Friday Happy Hour: Fried Meth Edition

Meth fryer

Pennsylvania this week said goodbye to former state Sen. J. Doyle Corman, the father of current Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman. The elder Corman was a force of nature when it came to transportation funding and support for higher education. He died at age 87 over the weekend. Godspeed, Senator. 

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee today approved two articles of impeachment against President Trump. For a committee vote that took two days and 14 hours of debate to achieve, it may have been the most anti-climactic vote taken in a House committee this century. Off to the House floor, where a vote to impeach the president is expected next week, right in time for last-minute Christmas shopping ideas! Buy one article, get a second one free!    

Meanwhile, if you’d like to get an early read on how your particular congressman will vote next week, you can check out this article. Or, you can just assume D = yes and R = no. Your call, depending on how much time you have on your hands. 

Unbowed by the looming impeach-a-palooza, the president stopped by Hershey on Tuesday, bringing with him his well-established Greatest Hits repertoire, along with V.P. Mike Pence. If you happen to believe support for the president has waned here in central Pennsylvania, we refer you to the photos of people standing out in the rain for 10 hours just to get inside the arena. There were shorter lines for Beyoncé. 

An organization representing long-haul truckers is preparing to go to the U.S. Supreme Court to argue that Pennsylvania Turnpike tolls are being illegally diverted for other, non-Turnpike-ish uses. The move comes after two courts swatted a similar challenge aside earlier this year. Keep on truckin’, we suppose.

Eight of the remaining Democratic candidates for president will descend upon the Steel City next week for an open forum on the future of public education, where several of them will have to answer questions as to why their kids went to private schools if they are so darned concerned about public ones. Public education for thee, not me!

The state auditor general this week called on the federal government to close the controversial Berks Detention Center. This a much better option than calling on, say, Governor Wolf to do so, since he can’t. The governor is good, but he’s not Czar Thomas the Wolf.  

Speaking of governors named Tom, this week former Gov. Tom Ridge called out his fellow GOP party members to get serious about environmental issues, as a wide swath of the population really cares about stuff like that. We assume he didn’t mean “start by mocking a 16-year-old climate activist,” but sometimes the message gets lost in translation.   

The state House next week is slated to take up the next big criminal justice enchilada, probation reform, although during the committee process, the enchilada came out looking more like a quesadilla. All eyes will be on House amendments, as the struggle to get to a fair compromise is sometimes a messy one. We will be there with the salsa and guacamole, so hit us up if you need a rundown. 

Did you know that 172,000 or so Pennsylvanians have had their drivers licenses indefinitely suspended? Well, you do now and so do a group of lawmakers who want to seriously curtail this practice. Indefinite suspensions inevitably lead to people breaking the law by driving under suspension to get to work so they can pay their fines so they can get their license back. See what we did there? It is called a “vicious circle.” Lawmaker are looking for alternatives, to which we would offer: suspending people’s social media accounts is a great option! 

Dauphin County is being warned by the state that two county commissioners’ threat to postpone the purchase of new voting machines might be met with consequences that rhyme with “lawsuit.” It seems that the state’s mandate that counties purchase new machines wasn’t as much of a request as it was a, you know, mandate.

Governor Wolf this week let the House know that there is a deadline when it comes to his patience on passing a minimum wage increase that was ratified by the Senate last month. Should the House choose not to act next week, the governor will move forward with a new regulatory rule on overtime pay that will, in the eyes of business community, be way more costly than a wage hike. That regulatory meeting is scheduled for Jan. 30, although we would be willing to bet a set of brand-new Triad Strategies coffee mugs that it happens sooner than that if the House punts. DM us if you wanna make that bet. 

Five Pennsylvanians have already died this year due to the flu. If you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet, hurry up. We don’t want you people rattling around out there unvaccinated. Chop, chop.   

While the Harrisburg chattering class has long agreed that a certain attorney general will be running for governor in 2022, a new name has been floated recently, and that is current U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey. Of course, long before that happens, Toomey will have to vote on that pesky impeachment thingy, which we are sure will be on voters’ minds for a while after the ink dries.

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to Kentucky, where a man was arrested for trying to ship twenty pounds of meth through the mail by hiding it in an air fryer. Apparently, fried meth is quite the Christmas delicacy in some parts of Kentucky.    

That’s what passes for news around here on a cold, damp (did we mention it is both cold AND damp?) Friday in Harrisburg. Join us next week when we simultaneously lobby and shop for Christmas gifts on our phones in the Rotunda! Until then, from everyone at Team Triad, have a great weekend!

Friday Happy Hour: Duct-Taped Banana Edition

Work of art

It was a fairly brutal week in presidential politics, as the U.S. House Intelligence Committee handed the impeachment baton to the House Judiciary Committee, accompanied by a report outlining what they see as President Trump’s transgressions. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi then directed the Judiciary Committee to prepare articles of impeachment on which the House is expected to vote shortly.

The president, for his part, flew to London for a NATO pow-wow, complaining that House Republicans had a lot of gall to proceed with the impeachment witch hunt while he was traveling abroad to tend to the people’s foreign and military interests. The event ended with Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau getting into a bit of a tiff.

In other brutal developments, three Democratic candidates for the presidential nomination called it quits this week, all in a 48-hour period. Say bye-bye to U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and former PA Congressman Joe Sestak. Somewhat amazingly, nobody new jumped in, so at Happy Hour press time, the list of all candidates stood at 15 D’s and three R’s.

Senator Harris’ departure pared the number of candidates set to attend a Pittsburgh education forum next weekend down to six, although it’s possible that some of the other candidates will sign on. The event is Dec. 14 and is not open to the public, although it will be televised on MSNBC.

For the first time in 56 years, deer rifle season began on a Saturday. Those eager to hunt on Sundays will need to wait until next year. In other huntin’ news, Governor Wolf signed into law a measure that enables landowners to notify hunters that they’re trespassing by painting purple stripes on trees or posts instead of posting “no trespassing” signs.

Governor Wolf nominated PennDOT Executive Deputy Secretary Yassmin Gramian, P.E., to succeed Leslie Richards as department secretary. Our friends at Associated Pennsylvania Constructors (Shameless Client Plug) commended the nomination, asserting that the secretary-designee’s experience in the public and private sectors has given her considerable insight into the Commonwealth’s transportation challenges.

Governor Wolf went to bat for three of PA’s minor league baseball teams (see what we did there?), asking Major League Baseball to rethink a restructuring plan that could reduce the number of lower-level minor league teams by 42 across the country. Possibly at risk are teams in Erie, Williamsport and State College.

In addition to getting on the good side of baseball fans, the governor got on the good side of beer fans, announcing the availability of $1.2 million in grants for 18 projects to increase the production of Pennsylvania-made malt and brewed beverages and enhance the Pennsylvania beer industry. We toast the governor with a hoppy Pennsylvania IPA (Victory Dirt Wolf, anyone?)

The PA Department of Environmental Protection joined major oil and gas companies, environmental groups and lawmakers from both parties in urging the Trump administration not to roll back methane regulations at oil and gas sites.

Three PA members of Congress – two Democrats and one Republican, all freshmen – sit on the House Judiciary Committee, which began impeachment hearings this week. You can find out who they are at this here link.

Cheyney University, the oldest historically Black university in the country, is on a much welcome hot streak. Last week, a regional panel reaffirmed its accreditation. This week, it entered into a partnership with a biopharma company that will bring the firm’s research and development operation to Cheyney's Science Center. Let’s keep that good news coming!

Residents of The Sweetest Place on Earth (aka, “Hershey”) are perturbed about the unreimbursed expense of hosting a Trump political rally at the Giant Center. Hosting a political rally at the 10,500-seat venue costs Derry Township about $15,000 to provide police security, and hundreds of residents have signed an online petition urging officials to seek recovery of the tax dollars from political campaigns instead of giving them a free ride. The rally will be Dec. 10 and apparently will also include Vice President Pence.

PennLive columnist John Baer believes it’s high time to bring the annual Pennsylvania Society gala to PA instead of New York City. The society’s 121st soiree is this weekend at the New York Hilton Midtown, and Baer said that after attending for 25 years, he’s no longer interested, and that the money spent on it each year should benefit Pennsylvania.

Worried about a weakening global economy? Nah. The U.S. economy added 266,000 jobs, and unemployment returned to a half-century low at 3.5 percent in November. The return to work of striking GM workers helped blow through the job-gain expectations of 180,000.

UPMC Susquehanna Sunbury officials announced Thursday that they plan to shut down the hospital on March 31. According to the Center for Health Research at the University of North Carolina, 18 rural hospitals across the country have closed their doors this year alone, reflecting a worsening rural health care crisis across the country.

Our We Can’t Make This Up segment features the artwork of Maurizio Cattelan, who appears to have sold three of his pieces of, um, art through an art fair called Art Basel Miami. The artwork? A banana duct-taped to a wall. The price? $120,000. Times three. Is there anything duct tape can’t make better?

And that’s what passes for news around these parts! From your pals at Triad World HQ, have a terrific weekend, and check back in with us next week!

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving 2019

Triad Strategies extends warm wishes to each of you this Thanksgiving holiday. Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on and give thanks for our blessings. It’s also an opportunity to support those who may not be as fortunate.

Triad believes in the power of community connections. Working together, we can sustain and uplift our communities.

We are honored and privileged to have partnered with Jaindl Farms, the Central PA Food Bank and the Bethesda Mission to provide 200 turkeys to individuals and families in south-central Pennsylvania this holiday season. Our opportunity to help those who are less fortunate results from the support of our clients, who trust us to assist them in solving their problems.

The Friday Happy Hour will not be published this week. Have a great holiday weekend, and we'll see you back here next week.


Friday Happy Hour: Wild Turkey Edition

Wild turkeys

We begin this week’s news-a-palooza with a public service announcement for Amazon:

Dear Amazon,

We have been told that you are really good at shipping things. One thing we don’t need you to ship into Pennsylvania are out-of-state workers to build your new mega-warehouse outside of Pittsburgh. We have plenty of people living there who will do a wonderful job. So, stop it.

Sincerely, Everyone.  

House Democrats continued their impeachment inquiry (is it still an inquiry or not?) by inviting two more diplomats to testify, Fiona Hill and David Holmes, the latter of whom rolled his eyes so hard at GOP questions that we are pretty sure he sprained his skull.  

Meanwhile, in the Upper Chamber, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham has announced that he will begin an investigation into – wait for it – the Bidens! If there is one thing that Congress needs right now, it is another public investigation. 

The Trump Train is coming to Hershey next week, and tickets are free! The Sweetest Place on Earth is about to become one of the louder places on earth!

The state House and Senate this week passed the long-awaited package of bills to address statute of limitation reforms on child-sex crimes. It was a tough road, but all sides eventually removed the heat from the debate and replaced it with light. 

The Senate this week also passed a bill that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2022. There was a bit of low-grade grumbling from Democrats who wanted more, but in the end, the bill passed overwhelmingly. Next up? A much more unwelcoming House. 

A group of largely western Pennsylvania lawmakers are planning to sue the Wolf administration over his decision to enter into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Some believe that Wolf overplayed his hand when he decided not to seek General Assembly approval for the move, which if successful will pretty much bury the state’s coal industry.

Another group of lawmakers this week fired off the opening salvo in the next debate on transportation funding in Pennsylvania, an issue they would very much like to see debated next year, which is an election year, which would be rather stunning.   

The General Assembly this week again passed a ban on abortions in the case of a Down syndrome diagnosis. And once again, Governor Wolf waited all of three minutes before vetoing it. We still doing this? Lather, rinse, veto, repeat.

A bill to raise the legal age to buy tobacco to 21 is inching along the rails of the General Assembly. Because once it is illegal for 19-year-olds to buy tobacco, we are pretty sure they never will again.  Teenagers are, as we all know, famous for following the law. That’s why none of them drink alcohol before they turn 21.

Despite 16 years of effort to get a casino built in Beaver County, it looks like local officials have once again rolled snake eyes on that bid. State regulators this week gave a thumbs-down to Mount Airy Casino’s application to build a mini-casino in Big Beaver Township. In related news, yes, there is a Big Beaver Township. 

Despite the Big Beaver setback, NBC news still plans to do a year-long series about 2020 presidential “swing counties,” one of which will focus solely on Beaver County. We humbly suggest they film it at the Original New Brighton Hot Dog Shoppe. 

If some state lawmakers have their way (and they often do), the 2024 presidential primary date in Pennsylvania will be moved way up. No longer will we be forced to sit back and watch 26 people in New Hampshire decide the direction of our country.

Weeks after the state again slammed the brakes on their application, Erie County officials are back at it, pushing for movement on their community college bid as early as January. Expect this issue to continue to be wrapped around the axle for the foreseeable future.   

Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse plans to abandon a potential deal to privatize the city’s water and sewer system as he threw his support this week behind a plan to add additional fees to city dwellers to pay for sewer and stormwater upgrades. This should go over well, we are sure.   

The business of the state Senate was temporarily upended this week as Sen. John Yudichak of Luzerne County announced he switched his party registration from Democrat to Independent and will caucus with the GOP moving forward. Nothing like a party switch to get tongues wagging all over the state capitol.  

In other nakedly political news, if you were wondering where former state senator and failed gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner has landed, it very well may be directly opposite longtime GOP power broker Bob Asher. Wagner is floating the idea of taking on Asher for his powerful spot on the Republican National Committee. Some bad blood flows pretty deep around here.   

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to aptly named Toms River, New Jersey, where wild turkeys have pretty much taken over the entire town, setting up a potentially deadly, Quentin Tarantino-esque showdown next Thursday. Turkeys vs. Humans: this time, it’s personal.

That’s what passes for news around here as we careen wildly into the weekend. From all your friends at Team Triad, have a great one!

Friday Happy Hour: Gin Edition

We start this week’s missive by taking you to Lafayette County, Wisconsin, where some elected officials have lost their damned minds.  Earlier this week, one of the county commissioners filed a new resolution that would criminally charge reporters for the crime of not posting official press releases word-for-word. In essence, normal, everyday reporting would become a crime.  The crime here seems to be that people elected these loon bags to office in the first place.  Gin

Meanwhile, the nation’s eyes were fixed on Congress this week, as the impeachment inquiry of President Trump hit the small screen.  Thus far, the GOP defense of Trump is that the witnesses had no direct contact with the President himself, and therefore we're relying on hearsay.  So we spent the week channeling R.E.O. Speedwagon.  Heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend who heard it from another you’ve been messing around…  

The President, however, continues to do himself few favors as he spent Friday morning Tweeting at one of the witnesses while she was testifying.  We expect at some point that House GOP will arrive on the South Lawn en masse and demand the President turn over his phone.  

Apparently, there is no end to the list of delusional Democrats who believe they should be the next POTUS.  Joining the field this week are former governor Deval Patrick and current billionaire Michael Bloomberg. 

A lot of lawmakers are diving into the criminal justice pool, and the issue has become a true bipartisan lovefest.  However, the consequence of reform is that the prison populations tend to shrink, which causes prisons to close, which does NOT make lawmakers happy.  Can’t have it all, folks.   

Philadelphia’s Controller this week released a report showing that the city’s soda tax revenue continues to be funneled into places other than Pre-K and Rebuild Philly (i.e. the general fund), and that the entire program lacks transparency.  So, nothing to see here.   

Word around the hallowed halls of Harrisburg is that lawmakers might finally, maybe, kinda raise the state’s minimum wage from the current $7.25 to $9.50 an hour. Grizzled vets that we are, we will believe it when we see it.  We have heard this song before, and it usually gets cut off before the ending. 

The state is lugging around a $1.3 billion structural deficit, we learned this week, although all is not bleak.  A strong economy and better-than-expected revenue numbers are trimming that number each month, making it possible that Governor Wolf might just wrap up eight years with no big tax increase.   

The City of Erie woke up today much the same as yesterday: without a community college and with no green light to build one.  The Department of Education voted this week to continue to study the need for such a community college for at least six months, at which point there might still be snow on the ground.   

A new report was released this week showing that craft breweries are pouring money (we see what you did there) into the Pennsylvania economy.  As such, we give our Shameless Client Plug shout-outs this week to our friends at Yards, Voodoo and Bald Birds Breweries.  

It is a tricky time to be a Democrat in southwestern Pennsylvania, we are beginning to learn.  As more and more elected Democrats are embracing things like fracking bans and the end of petrochemical plants, the more old-school Dems are being beaten about their heads and shoulders for supporting both.  Expect to see these battles move to the ballot in 2020.  

Did you know that Philadelphia has 90,000 more women living there than men?  No?  Well, now you do.  We propose reversing the current city slogan to the City of Sisterly Affection and Brotherly Love.  

An early, extended bear hunting season is going really well, if you’re not a bear.  Hunters are on pace to harvest more bears than ever, which is also good news for wayward hikers and other people who stumble around in the forest. 

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to South Africa, where a distillery is now making and marketing gin made partially from elephant dung.  We kinda always thought gin tasted like crap anyway.   

That’s what passes for news around here on this sunny Friday!  The legislature returns for more top-notch lawmaking next week, so tune in!  From all your friends at Team Triad, have a great weekend!