The voter photo-ID controversy wonâ€™t go away. Look for it to dominate political news at least till midsummer.
Thatâ€™s because Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson wonâ€™t be taking testimony as to its legality until July. Heâ€™ll make news in the spring if he decides to extend an injunction so its requirements are not needed in the May primary.
But is there a voter left out there who does not have a photo ID?
There is room yet for pols to emote and lawyers to argue, since Simpson and the State Supreme Court have only addressed the implementation date of the law.
POLLING CAN HELP WHEN DONE RIGHT
The Republicans will get a taste of what it is that has been guiding Democrat strategists in the state … using a bit of public-policy polling.
Opening an office to that for the GOP in Harrisburg is Brock McCleary, a vet with the national Republican Congressional Committee. Heâ€™s taken his experience to the firm of Long, Nyquist & Associates.
He sees himself watching the issues of the day. â€œIâ€™m more interested in whoâ€™s winning the day from a messaging perspective,â€ he says, such as the impending fiscal-cliff showdown.
The firm will focus on policy organizations and issue groups. The firm will conduct head-to-head polls as well.
GLEASON SEEN G.O.P. HEAD FOR 4 MORE
The current chair of the Pennsylvania Republican State Committee, Rob Gleason, is seeking another term. PRSC should honor his request at its February meeting in Harrisburg.
On Gleasonâ€™s watch, Republicans swept all branches of state government in the 2010 election and took a US Senate seat as well. They bombed in the 2012 statewide elections but gained at the congressional level.
Democrats elect their leadership in the gubernatorial cycle. Jim Burn has chaired the party since 2010.
SENATE DEMS PICK THEIR CHAIRS
Senate Democrats have announced their committee chairmanships for the 2013-2014 legislative session.
â€œThe Senate Democratic committee chairs bring a wide range of experience and expertise to their individual committees,â€ Democratic Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) said. â€œWith three additional members for the upcoming session, Senate Democrats look forward to playing an increasingly important role in crafting legislation and working through issues affecting all Pennsylvanians.â€
\Members assigned as Democratic chairs for standing committees are as follows: Aging & Youth â€“ LeAnna Washington (N.W. Phila.); Agriculture & Rural Affairs â€“ Judy Schwank (Berks); Appropriations â€“ Vincent Hughes (W. Phila.); Banking & Insurance â€“ Mike Stack (N.E. Phila.); Communications & Technology â€“ Larry Farnese (S. Phila.); Community, Economic & Recreational Development â€“ Wayne Fontana (Allegheny); Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure â€“ Lisa Boscola (Northampton); Education â€“ Andrew Dinniman (Chester); Environmental Resources & Energy â€“ John Yudichak (Luzerne); Finance â€“ John Blake (Lackawanna); Games & Fisheries â€“ Richard Kasunic (Westmoreland); Intergovernmental Operations â€“ Sean Wiley (Erie); Judiciary â€“ Daylin Leach (Montgomery); Labor & Industry â€“ Tina Tartaglione (Kensington); Law & Justice â€“ Jim Ferlo (Allegheny); Local Government â€“ Rob Teplitz (Dauphin); Public Health & Welfare â€“ Shirley Kitchen (N. Phila.); Rules & Executive Nominations â€“ Jay Costa (Allegheny); State Government â€“ Matt Smith (Washington); Transportation â€“ John Wozniak (Cambria); Urban Affairs and Housing â€“ Jim Brewster (Allegheny); Veteranâ€™s Affairs & Emergency Preparedness â€“ Tim Solobay (Washington).
Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvinâ€™s argument that accusations against her should be handled by the judiciary rather than a criminal trial is lacking in merit, a prosecutor said.
Assistant DA Lawrence Claus wrote in his answer to Justice Orie Melvinâ€™s argument that she is not being prosecuted for pure political activity, but for using state resources for her campaigns for the court, which would be a crime.
LOTTERY DECISION MAY GO INTO 2013
The Corbett Administration is in talks with a British firm to extend the deadline to make a decision regarding a long-term private management contract for the Pennsylvania Lottery. The administration bid from Camelot Global Services, the sole bidder for a contract to operate the Lottery, expires on Dec. 31. AFSCME, which represents 160 of the 250 Lottery workers, also requested an extension to allow more time to propose a counter-offer to Camelotâ€™s bid.
TRAFFIC IS HUMMING FOR TRAFFIC CT. RACES
It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good. As a result of the scandals in Philadelphia Traffic Court which have unbenched numerous judges, at least five seats are expected to open up for the spring 2013 primary election. A reliable source has been ticking off names of people who are interested in steering a courtroom in that body.
John Farley, who had run as a Republican against State Sen. Mike Stack, winning 28,000 votes, will try for Traffic Court. Politics runs in his family; his sister once ran for Congress in Arizona. Another Republican, Melvin Johnakin, who had been eyeing a race for either District Attorney or Controller in May, has now expressed interest in Traffic Court instead. A third Republican, Lewis Harris, Jr., is also talking Traffic Court. Harris is an inveterate campaigner.
Omar Sabir is certain to have another go at a Traffic Court spot and is circulating like a man with a mission. Ivy Staten, who is the niece of legendary Laborersâ€™ Union leader Sam Staten, Sr., is rumored to be considering a run as well. Both Sabir and Staten can count on strong support from the Laborersâ€™ mighty street game.
Former Sheriff Barb Deeley, who has forgotten more about Philadelphia politics than most people will ever learn, is looking into a race.
Other possible candidates come with ready-made sponsors. Marnie Aument-Loughrey is the daughter of Democratic 33rd Ward Leader Donna Aument. Elaine Tomlin, the formidable Democratic 42nd Ward Leader, would be her own best supporter. Jeff Blackwell, a grandson of former Congressman Lucien Blackwell, could bring the weight not just of the Blackwell clan but also his boss Alan Butkovitz, who will be vigorously campaigning for reelection in the same election. State Rep. Harold Jamesâ€™ (D-S. Phila.) protÃ©gÃ©e Donna Laws ran in 2011 and is hot to trot again.
Experienced political activists Albert Littlepage and Suzanne Carn are known to be interested. Donna DeRose has been diligently working the circuit, seeking union support. JosÃ© Figueroa ran before and will likely run again.
A notable entry to the lists may be Barb Capozzi, the South Philadelphia Realtor who came within a hair of replacing Council President Anna Verna in the 2nd Councilmanic Dist. in 2011.
When there is only one opening, as was the case in 2011, Democratic Party endorsement is the key; it worked to put Ward Leader Christine Solomon at the head of the pack. But when five or more vacancies beckon, party discipline breaks down. Luck of the draw for ballot position becomes a huge factor; but key allies will turn the tide for candidates in middle ballot positions.
Common Pleas Court should also see a good turnout of exploratory candidates. There are believed to be seven openings at this time.
NEW PHILLY PARTY BLOOMS ONLINE.
Citizens who are unsatisfied with, not just the Republican and Democratic choices, but also with minor parties like the Greens and the Libertarians, have a new entry to consider. Itâ€™s â€œFree Dominionâ€, chaired by Michael Galganski, which announced its formation this Nov. 15.
Its focus is taxes and its stand is simple: Itâ€™s against them â€“ to the point of not paying any at all.
Free Dominionâ€™s Facebook page describes the party as â€œa newly established political party originating in Philadelphia, Pa., USA which argues for the dignifying prerogative of individual choice concerning public domain, and the right to withdraw from institutional abuse (inc. all taxation).
â€œMission: To politically dignify and legally codify the prerogative of individual choice concerning public domain.
â€œDescription: Amongst multiple positions, Free Dominion subsequently advocates abolishing all taxation; including Amendments to the US Constitutionâ€™s Bill of Rights which explicitly state that an individualâ€™s agency shall not be violated; entitlement to just trials; open publication of civil references as optimal guides, especially concerning economic currency; dissolving municipal institutions which practice counterfeit accreditation; annulling mandated policies of speculative insurance.â€
Online organizing has become an increasingly powerful political tool. If this is the wave of the future, Free Dominion is well positioned: Its only known activity to date has been creating a Facebook page.
THE REAL “REAL ALAN”….
In our Dec. 20 edition,”Pols on the Street” mentioned a website set up by a former employee of City Controller Alan Butkovitz. Its correct web address is www.therealalanbutkovitz.com.