PFT endorses Molchany

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The Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers has endorsed State Rep. Erin Molchany in her primary race against Rep. Harry Readshaw.  The two Democrats were forced to run against one another in the newly drawn 36th District, after the redistricting process merged their former seats representing communites south of the rivers.

“I’m very honored to have the endorsement of PFT. I take my commitment to education very seriously, and I am grateful that the teachers here in Pittsburgh chose to reward my efforts on the education committee to reduce class sizes and hold publicly funded charter and online schools accountable.”  Molchany said in a statement released by her campaign.

The statement quoted PFT President Nina Esposito-Visgitis, as saying of Molchany, "In her short time in the legislature, she has demonstrated a deep commitment and a passion for public education.  To the members of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, Erin Molchany seemed to be the obvious choice."

Molchany and Readshaw are scheduled to appear together in a community forum Tuesday evening, April 15.  The event is sponsored by the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association at 7 p.m. at the St Paul's Retreat Center, 147 Monastary Drive.


RFK Jr. to stump for McGinty

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In an appearance designed to highlight her environmental credentials, Katie McGinty will be campaigning alongside Robert Kennedy Jr. in Scranton this Thursday.  Kennedy, the son of the late Robert F. Kennedy, is heavily engaged in environmental issues in his roles as an attorney for the Hudson Riverkeeper Foundation and as an attorney with Pace University School of Law’s Environmental Litigation Clinic.

“I am honored to have a true environmental leader like Robert Kennedy Jr. campaign for me this week,'' Ms. McGinty, a former state secretary of environmental protection, said in a statement released by her campaign.



Perry on Politics: Hey, hey, LBJ

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                                                       By James M. Perry

 Lyndon B. Johnson was not a nice man.

He was loud and vulgar, and worst of all, he was a bully. Right now, though, we are witnessing a revival of the 36th president. These reassessments of various presidents happen from time to time. Most recently, we have had outbreaks of revised portraits of James K. Polk and Ulysses S. Grant. Now, it's LBJ's turn.  If only, these revisionists say, Obama was more like Johnson.

 The case for LBJ rests basically on two pieces of legislation -- the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (which the right-wing majority on the Supreme Court seems hell-bent of tearing apart). The case against Johnson rests almost entirely on the war in Vietnam. He got us into it and he couldn't get us out, and 58,286 Americans died because of it and another 153,303 were wounded in the most senseless war ever fought by the United States.  

 Journalists writing about Lyndon Johnson rarely resist the urge to describe him as "larger than life." Well, he was big, but, God knows, he was human. One of my first recollections of Johnson was when he was Jack Kennedy's vice president. We had been warned not to ask him what he did with himself every day, and so our extraordinarily naive editor proceeded to do just that. "Reedy," he bellowed, "get these people the hell out of here!"

 George Reedy, his thoughtful press secretary, ushered the delegation out of LBJ's office.  

 He was incredibly abusive to his loyal, hard-working vice president, the ebullient Hubert Humphrey. The Washington Post published a letter to the editor on Sunday from Humphrey's old press secretary, Norman Sherman. In 1967, Sherman wrote, LBJ invited Humphrey to his Texas ranch. "He insisted they hunt deer, which Humphrey disliked. When they spotted a buck, Johnson gave Humphrey a rifle and ordered him to shoot. The president then taunted Humphrey, 'Bobby Kennedy got two.' He found a second deer and directed Humphrey to kill again. Later, he sent deer sausage and antlers to Humphrey, knowing that the antlers were not likely to be mounted nor the sausages eaten."

 That, Sherman concluded, "is not greatness. It is not even decency."

 Dan Balz, the Post's veteran political writer, noted in his Sunday column that voters and even members of Obama's own staff sometimes wonder why Obama can't be more like LBJ. Why hasn't Obama been able to cajole and threaten and sweet talk and bully the Congress into action the way Johnson did? 

 Obama, Balz answered, is a far different person than Johnson. "He is cool, cerebral, and detached. Johnson was the earthy, insecure political seducer. Still, it is questionable whether even LBJ could be LBJ in today's political climate. Could he really have found a way to bring tea party Republicans to the bargaining table with any more success than has Obama?"     

 Of course not.  Give Johnson credit for winning passage of those two ground-breaking laws, but he had support among Democrats in the Congress and even among some leaders in the Republican Party.

 His legacy will always remain that tragic, hopeless war in Vietnam. Anyone who traveled with Johnson during the Vietnam era is haunted by the sound of those young voices protesting the war. "Hey, hey, LBJ," they chanted, "how many kids did you kill today?" 

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.


Obama, Biden to visit Leetsdale

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From our D.C. colleague Tracie Mauriello:

        WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are expected to head to Allegheny County next week for an event on the economy.

                The pair, who rarely appear together at public events, will visit Leetsdale Wednesday, according to a White House spokesman. 
                No other information was available this afternoon.

Mr. Obama's last visit to the region was in January, when he spoke at a USX plant in West Mifflin.



Wolf offers loan details

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At a debate Wednesday night, Rep. Allyson Schwartz pressed Tom Wolf, to release details of a a loan he'd taken out to support his $10 million comittment to his camnpaign for governor. 

The Wolf campaign released a memo Thursday offering more specifics on the transaction.  The exact loan amount was $4.450,000.  The interest, which adjusts daily, is 3 percentage points above LIBOR _ the London Interbank Offered Rate, a common benchmark for loans such as adjustable rate mortgages.  According to the campaign, Wolf and his wife have pledged to repay it by December, 2016. Because it is a contributiion, rather than a loan to his campaign, the memo states, it cannot be repaid by campaign contributions from other parties.   The Wolf's are personally liable for the debt, which is secured by their personal assets including stock in the his firm, the Wolf Organization. 

[Update]  The Schwartz campaign isn't ready to take the gloves off.  They released a statement  pointing to the job losses the Wolf firm experienced after Wolf relinquished control in a leveraged buyout prior to the 2008 recession, and suggesting that the firm might face similar problems if the Wolf's personal loan is not repaid.




Read the Wolf campaign's full memo after the jump.