Starting on Saturday with a 2 p.m., planning meeting at Steppy’s in East Norriton, the Occupy Norristown organization, freshly organized by Frank Charles Smith of Hatfield, will begin planning demonstration events in Norristown.
* Smith has already posted an “Event” announcement on his Facebook page “Frank Charles Smith,” and on Thursday morning one person had posted a ‘like’ to the event and two persons had plans to attend the plannning meeting. The Times Herald has confirmed from a local official that the municality has been put on alert that the movement is coming to Norristown.
The TV first ad of the 2011 commissioner’s campaign is out, and it’s from the Brown-Castor campaign.
The story throughout the summer has been Shapiro-Richards fundraising advantage. Roughly 4 weeks to go and outside of spamming the countryside with signs, there is nothing.
Brown-Castor looks like the little engine that could and the Shapiro-Richards campaign is beginning to look suspiciously like the Arlen Specter for Senate primary last year: “I’ll win if the election is two months earlier”
Democrats Josh Shapiro and Leslie Richards have been falling all over themselves lately promising not to raise taxes to fund their “to do” list.
But going into debt to do it?
“We have been crystal clear we will not raise county taxes,” said Shapiro, noting that only he and Richards have made such a pledge to voters.
“There is a significant amount of waste in county government that, with such tools as zero-based budgeting and with county workers sharing their ideas on how we can improve on current spending practices, we will be able to make the county fiscally sound, fiscally stable while also having funds to invest in infrastructure,” said Shapiro.
Shapiro defended the debt incurred by the state during the seven years he has served in the state House. Much of that money was earmarked for highway and bridge projects and infrastructure improvements and had the support of Democrats and Republicans alike, he said. Also, the debt incurred did not require any hike in the state income tax, Shapiro said.
Richards also defended the borrowing that came on her watch as a township supervisor, noting that it went for infrastructure improvement projects that leveraged state and federal funds and for the preservation of some 400 acres of open space. Property taxes did not have to be increased because of these borrowings, she added.
We went into debt because we didn’t raise taxes. That’s rather circular logic. If we needed to spend the money we could have raised taxes or cut spending. Neither happened.
… and Richards’ position as Whitemarsh Twp supervisor isn’t any better. We spent someone elses money & passed the taxing on to someone else.
Perfect examples of Democrat thinking.
“As long as it’s not my money to pay back, we’re good.”
No wonder we’re 14 trillion in debt as a country.
After his victory in 1980, Ronald Reagan chose the best, the brightest — and make no mistake — the most politically powerful to fill his cabinet. In an acknowledgement to the Republican might of Pennsylvania (a state he won), he chose three cabinet officials from the same county! Drew Lewis (who fired the striking air traffic controllers), Alexander Haig, and Richard Schweiker all hailed from Montgomery County.
In 1994, Pennsylvania was the most Republican state in the nation in terms of elected officials. The GOP controlled the two U.S. Senate seats, the Governorship, the state legislature, all statewide row offices, and a majority of the congressional delegation.
And in 2010, five congressional seats flipped to the Republicans, Tom Corbett trounced his gubernatorial opponent, the State Senate remained in GOP hands, and Republicans seized control of the State House with a ten-set majority.
Yet the biggest prize of all has eluded the Party for a quarter-century: a win for their presidential candidate. Not coincidentally, the southeastern counties, home to nearly half the state’s population, have trended Democratic in that timeframe, with the former-GOP strongholds of Delaware and Montgomery Counties abandoning Republican nominees since 1988.
So it’s no surprise that leading Republicans, including Governor Corbett and Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, have come up with a plan to change how the state’s presidential electoral votes are awarded. Under their proposal, one electoral vote would be allocated for each congressional district a presidential candidate wins, as opposed to the current system, which is winner-take-all.
We’ll get to the real reason behind this naked political ploy, but first, let’s look at why the plan is a bad idea:
1) It politicizes the election process in an unprecedented way: Congressional districts would be gerrymandered like never before, drawn by the Party in power to suit its candidate’s needs in order to win the most districts. This is NOT what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they designed the system, and most definitely puts the politicians ahead of the people. It’s supposed to be the other way around.
2) It sets the stage for the system to constantly change: Although labeled a plan offering “electoral fairness,” it is being pushed simply because the GOP now controls Harrisburg and wants to bolster the Republican nominee’s electoral total any way it can. Remember, the Democrats need Pennsylvania to win the White House, whereas the Republicans do not.
And since this change would be enacted by simple legislation, where does it end? If Pennsylvania Democrats regain control in 2014, and a Republican occupies the White House, would we then see the winner-take-all system come back into play? The electoral system in constant flux would only breed resentment and confusion, which could not come at a worse time.
3) It’s a wash on the national level: If enacted nationally, this system would ultimately be a wash, or even negatively impact the GOP. For example, Republicans would no longer win all of Texas’ 38 votes, perhaps only taking 25. Taking it even further, it is possible that in 2004, despite George W. Bush winning 31 states, he might have lost the election, since he only won the Electoral College with 16 votes to spare.
4) The system works as it is: It is not easy to pigeonhole the American people’s voting preferences. For example, Montana and North Dakota, both Republican states in most presidential elections, have Democratic Senators, as did solidly Republican Georgia a short time ago. Indiana, with a GOP governor and legislature, had voted for Democratic for president only once since 1940 — but that changed in 2008. Obama also won the normally-GOP states of North Carolina, Virginia, Florida and Missouri. Yet the Republicans are darn close to winning the traditionally progressive states of Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Bottom line: Voting patterns are not set in stone. The more competitive elections are, the more engaged the electorate. The Electoral College works, so why mess with a good thing?
5) It all comes down to having good candidates who can articulate a message with charisma and passion. When Republicans instead coronate those whose “turn it is,” they get clobbered. Bob Dole and John McCain are prime examples. Neither had any business being the presidential nominee. Not much has changed, as the GOP is in total disarray heading into what many Republicans call the most important election in history. The truth is, there are only two candidates capable of winning the nomination, both of whom carry tremendous baggage. Yet McCain, the Party’s patriarch, just stated, ““We have the deepest bench in the Republican Party now that I have ever seen.” And that says it all.
On the state level, it’s much of the same, as Lynn Swann and Mike Fisher proved all too well.
Which leads us to the The Pennsylvania story.
The GOP’s demise in the Keystone State can be attributed to two things: the lack of quality candidates and the colossal failure of leadership. Fix both, and they win the state — and the White House. But the electoral system shouldn’t be changed just because the entrenched Business As Usual GOP hierarchy is the poster boy for incompetence.
The combination of running untenable candidates, valuing insider contracts and solicitorships over issues and choosing laziness over grunt work has caused it to lose huge chunks of the political landscape.
There has been little effort to groom candidates, and absolutely no initiative to stop the hemorrhaging from Philadelphia, where Republican statewide candidates routinely face half-million vote deficits. As a result, the Party is in the strange position of sitting on massive gains from the tidal wave of 2010, but taking a pass on challenging vulnerable Democratic Senator Bob Casey. The GOP leadership doesn’t seem to realize that the big swings in 1994 and 2010 were not mandates for the Republicans per se, but a demand that real solutions be enacted to solve monumental problems.
When Republicans talk about the issues, they win — and win big. President Reagan innately understood that, which is why he won 44 and 49 states, respectively, with massive Electoral College victories. Even George H.W. Bush learned that lesson, as he too galloped to victory with 40 states and 426 electoral votes.
Thirty years ago, when someone moved into the Philadelphia suburbs, they were always greeted (usually within a week) by the local Republican committeeman. The conversation went something like this, “Oh, I see you moved here from the city. Well, we have safer streets, better schools, and lower taxes — because our municipality and county are run by Republicans. Here is a voter registration card…I’ll be back in a few days to see how we can work together.”
That recruiting effort built the Party into a well-oiled machine, and the county organizations could be relied upon to deliver for national and statewide candidates.
But all that ended, and with it, the GOP’s dominance. Issues gave way to power trips and petty infighting, the Party lost its energy and brand. Now, door-knocking and personal visits are virtually non-existent. And the numbers illustrate that failure: in the largest Republican wave since 1946, neither Tom Corbett nor Pat Toomey won Delaware or Montgomery County. Given that the GOP isn’t making the necessary changes, it’s a good bet that trend will continue, with Obama and Casey again winning the state.
Republican woes aside, letting the genie out of the bottle by fundamentally altering the hallowed electoral system established by our Founding Fathers — one that has served us so well — for short-term political gain is anathema to everything uniquely American.
The folks pushing this change should look in the mirror and ask themselves if they are truly the leaders they purport to be. If so, they should abandon this foolhardy plan and seize the day, winning the hearts and minds of the electorate the old-fashioned way — through hard work.
The Founding Fathers knew a thing or two about how government works best. Honoring them by not punting a good thing is the least we should do.
An accredited member of the news media, Chris Freind is an independent columnist,
television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news
bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest
cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania.
Freind’s column, “Freindly Fire,” appears nationally in Newsmax and regionally in
Philadelphia Magazine’s Philly Post. It is also published regularly in a number
of the state’s largest newspapers, including The Delaware County Daily Times, Chester
County Daily Local, Norristown Times Herald, Pottstown Mercury and Bucks County Courier
Post. Readers of his column, “Freindly Fire,” hail from six continents, thirty countries
and all fifty states.
His work has been referenced in numerous other publications including The Wall Street
Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ bestseller
October 5, 2011 at 10:38 am Comments (2)
…then somebody needs to explain this slide to me:
This is from the Draft of the 422Plus slide show that was presented to Governor Tom Corbett’s Transportation Funding Advisory Commission (“TFAC”) yesterday. Full slide show can be viewed here.
I call your attention to total annual funds needed for Operations and Maintenance of $16.04M and the total annual fare revenue of $3.97M. If I’m reading this correctly, and someone please tell me if I’m not, a full 85% of the funding for the annual operating and maintenance of the Choo Choo is coming from the state. So much for a self-sustaining transportation alternative.
We can talk “alternate funding sources” all we like; at the end of the day it’s academic. There is only ONE funding source: you and I, the tax payers. Eventually, no matter what it is that is taxed, it’s you and I that pay for it, either directly or indirectly.
Some relevant quotes on taxation from the folks who support the additional tax burden to justify the ChooChoo train. Pottstown Mercury:
Hoeffel said the plan would be funded initially by a $1-billion bond issue, which would be repaid by the tolls, and open in 2015. Hoeffel emphasized the project should be under local management and revenue should remain in Berks, Chester and Montgomery counties.
“What we raise here should stay here,” Hoeffel said.
The 422 tolling plan could be a model for other roads in the state.
Hoeffel said the plan has not been presented to local governments or the General Assembly, which would need to enact enabling legislation for the plan and bond issue.
The governing bodies “need leadership. I guess the negative way of saying it is, ‘They need cover,’” Hoeffel said.
“What we raise here should stay here,” sounds great in theory but what it means in practice is the creation of a local taxation authority ala the Pennsylvania Turpike Commission and Delaware River Port Authority, institutions famous for their political patronage job creating abilities.
If perhaps you’ve forgotten that the 202 corridor has just benefitted from a half a billion dollars in funding for road improvements, without imposing a toll, I direct your attention to this post.
My favorite quote, though, comes from Carol Rein of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, who is apparently an expert on road tolling mechanisms and claims that Texas and Florida have the best tolling and transportation funding programs around the country. Her quote is especially jarring:
“You have to pick taxes that are hard to evade, so you can predict their collectibility,”
It could be a battle royale between the two former prosecutors, but what about Joe Sestak?
Assistant District Attorney, Delaware County.
Assistant United States Attorney, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, specializing in prosecuting illegal firearms cases and violent drug offenders.
Governor-appointed Safe Schools Advocate for the School District of Philadelphia — a position that was ultimately “eliminated” not for budgetary reasons, but because he publicly chastised the Governor and Department of Education for their willful failure to protect students.
Was often mentioned as a possible nominee for United States Attorney.
And now, this person is considering running for Congress as a strong get-tough-on crime candidate.
Such a resume would seem a great springboard for elected office, as law-and-order candidates have met with great success lately: Governors Tom Corbett and Chris Christie are former prosecutors, as are Pennsylvania Congressmen Tom Marino and Pat Meehan, as well as State Representative Todd Stephens.
But here’s where it gets interesting. All the aforementioned politicians are Republicans, but this resume belongs to Jack Stollsteimer, a self-styled RFK Democrat who is strongly positioned to win his Party’s nomination in next year’s Seventh Congressional District race. To claim the ultimate prize in November, he would have to beat not just a Republican, but his former U.S. Attorney boss, Rep. Pat Meehan.
But first things first. Will the path to the nomination be clear, or will a well-known Democrat with a history of success — and unpredictability — decide to throw his hat into the ring? And if so, when?
The district, which includes most of Delaware County, parts of Chester County and a section of Montgomery, is traditionally perceived as Republican, because voter registration favors the GOP, and the Delaware County courthouse has long been controlled by the well-oiled Republican Machine.
But while Republicans hold a majority of offices throughout the county, their grip on power has been slipping. No Republican presidential candidate has won Delco since 1988, and numerous Democratic state legislators now represent districts long-held by the GOP. But perhaps most telling, in 2010 — the largest Republican wave since 1946 — both Governor Tom Cornett and U.S. Senator Pat Toomey lost the county.
Yet Pat Meehan won by ten points.
Meehan’s impressive showing was bolstered by the Republican tidal wave and the fact that it was an open seat, since former Congressman Joe Sestak ran for U.S. Senate. That substantial victory has provided him a solid foundation to launch his re-election bid.
But to stay in office, he will have to wage an aggressive campaign, taking nothing for granted. Unlike last year, he now owns a voting record. And when it comes to Congress, Seventh District voters have an independent streak that defies conventional political wisdom.
In the 70’s and 80’s, the Seventh was represented by Bob Edgar, arguably to the Left of Mao and universally recognized as the most liberal member of Congress. After giving up the seat to (unsuccessfully) run for U.S. Senate, Edgar was replaced by the generally-conservative Republican Curt Weldon. But in the Democratic wave of 2006, he lost to Sestak, a former Navy Admiral who, like Edgar, was unabashedly liberal.
Understanding the volatile electorate, the District’s wild fluctuations of the past, and sensing that the seat is not as safe as last year’s election results would indicate, the national Republican Campaign Congressional Committee has “enrolled” Meehan in its Patriot Program. An effort designed to assist mostly freshmen, the program targets the top ten GOP legislators whose perceived vulnerabilities will likely lead to tough reelection fights.
Stollsteimer has been actively courted not just by local leaders but the national Democratic Campaign Congressional Committee. To take on Meehan, though, he must first secure the Democratic Party’s nomination. To that end, his plan is to aggressively work the committee to earn its endorsement, hopefully avoiding an expensive, and potentially bruising, primary fight. He has already made inroads, having secured the backing of several highly influential Democrats within the Party hierarchy.
“Jack would be a great candidate if he decides to run, with a strong profile and reputation for independence and integrity, that has attracted the attention of the national Democratic Party,” a Party leader in the district told “Freindly Fire.”
That official requested anonymity, though, as the path has not yet been smoothly paved for Stollsteimer — or any other potential candidate. And that’s because there is an 800 pound gorilla hovering in the wings who could change the dynamics of the race at a moment’s notice — for both the primary and general elections.
And in typical fashion, that individual is playing it coy, not announcing his intentions whether to seek the Congressional seat — which he happened to hold just seven months ago.
Joe Sestak is the ultimate wild card, an independent Democrat who has often clashed with Party powerbrokers and a person to whom the terms “conventional wisdom” and “predictability” simply do not apply.
He gave up what virtually every political analyst stated was a near-100 percent safe seat, to run as David against Goliath — 30-year incumbent powerhouse Arlen Specter, whose war chest dwarfed that of Sestak. The political insiders not only didn’t give Sestak much of a chance — he was trailing by more than 20 points just a few months out from the primary — but did everything in their power to stop him.
They attempted to talk him out of running, not just to keep the Congressional seat safe but to avoid a primary challenge to Specter. When that didn’t work, there was the “Job Gate” offer, in which Sestak said the White House dangled a high-ranking position in exchange for his dropping out of the senate race. But that didn’t work, either.
Then the D’s took the gloves off, with prominent leaders, including then-Governor Rendell and the state Democratic Party chairman, openly attacking Sestak on numerous fronts. They said he could not win a general election, and predicted a Sestak primary victory would be “cataclysmic” in the fall election.
And yet, despite the GOP wave, Sestak lost to Toomey by a mere two points.
Would Sestak present a viable candidacy to Meehan? Absolutely. The 2012 elections will be more favorable to Democrats, not just because a presidential year always brings out more voters, and political waves are never sustainable when they crest at such a high level, but because the “Republicans-are-destroying-our-Medicare” issue will undoubtedly gain traction. Democrats are already pointing to their win in the recent New York special election as evidence, given that the seat was widely expected to remain in GOP hands.
But for the Democrats to be successful in the Seventh next year, they need to unify soon or risk losing good candidates. Very few will be willing to put blood, sweat and tears into a campaign — and they would have to open a committee very soon — while the specter of a Sestak candidacy still looms. And if Sestak declines to run, but announces that decision late in the game, precious time will have been wasted.
Sestak would most likely be able to establish a grassroots operation and generate significant fundraising relatively quickly, due to the national network gained from his senate run, but the same is not the case for other candidates. They would have to lay the groundwork, and that takes time and resources. And many potential donors and campaign workers will stay on the sidelines, reluctant to commit to someone like Stollsteimer — no matter how attractive a candidate he may be — until Sestak makes up his mind.
In an age where campaigns routinely begin over a year out from the election, any significant delay could prove a boon for the Meehan camp. Translation: the longer Joe Sestak remains noncommittal, the less likely the Democrats’ chances for success next November.
Will Sestak get back into the political fray? If so, would it be for Congress, a position some think is not prominent enough for someone used to commanding a carrier-battle group — especially when he would likely return to Washington in the minority? And why would Sestak still be touring Pennsylvania, meeting new Democrats statewide, if he intends to run in the relatively small Seventh District?
It is never easy when it comes to predicting anything regarding Joe Sestak, and experience has shown that most “experts” are wrong anyway.
So the biggest question is the simplest one: at this point, does even Joe Sestak himself have any idea what he is going to do? Whatever the answer, it’s in the best interest of his Party to make up his mind quickly.
Let the games begin.
Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com
Readers of his column, “Freindly Fire,” hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller “Catastrophe.”
Freind, whose column appears regularly in Philadelphia Magazine and nationally in Newsmax, also serves as a frequent guest commentator on talk radio and state/national television, most notably on FOX Philadelphia. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com
June 3, 2011 at 7:09 am Comments (0)
The proposal to toll US Route 422 has floated to the top of the news again. Sunday’s Pottstown Mercury:
The executive commission examining transportation funding in Pennsylvania will hear a proposal June 6 that could hit the wallets of Route 422 commuters.
The 30-member commission, appointed by Gov. Tom Corbett, will see a presentation demonstrating how tolls on Route 422 in Montgomery, Chester and Berks counties could serve as a model for similar projects statewide. The commission is looking for a way to generate more than $2.5 billion in annual transportation funding in the post-stimulus environment of declining federal spending on infrastructure.
State Secretary of Transportation Barry Schoch, who also serves as chairman of the commission, said the Route 422 model would allow county or municipal authorities to form a “local taxation authority” and keep the revenue from tolls and local taxes dedicated for local highways.
That revenue would be “above and beyond” transportation spending at the state level, Schoch said.
Let’s set aside the fact that state government exists primarily to fund the creation and maintenance of infrastructure and let’s not ask where all of THAT money has gone (nor will we question the reliance on fiscal federalism that got us to the place where we need to fund a $2.5 billion shortfall at this time). However, the suggestion to form a “local taxation authority” in this article should send chills down the spine of any thinking Pennsylvanian who has the tiniest bit of working knowledge of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Authority and the Delaware River Port Authority, long havens of political patronage jobs and fund mismanagement. Rule number one is never ever give the government a new revenue stream. Rule number two is never create a new local taxation authority to manage that revenue stream.
But these are all issues that have been discussed before on this blog. Why I revisit the 422 tolling issue once more is because of a mailer I received today from Senator Andy Dinniman called “Moving Forward – A New Route 202.” The mailer is not available online at the time of this post, however this press release from March 22, 2011 has the relevant passage that I was looking to excerpt:
“[T]he Route 29 slip ramp, the Turnpike Widening and the Route 202 Widening represent an investment of $523 million to our local economy, which is expected to spur at least an additional $1.5 billion in construction and the creation of up to 20,000 full-time jobs,” Dinniman said. “It will provide a significant boost to our region in challenging economic times.”
According to Senator Dinniman’s press release, the Route 29 slip ramp and Turnpike widening is a $48 million project that is funded entirely by Turnpike tolls.
The US Route 202 widening project is described as such on the project’s website:
Significant growth in the region has increased traffic on US Route 202 to levels well beyond those that the two-lane highway originally was designed to handle. In fact, 73,000 vehicles a day now travel on this section of Route 202, and the improvements we have planned will help the highway carry its present and future traffic more efficiently.Under the overall Section 300 project, PennDOT will utilize significant federal and state transportation funding, most of which is collected at the fuel pump and through licensing fees, to
- Reconstruct Route 202′s four existing travel lanes
- Add a third travel lane in each direction, utilizing the existing grass median
- Rebuild seven overpasses to provide additional horizontal and vertical clearance
- Construct a two-lane collector-distributor (C-D) roadway along northbound Route 202 at the Route 29/Great Valley Interchange to eliminate conflicts between ramp traffic and through traffic
- Improve the Route 401/Frazer Interchange and install new traffic signals
- Install Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) components, including highway cams and electronic message signs
- Improve the expressway’s storm water management system, and
- Erect sound walls at eligible locations
So my question is this:
Route 202 corridor has benefitted from millions of dollars of investment in infrastructure improvment and widening in recent years, this latest “Section 300″ of the project is only the most recent. And all the while this 202 improvement has been going on, US 422 has been almost completely neglected except for a cursory resurfacing here and there and a half-assed widening of the Betzwood Bridge that caused more problems than it solved.
And now, in order to improve 422 to give it’s commuters the same state-of-the-art highway that Route 202 communters enjoy, Harrisburg is trying to tell Route 422 commuters that the only way to fund their necessary infrastructure improvements is through tolls. If tolls are so critical to the funding of our infrastructure as we’ve been led to believe, why not toll Route 202 as well? Why should 202 commuters not have to pay for their own improvements?
Oh, wait. We’re forgetting that most critical of all central planning expenditures:
In the case of Route 422, the tolls also could pay for a commuter rail line to take some of the pressure off the highway between Reading and the Pennsylvania Turnpike and Interstates 76 and 476
Oh yes. The TRAIN. Because trains are NOTORIOUSLY self-sustaining without subsidies (see: SEPTA), and effective at alleviating traffic (see: Route 202 and the Schuykill Expressway).
No one will ever be able to convince me that the impetus behind 422 tolling is to fund infrastructure to alleviate traffic. It sounds far more plausible that 422 tolls will be primarily used to fund another government run, public union-staffed, tax dollar subsidized public transportation sytem that will have absolutely no positive impact on the traffic that 422 commuters sit in every. Single. Day. Only 422 commuters will get the double insult and injury of having to pay for this indignity.
422 tolling is a bad idea that must never be implemented.
At first glance, today’s press release from Republican County Commissioner Candidates Bruce Castor and Jenny Brown seems to have no bearing on the Montgomery County race this fall:
BLUE BELL – Montgomery County Commissioner candidates Jenny Brown and Bruce Castor today announce their concern about the latest White House statement that Israel return to “the 1967 borders” with Palestine.
Castor, the county’s former District Attorney, said security concerns are paramount for our country’s greatest ally in the Middle East, especially in a time of heightened concern about terrorism and political upheaval.
“While we applaud our President for striking a major blow against al-Qaeda by delivering justice to Osama bin Laden, we cannot abide his directive that Israel should put itself at risk by returning to a border situation that left the country unable to defend itself against constant attacks,” said Castor.
An editorial by The Jerusalem Post described President Obama’s remarks as “a clear endorsement of Palestinian demands, and terminology that for many Israelis will bring fears of escalating pressure to return to positions similar to those from which a vulnerable Israel was repeatedly attacked between 1948 and 1967.”
- (5/19/11: http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Editorials/Article.aspx?id=221411)
Brown and Castor called on their opponents to join them in condemning the White House on this issue. [emphasis ed]
“The United States should stand side-by-side with Israel and oppose this reckless and naïve proposal,” said Castor.
This press release begins to make sense when viewed in the context of Josh Shapiro’s role in the Obama Presidential Campaign of 2008. Philadelphia Magazine has this Q&A post from April 10, 2008 describing Democratic Commissioner Candidate Josh Shapiro as the Philadelphia area’s “Obama point man:”
With Pennsylvania’s Democratic primary race approaching the white-hot stage, state Representative and Deputy Speaker of the House Josh Shapiro has emerged as the local public face of Sen. Barack Obama‘s campaign. One of his biggest challenges: convincing the Jewish community that Obama isn’t a pro-Palestinian Israel-hater. Philly Grill interviewed Shapiro by e-mail this morning, following a town-hall meeting he organized for undecided Jewish voters in Huntingdon Valley last night.
You’re the first signatory on a March 31st open letter to Pennsylvania’s Jewish community in support of Obama. Was the letter your idea?
The letter was the creation of a small group of Pennsylvania Jewish Democrats who support Sen. Obama. We wrote it for two reasons. First, we thought it was necessary to let Democratic Jewish voters throughout Pennsylvania know they are not alone in their support of Sen. Obama. Second, we wanted to educate voters that Barack shares our commitment to a strong relationship with Israel and to the social principles that bind us as American Jews.
Was it difficult finding co-signatories?
It was not difficult. In fact, we’ve had dozens of people approach us after the letter was sent to ask if they could add their name to the list.
What’s the feedback been?
The feedback has been positive. Some have had questions about Obama’s position on Israel, but as we get the information out about his 100 percent voting record and that he has stood up for our values, their concerns are assuaged, and I believe many Pennsylvania Jews will support him on April 22nd.
As you note, Obama has a 100 percent voting record from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee — easily located evidence of his support for Israel. Why is the Jewish community glossing over this?
A lack of information. One reason we wrote the letter was to get his record out there for the public to see. It is our political burden to connect with enough Jewish voters between now and April 22nd to make sure they have all the facts before they make their decision. Armed with the facts, I am confident that Jews will support Sen. Obama.
Count me among those who were skeptical of Obama’s Israel position from the very start. But Shapiro didn’t need to convince me; I’m a lapsed-Catholic Republican who was never going to vote for Obama anyway. Perhaps commenter “Golda” at Politics PA captures the point of the press release best:
But I do know that Shapiro told all of us in person and by mail how great Obama was on Israel. Many of us believed him and feel betrayed.
The Montgomery County Jewish community are not the only voters who will be watching to see how the Shapiro / Richards camp responds to this gauntlet.
Special thanks goes to my committee members, in particular Dianne Canney, Tom Krumenecker, Mary Saylor, Colin Smith, Chris Czop and municipal leader Don Madison, for their unwavering support and for standing out in the rain all day for me.
Special thanks to my critical support network, including my employer, my 1180 WFYL Live and Local co-host, Barry Papiernik, the great PaWatercooler contributors Bill Shaw (and Scraps!)and Janice Kearney, Jim Saring and Bo Donovan and the Oaks Neighboorhood Association.
Extra special thanks to my family: my girls Jodi Vermuth and Colleen Emmons, my son-in-law Brett Vermuth, our neighbor Alyssa Culver, my sister Chrissy Hindle, brother Tom Ferlick and friends Ned Dougherty, Gil Zimmerman, Anna Mie Czop, Anne Biddle, Chuck Lowry, Walt Fedak, Chuck Stoll and Ruth Wanamaker, who all stood in the rain yesterday.
And finally, my thanks and undying love for my die hard campaigners: my daughter Dana and especially my husband Gene, who is my rock, my biggest cheerleader and the guy who kept me going when I was dead on my feet.
With such a solid support network, I couldn’t lose. Thank you one and all. On to November!
After eight years of demonizing the President, and demonizing Republicans, followed by a hyperpartisan cronyist “bi-partisan” county government, new voters in Montco are registering independent.
In larger amounts that in the rest of the state.
Since 2009, 43 percent of all the county’s 30,000 new voter registrations have come from unaffiliated voters or those who sign up to vote with minor parties – a good deal more than in any other county in the state.
By comparison, similarly independent-minded voters accounted for less than 29 percent of new registrants in Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, and Delaware Counties over the same period, according to data from the Pennsylvania Department of State.
The numbers could reflect a growing independent streak in Montgomery County, but the data have one Democrat crying foul.
“We understand that some people are just going to register that way,” said Marcel Groen, chairman of the Montgomery County Democratic Committee. “But the numbers that are coming through are statistically impossible. We shouldn’t be that different than the rest of the state.”
The change is not exactly revolutionary in sheer numbers – unaffiliated Montgomery County voters grew from about 82,000 in 2008 to just more than 89,000 as of January.
They now make up 15 percent of the county’s half-million voters, and registered Republicans and Democrats still far outnumber independents.
But the rate of independents’ growth there since 2008 is remarkable. Those registering with neither major party have jumped nearly 9 percent.
No other county in the region approaches that pace, the state data show.
The Montco Dem chair blames a broken motor-voter system.
The Republican chair Bob Kerns takes it more in stride.
His party has had a 3 percent drop in registered voters since 2008, a decrease that has given Democrats an edge in the county. Still, he maintained, blaming demographic shifts on a computer glitch amounts to sour grapes.
“I can’t really say why the younger voters are going that way, but they don’t identify with either the Republican or the Democratic Parties,” he said. “It’s even more incumbent upon us to come up with really good candidates to run.
“If we can do that, we can get voters to vote for us no matter how they’re registered.”
It’s a shame the Democrats invested so much of their energies in delegitimatizing the results of the 2000 Presidential election…. and of course it happened in 2002 and 2004 when they lost. Voter fraud suddenly disappeared in 2008 and 2010.
Now of course it’s back.
Our country is worse off for it.