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March 2013

Friday Happy Hour: Scatological Humor Edition

OuthouseWhat we jauntily call our weekly “Happy Hour” here at Triad Strategies starts on the serious note of acknowledging one of the holiest periods of the year, with the simultaneous observance of Passover by our Jewish brethren and Good Friday and Easter by Christians. It’s a time of ancient tradition and a time of hope and redemption.

That said, we also are known for a rather aggressive posture on the separation of church and state. We’ve now addressed church issues. Let’s move on to the secular and talk about government and booze.

The good news is that legislators have left town for a well-timed cooling-off period in the wake of a rancorous debate and passage, along mostly partisan lines, of a House measure that would eventually privatize liquor distribution in Pennsylvania. The smart money is on the Senate sending back something that would streamline and modernize distribution, but leave the liquor control system intact – IF it sends back anything at all.

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Philadelphia Budget Hearing Update

Dave Kralle 2We will be providing an overview of Philadelphia City Council’s budget hearings over the next few weeks.  Reported by Dave Kralle, this series will provide an overview of the prior day’s hearing. We hope you find this information useful.

Yesterday, Philadelphia City Council grilled Gary Jastrzab, Executive Director of the City Planning Commission, and Rebecca Rhynhart, the City's Budget Director over the Capital Budget. Two proposals were presented: one, a six-year proposal (10,006,625,000) and the other focusing on FY 2014 ($3,280,435,000).

Testifying for the administration, Gary Jastrzab outlined the priorities of the Nutter Administration. This year's budget places a new emphasis on the City's physical infrastructure with a focus on prevention and maintenance as opposed to complete rehabilitation of physical structures. According to Jastrzab, some of the City's most important projects are:

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Friday Happy Hour: Happy Hour Rules Edition

Bozo the ClownAs our loyal Happy Hour readers know, we here at Happy Hour HQ are all about Happy Hour. So what could possibly be more important this week than the news that the PA House approved legislation aimed at making Happy Hour that much happier by streamlining and modernizing Pennsylvania’s alcoholic beverage system.

“Happy,” however, would not be the word to describe the 4,000 state workers who could eventually lose their jobs because of it. Then there’s the scary prospect of more drunks, more drunk drivers and more drunk college students, and general moral decay across the Commonwealth resulting from beer, wine and liquor anarchy. It could turn out to be just like New Jersey. The measure now goes to the Senate, where its fate is uncertain.

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Friday Happy Hour: Closer to God Edition

Photo Credit: CNN

Higgs-bosonThe New York Times characterized it as “a powerful message that the future of the church lies in the global south, home to the bulk of the world’s Catholics.” Pope Francis, former Buenos Aires Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio, is described as a humble man who forsook the archdiocese’s mansion for an apartment, cooked for himself and rode the bus to work. He inherits a to-do list that makes Pennsylvania’s pension crisis, transportation funding crisis and liquor privatization crisis seem like a walk in the park.

The selection of a pope is among a handful of events that could have blunted the news of the indictments of eight people in connection with an alleged “pay-to-play” scheme at the PA Turnpike Commission. Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced criminal charges against former Senate Minority Leader Robert Mellow, former Turnpike CEO Joseph Brimmeier, former Turnpike COO George Hatalowich and five others for allegedly rigging bids in exchange for campaign contributions. Current Turnpike CEO Mark Compton, on the job for a mere six weeks, outlined the steps that have been taken to assure that operations are on the up-and-up.

Indicted as well as Mellow, Brimmeier and Hatalowich were former turnpike Chairman Mitchell Rubin of Philadelphia, vendor Dennis Miller of Harrisburg, and Jeffrey Suzenski, of Pottstown, a lobbyist with the Stevens and Lee law firm. Also charged with theft-related crimes were former turnpike employees Melvin Shelton of Philadelphia, and Raymond Zajicek, of Tarpon Springs, Fla.

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Friday Happy Hour: Long Strange Trip Edition

Dennis RodmanSome regard it as political theater’s equivalent of flagpole sitting, in that it gets attention but really doesn’t accomplish much. We’re referring to the ballyhooed filibuster pulled off this week by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican thought to be interested in a presidential bid.

A filibuster is a parliamentary procedure that dates back to ancient Rome. It enables a member of a legislative body to delay or even prevent a vote on a proposal by speaking for as long as he or she wishes. Actually, we reference women in the previous sentence purely to be technically correct.  There is no record of a woman ever launching a filibuster on the floor of the Senate. Filibusters are rarely seen these days. The U.S. House abandoned the practice in 1842, and Senate rules provide other mechanisms for obstructing legislation and appointments.

Paul’s nearly 13-hour soliloquy – the longest in more than 20 years – came during the floor debate over the nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA. What prompted it was his concern over the Obama administration’s policies regarding the use of drone strikes, and whether they would be used against Americans on American soil.

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PA Budget and Policy Center and the Commonwealth Foundation on Transportation Funding

Transportation FundingOver the past three weeks, we have had a bipartisan parade of legislators and interest groups who have dropped by our offices to discuss the 2013-14 state budget and the myriad of issues surrounding it.  Two organizations that probably could not be farther apart on most issues confronting policy makers are the Commonwealth Foundation and the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center. 

Sharon Ward, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center and Matt Brouillette, President and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation, are regular fixtures on PCN and statewide political talk shows.  They have been outspoken on the major issues confronting the Commonwealth; the expansion of Medicaid, liquor store privatization, tax policy, and pension reform to name a few. 

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The definition of politics, the state budget, and tax policy

David EastonIn the 1960s, David Easton (yes you should click on the link and read his biography) defined politics as “the authoritative allocation of scarce resources.”  At Triad, we believe that there is nothing more political in Harrisburg than the annual budget process where the scarce resource of the taxpayer dollar is allocated across the various line items that make up the Commonwealth Budget.  The House and Senate Appropriation Committees hold weeks of hearings, while business and labor groups, Senate and House members, advocacy organizations, and think tanks, both on the right and the left, comment on the Governor’s proposal.  All of this leads to the introduction of budget bills, the days of debate and amendments offered on the floor of each chamber, and ultimately the final passage of the bill and the Governor affixing his signature.

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What The World (Particularly Medical Doctors) Can Learn from Veterinarians

Dean HendricksBy Joan C. Hendricks, V.M.D., Ph.D. Gilbert S. Kahn Dean of Veterinary Medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

Most people think that veterinarians are doctors who treat cats and dogs, provide compassionate, expert care but also charge amply for their services. This narrow view means that a vet's work is underestimated and, often, not respected. In reality their role is substantially broader and yet their leadership potential is generally overlooked.

While many vets are caregivers for our domestic animals -- and it's very important work -- a larger mission is to focus on minimizing the transmission of infectious disease and help tackle world hunger issues.

Vets are trained as rigorously as doctors of human medicine; four years of college, four of vet school and additional internships and residencies if they become specialists. Uniquely trained in comparative biology, veterinarians are the only members of the clinical profession -- including physicians -- who see many different species, and understand medicine fundamentally such that all species benefit.

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Sharon Ward of the PA Budget and Policy Center Discusses the 2013-14 Budget

Sharon Ward-166x203

If you listen to all sides of the debate regarding Pennsylvania tax and fiscal policy, then you certainly have been exposed to the arguments advanced by the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy CenterSharon Ward, the Executive Director of the center, stopped by Triad Strategies yesterday to discuss Governor Corbett’s 2013-14 Executive Budget, as well as the issues of Medicaid expansion, transportation funding, tax policy and pension reform.

In this short video clip, Sharon provides her perspective on the 2013-14 budget and appears to be somewhat optimistic that the Governor will ultimately join the other Republican governors who have opted in to Medicaid Expansion. 

 

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


Friday Happy Hour: Act Naturally Edition

Seth MacFarlaneA palpable sense of tediousness overcame Harrisburg and the nation this week. Was it because everyone feels beaten down by winter? Nope. Resumption of the state budget hearings? Huh-uh. It was the extravaganza known as the 85th Academy Awards. 

Our limited space does not permit a listing of everyone who either took offense at Seth MacFarlane’s performance as host, or thought it would be politically correct to do so. As Deadspin put it, “You just sat there going, ‘Who is this TV guy making jokes about people who have actually made good movies?’”

By the time Jack Nicholson and Michelle Obama laid the hardware for best picture on Ben Affleck, everyone had had more than enough. The pair took some heat – Jack for having a good buzz going, and Michelle for… we’re not entirely sure why. Here’s Jack in happier times. And here he is in one of his earliest and most famous movie scenes

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