Jesse White seeks Washington County DJ seat

Published by Mike Pound on .

Jesse White

Jesse White didn't stay out of politics for long.

Mr. White, ousted from his seat in the state House last year, will seek nominations to serve as a district judge covering Mt. Pleasant, Robinson, McDonald and his hometown of Cecil. Mr. White, 36, has cross-filed to appear on Democratic and Republican ballots in May's primary election.

Mr. White served four terms as a Democratic state representative, but he lost a challenge in November to newcomer Jason Ortitay, a Republican. The loss was the Mr. White's first election following a controversy in 2013, when it was revealed that he had been impersonating other people on social media sites to take on political rivals

And things haven't been quiet for Mr. White since the loss. Earlier this month, he was sued in Washington County Court by his mother, Sharlene Watazychyn, who claimed that Mr. White racked up debts totaling $28,000 on a credit card he used her name to obtain. In response, Mr. White said his mother filed false claims because she was upset over not being permitted to see her grandson.

On a website touting his candidacy, Mr. White said his court would offer evening hours and be respectful to all. In a statement, he also said he would work with local law enforcement to get a grip on drug problems in the community.

"As a legislator, it was no secret that I often shown my passionate and aggressive side while fighting for my constituents and community," Mr. White said. "However, I understand that a judicial role requires a different and more measured approach, which is what I plan to bring into the courtroom every single day. My courtroom will be one of respect, fairness and justice, with no strings attached."


Wolf nominee withdraws name from Supreme Court consideration

Published by Mike Pound on .

Judge Thomas Kistler (Philadelphia Inquirer photo)Judge Thomas Kistler (Philadelphia Inquirer photo)

Centre County's president judge has withdrawn his name for consideration for a seat on the state Supreme Court after a controversy over – wait for it – a forwarded email message percolated over the weekend.

Judge Thomas Kistler didn't mention the message in a statement he released on Monday, but Gov. Tom Wolf said on Friday he was reviewing the content of the message, said by some to be racially insensitive: with the title "Merry Christmas from the Johnsons," the message depicts an African-American couple during what appears to be a prison visit; the man is wearing an orange jumpsuit and it sitting behind a glass partition.

The message's subject line? "best Christmas card ever."

Judge Kistler's statement didn't reference the message; instead, it mentioned unnamed circumstances in Centre County that required his attention:

Since November, when I first offered to serve the Commonwealth on the highest court in Pennsylvania, several circumstances have developed here, at home, in Centre County, which have dramatically altered the legal system, and require my full attention. I cannot with a clear conscience abandon my responsibilities to Centre County in this time of uncertainty.

Judge Kistler confirmed last week that he had forwarded the message. He said there was no ill intent.

Of course, one of the reasons Judge Kistler was nominated to serve on the high court was because of a controversy over pornographic emails that swept through the state Attorney General's office when former Gov. Tom Corbett held that position; that web snared state Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery, who retired from the court last year under pressure from then-Chief Justice Ronald Castille.


Nonprofit executive seeks GOP nod for Washington County commissioner

Published by Mike Pound on .

Nick ShermanNick Sherman

The manager of a Washington County nonprofit will seek a Republican nomination for Washington County commissioner in the spring primary election.

Nick Sherman, 35, is executive vice president of the Domestic Outreach Center, a nonprofit that works to minimize the impact of domestic violence in communities throughout Washington County. Mr. Sherman, who grew up in Finleyville and attended Ringgold School District, is a political science graduate of Clarion University; he has worked for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and the United States Congress.

In a statement announcing his candidacy, Mr. Sherman said Washington County has to be more thorough in overseeing revenues from the natural gas and gaming industries. ""We need greater transparency," he said. "This money is being treated like a WAM fund for political gain and pet projects instead of it being given back to the people in the form of lower taxes."

The pro-life, pro-gun Republican also said he would work to reform the county's government if elected. "I would like all county contractors to sign an ethics statement and implement a 'no-gift' ban," he said. "All projects and contracts paid for with county dollars should be bid out in order to ensure competition and the lowest price."

Mr. Sherman and his wife, Heather, live in North Strabane with their two children, a 4-year-old daughter Hadley and a 1-year-old son Maxwell.


Perry on Politics: An undistinguished week for GOP's presidential hopefuls

Published by Mike Pound on .

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks to The Chicago Council on Global Affairs in Chicago, Illinois, February 18, 2015. (Reuters photo)Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks to The Chicago Council on Global Affairs in Chicago, Illinois, February 18, 2015. (Reuters photo)

By James M. Perry

By one reckoning, there are 24 Republicans thinking about seeking their party's nomination for President next year. Only two of them are women -- the ubiquitous Sarah Palin of Alaska and Carly Fiorina, former Hewlett-Packard chief executive. None of them, with the possible exception of Jeb Bush, seems to be gaining much traction, and even he didn't do himself much good this week.

Mr. Bush, the former governor of Florida who would like to be the third member of his immediate family to occupy the Oval Office, gave what his advisors touted as a major foreign-policy speech in Chicago on Wednesday.

Eugene Robinson, the Washington Post columnist, like many others, was unimpressed. The speech, said Mr. Robinson, "consisted of empty platitudes doled out in tight rations."

"I'm my own man," Mr. Bush said, "and my views are shaped by my own thinking and my own experiences."

Fine. No one wants a candidate shaped by someone else's views.

Skeptics, though, couldn't help but point out that 19 of 21 of his foreign-policy advisors worked either for his brother or his father. That's to be expected, I suppose -- no one thinks Mr. Bush would choose anyone who advised Bill Clinton or Barack Obama -- but surely there must be some agile, smart Republicans with no Bush family ties out there knowledgeable about foreign affairs he could have turned to.

Barn-burner speech-making has never been a hallmark of the Bushes, father or sons.

Perhaps the week's most damaging story, by Maggie Haberman and Nicholas Confessore, appeared on the front page of the New York Times on Friday.

"He does not return phone calls," the reporters said. "He does not ask for support. He arrives late for meetings. And he acts as if he has all the time in the world." They were writing about Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey. It's devastating because lazy, disorganized candidates almost always lose. Campaign strategists and campaign donors can't abide them

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry went out of his way to tie himself and his beliefs to Abraham Lincoln. "Lincoln read the Constitution," he said, and he also read the Bill of Rights (of course he did) and he believed in states' rights (under the Tenth Amendment). The fact is, though, that Mr. Lincoln vastly expanded the role of the Federal government. He even suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War.

Nothing, though, matches the absurdity these candidates sometimes display in cozying up to their anti-Washington constituents than Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky discussing the light bulb. "Liberal elites," he said, "wanted to regulate what light bulbs we can use." He's talking about phasing out the old incandescent bulbs in favor of more energy-saving bulbs.

What he didn't say was that the phase-out was ordered in the Energy Independence and Security Act, passed overwhelmingly in both the House and the Senate and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 2007.

James M. Perry, a prominent veteran political reporter, contributes regular observations to 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.


Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

Workers clear snow from a roof in Boston, Monday, Feb. 16, 2015. (Associated Press photo)Workers clear snow from a roof in Boston, Monday, Feb. 16, 2015. (Associated Press photo)

1) If you're a Democrat in Pennsylvania, you haven't had a ton of great news since the election of Gov. Tom Wolf in November. Sure, Philly landed the 2016 Democratic National Convention, but otherwise the news has been pretty bleak: state Attorney General Kathleen Kane is still in trouble, former state Treasurer Rob McCord is contemplating the possibility of a long prison sentence and even Governor Go Time – who was one of just a few bright spots for the Dems nationally last year – is facing challenges over firing people and his death penalty moratorium. Whew – this weekend's Democratic retreat in Hershey is going to be a blast.

2) Another thing that's bound to come up in Hershey this weekend? Trying to figure out what the party is going to do about the 2016 race against Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey. Joe Sestak – the former Congressman who lost to Mr. Toomey in 2010 – is apparently excited about jumping in the race; the trouble is, no one else seems to be especially excited about Mr. Sestak. No less than former Gov. Ed Rendell has said the state Dems need to track down a "really good" candidate to run against Mr. Toomey -- so Mr. Sestak probably shouldn't count on a whole lot of support from the party this time around.

3) An eye-opener from the Pennsylvania Independent: the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission recently levied fines against 10 lobbying firms for failing to file lobbying disclosure forms on time, a number that the commission's executive director said was a "fairly common amount."

4) Call it the Jane Byrne effect: Could the perception in Boston that the city and state hasn't done a good job of managing this winter's prodigious snowfall mean trouble for newish Mayor Marty Walsh and Gov. Charlie Baker?

5) And then you consider the Pittsburgh weather forecast for Saturday, which varies from snowfall of 1 to 3 inches (National Weather Service in Moon) to 3 to 6 inches (way to go out on a limb, Accuweather), as of Friday morning. Ready to go, Mayor Bill Peduto?