Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush waves as he takes the stage to formally join the race for president, Monday, June 15, 2015, at Miami Dade College in Miami. (David Goldman/Associated Press)Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush waves as he takes the stage to formally join the race for president, Monday, June 15, 2015, at Miami Dade College in Miami. (David Goldman/Associated Press)

1) There were no gasps of shock Monday afternoon when Jeb Bush announced that he had decided to run for the Republican presidential nomination – after all, we had already heard announcements about possible announcements about soon-to-be-scheduled announcements from the former Florida governor. Even less surprising? His emphasis on his connections to the Latino community and an approach that's less about charisma and more about policy.

2) Quick – name another presidential candidate who'd rather talk about the wonky side of running for the office. And that's not the only similarity between Mr. Bush and Hillary Clinton.

3) Ms. Clinton has other issues to deal with, like the one named Bernie Sanders, whose poll numbers in New England have to be making the front runner a little uncomfortable.

4) Pennsylvanians are more supportive of hydraulic fracking than the national average, a new poll from the Robert Morris University Polling Institute has found. We back fracking to the tune of 57.1 percent, while the national average reaches 55.9 percent. But we're also a bit confused about the issue; the poll found that 60.1 percent say they agree "strongly" or "somewhat" with this statement: "The environmental impact of gas drilling outweighs any resulting reduced energy costs or energy independence."

5) We've always been fascinated by Richard Nixon – we're old enough to remember when our Sesame Street viewing was interrupted by the Watergate hearings – so we can't get enough of this week's media tour by Tim Weiner, who combed through documents and hours of recently released tapes from Mr. Nixon's White House to write his new book, "One Man Against the World: The Tragedy of Richard Nixon." In this excerpt, Mr. Weiner recounts a night in 1973 when members of the administration – Al Haig was in control, as it turns out – had to deal with a threat that the Soviet Union might intervene in the Arab-Israel War because an increasingly fearful and paranoid president was too drunk to make decisions.


Wolf steps back on personnel decisions

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Erik Arneson? He has a job. Marcus Brown? He doesn't.

The administration of Gov. Tom Wolf announced two personnel decisions this morning, both of which represent a more conciliatory stance than Governor Go Time has taken.

First, Mr. Wolf said he'd allow Erik Arneson to serve as director of the state's Office of Public Records while the administration waits on its appeal over the position. Mr. Arneson, you'll recall, was appointed to the job by Mr. Wolf's predecessor but replaced by Mr. Wolf in January. Mr. Arneson, backed by senate Republicans, sued, saying the office's independence would be compromised if its director was a political appointment; last week, the state Commonwealth Court said it agreed with Mr. Arneson. Mr. Wolf said last week that decision was stayed by his appeal to the state Supreme Court; his announcement today changes that stance.

We don't know if Col. Brown, Mr. Wolf's nominee to lead the Pennsylvania State Police, was asked to withdraw his name for consideration or if he did it on his own – Jeffrey Sheridan, Mr. Wolf's spokesman, refused to say – but Mr. Wolf will seek a new nominee for the commissioner's chair. Col. Brown seemed to be imminently qualified for the job, but he drew the ire of current and former troopers when he chose to wear the PSP uniform in spite of not being a graduate of the state academy. The senate last week voted down Col. Brown's nomination, but Mr. Wolf said then that his choice would remain in place as acting commissioner, prompting some saber-rattling on the part of senate Republicans. Wolf said today that Col. Brown would hold the job until a new candidate -- presumably one comfortable wearing a suit -- is nominated.


Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

A technician does a sound check at Miami Dade College where former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is expected to announce his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, Monday, June 15, 2015, in Miami. (Lynne Sladky/Associated Press)A technician does a sound check at Miami Dade College where former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is expected to announce his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, Monday, June 15, 2015, in Miami. (Lynne Sladky/Associated Press)

1) We've seen Jeb Bush announce that he's thinking about announcing a run for the Republican presidential nomination, and we've seen him announce that he's going to officially announce his candidacy. This afternoon, he's making that announcement. But really, we'd mostly like to hear more about his guacamole.

2) Hillary Clinton had already announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination, but on Saturday, she gave the first major speech since making that announcement in April. The speech seemed to be aimed at the progressive wing of the party, the one that's excited about Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and his presidential nominations. So while she touched on a mess of populist themes during the speech, it's also worth noting what she didn't bring up: the current president's education reforms or his quest for new trade agreements (although she answered questions about the trade issue over the weekend), domestic surveillance by the National Security Agency or Obamacare.

3) Over in New Jersey, Chris Christie had declared himself ready for battle at the presidential-candidate level, although he said he needs to finish work on his state's budget first. Which probably works for him, because the more distance he can put between himself and the scandal over shutting down traffic at the George Washington Bridge in the name of political retribution, the better.

4) We don't yet know if state Attorney General Kathleen Kane is going to face charges in the investigation over leaks of grand jury information, but it isn't hard to figure out that potential Republican candidates for her seat aren't going to wait to find out. Take state Sen. John Rafferty, for example – the Berks County Republican will announce his candidacy for the seat on Wednesday. And Mr. Rafferty may be joined by state Rep. Todd Stephens, of Montgomery County, who said last week he'd make a decision after the state completes its work on the 2015-16 budget.

5) Happy 94th birthday to the late jazz pianist Erroll Garner. We're celebrating by noting the donation of Mr. Garner's professional materials to the University of Pittsburgh Library System, the perfect place to house the legacy of the East Liberty native.


Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

State Sen. Scott Wagner

1) We don't know if Scott Wagner also loaned Camera Bartolotta a baseball bat for her successful campaign to unseat Tim Solobay last year, but the outspoken Republican state senator from York did make a personal loan to Ms. Bartolotta to the tune of $100,000, which Ms. Bartolotta then loaned to her campaign fund. At least one expert says the loan looks iffy when held up against a state law that prohibits making campaign contributions in the name of another.

2) A favorite claim of politicians has to do with independence, as in not blindly following the party line. But who puts their money where their mouths are, when it comes to voting against the party? The Washington Post has combed through the votes of the 114th Congress and figured out which of our officials are likely to break with the party. At the top of the list for senate Democrats? West Virginia's Joe Manchin, who has voted against the party about 25 percent of the time and around 35 percent when the votes were tight. Also in the Top 10 among senate Democrats was our own Bob Casey, who split with the party around 10 percent of the time. Leading the way for senate Republicans was Susan Collins of Maine, and presidential candidates Rand Paul and Lindsey Graham both made the Top 10.

3) Should we really be surprised that Ted Cruz doesn't care that he's hired an anti-Islamic bigot to work for his campaign?

4) Hillary Clinton is ready to ditch the Scooby van and the meetings with small groups of voters – at least temporarily – as she kicks off her campaign in a big way with a big speech scheduled for Saturday in New York. She'll use the life story of her mother, Dorothy Rodham, to make a more personal connection with voters; she'll also apparently address the State Department email scandal and some of the other issues that have been dragging down her recent approval numbers.

5) Not in the mood for a Hillary Clinton speech? You could join us at the Point for Saturday night's Three Rivers Arts Festival show by Neko Case. Have a great weekend, boys and girls.


Broad group will get vote for District 11 replacement

Published by Mike Pound on .

All Democratic committee members in Allegheny County Council District 11 will get a vote to decide who replaces the late Barbara Daly Danko, the county's party chairwoman said today.

The election to name two replacements for Ms. Danko, who died of cancer two weeks before last month's primary election, will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 2 at the Pittsburgh Firefighters IAFF Local 1 hall, 120 Flowers Ave., Chairwoman Nancy Patton Mills said in a statement. Those eligible to vote include all chairs, vice chairs, secretaries, treasurers and elected or appointed committee members from the district.

That's a change from earlier interpretations of the vague laws that govern the situation which could have limited the vote to the district's ward and municipal officers.

"After careful consultation with attorneys and members of Allegheny County leadership, I am pleased to announce that we are able to grant voting privileges to all committee members within this district," Ms. Mills said in the release. "We know this is the most democratic -- and most fair -- way of conducting this election."

Those eligible will vote twice, to elect a replacement who will serve out Ms. Danko's unexpired term ending in January and to nominate a Democratic candidate for the next four-year term.

Terri Klein, the campaign chairwoman for Ms. Danko, was appointed by county council to fill Ms. Danko's seat until the August special election.