Landau named to Wolf Transition Team

Delaware County Democratic Party Chairman David Landau is among at least four county residents selected to join Gov.-elect Tom Wolf’s transition team.

Landau will join a 290-member team that includes Upper Darby Councilwoman Sekela Coles, attorney Gerald Lawerence and Anthony Gallagher, the business manager of Steamfitters Local 420.

Landau was selected to a team charged with overseeing the transition in the Department of State. Coles joins the transition team overseeing drug and alcohol programs. Lawerence is part of the insurance transition team and Gallagher is part of the Department of Labor and Industry transition team.

Landau said he was pleased that several Delco residents were selected, saying it shows the county’s importance and should bolster the administration’s relationships here.

“I’m very thrilled to be asked to serve on the transition task for the Department of State,” Landau said. “I look forward to that.”

Landau was unable to go into specifics about his role, citing an ethics pledge all transition members must sign preventing them from detailing their tasks with the media.


Pileggi says he won’t run for Pa. Supreme Court

Dominic Pileggi is sticking with the state Senate.

Pileggi, R-9, of Chester, will not seek a seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, according to a post on Facebook page.

“Over the past few weeks, many people have asked me to consider running for the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania,” Pileggi wrote. “While I’m honored by the support and encouragement, I will not be a candidate for the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in 2015.

“I look forward to continuing my service in the Senate to address the significant issues facing our Commonwealth, and will continue to fight for government transparency, meaningful pension reform, and a fair basic education funding formula.”

Pileggi served as the Senate’s majority leader for eight years until his Republican colleagues replaced him in November with Jake Corman, R-34, of Centre County.
Corman was backed by a group of conservative senators who saw Pileggi as too moderate. Some blamed him for the Senate’s failure to pass bills privatizing liquor sales and public pension reform.

Toomey, Casey sound off on federal gov’t spending bill

The U.S. Senate approved a $1.1 trillion spending plan that will keep most of the federal government open through September. The 56-to-40 vote Saturday night followed bipartisan passage of the bill in the U.S. House two nights prior.

Both Pennsylvania senators supported the bill.

Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat, said the bill was not perfect, but included a number of provisions he had fought to support. They included investments in the Delaware River deepening project, National Institutes of Health, Head Start and community development block grants, among others.

“While I don’t like the way it came together, strongly disagree with parts of it, and believe we have to do better — I also have an obligation to look at the package as a whole,” Casey said in a statement. “Taken in totality, this bill will help create and protect jobs in Pennsylvania and will prevent another government shutdown.”

Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican, praised the bill for “essentially freezing government spending.” He listed several provisions as important, including exemptions to the Affordable Care Act, increased investment for Alzheimer’s research, decreased IRS spending and the establishment of funding levels for the Veterans Employment and Training Service.

“In addition to stopping a number of job-killing regulations and taxes, this funding measure will help our veterans and troops, victims of child abuse and domestic violence, and researchers who are leading the fight against Alzheimer’s,” Toomey said in a statement. “I also am pleased that this bill exempts about 400,000 people from Obamacare. This is a significant step toward dismantling this terrible law altogether.”

During the approval process, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, raised a point of order questioning the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s authority to defer deportations for undocumented immigrants. Toomey was among 20 Republicans who joined Democrats in rejecting that.

“As for the point of order regarding the bill’s constitutionality, I voted to waive it because this legislation does not violate the Constitution,” Toomey said. “Like many Americans, I believe that President Obama’s executive amnesty represents a dangerous executive overreach. But there is a difference between a bill to fund the government, and a president violating the law. Funding the government is constitutional.”

Both U.S. Congressman representing Delaware County — Reps. Bob Brady, D-1, of Philadelphia, and Pat Meehan, R-7, of Upper Darby, voted in favor of the bill when it passed the House on Thursday.

Meehan-sponsored homeland security bills sent to President

A trio of homeland security bills sponsored by U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan have passed Congress and are headed to President Barack Obama’s desk.

The bi-partisan legislation includes two bills aimed at preventing cyberattacks and another that seeks to better protect chemical facilities from terrorist attacks.

Meehan, R-7, of Upper Darby, called the passage of the bills “important steps forward in improving our nation’s security.”

“The House and Senate passed legislation, and Republicans and Democrats worked together to compromise and find areas of agreement,” Meehan said in a statement. “The result: groundbreaking cybersecurity legislation that protects our nation’s critical infrastructure from cyberattack, and legislation that will improve security at chemical facilities.”

As chairman of the House Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies, Meehan played a key role in developing each of the bills passed.

The National Cybersecurity Protection Act of 2014 codifies the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center at the Department of Homeland Security and its existing cybersecurity responsibilities. The legislation was a Senate companion bill to a House Resolution Meehan sponsored.

The Cybersecurity Workforce Assessment Act requires the secretary of Homeland Security to assess and enhance the department’s cybersecurity workforce. The Protecting and Securing Chemical Facilities from Terrorist Acts of 2014 reauthorizes the Chemical Facilities Antiterrorism Standards program, providing guidelines to improve its operation, measure progress and enhance security. Meehan sponsored each of these bills.


Democrats express interest in vacant county council seat

A pair of Democrats announced today that they have applied for the vacant county council seat created by Chairman Tom McGarrigle’s departure for the state Senate.

Former Lansdowne Mayor Jayne Young and Media tax collector Bob Dimond submitted their information to the county clerk earlier this week, according to the Delaware County Democratic Party.

McGarrigle, a Republican, is leaving council with one year remaining on his second term. The all-Republican board is charged with appointing a replacement within 30 days of McGarrigle’s Dec. 31 resignation.

No Democrat has held a seat on the board since the county’s Home Rule Charter went into effect in 1976.

Young, who previously served as three terms as mayor of Lansdowne, is a project manager at the Pennsylvania Resources Council. She unsuccessfully ran for county council in 2011.

Dimond, a Korean War veteran, has served as Media’s tax collector since 1999. He previously was the mayor of East Lansdowne for eight years and a council member there for eight years beforehand.

Young and Dimond joined Rev. Keith Collins in publicly announcing their interest. Collins has twice run unsuccessfully for council as a Democrat, though he indicated that he is switching his registration to independent.

The county is accepting resumes from candidates until Friday.

McGarrigle, who beat Democrat John Kane to win the open seat in the 26th Senatorial District, presided over his final county council meeting today. Council unanimously passed a $338 million budget that holds the line on real estate taxes in 2015.


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.