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2015 Ups & Downs

2015 was a memorable year in Pennsylvania politics although probably not for the right reasons. Now that we’re just about in the rear-view mirror, it’s the perfect time to take a look at who had the best and worst year.

This is our second edition of the annual Ups & Downs list and you can read the 2014 version here.

Before we present the biggest Ups & Downs of 2015, though, let us first recognize our honorable mentions.

Honorable Mentions

Up Arrow1Martina White. The Boyle-Stack feud was destructive for the Philly Democratic Party. So much so that it cost them a State House seat. White, a 26 year-old Republican rookie, became the beneficiary of this conflict. It may prove too difficult for the GOP to hold a district in the heart of their party’s strongest city, but no matter the result White will serve in Harrisburg through 2016. Now there’s a result that even she may not have considered possible 12 months ago.  


Down ArrowJim Burn. The Democrats had a great election night last month. The occasion should’ve been the crowning achievement of Party Chairman Jim Burn. The only problem? He was forced to resign in July. Instead it was Marcel Groen who got to bask in the judicial victories. Ultimately, Burn just couldn’t go on fighting Gov. Tom Wolf, who never wanted him to stay on and actively tried to remove him. Perhaps next year will be kinder to the ex-Chair.


Up Arrow1Philadelphia. The City of Brotherly Love moved back to the center of PA’s political conversation in 2015. Initially, it was the crowded Democratic primary that captured headlines in the spring. Then, we found out Philly was chosen to be the site of the 2016 Democratic National Convention, ensuring the city a major role in the presidential contest. Finally, the Pope’s visit captured international headlines (thanks to Congressman Bob Brady). Now, if only we could win another championship.


Down ArrowBill Shuster. One of the greatest fears of any elected official is that their personal life will find its way into the news cycle. That nightmare became reality for Congressman Shuster in April when Politico disclosed that he’s in a relationship with an airline lobbyist. Shuster’s position as Transportation Committee Chair caused even more scrutiny and provided justification for another primary challenge from Art Halvorson. It’s unlikely Rep. Shuster will face long-time damage from the episode but that won’t erase the embarrassments he was put through this year.

Up Arrow1Erik Arneson. It could be argued that Arneson had the strangest 2015 of all. When Gov. Wolf fired the Director of the Office of Open Records just days after his inauguration, it sparked a protracted legal battle. Wolf had to reinstate Arneson and eventually lost his case in the State Supreme Court. As a result, Arneson is now one of the most well-known bureaucrats in Harrisburg.


Down ArrowEd Pawlowski. 2015 was terrible for the Allentown Mayor. In fact, the sole reason he is only in honorable mentions is that 2016 will likely be much worse. His Senate dreams imploded after his office was raided by the FBI. His prospects just continued to get bleaker as it emerged that his closest advisor and friend was wearing a wire. A once promising political career turning into a tragedy is unfortunately becoming a common narrative in Pennsylvania.


The Porngate Trio

Down ArrowMichael Eakin, Frank Fina and Seth Williams. In sports, unforced errors are the largest impediment to success. The same is true in politics and these three men proved to be the kings of unforced errors. For Eakin and Fina it was the sending of pornographic material on state accounts to government officials that endangered their careers. As for Williams, his inexplicable decision to defend Fina severely hurt his political future. Their fates show just how vast a scandal “porngate” has become.


Repeat Offenders

Down ArrowRob McCord and Chaka Fattah. Forgive the pun, but this sub-head has a double meaning. Each of these men made our 2014 list and both of them are in deep legal trouble. In fact, McCord has already pleaded guilty to extortion charges related to his unsuccessful run for Governor. Rep. Fattah, meanwhile, currently faces 29 charges, all of which he intends to fight in court. Both these men were major figures in Pennsylvania and the state’s Democratic primary and both these men will likely spend some portion of 2016 behind bars.

2015’s Split Decision

Up Arrow1Down ArrowTom Wolf. Last year, we gave our split decision arrow to Gov. Corbett. The rationale was that while he had lost re-election, he no longer had to bear the burden of leading this commonwealth. This year it was Governor Wolf who had to deal with the interminable tasking of assembling a budget. With his sophomore year approaching, Wolf still has decent popularity numbers but he’s yet to find a way to successfully work with the Republican-led legislature. It’s too early to judge his tenure, but 2015 had to have been the most volatile year of Wolf’s life.  

The Down Arrow of 2015

Down ArrowKathleen Kane. There were so many contenders for this “award”, but somehow the Attorney General was able to hold off all challengers and retain the title. Where to begin? In the past twelve months, Kane has been charged on several counts and fired numerous officials for questionable reasons. She was arraigned, fingerprinted and had her mugshot taken. Her office has been raided multiple times and she is facing several lawsuits. She held a press conference where she spoke directly to her children and another where she was introduced with a slideshow of the infamous emails. Yet she didn’t answer a single question at either event. On top of it all, her law license was suspended and the Governor and legislature are fervently trying to get rid of her. Scandals come and go but the falling star that is Kathleen Kane is going down in an extraordinary blaze of glory.

The Up Arrow of 2015

Up ArrowJohn Dougherty. The power of labor leaders in America has been on the decline for decades. Apparently, nobody told “Johnny Doc” about this. The influential Philly union head had a remarkable 2015. It started with the Philly Mayoral race where Dougherty’s support was not only crucial to Kenney’s victory but to the ex-Councilman’s decision to even run. In September, Johnny Doc expanded his power base by becoming Business Manager of the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council (he has long been Business Manager of IBEW 98). His biggest victory came in November, however, when his brother Kevin, who received significant financial help from labor, was elected to the State Supreme Court. Furthermore, Dougherty already has his eyes set on next spring’s Democratic primary for Attorney General. Whether we’re witnessing the peak of his powers or his best is yet to come, there’s no doubt that John Dougherty deserves the up arrow for 2015.

39 Responses

  1. Marie – God heaven’s sake, don’t encourage the mental patient!! Let him eat his Jello and stare at his Ted Cruz poster. You know that gas-bag has met Cruz THREE TIMES !!! !!! !!!

  2. @ Marie:

    Notwithstanding the inherent racism in your posting, the bottom-line is that BHO consistently invokes prosecutorial discretion when rationalizing–for example–the absence of any meaningful enforcement against illegals.

    We conservatives find that to be a form of corruption, a phenomenon that permeates the past 7 years of BHO’s reign.

    Perhaps you would want to concur that he has failed to uphold his pledge to uphold the Constitution, eh?

  3. Dear tea-guzzler,

    Do you disagree? Or are you must trolling for reactions?

    Selective enforcement IS a form of corruption. It is absolutely ridiculous that the people responsible for leaking all that material from the Kane investigation are not being prosecuted. We know that Fina’s buddies (J. Feudale in particular) used his computer to have illegal contact with the Press. Can’t wait to see if Fina did the same thing. His use of e-mails on racist e-mails suggest that he may have been dumb enough to us it to illegally leak material as well.

    Your apropos-of-nothing reference to the President of the United States is telling. Like most Tea Party members, you are obsessed. Is it the color of his skin? His intellect?

  4. @ Pat Unger:

    “selective enforcement is a form of corruption” you say?

    Tell that to BHO.

  5. Seems like the Clown Car shills are very worried about whet the special prosecutor is going to find in those e-mails. My bet is that there is a lot more than racist, woman-hating material.

    Anyone know when Kane is going to release the videos that Fina is said to have watched on his State computer. They allegedly include bestiality and graphic violence against women.

    Anyone know when Steele is going to indict someone for the MANY illegal leaks from the Kane grand jury? After all – selective enforcement is a form of corruption. Pursuing charges against AG Kane for one alleged leak while ignoring the MANY illegal leaks committed by the Clown Car would be corrupt.

  6. Apparently HaHaHa has added “Marie” to his list of aliases. Give it a rest champ, we all know it’s you.

  7. @Ha3…shame no such thing exists in PA. Poor Doug and Kathleen. Poor Ha3…counting down the days until Kane and Ellen are looking for new jobs. What kind of work culture does Ellen create when she comments in Emails to Kathleen about male parts? Oh no, that must be criminal! Misuse of state resources?? Are we paying their security to carry them out of bars in Ocean City, MD? Hint-hint-the answer is yes! More misuse of resources. Probably promoted DeTitto because he sent Ellen and Kathleen the best porn and hate-filled jokes about domestic violence, etc (not to mention his other skills!). The Kane/Granahan clown car is coming to a stop in the PA Senate!

  8. @ Ha3

    Is it criminal when Ellen has pictures of aroused men and comments on their…size and “fit”? Is she fit to prosecute sex crimes against children? Are her and Kathleen driving the clown car that makes fun of Asians, illegal immigrants & domestic violence?

    Gansler has no authority in the state and can not be employed by OAG when employed by a law firm. All OAG employees must have PA licenses-not just pro hac vice granted but a PA license. PA has no special prosecutor statue so there is no legal authority for Gansler and Kane’s little scheme. Castille is 100% correct.

  9. Here’s Castille when the e-mails in question were Democrat McCaffery’s:

    Castille noted that McCaffery had sent “an email depicting a naked 100-year old woman as the target of a sexually explicit joke and a video of a woman in sexual congress with a snake that is clearly obscene and may violate the Crimes Code section on obscenity.”

    Note that he thinks the porn itself may be CRIMINAL!!!

    And now – here is Ron Castille when his buddies are the targets:

    “I think [the Independent Prosecutor] going to meet a lot of resistance from whoever he tries to press for information,” ex-Chief Justice Ronald Castille said of former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler …

    “It’s going to be a stretch certainly,” Castille said of Gansler, who is not licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania. “There will be a challenge to everything this guy does.”

    Meanwhile, Castille declined to comment when he was asked whether he thought his former colleague, Justice Michael Eakin, should voluntarily resign after being caught up in the porn scandal.

    “I think it ought to go in front of the Court of Judicial Discipline,” he said.

    Huh???? The Court of Judicial Conduct doesn’t handle CRIMINAL matters!! Why is it no longer CRIMINAL when Eakin is the one involved?

  10. @ Marie, again and again:

    If you care to quibble, you are invited to follow my hyperlinks and attempt to conjure a defense for her [mis-]behavior; otherwise, you may wish to quit issuing pejoratives, note the details of what has been occurring all-about, and address me as “Dr.”

  11. Since I have no idea if you are really a doctor, I’ll just call you “tea-guzzler” like HaHa does. I always chuckle when I read that. And, now that you have admitted you are a Tea Party member, I see that the name fits!

  12. @ Marie:

    Dr. Sklaroff, here, recognizing that it would be fascinating to trace a pathway by which she could evade a prompt demise; I would postulate that Ha3 and d2 will be increasingly hard-pressed to rationalize-away her multiple-challenges.

  13. And what will you do, Mr. Sklaroff, if you are the one who is wrong? What will you do if Ms. Kane serves out her term? Not that anon really cares. I’m just curious – since you are talk about Ha and David so much and what they will have to do if Kane is removed.

  14. @ Ha3:

    I did not predict she’d be gone by any particular time-frame; rather, I noted a tightening-noose and hyperlinked to documentation that portended her survival-time was increasingly limited; as Rush would say, “Do Not Doubt Me!”

    BTW, smart-$ suggests Hillary will be indicted rather than nominated.

  15. Marie – Please do not encourage that mental patient. He is obviously prescribing himself drugs. And he takes them in between cups of TEA and bowls of Jello. You are correct, though. He has said 9 times that AG Kane would be “gone” within ” a week” … “30 days” … “by month’s end” … “by year’s end” … etc.

    He is going to have an aneurism when Hillary wins the Presidency in 2016. I will miss him … a little.

  16. @ Marie, again:

    If you care to quibble, you are invited to follow my hyperlinks and attempt to conjure a defense for her [mis-]behavior; otherwise, you may wish to quit issuing pejoratives, note the details of what has been occurring all-about, and address me as “Dr.”

  17. @ Marie:

    I support the Tea Party Movement and, yes, I have consistently predicted that AG-Kane would not complete her term due to her indiscretions; I had not affixed a deadline, although it would seem that her fate would have been delimited by December-past and sealed by month’s end…and events seem to be fitting into that time-frame [based upon all publicly-available data].

  18. Mr. Sklaroff – you are a member of the Tea Party, correct? You have predicted that Ms. Kane would be “gone soon” a half-dozen times, correct? Why should anyone care what you predict now?

  19. Ha3-you forgot to mention that Kane will be removed this year, guaranteed by the exposure of Ellen and Kathleen’s clown car of hate-filled emails that made fun of minorities such as illegal immigrants. How could Ellen find 2 children in a dog crate funny when she prosecutes child predators (or would if she ever showed up at work)? How can any female comment on the size of male “parts”??? She must create an abusive environment for the men that work for her!! How awful and sexist. Does she prosecute domestic violence? I hope not since she finds domestic violence something to joke about! What woman would trust Ellen or Kathleen to make sound judgements of their case after seeing her emails!!!! Fire Ellen and Kathleen!

  20. @ Ha3:

    If AG-Kane had already met her demise, you’d be claiming she had been denied due process; thus, noting that the climactic hearing will have been held within a fortnight, with a report thereupon rendered by month’s end, you should be prepared to alter your outcome.

    Specifically, you claimed you’d had a good year because she’s still “standing”; after she falls, the converse will have been proven, namely, that your entire paradigm will have been disproven.

    Her hubris has so many tentacles that you have quite properly abandoned prior claims that she might “settle” all charges against her merely by resigning; that ship has sailed.

  21. Kane will be going to prison this year. Fina and company will be RICHER, once the many lawsuits settle.

  22. Illustrative of how correct d2/Ha3 have consistently been are the following facts:

    It is 2016 and AG Kane is STILL STANDING, despite the repeated protestations of Repervlicans from Pottstown to Monroeville that she “just go away” … LOL …As if ….

    Fina, Costanzo, Eakin, Graci, Del Sole and many others have been EXPOSED.

    For DD and I, it was a wonderful 2015 !!!

    Happy 2016 everyone !!! I hope this year brings us a trial … finally. Newest batch of popcorn will be ready !!

  23. @ Ha3:

    Your suggestions and associated rationales are risible.

    “DD does deserve an up-arrow as commenter of the year!!! He comes here every day and speaks the truth. He uses his real name. And he gets threatens by trolls and other Repervlicans all the time. Don’t forget how right he has been about the AG Kane the witch-hunt led by Fina & The Corbett Pervs, Castille, and other Repervlican Clown Car occupants.”

    You and d2 will need to recant deceit that pervaded your comments throughout the year, as illustrated by the above-piece by SS.

  24. If Tom Smith hadn’t have fallen ill, Bill Shuster would be finished for sure. But he could still be in serious trouble if Halvorson is smart enough to make get the full value out of Shuster’s lobbyist mistress. The are probably enough conservative Christians in PA-9 who would vote against Shuster purely because of his marital infidelity.

  25. When will Kane fire Ellen-after all Ellen made fun of domestic violence victims, sent emails with male parts and COMMENTED on their size!!! How can the taxpayers of PA tolerate Ellen as the chief of the Child Predator unit when she thinks putting children in a dog crate is acceptable!!! The Granahan Clown Car drives on!!!! I saw Ellen’s emails and I am sickened!

  26. Let’s see…Eakin used a PRIVATE email account and is suspended with pay but Kane is CHARGED and faces major jail time. Let’s see…Fina is still employed and was cleared of racial targeting in the Bishop & building collapse cases which also exposed how Kane trumped up the racism claims (Peruto even apologized to Fina in court!!!)…Kane remains charged and facing major jail time. Let’s see …Williams is still DA and refuses to let Kane tell him how to run his office (seeing as OAG agent DeTitto was promoted and OAG Prosecutor Jeff Baxter still has his job) why should Williams fire anyone???? Kane still faces charges, major jail time and many law suits…and probably more law suits and gave GJ info to an out of state lawyer without proper authorization which should result in more charges for Kane!!! I’d say Williams/Eakin/Fina are doing ok.

  27. I actually agree with the pathetic troll trying to make fun of DD.

    DD does deserve an up-arrow as commenter of the year!!!

    He comes here every day and speaks the truth. He uses his real name. And he gets threatens by trolls and other Repervlicans all the time.

    Don’t forget how right he has been about the AG Kane the witch-hunt led by Fina & The Corbett Pervs, Castille, and other Repervlican Clown Car occupants.

  28. Jim Burns was a Zappala toady who got rightfully offed by the Gov. Next up—the Pa Turnpike Commissioners. This Gov knows how to keep the Bazzano-Zappala-Porter mafia’s. Black hands out of government coffers.

  29. We weep for the blood of a bird, but not for the blood of a fish. Blessed are those with a voice.

  30. Agreed, Marie.

    The Porngate Clown Car … who have distributed racist, hate-filled garbage had nothing to do with Seth Williams … until his ambition and ego took over.

    Now – he is so deep in their nonsense that he had to form a new position (“General Counsel”) at the DA’s Office and hire Fina’s lawyer’s wife to the job. And I guess we will just ignore the fact that she is also Tyron Ali’s lawyer’s wife … and that she has ZERO general counsel experience … and just about ZERO prosecutorial experience.

    Something isn’t Kosher over there …. and it is not just Fina’s e-mails.

  31. Sure, gulag – but should the “Chair[person] of the Republican Committee of Beaver County” be celebrating the influence of politics in the Beaver County Courthouse?

  32. “The Porngate Trio”

    Frank Fina used his government computer to distribute hate. He is a racist and a corrupt prosecutor. He belongs in prison.

    Eakin is a “good ol’ bigot.” They are getting exposed left and right. He has brought shame upon the Supreme Court. Kane should be proud that she has exposed people like Eakin and Fina.

    Seth Williams’ spot in this trio did not have to be. But – let’s face it – Seth Williams had this coming. He should have known better than to hire racists, misogynists and sexists – even if he himself admits to being a “recovering” sexist and misogynist. Anyone know what he meant by that, BTW?

  33. You missed an awesome UP. After 60 years of democrats ruling the Beaver County Courthouse the Republicans have taken the majority.

    As full discloser, I am the Chairman of the Republican Committee of Beaver County

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