Maiale, a Democrat, has chaired the politically appointed SERS board under Republican Gov. Corbett and four previous governors, both Republicans and Democrats, ending 22 years of illustrious service.
On his watch, SERS has pursued a complex diversification strategy aimed at boosting pension assets while guarding against losses in declining markets.
Total SERS gains have exceeded the system’s annual 7.5% target so far this year, but lagged behind the surging US stock market. SERS saw the most-dynamic growth in its 63-year history.
Maiale’s role in this transformation predates his move into the board chair. A Philadelphia lawyer, he served as a Representative in the General Assembly from 1980 to 1992. In 1985, he was appointed to the SERS board as a legislative member, and six years later he drafted the original “prudent-person” legislation. During that time he resigned from his post as Democratic leader of the 1st Ward in Philadelphia.
When Maiale became chairman, the board was not fully staffed and was concentrating much of its energy on short-term issues and objectives. One of his first initiatives was getting the three parties responsible for board appointments – the Governor has six choices, the President pro Tempore of the State Senate has two, and the Speaker of the House has two – to move ahead with the process. Within two years, the board was fully staffed.
One of his recent critics, hoping to replace him with some input from himself, is State Treasurer Rob McCord, who has a short memory. He is criticizing Maiale for the same methodology that enabled him to receive help from public pension funds when he was raising money for his fund which was called PAEarlyStateFund.
GOVERNING MAGAZINE LIKES BOYLE, FLECK
State Reps. Brendan Boyle (D-Northeast) and Mike Fleck (R-Huntingdon) are set to have a happy new year, at least according to Governing magazine. The periodical dedicated to state and local governments named both men to their list of 12 state legislators to watch out for in 2014.
“This list in particular includes legislators who have shown a keen ability to strike alliances across party lines, or who have racked up significant accomplishments during their time in office so far,” Louis Jacobson, the author of the list, explained. “Each of these lawmakers has a compelling personal story that informs the way he or she governs.”
The two State Reps are opposites in many ways. Boyle represents a part of Philadelphia, is a big backer of labor unions and earned a master’s degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Fleck, meanwhile, represents a rural district outside of Harrisburg, is a strong defender of agricultural interests and graduated from Liberty University.
Boyle’s priorities in Harrisburg have also included legislation which would require the teaching of the Holocaust, and other examples of genocide, to students in grades 6 through 12. Additionally, Boyle has sponsored a domestic-violence reform package of bills aimed at protecting victims and addressing numerous inefficiencies within domestic-violence court proceedings.
GUZZARDI BREWS CORBETT SOME TEA PARTY TROUBLE
Far-right activist Bob Guzzardi, a real-estate investor in Montgomery Co., has vowed to challenge incumbent Republican Gov. Tom Corbett in the May 2014 primary. In doing so he will be stirring the pot for the beleaguered Governor, who has a platoon of Democrats jostling for the privilege of taking him on in November.
Guzzardi has been vigorous in conservative state politics for a decade. His views align closely with the Tea Party but predate that movement by many years. He has money in his own right and was a formidable fundraiser in the grass-roots revolt over legislative and judicial pay raises that unseated several prominent, entrenched Republican officials across the state in 2006. So a primary effort by Guzzardi in 2014 will not be laughed off by Corbett’s campaign team.
Guzzardi’s current thinking is he will run a low-budget race that relies heavily on social media and activist networks to turn out voters against Corbett. That may not be hard: a November Public Policy Polling survey found 47% of Republican primary voters wanted to dump Corbett while only 42% wanted to keep him.
And that was before the transportation bill passed. The Governor did heavy lifting to get this $2.4 billion allocation through the General Assembly. While many observers see this accomplishment as a plus that may boost the Corbett’s standing among General Election voters, Tea Partiers regard it as a betrayal of the pledge he made to Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist never to increase taxes. So their long knives will be out for Corbett now, and Guzzardi may draw a generic “anti” vote from Republicans who are weary of the incumbent for other reasons.
Few at this stage expect Guzzardi actually to topple Corbett. But a strong primary challenge can boost the Governor’s negatives and drain cash from his fall reelection drive.
A WOMAN MAYOR SOUGHT FOR 2015
Given all the buzz that 2014 may be the “Year of the Woman” in Pennsylvania politics, some Philadelphia insiders are already wondering if it will continue into the 2015 Philadelphia mayoral race.
The field of potential candidates is already large and no one person has an obvious lead. A situation like this may tempt many candidates to stay in the race, creating a dynamic like the exciting five-way race in 2007. In such a scenario, the mathematics shift radically and may create an opening for a candidate with a new theme: gender.
Much informal discussion has already taken place among influential women over who might make a viable candidate. Among a dozen names floated are former DA Lynne Abraham, charity execs Renee Cardwell Hughes and Alba Martinez, and Councilwoman Maria Quiñones Sánchez.
Some prominent possibilities, however, have already opined they doubt they can raise enough money for an effective race. We suspect Cardwell Hughes of Red Cross and Martinez of United Way are shrewd judges when it comes to fundraising. Could Terri Gillen, currently director of federal affairs for the Nutter Administration, inherit some of her boss’s formidable funding connections?
Is there room for a lower-budget woman candidate? Some progressives have lately been bringing up the name of Helen Gym. This feisty advocate for public schools is already well known and has been campaigning around the city for her cause for years. She could deny progressive support to other candidates and make an appeal to apolitical parents of all stripes. She is a formidable advocate with the energy for a race.
Needed for Gym, or any other woman candidate, would be a team that can form behind her soon and supplement her strengths with theirs.
POLLS LIKE THE WEATHER: EACH CHANGE A WORRY
A new CNN poll shows Republicans leading Democrats by 5 points on the generic congressional ballot, 49%-44%. Just two months ago, Democrats led by 8.
PROGRESSIVES TAKING THEIR MEET RESERVATIONS
PA Progressive Summit will feature Jim Hightower, the brash former Texas elected official now billed as “today’s modern-day Johnny Appleseed,” at its state meeting at the Hilton in Harrisburg, Feb. 28 to Mar. 1. Gubernatorial and lieutenant-gubernatorial candidates will debate.
Recently elected Democrat US Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia is also among the speakers.
ISAIAH THOMAS RAISING CAMPAIGN $$
He tried, and got a high ballot position, for City Council at age 23. North Philadelphia educator and activist Isaiah Thomas still is networking and building an army of fringe as well as powerful Dems to support his future endeavors.
His latest email for campaign donations indicates he has plans to get involved again as a candidate.
MATT WOLFE WILL RUN IF BILL GREEN QUITS
If there is validity to media reports the Governor is considering Councilman Bill Green as the new head of the School Reform Commission. If it happens, Councilman Green will have to resign from City Council and there may be a special election, possibly onMay 20, the day of the primary election.
If that happens, 27th Ward Leader Matt Wolfe announced he will seek the Republican nomination, Without those ifs, he will run in the Republican primary for Council at Large in 2015, he says, for sure.
His website, WolfeforCityCouncil.com, will detail what dialogue he will bring to a race.
While Green is still up in the air, an important rule change is already certain to be on the May 20 ballot. City Council voted 16-0 for a referendum to change the City Charter to remove the requirement that they and other city officials have to resign from the office they hold if they want to run for another office. That will be for voters to approve.