of individuals and organizations committed to building better government in Pennsylvania. Formed shortly after the 2004 election cycle, the Coalition includes leading members of the Libertarian Party, the Green Party, the Constitution Party, the America First
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Party, the Reform Party, the Prohibition Party, the Socialist Party, the Unified Independent Party, the New American Independent Party, the Social Democrats USA, and the Ralph Nader campaign, among others. The purpose of the Coalition is to reform the restrictive Pennsylvania ballot access laws and bring them in line with the constitutional mandate that “Elections shall be free and equal.”
Dems Struggle With New House Rules, Seeking A Break On Amendments ouse Democratic leaders reflected on Wednesday’s unprecedented action to gag members of the Rules Committee, and they expressed optimism some of the amendments that Democratic and Republican legislators planned to offer will eventually be considered.
“We were disappointed and upset when presented with a resolution that would change the House rules which were agreed to just three weeks ago, and even more so when Rules Committee Chairman Mike Turzai refused to answer one question and then refused to allow committee members to ask any further questions,” said Democratic Leader Frank Dermody (D-Allegheny). The resolution (HR 6) offered by Turzai (R-Allegheny) was apparently approved by the Rules Com4|
mittee, although the roll-call vote was unintelligible and Democrats did not record any votes. “The sham proceedings of the Rules Committee gave the people of Pennsylvania a clear illustration of what reform means to House Republican leadership,” Policy Chairman Mike Sturla (D-Lancaster) said. “In our honest attempt to improve legislation and work together to make Pennsylvania government work as efficiently, effectively and as openly as possible, we and the people we represent were silenced.” The Turzai Rule would cut the number of Democrats serving on 23 House committees and remove a four-year-old House rule that worked to protect the ability of all representatives to have their ideas considered by linking consideration of amendments to consideration of bills. Under the Turzai Rule, a House majority could table any amendment and then proceed to consider the bill to which that amendment was offered. Tabling an amendment does not return it to committee for further action. It simply removes that amendment from consideration, and under the Turzai Rule there would be no recourse. “While these issues are important to the Democratic Caucus, civility must be restored to the House, DerTHE PHILADELPHIA DAILY RECORD
Jan. 28Swearing-in Fundraiser for State Rep. Kenyatta Johnson at Union League, 140 S. Broad St., 6-9 p.m. RSVP (215) 820-7308. Jan. 29Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell hosts prayer breakfast for ministers in 3rd Councilmanic Dist. at Sharon Baptist Ch., 3955 Conshohocken Ave., 8 a.m. For info (215) 6863418. Jan. 29Campaign Kickoff for Damon K. Roberts, 2nd Council Dist. Democrat candidate, Ch. of the Redeemer, 1440 S. 24th St., 2 p.m. For info (267) 334-0244. Jan. 30Bridges To Education charitable fundraiser at Finnigan’s Wake, 3rd & Spring Garden Sts., 3-7 p.m. $30 ticket includes beer, wine, soda, buffet and music by LeCompt. Hosts Angie Dellavella, Franny Driscoll and Maureen McAllister. Jan. 31Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz’s “Thank You For Your Support” reception at Finnigan’s Wake, 3rd & Spring Garden Sts., 6:30 p.m. Feb. 2Realtors for Alan Kurtz for Sheriff fundraiser at Sampan, 124 S. 13th St., 5-7 p.m. Write checks to Friends of Alan Kurtz, 220 S. 16th St., Suite 201, Phila., PA 19102. Feb. 23rd Dist. Appreciation Night sponsored by Friends of Jannie Blackwell at 1st Dist. Plaza, 3801 Market St., 69 p.m. Free for committeepersons and ward leaders of 3rd Council Dist. 28 JANUARY, 2011
mody said. “As a show of good faith by our side, Democratic sponsors today withdrew many of the amendments that were originally filed. We still have amendments we want to offer, but if it will help move the process forward we are willing to withdraw amendments which had their general intent covered by other amendments.” “Members offered these proposals in an effort to improve the associated bills. There was no other agenda,” said Democratic Caucus Chairman Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny). “During the last four years when Democrats held the House majority, Republicans in the minority offered 5,480 amendments and Mike Turzai was the author of 143 of those. He used the rules of the House to do his job and he was not blocked. For him to now deny other members the right to offer amendments is shameful.” The amendments Democrats offered to the government reform bills cover topics such as: extending protection under the Whistleblower Law to staff of the General Assembly; requiring State-contract applicants to disclose campaign contributions; prohibiting State officials and employees from owning any part of a business they are assigned to regulate; prohibiting State officials and employees from awarding a contract and then immediately going to work for the winner of the contract; stopping State agencies from spending tax money to hire lobbyists to lobby other state agencies; reducing the number of State vehicles assigned to cabinet secretaries and deputy secretaries; and requiring members of the General Assembly to disclose if members of their immediate family are registered lobbyists. Democratic Whip Mike Hanna (D-Clinton) said, “The Republican leader’s action would move us further away from the goals of trust and accountability and would reverse a key procedural reform produced by the 2007 Speaker’s Commission on Legislative Reform. Weakening House rules in this way would let 28 JANUARY, 2011
the majority leader silence the voice of any House member and the people represented by that legislator.” “I’ve served in the House for 13 years, with Republican and Democratic majorities,” caucus Secretary Jennifer Mann (D-Lehigh) said. “I have never seen such a push to abuse the power of the majority and silence the minority as happened yesterday. What happened in the Rules Committee speaks for itself – the new Republican leaders clearly are not interested in open debate.” “On a day when the House was set to advance good bills that would make government more open, accountable and transparent, the Majority Leadership did just the opposite by muzzling discourse,” said Appropriations Committee Chairman Joe Markosek (DAllegheny). “When that happened to this country’s Founding Fathers, they held a tea party. The modernday Tea Party movement would not approve of the stifling of free speech.”
SEPTA Approves Rail Cars Funding, Will Borrow For Smart-Card Tech EPTA Board has approved a proposal to issue up to $250 million in Grant and Fare Revenue Bonds to fund the purchase of new Silverliner V Regional Rail cars and the Wayne Junction Station renovation project.
SEPTA is purchasing 120 new Regional Rail cars under a contract with Hyundai-Rotem, and a significant portion are expected to be delivered this year. The bonds, which SEPTA has long expected to issue for the Silverliner V project, will provide up to $208 million in funding for the purchase of the railcars and related costs. The Silverliner Vs will significantly upgrade customer service throughout the Regional Rail system. The new
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trains feature state-of the-art technologies and amenities. Their addition to SEPTA’s fleet will also add passenger capacity and help alleviate overcrowding. Customers will also see service improvements through the Wayne Junction Station renovation project. The station, which sits at the heart of the Regional Rail system, is among SEPTA’s busiest. The facility was originally built in 1901, and has fallen into a serious state of disrepair. SEPTA planned to move ahead with the Wayne Junction Station renovations this year. The project, however, was among 22 SEPTA was forced to cut from its Fiscal Year 2011 Capital Budget due to a 25% funding reduction. The Board also authorized a loan-commitment agreement with the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. Regional Center that will provide up to $175 million in funding for the “Smart Card” project, as well as related improvements to infrastructure, communications and customer service. A modernized fare payment and collection system is critical to SEPTA’s near- and long-term financial health, as illustrated by its inclusion as a key component of the Authority’s Strategic Business Plan. The system will make fare collections more efficient, and its “open” nature is expected to attract new riders. Customers will be able to pay for travel on SEPTA trains, buses and trolleys using common retail methods such as bank cards, mobile devices, and other emerging “smart” technologies. It also means a move away from outdated fare instruments such as tokens and paper transfers. SEPTA has continued to try to find ways to advance projects cut from the budget. Financial support for the
Wayne Junction Station recently came in the form of a $4 million competitive grant award from the Federal Transit Administration. The funding secured through issuing the Grant and Fare Revenue Bonds will provide up to $23 million to pay for the remaining project costs.
White House Internship Program Picks Philadelphia Students The White House Internship Program announced today the participants for the spring 2011 session. The program’s mission is to make the White House accessible to future leaders all around the nation and cultivate and prepare those devoted to public service for future leadership opportunities. Four students with connections to Southeastern Pennsylvania are among their number. A White House Internship provides a unique opportunity to gain valuable professional experience and build leadership skills. Interns work in one of several White House departments, including the Office of Cabinet Affairs, the Office of the Chief of Staff, the Office of Scheduling and Advance, the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, the Office of Health Reform, the Office of Legislative Affairs, the Office of Management and Administration. Guenever Mesco, from Albuquerque, N. M.; attends the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Manishi Rodrigo, who hails from Alpharetta, Ga., attends Temple University-Beasley School of Law. Tuong Van Truong of Philadelphia is a student at Temple University. Madison Graboyes, who is from Dresher, Pa., attends New York University.
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28 JANUARY, 2011
Philadelphia Daily Record