February 1st Playbook

Welcome to February. It is the start of Black History Month. The Supreme Court will consider a request to intervene in the congressional map case. And Punxsutawney Phil can prognosticate weather … but how does he do on PA political races? Here is the Playbook. 

News

A Shadow Sighting by Phil Could Portend Big Things for GOP: When it comes to the weather, Punxsutawney Phil may not be the best long-range prognosticator. How do his calls look when it comes to PA politics over the past 50 years?

Supremes Intervene on Map Decision: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has directed Judge Patricia A. McCullough of the Commonwealth Court to stay her decision on a new PA congressional map while the Supreme Court considers a request to take over the case.

‘Democratic lawmakers call for a $3.75B ‘historic’ investment in public education’: PennLive reports that “Democratic lawmakers want to see Pennsylvania build on the historic investment the state made this year in public education by making history again.”

‘Gov. Tom Wolf’s final budget address will seek to cement his legacy’: Spotlight PA reports that “the speech will provide the roadmap for weeks of budget hearings and negotiations between the term-limited governor and the Republican-controlled legislature.”

‘Key consultant refused to cooperate with probe into Pa.’s $73 billion school pension, sources say’: Spotlight PA and the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that “a $484,000 probe of Pennsylvania’s biggest pension fund by a law firm hired by the retirement plan was undermined by the refusal of a key consultant to cooperate, people familiar with the inquiry said Monday.”

‘Capitol confusion: COVID-19 policies under the dome are all over the map’: PennLive reports that “when it comes to masks, COVID-19 protocols – or lack thereof – are all over the map.”

‘Dems miscount votes in Pa. Senate endorsement meeting’: POLITICO reports that “the Pennsylvania Democratic Party incorrectly tabulated the votes during its endorsement process for the state’s open Senate seat, but it did not materially affect the results, a senior party official told POLITICO.”

‘Candidates to replace Congressman Mike Doyle post healthy fundraising totals to start 2022’: WESA reports that “newly filed campaign finance reports suggest that the top three Democrats running to replace retiring Congressman Mike Doyle began the year with the means to wage robust campaigns — and the last of them to announce his run weighed in with the largest numbers for fundraising in the last three months of the year.” 

‘Kathy Barnette Hopes To Become US Senate’s First Black Republican Woman’: KDKA reports that “while most African Americans identify with the Democratic party, Kathy Barnette does not.” 

‘Pa.’s opioid stigma reduction campaign reaches 4M residents | The Numbers Racket’: The Pennsylvania Capital-Star reports that “a year into a campaign to reduce the stigma associated with opioid use disorder (OUD), state officials, addiction researchers and community advocates are expressing joy at its success.”

‘Pennsylvania to launch list of employers that violate state labor and workplace safety laws’: The Allentown Morning Call reports that “with the goal of empowering workers across the state, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry has launched a list of employers that violate state labor and workplace safety laws.”

‘Lancaster Twp. GOP area chair resigns, as committee prepared to remove him for ‘denouncing’ FreePA’: LNP | LancasterOnline reports that “the chairman of the Lancaster Township Republican Committee resigned Friday, less than one week after publishing an opinion piece that criticized plans by the county GOP to provide election training to members of a local conservative activist group known for spreading disinformation.”

‘Lehigh County voters sue to delay election certification over undated ballots’: The Allentown Morning Call reports that “a bipartisan group of Lehigh County voters asked a federal court for an emergency injunction Monday to stop the Lehigh County Board of Elections from certifying November’s results on Tuesday.”

‘South central Pa. water protection projects get a boost from the state’: StateImpactPA reports that “thirteen water protection projects in south central Pennsylvania are getting $4.7 million in help from the state.”

‘Study finds elderly near fracking sites at higher risk of dying prematurely’: StateImpactPA reports that “a new study has found that elderly Americans had a higher risk of dying prematurely if they live near or downwind of fracking sites.”

‘From Edgeworth to ambassador in Moldova: The journey of Kent Logsdon’: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that “as the world focuses on tensions at the Russian-Ukrainian border, one of Pittsburgh’s own is headed to the nearby ex-Soviet neighbor of Moldova to represent U.S. interests in the small, rural state — one that faces challenges of legacy corruption and poverty but that experts say is pivoting from a pro-Russia stance toward the West.”

‘Philly’s soda tax is under fire again. Who wants to see it end, and who still thinks it’s a win?’: Billy Penn reports that “after a short ceasefire, a new front has opened in the Philly soda tax war, with a new effort in City Council to repeal the program considered Mayor Jim Kenney’s signature achievement.”

‘‘This is momentous’: Philly to guarantee lawyers for some renters facing eviction’: WHYY reports that “starting Tuesday, hundreds of Philadelphia renters will be guaranteed free legal representation if their landlord files for eviction.”

‘Philly prosecutors are hoping a new unit can steer more young adults toward rehabilitation over punishment’: The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that “the unit will review some nonviolent cases involving young adults to decide if those defendants should be connected with social services, rather than convicted and sentenced to jail or probation.”

‘First to lead City Hall’s new Office of Victim Advocate to start on Feb. 7’: KYW Newsradio reports that “victims of crime in Philadelphia will soon have a new advocate to help them get assistance. City Council approved the selection of the city’s first victim advocate last week.”

‘Group of 9 chosen for Philadelphia’s new Citizen Police Oversight Commission’: KYW Newsradio reports that “a selection panel has nominated nine people to sit on Philadelphia’s new Citizen Police Oversight Commission. Pending community feedback, City Council must now confirm the slate of candidates.”

‘Report recommends zoning policy that would mandate more affordable housing in Pittsburgh’: WESA reports that “a new report says Pittsburgh’s housing market is strong enough to support citywide inclusionary zoning – a policy requiring developers of new housing to set aside a portion of units as affordable housing.”

‘Around The Table: Investments And Economy’: KDKA reports that “Stacy Smith and his panel of economic experts discuss how January has been rough on the markets, especially the NASDAQ, and whether rate hikes are on the horizon now.”

‘Leaders Forming Task Force To Prioritize Other Bridges In Dire Need Of Repairs’: KDKA reports that “elected leaders KDKA-TV’s Andy Sheehan spoken with share those same concerns and say they’re forming a task force to identify the most seriously deficient bridges and make them safe.”

‘Westmoreland County Commissioners OK $1.3M For Tourism’: KDKA reports that “despite lockdowns and pandemic protocols, Westmoreland County actually had a steady stream of visitors to tourist attractions, and commissioners plan on spending significant money to keep that trend going.”

‘How many bridges are in ‘poor condition’ in Pittsburgh area?’: WTAE reports that “the “Bridge Conditions” page on the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation website shows 175 bridges in Allegheny County rated as poor.”

‘Lackawanna County extends pandemic emergency declaration, virtual meetings may violate Sunshine Act’: The Scranton Times-Tribune reports that “Lackawanna County will continue holding virtual public meetings for the time being — a pandemic-prompted move that may violate the state’s Sunshine Act.”

‘Application deadline nearing for Republican Luzerne County Council seat’: The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader reports that “Luzerne County Republicans have until 4:30 p.m. Thursday to apply for the vacant county council seat.”

‘Reading Managing Director Abe Amoros tenders resignation’: The Reading Eagle reports that “City Managing Director Abraham Amoros has tendered his resignation, Mayor Eddie Moran’s office announced Monday.”

‘Bethlehem City Council to pick from 10 applicants to fill vacancy’: The Express-Times reports that “Bethlehem City Council will fill a vacancy Tuesday from among 10 prospective council members.”

‘Cosby asks Supreme Court not to revive sexual assault case’: The Associated Press reports that “a lawyer for Bill Cosby asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to reject a bid by prosecutors to revive his criminal sex assault case.”

‘Clinton County doles out $400K in ARP funds’: The Williamsport Sun-Gazette reports that “the Clinton County Commissioners allocated more than $400,000 in American Rescue Plan funding to organizations across the county.”

‘Pa. announces regional sites to help hospitals and nursing homes overloaded by COVID-19’: PennLive reports that “Pennsylvania plans to open regional sites in Allegheny, Blair, Clarion and Philadelphia counties to care for COVID-19 patients who are well enough to leave the hospital but still need care.” 

‘COVID-19 hospital cases plummet in Pa., although deaths have risen’: PennLive reports that “Pennsylvania hospitals were caring for 4,759 patients with COVID-19 as of Saturday, down more than 2,700 from about two weeks earlier.”

Opinion  
Rogette Harris: Democrats need to focus on the future | Unfinished Business
John L. Micek: Here’s the new fight over cocktails-to-go. How is it like the old one? | Monday Morning Coffee
Shanti Gamper-Rabindran: A Pennsylvania bridge just collapsed. Which one is next? 
Richard Vague: A Student Debt Forgiveness Proposal That’s Fair 
Inquirer Editorial Board: Domestic violence homicides were up 240% last year. Why is Philly getting guns from so few accused abusers?
Post-Gazette Editorial Board: Alma Speed Fox, movement’s matriarch, inspired Pittsburgh
Post-Gazette Editorial Board: Getting schooled on financial literacy
Matthew Jeffrey Vegari: Philly should send out stimulus checks to help residents weather inflation 
Elaine Maimon: Forgiving Student Loans… For Public Servants 
William Yerger: How we can permanently fix Social Security
Roger Rudick: Build the bridge back better
Joshua Fields: To solve staffing shortages, hire more workers with disabilities 
Dick Polman: Our vaccine debate is now an episode of ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’

2 Responses

  1. Study cited above about “. . . elderly near fracking sites at higher risk of dying prematurely” agrees with reports from the German Environment Agency that indicates gas is less polluting than coal BUT, hydraulic fracturing of the earth and methane gas release is very dirty when compared to renewal energy sources. Burning gas is also more harmful to the environment than renewables.

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