September 11, 2015
POLITICAL columnist John Baer of the Daily News has won the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association's 2015 Benjamin Franklin Award for Excellence. The award, established in 1998, recognizes people whose work reflects positively on the news media in Pennsylvania. Baer, 68, who joined the People Paper in 1987, helped found the Pennsylvania Press Club, regularly teaches at colleges and universities in the Philadelphia area and mentors aspiring journalists, among other contributions.
September 16, 2014
A LONGTIME FRIEND and mentor now in his late 70s emailed last week after another poll showed Tom Corbett badly - as in really badly - trailing Tom Wolf for governor. The email asked if Pennsylvania has a political mercy rule. For the unaware, a mercy rule ends a sporting event early if one team takes a lead considered to be insurmountable. Maybe we should think about it. Polls suggest that Corbett is headed toward historic rejection as the first Pennsylvania chief executive unable to win re-election.
October 18, 2013
I AM the mother of a handicapped adult child, and Gov. Corbett is the only person in political office who has ever helped me. I had multiple issues concerning my daughter's benefits and contacted all of my local Democratic representatives. Not one of them ever helped me. Finally, I figured, let me take a shot and contact Gov. Corbett. Within 24 hours, all my issues were addressed and fixed. So, John Baer, leave my guv alone! You and this paper are nothing but prejudiced toward Republicans.
March 28, 2013
PENNSYLVANIA'S highest court faces what can reasonably be called one heck of a mess. And if you think it's just stuff lawyers fight over that can't affect you, the economy, state politics and whatever's left of trust in government, think again. The state Supreme Court will soon decide on (still-pending) legislative redistricting, issues critical to the future of natural-gas drilling . . . and it's only a matter of time before it (again) gets a case involving voter ID. This mix is muddied by infighting and the fact that the seven-member court is short one justice and operating with a three-three party split.
March 5, 2013
THE LONGER the insanity (doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result) plays out in Washington, the saner Pat Toomey sounds. And as the freshman Republican in his third Senate year emerges as a leading voice on money matters, the better he looks. Why? Toomey is controlled, concise and sounds sensible. Contrast that with the angry-older-GOP of Mitch McConnell, John McCain and John Boehner. It's a contrast. With multiple polls putting congressional Republicans' job-approval ratings at 19 to 25 percent and President Obama's at 49 to 55 percent, it's a contrast Republicans should note.
February 28, 2013
SEQUESTRATION is coming! Sequestration is coming! The government, assuming Congress remains true to its moribund self through Friday, won't be able to spend in its usual thoughtful, responsible way. And this is bad? If you haven't been paying attention (and a new Washington Post -Pew Research Center Poll says that just 18 percent of you have), so-called onerous, death-dealing, economy-crushing spending cuts are to take effect at week's end. Why? Because President Obama and Congress approved such cuts because they thought they'd agree on ways to stop them, and, of course, they haven't.
February 26, 2013
ALLYSON SCHWARTZ used to be known as "Sen. Scarf. " This was during her days in the state Senate, where she served 14 years, and - as you likely figured out - almost always wore a scarf. These days, during her fifth term in Congress, she's wearing something else: a change of heart for a chance to make history. In November, even December, Schwartz seemed certain that she wouldn't challenge Tom Corbett for governor. Now she seems certain that she will. "It is my intention," she tells me, to give up her House seat and take on T.C. Why the change?
February 21, 2013
KAHLIL BYRD is all about change, and I don't mean for a dollar or a fiver. No, sir. The change he wants is "disruptive politics" as a path to a better democracy. Byrd is former chief executive of Americans Elect, a 2012 effort that sought an alternative to the two-party presidential nominating process; he's current president of Students First, an education-reform group founded and headed by onetime Washington, D.C., schools chancellor Michelle Rhee. Byrd's keynoting an education conference at Penn on Saturday, "The Debate for America's Future: Assessing the Viability of Public Education Solutions.
February 19, 2013
DID YOU KNOW that Philadelphia prison inmates collected unemployment benefits while sitting in their cells? They did: 1,162 of them got an average of $344 a week for, on average, 18 weeks. That's more than $7 million. And many of the 25,500 inmates in other county jails in Pennsylvania did the same. We're talking cash for cons - tens of millions of tax dollars paid by employers and employees fraudulently scammed by incarcerated crooks. Makes you want to get up every day, go to work and pay your taxes, right?
February 14, 2013
IN A SPEECH certain to keep the big-government/small- government battle raging, President Obama on Tuesday night laid out bold, costly plans for the second half of his incumbency. Buoyed by his re-election and a Republican Party in reboot mode, the president pushed for "investments" to create more jobs, to educate more people for future jobs and to repair the nation's aging infrastructure. If this sounds familiar, you've heard Obama's past State of the Union addresses. Question is whether he can mobilize enough public support to convince enough Republicans that it's in their long-term interests - meaning 2014 midterm elections - to go along with at least parts of his proposals.