POLS ON THE STREET: Brady An Island of Calm For Colo. Students

Filed under: Pols on the Street |

STATE REP. Vanessa Lowery Brown, seated 2nd from right, sponsored gathering of American Indians at Clara Muhammad Park in W. Phila.

STATE REP. Vanessa Lowery Brown, seated 2nd from right, sponsored gathering of American Indians at Clara Muhammad Park in W. Phila.

(Reprinted from Aspen, Col. Aspen Times)
A group of Aspen Country Day School students visiting Washington, D.C., were locked down with a Pennsylvania Congressman after a woman tried to ram her car through a White House barricade.
Aspen students, who had been in Washington all week, already had adjusted their itinerary because of the federal closures and were visiting with Congressman Bob Brady, a Democrat, in the Cannon House Office Building.

Around 2 p.m. Eastern Time, an alarm sounded and the group was informed of the lockdown.

Andy Davies is one of two chaperones with the group of 36 students. She said Brady kept talking with the students and assured them they were in the right place during a lockdown.

“Congressman Brady was incredibly calm throughout the lockdown,” Davies said. “He assured us we were perfectly safe. He pointed out there was only one way in the building and it was guarded. He also said all his windows were bulletproof. He more or less carried on like it was business as usual. That really helped keep everyone calm.”

Eighth-grader Devon Presutti, 13, thought the alarm meant another session in the building was over but soon realized that wasn’t the case.

“Once we learned we were part of a lockdown, I got pretty scared,” Presutti said. “We didn’t have much information on what was going on and where it was happening.

“The best part was the Congressman; he was so calm and made sure we understood we were safe. The trip has not been boring. We’ve dealt with a lot of different things since we got here.”

Judge Jack McVay, Jr., Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania Superior Court, tallied two important endorsements in his race for Superior Court last week. He won the support of Pennsylvania’s largest labor federation, the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, representing 800,000 union members, and he got the nod from the Pennsylvania State Education Association with 186,000 members across the Commonwealth.

Said Judge McVay, “It is an honor to have the support of the working men and women of Pennsylvania who belong to labor organizations. They truly know the need to have a level playing field free from fear or favor, something I strive to make happen every day in my court room.”

Both the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO and PSEA bring valuable resources to the campaign in addition to the votes of their members.

Judge McVay currently serves on the Allegheny Co. Court of Common Pleas in the Family Division, first elected in 2007.

Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Rob Gleason has announced the hiring of Antori Miranda to head Hispanic engagement efforts in Pennsylvania. The engagement team, Gleason said, will build a grassroots infrastructure and engage with voters at community events, as well as “strengthen our ties with Hispanic Republicans. As part of the GOP’s effort to build a permanent ground operation, the PA GOP will work in partnership with the RNC to ensure a year-round presence in Latino neighborhoods.”

OGONTZ AVENUE Revitalization Corp. debuts changes coming to  Stenton Avenue with an assist from this group: State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, his chief of staff Stacey Wright, Councilwoman Marian Tasco, Commerce Dir. Kevin Dow and State Rep. Dwight Evans.

OGONTZ AVENUE Revitalization Corp. debuts changes coming to Stenton Avenue with an assist from this group: State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, his chief of staff Stacey Wright, Councilwoman Marian Tasco, Commerce Dir. Kevin Dow and State Rep. Dwight Evans.

Is Pennsylvania’s economy doing better than economies of other states? The State Democratic Party promotes claims about how bad Pennsylvania’s current economy is, and tides it to Gov. Tom Corbett and his administration. Corbett’s Administration fired back as State Labor & Industry Secretary Julia Hearthway said federal Bureau of Labor Statistic data show Pennsylvania has recovered about 70% of the jobs the state lost during the recession, while other states have not performed as well. She cited Ohio as having recovered only 39%; New Jersey, 50%; and Michigan, 56%.

There remains big-bucks betting on Corbett. State GOP chief Rob Gleason has advised GOP donors their dollars are being matched by a major donor. Deadline is tomorrow for matching grant.

A new poll this week shows very poor numbers for both 7th Dist. Congressman Pat Meehan (R-Delaware) and 8th Dist. Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks). It’s linked to Gov. Corbett’s poor poll performances and to their support of the shutdown in Washington.

For Dist. 7, Meehan’s approval is 28% and his disapproval, 39%. In Dist. 8, Fitzpatrick’s approval at 42% is a point below his disapproval rate.

Former Congressman Mark Critz has always had organized labor by his side. Now that he’s running for Lieutenant Governor, it looks like he will be able to rely on strong union support.
The United Steelworkers became the first labor union to endorse Critz in his 2014 bid for Lieutenant Governor.

USW Political Dir. Tim Waters said, “During his time in Congress, Critz demonstrated his commitment to manufacturing and family-sustaining jobs. When Critz’s district was redrawn, the middle class lost a reliable ally in Washington, but now he has a chance to once again serve the hard-working people of Pennsylvania.”

Eighty-six senior judges received nearly $11 million last year in combined state pension payments and income for their work in county courts across Pennsylvania, a Citizens’ Voice analysis found.

Pension payments for the senior judges totaled $7.1 million and compensation totaled $3.8 million, according to Right to Know Law information provided by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts and the State Employees’ Retirement Commission.

Senior judges try cases on an ad hoc basis and take on other assignments after they have retired full time from the bench, helping the wheels of justice turn in Pennsylvania.
They benefit from a unique “double-dip” arrangement. They are paid a hefty daily compensation, called per diems, for their work up to an annual threshold amount and still collect generous state pensions under the traditional defined-benefit plan, as well as health benefits.

The combined compensation ranged from a peak of $176,366 for Judge Ricardo Jackson of Philadelphia to a low of $52,153 for Judge Charles B. Smith of Chester Co.

Twelve senior Common Pleas judges from Northeastern Pennsylvania received $1.5 million in combined 2012 compensation.

It’s a sizeable workforce, roughly one-fifth of the active 450 Common Pleas Court judges spread around 67 counties.

The budget for the unified judicial system covering state and county courts is $317 million in fiscal 2013-14 with about four-fifths of that amount for personnel costs. The Pennsylvania courts process about 3.4 million cases in a year.

State appellate court judges can also work as senior judges. In addition to daily compensation, senior judges are paid for mileage and food and lodging expenses.

The work of senior judges is drawing attention during a time of debate over lifting the state constitutional requirement that active judges retire at age 70, a moratorium on filling Common Pleas Court vacancies in mid-term due to tight state budgets since 2009 and their involvement in some high-profile cases.

Senior judges can be paid up to the difference between their annual pension and the current comparable judicial salary for their work. Both judicial salaries and the daily compensation paid senior judges are adjusted annually through an automatic cost-of-living adjustment under a 1995 state law.

Dwayne Cofer’s last day of service for State Rep. Rosita C. Youngblood (D-Northwest) and the Democratic Caucus was Oct. 9. Cofer is now working for 8th Dist. Councilwoman Cindy Bass out of City Hall. Joe Steadman is reportedly picking up the chores for Rosita.

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