Monday, May 15, 2006

Election and political miscellania

  • Some regions of PA will be voting on new machines tomorrow, which could lead to delays and kerfluffles... I think Philadelphia voters should have no surprises.

  • A letter to the Inquirer wonders who would sit on the new ethics board, given restrictions on other office-holding and the token pay...

  • US Senate primary candidate Alan Sandals is attacking Santorum in recent ads rather than his May opponents Casey and Pennacchio.

  • A Sunday Inquirer article looked at three state legislative leaders in close primaries fueled largely by anti-pay-hike fervor. The three are Republicans Robert Jubelirer and David Brightbill (heads of the two state houses), and Democrat Mike Veon (house minority leader), and all are spending and mudslinging at a rapid rate.

    Correction: both Brighbill and Jubelirer are state Senate leadership; the state House speaker is John Perzel, who either isn't up this year or had no challenge. my braino.

  • Rep. Mark Cohen, unopposed in tomorrow's primary, appears not to know enough to lie low and let recent financial scandals (over per diems and book allowances) blow over -- he remains unapologetic. John Baer continues to shake his head.

  • The Daily News noted that many candidates passed up Mother's Day festivities in favor of working their districts in thos critical final days before the election. I know *I* was out there, but not so many folks answered their doors...

  • Above Average Jane is unimpressed by politicians who sling unsubstantiated (or meaningless) mud.

  • Dave Ralis offers a series of Election Day Issues, including tax reform, campaign finance reform, and lobbyist reform. (I think there were two other parts too.) Good summaries of the state of those discussions, although not applied to any particular races.

  • America's Hometown reports the results of a recent Pew poll on a variety of subjects such as Pennsylvanian's happiness with the state's "direction," their leanings in the gubernatorial race, and a variety of current issues.


Blogger Dave Ralis said...

Hey thanks for the promo! The reason I didn't apply my comments to any race in particular was to let the readers judge for themselves if they want to "Throw the bums out." I just figured I'd give them enough info to make a sound decision. For instance, I think it would be a hoot for Bob Jubelirer to get back in with vengeance on his mind and I said so a week ago. But I don't live in his district and I'm not in his party. Let the readers there decide.

11:38 AM  
Anonymous Melissa said...

The only surprises Philadelphia voters should have are non-functioning voting machines. It happened at my polling place this morning. The machine was finally working by 1:30PM and I was the whopping 47th voter when I arrived around 4:00PM. This can't be a good sign, can it?

4:25 PM  
Blogger ACM said...

well, melissa, it's bad news for those in tight races (not least the two downtown state House rep races), because divisions with broken machines filed provisional ballots for all the voters who appeared, and that means that hundreds of those will have to be handled and certified before the election results are official. yowza!!

9:19 AM  
Blogger Rep. Mark B. Cohen said...

I have not been involved in any financial scandal. I have not violated any law or any legislative rule. I have not spent one penny or more of legislative expense money for other than a legitimate legislative purpose, or used leglislative expense money to generate one penny or more of private income.

All the expenses at issue were approved as legitimate legislative expenses by non-partisan staff people under the auspices of the BiPartisan Management Committee.

What my legislative expense account shows is that I do a lot of things that I am not required to do; THAT is what Cattabiani, Baer, and company find scandalous.

I show up at virtually all legislative sessions: since I became Chairman of the Labor RElations Committee in 1983,my attendance record has far exceeded 99%.

I show up at many extra meetings of the House Democratic Caucus, which I chair, and the Democratic Policy Committee. I show up at meetings of various other committees on which I sit. And I show up on days in which the legislature is not in session to prepare for session, to administer the office, and to be in touch with other legislative staff, executive officials, lobbyists, and journalists.

I buy books that are relevant to my job as a state legislator. The job of a state legislator is not just to administer an expense account; it is to help run a state government with a budget of over $26 billion dollars in the upcoming fiscal year, with supervisory authority over many other billions of dollars in benefit programs, grants, and loans, and vast regulatory authority. I would not be surprised if the total economic impact of the Pennsylvania government exceeded $100 billion a year.

It is ALMOST impossible to get any program that meaningfully aids the average citizen through the legislature under the current system of Republican control; almost total lack of organized presence of liberal, centrist, or even moderately conservative organization; and patterns of political contributions in which reactionaries regulary contribute thousands of dollars and progressives contribute little if anything.

So I have sought to both aggressively push both ideas developed by others and to come up with new ideas myself in the absense of lobbying efforts strong enough to generate and push worthwhile progressive legislation.

I introduced the bill Pennsylvania's minimum wage at a time when the Governor was opposed to it; when not a single newspaper in Pennsylvania had endorsed it; when organized labor was defeatist about its possibilities. I did that because I recognized that the decision of the New York legislature to pass it was momentous: it signaled the decline of Wall Street opposition to this measure, and a new source of pressure on Pennsylvania. None of this was obvious at the time: it took a lot of reading and other forms of research to reach these rather simple conclusions.

Anyone who watches the Pennsylvania Cable Network's coverage of the House of Representatives, or follows Associated Press accounts of House proceedings, or watches Comcast Newsmakers, knows that I am deeply involved in both the legislative debate and the public debate on issue after issue. That is one of my duties as Democratic Caucus Chairman.

I read omnivorously in order to strengthen my capacity to act. There are arguments pro and con on virtually every subject; it enormously helps to know them before a bill comes up, as well as positions of interest groups, partisan commentators, political leaders,media, and federal officials.

I work hard over consistently long workweeks because I want government to make a meaningful difference in improving people lives. Sometimes I participate in writing first drafts of bills that ultimately become law; sometimes I participate in writing final drafts; sometimes I merely push from the sidelines.

As a state legislator, my power is limited. But I am determined to use that power in a meaningful and responsive way to benefit the people I serve.

When business people of Asian descent first came into my district in large numbers in the 1980's, I received all sorts of complaints about them.

"They keep such long hours, we can't compete with them," I was told.

"They offer home deliveries, and that's unfair since we don't," I was told.

That is what Cattabiani and Baer's complaints amount to: I work too hard for the public interest.

11:42 PM  
Blogger ACM said...

I appreciate your hard work. But if you think that's what's getting the focus right now, Mark, you might need to adjust your radar. It's a lightning rod for public disatisfaction with their public servants generally, or for their mockery of same, and the more you wave your flag in the air, the more zaps you're going to take. Better to be in the news for the substantive stuff...

Just my penny.

12:01 PM  

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