Friday Happy Hour: Hellbender Edition

Eastern Hellbender

The U.S. economy shrugged off the January government shutdown, creating an astounding 304,000 new jobs. The job-growth numbers for last month represented the 100th straight month of expansion. YUGE!  

The nation spent the week in the clutches of a polar vortex, the likes of which we have not seen in decades. How cold was it? Chicago’s commuter train system lit its track on fire. That cold. 

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey publicly (and rather strongly) broke with President Trump this week over the White House’s tariff-the-daylights-out-of-everyone policy, vowing to pursue legislation that would strengthen congressional oversight of trade policy. We assume there will be an incoming Tweet in 3…2…1…

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi informed the president that he can come on over to the Big House (no, not THAT Big House) and give his State of the Union address on Feb. 5. Shortly thereafter, the Democrats unveiled their choice to give the official response. Even though congressional Democrats have the largest freshman class in recent history, chock full of bright, energetic men and women, they chose a person who lost a gubernatorial race in Georgia. Alrighty, then. We guess Howard Dean was busy. 

Starbucks founder Howard Schultz announced that he may run for president as an independent, setting off a firestorm of criticism from Democrats who view him as a spoiler. Schultz spent the entire week on television and incredibly, not one, single interviewer asked him why the “grande” isn’t the biggest cup of coffee.  

Back here in frozen Pennsylvania, Governor Wolf was omnipresent, rattling off second-term priorities like a hyper-caffeinated auctioneer. First was his call to the General Assembly to enact new gun safety measures, which for a slight majority of the General Assembly means “keeping your guns safely in your own hands.”

Perhaps not so coincidentally, Mayor Bill Peduto was the target of a criminal complaint by a Pittsburgh resident who apparently has only a passing acquaintance with the law. It seems said resident wanted the county district attorney to cuff and stuff the mayor over his advocacy of gun-control measures that haven’t even been voted on yet. Horse first, then cart. The D.A. dismissed the case roughly eight minutes after it was filed. 

Getting back to the Wolfapalooza, the governor then called for an immediate hike in the minimum wage in addition to phasing in a plan to get the wage to $15 an hour by 2025. Wolf has advocated for a higher wage since taking office, let’s see if that dog will hunt this year.

And finally, the governor unveiled a truly massive $4.5 billion (yes, with a “b”) infrastructure investment plan, which would be funded by the proceeds of – wait for it – a Marcellus shale tax! The plan would fund everything from flood protection to broadband connections in rural Pennsylvania. On this one, we give him an “A” for “audacious,” knowing full well we don’t typically do audacious around these parts.

Meanwhile, the House and Senate GOP have a new priority themselves, that being prohibiting so-called “venue shopping” by trial lawyers in malpractice cases. Their interest in the topic was spurred by a Supreme Court rule that seems to pave the way for such shopping. Expect that one to be front-and-center in a General Assembly near you very soon. For everyone who survived the medical malpractice debates of the 90s, this session will be a nice trip down Bad Memory Lane.    

This week, a few dozen lawmakers rolled out a package of rules reforms for the Lower Chamber, fundamentally changing how the House operates. Noticeably absent from the coalition were any current top-level House leaders, leading us to dub this new group the Sisyphean Caucus.

The criminal justice reform train just keeps on rolling, fiery tracks or not. This week, a bipartisan group of lawmakers unveiled a new probation reform package that would drastically shorten parole and probation time frames for some offenders. It is still rather astounding to see how this issue got such traction from legislators from both urban and rural Pennsylvania. 

Will this year finally be the year that the Eastern Hellbender becomes the official amphibian of the Keystone State? That is the question on everyone’s mind as the new legislative session kicks into gear.  Hope abounds! 

We pause this week to remember the life of David Glancy, a longtime leader of the Philadelphia Democratic City Committee and a lobbyist for the University of Pennsylvania. Glancy passed away at the age of 74 this week, and we send our condolences to his family and friends.

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to Arizona, where a congressman has proposed an online porn tax to fund border wall construction. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the tax would generate $68 trillion in the first year. 

That's what passes for news around here as we anxiously await Governor Wolf’s Tuesday budget address.  We will be there for it, and if you are lucky, we will force one of our associates to live-Tweet it. From all your friends at Triad, have a great weekend!

Friday Happy Hour: Support Alligator Edition


Breaking news alert: If you are in central Pennsylvania, be on the lookout for a very nervous man with shaking hands, talking uncontrollably. Police are searching for him in connection with the theft of $1,700 worth of Red Bull energy drinks.

The beautiful dysfunction of the United States Congress came into sharp focus Thursday, when the Senate decided to vote on two plans to reopen the shuttered federal government. Neither passed. Neither was even close to passing. But hey, lots of speeches were made!  

Meanwhile in the real world, the nation’s air traffic controllers, who already have one of the most stressful jobs outside of the local bomb squad, are starting to not come to work, delaying flights along the east coast. But hey, we have those speeches!

President Trump took a few minutes off from his constant border wall harangue to let everyone know he is considering taking executive action to restrict states’ abilities to stop pipeline construction. This should cause quite a stir down in southeast Pennsylvania, we can assure you. There is quite the pipeline kerfuffle going on down there.

More breaking news: President Trump and congressional leaders have reached a short-term deal to reopen the government through Feb. 15 while negotiations continue over the president's demands for money to build his wall. He hinted that he would again shut down the government if he doesn’t get his wall.

Gov. Tom Wolf this week directed his shotgun rider, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, to conduct a 67-county “listening tour” to take Pennsylvania’s temperature on marijuana legalization. In addition to presiding over the state Senate, Fetterman is now the official Weed Whisperer of Team Wolf. 

In a somewhat related story, Pennsylvania is throwing the door wide open to industrial hemp production. Hemp can be refined into a variety of commercial items including paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food, and animal feed, making it sort of a “superfood” of cannabis derivatives. If you’ve ever driven the across Route 80, you know the Pennsylvania has a LOT of open space, so have at it, hempers.

If you use an online booking service to grab a place to chill for your next vacation, plan on paying the 6 percent Pennsylvania sales tax, due to a change in law that took effect this year. The change is expected to generate $24 million annually and boost the state’s tourism efforts.  

Sports betting is now legal in Pennsylvania, but you still won’t be able to bet online if you are looking to drop a couple bucks on the Super Bowl. Casinos are still getting their brick-and-mortar sports books operational and haven’t jumped into the online pool just yet. So prepare to drive to Philly, Pittsburgh or Harrisburg. Or call a bookie. 

“Reform” looks to be the word of the year in the Pennsylvania legislature. First up is a central Pennsylvania GOP lawmaker who has created the “Criminal Justice Reform Caucus” to build on last year’s Clean Slate Law. Paging Meek Mill…

On the other side of the chamber, House Democrats are introducing a comprehensive “voting reform” package of bills designed to make it easier to cast a ballot. Forty other states have some form of early voting, so that idea shouldn’t be all that controversial. But it will be. Don’t kid yourself. 

Speaking of voting, Pennsylvania will hold no fewer than five special elections in the coming months due to retirements and resignations, two in the state Senate, two in the state House and one in Congress.  You thought you escaped the 2018 elections unscathed, didn’t you? Ha! Not happenin’, Captain!  Elections never end! 

Out in Pittsburgh, City Council has begun holding public hearings on proposed gun ordinances, and WHOA DOGGIES! Nothing gets the ire of Pittsburghers up like gun rights (except for the Steelers.) For his part, Mayor Bill Peduto welcomed the county district attorney to come and arrest him if he determines that the ordinances are illegal. That would be quite the scene and could even make ‘Burghers forget about Antonio Brown for three minutes.  

The BBC, when not breathlessly covering the Brexit spectacle, took a few minutes to present its top 10 list of best food cities in the entire world, and there was only one U.S. city that made the top ten. That’s right: Pittsburgh! You’ve done it again. 

Pennsylvania said goodbye to former U.S. Sen. Harris Wofford this week. Wofford, a civil rights champion who marched in Selma, died Tuesday at age 92. Wofford scored a huge upset victory in a (you guessed it) special election to replace Sen. John Heinz after his untimely death. Ironically, it was Wofford’s stance on expanding health care coverage for all Americans that probably tipped the balance of that race, and here we are almost 30 years later, still having the same debate. 

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to York Haven, Pennsylvania, where a man has adopted a four-year-old, five-foot-long alligator as a support animal to help him combat depression. Because nothing is warmer and cuddlier then a cold-blooded, scaly reptile that can rip your arm off. 

That’s what passes for news around here at Triad World Headquarters in frosty Harrisburg! Be sure to come back next week when the General Assembly settles in for its two-year odyssey, and we will let you share our bird’s eye view. From all your friends at Triad, have a great weekend!

Friday Happy Hour: Pringles Edition

Wine from a Pringles can

It is with incredible sadness that we at Triad Strategies mourn the passage of Karen Coates and send our deepest condolences to her family, friends, colleagues and to House Speaker Mike Turzai. Rarely will you find the blend of toughness, tenacity, fairness and honesty that was Karen. The Commonwealth has suffered a great loss. Rest in peace, Karen. 

Earlier today, Governor Wolf issued a State of Emergency due to Winter Storm Harper, which is roaring toward the Commonwealth as you read this missive. This looks like it could be a tough one, so get your bread, milk and other necessities and hunker down, people. Don’t imperil our first responders because you feel the need to drive to your local tavern because you’re bored.

President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continued their Rocky Balboa vs. Apollo Creed impersonations this week, taking turns stealing each other’s thunder over the government shutdown.  “You can’t give your speech!” “Fine, you can’t use the airplane!” 

Meanwhile, the U.S. economy is starting to take a hit because of the shutdown, with economists fearing there could be a slowdown in economic growth. This would be the dumbest self-inflicted wound in the nation’s history.

During a House vote on a government funding package, a GOP congressman was caught yelling “Go back to Puerto Rico!” at Democratic Congressman Tony Cardenas. He later apologized for the outburst. It should be noted that Cardenas is, in fact, of Mexican descent.

Bob Casey this week put an end to all speculation that he might challenge Trump in 2020 and announced he plans to stay in the U.S. Senate. As such, we can retire our unofficial Casey for President campaign slogan: “Casey: Quiet Competence in 2020.”  

Pennsylvania Congressman Tom Marino has decided that three weeks of congressional work is enough for him this year and announced he will leave Congress for the private sector. This move will trigger a special election for his seat, which will probably be won by a sitting PA House or Senate member, which will trigger a special election. This may be the Year of the Special Election in Pennsylvania.  

Philadelphia Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown announced this week she will not seek re-election for a sixth term. She will be sorely missed in City Hall. Good luck, Councilwoman!  

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and his running mate, John Fetterman, were sworn in this week with all of the pomp and circumstance one could handle. Wolf sounded both conciliatory and pragmatic in his inaugural address, which shows that Pennsylvania, at least, hasn’t been infected by Washington D.C.-itis. Everyone ate, drank, reveled and danced the night away. Now get back to work. 

The state’s casino industry broke a record in 2018 by generating $3.2 billion in revenue, and that is without the approved mini-casinos and the rollout of online gaming happening now. And with that, it is hard to envision the state ringing any more loot out of that industry when budget shortfalls inevitably happen. Look under some other couch cushions, people.

But wait! We may never see the full impact of online gaming because, once again, the U.S. Justice Department has re-re-reinterpreted the Wire Act and decided that online gaming is illegal. Expect many lawsuits over this issue now that casino mogul and I-gaming hater Sheldon Adelson has his long-awaited victory over those damned kids and their Interwebs!

The Pennsylvania House Democratic whip’s office has unveiled the Whip Squad, which by the looks of this photo is ready to whip it, whip it good! Congrats to Rep. Jordan Harris on assembling an impressive group that will either whip votes or meet you outside, punk!

A bipartisan group of lawmakers has gotten together and formed something known as the “Nuclear Caucus,” with the goal of trying to save the state’s nuclear industry. Which is good thing, because Mr. Burns certainly isn’t coming here with Smithers and a bag of cash. All eyes will be on this group as the Three Mile Island closure looms.  

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to (where else?) Wal-Mart, this one in lovely Wichita Falls, where a woman was banned from the store. What could one possibly do to get banned from a Wal-Mart, you ask? How about driving around the parking lot in a motorized cart, drinking wine from a Pringles can? Yup, sounds about right.

That’s what passes for news around here as 2019 kicks into high gear! Make sure you check back with us next week as we bring you more news you never wanted! From all your friends at Triad, have a great (and safe) weekend!

Friday Happy Hour: Mac-n-Cheese Edition

Heart attack in a bucket

The federal government shutdown will reach 22 days tomorrow, barring a miracle. By doing so, it will officially become the longest shutdown in the nation’s history. The Coast Guard is telling its employees to hold garage sales to recoup lost income, which would be funny if it were not completely insulting.

Meanwhile, President Trump is readying plans to declare a national emergency, so he can bypass Congress to secure his wall funding. The fake news liberal Wall Street Journal has a sobering piece out today explaining how establishing this precedent may, theoretically, be used by a future Democratic president who decides that climate change or income inequality, for instance, could be a national emergency. Just a cautionary tale, folks.

Former Veep Joe Biden has been telling people that he may run for president in 2020 if he thinks he is the Democrats’ best shot at winning. Spoiler alert: Joe Biden thinks he is the Democrats’ best shot at winning.

Gov. Tom Wolf will be sworn in to his second term next week, and if you happen to be attending the soiree, here is what’s on the menu if you are not too busy watching Philly’s own The Roots blow the lid off the joint. 

Also being sworn in will be Lt. Gov.-elect John Fetterman, who will immediately be tied for the tallest lieutenant governor in the nation. Get your popcorn ready as he begins his four-year tenure of residing over the state Senate.  

Speaking of Wolf, this week he announced the awarding of $1 million for his “It’s on Us” campaign to combat sexual violence on college campuses. Kudos to Team Wolf on moving the ball forward on an important issue. 

Wolf also this week announced that he has signed an executive order establishing goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Pennsylvania, which have fallen quite a bit already since the passage of the state’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act 14 years ago.  Now comes the fun part: how do we get there?

There are 14,000 Pennsylvanians currently renting their properties through Airbnb, generating around $120 million annually. This is apparently grinding the gears of those in the hotel industry. Kind of reminds us of the arguments we heard when we brought Lyft into Pennsylvania. The times they are a-changin’, Mr. Marriott.  

The killjoys at some outfit called the Volcker Alliance have come out with grades for all 50 states based on how well they budget. Pennsylvania got a D-minus, which we assume means that Pennsylvania will have to go to budget summer school, or perhaps repeat the 2018 budget, God forbid. 

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto’s plan to regulate firearms in the City of Pittsburgh did not sit well with gun rights activists, who descended on the Steel City this week. Peduto was called, among other things, a “traitor” and a “commie” according to news sources. Because we unfortunately happened to be walking down Grant Street during that rally, we can assure you there were many other, unprintable names that he was called. For his part, Peduto seems nonplussed

The changing of the guard in Congress has radically boosted the fortunes of Philadelphia, we learned this week. Two Philly congressmen, Rep. Brendan Boyle and Rep. Dwight Evans, have landed coveted spots on the House Ways and Means Committee. So if there is a way, Philly now has the means to get there!

The drumbeat against the Philly Soda Tax went national this week, as the aforementioned Wall Street Journal pointed out – yet again – that the levy unfairly targets the poorest citizens. If anyone thought the fight against this tax ended last year, it is likely that they have been adding alcoholic beverages to their soda.

Congratulations – we think -- to our valued client and good friend Ralph Vartan for being named chairman of the new panel that will oversee Harrisburg’s finances! If anyone can untangle that particular Gordian Knot, its Ralph! 

Another Shameless Client Plug goes out to our pals at Pocono Raceway, who are donating proceeds from race day ticket sales this year to the Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department’s K-9 program.  Buy a ticket and help feed Creed and Helo!

And we also send a hearty congratulations to Sheryl Lee Ralph, the better half of state Sen. Vince Hughes, for her new television series premier!

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment, we take you to any Costco in the country, where you can now, for some ungodly reason, buy a 27-pound tub of mac-n-cheese that has a shelf life of 20 years. The tub of death also comes with a do-it-yourself home angioplasty kit.   

That’s what passes for news around here as we roar into 2019 with hopes, dreams and legislative policy goals. We hope you stick around with us all year as we ride this crazy rollercoaster called Pennsylvania government. Tell your friends about us, too! From all your pals at Triad, have a great weekend!

Friday Happy Hour: Bad Banana Edition

Weapon of choiceThe Pennsylvania General Assembly assembled once again on New Year’s Day to officially swear in the class of 2019/2020. There was very little actual swearing, unlike what was happening down in D.C. Spirits were high in Harrisburg, and there was plenty of pomp and circumstance, which will soon be replaced by dread, anger and a general feeling of hopelessness. 
The new U.S Congress convened on Thursday for the first time, and Nancy Pelosi was sworn in as speaker of the House, providing Republicans with their dream electoral villain for 2020. The only way Thursday could have gone better for GOP campaign operatives is if Hillary Clinton somehow became speaker.  
While conservatives and progressives took turns bashing each other on swearing-in day, we invite everyone to pause and check out this photo of three combat veterans being sworn in under the caption “5 eyes, 5 arms, 4 legs. All American.” Perspective, people. These three guys fought for your right to be a jackwagon on Twitter.  
Pelosi’s first act was to shepherd through the House a half-dozen spending bills (sans border wall money) that would re-open the government. President Trump quickly issued a veto threat, and off we go! 
The big news of the week, however, was the opening of the 103rd Farm Show in Harrisburg, where tens of thousands of people will come and eat all manner of yumminess. As we often note in this space, the one thing you cannot do at the Farm Show is actually purchase a farm.  
The aforementioned government shutdown is starting to seriously grate on the nerves of TSA agents, who are still screaming at people to remove their shoes and belts, but without pay. Yeah, this is the group of people we want to make even more crabby.
And if you don’t think that is bad enough, the IRS will not be able to process tax refunds if the stalemate persists, so don’t spend what you don’t have. It may be a long time before you have it. 
Speaking of shutdowns, at least one member of the PA Congressional delegation is forgoing his paycheck until the stalemate ends. From his humble Ogontz Avenue roots, our good friend Congressman Dwight Evans has always walked the walk.
The U.S. economy, buffeted about recently by a shaky stock market, rebounded with a roar this morningas the U.S. Labor Department announced that 312,000 new jobs were created last month. This is a pretty strong signal that the economy will grow for a record tenth straight year.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is getting ready to do his oath of office thing and is laying out a pretty aggressive second-term agenda that includes tax reform, reforming school funding, gun safety and the old standby – a tax on shale drillers. Early odds on the agenda are, in order, “probably not,” “maybe,” “define ‘gun safety’” and “who the hell knows.”
In a late Christmas gift to Wolf’s budgeteers, the Supreme Court has ruled that so-called “stripper wells” (get your heads out of the gutter, people) should have been subject to the state’s impact fee and will have to cough up millions in unpaid fees. Should help to fatten up the old exchequer.  
There was a bit of bad news out of Philly this week, as ShopRite store owner Jeff Brown was forced to announce his first store closure, a result of the city’s soda tax. Brown’s store had experienced a 24 percent drop in revenues since the tax went into effect, but according to the mayor’s office, that didn’t actually happen because a Harvard study said it didn’t actually happen.
Remember Ted Cruz? Yeah, he is apparently still in the U.S. Senate. This week, Cruz introduced a bill that would impose term limits on members of Congress, which may or may not be a good idea, but will eventually go nowhere because Ted Cruz introduced it.
In our Shameless Client Plug this week, we give a shout out to our good friends at ES&S for being chosen by the Delaware County Board of Elections to provide new voting machines that will comply with Governor’s Wolf’s paper backup mandate. Great work team!
With a mixture of sadness and pride, we announce that our colleague, friend and Triad Senior Associate Lauren Gutshall has accepted a new position with another valued client, The College Board. We wish Lauren all the best, and an endless supply of good wine! Godspeed, LG!
In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to lovely Des Moines, Iowa, where a man was arrested this week for assaulting a convenience store clerk with a banana. This is the second time in history that a banana has been used in the commission of a felony, the first being Detective Axel Foley disabling a police cruiser with one in Beverly Hills Cop. 
That’s what passes for news around here as we slide into 2019! Be sure to check back next week when we share a whole lot of news that you may not have read and most certainly cared less about! From all your friends at Triad, have a great weekend! 

Friday Happy Hour: Sea Otter Edition

Image result for sea otter monterey

As you read this beautiful tome, the U.S. government is careening toward a partial shutdown, as President Trump unexpectedly announced he would not sign a U.S. Senate-approved stopgap budget because it did not include border wall funding. Senators who had left town were absolutely thrilled to be summoned back to Washington to vote on a House-approved measure that has zero chance of passing in the Upper Chamber.

And along comes U.S. Congressman and Freedom Caucus Major Domo Mark Meadows, who had a message for federal employees who won’t be paid starting at midnight tonight: “You signed up for this.” Yup, it was right there in their employment handbook, Section 2. “In the event of a senseless political kamikaze mission, you are out of luck. Merry Christmas, suckers.”  

President Trump, who famously announced just last week that he would be proud to shut down the government, is now blaming the Democrats. That sound you hear is Chuck Schumer giggling. 

The on-again, off-again relationship between President Trump and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham is on ice this week after the president announced the withdrawal of troops from Syria. Hey Lindsey, you do remember that the president campaigned on that issue, right? You should Google it instead of sub-Tweeting President Trump. Bring a knife to a gunfight lately?  

The Trump administration also announced this week that it will, some way or another, severely restrict eligibility for SNAP benefits, despite the recently-signed farm bill declining to do so. Farmers are not going to enjoy this move.

Speaking of farmers, they have been smacked in their collective combines by the ongoing trade war with China. On the bright side, Pennsylvanian’s steel industry is doing quite well, thank you very much. Turns out not everyone wins in trade wars, much like Star Wars. 

Gov. Tom Wolf drove the media and lawmakers temporarily insane this week as he announced that the state should take a long, hard look at how recreational marijuana legalization has worked in other states, and maybe – or maybe not – follow suit. Despite his decidedly lukewarm semi-endorsement, reaction was swift. It will either be the policy victory of the century or cause the Commonwealth to burn to the ground. 

Pennsylvania’s Democratic Senate members are introducing bills to protect some provisions of the Affordable Care Act, now that a Texas judge has thrown the entire federal law out the window. We assume they are doing so due to the fact that Obamacare repeal advocates haven’t the foggiest idea what comes next, which is comforting. Y’all caught the car, now what?  

Despite the impressive strides the state has taken on improving the condition of roads and bridges since the passage of Act 89 in 2013, much work remains to be done, we learned this week. Our bridges clocked in with a D- grade, and 43 percent of our roads are deficient. Memo to incoming lawmakers: transportation infrastructure funding is going to be on your plate, come hell or high water, very soon.

Governor Wolf this week announced the Commonwealth has signed a compact with eight neighboring states with the goal of slashing car and truck carbon emissions significantly over the next decade.  If this move triggers a shift to more hybrid and electric vehicles, we have an addendum to our previous memo to incoming lawmakers: electric car owners don’t pay the gas tax.

Last week, Pittsburgh elected officials announced they will begin work on gun safety legislation bright and early in 2019. In response, a group of Second Amendment supporters announced they will hold an open-carry rally in Pittsburgh to protest the move. Pittsburgh is used to peaceful rallies, so we assume both sides will retire to the Grant Street Tavern afterwards and knock back a few Iron City beers.  

Governor Wolf this week untapped about $800,000 in grants for the craft brewing industry and the agricultural products they use. Because nothing goes with legalized weed like a nice Double IPA.

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to California, where Monterey Bay Aquarium officials publicly apologized this week for their Twitter comments that, in their words, “fat-shamed” a sea otter. The sea otter fired back that she was, in fact, “big boned” and was well below what marine biologists consider obese. California, man. You keep on doing you.   

That’s what passes for news around here as we anxiously await Santa and his reindeer, all of whom are in perfect shape and not at all fat. The entire team at Triad wishes you a happy holiday season, and a healthy and prosperous 2019!

Friday Happy Hour: Bad Santa Edition

Bad SantaPresident Donald Trump this week hosted incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (along with a VERY relaxed Vice President Mike Pence) at the White House for a spot of tea and some policy talk. It was a very cordial affair and nothing controversial happened. 2019 is going to be a breeze, folks.

Also this week, Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, was sentenced to three years in prison for “a smorgasbord of criminal acts.” It has become clear, however, that Cohen intends to do quite a bit of talking before he becomes a guest of the feds in March.  

Congress is wrapping up its two-year session by doing a bunch of things that could have been done in the preceding 23½ months. First up was a bipartisan farm bill, which had lots of goodies for our friends in agriculture but none of the “take away your food stamps” stuff, much to the dismay of some folks who thought the latter would be a dandy Christmas gift to poor people. Maybe next year.  

Next up for those crazy congressional kids appears to be a bipartisan compromise on prison reform that could, among many other things, free up to 4,000 non-violent offenders immediately and, by pure coincidence, cut Michael Cohen’s sentence by about a third.

A western Pennsylvania lawmaker this week said he intends to introduce legislation to allow municipalities to regulate firearms. The bill would allow cities to ban assault weapons and other firearm-y things, while at the same time being most certainly unconstitutional. But hey, we haven’t had a rip-roaring gun debate in a while, so buckle up.

A top state senator this week said he will work this coming year to help municipalities clean debris from streams and creeks so that they don’t flood every ten minutes. It seems this is a commonsense approach to stream protection that doesn’t involve state overreach and lawsuits. 

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is likely to end the fiscal year with a surplus as revenue collections are running about $900 million above estimate. This is great news for anyone who would rather not spend July and August watching lawmakers stare at each other. 

Governor Wolf traveled the state this week handing out free Narcan to communities that have been wracked with overdose deaths. A reminder to all during the holiday season: addiction doesn’t take holidays off. 

Wolf also this week announced he is launching a new home care advisory committee that will allow the 20,000 or so home care workers in the state to have a say in their working conditions and the future of their industry. It sounds so innocuous that there was actually a lawsuit to try and prevent it from happening. Because, well, Pennsylvania. 

Swearing-in day for the Pennsylvania General Assembly (Jan. 1, 2019, for those playing at home) is usually a quiet, ceremonial day filled with flowers, family and food. The proceedings in the state Senate next month might be quite a departure, however, as the GOP majority may refuse to seat an elected Democrat from the Pittsburgh suburbs, citing her residency status as an issue. Is the 2018 General Election ever going to end? 

There were e-mail bomb threats made across the nation Thursday, including some right here in Pennsylvania. It is hard to describe the level of depravity it takes to scare the hell out of people while simultaneously making law enforcement personnel run around for no reason, but that’s where we are in this new cyber-world. 

Even though Amazon left Pittsburgh at the altar, Apple announced this week that it will soon be expanding in the Steel City, bringing with it hundreds of jobs. And nobody had to beg them to do it, either. Have fun on the New York City subways, Amazon!

Vitaminwater is offering $100,000 to anyone who can go a full year without using a smart phone. Neat idea. We saw a homeless person near the parking garage this morning who did not have anything to eat, much less a smartphone. We are sure he’d be happy to have that 100K. Problem solved.   

Our Shameless Client Plug this week goes out to Independence Blue Cross CEO Dan Hilferty, who was named Most Admired CEO by the Philadelphia Business Journal. A top man doing a top job, indeed!  Congratulations, Dan!  

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to merry old England, where Brexit wasn’t the only controversial item on the menu. When fire alarms went off at an event with Santa Claus, Old Saint Nick tried to get the children to safety by ripping off his beard and yelling “Get the f*** out!  Listen, we understand the profanity, but did he need to rip the beard off? Have some decency, these children are scarred for life now.

That’s what passes for news around here as we draw closer and closer to the end of a tumultuous 2018.  We will do this thing of ours one more time next Friday before we release you until the new year. From all your friends at Triad, have a great weekend!

Friday Happy Hour: Goalie Dog Edition

Goalie dog

The nation paused this week to honor the life of former President George H.W. Bush, who was laid to rest on Thursday. It was a nice, if fleeting, reminder of how genteel our politics used to be around here, as Democrats and Republicans came together and didn’t whack the crap out of each other in the process.   

The U.S. economy is cooling a bit in the final months of 2018, as the November jobs report showed the creation of 155,000 new jobs, down from previous months. Hey, every car needs to downshift from time to time or you’ll blow the engine up. Trust us on this one. 

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Friday Happy Hour: Eye of a Storm Edition

Camel in snow

Pennsylvania got whacked by Winter Storm Avery on Thursday, snarling traffic and shutting down air travel. Most meteorologists missed the intensity of this storm by a mile. Original estimates called for up to five inches of the white stuff, while in reality, some parts of central Pennsylvania got anywhere from 7 to 12 inches of snow. So naturally, everyone in the Commonwealth blamed PennDOT. Readers note: “12 Inches of Snow” was also, coincidentally enough, the title of the debut album from Canadian rapper/reggae artist “Snow.”

The storm was also bad enough in New Jersey to prompt former Gov. Chris Christie to complain that his commute home took him five hours, prompting every, single person on Twitter to ask him if random bridge closings had anything to do with his delay. Twitter can be brutal, Chris.   

Amazon finally announced the co-winners of the “HQ2” beauty pageant, with northern Virginia and New York City splitting the trophy. So much for affordable housing and access to quality mass transit being the keys to the kingdom. But kudos to Philly and Pittsburgh Mayors Jim Kenney and Bill Peduto for making to finals.

After the winners were announced, we found that Pennsylvania and its two cities had offered up about $4.6 billion in tax incentives to try and lure Amazon to the Keystone State. This, of course, led critics to characterize the incentives as suitcases full of cash, which they decidedly were not. But why let facts get in the way?

President Trump’s ongoing trade kerfuffles have apparently given us all a Christmas gift for which we should all be thankful. The War on Chicken Tariffs has driven down the price of pork so much that bacon prices are plunging. Making breakfast great again!  

Gov. Tom Wolf this week laid out his second-term agenda, and reforming gun laws is near the top of the list. That’s a mighty big rock you’ve chosen to roll up Capitol Hill, governor.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr., meanwhile, is setting his sights on infrastructure funding during his next term, which is always heartening to hear but never seems to come to fruition. Maybe 2019 is the year we finally stop kicking that worn-out can down the heavily-damaged road. 

Before we leave the topic of Mr. Casey, he also raised some eyebrows Thursday when he told NBC News that he is considering a presidential run. Should Casey throw his hat in the ring, expect Washington talking heads to mention abortion once or five million times, as if he has no other positions of import. 

And while Casey focuses on infrastructure funding in Congress, that topic is also at the top of the list for our good friend Bob Latham of the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors (Shameless Client Plug!)  You can check out his YouTube comments right here

Back in Harrisburg, Lancaster County’s state Rep. Bryan Cutler is poised to assume the role of House majority leader, which as we all know is not only one of the most powerful positions in Pennsylvania government, but is also arguably the craziest job he will ever have unless he becomes White House chief of staff. Good luck, Bryan, we are sending antacids your way!

When it came to leadership elections on the House Democratic side of the aisle Tuesday, the Philly delegation flexed some serious muscle, electing three members to the seven-member team, including Rep. Jordan Harris’ elevation to the No. 2 slot, minority whip. We will save some antacids for you, too, Jordan!

After the Pennsylvania General Assembly took some major steps on criminal justice reform this last year, it looks like Congress is about to follow suit, as President Trump this week backed a bipartisan plan to reform sentencing and incarceration laws. Reaching across the aisle; how refreshing!

Of course, not all is quiet in D.C. this week, as the incoming House Democratic majority is fighting like cats in a burlap sack over whether Rep. Nancy Pelosi should be elevated to speaker of the House in January. Because… well, Democrats. 

Pennsylvania’s Department of Education has released a new online tool that will help you evaluate how your school district stacks up against the other 499 in the Commonwealth. So before you head off to the next school board meeting to vent your spleen, do a little research first, will you? 

We have one more shout-out to our friends this week, this time to the fine folks at Domus Construction, who will have a big hand in the renovation of the storied Metropolitan Opera on Broad Street in Philadelphia. Bravo!

This week’s We Can’t Make This Up segment poses a question, not of whether a camel can go through the eye of a needle, but rather through the eye of a snowstorm. Apparently, no. A camel named Einstein was to be delivered to an event in Philadelphia when his chauffeur became stuck in Thursday’s storm on Route 309 near Souderton. Einstein was released from his trailer for fear of a rear-end mishap and briefly strutted around, well, like he owned the place. Alas, after getting the trailer back on the road, the driver decided it best to deliver the dromedary back to the Peaceable Kingdom Petting Zoo instead of continuing to Philly.

That’s what passes for news around here in snow-covered Harrisburg! Be sure to come back next week when we ruminate further on ruminants and pseudo-ruminants (go ahead, look it up). From all your friends at Triad, have a great weekend!

Friday Happy Hour: Naked Robber Edition

Waffle House

Happy Friday, good readers! Welcome to the post-election edition of our weekly wrap! We ran down all of the results for you on the Triadvocate this week, so we are gonna spare you all the gory details and cut to the chase: Governor Wolf won big, as did Sen. Bob Casey Jr. The state’s congressional delegation is now a nine-nine partisan split, and both the state House and Senate Democrats picked up seats, but not enough to take the majority in either chamber. At this point, you can safely turn your TVs on again, at least until the 2020 presidential election campaign, which starts in 10 minutes.  

Tom Wolf became the first governor in Pennsylvania since 1968 to be elected twice while losing his home county each time. Not that it mattered to Wolf, who ran up an impressive 16-point victory over fellow York Countian Scott Wagner. Wolf enters his second term with a more manageable partisan balance in each chamber, as well as a pretty impressive electoral mandate.

On the national scene, a huge voter turnout helped the Democrats reclaim control of the U.S House, but we would be remiss if we did not point out that President Trump helped the GOP expand its Senate majority by relentlessly rallying and campaigning in red states. We now have the divided government that we all say we want, until we actually have it.

Southeastern Pennsylvania went all Michael Johnson (obscure pop music reference alert) and turned bluer than blue on election night, with the Philly suburbs providing just about every significant Democratic pickup of the night. This ain’t your daddy’s Montgomery County anymore, apparently.

The ink was not yet dry on the new House Democratic majority in Washington when the talk on CNN went immediately to President Trump’s tax returns. Yup, that was exactly why the Democrats flipped 35 seats. It had nothing to do with health care, we are sure.

Speaking of health care, Obamacare has once again escaped the congressional GOP knife based on Tuesday’s results. If you would have predicted on election night 2016 that the Affordable Care Act would be intact today, we would have suggested that you had a pre-existing mental condition. In short, don’t expect the Obamacare repeal to be high on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s list of “to-do” items.

In a weird glitch, Democrat Susan Wild will be sworn in to represent the new Seventh Congressional District, but not before her vanquished opponent, Marty Nothstein, heads to Washington to be sworn in to complete the term of former Congressman Charlie Dent, who resigned early. The special election to fill Dent’s old seat (under the old boundaries) was held concurrent with the General Election. Memo to Nothstein: don’t rent a house.

A dead brothel owner was elected to a U.S. House seat in Nevada because, well, it’s Nevada.  

And of course, no election would be complete without Florida screwing everything up and ending up in a recount. You keep on doing you, Florida. Practice up for 2020, when we have no doubt you will screw up the presidential election, too.

Democrats across the country passed out cold Thursday after it was reported that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had fallen and broken three ribs. By the time Democrats regained consciousness Friday, RBG had already recovered, ridden her bike and written three scathing dissents. The 85-year-old is currently resting quietly, or perhaps wrestling an alligator.

Not terribly satisfied with the narrative coming out of Tuesday’s elections, President Trump on Wednesday forced the resignation (read: fired) Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions. We are sure it was perfectly normal, and nobody even noticed, which is why we thought we would mention it.  

The Keystone XL pipeline has been scuttled yet again by a U.S. Circuit Court judge. Remember 30 or 40 years ago when newly-elected President Trump signed an executive order to build that thing? Yeah, neither do we. At this rate, we will be celebrating (or protesting, depending on your particular view) the 10th anniversary of the border wall before ground is even broken on that pipeline. 

There were some perfectly normal newsworthy items this week that had nothing to do with elections. One of them (Shameless Client Plug Alert!) was the big announcement from Pocono Raceway about the first-ever airshow coming to the track in August. Check it out! 

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to Alabama, where a man with no pants fell through the ceiling of a Waffle House during a botched robbery attempt. The man then fought with patrons before leaving the scene, and his wallet, pants and driver’s license, behind. By the way, what the hell are you trying to steal at a Waffle House? Those places flush with cash all of a sudden?

That’s what passes or news around here as we unpack it all, take a deep breath, and prepare for 2019. From all of your friends at Triad, have a great weekend! 





Triad Election 2018 Recap

Here is your Election Day 2018 recap from your friends at Triad Strategies. Ballot-box-WEB


Governor Wolf cruised to a second term, defeating Republican Scott Wagner by a 58%-41% margin.  Wolf will have a new Lieutenant Governor as he enters his new term, as Braddock Mayor John Fetterman won a Primary victory in May over current Lt. Governor Mike Stack.

Bob Casey, Jr. also easily outpaced his opponent for U.S. Senate, Congressman Lou Barletta.  Casey took home a 55%-42% win and will serve a third term.

Continue reading "Triad Election 2018 Recap" »

Friday Happy Hour: Bad Candidate Edition

Bad candidate

People all over the world watched in horror Saturday as Pittsburgh became the latest city to join the list of communities that have experienced domestic terrorism. If you didn’t know before Saturday, Pittsburgh is strong. Stronger than steel, stronger than hate. 

If you or anyone you know is suffering from trauma or just needs someone to talk to after Saturday’s horrific attack in Squirrel Hill, our friends at Magellan Health have set up a hotline and will provide free counseling services.

The U.S. economy has made it clear to everyone that even a terrible hurricane will not stop its momentum. The October jobs report was released today, and the economy added 250,000 more jobs, marking a historic 100 straight months of positive growth. Could this report be the wind in the GOP sails as the midterms approach?

President Trump spent almost the entire week focused on immigration, suggesting at one point that he could end birthright citizenship with an executive order. House Speaker Paul Ryan quickly debunked that idea, bringing a stinging response from the POTUS. We assume Ryan and his colleagues would much rather be talking about that aforementioned jobs report today, that’s for sure.   

A week before the midterm elections, and we finally have some policy disagreements to report on in the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race. First, the Squirrel Hill attack shined a light on a major difference between Governor Wolf and Scott Wagner, and that is their respective positions on capital punishment. Wagner is a big supporter, and Wolf has placed a moratorium on using the death penalty in Pennsylvania. It has been a while since the death penalty played any role in gubernatorial campaign politics, so stay tuned.

We also heard two very different plans on how to keep schools safe from gun violence, as Wolf touted the unprecedented money for school safety he secured in his last budget, while Wagner wants to arm school guards and called for (yup, common thread coming your way) the death penalty for anyone perpetrating gun violence in schools.

The third time was not a charm for GOP leaders in PA, as they failed once again to get the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the congressional maps that were foisted upon them earlier this year by the PA Supreme Court. Looks like you gotta play the cards you got dealt on this one, fellas. 

A new report this week found that an astounding 55 percent of Pennsylvania public schools do not employ even a single, solitary teacher of color. We have an idea – maybe take a tenth of the energy we expend talking about how to fairly reorganize PIAA high school football classifications and start thinking about diversity.

This just in to Triad World Headquarters: Oprah Winfrey will not be running for president in 2020, dashing our dreams of hearing Democrats make the the argument that we should definitely elect a billionaire TV personality with no political background as president. Oh, the fun we could have had.   

Speaking of billionaires, Michael Bloomberg this week decided he will not be spending the millions he promised to spend to help Philly-area congressional candidates get elected. Bloomberg has somewhat of a history of promising big political dollars and then ghosting at the last minute. Ask all those Chicago elected officials he was going to beat when they voted to repeal that city’s soda tax. Go ahead, ask them. They are still in office, they should be easy to find.

We have officially entered the “celebrity endorsement” phase of the 2018 elections, as President Trump announced that legendary Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight will be joining him at a rally.   A word of caution: don’t get Knight riled up, he will throw a chair at you.

On the Democratic side, Hamilton the Musical actor Leslie Odom Jr. will be in south-central Pennsylvania stumping for George Scott, who is looking to unseat incumbent Scott Perry. It will be better than Cats

Joining Odom will be everyone’s favorite celebrity, Joe Biden. Biden, it turns out, will be coming back to Pennsylvania after the election to raise money for outgoing Congressman Bob Brady, who is now hinting that he may consider trying to knock off U.S. Senator Pat Toomey, who isn’t up for re-election until 2022. Nothing like an early start.

A conservative pollster this week released three new polls that sent chills down the spines of GOP operatives in PA. The polls showed that three fairly reliable Republican districts represented by Perry, Lloyd Smucker and Mike Kelly are all in danger of turning blue. Should that be the case, Nancy Pelosi should buy everyone in Pennsylvania a Christmas gift. 

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to Kansas City, MO, where a candidate for the state House is being publicly and vocally opposed by his own children, who are begging people not to vote for their dad. Daddy, they say, is a homophobe and a racist, while he maintains they are the product of a bitter divorce. Wow, bitter divorce huh? You don’t say. 

That’s what passes for news around here as we wait breathlessly for Tuesday, Nov. 6. We will be back with a recap of all that action next Friday. Until then, have a great weekend and remember to vote!

Friday Happy Hour: Devil Spider Edition

Devil spider

The nation was shaken Wednesday as word came that a series of pipe bombs were mailed to two former presidents and other high-profile Democrats.  Thankfully, none of the devices detonated, and no one was injured.  Within minutes, two distinct theories emerged on social media as to why the bomb threats happened.  It was either a) President Trump’s fault, or b) a hoax perpetrated by the Democrats themselves, because that is currently who we are as a nation.

While we were lovingly crafting today’s tome, law enforcement found said jackwagon.

There was some good and bad news on the economic front this week as the GDP grew by a robust 3.5 percent in the third quarter, powered by big consumer spending.  The stock market, however, continued to act like a kid who just ate a whole bag of Halloween candy, bouncing around wildly in every direction.   

With the stroke of the old gubernatorial pen, Gov. Tom Wolf set Harrisburg free from the bonds of Act 47.  Up next will be an appointed financial oversight board that will control the city’s finances for five years before kicking it out of the nest to see if it can fly again. 

A group of 11 Pennsylvania counties have registered their collective opposition to being forced to buy new voting machines by December of 2019.  Their arguments are that the machines will be unnecessary, since they are not connected to the Internet and therefor, cannot be hacked.  The Battle of the Paper Trail has begun! 

Advocates for child sex assault statute of limitations reform are not going gently into that good night, we learned this week.  Victims of the Catholic clergy assaults gathered once again in the State Capitol to urge the Senate to come back and vote.   While a lame-duck session vote once seemed inconceivable, there is now a crack in that door, it would seem. 

Governor Wolf this week also signed legislation that would give grandparents new rights in raising grandchildren.  One tragic byproduct of the opioid and heroin scourge (as if there aren’t enough already) is that there are a whole lot of Pennsylvania kids being raised by their grandparents – about 84,000, according to recent estimates. 

A bill to add work requirements to some Medicaid recipients did not fare quite as well, as Wolf vetoed that legislation minutes after it hit his desk.  Considering he had vetoed similar legislation previously, we are still uncertain as to why the General Assembly sent it to him again.  Perhaps, and we are just spit-balling here, it had something to do with a certain election coming up in 12 days? 

The Pittsburgh City Schools will not be arming their guards anytime soon, thanks to a vote by the school board this week.  Seven of eight board members voted “no thanks” to the idea which (again) begs the question: why did it even bother going to a vote?  We aren’t exactly math wizards up here, but we can count to eight. 

Attorney General Josh Shapiro is one of the more progressive people to ever hold that post in Pennsylvania, so it should come as no surprise that he is investing considerable resources in ensuring diversity among his 800 employees.  Say what you want about Shapiro, but he walks the walk. Kudos to you, General. 

The final voter registration numbers in are, and Pennsylvania got a bit bluer this year. In 2018, the Democratic Party added 135,000 new voters, compared with just 38,000 for the GOP.  Party registration hasn’t necessarily meant much in Pennsylvania recently, as Democrats in the western part of the state are often more conservative than southeastern PA Republicans.  For starters, check and see how many Democratic-majority counties in western Pennsylvania voted for Hillary Clinton.  It won’t take you long. 

And we were also reminded this week that, despite the breathless media coverage of all the newly registered millennials and young adults, one thing in the Keystone State remains constant: there are still a metric ton of older voters, and trust us, they WILL be voting on Nov. 6.  Seniors skip elections about as often as we skip our morning coffee around here. 

As the race for Pennsylvania governor comes down the back stretch, we thought we would share this handy “where they stand” guide with you, since Lord knows this has been the sleepiest election we have seen since Governor Ridge sailed to re-election against Ivan Itkin, despite the catchiest jingle in history “Itkin be done; Ivan can do it.”  

Whether the fabled blue wave materializes, it bears watching the race in Pennsylvania’s First Congressional District, where incumbent GOP member Brian Fitzpatrick is locked in a death struggle with Democrat Scott Wallace.  More than $7 million has already been pumped into this cage match, and this much we know: If the early returns show that Fitzpatrick will hang on, Nancy Pelosi may want to put the gavel back in the drawer.  If Wallace jumps out to a big lead, its gonna be a long night for congressional Republicans. 

A week after President Trump rallied his faithful in Erie, Vice President Mike Pence and Eric Trump popped in to say hello to Pennsylvania voters. Team Trump is spending quite a lot of time and political capital here in Pennsylvania, which tells you all you need to know about how important the state is to the national GOP.

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to Fulshear, Texas, where video emerged of a giant spider getting ready to attack a police officer. Once everyone viewing the dashcam footage cleaned out their pants, they realized the spider was on the windshield in front of the dashcam, and not, in fact, a four-foot long devil spider from hell.  Doesn’t matter, we would have shot the windshield anyway.   

That’s what passes for news around here as we head off to a chilly weekend!  If you haven’t yet registered to vote in Pennsylvania yet, sorry!  You are out of luck until next year! From all your friends at Triad, have a great weekend!

Friday Happy Hour: Poison Caterpillar Edition

Poison caterpillar

This will be the final weekly wrap to emanate from Triad’s Old World Headquarters, as we prepare to move into our new digs.  Henceforth, you can direct your ancient paper-type mail (especially checks) to our new address at 300 North Second Street, 6th Floor, Harrisburg, PA 17101.  Or you can continue to e-mail and text us all hours of the day like normal. Now for the news!

President Trump this week threatened to use the nation’s military to “close our southern border,” or to perhaps start a war with Honduras, we are not really sure.  As the midterms get larger in the windshield, expect the POTUS to talk a LOT about immigration, which he believes will motivate his base to vote. 

Trump’s threat was in response to a large migrant caravan that is approaching the U.S./Mexico border as we speak.  The caravan, according to Trump, was organized and funded by the Democrats, who are all itching to vote for Beto O’Rourke, we assume.  Pretty crafty move, Soros.  

You know who doesn’t have a border control problem?  Nebraska, a state that recently unveiled a bold new tourism slogan: “Nebraska. Honestly, it’s not for everyone.” Truer words may have never been spoken, our cornhusker pals. 

Because we haven’t heard much lately from Steve Bannon, we thought today would be a good day to tell you that he is worried sick that women are poised to take over society and undo 10,000 years of civilization (his words, for real.) You hear that, women? Pretty exciting stuff! As you destroy civilization, can we humbly ask that you start with Fortnight?  

This week marked the end (we think) of the 2017-2018 legislative session in Harrisburg, a week that will probably be remembered more for what didn’t happen than what did.  A plan to amend the statute of limitations on child sex abuse (spurred by the Catholic Church scandal) hit a brick wall in the state Senate this week.  Questions over the constitutionality of the plan scuttled it in the final hours, leaving both sides rather angry.  There was a whole lot more heat than light shed this week, and we expect the issue to be Job One when the legislature returns in 2019.   

Late yesterday, as if on cue, the U.S. Justice Department rolled into Pennsylvania and slapped subpoenas on seven of the Commonwealth’s eight Catholic Dioceses.  Like we said, Job One. 

Ah, but more than a few bills are currently awaiting the governor’s signature (or veto) after this week’s flurry of activity.  A strong new anti-hazing law is now on the books, so attention college students: you can still have lots of fun in college and be responsible human beings while doing so.  If you don’t believe actions have repercussions, we encourage you to read this law before someone reads you Miranda rights.  

Also coming to a Pennsylvania Consolidated Statute near you is a new law that will punish the crap out of people who lock pets in hot cars, as well as remove liability from law enforcement for any damages done to a car by smashing windows open to rescue said pets.  We strongly believe that the smashing of windows should be mandatory, as well as a provision to knock the perpetrators on their heads with a ball peen hammer.   

People who get nabbed for DUI a third time, in addition to being complete boneheads, will now be facing much tougher penalties thanks to a bill that our good friend Sen. John Rafferty steered through the General Assembly this week.  Three times is not a charm, folks.  Lay off the throttle if you are hittin’ the bottle.

For a rundown of the sixteen major issues that the legislature addressed, check out our friends at   

Now that the messy business of legislating is over, we can all turn our attention to politics and campaigns.  As residents of central Pennsylvania, we rarely get treated to any sort of congressional campaign that matters, but that seems to be changing this year.  Down in the 10th Congressional District, Congressman Scott Perry has an actual challenger, George Scott, and the latter Scott is making it a real race.  Great Scott! 

Meanwhile, Gov. Tom Wolf has gone into “closing arguments” mode as he continues to cruise along in his quest for re-election.  Barring anything seriously out of the ordinary (like Pennsylvania being invaded by Ohio or something), it looks like his Jeep will be parked on the Capitol Plaza for four more years.   

Wolf’s opponent, Scott Wagner, took a little time this week to remind us that he is not violent, but rather passionate about Pennsylvania. We are glad he cleared that up, and we hope he’s wearing sneakers or loafers for the next seventeen days.

Pittsburgh has been named the Best City in America for Jobs, according to a publication called Glassdoor, which we admit we had never heard of until we saw it on Mayor Bill Peduto’s Twitter feed.  Good on ya, Pittsburgh!

Our Shameless Client Plug this week goes out to our friends at The College Board, who on Monday announced they will be handing out $25 million in college scholarships over the next five years.  Bravo, College Board!

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we stay right here in Pennsylvania to tell you that the Commonwealth now has poisonous caterpillars roaming the woods, courtesy of Canada. Now might be good time for Trump to send troops to the northern border instead.  Thanks, Canada, we appreciate you sending us your killer worms!

That’s what passes for news around here as we say goodbye to 116 Pine Street this afternoon.  We will be back next week if our computers don’t somehow get lost in the move.  Until then, from all your friends at Triad, have a great weekend!

Friday Happy Hour: Emotional Support Squirrel Edition

Rocket J Squirrel

Hurricane Michael made landfall in the Florida panhandle this week, causing wholesale destruction along the coastline and into Georgia. By the time it was downgraded, the Category 4 storm had become one of the strongest in U.S. history.  Our prayers go out to all those affected, as well as the first responders on the ground.   

If you would like to lend a hand to those left in the wake of Michael, simply text REDCROSS to 90999 on your smartphone to make a $10 donation. 

President Trump this week brought his arena-rock show to Erie, where he rallied the faithful for Congressman Mike Kelly, as well as gubernatorial hopeful Scott Wagner and senate hopeful Lou Barletta.  Say what you want about the president (and we know you will), he knows how to throw a rally.

The next day, Kim Kardashian’s husband visited Trump in the Oval Office and did something no other human had ever done: rendered the president (and to be fair, the rest of us) speechless.

The race for Congress in Pennsylvania’s first district has become a race to see who can be more “gun-control-y,”  we learned this week.  The 2018 General Election is not going to be your father’s election day. It’s not every day you see candidates who don’t live in Philly fight over who can run away from the NRA faster.

On that note, Tuesday marked the last day to register to vote in Pennsylvania, so if you didn’t make it across the finish line, you officially need to shut up until 2019.  No Tweets, Facebook posts or random rants about Nancy Pelosi at the grocery store.  Zip it.  We don’t make the rules around here, we just write about them.   

Gov. Tom Wolf has now entered the ball-control portion of his campaign, at least according to our own Michael Manzo.  The Wolf team is doing the “three-yards, cloud-of-dust, rinse-and-repeat” campaign as he maintains a large lead in both cash and polling numbers.  You can read Manzo’s and others’ thoughts on Pennsylvania’s downright sleepy gubernatorial race here

Wolfs challenger Scott Wagner this week announced that, after pouring 10 million of his own clams into his quest for the Big Chair, he’s all tapped out.  This leads us to believe that Mrs. Wagner has seen the household checkbook and promptly whacked Mr. Wagner in the noggin with it.

Wolf’s running mate, John Fetterman, has been hauling his six-foot, eight-inch frame to Pennsylvania’s rural counties, where Democrats are not exactly abundant.  If there is a candidate in the race who is matching Wagner mile-for-mile, its Fetterman.  The Ballad of Big John just may be coming to a state Senate floor near you

Some actual policy work got done this week, as a new anti-hazing law is inching closer to Governor Wolf’s desk.  The bill came on the heels of the hazing death of Penn State student Anthony Piazza, and is the top priority of Senate Floor Leader Jake Corman. 

Harrisburg is also inching closer to having a tax compromise in place that will allow it to generate some revenue while losing the dreaded Act 47 designation.  We have recommended that, as part of the compromise, the city will have to pledge to keep all three lanes of Second Street open during morning rush hour from now to eternity. 

Pennsylvania’s wee ones are about to have some of the nagging fear of standardized tests lifted from their fragile shoulders, as the Senate is ready to pass a bill to give students other ways to get to graduation day.  Teachers are also breathing an audible sigh of relief across the Commonwealth. 

Sports betting is coming to Pennsylvania, and for those who may be unaware, your friendly neighborhood casino will likely offer those services to you right through your smartphone or computer. Gone are the days of having to go to a casino and sit at the sports book, sipping a cold beer and eating nachos while watching six NFL games simultaneously on flat screen TVs the size of Rhode Island.  Or, you can still do that.  Your call.   

Governor Wolf once again threw cold water on marijuana legalization advocates this week, saying he is nowhere near ready to sign legislation to do so.  Check back with us when the General Assembly is staring at a multi-billion-dollar deficit and is looking anywhere for cash (i.e. next year.)

Because we have reached peak vitriol levels this campaign season, we thought we would take a time out, step out of the political hellscape and share a story of how the Philadelphia Free Library is helping kids learn to read with a little help from therapy dogs.  Because doggos can fix everything. 

The story dovetails nicely into our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, where an Orlando, Florida woman was kicked off a flight for boarding the plane with her “emotional support squirrel.” The woman at one point screamed “you will not take my baby from me” and then flipped off onlookers as she was escorted out of the airport. To be fair, Orlando is kind of famous for worshipping a giant black rat, so a squirrel isn’t much of a stretch. 

That’s what passes for news around here as autumn finally arrives in central Pennsylvania, meaning that it will probably snow sometime next week.  From all your friends here at Triad, have a great weekend!   

Friday Happy Hour: Drunken Birds Edition

 Drunken birdWe begin this week with your annual reminder that it is once again hockey season, and all is right with the world. The Philadelphia Flyers celebrated the season opening by unleashing – er, introducing – their new mascot, Gritty.  The nation recoiled in horror.

The U.S unemployment rate this week dropped to levels not seen since Neil Armstrong took a stroll across the moon.  At 3.7 percent, we think it is safe to say America has now reached full employment. The longest economic expansion in history just keeps making… well, more history.

There was also good news this week for the 7 million or so people who work for Amazon, as the retail behemoth announced that all employees will make at least $15 an hour henceforth.  The response from the left was “See?  That’s why we need to raise the federal minimum wage.” The response from the right was “The market is already doing that.”  And ‘round and ‘round we go.

Brett Kavanaugh is one step closer to joining that lovable bunch of rascals on the U.S. Supreme Court, as the U.S. Senate this morning voted to end debate (mercifully) on his nomination.  We look forward to the day when people will once again use Twitter to post puppy and kitten videos instead of unbridled hatred.   

If polling trends are to be believed, there is a pretty solid chance the Democrats will reclaim the majority in the U.S. House next year.  So what, dear readers, should you do to prepare? Glenn Beck has the answer: buy gold, since Armageddon is apparently looming. Man, Glenn, try the decaf.   

Sports betting will be coming to a casino near you very soon, we learned this week.  For a complete primer on how to lose money very quickly, check out this rundown of where you can wager and how by our pals at PennLive.   

The headlines in Pennsylvania this week belonged to Alex Trebek, who hosted the first and only gubernatorial debate that voters will see this year.  Unfortunately, Trebek ended up pretty much debating himself.  He trails both Scott Wagner and Tom Wolf by double digits. 

At 2:18 p.m. Wednesday, FEMA tested the first-ever text alert, stopping the hearts of people across the nation who thought that North Korea had finally gone off the deep end.  Several Triad employees did not receive the text alert, leading us the believe that we may have been blacklisted, and in the event of a national emergency we will be left to die in an unspeakable hellscape.  

The state Senate this week sent Gov. Tom Wolf a bill that will force the surrender of firearms in certain cases where Protection from Abuse orders are filed.  Although the NRA was officially neutral on the measure, it was widely seen as a pretty rare victory for gun control advocates in Pennsylvania.  Because, as we all know, we cling to guns and religion around here. 

Governor Wolf is also in possession of a bipartisan measure to allow speed control cameras in construction zones.  Congratulations to our friends at the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors and the state building trades, two groups that have long advocated for these protections for their workers. 

Today is World Teachers Day and yesterday was National Taco Day.  As such, we encourage you to find your favorite teacher and buy him or her a taco.  Trust us, they will appreciate it.   

Pennsylvania has once again gotten an extension from the federal government for the implantation of Real ID, which means that you can still use a valid driver’s license to board a plane in PA, but you will still have to take off your shoes because a decade ago some hapless, idiotic would-be terrorist tried in vain to light his sneakers on fire on a plane. 

In campaign news, gubernatorial hopeful Scott Wagner this week said that he can solve Pennsylvania’s chronic budget shortfalls by “drilling down to every nickel,” citing large pots of un-drank coffee as an example of government waste.  Coming to a state office near you: K-Cups!  

Bob Casey and his opponent Lou Barletta took some time this week to argue about who has been more effective in Congress.  Based upon most polling thus far, there remains little doubt as to who has been the more effective candidate.   

We have two Shameless Client Plugs to throw at you, so get ready.  First, check out this piece about Philly’s First Bank, and conjuring the spirit of Alexander Hamilton to restore this historic landmark.  Hamilton, for the uninformed, was a colonial-era actor, singer, dancer and rapper. 

And we would be remiss if we didn’t toot our own horn a bit on the upcoming gala sponsored by the Franklin Institute (with a small assist from Triad Strategies) titled “Vikings: Beyond the Legend.”  Spoiler Alert: there will be no Minnesota Vikings in attendance. 

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to lovely Gilbert, Minnesota, where the early frost has caused berries to ferment right on the trees.  Which, in turn, is causing birds to get drunk from eating them.  We can’t wait to se what the next Gilbert, Minnesota chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous meeting looks like. 

That’s what passes for news around here as the 2017-2018 legislative session winds down.  We will be back next week with the play-by-play and the color, because we multi-task around here.  From all your friends at Triad, have a great weekend!  




Friday Happy Hour: Wallaby Edition

1200px-Young_red_necked_wallabyThe U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, despite some last-minute Flakery, is poised to move Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh one step closer to the finish line.  To say that Thursday’s hearing was perhaps not the nation’s finest hour would be a bit of an understatement.  But on the flip side, it helped to further shine a light on the deep partisan divide our nation has on its collective hands as we approach November.

Despite the fireworks of the past week, the nation’s economic engine keeps firing on all cylinders, with the GDP topping 4.2%.  Consumer confidence continues to soar, which we kinda already knew because every other ad on Sirius/XM radio is about how your company can get free cash and fill open jobs, compared to 2008 when they were all about how to file for bankruptcy. 

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Amazon...and the Next Big Thing

Amazon_logo-8The other day my four-year-old son asked me if we could go to the toy store to buy a new game. In what I thought was a skillful move of parental deflection to avoid the purchase, I replied: “Sorry bud. Toys R Us is gone, remember?” The little guy’s comeback quickly put me in my place: “Dad! You have Amazon on your phone.”

Had Jeff Bezos heard the debate in my house that day, my guess is he would’ve chuckled a bit. I mean really think about it for a second. Did he ever imagine the startup company that he ran from his garage would eventually become negotiation fodder for a four-year old? I kind of doubt it. But given his company’s evolution, that may have been the only scenario Bezos wasn’t considering.

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Friday Happy Hour: Empty Tank Edition


President Trump spent some time in Shanksville this week, commemorating the 9/11 attacks on our country. It was a good reminder for everyone that there was a time when we all came together in the face of unspeakable horror and put aside petty, partisan differences. #NeverForget.

Hurricane Florence roared ashore in the Carolinas this morning, bringing an estimated 10 trillion gallons of rain water with it. For reference purposes, that is the amount of rain that the Carolinas normally get over an eight-month period, instead of the three days the storm is expected to linger over the region. Our thoughts are with all those affected, including the first responders who left the Keystone State to lend a hand.

President Trump took to the Twitters this week to dispute the number of lives lost in Puerto Rico during last year’s devastating hurricanes. Trump blamed the “inflated numbers” on the Democrats. Reached for comment, the Democrats said “Huh? We did what now?”

The fall session in the General Assembly will likely be dominated by the question of how to bring justice to the victims of widespread Catholic clergy abuse in Pennsylvania. Talk of opening a window of opportunity for victims to sue has caused sharp divisions between supporters of the window and those who say it is unconstitutional. A tragic situation is about to become a very heated debate, so get ready.  

Another issue that may see some life this fall is a plan to open up Pennsylvania’s primary elections to the 700,000 Pennsylvanians who are registered as Independents or to other third parties. Of course, amending election laws in Pennsylvania is about as easy as driving a toaster through a car wash. Everyone has their own ideas of what “reform” really means. For comparison, see “redistricting reform.”

For his part, Governor Wolf this week announced the formation of a new task force to help with the 2020 census. Wolf wants to ensure that every Pennsylvanian is accurately counted, probably because he is sick of seeing us lose a congressional seat or two every 10 years.

Despite moves to open up more competition for booze sales in Pennsylvania, the state’s Liquor Control Board posted record sales last year. Pennsylvanians dropped a cool $2.59 billion at state stores last year (we apparently like to drink around here), so if you ever question why some lawmakers want to sell the system, there are roughly 2.59 billion answers.

A group of civic-minded souls is suing the Commonwealth over what they call unbalanced budgets, which produced a weird scenario of the governor’s office and leaders of the opposition party in the General Assembly fighting on the same side. The complainants labeled the state’s budget process a “savage mess” which, while probably accurate, isn’t illegal. If messes were illegal, our desk would be in federal prison.

Governor Wolf’s gubernatorial rival, Scott Wagner, this week said that, if elected, he would sue drug makers over the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania. It is probably a good thing there aren’t caps on damages in the state, or that effort would be a long run for a pretty short slide.  

Lawmakers who like to hold town hall meetings in Pennsylvania continually discover one immutable truth: it doesn’t matter what you wanna talk about, the discussion will always land on property taxes. Residents of the Keystone State have now been conditioned to believe that eliminating school property taxes is as easy as posting a rant on Facebook and snapping one’s fingers. It remains inconceivable to them that the cure might be worse than the disease.  

Some rural Pennsylvania counties are starting to see the economic benefit of medicinal marijuana growing, processing and dispensing, we learned this week. Not only is the new law bringing medical relief to thousands of people, it is also bringing employment. Is there nothing medical marijuana cannot do?

Amazon will make its long-awaited announcement on where HQ2 will land before the calendar changes to 2019, we learned this week. Could it come to Pennsylvania? Make sure to check out the Triadvocate on Monday, where our own Todd Brysiak will posit some thoughts on that subject.

Milton Hershey would have turned 161 years old yesterday. In his honor, Hersheypark is reportedly considering building a 220-feet high hypercoaster, which sounds cool as hell.

Governor Wolf this week reported $414,000 in income last year, prompting his running mate, John Fetterman, to continue his relentless Twitter attack on Scott Wagner for not releasing his tax returns.  

Wagner, on the other hand, is pretty miffed that Governor Wolf seems a lot less interested in debates as then-candidate Wolf was in 2014. Wolf seems content to play some old-fashioned Dean Smith-style four-corners basketball until November.  

Speaking of elections, all 203 state house and 25 state senate seats are also up for grabs in November, and PennLive’s John Micek this week gave us all a nice little lay-of-the-land for all who are interested in such things (and we know you are.) Check it out here.

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to Pittsburgh, where a bank robber forgot the first rule of bank robbery: make sure there is gas in your getaway car. That guy is what western Pennsylvanians refer to as a real jagoff.  

That’s what passes for news around here as summer winds down and we wait with bated breath for the return of the General Assembly. Come back next week, when we will be ready and waiting with a full tank! From all your friends at Triad, have a great weekend!

Friday Happy Hour: Stolen Spiders Edition



Despite the almost-daily string of controversies emanating from the White House these days (some real, others imagined and hyped to no end) the nation’s economy kept up its historic roll this week.  With 201,000 new jobs added in August, the country has now experienced 95 consecutive months of positive job growth.  With a mere 62 days to go before the midterm elections, our commander-in-chief may wanna start mentioning this a bit more often and bag the whole “fake news” spiel until 2019. 

Speaking on controversies, it was a double-whammy type of week for President Trump.  After weathering a hit from the release of Bob Woodward’s White House tell-all, an anonymous senior Trump administration official penned a scathing op-ed to the New York Times.  Lord help us all if the author was wearing Nikes at the time of the writing. 

Trump made some positive headlines in western Pennsylvania this week, as he honored a request from Shell Corporation to go easy on this whole steel import quota thing.   Royal Dutch Shell, as we’ve mentioned, is in the midst of building a cracker plant the size of Vermont in western Pennsylvania, and as such is using a boatload of steel and aluminum. Shell is already spending $6 billion on the plant and would very much not like that number to reach $7 billion, thank you very much.   

Health insurance premiums under Obamacare (yeah, that’s still a thing) are slated to go up by an average of 4 percent this year, which is a far cry from the huge hikes of the past two years.  There may be a reason why this campaign season is not being fought on the “repeal Obamacare” front.  We just can’t put our finger on it, though. 

Shares of Tesla dropped like a stone this week after founder Elon Musk was caught on video smoking weed. Wall Street traders dumped Tesla stock like it was hot garbage, then retired to their offices to fire up a joint and pour a glass of scotch. 

Our friends at Lyft (Shameless Client Plug 1) found themselves at the top of LinkedIn’s list of coveted start-up companies, we learned this week. While arch-rival Uber has spent the last few years tripping over its own app, Lyft has quietly captured 35 percent of the ride-share market. Slow and steady wins the race, people.

Prison safety dominated state headlines this week, as the state’s correction institutions remained on lockdown after corrections officers and inmates were sickened by coming into contact with synthetic drugs, including Fentanyl.  The crisis led the Wolf Administration to ban all printed mail from entering prisons, instead replacing them with scanned copies, among other security protocol changes. Corrections officers have a tough enough job with having to worry that some jackwagon mailed an envelope full of K2.   

When the General Assembly returns for business in late September, many southeastern Pennsylvania GOP members will once again push legislation to take firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers.  If you are surprised that Republican lawmakers are getting ready to go toe-to-toe with the NRA, you need to read up on southeastern Pennsylvania electoral politics. 

Gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner went a bit, um, nonconventional this week, producing a video where he called literal bullshit on Governor Wolf’s trip to Puerto Rico. Wolf’s team was quick to point out that Pennsylvania is home to about 420,000 folks of Puerto Rican heritage, or 8 percent of the entire Puerto Rican population in the country.  Wagner would prefer that Wolf stay a bit closer to home, apparently.   

With apologies to Allen Iverson, who was “talkin’ ‘bout practice” lo those many years ago, we were “talkin’ ‘bout taxes” this week, as the Tax Foundation released a new report on Pennsylvania’s need to overhaul its tax structure.  It was like Christmas morning for tax policy nerds (we are looking at you, Triad VP Todd Brysiak), courtesy of our friends at the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry. 

When State Rep. Matt Gabler returns from active duty in Kuwait, you will need to address him as Major Gabler, we learned this week.  Gabler received a promotion this week, and all of us at Triad thank him for his selfless service and dedication.   

Pennsylvania’s farmers need many things to ply their trade (expensive equipment, good soil, occasional rain, etc.) but one might be interested to know that farmers also need access to high-speed internet and broadband services.  If you think farming isn’t high tech, you’ve been watching too many Hee-Haw re-runs. 

In our Shameless Client Plug 2, we send a hearty congratulations to our friends at the First Bank of the United States in Philadelphia, who this week received an $8 million redevelopment grant from the Commonwealth.  Alexander Hamilton’s central bank is about to become a treasured part of the rich cultural scene in the City of Brotherly Love!  

In our third and final Shameless Client Plug, we give a shout-out to our friends at Magellan Health for wrapping up another successful statewide conference on battling opioid and heroin addiction.  If you haven’t been watching what Magellan has been doing to battle this scourge, you should. This issue touches us all.  

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we shoot down the highway to the outskirts of Philadelphia.  We won’t actually go into the city, however, because somebody stole a metric ton of poisonous spiders and scorpions and other creepy crawlers from a local museum, and who the hell knows where they might be. The theft led to the Tweet of the Week from Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, who cautioned Philly Mayor Jim Kenney that Pittsburgh may have to build a wall and make Philly pay for it.

That’s what passes for news around here on another steamy Friday in Harrisburg.  Be sure to check in next week, when we will still be avoiding Philly like the plague.  From all your friends at Triad, have a great weekend!   

Friday Happy Hour: Profane Parrot Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday Happy Hour: Sidewalk Urinal Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Triad is Hiring!

Triad Career Opportunities


At Triad our employees support our vision by applying their insight, creativity, and experience.  Our employees are bright, innovative, and committed to maintain a first-class reputation.  We provide a great place to work and consider our employees as the foundation from which we are able to build world class strategic consulting.


Triad Strategies is an equal opportunity employer. 
All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, religion, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, status as a protected veteran, status as a qualified individual with a disability, or any other trait protected by law.


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Friday Happy Hour: Big Beaver Edition

Big Beaver

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Friday Happy Hour: Rescue Pig Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Friday Happy Hour: Pittsburgh Shark Edition

YinzerThis just in: it is not raining in central Pennsylvania as of this writing.  The mid-state made national news this week as torrential rains turned Hershey and Hummelstown into one, giant pond and pushed the Susquehanna River over its banks.  Enough rain fell to fill 3.3 million Olympic-sized swimming pools, according to the Bureau of Arcane and Mostly Useless Weather Facts.   

President Donald Trump this morning strode into the Rose Garden and informed the nation that the GDP rose by more than 4 percent in the previous quarter, with all economic signs trending up.  Memo to the president: to stave off any mid-term GOP electoral trouble, you may wanna talk about only the economy until November.  We are not kidding.  Literally, don’t say a word about anything else.  

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, members of the so-called “Freedom Caucus” have filed articles of impeachment against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for… something.   Their efforts lasted all of 24 hours before House Speaker Paul Ryan tossed a bucket of cold water on them, saying, “Yeah, we aren’t gonna do that.”  

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey was awfully busy this week, first announcing that he will be an emphatic “yes” on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.  This will undoubtedly cause Kavanaugh’s opponents to inundate his office with calls asking him to vote no, which is never going to happen.   

Toomey also took some time out of his schedule to blast President Trump’s farm tariff solution, which is apparently to just hand $12 billion in subsidies to farmers hurt by his own tariffs, or as Toomey calls it, “putting a band-aid on a self-inflicted wound.”  It seems that nothing causes Toomey to part ways with Trump faster than trade policy. 

For his part, Trump will travel to Pennsylvania next week to do some rallying and campaigning for Congressman Lou Barletta, who can’t seem to gain any traction in his bid to unseat Sen. Bob Casey Jr.  The clock is not Barletta’s friend at this point, so he could likely use some Trumping.  

State Attorney General Josh Shapiro this week penned a letter to Pope Francis, asking him to intervene in the ongoing grand jury report dispute between Shapiro, the courts, and the Catholic Church.  Nothing like going straight to the top of the food chain. Shapiro does not take “no” for an answer very well. 

The other AG, state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, seems to have carved out quite the policy niche as the highest-ranking PA public official in favor of the legalization of recreational marijuana.  DePasquale often touts the $500 million in annual tax revenue that legal weed could produce, but this week he sweetened the pot (see what we did there?) by showing how many tourism dollars we are losing to states that have already legalized it.  Pennsylvania: see the Liberty Bell, smoke a bowl. 

A Pennsylvania casino company is having a devil of a time convincing central Pennsylvania residents that building a small casino in their community won’t turn it into a set from the Sopranos.  The same arguments that anti-casino forces made in 2004 (Pennsylvania = Gomorrah) get trotted out each time somebody wants to open one, despite mountains of evidence to the contrary.  They are not meth labs, folks.  Just casinos.  

Retiring Congressman Bill Shuster shared some thoughts this week on how to fund the nation’s sorely needed infrastructure repair, the cornerstone of which would be to nearly double the federal gasoline tax, then repeal it eight years later and move to a per-mile fee.  No word on how this plan might go over with his current GOP colleagues, as most of them fainted upon hearing the details.

Gov. Tom Wolf and his challenger, Scott Wagner, continued their “he said, he said” over public school funding.  Wagner maintains that Wolf secretly wants to slash funding for schools, while Wolf said Wagner already supported funding cuts in the past.  Regardless, this race continues to be about a 9 on the 1-10 boredom scale.  Somebody release a negative ad or something. 

Residents of your Capital City came out in droves this week to share their – ahem – unhappiness with a state oversight team’s plan to bring Harrisburg out of Act 47 protection.  At the core of that plan is a three-year, 80 percent increase in property taxes for city residents.  One resident compared that plan to 1972’s Hurricane Agnes, which pretty much wiped the city out. Seriously, on what planet does anyone believe the way to rescue a city is to slap an 80 percent tax hike on it? 

In our Shameless Client Plug this week, our good pals at Pocono Raceway have teamed up with the Pennsylvania Turnpike to host a trucking industry job fair at the raceway tomorrow.  Check out the details here if you’ve ever wanted to be a gear jammer! 

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to the North Atlantic, where a 7-foot mako shark by the name of Yinzer roams the waters.  If you happen to run into Yinzer, don’t be too concerned about him devouring you.  He only eats Primanti sandwiches and pierogies.   

That’s what passes for news around here from soggy Harrisburg!  Come back next week where we will once again regale you with tales of yore. Or something.  From all your friends at Triad, have a great weekend!    


Friday Happy Hour: Dogs in Food Edition

Dogs in FoodFollowing his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, President Trump this week initially said "I don't see any reason why it would be" Russia that interfered in the 2016 election.  Twenty-seven hours later, after all hell had rained down, and breaking with his usual practice of claiming not to have said things he said, Trump explained that he misspoke, and that what he really meant to say was "I don't see any reason why it wouldn’t be" Russia that interfered with the 2016 election.  Got it?

In stating (at least initially) that he believed the word of President Putin over his own intelligence agencies, President Trump induced a somewhat rare occurrence of U.S. Senators Bob Casey Jr. and Pat Toomey agreeing on something.

Monday was the deadline for applying for online gambling licenses.  Despite the grumbling in some quarters that the 54 percent tax rate would deter some prospective licensees, nine of the 13 licensed PA casinos said “deal me in.”

As for when Pennsylvanians will be able to place legal bets on sporting events, it’ll probably be during the upcoming football season, but maybe not at the very beginning, according to PA Gaming Control Board Executive Director Kevin O’Toole.

Following are this week’s highlights of the slowly awakening PA gubernatorial battle: Republican challenger Scott Wagner said Governor Wolf wants to drastically cut funding for education in rural school districts.  Wolf said “nuh-uh.”  Look for things to heat up a bit more as we approach Labor Day.

The governor unveiled new guidelines for how opioids should be prescribed in workers’ comp cases.  Critics said the guidelines were weaker than ones he vetoed a while back.

The consequences of the new law that permits Pennsylvanians to purchase (and more to the point, set off) commercial-grade fireworks continues to rankle early shift workers, pets, pet owners, editorial writers and folks who tend to think of nighttime as a sleeping opportunity.  This week’s condemnation comes from Williamsport.

Over yonder in Philadelphia, the city prevailed in its defense of its tax on sweetened beverages.  Mayor Jim Kenney lauded the state Supreme Court decision, while others – city grocers and other retailers who are losing business to the ‘burbs – were naturally disappointed.

The PA Interscholastic Athletic Association passed a couple of policies this week that could have a significant impact on high school sports.  Effective Aug. 6, athletes in 10th grade or later who transfer to another school during the season will be barred from participating in post-season competition for a year unless granted a waiver.  The other policy is aimed at maintaining competitive balance by taking several new factors into account in determining whether a school should be bumped up to a higher classification.

State officials revealed that they had to shut down online access to birth and death records recently after someone hacked into them and made some unauthorized “cosmetic modifications.”  They added that no data breach occurred, and they are working with law enforcement to get to the bottom of it.

A new report claims that several hundred thousand additional Pennsylvanians could vote if the Commonwealth implemented automatic voter registration and offered early voting. A total of 92 million eligible Americans did not vote in the last presidential election, according to the Center for American Progress.

Speaking of voting, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said he would expand the scope of his audit of the state’s voter registration system in the wake of the federal indictments of 12 Russians for hacking in the 2016 election.

Speaking of the auditor general, he released an analysis concluding that legalizing marijuana in Pennsylvania and taxing it at 35 percent could yield nearly $600 million annually for the state coffers. 

And, speaking of marijuana (this is what we call a “segue hat-trick”), Lackawanna County officials complained that state officials moved too quickly on advancing the medical cannabis program, and that they’d like a bit more guidance on what the law means for local programs.

Senate Transportation Committee Chairman John Rafferty (R-Montgomery) took his show on the road (see what we did there?) to Monroeville this week to remind the fine folks in western PA of the benefits they’re receiving from passage of the transportation funding act in 2013.  We gin up this week’s Shameless Client Plug by reporting that Jason Wagner, of Associated PA Constructors, was on hand to provide the industry’s perspective.

This week’s We Can’t Make This Up segment whisks us off to the internet, where some dude named Max has found a use for Instagram that could truly change our world for the better.  He photoshops images of dogs and food and posts the mashups to an account called Dogs in Food.  The account has nearly a half-million followers.  And you thought Instagram was just a waste of time…

So, that’s what passes for news around here this week as we move toward the dog days of summer!  From your pals here at Triad World HQ, have a great weekend, and join us back here again next week for another batch of nebulous news nuggets and pet pix!

Friday Happy Hour: Hot Tub Bear Edition

Hot tub bear

President Trump this week hopped across the pond to attend the annual NATO summit, pausing to excoriate our allies for their lack of financial commitment to the alliance before having very nice dinner. Upon his exit, Trump announced he had secured a larger financial commitment from the allies in attendance, something that was definitely news to them.   Trump is now off the Helsinki, where he will attend a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.  We are sure there will be nothing controversial AT ALL happening at that little soiree.

Congress this week continued its investigation-o-rama by dragging Trump-loathing FBI agent Peter Strzok over the coals for his intemperate text messages.  Congress can’t seem to pass immigration reform or infrastructure funding but, man alive, can they put on a sideshow.  And for the record, “Strzok” is obviously too hard of a name to pronounce for most of our sitting members of Congress.

After 10 lean years, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania now has a little cabbage in its savings account, thanks to Gov. Tom Wolf’s $22 million transfer of loot into the Rainy-Day Fund.  Critics of the governor were quick to be, um, critical, but Moody’s seems to believe it’s a pretty big deal.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has told county officials across the state that they have to replace their voting machines by the 2020 elections.  The cost of that little endeavor could be north of $125 million.  This year’s state budget contained $14 million to address the problem.  Now, we are not mathematicians here at Triad, but those two numbers aren’t even in the same zip code.  Democracy, it turns out, is not free.

Protestors once again gathered outside Governor Wolf’s residence this week to complain that the governor won’t call a legislative special session to force lawmakers to undertake redistricting reform. If Governor Wolf could “make” the General Assembly do anything, we can assure you the last three budgets would have looked quite different. So again, dear protestors, maybe get some sort of primer on how special sessions work before wasting your time out on the sidewalks of York County. It is hot out there, and you could get dehydrated.   

A top Wolf Administration official this week slammed the federal government for proposed cuts to a program that helps Americans sign up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act, a program that President Trump apparently doesn’t even believe still exists.  Which, to be fair, may explain his administration’s hesitance to fund it.  Trust us, he’s not funding Planned Parenthood either.     

Governor Wolf also launched his PA SMART initiative, a $50 million program to help train Pennsylvania kids for the jobs that actually exist in the state, instead of the jobs we kinda wished were here.  The program will focus on career and technical training and STEM skills, among other areas, and was a bipartisan product of this year’s budget agreement.  Hey Congress, see what can be accomplished when you work in a bipartisan fashion?

Speaking of STEM skills, a robot cat has come to Pittsburgh to teach those very skills to the wee ones.  We assume it does not need a robot litter box, but it will still probably bite you if you touch its robot tummy. 

A state overseer has laid out a plan to get Harrisburg out of Act 47 status, detailing ways to fill a projected $12 million annual budget hole. With no more parking garages to lease, it looks like the answers are taxes, and then maybe some taxes. 

The late, great state Rep. Bud George was once quoted on the House Floor as saying, “Talk is cheap, but it takes money to buy whiskey.” Well if that is the case, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey’s bar is stocked quite a bit better than that of his challenger, Congressman Lou Barletta.  Casey rolls into August with a 10-1 fundraising advantage over Barletta, with the midterms getting larger in the windshield. 

Over in the gubernatorial race sandbox, Governor Wolf’s challenger, Scott Wagner, has seized upon Wolf’s comment about the basic education funding formula, suggesting that if Wolf had his druthers, about 250 school districts would have few dollars next year. We are not sure if this line of attack will stick, but at least this race is showing somewhat of a pulse. 

In another installment of our Shameless Client Plug segment, check out our good pal Bob Latham from the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors (the people who build your roads and bridges), talking about how important it is for the General Assembly to pass a bill to legalize automated speed enforcement in construction zones.  A bill to do just that has, somewhat inexplicably, bounced around the House and Senate like a volleyball, never actually making it to Governor Wolf’s desk.  

In our We Can’t Make This up segment this week, we take you to California, where a man discovered that a bear had slurped up his margarita and then decided to lounge around in his hot tub.  The bear reportedly then grabbed the man’s iPhone and ordered some guacamole and chips from a local restaurant.

That’s what passes for news around here on a gorgeous Friday the 13th!  We hope to see you back here next week with all the news you can bear to read!  From all of us at Triad, have a great weekend!

Friday Happy Hour: Pride of Lions Edition

Pride of lionsEPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is out of a job just two days after munching on hot dogs at the White House Fourth of July picnic.  We have since been marveling at the sheer joy being shared online by environmentalists and progressives over his resignation.  Memo: Nothing we have seen to this point leads us to believe that President Trump is looking for the next Rachel Carson to fill the position. 

While the World Cup marches on, the eyes of the world remain fixed on another soccer team consisting of twelve Taiwanese boys and their coach trapped in a cave in Thailand.  Incredibly, they were all found alive this week after a nine-day search.  Now comes the tricky part: getting them out.  Maybe give former Pennsylvania Gov. Mark Schweiker a call?

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey has gone from being disappointed over Trump’s trade policy (i.e. tariff the crap out of everyone) to being downright miffed, saying we have crossed the Rubicon. Kudos to Toomey for throwing out a reference to a 1983 Journey album. 

Meanwhile, Trump’s Canadian newsprint tariffs have really started to anger the U.S newspaper industry, pretty much ensuring that those particular tariffs will remain in place forever, or at least until Trump leaves office.  Another memo: If the newspaper industry were smart, they would tell Trump they love the tariffs.  They would be lifted before sundown.  

Gov. Tom Wolf and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. this week sent a letter to the feds asking how many children separated from their parents at the border have made their way to Pennsylvania, and where they might be.  Given how well the federal government has tracked those children thus far, we suspect the answers are 1) between zero and 3,000 and 2) your guess is as good as ours. 

Protestors camping out in front of the ICE offices in Philadelphia were removed this week, sparking outrage in some quarters.  The odd thing is that Philly is, in fact, a sanctuary city and does not cooperate with ICE unless ordered to by a judge, so there is more than a smidge of irony there. 

Governor Wolf this week casually mentioned that he would like to see all school funding in Pennsylvania driven out by a bipartisan new formula that lawmakers agreed on several years ago.  For some reason, this touched off a mini-firestorm.  It would seem that some lawmakers only want to see the so-called “new money” driven through the new formula, leaving the vast majority of dollars to be driven out by an admittedly terrible system.  This sounds suspiciously like buying a brand-new car and only driving it every other Wednesday. However, moving all school funding through the new formula would create a whole new list of “losing” school districts, which isn’t a whole lot of fun when you are on the ballot.  

Wolf also this week called on lawmakers to raise the state’s minimum wage, a plea he has made 800 or so times since taking office.  We know how this song ends. 

Pennsylvania’s new law that expanded to types of fireworks that can be legally purchased went over with a literal bang this week, with one York police official describing the Fourth of July in his town as “sounding like a war zone.”  Super!  Remember, don’t let children light fireworks.  It should always be done by the crazy uncle at the picnic who’s already had twelve Coors Lights, and strangely enough only has eight fingers.

The infamous Southern Beltway highway project in western Pennsylvania looks like it will suffer its 3,794th setback, as flooding caused by construction happens every time it rains more than three drops.  At this rate, Trump’s border wall will be constructed before the beltway opens.  

Also in western PA this week, a judge is hearing arguments over the state Office of Open Records ruling that all information from Pittsburgh’s bid for the Amazon HQ2 project be made public.  Admittedly, city and county officials really don’t want to share the info while a bidding war is happening.  That’s like being forced to play the World Series of Poker with your hole cards face-up.  

As is often the case when major problems confront our nation, the business community steps in to help lead the charge.  In the fight against opioid addiction, companies are putting their dollars to work to treat folks because it is not only the right thing to do, but it also makes economic sense.  We give you Altoona as Exhibit A.

Exhibit B is in Pittsburgh, where Allegheny General and UPMC are no longer separating mothers from newborns who come into the world with opioid addiction. Sometimes holding-your-new-baby therapy can be just as powerful as drug therapy. 

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to South Africa, where karma played out in rather gruesome fashion this week.  Several poachers broke into a nature preserve to illegally shoot rhinos, but instead were greeted by a pride of lions.  Spoiler alert: the lions won.  Quickly. 

That’s what passes for news around here this holiday week!  Come back next week because, frankly, we would be awfully lonely without you.  From all your friends at Triad, have a great weekend!

Friday Happy Hour: Ugly Dog Edition

Cornelia Wolf, mother of Gov. Tom Wolf, was laid to rest this week after passing away at age 94.  Triad joins all Pennsylvanians in sending our most sincere condolences to the governor and his family. 

Those crazy kids on the U.S. Supreme Court had themselves quite a week as they struck Lebron Jamesdown fair-share laws in the long-awaited Janus v. AFSCME decision, which will seriously hamper the ability of public sector unions to engage in political activity.  While most of organized labor had already anticipated this outcome, they now have themselves quite the rallying cry for this November. 

Hours after handing that decision down, Justice Anthony Kennedy decided to hang up his spikes at the tender age of 81.  His retirement will open up a second slot for President Donald Trump, who must have felt a bit like Barron Trump on Christmas morning. Look for the GOP-controlled Senate to move with alacrity in seating the crucial ninth justice. 

For his part, Sen. Bob Casey Jr. feels that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should postpone any SCOTUS confirmation votes until after November.  McConnell’s response to such calls has thus far been “Yeah, that’s cute.  No.”  

With the 2018-2019 fiscal year budget safely in place, the state looks to be in pretty decent financial shape for the near future, we were told this week.  Before y’all get too comfy and complacent, it won’t be too long before storm clouds gather around the Commonwealth’s checkbook. If you are in the government business, maybe don’t make vacation plans for next July.  Or August.  Or September. 

Anti-gerrymandering groups decided to camp out in Governor Wolf’s reception room this week in an attempt to get him to call a special session on redistricting reform before July 6, the deadline for any plan to get onto the November ballot for voter approval. We are not exactly sure why they believe the governor can force the legislature to come back to Harrisburg for any reason, let alone for a bill that will not even require his signature.  But whatever, make yourselves comfy.  Try not to interrupt the tour groups while you are there.  

Redistricting was not the only issue left hanging when the legislature left town this week.  Anti-hazing legislation, a bill to address gun violence and a bill to shrink the size of the legislature all got pushed off until the fall session.  The addition of these three bills to the fall agenda brings the grand total of things that will be accomplished in the fall to zero.  There are exactly nine session days scheduled for the rest of the year, folks.  Lower your expectations accordingly.

Cases of elder abuse jumped 13 percent in the last year in Pennsylvania, a worrisome number to be sure.  It would be nice to see policymakers act swiftly to address this issue, given that our elderly population is one of the largest in the country.  If we perhaps changed the phrase “elder abuse” to “Libre abuse” it will be addressed by the end of next week.

Speaking of Libre, Pennsylvania’s favorite canine lobbyist was back in the news this week as he celebrated the one-year anniversary of his law with lawmakers, the governor and some doggie cake.  He will now begin teaching classes on how to effectively lobby the General Assembly. 

With one stroke of his mighty pen, Governor Wolf this week made Pennsylvania the first state in the country to have a clean-slate law that will automatically seal records of low-level offenders after a decade of clean livin’.  It is not often we are first in the nation in anything other than trash imports, so this is a big deal.

All 13 of Pennsylvania’s casinos have now joined forces to stop the Wolf administration from rolling out I-Lottery games that, in their view, look a little too much like slot machines.  The mere fact that all thirteen casinos agree to anything is a minor miracle, but we are gonna bet the Wolf team is a bit nonplussed by the whole thing.  And hey, anything beats Gus the Groundhog.   

Speaking of casinos, as the state continues to finalize regulations on sports betting, along come the owners of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who want a piece of that gambling pie from the state to finance upgrades to their taxpayer-funded stadium.  Editor’s note: It was hard to type that sentence without laughing hysterically.  Really, Pirates?  Maybe you should use gambling money to buy a bullpen or a corner infielder who can hit his way out of a wet paper bag. 

The City of Harrisburg will be locked in state oversight for at least another three years, we learned this week.  The state-appointed overlord wants some time to ensure the city has its fiscal legs under it and apparently is working on a plan to do just that.  Meanwhile, Mayor Eric Papenfuse says the city is on fire and headed off a cliff.  Glad everyone is on the same page. 

Some shameless love goes out this week to our friends at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia for once again offering free admission on July 4.  If you wanna spend some time honoring our country on Independence Day, we cannot think of a better way to do it.

Because we love to end June on a high note, we bring to you this report that the nation’s surplus supply of cheese is at an all-time high.  Fire up those grills, people, and don’t skimp on the cheddar.  These are the days we will tell our grandkids about. 

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to Petaluma, California, where the annual World’s Ugliest Dog contest just concluded.  English Bulldog Zsa Zsa took home the crown this year, and from the looks of it, could probably repeat the feat for the next ten years.  This dog is the LeBron James of ugly.  Welcome to the true dog days of summer!  

That’s what passes for news around here on a scorching Friday in your capitol city. From all your friends at Triad, have a safe and wonderful Fourth of July!

Friday Happy Hour: Flying Tube Steak Edition

PhanaticWe pause this week to join all Pennsylvanians in expressing our sorrow to Gov. Tom Wolf over the death of his mother, Cornelia.  She was 94.  Our prayers are with the governor and his family. 

We also take a moment to send our good wishes to former Gov. Ed Rendell, who this week announced he is battling Parkinson’s disease.  Good thing sports betting is now legal in Pennsylvania, because we have all of our money on Rendell in this fight. 

President Trump this week signed an executive order designed to stop immigration agents from separating children from their parent at the U.S. border, after more than 2,000 such wee ones experienced exactly that over the last two months.  The order seemed to stir even more uncertainty, which is why Congress moved swiftly this week to pass a new… just kidding.  Congress didn’t really do anything. 

PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro is no fan of Trump’s border policy and has joined 10 of his colleagues in filing suit against the administration, marking the 490th time he has sued the president since taking office. 

Trump also spent part of the week stepping up his tariff game, announcing he will slap an additional 10 percent tax on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports.  Or basically all of China’s imports.  At some point, we are gonna run out of things to tax. 

Vice President Mike Pence made a stop in the City of Brotherly Love this week to endorse former state Sen. Scott Wagner’s bid for governor.  One state lawmaker in attendance was, shall we say, less than cordial to the veep, throwing him a finger gesture that is usually reserved for the Dallas Cowboys when they enter the Linc. 

For his part, Wagner made news this week when he came out and supported a hike in the state’s minimum wage, albeit a much smaller hike that Governor Wolf has proposed.  Wagner also said he would then like the “conversation to be over.”  Since it is abundantly clear that the legislature is leaving town without taking up the issue, the end of that conversation is pretty far away, we can assure you.    

The state’s top GOP lawmakers have filed suit in the U.S. Supreme Court over a state high court decision that threw out – and ultimately re-drew – Pennsylvania’s Congressional maps.  While it is unclear whether the SCOTUS would even hear the case, the outcome would not affect the maps for the November elections.  If history is any indication, this suit is likely D.O.A. in D.C.

Governor Wolf has a completed state budget on his desk as we speak, after overwhelming majorities in each chamber voted in favor of the $32.7 billion bar tab.  This news is nothing short of astounding in this toddlin’ town. The 2018-2019 spending plan contains no new taxes, a small boatload of cash for schools, and some new funding for school safety.  Contentious election years tend to encourage people to sharpen their collective focus. 

There seems to be a bit of a kerfuffle brewing between Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse and House Speaker Mike Turzai, as Papenfuse continues his push to get the state to lift the city’s distressed designation.  The speaker essentially told the mayor that it ain’t happenin’, captain.    

Penn State students will get an early Christmas gift in the form of a tuition freeze after Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman engineered an increase in state higher education funding.  #WeAre   

As of this writing, the House and Senate’s top GOP leaders are engaged in a bit of a staredown unrelated to the budget.  At issue are bills that would ban Down syndrome abortions and one that would crack down on hazing at college campuses.  Let’s just call this a “Love and Marriage” showdown: you can’t have one without the other, according to one of the combatants.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney got some great news this week, as his city is on the very short list to host a few World Cup soccer matches in 2026.  Only soccer can generate that much anticipation for an event that will be held eight years from now. 

And speaking of mayors, our good friend, strategic partner and Mayor of Brentwood Dennis Troy scored a big victory this week, as Allegheny Health Network announced plans for a $25 million neighborhood hospital in his little slice of western Pennsylvania heaven.  Great job, mayor!   

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we go to the friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.  On Monday, a fan by the name of Kathy McVay was struck in the face by duct-tape-wrapped hot dog fired into the crowd by the Phillie Phanatic.  McVay sustained a black eye but says she won't seek damages.  No word yet on the Phanatic facing an assault-with-a-deadly-wiener rap. 

That’s what passes for news around here as lawmakers and the governor get ready to depart for the summer.  We, however, will not be departing because we have lots of other stuff to do.  From all your friends at Triad, have a great weekend!

Friday Happy Hour: Port-a-Potty Edition

The big news of the week was the historic Trump/Kim (no, the other Kim) summit, which produced what can be described as an agreement-in-principle.  You drop your nukes Basic-restroom program and we will drop our stranglehold on your already-crappy economy.  Considering the fact that any deal with North Korea typically has the shelf life of a banana, much remains to be seen.  

This morning, President Trump announced $50 billion in new tariffs on Chinese products, prompting the Chinese to announce their in-kind retaliation on soybeans and beef, which is a not-so-subtle shot at Trump’s heartland supporters.  The Chinese have obviously studied up on this trade war stuff.  

Trump may also face some headwinds in trying to “bring back coal,” we learned this week.  The proliferation of solar, wind and other renewable sources have already caused 15 gigawatts of coal-fired power to go off the grid just in the last year.  Which is more than the 1.21 gigawatts that Marty McFly needed to go Back to the Future.   

The president also this week had a small falling out with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over the trade imbalance that doesn’t actually exist.  To be fair, we are sure Trudeau is still cheesed off at us because a Canadian team once again failed to win the Stanley Cup.  You guys stink, eh?

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Friday Happy Hour: Mad Peacock Edition

The U.S House this week passed a measure that will cut $15 billion in unspent money from the federal budget.  There was quite a bit of pearl-clutching going on, which we found to bePeacock_02 

odd considering the federal budget deficit for the year is around $800 billion, so $15 billion is pretty much a rounding error in that context.

As the historic summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean Supreme Ruler Kim Jong Un approaches, Trump this week floated the idea that Kim might one day visit the White House.  The Secret Service will have a devil of a time keeping Dennis Rodman from jumping over the White House fence.

Trump today suggested it might be time to allow Russia back into the G-7, making it the G-8 once again, presumably because Russia hasn’t forcibly annexed any sovereign nations in the past few days.   

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey this week had a rather public break with Trump over tariffs, which we can only guess will result in Sen. Bob Casey having lunch with Trump sometime very soon. 

There will be no property tax hike in Philadelphia this year (and probably next year as well), as City Council agreed on a budget without Mayor Jim Kenney’s centerpiece revenue
generator.  This development did not make the mayor very happy, as one might guess.  

While there will be no property tax increase, there will be a new construction tax levied to fund affordable housing in the city. While this was good news in the fight for affordable housing, the plan was absolutely lambasted by a certain electrician who maintains that the tax will cause construction to grind to a halt. 

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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. 

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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.   

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.   

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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.

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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.   

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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.

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