The White House’s coronavirus task force coordinator lauds PA’s response to COVID-19, former VP Joe Biden speaks against banning fracking, plus two of the presidential debate moderators have ties to the commonwealth. All of that and more are in this week’s Ups and Downs.
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PA’s COVID-19 Response. Although President Donald Trump criticized Gov. Tom Wolf’s restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic during a rally in Westmoreland County on Thursday evening, a Pennsylvania native leading the nation’s response to the virus lauded Pennsylvania’s actions to combat coronavirus earlier that same day. Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus task force coordinator, credited Pennsylvania for doing a “remarkable job,” in lowering coronavirus cases, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Fracking Friendly Dems. President Donald Trump has made fracking the central issue of the campaign in their pitch to voters in western PA, while some Democrats in the area have attempted to fend off the attack ads from the Trump campaign and other allied super PACs. It isn’t clear how much this single issue will impact voters in the area, but former Vice President Joe Biden addressed the issue head on during an address in Pittsburgh. Although Biden’s central theme to his speech was to criticize Trump for ongoing riots around the nation, the former VP said that he’s “not banning fracking, no matter how many times Donald Trump lies about me.” It’s not certain if staking this position will ultimately benefit or hurt the former VP in the state, but Biden’s rebuke of the fracking attacks have to be a welcoming sign for Democrats that support the industry.
Johnny Doc & Bobby Henon. Request denied. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that a federal judge rejected a request from Local 98 IBEW labor leader John Dougherty and Dem City Councilmember Bobby Henon to throw out the political bribery case against them before it reaches a jury.
Joe Gale. The Montgomery County GOP Commissioner, who was sued for blocking constituents on his social media accounts, has settled the lawsuit, according to KYW Newsradio. The court ruled that Gale has to “restore access to the people that he blocked” on the various social media accounts, and he’s no longer allowed to block any other user on those accounts. Gale disagreed with the ruling and described himself as “the victim of a bad ruling,” and likened it to Trump getting “screwed by federal courts on this very same issue.”
Skip Ebert. The Cumberland County District Attorney is facing calls to resign from the Cumberland County Democratic Committee after since-deleted comments made on Facebook in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake by police in Wisconsin. According to the York Dispatch, Ebert commented on a post in response to Blake’s shooting asking what his “criminal record” was plus “why was he unable to comply with police requests?” Ebert said that his since-deleted comments were taken out of context and that he will not resign.
Jim Kenney. Indoor dining in Philadelphia with some restrictions is set to resume on September 8, but the mayor of Philly received some bad press relating to the matter this past week. A photo of Kenney dining inside at a restaurant in Maryland went viral over the past weekend, with those criticizing the Mayor due to the establishments in the city being impacted by coronavirus restrictions. Kenney issued an apology after the photo went viral and said that he felt the “risk” of eating at that specific indoor restaurant was “low” due to the Maryland county’s lower number of coronavirus cases, although he added that he “understands the frustration” of those who called him out on this.
PA Increased Voting Access. A victory for blind voters. The Tribune Review reports that blind voters in the state will be able to use a “federally approved, cloud-based electronic platform to vote remotely in the November” election and beyond. The legal director for Disability Rights Pennsylvania described the development as a “major step toward providing equal access to the polls and fully accessible elections for all voters with disabilities.” The president of the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania said it is unclear how many registered voters are blind in the state, but there are 150,000 people with “some form of virtual impairment living in the state.”
Wendy Bell. The conservative radio talk show host at KDKA Radio in Pittsburgh has been taken off of the air “until further notice.” City Paper reports that the announcement from the station comes after a clip of Bell went viral this week from an episode in late June when she was “advocating on air for park rangers to shoot protesters.”
PA Presidential Debate Connection. Although none of the three presidential debates will take place in the Keystone State, those born in the state will have a role in moderating two of the showdowns between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. C-SPAN’s Steve Scully, an Erie native, will moderate the “town meeting” debate on Oct. 15 in Miami, while NBC’s Kristen Welker, a Philadelphia native, will moderate the Oct. 22 debate in Nashville, Tennessee.
Zach Mako. The GOP state rep from Northampton County returned this week to legislative duties full time after completing his deployment in the Middle East. Mako is a combat veteran and a U.S. Army helicopter pilot in the PA National Guard, according to the PA House GOP.
PLCB Sales. The Pittsburgh Business Times reports that the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board sales over the past fiscal year totaled $2.56 billion, which is a decrease of $110.9 million or 4.5% from the previous year’s sale of $2.67 billion. However, net income reached a record breaking high of $208.7 million, which is a $17.7 million or 9.2% increase in comparison to the prior fiscal year.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
I now know sign language for cannabis pic.twitter.com/eVCXEZY7bT
— Liz Reid (@WESALiz) September 3, 2020