On Primary Monday we have to start with Jim "Big Picture" O'Toole taking a look at tomorrow's election and seeing a lot of belt-tightening but, most importantly, no one paying attention:
In the twin races atop Allegheny County ballots Tuesday, candidates for county executive have had the challenge of trying to inspire voters with talk of retrenchment and belt-tightening.
And in the battle for public attention, candidates in the hundreds of municipal, judicial and school board contests have been vying with a state budget crisis, the first stirrings of the 2012 presidential race and a spring filled with dramatic international developments. The result has been a relatively low-key primary season, dominated by the realities of tighter budgets rather than the lofty ambitions and promises that animate campaigns in better economic times.
"You know, for an old gal I get around a lot; I'm on a lot of boards and committees," said former mayor Sophie Masloff. "I've never seen such disinterest in my whole life as in this primary ... they just tune this right out. It's very discouraging."
On April 20, the acting general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, Lafe Solomon, issued a complaint against Boeing for starting an airplane production line in South Carolina, alleging the company did so in retaliation for strikes at a unionized plant in Washington state.
The decision sent the case filed by the local machinists' union to an administrative law judge and sent politicians into a tizzy.
Mr. Luttig and Republicans argued Thursday that the NLRB's action would cause any company with a union workforce to think twice about locating operations in a state with a right-to-work law, which bans union-only workplaces. By extension, they added, heavily unionized states should be worried as well because companies wouldn't want to locate there then be handcuffed in future expansion.
Especially in a sputtering economic recovery, the threat is eye-catching. And it fits with Republican claims that the heavy hand of the Obama administration is inhibiting the economy through everything from environmental to tax policy.
Union supporters are left to argue that the National Labor Relations Act is meant to promote unionization, and the NLRB is going through its usual methods to enforce the law.
And the Washington Post paid a visit to Moon Township to talk about another union battle: the controversial school choice initiative in the state house, and the work of former House Majority Leader Dick Armey using the tea party to help drive it through, along with other long-sought conservative causes. A telling anecdote:
The day after his speech in Pittsburgh, Armey drove to Harrisburg, where he breezed through the hallways of the state Capitol, cowboy hat in hand, visiting with senior Republican lawmakers and even not-so-senior ones to let them know why the school-choice bill is important to him and thousands of Pennsylvania voters.
Armey buttonholed Rep. Brian Ellis, a Republican from a suburban district in Butler County, as he strode up the steps of the state Capitol. Armey had met many dozens of Ellis’s constituents at the conference the day before, he said — and they all wanted Ellis to vote for school choice.
Ellis explained that he wasn’t so sure of that in a district where most parents like their schools. But he also listened nervously as Armey spoke, all too aware of the power of the tea party — and FreedomWorks — to target lawmakers who vote the wrong way. Ellis would “absolutely” take a closer look at the bill, he promised Armey as the two shook hands.