Remembering Tony May
Veteran Public Affairs Professional Joins Triad Strategies 

Friday Happy Hour: Raining Lizards Edition


The Senate impeachment trial hit full stride this week as both sides basically retreated into their echo chambers and dutifully recited their scripted talking points. Some played with fidget spinners.

PA’s Democratic Sen. Bob Casey said the impeachment evidence, as presented, begs for calling witnesses, while Republican Sen. Pat Toomey said he hasn’t decided yet.

Topping Pennsylvania’s political news of the week, House Speaker Mike Turzai announced he will not seek reelection this year. The Allegheny County Republican was first elected to the House in 2001 and has served as speaker since 2015. He said he would assess new career opportunities as they present themselves and did not take questions during a Pittsburgh news conference.

A first-time candidate for a western PA House seat has solved the vexing challenge of name recognition. Meet Danny DeVito, a 27-year-old self-described working-class conservative who is seeking the Republican nomination in a traditional Democratic district. Spoiler alert: he looks nothing like Louie DePalma.

In a move aimed at eliminating the Democratic majority on the Pa. Supreme Court, the Republican-controlled General Assembly is advancing legislation that would put a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot requiring that justices to be selected from geographic districts rather than running statewide. You can bet this will be a battle royale.

State lawmakers this week introduced bills designed to put the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education in better position to adapt to changing demographics and job markets, tight budgets and new teaching technologies. The State System schools are among many facing challenges stemming from declining enrollments.

Speaking of colleges, Penn President Amy Gutman tops the compensation list of PA private college presidents at $2.9 million. Click here to see how the rest of the PA list shakes out.

Members of the state House voted overwhelmingly to allow governmental units to charge additional fees when they get Right-to-Know requests for records intended to be used for commercial purposes. The ball is now in the Senate’s court.

Gov. Tom Wolf said he will follow through on his plan to close Retreat state prison in northeastern Pennsylvania , announced originally in August as a cost-cutting step amid a declining inmate population and rising prison costs.

Sigh. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that flu-related medical visits cost Americans about $10.4 billion annually. In Pennsylvania, there have been 40,000 confirmed flu cases so far this season. Yet, 43% of respondents to a nationwide survey said they won’t get a flu shot due to concerns about effectiveness, whether it would make them sick or about what is in the vaccine. For the record, practically every medical professional on the planet says they’re a good idea, with rare exceptions.

If the threat of flu isn’t enough to get your attention, how ‘bout that coronavirus? In China, 17 have died, and several cities have imposed travel restrictions. In the U.S., airports and health agencies are on high alert, watching for people who may have a fever and severe cough. Spring cannot arrive soon enough.

Among the country’s 100 largest metro markets, our own Steel City has been anointed the fifth best for people who work in STEM fields (that’s science, technology, engineering and math). Only Seattle, Boston, Austin and Atlanta were deemed better.

This week’s installment of We Can’t Make This Up takes us – as it so often does – to the Sunshine State, where it seems there has been quite a cold snap recently. How cold, you ask? So cold that it could cause iguanas to fall from the trees, according to weather forecasters. So, be sure to dress warmly, and consider taking an umbrella, or possibly a hard hat.

And on a sad note, we bid farewell to our friend, colleague and mentor, Tony May, who passed away on Monday. If you didn’t catch our tribute, you can find it here.

And that’s what passes for news ‘round these parts this week! Don’t get bonked by flying reptiles, and have a great, albeit essentially football-less, weekend!


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