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August 2018

Friday Happy Hour: Profane Parrot Edition

JessieU.S. Senator John McCain announced this morning that he is discontinuing medical treatment in his battle against brain cancer.  It was a powerful reminder that sometimes we should all take a step back from the cable news and internet scream-fest we live in every day,

It was all quiet in Washington D.C. and in the New York U.S. Attorney’s Office.  Absolutely nothing of note happened, and President Trump definitely did not compound the nothingness by going on Fox and Friends

As the nation continues to grapple with cyber-attacks on our electoral system, the issue hit very close to home this week, as U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey found himself the target of such an attack.  Hackers went on a spear-phishing excursion into Toomey’s campaign emails, we learned this week, although it was unclear where the attack originated.  Could have been the Russians, the Chinese, or some fat guy in his basement.

If you have not yet read the 47-page indictment of California Congressman Duncan Hunter, please pour yourself a tall, cold sarsaparilla and do just that.  In totally unrelated news, we are naming Triad’s new punk rock band “Gourmet Steaks and the Thirty Tequila Shots” which narrowly beat out “Pet Bunny Plane Ticket” in our internal straw poll.

The Trump administration this week announced it is scrapping the Obama-era Clean Power Plan and replacing it with a more states-driven, coal-friendly plan.  As astute readers may recall, then-candidate Trump said he would bring back coal, so this would be a dandy start if it were indeed possible.  On the other side of the coin, environmentalists warned that should the new regulations go into effect, we will all be dead by 2019.   

It was quite a week for the Steel City.  First an outfit known as the U.S. Economist Intelligence Unit (which sounds like something Robert Mueller should be running) named Pittsburgh the second-most livable city in the country, behind only Honolulu. 

A few days later, Time Magazine did the Pittsburgh area one better by naming Superior Motors (an upscale eatery in close-by Braddock) as one of the top 100 coolest places to eat ON THE ENTIRE PLANET.  Somewhere in Pennsylvania, John Fetterman is at a Sheetz, smiling.   

The fight for fair school district funding (which is always in the eye of the beholder) in Pennsylvania got a boost this week as the Commonwealth Court swept away a legislative challenge to a lawsuit over said funding, allowing it to proceed.  This should add yet more spice to the ongoing battle between Governor Wolf and his opponent Scott Wagner over who is better at being fair, we guess.  

Many folks have been wondering what the fall legislative agenda will look like, and what issues will be addressed in the scant nine days the General Assembly will convene.  Well, look no further than enacting the grand jury suggestions that were made when the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal came to light.  We have a sneaking suspicion this will be Job One when lawmakers return to Harrisburg.

The state’s casino industry this week banded together to sue the Commonwealth over the Pennsylvania Lottery’s launch of so-called I-Lottery games.  The casinos contend that these games look a little too much like slot machines, and therefor should be stopped because THEY own the slot machine market in this state, and don’t you forget it, pal.

It was a less-than-stellar news week for gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner, who began the week by saying something, um, inartful, about why he won’t release copies of his tax returns.  His answer had something to do with his employees and unions, and let’s just say he should have practiced that one a wee bit more. 

Wagner was also caught off guard by a question about same-sex marriage while campaigning in Erie, and later had to clarify that he would not sign a bill banning same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania.  To be clear on this one, Wagner took a ton of grief in the primary from some folks on the far right for his stance in favor of LGBTQ rights, so he really should have been given a pass on that one. 

Nabisco this week announced it would change the packaging of its Animal Crackers so that the boxes will no longer portray animals in cages.  We, of course, celebrated by eating those newly-freed animals.  Memo to Nabisco: calm down. 

Pennsylvania’s first black-owned craft brewery opened in Harrisburg this week, so when the legislature returns to town in the fall, make sure to head uptown and visit the Harris Family Brewery!  

In campaign news this week, Governor Wolf has decided to play the fall campaign on his own terms and has agreed to debate Scott Wagner just one time, at the annual Chamber of Business and Industry dinner (spoiler alert: we will be there.)  The debate will be moderated by Alex Trebek.  Big money goes to whichever candidate answers every question in the form of a question. 

The latest NBC News/Marist poll came out, showing both Wolf and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey maintaining double-digit leads over their opponents as we approach Labor Day.  The astounding part about the poll, however, is that in both races the number of undecideds is extraordinarily low for this stage in the game.  

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to London, where Jessie the Parrot got stranded on a rooftop, forcing firefighters to the rescue.  In response to the rescue efforts, the saucy parrot hurled profanity, at one point telling a firefighter to “F@&k off!”  Even parrots are anxious about this whole Brexit thing, apparently. 

That’s what passes for news around here as we start preparing for the sprint to the finish line this fall.  Make sure to come and join us next week when “Gourmet Steaks and Thirty Tequila Shots” makes its debut!  From all your friends at Triad, have a great weekend! 

Friday Happy Hour: Sidewalk Urinal Edition

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, passed away yesterday after battling
pancreatic cancer.  The entire
social media world pausedAretha Franklin, posted a video of Franklin singing “Respect” on their Twitter feeds, and then went back to listening to the newest Cardi B song.   

President Donald Trump this week canceled his planned military parade, blaming the decision on what he said was the equivalent of price gouging by the mayor of Washington D.C.  This did not sit well with said mayor, as one might expect.  Apparently, shutting down the nation’s capital for a parade is a pricey proposition.

The president this week also made non-Omarosa headlines by revoking the security clearance of longtime critic and former CIA chief John Brennan.  We are sure this will cause Brennan to clam up and fade into obscurity. 

Back in Pennsylvania, our dear Commonwealth made national headlines for all the wrong reasons.  PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro on Tuesday released a long-awaited grand jury report detailing horrific sexual abuse allegations against more than three hundred priests, involving more than 1,000 victims.  While the announcement shook the foundations of both Pennsylvania and the Catholic Church all the way to Vatican City, one gnawing thought keeps going through our minds: there are forty-nine other states.   

Within 48 hours of the press conference, Shapiro’s office had already fielded more than 150 calls to its new sexual abuse hotline.  The story just keeps getting more heartbreaking by the moment.

All eyes are now focused on the state legislature, where a tug-of-war has been raging over how best to remove the statute of limitations for prosecuting sex offenders.  In a body where compromise is often a dirty word, we expect this issue to be resolved and on Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk before everyone heads home for the campaigns.

Pennsylvania’s new fireworks law is only a year old, and already there are municipalities lining up to regulate the new wild, wild west of aerial explosives.  One lawmaker has even gone so far as to draft a bill to repeal the law.  It seems as though allowing anyone with a wallet to buy explosives and set them off anywhere they please may not have been the greatest of plans. That’s how public school toilets get blown up.  

Governor Wolf this week updated our fine citizens on the progress of a road paving blitz that PennDOT has undertaken.  The goal is to repave 1,000 miles of road, which should conclude right about the time it snows and the roads get torn up again.  Rinse, repeat, and bang your head off the steering wheel.

Wolf’s Lottery Commission has been busy as heck in recent weeks rolling out snazzy new simulated sports games that one can wager on, which is really angering the state’s casino industry.  You know, the same people who will soon be offering online gaming and sports betting are mad because you might be able to bet ten bucks on a fake car race.  

Speaking of sports betting, it is likely that you will be able to bet on all things sports in Pennsylvania by the middle of the football season.  This is good news for the 80 percent of fantasy football team owners whose seasons will already be over by week nine of the NFL season.  It will give them a new and more convenient way to lose money.  

Reading School District was a dysfunctional disaster just a few short years ago.  This week, they got a visit from their harshest critic, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, who hailed the district’s turnaround as the best in the history of his office.  As many Pennsylvania schools struggle with the same problems Reading had, it looks like we have a blueprint for success that doesn’t involved being taken over by the state. 

The state’s dairy industry may finally be getting some relief after years of being kicked in the udders by low milk prices and regulatory hurdles.  Optimism abounds as the state’s Department of Agriculture this week released a master plan to rebuild the industry.  Remember, your cheese may be at stake here, so pay attention. 

Nearly 200,000 low-income Philadelphians are now connected to the internet thanks to Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, where users can get high-speed service for a mere ten bucks a month.  In a world where corporate responsibility comes in many shapes and sizes, this is one of the cooler ones. Good stuff, Comcast!  

Over on the campaign trail, a border skirmish erupted between Governor Wolf and his rival Scott Wagner over who is the more business-y businessman, or something like that.  On the list of things voters care about this year, business qualifications rank somewhere between “What?” and “Who the hell cares?”   

And while Wagner enjoys the support of Americans for Prosperity, a tiny nonprofit funded by some guys named Koch, his ticket-mate, Lou Barletta, will not be seeing the same largesse, we found out this week.  Barletta continues to struggle to get traction against his electoral rival U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr., and the lack of Koch resources probably won’t help.

Because we like to do our part to help President Trump create more jobs, it pleases us to announce that Triad Strategies is hiring!  Check it out here if you are one of the few Americans left without a job, or you hate your current one.

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, it was a tough call for us.  We were tempted to take you to Georgia, where someone, for some ungodly reason, stole $100,000 worth of Ramen noodles.   HOWEVER, nothing beats this story from France, where Paris officials have begun installing public sidewalk urinals.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Oui, oui!!   

That’s what passes for news around here as we creep ever closer to the end of summer and the stretch run of the General Assembly. Tune in next week, when our special guest will be somebody doing an Aretha Franklin cover in our Harrisburg office.  From all your friends at Triad, have a great weekend!

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Friday Happy Hour: Big Beaver Edition

Big Beaver

Vice President Mike Pence was in the spotlight this week (the Big Guy was on vacation) as he unveiled the Trump administration’s vision for the sixth branch of the military: The Space Force!  As long as George Lucas runs it, we are good with the idea.   

Meanwhile, Trump’s top lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, spent the week talking to the media about how he is dictating the terms of a potential sit-down between his client and Special Prosecutor Bob Mueller.  We wonder how successful defense lawyers in New York were when they used this tactic with then-prosecutor Giuliani.  We will sit down with you, Mr. Giuliani, but you can’t ask us about the gun or the dead body.  Just the cannoli.   

Gov. Tom Wolf this week made national news by announcing the formation of a cabinet-level office of LGBTQ affairs.  Kudos to the governor for this move, hailed by lawmakers from both parties. 

A Pennsylvania lawmaker would like to begin the discussion about how to cut down the travel time across this gargantuan state by investing in a hyperloop, the brainchild of Elon Musk.  Hyperloop is a contraption that fires you into a tube at 700 miles per hour.  For a bit of context, the hyperloop can get you from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia in about 30 minutes, which would be glorious for those among us who know every inch of the Turnpike like we know our own kids.

Pennsylvania is a wee bit behind the curve when it comes to cleaning up the waterways that ultimately dump into the Chesapeake Bay, we learned this week.  Last week’s torrential rains probably didn’t help, as flooding essentially washed the entire Borough of Hummelstown into the bay.  

The financial overlord of all things Harrisburg has eased up on the whole goofy idea of massive property tax increases to get the city out of state oversight.  Said overlord also strongly suggested that Harrisburg consider moving to home rule government so as to have a bit more flexibility on what taxes it can impose.  Look for that debate to begin in earnest sometime very soon.   

Governor Wolf this week said he does not believe that Pennsylvanians are ready for legalized marijuana.  Critics pointed to polls that say about 60 percent of residents support legalization, but remember: what you WANT and what you are READY FOR are often to very different things.  For instance, 90 percent of teenage boys want a Corvette.

Meanwhile, a county commissioner from northeastern PA would like to see local governments be given the option to ban the growing or distribution of medicinal pot because, presumably, she once watched Reefer Madness and it made quite the impression.    

There was a small political kerfuffle this week, as the state GOP chairman took the Fayette County Democrats to task for offering Steelers tickets to people who switched their voter registration from R to D.  That is a no-no, according to Pennsylvania law.  This law also scraps the Philly Democratic Party’s plan to auction off a date with Nick Foles to potential party-switchers.

In other political news, Governor Wolf nailed down the endorsement of the 40,000-member PA Fraternal Order of Police. The notable news here is that screwing around with the collective bargaining rights of police officers is never a good idea.  

Pennsylvania is being inundated with spotted lanternflies, we found out this week.  They may look harmless, but are quite the ravenous little buggers.  So if you see one, alert the authorities and promptly squash it.  

The Keystone State is also the national leader in cases of Lyme disease, with 10,000 confirmed cases now on the books.  The state is being overrun by insects, apparently.  When we are overrun with spiders, you will know it because we will have closed up Triad and moved to another state.

A brand new mini-casino is coming to Beaver County, home of the now-famous Shell cracker plant.  Big things are happening in that county, and it is notable that the casino will call Big Beaver Township its home.  Gambling and a giant, dam-building varmint; perfect together. 

PennDOT is getting some flack for selling driver data to third parties, a practice that nets the agency a cool $43 million per year. Now a state lawmaker is looking to end that practice, as people these days are (rightly) a bit squeamish about having any of their personal data sold to anyone for any reason. 

In our Shameless Client Plug this week, new voting machines in Michigan are causing quite the stir among the blind in that state, as the Braille and audio systems are not what one would call “user friendly.” Hey Michiganders, we can fix that problem for you.  Call our friends at ES&S, a company that sets the gold standard for service to voters with disabilities.  

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to lovely Boise, Idaho, where a few hundred goats took over the town, wandering around and eating everything in sight.  The goats were owned by an outfit called, aptly enough, We Rent Goats and are used to clear bush and grass in lieu of lawnmowers (fun fact: Pocono Raceway uses goats for the same reason.)  Goats, it would seem, are not very focused on their work.

That’s what passes for news around here on a lazy Friday in August.  Tune in again next week where we will regale you with all the news we give a hoot about.  Until then, from all of us at Triad, have a great weekend!


Friday Happy Hour: Rescue Pig Edition

Rescue PigPresident Trump visited Wilkes-Barre on Thursday, ostensibly to stump for his pal Lou Barletta in the U.S. Senate race, but mostly to promote his own achievements and pummel the news media. And pummel the news media some more. The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader labeled it “more of a Trump for President in 2020 event than a campaign rally” for Barletta.

The New York Times featured a person-in-the-street piece examining why Barletta’s campaign doesn’t seem to be getting as much traction as expected in “Trump country,” given his views on immigration and association with Trump.

Barletta’s opponent, incumbent Sen. Bob Casey Jr., was among the lead sponsors of a bipartisan measure reauthorizing a career and technical education program, which President Trump signed into law this week. Somehow, the White House *forgot* to invite Casey to the signing ceremony, despite inviting all the other lawmakers, from both parties, who worked on the bill.

Also in Washington, senior administration officials said Russia is once again attempting to interfere in the November midterm election, spreading propaganda on hot-button issues via social media. OK, you heard it here first, folks: don’t believe everything you read and hear on the internet.

The U.S. added 157,000 new jobs in July to drop the unemployment rate to 3.9 percent in another solid showing for a surging economy. The increase was below estimates, but hiring in June and May was stronger than previously reported.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Governor Wolf and the PA State Police went to court this week and prevailed in an emergency hearing to block a Texas company from distributing downloadable files that would enable Pennsylvanians to assemble firearms in the comfort of their own homes. The DIY weapons wouldn’t feature any of those pesky serial numbers or require background checks that could, you know, help law enforcement track down people who use them for criminal acts.

A piece in the Morning Call details how the states got stuck with the responsibility of dealing with the downloadable guns issue when the U.S. State Department suddenly gave up in its lawsuit challenging the company. Hmmm, wonder why?

Allentown became the latest to join a growing group of municipalities that are cracking down on commercial-grade fireworks. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could just download them from the internet?

Harrisburg Diocese Bishop Ronald Gainer released the names of 71 clergy and other church officials whose names appear in a grand jury report accusing them of molesting children. Bishop Gainer took it a step farther by ordering the removal of the names of all former bishops dating to 1947 from all diocesan properties.

In medical cannabis news, dry-leaf medical marijuana arrived in Pennsylvania this week. It’s less expensive than the other forms of the drug because it doesn’t require as much processing, nor does it take as long to bring to market. Smoking it is not permitted, however.

Ah, but Pittsburgh state Rep. Jake Wheatley, taking note of an increasing number of voices supporting the idea, said he will soon introduce a bill legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Don’t run to the store for Doritos just yet, however.

We are pleased to report that the Keystone State has landed in the top quartile of something good. PA ranked 12th in the country in wage growth last year. Your average Pennsylvania worker made around $54,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics. PennLive published a breakdown by county, which you can find here.

Honked off that Immigration and Customs Enforcement was violating its agreement with the City of Philadelphia to NOT target undocumented immigrants who had broken no laws, Mayor Jim Kenney announced that he wouldn’t renew said agreement. The agreement, which provides for sharing information, expires at the end of the month.

All that rain we got last week seems to have flushed a bunch of debris into the Chesapeake Bay, causing Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan to call out PA and NY for failing to take responsibility for curbing pollution. The Susquehanna River is the largest source of freshwater flowing into the bay, and environmental officials say the lack of progress in reducing the nutrients, sediment and debris washing into the bay is impairing its health.

This week’s Shameless Client Plug goes, once again, to Pocono Raceway, which is partnering with Pocono Organics to establish a 50-acre farm that will include 40,000 square feet of greenhouses, a living “vegetative” roof to collect rainwater, and a 30,000-square-foot processing and storage building, all connected to the track’s 39,000-plus solar panels.

This week’s We Can’t Make This Up feature takes us to Indiana, where a home burglary was broken up by the family pet. A dog, you surmise, or perhaps a mean-tempered bird or fearsome reptile? Nooo, it seems that after breaking into the home, the burglars couldn’t handle a confrontation with a fully-grown pig, adopted from a rescue shelter. Police said there were two other break-ins in that neighborhood the same day – presumably at the homes of swineless families.

And that’s what passes for news around here this week! From your friends at Triad, stay cool, stay dry, and we’ll be back before you know it!