We begin our Friday wrap-up this week with a bit of sad news. Our friend and longtime Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Tom Barnes passed away this week. Tom was a consummate professional, a fantastic journalist and an all-around great guy. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.
Now back to the roaring dumpster fire that is our nation’s Presidential campaign. The 2nd debate was held Sunday night, and it was…dreadful. To say we have reached the lowest point possible in our national political dialogue would be a disservice to both campaigns. We are sure they have more holes to dig. But, read about it here if you must. Just don’t do it on an empty stomach.
You know it is a bad week when your campaign needs to stop long enough for you to threaten to sue the New York Times. Donald Trump found himself doing just that this week, and the response from the venerable Times was, in a nutshell: “Please sue us. Please.”
Meanwhile, relentless self-promoter Julian Assange this week continued to trickle out e-mails meant to derail Hillary Clinton’s dream of occupying the Oval Office. For a man holed up in London’s Ecuadorian Embassy to shield himself from a rape charge, he sure does get around. The Clinton camp has been relegated to playing the role of watching shoe after shoe drop and drinking Maalox by the gallon.
Ivanka Trump and Mike Pence continued their quest to become Pennsylvania residents this week, swinging through southeastern Pennsylvania to talk about something or another.
And Chelsea Clinton is campaigning in Pittsburgh today, talking about something or another. There, that is all the Clinton/Trump news we can muster today.
Speaking of the Steel City, President Obama came to Carnegie Mellon University this week as part of his administration’s White House Frontiers initiative, which is promoting new technological advances in a multitude of public policy areas. For the Wonk-in-Chief, there is no place like CMU!
And of course, no discussion of technology in Pittsburgh would be complete if we didn’t discuss the Steel City’s commitment to leading the nation in the development of autonomous vehicles. Baby you can drive my car!
Speaking of driving, your Pennsylvania driver’s license may soon not be a valid form of ID when attempting to board an airplane. Yeah, that won’t throw this state’s airports into utter chaos or anything. Somebody needs to get on this problem, stat.
The state has been working on updating its rules regarding shale well drilling since 2011. After more fits and starts than we can even recall or care to mention, those rules finally emerged from our byzantine regulatory process to take effect a few weeks ago. And now, the drilling industry has sued to block those rules from taking effect. Just when you thought it was safe to begin ignoring this issue…whappo! It will never, ever go away. Gas drilling rules are the Rasputin of Pennsylvania public policy.
Speaking of public policy debates that will never end, a central PA state senate race has become contentious over the issue of property tax elimination. Once again, we would remind readers that the chances of the state ever eliminating property taxes are roughly the same as the earth crashing into Venus. So move along, people. Nothing to see here.
The state’s voter registration deadline came and went this week, and the final partisan breakdown shows the Democrats with roughly a million-vote advantage over the GOP. This means, well, nothing in the Grand Scheme, as only about 3.5 million of the 8.4 million registered voters in this state are actually gonna show up in November, regardless of how many times Jimmy Fallon reminds them to vote.
The State House this week may take up (among 5,000 other issues) changes to the state’s law governing poll watchers. You know, maybe four weeks before an election might not be the best time frame to begin noodling around with the system. Just a thought. You might want to give these changes a test drive in an off year election, when decidedly fewer of the aforementioned 8.4 million will actually go to the polls.
Small medical marijuana growers from other states are expressing concern that when Pennsylvania’s regulatory framework is finalized, they may be shut out of the game by much larger, industrial-sized growers. We fondly recall the days before the fracking frenzy hit Pennsylvania, when every small energy company was going to make a fortune. Then the major international energy companies swooped in and said “Yeah, go away. We got this.”
In case you had not been formally notified, there is a race for Pennsylvania State Treasurer on the ballot in November. State Treasurer is an important job, so we thought we would point this out now, since the Presidential noise is going to make it impossible for you to hear anything about this down-ballot race. Do some research, people. Be informed.
Because we spent most of this missive being relentlessly disgusted and sarcastic, we would like to close up shop by lightening the mood a bit. Here is a video of a North Penn High School female football player absolutely leveling a much larger male opponent. #WeAreWithHer.
In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, celebrity undecided voter Kenneth Bone has spawned a whole laundry list of Halloween costumes including, inexplicably, a “sexy undecided voter/Kenneth Bone” ensemble. We are all doomed, folks. See you on the other side.
That’s what passes for news around here on a crisp, cool Friday in Harrisburg. The General Assembly returns next week to wrap up their two-year run, so stay tuned! We will be here to cover all of it, because that is what we do around here! From all your friends at Triad, have a great weekend!
The Triadvocate is a publication of Triad Strategies, LLC, a bipartisan lobbying, public affairs, strategic communications, grassroots advocacy, issue management consulting firm located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with offices in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh