Friday Happy Hour: Parrothead Edition


We start out this week on a somber note, sending our most sincere condolences to the friends and family of former Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, who succumbed to cancer this week. He was taken far too soon. 

Despite the fact that December job creation numbers failed to hit expectations (what, we ONLY created 145,000 new jobs? What the hell do you people want, anyway?) the Dow Jones Industrial Average topped 29,000 for the first time in history yesterday. President Trump trumpeted the news on Twitter by asking how everyone’s 409(K) is doing. 409, 401, tomato, tomahto…

As tensions escalated in the Middle East this week, we all learned that is was, in fact, not simply a coincidence that a Ukraine-bound plane crashed outside of Tehran at roughly the same time the Iranians were showering the desert with missiles. Very rarely do planes simply fall out of the sky.  

Meanwhile, GOP and Democratic U.S. senators emerged from a briefing on the Iran crisis with markedly different opinions on what they just heard. And by “GOP” we mean “all of the GOP except for Sen. Mike Lee of Utah.”  

Central Pennsylvania news outlets spent the entire week camping out at the Pennsylvania Farm Show, drinking milkshakes and petting livestock. Notable this year, however, was the array of hemp-based products for sale, ushering in a new age of hemp-ness in Pennsylvania. 

And while hemp was the belle of the ball, the same cannot be said for the dairy industry, which has hit quite a rough patch in Pennsylvania. Note to readers: almond milk is not milk. As our good friend and Senior Consultant George Wolff often says, “I’ve never seen teats on an almond.”

Elected leaders across Philadelphia rallied this week to try and pry loose about $170 million from the state to remove asbestos from the city’s public schools. Yeah, that’s a pretty steep price tag, but the health of children and teachers shouldn’t be judged on how much it might cost. Ever see a hospital bill for treating a child with pediatric cancer?

Like swallows returning to Capistrano, the General Assembly will reconvene next week after a short holiday respite. And like every year since the dawn of time, there will be a new bill introduced to reduce the size of the legislature. You can set your watch by it. 

A lawmaker in Vermont has proposed legislation that would ban the use of handheld phones for anyone under the age of 21. Great idea, except that people under 21 spend a lot of time teaching those over 50 how to use their handheld phones. What will Boomers do without these handy-dandy tutors? 

The booming shale industry is getting a small taste of its first bust in Pennsylvania, as gas drillers are shedding jobs in western Pennsylvania. According to industry experts, the culprit is not a lack of demand, but rather the lack of pipelines to get said gas from point A to point B. And we know how easy it is to build pipelines around here. 

We ran across an interesting tidbit this week that should help put Pennsylvania’s infrastructure crisis in perspective for you. Lehigh Valley officials this week put pen to paper for all the projects they intend to build in the next decade, and the price tag is just north of $500 million. That’s just for the Lehigh Valley.  Now multiply that by, um… a lot. See where we are going with this?

Now we would like to introduce you to our Women on the Move 2020 section, where three deserving folks are in the news. First off, our good friend, former lawmaker and all-around awesome person Cherelle Parker was sworn in as Philadelphia City Council majority leader this week! Go get ‘em, Cherelle!

The Philadelphia Tribune this week also spilled a little ink for our own Brandi Hunter-Davenport, making her move to Team Triad!

Finally, we give a shout-out to Danielle Farber, who this week became the first-ever female Pennsylvania National Guard member to complete Army Ranger School. Congratulations, Sergeant!

And as long as we’re giving shouts out, here’s one for the longtime Senate staffer formerly known as Drew Crompton, who was sworn in this week as a judge on the Commonwealth Court. Congratulations and good luck, Judge J. Andrew Crompton!

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you back to – where else? – Florida, where police responded a distress call only to find out that the woman who was repeatedly screaming “Let me out!” was actually a parrot. In addition to wanting out, the parrot also wanted a bowl of Froot Loops.      

That’s what passes for news around here on a lovely Friday in your seat of state government. Come back next week where we will once again regale you with tales of yore. Until then, from all of us at Team Triad, have a great weekend!

Friday Happy Hour: Gas Pump Edition

Gas pump

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Friday Happy Hour 2020! We pick up where we left off in 2019, with tensions between Iran and the U.S. reaching a boiling point yesterday after our military dispatched of one of the world’s most dangerous terrorists, Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. For those worried that this action might spark a broader war with Iran, it is probably a good time to remind everyone that Iran has been at war with pretty much the entire free world since 1979.

The new year brought with it several new state laws that went into effect on Jan. 1. Among the more notable ones are raising the minimum age to buy tobacco to 21, and for the first time, the legalization of mail-in voting in Pennsylvania. And hey, speaking of voting…

After Dauphin County elected officials finally relented at the 11th hour and 59th minute, all sixty-seven counties will officially have new voting machines just in time for the 2020 elections, which, we have been told, will shatter turnout records from here to Kingdom Come.

A new federal overtime rule also kicked in on Jan. 1, guaranteeing 60,000 or so Pennsylvanians overtime pay should they work more than 40 hours a week. Which, to be fair, seems pretty fair and reasonable.  

And what would January be without the kickoff to the annual Pennsylvania Farm Show, where despite the misleading name, one cannot walk in and buy a farm. There will be a delightful spread of food, and as an extra added bonus this year, a massive butter sculpture of the Philadelphia Flyers’ mascot Gritty, which will haunt your children for months to come. 

2020 will also see the kickoff to the state’s implementation of automated speed enforcement in construction zones. So if you are the type of chowderhead who speeds in work zones, the eye in the sky (or more aptly, in the Grand Cherokee) is gonna get you. 

Gov. Tom Wolf opened the new year by announcing a new multi-agency effort called Reach Out PA to help combat the stigma that surrounds mental illness. Kudos to him and his team for this new initiative, which should truly be a bipartisan effort. Wolf is getting really good at this “bipartisan” thing as his second term kicks into high gear. 

And if you have not yet watched Wolf and his second-in-command, John Fetterman, reading mean tweets about themselves, please do yourself a favor and watch. It is pure gold. 

Out in Allegheny County, health officials are planning a series of initiatives to combat climate change on the heels of a spike in poor air quality days over the last year. Maybe everyone can breathe a little easier in 2020.   

Out in Philly, Mayor Jim Kenney finished up the year by vetoing six – yes, six – bills passed by City Council, among them a community benefits bill championed by Council President Darrell Clarke and a popular wage tax rebate plan. Well now, that’s gonna leave a mark.   

Despite the vetoes, President Clarke has doubled down on his bid to cut the poverty rate in the city, with a pledge to pull 70,000 residents out of poverty over the next four years. We wouldn’t bet against him. 

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey and several members of the state’s congressional delegation have signed an amicus brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to “reconsider” Roe v. Wade. You know, it was a pretty safe bet that the 2020 elections were gonna be a tad acrimonious BEFORE they signed this brief. Nothing like dumping a little gas on the electoral fire.  

As lawmakers continue to battle over the future of the fossil fuel industry, often times folks forget what the energy sector has meant to some southwestern Pennsylvania communities. Here is one such story from Beaver County, just up the Ohio River from Pittsburgh and home to the new Shell cracker plant.   

In our first We Can’t Make This Up installment of the year, we take you to – where else? – Florida, where a man was arrested this week for trying to beat up a gas pump. No matter how many times you punch it, the price is not going down, pal. 

The whole episode reminded us of a scene from the Steve Martin classic film, The Jerk. Die, gas pumper!

That’s what passes for news around here at the dawn of the decade in Harrisburg. Thanks for making us a part of your Fridays, and from all of us at Team Triad, have a great weekend!

Friday Happy Hour: Duct-Tape Banana Redux

Work of art

America was force-fed a civics lesson this week with the impeachment of President Trump, only the third time the House has taken such an action. At the moment, we don’t know when (or if?) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will deliver the two articles of impeachment to the Senate, as she suggested she will wait until she’s satisfied that the Senate trial will be a fair one. It could be a long wait. Pennsylvania’s 18 members of Congress split along party lines, with the nine Democrats voting to impeach and the nine Republicans voting against it.

The president, for his part, called the impeachment a sham and a witch-hunt and asserted, once again, that he had done nothing wrong. He and his Republican supporters continued to criticize the impeachment process, but didn’t lay a finger on any of the facts.

Two Democrats voted against the abuse of power article, and an additional Dem voted against the obstruction of Congress article. One of them, New Jersey Congressman Jeff Van Drew, announced he would switch to the GOP, and six of his senior aides immediately resigned.

Just when it seemed that things couldn’t get any uglier, they got uglier. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced he had no intention to be an open-minded juror and said he would take his cues from the White House in conducting the Senate trial. Despite that, some believe that Pelosi still holds some cards. WaPo columnist Jennifer Rubin laid out the various scenarios that the speaker could use to create leverage, although as McConnell noted, “I’m not sure what leverage there is in refraining from sending us something we do not want.”

After winnowing their ranks down to seven, the Democratic presidential candidates held another debate this week. The New York Times offered six takeaways.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a case that would have made it illegal to camp and sleep in public spaces. It upheld a lower court decision that said it was cruel and unusual punishment to enforce rules that stop homeless people from camping in public places when they have no place else to go.

A state court system task force’s recommendation that Pennsylvania stop issuing grand jury reports has drawn opposition. A spokesman for the majority Republican caucus in the state House said leaders are not inclined to do away with grand jury reports because it would diminish the ability of the three branches of government to work together to address public policy issues.

Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Michael Bennet, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Tom Steyer attended a Pittsburgh education forum last weekend. Sen. Cory Booker bailed with the flu. Charter school parents expressed disappointment in not being represented.

New Jersey voters will decide in the 2020 General Election whether to legalize recreational marijuana in that state for anyone 21 or older. In recent polls, 60 percent of voters support legalization.

Governor Wolf and legislative leaders announced that a task force will scrutinize Pennsylvania’s juvenile justice system in hopes that it will improve the results it produces. Task force members will be appointed by Wolf, the court system and the General Assembly and will be given a year to complete their work.

Already thinking of how you’re gonna spend that forty bucks that lawmakers want to save you for yearly emission inspections on vehicles less than nine years old? You might want to tap the brakes on that idea while the Department of Environmental Protection figures out whether PA would lose beaucoup federal funding.

PA House members left town this week without acting on Senate-passed legislation that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2022. Governor Wolf had threatened to expand overtime eligibility to 460,000 workers if the House didn’t deliver by the end of the year. Immovable object, say hello to unstoppable force.

As winter slides on in, the PA Public Utility Commission warns electric customers that they could be hit with larger-than-necessary bills unless they shop around among competitive electricity suppliers. A PUC brochure explaining how to do it is available at this link.

As for our We Can’t Make This Up segment… A couple of weeks ago, we brought you an item about the $120,000 “artwork” consisting of a banana duct-taped to a wall. This week, we bring you a couple who shelled out the moola for said artwork. Billy and Beatrice Cox explained that they bought it in the belief that it “will become an iconic historical object.” We say, folks, this is God’s way of saying “you have too much money.”

And that’s what passes for news around here this week! From your friends at Triad World HQ, have a terrific weekend and holidays, and we will see you in 2020!

Not Goodbye, But See You Later

During the fall semester of my senior year at Temple University, I had the opportunity to intern in Harrisburg through the Temple’s Capitol Semester Program.  I thought this program would be an excellent opportunity for me to expand my professional experience as a Political Science student. I chose Harrisburg for my internship experience because I wanted to gain connections that I could maintain and build upon when I return home to Montgomery County.  I could not have gotten any luckier with my placement.  Triad gave me the opportunity to work firsthand with several players in PA politics, including legislators, companies, stakeholders and lobbyists.

Andrew 1

My roles and responsibilities at Triad included tracking legislation, attending committee meetings, and conducting research projects that serve our clients.  I also had the opportunity to attend legislative meetings on behalf of our clients. One of the favorite aspects of my internship with Triad was that every day was different. In the average week, I spent only a fraction of my time at a desk. I traveled to state agencies, saw all corners of the Capitol, and attended political fundraisers. The exposure to politicians and government process was far greater than I could have imagined.

Triad did more than expose me to politics, they also provided me with an encouraging work environment.  Everyone there is so helpful, both to me and to one another.  The comradery within the office is unparalleled. Triad takes a team approach, collaborating across practices to provide their best chance at success.  I appreciated the wide variety of mentors and experiences available through my internship.   

I used this internship to test out if Harrisburg and state government would be a career path I would be interested in pursuing after graduation in 2020.  Thanks to Triad, I have a newfound appreciation for advocacy and business. I hope to build upon my private sector experience by pursuing a work opportunity with constituents in the public sector sometime this Spring. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn more about the Pennsylvania State Government and the politics landscape. I will take home a set of professional skills and expanded network that will help launch my career in politics. I hope this is not “goodbye,” but rather “see you later.”

Andrew 2 Andrew 3

City of McKeesport Receives $3 million through Neighborhood Assistance Program

McKeesportTriad Strategies is always happy when one of our big wins means a big success for others. In a recent case, it means providing positive change for a Pennsylvania community.

Triad helped secure $3 million in improvement funding for the City of McKeesport. We worked with the Wolf administration, Rep. Austin Davis and Sen. Jim Brewster to focus on the challenges facing the city along with the great opportunities there. 

The funding, part of a six-year program through the state’s Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP), will be the most significant investment in the Allegheny County city in more than 30 years. McKeesport already is seeing improvements and this will create even more opportunities.

The project, part of a collaboration between our clients Rebuilding Together-Pittsburgh and McKeesport, focuses on housing, downtown development, tourism and recreation. This project is proud point for Triad because it represents the only fully-funded tax credit in Western Pennsylvania.

Governor Wolf’s office put out a press release about the project saying 20 houses in the city will be renovated increasing energy efficiency, creating jobs and keeping low-income residents in their homes. Another 20 homes also will be renovated and five more will be rehabilitated to sell.

McKeesport already is a city on the rise. This funding, and the collaboration with Rebuilding Together-Pittsburgh, will help by focusing on the demolition of rundown buildings to make room for a fresh start in the downtown and the city will renovate the Penn-McKee Hotel. Through NAP, capital funding will be provided by key corporate partners: Duquesne Light, First Commonwealth Bank, Noble Energy and UPMC.  

Many elected officials and community leaders care deeply about the city and want to see it gain back more of its luster. It was a true honor to work with them on this important project and are confident we will see major improvement in the coming years.