Monday, June 30, 2008

How liberals define 'fairness'

Liberals control most television news (ABC,CBS,NBC,PBS,CNN and their various cable affiliates), where most Americans say they get their news.

Liberals control most of the major newspapers in the United States.

Liberals control the public education system and higher education.

Liberals control the Democratic Party.

But it isn't enough. There is still dissent out there. Fox News dominates cable news. Conservatives have won control of talk radio. Conservatives also have a foothold on the Internet, although the most visited sites are usually liberal, and the far left spends way too much time attacking conservative sites and attempting to intimidate or silence them.

In short, liberals want to stamp out all opposition. (For more on the history of liberal oppression, check out Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism blog at The National Review Web site.)

If the Democrats continue to build on their Congressional majorities and if a Democrat is elected president, the far left is promising to stifle opposition viewpoints in the U.S.

The tool the far left will use is a government crackdown called the "Fairness Doctrine," a term only George Orwell would love.

Liberals won't be satisfied until they can silence talk radio and take control of the blogosphere.

Investor's Business Daily warns on its editorial pages that the "Fairness Doctrine" is the latest example of despotism by the far left.

From the IBD editorial:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi intends to restore the "Fairness Doctrine" regulating political speech — proof that in the Internet Age, Democrats have lost the communications war.

Under a President Obama and Democratic Congress, a Fairness Doctrine could mean all three branches of government, plus the media, would be under the iron-fisted control of big-government, anti-national security liberals.

Despite losing the war of words to Republicans on low taxes and strong defense, Democrats would win politically with a law regulating national debate.
Read the full editorial, "Fairness Despotism," at the IBD Web site.

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The feeling is mutual

Who's to blame for another missed budget deadline?

Gov. Ed Rendell and leaders of the Pennsylvania Legislature announced a tentative budget agreement Monday morning for the 2008-09 fiscal year, but the budget won't be signed until after the June 30 deadline passes.

So Rendell is now 0-for-6 in meeting the Constitutional deadline to have a signed budget before the fiscal year begins on July 1. For those keeping score, Rendell has presented six budgets to the Legislature and all six have missed the deadline.

If Rendell had not taken an "unofficial" six-week leave of absence from his duties as governor to campaign full time for Hillary Cinton in March and April, would the budget have passed on time?

The tentative spending plan, which will probably be voted on by July 3 because the Legislature wants to take its Fourth of July holiday, means Pennsylvania will spend $28.2 billion in its general fund budget for the coming fiscal year.

That's more than $1 billion more than it spent in the current fiscal year. State spending under Rendell has increased by nearly $8 billion.

The $28.2 billion budget is a 3.8 percent increase over the past year's spending plan, but (and this is a big but), it includes plans to borrow more than $2 billion to satisfy the voracious appetite for more government spending. Borrowing money is a hidden tax because taxpayers will not only have to pay back the initial borrowing, but the interest will mean taxpayers will probably get stuck with a $4 billion bill long after Rendell leaves office.

Rendell deserves most of the blame for another late budget, but the other culprits are the voters of Pennsylvania. More than 100 incumbent state lawmakers had opposition in the April 22 primary election, but only one legislator (a Philadelphia Democrat) was ousted by the voters.

That sent a message to the career politicians who rule Harrisburg that it was business as usual and they could waste time without feeling any repercussions from the voters.

So blame yourself for not kicking out the established political class and get ready to pay more for state government.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Rendell Signs 3 Bills Into Law

Still no word on a new stage budget with the June 30 deadline approaching, but Gov. Ed Rendell found the time today to sign a bill designating a bridge in Clinton County as the "Western Clinton County Veterans Bridge."

Who says the Harrisburg bunch doesn't earn its money?

Governor Rendell Signs 3 Bills Into Law


Barack Obama and the Abortion-On-Demand Industry

No candidate for U.S. President has ever been as pro-abortion as Barack Obama.

Obama's views on abortion have been called extreme by none other than Nat Hentoff, the liberal columnist who said he won't vote for Obama because the senator's voting record is so far away even from the liberal "mainstream."

Barack Obama is running television commercials trying to convince voters that he's "one of us." But his views on abortion are nowhere near what the vast majority of Americans believe.

Tony Perkins Asks Barack Obama: When Does Life Begin?

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Politics As Usual From Barack Obama

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The only change Barack Obama truly believes in is putting himself in the White House.

Follow the link below to recap another week of politics as usual from the Barack Obama campaign.

RNC: This Week in Change II - Obama Adopts Most Politically Expedient Position on Important Issues, Again

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Pennsylvania and its people are getting older

After five years in office, Gov. Ed Rendell has finally figured out there's a lot of old people in Pennsylvania.

A new report details the challenges of running a state when one in four residents will be 60 years of age or older by 2020.

You don't have to read the report to figure out that fewer workers will have to support the massive state government that Rendell has built over the past five years.

You don't have to read the report to realize that the tax burden on working Pennsylvanians is already too great thanks to Rendell.

You don't have to read the report to figure out that most of the state's young people are leaving because they can't afford to live in Pennsylvania anymore.

And you don't have to read the report to realize that an older population will put a greater strain on government resources.

It took Rendell five years to figure all this out?

Thanks to Ed Rendell's taxing policies, massive growth in state spending ($8 billion since 2003) and broken promises on property tax relief, most elderly Pennsylvanians are struggling to hold on to their homes.

If you want to read the Pennsylvania 2020 Vision Report, follow the link below.

Governor Rendell Says '2020 Vision Report' Outlines Challenges Facing State Government as Pennsylvania's Population Ages

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Check out

Barack Obama's answer to the best options for lowering gas prices and setting the U.S. on a course for energy independence is "No," prompting the Republican National Committee to set up a new Web site to chronicle how many times Obama has said "No" to helping consumers deal with the energy crisis.

Drill for more domestic oil? No.

License new nuclear plants? No.

Clean coal technology? No.

Build new refinaries? No.

Drill offshore? No.

You get the drift of Obama's policy.

Obama wants Americans to pay more for gas prices. It's another way of taxing people, which is what liberals are all about.

If you like paying $4.00 for gas and would like to pay $5.00 or more, Obama is your candidate.

RNC Launches New Web Site: ''

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The presidential campaign so far

Obama on the wrong side of Supreme Court gun ruling

If you're on the fence about the 2008 presidential race, Thursday's Supreme Court ruling on the Washington, D.C., gun ban, should help you make up your mind.

The four liberal members of the Supreme Court, voted to uphold the ban despite the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of the "right to bear arms."

If Barack Obama is elected president, he will appoint more liberals to the court and a liberal Supreme Court will start taking away Constitutional rights guaranteed to all Americans by the Founding Fathers.

John McCain has promised to appoint judges who will uphold the Constitution instead of trying to legislate from the bench.

So the 2008 election comes down to which person you want appointing Supreme Court justices. Barack Obama would use the court to further his liberal agenda. John McCain would nominate judges who've actually read the Constitution and would leave legislating to elected state legislatures and Congress.

Read more about Sen. Obama's opposition to gun rights at the link below.

Republican National Committee: Obama's Supreme Mistake On Guns

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The company Barack Obama keeps

Empty slogans about change and hope mask the old-style politics that Barack Obama represents. Part of his problem is bringing back some of the people who worked for the Bill Clinton. Eric Holder, who is helping Obama pick a vice president, was involved in various Clinton-era scandals.

Follow the link below for more:

Obama Asked to Drop Eric Holder From Veep Selection Committee Because of Role in Health Care Task Force Cover-Up


Obama vs. Obama on Nuclear Power

No to new oil drilling. No to nuclear power. No to clean coal. This is Barack Obama's energy policy? Can you say $5 for a gallon of gas?

Republican National Committee: Obama vs. Obama on Nuclear Power

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New Poll: Americans Prioritize Education Reform

Nobody is talking about education reform in the 2008 p0residential race, but a new poll says Americans believe it is an important issue.

Follow the link below for more on the poll results.

New Poll: Americans Prioritize Education Reform

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Report examines diversity of Americans' religious beliefs

Fascinating report released today by the Pew Forum on how American's religious beliefs relate to their social and political attitudes.

In just skimming the report, I think the far left is in trouble if it's going to attempt to demonize religious conservatives again (just like it did in 2000 and 2004.)

Democrats should learn from their past mistakes and avoid religion during the campaign. If your candidate (Barack Obama) was raised by an athiest grandmother and had a Muslim for a father, you should avoid casting stones at the other candidate.

Some interesting findings from the study:

* Religion is closely linked to political ideology. The survey shows that Mormons are among the most politically conservative groups in the population. Jews, Buddhists and Hindus, by contrast, are among the mostlikely to describe their ideology as liberal.

* People who regularly attend worship services and say religion isimportant in their lives are much more likely to identify as conservative,and this pattern extends to many religious traditions. For example, withinthe evangelical, mainline Protestant, historically black protestant, Catholic, Mormon and Orthodox Christian traditions, those who attend church weekly are significantly more likely than those who attend less often todescribe themselves as political conservatives. And among Jews, those whosay religion is very important to them or pray every day are more likelythan others to be politically conservative.

* The connection between religious engagement and political attitudesappears to be especially strong when it comes to hot button social issues such as abortion or homosexuality. For instance, about six-in-10 Americans who attend religious services at least once a week say abortion should be illegal in most or all cases, while only three-in-10 who attend less often share this view. This pattern holds across several religious traditions.

Follow the link below to review the full study:

New Report from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life Finds Religion in U.S. is Non-Dogmatic, Diverse and Politically Relevant


Obama Suggests Female Clinton Supporters Will 'Get Over It'

Barack Obama isn't doing much so far to win support from the 18 million Democrats who vote for Hillary Clinton during the primaries. Some of his comments are downright insulting to Clinton supporters, who tend to be more centrists than the far left Obama. He shouldn't assume every Democrat will automatically vote for him. I've spoken to two lifelong Democrats in recent weeks who told me they'd never vote for Barack Obama. They will sit home in November or vote for John McCain.

Republican National Committee: They Said It! - Obama Suggests That Female Clinton Supporters Will 'Get Over It'

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Why Democrats are to blame for high gas prices

HT to Page13News for directing me to a post at American Thinker by William Tate on why Democrats are the main reason for high gas prices in this country.

It's a Top 10 countdown similar to what David Letterman does, but in this case, there's nothing funny about the mess the Democrats have made.

Read 'Top 10 reasons to blame Democrats for soaring gasoline prices' here.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

State Capitol Roundup for June 20

Here's the State Capitol ROUNDUP, a weekly summary of events in Harrisburg, courtesy of state Rep. Bob Mensch (R-147th Dist.):

Budget Underfunded by $280 Million, Over Spenders Eye Rainy Day Fund

Just 10 days remain for legislators and the governor to reach an agreement on the 2008-09 state budget. While House Democrats have positioned their bloated and unbalanced spending plan for a vote next week, the Republican-led Senate passed a leaner $27.9 billion plan that increases funding by just 2.8 percent over the current fiscal year. House Republican Appropriations Committee officials say the Democrat's spending plan is out of balance because they added $147 million in spending to the plan last week. State revenue is declining and the once projected $427 million surplus is now expected to be between $280 million and $350 million, prompting House Democrats to begin eyeing the state's $724 million Rainy Day Fund. Republicans feel the Rainy Day Fund should only be used for a true economic emergency. With a budget surplus, Republicans think the state should hold off using emergency funds. For more information, visit

Hearing Focuses on Graduation Testing

The House Education Committee recently held a hearing on a proposal requiring high school students to pass exams to demonstrate proficiency in English, math, science and social studies before being permitted to graduate. House Republicans have several reservations about such a plan, pointing to the high cost-$15 million for the development of the exams, as well as the long-term costs to school districts. They are also concerned that any move by the state to regulate graduations would undermine the authority of school boards, which are better able to address local educational issues. Finally, the added stress of an additional round of exams could also have negative effects on students already dealing with university applications, job hunting and pursuing positions in the military.

Health Care Proposals See Action

Legislation sponsored by Rep. John Evans (R-Erie/Crawford) has advanced out of the House Insurance Committee, acknowledging the state's dwindling access to health care professionals. Evan's proposal, House Bill 1824, would provide state funding for community-based health centers that offer numerous medical services such as pediatrics, obstetrical and gynecological care, as well as family education. The proposal is part of a broader legislative package being promoted by House Republicans to ensure access to quality, affordable health care. If passed, it is estimated that the supplemental funding contained within the legislation would allow an additional 55,000 residents to immediately benefit from these services. For more information on this plan, visit


What Kind of Change is Barack Obama Promising?

Columnist Victor Davis Hanson looks at the specific kind of changes Barack Obama would make if he became president. It's scary stuff.

A Jimmy Carter-style foreign policy?

Higher prices for gas to fill your car and for home heating oil or natural gas to heat your home in the winter so the Al Gores of the world can impose a hidden global warming tax on Americans?

Follow the link below to the op-ed piece in The Washington Times.

RNC: What Kind of Change? From The Washington Times


Activist Judges Run Amuck

Rendell judicial picks have a better chance of confirmation this time

After his first four nominations were rejected by the Republican-controlled state Senate, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell has come up with four new names to fill vacancies on the state's appeal courts.

The Senate rejected Rendell's original picks because GOP leaders said the four were middle-aged white guys from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Senate Republicans wanted to see more diversity on the state's highest courts.

Rendell has nominated Jane Cutler Greenspan, who serves as a judge on the Common Pleas Court in Philadelphia, to fill a vacancy on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. She may be from Philly, but at least she's a woman.

For one of two vacancies on the state Superior Court, Rendell nominated Robert A. Freedberg, President Judge of the Northampton County Common Please Court. Bingo. Northampton County is not Philly or Pittsburgh. We may have a winner.

The other Superior Court nominee is John M. Cleland, President Judge of McKean County Common Please Court. Rendell gets extra credit for remembering that McKean County is part of Pennsylvania. I need to get my map out.

The final nominee, to Commonwealth Court, is Johnny J. Butler, Butler is a private practice attorney in Philadelphia. Butler is African-American.

Two picks from Philly? Give Rendell some credit. He's been involved in the Philadelphia legal community most of his life.

A woman, an African-American and two judges from parts of the state most people never heard of is much more likely to get Rendell's picks confirmed.

Governor Rendell Announces Nominations for Pennsylvania Statewide Appellate Courts

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Watch me on TV

"Journalists Roundtable" on the Pennsylvania Cable Network is coming to you from Pottstown this week.

The one-hour program hosted by Bill Bova airs Thursday at 8 p.m. on cable systems throughout Pennsylvania. The program repeats Sunday at 5 p.m. and again at 11 p.m.

The panel for this week's edition includes Tony Phyrillas, city editor/political columnist for The Mercury in Pottstown; Nick Lawrence, host of "Great Talk Radio" on WPAZ 1370 AM and Phil Heron, editor of the The Delaware County Daily & Sunday Times.

PCN is shown on Comcast Channel 98 in Berks County, Service Electric Cable Channel 23 in Berks/Lehigh counties and Comcast Channel 78 in the Pottstown area.

Consult your cable guide for the Pennsylvania Cable Network channel in your area.


Liberal judges side with our enemies

Guns-on-Campus Bills Fail Across U.S.

A gun control group is gloating over the fact that so-called "guns-on-campus" bills have been defeated in 15 states so far.

The measures were introduced after the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech.

Two states, Michigan and Ohio, are still considering enacting legislation to permit guns on college campuses.

Do you get the sense that gun violence is a game for some of these "advocacy" groups?

There was an incident in Japan earlier this month where a man stabbed 17 people on a crowded Tokyo street, killing seven of them. Where were the calls to ban knives?

It's not the weapon. It's the lunatic using the weapon, whether it's a gun, a knife or a club.

That's where the gun control lobby doesn't get it.

Guns-on-Campus Bills Fail at State Level Across U.S.


State workers sue Rendell over threatened furloughs

You didn't think those 25,000 "non-essential" state workers were going to put up with the threat of job furloughs by Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell without a fight, did you?

Three unions representing state workers facing a July 1 furlough if the state Legislature does not approve a new budget by June 30 filed a lawsuit Thursday.

The unions want Commonwealth Court to decided whether Gov. Rendell has the authority to continue to employ all Pennsylvania workers who are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act. Rendell said he is forced to furlough state workers if there's a budget impasse or the state would face millions in daily fines by the federal government.

Republican Legislative leaders argue that the furlough threat is a bargaining ploy by Rendell, who has failed to show any court cases that say the state could be fined by the federal government if it continues to pay workers after the budget deadline has passed.

"An annual furlough is no way to pass a budget," said David R. Fillman, executive cirector for Council 13 of AFSCME. "The governor is under no legal requirement to implement a furlough without a budget and, once again, our members are stuck in the middle of a political tug-of-war."

If all this sounds like deja vu all over again, you'll recall that Rendell furloughed the "non-essential" state workers for one day in 2007, but after a budget agreement was reached, all 25,000 workers were paid for the missed day of work under an agreement Rendell worked out with the Legislature.

So the "furlough" turned out to be an extra day of paid vacation courtesy of Rendell and the Harrisburg bunch with the Pennsylvania taxpayer picking up the tab.

Read more about the lawsuit (including a copy of the letter the unions sent to Rendell) at the link below.

State Employees Union Files Lawsuit

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Don't Mess With Hillary Clinton

Government should spend less

This may come as shocking news to Gov. Ed Rendell and the Democrats who control the state House, but there's no law that prevents government from spending less than it did the previous year.

Rendell just has to look eastward to New Jersey, where Gov. Jon Corzine has agreed to a $100 million cut in his proposed state budget for the fiscal year starting July 1. New Jersey has the same June 30 deadline to adopt a budget and while there might be some more haggling, legislative leaders and Corzine have agreed to a $32.9 billion spending plan.

In Pennsylvania, Gov. Rendell is still pushing his $28.3 billion budget. State Rep. Dwight Evans, the Philadelphia Democrat who runs the House Budget Committee, wants to see a $28.5 billion budget approved.

But Senate Republicans voted Wednesday to adopt a $27.9 billion budget -- $400 million less than what Rendell is asking. That's a 2.8 percent increase over the current budget and is more in line with inflation. Rendell wants to increase state spending by 4.2 percent.

Now that the cards are on the table, it's time to start haggling.

Here's an idea. While every Pennsylvania taxpayer has had to tighten his or her belt because of rising energy costs and stagnant wages, why can't politicians live within their means?

Why can't they find $400 million in waste and fraud to cut from the $28 billion general fund budget or just put off some of their pet projects for another year?

Just once, I'd like to see Rendell and the free-spending Democrats learn to do with less.

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PCN tapes 'Journalists Roundtable' in Pottstown

The popular "Journalists Roundtable" public affairs program on the Pennsylvania Cable Network will be coming to you from Pottstown this week.

The one-hour program hosted by Bill Bova is shown Thursdays at 8 p.m. on cable systems throughout Pennsylvania.

The program will repeat Sunday at 5 p.m. and again at 11 p.m.

The panel for June 19 program consists of Tony Phyrillas, city editor/political columnist for The Mercury in Pottstown; Nick Lawrence, host of "Great Talk Radio" on WPAZ 1370 AM & WEEU 830 AM and Phil Heron, editor of the The Delaware County Daily Times.

PCN is shown on Comcast Channel 98 in Berks County, Service Electric Cable Channel 23 in Berks/Lehigh counties and Comcast Channel 78 in the Pottstown area.

Consult your cable guide for the Pennsylvania Cable Network channel in your area.

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Dump The Pump on June 19

The American Public Transit Association and its various members across the country are asking drivers to leave their cars at home and take mass transit to work as part of a Dump The Pump campaign on Thursday, June 19.

Dump The Pump is a day that advocates for people to ride public transportation to help improve the environment, conserve gasoline and save money, according to the association.

(It's the third annual Dump the Pump Day on June 19. How did I miss the first two?)

Many transit agencies are lowering prices on Thursday to encourage ridership. Some are even sponsoring contests to entice riders.

Read more in today's edition of The Mercury.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Best use of tax dollars: Welfare or bridge repairs?

Pennsylvania spends $10 billion a year on welfare benefits for its residents and perhaps 150,000 illegal aliens. "Don't ask, don't tell" appears to be the policy for determining eligibility for welfare payments in the Keystone State.

By cutting welfare programs by just 10 percent, the state could save $1 billion a year. That money could be put to other uses, such as repairing the state's deteriorating bridges.

That plan is being floated by state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, a Republican from western Pennsylvania. It's a lot easier than leasing the Pennsylvania Turnpike to a foreign company for the next 75 years or tolling Interstate 80, two proposals Gov. Ed Rendell has backed to find enough money to repair the state's bridges and highways.

Metcalf criticized the Rendell administration for not doing enough to rein in the Department of Public Welfare's spending, according to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

"We are here to present our drunk-with-power, spend-a-holic governor with a legitimate zero-growth budgetary solution that does not involve excessive spending, increased debt, higher taxes, or recklessly . . . leasing the Pennsylvania Turnpike to a foreign entity," Metcalfe told reporter Tom Barnes, who covered the Tuesday press conference.

Read the full story at the Post-Gazette Web site here.

And as long as we're talking about finding better use of tax dollars, the folks at POLICY BLOG are wondering why Gov. Rendell insists on giving away millions in tax breaks to Hollywood moguls to make bad films.

Read "Tax credits and stupid Hollywood movies" at POLICY BLOG.

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Reforms move forward in GOP Senate

Republican lawmakers in Harrisburg continue to push for ways to reform state government.

Unfortunately, the Democrats who control the House continue to put obstacles up for any reform measures.

Barry L. Kauffman, executive director of Common Cause/Pennsylvania, reports that the Senate State Government Committee passed two important government reform bills on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 346 upgrades the way that legislative and congressional districts would be redesigned after each census, Kauffman says.

Changing the way Pennsylvania politicians draw political boundaries is "considered one of the critical pillars of reform," Kauffman says.

SB 346 moved out of committee by an 8-3 vote.

Kauffman complimented Committee Chairmen Jeffrey Piccola and Anthony Williams for working together to get the bill moving and give it a chance to meet the mid-July constitutional deadline.

"This redistricting reform bill is crucial to making Pennsylvania’s legislative and congressional elections meaningful again. When SB-346 becomes law, there will be much greater likelihood that voters will have meaningful choices on election day, and therefore have a greater ability to hold their elected officials accountable." Kauffman said.

A companion piece of legislation is bogged down in the House, where the Democratic chairwoman of the House State Government Committee, Rep. Babette Josephs, D-Phila., is refusing to allow a vote on the measure.

The Senate committee also unanimously approved Senate Bill 1488, which would make it illegal for lobbyists and those who hire lobbyists to provide gifts, hospitality, entertainment, meals or lodging to state-level officials and employees, Kauffman says.

The bill contains a reasonable exemption for plaques and also permits an official to participate in a group meal when speaking at a major organizational event that pertains to official duties, according to Kauffman.

"The Piccola gift ban proposal largely closes one of the big loopholes in the recently passed lobbyist disclosure; and in so doing ends a practice that appears to have raised serious concerns with most citizens. Lobbyists themselves have raised concerns about demands from officials for gifts and meals, while most citizens want to feel assured that their officials’ loyalties lie with them rather than with special interest lobbyists that provide the largesse," Kauffman says.

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Tim Russert's Biggest Interview

Senate Republicans push for PA tax cuts

Senate Republicans have approved $240 million in tax-cuts for Pennsylvania residents and business. But don't go spending the money just yet.

Standing in the way of returning your money to you is Gov. Ed Rendell and the Democrats who control the state House of Representatives.

Senate Republicans are billing their tax-cutting package as immediate relief for Pennsylvania taxpayers who are struggling to pay for rising food and gas bills.

"This is long-term thinking to try to motivate the economy to go in the right direction," Sen. Jake Corman, R-Centre, said during floor debate.

However, Democrats maintained that the tax cuts might be worthy in another year when the state has more cash to spend, according to The Associated Press.

In other words, once your tax dollars get to Harrisburg, don't expect to see them again.

Rendell and the Democrats would rather keep the money and spend it on pet projects as part of the governor's $28.3 billion general fund budget.

The balance the $28.3 billion spending plan, Rendell wants to use the $400 million cash surplus anticipated at the end of the June 20 fiscal year.

A government "surplus" is another way of saying people paid too much in taxes.

The GOP plan would lift the forgiveness limit on the state's personal income tax every year for three years, with the amount varying by the number of dependents, according to the AP. By the third year, for example, a couple with two dependents making $37,000 or less — up from the current limit of $32,000 — would not have to pay the state's 3.07 percent income tax, the wire service says.

It would raise the cap on the losses that a businesses could carry forward to offset taxes on future profits to $5 million, or 20 percent, of taxable income. Current law allows $3 million, or 12.5 percent of income, the AP says.

It also would adjust the way corporate net income tax is calculated to lighten the burden on businesses that have employees and assets in the state, according to the wire service. Lastly, it would double the income tax break to $50,000 that businesses could claim on the purchase of equipment and machinery, the AP says.

The cuts would add up to $96 million in the first fiscal year, and $246 million in the 2010-11 fiscal year, the AP says.

If you'd like Rendell and the Democrats to return some of your money this year, it's time to start calling House members and demanding support for the tax cuts for working Pennsylvanians approved by the GOP Senate.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Obama's baggage

Young people moving out of Pennsylvania

Despite his continuing personal likability, Gov. Ed Rendell is driving people out of Pennsylvania.

Higher taxes, deeper debt and out-of-control state spending are Rendell's legacy after five years as governor.

Nathan A. Benefield of The Commonwealth Foundation recently posted a commentary under the headline "Movin' Out" showing that Pennsylvania is losing many of its young people, who are fleeing the state because of the high cost of living and the lack of opportunity.

From Benefield:
During the 1990s, Pennsylvania lost over 250,000 net residents to interstate migration — the 5th highest state total, according to the U.S. Census. That trend has continued in recent years, at a slower pace, as Pennsylvania lost another 28,000 net residents to other states from 2000-2006. For the past several years, United Van Lines has classified Pennsylvania as a high "outbound" state, meaning more moves out of the state than into it. In 2007, 57% of shipments were moves out of Pennsylvania.

As of 2006, over 75% of Pennsylvania residents were born in the commonwealth — the 3rd highest percentage among states, trailing only Michigan and Louisiana (big population losers of late). Certainly, some Pennsylvanians think their state is the best place to live. But it is clear that Pennsylvania is not an attractive place to move to from most other states.
What happens when younger people move away?

You end up with "an aging population, stagnant economic growth, a loss of Congressional seats, and a growing tax burden on remaining residents," Benefield argues.

Read his full column at The Commonwealth Foundation's Web site.

There's also more info on migration patterns at POLICY BLOG.

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'Journalists Roundtable' coming to Pottstown

The popular "Journalists Roundtable" public affairs program on the Pennsylvania Cable Network will be coming to Pottstown this week.

The one-hour program hosted by Bill Bova is shown Thursdays at 8 p.m. on cable systems throughout Pennsylvania.

The program will repeat Sunday at 5 p.m. and again at 11 p.m.

The panel for June 19 program will consist of Tony Phyrillas, political columnist for The Mercury in Pottstown; Nick Lawrence, host of "Great Talk Radio" on WPAZ 1370 AM and Phil Heron, editor of the The Delaware County Daily Times.

The show is usually taped at PCN's Camp Hill, Pa., studios, but during the summer months, the program goes on the road to feature other Pennsylvania locations.

PCN is shown on Comcast Channel 98 in Berks County, Service Electric Cable Channel 23 in Berks/Lehigh counties and Comcast Channel 78 in the Pottstown area.

Consult your cable guide for the Pennsylvania Cable Network channel in your area.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Politicians always want to keep you in the dark

The state's biggest newspaper recently published an editorial about a move in the state Legislature to allow government entities to place public meeting notices and other legal advertisements in shopping circulars and online instead of newspapers with widespread circulation in a community.

It's another effort by politicians to keep residents in the dark. For every door that opens on Pennsylvania's antiquated Sunshine Law, another one closes.

Politicians want residents to remain in the dark so they don't see how tax dollars are spent.

"The biggest and most important issue is the public's right to know and how best to get the information distributed to the broadest audience," The Philadelphia Inquirer writes. "Newspapers face many challenges these days, but they remain the cheapest and most reliable way to keep the public informed."

Tell you legislator to start working on real problems like property taxes, repairing roads and bridges and providing affordable health care instead of spending time on something that doesn't need fixing.

Read the full editorial, "Public Notices: Keep them where the audience is," here.

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What others are saying about Tim Russert

Tim Russert's untimely death on June 13 has brought condolences and tributes from all sides of the political spectrum. It says a lot about Russert's professionalism and dedication to the craft of journalism. He was as close to "fair" as any current journalist currently working today. He will me missed.

Here's a sampling of what others are saying about the passing of Tim Russert.

Gov. Ed Rendell: Tim was the epitome of political journalists; someone who was very personable and could conduct very informative and sometimes riveting interviews," Governor Rendell said. "Over the past few decades, Tim's keen grasp of political issues in Washington and across the nation made him must see TV. As a newsmaker, I knew I had to be prepared when I was interviewed by him, because I knew he was very prepared. As moderator of 'Meet the Press,' he extracted information the general public needed to be better informed.

Newt Gingrich: Anyone who knew Tim Russert personally and the millions who knew him from his years at NBC News knew that he loved life and lived every moment of it. Even though he had reached the professional pinnacle of the political news world, you always knew and he always knew that he was just a kid from Buffalo and he never forgot it. Tim was genuinely charming but as anyone who came to the set of Meet the Press unprepared can tell you, he was direct, tough and gave no quarter. His experience working with Gov. Mario Cuomo and Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan gave him an insight few in the journalism world can match. It is particularly poignant to lose such a dedicated father and a son who so honored his father in his book "Big Russ and Me" just before Father's Day. Tim's life serves as a model and a reminder for everyone to cherish the ones you love. I considered him my friend and I will miss him.

President Bush: Laura and I are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Tim Russert. Those of us who knew and worked with Tim, his many friends, and the millions of Americans who loyally followed his career on the air will all miss him. As the longest-serving host of the longest-running program in the history of television, he was an institution in both news and politics for more than two decades. Tim was a tough and hardworking newsman. He was always well-informed and thorough in his interviews. And he was as gregarious off the set as he was prepared on it. Most important, Tim was a proud son and father, and Laura and I offer our deepest sympathies to his wife Maureen, his son Luke, and the entire Russert family. We will keep them in our prayers.

Ralph Nader: Tim Russert, through his verve, directness and human touch became the symbol of the Sunday interview show. A strong interrogator of the many slippery guests who appeared on his show, Tim combined searching questions with a smile. He let the guests make their points instead of cutting them off but kept Meet the Press moving at the same time. In my recent conversation with him, he said he believed "in intellectual tension." Journalism and the country will miss him dearly.

Nancy Pelosi: Today, broadcast journalism lost one of its giants, who will be remembered along with names like Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, and David Brinkley. The City of Buffalo has also lost its favorite son, who loved his city and its hometown team, the Bills. The smile that came across Tim's face whenever he spoke of the place of his birth and his favorite football team was one of true joy and I will never forget it. Tim Russert embodied the very best in broadcast journalism and has been a fixture in millions of living rooms every Sunday morning on 'Meet the Press,' an institution that he shaped into one of the most influential news and opinion programs of our time. A stellar journalist, Tim also touched our hearts with his loving portrait of his father in the best-selling book, 'Big Russ and Me.'"

Howard Dean: Today we lost one of the true giants of American journalism and a tremendous public servant. Tim Russert will be remembered for many things. A committed family man, devout Catholic, devout sports fan, author, mentor. A tough interviewer, Tim delivered the news with authority, in a
plain-spoken way that made the great issues of our day accessible to everyone. His love of politics and our country came through in his relentless pursuit of the truth and in the quality of his work as a journalist.

Dan Rather: Tim's passing is a loss not only to his family and many friends, it is a loss to good journalism and to our country. Tim, first and foremost, was devout in his faith and deeply devoted to his family. He loved his country with a passion and became a classic example of the ideal American journalist. Tim had become an important part of our political process. He will be especially missed in this historic presidential election year. Tim Russert was a beacon of quality journalism. At a time when quality journalism is in increasingly short supply, Tim Russert was a leader for what is best in American journalism. He was tough but fair, pulled no punches, played no favorites. As an interviewer, he had few, if any, peers.

Sen. Patrick Leahy: He was a national treasure, and the news of his passing came with shocking suddenness and deep sadness. He never lost his enthusiasm, and he lived every realm of his life with gusto. Tim threw all of himself into his family, his faith, his newsroom, the world of politics, and even his teams. His zest was infectious, and no one could help but like and admire him.

Pennsylvania's Permanent Political Class

Gov. Ed Rendell issued a letter Friday urging the chairpersons of the House and Senate State Government committees to support legislation to change how Pennsylvania redraws its legislative district boundaries.

Redistricting reform is backed by most advocates of good government as a way to end the virtual lock incumbents have on most legislative districts.

A permanent political class has developed in Pennsylvania. Politicians spend 30 or 40 years in office by redrawing their districts to prevent challenges from other other political party.

"The Commonwealth's existing redistricting process undermines democracy by institutionalizing a powerful system of incumbent protection," Rendell wrote in a letter to Sens. Anthony H. Williams (D-Philadelphia) and Jeffrey Piccola (R-Dauphin), and Reps. Babette Josephs (D-Philadelphia) and Mathew E. Baker (R-Bradford).

More from the governor's plea for reform:
"For every vote to truly count, we must have competitive elections where voters have the opportunity to choose between viable candidates. I am convinced that the only way to ensure meaningful elections is to take politics out of the process of drawing legislative boundaries.

"This issue is neither arcane nor academic; how we draw legislative boundaries impacts the daily lives of Pennsylvanians because competitive elections in rationally drawn districts are the only way that voters can make their voices heard on the issues that matter to them," he said.
About a year ago, Rendell called for creation of a nine-member citizens' commission that would be charged with redrawing legislative boundaries.

I wrote at the time, that Rendell and I finally see eye-to-eye on an issue.

If the citizens' commission plan is adopted, districts would be required to be drawn based on population.

Deviations from the most populous to the least populous would not be greater than 8 percent under Rendell's proposal. Also, counties, cities, towns, boroughs and incorporated towns would not be divided unless it became unavoidable, Rendell says.

"People should be choosing their representatives, not the other way around," Rendell said.

By acting now on bills pending before the General Assembly, Rendell said redistricting reform would make it possible to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution and allow changes to be made before district borders are redrawn following the 2010 U.S. Census.

Now let's see Rendell put his money where his mouth is. Democrats (specifically Rep. Babette Josephs) are blocking redistricting reform in the House of Representatives.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

State Capitol Roundup for June 13

Here's the State Capitol ROUNDUP, a weekly summary of events in Harrisburg, courtesy of state Rep. Bob Mensch (R-147):

GOP Lawmakers Call for Gaming Board Chair's Resignation

House Republicans are again questioning the integrity of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) in light of the recent $120,000 bonus payment for outgoing Executive Director Anne Neeb. Under the terms of her contract, Neeb was set to receive only four month's worth of her $180,000 salary. However, according to an eight-page "separation agreement" Neeb will get a salary continuation of $15,000 per month through September 6 (a total of $60,000), medical benefits through September, and a lump sum payment of $60,000. Pointing to the ongoing secrecy, the Gaming Board's previous refusals to testify under oath, and misleading the public about the Neeb settlement, House Republicans are asking for Colins' resignation. Some people have suggested the new arrangement could be "hush-money," as it forbids Neeb to speak to the media about the board or its actions in the future.

Inflated Budget Bill Sees Action in Committee, Missed Deadline Still Likely

The 2008-09 budget proposal was amended this week by House Democrats to include an additional $147 million in spending. This brings the total of the proposed budget bill to nearly $28.5 billion, or nearly a 5 percent increase over this year. House Republicans opposed this additional spending and are wondering where the money will come from since recently released information shows the budget surplus to be significantly lower than what the governor had anticipated. While Republicans are encouraged that House Bill 2380 has finally been posted for a vote, they fear the progress may be too-little-too-late as the bill cannot be debated until the week of June 23, just seven days before the deadline. For more information regarding the budget, visit

Legislation to Prevent Budget-Related Furloughs Introduced

In an effort to avoid a repeat of last year's budget-related furloughs of state employees, House Republicans have introduced legislation to ensure no work stoppages occur this year. House Bill 2630, sponsored by Rep. Ron Marsico (R-Lower Paxton), is similar to a proposal adopted by the Senate earlier this year. With House Democrats refusing to move the Senate bill out of committee, Rep. Jerry Nailor (R-Mechanicsburg) introduced a discharge resolution to force the bill out. Instead, House Democrats amended the bill to raid the state's Rainy Day Fund in order to support increased state spending. House and Senate Republicans believe state employees should not be used as pawns in budget negotiations. Last year, 24,000 employees were furloughed for one day, though a final budget was not adopted until 17 days after the June 30 deadline.

Lawmakers Pursuing Tougher Parole Requirements for Violent Offenders

In a press conference this week, Philadelphia Reps. John Perzel (R-Philadelphia) and John Taylor (R-Philadelphia) were joined by more than 40 Republican colleagues in rallying support for legislative initiatives that would make it more difficult for violent offenders to get out of prison before serving their full sentences. In addition to calling for tougher and longer sentences for violent criminals, the lawmakers also pointed at several initiatives designed to reduce violent crime. Under the proposed changes, certain convicts would not be eligible for parole or other early release programs. Also, all mandatory five-year sentences for gun offenses would be served consecutively with other offenses. These changes are expected to reduce the 1,331 violent parolees statewide that the Pennsylvania Parole Board cannot locate.

Smoking Ban Signed Into Law

The governor has signed legislation that establishes a ban on smoking in many workplaces and public venues. Supporters of a smoking ban say the bill is watered down by too many exceptions, but they believed it was the best compromise they could achieve at this time. Opponents felt the measure went too far in regulating smoking policies in privately owned businesses. Portions of the state's casinos, hotels and some bars and private clubs are exempt from the ban. The legislation will take effect in 90 days.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Proper flag etiquette

As Flag Day approaches on Saturday, June 14, Jon S. Beadle, Post Commander, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5954, Red Hill, Montgomery County, reminds everyone that proper flag etiquette should be observed at all times.

Beadle wrote a letter to the editor to The Mercury complaining about how some people behaved while the U.S. flag was carried past them during a Memorial Day Parade.

According to the Flag Code, Title 4, United States Code, Chapter 1, Section No. 9 reads: "Conduct during hoisting, lowering or passing of the flag or when the flag is passing by in a parade or review, those present in uniform should render the military salute. Members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute. All other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, or if applicable, remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Citizens of other countries should stand at attention. All such conduct toward the flag in a moving column should be rendered at the moment the flag passes."

Rendell to sign smoking ban on Friday the 13th

It's high noon for Pennsylvania smokers on Friday the 13th.

Gov. Ed Rendell plans to sign Senate Bill 246, Pennsylvania's Clean Indoor Air Act, at noon on Friday at The Ambler Theater in Ambler, Montgomery County.

That's in the home district of state Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, who was instrumental in getting the smoking ban passed.

The ban will take effect 90 days after Rendell adds his signature, so start smoking more over the summer. By fall, smokers will be hunted down as criminals, facing fines and jail time if they light up in the wrong place.

For directions and parking information, visit

I dare you to go to the ceremony and light up while Rendell is signing the bill.

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Democrats backing John McCain

There's a growing movement of Hillary Clinton supporters who plan to vote for Sen. John McCain in November.

Check out the Clintons For McCain Web site to find out more about why Democrats believe McCain would make a much better president than Barack Obama.

The group is one of at least 20 that have formed since Obama declared himself the presumptive Democratic Party nominee.

Here's a list of other groups that are not supporting Obama, still want Hillary Clinton to be the nominee or would vote for McCain over Obama:


















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Montco commissioners take show on the road

The Montgomery County Commissioners are taking their show on the road starting tonight.

The "show" is their weekly board meeting, which some have likened to a circus thanks to the antics of Democrat Joe Hoeffel and Democrat-wannabe Jim Matthews.

The first road trip begins tonight at 7:30 in the Upper Dublin Municipal Building, 801 Loch Alsh Avenue, Fort Washington.

This gives Montgomery County taxpayers who work during the day to pay their taxes or those who can't get to Norristown for the morning meetings an opportunity to see how their tax dollars are spent.

One other road trip is planned: a Sept. 18 meeting at 7:30 p.m. at the recently refurbished Old Mill House in the county's Central Perkiomen Valley Park in Perkiomen.

The commissioners traditionally hold their bi-weekly meetings in the commissioners boardroom at 9:30 a.m. in the county-owned One Montgomery Plaza high-rise office building in Norristown, according to reporter Margaret Gibbons.

The scheduling of the two out-of-Norristown meetings came about through the persistence of Republican Commissioner Bruce L. Castor Jr., who repeatedly said that these evening meetings will give more citizens an opportunity to see the commissioners at work, Gibbons said.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Rendell signs 8 bills into law

Gov. Ed Rendell must be suffering from writer's cramp. The governor added his signature to eight bills on Wednesday, according to his office.

I may have lost count along the way, but before today, I believe the governor had signed only 18 bills in the first six months of 2008, one of the least productive years in state legislative history.

Nothing earth-shattering among the new laws. I guess the governor is waiting for the smoke to clear before he signs the smoking ban into law.

Here's a recap of the eight bills provided by the governor's office:

House Bill 1281 is designed to better protect the Appalachian Trail by directing DCED and DCNR to assist municipalities enact zoning ordinances that preserve the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the trail, as well as to conserve and maintain it as a public natural resource.

House Bill 500 and House Bill 501 amend the Medical Practice Act of 1985 and the Osteopathic Medical Practice Act, respectively, to provide for the licensure of perfusionists. Perfusionsts perform highly technical medical services related to patients who are placed on machines that assume the functions of bodily organs, such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, and liver. Two years from the effective date of the bill, a person may not call herself a perfusionist without being duly licensed by the State Board of Medicine or the State Board of Osteopathic Medicine.

The new law also says perfusionists may perform extracorporeal circulation, long-term cardiopulmonary support techniques, ventricular assistance, auto-transfusion, blood and blood component conservation techniques, blood and blood component management techniques, advanced life support and other related functions. They may also administer pharmacological and therapeutic agents and may perform anticoagulation monitoring and analysis, as well as blood gas and chemistry monitoring and analysis.

Senate Bill 810 authorizes and directs the Department of General Services to grant and convey, for fair market value as determined by an independent appraisal, a tract of land with any buildings, structures or improvements situate in the City of Pittston, Luzerne County, to the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Pittston. The transfer contains the gaming restriction.

Senate Bill 880 allows for the Fish and Boat Commission to sell license vouchers. A voucher can be transferred to a third person, who then can redeem the voucher for the license or permit that was purchased as a voucher. A voucher cannot be used in lieu of a permit or license.

House Bill 775 amends the First Class County Code. The bill clarifies current law, which requires county commissioners to place grave markers or flag holders, headstones, and American flags on Memorial Day at the graves of deceased service persons. With the change, the graves of deceased veterans who served in the Merchant Marine during World War II would be entitled to the same grave demarcation as other service personnel. Additionally, the bill allows grave makers to be made of aluminum, or a suitable substitute material, as well as bronze, which is the material of choice under current law.

House Bill 776 amends the County Code and makes the same clarification as HB 775.

House Bill 777 amends the Second Class County Code and makes the same clarification as HB 775.

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GOP lawmakers want tighter rules on parole

From state Rep. Tom Quigley, R-146th District:

HARRISBURG — State Rep. Tom Quigley (R-Montgomery) was among House members to stand in support of legislation calling for stricter rules regarding parole at a state Capitol news conference hosted Wednesday by Reps. John Perzel (R-Philadelphia), John Taylor (R-Philadelphia), and George Kenney (R-Philadelphia).

Referenced during the event was the recent death of Philadelphia Police Officer Stephen Liczbinski, whose murderers each had long criminal records.

Quigley said, "When Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey says that these men should not have been out on the street, it means we are past due in overhauling the current parole system. I am in full support of the legislation that will be introduced to confront the problems inherent to the system."

Pending legislation would attack shortcomings of the parole system in the following ways:

1) Eliminating parole for any violent offender convicted of rape, robbery, murder, aggravated assault, or any crime with a gun.

2) Eliminating early release programs for offenders convicted of a violent crime or a crime involving a gun.

3) Requiring that all mandatory five year sentences for gun offenses be served consecutively and not concurrently with sentences for other crimes.

Quigley is also in favor of tougher and longer sentences being imposed on repeat violent offenders by Pennsylvania’s judges.

"The current formula of prevention and rehabilitation for criminals who are repeat offenders does not work by itself," added Quigley. "The added component of stricter penalties needs to be implemented in order to reduce the rate of recidivism."

Statistics released during the event show there are 1,331 violent fugitives unaccounted for, according to the Pennsylvania Parole Board.

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Slots hurt lottery sales in PA

Some of us with common sense figured out way back in 2004 when Pennsylvania legalized casino gambling that the slot parlors would eventually take their toll on the state's lucrative lottery business.

Gov. Ed Rendell, who either lacks common sense or says things he knows are not true, was adamant that the lottery and casinos could co-exist without any decline in revenue.Guess who was right?

The Associated Press, reviewing a report released to the Pennsylvania Legislature Wednesday, found that that county-by-county sales of lottery tickets in 2006 and 2007 declined in counties that hosted a slots casino.

In other words, there is a finite amount of gambling money out there. People who used to buy lottery tickets to get their gambling fix are going to casinos instead. They don't have enough disposable income in Ed Rendell's Taxsylvania to do both.

From the Associated Press story:

Officials in Gov. Ed Rendell's administration told the AP in July 2006, before slots casinos opened, that they expected lottery sales to be unaffected by slot machines, although they also projected sales to slow after several years of expanding the number of ticket retailers and adding new games with better odds.
Wrong again, Ed!

Read the full story, "Slots hurting nearby lotteries," in today's edition of The Mercury.

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Ed Rendell Missed His True Calling

'GOP ship continues to sink' in Pennsylvania

If you want to read an honest assessment of the current state of the Republican Party in Pennsylvania, I recommend "GOP Ship Continues to Sink" by Lowman S. Henry & Ryan M. Shafik of the Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research:
If the massive number of Republicans switching to the Democratic Party in the weeks before the Pennsylvania Primary was a political earthquake, what has been happening since is a strong aftershock. The desertion of the GOP by voters in bellwether counties is continuing.

Pre-primary conventional wisdom held that Republican voters were re-registering as Democrats to participate in the hotly contested election between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. GOP leaders predicted many, if not most, of the wayward Republicans would return to the fold after the primary. Reacting to the surge in party switches, the Republican State Committee and many county committees announced plans to entice their voters back into the party.

Early evidence suggests that is not happening. In fact, the erosion of the Republican Party's voter base continues apace. Nowhere has the GOP lost more ground than in southeastern Pennsylvania where the former GOP powerhouse counties of Bucks and Montgomery went "blue" in the days prior to the primary election. The trend is continuing. In Bucks County, since the April 22nd primary, 1,590 voters have switched to become Democrats; while 476 switched to the GOP.
Read the rest of the commentary at Pennsylvania

And somebody please pass this column on to National Committeeman Bob Asher and National Committeewoman Christine Toretti, who appear to be oblivious to the fact that the Pennsylvania GOP is in decline on their watch.

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Pa. smokers will soon be criminals

After more than a year of haggling over who or what to exempt, the Pennsylvania Legislature has agreed on a statewide smoking ban. The bill is headed to Gov. Ed Rendell's desk for his signature.

Once it becomes law 90 days after Rendell signs it, the ban would prohibit smoking in most workplaces and public spaces in Pennsylvania.

The final vote in the state Senate was 41-9 on Tuesday. The House overwhelmingly approved the bill last week.

The ban covers cigarette, cigar and pipe smoking in restaurants, offices, schools, sports arenas, theaters, bus stations and train stations. But a dozen exemptions remain. You can still light up in most bars and taverns, casino floors and private clubs like the VFW or the American Legion hall.

Rendell, who has indicated he will sign the bill, is also pushing for a higher cigarette tax and the expansion of taxes on other tobacco products.

Not sure how that's going to work. You ban smoking, but you tax it to fund other programs. You have to go deep inside the liberal mind of Ed Rendell to figure that one out.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

GOP chairman: Dems bring 'Pay to Play' to Montco

Robert J. Kerns, the new chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Committee, is accusing Democrats of bringing "Philadelphia-style pay-to-play" to Montgomery County government, according to reporter Margaret Gibbons.

"The Democrats have put a 'For Sale' sign on our county courthouse," Kerns says. "It's reprehensible."

Montgomery County voters elected what they believed was a Republican majority last November, but Jim Matthews turned his back on the voters and made a deal with Democrat Joe Hoeffel to share power on the three-member commissioners' board.

That left Republican Bruce Castor out of the loop and turned Hoeffel loose to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to hire political pals and award contracts to politically-connected firms.

"(Montgomery County Commissioner) Joe Hoeffel and his Democratic cronies have put their integrity up for sale to the highest bidder," Kerns is quoted as saying in Gibbons' article.

Read "Kerns claims pay-to-play" in today's edition of The Times Herald of Norristown.

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Monday, June 9, 2008

Talking Politics with Tony Phyrillas & Mike Pincus

If you're near a radio or a computer Tuesday afternoon, be sure to listen to WPAZ 1370 AM from 4-5 p.m. for some of the best political insight around.

You know who I am. Mike Pincus is a Republican political strategist who has worked with many local, county, state and national campaigns.

Listeners can call with questions or comments during the live broadcast at 610-326-4000.

We'll talk about the presidential race and who might be the vice presidential picks for either party. We'll also talk about some of the Congressional races in Pennsylvania.

You can also listen to the program on your computer by going to and clicking on the "live audio" button at the top of the page.

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Potts: Persistence key to reforming PA government

Rep. Carole Rubley, R-157th Dist., and Tim Potts, co-founder of Democracy Rising PA, recently spoke to Great Valley Citizens Forum about reforming state government.

"To accomplish reform, the most important thing you need to have is persistence." Potts told the group. "You don't let a day go by without talking to somebody."

Rubley, a 16-year veteran of Harrisburg, is retiring at the end of the year. She told the forum that while individual lawmakers want to see changes, leadership continues to be the main obstacle.

Read the full story, "Forum focuses on reforming Legislature" in the West Chester Daily Local News.

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Your help is needed to eliminate property taxes

David Baldinger has a message for Pennsylvania taxpayers. The only way to eliminate school property taxes is to lobby your legislators and legislative leaders. Here is Baldinger's latest call to action:

Dear Friends,

The "Save Our Homes" rally was held on June 2 in the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg and was, by most accounts, a huge success. We had a great turnout of enthusiastic homeowners and lawmakers from both parties and our voices were heard loudly and clearly.

The media coverage was somewhat spotty and sometimes was tremendously inaccurate but we still had quite a bit of favorable coverage and a few good editorials.

A recap of the rally that includes photos, a complete video of the event, and media coverage has been posted on the PTCC website at Please take a few minutes to check it out and, if you have the forty minutes to spare, please watch the video – it contains a lot of good messages.

The rally was a terrific starting point but we need intensive follow-up over the next few weeks to hammer the message home. Here are the details:

If the rally is insufficient to motivate the House Democratic Leadership to report HB 1275 out of the Appropriations Committee, Representative Sam Rohrer intends to again attach the bill's language as an amendment to one of the budget bills that must be debated during June. I'll be sending another update about this when details become available.

HB 1275 has undergone two major revisions from the version that was debated in January. The sales tax has been eliminated for five major retail professional services – legal, accounting, architecture, engineering, and computer – to blunt the intense lobbying, mostly from the Pennsylvania Bar Association, that helped to kill the bill in January. The revised version of HB 1275 also offers no property tax reduction for commercial properties but caps their taxes at current levels. This was another major hurdle that couldn't be overcome in January.

The bottom line is that all of the major objections to the School Property Tax Elimination Act have been addressed and the politicians have NO MORE EXCUSES for not passing this bill.

I have just one short story to tell you. At the rally one lawmaker told me that I should tell all HB 1275 supporters to let their representative know that the sales tax has been removed from food and clothing. I was taken aback by this comment, as the provision for taxing food and clothing was eliminated from HB 1275 over a year ago. Nevertheless, he said that some of his colleagues told him in January that they would not vote for HB 1275 because it taxes food and clothing!

At first I was flabbergasted by this but my reaction quickly turned to outrage and tremendous anger. For whatever reason, these politicians voted against a bill that they didn't even understand! If they are so blatantly ignorant of the provisions of a bill that is so urgently needed, if they are so lazy that they can't take the time necessary to learn about such vital legislation, they do not deserve to be representing us.

The June vote on HB 1275 will be a litmus test for the November elections. Both the PTCC and the PCTA, along with several newspapers, are advocating the ouster of any lawmaker who votes against this bill. It is time to let the politicians know that we will stand for no more delays, no more political games, and no more excuses. They must be sternly warned that their jobs will be on the line in November if they again refuse the will of the people that they supposedly represent.

The key to passage of HB 1275 is not only your own representative but the House leadership of both parties. It is the leadership who tells their members how to vote on an issue and all will follow these leaders like sheep except for the few courageous, independent lawmakers who deserve our thanks.

During the next week or so, please telephone, write, or e-mail your representative to let him or her know that you strongly support HB 1275, the School Property Tax Elimination Act, and that you expect them to vote for this bill when debate begins in June. You can locate your representative's contact information from the "Find Your Legislators" link in the left column of any PTCC webpage.

In addition, please contact the House leaders listed below my signature to firmly tell them that you want HB 1275 enacted NOW. These leaders can make all the difference in the passage of this legislation and it is very important to tell them your feelings.

The June debate will offer us another opportunity to make HB 1275 a reality and your help is urgently needed. Please do all you can top spread the word to everyone you know and to tell the politicians that we want action NOW.

Thank you so much for your continuing support! Please feel free to write to me at any time with concerns or questions, and your comments are welcome on the PTCC blog that you can access from the top of any PTCC webpage.

David Baldinger
PTCC Administrator

Republican Caucus Leader:
Hon. Samuel H. Smith
527 East Mahoning Street
Punxsutawney, PA 15767
(814) 938-4225
Fax: (814) 938-1950

Democratic Caucus Leader:
Hon. H. William DeWeese
222 Elm Drive
Suite 101, P.O. Box 832
Waynesburg, PA 15370
(724) 627-8683
Fax: (724) 627-6043

Democratic Caucus Whip:
Hon. Keith R. McCall
162 West Ridge Street
Lansford, PA 18232
(570) 645-7585
Fax: (570) 645-9526


Friday, June 6, 2008

Attention non-essential state workers

It's bad enough they go through life as "non-essential" workers, but 25,000 Pennsylvania state employees are on notice they could be furloughed by the end of the month if the governor and Legislature can't hammer out a budget deal.

E-mail notices were sent Friday by the Rendell administration to the state workers stating that furloughs would begin at midnight on June 30, the constitutional deadline to have a state budget signed.

Essential workers (state troopers, prison guards, liquor store clerks and casino regulators) would continue to draw a paycheck from the state even if there’s no budget agreement.

You may want to peruse that list again. State troopers and prison guards I understand. But liquor store clerks? Casino workers? We've come a long way in Pennsylvania. The state is so heavily into the liquor and gambling businesses that those workers are now essential to the operation of state government.

And forget about visiting a state park or getting a driver's license. Those facilities would also close if the budget is not approved.

The state furloughed 25,000 workers last year because of the budget impasse, but that was just a one-day stoppage and it didn’t happen until July 9. This year, the state is facing potential fines of millions of dollars by the federal government if it does not follow the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act to the letter.

Rendell is optimistic that his $28.3 billion budget will be passed by June 30, but history is not on the governor’s side.

His first five budgets were all approved late by the Legislature.

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Notice a pattern here?

State Capitol Roundup for June 6

State Capitol


A weekly summary of events in Harrisburg

Provided by Rep. Bob Mensch (R-147)

Lack of Progress on Budget Bill Continues

Another week of House session has come and gone with no action on the 2008-09 State Budget. The earliest the budget bill, which has now sat in the Democrat-controlled House Appropriation Committee for more than two months, can be voted on is the week of June 23. With more than 160 amendments and only three weeks left to meet the legally mandated deadline of June 30, House Republicans continue to fight for progress. Information released this week showed the budget surplus to be significantly lower than what Gov. Ed Rendell had anticipated. Republican lawmakers are also urging their colleagues to get the process underway and engage in some serious discussions about reigning in government spending. For the latest information on the state budget and revenue projections, visit and click on "State Budget News."

Questionable School Funding Formula Survives Committee Vote

The House Education Committee has approved legislation that would make sweeping changes to the basic education funding formula. House Bill 2449 is largely the product of the educational costing-out study, which last year indicated a shortfall of $4.6 billion in education funding statewide. The proposal would invest an additional $291 million in basic education this year, and increases over the next six years would total $2.6 billion. In addition to this "state share," the Rendell administration is expecting local school districts to fill the gap and contribute the remaining $2 billion. Some lawmakers are concerned about the minimal funding increases many schools would receive and where the money will come from for the six-year plan. Furthermore, the state's revenue collections are slowing and the diminished revenue is forcing the governor to rethink several hundred million dollars worth of spending in the 2008-09 budget proposal. This issue will be a focal point in upcoming budget deliberations.

Smoking Ban Measure Approved by House, Future Uncertain

In a 163-38 vote, the House this week approved legislation that would ban smoking in many workplaces and public venues. The Senate rejected the measure but will reconsider it next week. Supporters say the bill is watered down by too many exceptions, but they believed it was the best compromise they could achieve at this time. Opponents feel the measure goes too far in regulating smoking policies in privately owned businesses. Portions of the state's casinos, hotels and some bars and private clubs would be exempt from the ban. If it becomes law, the ban would take effect in 90 days. If the Senate rejects the measure a second time, the smoking ban cannot be taken up again until January 2009 when a new legislative session begins.

House Approves Legislation Targeting Deadbeat Parents

Legislation sponsored by Rep. Dan Moul (R-Adams/Franklin) to make it tougher to avoid paying child support has been approved by the House. House Bill 1027, which passed by a vote of 187-9, establishes a third-degree misdemeanor charge for individuals who owe a year or more worth of child support. The measure also empowers authorities to extradite offenders who flee the state to avoid making payments. Estimates tag the level of delinquent child support payments at about $1.4 billion in Pennsylvania. Often, these payments are not withheld due to a lack of means, but rather as a form of punishment for the custodial parent. Unfortunately, according to Moul, the only people being hurt by these actions are the children. House Bill 1027 now goes to the Senate for approval.


McCain needs to win Pennsylvania

It's hard to imagine a scenario where John McCain gets enough Electoral College votes without winning Pennsylvania.

To that end, the McCain camp is gearing up its Pennsylvania campaign.

It's not going to be easy based on the state's history of voting for Democratic candidates in recent presidential elections.

From Dan Hirschhorn writing at

"Voters in the state, which has not gone Republican in 20 years, are increasingly leaning Democratic. His opponent, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), had to build an organization in the state for a fiercely competitive primary while McCain had already secured the Republican nomination.

Then again, let's not forget how poorly Obama did in the Keystone State outside of Philadelphia. A lot of "bitter" people didn't buy Obama's smooth-talking liberalism.

The state will be decided in the Southeastern Pennsylvania suburbs, where McCain could appeal to moderate Republicans, independents and some Democrats.

Read more analysis of the Pennsylvania campaign at

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Thursday, June 5, 2008

GOP candidates on radio, TV

Bob Rovner will be interviewing GOP candidates Chet Beiler (Auditor General) and Tom Ellis (State Treasurer) on his radio show, "Senator Bob Rovner Talks To The Stars" on Friday, June 6, from 1 to 2 p.m., live on WNWR 1540 AM.

The Pennsylvania Cable Network will also be taping this broadcast and will air it on PCN Sunday, June 8, from 6 to 7 p.m.

This show can also be heard on Bob Rovner's Web site, up to Thursday, June 12, by accessing the link for the radio show.

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Rafferty bills would curtail conflicts of interest

State Sen. John Rafferty Jr. (R-44th Dist.) has introduced legislation to reform the executive nomination process in state government to avoid potential conflicts of interest and other ethical lapses.

The two bills would place certain limits on the executive nominations to serve on boards and commissions, according to Rafferty.

Senate Bill 1404 would prohibit an individual from being nominated to or serving on a board or commission if that individual already serves on another board or commission, or if that individual has a pecuniary interest in a contract that has been granted or approved by another board or commission.

The companion piece of legislation, Senate Bill 1405, would prohibit any individual who has an ownership interest in a casino located in the Commonwealth, or who is applying for a casino or slot machine license from being nominated to or serving on a board or commission.

"There is a definite need to prohibit individuals from serving on more than one state board or commission simultaneously. It is equally important that we prohibit them from being a public board member and then have a pecuniary interest with another board or agency, such as a bond counsel or accountant," Rafferty said in a written statement. "In my mind this is just common sense legislation from an ethical standpoint. No one with a financial interest in a gaming license, a gambling casino, shall serve on a public board, commission, authority or agency."

The governor currently nominates individuals to serve on boards and commissions, and the nominations then go to the Senate for approval.

The two bills will place certain restrictions on who the governor can nominate and eliminate any potential for a conflict of interest.

Co-sponsoring the bills with Rafferty are Sens. Jane Clare Orie (R-40th), John H. Eichelberger (R-30th), Mike Folmer (R-48th) , Terry L. Punt (R-33th), Edwin B.Erickson (R-26th), Jeffrey E. Piccola (R-15th), Michael L. Waugh (R-28th) and Patricia H. Vance (R-31th).

Both bills have been sent to the Executive Nominations Committee for consideration.

For more, visit Rafferty's Web site at

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Politicians turn to blogging to reach constituents, a Web site that features articles about state government issues, has an interesting post today about a growing trend among politicians who use blogs to help promote themselves and their policy concerns.

From the article by staff writer Pauline Vu:
Like many bloggers, state lawmakers give their opinions on the topics of the day and share their personal life with readers. But unlike other bloggers, they also sometimes give the public a unique view into the workings of the statehouse.

"It's the perfect way to talk directly to constituents without a media filter," said Arkansas House Majority Leader Steve Harrelson (D), the state's first legislator-blogger who created Under the Dome in January 2007 to replace the e-newsletter he had sent constituents. found about 50 politicians who routinely blog, including three in Pennsylvania: Rep. Mark Cohen (D); Sen. John Eichelberger (R); Rep. Jesse White (D)

Vu also examines the pitfalls of lawmakers in cyberspace, citing the cast of state Rep. Daylin Leach:
But legislator-bloggers have to walk a fine line between welcoming readers into their personal lives and revealing too much — including questionable taste. Pennsylvania state Rep. Daylin Leach (D) crossed the line in 2005 with, in which Leach — a self-described comedian — joked about sex, pornography, and a Palestinian bachelor party in which the groom celebrates his upcoming nuptials by blowing up a bus. About a piece of legislation he was supporting, he wrote, "The age of consent would officially be lowered to 'When Poppa ain't around.'"

Leach took down most of his posts shortly after The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote about the Web site. But in September 2006, when he was running for re-election, a woman launched the now-defunct Web site,, to remind voters of Leach's previous postings. Leach won anyway and is now running for the state Senate.
For a list of politician/bloggers by state or to read the full article, click here.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Poll: Americans want more drilling for domestic oil to bring down gas prices

While the Democrats who control Congress play silly games with threats to sue OPEC because gas prices are too high or force American oil companies to turn over their business operations to the government, Americans continue to pay record prices for fuel.

Since the Democratic Party took control of Congress in November 2006, the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded has risen from $2.10 to $4.00.

How high will gas prices go? It depends on how many Democrats are sent back to Washington. A vote for a Democrat is a vote for higher gas prices.

A new survey shows an overwhelming majority of Americans support more domestic drilling for oil to increase supply and lower prices.

Congress has prevented American oil companies from discovering new sources of oil in Alaska, federal lands in the 48 continental states and off U.S. coastal waters.

China, Cuba and Canada are currently drilling for oil off America's coast while the Democrats continue to ban American companies from finding new sources of oil.

Read more about the changes we need to make in the area of domestic energy at American Solutions for Winning the Future

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Mark your calendars

On the radio today

If you're near a radio or a computer this afternoon, catch me on Great Talk Radio with Nick Lawrence from 4-5 p.m. on WPAZ 1370 AM.

Topics of discussion will include property tax relief efforts, the Democratic race for president and the odds of the new $28.3 billion state budget being approved by June 30.

Listeners can call with questions or comments during the live broadcast at 610-326-4000.

You can also listen to the program on your computer by going to The Mercury’s Web site,


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Lawmakers Who Stood By Taxpayers

Twenty-eight members of the Pennsylvania Legislature stood with hundreds of taxpayers who gathered in Harrisburg this week to demand the elimination of school property taxes.

If your state representative or senator isn't on the list below, you might want to ask them what more pressing business they had to attend to on Monday. Just remember they work for you. The boss showed up at the state Capitol on Monday and most of the workers didn't bother to show up. You have the final say in their future employment.

All 203 members of the House and 25 of the 50 state Senators will be on the Nov. 4 ballot. If you don't see your state lawmaker's name on the list below, it might be time to send someone else to Harrisburg to do the job of eliminating property taxes.

Rep. Sam Rohrer (R)
Rep. Rosemary Swanger (R)
Rep. Eugene Depasquale (D)
Rep. David Argall (R)
Rep. David Kessler (D)
Rep. Tom Yewcic (D)
Rep. Jim Cox (R)
Rep. Stephen Barrar (R)
Rep. Keith Gillespie (R)
Rep. Todd Rock (R)
Rep. Curt Schroder (R)
Rep. Jaret Gibbons (D)
Rep. Jay Moyer (R)
Rep. Bob Mensch (R)
Rep. Mike Vereb (R)
Rep. Tom Quigley (R)
Rep. Rob Kauffman (R)
Rep. Scott Perry (R)
Rep. Gordon Denlinger (R)
Rep. Carl Mantz (R)
Rep. Tim Seip (D)
Rep. Kathy Rapp (R)
Rep. Merle Phillips (R)
Rep. Brad Roae (R)
Sen. Jeff Piccola (R)
Sen. John Eichelberger (R)
Sen. Mike Folmer (R)
Sen. John Rafferty (R)

To get involved with the Pennsylvania Taxpayers Cyber Coalition, visit the group's Web site at

For video highlights of the June 2 Save Our Homes Rally, visit The Mercury's Web site at

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