Friday, November 28, 2008

Pension crisis on the way

The very last line in a story The Associated Press moved this week about the hit pension funds for teachers and state workers have taken in the recent stock market collapse should make every Pennsylvania taxpayer cringe.

"... state tax revenues for the current year are running hundreds of millions of dollars below expectations, and the decline in pension fund investments raises the likelihood taxpayers will have to pump in billions more to balance the retirement funds even without a cost of living adjustment," The Associated Press writes.

Pump billions more to balance the retirement funds?

Where do you think these billions will be coming from?

Pennsylvania taxpayers better get ready to dig deeper into their wallets.

There's a comment at the end of the article posted at The Mercury Web site from a woman who asks about the fairness of bailing out public sector workers when private sectors have to suffer.

Here's the comment:
"My husband and I have also posted high losses in our retirement (investments) fund (a fund which we had to save because we had no retirement fund). Who is going to bail us out, like we are expected to bail out the teachers and government workers??? We are 69 years old and have paid taxes all our lives and now we are expected to pay more taxes to bolster these pensions. It doesn't seem quite fair."
Click here to read the full wire service story.

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Newspaper: Reject insurance merger

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is urging the Rendell Administration to reject a proposed merger of Pittsburgh's Highmark Inc. and Philadelphia's Independence Blue Cross.

Combined, the Blues cover 70 percent of Pennsylvania residents.

From a Post-Gazette editorial:
We aren't convinced that the merger would help patients who face escalating costs for premiums or make it easier for employers to negotiate improved coverage for their workers. In addition, given the increases in the state and national unemployment rates, the estimated loss of 1,200 jobs that is expected to result from a merger couldn't come at a worse time.
The Philadelphia Inquirer has also urged rejection of the Blues merger, as has the Pennsylvania Senate Banking and Insurance Committee.

The final decision is up to state Insurance Commissioner Joel Ario, a Rendell appointee.

Read the full editorial at the newspaper's Web site.

PA Game Commission Confirms Serval Killed in Chester County

PA Game Commission Confirms Serval Killed in Chester County

Radio Address by President Bush to the Nation

Radio Address by President Bush to the Nation

PA Game Commission Offers 'Wild' Gift Giving Ideas

PA Game Commission Offers 'Wild' Gift Giving Ideas

Enhanced Traveler Information Services Coming to Pennsylvania

Enhanced Traveler Information Services Coming to Pennsylvania

Rendell Signs 4 Bills

From the Pennsylvania Office of the Governor:
HARRISBURG — Gov. Edward G. Rendell signed four bills into law Wednesday, including a change to the state's vehicle code that will save the Department of Transportation approximately $59 million.

House Bill 347 removes the requirement that PennDOT must replace a license plate every 10 years. Instead, replacement is mandatory when the plate cannot be read anymore. Only those plates that have been lost, stolen or have become illegible from a reasonable distance will be replaced. The change is expected to save Pennsylvania's Motor License Fund about $59 million.
The new law also further defines speed-timing devices, waivers to members of the armed forces, and other things.

House Bill 1543 says criminal history record information may be expunged from a person's record when that person petitions for expungement of a summary offense and he or she has been free of arrest or prosecution for five years following the conviction for which expungement is requested.

House Bill 2188 establishes the Abandoned and Blighted Property Conservatorship Act. With the new law, a party in interest, which includes the owner, a lien holder or secured creditor, a resident or business owner within 500 feet of a building, a nonprofit corporation or a municipality or school district where a building is located, may petition the Court of Common Pleas requesting that a conservator take possession of a building if it is in violation of any municipal code requirements, or if it has been declared a public nuisance.

Senate Bill 1114 designates the scenic view adjacent to State Route 40 in Wharton Township, Fayette County, as Blue Star Point Lookout; names a section of West 26th Street in Millcreek Township, Erie County, as the John W. Groters Memorial Highway; designates a portion of Cottman Avenue (Route 73) in the Burholme section of Philadelphia as the Police Sergeant Stephen Liczbinski Memorial Highway; and designates a bridge on Route 259 in Fairfield Township as the Glenn McMaster Memorial Bridge.


World Jewish Congress Dismayed by One-Sided Statements of UN General Assembly President

World Jewish Congress Dismayed by One-Sided Statements of UN General Assembly President

PA Troopers Issue Nearly 1,500 Traffic Citations During Aggressive Driving Crackdown on I-81

PA Troopers Issue Nearly 1,500 Traffic Citations During Aggressive Driving Crackdown on I-81

PA Bear Hunters Continue to Have Great Success Afield

Bear Hunters Continue to Have Great Success Afield

Catholic Charities USA Warns Against Fraudulent Email

Catholic Charities USA Warns Against Fraudulent Email

Unions prosper, students suffer

Two good reads about the growing power of teachers' unions and the continued decline of public education. Is there a connection? You bet.

Check out an editorial in The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that urges Pennsylvania residents to fight for the repeal of Act 84 of 1988, which made Pennsylvania a "compulsory union" state, allowing unions to bargain for extracting "agency fees" from workers who don't want to be members.

From Declaw the PSEA:
The Pennsylvania State Education Association causes untold damage to kids, taxpayers and the commonwealth. Few Pennsylvanians know how costly is this teacher union. But the public has the power to tame the beast.

With more than 185,500 members, 281 full-time employees and an annual income above $84 million, the PSEA is one of the state's wealthiest, largest and most politically active labor unions, reports The Commonwealth Foundation, a public-policy, free-market think tank in Harrisburg.

The PSEA has had cancerlike growth because of its ability to organize employees into collective bargaining units, influence legislation through its puppets that the union's political action committee helped to elect, and push for endless amounts of public financing for public schools, which usually ends up in union members' pockets.
And POLICY BLOG, the official blog of the Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives, an independent, non-profit public policy research and educational institute based in Harrisburg, has the numbers to show that "compulsory unionism doesn't benefit teachers, students, or taxpayers."

From POLICY BLOG:
There is no evidence for (PSEA Head honcho James) Testerman's claim that right-to-work states cannot attract teachers. And as for academic performance, right-to-work states (despite high levels of immigration) perform almost identically to compulsory union states on the NAEP test, and higher on the SAT.
Pennsylvania teachers are the fourth highest-paid in the nation, yet Pennsylvania continues to lead the country in teacher strikes.

And as POLICY BLOG notes, "Pennsylvania ranks near the bottom in SAT scores, and only 60% of black males graduate, according to one analysis."

Check out School Board Transparency and Stop Teachers Strikes blogs for more information.

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Report: PA Making Progress in Early Education, But More Children Could Benefit

Report: Pennsylvania Making Progress in Early Education, But More Children Could Benefit

Obama Adviser on Gay Troops Has Record of Sexism

Obama Adviser on Gay Troops Has Record of Sexism

Democrats refuse to clean House

It's rare that the ultra-liberal Pittsburgh Post-Gazette agrees with the conservative Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, but here's one of those cases.

The Post-Gazette says Pennsylvania House Democrats failed to break with the tainted leadership of former Majority Leader Bill DeWeese.

From a Post-Gazette editorial:
House Democrats must like the way their troubled caucus has been operating. How else to explain how little they changed things when they held leadership elections on Tuesday?
DeWeese led the Democrats in the House during the pay raise scandal of 2005 and the Bonusgate scandal of 2006. The decision by House Democrats to associate themselves with the embattled DeWeese says a lot about the Democrats' unwillingness to reform the culture of corruption in Harrisburg.

Read the full editorial at the newspaper's Web site.

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

Reform group: No pay raises for state officials

A citizens' group that led the fight to repeal the 2005 legislative pay raise is demanding Pennsylvania officials suspend their annual COLA increase.

RockTheCapital.org says the 2.8% cost-of-living adjustment for legislators, members of the Rendell administration and judges is a "stealth" pay raise.

The base salary of a Pennsylvania lawmaker goes up to $78,315 on Dec. 1. Legislative leaders earn more. For example, the Senate Pro Tempore would earn $118,095 after the COLA kicks in.

From Eric Epstein, coordinator of RockTheCapital.org:
"At a time when working class families are getting clobbered, the political class is making plans to jet to New York City and whine and dine in the lap of luxury. Those in the 'no whine zone' are prospering. Speaker McCall will be making $122,000, and Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron Castille will be hauling in $192,000. Rank-and-file lawmakers will have to get by on $78,300 with per diems, a state car, and full benefits."
Epstein said the Dec. 1 pay raise is particularly galling because Pennsylvania elected officials have done such a poor job of managing state revenues.

"No one should be rewarded for creating a $500 million deficit," Epstein said. "Taking a COLA this year is like stealing your children's savings' bonds."

RockTheCapital.org, one of several citizen reform groups that fought to repeal the 2005 middle-of-the-night pay raise, believes that a nonpartisan and independent compensation commission should determine future pay adjustments for elected and appointed officials.

"State government is a publicly held corporation with by-laws that specifically exclude COLAS (Article III, Section VIII)," Epstein said. "If lawmakers want a bonus plan then they need to submit a proposal to taxpayers for ratification."

For more on the group's reform agenda, visit RockTheCapital.org

Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

Blog Address Inaccuracies Surrounding Firearms

Firearms Industry Launches Blog to Address Inaccuracies Surrounding Firearms

FlyersRights.Org Advice for Holiday Travelers

FlyersRights.Org Advice for Holiday Travelers

President George W. Bush Grants Pardons and Commutations

President George W. Bush Grants Pardons and Commutations

Fight OPEC with Cap and Trade Regs on Imported Oil

John W. Rich Jr.: Fight OPEC with Cap and Trade Regs on Imported Oil

Big Brother Obama is Watching



Does anyone else find this image disturbing? The mural of President-elect Barack Obama is painted on the side of a restaurant in Chicago. Shades of Big Brother or Fidel Castro or Hugo Chavez. The cult of personality surrounding Obama is getting out of hand.

Cross-posted at TONY PHYRILLAS

Obama's Economic Plan Will Further Elevate Mind-Boggling National Debt

President-Elect Obama's Economic Plan Will Further Elevate Mind-Boggling National Debt

Monday, November 24, 2008

PA Open Records Office sets copying fees

Below is the first press release from the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records. I hope it will be the first of many to come as Pennsylvania ushers in a new era of openness and accountability in government.
OPEN RECORDS OFFICE SETS RIGHT-TO-KNOW FEE STRUCTURE

HARRISBURG -- Citizens will pay between 10 cents and 25 cents per page for public records under a fee structure established by the new Office of Open Records, Executive Director Terry Mutchler announced Monday.

"The fee structure established by our office is a reasonable way to ensure citizens have meaningful access to the records of their government and that public bodies are able to recoup the actual cost of the copies," Mutchler said.

The Right-To-Know law, signed by Gov. Edward G. Rendell on February 14, 2008, established the Office of Open Records to implement and enforce the Act. The law, which fully becomes effective January 1, 2009, charged the Office of Open Records with establishing fees pursuant to a right-to-know request.

Under the fee structure, a Commonwealth or Local Agency will be permitted to charge only the actual cost of reproduction for blue-prints, color copies, odd-sized materials and downloading records to computerized discs.

An agency may not charge citizens for the time it takes to determine whether the record is a public record. An agency may not charge for searching or retrieving the documents. An agency also may not charge staff time or salary for complying with a right-to-know request, and an agency is precluded from charging fees to redact, or black out, information that is exempt under the law.

"Nationally, duplication fees are one of the most abused areas of any government access law and, quite often, high fees are just another way to deny citizens access to their government," Mutchler said. "This fee structure guards against that."

Citizens also can choose to inspect records rather than obtain copies, under the law.

The Office of Open Records encouraged Judicial and Legislative agencies, which can set their own fees, to adopt the fee structure set by the Office of Open Records to promote uniformity throughout the Commonwealth.

The complete fee structure and information related to the Office of Open Records and the new law can be found at http://openrecords.state.pa.us

Columnist: Fight liberal media bias

I posted a link last week at my other blog, but I want as many people to read this article as possible. Herb Denenberg has written a must-read column in The Philadelphia Bulletin about the decline of the mainstream media in the United States.

By decline, Denenberg refers to both the drop in readership/viewership of newspapers and television networks and the rapid decline of trust the American public has for the media.

Denenberg argues that the mainstream media's open support of Barack Obama amounts to a coup to install "an unqualified candidate who was never vetted properly" into the presidency of the United States.

From Denenberg's column:
The problem is that the mainstream media has now become a lapdog and bootlicker of the Obama administration and during the campaign, and now during the transition, have demonstrated they are simply cheerleaders and propagandists for President-elect Barack Obama and have totally abandoned journalistic standards calling for fair and balanced reporting on Mr. Obama and on other national issues.

The mainstream media continues to amaze even its most critical observers by going ever deeper into the journalistic sewer. I keep thinking the mainstream media can't get any worse, but it continues to prove I'm wrong.
Denenberg has some suggestions on how conservatives can counter the left-wing bias of the mainstream media:
First, the Republicans have to do more to directly communicate news and information to supporters, potential supporters and everyone else. This is much more practicable with the advent of the Internet, e-mail, blogs and all the rest.

Second, the pubic has to be mobilized to effectively criticize mainstream media bias by all means available, such as letters-to-the-editor, calls to talk shows and support of groups that fight media bias.

Third, the public has to start inflicting economic damage on the dishonest, fraudulent, and biased mainstream media. That means individual and organized boycotts of the mainstream media, canceling subscriptions and discontinuing advertising in them.

Fourth, the public has to start going to alternative media outlets that can be trusted to give the whole picture. (Denenberg offers a list of some of his favorite alternative sites in the column.)
Read the full column at the newspaper's Web site.

New Blog Follows Obama Transition

CQ Politics Announces Key Appointments, Launches New Blog

Thanksgiving Day Proclamation by President Bush

Thanksgiving Day Proclamation by President Bush

'Yes We Can't'

Economic Crisis Makes 'Rubinomics' Irrelevant

Has it occurred to anyone that the people Barack Obama is bringing back to run the country are the very same ones who planted the seeds of the current economic mess?

Economic Crisis Makes 'Rubinomics' Irrelevant

CAIR Sued by Former Clients for Racketeering, Fraud, & Breach of Fiduciary Duties

CAIR Sued by Former Clients for Racketeering, Fraud, & Breach of Fiduciary Duties

Friday, November 21, 2008

Newspaper: Officials should give up pay raise

The Pottstown Mercury is urging Pennsylvania legislators and judges to give up their annual cost-of-living increase in light of the suffering so many fellow Pennsylvanians are facing during the economic slowdown. Pennsylvania legislators are among the highest paid in the country.

From The Mercury's editorial page:
THORNS for a system that continues to reward Pennsylvania lawmakers and state judges while nearly every other sector — public and private — is facing cutbacks. State lawmakers and judges are in line for 2.8 percent cost-of-living raises that will raise the pay for rank and file members of the state House and Senate to just over $78,000 starting next month. Members of leadership will get even more. Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald Castille's salary is going up to nearly $192,000. The pay for county judges will be about $162,000. The same increases are due for Gov. Ed Rendell and his cabinet secretaries. The governor says he might suspend them as part of budgetary belt-tightening. At a time when the mayor of Philadelphia is writing himself a pay cut and other municipal managers are seeing salaries frozen in tight 2009 budgets, the lawmakers in Pennsylvania could make a sacrifice, too. Perhaps they should read the headlines in the state instead of the fine print in their salary package and live in the real world.

Watchdog group: Obama cabinet picks a 'national disgrace '

'Has President Elect Obama's Concept of Change Regressed to Returning Ethically Compromised Players to The White House from Clinton-Gore Administration?'

Coalition for a Democratic Workplace Calls on Congress to Oppose Anti-Worker Employee Free Choice Act

Coalition for a Democratic Workplace Calls on Congress to Oppose Anti-Worker Employee Free Choice Act

Memorial Tribute to Lt. Governor Catherine Baker Knoll

Pennsylvania Governor Rendell Remembers, Celebrates the Life of Lt. Governor Catherine Baker Knoll During Capitol Tribute

New Post-Election Survey Provides In-Depth Analysis of Latino Vote

New Post-Election Survey Provides In-Depth Analysis of Latino Vote

Pennsylvania's Employment Situation: October 2008

Pennsylvania's Employment Situation: October 2008

Rendell: Tougher Times Ahead

PA Governor Rendell Says Mounting Job Losses Mean Tougher Times Ahead

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Friday services for Lt. Gov. Knoll

State officials released the following program for Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll's Memorial Service:
Governor Edward G. Rendell, U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, U.S. Rep. John Murtha and Lt. Governor Joseph Scarnati III will address a memorial service in the Capitol Rotunda at noon on Friday, Nov. 21, to honor Lt. Governor Catherine Baker Knoll, who died Nov. 12.

Most Rev. Kevin C. Rhoades, Bishop of Harrisburg, will lead the invocation and benediction.

The service will include performances by the Keystone Christian Education Association All-State Choir, which is made up of 150 students from across the state. An Honor Guard that will include representatives of the Pennsylvania State Police, Pennsylvania State Capitol Police and members of the Pennsylvania National Guard will serve as pallbearers.

The program is as follows:

-- Performance by Keystone Christian Education Association All-State
Choir
-- Honor Guard carries Lt. Gov. Baker Knoll's casket to Rotunda
-- Invocation - Bishop Kevin Rhoades, Diocese of Harrisburg
-- Governor Edward G. Rendell
-- U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, New York
-- Lt. Gov. Joseph Scarnati III
-- U.S. Rep. John Murtha
-- Choir performs
-- Benediction - Bishop Kevin Rhoades

The public may view the service via closed-circuit video at the Forum Auditorium in Harrisburg. Accommodations are available for persons with disabilities.

The service also will be carried live by the Pennsylvania Cable Network, which is distributed on more than 150 cable systems serving more than 3.3 million homes. A complete listing of PCN affiliates and network channel designations is available at www.pcntv.com.

For reasons of security and crowd control, the Capitol Rotunda will temporarily close to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday. The Rotunda will reopen at 2 p.m. to allow the public to pay final respects to the Lt. Governor, who will lie in repose until 2 p.m. on Saturday.

WashingtonWatch.com Welcomes its 1,000,000th Visitor for the Year

WashingtonWatch.com Welcomes its 1,000,000th Visitor for the Year

Honors for Lt. Gov. Knoll



A portrait of Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll is on display in the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg. Memorial services for the Knoll, who died last week at age 78, are scheduled for Friday.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A third Clinton Administration?

Remember all the hogwash from Barack Obama that electing John McCain would be a third Bush Administration?

So what exactly did voters get when they elected Obama instead? It's beginning to look more and more like a third Clinton Administration.

More than two-thirds of the people named to Obama's transition team are former members of the Clinton Administration. Many are in line to get key posts in an Obama White House.

Obama has already tapped Rahm Emanuel, who worked for Bill Clinton, to be his chief of staff. John Podesta, who is heading the Obama transition, was Clinton's chief of staff.

Obama's choice for attorney general appears to be Eric Holder, a former No. 2 Justice Department official in the Clinton administration.

And now Hillary Clinton is the front-runner to be named Secretary of State?

Didn't voters reject a third Clinton Administration when they passed on Hillary as the Democratic Party nominee?

If Clinton doesn't want the job, it appears that another Clinton retread, Bill Richardson, is in line.

Why is Obama recycling the Clinton White House? You could make the argument that Hillary Clinton is more experienced with foreign affairs than Obama, but I thought the whole point of having Joe Biden on the ticket is because of his foreign policy experience?

Is this change or more of the same?

Pennsylvania Education Officials Announce Efforts to Further Improve School Safety

Pennsylvania Education Officials Announce Efforts to Further Improve School Safety

Consumer Watchdog Comments on Health Insurer's Self-Serving Support of 'Individual Mandate'

Consumer Watchdog Comments on Health Insurer's Self-Serving Support of 'Individual Mandate'

CAIR: Zawahri Does Not Speak for Muslims

CAIR: Zawahri Does Not Speak for Muslims

RNC: Obama's Pardon-Me AG

RNC: Obama's Pardon-Me AG

Large Percentage of Foster Children in Limbo in PA

Large Percentage of Foster Children in Limbo in PA

Catch Tony Phyrillas on radio, TV

I'll be making a return appearance this week to "Journalists Roundtable" on the Pennsylvania Cable Network.

Among the topics of discussion will be the new leadership in the Pennsylvania Legislature.

The program airs Thursday at 8 p.m. and again on Sunday at 5 p.m. and 11 p.m.

PCN is Comcast Channel 98 in Berks County, Service Electric Channel 23 in Berks and Lehigh Counties and Comcast Channel 186 in the Pottstown area. Consult your cable guide for the PCN channel in your area.

And don't forget to tune in to "Talking Politics with Tony Phyrillas and Mike Pincus" Thursday at 5 p.m. on WPAZ 1370 AM. The one-hour show is simulcast at www.1370wpaz.com and www.pottsmerc.com

AAA Anticipates Five Million Stranded Motorists During Holiday Season

AAA Anticipates Five Million Stranded Motorists During Holiday Season

Auditor General Audit Finds Serious Weaknesses in State Civil Service Commission's Veterans' Preference Program

This is a Democratic official criticizing the Rendell Administration?

Auditor General Jack Wagner's Audit Finds Serious Weaknesses in State Civil Service Commission's Veterans' Preference Program

Hunters Can Donate Deer to Local Food Banks, Pantries, Soup Kitchens

AG Secretary, Game Commission Director Urge Hunters to Help Feed the Hungry, Share Their Harvest

Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission Awards $162,000 in Sexual Harassment Case

Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission Awards $162,000 in Sexual Harassment Case

Federal Register Announces Launch of New Electronic Public Inspection Desk

Federal Register Announces Launch of New Electronic Public Inspection Desk

A column Ed Rendell should read

The Wall Street Journal has published an excellent op-ed column by Steve Malanga, a senior editor at the Manhattan Institute's City Journal, about how states got themselves into a fiscal mess.

Are you listening, Ed Rendell?

Pennsylvania has run up a budget deficit of $565 million just four months into the current fiscal year. State lawmakers predict a deficit of $2.5 billion by the end of the fiscal year.

How did we get into this mess? When times were good, Gov. Rendell proposed budgets that increased spending at twice the rate of inflation. Since Rendell took office in 2003, state spending has risen by more than $7 billion. Rendell also borrowed another $3 billion.

Now that times are tough, tax revenues are shrinking dramatically. Rendell has proposed $300 million in cuts from administrative spending, but that won't put much of a dent in a $2.5 billion deficit.

Rendell isn't alone in screwing up his state's bottom line.

From Malanga's column:
From the end of the last recession in 2003 until this year, states collectively boosted general-fund budgets by an annual average of some 6.4%. In just 2006 and 2007 alone they added about $100 billion. During the period from 2003-2008, states also took on 38% more debt, increasing their collective indebtedness to $2.19 trillion.

Now it's cold-shower time. Earlier this year, in the spring, more than half of the states grappled with budget deficits amounting collectively to nearly $50 billion. Since then tax collections have fallen short of projections, producing further midyear budget holes in nearly two dozen states.
To read the full article, visit the newspaper's Web site.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Montco GOP censures Turncoat Jim Matthews

The Montgomery County Republican Committee has adopted a unanimous resolution censuring renegade county Commissioner Jim Matthews.

"Since I was elected chairman and even while I was campaigning, everywhere I went, I was asked 'What are we going to do about Jim Matthews'?," county GOP Chairman Bob Kerns said in a press release announcing the censure.

"The voters I talk to feel betrayed and the Republican committee members are just devastated by Jim's actions. The voters placed their trust in Jim Matthews and Bruce Castor and the committee members put their hearts into the campaign to elect the Matthews-Castor team last year. This has been a difficult year for everyone," Kerns said.

Matthews rode Bruce Castor's coattails to re-election last November, but on Dec. 18, he announced that he had negotiated a power-sharing agreement with the lone Democrat on the three-member commissioners board. The deal made Democrat Joe Hoeffel vice chairman of the commissioners. Hoeffel then proceeded to hire all sorts of political cronies to lucrative county jobs.

Most votes taken by the board have been 2-1, with Matthews and Hoeffel getting their way over the objections of Castor.

More from Kerns' release:
"Montgomery County's voters pick the person, not the party. It's been that way for two decades and Jim Matthews and Bruce Castor campaigned on a set of priorities that are not being implemented. Instead, we're implementing the major priorities outlined by Joe Hoeffel and Ruth Damsker, but that agenda was rejected by voters in favor of a Matthews-Castor agenda. The voters have to know we don’t condone what’s happening in Norristown."

As an example Kerns cited the Hoeffel promises of hiring a Chief Financial Officer, enacting a $50 million economic development plan, and Hoeffel's record in the 1990s of running up debt and paying for budget items with bond issues.

"When Hoeffel left the Board of Commissioners in 1998 he left us with hundreds of millions in debt and just $12 million in the bank. Our AAA bond rating was threatened. It was a disaster. Hoeffel and Matthews are pursuing policies that will put us right back in the same hole. This year alone they are looking to raid the county’s dwindling savings to pay for their programs. It's not the way Republicans would run this government. Jim Matthews got elected in 1999 and again in 2007 by pointing out what a disaster Hoeffel was as a commissioner in the 1990's. Now he's forming a government with him and implementing Hoeffel's agenda? It makes no sense and our committee and the voters are confused and hurt,” Kerns said.
Since taking over control of the county party in the spring, Kerns said he attempted to "bring Matthews back to the table."

"I did meet with him in early summer in the hopes of bridging the divide between he and his Republican colleagues in county government. He made it clear that he was not interested in any kind of reconciliation. I continued to pursue the matter through intermediaries throughout the fall," Kerns said in the release.

“At some point, we have to decide to move on and accept that, based on his actions, he is not a Republican anymore. No matter how often Jim insists he is a Republican, you are ultimately judged by how you govern and your record, not your words," Kerns said.

Kerns said on Election Day many committee members reported incidents where voters stopped to express their disgust with Matthews on their way into the polls.

"In the end, Jim's actions are the actions of an individual, not the Party. That is the message I hope people take away from this resolution. The party is standing up and making its position clear. We don't agree with Jim, we don't condone what he's doing as a Commissioner and he's not representative of our Party as long as he's engaging in this behavior. Don't blame the Party for the actions of one man," Kerns concluded.

A total of 56 Republican municipal leaders, area leaders and executive committee members attended Monday's Leadership Conference, where the censure vote against Matthews was taken.

National Report Ranks Pennsylvania 26th in Protecting Kids From Tobacco

National Report Ranks Pennsylvania 26th in Protecting Kids From Tobacco

Sales Tax 'Skimming' Costs State and Local Governments Over $1 Billion Annually

Sales Tax 'Skimming' Costs State and Local Governments Over $1 Billion Annually

National Report Ranks Alaska No. 1 in Protecting Kids from Tobacco

Congratulations to Gov. Sarah Palin!

National Report Ranks Alaska No. 1 in Protecting Kids from Tobacco

Newspaper: U.S. women lack political power

Voters rejected Hillary Rodham Clinton for president in 2008. Voters rejected Sarah Palin for vice president in 2008. On the surface, it was not a very good year for female politicians.

While high-profile candidates for national office did not fare well, women did make inroads in Congress and in state legislatures, according to Linda Feldmann of The Christian Science Monitor.

But don't go popping that champagne yet. Women still have a long way to go to break the glass ceiling that both Clinton and Palin referred to in speeches.

Feldmann writes:
Even as the highest glass ceiling in American politics came the closest it ever has to being shattered, in Congress it was business as usual: Women made a net gain of one seat in the Senate, bringing the total to 17 out of 100, and three seats in the House, moving up from 71 to 74 out of 435 seats, or 17 percent.
When it comes to handing women political power, the United States trails much of the rest of the world, Feldmann says.

From her article:
As of Oct. 31, the US ranked 71st out of 188 countries for its percentage of women in the lower House, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union. "At this rate, it will take us till 2063 to reach parity," says Marie Wilson, president of the White House Project, an organization working to advance women in leadership. "I mean, come on! We have to speed things up."
The bright spots for women came mostly at the state level, Feldmann writes.

From her article:
A record number of women, 2,328, ran for state legislatures in a presidential election year, surpassing the previous presidential-year record of 2,302 set in 1992. (The overall record was set in 2006, when 2,429 women ran. More state legislative seats are up for election in non-presidential election years.) "So 2008 was a record, and it managed to get us from 23.7 percent of women serving in state legislatures to 24.2 percent," says Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Another bright spot emerged in New Hampshire, where women now hold a majority in the state Senate, 13 out of 24 seats – the first state legislative body in US history to be majority female. New Hampshire, and New England in general, has a history of electing women to office, owing to a tradition of citizen part-time legislators. In New Hampshire, the annual pay for legislators is $100, plus travel reimbursement.

Overall, when the totals of each state's legislative bodies are combined, Colorado ranks No. 1 for female representation, with 38 percent. Vermont has 37.8 percent, and New Hampshire, 37.7 percent.
Read the full article at the newspaper's Web site.

PA Department of Health Highlights 'Great American Smokeout,' Offers Quitting Resources

PA Department of Health Highlights 'Great American Smokeout,' Offers Quitting Resources

Republican National Committee: Transparent Campaigns

Republican National Committee: Transparent Campaigns

About that $700 billion

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist sent a letter to the U.S. Treasury Department today requesting the full $700 billion in bailout money be turned over to him.

He's got better plans for the money than what Congress has come up with so far.

From Norquist's letter:
I write today to formally request $700 billion from the TARP Capital Purchase Program. Since unionized auto companies, state and local governments, and certain credit card companies are applying, I thought I should, as well. Attached you will find the two-page application which I downloaded from www.treas.gov.

I am fully aware that some $125 billion has already been allocated as of October 29, 2008. However, given that the federal government has the full weight of the army, the FBI, etc. behind it, I am confident that you can re-appropriate this money from the likes of Wells Fargo (or their successor companies, if the current over-regulatory and over-taxing economic climate has caused them to go under).

I have a plan for this $700 billion which should be just what's needed to get the American economy going. Since the money came from the taxpayers in the first place, I propose giving it back to them.
That is the most sensible plan I've heard for how to use the $700 billion bailout plan. Sign me up, too, Grover.

Norquist Sends Letter to Treasury Applying for $700 Billion in TARP Funds

Monday, November 17, 2008

I'll drink that that

Celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the 21st Amendment and the Repeal of Prohibition on December 5, 2008

59 Groups Representing Millions of Taxpayers Tell Congress: No State Bailouts!

59 Groups Representing Millions of Taxpayers Tell Congress: No State Bailouts!

Pennsylvania's Brain-Dead Voters

Secretary of Public Welfare Praises Implementation of New Child Care Regulations

Secretary of Public Welfare Praises Implementation of New Child Care Regulations

RNC: Obama's Good Counsel?

RNC: Obama's Good Counsel?

Six-Point Plan to Restore Respect to Congress

Six-Point Plan to Restore Respect to Congress From Dismal 12-23% Approval, Lower Than Bush

DeWeese Done

It looks like we won't have Bill DeWeese to kick around anymore.

The embattled House Democratic Majority leader is dropping out of the race for another two-year term as floor leader to avoid the embarrassment of having his own Caucus members show him the door.

Prominent House Democrats attempted a coup earlier this year to force DeWeese to resign as Majority Leader, but he held on to his post ... at least for a few more months.

DeWeese survived a scare at the polls on Nov. 4 when he managed to beat Greg Hopkins, an under-funded opponent by just 2,107 votes. (DeWeese actually lost to Hopkins in Greene County, the heart of the 50th House District.)

DeWeese ran the Democratic Caucus during the Bonusgate scandal, in which politicians allegedly used millions of taxpayer dollars to pay state employees for doing campaign work.

Although DeWeese is not one of the 12 people connected to the Democratic Caucus to face criminal charges so far and maintains his innocence, his chief of staff testified in court that DeWeese was aware of the diversion of taxpayer funds for political purposes.

The Bonusgate scandal, the lingering mistrust of Harrisburg lawmakers over the 2005 pay raise vote and the inability of DeWeese to get any major Democratic legislation passed in the House during the past two years sealed his fate.

Perhaps the Democrats can come up with a new title for DeWeese, like the Republicans did for John Perzel, the former Speaker of the House who was dethroned by his one party members after the pay raise fiasco and the GOP's loss of the House majority. Perzel became the "Speaker Emeritus" of the House after he lost the powerful Speaker post.

Maybe DeWeese can now be "Leader Emeritus" as the Democrats attempt to pick up the pieces left by their self-destructive leadership.

DeWeese's departure means that 3 of the 4 top Legislative leaders who pushed for the middle-of-the-night pay raise are no longer holding their leadership posts.

Joining DeWeese and Perzel in exile is Robert C. Jubelirer, the Senate Pro Tempore at the time of the July 2005 pay raise. Jubelirer was voted out of office in 2006.

For good measure, Senate GOP Majority Leader David Brightbill was also kicked out by voters. The only legislative leader who survived the purge is Robert Mellow, the Democratic Minority Leader in the Senate.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Columnist: Obamas have school choice

Cal Thomas offers a look at the hypocritical world of liberals, especially when it comes to school choice. Liberal politicians pander to the powerful teachers unions, but when it comes to finding a school for their own children, they almost always choose private schools.

From Thomas' latest column:
Throughout the campaign, Barack Obama presented himself as a champion of the poor and middle class. Poor and middle-class parents do not love their children any less than the Obamas love their daughters. They want their kids to have a good education, realizing it is their ticket to a better life. But liberal politicians deny them that right. Is that fair?
Read the full column here.

Also check out my earlier comments about school choice.

Funeral arrangements for Lt. Gov. Knoll

Here's he latest from the Pennsylvania Office of the Lieutenant Governor on funeral arrangements for Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll, who died Wednesday after a four-month battle with cancer:
The Lieutenant Governor will lie in repose in the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg from noon, Friday, Nov. 21, to 2 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 22.

She will return home to her beloved Pittsburgh on Sunday, Nov. 23, where she will lie in repose from 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. at St. Paul's Cathedral, 108 N. Dithridge St.

The public is welcome to attend a Mass of Christian Burial at St. Paul's at noon, Tuesday, Nov. 25. Interment will be private.

The family humbly requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Lieutenant Governor's favorite charity, Angel's Place, 2615 Norwood Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15214 (888-975-6667) or http://www.angelsplacepgh.org

To write a message of condolence for the Lieutenant Governor Catherine Baker Knoll, visit her Web site at http://www.ltgovernor.state.pa.us

Obama will be tested

Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner Finds Deficiencies Still Exist in Department of Public Welfare's Administration of LIHEAP

Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner Finds Deficiencies Still Exist in Department of Public Welfare's Administration of LIHEAP

Karl Rove crunches he numbers

All is not lost for the Republican Party. In fact, the GOP is poised to make a dramatic comeback in the 2010 mid-term elections.

That's the assessment of none other than Karl Rove, the man credited with putting George W. Bush in the White House in 2000 and 2004.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Rove says things are not as bad as they appear after the Nov. 4 drubbing Republicans took at the polls. Despite the huge advantage Democrats had in voter registration, the blue tide never materialized on Election Day, Rove contends.

From his column:
First, the predicted huge turnout surge didn't happen. The final tally is likely to show that fewer than 128.5 million people voted. That's up marginally from 122 million in 2004. But 17 million more people voted in 2004 than in 2000 (three times the change from 2004 to 2008).
Rove also points out that Barack Obama's improvement over John Kerry in 2004 came largely from minority voters. Without Obama at the top of the ticket on 2010, Democrats can't count on a huge minority turnout.

From Rove's column:
Four out of five of these additional votes came from minorities. Mr. Obama got nearly 3.3 million more votes from African-Americans than did Mr. Kerry; 2.9 million of them were from younger blacks aged 18-29. A quarter of Mr. Obama's improvement among blacks -- 811,000 votes -- came from African-Americans who voted Republican in 2004. Mr. Obama also received 2.5 million more Hispanic votes than Mr. Kerry. Over a third of these votes -- 719,000 -- cast ballots for Republicans in 2004.
The reason Obama won the 2008 presidential race, Rove says, was that Hispanic voters went overwhelmingly for the Democrats this year, and the fact that millions of Republicans stayed home on Nov. 4.

From Rove's column:
There were 4.1 million fewer Republicans voting this year than in 2004. Some missing Republicans had turned independent or Democratic for this election. But most simply stayed home. Ironically for a campaign that featured probably the last Vietnam veteran to run for president, 2.7 million fewer veterans voted. There were also 4.1 million fewer voters who attend religious services more than once a week. Americans aren't suddenly going to church less; something was missing from the campaign to draw out the more religiously observant.
Population trends also favor the Republicans with states in the South and West (traditionally Republican) picking up population while Northeastern states (traditionally Democratic) continue to lose population, Rove says.

The GOP has history on its side heading into 2010, Rove argues.

From his column:
Since World War II, the out-party has gained an average of 23 seats in the U.S. House and two in the U.S. Senate in a new president's first midterm election. Other than FDR and George W. Bush, no president has gained seats in his first midterm election in both chambers.
Now, don't you feel better?

Read the full column at the newspaper's Web site.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Chester County lawmaker on Rendell overspending

State Rep. Curt Schroder, R-Chester County, has an op-ed column in The West Chester Daily Local News on Pennsylvania's growing budget deficit, which has passed the $550 million mark in the first four months of the current fiscal year.

Schroder, who voted against Rendell's $28.3 billion budget, says the red ink is not caused by "the global economic meltdown" as Rendell claims, but by a pattern of overspending on the part of the Democratic governor.

From Schroder's column:
Pennsylvania's budget deficit, which analysts predict could reach as high as $2.5 billion by the end of the current fiscal year, was not created solely by the economic downturn as some would have you believe. Instead, it is the result of years of overspending in Harrisburg.

Gov. Ed Rendell's budgets have routinely increased spending beyond the rate of inflation. Now, to quote one controversial clergyman, "The chickens are coming home to roost!"

From 2002 to the current 2008-09 budget, spending increased by 38.6 percent while the rate of inflation only rose by 19.5 percent.
Schroder says the token cuts Rendell has offered to make so far are not enough. The entire budget must be reopened or the state will face a huge financial crisis in 2009.

From his column:
This entire budget, and the house of cards on which it is based, must be reopened. It needs to be re-examined from top to bottom by the General Assembly - the elected body of the taxpaying citizens of Pennsylvania.

There is no shortage of ideas worth exploring. We should use this opportunity to force some tough decisions and finally come to grips with unnecessary spending on programs that either don't work or only serve a narrow special interest. If we do not act now, Pennsylvania will face its own fiscal crisis of Wall Street proportions.
Read the full column, "Blames deficit on overspending," at the newspaper's Web site.

Keep track of Obama promises

Barack Obama made a lot of promises to a lot of people to get himself elected president of the United States. Obama is already backpedaling on some of the promises even before he's been sworn into office.

The editors of Investor's Business Daily have painstakingly researched the Obama campaign to find 40 concrete promises Obama made to voters. They've compiles the list in a handy file called "A Checklist Of Obama's Many Promises."

The list includes some big ones ...
"Give a tax break to 95% of Americans"

"Eliminate oil imports from the Middle East in 10 years"

"Create 5 million green jobs"

"Remove troops from Iraq by the summer of 2010"

"Demand higher standards and more accountability from our teachers"
... and some lesser-known ones ...
"Make employers offer seven paid sick days per year"

"Weatherize 1 million homes annually"

"Increase the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2009"

"Get 1 million plug-in hybrids on the road by 2015"

"No more homeless veterans"
Print out your own copy of the list. Stick it on the refrigerator door and mark off the promises Obama keeps or the one's he breaks.

From the newspaper's Web site:
Few presidential candidates have made more specific promises to American voters than Barack Obama. They came so fast and furious in the latter part of the campaign, you'd be excused for not keeping up. So as a public service, we've put together a handy checklist of some of the biggest Obama promises — culled from his "Blueprint for Change," his campaign speeches and advertisements. Clip it. Save it. And see how he did in four years.
For the full list visit the newspaper's Web site.

'Talking Politics' on the radio today

"Talking Politics with Tony Phyrillas and Mike Pincus" can be heard Thursdays at 5 p.m. on WPAZ 1370 AM

You can join the conversation by calling the station at 610-326-4000.

"Talking Politics" can also be heard live online at http://www.1370wpaz.com/ and http://www.pottsmerc.com/

State, Community Leaders Unite to Tackle Pennsylvania's High School Dropout Problem

State, Community Leaders Unite to Tackle Pennsylvania's High School Dropout Problem

Attorney General Tom Corbett Issues Statement On The Death of Lt. Governor Catherine Baker Knoll

Attorney General Tom Corbett Issues Statement On The Death of Lt. Governor Catherine Baker Knoll

Hybrid Vehicle Rebates Still Available

Governor Rendell Reminds Pennsylvanians Hybrid Vehicle Rebates Still Available

Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor Catherine Baker Knoll Dies After Battle With Cancer

Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor Catherine Baker Knoll Dies After Battle With Cancer

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pennsylvanians clinging to guns

Maybe Barack Obama was right about bitter Pennsylvania residents clinging to their guns and religion.

Since Obama's election on Nov. 4, gun dealers in Pennsylvania (and across the nation) report sales increases of up to 50 percent.

"People are panic-buying," Russell Jones of Jones Gun Shop in center city Allentown told The Morning-Call newspaper.

With Obama, a longtime gun-control advocate, soon to occupy the White House, and Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate, anti-gun groups could have a field day with new restrictions or outright bans on weapons.

From The Morning-Call:
"(Obama's) rhetoric regarding the Second Amendment is deceptive," said Lawrence Keane, senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. "He cannot say he supports the Second Amendment and then say he wants to ban semiautomatic firearms."

Keane's group estimates gun sales are up about 10 percent so far this year and were up about 15 percent in October. He said the increase is "primarily driven by the election," and he expects sales to jump even further this month.

Joe Keffer, president of the Pennsylvania Association of Firearms Retailers, said the last time he saw sales so high was in the early 1990s, when federal officials were debating the assault weapons ban.

Keffer, who also owns a gun store near Lancaster, said sales of assault rifles and other items remained high for nearly a year before the ban ultimately passed in 1994.

He expects the current zeal to buy guns could be similarly sustained.

"We're what, two months away from him even taking office?" Keffer said. "I think there's a good possibility it could continue."
Read the full article by reporter Brian Callaway at the newspaper's Web site.

Business as usual in Harrisburg

Little is likely to change in Harrisburg based on last week's election results in the state Legislature, says The Pottstown Mercury.

With Democrats adding to their one-vote majority in the House, expect the same moribund leadership that has led the Legislature in the past two years.

From an editorial in today's edition of the newspaper:
The election is over, but now begins the power play to determine leadership posts in the next legislative term -- and it's business as usual with lawmakers jockeying for the pay and prestige that come with top leadership positions in the General Assembly.

The power play for leadership posts on the state level comes at a time when borough and city leaders are grappling with massive revenue shortfalls as ripple effects of the nation's economic crisis. Pottstown Borough Council last night heard a presentation for a budget that would eliminate 13 positions and drastically slash funding for fire companies, parks and other borough services.

But, in Harrisburg, it's business as usual. The 315 million-dollar monster that is the state Legislature just keeps rolling along. Little changed in the election on the state legislative front. And, little is changing now as the play for power positions goes into full swing.

Another day, a lot of dollars: Business as usual.
Read the full editorial, "Power Play Is On For Leadership Posts," at the newspaper's Web site.

Help sponsor 'Talking Politics' on radio

"Talking Politics with Tony Phyrillas & Mike Pincus" has been on the air since mid-July. The audience has been growing each week and we're receiving a steady stream of callers each week.

The initial 13-week commitment from our sponsors has expires and there are openings for new sponsors.

If you're interested in having your business promoted in Montgomery, Chester and Berks counties, the contact information for WPAZ 1370 AM is below. "Talking Politics" can be heard every Thursday from 5-6 p.m. on WPAZ and is simulcast at www.1370wpaz.com and www.pottsmerc.com

In the meantime, Mike and I would like to thank our initial sponsors for making the show possible:

The Basile Corporation, Douglassville

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Nutritional Foods Inc., Pottstown

Ron Black Agency, Royersford

If you're interested in advertising on "Talking Politics," contact:

WPAZ 1370 AM
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Richard Viguerie, in Conservatives Betrayed, Foresaw Collapse of GOP and Describes the Road Back for Conservatives

Richard Viguerie, in Conservatives Betrayed, Foresaw Collapse of GOP and Describes the Road Back for Conservatives

RNC: Transitioning on Lobbyists

RNC: Transitioning on Lobbyists

New Report: Middle-Class Families in Difficult Pre-K Pinch

New Report: Middle-Class Families in Difficult Pre-K Pinch

This week's Influence Ranking

Not much change in this week's Influence Ranking at BlogNetNews.com other than the Top 4 spots being held by conservative bloggers. As usual, PaWaterCooler and TONY PHYRILLAS are battling it out for the No. 1 spot.

Here's this week's Top 10 with conservative bloggers highlighted.

Pennsylvania's Most Influential Political blogs

Rank Blog Prev

1 Pawatercooler.com 1
2 TONY PHYRILLAS 1
3 GrassrootsPA 3
4 Save The GOP 7
5 Lehigh Valley Ramblings 3
6 THE CENTRIST 6
7 Comments From Left Field 9
8 PolitickerPA 8
9 POLICY BLOG 5
10 A Lehigh Valley P. O. V. 17

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day 2008



"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." — Winston Churchill, August 20th, 1940

Read the full message that accompanies this cartoon at GetLiberty.org

Is Chester County turning blue?

Columnists at The West Chester Daily Local News are still trying to make sense of the Nov. 4 election results, which saw Democrats make dramatic gains in Chester county, once a Republican stronghold.

Here's a sampling from recent columns.

From Jim Giuliano:
Democrats in Chester County are rejoicing over victories by some of their candidates and by the changing voting patters that show a swing away from the solid Republican monolith that we once knew and tolerated, if not loved.

The whole thing is quite a shock to those of us who can remember the days when the Chester County Democratic Party could hold its annual meeting in the back of a minivan and still have room left over for a tray of cold cuts.

Here's what's really strange. The pattern is repeating itself across the country. I heard one Republican analyst say, because of growing Hispanic populations, the party is worried about losing Texas in the next election. Texas!

So even the powerful can fall when they don't heed the will of the people. And there's a lesson in there for Democrats.
From Jim Callahan:
None of this is the fault of the local Republican Party. It was the Democratic candidate. People like him. I'm sure that most party Republicans worked as hard as they could, ditto for Democrats, but at some point candidates can supersede political organizations. This was that kind of an election in Chester County and in the nation.

Seemingly dragged along for the ride were two Democratic candidates for state representative, Tom Houghton in the Oxford area, and Paul J. Drucker in the Tredyffrin-Phoenixville area. The re-election of Democratic Rep. Barbara McIlvaine Smith validated her absurdly close victory over Republican Shannon Royer two years ago with a much more comfortable margin this time over Royer. It seems the only kind of luck Shannon has is buzzard's luck. He said he got beat in 2006 because it was a lousy year for Republicans. He was right. He said the same thing last week. He was also right.

The Republican Party can snap right back in 2010 if conditions are remotely favorable. There is one slight difficulty. All three are incumbents. And incumbents can be difficult to dislodge.
From Dan Kristie:
Still, more than half of the votes cast in Chester County were straight-party. Of the 252,674 people who voted, 128,298 handed in a straight party ballot. Of those ballots, 63,717 were Republican, 61,768 were Democrat 2,555 were Independent, 237 were Libertarian, and 21 were Constitution.

The straight-party voting might have made the difference for a few state house candidates. I think it really helped Democrat Paul Drucker in the 157th District, but the election returns are such that, without outside polling data, I can't really make a convincing argument.

Such As The Mammoth

Say 'Thank you' to American troops

An appeal from Berks Enduring Freedom to send a "thank you" to American troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan:
Have you ever wanted to say "Thank you" in a tangible way to those men and women who serve our country? If so, here is a great opportunity.

Berks Enduring Freedom, a local organization, needs our help. They are sending about 1,100 boxes of donated items to about 550 troops from Berks County who are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have received tens of thousands of new items (food, hygiene supplies, books, CDs, etc. – it is an amazing assortment) from local businesses and individuals, but now everything needs to be packaged for shipping.

It is easy work, and quite unglamorous. Zara and I went on Saturday and Sunday afternoons for a total of about 3 hours, and we spent our time putting small food packages (instant oatmeal, Cheese-It and Goldfish crackers, etc.) and hygiene supplies (tissues, cotton balls, Q-tips, etc.) into zip-lock baggies. They also have a craft room where Zara made cards and wrote a letter to be included in the boxes. Volunteers are needed Monday through Thursday this week to help prepare the boxes, and especially at night on Wednesday and Thursday. The hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

On Friday from 8 a.m. to noon all the boxes must be loaded onto trucks for shipping. Currently they have only a few people lined up to carry boxes.

The warehouse (heated, lighted, wheelchair accessible, with bathrooms) is very easy to get to; it is located in the same building as Grainger, 4201 Pottstown Pike (Route 61) next to Bob Fisher Chevrolet. If you are coming south from Leesport it is on the left after the Tuckerton traffic light; coming north from Reading it is on the right. Everyone (about 8 to 10 people) was very friendly and down to earth. One of the aspects that I really liked was that they put us to work immediately – no wasted time. They also have good food donated by local eateries if you want a snack or meal while you are there.

Additional information can be found at http://www.berksenduringfreedom.com/ or by calling Simone Sauers at 610-682-0428 or Dory at 610-683-8197, or Steve Johnson, Home 610.779.0289 or Cell 610.207.6250

Zara and I had a great time doing this together, and you will too. Please help if you can, even for one hour. Thank you.

Steve Johnson

RNC Launches New Web Site: 'RepublicanForAReason.com'

RNC Launches New Web Site: 'RepublicanForAReason.com'

Veteran's Day Tips for Military Packages, Cards and Letters

Veteran's Day Tips for Military Packages, Cards and Letters

Monday, November 10, 2008

Firearms Industry Addresses Rising Gun Sales; Obama Administration Showing Anti-Gun Cards Early

Firearms Industry Addresses Rising Gun Sales; Obama Administration Showing Anti-Gun Cards Early

Gov. Rendell Praises Veterans for Their Service, Sacrifice

Governor Rendell Praises Veterans for Their Service, Sacrifice

Richard Viguerie: Conservatives Deserve Credit for Resignations of Blunt, Putnam

Richard Viguerie: Conservatives Deserve Credit for Resignations of Blunt, Putnam

Nation's Top 50 Catholic High Schools Announced for 2008

Only 2 Pennsylvania high schools made the list.

Nation's Top 50 Catholic High Schools Announced for 2008

Rendell Calls on Senate to Return to Harrisburg

Governor Rendell Calls on Senate to Return to Harrisburg, Work with House to Address Critical, Unresolved Health Care Issues

Election Season Provided 'Wake-up Call' for Traditional Media, Panel of Journalists Says

Election Season Provided 'Wake-up Call' for Traditional Media, Panel of Journalists Says

Chester County prepares residents for 2009 tax hike

Property taxes and the weather. Everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything about it.

Chester County officials want to talk about property taxes.

The entire county is invited to attend a forum at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 13, in the commissioners' boardroom on the fifth floor of the courthouse North Wing on North High Street in West Chester.

"We need the opportunity to have a conversation with the taxpayers," Commissioners' Chairwoman Carol Aichele told the West Chester Daily Local News. "The bottom line is that we cannot run Chester County in the year 2009 for the same amount of money that we did in 2008."

Translation: Property taxes are going up for county residents in 2009.

The proposed $461.4 million budget introduced by county staff last month includes a 5 percent increase in property taxes, from the current millage of 3.804 to 4.018, says reporter Michael Rellehan.

Read the full story at the newspaper's Web site.

Details of the 2009 Chester County budget are available online at www.chesco.org

More Than $1 Billion Recovered by Justice Department in Fraud and False Claims in Fiscal Year 2008

More Than $1 Billion Recovered by Justice Department in Fraud and False Claims in Fiscal Year 2008

Gov. Mike Huckabee on Obama approach to health care

Governor Mike Huckabee Discusses How President Elect Barack Obama's Approach to Health Care Will Affect the Nation

PennDOT Projects Win National Quality Awards

PennDOT Projects Win National Quality Awards

My sentiments exactly

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Rock bottom for PA GOP

How low can the Pennsylvania Republican Party go?

That's the question conservative commentator Lowman Henry asks in a terrific op-ed published by The Pottstown Mercury.

Check out "Pa. GOP hits rock bottom" at the newspaper's Web site.

Radio Address by President Bush to The Nation

Radio Address by President Bush to The Nation

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Morality in Media sends letter to President-elect Barack Obama

In a Letter to Presidential-elect Barack Obama, Morality in Media President Bob Peters Said: Your Choice is Either to Build on the Limited Progress Made Under President Bush in Combating Obscenity or to Follow in Former President Clinton's Footsteps

The first of many Obama broken promises?

Republican National Committee: Obama's Broken Promise

Liberal media has Obama's back

Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's "Hardball," has decided to play softball with President-elect Barack Obama.

This is what Matthews said this morning on his own network: "I'm going to do everything I can to make this presidency work."

Sounds like Matthews understands the role of TV journalists perfectly, doesn't it?

Let's give Matthews a pat on the back for honesty. MSNBC (and all the NBC networks) have been part of the Obama Campaign for nearly two years. At least Matthews is willing to admit it publicly.

The Chosen One

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Election recap on 'Talking Politics'

Tune in to this week's "Talking Politics with Tony Phyrillas & Mike Pincus" to hear analysis on the 2008 election, including how Tony and Mike did predicting the outcome of 26 races.

The show can be heard Thursdays at 5 p.m. o WPAZ 1370 AM, simulcast at www.1370wpaz.com and www.pottsmerc.com

You can call in with questions or comments during the live broadcast at 610-326-4000.

Gender Gap Evident in the 2008 Election

Gender Gap Evident in the 2008 Election

MoveOn Members Gave $88 Million for Obama Victory

MoveOn Members Gave $88 Million for Obama Victory

The SNL Effect: 'Saturday Night Live' Political Skits Make Real Impact on Voters

The SNL Effect: 'Saturday Night Live' Political Skits Make Real Impact on Voters

Voters' Resounding Call for 'Change' Did Not Include Wanting More Lawsuits

Voters' Resounding Call for 'Change' Did Not Include Wanting More Lawsuits

Official English Wins by a Landslide in Missouri

Official English Wins by a Landslide in Missouri

The Morning After

Some good posts from conservative Pennsylvania bloggers on the morning after Democratic sweeps in national and state offices.

POWERBLOG! says it's time for Republicans to ponder the future of their party.

Page13News says this was the "It's All About Me" election.

That's Rich says there's no crying in politics.

WRITEMARSH! says Obama's victory is all about selling hope and packaging.

The Clarke Report says nothing much changed in Schuylkill County politics.

Ohligarchy says abandon hope.

Penn Patriot Online says Obama's win is the official end of the Reagan Revolution.

and TONY PHYRILLAS on Tom Corbett surviving the Democratic tide and positioning himself for a run at governor in 2010.

Richard Viguerie: America Rejects Big Government Republicanism

Richard Viguerie: America Rejects Big Government Republicanism

Monday, November 03, 2008

Report: Palin cleared in 'Troopergate'

Here's a story that will get buried by the liberal media.

A government report has cleared Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin of any ethics violations in the firing of her public safety commissioner, according to The Associated Press.

This is the report of Timothy Petumenos, an independent counsel for the Alaska Personnel Board.

The earlier investigation that received so much press attention was done by a Democratic-controlled legislative panel.

The real report, released Monday, concluded that there is no probable cause to believe Palin or any other state official violated the Alaska Executive Ethics Act in connection with the firing, according to the news service.

Experience matters

Fascinating editorial in Investor's Business Daily that makes the argument that when it comes to a successful presidency, experience does matter.

From the IBD editorial:
Of all our presidents since World War II, the three who ranked highest among all American presidents in a 2005 survey of scholars by the Wall Street Journal were:

• Ronald Reagan: No. 6 of 43 presidents, inaugurated within weeks of his 70th birthday.

• Harry Truman: No. 7, inaugurated at age 60.

• Dwight Eisenhower: No. 8, inaugurated at 62.

The three youngest presidents since WWII were:

• John Kennedy: ranked No. 15, inaugurated at 43.

• Bill Clinton: No. 22, inaugurated at 46.

• Jimmy Carter: No. 34, inaugurated at 52.

Our next president will face a resurgent Russia run by Vladimir Putin and his KGB friends, Iran and its nuclear program, and al-Qaida and other terrorists who want an atomic weapon. Do we want to elect another young president, possibly a Carter or a Neville Chamberlain type, who will get fooled by our dangerous enemies who are masters of deceit?
American voters have a clear choice to make on Nov. 4: The most inexperienced candidate to ever seek the White House in Barack Obama or a tested and proven leader in John McCain.

Read the full editorial at the newspaper's Web site.

Vote NO on Tuesday

You may have heard me on WHYY radio or another National Public Radio station speaking on why Pennsylvania voters should vote "NO" on the water/sewer bond referendum on Tuesday's ballot.

If you're not sure why you should reject the question, see my earlier post.

Also check out this post at PAWaterCooler about the real agenda for putting Pennsylvania deeper in debt.

Do you trust Ed Rendell to spend more of your money wisely? This is the man who has pushed through $7 billion in new spending since 2003 and has increased state debt by more than $3 billion.

Pennsylvania is already $565 million in the red under Rendell's current budget and we're only four months into the fiscal year.

Vote "NO" on Tuesday to send Rendell a message that enough is enough.

Predictions for Nov. 4

If you haven't had a chance to tune in to "Talking Politics with Tony Phyrillas and Mike Pincus," you've been missing out on some of the best political talk on radio.

The program airs every Thursday at 5 p.m. on WPAZ 1370 AM and can also be heard online at www.1370wpaz.com and www.pottsmerc.com

My co-host, Mike Pincus, is a political consultant and strategist with more than 30 years experience. He's helped get dozens of people elected to local, county, state and national offices.

On a recent show, Mike and I took a stab at predicting the outcome of some of the races on the Nov. 4 ballot in SE Pennsylvania. Below is a recap of our predictions.

Keep in mind that these predictions are not how we would vote, but how we expect the races to turn out. (There are some third-party candidates on the ballot, but we're ignoring them since they don't have a chance of winning).

PRESIDENTIAL RACE
John McCain (R) vs. Barack Obama (D)
Both Phyrillas and Pincus predict McCain will win.

PRESIDENTIAL RACE IN PENNSYLVANIA
John McCain (R) vs. Barack Obama (D)
Both Phyrillas and Pincus predict McCain will win.

CONGRESSIONAL RACES
Pennsylvania 6th District
Incumbent Jim Gerlach (R) vs. Bob Roggio (D)
Both Phyrillas and Pincus predict Gerlach will win.

Pennsylvania 7th District
Craig Williams (R) vs. Incumbent Joe Sestak (D)
Phyrillas predicts Williams will win. Pincus predicts Sestak will win.

Pennsylvania 8th District
Tom Manion (R) vs. Incumbent Patrick Murphy (D)
Both Phyrillas and Pincus predict Murphy will win.

Pennsylvania 13th District
Marina Kats (R) vs. Incumbent Allyson Schwartz (D)
Both Phyrillas and Pincus predict Schwartz will win.

Pennsylvania 15th District
Sam Bennet (D) vs. Incumbent Charlie Dent (R)
Both Phyrillas and Pincus predict Dent will win.

PENNSYLVANIA STATEWIDE ROW OFFICES
Attorney General
Incumbent Tom Corbett (R) vs. John Morganelli (D)
Both Phyrillas and Pincus predict Corbett will win.

Treasurer
Tom Ellis (R) vs. Rob McCord (D)
Both Phyrillas and Pincus predict McCord will win.

Auditor General
Incumbent Jack Wagner (D) vs. Chet Beiler (R)
Both Phyrillas and Pincus predict Wagner will win.

See More predictions for Nov. 4 for Legislative races.

More predictions for Nov. 4

If you haven't had a chance to tune in to "Talking Politics with Tony Phyrillas and Mike Pincus," you've been missing out on some of the best political talk on radio.

The program airs every Thursday at 5 p.m. on WPAZ 1370 AM and can also be heard online at www.1370wpaz.com and www.pottsmerc.com

My co-host, Mike Pincus, is a political consultant and strategist with more than 30 years experience. He's helped get dozens of people elected to local, county, state and national offices.

On a recent show, Mike and I took a stab at predicting the outcome of some of the races on the Nov. 4 ballot in SE Pennsylvania. Below is a recap of our predictions.

Keep in mind that these predictions are not how we would vote, but how we expect the races to turn out. (There are some third-party candidates on the ballot, but we're ignoring them since they don't have a chance of winning.)

PENNSYLVANIA SENATE

11th Senate District
Incumbent Mike O'Pake (D) vs. Stephen Fuhs (R)
Phyrillas predicts Fuhs will pull off an upset. Pincus predicts O'Pake will win.

17th Senate District
Daylin Leach (D) vs. Lance Rogers (R)
Phyrillas predicts Rogers will win. Pincus predicts Leach will win.

19th Senate District
Incumbent Andy Dinniman (D) vs. Steve Kantrowitz (R)
Both Phyrillas and Pincus predict Dinniman will win.

PENNSYLVANIA HOUSE

13th House District
John Lawrence (R) vs. Tom Houghton (D)
Phyrillas predicts Lawrence will win. Pincus predicts Houghton will win.

26th House District
Incumbent Tim Hennessey (R) vs. Fern Kaufman (D)
Both Phyrillas and Pincus predict Hennessey will win.

61st House District
Incumbent Kate Harper (R) vs. Frank Custer (D)
Both Phyrillas and Pincus predict Harper will win.

70th House District
Incumbent Jay Moyer (R) vs. Matt Bradford (D)
Both Phyrillas and Pincus predict Moyer will win.

128th House District
John Woodward (D) vs. Incumbent Sam Rohrer (R)
Both Phyrillas and Pincus predict Rohrer will win.

130th House District
Richard Gokey (R) vs. Incumbent David Kessler (D)
Both Phyrillas and Pincus predict Gokey will win.

146th House District
Incumbent Tom Quigley (R) vs. Jim Predergast (D)
Both Phyrillas and Pincus predict Quigley will win.

147th House District
Incumbent Bob Mensch (R) vs. Albert Van Atglen (D)
Both Phyrillas and Pincus predict Mensch will win.

149th House District
Lynn Lechter (R) vs. Tim Briggs
Both Phyrillas and Pincus predict Lechter will win.

150th House District
Incumbent Mike Vereb (R) vs. Korbin Carolina (D)
Both Phyrillas and Pincus predict Vereb will win.

151st House District
Todd Stephens (R) vs. Incumbent Rick Taylor (D)
Both Phyrillas and Pincus predict Stephens will win.

156th House District
Barbara McIlvaine Smith vs. Shannon Royer (R)
Phyrillas predicts Royer will win. Pincus predicts McIlvaine Smith will win.

157th House District
Guy Ciarrocchi (R) vs. Paul Drucker (D)
Phyrillas predicts Ciarrocchi will win. Pincus predicts Drucker will win.

For more predictions, check out pevious post, Predictions for Nov. 4

This is your captain speaking

PA deficit tops half-billion dollar mark

The red ink continues to flow in Pennsylvania as Gov. Ed Rendell is busy campaigning for Barack Obama or working his part-time job as an Eagles' TV analyst.

The Legislature, which rubber-stamped Rendell's deficit budget back in July, is busy campaigning for re-election.

What does it all mean for Pennsylvania residents? The budget deficit has reached $565 million in just four months. A projected General Fund deficit approaching $3 billion next year is likely. That will necessitate the biggest tax increase in Pennsylvania history -- after most of the current lawmakers are safety re-elected.

You can send a message to Rendell by voting out most of the incumbents who supported his deficit budget.

The October tax revenues for the state came in $283.4 million below projections. That's the fourth month in a row that the state took in less than it spent. The deficit keeps growing as we go deeper into the 2008-09 fiscal year.

Follow the link below for more on the state's tax revenue shortfall.

Pennsylvania Revenue Department Releases October Collections