July 31st Ups & Downs
Gov. Tom Wolf calls on a GOP state rep to be censured about a letter he penned on the “unmasked community,” a bill from a York County Republican that was passed unanimously lapses into law, plus the Washington Post profile’s “best-known small city” in America. All of that and more are in this week’s Ups and Downs.
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Russ Diamond. The Lebanon County Republican was ratio’ed on Twitter after writing a letter calling for respect to the “unmasked community.” Diamond defended his decision to not wear a mask in public during the coronavirus pandemic, and asked Pennsylvanians to “work towards a spirit of acceptance and welcoming towards unmasked individuals.” Wolf described Diamond’s press release as “nothing more than a thinly veiled attack on the LGBTQ community” and Sec. Rachel Levine, who denounced transphobic attacks earlier in the week and used similar language that Diamond seemingly copied in his letter.
Seth Grove. Although Gov. Tom Wolf threatened to veto the legislation, the York County Republican’s Right-to-Know law, which unanimously passed the state legislature, was lapsed into law. Grove described the passing of the legislation as “huge”.
Michael Demko. The Pennsylvania’s Liquor Control Board has a new executive director. On Monday, the PLCB announced that Demko, who currently serves as the Chief Operation Officer of the PLCB, will be the PLCB’s executive director effective Aug. 8. He will be taking over for Charlie Mooney, who is retiring after serving 39 years at the PLCB.
Marisa Crispell. The former Luzerne County election director was fined by the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission for “recommending the county’s purchase of electronic poll books from a company while she served on that company’s advisory board,” according to The Times Leader. Crispell, who left the county employment last September, is ordered to pay $3,500 to the state through monthly $100 installments, while also making her pay an additional $500 to the commission to “help cover its costs to investigate and enforce the matter.”
Mike Turzai. The former GOP House Speaker was in the news this week when PennLive reported that Turzai requested in June that plaques under the portraits of former House Speakers that explained their corruption convictions be replaced with plaques that only noted the years that they were in office with the rest of the other former members who were not convicted of crimes. LNP | LancasterOnline is reporting that Turzai did not consult with the now-Speaker Bryan Cutler about this change and might consider changes at the end of this session.
Rodney Muhammad. The President of the Philadelphia NAACP has received calls to resign from the Jewish Federation, Gov. Tom Wolf, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, several Democratic state lawmakers, and more after Muhammad posted an anti-Semetic meme on Facebook last weekend. Billy Penn was the first to outlet to ask Muhammad about the since-deleted post. Muhammad has yet to issue a direct apology for the anti-Semetic post.
PA Nuclear Bailout. A political scandal in the Buckeye State may have negative fallout for a similar bailout push in the Keystone State. The $60 million bribery scandal involved FirstEnergy in Ohio and resulted in its House Speaker losing his position. Although PA’s nuke bailout stalled in 2019, some industry watchers expect another push in the future. If and when that happens, the industry will have some radioactive PR to overcome.
Michael Santiago. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette readers were accustomed to seeing the Pulitzer prize winning photojournalists bylines for some time in the paper, until he recently took a bailout after the paper determined he was disqualified from covering the protests after the killing of George Floyd. But his work once again appeared in the paper this week for images he took of the late Rep. John Lewis’ casket crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The Getty Images photojournalist shared the picture on Twitter to show people that his work is still being featured in the paper, and his former colleagues congratulated him on taking the powerful image.
Kenneth LaSota. Heidelberg’s mayor has been named Pennsylvania Mayor of the Year 2020 by the Pennsylvania State Mayors’ Association, according to the Tribune Review. LaSota, who has served in Heidelberg for 22 years, described the award as a “surprise” and “truly something that I will always be proud of,” according to a release.
Gig Workers/Uber Drivers. In what the Philadelphia Inquirer is describing as a “victory” for gig workers in the state, a Pa. Supreme Court ruling determined that Uber drivers’ can collect unemployment benefits.
Scranton. The Washington Post describes it as “may be the best-known small city in America,” in a profile that details the political history and importance of the region for the upcoming presidential election between former Vice President Joe Biden, a son of Scranton, and President Donald Trump, who made significant gains in Northeast PA in comparison to previous GOP presidential candidates. The city has also recently been featured by Politico and Vanity Fair in recent reporting on the presidential race.
Pennsylvania Republicans. Keeping the state red doesn’t appear to be an easy task as poll after poll shows Biden leading Trump in the Keystone State, (the Real Clear Politics Average shows Biden leading by 6 points in the state). However, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Republicans have made progress closing the gap in party registration in the state. Since the 2016 primary election, Republicans have added about 165,000 net voters, while Democrats have only added about 30,000 according to the story. Democrats still have an 800,000 voter advantage in the state, but it’s down from the 936,000 lead in 2016.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
OLYPHANT, Pa. — Think the country’s divided? Try this duplex. pic.twitter.com/QcrlO3osGm
— Julia Terruso (@JuliaTerruso) July 31, 2020