POLS ON THE STREET: Ready or Not, Here We Vote!

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MEDICAL cannabis was the subject of a resource conference held at Temple University Hospital by State Sen. Sharif Street. L-R were Warner N. Macklin III, JD, president, the Macklin Group, managing partner and CAO FoxChase Advisors LLC; Desiree Ivey, co-founder of Medicinally Jointed & Co-Founder of DACO; and Street. More than 700 people thronged in Temple University Hospital for this cannabis event.

BY JOE SHAHEELI
A high turnin of absentee ballots bodes a high overall turnout in Pennsylvania’s 2018 midterm election.

Absentee-ballot requests were closed on Oct. 30. But as of Friday, Oct. 26, the Pennsylvania Department of State had received almost 200,000 requests. And 96,000 had already clocked their votes. That is days ahead of the pace in the last midterm, 2014.

As absentee ballots go, so goes Election Day turnout – sort of. Absentees are a sound predictor of overall turnout.

But there are party differences. Republicans tend to lead in absentee ballots because they are over-represented in the business community, which is politically savvy but must plan frequent travels. Democrats stray less far from home, so they wait till the last minute.

This year, the Democrats are turning the tables on this model in total requests (although not in returned votes as of Oct. 26). That’s not what Keystone State Republicans wanted to hear. It could signify that affluent suburban moderates, who also travel on business, have switched from Republican or Independent since the Trump era began.

IN AN UNUSUAL Sunday-morning fundraiser, Northeast Democratic wards gathered at Red Rooster Inn to cheer on the Eagles as they played in London. The event was hosted by Ward Leaders Bob Dellavella, front L; Shawn Dillon, 2nd from L; and Bill Dolbow, 2nd from R. Candidates attending included Congressman Brendan Boyle, C, and Joe Hohenstein, R. Photo by Wendell Douglas

The Morning Call found that before the Oct. 6 cutoff, 8,594,046 people had registered to vote in the Commonwealth – up 342,996 from the 2014 midterm election.

Unbeknownst to Most Pols, Are Pennsylvanians on the Same Page?

Pennsylvania’s leading statewide political-action organization for young progressives, Keystone Progress, is promoting a savvily designed poll that argues there really are things Pennsylvanians of all parties agree on. Can it be true?

The poll, called “Building Community in the Commonwealth,” was conducted by Populus, a British pollster. Its discoveries: both urban and rural Pennsylvania voters think alike on corporate influence, school funding and the benefits of a $15 hourly minimum wage.

CITY COUNCIL staffers lurked in the dens of City Hall last Friday evening, preparing ghoulish scenes – with tasty treats – for hundreds of youngsters of limited means. Councilman Derek Green prepared a veritable feast prepared for his trick-or-treaters.

“This poll demonstrates there is more that unites us than divides us,” Daniel Doubet, executive director of Keystone Progress, said in a joint statement.

The poll — conducted by Populus and commissioned by a coalition of progressive groups, including People’s Action, Reclaim Philadelphia, Keystone Progress Education Fund, POWER and HOPE Not Hate — surveyed 3,000 Pennsylvanians across every county earlier this month.

More than 70% of urban residents and nearly 70% of rural ones held that corporations “rig the system to make profits at the expense of ordinary people” while nearly 80% everywhere agreed that elected officials pay more attention to “wealthy campaign contributors and corporate lobbyists.”

A large portion of urban and rural residents agreed that Pennsylvania schools are underfunded – 40% of rural residents and almost 45% of city folks.

CONGRESSMAN Brendan Boyle took to Lardner’s Point Park to announce he was lobbying to increase federal funding for conservation and restoration in the Delaware River Basin. Lardner’s Point Park is an example of what such funding has already accomplished. L-R at the park were Stephanie Phillips, executive director, Riverfront North Partnership; Sandra Meola, director, Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed; Boyle; Brendan; Julie Slavet, Tookany-Tacony Watershed Partnership; and Susan Myerov, Pennsylvania Environmental Council.

How about raising the minimum wage? In the sticks, 50% of rural residents are for it, as are 60% of urbanites.

This Populus poll should not be held to the same standard that widely reported national political polls are. It was designed to elicit numbers favorable to its customer, which has a side.

But its actual number for actual questions are unlikely to have been made up. So they may point a way toward common ground in Harrisburg – whenever politicians are ready to return to their central mission in a healthy society: solving problems together for all.

Voting in Pennsylvania: How Hard Is It?

A reputable scholarly publication found Pennsylvania to rank only 31st in ease of voting.

Interviewing a group of political scientists, the Election Law Journal weighed 33 different types of election laws in all 50 states to create an index of easy voting.

Those include voter ID requirements, early and absentee voting, limited polling hours, and allowing minors to pre-register before they turn 18.

But researchers said the biggest factor is allowing registration on Election Day. 15 states and Washington DC allow it. Two allow same-day registration for early voting.

Pennsylvania, on the other hand, cuts off voter registration 30 days before an election – the maximum allowed under federal law.

Major Trade Unions Back Patty-Pat

We have already reported on strong union support for the Democratic candidate, Joe Hohenstein, in the Northeast’s crucial 177th Legislative District race. Now it’s the Republican aspirant Patty-Pat Kozlowski’s turn.

Kozlowski has solid backing from most public-safety and building-trades unions.

The list of the former includes Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 and International Association of Firefighters Local 22.

On the constructive side are Steamfitters Local 420, Elevator Constructors Local 5, Sheet Metal Workers Local 19, Operating Engineers Local 542, Roofers Local 36 and Keystone Mountain Lakes Regional Council of Carpenters.

Other union backers are Transport Workers Local 234 and Teamster Joint Council 53.

FRIENDS of state rep candidate Mike Doyle gathered at Fergie’s Pub in Center City to raise funds for his fiercely contested race. L-R were Andy Toy, fellow candidate Elizabeth Fiedler, Nina Liou, Doyle and Andrew Ross.

A common factor in these unions’ interest is that they want strong continued business investment in their fields in Philadelphia.

One should note campaign contributions are not necessarily the same as endorsements. Some unions donate to both candidates in a race.

Wagner Pumps $1M into Broadcast Catchup

Republican Scott Wagner, a trash-hauling magnate and former state senator, is pushing an anti-poverty agenda … and will drop $1 million in a last-minute television campaign.

Wagner has shown intense interest in Philadelphia issues – unlike his fellow statewide ballot-mate Congressman Lou Barletta (R-Luzerne), who wants to be our U.S. Senator yet treats Philadelphia like a cross between the plague and the 9th Circle of Hell.

Wagner claims his brand of rightwing practicality can shower jobs and money on this city. Many Philadelphians may disagree. But at least he noticed us and he’s trying.

His business practice of hiring returning citizens, for one, speaks to an important Philadelphia issue.

Pa. Congressional Map Is Good for 2020

The U.S. Supreme Court passed on the last appeal by Republican legislators over the recent changes to Pennsylvania’s congressional district map.

HEAVY RAIN did not stop constituents from flocking to the bi-annual shredding event of State Rep. James Roebuck, R, at his Baltimore Avenue legislative office. The shredding truck ingested several large containers of documents. Photo by Joe Stivala

The Republicans’ cutting-edge gerrymandering in 2011 seized nearly three-quarters of the state’s congressional delegation with nothing like that number of statewide votes – in some years, fewer than half.

Early this year, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned the gerrymandered districts and drew its own, stating that gerrymandering had violated the Pennsylvania Constitution in the process.

State Republicans have tried many times since to get the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene. That’s the only body that can overrule a state Supreme Court.

No, thank you, we’re busy, said the Supremes.

Therefore, the 2018 district boundaries that all Pennsylvania congressional hopefuls are running in Nov. 6 will remain the same in 2020.

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