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May 2013

Friday Happy Hour: Happy Feet Edition


The big news that EVERYONE has been waiting for was the introduction of the House Republican-sponsored 2013-14 fiscal year budget. Nah, not really. Everybody, including bill sponsor/Appropriations Chairman Bill Adolph, pretty much distanced themselves from it, acknowledging that it’s little more than a conversation starter. It’s about $100 mil lighter than Governor Corbett’s $28.4 billion proposal offered up in February

The real drama in coming weeks will be the horse trading between the budget, liquor privatization, transportation funding and – for those of you keeping score at home – pension reform. Then there’s a host of lower-profile issues that may or may not be part of the mix. Ah, nothing like June in the ‘Burg. 

Speaking of transportation funding, a national transportation research group tromped through the state to let people know how much money they’re currently wasting, due to poor road conditions, on maintenance expenses, crashes and congestion. According to a report compiled by a group known as TRIP, the annual costs range from $1,320 for residents of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to $1,798 for those in Philly.

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Friday Happy Hour: Foot-In-Mouth Edition

Memorial Day

We begin this week’s missive with mayoral events across the Commonwealth. The big news involved Democrats, who in the Tuesday primary election nominated new mayoral candidates in Pittsburgh, Harrisburg and Scranton. All three – Bill Peduto, Eric Papenfuse and Bill Courtright, respectively – are favorites in November. Embattled Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson finished third in unofficial results, while incumbent York Mayor Kim Bracey staved off a fellow Democratic candidate and will likely win another term, as she lacks a Republican challenger.

But our favorite mayoral story of the week comes to us from The Daily Show’s John Stewart, who noted that mayors often find themselves embroiled in controversy, and he featured some pretty serious gaffes from a couple of them. East Haven, CT, Mayor Joseph Maturo, for example, when asked what he was doing for the Latino community that day, replied, “I might have tacos when I go home.” Then there was Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who offered his own discourse on “Oriental people” and who was videotaped either smoking crack or playing a Waterford Crystal kazoo.

And speaking of gaffes, we tip the ol’ golf cap this week to Tiger Woods, who somehow managed to recapture the hearts and minds of many golf fans, not just by winning another golf tournament, but by doing so alongside whining magpie Sergio Garcia. It’s not easy to make Tiger look like a class act, but that’s exactly what Garcia has done with a steady stream of snark, climaxed by an ill-advised, racially insensitive comment, in the wake of an incident that occurred two weeks back at a tournament in Florida. Here’s a bit of free crisis comm. advice for Garcia from Triad’s Rick Kelly: Hey, dumb-ass, shut your pie hole.

We know you’re getting tired of hearing this, but America’s transportation infrastructure is in bad shape. On Thursday night, the Skagit River Bridge on Interstate 5 in Washington State collapsed into the aforementioned river, apparently due to an oversized truck. There were no fatalities. According to the Seattle Times, the bridge was rated “structurally deficient” in 1992 and needed $8.3 million in repairs. Now it’ll be a little more expensive to fix.

Closer to home, the I-81/Route 322/Route 22 interchange, torched earlier this month in a tanker truck accident, won’t be fully repaired until around Thanksgiving, according to PennDOT.

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa told the PA Press Club that linking liquor privatization and transportation funding is a distortion of legislative priorities, and he blamed the House Republicans. He said the House leadership will refuse to address transportation unless the Senate delivers on liquor privatization.

Governor Corbett tapped the brakes on the state’s Common Core standards, asking state education officials for clarification on the achievement measures before they go to a state regulations body for final approval. However, Corbett affirmed that he still wants the standards to take effect before the 2013-14 school year.

A federal judge held a hearing on the Corbett administration’s lawsuit against the NCAA over penalties it imposed on Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sexual assault scandal. U.S. District Judge Yvette Kane said she will rule in the next couple of weeks on the NCAA’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

This week’s edition of We Can’t Make This Up hails from Ypsilanti, MI, where City Council considered a resolution to require council members to either vote “yes” or “no” rather than abstaining. The resolution failed, however, as two members voted in favor, two against, and three – you guessed it – abstained. We recall these wise words of Jimmy Buffett: “Indecision may or may not be my problem.”

Holiday weekends, family gatherings and cookouts are great, but we’re reminded that Memorial Day is really about remembering those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country. Without them, and those who served with them, we wouldn’t be who and what we are. Words aren’t enough to express our gratitude.

So that’ll do it for now. Check us out on FacebookTwitter and Triadvocate, and we’ll see you back here again next week.

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

Surra Racing Team Finishes Second at Hummingbird on Saturday

The Crew

The action returned to Hummingbird Speedway this past weekend after rain resulted in the cancelation of all racing last week.  Since the Triad Sponsored Monte Carlo took the checkered flag on May 4th, The Surra Racing team had to start last in the feature.

With Doug Surra behind the wheel, the #3 Surra racing machine had a great run moving up to second with a few laps to go.  The car was running great, and Doug was able to put it anywhere on the track he wanted.  Doug had a chance to win it, but just couldn’t pull off the pass with the few remaining laps left.

The Surra racing team sends its congratulations to Mike Anderson who took the checkered flag on Saturday.

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: Butch and Sundance Edition

Butch and Sundance“Who are those guys?” Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid kept asking, as they were chased from hither to yon by a relentless and well trained posse, following a series of mostly successful train robberies pulled off by Butch and Sundance and the Hole-In-The-Wall Gang

The same question arose this week as an organization called Pennsylvanians for Accountability began running TV ads statewide criticizing the Corbett administration for granting corporate tax cuts and cutting education. But who exactly is behind Pennsylvanians for Accountability? As a “social welfare” nonprofit group, and not officially a “political” group, PFA is not required to reveal its officers or funders, and inquiring minds want to know

We’re following up on a number of items mentioned recently in this space. Last week we reported that Republican Bruce Castor, a Montgomery County commissioner, was out of Corbett’s hair as a primary opponent next year. This week, Democrat Joe Sestak, former Navy admiral, former congressman and former U.S. Senate candidate, loosened his lips and announced that he will be a future U.S. Senate candidate, seeking to unseat Pat Toomey in 2016.

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Military & Business Leaders Support Pennsylvania Common Core Standards to Ensure Future National and Economic Security

New Report Shows Common Standards and Aligned Assessments Are Key to Education Reform and a Strong Military

HARRISBURG, PA (May 14, 2013)  Pennsylvania’s Common Core Standards will help ensure that students are better prepared for success in postsecondary education, the workforce and the military, if they choose to serve, said military and business leaders from Pennsylvania today. They released a new report from the nonpartisan national security organization MISSION: READINESS  at the State Capitol that shows that one in five high school graduates in Pennsylvania who tries to join the military cannot score highly enough on the military’s exam for math, literacy and problem solving to qualify for service.

Speakers at the news conference included Pennsylvania’s Adjutant General Major General Wesley Craig (US Army) and other Administration officials; Rear Admiral Thomas Wilson, III (US Navy, Ret.); decorated veteran State Representative Ryan Aument; and David Patti, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Business Council along with several members of the Council, including Michael Springer, Director of Human Resources for Pennsylvania American Water company, and Peter Trufahnestock, Director of Government Affairs for Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania.

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Surra Racing Team Finishes Second at Americas Motorsports Park

Triad Sponsored Race Car 2Every track in the North Central PA area canceled because of the cold rainy weather on Saturday evening with the exception of Americas Motorsports Park located in Clearfield, PA. The weather cleared enough for them to get the entire program in. The Surra Racing team made a few changes and made the trip over the mountain, and the weather cleared enough so they were able to get the entire program in.   It was the first time the Surra Racing Team had their car there, and it was Doug’s first time at Americas Motorsports Park.

With no tracks running there was a stout field of cars in the Pure Stock division. The car proved to be pretty fast right off the trailer and ran a strong second in its qualifying heat. The team made a few minor chassis adjustments for the feature event where they found themselves starting inside of row two. Doug powered his way to the front and took the lead on lap three. He maintained the front position until two laps to go when we he was passed by the eventual winner. Doug and the driver of the #4 put on quite a show but the other car was just too strong.    

The Surra Racing Team finished with a respectable 2nd place showing, and was pretty happy with the run. They lost to a much stronger car.... but not by much!! 


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: Hot Mess Edition

Hot mess

OK, so maybe it’s not a liquor privatization crisis after all. From the May Franklin & Marshall College Poll comes news that Pennsylvania voters are trending toward lukewarm on privatizing the state’s liquor distribution system. The 53 percent who supported privatization in February has slipped to 47 percent, and opposition to it has increased by 7 percentage points, to 31 percent. The bottom line, according to pollster Terry Madonna, is that while many people generally like the idea of privatization, it’s just not that important to them in the scheme of things. In fact, liquor privatization ranked 10th on a list of 11 priorities among poll participants.

The poll said there is a disconnect between the priorities of the Corbett administration and those of the public, turning the governor’s approval ratings into a hot mess. Only one in four voters rates his performance as either excellent or good. “Debate in the state capital has centered on efforts to privatize the state liquor stores and the state lottery, but these issues rank well below the economy, creating jobs, or improving public schools as important issues voters want state government to address,” the poll said.

Salivating on the periphery is a gaggle of giddy gubernatorial hopefuls, all Dems, five of whom are officially in the race and another who says he’s pretty sure he’ll be in. Then there’s Joe Sestak, former congressman and U.S. Senate candidate, who ain’t sayin’ nuthin’ to nobody. But hey, as any former navy admiral knows, loose lips sink ships.

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Privatizing prison psychological services puts us all at risk

By Kathy Jellison, David Gorman, and Sandy Riggers

In 1973 there were 27 mental health hospitals and 6 correctional facilities in Pennsylvania.  Today there are 6 mental health hospitals and 27 correctional facilities in the state.  Consequently, the number of mentally ill inmates has increased significantly in the general population of the Commonwealth’s prisons.  With this increase, the need for well trained and experienced psychological staff has never been greater. 


The decision by the PA Department of Corrections to investigate privatizing psychological services in our state prisons, has the potential to put the safety of our correctional officers and other prison staff at risk, and of even greater concern, it could put the health and safety of the public at risk as well.

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Surra racing team picks up first victory

Doug Surra First Win 2013The Surra Race Team picked up their first win of the young 2013 season Saturday night at the Hummingbird Speedway in the Triad Strategies sponsored Chevy. The 3/8 mile clay oval was in fine racing shape with multiple fast grooves available for the drivers to utilize.

Driver Doug Surra, a three time NCAA Division II All American, national wrestling champion, was on his game. He finished a strong second in his qualifying heat. This delegated him to start on the outside of the front row for the feature event.

At the drop of the green Doug went right to the lead and set the pace for the entire field for the first 12 laps. Colton Joiner in the 1 Star Machine started to cut into Surra's lead and with three laps to go took over the top spot but not before a fierce wheel to wheel battle. Doug stayed within striking distance and Joiner bobbled coming out of turn four with one lap to go. It was just enough for Doug to power the #3 Monte Carlo by him to retake the lead. Joiner battled back going down the back stretch but Surra beat him to the checkers by half a car length.

Friday Happy Hour: Trading Paint Edition

CarIt appears the odds of winning the PA Lottery may be better than the odds of Attorney General Kathleen Kane approving the Corbett administration’s lottery privatization deal. Kane told the Inquirer this week that the General Assembly would need to approve the deal, as well as change the gaming rules. The administration presented a proposal in February to enable UK-based Camelot Global Services to manage the lottery, but Kane shot it down. The administration says it’s revising the deal to address her concerns, but Kane said seeking legislative approval does not seem to be part of it.

The good news is the state is running a $67 million surplus at the moment. The bad news is it’s projected to disappear by the end of the fiscal year June 30, a casualty of slowing tax collections. That would mean about a half-billion dollar haircut for the proposed $29.2 billion 2013-14 spending plan.

OK, so Republicans lay claim to a whopping 12 percent of Philly registered voters, and yet as many as – count ‘em – nine R’s may be interested in succeeding the term-limited Michael Nutter in the 2015 mayoral race. What, you say? My chances are one in a million? So you’re telling me there’s a chance.

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