Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Casey discusses payroll tax extension

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., chairman of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, released a report Tuesday which detailed the benefits of extending the payroll tax cut until the end of the year.

The report, “Keeping More Money in the Pockets of American Families: County-Level Data of Savings by Extending the Payroll Tax Cut,” includes a county-by-county breakdown of what families across the country would receive if the payroll tax is extended until the end of the year.

In Delaware County, the median annual wage is estimated to be about $34,217, according to the report. If the payroll tax is extended until the end of the year, a household with one earner would receive an additional $570 for the remainder of the year; a two-earner household would receive an additional $1141 for the remainder of the year.

In Pennsylvania, the median annual wage is estimated to be about $29,618, according to the report. If the payroll tax is extended until the end of the year, a household with one earner would receive an additional $494 for the remainder of the year; a two-earner household would receive an additional $987 for the remainder of the year.

Will Sestak Run?

Will Joe Sestak run for his old seat in the 7th Congressional District?

That seems to be the million dollar question these days.

Not according to Michele Vaughn, chairwoman of the Chester County Democratic Party.

But David Landau, chairman of the Delco Democratic Party, is keeping quiet on the issue for now. He said the Democrats would have a candidate for the 7th District but declined to discuss who they are eyeing for the seat.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking for the Democrats to find a candidate. The Republicans are backing U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, R-7, of Upper Darby.

Congressional candidates have until Feb. 14 to file nomination petitions.


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Anybody know how to reach Sestak these days?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Redistricting plans raise eyebrows

Two redistricting plans have raised eyebrows in recent months.

One plan deals with the boundaries of congressional redistricting; the other focuses on the boundaries of state House and state Senate seats.

Here is a more in-depth look at the congressional map. And here is a look at the state legislative redistricting.

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As a resident of Delco, what do you think of the plans?

Pa. Republicans endorse Welch for Senate

The Pennsylvania Republican Party endorsed Steve Welch in his bid for U.S. Senate at a convention in Hershey Saturday.

Welch, a Chester County entrepreneur, is one of several Republicans who wants to run against U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., in his bid for re-election.

“I am humbled to have the support of the Republican State Committee," Welch said in a prepared statement. "It is truly an honor. These are the people that are the grassroots of our party. As a party and conservative movement it is time to unite to defeat the Obama-Casey agenda."

The AP provides more details on the endorsement here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pa. Supreme Court throws out redistricting plan

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has thrown out a legislative redistricting plan aimed at redrawing district lines for seats in the state House and Senate.

According to the Jan. 25 order, the 2011 Legislative Reapportionment Plan has been remanded back to the reapportionment commission. The court’s order calls the plan “contrary to law.”

Delco Democratic Party Chairman David Landau said he was “absolutely delighted” that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court put a stop to the legislative redistricting plan.

“This plan was a disgrace,” he said.

The plan called for several changes to Delco legislative districts, including the removal of Haverford’s 1st and 9th wards out of the 166th Legislative District represented by state Rep. Greg Vitali, and into the 163rd Legislative District represented by Nick Micozzie of Upper Darby.

The plan to redraw the state House and Senate boundaries had been approved last month by the five-member commission comprised of the four caucus leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-9, of Chester. The fifth member of the committee was retired state Superior Court Judge Stephen McEwen, a Republican former Delaware County district attorney.

Republicans have maintained the process was fair and driven by population shifts reflected in the 2010 federal Census.

A reduction in state House members?

A bill geared toward reducing the Pennsylvania House of Representatives' membership from 203 to 153 was passed by the House State Government Committee Tuesday.

The prime sponsor of House Bill 153 is House Speaker Sam Smith, R-Jefferson.

The bill passed in the State Government Committee by a 16-8 vote. State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-166, of Haverford, was one of the committee members to vote against the bill.

"The problem with reducing the number of legislators is you increase the amount of people each legislator represents," said Vitali.

Vitali explained that constituents would have less one-on-one contact with legislators under this proposal. He said that if the goal is to reduce costs, it might be worth looking at a reduction in legislative staff rather than legislators.

The bill has now been sent to the House floor for consideration, although there is no word yet about when a vote will take place.

The bill would not change the 50-member Senate.

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As a resident of Delco, do you believe this is a good idea?

***
On another note ...

U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, R-7, of Upper Darby,announced that he will present the Federal Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery to Upper Darby Police Officer Raymond Blohm III at 6 p.m. Thursday at the county courthouse. Meehan, a former U.S. Attorney and Delco district attorney, will present the badge to Blohm with United States Attorney Zane David Memeger.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Join Live Chat during State of Union

Two Widener University professors have agreed to join the Daily Times for a live chat during President Obama's State of the Union address tomorrow night at 9 p.m.

They include Assistant Professor of Political Science Wes Leckrone and Dr. Joseph Fuhr, a professor of economics.

If you are interested in joining the chatroom discussion, check here tomorrow night.

***
Speaking of Widener, the university has plans to host an expert panel on the State of the Union on Wednesday at 4 p.m. in Kapelski Learning Center Room 1.

The panel discussion is open to the public. The panelists include Fuhr, Dr. Rebecca Jones of the political science department, and Dr. Iqbal Mansur of the finance department.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Moore embarks on listening tour in Chester

Democrat Jimmie Moore, a retired judge who is challenging U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, D-1, of Philadelphia, in the spring primary, has embarked on a weeklong listening tour in Chester.

The first congressional district includes a portion of Delco, including Chester.

"The energy, commitment, and drive that this group of individuals has shown in refusing to be a throw-away, third-class city is overwhelming, and you have inspired me to work harder to listen to the needs of Chester and the ideas emerging from new discussions among its community leaders,” Moore said in a prepared statement.

Moore acknowledged that the biggest issue facing the city is the current controversy over funding in the Chester Upland School District.

The spring primary is slated for April 24.

Sens. Casey, Toomey to sit together during Obama's upcoming State of the Union

U.S. Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., announced that they will sit together during President Barack Obama's State of the Union address next Tuesday.

“Pennsylvanians want their lawmakers to work together to solve problems,” said Casey in a prepared statement. “Over the past year, Sen. Toomey and I have collaborated on a host of issues important to our constituents. I look forward to sitting next to Sen. Toomey at this year’s State of the Union address and to continuing our work on behalf of the Commonwealth in the spirit of bipartisanship throughout the year.”

Toomey said he was pleased to sit next to his Democratic colleague.

"As the second session of the 112th Congress begins, sitting next to each other is a small but worthwhile step toward setting a civil and cooperative tone for the challenging work ahead of us," Toomey said in a prepared statement.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

County begins work on economic plan

Delaware County Councilwoman Colleen Morrone announced Wednesday that the county is moving forward with a component of an economic and jobs plan from the campaign trail.

The three-pronged plan had been introduced on the campaign trail by Morrone, council Chairman Tom McGarrigle and Councilman John McBlain.

Morrone said county council has asked Frank Carey, the county’s director of the Delaware County Office of Employment and Training, and Patrick Killian, director of the county’s Commerce Center, to work together to create recommendations for workforce development.

“It’s something we want to move forward,” said Morrone.

The other two aspects of council’s economic and jobs plan will be tackled at a later date. The other factors of the plan include the creation of transformation zones to provide incentives to redevelop blighted and vacant properties in the county’s older communities, and the utilization of the commerce center as an enterprise center to provide support to new and growing small businesses.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pols to host events for Delco families

State Rep. Margo Davidson, D-164, of Upper Darby, announced she will host a "Stay Warm" event to help local residents deal with home heating bills.

The event will take place from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21 at the Upper Darby Municipal Library. Davidson said this event will be an opportunity for residents to interact with representatives from various agencies and learn about weatherization and energy conservation; utility options in the age of deregulation; and home safety concerns in the winter.

***

U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, R-7, of Upper Darby, announced he will host a "Resources for Working Families Fair" on Saturday, Jan. 28 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at Interboro High School in Prospect Park.

Meehan said the event will allow residents an opportunity to interact with representatives from various agencies and learn about housing relief, health care services, child care resources, legal aid, personal finances and employment. A panel discussion will take place at 11 a.m.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pileggi faces a challenger in the primary

G. Rogers Howard, a resident of East Marlborough, Chester County, has announced his intention to run against state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-9, of Chester, in the spring primary race.

Howard, 66, describes himself as a Tea Party Republican. He has a Ph.D. in chemistry and served in the 82nd Airborne Division.

"I am limited government conservative ... who believes in fiscal responsibility," he said.

It's undeniable that it could be a tough battle for Howard. He faces the powerful Pileggi, who has been state senator since 2002.

Pileggi, 53, defeated state Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland, D-159, of Chester, in a special election after the death of Clarence D. Bell. He was nominated majority leader of the Pennsylvania Senate in 2006 and has held the position since.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sen. Leach to kick-off re-election campaign

State Sen. Daylin Leach, D-17, of Upper Merion, will kick off his 2012 re-election campaign Sunday.

The rally will take place from 2-4 p.m. Sunday at Dolce Valley Forge in King of Prussia.

In a release, Leach announced that volunteers, supports and elected officials have been invited to the rally.

Leach has represented the 17th senatorial district since 2009 and has served the General Assembly since 2003.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Delco Health Advisory Board to hold public meeting

The Delaware County Health Advisory Board will conduct a public meeting at 6 p.m. Jan. 17 in the county council meeting room in the Government Center in Media.

County Executive Director Marianne Grace said officials will provide updates about the implementation of recommendations in the John Hopkins Public Health report.

She said it will be similar to meeting that took place late last year.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Dem annouces intention to run in 163rd district

An Upper Darby Democrat announced his intention to run against longtime Republican state Rep. Nick Micozzie of the 163rd Legislative District.

“This is about me wanting to continue to serve,” said Bonner in a prepared statement. “The fact that my opponent is a 32-year incumbent does not concern me. You will find that his time in office and his record will hurt him more than it helps.”

Bonner, 38, a small business owner and former corrections officer, grew up in southwest Philadelphia and graduated from West Catholic High School in 1991. He earned a finance degree from Strayer University in December 2010.

A 19-year veteran of the U.S. Army, Bonner was a member of 82nd Airborne Division and First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry. He has served deployments in Korea, Bosnia and areas of the Middle East.

If elected, Bonner will strive for government accountability in the state Legislature. He said job creation will be a top priority. He will also work toward improvement to public education and will insist on responsible stewardship over the Marcellus Shale.

Bonner may not be the only Democrat who is eyeing Micozzie’s seat.

There has been talk among political circles that another Democrat, Robert Cassidy, is considering another run for the seat.

In a Dec. 17, 2011 letter to the editor of the Delaware County Daily Times, Cassidy identified himself as a Democratic candidate for the 163rd Legislative District.

Micozzie, an Upper Darby Republican, has not lost a race since he first ran for Upper Darby Council in 1970 and has represented the 163rd District since 1978.

Sen. Pileggi uses social media to solicit feedback from public on Legislature website

State Sen. Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-9, of Chester, asked the public today to provide input on ways to improve the Pennsylvania General Assembly's website.

Pileggi, chairman of the Legislative Data Processing Committee, urged people to provide feedback via social media by tweeting @SenatorPileggi with the Twitter hashtag #PAGAwebideas.

A public hearing on this issue will take place March 7.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Moore blasts Brady in 1st district

Jimmie Moore, a Democrat who has plans to run in the 1st Congressional District primary race, blasted his opponent, U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, D-1, of Philadelphia, today in an open letter.

Moore, a retired judge,accused Brady of siding with Republicans in the recent congressional redistricting process. Brady also happens to be chairman of the Philadelphia Democratic Committee.

In the letter, Moore accused Brady of siding with the GOP.

"For your part, you have acknowledged that you secured Democratic votes for the plan, despite it being so brazenly skewed in favor of the GOP," Moore wrote in the open letter to Brady. "As you have personally recognized, 'Republicans were in charge of this.'"

The 1st Congressional District includes a small portion of Delco, including the city of Chester.

Chester Upland funding saga continues

Yesterday, my colleague, John Kopp, and I teamed up on coverage of the Chester Upland School District financial woes.

(Side note: Kopp is the Chester beat reporter and I'm the political reporter. As you can imagine, there is some overlap with this issue.)

State Sen. Jeffrey Piccola, R-15, of Dauphin County, the majority chairman of the state Senate Education Committee, wrote a letter to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, urging the state to declare Chester Upland financially distressed and implement a board of control to oversee the district's finances. Here is the full article.

State Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-19, of Chester County, the minority chairman of the state Senate Education Committee, blasted the education department in a statement. Here are some details from his statement.

Pennsylvania Department of Education spokesman Tim Eller countered the politicians, arguing that the district did not meet the criteria necessary to be declared financially distressed.

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Speaking of Dinniman, Eric Smith of the Daily Local News in West Chester reported that he will have a challenger in the primary. Here are the details.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

County council to meet on different days

County council will meet on different dates this year.

Council will now hold its weekly agenda meeting at 10 a.m. on Tuesdays and the regular council meeting at 10 a.m. on Wednesdays. Both meetings are open to the public.

(Council previously met on Mondays and Tuesdays.)

Vitali bill would curb air pollution from Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling

State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-166, of Haverford, introduced legislation yesterday that would curb air pollution related to Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling.

“We want to make citizens more aware of the threat of Marcellus Shale drilling and try to make the Corbett Administration more responsive to this issue,” said Vitali.

The bill would put the Air Pollution Control Act into consolidated form and amend it to include changes to three areas, according to an aide for Vitali.

Specifically, Vitali’s changes would require the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to collect and publish information about air pollution emissions from Marcellus drilling and require air pollution permits for Marcellus wellhead emissions.Lastly, his bill would increase air permit fees to help fund the DEP’s air pollution control program.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

County council nominates Ridley Commissioner to fill Whelan's seat

The new county council members were sworn this morning at the county courthouse, including incumbent Tom McGarrigle, Colleen Morrone and John McBlain.

Jack Whelan, the outgoing county council chairman, was sworn in as district attorney.

Following the swearing-in ceremony, the first county council meeting of the year took place. At the meeting, Councilman McGarrigle was nominated chairman of county council. Councilman Mario Civera was nominated vice chairman.

Council also nominated David J. White to fill the vacant seat on the five-member county council left open by Whelan. White is currently a member of the Ridley Township Board of Commissioners.

So, to recap, county council now includes McGarrigle (chairman), Civera (vice chairman), Morrone, McBlain (former county solicitor) and White (the newly nominated member). They are all Republicans.

County judges will be sworn in at 2 p.m. today at the courthouse.