POLS ON THE STREET: Guv’s Race Fuels the Sticks with Safe Talk

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AS THE NATION’S eyes were on the U.S. Senate Republicans’ drive to enact a tax cut this week, Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat, rallied a crowd of protestors outside his Center City office. Many in Philadelphia are concerned the provisions of the Republican plan, which were still unclear at press time, would wind up hurting Pennsylvanians, urbanites and lower-income people disproportionately. Protestors were preaching to the choir at Casey’s door, as he opposes the Republican plan. His Republican colleague, Sen. Pat Toomey, is the one their pleas must move, to be successful. Photo by Wendell Douglas

Key battles for the Pennsylvania governorship are being waged midstate in small, quiet cities and rural counties.

State Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York), who was first out of the gate in the Republican primary, has unleashed a hard pitch for the Pennsylvania “T’s” Trump voters with a full-throated evocation of the president’s attacks on illegal immigrants – and the cities they often move to.

Wagner’s latest release punched all these buttons: “President Trump is fighting hard in Washington to build The Wall, and I’ll be standing with him in Harrisburg, making sure the practices of sanctuary cities won’t be able to harm Pennsylvania families. Take a stand for law and order,” it read.

Lest rural voters miss the point, Wagner continued, “Cities run by leftist politicians will be required to respect the federal laws that keep Pennsylvanians safe.” Which cities might those be?

“Gov. Tom Wolf has done absolutely nothing to stand up to rogue cities that treat our laws as optional. We need to stand together as Pennsylvanians and say enough is enough when it comes to the dangerous practices of sanctuary cities,” Wagner ended with a drumroll.

Wolf riposted with a cheery, constructive pitch of his own – for Trump-country school safety. He announced $5 million in Safe Schools Initiative Targeted Grants this week, which have been awarded to nearly 140 schools, police departments and municipalities.

“Whether students are learning in one of our large cities or a rural community, they need a secure and supportive environment to do their best in the classroom,” said the Governor. “This funding enables schools and communities to have the resources they need to keep students safe, and it builds on our commitment to kids, parents and teachers across the commonwealth.”

The money will go for identification systems; metal detectors; protective lighting; surveillance and communications equipment; locks and training – lots of hands-on, feel-safe stuff.

But notice where it’s being spent. Of this $5 million, 90% will go to counties outside the five-county Philadelphia metropolitan area, which is trending Democratic – even though only 60% of Pennsylvanians live outside our area.

This $5 million can generate a lot of whistle-stops for Wolf in precisely the regions where he has to hold Wagner’s margin down.

The two Philadelphia schools to receive grants are both independent schools: Philadelphia Cristo Rey Philadelphia and Torah Academy of Greater Philadelphia.

COUNCILMEN Darrell Clarke and Bill Greenlee traditionally organize giveaways of turkeys before Thanksgiving to hundreds of Lower North Philadelphia residents of modest means. L-R at Lutheran Settlement House in Fishtown this year were Clarke and Greenlee (3rd from L) with Atria Jefferson nurses Diane Audwarter, Michele Conley, Beautiful Leyden and Jess Satinsky. Photo by Wendell Douglas

Kernodle Named to Gaming Control

Philadelphia’s Obra Kernodle has been appointed to the Gaming Control Board, Gov. Wolf announced. Kernodle most recently served as deputy chief of staff in the Governor’s Office.

“Obra has been an important voice in my administration for improving the lives of all Pennsylvanians and I know he will bring the same dedication and commitment to the Gaming Control Board,” Wolf said.

Most recently, before his appointment as a member of the governor’s senior staff, Kernodle was a senior advisor for Gov.-elect Wolf’s transition team.

Kernodle worked in Mayor Michael Nutter’s administration as deputy of legislative affairs, helping to coordinate the city’s Actual Value Initiative. In 2012, Kernodle was part of President Barack Obama’s re-election effort as the Pennsylvania S.E. political director. He sits on the boards of Visit Philly and Welcome America.

Kernodle is a graduate of Roman Catholic High School.

Muroff: Give Conyers the Boot

Dan Muroff, a former ward leader running for the Democratic nomination in the 7th Congressional District, took an unusual stand by calling for the ouster of a senior congressman who would become his colleague if elected. But it may be a shrewd move.

MAYOR Jim Kenney, R, and Mural Arts Program Executive Director Jane Golden, 2nd from R, celebrated the accomplishments of Mural Arts’ Guild artists at City Hall. The Guild, a paid apprenticeship program, gives formerly incarcerated individuals and young adults on probation the opportunity to reconnect with their community while developing job skills. Through work on creative projects like mural making, carpentry, and mosaics, members of the Guild, guided by artists and other skilled professionals, transform their neighborhoods and themselves. Photo by Wendell Douglas

Muroff issued the following statement following the recent revelations regarding charges of sexual-aggression against Congressman John Conyers (D-Mich.).

“The allegations are extremely troubling,” Muroff said. “No public official, regardless of their past service or accomplishments, can be allowed to use a secret internal process to avoid accountability for serious misconduct.

“Using taxpayer funds to silence women who have been harassed or assaulted is a disgrace. This is an absolutely unacceptable use of taxpayer dollars and it should be banned.”

Michigan voters are far away. But the Pennsylvania 7th District is largely suburban. It contains many women voters who are shocked by the outburst of media reports on the sexual missteps of prominent politicians across the land. Yet many are independent or lean Republican.

Muroff wants to make clear to them that he will come down as hard on fellow-Democrat offenders as on Republicans, thereby assuring this vital bloc he is bipartisan on their burning issue.

Can Muroff’s foe, Congressman Pat Meehan (R-Delaware), match him on this?

City GOP Sees Hope in Tax Cuts

The Republican federal tax plan offers a beacon of hope for struggling middle-income Philadelphians, the leader of the Republican City Committee said this week.

“House Republicans passed a bill to cut taxes on businesses and individuals – a big step in the GOP’s effort to overhaul the American tax system.

The Tax Cuts & Jobs Act overhauls the U.S. tax code for the first time in 30 years, allowing a middle-income family of four, earning $59,000, to receive a cut of $1,182,” argued RCC Chairman Mike Meehan.

“People have been asking how the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act specifically relates to Philadelphians,” he continued. “The second-largest group of Philadelphia’s households falls somewhere around the middle income of $59,000 per year. Thirty percent of the city’s households are making somewhere between $35,000 and $74,999 per year. On these terms, there are potentially a good number of Philadelphians who could be looking forward to a much-needed tax break.”

Meehan also held that lower tax rates on businesses will lead to their employing more Philadelphians.

“Unemployment rates in Philadelphia have decreased from 2016 to 2017, but Philadelphia still has the second-highest unemployment rate of the 11 counties that make up the metropolitan region, resting right now at 6%. Philadelphia could also benefit from the prospect of companies returning their operations to the U.S. and bid opportunities for the city to host their operations,” said Meehan.

Wolf Hails Hometown Thanksgiving History

Thanksgiving is traditionally celebrated by charitable recipients, politicians not least among them. Tens of thousands of Philadelphians received emails Nov. 23 or thereabouts with thanks from the pols they had donated to, and gentle encouragement to continue that practice.

We saw many of them in our daily inbox. Of them all, we liked best Gov. Tom Wolf’s pitch.

THE FIRST official Thanksgiving Day proclamation was issued in 1777, in York, Pa. (The date was set for Dec. 18 that year.)

He invoked the fact that his native York was where the first official Thanksgiving celebration was declared, on Nov. 1, 1777. (The celebration took place on Dec. 18.)Kudos for your grasp of history, Mr. Wolf. We reproduce the original text:

“Forasmuch as it is the indispensable duty of all men to adore the superintending providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with gratitude their obligation to him for benefits received, and to implore such farther blessings as they stand in need of; and it having pleased him in his abundant mercy not only to continue to us the innumerable bounties of his common providence, but also smile upon us in the prosecution of a just and necessary war, for the defense and establishment of our unalienable rights and liberties; particularly in that he hath been pleased in so great a measure to prosper the means used for the support of our troops and to crown our arms with most signal success:

“It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive powers of these United States, to set apart Thursday, the 18th day of December next, for solemn thanksgiving and praise; that with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts, and consecrate themselves to the service of their divine benefactor; and that together with their sincere acknowledgments and offerings, they may join the penitent confession of their manifold sins, whereby they had forfeited every favor, and their humble and earnest supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance; that it may please him graciously to afford his blessings on the governments of these states respectively, and prosper the public council of the whole; to inspire our commanders both by land and sea, and all under them, with that wisdom and fortitude which may render them fit instruments, under the providence of Almighty God, to secure for these United States the greatest of all blessings, independence and peace; that it may please him to prosper the trade and manufactures of the people and the labor of the husbandman, that our land may yield its increase; to take schools and seminaries of education, so necessary for cultivating the principles of true liberty, virtue and piety, under his nurturing hand, and to prosper the means of religion for the promotion and enlargement of that kingdom which consisteth in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.”

Who says a politician ever has to end a sentence?

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