Secretary of State Rex Tillerson got the old heave-ho from President Donald Trump this week, as the POTUS rather unceremoniously ended his cabinet secretary’s tenure via Twitter. Ever been dumped via text message? Yeah, it was something like that, except the text was read by a few million people.
Pennsylvania was the center of the political universe Tuesday, as Democrat Conor Lamb squeaked out a 600-plus vote victory in a special election for Congress. Lamb’s victory came in a district that Donald Trump won by 20 percentage points just 16 months ago, and Mitt “The Conqueror” Romney won by 17 points over Barack Obama. There are some storm clouds on the horizon for the GOP, for sure. Editor’s Note: The national GOP has refused to concede the race and may call for a recount according to a letter they had drafted three weeks before the election.
This just in: The President is firing someone else. Back to our regularly scheduled memo.
In some positively weird political news, a central Pennsylvania meteorologist has legally changed his name to Meteorologist Drew Anderson in advance of his inaugural political campaign for Congress. He was immediately endorsed by former NBA player Metta World Peace.
Thousands of students all over the nation walked out of their classrooms this week in honor of the 17 Parkland students who lost their lives in a hail of gunfire. For those who may have dismissed these students as being too young to weigh in on gun safety, we have a simple reminder: many of them may not be able to vote, but they can still knock on doors, run a phone bank and do all other manner of organizing while simultaneously not being 18-years-old.
While we are on that topic, Gov. Tom Wolf this week unveiled a new task force to come up with recommendations on school safety. Let’s see if the Pennsylvania General Assembly can move with a bit more alacrity than their federal counterparts.
The controversial Philly soda tax is not getting any less controversial, we found out this week. The new city controller came out with a few hard questions about what the tax is generating (not what they expected) and where it is being spent (or more accurately, not spent.) And the beat goes on.
Philadelphia played host to Amazon this week as the company continues its American Idol-type auditions for the site of its next headquarters. No word on whether the Lombardi Trophy made it into any of the meetings. Coming up soon on the tour will be Pittsburgh, which is already busy spit-shining its bridges ahead of Amazon’s arrival.
The PA Public Utility Commission this week assumed oversight of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, thanks to a recently enacted law. We are sure they were thrilled to have it, much as we were thrilled that one Christmas when we really wanted a new bike and instead got some new socks and sweaters.
Medical marijuana patients who work for the City of Philadelphia could lose their jobs if they fail a drug test, we found out this week. This is yet another unintended consequence of the new medical marijuana legalization law, but before people begin losing their minds, it is pretty safe to say the city won’t be spending much time drug-testing its employees.
Bob Casey, Jr., was back home in northeastern Pennsylvania this week, where he held a roundtable discussion on the state of Pennsylvania’s infrastructure, which is, in two words, “completely dreadful.” Remember a few months back when the president unveiled his massive infrastructure spending plan, and everyone pledged to work together? Yeah, that was fun.
Governor Wolf this week rolled out a new state ethics proposal that would ban members of the General Assembly and the executive branch from being paid if no budget is passed by June 30 each year. The plan was met with skepticism by his opponents, some of whom called it an “election-year stunt,” which is odd considering that members on both sides of the aisle have introduced “no budget, no pay” bills for the past decade. As an aside, pretty much anything the governor proposes this year will be called “an election year stunt,” so get used to it.
Pennsylvania will soon be taking applications for online gaming, we found out this week. But of course, the questions still linger over whether gaming regulators will craft regulations that allow for a strong market to emerge or strangle it before it ever gets off the ground. It occurs to us that New Jersey has a strong online gaming market, and PA regulators could just follow the Garden State’s model, but why make things easy?
As gaming officials grapple with those questions, legalized sports betting could be on the state’s menu as soon as this summer, when the U.S Supreme Court decides whether to lift the decades-old ban. Industry insiders are betting that they will, and the Keystone State could see an unexpected windfall of new cash, the likes of which hasn’t graced our coffers since the nationwide tobacco settlement rained major coins down on us.
Our Shameless Client Plug this week goes out to our friends at Lyft, who are partnering with Blue Cross, Walgreens and CVS to give free rides to pharmacies in some areas, including western Pennsylvania. Once again, ride sharing to the rescue!
In Our We Can’t Make This Up segment, we honor the recent spate of freezing weather and relentless nor’easters by sharing this video of a man dressed as Elsa from “Frozen” helping push a police vehicle out of a snowbank in Boston. This winter cannot end quickly enough.
That’s what passes for news around here as another busy week in Harrisburg comes to a merciful close. And when March Madness and St. Patrick’s Day collide, all we can say is one thing: take a Lyft! From all your friends at Triad, have a great weekend!
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