We’ll begin with the most important event of the week, which was the opportunity to exercise our constitutional right to select those who represent us, aka Election Day. We congratulate the winners, console the losers, and thank all of them for their participation in an increasingly rancorous political environment.
There was drama. In the southeast, Democrats continued their recent trend of making gains in suburban Philly, taking control of what was once a GOP stronghold, Delaware County Council, for the first time since the Civil War. They also won a majority on the Chester County and Bucks County boards of commissioners.
The Dems also took control of the nine-member Lehigh County Board of Commissioners for the first time in decades.
On the other hand, out west it was the R’s flipping four counties to their side in commissioner races. The counties of Washington, Armstrong, Greene and Westmorland are now in the red column after trending in that direction for several years.
And, right here in good ol’ central PA, everything pretty much stayed the same, although the vote count in York County was delayed because of snafus with the new voting machines. Several other counties experienced problems with new machines, but as Morning Call columnist Paul Muschick observed, counties that rolled them out for this off-year election can now make adjustments that will enable a smoother experience next spring.
The statewide Superior Court race was very close, although it appears that Philly Dem. Daniel McCaffery and Chester County Deputy DA Megan McCarthy King, a Republican, won the two open seats.
And finally, the proposed constitutional amendment known as Marsy’s Law, which spells out the rights of crime victims, garnered nearly three-quarters of the votes, but can’t be certified until the state Supreme Court sorts out whether the proposal was constitutional.
Elsewhere, the General Assembly in Virginia went Democratic, as did the governor’s office in Kentucky. Throw in the suburban Philly results and it led to some gleeful speculation on the part of Democrats. PennLive columnist John Baer, often a contrarian, warns that the D’s could end up blowing it, at least in Pennsylvania, if the candidate doesn’t appeal to our moderate-minded electorate.
Former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke dropped his presidential bid. So, faced with the alarming prospect of a sudden shortage of Democratic candidates, former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg indicated he just might be interested in giving it a shot. Although he apparently hasn’t made a final decision yet, he sent some people to Alabama to gather signatures enabling him to qualify to be on the primary election ballot next year.
After weeks of complaining about the closed impeachment hearings, President Trump has now decided that there shouldn’t be public hearings either. The House Democrats will launch the public hearings next week, featuring three witnesses who have already testified privately.
Back here in the Keystone State, the PA Turnpike Commission has decided after a four-year pilot to proceed with converting the tolling system to a totally cashless one by the fall of 2021. About 600 toll collector and auditor jobs would be eliminated, and those employees would either be reassigned to another commission gig or could use the agency’s tuition assistance program to study for a new career.
Faculty for the 14-university State System of Higher Education will vote on a four-year contract. The vote will be held on individual campuses from Nov. 11 to 13.
Seven current and former non-union state workers filed a class-action lawsuit this week against AFSCME Council 13 in an attempt to recoup the estimated $3 million in non-member fees paid to the union by almost 10,000 non-union employees in 2017 and 2018. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that union fees paid by non-union government employees are illegal.
Prominent politicos gracing PA with their presence this week included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who spoke at the Democratic Independence Dinner in Philly and former VP Joe Biden, who traveled to the Steel City to speak at a presidential campaign fundraising event.
Montgomery County DA Kevin Steele has filed a civil complaint against vaping company JUUL, aiming to hold the company responsible for its “illegal, predatory business practices aimed at turning minors into addicts.”
Our We Can’t Make This Up segment takes us to Hilton Head, South Carolina, where a man who ordered a McDonald’s sweet tea wound up “stoned to the bone” when the tea was spiked with cannabis. His theory is that asking for “extra lemon” is code for “hit me up with some reefer, please.” The sheriff’s department didn’t reveal the location, but our crack research team tells us there are only two Mickey D’s on the island.
And that’s pretty much what qualifies for news around here this week! A shout out to veterans, whom we honor on Monday. Have a terrific weekend, and we’ll see you all back here again next week!