Blogs > Daily Local Dan

A blog that takes a look at West Chester area government, politics, and community events.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Why do we conduct a census? Because the constitution tells us to, in this unassuming language:

"The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct" (Article I, Section II).

(Interestingly, the sentence right before that one is the infamous Three-fifths Clause.)

One of the purposes of the census is to figure out how many congressmen each state gets. However, the Constitution says nothing about how legislative districts should be drawn. Pennsylvania's Constitution does, but it does not, apparently, say enough.

Which has led to blatant gerrymandering. For a close-to-home example, check out the Sixth Congressional District:

They drew it in 2001 for Jim Gerlach.

And, based on the 2010 census results, the partisan line drawers in Harrisburg are likely to come up with even more abstract shapes.

To prevent such abuses, a few state legislators have introduced bills that would seek to limit gerrymandering. The goal is congressional districts, state senate districts and state house districts that do not unnecessarily split up geographic regions, neighborhoods, municipalities, school districts, etc.

State Rep. Paul Drucker, D-157th of Tredyffrin, is one of the legislators who has introduced such a bill. He held a hearing on Thursday at which he sought feedback on his bill and on a similar bill by State Rep. Babette Josephs, D-182 of Philadelphia.

Drucker sought testimony from the League of Women Voters and Common Cause for Pennsylvania. Spokeswomen from both of those agencies testified that Drucker's and Josephs' bills were a good start, but were highly flawed.

The problem, the spokeswomen said, was that both Drucker's bill and Josephs' bill call for the creation of bi-partisan redistricting committees. The League and Common Cause would prefer if these committees were non-partisan.

The committees that Drucker and Josephs call for would be composed of the house and senate majority and minority leaders. Drucker's bill would add on the majority and minority whips. Both bills call for the committee to be chaired by a non-legislator appointee.

The League and Common Cause wonder, "Why the hell would you want to leave legislators in charge of redrawing legislative districts."

You can read Drucker's bill here. You can read Josephs' bill here.

You can read the League of Women Voters' response here. You can read Common Cause for Pennsylvania's response here.

(There are other redistricting reform bills. I've concentrated on these because they were the subject of yesterday's hearing, which I covered.)

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Lights at Rustin

I have, in the past, written a post that makes it sound like I support the installation of lights at Bayard Rustin High School's football field.

In fact, I don't care whether lights end up on the field. At the time I wrote the post, I was in a literary mood. What I wished to express was this: Westtown Township is part of the Philly suburbs. It is not "the country." It will not be "the country" until 95 percent of its residents voluntarily demolish their houses and move out and the remaining 5 percent quit their jobs and take up farming.

In short: light pollution is part of suburban life. Deal with it.

The West Chester Area School Board on Monday voted to hold off on installing lights at Rustin's field. I wrote pretty extensively about the decision here and here. Cost, not light pollution, was the reason for the school board's opposition.

What is interesting, however, is the voting pattern that has emerged: Terri Clark, Sean Carpenter, John Wingerter, Heidi Adsett and Maria Armandi Pimley (all but Clark are new to the board) vote together. They have, it appears, formed a 5 to 4 majority.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

An example of Democrats' frustration with Obama

Skip Carroll, a West Chester Area Democratic committeeman, forwarded this message to me. Its intended recipient is Obama fundraiser David Plouffe, and Carroll wrote it in response to one of that publicist's many pleas for donations. It is an example, I think, of the intense irritation Democrats feel now that the Tea Partiers (with the help of the dutifully bored press) are stealing the national spotlight.

David Pouffle.

You guys just don't get it.

Obama has, with a lot of advisory help, surrounded himself with the sorriest lot I can believe. Rahm Emanuel. Despised by most in Congress, many in the White House, the majority of party faithfuls and half of Illinois.

Larry Summers. He may be the poorest financial manager/adviser living. He screwed up Lithuania, Russia Harvard and the US!

Tim Geitner. A toady to Wall Street in his whole career.

Ben Bernanke, who should be fired for every decision he has made counter to advice from Paul Volcker.

And many, many more.

In addition to this he has made back-door deals on Healthcare Reform with many of the people criminally responsible for the crisis, To Whit: The HMOs and Insurers, Big Pharma, The Doctors (read AMA) and Hospitals and the Ben Nelson types in congress.

And, you have the insensitivity to include a red "DONATE" button on your propaganda messages as though we should feel obliged to donate to an already elected president!

No wonder you lost Massachusetts and are on a course to lose the whole country.

Nice work Brownie.

Skip Carroll

Friday, January 8, 2010

Question Answered

But if I were any of those five Republicans, I would be soooooooo mad!

Gerlach Will Continue Fighting for Families, Taxpayers and Seniors of the 6th District

Announces he will seek re-election to Congress this year

(Glenmoore, PA) - Republican Jim Gerlach, who has had the honor of serving as "Our Congressman" since 2002, renewed his commitment to the families, taxpayers and seniors of the 6th District, announcing that he will run for re-election this year. He issued the following statement explaining his decision:

"Less than 24 hours ago, I announced that I was ending my campaign to become Pennsylvania 's next governor and would continue working hard each day serving the public. Almost immediately, hundreds of concerned constituents and long-time supporters made phone calls and sent e-mails urging me to consider running for Congress again and offering to help in any way they could to keep me in this seat. I am extremely humbled by the response and grateful for the outpouring of kindness and encouragement. The overwhelming response let me know that the best way to continue serving the public is by protecting taxpayers and fighting for our families. And it has reinforced the decision I have made - after exhaustive deliberation with my extremely supportive wife, Karen and our children -- to seek another term representing the great people of the 6th Congressional District.

"Seeking re-election to the 6th Congressional District rather than running for governor will change my position on the ballot. However, my principles remain the same. I am committed to helping families keep more of their hard-earned paychecks, giving small businesses the freedom they need to create jobs and remain competitive and making sure the government lives within its means and works for the people.

"These are the same principles that guided me as a state lawmaker working with Gov. Tom Ridge to trim waste from the Pennsylvania budget and to pass historic Welfare reform legislation, which empowered millions of Pennsylvanians to cash paychecks rather than collect welfare checks. These are the same principles that guided me as a member of Congress to support tax cuts that have saved the average Pennsylvania family more than $2,000 per year and helped make prescription drugs more affordable for our seniors. And these are the same principles that guided me in 2009 when I stood up to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and voted against the largest spending increase in our history, a misguided cap-and-trade bill that jeopardizes thousands of Pennsylvania manufacturing jobs and a health care scheme that would give the federal government unprecedented control over the daily lives of consumers, doctors and employers. I am energized, and will continue to be the best public servant I can be.

"I truly believe that I represent the best chance for Republicans to not only hold this seat, but play a major role in regaining control of the U.S. House of Representatives. I have held this seat in the face of fiercely competitive elections in which opponents and liberal interest groups have spent millions against me in the worst political environments for Republicans in a generation. This year, taxpayers certainly have a lot on the line if Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are allowed to pursue their agenda of higher taxes and infinitely expanding government and wasteful spending. I am determined to make sure that does not happen and look forward to the campaign ahead and continued support of the voters."

# # #


The Gerlach Tennyson Mashup!

(Or, this is what you get for being so freakin' vague)

U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach, R-6th of West Pikeland, announced yesterday that he has ended his bid for governor. But he was vague about his plans for the future - he said last summer that, in order to concentrate on his gubernatorial campaign, he wouldn't seek another term in the U.S. House.

HOWEVER, yesterday's withdrawal announcement included some language that leaves open the possibility he will run for reelection to Congress. I can think of five Republicans who will be extremely annoyed. (For those of you not following the 6th district race, five Republicans have announced their interest in Gerlach's seat.)

I would bet my 1863 penny (Civil War soldiers could have used it!) that Gerlach won't run for reelection to Congress. The only way he would run is if the national Republicans, believing him still to be the most viable 6th District candidate, convinced him to do so. His staffers, anyway, have said that Gerlach will, within the next few days, give us a more concrete idea of his future plans.

But I'm interested in something else -- as a close observer of language, I'm interested in the wording of Gerlach's super strange withdrawal announcement. Not only is it shamelessly vague (as in: I'll do something noble yet, but I'm not sure what! Could be anything, or nothing!) -- it bears a no doubt unintended resemblance to Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem "Ulysses." In this poem, Tennyson imagines an elderly Odysseus leaving Ithaca and sailing for uncertain new adventures. The poem is a so-called "dramatic monologue" - it is entirely in Odysseus' voice. Odysseus never tells us what adventures he has in mind. In fact, we get the impression that Odysseus has no idea what adventures he has in mind. So, in this way he sounds like the Gerlach of yesterday's announcement.

To demonstrate this (as well as to demonstrate some loose structural parallels between the poem and the announcement), I've constructed a "mashup" of the last stanza of Tennyson's poem and the last two paragraphs of Gerlach's announcement:

There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark broad seas.
While we have successfully raised
Over $1 million,
Traveled thousands of miles
All across this Commonwealth,
And signed up more than 19,000 supporters
Eager to help us win,
Today's media-driven campaigns
Require four times that amount
To wage a successful primary.
That left me with two choices:
Either spend all of my time raising money,
With little time left for meeting with voters;
Or withdraw my candidacy
And work even harder to serve the public.
I am choosing to serve the public –
Many of whom have graciously rewarded me
With their support for nearly two decades.
I want to express my tremendous appreciation to
And affection for
Our many contributors, supporters,
Volunteers, staff, and well-wishers:
My mariners, souls that have toil’d, and wrought,
And thought with me –
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads – you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honor and his toil --
You have been nothing short of awesome.
And it is because of your support and encouragement
That I will continue to travel the Commonwealth
Advocating commonsense ideas to create jobs,
Reduce taxes and cut runaway spending,
And make government work for all of our families:
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
I want to be clear about one thing:
This campaign for governor has stoked my passion
For honest, effective, and efficient government --
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices.
And I intend to continue to raise my voice,
And work hard in the months and years ahead.
Come, my friends,
‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

More meanness re: first baby of the year

While I'm on the subject of spelling errors:

Someone sent us this letter regarding my story on the first baby born in Chester County this year.

Please proofread your press releases.

Here's the headline of a poor press release that arrived in my inbox today:

Pennsylvania Business Owners have a Strong
New Allie in Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania Commercial Action Network Launch

The rest of the release is as poor as the headline. Here's an irresistible excerpt:

PaCAN multiplies the effectiveness of business owners in the public policy arena by organizing them into apotent coalition.

Yes, quite apotent.

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Monday, January 4, 2010

Carolyn Comitta officially mayor

Former councilwoman Carolyn Comitta was sworn in as mayor of West Chester today. Click here to read a PDF of her inauguration speech.

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Valley Forge TEA Partiers to protest Islam classes

[UPDATE - I've been told that the formal protest has been canceled. There may still be a less formal protest, or at the very least an attempt to disrupt the class.]

A group called the "Valley Forge Patriots - Tea Party '09" plans to protest a course on Islam that will begin later this week at the Downingtown Friends Meeting Schoolhouse.

The Valley Forge Patriots appear to be upset that the class is being led by Iftekhar Hussain, who is on the board of CAIR Philadelphia.

CAIR (The Council for American Islamic Relations) is an advocacy group that certain conservatives are convinced gets money from Middle Eastern terrorist groups. On websites frequented by the fringe right, theories about CAIR's funding abound.

Here's the text of the protest ad (It comes from I'm quoting it here in case it manages to disappear from the site):

Protest in Downingtown on January 7th

SOMETHING WE ALL GOTTA DO! - RSVP directly to Paula Stiles

January 7th, CAIR in Downingtown at 6:30 PM“The Downingtown Friends is going to be holding a 10-week session on the Muslim religion and culture. The speaker, Iftekhar Hussain, is on the Board of Directors of CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations). CAIR, has been linked to terrorist groups by many different sources.

“We need as many people there as possible. Some to stand outside with signs and others to go in and ask questions. Please let me know if you are interested, then I will be able to coordinate how many people are in and how many people are out. I would like to get about 100 people there if possible. The media will probably be there. If not, we plan to call them. Thanks.”

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New Years Pessimism!

Turns out the charming folks who comment on our website didn't much care for this year's "first baby of the year" story.

They seem to believe that A) We shouldn't report interesting stories; and B) If you have a child out of wedlock, you and your baby are doomed.

I find line of thinking B deeply unfair. We have absolutely no way of knowing how things for this new family are going to turn out. Why say, right from the getgo, that they're not going to make it? Must we insist that they conform to the "unwed mother pattern"? If so, then we allow them no individuality. Do the commentors mean to say that people are merely patterns?

What's going on in the lives of Daniel, Amanda-Rose, and their son James Paul appears to some commentors to be immoral. The behavior of Daniel and Amanda-Rose doesn't conform to their dumb, unnuanced moral orthodoxy. For this reason, the commentors I'm talking about, it appears, would, to remain secure in their own worldviews, prefer that this new family fail. (Though if Amanda-Rose were Bristol Palin, she would, I'm sure, be blameless.)

Daniel and Amanda-Rose and James Paul, I wish you the best of luck. Please ignore the folks who commented on your story.

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