Perry on Politics: The (2nd) Son Also Rises

Published by James O'Toole on .

                               By James M. Perry  

First there was John Adams and his son, John Quincy Adams. Then there was William Henry Harrison and his grandson, Benjamin, followed in time by the Roosevelts, Teddy and Franklin. And, of course, more recently, we've had two Bushes, father and son, and both called George, in the White House.

 And now there seems to be a cry among reasonably responsible Republicans to draft -- entice might be a better word -- John Ellis Bush (Jeb to his friends and everyone else) to run for president. That might set a mark. If he were elected, it would be the first time that one family gave us three presidents. 

 "If we can't find more than two or three families to run for higher office, that's silly, said Barbara Bush, possibly the toughest member of her clan. She was referring to the Bushes, the Clintons, and the Kennedys. "There are other families," she said. "I refuse to accept that this country isn't raising other wonderful people." She did clarify her remarks later by saying maybe it would be OK if Jeb, her second-oldest son, ran for president. 

 So-called mainstream Republicans are profoundly disturbed that Rand Paul, the Tea Party-supported junior senator from Kentucky, is showing a surprising ability to attract young millennial-generation voters, a group that supported President Obama. I suppose many of these sensible Republicans would prefer to rally around someone other than Jeb Bush, knowing that poll numbers suggest voters have little appetite for sending a third Bush to the White House.

 But it's hard to think of anyone else who fits the bills. 

 Various pundits and politicians have been saying for years that Jeb Bush is the smartest of George H.W. Bush's boys, and maybe he is (no great achievement, smart alecs might say).  He grew up in Texas and moved to Florida in 1986, and plunged almost immediately into that state's politics.   He was elected secretary of commerce, resigned that post in 1988, and ran for governor in 1994, losing by a couple points to Democrat Lawton Chiles. He ran again four years later, and won easily with 55 percent of the vote. He was re-elected in 2002 with 56 per cent of the vote. 

 He was, by most counts, a successful governor, concentrating on improving education in the state, the economy, and the environment. He is, to his lasting credit, deeply sympathetic to the challenges faced by illegal immigrants. Many of them, he said, came here "out of an act of love."  Jeb's wife, Columba, was born in Mexico.

 He left office in January of 2007, a long time ago in the political time warp. Since then, he 's been doing some writing, giving some speeches, and no doubt thinking about running for president. 

 He showed up Sunday at his father's presidential library to mark the 25th anniversary of the beginning of the elder Bush's one-term presidency. The event was closed to the media (thought it was moderated by a Fox News anchor, helping to solidify the widespread belief that Fox is the semi-official GOP network).  Those who did attend said Jeb promised he would decide whether to run or not by the end of the year. His decision, he said, would depend on whether he or any other candidate could "run with a hopeful, optimistic message, hopefully with enough detail to give people a sense that it's just not idle words and not get back in the vortex of the mud fight."   

 What was he doing, then, at a forum in Las Vegas a few days earlier sponsored by the casino king, Sheldon G. Adelson, the man who famously bankrolled Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney? Adelson reportedly makes $32 million a day. Republicans came to Las Vegas, where Adelson owns the mammoth Venetian Resort Hotel Casino (8,000 suites and hotel rooms, largest of its kind in the world), to beg for a piece of the casino action. "I don't want to spend millions on another loser," Adelson explained.  

 It was the least edifying political spectacle this country has seen for a long time.                                                                     

 James M. Perry, a prominent veteran political reporter, is contributing regular observations for . Mr. Perry was the chief political correspondent of The Wall Street Journal until his retirement. Prior to that, he covered national politics for the Dow Jones weekly, The National Observer.



Call me, maybe?

Published by Moriah Balingit on .

If you've tuned into Pittsburgh City Council meetings recently, you may have noticed Councilwoman Darlene Harris turning up the heat on Mayor Bill Peduto. But today's slight came in the form of not what she said, but rather what she didn't say.

As the chairwoman of the Committee on Performance and Asset Management, she was slated today to introduce three hum-drum bills for maintenance of city technology, ranging from email to public safety cameras. The three bills originated in the mayor's office and led today's online agenda

But when it came her turn, she declined to introduce them. After the meeting, she said that the bills showed up on her desk this morning without warning. 

"It would be careless on my part to bring something forward when I haven't even discussed it," she said.

Given that the bills fall under the Department of Innovation and Performance, she said she was awaiting a call from Debra Lam, the chief of that department, before she moved forward. She directed the city clerk to call Ms. Lam.

Tim McNulty, spokesman for the mayor, said it's unclear what impact delaying the bills will have on city operations. But he pointed out that had she introduced the bills today, there would have been plenty of time for officials to answer questions about them. Normal protocol calls for bills to be brought up for discussion eight days after they're introduced, which is when council members have an opportunity to question administration officials about legislation. It's typically voted on two weeks after introduction, barring delays.

"Generally with public safety bills, It would be appropriate to allow it to be introduced and then come to administration with questoins if they have them," he said. "I don't know if it's required [to notify council members] either."

One of the bills is to pay a contractor $230,192.64 to maintain the city's public safety cameras. The city just paid a bill ot the same contractor after a two-year delay that resulted when the previous administration failed to ratify a contract



Child protection bills become law

Published by Karen Langley on .

From today's paper, Kate Giammarise on the governor signing some child protection bills:

"HARRISBURG -- From creating a statewide database of child abuse reports to boosting children's advocacy centers, Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law additional changes to Pennsylvania's protection laws Monday, part of a sweeping series of reforms recommended by a task force convened in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal."

One of the measures, sponsored by state Sen. Randy Vulakovich, R-Shaler, "would create a statewide database to make it easier for child welfare and law enforcement agencies to track cases of child abuse and neglect across county lines."

Full story here: Corbett signs spate of child welfare laws


Early Returns is #1 (Thanks, McNulty)

Published by Karen Langley on .

A brief self-congratulatory note before we return to our programming: Early Returns is number 1.

According to the 2014 Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors News Excellence Competition, which awarded ER first place for blogging, followed by our friends at PG Plate

The real congratulations, as far as ER is concerned, goes to long-time Post-Gazette reporter Tim McNulty, who left the paper in February to become spokesman for Mayor Bill Peduto. McNulty responded Sunday to the news: 

Cool seeing blog I edited for six years win best in state from AP/Editors group:…


Not over for labor-dispute bills

Published by Karen Langley on .

That bill removing exemptions to the laws against stalking and harassment for parties to a labor dispute passed the Senate this afternoon.

But with an amendment in committee, it now returns to the House, where Republican spokesman Steve Miskin said the Senate changes need reviewing.

The House had left an exception to the criminal ban for "constitutionally protected activity," which the Senate changed to "activity protected by the Constitution of the United States, federal law or the Constitution of Pennsylvania."

"The committee will take a long look to see if there are any effects," Miskin said. "The intent of the legislation is to ensure that stalking and harassing and threats of violence are not permissible."

David Taylor, executive director of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association, which is backing the effort, has one response: "It has no practical effect."

While House Bill 1154 passed the House 115-74, it cleared the Senate 48-0.

One point of agreement between the chambers: No exceptions to the ban on threatening to use weapons of mass destruction.