July 24, 2014
KNOW WHAT'S annoying about the politics of pensions? Everything. Gov. Corbett is in week two of a race around the state - scheduled in Trevose, Bucks County, today; Dresher, Montco, tomorrow - browbeating the Legislature for not passing pension "reform. " Everywhere he goes he cites "a pension crisis" causing property taxes to rise. And he pretends his mostly small-town tour has nothing to do with his re-election effort because, after all, that would be wrong since he put people in prison for using taxpayer resources for political campaigns.
July 16, 2014
New Jersey schoolchildren might have returned to their classrooms this fall shielded by one of the nation's most progressive measures in response to mass shootings - a ban on ammunition magazines holding more than 10 rounds. But now it seems they will have to wait at least two years, and maybe until after the 2016 political conventions, for the state to recalibrate its gun-safety laws. Gov. Christie's recent veto of the sensible gun-control reform - which was the focus of a 55,000-signature campaign by the grieving parents of children slain in Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre - is being widely read as driven by Christie's need to toe the line on red-state issues to enhance his presidential aspirations.
July 14, 2014 |
Their names - on a government witness list released in May - landed with a thud that sent tongues wagging in Philadelphia political circles. Federal prosecutors signaled that they would extend grants of immunity to City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and four Democratic ward leaders in exchange for their testimony against five former Philadelphia Traffic Court judges currently on trial for an alleged ticket-fixing conspiracy. But as the government concluded its case last week, nearly all of those potential witnesses with ties to city politics escaped a stint on the stand.
July 11, 2014 |
What if you could track every political ad and news segment on TV in the Philadelphia market, see what it said, and, in the case of ads, find out who paid for it? That would tell you much about the information/disinformation flow, the quality of reporting and analysis, the money and the moneybags. It might illuminate, in new detail, the playing field for November, and beyond. Two recent developments have brought that day much nearer. First, as of July 1, under a 2012 FCC decision, all TV stations must now make their political ad information public, digitally.
July 1, 2014
NICE TO HAVE options, don't you think? Consider Pennsylvania's options in serving its citizens an annual budget. Gov. Corbett and our esteemed Legislature can either a) do something, b) pretend to do something or c) do nothing. Show of hands, who likes "c"? And if this year's answer is "c," then we move to the next question: Who's worse? An incumbent governor seeking re-election who can't get a legislature of his own party to pass even modest policy goals? Legislative leaders with majorities to pass anything who can't get enough votes to pass anything?
June 26, 2014
SO NOW WE have the report on why the Jerry Sandusky investigation took so long. It was released this week, many months after many folks wondered why the report was taking so long. After all, Attorney General Kathleen Kane, elected in 2012 largely on claims she'd investigate why the Sandusky investigation took so long, said in January 2013, "I will guarantee you this: It will be done in a timely manner. " Guess she meant "timely" for government work. Gov. Corbett back then suggested she hire outside counsel.
June 22, 2014 |
Investment adviser TL Ventures Inc., of Wayne, illegally collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees from the underfunded Pennsylvania and Philadelphia pension systems after a TL official gave campaign money to top state and city officials in 2011, the Securities and Exchange Commission said Friday. The SEC did not identify who gave the cash or who got it, but public records show that TL founder Robert Keith Jr. gave $2,000 to Gov. Corbett that fall, and $2,500 to Mayor Nutter that spring, matching amounts and dates cited by the SEC. Neither politician was accused of wrongdoing.
June 16, 2014 |
Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman was a political superstar when she ran for reelection in 2011, with such a sterling image and strong popularity that Democrats did not put up a challenger. The next year, Ferman stepped into a star-studded spotlight in New York City, as the L'Oréal Women of Worth awards' national honoree for her work on behalf of abused children. Her name often ended up on short lists of prospects for higher office. But Republicans and Democrats are now talking, or at least whispering, about the political damage Ferman may have suffered from botched investigations in two high-profile prosecutions - the rape case against former Montgomery County GOP chairman Robert Kerns, and a theft case against a contractor that ended with a Ferman apology and a $1.6 million payout to the man. Ferman still has ardent supporters.
June 10, 2014 |
The two-month-old joint board of Rowan University and Rutgers-Camden has quickly become a quasi-government entity that hopes to steer development toward Camden. Forgoing a formal search, the board has hired a $275,000-a-year chief executive to guide expansion of an "eds and meds" corridor in Camden, using eminent domain, if needed. It's also leasing office space in the city. Calling new CEO Kris Kolluri, a former political aide and state transportation commissioner, "very qualified," board member Robert Mortensen added, "the process . . . did not, in my opinion, include the proper preliminary work," including establishing a job description and conducting a search.