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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.



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.

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.



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.

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.”


Wolf leads Corbett in first poll

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf leads by incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett by 20 points in the first poll released after the primary.

A Rasmussen Reports poll released Sunday found that 51 percent of likely voters were backing Wolf, a York businessman. Thirty-one percent supported Corbett while 14 percent remained undecided. Another 4 percent said they were supporting some other candidate.

The poll surveyed 750 likely voters via telephone from May 27-28.


Corbett announces Women for Corbett-Cawley coalition

Republican Gov. Tom Corbett and First Lady Susan Corbett announced the formation of the Women for Corbett-Cawley coalition at a campaign stop Thursday in Media.

The coalition aims to spread Corbett’s campaign message in a grassroots manner. The coalition has broken the state into eight regions where regional chairs oversee county operatives.

Gov. Tom Corbett announces the formation of the Women for Corbett-Cawley coalition

Gov. Tom Corbett announces the formation of the Women for Corbett-Cawley coalition

It’s goal, Corbett said, is to preach his message: That he and Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley delivered on their 2010 campaign promises of more jobs and less taxes.

“We need your help,” Corbett told the women assembled at D’Ignazio’s Towne House Restaurante. “These are campaigns. Campaigns are not just won with advertisements on TV. They are won at the grassroots level.”

Corbett faces a primary challenge from Ardmore businessman Bob Guzzardi, but his bigger battle likely will come in the general election. There are four gubernatorial candidates seeking the Democratic nomination, including York businessman Tom Wolf, who leads most polls.

In announcing the coalition, Susan Corbett praised her husband as being a “champion of women in the workforce,” highlighting the various high-ranking women who have worked under him. She noted that seven women head state agencies that combine to manage almost 90 percent of the state’s budget. Of Corbett’s 16 closest advisers, 10 are women, she said.

“He’s got a great track record of supporting and working with women,” Susan Corbett said. “… My husband says that he makes no concerted effort to hire women over men. He simply hires the best people for the job regardless of gender.”

The Corbetts also announced that Bernadette Comfort will chair the coalition. Comfort is the executive director of the Anne B. Anstine Excellence in Public Service Series, a political leadership training program for women.

“We’re going to doing exactly what the Governor said – taking the message to the people at the grassroots level and in our everyday lives,” Comfort said. “We’ll be taking the facts about the Corbett-Cawley administration to the people and talking about the record that they’re running on.”

David Landau, chairman of the Delaware County Democratic Party, said Corbett’s record on women’s issues is “terrible,” adding that no amount of press conferences or election-year organizations will enable him overcome it.

“At first I thought this was a bad joke because Tom Corbett has the worst record imaginable on women’s issues,” Landau said.

Landau cited the “just close your eyes” remark Corbett made two years ago regarding legislation that would have required women to undergo mandatory ultrasound examinations 24 hours before having an abortion.

Landau also noted that Pennsylvania has fallen precipitously from its January 2011 ranking as being the seventh-highest state for job creation. Pennsylvania now ranks 45th, according to Arizona State University, a factor Landau said greatly impacts women.


Gov. Corbett announces Millbourne is no longer financially distressed

Millbourne – a borough of 1,246 residents bordering Philadelphia – is no longer on the state’s list of financially distressed municipalities.

Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican seeking re-election, formally announced the news Thursday afternoon at a press conference outside the borough hall. Millbourne became just the seventh municipality to exit Act 47, the state program for financially-distressed municipalities.

“It’s the culmination of 21 years of hard work, of careful budgeting, cooperation – and I want to stress that – between your civic leaders and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Corbett said. “It marks also a transition from the economic and administrative chaos in which this town did find itself in 1993 to one of solid economic decision-making.

“Obviously, it’s not been an easy journey for the borough, but with five straight years of positive fund balances on its books, careful spending and a commitment to progressive, local government, that journey is now over. But a new one does begin. Our Dept. of Economic and Community Development now believes that Millbourne has the ability to sustain a positive budget balance for the foreseeable future.”

The borough entered Act 47 in 1992 – four years after a Sears department store moved to a new location along 69th Street in Upper Darby. The borough struggled to find a way to replace the tax revenue.

“When we lost that source of revenue, our tax base took a tremendous hit,” Mayor Tom Kramer said. “We were struggling to make ends meet with that. It was several years after (Sears) left, we entered Act 47. Now, coming out of it, (it’s) really due to a lot of cutting expenses and being creative with spending.

“Actually, I think we’ve got better services now and we’ve been able to keep our property taxes stable for the last four years.”

Millbourne, which has an annual budget of about $750,000, slashed its insurance costs by 50 percent, installed energy-efficient streetlights and saved money on various items by joining the state’s COSTARS (cooperative purchasing program).

The borough has spent within its budget for five years, Kramer said. Its reserve fund stands at $319,000. The 1-mill property tax increase this year was the first tax hike since 2010.

Kramer said there is a $10 million commitment to develop the former Sears property into a mixed-used complex, but another $6 million is needed to cover infrastructure costs. He said the borough is looking to gain that funding from the Rural Community Assistance Partnership.

Now that Millbourne is out of Act 47, it will lose some perks associated with the program.

“I don’t think it’s really going to impact us that much,” Kramer said. “A lot of funds that were available aren’t really there anymore.”

Kramer is part of an all-Democratic administration that includes five council members. David Landau, chairman of the Delaware County Democratic Party, praised Corbett for recognizing their work.

“The Democratic elected officials’ sound fiscal management lifted Millbourne out of financial distress,” Landau said in a statement released before Corbett’s announcement. “While Gov. Corbett was working hard to help out his donors and big business in Harrisburg, the Democratic leadership in Millbourne was busy securing the economic future of the borough.”

Corbett rebuked the remark as partisan politics.

“If they want to make it partisan, make it partisan,” Corbett said. “I think it’s through the leadership of the civic leaders who are here. If you look at many of the (Act 47) cities, they’re Democratic cities also. … That’s not the issue – whether it’s a Democratic city or a Republican city. The issue is … working with the Dept. of Community and Economic Development and working with the leaders of those municipalities to get them help (and) to get themselves out of Act 47.

“If they want to make partisan politics out of it, let them make partisan politics out of it. I’m here to congratulate the men and women who did this.”

There are 20 municipalities that remain in Act 47, including the city of Chester.

Corbett faces a primary challenge from Bob Guzzardi, an Ardmore businessman. There are five Democrats vying for the seat.

Meehan honored by U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce presented U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-7, of Upper Darby, with its annual Spirit of Enterprise Award last week for his support of pro-growth, pro-jobs policies.

The Chamber cited 13 House bills as critical during the 2013 Legislative Session. Meehan supported the Chamber’s position on 12 of them (92 percent). They included votes to reopen the federal government and raise the national debt ceiling, delay enforcement of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate provision and ease approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Other news and notes:

  • The Delaware County District Attorney’s Office was awarded a Paul Coverdell Forensic Science grant totaling $94,874. The funding is to be used to purchase a ballistic microscope to be used by the Criminal Investigative Division’s laboratory. The funding will be released by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency in April, announced state Rep. Joe Hackett, R-161, of Ridley Township.
  • The Pennsylvania House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution condemning the use of performance-enhancing drugs. The resolution was penned by Hackett.
  • Gov. Tom Corbett nominated Wendy B. Roberts, of Garnet Valley, to serve as a Magisterial District Judge in Delaware County, presiding over District 32-2-49. Corbett nominated Steven Bradley, of Sharon Hill, to serve on the Pennsylvania Economic Development Financing Authority. He also confirmed Maceo Davis, of Chadds Ford, and Nathaniel Nichols, of Media, to serve on the Lincoln University Board of Directors. He confirmed Chris Guilday, of Media, as a member of the Navigation Commission for the Delaware River.