August 4, 2015
AN INTERESTING three-way is going on in Delco. It's pretty hot. And the mailman's involved. (That was to draw you in. This isn't about prurient pleasures. It's about some unusual, even weird, local politics with lots of mail and potential for broader implications.) It's a special election happening tomorrow for the state House seat in the 161st District, including Swarthmore and Aston boroughs and parts of Ridley and Springfield townships. It's due to the resignation last April of Republican Joe Hackett, who won a third two-year term in 2014 but said he wanted to return to his law-enforcement career.
August 4, 2015 |
Frederick L. Cusick, 65, of Lancaster, a longtime reporter and writer for The Inquirer, died Saturday of complications from colon cancer at the Bob Fryer and Family Inpatient Center in Mount Joy, Pa. He had been battling the illness for a year. Mr. Cusick's distinguished Inquirer career began in 1979 and stretched until 2005, when he and 70 other veterans took a buyout and left the newsroom as part of an austerity move. During those 26 years, Mr. Cusick, a skilled reporter and facile writer, covered all kinds of stories - crime, city and suburban news, and government developments from Harrisburg.
August 2, 2015 |
Delaware County Republican leaders passed over Lisa Esler as a candidate in the 161st state House District for someone they believed could better maintain the party's tight control over the seat. But the jilted Republican decided to run anyway - making their goal a little more complicated. A special election for the seat is Tuesday, and 45,000 district voters find themselves with more options than expected. Paul Mullen, the GOP's chosen nominee, must fend off not only Democrat Leanne Krueger-Braneky on the left but Esler, who is mounting a write-in campaign to the right of Mullen.
July 16, 2015 |
HARRISBURG - A former Harrisburg mayor was charged Tuesday with misusing public funds to buy thousands of historical artifacts as part of a botched effort to turn the cash-strapped city into a tourist destination. Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane announced nearly 500 criminal counts against Stephen Reed, who she said indulged his own interests by purchasing the artifacts for museums he "dreamed up" that never came to fruition. The items included a vampire hunting kit, a cowboy bathtub, and a Ford's Theatre bill from the night of Abraham Lincoln's assassination, as well as knives, daggers, and guns.
July 14, 2015
AS A FOLLOWER of politics and pop culture, I can't help but notice some similarities between the current politics of Harrisburg and the current crop of hit movies. Think summer blockbuster films aligning with summer budget-busting pols. Let's start with Democratic Gov. Wolf, who ran pitch-perfect primary and general campaigns to make history as the first candidate to unseat an incumbent Pennsylvania governor. He no doubt hoped that when he got to the Capitol he'd have "Pitch Perfect 2" (a sequel about an a cappella group's struggles to succeed, starring Anna Kendrick)
July 4, 2015 |
Speaking with one voice, Philadelphia's mayor, City Council president, school superintendent, School Reform Commission chairwoman, and teachers' union president, and the head of a key charter school group, have told Harrisburg: Give the city schools $159 million. The rare show of unity came in a letter sent to the Philadelphia delegation to the state legislature, chaired by Sen. Shirley Kitchen and Rep. Cherelle L. Parker. Gov. Wolf this week vetoed a $30.1 billion budget passed by the Republican-controlled legislature.
July 3, 2015 |
Pennsylvania's community colleges are among the less noticed beneficiaries of Gov. Wolf's proposed budget. The schools, which served more than 300,000 students last year, would see their funding grow by 7 percent, or $15 million, under the plan, which is tied up in a political standoff that went into overtime Wednesday. A recent Pew report suggests community colleges need the money. Its examination of Community College of Philadelphia shows that the city's education challenges don't end when students graduate from high school.
July 1, 2015 |
HARRISBURG - Third-grade teacher Elaine Blackmon took a deep breath and made her best sales pitch. "What's good for Philadelphia public students is good for students across the commonwealth," Blackmon told an impassive assistant to Rep. Martin Causer (R., McKean). "We're asking him to reconsider Gov. Wolf's budget. " Blackmon was among hundreds of people who descended on the state Capitol on Monday to lobby lawmakers deep in negotiations to pass a state budget. Among them were more 100 teachers, nurses, and other members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, sporting red T-shirts and making their case for more funding for city schools.
June 30, 2015 |
HARRISBURG - Legislators may be in the midst of a contentious budget season, but they aren't letting the possibility of a partial government shutdown get in the way of their own fund-raising. Lawmakers raising campaign cash when they make the trek to the Capitol to vote on legislation is a long-established practice. But in the month of June, when elected officials are making decisions about the state's finances in preparation for the start of the new fiscal year on July 1, fund-raising goes into overdrive.
June 25, 2015
PHILLY, MEET Scott Wagner. He's a 59-year old first-term Republican state senator from (Gov. Wolf's home) York County who's loathed by unions, loved by conservatives and a growing force in the GOP Legislature. He wants to cut government costs, government pensions, taxes and regulations. He's a self-described rough-edged "garbage man who never graduated college. " But he's also a wealthy biz-guy - owns trucking and trash firms - who made Pennsylvania political history.