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May 2018

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.   

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Friday Happy Hour: Dr. Dre Edition

Thanks to yet another weird internet challenge, Yanni once again found his musical career relevant this week.  Trust us, he didn’t hear “Laurel.”  The legendary Greek composer and Og-dre musician thanks you.   

North Korean dictators can be untrustworthy and downright sneaky, we were reminded this week, as Kim Jong Un’s regime backtracked on the proposed meeting with President Trump, saying that “de-nuking” was no longer on the menu.  Wow, who among us could have predicted that move? Lucy, grab that football. 

The U.S. Senate this week served up a reminder that a motivated minority can sometimes make a difference, as the Senate Democrats successfully led a charge to block the FCC from changing rules governing net neutrality.  The House is eagerly awaiting the bill, which it will summarily light on fire and dump in the nearest trash can.

Meanwhile, over in the House, another motivated minority (centrist Republicans) is four votes shy of forcing a vote on an immigration deal that would protect so-called Dreamers.  As one might expect, the current GOP leadership team is less than amused by this tactic, which they characterize as “letting Nancy win.”  This preoccupation with Nancy Pelosi can be a real nuisance at times, we are finding. 

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Friday Happy Hour: Chocolate Crash Edition

In yet another example of President Trump doing exactly what he promised to do, the U.S. is now officially out of the Iran nuclear agreement, much to the shock of U.S. allies, who apparently didn’t watch him campaign at all.  The jury is out on what the effect of the U.S. withdrawal will be, but again, when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.  Chocolate crash

Trump also announced this week that the long-awaited summit between him and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un will take place in Singapore on June 12.  There is no word yet on whether Rocket Man or the Dotard will also be in attendance. 

North Korea this week also released three prisoners who they had held for more than a year.  Before we go too crazy about this transparent olive branch, lets keep in mind who illegally detained them in the first place.   

Congress this week released more than 3,500 Facebook ads that were placed by Russian-linked groups during the 2016 elections.  It may shock you to learn that approximately none of them were, shall we say, “Hillary-friendly.”  We are sure that is just a coincidence.   

Pittsburgh took its turn in the national spotlight Thursday as NBC Nightly News (hosted by the venerable Lester Holt) broadcast live from the Steel City.  The city’s tech boom and affordable housing challenges were on the menu.  Lester even rode the Duquesne Incline! Check it out here!

With Pennsylvania’s Primary Election only days away, we have been treated to (or perhaps inundated with?) stories pondering whether this year will be less-than-kind to the GOP.  May 15 isn’t likely to tell us too much, dear readers, but y’all should probably vote anyway.  Voting, we have been told, is a constitutional obligation, in addition to being gluten-free!

The race for the GOP nomination for governor isn’t a done deal quite yet, according to a poll released this morning.  In fact, one in every five likely Republican voters haven’t even made up their minds yet, which means if you have your television on for more than 10 minutes this weekend, you are gonna be bombarded with ads. Maybe do some yard work and celebrate Mother’s Day instead. 

Some Philadelphia elected officials are a bit cheesed off that the city was shut out of the first round of medical marijuana facility awards and are vowing to make amends.  They say, perhaps correctly, that the state’s largest city should enjoy some of the economic benefit of the new law.  Let’s not forget, however, that those awards are based upon merit, and not location, per se.  

And should you be temped to believe that medical marijuana dispensaries and grower licenses don’t have much of an economic impact, we would direct you to this story showing that 150 separate legal complaints were filed by losing applicants the first time around. If these licenses weren’t valuable, that number would be closer to zero.

Philadelphia City Council this week spent some time pondering a tax increase request from Mayor Jim Kenney, who would like to earmark those funds for the city’s school district. Let’s just say there was a healthy amount of skepticism centered on a tax increase for a school district that is not projected to have a deficit for two more years. In Philly fiscal years, that’s almost a lifetime. 

Governor Tom Wolf this week kicked off his newest effort at curbing gun violence with the creation of a $1.5 million grant program.  A modest amount, to be sure, but you have to start somewhere, a saying that the U.S. Congress has apparently never heard before when it comes to gun violence. 

Wolf and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. this week denounced a recent request by the Trump administration to swipe about $7 billion that was earmarked for the CHIP program, which provides health insurance for about 180,000 Pennsylvania wee ones.  Trump says the cut, which is one among many, is needed to bring the federal budget closer to balance.  How the budget ever got out of balance is anyone’s guess.  Sorry, we have to refocus.  We just rolled our eyes really hard.   

Pittsburgh City Council this week put the brakes on a plan to establish new oversight for the embattled Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority. Council members would still like a seat at that particular table, which makes a ton of sense considering that when stuff goes haywire (and it does), unhappy city residents aren’t calling the PUC.  They are calling their council member.    

In our Shameless Client Plug this week, we congratulate our good friend Robert Bogle, president and CEO of the Philadelphia Tribune, for receiving an honorary degree from Temple University this week. That cherry and white looks good on you, Mr. Bogle!

In our We Can’t Make This Up section this week we take you to Poland, where a tanker truck full of chocolate crashed, spilling 12 tons of the sweet stuff all over the road.  This is one mess that your children would be happy to clean up, we are sure.   

That’s what passes for news around here on a simply resplendent Friday afternoon!  Remember, Sunday is Mother’s Day and Tuesday is Election Day, so you have plenty to keep you occupied until we meet again.  From all your friends at Triad, have a great weekend!

Friday Happy Hour: Tailpipe Edition

We shall dispense with the May the Fourth Be with You stuff and get right to this week’s memo.  Head over to Twitter to get your Star Wars meme fix, we have important stuff to do 080620001 here, like inform you that the U.S. economy continued to roar last month, adding another 164,000 jobs.  The unemployment rate nationwide dropped to an absurdly low 3.9 percent, which essentially means that if you want a job and don’t have one, you probably don’t really want a job to begin with, now do you?

Former New York Mayor and newly-minted Trump counsel Rudy Giuliani made quite the splash this week when he went on Fox and Friends and essentially ruined Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ life.  Say what you want about old Rudy, but it appears as though he is practicing one of the most basic tenets of crisis communications.  Come clean fast and get your facts out there first, even if your boss may not agree with your particular set of facts.  

For more on effective crisis management, check out this piece by our own Rick Kelly about the Philadelphia Starbucks kerfuffle.

Revenue collections in Pennsylvania are up about $164 million over projections, we learned this week.  Of course, in a $34 billion budget, that’s not really an eye-opening number.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is, after last year’s one-time budget fixes go away, the 2019 state budget fight is gonna be a doozy, ladies and gentlemen. 

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The Starbucks incident: a crisis management case study

By Rick Kelly

Given the heightened sensitivity to racial bias issues these days, is it possible for even a socially responsible organization to manage its way through a racially charged crisis with its Lattereputation intact? The Starbucks incident that led to the unwarranted arrest of two black men in Philadelphia last month provides an opportunity to examine that question.

Shortly after opening its first store in 1971, Starbucks began to distinguish itself as a do-the-right-thing kind of retailer. It offered full health care and stock options to employees, embraced diversity and inclusion, created a foundation to support its communities, located stores in underserved areas, promoted certified Fairtrade products, established ethical coffee-sourcing standards and built farmer support centers in coffee-growing regions. Along the way, it also rewarded its investors. Following its initial public offering in 1992, Starbucks has had multiple two-for-one stock splits.

By nearly any measure, Starbucks has been ultra-successful, with now about 28,000 stores worldwide and unmatched influence in the supplier markets. Up until the Philadelphia incident, it’s hard to imagine anyone being mad at Starbucks. Clearly it has walked the social responsibility talk. But when a request to use a restroom in the Philadelphia store escalated into the arrests of the two men who had come there to meet a friend, the public reaction was loud and furious.

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