Archive | February 2014

Barrar seeks ways to boost emergency service volunteers

State Rep. Steve Barrar, R-160, of Upper Chichester, hosted a pair of public hearings this week examining ways to increase volunteers to the state’s Emergency Medical Services system. The hearings also touched on the funding and efficiency of the EMS system.

Barrar said there were 68,000 EMS volunteers across Pennsylvania when he took office in 1997. Now, there are 50,000.

Barrar said many volunteers, which include firefighters and EMS responders, have grown frustrated by the amount of time they must spend fundraising simply to keep the firehouse open. Finding a solution to better fund EMS services will help retain volunteers, Barrar said.

“It’s getting to the critical point where we really need to do something extreme to start bringing volunteers back in,” Barrar said. “The solution has to be a partnership between the local municipalities and the state government. The local municipalities can’t expect the state to do it all.”

The hearing included discussion on 17 pieces of legislation designed to retain volunteers. Among the ideas considered: college tuition scholarships, tax credits for emergency responders and tax credits for employers who permit employees to take a paid leave to attend an emergency.

Barrar said he likely will introduce legislation in March enabling local municipalities to give tax credits to their volunteers.

“I think right now that’s probably the easiest one,” Barrar said. “There’s no funding needed for that.”


Missed Delaware County Council? Here’s what happened

Delaware County council approved a series of agenda items Wednesday, including the award of a contract to Metro Flag Company to furnish 57,600 flags for Veterans Affairs at a cost of $30,528.09. The flags will be placed alongside the gravestones and markers of military veterans buried in the county.

Council also:

  • Accepted a $125,000 STOP Violence Against Women Grant for 2014. The STOP (Services, Training, Officers and Prosecutors) program seeks to improve the criminal justice system’s response to violent crimes against women. It also promotes the development of law enforcement and prosecution strategies to address such crimes. Delaware County government has received more than $5 million in STOP grants since 1997.
  • Approved two contract amendments to add the capability to move email and Microsoft Office to Microsoft Office 365 Cloud Technology. The three-year contracts cost a combined $189,360.13, but will bring a net savings of more than $63,000.
  • Approved the purchase of patron access to Westlaw for the Francis J. Catania Law Library for 36 months and various Thompson/West printed publications. The purchases will cost $174,552 in 2014; $178,032 in 2015 and $181,596 in 2016.
  • Reappointed Carmen P. Belefonte, of Haverford; James R. Flandreau, of Middletown; and Gerald Lawrence, of Radnor, to the Delaware County Board of Election for two-year terms ending Jan. 25, 2016. Belefonte and Lawrence also were reappointed to serve on the Delaware County Registration Commission for two-year terms expiring Jan. 25, 2016. Flandreau was appointed to the registration commission for the same two-year term.
  • Approved a $175,000 Community Development Block Grant and HOME partnership program loan settlement between Cliff House Housing Partnership, Cliff House Assisted Living and the county for the Cliff House Assisted and Independent Living facility.
  • Honored Ice Works of Aston for its economic contributions to Delaware County.

F&M poll: Ad campaign helping Tom Wolf lead Democratic governor’s race

York businessman Tom Wolf leads the Democratic gubernatorial primary, according to a poll released today by Franklin & Marshall College.

Wolf was the choice of 36 percent of those polled, easily placing him above his competitors in the Democratic gubernatorial race. However, 48 percent of those polled said they did not know which candidate they would support.

U.S. Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz took 9 percent of the vote. State Treasurer Rob McCord received 3 percent while John Hanger and Katie McGinty each received 1 percent. Both Hanger and McGinty previously served as the secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

The poll did not include former state Auditor General Jack Wagner, who declared his candidacy late last week.

The results were similar to a Harper poll released Monday. That poll had Wolf gaining the support of 40 percent of voters. Schwartz took 14 percent.

The F&M poll argued that Wolf’s advantage “likely stems from his television advertising campaign.” For most of the past month, Wolf has been the only Democratic buying airing television ads. McGinty launched an ad campaign earlier this week.

According to the poll, 65 percent of registered Democrats have seen a TV commercial highlighting a gubernatorial candidate. Of those, 88 percent have watched a commercial for Tom Wolf.

Wolf is the favored Democratic gubernatorial candidate of 56 percent of those who have seen his commercials. Among voters who have not seen a Wolf commercial, Schwartz leads Wolf by 2 percent.

The F&M poll also found that education is the top issue for 23 percent of Democratic voters, slightly ahead of the economy, which was selected by 19 percent.

The poll results are based on interviews with 548 Pennsylvania registered Democratic voters conducted by the Center for Opinion Research at F&M from Feb. 18-23.

Harper poll: Tom Wolf leads Democratic governor race

Tom Wolf is favored in the Democratic gubernatorial primary by 40 percent of voters, according to poll results released Monday by Harper Polling.

Buoyed by a multi-million dollar advertising campaign, Wolf has stormed to the top of the poll. When Harper conducted a similar poll in November, Wolf only garnered 5 percent of the vote.

Harper Poll Results

A new poll shows voters favor Tom Wolf in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Now, Wolf has a significant lead on U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, who was favored by 14 percent of voters. Nineteen percent of those polled were unsure which candidate to favor.

Voters were less favorable toward state Treasurer Rob McCord (8 percent), former state Auditor General Jack Wagner (7 percent), John Hanger (7 percent) and  Katie McGinty (6 percent). Both Hanger and McGinty previously served as secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

The poll was conducted Feb. 22 and 23 – just a few days after Wagner declared his candidacy and McGinty received the endorsement of former Vice President Al Gore.

Much has been written about Wagner’s influence on the primary. He is the only candidate from Western Pennsylvania and carries name recognition for his three decades in politics. But he is a late entry and has minimal campaign dollars.

John Baer, of the Philadelphia Daily News, opined that Wagner throws a kink into the strategy of his opponents by being the only candidate from Western Pennsylvania, where voters often support their own. Pollster G. Terry Madonna, of Franklin and Marshall College, and Michael L. Young, a former Penn State University professor, argue that Wagner could either be a “bold game changer” or engaging in a “very public political suicide.”

Wolf is supported most strongly in the state’s South Central region, where he took 56 percent of the vote. In the Southeastern region, he took 37 percent of the vote, bettering Schwartz by 6 percent. He took 36 percent in the Southwest region, topping Wagner by 18 percent.

Wolf also is being supported equally in gender and racial breakdowns. He received 40 percent of the vote among women and 39 percent among men. He also gained 40 percent of the vote among whites and 38 percent among African-Americans.


Save Upper Darby Arts group forms politcal action committee

Save Upper Darby Arts announced that it has created a political action committee to advocate for “high quality” public education across Pennsylvania.

Save Upper Darby Arts is a community organization that fought to save the Upper Darby School District’s art, music, physical education, library, technology and foreign language programs from being cut in 2012. The group attracted national media attention by producing a video and gathering more than 22,000 petition signatures. The group’s efforts led to the General Assembly restoring $2.726 million to Upper Darby.

The PAC will support candidates for statewide offices in both the primary and general election.

“Equal opportunity begins with equal access to quality education,” SUDA founder Colleen Kennedy said in a statment. “We need lawmakers who will fight fora level playing field for all of Pennsylvania’s public school children. Our country is founded on the principle of equal opportunity, and Pennsylvania students have lost their constitutional right to ‘a thorough and efficient system of public education.’

“With true allies in Harrisburg who fight ferociously and unapologetically for a restoration of $1 billion in state funding cuts, an immediate institution of fair funding formula and accountability measures for all schools receiving taxpayer funding, SUDA PAC can help restore faith to Pennsylvania communities.”

Corbett launches re-election TV ad campaign

Gov. Tom Corbett’s re-election campaign debuted its first televised campaign advertisement Wednesday. Dubbed “Everywhere,” the ad brands Corbet as fulfilling his 2010 campaign promises to bring fiscal responsibility to Harrisburg by reducing spending and not raising taxes. Here is the video:

Corbett released a second ad Friday called “Open,” in which he touts a growing workforce in Pennsylvania. Watch that ad:

Iron Workers Local 401 contributed to 7 Delco pols last year

The political action committee of Iron Workers Local 401 contributed to the campaigns of seven Delaware County political figures last year.

The union had 10 members, including business manager Joseph Dougherty, indicted this week for allegedly conspiring to commit extortion, arson, property destruction and assault in order to force construction contractors to hire union ironworkers. More on that here.

The union’s PAC donated to dozens of political campaigns throughout the state last year, including seven campaigns with direct ties to Delaware County:

  • Friends of Joe McGinn, Feb. 20, $1,000;
  • Bob Brady for Congress, March 26, $5,000;
  • Friends of David White, April 9, $400;
  • Friends of Ted Erickson, May 6, $500;
  • Friends of Joe Sestak, Sept. 5, $5,000;
  • John Kane for State Senate, Sept. 30, $7,500;
  • Committee to elect Ron Waters, Oct. 14, $500.

The Daily Times is contacting each of them to see whether they plan to keep, return or donate the money.

Springfield Dems announce endorsements

The Springfield Democratic Committee voted to endorse the following candidates at its meeting Tuesday night:

Governor: Rob McCord
Lt. Governor: Mike Stack
U.S. Congress, 7th District: Mary Ellen Balchunis
State Senate, 26th District: John Kane
State House, 165th District: Jeremy Fearn
State House, 161st District: Leanne Krueger-Braneky

The Delaware County Democratic Committee is hosting its nominating convention tonight.

Social Welfare exec seeks election in 164th Legislative District

An executive at an Upper Darby social welfare organization is seeking election to the state House of Representatives as a Republican in the 164th Legislative District.

Saud Siddiqui, the chief operating officer of the Upper Darby Caring Foundation, was endorsed Tuesday night by Republican committee members. Siddiqui formerly worked as a management and sales executive, according to a press release announcing his endorsement.

“Saud has been very active in Upper Darby and helping local residents,” Upper Darby GOP Chairman Paul McNichol said in a statement. “As COO of the Upper Darby Caring Foundation, Saud leads an organization that helps local residents overcome language barriers and bridge cultural divides. His involvement in a range of multicultural issues fits well with the diversity of the residents of the 164th district.”

Siddiqui is the only known Republican candidate who has declared his candidacy.

Incumbent Democrat Margo Davidson, of Upper Darby, faces two challengers in the Democratic primary — Billy Smith, of Lansdowne, and Dafan Zhang, of East Lansdowne.

Update: McNichol named convention center authority CEO

John J. McNichol was named the president and chief executive officer of the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority today by the agency’s board of directors.

McNichol, of Glen Mills, had served as the vice chairman of the board of directors and was serving in an unpaid capacity as acting President and CEO since December. His new role becomes effective March 1 and reportedly will pay him a salary of $220,000 with benefits.

McNichol is the son of the late John F. McNichol, the longtime chairman of the Upper Darby Republican Party. He is a partner at Greenlee Partners, a Philadelphia-based lobbying firm.

“The Pennsylvania Convention Center is a real asset to the state and the region, and we are on the path to helping the Center reach its full potential as a major economic driver for the region,” McNichol said in a statement. “I see so much potential here at the Center and, while we have our challenges, I look forward to the opportunity to have a substantial impact on our region.”

McNichol will provide general administrative oversight of the authority’s staff and coordinate the convention center’s activities with stakeholders.

Gregory J. Fox, chairman of the PCCA board of directors, issued a statement saying McNichol has been an integral part of the board’s efforts to ensure the Pennsylvania Convention Center is a regional economic driver in the hospitality industry.

“After meeting with and talking with a number of candidates, it became clear to me that we already had the best candidate right here all along,” Fox said. “John’s expertise and knowledge of the Center, his relationships with stakeholders, leadership skills, and expertise in state government will be important assets to the Center as we work to enhance the customer experience and attract more shows and conventions to Philadelphia.”

McNichol took a significant pay cut and divested himself as a partner at Greenlee Partners to take the position, according to a press release announcing his hire.

The convention center remains under contract with SMG, a facility management company that privately manages and operates the facility. SMG replaced former CEO Ahmeenah Young, of Philadelphia, when it began running the center in December, but retained the majority of the center’s staff to oversee day-to-day operations.

The PCCA maintains a group of employees who oversee SMG, capital improvements to the building, financial reporting and interaction with stakeholders. The center is a state-owned building.

The board also elected Josh Shapiro to fill McNichol’s vacancy as vice chairman. Shapiro is the chairman of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners.