Wolf announces steering committee members

Gov.-elect Tom Wolf announced the 11 members of his steering committee, which will assist his transition team in evaluating state agencies, commissions, departments and functions.

The members are:

  • Neal Bisno, president of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, the state’s largest union of nurses and healthcare workers
  • David Barasch, a former U.S. Attorney in Harrisburg who also served as the lead counsel in cases involving the Three Mile Island nuclear accident
  • Aradhna Oliphant, president and chief executive operator of Leadership Pittsburgh Inc.
  • Mark Nordenberg, former chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Law
  • Phyllis Mundy, 12-term state representative in the 120th Legislative District
  • Robert Brooks, mayor of Murrysville, Westmoreland County and a member of the Franklin & Marshall College Board of Trustees
  • Julie Wollman, president of Edinboro University
  • Shanin Specter, partner at Kline and Specter, P.C. in Philadelphia\
  • Carl G. Cooper, diversity consultant who works with law firms to improve diversity in the workplace
  • Nilda Iris Ruiz, president and chief executive officer of Asociacion Puertorriquenos en Marcha, Inc.
  • Joseph Meade, director of government and external affairs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art


Wolf announces transition team leaders

Gov.-elect Tom Wolf announced a team of leaders who will help him make the transition into the governorship.

Thursday’s announcement came three days after Wolf named former gubernatorial candidate Katie McGinty as his chief of staff.

The leadership on his transition team is as follows:

John A. Fry, transition chair: Fry is the president of Drexel University. He previously served as the president of Franklin & Marshall College and as the executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania.

C. Kim Bracey, transition vice chair: Bracey is the mayor of York. Elected in 2009, Bracey became the city’s first African-American mayor. She previously was the York’s director of the Department of Community Development.

Jim Brown, transition vice chair: Brown is the chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Robert Casey Jr., D-Pa. He previously served as chief of staff to former Gov. Robert Casey Sr. and as the state secretary of general services. He also was a partner at the law firm Dilworth Paxson and a founding partner of SCP Partners, a venture capital firm.

Cynthia Shapira, transition vice chair: A community activist, Shapira also serves on the board of the Allegheny County Airport Authority and chairs the Pennsylvania Center for Women in Politics at Chatham University. She also is the secretary of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and a commissioner of the Pennsylvania Commission on Women.

Denise Smyler, counsel: Smyler is the founding attorney and owner of the Smyler Firm, which joined Wadud Ahmad and Joseph Zaffarese to form Ahmad, Zaffarese & Smyler in September 2013. Smyler is a commercial litigator and public finance attorney who has represented various municipalities, corporations and government entities for more than two decades.

Mary Soderberg, budget deficit and fiscal stabilization task force chair: Soderberg previously served as the budget secretary to former Gov. Ed Rendell. She has served as executive deputy secretary of the budget and chief financial officer of the commonwealth. Soderberg also was the vice chancellor for finance and administration of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education for two years and the executive director of the House Democratic Appropriations Committee for more than a decade.

Josh Shapiro, budget deficit and fiscal stabilization task force vice chair: Shapiro is a the chairman of the Montgomery County Commissioners. He previously represented the 153rd Legislative District for seven years and served as a Congressional staffer in Washington.



Gov.-elect Wolf taps McGinty as Chief of Staff

Governor-elect Tom Wolf named Katie McGinty as his chief of staff, citing her broad experience in the state and federal government.

McGinty, who led the Wolf-affiliated Campaign for a Fresh Start during the gubernatorial campaign, has more than 25 years of public service, including a stint at the White House during former President Bill Clinton’s administration.

“She will be an asset to my administration and to the people of Pennsylvania,” Wolf said in a statement. “In federal and state government, Katie worked with diverse interests to achieve meaningful change change in difficult environments. Her experience will help me work with Republicans and Democrats to move Pennsylvania forward.”

Wolf defeated Republican Gov. Tom Corbett last week, becoming the first challenger to knock out an incumbent governor in Pennsylvania’s modern history. However, Republicans added to their majorities in both the state Senate and House.

McGinty previously served as both Clinton’s deputy assistant and as the chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, where she worked to pass environmental legislation and led initiatives to redevelop brown fields, preserve key ecosystems and improve environmental protection.

Former Gov. Ed Rendell nominated McGinty in 2003 to serve as the secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. She was the first woman to hold the post.

McGinty, who also has experience in the private sector, unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination last spring. She finished fourth of four candidates.

Wolf will be inaugurated Jan. 20, 2015.




Election recap: Wolf, more GOP lawmakers headed to Harrisburg

Pennsylvania voters elected a new governor yesterday, opting to replace the Republican incumbent, Tom Corbett, with Democrat Tom Wolf.

Despite their decision to send Corbett packing, voters also increased the GOP’s majorities in both the state House and state Senate. So don’t expect Wolf to waltz into Harrisburg and quickly push across his agenda.

The Republican majority in the state Senate grew by three votes, giving the GOP a 30-20 edge. That came despite a Democratic push to regain control of the chamber for the time since 1994. That played out prominently in Delaware County, where Republican Tom McGarrigle won the open seat in the 26th District, a $4 million race in which he topped Democrat John Kane by four points.

The GOP majority in the state House — which was never in jeopardy — grew by eight votes. Republicans now hold 119 seats to the Dems’ 84.

Here’s a recap of what happened yesterday among Delaware County’s state lawmakers:

26th Senatorial District
Tom McGarrigle, R, 44,870
John Kane, D, 41,544

159th Legislative District
Michael Ciach, R, 3,793
Thaddeus Kirkland, D, 8,827

160th Legislative District
Stephen Barrar, R, 13,058
Whitney Hoffman, D, 7,850

161st Legislative District
Joe Hackett, R, 12,612
Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D, 9,916

163rd Legislative District
Jamie Santora, R, 11,362
Vince Rongione, D, 9,963

164th Legislative District
Saud Siddiqui, R, 3,011
Margo Davidson, D, 12,164

165th Legislative District
William Adolph, R, 15,293
Charles Hadley, D, 8,382

166th Legislative District
Sarah Armstrong, R, 8,007
Greg Vitali, D, 13,814

Results are unofficial.

Previewing each local race as Election Day draws near

Election Day is nearly one week away. The Daily Times has begun rolling out preview stories for each local race. Here’s a recap of what’s run.

First Congressional District: Democratic U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, of Philadelphia, is being challenged by Philly Republican Megan Rath, a health care professional.

Seventh Congressional District: Republican U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, of Upper Darby, seeks to secure his third term in Washington in a race against Democratic challenger Mary Ellen Balchunis, a political science professor.

161st Legislative District: State Rep. Joe Hackett, a Republican from Ridley Township, seeks to a protect his seat from Democratic challenger Leanne Krueger-Braneky, a businesswoman from Swarthmore.

164th Legislative District: State Rep. Margo Davidson, a Democrat from Upper Darby, hopes to win a third term in a race against Republican challenger Saud Siddiqui, the president of the Upper Darby Caring Foundation.

166th Legislative District: Longtime state Rep. Greg Vitali, a Democrat from Haverford, is being challenged by Republican Sarah Armstrong.

More election preview stories will continue to be published this week.

Rendell criticizes campaign ad in 26th Senatorial District race

Former Gov. Ed Rendell jumped into the fray of the 26th Senatorial District race this morning, reiterating Democratic and union criticism regarding a Tom McGarrigle campaign ad that negatively portrayed his Democratic opponent, John Kane, as a union boss.

Union leaders from the Philadelphia Building Trades Council blasted McGarrigle and Delaware County Republicans last week for airing the ad, which they called a smear campaign for portraying Kane as sympathetic to intimidation tactics.

Kane, the business manager of Plumbers Union Local 690, accepted $7,500 from Ironworkers Local 401 last year. Ten union members, including business manager Joe Doughtery, were indicted in February for allegedly using violent intimidation tactics to force construction contractors to hire union ironworkers.

McGarrigle, the Republican chairman of Delaware County Council, accepted a $500 contribution from Local 401 in 2009, but donated the money to charity after learning of the indictments.

Speaking at a press conference organized by Katie McGinty, chairwoman of Tom Wolf’s Campaign for a Fresh Start, Rendell restated the stance of the union leaders — that the donation is on behalf of the union’s entire membership, not an indicted leader.

Here is a video snippet of his remarks:

Union leaders threatened to cease funding future Delco Republican candidates, saying it was hypocritical of Republicans to accept union contributions and then attempt to tarnish Kane’s reputation as a union leader.

The McGarrigle campaign is standing behind the ad, saying last week that it is “truthful and obviously effective.” The campaign criticized Kane for failing to condemn the violent actions of indicted ironworkers.

The Delaware County Daily Times covered the union criticism and the McGarrigle campaign’s response at length last week.

ICYMI: A brief recap of the week in Delaware County politics

A Haverford native was selected today to become the new head of the Secret Service.

Joseph Clancy, 59, was tapped by President Barack Obama to replace Julia Pierson, who resigned as director Wednesday as criticism mounted regarding multiple security breaches. The most prominent breach occurred Sept. 19, when a knife-wielding man scaled the White House fence on Pennsylvania Avenue and made it into the executive mansion before being stopped. Revelations also surfaced this week that Obama had shared an Atlanta elevator with an armed guard who was not authorized to be around him.

More on Clancy’s selection here.

Of course, election season is in full swing and there’s been a plethora of election news over the last couple days. I’ve spent much of that time in training sessions for a new computer program we’re using, but here’s a recap of what’s gone on:

Delco Republican Party Chairman Andy Reilly and Delco Democratic Party Chairman David Landau joined Daily Times editor Phil Heron last night for Live From the Newsroom, where they broke down the general election. Catch a replay of it here.

State Rep. Bill Adolph, R-165, of Springfield, hosted a panel discussion on college affordability Wednesday at Villanova University. Education is among the hottest issues this election season and has been a major talking point in Adolph’s re-election bid against Democrat Chuck Hadley. More on the panel discussion here.

The Senate Democratic Campaign Committee filed a complaint against state Senate candidate Tom McGarrigle regarding his campaign magnets. The SDCC claimed the McGarrigle campaign violated election code by distributing magnets that did not include fine print noting who had financed or authorized them. More on that here.

Gov. Tom Corbett and his Democratic challenger, Tom Wolf, squared off in their second debate yesterday morning. Once again, education was a key subject. Corbett also addressed the pornographic videos and images his employees allegedly exchanged while he was the state attorney general. Details here.

Lastly, a Republican candidate for the open 28th Senatorial District wants state Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-9, of Chester, out as majority leader. That news is here. Meanwhile, Pileggi told a Delco business group that a bill eliminating property taxes is unlikely to become law and also appeared alongside Corbett to praise the passage of David’s Law, which seeks to combat heroin overdoses.

State Senate passes bill to fund Philly schools

The state Senate this afternoon passed HB 1177, which will provide additional funding for the School District of Philadelphia by implementing a $2 tax on cigarette sales in Philadelphia.

The bill passed by a 39-11 vote. The vote came just a day after the state House approved the bill by a 114-84 vote.

School district officials have called the legislation essential to preventing further layoffs within the district. The bill is expected to provide the funding necessary to make up an $80 million shortfall in the district’s operating budget.

Passage of the bill followed a months-long delay.

Gov. Tom Corbett, who is running for re-election against Democrat Tom Wolf, hailed its passage as a success.

“I am pleased that both chambers have taken action on this legislation so that the Philadelphia School District, and more importantly, the students of Philadelphia, can benefit from it,” Corbett said in a statement released by his press office. “I intend to sign the (bill) into law as soon as it reaches my desk so that the Philadelphia School District has the ability to ensure students have access to a safe and secure learning environment for the remainder of the school year.”

State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, D-8, of Philadelphia, said the funding is not enough and called for a greater fix to the city’s funding struggles.

“While this is a significant revenue stream for Philly schools, it is also the epitome of what is wrong with Pennsylvania. We are depending on cigarette smokers to close the financial hole that exists in the city,” Williams said in a statement.  “This commonwealth needs to do much more to reverse course and re-dedicate itself to the mission of public education. We need a modern funding formula that fairly distributes the precious billions in revenue that we now pay to deliver a first-class education.”




McGarrigle touts grassroot campaign marks; other political tidbits

State Senate candidate Tom McGarrigle announced today that his campaign has knocked on 12,000 doors and called 22,000 voters since the Republican formally declared in February.

McGarrigle is campaigning against Democrat John Kane for the open seat in the 26th Senatorial District. Current state Sen. Edwin Erickson, a Republican, is retiring.

“I am committed to meeting with as many voters as possible between now and Election Day,” McGarrigle said in a statement. “I want to know the priorities and concerns of residents across this district and I want them to know my views as well. While there are many social media tools that we use to reach voters, there is no substitute for grassroots campaigning.”

The McGarrigle campaign also announced it has raised more than $1 million in campaign donations and expects to double that amount in the final six weeks of the race, which is expected to be among the most expensive in the state.

State House candidate Chuck Hadley, a Radnor Democrat, is seeking to debate his opponent, state Rep. William Adolph, R-165, of Springfield. In a press release this morning, Hadley suggested holding a series of four debates moderated by a nonpartisan organization. He wants to hold one in each of the communities that comprise the 165th Legislative District.

The endorsement front remains active. The latest endorsement announcements were noted here today in the Daily Times. Other recent endorsement roundups can be found here and here.

Missed the first debate between Gov. Tom Corbett and his Democratic challenger, Tom Wolf? Catch a replay here. Or, if you don’t have 50 minutes, read about it here.

Lastly, today is National Voter Registration Day. The League of Women Voters of Delaware County is holding a voter registration event at Delaware County Community College. The nonpartisan organization has several more registration events planned before Oct. 5, the deadline to register in time for the Nov. 4 general election.



State Senate expects busy fall session

Both chambers of the General Assembly return to Harrisburg from their summer recesses Monday. Here’s a look at what the Senate hopes to accomplish, courtesy of Erik Arneson, spokesman for Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-9, of Chester:

The Senate Appropriations Committee is likely to meet Monday to begin constructing the fall calendar, Arneson said. No final votes are anticipated for Monday; few, if any, will occur on Tuesday.

Perhaps the biggest issue awaiting state lawmakers is legislation to aid the School District of Philadephia. A bill implementing a $2 tax on Philadelphia cigarette sales is pending. The tax would provide funding Philly school officials say is necessary to get through the year without layoffs.

“We’re very optimistic that an agreement will be reached soon on the issue of the Philadelphia cigarette tax, which will provide needed funding to the Philadelphia School District,” Arneson wrote in an email. “HB 1177 is the House right now. Discussions continue to determine the best way to get that bill to the Governor’s desk as quickly as possible.”

Arneson described discussion on pension reform and liquor reform — two priorities of Republican Gov. Tom Corbett — as “ongoing.” The House passed a liquor reform bill last year, but it has not gained the necessary support in the Senate. Various bills have sought to ease the state’s ballooning public pension obligations.

“At this point, no plan has been developed on either issue that has 102 votes in the House and 26 votes in the Senate,” Arneson wrote.

Arneson said several “high-profile” bills could receive votes during the next four weeks, including legislation legalizing medical marijuana, amending the state’s Open Records law, revising the Act 47 distressed municipalities law and addressing rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft.

Altogether, Arneson said hundreds of bills could see possible action this fall. He noted 68 new laws were enacted during this same stretch last year.




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