Print

Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

Marco Rubio (Associated Press photo)Marco Rubio (Associated Press photo)

1) As we noted a day ago, the topic of childhood vaccines is definitely the political issue of the week, and a couple of prominent Republicans found themselves entangled in the debate in the last day or two. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie kicked off the furor when he said parents should decide whether vaccines were appropriate for their children; U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky also jumped in, citing "many tragic cases" of "normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines." Both men later backtracked, but their waffling seemed especially pathetic in the face of a simple statement from Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida: "Absolutely, all children in American should be vaccinated."

2) Hearings on the suit by Erik Arneson against Gov. Tom Wolf begin today. If you want a preview, take a spin through Karen Langley's detailed look at what the governor's legal team will argue.

3) Pennsylvania's original political Tom – former governor and the first secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Ridge – took advantage of an appearance on Larry King's web talk show "PoliticKING" to throw his support behind the not-quite-yet-announced presidential campaign of Jeb Bush.

4) David Axelrod, a former adviser to President Obama, is talking about his new memoir, "Believer: My 40 Years in Politics." Among the details he's discussing are the 2012 concession call between the president and Republican challenger Mitt Romney; Mr. Axelrod says Mr. Romney seemed to believe he lost the election because Mr. Obama's popularity with African American voters.

5) Republicans seem to have an uneasy relationship with science these days, what with some of the party's most notable members struggling with issues like climate change and immunizations. And North Carolina U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis sure didn't do his party any favors this week when he said restaurant owners shouldn't be forced to require employees to wash their hands after using the bathroom. Does anyone know if Mr. Tillis happens to own a restaurant back home? That's one we'd likely skip next time we visit North Carolina.

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

A preview of Wolf's open records case

Published by Karen Langley on .

Erik Arneson (Associated Press photo)Erik Arneson (Associated Press photo)

Attorneys for Gov. Tom Wolf have outlined their arguments ahead of tomorrow's hearing in the lawsuit contesting his firing of Erik Arneson from the Office of Open Records. 

The brief from the attorney general's office argues that:

1) The director of the Office of Open Records is an at-will employee.

There is no provision of the RTKL that -- by express terms or necessary implication -- limits the power of the Governor to remove the executive director at his pleasure as allowed by Pa. Const. art. VI, § 7. Thus, under the Constitution and the principles set forth in 2
Venesky v. Ridge, the Governor has the authority under law to remove the
Executive Director of OOR without specifying a reason.

 

2) They don't think Arneson is necessarily very qualified for the job. 

Neither a lawyer nor an individual possessed of degrees in public policy or
public administration, Arneson most recently had served for a long time as staff to
then-Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi. When Senator Pileggi was ousted
from his leadership position by members of the Senate Majority Caucus in
November 2014, Arneson was displaced from his position on the Majority
Leader’s senior staff and found himself in need of new employment. Arneson
found it in OOR in the waning days of the administration of Governor Tom
Corbett.

3) Senate Republicans should be dismissed from the case.

Put simply, because the RTKL provides the Caucus with no role regarding the selection or removal of the Executive Director, its claims are nothing more than a generalized complaint
about how government is functioning. The Caucus lacks standing to make such a
claim.

4) This isn't a constitutional issue -- it's a "garden-variety 'wrongful termination' claim."

As to Arneson, despite the rhetoric of statutory constitutional violations, this is ultimately a garden-variety “wrongful termination” claim through which Arneson seeks to be reinstated to the position of Executive Director of OOR.


5) Acting Executive Director Nathan Byerly should be able to do a fine job.

Acting Executive Director Byerly is more than capable of ensuring that OOR continues to operate properly. It is undisputed that Byerly has worked at the OOR, in some capacity, since almost its inception. Unlike Arneson, who has scant credentials to serve as Executive Director and would have to learn how the officefunctions, who the staff is, and how decisions are made, Byerly has the necessary experience to serve as the Acting Deputy Executive Director.

We'll hear more tomorrow morning in Commonwealth Court.

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

Hillary Clinton (Associated Press photo)

1) For our friends at Quinnipiac University, it's never too early to start thinking about presidential elections. And for our friends in the Republican party, it's apparently time to get to work. A new Quinnipiac poll of three key swing states – Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida – shows that with a couple of exceptions, Hillary Clinton would thump pretty much all potential Republican challengers.

2) If you're in need of some light reading at lunchtime, you might want to take a spin through the findings of fact released Monday by federal prosecutors in their case against Rob McCord; the Pennsylvania state treasurer who resigned last week. Mr. McCord will plead guilty to two counts of extortion, the feds said, and Mr. McCord could face as much as 40 years in prison and $500,000 fine if he's hit with the max sentence.

3) Since a measles outbreak swept through Disneyland in California last month, we've noticed that the topic of vaccines coming up more and more often. U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy has apparently noticed as well; he's kicking off hearings today on the effectiveness of vaccines for measles and this year's influenza strains.

4) The next step in the fight between Gov. Tom Wolf and Erik Arneson – the appointee of former Gov. Tom Corbett removed from the job as head of the state Office on Open Records by Mr. Wolf – will be in Commonwealth Court. But an informal poll conducted by Politics Pa. shows we're pretty much split on whether Mr. Wolf made the correct decision.

5) President Obama's full 2016 spending plan – all 18 kazillion pages of it – was released yesterday, and it didn't take long for folks like us to start dissecting how the proposals would fare. Politico has an especially thorough look at which portions of the budget have a chance to thrive and those that are DOA.

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

Feds announce McCord charges, plea deal

Published by Mike Pound on .

Rob McCord

Former Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord will plead guilty to two federal extortion charges, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced this afternoon. The charges are significant -- they each carry a maximum sentence of a $250,000 fine and imprisonment of 20 years, followed by three years of probation. Mr. McCord is scheduled to be arraigned on Feb. 17; in the meantime, you can take a look at the details of the plea agreement and a court document detailing the facts of the case -- as presented by federal prosecutors and agreed to by Mr. McCord -- both of which are attached to Kate Giammarise's story about the charges.

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

(Associated Press photo)(Associated Press photo)

1) President Obama unveils his 2016 budget today. We know a lot of what it's going to contain, starting with the rollbacks of the spending caps imposed a couple years ago when the sequester that was supposed to be so bad that it wouldn't happen happened because of Washington's inability to get anything done.

2) Mr. Obama will be pushing Republicans on Capitol Hill to take up budget proposals; meanwhile, Vice President Biden has been pushing Democrats to take credit for the improving economy.

3) Another interesting thing we might see from Washington this week: a move by the Federal Communications Commission to re-classify broadband Internet service as a utility, which would give the FCC the ability to impose tighter regulations on those service providers. That proposal would come on the heels of a change to how broadband is defined by the FCCand after a change of heart for the commission's leader.

4) Rather than focusing on the Super Bowl victory by the Evil Empire in Boston, let's take a minute to consider dancing sharks.

5) Don't forget your booties, because it's cooooold out there today.

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.