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Friday Happy Hour: Alexa Edition

President Trump this week decided that his much-ballyhooed meeting with North Korean whackjob Kim Jong Un is definitely off after Kim called Vice President Pence some nasty Amazon-echo-white names.  Then this morning, Trump said that he may go ahead and meet with him after all.  Seriously, nobody has paid this much attention to North Korea since M.A.S.H. was on TV.  

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, House Speaker Paul Ryan is struggling to hold onto his job as he faces insurrections over immigration and the farm bill.  Apparently, some members of Ryan’s caucus feel that the best way to prepare for those rocky midterms is to have a bloody leadership battle.  That’s like preparing for the bar exam by getting drunk and playing rugby the night before.   

When they were not hurling rocks at one other, those same House Republicans found the time last week to dismantle the Dodd-Frank banking rules.  Because as we all know, absolutely nothing bad happened to the economy in 2008-2009, and even if it did, the banks had nothing to do with it.  Nothing, nada, zip.  Move along. 

The race for Pennsylvania governor is in full swing, with both sides using social media to microtarget voters.  Looks like both candidates took some notes from the Russkies in 2016 and intend to Facebook us to death between now and November.  Governor Wolf is even using Tumblr to get his message out, since Facebook is so 2010. 

The Philadelphia Parking Authority’s move to implement a 50-cent surcharge on ride-sharing trips in the city ran into a bit of trouble this week as the state’s auditor general came out against the idea.  The general wants to see some order in the PPA’s fiscal house first.   

Meanwhile on the left side of the Commonwealth, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has some, um, choice words for Uber’s plan to restart its autonomous vehicle pilot in the city.  Yikes.  Did we mention that Lyft is a valued client of Triad Strategies? 

Philly Mayor Jim Kenney’s budget plan is winding its way through City Council, we learned this week.  Council, however, is working overtime to pare down Kenney’s property tax increase request, as the city’s residents don’t really want to see an increase after last year’s reassessment took a chunk out of their collective behinds. 

Meanwhile, Mayor Kenney is also asking for a cool $700 million to fix the city’s schools.  Apparently, 30 years of deferred maintenance can catch up with you at some point.  Like, now.  But hey, it’s only $700 million, we are sure that will be easy to find.     

Speaking of maintenance, Governor Wolf this week announced that PennDOT will be dropping $180 million into filling potholes and fixing other road and bridge damage from this past winter.  Therein lies the real problem with transportation funding shortfalls in this state.  We spend so much to repair what Old Man Winter does that we have nothing left for new projects.    

The state Senate this week took the extraordinary step of advancing a bill that would reform redistricting by taking the map-making process away from the General Assembly and giving it to – the General Assembly.  Sort of.  Lest anyone get too excited, let us all keep in mind that the bill in question will eventually end up in the House State Government Committee.    

Pittsburgh city officials announced this week that they will cut their energy and water usage by half in the years to come, which is probably a good thing, since the Beaver Valley nuclear power plant twenty miles up the Ohio River will probably be closed by then.  Power might be a little tough to come by.

Speaking of Pittsburgh, the annual springtime Running of the Barges was held this week, as a dozen coal vessels decided to leave their moorings and bang around the Monongahela River for a few hours, dumping coal to the bottom of the river.  We have been told that coal is not good for water quality, despite what Scott Pruitt tells you.  

A group of salty medical marijuana growers and processors have sued the Wolf Administration over the new clinical research licensing plan.  That’s some serious gratitude for ya!  Thanks for the license; see you in court!   

Our Shameless Clint Plug this week goes out to Pocono Raceway for teaming up with Attorney General Josh Shapiro for a drug takeback day at the races on June 3.  Bring your unused prescription drugs, take your car for a spin at the Tricky Triangle!  Note of caution: there is no Turn 4. 

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to Oregon to prove to you what we have been saying all along!  Alexa is eavesdropping on you people!  Unplug it immediately and set it on fire in the driveway! 

That’s what passes for news around here as we stroll into Memorial Day Weekend.  Be sure to celebrate safely, because we need you back here in good shape to do this all again next Friday.  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


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