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Campaign Stop: April 7

Published by Karen Langley on .

In the Sunday edition, James O'Toole caught us up on the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor. Cue the self-deprecating humor:

"If you want to hide a secret from someone," state Sen. Mike Stack advised the Oakland audience, "talk about it at a lieutenant governor forum because no one will hear it."

(There's more like that. After tweeting a few quotes, I received an email with the subject line: "Did a lieutenant governor steal your parking space?")

And an interesting fact to throw around next time you're talking about the state's second-ranking office: "Since the adoption of the state's current Constitution in 1968, no lieutenant governor has gone on to be elected governor or, for that matter, to any other position."

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Schwartz, McGinty lead gun control ratings

Published by Karen Langley on .

ceasefire rankings

Katie McGinty and Allyson Schwartz scored the highest ratings in candidate ratings released Monday by gun-control advocacy group CeaseFire Pennsylvania, while Tom Wolf came in last.

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GOP hits McCord on Outsourcing

Published by James O'Toole on .

First Allyson Schwartz, then Tom Wolf, were the chief targets for Republican Party brickbats among the Democratic candidates for governor.  Treasurer Rob McCord got his turn Friday as the GOP jumped on his explanation of his former trade group's role in promoting the outsourcing of technology jobs.

Mr. McCord was the head of the Eastern Technology Council from 1996 to 2007, before running for treasurer.  In an interview with the editorial board of PennLive and the Harrisburg Patriot last week, he described the group's work guiding its membership on outsourcing as mainly a function of the Y2K crisis, the wave of software recoding that was designed to ward off the feared effects of the computer world's response to the new century's clock. 

The Inquirer's Thomas Fitzgerald pointed out, however, that the council conducted informational programs on outsourcing as late as 2007, years after the Y2K scare was history.

The GOP jumped on that, contending that it was showed "hypocrisy'' in light of the fact that McCord has successfully courted the support of many labor unions across the state.

"Pennsylvanians have to wonder if Rob McCord brought up his history of helping to send American jobs overseas while seeking union endorsements.  No wonder the Pennsylvania Democratic Party rejected these gubernatorial candidates,'' the GOP said in a press release.

The notion that the Democratic Party had "rejected'' these candidates was the GOP's tendentious interpretation of a vote at the last state committee meeting in which no candidate succeeded in passing the threshhold of a two-thirds majority needed for the organization's official endorsement.  McCord, however, got the lion's share of the committee's support there, collecting roughly half of the votes cast.

Since we shot a few of the GOP's bullets here, we'll cite the return volley from Mark Nevins, McCord's campaign spokesman:

"After watching Pennsylvania drop from 7th in the country in job growth to 47th, it's hard to take a lecture from Team Corbett on jobs.  The fact is, Rob has received more union support than any other candidate in the Democratic primary and, as a business leader, he helped invest in start-up companies that created more than 2,000 jobs in Pennsylvania. He is opposed to outsourcing and will continue to fight for jobs in Pennsylvania as governor."

 

 

Pennsylvanians have to wonder if Rob McCord brought up his history of helping to send American jobs overseas while seeking union endorsements. No wonder the Pennsylvania Democratic Party rejected these gubernatorial candidates.” - See more at: http://www.pagop.org/2014/04/bad-week-tom-wolf-rob-mccord/#sthash.JjAZiQ3w.dpuf

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SEIU, Fitz back Molchany

Published by James O'Toole on .

 

Rep. Harry Readshaw won big a few weeks ago in the Allegheny County Democratic Party's endorsement vote in his race against fellow Democratic Rep. Erin Molchany.  The two lawmakers were pitted against one another in the primary due to the recent round of  redistricting.  On Saturday, Molchany will showcase her own party and labor support in a rally with county Executive Rich Fitzgerald and officials of SEIU Healthcare Pa., and SEIU 32BJ.

An announcement from SEIU said they will be joined at the afternoon event _  1:00pm at 2615 Brownsville Rd., Pittsburgh _ by supporters including state Sen. Wayne Fontana, city Council President Bruce Kraus, and city Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak.

 

 

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Inky scrutinizes Wolf's business history

Published by James O'Toole on .

The most consequential Pennsylvania political story of the day was Joseph N. DiStefeno's report in the Philadelphia Inquirer today, on the recent history of Tom Wolf’s family business.

In his abundant television ads, Wolf has showcased the firm, the Wolf Organization, as a model of enlightened business success. The bedrock of the Wolf campaign is his turnaround story of how he rescued a firm that he had sold in 2006 after it foundered in the the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

DiStefano dives deeper into the story to find that Wolf and two cousins, co-owners of the firm, sold much of their interests  in a complex 2006 transaction. Managers of the organization acquired part of their stake through a deal funded by an investment banking firm and bank loans.

The investment firm, Weston Presidio paid $41 million. It’s stake in the recession battered firm is now worth $21 million. And one of the major investors in Presidio, it turns out, is the Pennsylvania’s State Employees Retirement System.

Wolf also told DiStefano that a substantial part of the $10 million he has invested in his campaign came from a bank loan, rather than his own cash.

“I really cobbled together everything I had,’’ he told the Inquirer.

The Republican Party wasted no time in throwing a harsh spotlight on the details of the Inquirer report.

“In the midst of a growing pension crisis, our state employees have learned that investing in Tom Wolf has cost them critical retirement funds,’’ the GOP said in a press release. “In addition, Tom Wolf’s is running his campaign on a philosophy of ‘spend first, pay later.’ ‘’

Wolf notes in the Inquirer story that while the the investment firm, Weston Presidio, still faces a significant loss from the 2006 deal, the restructuring he engineered upon his return to the firm restored it to solvency. Still, there’s plenty of fodder for negative commercials in the complex story. One immediate question is which of his Democratic competitors will succomb to the temptation shoot first at the frontrunner after one more poll showed a big lead for the York businessman.

Here's the Wolf campaign's response to the GOP attack:


"In 2006, Tom Wolf sold his business and retired. The sale was open and transparent and thoroughly reported in the local newspapers. In 2007, Gov. Rendell appointed Tom Revenue Secretary and Tom put all of his assets in a blind trust.
 
"As a distributor of kitchen cabinets and home building products, the Wolf Organization was hit hard by the sudden collapse of the housing market and the Great Recession.
 
"In 2009, Tom Wolf received a phone call saying that the bank was about to pull the plug on the company. Weston Presidio valued its investment in the business at zero.
 
"Tom was faced with a choice. He chose to put all his liquid assets toward saving his old company along with hundreds of jobs. He could have sat back and criticized, which is what a politician would have done.  Instead Tom Wolf made the decision to come back and save hundreds of jobs. He came out of retirement to buy back the company and he changed the business model.
 
"As a result of his leadership and a reinvention of the company's business model, the business has turned around. Weston Presidio's investment in Wolf is now valued at over $19 million - up from zero in 2009 - and they expect that number to only grow in the future. Any attempt to portray Tom's leadership of the Wolf Organization as anything but a success story is disingenuous.
 
"Tom didn't have to save the company, but he did it anyway because he knew hundreds of jobs -- and the families and community they support -- were at stake.
 
"Now the Wolf Organization is not just on solid financial footing, it is thriving. Just last month, employees received profit-sharing checks in addition to the excellent pay and benefits that Tom has always provided workers''

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