Many reasons to vote yes on HB 2241

Please take a moment to review this message from Jeff Brown, a fourth generation Philadelphia grocer who operates Shop-Rite stores. 

Click here to learn about Tyrone Page's second chance and what Brown’s ShopRite stores are doing to serve the Philadelphia community.

Brown’s ShopRite stores in Philadelphia has been a national leader in reducing the food desert crisis in Philadelphia. He and his company has invested millions of dollars to be more than the local grocery store that provides access to affordable and fresh foods – a huge need in the city’s most underserved and poorest neighborhoods. Brown’s ShopRite has invested in providing health centers, nutritionists and other critical community needs in its stores to better meet the need of its neighborhood shoppers. This impact is more than just about food – it is about building and providing the resources the community needs.

HB 2241 will help stores like Jeff Brown’s continue to serve the community and invest in eliminating food deserts while creating second chance opportunities for the people of Philadelphia.

Brown’s ShopRite is also a leading employer of previously incarcerated community members – providing them the training and career opportunities for them to grow when they return to their neighborhood. He is providing them a chance. Of his 3,000 employees, 500 of them have been previously incarcerated. 

HB2241 is about more than just the Philadelphia beverage tax. It is about protecting stores like ShopRite who have used state grants and a significant amount of their own private dollars to fix Philadelphia’s food deserts and to provide critical services like health clinics and nutritional advice to its shoppers. 

It is time that the state legislature fixes this horrendous policy. Please vote YES on HB 2241. 

Friday Happy Hour: Crystal Edition

The U.S. economy continued to roar last month, adding 223,000 jobs, while the unemployment rate dipped to a 17-year low of 3.8 percent. The tide just keeps on rising, folks.    Quartz _Tibet

President Trump is making good on his promise to slap steep tariffs on steel and aluminum, signaling this week that the European Union, Canada and Mexico are next in line.  Predictably, those countries were pretty cheesed off, and it looks like we have a good, old-fashioned trade war on the horizon.  Mexico, in particular, threatened to impose tariffs on pork, which we bacon lovers do not find amusing in the least. 

It is with a heavy heart that we violate our longstanding rule against ever mentioning a Kardashian for any reason whatsoever to tell you that President Trump hosted Kim K. West this week to discuss prison reform.  2018 has really been weird.  If you told us in 2016 that we would be writing that sentence, we might have had you committed.

Editor’s note: If you are waiting for us to comment on either Roseanne Barr or Samantha Bee, you can stop reading now.  Ain’t happenin’, captain. 

We resume our screed by alerting our readers that there will not be an infrastructure funding bill coming to a theater near you anytime soon.  Apparently, Congress has many other pressing needs to attend to and cannot be bothered to rescue our nation’s infrastructure. We will jut keep using bubble gum and duct tape for now. 

Legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle seem to be in agreement that the state budget will be done on time this year, which is a welcome change from the past three budgets.  With no tax increase necessary and a bloody midterm election in the windshield, nobody is looking for a street fight.  Of course, we have heard this song before, so if things go flying off the rails on June 30, don’t be too shocked. 

Continue reading "Friday Happy Hour: Crystal Edition" »

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.   

Continue reading "Friday Happy Hour: Alexa Edition" »

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. 

Continue reading "Friday Happy Hour: Dr. Dre Edition" »

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. 

Continue reading "Friday Happy Hour: Tailpipe Edition" »

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.

Continue reading "The Starbucks incident: a crisis management case study" »

Friday Happy Hour: Uranus Alignment Edition

As the May primary election draws near, we’ll begin with the three Republican gubernatorial candidates, who held a debate this week. As has been the case in their TV ads, Paul Green-moonjpg-e4d8ed70dd47d603 Mango and Scott Wagner went at each other, hammer and tongs, while Laura Ellsworth asserted that their behavior could potentially sink either of their chances for defeating Governor Wolf in November.

Is this the most bizarre gubernatorial race ever, or is that just us? Our friends Terry Madonna and Michael Young suggest it’s not just us. “So we have this baffling incongruity: two conservative Republican candidates, both trying to destroy the other for a chance to run against an incumbent neither is likely to beat,” they opine.

Meanwhile, Democrat/Braddock Mayor John Fetterman picked up a key endorsement in the lieutenant governor primary, while Republican lt. guv. candidate Jeff Bartos launched his first TV ad.

Recent events at a Philly Starbucks and a York County golf course that attracted negative national attention prompted Governor Wolf to remind folks that, as places of public accommodations, businesses are subject to the anti-discrimination provisions of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. C’mon, it’s 2018. We can do better than this. Do unto others, right?

Stop us if you’ve heard this one… state Sen. Mario Scavello has introduced legislation that would essentially scrap those nasty ol’ PA property taxes. The proposal would make primary residences exempt from property taxes and replace the revenue with increased personal income taxes. We’ll see if that dog hunts.

Continue reading "Friday Happy Hour: Uranus Alignment Edition" »

Is state tax reform finally beginning to take shape?

The month of April is upon us, which means two things: rain and tax season. Todd brysiak

The former is barely a blip on the radar. We’re all just hoping it’s not more snow. The latter, as we know, is vexing at best — a necessary evil. But as accountants finally clear through mounds of tax returns, those of us who monitor the bills moving through the General Assembly are noticing an interesting trend. These days, there sure is a lot of focus on the tax-reform front.
It’s not unusual for taxes to be a prime discussion point in Harrisburg. Debates over the state’s finances swirl every spring as lawmakers prep for the annual budget haul. Nonetheless, as anyone with a finger on the pulse of the Capitol will tell you, major tax changes are very unlikely in election years — especially gubernatorial election years. That’s not likely to change in 2018.
This, however, shouldn’t downplay the tax reform issue. In fact, given what we are seeing, it’s likely a primer for what may be around the corner.
A review of bills in the House and Senate shows a wide array of tax-reform ideas on the table. Considering the changes presented in Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget address and the calls for notable tax reforms from all three Republican gubernatorial hopefuls, there’s solid evidence the issue is gaining steam. But what’s really at the core of this recent attention?

Continue reading "Is state tax reform finally beginning to take shape?" »

Friday Happy Hour: 4/20 Edition

The nation and the world this week mourned the passing of former First Lady Barbara Bush, who lived a life of class and service to her nation that we would all be well to try and Marijuana micereplicate.  Godspeed, Mrs. Bush

In a break with tradition, we begin this week’s screed with a Shameless Client Plug for our friends at Lyft, as they help the country celebrate 4/20 by offering free and reduced-cost rides to marijuana enthusiasts in states that have legalized the bud.  Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.  

Former F.B.I. director James Comey went on book tour of the nation’s news stations this week, blathering on about higher loyalty and God and country while concurrently trashing President Trump like Regina from Mean Girls.  The Tweeter-in-Chief was not amused. 

With their feet planted firmly in 1972, the Democratic National Committee this morning sued the Trump campaign and Wikileaks for conspiring with the Russkies to interfere in the 2016 elections.  Good thing the President is adding Rudy Giuliani to his defense team, those suits are starting to pile up.

Continue reading "Friday Happy Hour: 4/20 Edition" »

Friday Happy Hour: Mayochup Edition

As you read this week’s wrap-up, please keep in mind that we may only have weeks left to live, as Planet X is (or isn’t) hurtling toward the earth to destroy us all by late April.  So, if you have anything to say to us, maybe say it now.   Mayochup

Former FBI Director James Comey has written a book, y’all.  Apparently, the president isn’t a fan of the tome, as he took to the Twitterverse this morning to call Mr. Comey a slimeball.  We are sensing some tension there.  Maybe it’s just us.   

Facebook gazillionaire Mark Zuckerberg spent some time on Capitol Hill this week being grilled by U.S. senators on what this newfangled Facethingy is all about, and why their moms’ apple pie recipes might have been sold to the Russians to help Donald Trump win Candy Crush.  

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan announced he will not be running for reelection, adding yet another open congressional seat to mix for the 2018 elections.  At some point in 2019 it will dawn upon Ryan that he no longer has to deal with the House Freedom Caucus, and his blood pressure will drop 50 points.    

Simply announcing his retirement isn’t enough for some House GOP members, who apparently want Ryan out of the speaker’s office by sometime yesterday morning.  Amazing how quickly they can all turn the page on a guy who almost single-handedly raised enough money to keep them in the majority (read: keep them relevant) for the past half-decade. Thanks for all your help, Paul!  Don’t let the door hit ya where the Good Lord split ya!    

Out in the west Texas town of El Paso…with all apologies to Marty Robbins, the place where he fell in love with a Mexican girl is now the place where the Trump border wall construction has begun.  Ah, the irony.    

Work zone safety took center stage at the PA Capitol this week, as our pals at Associated Pennsylvania Constructors gathered in support of a bill that would allow for automated speed enforcement in construction zones.  Supporters of the bill continue to push for consideration of the plan, which sailed through the state Senate last year, only to be tabled by the House.  

On a TOTALLY UNRELATED NOTE, three PennDOT workers were injured on Interstate 80 that very same day in a construction zone crash.   

Pennsylvania’s wee ones are still slightly better than the national average when it comes to math and reading proficiency, according to a new report.  Of course, this news will fuel the “schools need more money” argument, as well as the “schools have enough money” counterargument.  Because there is not a report in the world that cannot be artfully spun to your partisan advantage, we have learned for lo these many years.  

A bill that would repeal the sugary drink tax in Philadelphia was introduced this week, and all sides are ramping up the rhetoric for the coming battle over the Kenney administration’s signature achievement. As the state budget starts coming into focus, expect this bill to be a topic of serious discussion.    

In other Philly news, City Council unveiled a new package of bills to jump-start the construction of affordable housing in the city, including a 1 percent tax on construction.  As we all know, there is plenty of housing being built in Philly these days, not much of it being affordable to 90 percent of the city’s residents.  

The House State Government Committee gave the OK to a new version of a redistricting reform bill, replacing a proposed citizen-dominated panel with a legislatively-controlled one that looks a bit different from the current legislatively-controlled one.  The bill passed on a party line vote over howls of protest by minority party Democrats, who in the event the bill would ever become law, should probably just change their name to the Permanent Minority Democrats.    

As the House kicked the tires on ideas to combat school violence, the Keystone State continued to be a part of the national “discussion,” as one school plans to arm its teachers with those commemorative mini baseball bats you get at minor league games on random Wednesday nights in August.  Protect YOUR students with these neat bats, brought to you by your friends at Joe’s Quality Meats!    

The House also took a bit of time to advance a bill that would limit abortions based upon Down Syndrome diagnoses. Yeah, nothing like an abortion debate to, um, amplify an otherwise mundane Wednesday in the Capitol.  Hey, who wants to talk about gun control next??   

Pennsylvania may be poised to shed its abysmal national ranking (49th) when it comes to electing women to office, thanks to a flood of qualified women from the southeastern part of the state. Here is a list of some who could be headed to Washington in 2019.    

In other campaign news, the race for the GOP nomination for governor is a red-hot mess of accusations and counter-accusations, smears and other unpleasantries.  If anyone out there has a copy of Ronald Reagan’s Commandments, now might be a good time to post it on your Facethingy page.  

One day, we will all figure out how the makers of Necco wafers stayed in business all these years, selling what is essentially dirt-flavored chalk.  In any case, it looks like Necco wafers may be going the way of all flesh. Oddly, some mid-state PA residents seem to be sad about this terrible “candy” going away and shared their angst with PennLive. No matter.  Now, we get to work on ridding the nation of candy corn, which is neither candy nor corn.   

For our We Can’t Make This Up section, we reluctantly turn to our friends at Heinz headquarters in Pittsburgh and simply ask “Why?”  The maker of the best ketchup in all the land is now offering something called “mayochup,” which is mayonnaise and ketchup mixed together for GOD ONLY KNOWS WHAT REASON!  What, are the R&D folks bored or something? Hey, how’d that green ketchup thing work out for you?  

That’s what passes for news around here as we mercifully exit winter and go straight to summer.  We will be back next week with a basketful of news, so be prepared and check in with us often.  From all your friends at Triad, have a great weekend

Friday Happy Hour: Flock of Seagulls Edition

We begin this week – of course – by saluting the 2018 NCAA men’s basketball champion Villanova Wildcats, who last Monday night dismantled Michigan to capture their second crown in three years. Parades are becoming common in Philly. Paging the Flyers and Sixers… Flock-of-seagulls-jive-records

President Trump this week escalated his trade war rhetoric by announcing he will seek up to $100 billion in tariffs on China, his personal whipping boy from the 2016 campaigns.  Trump also reiterated that trade wars are “easy to win.”  That sound you heard was new White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow hitting the floor after passing out. 

After enacting tax cuts and a spending plan that would make a Kardashian blush, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan this week announced that his chamber would vote on a bill to require balanced budgets.  That is not just closing the barn door after the horse runs out.  This horse actually ran out, did a few laps at Pimlico, retired, and sired 15 horses before the barn door was closed.

The U.S. economy added 214,000 private-sector jobs last month, we learned earlier this week.  Then today we learned that the U.S. economy added 103,000 new jobs, which means that nobody really has any idea how many jobs were added. 

A Pennsylvania appeals court this week threw a doozy of a decision at the shale gas industry, ruling that it will be considered trespassing to extract gas from under property adjacent to a drilling operation.  For those who remember Daniel Day Lewis in “There Will Be Blood,” there will be no more drinking others’ milkshakes.  We expect a very vigorous response from the shale folks. 

Meet the nine inaugural members of the new Philadelphia School Board!  Mayor Jim Kenney tapped these fine public servants this week, and they now will set about the daunting task of finding the loot to keep the schools afloat this year.  Oh, the fun they will have.

The race for the GOP nomination for governor went to DEFCON 5 this week, as longshot Paul Mango launched an absolute broadside against presumptive frontrunner Scott Wagner.  Remember when Pittsburgh Steeler JuJu Smith-Shuster blindsided Cincinnati Bengal linebacker Vontaze Burfict and knocked him out cold?  Yeah, Mango’s ad was like that, only more violent. 

The increasingly nasty tone of that race may have something to do with the fact that soothsayer Larry Sabato has moved the PA governor’s race into the “likely Democratic” category

Before we leave this raging GOP conflagration, we will also note that Mango seems to be working to capture the space to the right of Wagner on social issues such as same-sex marriage.  While this strategy may help in May, it probably won’t be a great place to be standing in November. 

In other campaign news, liberal activist and billionaire Tom Steyer will be pouring his cabbage into the Keystone State to help turn a few congressional seats blue in November.  We do not expect his largesse to go unnoticed by the venerable Brothers Koch. 

Before we leave the campaign trail, U.S. Congressman Lou Barletta this week unveiled his newest endorsement in his race against incumbent U.S. Sen. Bob Casey: his dog.  Scoff if you must, but we have lived through the media coverage and political attention that was paid to a dog named “Libre” last year.  Lou might be on to something. Perhaps the senator should at least get a cat. 

We are compelled to share with you this story about longtime PA Senate Judiciary Chairman and former prosecutor Stewart Greenleaf.  As he heads toward retirement, his views on how to combat crime have certainly begun to shift.  For aspiring politicos, this is a must-read.  In short, have the courage of your convictions, but also the wisdom to know when to change course.  Bravo, Senator.  You will be sorely missed.

The PA House this week held a hearing on allowing local police to use radar.  This hearing marked the 7,000th time a legislative committee has discussed this idea in the past 20 years. For some reason, local police can be entrusted with weapons, but cannot be trusted to wield a radar gun.  We remain mystified. 

If you live in Harrisburg’s Sixth Street corridor (and we know some folks who do), you had to be pleased with the results of a planning meeting that was held this week.  We know our client Vartan Enterprises was!  Apparently, the long-awaited construction of a new federal courthouse in that area is expected to launch tens of millions of dollars worth of redevelopment.  Welcome to the northern gateway!  

This is a public service announcement from the Triad Strategic communications team:  The annual Gridiron Dinner is once again upon us.  It benefits a great cause (training young journalists) and is generally a damned good time.  Click here for details and tickets.

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to the Great White North, where after an 18-year ban, a Nova Scotia man is once again allowed to stay in a certain hotel.  His original crime?  It involves a massive suitcase full of pepperoni and about 40 seagulls.  We will just let you read it from there

That’s what passes for news around here as we continually curse the Winter That Will Not End.  Come back and visit us again next week, where we will continue to regale you with tales of cured meats and voracious seagoing fowl.  From all your friends at Triad, have a great weekend!

Friday Happy Hour: Cat Video Edition

Cat video (2)

We’ll start with two sports items, the first congratulating Penn State for its second National Invitation Tournament championship in nine years. Our friend Dave Jones captured the essence of the accomplishment in his PennLive column.

And, baseball’s Opening Day was Thursday. Early projections involving regional favorites suggest the Orioles will win 162 games, the Phillies will lose 162 games, and the Pirates and Nats will be rained out all season. The sample size is small, however.

President Trump has received a bit of a bump in his approval rating nationally, but nooooooo, not here in PA. The Franklin & Marshall College Poll said Trump is still stuck at 30 percent of voters saying he’s doing an excellent or good job as prez. Meanwhile, Governor Wolf is enjoying a comfortable lead over three Republicans seeking to unseat him, Sen. Scott Wagner, Paul Mango and Laura Ellsworth. U.S. Sen. Bob Casey looks to be in pretty good shape too. To read about these items and more, check out the poll results here.

Across the country, demonstrators took to the streets to show support for stricter gun control measures in the wake of the Florida school shootings last month. Is it our imagination, or does it feel like gun control sentiments are gaining some traction this time?

We interrupt this weekly diatribe to alert you to an important development: according to a Pew Research report, Millennials are about to overtake Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation. Moreover, generational differences are wider than they have been in decades. Hang onto your hat, Gramps, things are gonna start getting a whole lot different.

A Commonwealth Court judge said Lt. Gov. Mike Stack’s Democratic rivals will have to unseat Stack the old-fashioned way – by beating him in the primary, rather than having him disqualified for listing his mother’s address as his own residence on election records.

Democrat Bill Richardson, former congressman, U.N. ambassador, cabinet secretary and governor, opined in a USA Today op-ed piece that it would behoove his party to tend to the needs of organized labor, thus following the Conor Lamb model that seized a congressional seat last week in a district Donald Trump won my almost 20 percent.

In related news, Chester County Republican Congressman Ryan Costello announced this week that he will not seek reelection, leading to instant speculation that his withdrawal makes it more likely the seat will fall into the D column come November.

Governor Wolf was busy this week, teaming up with some Democratic buddies in support of a series of statewide election reform proposals that include redistricting, campaign finance reform, same-day voter registration and expanded absentee balloting. Republicans accused him of using his bully pulpit for politicking, which would be the first time in PA history that any governor ever did that (NOT).

Is it really necessary to submit to annual vehicle emission tests when the test failure rate is less than 3 percent? Beaver County Republican Sen. Elder Vogel thinks maybe not, and he is championing a study to determine whether maybe we can keep some money in our pockets instead of shelling it out every year to find out that everything is hunky-dory.

Triad consultant Tony Mannino was on hand to squeeze off a few photos when the new cranes arrived a PhilaPort last weekend.  PhilaPort just continues to kick butt and take names!

“Mostly saber rattling, and not that many sabers” is how our pals Terry Madonna and Michael Young assessed the threat among 12 Republican House members to launch impeachment proceedings against four Democrat state supreme court justices who deemed Pennsylvania’s former congressional map to be unconstitutional.  Ah, but this is Pennsylvania, after all, where we have learned to expect the unexpected…

Our We Can’t Make This Up feature takes us to Africa, where a safari group was treated to a close encounter with a cheetah. The big cat hopped into the SUV, sniffed around and nuzzled a head rest before scurrying off to bother – or perhaps eat – a gazelle. And they say that cheetahs never win.

And that does it for our abbreviated Good Friday edition. Have a great Easter weekend, and we’ll be back next week, same time, same place!

Friday Happy Hour: Baby Driver Edition

Because nothing moves Congress like a hard-and-fast deadline, both chambers this week reached an agreement on a $1.3 trillion federal budget deal that adds $78 billion in defense Baby driver spending and another $52 billion for domestic programs.  Despite some grumblings from the far edges of each party, the deal was hailed as a bipartisan compromise, which explains why early this morning President Trump threatened to veto the whole thing. 

Tucked into the omnibus spending bill is a cool $137 million for the new federal courthouse in Harrisburg, a project that we at Triad advocated for way back in the Pleistocene Era, when the original siting decision was being made.  Government moves at the speed of government, people. 

When he wasn’t busy firing his national security adviser, the president this week announced he is slapping $50 billion in tariffs on China, earning him praise from Democrats and outright scorn from Wall Street.  When he said “America First” he was not kidding, people.   

And it would not be a week in Washington without a Russia kerfuffle, this time over a congratulatory phone call from President Trump to Vladimir Putin on his stunning re-election that no one saw coming.   

Continue reading "Friday Happy Hour: Baby Driver Edition" »

Friday Happy Hour: Frozen Edition

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson got the old heave-ho from President Donald Trump this week, as the POTUS rather unceremoniously ended his cabinet secretary’s tenure via Twitter. Elsa  Ever been dumped via text message?  Yeah, it was something like that, except the text was read by a few million people.

Pennsylvania was the center of the political universe Tuesday, as Democrat Conor Lamb squeaked out a 600-plus vote victory in a special election for Congress.  Lamb’s victory came in a district that Donald Trump won by 20 percentage points just 16 months ago, and Mitt “The Conqueror” Romney won by 17 points over Barack Obama.  There are some storm clouds on the horizon for the GOP, for sure.  Editor’s Note: The national GOP has refused to concede the race and may call for a recount according to a letter they had drafted three weeks before the election. 

This just in: The President is firing someone else.  Back to our regularly scheduled memo.   

In some positively weird political news, a central Pennsylvania meteorologist has legally changed his name to Meteorologist Drew Anderson in advance of his inaugural political campaign for Congress.  He was immediately endorsed by former NBA player Metta World Peace.

Thousands of students all over the nation walked out of their classrooms this week in honor of the 17 Parkland students who lost their lives in a hail of gunfire.  For those who may have dismissed these students as being too young to weigh in on gun safety, we have a simple reminder: many of them may not be able to vote, but they can still knock on doors, run a phone bank and do all other manner of organizing while simultaneously not being 18-years-old.

Continue reading "Friday Happy Hour: Frozen Edition" »

Friday Happy Hour: Rocket Man Edition

The U.S. economy shifted gears into overdrive last month by adding more than 300,000 new jobs, we learned this morning.  Expect this to be a major talking point when President IndexTrump decamps to western Pennsylvania next week to rescue a certain special election.  Much more on that later. 

Trump last week shocked many people in his own front office by announcing new tariffs on steel and aluminum, which puzzles us to no end, as attacking unfair trade was a central part of Trump’s campaign.  U.S. Steel Corporation cheered the decision and announced it would bring back 500 furloughed workers.  It never ceases to amaze us how shocked people are when Trump does exactly what he said he would do.  

So appalled was Trump’s top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, that he hung up his spurs almost immediately.  Cohn obviously was living in a cave during the 2016 campaign or he would have never accepted the job in the first place.  There is an old saying: when people tell you who they are, believe them the first time.   

Continue reading "Friday Happy Hour: Rocket Man Edition" »

Friday Happy Hour: Lion’s Ear Edition

It was another whirlwind week in Washington, starting with President Trump holding a “listening session” at the White House on gun safety. At one point, Trump chided our own Behind_the_Ears_African_Lions U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey for being “afraid of the NRA,” which is rather odd since Toomey’s bill to expand background checks for gun buyers isn’t exactly at the top of the NRA’s Christmas list. 

On a related note, back during his first run for the Oval Office, former President Barack Obama took some serious heat for his offhand comments about some Pennsylvania voters “clinging to guns and religion.” Accordingly, we give you this story about a bunch of people going to church clutching their AR-15 rifles. Not often you get that clear of a visual to make your point. 

Before we depart the firearms debate, one state lawmaker would like to see the law change to provide for an automatic death penalty for anyone who shoots up a school. Nothing like a death penalty AND gun control debate in an election year! 2018 could be busier than we thought in the General Assembly. We’d better buy more coffee.  

White House Communication Director of the Month Hope Hicks announced this week she will be departing in the coming weeks, presumably to take up her new job as drummer for the band Spinal Tap. People who work in that West Wing job seem to have the shelf life of warm yogurt.

Continue reading "Friday Happy Hour: Lion’s Ear Edition" »

Friday Happy Hour: Edmund Fitzgerald Edition

This week was dominated by a national discussion on gun control and gun safety in the wake of the horrific slaughter of students and faculty in Parkland, Florida.  While barbs flew on 375fitz both sides of the issue, our own Pat Toomey once again emerged with his plan to expand background checks for gun purchases. The eyes of the nation will be watching to see if Toomey’s plan has picked up the necessary support this time around.   

President Trump also weighed in on the gun debate this week, throwing his support behind a plan to have more armed teachers and armed guards in schools, ban so-called bump stocks, and toughen background checks as well.  In a country as harshly divided on this topic as the United States is, the fact that both Toomey and Trump are moving in the same direction is nothing short of stunning

If you happen to be Pennsylvania political aficionado, this week was a big smorgasbord of intrigue centered on the rawest of political topics: gerrymandering.  The state’s highest court dropped the new congressional maps on Harrisburg on Monday, and boy did the sparks and lawsuits fly.  On one side, almost the entire PA congressional delegation joined the General Assembly’s top Republicans in suing in the U. S. Supreme Court to stop the maps from being implemented.  Paul Ryan, Pat Toomey, and President Trump also weighed in on their behalf.  On the other side, former President Barack Obama and former Attorney General Eric Holder will be fighting for the implementation.  So, if you think map-making isn’t inherently political, check those names again and get back to us. 

Continue reading "Friday Happy Hour: Edmund Fitzgerald Edition" »

Friday Happy Hour: Brotherly Love Edition

Sometimes it is hard to put together a light-hearted look at the week’s event while watching a horrific event like Wednesday’s Parkland shooting unfold.  Once again, we find ourselves in an all-too-familiar place, grieving for parents who lost their children to an unspeakable act of violence and cowardice.  All we can say is that we sincerely hope that “doing nothing” isn’t, once again, the chosen path forward.


Early in the week, President Trump unveiled his budget proposal, which was odd since Congress enacted a two-year spending deal the previous week.  In any case, Trump’s plan would seriously boost military spending, sharply decrease support for domestic programs and usher in an era of yearly trillion-dollar deficits. There was a time when candidate Trump promised to eliminate the deficit, as we recall.  Some very powerful Congressional Republicans also remember that time, apparently, as they summarily dumped the plan into the Potomac.  

Pennsylvania was a literal Map-a-pa-looza this week, with all interested parties submitting proposed Congressional maps to the state Supreme Court. Twitter was a dumpster fire of vitriol, half-truths and accusations that made us want to throw our computers into the Susquehanna River. Some of our friends on the Hill were spinning so hard that Peloton offered them jobs.  To the rescue rides our old friend Charles Thompson at Pennlive, who this morning shared an exhaustive and detailed look at all the maps and all the scenarios that could play out.  Spoiler alert: this mess is headed back to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

The Philadelphia Airport this week finalized a deal for a 135-acre tract of land that could make the city a new air freight hub, we learned this week. After years of fits and starts, we could be seeing huge FedEx and Amazon Air cargo planes circling the city. Fly, Philly, fly!

Meanwhile, the largest vessel to ever grace the Port of Philadelphia made an appearance this week, carrying a literal boatload of fruit from South America (including lots of grapes, which we all know are the best of all fruits.)  It is a good time to be in the City of Brotherly Love, isn’t it? A big shout-out goes to Triad Senior Consultant Tony Mannino who sits on the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority Board! 

Speaking of which, our good friend Council President Darrell Clarke won a little wager with his counterpart from Boston when the Eagles downed the Patriots.  A special delivery from Mike’s Pastry in Beantown hit the President’s desk this week, and we have to say we are more than a little jealous. Leave the trophy; take the cannolis.   

Locally-owned bridges and rural roads could get a boost under Governor Wolf’s proposed budget, we learned this week.  Wolf is seeking $200 million to begin tackling structurally-deficient bridges in rural areas, along with some roads less travelled, with apologies to Robert Frost.    

Pittsburgh this week finally emerged from state financial oversight, and there was much rejoicing in the Steel City.  Congratulations to current and former elected officials who helped steer that city back to solvency and a bright future.  As Governor Wolf sealed the deal this week, we could not help but think that the city has finally done what few others have failed to do: leave the Hotel California.  Most towns with the Act 47 designation find that they can check out anytime they like but can never truly leave. 

Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis industry is springing to life, with dispensaries opening all over the state.  It would appear, however, that the state’s physicians are still a bit unenthusiastic about participating, as only 700 of the active 57,000 doctors in the state have applied to dispense. The supply/demand graph is gonna be out of whack if that trend continues. 

In one of the weirder political stories of 2018, Wisconsin U.S. Senate candidate Kevin Nicholson finds himself in a rather odd place as he seeks to unseat incumbent Tammy Baldwin.  It would seem that Nicholson’s parents are not too fond of his candidacy and have therefore maxed out their financial support to Baldwin instead.  It will be an awfully interesting Thanksgiving in the Nicholson household.

The political eyes of the state (and some nationally) continue to be fixed upon southwestern Pennsylvania, as a special election for the state’s 18th Congressional district looms larger in the windshield.  Democrat Corey Lamb is locked in a tight battle with Republican Rick Saccone in a district that President Trump carried by 20 points.  If you’ve watched this race unfold, you would be tempted to think that Mr. Lamb was the love child of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.

From the Department of Shocking Exactly Nobody comes the news that President Trump is endorsing Congressman Lou Barletta in his bid to oust U.S. Senator Bob Casey, Jr., who oddly enough is also the love child of Chuck and Nancy.  For his part, Senator Casey is probably thrilled to inform voters in the southeastern part of the state that Mr. Trump is endorsing Mr. Barletta.

Elsewhere on this week’s Triadvocate, be sure to check out this piece from Triad’s newest addition Todd Brysiak, who gives you a primer on workforce development this week.  Since workforce improvements seem to be on every politico’s wish list this year, it may prove useful to know how we got here and where we might end up when all the chefs are done in the kitchen.

In our We Can’t Make This Up section this week, a Chicago ABC News affiliate apparently does not know the difference between the City of Pyeongchang and the chain restaurant P.F. Chang’s.  At least the person who writes their chyron graphics doesn’t. If this were an MSNBC snafu, it would probably be President Trump’s fault, we assume. All we know is that we can definitely compete for a medal at P.F. Chang’s.   

That’s what passes for news around here as we map our course to the weekend.  Be sure to come back next week when the next chapter in Map-a-pa-looza will surely be written, and we might even muster up the energy to tell you about it.  Until then, from all of us at Triad, have a great weekend!

Can PA find the right tools to bridge its skills gap?

WorkforceThere’s been no shortage of talk lately when it comes to the strength of Pennsylvania’s workforce. With signs that the economy is really beginning to turn for the better – a point amplified by a sub-five-percent unemployment rate – policymakers and employers alike are again focusing on our state’s ability to attract jobs with a skilled workforce.

Unfortunately, what they are seeing isn’t favorable. Pennsylvania is one of many states that has been tagged with the dreaded “skills gap” moniker, and it’s being viewed as an impediment to new opportunities.

Continue reading "Can PA find the right tools to bridge its skills gap? " »

Friday Happy Hour: Purple People Eaters Edition

Philadelphia had a parade to end all parades on Thursday, bringing the city its first ever Lombardi Trophy.  The Eagles did what we all thought was impossible, and that was turning Vikingsevery Steelers fan into a Philly supporter, at least for one day! Fly, Eagles, fly and congratulations!

Congress and President Trump also accomplished what many may have thought was impossible by agreeing on a two-year budget deal instead of the normal five-day budget deals we’ve all become accustomed to.  McConnell and Schumer, together, for one shining moment.

Couple this with the recently-passed $1.5 trillion tax cut, and we find that Trump and the GOP have now poured more money into the economy than the famed Obama stimulus package.  If the $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill passes this year, it will make Obama look like quite the miser.

This being Washington and all, the festivities had their moments of drama. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi strode to the microphone Wednesday and… wouldn’t leave.  Eight hours later, Pelosi wrapped up her speech about getting a DACA deal done (alliteration alert!) by saying the House Democrats would be a big, fat NO on the budget deal without immigration reform.  Uh, never mind.

Continue reading "Friday Happy Hour: Purple People Eaters Edition" »

Triad Strategies Adds Todd Brysiak as VP of Government Affairs

HARRISBURG – Building on its experienced team of communications and lobbying professionals, Triad Strategies is proud to announce the addition of Todd Brysiak to the firm as vice  Todd_Website president of government affairs. Brysiak, who comes to Triad after more than 13 years of experience in state government, will anchor the firm’s lobbying and advocacy arm. Combining extensive work on both policy development and communications platforms, Brysiak has been at the forefront of nearly every major issue debated in Harrisburg in recent years. He has become known for his ability to bridge the gap among parties with diverse interests and perspectives, which has built a track record of success in the halls of the state Capitol.

Brysiak spent the last three years as chief of staff to the majority leader in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. His resume also includes terms as the executive director of the House Republican Policy Committee and communications coordinator and spokesman for the House Republican Appropriations Committee. Brysiak also served as communications director for the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.

“Bringing someone with Todd’s experience and reputation to Triad will undoubtedly strengthen the firm’s ability to serve our clients,” said Roy Wells, Triad president and managing partner. “His insight and perspectives are a real asset, and we are very proud to have him part of our team.”

Triad Strategies is a bipartisan lobbying and strategic communications firm, providing a wide range of public affairs and government relations services to for-profit and nonprofit organizations.

“Joining a firm with such a wide-ranging ability to serve its clients is an incredible opportunity,” said Brysiak. “The team’s experience is unique, and its commitment to clients is energizing. I am very excited about Triad’s future.”

Brysiak is a 2001 graduate of Lycoming College with a degree in communications and currently serves on the college’s athletic advisory board.

Friday Happy Hour: Eagles Tattoo Edition

Let’s face it, we could give you the best weekly wrap of all time this week, but the only thing that matters to folks in the eastern part of the Commonwealth is what happens in Eagle Minneapolis this Sunday.  To wit, we give you this video of Philadelphia City Council having an Eagles pep rally, lovingly filmed by our own Roy Wells. 

Governor Tom Wolf will be in the Twin Cities rooting on the Eagles this week, but before y’all jump on your “wasteful spending” soapboxes, he is personally picking up the tab for the whole thing.  So calm down, people.

Tuesday was President Trump’s first State of the Union address, and it clocked in at just under “incredibly lengthy.”  When you are giving speeches that start to rival Bill Clinton’s in length, that may be an issue.  Brevity is the soul of wit, so try to be a bit wittier, Mr. President.

Continue reading "Friday Happy Hour: Eagles Tattoo Edition" »

Friday Happy Hour: Wash Your Mouth Out with Soap Edition

Between the federal government shutdown and the PA Supreme Court’s noogie regarding congressional maps, the week got off to a bit of a shaky start.  With the government Podsshutdown, there was ample ugliness to go around as the R’s blamed the D’s, Schumer blamed McConnell, WaPo (as usual) blamed Trump, Abbott blamed Costello, and the American electorate collectively rolled its eyes once again.  The Atlantic published an insightful piece sorting out what’s what.

In the post-mortem sweepstakes, Sen. Chuck Schumer and his fellow Democrats took considerable heat for shutting the government down in the first place, and then for backing off and leaving the 700,000 people in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in limbo.  U.S. News & World Report called it “the daily struggle for America’s soul.”  Expect elevated bickering and more political hostage-taking as a March 5 deadline looms for ending the DACA program.

As for those congressional districts, the court ruled 5-2 – along party lines, for those keeping score at home – that the Republican-controlled General Assembly and (at the time) governor’s office overstepped in the way they configured the maps, in violation of the State Constitution.  The court gave lawmakers and Governor Wolf until Feb. 15 to straighten things out, or the court will draw new maps.  GOP legislative leaders appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Continue reading "Friday Happy Hour: Wash Your Mouth Out with Soap Edition" »

Friday Happy Hour: Diamond Rain Edition

Americans from all walks of life paused Monday to remember the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  We have a simple request for all who engage in political discourse Uranusthese days: maybe we can all come together a bit more often to reflect on his work, and not spend the other 364 days each year being total jackwagons to each other.  Just a thought. 

The federal government could be locking the doors and turning off the lights by day’s end if the U.S. Senate can’t pass a 30-day funding bill.  We chuckle every time we hear an elected official say that government should be run like a business.  If we ran our business that way, we would be out of business.  Welcome back, our friends, to the show that never ends. 

If you were wondering how our own U.S. Senator Bob Casey feels about the short-term funding plan, you can stop wondering.  He’s a no, thank you very much. 

President Trump took a short break from the Washington drama-fest to campaign for state Rep. Rick Saccone, who is running for Congress against Democrat Conor Lamb in a March special election.  Trump carried that district by 20 points in 2016, and the nation’s eyes will be fixed on the suburban Pittsburgh seat to see if the “Trump Country” dog still hunts as we run up to the 2018 midterms. 

Continue reading "Friday Happy Hour: Diamond Rain Edition" »

Friday Happy Hour: Always Sunny Edition

Firefighters from Philadelphia and across the nation gathered this morning to say goodbye to one of the city’s bravest, Philadelphia Fie Department Lt. Matthew LeTourneau, who Its-Always-Sunny-In-Philadelphia--e1459548386357 died battling a rowhome blaze last Saturday.  The entire Triad team sends our thoughts and prayers to his family, and to the city. 

During a meeting with Congressional leaders yesterday on the topic of immigration, President Trump said some…things.  Or not, depending on whom you believe.  The resulting international firestorm is what we call a normal Thursday these days.

Oprah Winfrey gave a great speech at the Golden Globes last week, prompting many to rally behind her as a potential Presidential nominee in 2020.  Democrats who spent all of 2016 saying a billionaire with no experience should never be President could not be reached for comment. 

The U.S. Senate will likely be taking a vote on the FCC’s recent net neutrality ruling due to a rather arcane Upper Chamber rule that guarantees floor action on any bill that has at least 30 co-sponsors.  No word on the timing of that vote, but it will be one to watch when it occurs. For those who wonder if the Pennsylvania General Assembly has such a rule, the answer is no.  Move along.

Continue reading "Friday Happy Hour: Always Sunny Edition" »

PA no longer leads nation in bad bridges

Several years ago, Pennsylvania had the dubious distinction of leading the nation with more than 6,000 structurally deficient bridges. Now, just four years after passage of the Birmingham Bridge transportation funding bill known as Act 89, nearly half of those bridges have been fixed or replaced.

That achievement is one of several cited by Bob Latham, of Associated Pennsylvania Constructors, in noting the progress in restoring our bridge and highway system since passage of the funding act. His comments aired on a recent edition of Pennsylvania Newsmakers, hosted by Terry Madonna.

To view the entire segment, click here.

Friday Happy Hour: Snoop Dogg Edition

Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon said some stuff about his former boss this week that was – ahem -- less than kind.  Anytime one of your allies tosses around the SnoopDogg-2027 word “treasonous” like a Caesar Salad, you know it’s a bad day. President Trump responded by suggesting that Bannon lost his marbles along with his job.  We are sure this kind of stuff used to happen between Karl Rove and George W. Bush all the time.  Nothing to see here.   

You know who doesn’t seem to care one bit about the ongoing political intrigue inside the Beltway? Wall Street.  The Dow Jones rocketed past 25,000 this week, with the bull market’s end nowhere to be seen.  Heck, you may have heard about it if Steve Bannon didn’t decide to go bonkers on the President.

Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Session announced this week that he will reverse an Obama Administration directive that softened the federal government stance on marijuana prosecutions.  Sessions believes that weed is almost as dangerous as heroin, so the move makes sense from that, um, odd perspective.  States that have legalized marijuana in either medicinal or recreational form are not amused.  States’ rights?  More like the right to remain silent! 

Continue reading "Friday Happy Hour: Snoop Dogg Edition" »

Weekly Wrap Up- Christmas Rage Edition

Welcome to the final weekly wrap-up of 2017 on this night before the night before the night before Christmas. Rage_room_photo_1_1

The Largest Tax Cut in the History of the Civilized World has now landed in the eager hands of President Trump after the House and Senate did their voting thing this week. After an 11-month wait, Trump now has the signature legislative victory that he craved as he heads into Year Two.

Trump’s team said the President will not actually sign the bill into law until January 3rd, preventing automatic spending cuts from kicking in this year.  It is probably also in his best interest not to sign a large corporate tax cut bill from his luxury resort in Florida.  You know, optics and such. 

Philadelphia’s own Comcast responded to the bill’s passage by announcing it will give every one of its 100,000 employees a $1,000 bonus this year.  Merry Christmas, indeed!  The move is also a Christmas gift to GOP lawmakers, many of whom said the tax cut will help corporations reinvest in their workers.  

Congress then turned its collective attention to keeping the government open, which has somehow turned into an Herculean task for the majority party.  A bill to fund the government through mid-January passed just in the nick of time, and with it came a temporary authorization of CHIP funding, through March.  Again: tax cuts permanent, federal budget and CHIP, temporary.  Optics, people.  

State Attorney General Josh Shapiro this week announced he will sue to stop the FCC’s recent rule that repealed Net Neutrality.  The AG’s legal team has been awfully busy this year!  

The horrific crash of an Amtrak train in Washington State has ultimately led to a discussion on funding for the nation’s sagging infrastructure.  We wanna throw this Triad Poll Question out there.  Congress just added about $1.5 trillion to the national debt.  Will this fact make it a. easier to do a massive, expensive rebuild of our national assets or b. a wee bit harder to do a massive, expensive rebuild of our national assets?  Go ahead and vote, we’ll wait. 

If you were looking for a list of all the policy achievements that our state government put under its belt for 2017, has a nice rundown for you.  Spoiler Alert: online gaming legalization is right near the top (Shameless Client Plug for the Stars Group!)

Making good on his promise to veto the controversial abortion ban bill passed last week by the General Assembly, Governor Wolf appeared in suburban Philadelphia to do just that.  We are sure there was no reason at all that he chose a location in the politically-important, politically-moderate southeast area of our fine Commonwealth.  For the last time: optics, people.  

Speaking of politically important news, President Trump announced this week that he will be doing a lot of campaigning during the 2018 midterm elections, including lots of planned events here in Pennsylvania.  This is always part blessing and part curse for members of the President’s party during midterms.  See: Obama, 2010

The campaign for Pennsylvania Governor in 2018 will be the most important race in the nation, according to at least one pundit. This would suggest that candidates on both sides will see inordinate amounts of out-of-state dough rolling into the Commonwealth, coming to a few 30-second ads near you.  Be prepared.

If you would like to get a handle on the four people jockeying for the right to take on Governor Wolf next November, check them out here.  We are sure you’ll be hearing from all of them shortly. 

You want to build your own casino?  Here is a handy-dandy primer for you.  This week, the state’s Gaming Control Board released regulations that will govern the up to 10 mini-casinos authorized by law last October.  You can use your tax cut to help fund the project.   

We’re number 5!  While that phrase is never on anyone’s tongue during the College Football Playoff Selection Show, it was on our tongues this week as Pennsylvania once again jumped past Illinois to become the nation’s fifth-largest state. Maybe we will only lose one Congressional seat in 2020!   Take that, Chicago! 

Our own Kirstin Snow this week appeared in Pennlive to give us her thoughts about women across the country breaking their silence on sexual assault.  You should check it out here.   

In light of that piece, we thought it might be a good time to share with you this piece by FAILING FAKE NEWS CNN about seven women you are going to hear a lot from in 2018.   

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to Merry Olde England, where people just aren’t very merry these days, it would seem.  London is now home to a Christmas Rage Room, where for the equivalent of twenty-four American bucks, you can dress in a red suit, grab a baseball bat, and smash all manner of Christmas decoration to absolute smithereens. There is zero chill going on in London these days.

That’s what passes for news around here as we prepare to celebrate Christmas, Happy Honda Days or a Merry Toyota-thon, depending on your preference.  No matter what you choose, we hope you have an amazing Lexus December to Remember!  From all of us at Triad, have a safe, wonderful holiday and a Happy New Year!

Friday Happy Hour: Nativity Cow Edition

The nation’s eyes were fixed squarely on Alabama this week as Democrat Doug Jones shocked the political world by dumping Republican Roy Moore in a U.S. Senate special election.  F-cowwander-a-20171216 The fact that Jones was able to win a seat (albeit against a pretty flawed candidate, to be kind) in a state that President Trump carried by 28 points just a year ago gives a ray of hope to Democrats everywhere.  They got a name for the winners in the world…I want a name when I lose…  

Speaking of which, the next high profile special election will be for a Congressional seat in the Pittsburgh suburbs next year.  Welcome to the 18th, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. 

Meanwhile, the long-awaited tax cut/reform bill is limping toward the finish line in Washington, as GOP Congressional leaders this week announced they had struck a deal on language that no one has seen yet.  Enter Marco Rubio, who signaled he will be a NO vote if changes are not made.  Will December be the premier of The Revenge of Little Marco?  

Continue reading "Friday Happy Hour: Nativity Cow Edition" »

Friday Happy Hour: Vodka Road Edition

The U.S. economy added a robust 228,000 jobs in November we learned his morning (from the Fake News Washington Post, no less) but you likely won’t hear much about it because 31dover-titos-vodkathe White House has not learned something we call “message discipline.”  When you get great economic news, maybe don’t start out the day by tweeting about Roy Moore. 

As the World’s Largest Tax Cut in History bill moves toward final passage in D.C., our own U.S. Senator Pat Toomey has his hands firmly on the wheel, we found out this week.  We will see if he can get this little bugger safely into the garage by Christmas morning.

One group of people who are probably hoping Toomey gets a flat tire are the nation’s coal miners, who have found that some of the proposed tax changes could wipe out coal company profitability.  That War on Coal we heard so much about is obviously a multi-front conflict.  We cannot imagine the guy who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will be too thrilled with this news. 

Continue reading "Friday Happy Hour: Vodka Road Edition " »

Friday Happy Hour: Yeti Edition

As you read today’s memo, it is entirely likely that the U.S. Senate will be debating and/or passing one of the largest tax cuts in the country’s history.  Our own Senator Pat Toomey has Yetiemerged as the leader of the effort, juggling votes and herding Members on the Senate floor like P.T. Barnum. As a side note, if you actually thought a GOP-controlled Senate would fail to pass a tax cut bill, you haven’t been paying a whole lot of attention to the last 200 years of American politics. 

Meanwhile, down the street, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn this morning pled guilty to lying to the F.B.I., which is always a problem.  They hate that kind of stuff.  No word on what’s next for “Lock her up!” Flynn, but life comes at you awfully fast sometimes. 

All of the drama in Washington D.C. is happening this week against the backdrop of yet another missile launch by North Korea, this time showing the world that it can now hit the United States’ mainland.  We were told at a very young age to never fear a man with a thousand nuclear weapons; fear the madman who has one.

Continue reading "Friday Happy Hour: Yeti Edition" »

T and R Properties, West View Water Authority, Voodoo Properties Receive State Funding

Several southwestern PA businesses have a lot to be thankful for this year. Three Triad Strategies’ clients received economic development funds or grants to further enhance the region’s communities. Bulldozer

T and R Properties was awarded nearly $2 million to support two regional projects and their transportation infrastructure needs. $852,019 was pledged for the Cool Valley Development, a 900-acre commercial-residential project in Cecil Township, Washington County. $1 million was received for their 54-acre re-development of the former CONSOL Energy property in South Park, PA.  

West View received $111,377 for transportation infrastructure to support the building of a new water treatment plant in Baden, PA.  The completed project will add excess capacity to better serve the southern parts of Beaver and Butler counties as well as complement the Northern Lights shopping plaza, currently in the process of preliminary redevelopment.

Voodoo Properties, a subsidiary of Voodoo Brewery, was awarded $100,000 in gaming economic development funds which will be used to launch a redevelopment of West Eighth Avenue in Homestead, PA. The monies will be used for preliminary demolition of the area’s old municipal building, paving the way to repurposing the space into offices and a community and civic engagement center.

Triad is thankful to be able to work in tandem with our partner company DTI Development.  There are many components that need to come together to make a bold economic development project come to fruition.  Together, we have been able to identify multiple public funding sources and financing options to make many economic developments possible.

Congratulations to our clients- we look forward to continuing the partnership for the betterment of your local communities and the Commonwealth, at large.

Pocono Raceway Crosses Solar Finish Line with Bipartisan, Team Effort

Pocono Raceway CEO, Nick Igdalksy, and President, Ben May, joined Governor Tom Wolf and other elected officials this week to announce the expansion of the use of solar energy across the Commonwealth.  Pocono Gov

“This legislation is a game changer,” said Governor Wolf. “We are making sure that the benefits of increased renewable jobs, a cleaner environment, and a growing renewable economy will be felt in the Commonwealth.”

What does this have to do with cars turning left at over 200 MPH, you ask? Pocono Raceway is the first major American sports venue to run entirely on solar power- produced by the solar farm that sits next to the track. It’s already produced over 24 million kilo-watt hours since its inception in 2010.  

The environmental attributes associated with the system will offset more than 2,300 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, and carbon dioxide emissions from 106,529 propane BBQ grills, and it will generate enough power to provide the electricity needs for close to 300 homes beyond the power needs of the Raceway.  Pocono Raceway is able to run 100% of the facility with the power produced as well as offset all the additional power needs required by NASCAR during an event.  During the summer months, the Raceway employs approximately 50 sheep to help keep the grass cut within the confines of the solar project. Not a baaaaaaad idea!

“This legislation is going to make a significant impact on Pocono Raceway’s ability to grow and continue to be a steward of the environment,” said Igdalsky. “We are grateful for the bi-partisan support from Governor Wolf, Senator Mario Scavello, Representative Mike Carroll and Representative Maureen Madden, to bring this win home for us.”

Triad’s effort on this project began with reaching out to Governor Wolf during his first year in office, wherein he pledged his full support.  Next steps required a meeting with the PUC to ascertain potential roadblocks.  After two consecutive sessions working with Senators Scavello, Argall, and Boscola, as well as Representatives Keller, Rader, Carroll and Madden, we were finally able to work together to craft a legislative strategy to get Pocono’s issue over the finish line.

Pocono Raceway’s team is proud of its commitment to sustainable energy. As a result of partnerships with organizations like NASCAR Green, they have a unique ability to influence people’s behavior when it comes to the environment.

As they like to say at the “Tricky Triangle,”-  “Go Green, it’s not that Tricky!”

Pictured L-R: Representative Mike Carroll, Pocono Raceway President Ben May, Governor Tom Wolf, Pocono Raceway CEO Nick Igdalsky, Senator Mario Scavello, and Representative Maureen Madden. 

Friday Happy Hour: Salamander Gridlock Edition

We’ll start with the bad news: At this juncture, it appears that the next state budget – the one that’s due by June 30 – will have a billion-dollar deficit, according to the Independent Wehrle's salamander Fiscal Office. The good news? It’ll be less than the $2.1 billion deficit that the General Assembly stared down this year. Want more bad news? The IFO projects a $1.8 billion hole the following year, and a $2 billion-plus hole the year after that.

Regarding the current budget, the PA Commonwealth Financing Authority this week approved borrowing up to $1.5 billion against future revenues from the 1998 multi-state settlement with the nation's major tobacco companies to cover a deficit from the 2016-17 fiscal year. Governor Wolf said he’ll probably skip his earlier plan to borrow against PA Liquor Control Board revenue.

In other budget deal aftermath news, the PA Professional Liability Joint Underwriting Association, a state-created medical malpractice insurer of last resort, is asking a federal judge to block the Pennsylvania government's demand for $200 million from its reserves. The association said seizing most of its reserves to help plug a state budget hole is unconstitutional. The Office of Attorney General disagreed.

Continue reading "Friday Happy Hour: Salamander Gridlock Edition" »


Triad Strategies is proud to announce that Anthony ‘Tony’ Mannino has joined the firm as a consultant. Mannino will focus on strategic communications, government relations, and operations to address client needs from ranging from media services to business development. Tony Mannino

Tony has more than 20 years of experience in the public and private sectors. He served as a legislative chief of staff in the Pennsylvania General Assembly from 2006-2015, working for both a Delaware County House member and, most recently, in Philadelphia’s First Senate District. His experience on the front lines gives him an insider’s view on how to identify, engage, and persuade government and community stakeholders, as well as intimate knowledge of the inner workings of state and local government. He also maintains trusted relationships throughout southeastern Pennsylvania with leaders in the business and non-profit communities.

“We at Triad Strategies are fortunate to have Tony join our team. He brings a wide-ranging skill set including marketing, development, and operational management that will prove useful to our clients,” said Roy Wells, President and Managing Partner. “He is an asset for team Triad, and will be a key asset to our existing and new clients, as well.”

Prior to his public service, Tony spent more than a decade as an attorney in the private sector, handling various commercial litigation matters for institutional clients. He currently serves as chief operating officer at Wolf Commercial Real Estate/CORFAC International, where he provides executive-level leadership to a sales and administrative team, and implements strategies for corporate growth in new markets and business lines in the Philadelphia region.

“I’m delighted to join a well-respected firm that offers a wide variety of services,” said Mannino. “With Triad's presence in both Harrisburg and southeastern Pennsylvania, my experience is a perfect fit to help clients build relationships with government and stakeholders while achieving their business objectives.”

In addition to his professional experience, Tony has been active in many civic and community organizations. He currently serves on the board of directors at the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority, the agency that manages, maintains, and markets port facilities along the Delaware River in Pennsylvania. He also serves on the board of the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, where he is a member of the Executive Committee and chair of the Advocacy Committee. He previously served as a state Senate designee to the Pennsylvania Public School Employees Retirement System, and as a commissioner alternate at the Delaware River Port Authority.

Tony has a J.D. from Temple University School of Law and a B.B.A. in accounting from Temple. He is licensed to practice law in state and federal courts in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and is also a licensed Pennsylvania real estate salesperson.

Triad Strategies, LLC is a bipartisan lobbying, public affairs, strategic communications, grassroots advocacy, issue management consulting firm located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with offices in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Friday Happy Hour: Good for the Goose Edition

The American electorate elbowed its way through an unusually spirited “off-year” election this week, and there were casualties. This Festivus-like Airing of the Grievances produced Geeseseveral noteworthy results. The punditry largely awarded victory to the Democrats and losses to divisiveness generally and President Trump specifically.

Nowhere was this more evident than in Virginia, where there seems to be a strong desire to put Charlottesville in the rear-view mirror. Voters elected a Democratic governor by a comfortable margin, and first-time delegates include an Asian-American woman, two Latina women and a lesbian nurse who campaigned with her partner.

But perhaps the biggest story of the night was the defeat of Delegate Robert Marshall, self-described “chief homophobe” and author of the state’s constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, whose 26-year run was halted at the hands of openly transgender candidate Danica Roem. Karma, or coincidence? You decide.

Continue reading "Friday Happy Hour: Good for the Goose Edition" »

Some Sweet News From Our Clients at Triad Strategies!

Success is always sweeter when it’s shared- and our clients had some great reasons to dig extra deep into the Halloween candy this year. As we look back down the home stretch for the budget, Triad Strategies is thrilled for its valued clients’ successes this season. Sucker-with-pile-of-candy-garry-gay

Congrats to the Stars Group and the Poker Players’ Alliance on the General Assembly passing legislation that would make PA only the fourth state to legalize online gaming. By working closely with the General Assembly and Governor Tom Wolf’s office, the final product will help to plug the Commonwealth’s budget deficit through taxes and licensing fees, while opening up gaming to an entirely new demographic of players.  By collaborating with existing brick-and-mortar casinos, the legislation will also prohibit the cannibalization of casino revenue, and at the same time start to rid Pennsylvania of illegal online sites by strictly regulating the new industry. 

PA’s students win big with the College Board having advocated for legislation to ensure students attending State System Universities receive college credit if they achieve a certain score on Advanced Placement exams. Language championed by Chairman Jim Roebuck, Representative Kristin Hill, and Senator Ryan Aument was included in the comprehensive Education Code. It creates a consistent AP articulation policy, and ensures that certain scores on AP exams translate to college credits at any one of the fourteen State System institutions. It has the potential to save Pennsylvania students and their families over $110 million in tuition costs and increases the likelihood of students graduating in four years.

Thanks to the Erie delegation of both the House and Senate who successfully passed legislation that addressed duplicative and cumbersome regulations in the existing law. The legislation exempts Living Independence for the Elderly (LIFE Northwest PA) providers from having to comply with archaic adult day licensing requirements under the Department of Aging.

Need a ride, but no Lyft or Uber was in the area? Not anymore! Drivers for Transportation Network Companies like Lyft and Uber can now use vehicles that are 15-years-old or newer. This change in the vehicle age requirement will allow more drivers to provide transportation network service to consumers across the Commonwealth.

The University of Pennsylvania received $30.4 million in state appropriations for PennVet. This funding supports veterinary activities and the Center for Infectious Diseases, while also providing critical support to the state’s agricultural industry as it monitors the health and safety of the state’s food supply.

Sunny days are here again… Legislation sponsored by Senator Mario Scavello was also signed into law.  The change to the state’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act will greatly help Pennsylvania’s solar energy generators like Pocono Raceway by prohibiting out-of-state solar producers from using Pennsylvania’s energy credits.  This change will lead to more solar capacity being built right here in Pennsylvania.

We can feel better about our water supply thanks to Westview Water Authority as the Fiscal Code included a provision to allow public funds to be used to replace privately held lead water lines.  The change is crucial to systems in western Pennsylvania, who have struggled to get their arms around the costly issue of replacing these lines while protecting ratepayers.  

With this year’s budget process in the rearview mirror, we at Triad Strategies look forward to our continued partnership and shared success for each of our clients in the coming year.


Friday Happy Hour: Bart Simpson Edition

Congressional Republicans this week unveiled their tax cut/reform package to the world, and the plan is, in a word, YUGE!  There will be a chicken in every pot and a Lexus in every Bart_Chalkboard_A_-_FINAL driveway when it is all said and done, if anything ever gets said or done, which is never a safe bet in a Congress that can’t even reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program without somehow screwing it up. 

Our own congressional delegation gave the plan mixed reviews.  It will probably shock you to learn that the responses fell along party lines, with Democrats being in the “meh” camp and the Republicans singing hosannas. 

Elsewhere in the Federal City, Special Counsel Robert Mueller this week dropped the hammer on Paul Manafort and two of his Trump campaign cohorts. Manafort, for the uninformed, was either the brains behind the Trump victory or some nobody who hung around the campaign office for a few minutes each day delivering Dunkin Donuts. 

Back here in the barrel of laughs that is your state government, more than 1,000 people signed up on the first day of enrollment for the state’s medical marijuana program. Some 999 of those folks have legitimate maladies that can be treated with medical cannabis, while one dude named Stan just wanted to know where he could buy some weed. 

Continue reading "Friday Happy Hour: Bart Simpson Edition" »

Friday Happy Hour: That’s a Wrap Edition

The U.S. House of Representatives this week passed a federal budget plan, clearing the way for President Donald Trump’s tax cut/tax reform initiative, which is expected to add $1.5 Thats-A-WRAP2-580x376 trillion to the national debt.  On the upside, the tax cuts will be the largest in the history of the entire civilized world, or so we have been told.  It remains to be seen how quickly GOP Congressional leaders can pass such a plan while simultaneously being insulted by a President of their own party.

The country will likely spend most of this weekend going through the JFK files, which were released to the public for the first time on Thursday.  One can only hope that the release does not spawn another dreadful, six-hour Oliver Stone movie.  

As is the norm around here, when the General Assembly finally sets its collective mind to a task, it can often move with startling alacrity.  Such was the case this week as the House and Senate traded votes on a flurry of budget-related bills, essentially closing out the budget for the 2017/2018 fiscal year.  It may be a day late and a few dollars short (depending on who you ask) but it is mercifully over.  Here are the highlights, courtesy of our pals at Pennlive

The last vote of the budget season was the toughest, as the state House finished up two days of debate on a major expansion of gambling by passing the bill Thursday morning.  Pennsylvania will now become the fourth state in the country to legalize internet gaming (yeah, maybe a little Shameless Client Plug for our friends at the Poker Players Alliance and the Stars Group!) 

Continue reading "Friday Happy Hour: That’s a Wrap Edition" »

The Most 100 Most Influential People in Philadelphia

According to Aesop, ‘A man is known by the company he keeps.’ Here at Triad Strategies we couldn’t be more thrilled with our clients and friends of the firm who prove the value in Stickmantrophy Aesop’s quote.

Philadelphia Magazine just released its annual list of The 100 Most Influential People In Philadelphia: a ranking of those who shape the way we think, talk, work and live right now.

In pouring over the list we were proud to be in excellent company working with such a diverse array of clients and friends who truly make difference in the Philadelphia, and in many cases, statewide community, and beyond.

A hearty ‘well deserved!’ goes out to the following clients: Darryl Clarke, Philadelphia City Council President; Dan Hilferty, President of Independence Blue Cross; Robert Bogle, Publisher of the Philadelphia Tribune; and Michael Coard of ‘Heeding Cheney’s Call.’

Additionally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t congratulate close friends and colleagues of the firm for their support, insight and valuable counsel that’s allowed us to grow and depth and breadth over the years. Cheers to Amy Gutman, David L. Cohen, Mayor Jim Kenney, Bill Hite Jr., Marian Tasco, Senator Pat Toomey, Senator Bob Casey Jr., Maria Quinones-Sanchez, Martina White, Meryl Levitz, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Allan Domb, John McNesby, Jordan Harris, Luis Cortes, Pasquale “Pat” Deon, Congressman Bob Brady, Joseph Forkin, Bart Blatstein, Sara Lomax-Reese, and John Dougherty.

Many have made the Philly Mag’s listing several times over the years. It’s exciting to see folks continuing to succeed, just as it is to welcome the new guard of movers and shakers.


Fireworks bill threatens safety, jobs

By Bob Stewart

The General Assembly appears to be moving closer to approving legislation that would greatly lessen Pennsylvania’s oversight of fireworks sellers, a move that could significantly compromise public safety and run established sellers out of business.

The legislation, in the form of a tax measure, would legalize the purchase of the largest consumer-grade fireworks allowable by law to Pennsylvanians and tax the sale of them at 12 percent, while also allowing them to be sold in temporary tents.  The combination of these factors would greatly expand the number of fireworks sellers and buyers, many or most of whom would be largely untrained and minimally regulated. IMG_3365 safety

The provisions in the bill have not been subject to public hearings, so there has been little opportunity to examine the consequences of this legislation.

The expansion would come at the expense of the 82 established brick-and-mortar sellers, who have made significant investments in facilities and training and created thousands of jobs over the years. Brick-and-mortar stores have spent millions to create comprehensive safety standards within the retail stores and with their products, to assure that they are being used safely and appropriately.

Dozens of small businesses in Pennsylvania would be put out of business if tents pop up around them and start siphoning off their sales. Temporary locations that pop up and disappear can avoid accountability for what and to whom they sell.

Increased availability of fireworks would affect pets, children, people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and anyone trying to get a good night’s sleep.

Pennsylvania, nearly overnight, would become one of the least regulated states in the country in terms of fireworks, especially their use.  The measure contains no regulations regarding how, when or where fireworks can be used.

The Department of Agriculture, which is responsible for regulating fireworks, is already understaffed and would become significantly more so once it becomes responsible for regulating hundreds more sellers. The lack of capacity to oversee this industry as it expands exponentially could lead to abuses as new entrants sell illegal fireworks and are not held accountable for the consequences. 

The legislation could place a greater burden on local and State Police, emergency medical responders and fire companies as well.

The House has already approved the fireworks measure. The Senate is expected to consider it shortly.

In short, the fireworks bill represents a major policy shift, made in haste without public hearings, almost certain to create a regulatory nightmare and lessen the level of public safety. It is bad public policy that should be killed or significantly altered to protect the residents of the commonwealth and established businesses and the thousands of jobs they represent.

If these kinds of consequences raise your concern about public safety, please contact your state senator as soon as possible and ask him or her to oppose this legislation.

Bob Stewart is executive director of the Pennsylvania Pyrotechnics Association.

Friday Happy Hour: Dirty Rat Edition

The U.S. Senate this week passed a $4 trillion budget blueprint that will set the stage for Congress’ long-sought tax reform plan, to be dealt with later.  The move clears the way to doRat tax reform without the threat of that pesky filibuster, which means that Democratic Senators are likely already at the tax cut buffet table, looking for a piece of the pie.  If ya can’t beat ‘em… 

Heck, the President himself personally invited the Democrats to be a part of the show.  Of course, he did so after trashing them on Twitter ten minutes earlier, but who are we to split hairs? 

One person who is decidedly not a fan of the current iteration of tax reform (which is basically a bunch of talking points on a single sheet of paper) is our own U.S. Senator Bob Casey.  You can check out his views here

Apparently, Presidential Executive Orders can have quite the impact, we learned this week.  After President Trump affixed his signature on one that will end subsidy payments under Obamacare, rates for some insurance plans jumped over 30% for next year.  Cause, meet effect.  Looks like when Trump said that Obamacare would implode, he meant it. 

Continue reading "Friday Happy Hour: Dirty Rat Edition" »

Triad Strategies’ Roy Wells Receives Statewide Award

Roy Wells is no stranger to the way government operates, having spent several years working in the General Assembly, where he served in multiple capacities in the House and Senate, and at the Pennsylvania Office of the State Treasurer.Roy_Wells_Web_Site.png

That experience was instrumental as he created and now leads one of the state’s most successful and respected public affairs, business development and government relations firms.

Triad’s clients include Fortune 500 companies, labor unions, energy companies, healthcare entities and trade associations. Under Roy’s leadership as president and managing director, the company has expanded to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Roy is a firm believer that attracting and hiring the best talent is what makes Triad so successful.

The award, given by City & State PA, honored 50 of the most prominent and accomplished leaders in government, business, and media over the age of 50 who continue to make a positive impact on Pennsylvania through their achievements, leadership abilities, philanthropic efforts and dedication to the betterment of the commonwealth.

“It’s an honor to receive this award, but it is a direct reflection of the talented team we’ve built at Triad. The solid foundation of smart, creative, driven individuals enables our team to consistently achieve positive results for our wonderful clients.” said Wells.  To learn more about what makes the Triad team so special, click here.

Triad Strategies Proudly Partners with 'Heeding Cheyney's Call'

Founded in 1837, Cheyney University is America’s oldest historically Black institution of higher education. Today, Cheyney University leverages that rich history of providing access to higher education for all students and by producing visionary leaders and responsible citizens.  HCC pic

Cheyney has over 30,000 alumni and its graduates are successful, talented individuals; some of the most well-known include 60 Minutes journalist Ed Bradley and Dominique Curry of the St. Louis Rams. Cheyney University is in the business of developing human potential and talent and does so through an intellectually challenging environment and personal attention to every student – a hallmark of the Cheyney experience. 

In order to keep the tenets of Cheyney alive, Triad Strategies is pleased to announce a collaborative effort in partnership with “Heeding Cheyney’s Call” to raise awareness and support for this culturally significant institution - one of 107 historically black colleges and universities in the United States.

“Heeding Cheyney’s Call” is a coalition of alumni, students, professors, staff, and retirees, as well as community activists, religious leaders, and elected officials who are passionate and committed to the future success of Cheyney University.

“As a proud Cheyney alumnus, Steering Committee member and the attorney for Heeding Cheyney’s Call (HCC), I am ecstatic that Triad Strategies- Pennsylvania’s most influential and effective bipartisan lobbying, strategic communications, public affairs, and government relations firm- has agreed to partner with HCC to help save and enhance historic Cheyney University,” said Michael Coard. 

Yvonne Roberts, Managing Director of Triad Strategies’ Philadelphia Office, notes “I have witnessed the many valuable contributions that Cheyney graduates make to the Philadelphia region.  And even more importantly the positive impact Cheyney makes on the lives of individuals.  Higher education is critical to one’s success; it increases lifetime earnings by $1 million and significantly reduces the likelihood of experiencing unemployment. Ensuring Cheyney’s continued success is essential for the future of the Commonwealth.”

The enthusiasm of Heeding Cheyney’s Call is contagious and Team Triad is excited to play a part in helping Cheyney serve future generations.


Friday Happy Hour: Nose Hair Edition

President Trump graced the region with his presence this week, traveling here to tout his nascent tax-reform plan, which – depending on who you talk to – either will or won’t benefit Nose the middle class. We’ll know more once congressional tax-writing committees flesh it out, which will happen after Congress passes a budget. Triad’s Kirstin Snow suggested the proposal is headed down the same path as Obamacare repeal and other legislative fiascos.

Uh, but back to that thing about passing a budget… Good luck with that. Here in PA, we blew through the 100-day mark of not having a state budget, and PennLive/The Patriot News offered up a list of reasons for the stalemate, some serious and others not so much.

In the absence of a budget, Treasurer Joe Torsella announced he had issued a $700 million loan from Treasury's short-term investment pool to help cover $1.2 billion in scheduled payments to Medicaid providers. He had declined to do same last month.

Governor Wolf’s latest idea for shaking more nickels and dimes out of the couch cushions involves leasing the Farm Show Complex to a private operator for an upfront cash payment to the state of $200 million, then leasing it back over 29 years. Not so fast, cried House Majority Leader Dave Reed, that wouldn’t be legal without legislative approval. And Senate Republicans chimed in, asserting that the plan Wolf proposed last week to borrow against future liquor profits may not be legal either.

Continue reading "Friday Happy Hour: Nose Hair Edition" »

Friday Happy Hour: Into the River Edition

Another week comes to a close and we find ourselves sickened and devastated over a mass shooting, this time in Las Vegas.  Our deepest sympathies go out to all affected by this 2007-09-14-susquehanna-river-trip-09a horrific act, and our best wishes go out to Congress as they put their collective toes onto the true third rail of American politics.

The U.S. Supreme Court is wrangling with the issue of gerrymandering, its decision (due sometime next year) could have wide-ranging impacts on how state legislatures draw Congressional boundaries.  Or the courts may find that it is entirely normal to have Congressional districts that look like six-headed dragons. Hard to say with that group of inscrutables.

If you think that tax reform will ultimately mean very little to you personally, we say wake up, Maggie, we think we got something to say to you. The latest iteration of the Congressional plan could stop you from claiming state and local tax deductions on your federal income tax filing.  For those who have been advocating the abolition of property taxes in Pennsylvania, this might be a curveball to which you wanna pay a bit of attention.   

After casually sauntering past the deadline to renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Congressional leaders this week indicated they might just jam Puerto Rican hurricane relief into the bill to renew CHIP.  This proves once again that there are literally no limits to the weird things Congress will do to complicate an otherwise simple issue.  The Rube Goldberg Committee is a busy one down there in the Federal City. 

Continue reading "Friday Happy Hour: Into the River Edition" »

Dedicated transportation funds should be preserved for just that


In addition to putting highway construction crews back to work, Act 89 of 2013 is positioning Pennsylvania as an attractive site for warehousing and logistics companies such as Amazon, says Robert Latham of Associated Pennsylvania Constructors on this week’s edition of Pennsylvania Newsmakers.

Latham, appearing with host Terry Madonna, also noted that diverting Act 89 revenue from its intended purpose and shifting it to the state’s General Fund detracts from efforts to restore Pennsylvania’s transportation infrastructure.

To view the entire segment, click here.

Friday Happy Hour: Traffic Cone Edition

Tax reform was the top story this week if you successfully ignored every social media post about the NFL, which was admittedly a tough thing to do.  The Trump Administration Traffic cone turned to taxes (and more specifically tax cuts) as a way to salve the wounds of yet another repeal-and-replace disaster.  For the nuts and bolts of the GOP plan, check it out here

Team Trump, however, spent much of the week trying to convince Hurricane Maria-ravaged Puerto Rico that help was indeed on the way after it seemed as though the POTUS was a wee bit preoccupied with what was happening on football fields across the land.  Yesterday Trump announced he would waive shipping restrictions to get the ball rolling a little faster

The President was reportedly also not too thrilled that his preferred candidate in the Alabama U.S. Senate race got whipped by Roy Moore, a man who by his own admission believes the 9/11 terror attacks were God’s retribution against the United States.  If you spent the entire week tweeting about the NFL, maybe you need to pay a bit more attention.

Returning for a moment to the latest “repeal-and-replace Obamacare” effort, the Senate GOP once again found itself a few bricks shy of a load and had to scuttle the Graham/Cassidy bill, most likely killing health care reform until 2018.  Maybe – just maybe – the latest collapse will convince everyone in D.C. to work together.  Bwaaaaahahahahahahaha!  Just kidding; it won’t.  

Continue reading "Friday Happy Hour: Traffic Cone Edition" »

Friday Happy Hour: Snake in the Grass Edition

President Trump this week went in front of the U.N. and called the North Korean emperor “Rocket Man”, which immediately enraged former Yankees ace Roger Clemens, who Snake_in_the_grass__surveying_by_android3000-d35zcfu then threw a 98-mph fastball at the president.

Facebook this week announced it will turn over thousands of ads paid for and placed by Russian operatives during the 2016 elections.  Maybe Facebook can also explain why, if we have a conversation with our colleagues about new shoes, we are immediately inundated with shoe ads on Facebook.  We know what you’re doing, Facebook. And its creepy. 

The U.S. Senate was at it again this week, tilting furiously at the Obamacare windmill. At some point during the week, things got weird quickly as late -night television star Jimmy Kimmel got into a very public fight with the bill’s prime sponsor.  The week came to a close with Kimmel calling Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade a “phony little creep” and threatening to pound him into sand. Welcome to the health care debate of 2017. 

By comparison, U.S. Senator Bob Casey was much more circumspect about the new Obamacare repeal bill, referring to it as a “snake in the grass.”  This was actually one of the milder characterizations of the bill we heard this week. 

And while we watch Congress repeatedly play with one-sixth of the national economy as if it were a fidget spinner, we thought it would be a good time to share this piece by Daniel Hilferty, CEO of Independence Blue Cross.  The moral of the story here is that uncertainty is not a friend to insurance markets.

Continue reading "Friday Happy Hour: Snake in the Grass Edition" »