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November 2019

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving 2019

Triad Strategies extends warm wishes to each of you this Thanksgiving holiday. Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on and give thanks for our blessings. It’s also an opportunity to support those who may not be as fortunate.

Triad believes in the power of community connections. Working together, we can sustain and uplift our communities.

We are honored and privileged to have partnered with Jaindl Farms, the Central PA Food Bank and the Bethesda Mission to provide 200 turkeys to individuals and families in south-central Pennsylvania this holiday season. Our opportunity to help those who are less fortunate results from the support of our clients, who trust us to assist them in solving their problems.

The Friday Happy Hour will not be published this week. Have a great holiday weekend, and we'll see you back here next week.


Friday Happy Hour: Wild Turkey Edition

Wild turkeys

We begin this week’s news-a-palooza with a public service announcement for Amazon:

Dear Amazon,

We have been told that you are really good at shipping things. One thing we don’t need you to ship into Pennsylvania are out-of-state workers to build your new mega-warehouse outside of Pittsburgh. We have plenty of people living there who will do a wonderful job. So, stop it.

Sincerely, Everyone.  

House Democrats continued their impeachment inquiry (is it still an inquiry or not?) by inviting two more diplomats to testify, Fiona Hill and David Holmes, the latter of whom rolled his eyes so hard at GOP questions that we are pretty sure he sprained his skull.  

Meanwhile, in the Upper Chamber, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham has announced that he will begin an investigation into – wait for it – the Bidens! If there is one thing that Congress needs right now, it is another public investigation. 

The Trump Train is coming to Hershey next week, and tickets are free! The Sweetest Place on Earth is about to become one of the louder places on earth!

The state House and Senate this week passed the long-awaited package of bills to address statute of limitation reforms on child-sex crimes. It was a tough road, but all sides eventually removed the heat from the debate and replaced it with light. 

The Senate this week also passed a bill that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2022. There was a bit of low-grade grumbling from Democrats who wanted more, but in the end, the bill passed overwhelmingly. Next up? A much more unwelcoming House. 

A group of largely western Pennsylvania lawmakers are planning to sue the Wolf administration over his decision to enter into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Some believe that Wolf overplayed his hand when he decided not to seek General Assembly approval for the move, which if successful will pretty much bury the state’s coal industry.

Another group of lawmakers this week fired off the opening salvo in the next debate on transportation funding in Pennsylvania, an issue they would very much like to see debated next year, which is an election year, which would be rather stunning.   

The General Assembly this week again passed a ban on abortions in the case of a Down syndrome diagnosis. And once again, Governor Wolf waited all of three minutes before vetoing it. We still doing this? Lather, rinse, veto, repeat.

A bill to raise the legal age to buy tobacco to 21 is inching along the rails of the General Assembly. Because once it is illegal for 19-year-olds to buy tobacco, we are pretty sure they never will again.  Teenagers are, as we all know, famous for following the law. That’s why none of them drink alcohol before they turn 21.

Despite 16 years of effort to get a casino built in Beaver County, it looks like local officials have once again rolled snake eyes on that bid. State regulators this week gave a thumbs-down to Mount Airy Casino’s application to build a mini-casino in Big Beaver Township. In related news, yes, there is a Big Beaver Township. 

Despite the Big Beaver setback, NBC news still plans to do a year-long series about 2020 presidential “swing counties,” one of which will focus solely on Beaver County. We humbly suggest they film it at the Original New Brighton Hot Dog Shoppe. 

If some state lawmakers have their way (and they often do), the 2024 presidential primary date in Pennsylvania will be moved way up. No longer will we be forced to sit back and watch 26 people in New Hampshire decide the direction of our country.

Weeks after the state again slammed the brakes on their application, Erie County officials are back at it, pushing for movement on their community college bid as early as January. Expect this issue to continue to be wrapped around the axle for the foreseeable future.   

Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse plans to abandon a potential deal to privatize the city’s water and sewer system as he threw his support this week behind a plan to add additional fees to city dwellers to pay for sewer and stormwater upgrades. This should go over well, we are sure.   

The business of the state Senate was temporarily upended this week as Sen. John Yudichak of Luzerne County announced he switched his party registration from Democrat to Independent and will caucus with the GOP moving forward. Nothing like a party switch to get tongues wagging all over the state capitol.  

In other nakedly political news, if you were wondering where former state senator and failed gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner has landed, it very well may be directly opposite longtime GOP power broker Bob Asher. Wagner is floating the idea of taking on Asher for his powerful spot on the Republican National Committee. Some bad blood flows pretty deep around here.   

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to aptly named Toms River, New Jersey, where wild turkeys have pretty much taken over the entire town, setting up a potentially deadly, Quentin Tarantino-esque showdown next Thursday. Turkeys vs. Humans: this time, it’s personal.

That’s what passes for news around here as we careen wildly into the weekend. From all your friends at Team Triad, have a great one!

Friday Happy Hour: Gin Edition

We start this week’s missive by taking you to Lafayette County, Wisconsin, where some elected officials have lost their damned minds.  Earlier this week, one of the county commissioners filed a new resolution that would criminally charge reporters for the crime of not posting official press releases word-for-word. In essence, normal, everyday reporting would become a crime.  The crime here seems to be that people elected these loon bags to office in the first place.  Gin

Meanwhile, the nation’s eyes were fixed on Congress this week, as the impeachment inquiry of President Trump hit the small screen.  Thus far, the GOP defense of Trump is that the witnesses had no direct contact with the President himself, and therefore we're relying on hearsay.  So we spent the week channeling R.E.O. Speedwagon.  Heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend who heard it from another you’ve been messing around…  

The President, however, continues to do himself few favors as he spent Friday morning Tweeting at one of the witnesses while she was testifying.  We expect at some point that House GOP will arrive on the South Lawn en masse and demand the President turn over his phone.  

Apparently, there is no end to the list of delusional Democrats who believe they should be the next POTUS.  Joining the field this week are former governor Deval Patrick and current billionaire Michael Bloomberg. 

A lot of lawmakers are diving into the criminal justice pool, and the issue has become a true bipartisan lovefest.  However, the consequence of reform is that the prison populations tend to shrink, which causes prisons to close, which does NOT make lawmakers happy.  Can’t have it all, folks.   

Philadelphia’s Controller this week released a report showing that the city’s soda tax revenue continues to be funneled into places other than Pre-K and Rebuild Philly (i.e. the general fund), and that the entire program lacks transparency.  So, nothing to see here.   

Word around the hallowed halls of Harrisburg is that lawmakers might finally, maybe, kinda raise the state’s minimum wage from the current $7.25 to $9.50 an hour. Grizzled vets that we are, we will believe it when we see it.  We have heard this song before, and it usually gets cut off before the ending. 

The state is lugging around a $1.3 billion structural deficit, we learned this week, although all is not bleak.  A strong economy and better-than-expected revenue numbers are trimming that number each month, making it possible that Governor Wolf might just wrap up eight years with no big tax increase.   

The City of Erie woke up today much the same as yesterday: without a community college and with no green light to build one.  The Department of Education voted this week to continue to study the need for such a community college for at least six months, at which point there might still be snow on the ground.   

A new report was released this week showing that craft breweries are pouring money (we see what you did there) into the Pennsylvania economy.  As such, we give our Shameless Client Plug shout-outs this week to our friends at Yards, Voodoo and Bald Birds Breweries.  

It is a tricky time to be a Democrat in southwestern Pennsylvania, we are beginning to learn.  As more and more elected Democrats are embracing things like fracking bans and the end of petrochemical plants, the more old-school Dems are being beaten about their heads and shoulders for supporting both.  Expect to see these battles move to the ballot in 2020.  

Did you know that Philadelphia has 90,000 more women living there than men?  No?  Well, now you do.  We propose reversing the current city slogan to the City of Sisterly Affection and Brotherly Love.  

An early, extended bear hunting season is going really well, if you’re not a bear.  Hunters are on pace to harvest more bears than ever, which is also good news for wayward hikers and other people who stumble around in the forest. 

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to South Africa, where a distillery is now making and marketing gin made partially from elephant dung.  We kinda always thought gin tasted like crap anyway.   

That’s what passes for news around here on this sunny Friday!  The legislature returns for more top-notch lawmaking next week, so tune in!  From all your friends at Team Triad, have a great weekend!  

Friday Happy Hour: Happy Meal Edition

Happy meal

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!

Friday Happy Hour: Hash Cake Edition

Hash cake

The U.S. House voted along party lines Thursday to formally launch an impeachment probe into President Trump’s dealings with the Ukraine. House Republicans had been loudly complaining that, thus far, the probe was being conducted behind closed doors, so naturally they all voted against opening it up to the public.

For his part, President Trump decided to move to Florida this week, presumably because he is in his 70s and moving to Florida is required by law once you hit 73. 

Meanwhile, nationwide job growth outpaced expectations, proving once again that the economy doesn’t seem to give much of a hoot about what is going on in Congress. The U.S. added 128,000 jobs last month, after those killjoys on Wall Street predicted a far lower number.

Back here in Pennsylvania, a last-ditch attempt to derail the ballot question on Marsy’s Law got a bit of life, as a Pennsylvania judge ruled that “yeas and nays” shall not be counted after Tuesday’s vote. The Supreme Court will eventually have to decide if the entire General Assembly, Republican and Democrat alike, acted improperly in passing the ballot question, which seems rather improbable. 

If you speed through active work zones in Pennsylvania, you are not only a Grade A chucklehead, you may soon find a citation in your mailbox. PennDOT is unveiling a pilot program that will place automated speed cameras in work zones. So smile, dimwits, you’re on work zone camera!

Governor Wolf this week signed into law a comprehensive overhaul of the state’s election procedures, the first such change in more than 80 years. There were some howls of discontent over the ban on straight-ticket voting, conveniently ignoring the fact that the governor, a Democrat, had to negotiate with the legislature, which is controlled by the Republicans. You know, divided government and all that messy stuff.  

A lower court judge this week tossed the City of Pittsburgh’s new gun control ordinances into the circular file, much as everyone expected. They don’t call Title 18, Chapter 61, Subchapter A the Uniform Firearms Act for no reason, we suspect. The battle over state preemption will once again move to the Supreme Court, and you never know what that band of fun-loving rascals might do!

The federal government this week unveiled 150 pages of regulations governing hemp farming. Since Pennsylvania lawmakers had the foresight to legalize hemp production last year, we have a big head start on the field. So get to it, hempers. Let’s lead the nation in something other than municipal waste importation.

The Supreme Court this week stopped Lebanon County officials from denying medical marijuana access to parolees and probationers, striking a blow for good old common sense. The move by Lebanon County to enact this policy in the first place is a stark reminder that, despite what the states do on marijuana policy, the feds still view marijuana as equivalent to heroin and can act accordingly whenever they damned well choose.

A perfect storm of factors, not the least of which is an overabundance of really excited deer, are causing experts to predict an above-average season of car-to-deer collisions in Pennsylvania, most of which find the deer on the losing end. So be careful, and make sure your auto insurance is up to date.    

Speaking of deer, the legislature is nearing agreement on a bill that would permit Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania, albeit for just three Sundays out of the entire year. The General Assembly has been debating this issue since before guns were actually invented.   

Do you wanna find out how wonderful or crappy your child’s school is? Here is a searchable database where you can find how your district measured up on the most recent round of the dreaded Keystone Exams.

One lawmaker this week announced he will offer a bill to ban flavored vaping products in Pennsylvania. He contends, probably correctly, that cherry and bubblegum-flavored vapes are aimed at getting children addicted. Under his plan, the only flavors allowed will be horse manure and dead skunk. That’ll teach those meddling kids.

Pennsylvania will not be sharing your driver’s license info with the federal Census Bureau, we learned this week. Despite the census folks assuring states that it will keep all the information safe (sure they will) and asking pretty, pretty please, PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards ain’t having any of that noise, thank you very much.

A Pittsburgh Port Authority bus sank into a 10th Avenue sinkhole this week, causing the Internet to break after roughly forty-five million memes were created. For our part, Tenth Avenue Sinkhole reminded us of Tenth Avenue Freezeout by Bruce Springsteen, so we spent the day with it stuck in our heads.  Damned Internet.  

In this week’s Shameless Spousal Plug, aesthetician extraordinaire Sharon Wells (better half of Triad creator and resident mad scientist Roy Wells) was featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer this week for her work at the spa in the venerable Four Seasons, located literally on the roof of Philadelphia. Way to go, Sharon! 

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to Berlin (Germany, not Pennsylvania) where 13 people had to be taken to the hospital after eating a cake following a funeral service. As it turns out, the cake had been baked with hashish and was made by an 18-year-old, who was definitely going to a much different kind of party. 

That’s what passes for news as we say goodbye to October and look forward to Election Day next Tuesday, where we will likely see about 26% of you who are registered to vote. Until then, from all of us at Team Triad, have a great weekend!