ELEPHANT CORNER: Thundering Herd Frolics At Penna. Society

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FORMER Montgomery Co. Chairman Jim Matthews and his wife Karen enjoy meeting up with one of Jim’s classmates at Blank Rome reception Friday night. Photo by Bonnie Squires

Last weekend, members of the herd were seen thundering up to New York City for the 144th annual Pennsylvania Society festivities. While the main event is the Pennsylvania Society dinner on Saturday night, there are numerous other auxiliary events.

This weekend had originally been for businessmen from Pennsylvania. Now it has a decidedly political feel.

The parties started on Thursday night with Republican National Committeewoman CHRISTINE TORETTI’S party at Club Macanudo. Invitations to this event are hard to come by. Philadelphia area attendees at the event included LT. GOV. JIM CAWLEY and Pennsylvania Manufactures Association Chairman FRED ANTON. As Toretti was the founder of the Anne Anstine program, a number of alumnae and current members of the program were there including Philadelphia-area women RENEE CHESLER, DENISE FUREY, GABRIELA GUARANCAO and SHARON GIANPORCARA.

The premier Republican event was the Commonwealth Club’s annual luncheon at the Plaza. The keynote speaker was KARL ROVE. As his comments were off the record, we cannot record his sage words. Attendees from the Philadelphia area included Commonwealth Club Board Member MIKE CIBIK, Republican National Committeeman BOB ASHER, former Philadelphia Stock Exchange President JOHN EGAN, Montgomery Co. DA RISA FURMAN and former Montgomery Co. COMMISSIONER JIM MATTHEWS.

As Friday advanced towards the cocktail hour, more events for the herd appeared. Blank Rome’s annual party at the Intercontinental Hotel is a nonpartisan event, but a number of elephants were in attendance including TERRY TRACY, JAY BOROSKY and City COUNCILMAN DAVID OH.

Former US Congressman and University of Pennsylvania graduate PHIL ENGLISH hosted an event at the offices of Arent Fox honoring the Pennsylvania delegation to Congress.

The most-attended event of Friday night was IBEW’s party at the Waldorf Astoria, which included politicians from both sides of the isle. IBEW BUSINESS MGR. JOHN DOUGHERTY hosted the event which honored City Councilman and former IBEW Political Director BOBBY HENON.

Saturday morning started for some with the UPenn breakfast at the University of Pennsylvania Club. This was a nonpartisan event. Attendees include MAYOR MICHAEL NUTTER and COUNCILWOMAN JANNIE BLACKWELL. Our side of the aisle was represented by Ward Leader and UPenn graduate MATT WOLFE and Lower Merion Republican activist MICHELLE LEONARD, as well as Pennsylvania GOP Chairman and UPenn Trustee ROB GLEASON.

The PMA held its 32nd annual seminar and luncheon at the Metropolitan Club also on Saturday. This event is by invitation only. We heard one Philadelphia City Councilman found out the hard way the PMA did not welcome those without invitations. Fred Anton hosted the event.

Pollster TERRY MADONNA was the seminar’s moderator. Speakers included GOV. TOM CORBETT, newly elected ATTORNEY GENERAL KATHLEEN KANE, CONGRESSMAN MIKE FITZPATRICK (PA-8), SENS. BOB CASEY and PAT TOOMEY and STATE TREASURER ROB McCORD.

Corbett discussed the plans for next year’s budget, which will include a renewed focus on transportation issues. The elephants in the Southeast hope this will include appropriate attention to mass transit. In Fitzpatrick’s opinion, his district is a microcosm of America. He noted his constituents do not want government handouts, but jobs – not government jobs but good private-sector jobs. He believes we need tax policies and regulations that will bring industry back to his area.

Toomey carried on this theme of the burdens of big government, in particular as to how this relates to the “fiscal cliff”. This elephant fears PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA has not yet gotten serious about avoiding the automatic tax increases and spending cuts that will go into effect on Jan. 1 without a compromise. Toomey and other Republicans reluctantly offered to put revenue increases on the table in exchange for entitlement reforms. The President responded by upping the ante, in my opinion, by demanding Congress give him unlimited ability to raise the debt ceiling.

The most-stunning speech at the PMA was given by McCord – not for its substantive content, but rather for the lack thereof. McCord spent roughly 20 minutes saying hello and telling jokes. One would think someone hoping to run for Governor next year would want to make a more-serious showing.

The annual dinner of the Pennsylvania Society was as always held in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria. This year’s honoree was filmmaker NIGHT SHYAMALAN. As usual, the event was sold out despite the ticket price of $350 per person.

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