August 16th Ups & Downs
Gov. Tom Wolf addresses gun violence and charter schools, the state GOP has a new Finance Committee Chair, and the Philly DA’s comments about “war criminals” garners pushback. All of that and more are in this week’s Ups and Downs.
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Gun Control Advocates. Progressives have pleaded with state lawmakers to add gun reform measures in the state, but have largely been unsuccessful. Although a gun control bill hasn’t passed, Gov. Tom Wolf signed an executive order the office has deemed as “unprecedented sweeping changes” that aim at curbing gun violence in the state, which they have said is a “public health crisis.” The order taps Charles Ramsey, chair of the state Commission on Crime and Delinquency and former Philadelphia police chief, as the senior advisor for gun violence prevention, which is a new position. Although gun control advocates can mark this down as a victory, there are those in Harrisburg who aren’t in favor. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star reported Thursday afternoon that state Rep. Garth Everett (R-Lycoming) emailed all 203 members of the chamber arguing against additional gun laws.
Charter School Supporters. Gov. Tom Wolf aimed at reforming the state’s charter school law this week, which the charter schools view as a “blatant attack”. Wolf said in a release that his plan to “revamp” the state’s charter school law, will strengthen the schools quality, accountability, and transparency for students. He said the current law is “flawed and outdated.” PennLive reports that the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools criticized the proposals dubbing the plans as “blatant attacks” on the schools and believes they may be illegal. The group has vowed to pursue court action if the state’s charter school law is broken.
Larry Krasner. The progressive Philly DA and Attorney General Josh Shapiro have been engaging in an on-going feud, but comments from Krasner crossed the line. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Krasner shared a “joke” his staffers tell referring to some of the former prosecutors in the DA’s office who left or were fired and have since joined Shapiro’s staff as “war criminals” and compared Shapiro’s office to “Paraguay.” The Anti-Defamation League wrote a letter to Krasner criticizing his choice of words and said they were “disappointed” in the Holocaust analogy and said they were concerned by the comments that could “trivialize the Holocaust.” Krasner responded by ensuring he never used the word “Nazi.” Krasner added that “referencing the Nazis or the Holocaust should be done with sensitivity and thought,” but didn’t totally back away from the comments when he made a swipe at Shapiro saying his office is “frequently underminded” by the AG’s office. Just a few months ago, state Rep. Danielle Friel Otten, another Democrat in the Southeast, made a similar mistake when she made offensive comments likening pipeline workers to nazis.
Jeff Bartos. The former GOP candidate for Lt. Governor said he was open to another run for office shortly after him and Scott Wagner lost their bid to lead the state, but in the meantime he’s taking on an official role in the state GOP. Bartos was tapped by new PAGOP Chair Lawrence Tabas to serve as the state party Finance Committee Chairman. In a release from the state party about the move, he thanked Tabas and outgoing Finance Committee Chairman Jim Shultz for their work in the party and the opportunity to make an impact.
Paul Zavarella. The interim Allegheny County 8th District Councilman will be on the Democratic ballot for the party in November. Zavarella, who was chosen by County Council to serve until the election in November filling the seat held by longtime Councilman Charles Martoni, who died in May, was selected by Democratic committee members over the weekend to be the nominee for the party. He bested Bhavini Patel and Ryan O’Donnell for the spot, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Rick Morelli. A former GOP Luzerne County Councilman who served from 2012-2015 is returning. Morelli, who works in software sales, was appointed by a 6-2 Council vote to fill the seat vacated by Eugene Kelleher, who resigned last month, according to the Citizens Voice. Morelli will serve until Jan 2020, when Kelleher’s term expires.
Beaver County Economy. The Western Pennsylvania County was in the spotlight this week with jobs as the topic of conversation. Jobs created in the district from an ethane cracker plant took centerstage while President Donald Trump deliver an hour-long address that felt more like a campaign rally than an official White House visit. While the jobs that have been created by the ethane cracker plant can be appreciated, the news of the Bruce Mansfield Power Plant, for years the largest coal plant in the state, will be closing nearly two years before it’s previously announced June 2021 date, according to StateImpactPA. About 200 people currently work at that plant that will be closing in May 2020.
Gar Joseph. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s weekly clout column provides some of the most thorough analysis and noteworthy political information in the commonwealth. This column born in 1996 was the creation of former Daily News editor, Gar Joseph. The longtime Philadelphia newsman died this week at the age of 71 after a battle with brain cancer. The column, as the Inquirer describes as Joseph’s “behind-the-scenes look at elected officials” is an absolute must read for politicos in Pennsylvania and Joseph deserves recognition for the creation of this column.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
The tweet of the week is courtesy of Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s Chief of Staff, Bobby Maggio, poking fun at his boss’s height in a birthday shoutout.
Happy 50th birthday @JohnFetterman!!
— Maggio The Yinzer (@BobbyMaggio) August 15, 2019