July 26th Ups & Downs
Three Pennsylvania Congressional Representatives get their spotlight in the Mueller hearing, Scranton selects an interim mayor, a celebrity pays a visit to a friend in Harrisburg, and a Pennsylvania convenience store unites two fanbases. All of that and more are in this week’s Ups and Downs.
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Dean, Reschenthaler, and Scanlon. It was a big week for three freshman members of Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation. Reps. Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery), Guy Reschenthaler (R-Allegheny), and Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware), all members of the House Judiciary Committee, were given the chance to ask former Special Counsel Robert Mueller questions during a televised hearing this week. Although Dean and Scanlon’s questions couldn’t be more different than Reschenthaler’s, all three benefited from the audience tuning into the hearings. Despite the televised ratings falling short of what recent hearings have garnered, the 7 ½ hours of hearings on Wednesday drew an average of just under 13 million viewers on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The Post-Gazette wrote about how Reschenthaler’s 5 minutes of questioning in which he said that the hearing was “Un-American” helped raise his political profile. The Delco Daily Times writes that Dean and Scanlon got a “taste of national spotlight” during their questioning about Wikileaks and Attorney General Bill Barr’s written memo of the Mueller report.
Wyoming Valley West School Board. The Luzerne County school board’s announcement about school lunch debt received national press and a comment from 2020 Democratic hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders on Twitter. The school board made an announcement that they were threatening to send children to foster care over unpaid school lunch debt. As the story picked up momentum, Philadelphia businessman Todd Carmicheal, the CEO and co-founder of La Colombe Coffee, made an offer to pay the full debt for school lunch, which is around $22,000. His offer was initially turned down. As the outcry continued throughout the week and was the subject of debate on panels on CNN and other national outlets, the district changed their decision and decided to accept the donation to wipe out the debt, ending the threat of sending the children to foster care. In the aftermath of the bad press, Charles Coslett, the solicitor of the school district, resigned after it was made known that he wrote the controversial letter.
Auditor General’s Budget. Could Auditor General Eugene DePasquale’s political ambitions have resulted in cuts to his office? That’s what is being speculated with the news that his office, with a budget of $40 million last year, will be cut by 10 percent, to $36.5 million. The state budget signed by Gov. Tom Wolf (D) made a $317 million deposit in the Rainy Day Fund, while providing an increase to the attorney general’s office and just a slight cut the treasurer’s office, the Harrisburg Patriot News reports. Wolf’s office supported full funding for the office, but said the legislature had other plans. GOP lawmakers believe DePasquale’s work as Auditor General went beyond the scope of his office, while supporters believe this move is payback as he gears up for a run for Congress in the 10th Congressional District.
Celebrity Friends. Keeping up with the Fetterman’s? On Wednesday, Kim Kardashian paid second lady Giselle Fetterman a visit in Harrisburg. Fetterman wrote in an Instagram picture with Kardashian that she loves when friends come to visit, while a spokesperson for the office said to the Harrisburg Patriot News that “the second lady’s friendships go, as you might imagine, pretty far and wide” adding that it was not an official meeting. The spokesperson for the Lt. Governor’s office did not comment on how they became friends, but the article in the Patriot News details Fetterman’s “Freestore 15104” that collects free donations of clothing, furniture and other items that are redistributed to individuals in need.
Sam DeMarco. The Allegheny County Councilman can now add another title. DeMarco was elected to be the new chair of the Republican Committee of Allegheny County. Despite recent loses in the county in Congress, state legislature, and lack of candidates in county wide races, DeMarco pledged that a new era was beginning for the local party. When asked in an interview with KDKA if he saw Trump, who lost the county in 2016 by wide margins, as someone who can help build the party back up there, DeMarco responded by saying he can and that there’s a “tremendous amount of enthusiasm around” Trump there.
Wawa. Very few things can unite Eagles and Steelers fans. From their teams they cheer on, accents, to vacation destinations and more, the two fan bases on opposite ends of the state have very little in common… that is until Wawa provided some common ground for the two this week. The convenience store popular in the Philly area announced Monday that their store is partnering with the Baltimore Ravens to become the “official hoagie” of the team. This move immediately garnered outrage from the Philly faithful who defend the convenience store in the always topical Sheetz vs Wawa debate. If Steelers fans needed another reason to despise Wawa, the partnership with their division rival Baltimore Ravens certainly adds to the hatred. So sure, Wawa may now be the official “hoagie” of the Baltimore Ravens, but they’ve done something rarely seen in sports fandom in the commonwealth – unite Steelers and Eagles fans.
Wayne Evans. Scranton will have a new Mayor for the entirety of 2019. Wayne Evans, a Republican Scranton City Council member, was selected by a 4-0 vote by his colleagues on Wednesday to fill the seat vacated by disgraced former Mayor Bill Courtright. Evans, who was viewed as the frontrunner according to WNEP, was selected over 12 other candidates who interviewed for the position. Evans has pledged not to seek a full term in the November special election to fill the term ending in 2021 of the former Democratic Mayor.
Joe Ashdale. The Philadelphia Parking Authority Chairman received accusations of nepotism this week after a Philadelphia Inquirer story reported on him hiring “at least” 10 relatives to positions in the department. Ashdale, who has served as the chairman of the board for the department for 18 years, leads the department that has a $253 million budget and more than 1,000 jobs. Ashdale did not respond to comment to the Inquirer in the story, but a spokesperson for the PPA did not deny that 10 relatives had been on the payroll, but said Ashdale was not involved in the hiring decisions.
Minnie The Elephant. An end of an era for the Springfield GOP. The Philadelphia suburb’s Fourth of July parade included 30 years of an elephant participating, until the local GOP decided to announce they will no longer continue the tradition after animal rights activists pushed back.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
This week’s Tweet of the Week is courtesy of the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jonthan Tamari commenting on the news that Amtrak will be providing non-stop Acela service between DC and New York City starting late September, cutting out a stop in Philly.
good thing Philadelphia usually takes slights like this totally in stride https://t.co/gHcf75xQN0
— Jonathan Tamari (@JonathanTamari) July 25, 2019