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June 2016

I’ll have the filet mignon, please

By Rick Kelly

A few months back, we posted a couple of items regarding Volkswagen’s diesel emission test cheating scandal. We opined that by blatantly violating the law, Coporate logosthe company’s brand had been severely tarnished, and the Road to Brand Redemption would be exceptionally long and hard.

That ka-boom you may have heard a few days ago, even above the din of “The Brexit,” was another shoe falling on Volkswagen. U.S. government lawyers announced a proposed settlement with the company, totaling $14.7 billion for compensation to owners of the 475,000 emission cheating Volkswagens and Audis sold in this country, for buybacks of the vast majority of them and, essentially, in fines.

The size of that settlement, still subject to federal court approval, would be second only to that reached last year with BP for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, which began at $18.7 billion and grew with additional claims. Until now, the largest class-action settlements against automakers were the $2 billion agreement with GM over faulty ignition switches and $1.4 billion with Toyota over flawed accelerators.

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Brexit Edition

During a wide-ranging interview about how he intends help shape the Democratic national platform this July, Bernie Sanders also told a reporter that he will vote for Hillary Clinton in Brexit
November.  Sanders then reportedly threw up in a trashcan and punched his cat.

The financial markets reeled this morning after Great Britain’s masses voted to leave the European Union, clearing up once and for all what “Brexit” actually means.  Brexit is apparently a term for making a pound weigh a helluva lot less than a pound. Hold on to your 401(K)’s folks.

Of course, the historic vote was immediately compared to our own Presidential election by breathless commentators and candidates, because really, isn’t anything that happens in the world ultimately all about us?

It was a big week for firearms in the state and nation, as our State Supreme Court upheld a decision to throw out a state law that allowed groups (O.K., maybe it was just one group) to sue municipalities over gun ordinances.

About eight seconds later, Allentown announced it would reinstate two gun ordinances it previously repealed out of fear that the NRA would sue the daylights out of the city. Cause, meet effect.

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The Cheetos Edition

The Cheetos Edition

Get in the fast lane, grandma, the bingo game is ready to roll! The City of Pittsburgh this week welcomed Lord Stanley’s Cup back to town by hosting a little parade for 400,000 proud
Cheetos-crunchy-cheesePittsburghers.  Lord Stanley, Lord Stanley, pass us the brandy!

The AFL-CIO this week endorsed Hillary Clinton for President, making the announcement the least “breaking” of any “breaking news” ever reported in the history of the Associated Press.  If you didn’t see this one coming you should probably step away from the Absinthe.

Senate Democrats this week launched into a 15-hour filibuster of Upper Chamber business to force a vote on a pair of gun control measures in the wake of the Orlando massacre.  After several Republicans, including our own Pat Toomey, weighed in on the affirmative side of allowing a vote, it looks like the debate over gun control will have its day in Congress sometime very soon.  Or not; it is Congress, after all.

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Don’t let intemperance trump your need to communicate

By Rick Kelly

Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse is correct – PennLive, the most dominant news source in his universe, “traffics in hate speech and cynicism,” to use the mayor’s words. He’s referring Donald-trump-time to the anonymous reader comments that accompany news articles, especially ones about him.

Similarly, presidential candidate Donald Trump is correct – the Washington Post, at or near the pinnacle of dominant news sources in his universe, published an unflattering, over-the-top headline for a story regarding Trump’s reaction to the mass shooting in Orlando.

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PA House Labor & Industry Votes On Dangerous Workforce Bill

LaborState Representative Steven Mentzer (R- Lancaster) is sponsoring House Bill 1952, a proposal to amend the Apprenticeship and Training Act.  Under current law, there must be four experienced workers to one apprentice or trainee.  This bill would change the ratio to provide for only one skilled worker to oversee one apprentice or trainee.  It has 22 co-sponsors, nearly half of whom sit on the Labor and Industry committee, and was introduced in April 2016. 

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For Donald Trump, demographics really could be his destiny: Tony May

TrumpBy Tony May

This Tuesday, the 2016 Presidential primary season will stumble to an end as voters in the District of Columbia go to the polls.

But pundits already are scrambling to make sense out of the long and sometimes painful process of elections and caucuses in 50 states and various territories with more than a sprinkling of candidate debates thrown in for comic relief.

Maybe it's all really been about what the issues and themes seemed to be way back over a year ago when this process began. 

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Shell To Move Forward With Beaver County Cracker Plant

Proposed-Shell-cracker-plant-site-planThis week, Royal Dutch Shell announced that they had made the final decision to move forward with a major petrochemicals facility (commonly called an ethane cracker, or cracker plant) in Western Pennsylvania.

Close followers of Pennsylvania’s economic development will remember that Governor Corbett announced Shell’s plans to work on the facility several years ago; however, the decrease in demand for oil delayed Shell’s progress on the project.

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Addressing the addiction crisis in Pennsylvania

Magellan logoOur client Magellan Healthcare of Pennsylvania will be hosting a conference later this week featuring best practices in fighting the addiction epidemic in Pennsylvania. Keynote speakers include:

  • Wilson M. Compton, MD, MPE, Deputy Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health
  • Carlton Hall, Deputy Director of Training and Technical Assistance, National Coalition Institute, Community Anti-drug Coalitions of America
  • Hon. David J. Hickton, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania
  • Ken Lavelle, MD,EMS, Medical Director, Emergency Training and Consulting
  • Jason Snyder, Policy and Communications Director, Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Program

Registration is still open for this event, to be held June 9-10 at the Radisson Hotel Harrisburg. 

Magellan works on the front lines of this crisis and has amassed an impressive list of presenters for the conference. Below is an editorial co-written by Gary Henschen, the Chief Behavioral Health Officer, Magellan Healthcare; and J. Layne Turner, the administrator of Lehigh County's Drug and Alcohol Program.

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Friday Happy Hour: That Gorilla Edition

Because we know that Americans have a hard time focusing on too many things at once, here is another story about that gorilla and the kid in Cincinnati. Read it, digest it and move Gorilla-Shot-and-Killed-After-3-Year-Old-Boy-Falls-Into-Enclosure-in-Cincinnati-Zooalong. We have important stuff to get to today.

Despite Bernie Sanders’ insistence that he can win the Democratic nominations for President, Hillary Clinton this week turned her focus to her likely fall rival Donald Trump in a speech about foreign policy.  Clinton wasted zero seconds in showing us what the race will really look like, as she lambasted Trump from her first word to her last. Say what you want about the Clintons, but we know what they do when their backs are to the wall: Swing. Hard. 

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