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Monday, January 25, 2010

Senator Specter's vote for the Recovery Act

Stephen R. Reed, the former mayor of Harrisburg, writes about the Recovery Act:

...the vote of Specter, who put the needs of the commonwealth and the country above party ideology... ...might well have saved the nation from a 1929 Depression.
Full article:

Recovery Act spurs positive change in nation and Harrisburg

By Patriot-News Op-Ed

January 19, 2010, 7:03AM

A year ago, the nation was on the verge of economic collapse.

Local communities statewide faced the threat of home foreclosures, job cuts, retirement fund losses and a decline in consumer confidence. Local tax revenues were down at the time demand for social services and government relief was climbing.

Today, we live amid new hope that the worst effects of the recession are behind us. There are increasing signs that Congress and the Obama administration were right to intervene in the economy on a massive scale and that Sen. Arlen Specter was right to break party ranks and cast the deciding vote in favor of the administration’s stimulus package.

His vote cost him the support of the Republican Party, but it earned high marks for political courage. “Party,” as John Kennedy used to say, “sometimes asks too much.”

The $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is putting people back to work, restoring roads and bridges, promoting green technology, fighting homelessness, hiring more police and firemen and strengthening education.

It is above all a catalyst for change. Change in the way we generate and use energy.

Change in our treatment of the environment. Change in our approach to mass transit and train travel. Change in our approach to homelessness and crime prevention, Change in our treatment of ex-offenders. Change — as in the transformation of urban life.

In Harrisburg and Dauphin County, the stimulus has meant millions of dollars for street resurfacing and bridge repairs; childhood nutrition; work-study jobs for college students; teachers and teacher aides; low-income housing; more police; homeless prevention; defense projects; HIN1 research grants; job training and health care.

Sample grants in our area include $2.1 million for street repaving; $1.7 million for police; $773,000 for clean energy; $7.2 million to restore abandoned neighborhoods; $200,000 for mass transit; $364,000 for clean energy; $245,000 for crime prevention; $278,000 for a “second chance” for ex-offenders; $3.4 million for the Cumberland-Dauphin-Harrisburg Transit Authority to purchase new buses (including five hybrids); $7 million for school lunches; $114,000 for work-study jobs at Harrisburg Community College; $855,478 to renovate homes for resale to low- and moderate-income homebuyers; and $3.7 million to hire teachers to improve failing schools.

America’s aging electrical grid is at risk of catastrophic failure. PPL Electric Utilities Corp. will spend a “smart grid” stimulus grant of $19 million to revamp its distribution system for Harrisburg’s 60,000 customers. The new technology, employing “smart meters,” will allow the company to operate its power lines more efficiently at a savings to customers of $1.5 million a year. “It has the potential to reshape the way we think about, use and deliver electricity,” says David DeCampli, president of PPL.

To deal with mounting joblessness, the Act extended unemployment benefits through December 2009. Congress then added another 14 weeks. Sens. Specter and Casey helped secure an extra six weeks on top of that for Pennsylvania with its 8.5 percent unemployment rate.

All told, Pennsylvania expects to receive more than $16 billion from the Recovery Act. About $10 billion will flow through state agencies and departments for education, projects such as infrastructure improvements and alternative energy and support services such as Medicaid. Another $6 billion in direct tax relief and other direct assistance will go to residents, local governments, businesses and other entities.

None of this would have happened without the vote of Specter, who put the needs of the commonwealth and the country above party ideology. His action might well have saved the nation from a 1929 Depression.

Stephen R. Reed served 28 years as Mayor of Harrisburg.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Campaign Update

This just in from Chris Nicholas, Senator Specter's Campaign Manager:

The Senator’s campaign has had a terrific week, buttressed by endorsements and strong crowds at his events. Local, state and national Democrats continue to endorse Senator Specter, joined recently by the Philadelphia Building Trades Council and the Scranton Federation of Teachers.

Last Monday in Scranton more than 120 local Democrats came out to join Senator Specter for breakfast. The Senator talked about investments in health care in northeastern Pennsylvania, progress of the Scranton-NYC rail line, and jobs that the economic recovery bill has created and saved in the region. Watch Senator Casey's comments about Senator Specter.

(Just a week earlier, our primary opponent Cong. Joe Sestak hosted a Scranton event that drew just 10 people.)

Wednesday the Philadelphia Building Trades Council, comprised of 42 unions with 77,000 members, unanimously endorsed Senator Specter...it’s the first major endorsement by organized labor in the Democratic Senate primary.

At a packed union hall in northeast Philadelphia, the Inquirer reported:
Union leaders cited Specter's crucial vote for the federal stimulus last year, and repeated support for increases in the minimum wage and to retain the Davis-Bacon Act, which requires federal construction projects to pay union rates.
Recognizing his work for public education in Pennsylvania, the Scranton Federation of Teachers also announced their endorsement of Senator Specter.
“We are proud to stand with Sen. Specter because he has stood with us to improve public education in Pennsylvania,” said Rosemary Boland, President of the Scranton Federation of Teachers. “We are excited to endorse his re-election.”
Over the weekend Senator Specter spoke before a receptive crowd at a meeting of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA). As the Morning Call reported:
The education association, which gave Specter two standing ovations during his dinnertime speech, has endorsed the incumbent senator in most election cycles…
Cong. Sestak, plagued by small crowds at many of his local events, continued to fumble – giving new and conflicting excuses for skipping 127 votes in Congress. Those 127 missed votes have earned him the worst attendance record among his fellow Pennsylvania Representatives. In an Erie Times-News story a Sestak spokesman said Sestak's 127 skipped votes were unimportant!

No wonder political publications around the state continue to question Sestak's ability to run a serious statewide campaign. The most recent round of stories detail that Sestak has yet to even hire a campaign manager a mere 16 weeks from the primary. Sestak signaled that he’s in no rush to hire a manager.

…his campaign model is not scalable to the statewide level,” said one Democratic insider familiar with Sestak’s previous campaigns.

Finally, Senator Specter announced last week that more than 300 Democratic leaders have now joined his Statewide Advisory Committee. These local, county, state and federal elected officials and party leaders have endorsed Senator Specter’s campaign and have provided a big boost to our efforts.

See the new Advisory Committee Members here. You can view the entire Advisory Committee here.

Senator Specter is building support as he travels across Pennsylvania. Make sure that you receive an invitation when the Senator is in your area. Click here or the “Become a Member” link below to sign up with your ZIP code so you can receive updates on Senator Specter's next visit to your area.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A profile of U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter

From Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer: A profile of U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter

Some excerpts:

Never an easy political race:
Specter has served in the Senate longer than anyone in Pennsylvania history, a milestone that would have seemed laughable when he was losing races for district attorney of Philadelphia, mayor, governor, and U.S. Senate. In 1980, he butted his head against the wall again and eked out a win by 2 percentage points. His secret weapon: visiting every wide spot in the road in all 67 counties, pushing, pushing, pushing.
Each issue on its own merits:
In this politically polarized time, Specter does not have a set of core ideological principles to rule his actions, friends say. He consumes facts, analyzes an issue, then makes a call and moves on. His philosophy boils down to: Do good. Government sometimes needs to step in to help people help themselves.
 His ideological core?
At heart, he is an advocate, reflecting his training as a lawyer and early career as a prosecutor. He reveres the Constitution and sees his function as making sure that things are done the right way, the fair way, that the system works. He can come off as pedantic, but process is important to him; it guards rights.
 What drives him:
"He knows how the system works," said lawyer Stephen J. Harmelin, a friend of four decades. Specter thinks "he can make more of a difference than any of the people running against him."
A former assistant says:
"Arlen will not tolerate anything less than excellence," said Arthur Makadon, the chairman of Ballard Spahr L.L.P., who was Specter's first assistant D.A. in the early 1970s. "I don't find it bad to demand excellence. . . . I learned more in the time I worked for Arlen than I learned in the rest of my life."
 Bottom line:
"I feel good, and I've got a lot more to do," he says. "I'm very anxious to keep going."

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Important Dates leading up to the 2010 Primary

February 16      First day to circulate petitions

March 9            Last day to file petition


April 19            Last day to REGISTER

May 11             Last day to apply for an absentee ballot

May 14             Last day for BOE to receive absentee ballots ...

May 18, 2010   PRIMARY DAY!!!  GO VOTE!