F&M poll: Wolf leads Corbett by 25 percentage points

Democrat Tom Wolf holds a 25-point advantage over Republican Gov. Tom Corbett in the gubernatorial race, according to the latest poll released by Franklin & Marshall College.

The poll, released today, shows Wolf beating Corbett, 49 percent to 24 percent. That marked a two-point increase from the last F&M poll, released in June.

The poll also showed that 61 percent of Pennsylvania voters believe the state is on the wrong track. Only 26 percent of those polled found Corbett to be performing sufficiently well enough to deserve re-election in November.

To view the poll, click here.

County Council awards contracts

Delaware County Council awarded a series of contracts Wednesday, including a three-year deal with First Choice Medical Supply to furnish and deliver new linens for Fair Acres Geriatric Center at a cost of $239,000 per year.

The nursing facility, located in Middletown, accommodates more than 900 residents living in five residential buildings on the 210-acre property.

Council also awarded a one-year contract to Petroleum Traders Company, of Indiana, to furnish and deliver gasoline and diesel fuel for an estimated $428,471. Council also approved contracts totaling $37,507 to various janitorial suppliers — T. Frank McCall’s, Inc., Calico Industries, Office Basics and Paragon.

 

 

Full Text: Ronald Tomalis resignation letter

Below is the full text of Ronald Tomalis’ resignation letter. Tomalis, a former Pennsylvania Secretary of Education, resigned as a special adviser to Gov. Tom Corbett today following accusations of being a ghost employee making $140,000 a year. The letter:

August 12, 2014

Carolyn Dumaresq, Ed.D.
Acting Secretary of Education
Pennsylvania Department of Education
333 Market Street, 10th Floor
Harrisburg, PA  17126

Dear Madam Secretary:

It has been a great pleasure and honor to serve and assist you, fellow members of your leadership team at the Department, and the Administration in implementing many of the Governor’s accomplishments in education.  I know of your pride in the significant progress in many of these initiatives and I am extremely grateful to have assisted you in these efforts.

However, as you also know, I have been engaged in conversations with other organizations regarding new opportunities, and given recent events, I believe it is in the best interest of the Administration that I resign my position with the Commonwealth, effective August 26, 2014, to pursue those endeavors.

In addition to serving as an adviser to you on many critical issues, notably and certainly not all inclusive, I have also appreciated having the ability to oversee or assist in the:

  • Re-establishment, after having been eliminated in earlier years, of the Governor’s Schools program, most notably the two recent additions of the School for Engineering and Technology at Lehigh University and the School for Agriculture at Penn State University;
  • Creation and development of the Pennsylvania high school STEM competition, which will bring together students from all across the Commonwealth to showcase the important opportunities in STEM-related fields;
  • Evaluation of the Department’s role in the approval and rigorous oversight of Pennsylvania’s cyber charter schools;
  • Development of the Governor’s Ready to Succeed Scholarship program – enacted with this year’s budget —to provide financial assistance to middle-income higher education students in Pennsylvania; and
  • Evaluation and potential application of many of the recommendations of the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Postsecondary Education, albeit as you know somewhat constricted due to the ongoing difficulties associated with the Commonwealth budget.

Again, it has truly been an honor to serve the citizens of the Commonwealth and the Corbett Administration.

Sincerely,

Ron Tomalis

Former State Education Secretary resigns advising post

Ronald Tomalis, who served as the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education from 2010-2013, resigned Tuesday as a special adviser on higher education to Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.

Tomalis had come under fire for allegedly being a ghost employee while being paid a salary of nearly $140,000. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Tomalis maintained a minimal schedule, averaged about one phone call per day and sent just five emails.

He had served as a special adviser since stepping down as the state education secretary in June 2013.

Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq announced Tomalis’ resignation in a press release this afternoon.

“Ron has truly been an asset to me and the department since I assumed the role of education secretary,” Dumaresq said.  “He has been instrumental in overseeing the creation and re-establishment of important educational programs that benefit the students of the commonwealth.  I wish him all the best.”

Dumaresq said Tomalis also worked on various education initiatives, including the Ready to Succeed Scholarship program, the upcoming Pennsylvania STEM Competition and re-establishing three Governor’s Schools.

She included Tomalis’ resignation letter as part of the press release.

Tomalis wrote that it was a “great pleasure and honor” to help implement various education initiatives promoted by Corbett. In addition to his work cited by Dumaresq, Tomalis also noted his involvement in evaluating the Department of Education’s role in overseeing cyber charter schools.

“However, as you also know, I have been engaged in conversations with other organizations regarding new opportunities, and given recent events, I believe it is in the best interest of the Administration that I resign my position with the Commonwealth, effective August 26, 2014, to pursue those endeavors,” Tomalis wrote.

Corbett, who is facing a gubernatorial challenge from Democrat Tom Wolf, also released a statement thanking Tomalis for his service.

“Ron has been committed to Pennsylvania’s education system since the early days of my administration,” said Governor Tom Corbett.  “He has worked closely with Secretary Dumaresq and the Department of Education to shape programs and policies that are in the best interest of students.  I thank him for his work and commitment to education.”

Rep. Adolph disappointed by decision to cancel vote to fund Philadelphia schools

House Republican leaders cancelled a vote on a Philadelphia cigarette tax that would provide critical funding to the School District of Philadelphia, citing a lack of consensus on the proposal.

A special summer session had been slated for Monday to consider the proposal, which would have placed a $2 tax on all cigarette packs sold in Philadelphia. The tax was expected to raise as much as $45 million in revenue for the beleaguered district, which has a $93 million budget gap.

Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said earlier this month that the district would have to lay off employees or consider delaying the start of the school year.

State Rep. Bill Adolph, R-165, of Springfield, issued a statement Thursday afternoon criticizing the decision to cancel the special session. Adolph serves as the majority chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Here is Adolph’s statement in full:

“I am extremely disappointed the House will not be returning to complete the unfinished business that is necessary to give the Philadelphia School District the resources they need to educate more than 200,000 students in the Commonwealth’s largest school district.

“Ensuring our state’s largest school district opens on time is something for which we should all accept some responsibility. I am very frustrated that we could not reach agreement on the language that was added by the Senate. It is my opinion that since there was no agreement on the issues added to HB1177, the funding of Philadelphia schools should have remained an isolated issue and voted on its own merits.

“The will of the House in regard to the enabling legislation for the School District of Philadelphia was expressed in the initial passage of House Bill 1177 on July 2. I believe there are other avenues that can be used to advance the extraneous issues added to House Bill 1177.

“Along with several other legislative leaders, I have worked tirelessly over the past several weeks to find consensus and build support in the Legislature for this proposal. Unfortunately, we have not been able to reach that consensus in time to consider the legislation for the scheduled session days on August 4th, 5th and 6th.

“I remain optimistic a solution can still be reached. However, time is of the essence and I will continue to work so that the schools will be able to open their doors on time.”

 

Delco controller O’Lone accepts financial acheivement award

Delaware County Controller Edward E. O’Lone accepted a Certificate of Achievement in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association during the Delaware County Council meeting this morning.

The award recognized the county’s comprehensive annual financial report for the 2012 fiscal year. It is the highest form of recognition for governmental accounting and financial reporting for state and local governments.

O’Lone thanked council and Executive Director Marianne Grace for their commitment to the transparency necessary to win the award. The county has received the honor 19 consecutive years.

“It doesn’t come easy, so savor it for one more year,” O’Lone said.

County council also approved a series of items at the meeting, including:

  • A $44,161 contract to Philip Rosenau Company to furnish and deliver hand soap and sanitizer to Fair Acres Geriatric Center for one year.
  • The appointments of Marc Manfire, of Upper Darby, and John Gillespie, of Concord, to the advisory council for the county’s Office of Services for the Aging.
  • A $150,000 grant to the Tyler Arboretum to restore the last remaining serpentine barren in the county. The funding comes from the Marcellus Legacy Fund.
  • The Child Welfare Implementation plan and Needs-Based plan and budget for the county’s Department of Public Welfare.

Brady, Meehan lead opponents in campaign fundraising

Here’s a quick look at the most recent campaign finance reports submitted by the four candidates seeking to represent Delaware County in the U.S. House of Representatives. Campaign finance reports were due to the Federal Election Commission on July 15. The cycle documented all campaign money raised and spent from May 1 through June 30.  Links to the candidates’ July quarterly reports are included.

First Congressional District
Incumbent Bob Brady, a Democrat from Philadelphia, has $759,773 in hand after collecting $62,155 in campaign funds during the cycle. Of Brady’s funds, $55,400 came from political action committees. Another $6,700 came from individuals, including $300 worth of unitemized donations. Brady spent $71,064, including $35,889 on operating expenses.

Republican challenger Megan Rath, of Philadelphia, has $14,216 in hand after raising $16,256 in campaign funds. All of her funding came from individual donors and included $4,442 worth of unitemized contributions. She spent $3,040, all on operating expenses.

Seventh Congressional District
Incumbent Pat Meehan, a Republican from Upper Darby, has $1.775 million in hand, having generated $243,600 in campaign funding during the cycle. Meehan raised $211,000 from political action committees and another $31,150 from individuals, including $300 in unitemized donations. He spent $77,602, including $58,602 on operating expenses.

Democratic challenger Mary Ellen Balchunis, of Ardmore, has $9,976 in hand. She raised $15,310 during the last cycle — $14,310 of it coming from individuals, including $4,395 in unitemized contributions. She spent $17,941, all on operating expenses.

… And we’re back

After a few weeks off for a summer vacation out west, I’m back on the politics beat in Delco. So, this blog might start to get a bit more life again. The state budget is finalized, though Gov. Tom Corbett is still seeking pension reform. And there’s a few noteworthy elections rolling around the bend, led, of course, by the gubernatorial race.

In the meantime, here’s a snippet of what I saw during the last few weeks:

Vacations 610

I snapped this photo of elk grazing some 12,000 feet above sea level on a drive through Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.

Vacations 538

The Garden of the Gods sits in the foothills of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, Co. Pikes Peak, not pictured, is off to the left.

 

Checking out a Rockies game from a mile above sea level. A purple strip of seats marks the height at Denver's Coors Field.

Checking out a Rockies game from a mile above sea level. A purple stripe of seats marks the height at Denver’s Coors Field.

photo(1)

Finally, for all you political junkies, here’s the Colorado Capitol building, located in Denver.

 

Adolph unveils amended GOP budget proposal

State Rep. William Adolph, the chair of the House Appropriations Committee, unveiled an amended budget proposal today in Harrisburg.

The $29.1 billion spending plan, proposed as an amendment to House Bill 2328, includes a 1.9 percent spending increase from last year’s budget. It assumes 3.2 percent revenue growth – the same growth as projected by the Independent Fiscal Office, said Adolph, R-165, of Springfield.

The budget will be balanced using a “series of transfers, lapses and other revenue options,” Adolph said when he unveiled the plan.

It also includes increases to public education and human services.

“This is not the end of discussions and I’m sure the Senate will make some changes to this plan,” Adolph said. “But this is an important step forward to getting a fourth, on-time general appropriations budget.”

The budget proposal was approved by the House Appropriations Committee earlier today.

The proposal includes a $323 million increase to K-12 education, including an additional $70 million more for basic education and another $20 million for special education. It also allocates an extra $8.7 to the Pre-K Counts program, which will serve another 1,453 children.

Funding for all higher education programs remains flat, though a new $5 million line item was added to award middle income students merit-based grants.

The budget for the Department of Public Welfare increased by 1.6 percent, which Adolph said was due to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and other federally-mandated costs. It also commits an additional $10.4 million to the Department of Environmental Protection and increases line items for domestic violence programs by 10 percent.

“This is a solid spending plan that puts the priorities of our citizens firsts and makes sure that we are being good fiscal stewards of taxpayer money,” Adolph said.

 

 

Corbett releases statement on Moulton Report

Republican Gov. Tom Corbett issued a statement saying the Moulton Report affirms that that Jerry Sandusky child molestation investigation “was conducted appropriately and timely.”

The Moulton Report, commissioned by Attorney General Kathleen Kane and conducted by former federal prosecutor Geoff Moulton, examined the handling of the Sandusky investigation. The report, released this morning, did not find any evidence that politics affected the three-year investigation, but faulted police and prosecutors for delaying charges.

Corbett served as the attorney general when the Sandusky investigation was launched in 2009. During her 2012 campaign for attorney general, Kane accused Corbett of delaying the investigation so it would not impact his successful 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

Corbett is seeking re-election. He faces Democrat Tom Wolf.

Here is Corbett’s full statement, released by his press office this morning:

“The Sandusky investigation was conducted with a single purpose:  to ensure justice for the victims and families by taking a child predator off the streets. Nothing more. Nothing less.

“As I have said many times, this investigation was conducted appropriately and timely.  Because of the complexity of the case and for the sake of the victims, the investigators were careful to explore all evidence to the fullest extent. As made clear by the Moulton Report, this investigation was never about politics.  It was always about the people victimized by this man.

“I am proud of the hard work of men and women who joined in the effort to support and fight for these victims.  It was, however, difficult to see their motives and professionalism called in to question.  The release of this report reaffirms the integrity of their efforts.  It refutes each aspect of the case that the Attorney General and others have questioned; has found no evidence of deliberate delay; and underscores the importance and appropriateness of the methods used in the investigation and subsequent conviction of a child predator.

“As a prosecutor and now Governor, I have dedicated my life’s work to protect all victims of crime, especially the victims of sexual abuse.  My record and actions attest to that.

“I appreciate Mr. Moulton’s professional approach, thoughtful review and his recommendations.”

 

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