Gutting Charter Schools Is Wolf’s Plan

Gutting Charter Schools Is Wolf’s Plan

By Nathan Benefield

Gov. Tom Wolf, Aug. 13, unveiled a “reform” plan that has the potential to drastically reduce the ability of Pennsylvania families to send their kids to charter schools. He’s telling the students, families, teachers, and administrators of charter schools that they don’t matter.

Gutting Charter Schools Is Wolf's Plan
Any resident of Philadelphia who supports this guy’s party is cutting his wrist.

Ironically, he is constructing this wall to prevent students from leaving their current school for a better opportunity on the anniversary of the construction of the Berlin Wall.

But we aren’t fooled. This overhaul, some of which he is planning to implement via executive action, would cut funding for charters, cap enrollment, and place a moratorium on new cyber charter schools, even as tens of thousands of students are on waiting lists for charter schools across the state. In short, it would deny families the schooling options they seek.

Wolf’s charter strategy, along with his June veto of tax credit scholarship expansion legislation, makes it clear his administration is treating the 350,000 students in charter and private schools like second class citizens. Because of that mindset he is unafraid of treating them with a dubious double standard.

For underperforming district-run schools, his solutions are to move away from standardized testing, water down tests, and increase funding. But for charter schools, Gov. Wolf proposes funding cuts and halting growth through the heavy hand of the law, regardless of performance or what families desire.

The governor’s motivation is clear: He wants to appease teachers’ union leaders. Unlike most charters and private schools, district schools are unionized. Under contracts with the AFT and NEA/PSEA, school districts collect campaign contributions for teachers’ union PACs. Since 2013, Wolf received $4 million from teachers’ unions.

This is a politically shrewd announcement from our governor, but disastrous for families and children.

Pennsylvania’s families deserve better. That’s why we won’t stop fighting until every child can attend the best school possible, no matter what Gov. Wolf’s campaign donors prefer.

Mr. Benefield is vice president and chief operating officer of Commonwealth Foundation.

Gutting Charter Schools Is Wolf’s Plan

Most Diverse Economy Is Pennsylvania’s

Most Diverse Economy Is Pennsylvania’s

By Leo Knepper

Bloomberg’s latest release, the Economic Diversity Index, found that Pennsylvania has the most diverse economy in the country. We even edged out Texas. Economic diversity is essential, because it allows the Commonwealth to avoid the worst impacts of economic downturns. It’s like the adage of not having our eggs all in one basket. Our geographic proximity to a large swath of the US population, abundant natural resources, and world-class, high-tech research should be the perfect mix for a booming economy. But, it is not what is happening. Although our growth rate is higher than many of our neighbors, we continue to be held back.


The problem can be traced to two primary sources (which as loyal readers you can probably guess): a high corporate tax rate, and over-regulation. Pennsylvania’s corporate tax rate is 9.99 percent. The second-highest in the nation. Our elected officials are quick to point out that due to various corporate welfare programs, and “economic incentives,” most businesses do not pay that rate. While technically accurate, when we look at the last fifty years, we need only ask ourselves if the legislature’s preferred approach of picking winners and loser has paid off? Judging by the shortage of newly formed businesses, and the relative loss of population, the answer is clearly NO.

The second and more pernicious source of drag on our economy is the Commonwealth’s regulatory environment. Businesses face a literal mountain of regulations. In 2017, James Broughel painted a stark picture in testimony to the Pennsylvania House Committee on State Government:

“As of earlier this year, Pennsylvania has 153,661 regulatory restrictions in its administrative code. Some of these restrictions are vital for protecting the health and safety of citizens, but others just make the code unnecessarily complicated. There are 208 restrictions governing the design and use of ladders in the state, and there are 190 restrictions setting standards for consumer packages and containers. Surely some of these restrictions are not necessary for safeguarding public health, safety, or the environment.” (Emphasis added)

The scope, and occasionally contradictory nature, of Pennsylvania’s regulations, means that small and medium-sized businesses are forced to divert their attention from the actual “business.” They spend considerable time and money focused on complying with regulations; not making money and growing. Larger businesses are by no means exempt from the regulatory burden, but their size allows them to delegate the task of compliance to dedicated staff. There is no doubt that the money larger businesses spend on compliance could be better spent, but the impact is relatively higher for smaller firms.

The practical impact of overregulation cannot be overstated. Referring back to Mr. Broughel’s testimony:

“If Pennsylvania’s economy were to grow at 4 percent per year, it would take just 18 years for its real GDP to double. This means that if a child were born in Pennsylvania today and the state grew at 4 percent per year, that child would enter college in an economy twice the size of the economy in which he or she was born. By contrast, growing at 1 percent per year takes 70 years to double real GDP, just 9 years shy of the life expectancy at birth of someone born in the year 2014. Since the year 2000, Pennsylvania real GDP growth has averaged just 1.5 percent per year.” (Emphasis added)

Cutting the corporate tax rate and the overall regulatory burden would unleash Pennsylvania’s economy. It is, unfortunately, the road less traveled in part because politicians don’t have the same opportunity to get their picture taken with a giant cardboard check.

There are currently twelve pieces of legislation waiting for action that have been assigned to the Senate Committee on Intergovernmental Operations. Four of those bills have already passed the House. The Senate has an opportunity to make long-term changes in how the Commonwealth approaches regulation.

Please take a moment to contact your Senator. Ask them to take action that will encourage growth and could help make Pennsylvania the economic success story of the 21st century.

Mr. Knepper is executive director of Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania.

Most Diverse Economy Is Pennsylvania’s
Most Diverse Economy Is Pennsylvania's

Josh Shapiro Hypocrite On Defending Women

Josh Shapiro Hypocrite On Defending Women

By Pauline Braccio

If you were not in attendance, you missed a great show this past Thursday (Aug. 8). I confronted Ken Lawrence directly and his response was to put his elbows on the table in front of him, put his chin in his hands, and stare at me. It was as though he wanted to have a staring contest. Bizarre, to say the least. Victory for me? Help me decide.

Josh Shapiro Hypocrite On Defending Women
Only believe women if they aren’t accusing Democrats

As you may recall, at the June 20 meeting, Marianne Wright asked Ken if he had indeed raped me. Ken’s response was, “The allegation is false. It did not happen.” That was not a denial. He did not answer the question. In the minutes for the June 20 meeting it stated:

“General Public Comment 

Ms. Marianne Wright made a public comment. 

Ms. Pauline Braccio made a public comment.

Ms. Elaine Mickman made a public comment. 

Commissioners’ Comments 

Vice Chair Lawrence made a comment in response to Ms. Pauline Braccio’s public comment.” 

This was incorrect and I had already told them at the last meeting, on July 25, that they got it wrong and that he answered Marianne, not me. They did not change the minutes. So, I brought it up this past meeting, Aug. 8. 

Before I go on, I must mention Joseph. Joseph is a young man that I have never met nor even seen before. This young man, who is 18 years old, stood up at the podium and spoke masterfully about the 1st Amendment and Free Speech. Josh Stein tried to shut Joseph up, to no avail. In fact, it was Joseph who shut Josh up! At the end of his remarks, Josh called for the deputy to remove Joseph. But Joseph confidently finished speaking and calmly sat down. 

Think about this: Ken Lawrence was 18 when he raped me. Joseph is 18 and came to the meeting solely for me, to stand up for me. He told me after the meeting that he came to speak because he has been watching how they have treated me and had to do something.

Thank you, Joseph. You are an amazing young man. 

When I took my turn at the podium, I asked Ken to answer me directly, then I gave the rest of my 5 minutes to wait for his response. Val and Josh (county solicitor) called for the deputy sheriff to remove me from the room. This has now become routine. I did not leave and the deputy sheriff and the head of public safety respected me enough to let me sit down. Valerie told the deputy to sit behind me to make sure I did not speak again. Then she said I should show respect. I answered, “You are not respectable. I have no respect for you.” 

Before the meeting ends, Valerie asks if the commissioners have any closing comments. Ken said, ‘Let the minutes show that I responded to Pauline’s comment.” Really? Does silently staring at me constitute a response?

Since Attorney General Josh Shapiro still has his fangs sunk into Montgomery County, here’s my invitation to AG Josh Shapiro:

Hey, Shapiro! Why don’t you come to your old stomping grounds in Montgomery County? I am inviting you to the Commissioners’ meeting on Sep 5. You know, you were the chair before you and DA Steele pushed Kathleen Kane out of office and into prison.

Come to the meeting and explain to me how you could make a PSA about believing and respecting women who have been raped. Commissioner Ken E. Lawrence, Jr., your golden boy, raped me and I have been disrespected and treated like I am the criminal. Ken Lawrence is a federal felon — he raped me on federal land. This past meeting, Aug 8, (to which I had invited you) I asked Ken point-blank to answer me. He could not do it. Instead he acted in a very bizarre way and just sat there with his chin in his hands staring at me. To do what? Stare me down? I asked him: So you’re just going to stare at me?

The fact that he could not answer shows that he did rape me. He cannot lie to my face, he does not want to be a man and own up to it, so he says nothing. It was a circus that meeting. You need to come to the next one and control your out-of-control puppets. They are not listening to their puppet master, Josh Shapiro. You do not have the control you think you have. 

The video of the meeting has not been posted yet. It will be interesting to see how they butcher it to make it less damaging for your little puppets: Valerie Arkoosh, Ken E. Lawrence, Jr, and County Solicitor Josh Stein.

The next meeting is on Sep 5. Can’t wait to see if the circus comes back to town.

Ed note: What puzzles us is the silence by Montco GOP Chairwoman Liz Havey and Republican commissioner candidates Joe Gale and Fred Conner. You would think they would be demanding Lawrence give a detailed explanation to Ms. Braccio’s very credible charges simply due to political self-interest even if they lacked a desire for justice.

Josh Shapiro Hypocrite On Defending Women
Alternative Power And Nuclear Plants

Montco Protects Illegals, Ignores Disabled

Montco Protects Illegals, Ignores Disabled

By Elaine Mickman

I disagree with Montgomery County being a sanctuary city, yet nobody asked my opinion as a 38 year- tax-paying resident.

Maybe there needs to be more transparency for residents to know just how much sanctuary cities impact everyone, whether you are rich, poor, a child, senior, or adult, or disabled. Below my summary, I attached links describing the unavoidable slum to come, but the County is cutting and denying truly disabled and seniors who are in need of assistance because dollars are being diverted and used for illegal immigrants.

I have first-hand knowledge, and one of the sources I spoke to who handles complaints carefully stated that changes are being made with the funds for disabled. Most will pass-off SSI denial as typical and requiring an appeal or an attorney, but my son’s disability is typically approved. PA Rep. Cris Dush (R-66) also indicated in his e-mail that disabled are being denied resources.

My son is autistic and sought employment assistance from Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) for the last year. OVR is under the Department of Labor and Industry, and their stated mission is to assist those with disability to obtain employment. My son met the criteria and complied with every request they made, but they never assisted him with anything they promised after he completed about 9 months of many assessments, including working two-hour time slots at sites they requested without compensation. 

“Insult to injury”, they told me twice that his disability was impeding employment ability regardless that their mission is to get disabled employment, Yet they also refused to write a letter stating that they are unable to get him employment due to his disability, therefore he can not get Social Security Disability. The state and county are diverting dollars intended for disabled for the sanctuary city.

Montgomery County has been seeking recoupment of SNAP food stamps from disabled, seniors, and children.regardless that Governor Wolf pledged 2015 to NOT target vulnerable disabled and seniors.Medicaid approval is also being delayed or withheld from destitute citizens.

The sanctuary city is being funded at the expense of tax-dollars ear-marked for disabled residents, and diverted for illegals, including those whose 1st country out of their country is Mexico.The services intended to assist US and/or Pennsylvania disabled who are making their best effort to self-support are being reserved for illegals.The excessive illegal immigration is an economic burden for the tax-payers AND undue hardship for dependent disabled.

The best of “illegals” aren’t seeking the “American Dream”, rather they’re taking our hard-earned dream.

Does anyone know if the Governor made his County or “backyard” a sanctuary city? (Ed note: York County is not listed as a sanctuary city:

Below are links regarding other problems to come from the repercussions of sanctuary city. 

San Francisco poop map: real thing or a rumor?

Old City Makes Philly A New City

Old City Makes Philly A New City

By John W. Gilmore

As children living outside of Philadelphia in the ’60s and ’70s we thought of it as a large, dirty old useless city.  As far as we knew there was violence everywhere; every street had a gang associated with it; the Mafia would often fight it out on the streets of South Philly; and the prostitutes, drug dealers and organized crime was known to reside at 13th and Locust streets — the Red Light District, right in Center City.  The main train station (30th Street Station) was filled with empty holes and caverns where businesses used to be some time in the distant past.  The most viable station we often saw in transit was the 69th Street Terminal, which had many dirty, shabby shops and restaurants and slimy, slippery floors.  Philadelphia was a place to be avoided at all costs.

Even so, I remember visiting every so often on hot summer’s nights later as a young adult.  I remember taking the Elevated line from 69th Street, getting off on Market Street, and walking down to Penn’s Landing for free concerts.  Penn’s Landing was always extraordinarily hot.  There were bleachers, more like stair steps made of stone and concrete, and not a tree or piece of shade in sight.  Now, on the waterfront, there are free summer concerts at Spruce Harbor Park.  

Multi-colored lights hang from the trees, and people swing in the breeze in hammocks in the shaded areas underneath.  Picnic benches surround the stage where the band plays.  The music can be heard from everywhere, even the lounge chairs looking out over the ice-cream parlors, snack bars, and restaurants on the long boardwalk that runs along the river.  From the boardwalk you look out on the water and see small boats, large ships, and even naval vessels harbored there.  Someone goes by on a goose shaped paddle boat straight out of a Snow White Disney Cartoon, as people are walking, eating, or sitting and talking.

Several docks are set together in a square configuration that resembles a manmade lake or very deep pool enclosing floating gardens.  Large stores and museums are at one end of the Harbor Park portion of the boardwalk and a Hilton Hotel is nearby, while giant ships turned into high class restaurants are moored at the other end.  You can enjoy walking on the boardwalk or through the shady park, maybe even stop for lunch in one of the luxury restaurants.  Whatever is your choice. 

The band plays.  This time a Cuban Band, maybe something else next time.  Cuban Jazz and Salsa music fills the space as we sit trying to eat our ice cream before it melts in the 90 degree heat.  It is good to be in the shade listening to music and watching a few people dance, moving to the Latin beat.  

We walk out of the park and go a few blocks down Columbus Avenue.  We climb the stairs to the bridge leading over this six lane road to find a cross-over with a stone and brick slab designs on the floor and not a scrap of paper in sight.  Large, red-brick flower-box gardens line the sides full of echinacea, daisies, sunflowers and gardenias creating an elevated urban garden.

Descending from this garden, we make our way down the cobblestone streets.  We walk down Dock Street, make a hook around many large, stone buildings and monuments to find a Chinese restaurant where we have an early dinner.  We are in no hurry.  Spot Hero, an internet parking app,  gives us more than 20 hours of nearby parking for $14 in a lot that usually costs $16 per hour.  But we will not stay that long.  

We end the day on a pleasant note. The day has been good.  I begin to reimagine Philadelphia.  The whole riverfront has been redeveloped.  The little broken down, dirty city that I remembered doesn’t exist any more.  I want to explore the new, lively version of the city more fully.  Old City seems to have come back to life, near the riverfront anyway, and the stations.  I would like to see the rest.

Old City Makes Philly A New City

Pennsylvania Incumbent Protection Plan

Pennsylvania Incumbent Protection Plan

By Leo Knepper

A recent report from LancasterOnline outlines the cost of one component of the “Incumbent Protection Program” operated by the General Assembly:

“Welcome to the state Capitol, where elected officials and their staffs operate a massive, sophisticated and partisan media machine that costs taxpayers nearly $10 million a year at a time when the number of journalists serving as watchdogs on government is shrinking…In a building home to one of the largest, most expensive legislatures in the country, there are at least three of these television studios built to produce state-run, news-like programs for state lawmakers.” (Emphasis added)

That’s right, $10 million per year to operate three television studios and an impressive public relations (PR) operation. Each of the four caucuses operates their own private, tax-payer funded, PR firms. These slick PR operations produce everything from news-letters to tele-town halls to professionally made videos of lawmakers touring businesses in their districts.

Lawmakers would argue that all of these expenses help them to connect to their constituents. One has to wonder how many of these “essential” communication attempts would be made if lawmakers were term-limited. Or, if they weren’t trying to hold onto an $85,000 per year salary and a golden parachute.

The PR expenses are only one component of a system that the General Assembly has built up over time to protect themselves from the electoral competition. This year, the legislature has a budget of over $350 million. They abuse this system to build their own name ID and ensure they enter every electoral cycle with an advantage that is costly to overcome. Communicating with constituents is one thing, but most of these expenses don’t even pass the laugh test as being necessary to accomplish that goal.

Mr. Knepper is executive director of Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Incumbent Protection Plan
Pennsylvania Incumbent Protection Plan

Wagner Blasted Asher In Chairman Battle

Wagner Blasted Asher In Chairman Battle

By  David Wilmot

Deplorables protect the President against bad advice from people who don’t have his back. Bob Asher suffers another defeat.

In Pennsylvania, a new State party chair was elected Saturday, but it was not who the establishment wanted or who the President was told to endorse.  It was the candidate that the MAGA volunteers, “Deplorables” and Trump Supporters believed would be able to deliver the state for the President in 2020.

The second week of July showed how effective the Trump MAGA grassroots can be when it throws its weight around.  The selection of a new state party leader for the PA Republican party should be a simple procedure. Rarely does anyone outside of the ruling elite get involved.   The fight is limited to state party delegates with the winner taking the spoils of victory with the ability to determining which candidates gets money and help.

A little background.  Over a month ago the Chair of the PA Republican party, Val DiGiorgio, resigned after it was revealed that he had a habit of exposing himself via text messages.  The MAGA people did not trust Val and never believed he supported the President.  

A special convention was called to replace the Chair.  A half dozen candidates threw their hat in the ring for the open position.  The establishment quickly coalesced around the current vice chair and acting chair, Bernie Comfort.  David Urban, a member of the 2016 Presidential campaign and advisor to the successful effort to win Pennsylvania, was quick to have Donald Trump Jr. send out a tweet supporting Comfort.  Other candidates were strong-armed to back out of the race.  All did, except Lawrence Tabas.

Lawrence Tabas, had risen to fame among the MAGA people and Trump base as an early supporter of Trump in the 2016 primary and, more notably, his successful defense of the Trump victory when Jill Stein sued in an attempt to delay the certification of the Pennsylvania Trump Victory.  In 2017 Lawrence Tabas ran against DiGiorgio and lost by 2 votes.

Then on July 2 an article hit the website PoliticsPa that would rattle the MAGA groups across the state.  It was the last few paragraphs that would be copied and emailed:

Meanwhile Scott Wagner, 2018 PA GOP Gubernatorial candidate, bashed Bob Asher, an early supporter of Comfort, in an email on Friday to state committee members. 

“I am very concerned, as I am sure you are also,” Wagner writes in the email. “The State Chairman election two years ago was bloody and had many casualties, and as a result many good people resigned from state committee.”

Wagner accused Asher of undermining his campaign against Gov. Tom Wolf and believes he should stay out of the race for the good of the party. 

“Mr. Asher’s politics have left our party bitterly fractured and highly dysfunctional,” Wagner writes in the email. “His politics have sidelined good people, and left many others disillusioned and disenchanted. Because of his politics we have a political machine that lines the pockets of Harrisburg political consultants, but delivers loss after loss to the Republican Party.”

“The last thing we need right now are more of Bob Asher’s politics. Bob Asher needs to keep his nose out of the election of a new party chairman,” Wagner writes. 

To many in the PA Trump-cohorts, Asher is hated as much as Hillary.  He is seen as a never-Trumper and is said to have been the force behind the 2016 convention’s last-ditch effort to stop Trump by changing the rules and unbinding all the delegates. Asher controls the once influential Pa Future Fund. 

From the Wikipedia page on Asher, “Asher was convicted of perjury, racketeering, conspiracy and bribery in connection with a state contract award. He resigned after the conviction and served one year in federal prison. The case gained national attention in 1987 when his co-defendant in that case and political ally, Pennsylvania State Treasurer Budd Dwyer, committed suicide on television just before sentencing.”

Among the dissident republicans in Pa there is a consensus: any candidate backed by Asher is controlled by Asher and no friend of the people. 

“We quickly figured out what was going on,” said one active Trump supporter, “The next chair would control the money coming into the state for the re-election of the President, and if Asher has anything to do with it, that money will go to the usual suspects who will pocket as much as they can.”  Pennsylvania is too important to the re-election for the decisions to be left up to grifters.

Asher’s and David Urban’s people put the hard press on state delegates to support their candidate.  Delegates were strong armed and outright threatened with losing access to the Trump Whitehouse. 

The lines were drawn.  On one side was Lawrence Tabas and the Trump base, and on the other side was Bernie Comfort, Bob Asher, and David Urban.

Outside of Scranton, Pennsylvania, five days before the party would vote on the new chair, there was a meeting of trump supports from around the state.  One person at the meeting described it, “We are just sharpening the pitchforks and lighting the torches.  We are going to come at them from every angle.  Asher, Urban, and the rest of the swamp will not know what hit them.”

They needed to get the truth out of what was going on.  They needed to let the delegates know they were being watched and if Asher was given effective control of the State party, the delegates would be held responsible. 

Within hours a social media blitz started.  A website went up with information as well as phone numbers and emails of every state delegate. 

The following appeared on the political blog, “Bill Lawrence Online” and was quickly disseminated on social media and emailed around the state.

Bernie Comfort Never-Trumper Asher Tool? — The below message was sent from us from well-connected Republican and we are going to share it.

(The next State Republican Chair) cannot be Bernadette Comfort. 

How she got the nod: Bernie was a Never-Trumper. She is supported, and a tool, of Bob Asher.

Bob Asher is the ultimate Republican Never-Trumper. At the 2016 GOP Convention he was the force behind the last minute push for a rule change to un-bind the delegates so they could be corrupted to change their vote to an unnamed candidate other than Trump (most likely Kasich.) Asher has never publicly uttered the words “President Trump” in public. Asher only backs candidates he can control – this is important and the reason he wants Bernie. 

• David Urban is a 30+ year friend of Bob Asher. 

• Rob Gleason, the party chair before Val, supported Lawrance Tabas. Gleason was early for Trump in the Primary. His reason for backing Tabas is he knows Tabas can raise money and re-establish the party. 

• David Urban hates Rob Gleason. It is said he hates him with every fiber of his body. 

• Urban backs Bernie to stick it to Gleason. It also gets him points with his buddy Asher. Putting him and Asher in affective control of the state party. Urban gives Trump bad intel for Don jr. to tweet his support for Bernie. Urban tells the Trump campaign that it’s a done deal and the come July 4th Bernie will be the only nominee for State Chair. 

• Lawrence Tabas sees what is going on and understand how it will end. Tabas knows that Asher is behind Bernie and with Bernie as the head of the party they will do the least possible in 2020 while pocketing as much money as possible. 

• Ted Christian takes his orders from David Urban.

We need to support Lawrence Tabas. 

• Email the state committee people. 

• Show up at the state convention with your Trump Flags and homemade Lawrence Tabas posters. 

In the following days, Trump supporters continued to build pressure on state delegates with emails, social media, and phone calls. 

Wagner Blasted Asher In Chairman Battle
Wagner Blasted Asher In Chairman Battle
Wagner Blasted Asher In Chairman Battle
Wagner Blasted Asher In Chairman Battle

By Thursday, enough delegates had committed to Tabas to secure a victory and lock out Asher.  The final knife was an article that appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Friday suggesting that Bernie Comfort, as Vice Chair of the party, hand been approached by a staffer who alleged sexual harassment by the former chair, but Comfort took no action. 

A person close to Bernie Comfort said Bob Asher cut off all communication with her starting Thursday, two days before the vote, when the pressure was mounting.

Under the massive pressure, Bernie Comfort conceded she could not win.

To save face for the President, a deal was struck.  Bernie Comfort would be named the chair of Trump’s campaign in Pennsylvania, and a joint press release of support would be issued by Comfort and Tabas. 

The vote Saturday was by acclimation and Lawrence Tabas was made Chair.  

Everyone seemed to stay a few steps away from Bob Asher.  He was noticeably alone as he walked around the Hershey Hotel before the vote.  During the meeting, Asher, as national delegate, was seated next to Bernie on the stage.  Bernie never sat next to Asher, keeping one chair between him and herself, and her back to him most of the meeting.

The Trump supporters were not happy with Bernie being placed as Chair of Trump’s state campaign, but they seemed to understand it was important for the President to safe face after the bad information he was given.  

Wagner Blasted Asher In Chairman Battle

HB 1410 Weakens Budget Oversight

HB 1410 Weakens Budget Oversight

By Leo Knepper

Please, take a moment to contact your Representative and Senator. Ask them to oppose HB 1410.

Pennsylvania’s annual budget process is ripe with problems. Members of the General Assembly are typically given a day to review hundreds of pages of proposed spending, and accounting gimmicks hide the size of spending increases. One of the tricks used to disguise spending is the use of “special funds.” Special Funds frequently become part of the shadow budget with minimal accountability over the spending. One bill gaining traction is the House would add to the problem. HB1410 purports to address a vacated military base that has polluted the water system for the surrounding area.

HB 1410 establishes a Keystone Opportunity Zone around the “qualified former Military Installation.” It allows the municipality to establish a “qualified authority” to fund military installation remediation. The legislation provides a formula to collect a percentage of taxes (CNI, Sales & Use, Personal Income Tax, Realty Transfer Tax, & Local Taxes,) to fund the authority.

HB 1410 directs the State Treasurer to create a new Special Fund known as the Military Installation Remediation Fund to collect monies. Note that the Commonwealth has 36 environment-related special funds. Specifically, Pennsylvania has a safe drinking water special fund, an industrial sites cleanup fund, and a hazardous sites cleanup fund. Any or all of those funds could be utilized for a remediation project such as this if authorizing legislation was passed to allow qualified former military installation projects to be eligible for the monies in these various special funds.

Finally, HB 1410 directing the State Treasurer to establish restricted accounts within the special fund for each qualified former military installation. The funding can be used for funding transportation infrastructure, economic development costs, payment of debt service for construction, infrastructure, site preparation, etc. In other words, it can become a slush fund for pet projects. Raising additional concerns is the provision that allows the State Representative and Senator in that municipality, or an adjacent one, to serve as a board member of the established authority.  The Representative who introduced the legislation, Todd Stephens, just so happens to meet the qualifications to sit on the board.

HB 1410 addresses a problem with questionable methods, and grants the board, and potentially select members of the General Assembly, overly broad discretion in what projects to fund. It runs the risk of becoming one more shadow budget item.

Mr. Knepper is executive director of Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania.

HB 1410 Weakens Budget Oversight Please, take action on HB 1410.

HB 1410 Weakens Budget Oversight

Pennsylvania GOP Needs Tabas

Pennsylvania GOP Needs Tabas

By Susan Jane Goldner

Two weeks ago, Val DiGiorgio was exposed — finally. In a matter of days, Pennsylvania politics has a chance for real reform at a time when we are desperate for liberty, truth and justice.

Pennsylvania GOP Needs Tabas
The only sane choice.

Under VD’s sham leadership, I was removed ahead of 2020 for the crime of knowing and NOT accepting their BS and mindless marching orders on Dec. 8, 2018.

We do not live in the USSR, people should question pre-made decisions in backrooms on selected candidates, protest the unethical rigging of our primaries e.g. Commissioner race here in MontCo, and hold our Representatives accountable for their legislative actions.

Since the beginning of my involvement, I have had a somewhat different ideology than the MontCo GOP—and the PA GOP for that matter; their ideology would’ve given us Kasich.

Mine gave us Trump.

We are America First—not their RINO, in-bed-with-globalists, Democrats in disguise “endorsed” candidates. Time to bring back conservatism, past time to bring back Constitutionalism in PA. Time to bring back liberty, justice, and instill power into the hands of the people—not the elitist few.

Ed. Note: A vote will be held Saturday, July 13, to replace the disgraced DiGiorgio as Pennsylvania Republican Party Chair. The leading candidates are Bernadette Comfort and Lawrence Tabas. Ms. Comfort, who had been DiGiorgio’s number two, is now employed at Novak Strategic Advisors which describes itself as a firm that offers comprehensive, strategic government affairs and grassroots solutions to real world business needs. Before that she was executive director of Anne B. Anstine Excellence in Public Service Series. Yes, we think we can fairly say the organization opposes pro life. Tabas has been a Republican activist for 38 years and has served as general counsel of the state Republican Party. In 2016, he saw DiGiorgio for what he is and contested him for state party leadership losing by just two votes after intense pressure from those who see tax money as a means to wealth. Yeah, we want Tabas. Remember we were right about DiGiorgio.

Pennsylvania GOP Needs Tabas

Ambler Tranquility Off The Beaten Path

Ambler Tranquility Off The Beaten Path

By John W. Gilmore

Since the invention of the internet and better technology, small towns with a lot of activities are the places that offer the best of both worlds — the excitement of the city and the warmth of a small community.  Many of the small towns in Montgomery county and other areas, like some of the sections of Philadelphia, are beginning to blossom and offer the type of community people want.  The borough of Ambler in Montgomery County, Pa. offers the tranquility of a small town with a lot of activity.  It is easy to walk the streets instead of driving, while taking full advantage of the many amenities.  There is a building boom taking place.  Houses and condos are being built rapidly, or renovated, in this town that has been recognized as the best small town in PA by Thrillist Travel in 2017.  The infrastructure that suits the millennial population’s need has developed. 

Ambler Tranquility Off The Beaten Path

There is no need to drive all the way to the next city or even downtown.  You can easily walk or bike.  Even so, if you want to drive or are a visitor you can.  There are meters in the downtown section.  During lunchtime hours, after six, and Sundays they are all free.  If you cannot find parking on the street there is a large municipal parking lot right at the center of all of the activity.  You can also find parking in the nearby residential areas on the street.  No need to drive all the way to the city anymore.  You can find the activities right there and not bring the car.  You can walk if you’re a resident, or bike, if you would like, to get to the exciting, hot spots.

Just down Main Street you see two coffee shops plus other places that sell coffee,  ice cream parlors, Gelato bars, Indian Mexican food restaurants, and even large Yoga studios, dance classes, hardware stores, and pizza shops.  On week nights the trees are lit up in a girdle of bright, white lights, along the main street that gives adds to the festive atmosphere.  Crowds of people mill around traveling to various places.  The crowds are not overwhelming and hard to navigate.  There is a feeling of excitement in the air.  One can get around easily looking at the various shops.  Music is pouring out of some of the restaurants. People are talking — some are eating water ice and others are going in and out of Limon’s Mexican Restaurant.   Everything is alive and buzzing.

You hear a band playing at the Lucky Well, right across the street from the Ambler Theater, a Non-Profit 501c3 membership theater that plays both first run and alternative movies.  Want live theater?  In the same block Act ll theater offers live performances of plays and musical performances.  Just at the end of the Main Street you walk into the Sweet Briar Cafe, famous for its many flavors of ice cream and deserts.  It serves you a variety of meals.  Breakfast lunch and dinner served in a warm setting with friendly waitstaff.  Several booths located close together permit the unplanned conversation between residents of the community while dining and relaxing.   It is a small town where people know each other.  

If you want more you can explore the many other shops and stores off the beaten path, but close to Main Street.  You can enjoy many festivals during the summer including a Restaurant Week Festival, The Annual Ambler Bike Race, and just south of the town a trail that is an extension of Wissahickon Park Trail. Very close by in the town of Gwyned, celebrate the coming of autumn by sampling many types of beer at the Oktoberfest. These are just a few things happening that you can take advantage of  in this small, but growing, exciting town.    

Ambler Tranquility Off The Beaten Path