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Ups and Downs: January 27

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As the month of January begins to wind down … Pennsylvania still does not have a fully functioning General Assembly. Preparations are underway for not one, not two, not three, but four special elections … and Groundhog Day is next week.

Here are our Ups and Downs for the week ending January 27.

Up arrowJosh Shapiro. The Governor created a new Office of Transformation and Opportunity for the Commonwealth, but was also prominently mentioned in POLITICO as an important member of the Democratic Party’s “bench” of future presidential candidates.

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The Union League. The 4,000-member private club in Philadelphia received negative press this week after honoring Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis with its gold medal, an honor first bestowed on President Abraham Lincoln back in 1863. Demonstrators protested prior to and during the event, calling it a “slap in the face” to Black and brown people. And referencing the club’s plans to build a $25M rooftop restaurant, Inquirer restaurant critic and columnist Craig LaBan tweeted that he was no longer interested in the Union League nor its plans, tweeting “Years of trying to appear more inclusive, in part thru ambitious dining, was just a phase.”

Up arrowPA Agriculture. Between the Glenn “G.T.” Thompson, chair of the U.S. Committee on Agriculture, and John Fetterman, newly minted member of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee, it would appear that the Keystone State will have some say in the direction these committees take.

Mark Rozzi. The Speaker of the House began his “listening tour” in Pittsburgh and continued it Friday night in Philadelphia. While he receives input from the general public and special interest groups, the chamber remains locked with no business being conducted.

Up arrowTimothy DeFoor. Pennsylvania’s Auditor General released an audit of 12 school districts from across the Commonwealth that uncovers a legal standard practice where districts are raising local property taxes while holding millions of dollars in their General Funds. “Some startling trends began to appear to our auditors, like moving money around to make sure a district would always meet the threshold to raise taxes,” DeFoor said.

Up arrowHelen Gym. The former Philadelphia City Councilwoman picked up a valuable endorsement in her quest to become its first female mayor from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. The PFT represents more than 13,000 teachers, managers, professional and technical employees. The endorsement comes as the city government and the School District are at odds and more than four months before the May primary.

Up arrowJoanna McClinton. The House Democratic Leader remains a possible “Speaker-in-Waiting” as she – along with everyone else – sits tight in hopes of a resolution to the gridlock in Harrisburg. With three special House elections in Allegheny County scheduled for Feb. 7 – all with Democrats favored to win – she could become the first woman Speaker in the PA House’s history.

Up arrowDave McCormick. The unsuccessful candidate for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2022, he has been making calls, appearances, and contacts, along with writing a book, in preparation for a possible run again in 2024 against U.S. Sen. Bob Casey.

Jose Giral. The Democratic state representative from Philadelphia is proposing legislation that requires schools to begin their school year no earlier than the day after Labor Day. School-age kids would vote for it … can’t say same for their parents.

Up arrowBen Kirshner. The business leader and entrepreneur was nominated to become the first Chief Transformation and Opportunity Officer for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. “As a CEO, I know what it takes to entice a business to relocate and remain in the Commonwealth. Now, as Chief Transformation Officer, I will lead the Administration’s efforts in streamlining processes for businesses to navigate multiple agencies in Pennsylvania.

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Sheetz and Wawa. Although the two convenience store behemoths have those who swear by them, another C-store chain is making “aggressive” expansion plans into their footprints – Rutter’s. The chain is planning 50 new stores, including the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh regions and in north-central PA. Rutter’s also is targeting new locations in four neighboring states. Among the 202 C-store chains in the U.S., Wawa (9), Sheetz (13) and Rutter’s (84) are all ranked in the top half.

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Shawn Denning. The Chief of the Greensburg Police Department was arrested and charged with violating federal narcotics laws. The complaint alleges that Denning facilitated the acquisition of cocaine and methamphetamine by a confidential source multiple times over a 16-month period between June 2021 and October 2022.

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Luke Bartholow. While we’re on the topic of restaurants, the 39-year-old Schellsburg man was charged with threatening to blow up the Bedford County Courthouse. Bartholow violated a PFA order and the victim recorded a phone call in which he threatened to eat the sheriff and kill everyone inside the courthouse with an explosion.

One Response

  1. Instead of C-store chains, maybe the State govt should take a look at feckless medical care provided by unrated ER in PA. Pathetic excuse for exorbitant medical bills and substandard medical care.


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