Random thoughts for Primary drowsiness

Slow, slow, slow today at the polls …

Saw an interesting blog post from The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Editorial Board that lauds Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett for adding 100,000 jobs in the State since January 2011!  It’s a powerful statement for no other reason than it comes from The Inqy’s Editorial Board …

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Just voted and I was #34 at our polling location.  We might be up to 40 now.

Have I mentioned how slow Primary Days are?

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In our little slice of Horsham heaven I note that the Philadelphia labor and trade unions are nowhere to be found.  The unions have a history for sending union outsiders here to “work” Horsham’s polls as Democrat “volunteers”. Given the almost uniquely Democrat event today’s primary is, it’s obvious the Unions are sitting this one out.

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Geez … Is it really only noon?!?

 

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A Primary plan

primary-electionPrimary days … I hate them.

Off year elections can at least be interesting.  The upcoming November ballot will be much more intriguing with Pennsylvania Governor and mid-term Congressional elections to be decided.

That one will be fun.

Primary elections?  bleah …

As a Republican committee representative, it’s always a long day at the polls.  What makes it most interesting however, when the political conditions are right, are the interactions and discussions you can have.  People who make sure they get out to vote are those most likely to be keeping abreast of the political news.

The greater the interest, the more voters show up, the better the day …

Tomorrow, with only one significant Republican race (PA 13th Congressional District) in my district (Horsham 1-3) and a slate of State Republican committee nominees to select, there’s not a lot of sexiness to attract much attention.  I guess I’ll pass the day baiting what Democrats turn out for their primaries for Governor and the PA 13th, which is like trying to pick The Golden Ticket out of a bag of lemons.

For those waiting patiently for my PA 13th Congressional Republican endorsement, you won’t find one.  I am disappointed in what little I have heard – which is nothing – from Beverly Plosa-BowserDee Adcock put me to sleep in 2010.  To win the 13th, you must have the connection and the energy to make inroads into the Northeast Philly chunk of the district.  Neither has convinced me they will have what it takes, so let the voters decide!

I will be at the Horsham firehouse on Meetinghouse Road for most of the day tomorrow.  Stop in and keep me from falling asleep!

Drivers, start your Engines!

PA 13th Congressional District

PA 13th Congressional District

Tomorrow night I hope to attend the campaign announcement of yet another candidate for Pennsylvania Congressional Representative Allyson Schwartz‘s (PA 13th Congressional District) vacated seat this November.

Her name is Beverly Plosa-Bowser.  If I told you I knew of her before receiving a mailed invite to her campaign announcement just this morning, I would be lying.

(UPDATE:  This head cold is probably going to prevent me from attending tonight.  Pretty sure I’m not going to feel up to it by the time I get out of work.)

The 13th District seat has been an impossible nut for Republicans to crack, having held the seat for all of 4 years since 1993.  Normally, one would surmise that Schwartz’s absence (and with it her substantial war chest and her take-no-prisoners politics) would make this row a bit easier to hoe.  But with a huge chunk of the district residing in ultra-liberal Philadelphia and plain old liberal eastern Montgomery County, I wouldn’t be caught counting any chickens.

Plosa-Bowser will surely have a great deal of company on the Republican side in challenging whoever the Democrats put up from their own crowded field of candidates.  Besides former 13th District Rep Marjorie Margolies (D), state Rep. Brendan Boyle of Northeast Philly; state Sen. Daylin Leach of Montgomery County; and Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have a lll thrown their headgear into the ring.

On the Republican side, joining Plosa-Bowser, is Dee Adcock who lost to Schwartz handily (like a lot of Republicans have) in 2010.  Personally, I am hoping Joe Rooney is willing to take another run at the 13th, but I have not found any indication that he is running in 2014.

Plosa-Bowers’ bio shows her to be a local product.  Her father was an assistant principle at Hatboro-Horsham High School; her mother a nurse.

She was one of the first women admitted to the Air Force Academy.  She served for over 30 years in the U.S. Air Force and USAF Reserve, rising to the rank of Colonel.  Plosa-Bowser served in Iraq, building a Security Cooperation relationship with Iraqi officials.

She retired from the Air Force in 2010 after being awarded the Bronze Star for her efforts in Iraq.

As always I am hoping for sanity to return to the 13th Congressional District in the form of sound Republican guidance in public sector economics, the national economy, and matters of National Security.  But in any case, the race is on and it oughta be a darn good one!

Montgomery County Republicans: Healing acts, and a recipe for Success

PA State Rep Mike Vereb

PA State Rep Mike Vereb

On a cold night in early December the Montgomery County (PA) Republican Committee took another big step towards dumping a decade of internal discord by the side of the road.  The rifts that seemed insurmountable only a few months ago, have been bridged and will finally begin to fade from memory.  The Party can push on to a brighter future.

And no peeking backwards is allowed …

As new Co-Chair of the MCRC Finance Committee, Bob Asher stated during October’s MCRC love fest, ” … we can’t have any more rearview mirrors on the bus.”  Asher, along with his Co-Chair compadre, Vahan Gureghian will form a solid backbone for future Republican success in Montgomery County.

The struggles that have faced the Montgomery County GOP in recent years have been expensive, costing opportunities for leadership of County Government; control of County Row Offices; and a growing disadvantage to Democrat registration numbers.  In addition, the infighting has cost the County GOP dearly in unity and focus.

Then suddenly the skies cleared; the feud was over!

In the days leading up to the annual MCRC dinner in October, that would feature an appearance by Governor Tom Corbett, the leaders of the Montgomery County Republican Committee put differences aside to form a much stronger alliance, and created a powerful mechanism for promoting Republican ideals that have made Montgomery County among the choicest counties in which to live.

Finance Co-Chairs Vahan Gureghian and Bob Asher with Governor Corbett

Finance Co-Chairs Vahan Gureghian and Bob Asher with Governor Corbett

Then out of the blue MCRC Chairman Robert Kerns submitted his sudden resignation leaving the County GOP leaderless at a crucial time, a crisis that threatened to undo all the progress the Party had recently made.

And into the breach stepped Pennsylvania State Representative Mike Vereb!

Vereb has served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives since 2007, and has run successfully for re-election in 2008, ’10 and ’12.  Previous to his successful run for the PA State House, he worked in the West Conshohocken Police Department and served as President of the West Norriton (PA) Board of Commissioners.

Now, I haven’t been much of a regular attendee at the Montgomery County Republican Committee events despite my membership as a Horsham Republican committeeman.  High-powered politics is not my forté.  I prefer to observe, comment (Hence the blog!) and support in whatever way I can those whose values and policies I agree with.

Those who stumble from time-to-time on this tiny slice of the internet super-megatropolis may be familiar with some of my more pointed rants and ravings when it comes to issues like wayward Liberal logic or deception, poor leadership, and – more recently – the dangerous tendency by my political party when it comes to marginalizing its moderate wing of thought.

If it comes to this, so be it!

If it comes to this, so be it!

That last point is one that’s been weighing on my mind for quite some time.  For me, the issue illustrates just how willing the GOP is – on both regional and national levels – to take seriously the depth and breadth of viewpoints existing within those who labor for the ideals the Party represents.

It has been a discouraging to hear constantly that only Big C Conservatives speak truly to the important issues of the day.  That, if you do not share their vision, you are not pure somehow as a Republican.  That only those who hold tight to the hard Right vision are worthy of expressing their views.

Worse from my point-of-view, it’s really very, very bad politics, particularly in a region where so many Moderates live, work and raise families.  And when it comes to Electoral Math, it certainly does not improve the chances of success Nationally.

It was with this mindset I resisted the idea of attending Mr. Vereb’s unchallenged rise to the MCRC Chairmanship.  That was until he made a somewhat personal appeal that I attend such an important event. (OK … It was simply a personal Facebook plea, but nonetheless …)

So on a chilly night in early December I schlepped out to the Westover Country Club to see what would happen for myself.  I wanted to HEAR the message that would come from the prospective Chairman.

I was quite pleasantly surprised!

Chairman Vereb recognized that the Party had become complacent, living off past victories, and not consistently or effectively communicating its message.  It’s a message that should ring loudly for many, including our Democrat neighbors, who have chosen Montgomery County as the place to live for its good schools, safe communities and low taxes.

The message to be stressed is that these things do not occur by accident.  That such development was the result of excellent leadership, sound policies, and effective management.  That throughout the County these successes resulted from decades of Republican stewardship.

The strategy worked quite well for Horsham Republicans on Election Day 2013.

imagesThe message should be a tone-setter for all efforts to promote Republican leadership, the foundation for MCRC efforts to win elections in those areas where the Party’s leadership has a demonstrated record of Success.

At this point of Vereb’s speech, I still wasn’t really totally listening.  It was what Mike said next grabbed me and convinced me the County GOP is headed towards much, much better days!

” … the best interests of our party must always come before personal agendas. … we must be inclusive and welcoming not only of different ideas about how to effectively promote our party and its candidates, but as to what the practical policy goals of our party must be.”

Music to my ears … But the best what yet to come.

“No political party ever expanded its base by requiring unquestioned adherence to a single ideology or perspective. … We are residents of a diverse county in one of the most diverse states in our nation …”

A lesson with which those at the highest reaches of the Grand Old Party will someday have to come to grips.  To win elections – and with that the opportunity to lead, to shape, to find success – the Republican Party has to maximize its philosophical reach to those of moderate economic and social viewpoints.

“Demanding uniformity from our fellow Republicans will only invite electoral losses and policy disasters.  However, by accepting reasonable differences of opinion we will be better positioned to achieve our overall goal of electing Republicans who will make sure government operates efficiently, effectively and is responsive to the interests of hard-working taxpayers.”

Now, to be honest, I’m not entirely sure whether Vereb was speaking of outside political fortunes or the exorcism of past Committee sectarian conflict, but I chose to interpret his message on the broader political stage.

The simple fact is that Republicans can not be politically successful in the four suburban counties surrounding Philadelphia without embracing some moderate social and economic views.  So the MCRC must find a way to accommodate such thinking in concert with traditional Big C Conservative ideals.

A challenging task?  Certainly … But Mike Vereb’s take on diversity, inclusiveness, and Republicans of all stripe working together to extol the civil virtues of Republican leadership to voting taxpayers, who enjoy living in Montgomery County, sure sounds like a recipe for Success!

In Horsham, the dust settles

imagesIt’s been a crazy 8 weeks since Labor Day in Horsham, Pa!

Maybe when you look at the Election Day results, you might conclude it was much ado about nothing.  Maybe this episode revealed a few more insecurities in our Republican leadership than we care to admit.  Maybe it was a good shot of cold water on the face of complacency.  Maybe it simply proved the point that Success breeds Content among those who pay the bills.

This is not written as a Victory lap.  There was just a little too much anxiety for me despite the registration numbers.  Certainly, there are a number of lessons to be learned here.

The first ones are for the Democrats.  And no, I’m not inclined to share what I think they are.  Let’s just say I was disappointed in their approach.

As for my fellow Republicans, the message is clear.  You are doing a great job – so far – in keeping Horsham a vibrant, healthy, and desirable community.  But we better not fumble the ball!

It’s fairly obvious that the Democrats see Horsham as one of the next prizes in their regional growth.  No surprise there.

They are here to stay.  They will be back.

Take that to heart.

Republican leadership faces any number of challenges at any given time.  But none will be bigger than how they approach the future redevelopment of the NAS-JRB Willow Grove property.

Many of us may be too old by the time shovels start piercing the ground there.  However, Horsham’s future will be tied to those decisions like no others in the coming years.

Choose wisely, my friends.

That being said, I would like to thank all Horshamites who voted – be they Democrat or Republican – for taking the time to voice their opinions on past performance and who should lead the Township into the future.

The mantra of “All politics are local.” is one I firmly believe in.  So I am flummoxed by the fact that less than 40% of registered voters bother to vote in the most local of elections.  One would think the closer an election is to your home, your family, your way of life would be the elections most important to you.

But maybe that’s just me.

On a personal note, I took the step this year of sending a personal appeal to every Republican voter in Horsham’s Ward 1, District 3.  It was an attempt to underscore the importance of Tuesday’s vote and the decisions we would be making.

The turnout numbers as a percentage of registered voters in the 1-3 was disappointing, given the effort.  So I will have to consider other options.

But to those who listened, and to all those who voted in the 1-3 and throughout Horsham, thank you!

An Easy choice for Horsham’s Future!

Horsham Library CNN/Money Magazine

Horsham Library
CNN/Money Magazine

There are two observations relating to politics in which I strongly believe.

  1. “All politics are local.”  – Tip O’Neill, Former Speaker of the House
  2. A candidate without ideas is the first one to go negative.

On November 5th the residents of Horsham, PA and the Hatboro-Horsham School District face a crucial election for several local offices.

Local elections have a greater direct effect on you, the Taxpayer; the community in which you live; and the schools your children attend.  In addition, the decisions we make on November 5th will impact the prospects for Horsham’s future in terms of the NAS-JRB Willow Grove airbase.  How that process plays out in the next decade will be reflected in the taxes we will pay and in the value of our homes and property.

No other election will affect your quality-of-life more directly than local government offices that control spending, property (schools) and township taxes, not to mention the potential for your township’s Economic Future.

When it comes to local elections, History is an effective barometer of Future Success.  In Horsham’s case, Success is not a theory or a couple of good terms in office.  It’s a history built over DECADES of Growth, Vision, and the kind of efficient management and intuitive policy that built a community lauded as one of the Best Places to Live (Horsham #34, CNN/Money Magazine 2013).

Unknown-2Growth, managed properly and carefully, allows for township taxes that have not been raised in over a decade.  Efficiency is what ensures your streets and neighborhoods are kept safe; operating smoothly; and cleared of snow in the winter.  Vision is taking the forward-looking action to establish a Horsham Local Redevelopment Authority (HLRA) that preserved for Horsham residents control over the key decisions surrounding the BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) closure of the NAS-JRB Willow Grove airbase.

No single action did more to preserve the Quality-of-Life in Horsham than the establishment of the HLRA.  Few people appreciate the fact that any local or regional entity (Montgomery County, Bucks County, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, etc.) could have filed for official status as the LRA for the Horsham base.  If just one of them had been as quick to act as Horsham Township‘s Council, you can bet there would already be an airport operating at the airbase.

W. William Whiteside and Deborah Tustin were part of the team that took the initiative to preserve for Horsham residents the decisions that will shape Horsham’s future, as will be reflected in those 862 acres sitting so prominently on Rt. 611!  Newcomer Tom Johnson, a mainstay in Horsham commercial and industrial development, has the experience and the Horsham-grown philosophy to maintain this consistently successful approach to our future.

And what of their Democrat challengers?  What is it they have to offer?  Apparently not much more than misrepresentations of fact and plenty of negativity.

images-3They say they can make Horsham even better.  But how could they improve a community already ranked so prominently as one of The Best Places to Live?  Ask yourself the practical question … How much they can actually improve today’s Horsham?

Then recall all those negative mailings they sent to your home … over and over again … day after day in the last few weeks.

How much better do you think the Democrat challengers will make Horsham now?!?

The only new ideas I was able to identify from their mailings were confrontation and obfuscation.  For a group that speaks so much of making Township Government more “open”, they have a funny way of misrepresenting the truth and trying to fool Horsham voters.

Fact is, Horsham Township government is the most open governing process I have ever witnessed.  You can find on-line public notices of all township and school board meetings.  At the HLRA website you can find agendas, minutes, and even sign up for e-mail notifications of future meetings.

I remember – as part of the HLRA redevelopment plan process – hundreds of local and regional citizens learning about and watching the evaluation and decision-making process.

images-1I attended as many of these meeting as I could.  I sat with hundreds of people and participated directly in an open-to-the-public charrette process for brainstorming ideas and layouts for a theoretical, redeveloped NAS-JRB property.  I was there the night that hundreds of attendees gave a rousing ovation for the decision to reject a Bucks County Airport Authority proposal to operate an airport at the base.

In my opinion, the Horsham Democrats’ most egregious behavior is the deliberate and repeated misrepresentation of the purpose and meaning of the HLRA’s painstakingly created Redevelopment Plan.

The plan is intended to accomplish nothing more than to prove that Horsham Township has the means and capability for properly managing the redevelopment effort.  It forms the basis for the U.S. Navy to conduct its Environmental Impact Statement and for developing an anticipated cost structure for its eventual execution that can be evaluated for its economic feasibility.

Like all carefully laid plans, the specific details of the redevelopment plan are tenuous projections of what can be accommodated on the airbase property.  But the fact is, none of it means anything without developers and their financing to make the plan a reality.  In that regard, the HLRA could say it plans to build the Taj Mahal on the airbase site.  But without developers with the money and interest to make any specific plan a reality, it’s all pie-in-the-sky.

To speak about golf courses, bowling alleys, and hockey rinks is simply being deliberately dishonest for the sole purpose of political advantage.

But of course this is the BEST idea the Democrats could come up with in their efforts to get Horsham voters to look their way.  Attack and obfuscate …

You can tell a lot about the Democrats’ plans for Horsham by carefully dissecting the messages they keep sending you in those ugly mailers.  And if you caught their cable commercial, it tells you even more.

imagesThere is a plan here apparently.  It’s the Get Scott Freda Elected to Something plan!

Remember all those negative mailings you been receiving??  Just check the small print that lists the “Paid for by …” election requirement on all those negative mailers.

Scott Freda‘s “plan” for Horsham is laid out for you right there!!

His cable commercial?  If you see it, you will be hard-pressed to find his running mates in that commercial, except as props.  There is no mention of them by name, only Mr. Freda’s name is prominent.

Then ask yourself The Big Question.

Where is all this money for negative mailers and cable TV commercials coming from?

Did you know that the leadership of the Horsham Democrat Committee has a strong connection to Philadelphia political organizations?  That’s why every year at polling places throughout Horsham, you will find the Democrats’ Election Day ground game manned by representatives of these Philadelphia organizations!

Not Horsham residents … Outsiders with their own self-serving interests!

It’s an interesting combination, quite frankly.  Certainly these Philadelphia organizations would just LOVE to get a friendly foot in the door of the airbase redevelopment effort and all that development money.

But who wants Philadelphia politics in Horsham?

So ask yourself, are the goals of Philadelphia political bosses and their organizations consistent with Horsham Township’s best interests?

Hopefully, Horsham Township voters are smart enough to know the difference between ugly divisive Outsider Politics and effective locally controlled government!

Don’t forget to vote Republican for Horsham on November 5!

The Corbett approach to Medicaid sanity

images-2

Once a month the Horsham Republican Committee meets to discuss political developments – both local and regional; to strategize on political organizing within Horsham Township; and to update the Committee on issues of Party management.

To be honest, the meetings can be a bit dry, and that’s even if you’re a bit of a political junkie.  It’s not often that we get into REAL political discussions that provide interesting insights into the issues of the day.

This past Wednesday was different with a small but animated gathering of committee representatives (who represent township Republicans in matters of Party interest), local Republican pols, and the local Party leadership.

My keenest interest is always with the progress – or lack thereof – in Horsham Township’s redevelopment plan for the NAS-JRB Willow Grove property.  At present the Horsham Local Redevelopment Authority (HLRA) is awaiting the approval of its redevelopment plan, which was submitted in the Spring of 2012.

It’s been a year-and-a-half, and no decision as yet from the U.S. Navy.  The Federal Government, which must review and approve the plan before fully vesting the HLRA with redevelopment authority, indeed takes its time when mulling over any decision.  In this case, the Navy, charged with the responsibility of conducting an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) has met delays in completing their evaluation.  The plan – due this Fall – will not be ready until Winter at the earliest.

Which means, look for it in the Spring or Summer.

The Navy blames the effects of sequestration.  But frankly, as a federal employee, I can speak confidently that, if it wasn’t the effects of sequestration, it would have been something else that would delay such a huge and complex evaluation.  No, not unexpected at all …

Several other issues were also touched on briefly as updates from Harrisburg.

  • Movement on Pennsylvania’s transportation bill, which is seeing progress in the State House after the Senate passed their version earlier in the year.  The biggest hurdle would be in reconciling the two versions as passed, particularly to the level of funding.  There are roughly $5 billion in infrastructure improvements that have been underfunded for decades and well overdue for remedial action.
  • Pension reform at the State level is getting much discussion.  With the State’s two pension plans (state employees, public school employees) underfunded by $47 billion (!) and projected to grow to $65 billion without action, Governor Corbett has moved pension reform to the top of his list of priorities.  Currently, the biggest reform under consideration is moving new employees in both categories into 401(k)-type programs that are similar to those found in the private sector.
  • A brief discussion on the national Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) revealed one persistent problem in Pennsylvania’s rural health services … Finding doctors to work in the less income-lucrative areas of rural Pennsylvania.  This has long been a problem nationwide, not just in PA.  One solution, proposed by the Corbett Administration in its recent proposal for expanding Medicaid as part of its ACA compliance, is a student loan forgiveness program for any doctors who agree to spend a specified amount of time in Pennsylvania’s more doctor-needy areas.
PA Governor Tom Corbett

PA Governor Tom Corbett

The discussion I found most interesting this night dealt with the recent Corbett Administration proposal for expanding Medicaid.  Some of the facts and issues covered …

  • All state-run Medicaid programs vary in benefits and costs from state-to-state.  The terms of Medicaid coverage are negotiated by each state individually.  Passage of the ACA effectively “locked in” every state’s specific Medicare program in whatever form it existed at the time.
  • After eight years of Ed Rendell’s Democrat Administration in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s current Medicaid program is one of the most generous – if not THE most generous – state program in the U.S.  This goes a long way towards explaining why some states, such as New Jersey and Arizona are more willing and able to accept the ACA-mandated expansions required for full state participation in federal-run healthcare exchanges.
  • Currently the State and Federal governments combine to spend about $19 billion a year to cover 2.2 million Pennsylvanians on Medicaid!  $19 billion …!!
  • The federal government’s ACA Medicaid expansion financial contribution maxes out at 90% after three years of fully funded coverage. That 10% unfunded liability equals an additional estimated  $200 million – as a minimum – that will have to be covered by the Pennsylvania state budget!
  • Even before any ACA-mandated Medicaid expansion, Pennsylvania estimates Medicaid costs will grow by $400 million in fiscal year 2013-2014.
  • A Rand Corporation study showed that Pennsylvania would save roughly $154 million a year by not expanding Medicaid coverage.

So it’s pretty easy to see why the Corbett Administration is not all that anxious to get on board an ACA-mandated Medicaid expansion.

As with the Philadelphia School District’s annual funding crisis, the Corbett Administration has taken a very responsible approach to any expansion of the financial commitment falling to Pennsylvania’s tax payers.  The Governor realizes that without reforms accompanying this constantly growing financial responsibility, the economic health of the State will be threatened.

images-3In the Philly school crisis, by which you can calibrate your calendar each year, additional funding was offered to the City through negotiations with Mayor Michael Nutter’s administration.  The catch was that the settlement required reforms that call for concessions by the Philadelphia teacher’s unions.

Concessions are necessary on the cost-side of the Philadelphia school issue, if the cycle of funding crisis followed by funding crisis is ever to be broken.  You should not be surprised in realizing that funding solution never really had a chance to succeed.

As for the Medicaid expansion, the facts are that without serious reforms in the way the Pennsylvania program is managed, the state’s’s tax payers and businesses will be on the hook for that rather significant $200 million hole in the Pennsylvania budget … on top of the projected $400 million shortfall for FY13-14 … plus all other projected increases.  Cost reform is essential to Pennsylvania’s future fiscal sanity.

There’s also the very real possibility that the Federal government may not be able to uphold even its 90% Medicaid expansion funding as promised.  And what happens then? 

For these reasons, the Corbett Administration’s approach to the ACA federal exchange and Medicaid expansion proposal should be lauded as the kind of fiscal sanity one should expect from their Governor.

Joe Rooney for Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional District

If you are a Republican living in the Pennsylvania 13th Congressional District***and have been waiting for a fiscally conservative candidate to mount a serious challenge to the liberal Allyson Schwartz, this could be your year.  Joe Rooney, a former U.S. Marine Corps fighter pilot, is the lone candidate seeking to take on Schwartz this November.  His message of fiscal responsibility and American optimism will play well from Northeast Philly to Lansdale and King of Prussia.

As background, I went to my first Congressional meet ‘n greet in 2010 as a member of the Horsham Republican Committee (HRC).  That year the MontCo and Philly GOP organizations entertained a slate of four or five candidates running to oppose Ms. Schwartz, a popular and well-financed liberal Democrat Congresswoman.  I remember a long, long evening of seemingly endless, rambling monologues that failed to connect, let alone inspire.  I knew that night Schwartz would have little trouble winning re-election.

But at this year’s meet ‘n greet Joe Rooney turned out to be a pleasant, refreshing surprise for the 2012 election cycle.  His background, leadership, and values will play well to both moderates and conservatives concerned about the economic future of the country.  His home page offers a hint to Mr. Rooney’s motivation in representing the people of the 13th:

“America is the most powerful nation in the world.  However, we are in danger of damaging the future of this great nation by blatantly ignoring the ongoing fiscal crisis.”

It’s a message with which any hard-working head-of-household, retiree, unemployed worker or mortgage holder can empathize.  National fiscal health results in a robust economy that begets more job opportunities, better wages and a safe, secure path into the future.  And Rooney’s background is indicative of strong leadership that makes tough decisions and possesses the strength and commitment to see them through.

Joe served for twenty-three years as Marine Corps pilot of F-4 Phantoms and the F-18 Hornets, retiring as a Lt. Colonel.  And as good a pilot as he was, Beth – his wife of  25 years – was one of the Navy’s first female pilots and just the second woman to graduate from the prestigious US Navy Test Pilot School!

In person, Joe Rooney is a direct, no-nonsense speaker with a genuine populist message.  I found Joe to be personable, intelligent, and focused on the message he believes is important both to the people of Pennsylvania and to America’s future.  He is also well aware of the difficulties he faces in trying to unseat a popular Congressional Democrat with a huge campaign war chest. 

Joe Rooney is an American Optimist. 

 “The American economy can be the engine that drives the rest of the world out of the economic hole that currently exists.”   –  Joe Rooney

When Joe addressed our group, he referred to the view of America as that “Shining City on a Hill” – made popular by President Ronald Reagan – that portrays America as a land for Hope, Progress and Leadership.  The above quote illustrates his view that America can lead the global economy to recovery so long as we can get our own fiscal house in order.   

The Rooney’s live in Ardsley, PA and have five children, including a daughter currently serving in the US Navy aboard the USS KLAKRING and a son attending the US Air Force Academy, studying to become a fighter pilot.  Joe, who graduated from Bishop McDevitt High School, flies and captains B737s for Delta Airlines.

The biggest obstacle to a successful run by Joe Rooney in the PA 13th is FINANCIAL!  Allyson Schwartz is a deeply rooted, popular liberal Congresswoman, with a staggering financial advantage.  So please take a good look at Joe Rooney’s message and consider contributing to – or volunteering for –  the Joe Rooney for Congress campaign!

***  Important Note:  The judicial decision that threw a wrench into Pennsylvania’s attempt to redraw state legislative voting districts DOES NOT affect the redistricting of national Congressional Districts.  So the redrawn boundaries for the 13th Congressional District will be used for the 2012 primary and general elections.  Click the link to see if your vote will be included in the new PA 13th.

UPDATED: Horsham’s new political geography

(See Comments section for updated information.)

Wednesday, January 25 the Horsham Republican Committee held its monthly organizational meeting.  It was one of the more interesting sessions we’ve had in quite a while for the issues discussed, developments in the local political geography, and for the chance to meet Joe Rooney, who is seeking GOP endorsement to challenge Congressional Representative Allyson Schwartz (D) in Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional District.

One geographical development is the division of Horsham – almost precisely in half – between the 13th and 7th Congressional Districts.  Horsham will now be represented by two Congressional Representatives – Schwartz (D-13) and Patrick Meehan (R-7), which is not necessarily a bad thing for the Township when you consider that Horsham is largely ignored by Ms. Schwartz, whose power base is Northeast Philadelphia and the Democratic edges of eastern Montgomery County. 

Another interesting, less positive development was the sudden rejection by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court (PSC) of a negotiated plan to redraw State House and Senate districts in response to the 2010 census.  The move appeared both unexpected and unprecedented.  The redistricting plan had just been adopted December 11 by a bipartisan Legislative Reapportionment Commission (LRC).  There was however opposition from minority Democrats who feel that Republicans had unnecessarily carved up townships and communities in an attempt to preserve political advantages. 

Of course this is the common refrain made by the minority whenever the majority party flexes its political power in the reapportionment process that follows every 10-year census.  It matters not whether it’s Democrats or Republicans doing the carving; the other side is rarely happy with the results. 

The problem is that this is the time of year when supporters of incumbents and challengers alike troll voting districts for nominating signatures required in order to be listed on primary ballots.  To add a bit of extra urgency to the matter, the primary is only 3 months away (April 24).  It’s a bit difficult to mine nominating signatures when you can’t be totally certain where district lines will end up being drawn.  Signatures of voters not registered in a candidate’s district-of-interest are worthless. 

The move by the PSC caught many by surprise since:

a) the Court usually endorses the product of similar bipartisan LRCs, 

b) PSC Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille – Philadelphia’s former Republican District Attorney – joined the Court’s minority Democrats to quash the redistricting plan, and

c) no formal majority ruling as to why the plan was found “unconstitutional” was handed down.  That the written opinion is yet to come is a bit dysfunctional given the primary election time constraints;  the minority judicial opinion was provided, though just a few sentences long.

Redistricting is not an easy exercise, even if one were able to put aside partisan political objectives.  As explained by Todd Stevens (PA 151st Legislative District Representative) last night, there is generally a 4000-person wiggle factor when trying to match state legislative districting to 10-year census figures.  For national Congressional Districts the process is more difficult since district size must match EXACTLY the prescribed representative-to-constituent ratio determined by a rather convoluted formula I can not profess to understand.  (If you would like to see an example of “gerrymander“, simply check out the new lines of the redistricted PA 13th Congressional District, whose northwestern edge meanders for miles and miles – and almost house to house – from Montgomeryville-Lansdale to King of Prussia-Conshohocken!)

In any case the issue of Pennsylvania state legislative redistricting must be resolved quickly to offer any chance that upcoming primary and general elections will adhere to 2010 census-driven representation requirements.

The good news for Horsham is that it will retain a single State Representative in Mr. Stevens, who is a township native and resident.  By comparison, Upper Dublin in the last two iterations of reapportionment has been carved up between four state representative districts.

Another interesting discussion on the environmental and economic ramifications of natural gas fracking in the Marcellus Shale was also led by State Rep Stevens.  After listening to the sometimes edgy discussion, I concluded I do not know nearly enough about the subject to discuss it intelligently.  You can count on this being the subject of a future post, once I get around to some meaningful research.  

The highlight of the night however was meeting Joe Rooney, who is the lone candidate seeking the GOP nomination to challenge Allyson Schwartz in the PA 13th.  But since this post is already quite long enough and a bit mind-numbing, I will leave my impressions of Mr. Rooney for another post.  Keep an eye out here for that sometime next week.

In the meantime, check out Mr. Rooney’s website (linked above) and consider donating what you can should you agree with his politics.  His biggest obstacle to giving Allyson Schwartz a suitable challenge this November is financial.

Nesbitt-McCouch for Horsham Council!

As a 14-year resident of Horsham Township (Montgomery County, PA), I cannot really make claim to the full history of Horsham’s success or affluence.  However, for the years my family has lived here, I can unequivocally state that we have been very happy and extremely comfortable with our life in one of America’s Best Places to Live!

I wouldn’t change a thing about how the Township is planned, managed or operated!  And that MUST include those who have served to keep Horsham Township on the best possible path, both in the past and for the future!

Greg Nesbitt and Mark McCouch are two of the Leaders responsible for the current success and publicly recognized attractiveness and livability of Horsham Township!  Both men have been instrumental – as HLRA-backing Council members – in working towards a feasible, attractive, community-oriented solution for the now vacant JRB Willow Grove property.  And MOST IMPORTANTLY, making sure that future DOES NOT include an airport that indubitably would prove a greater drain on Township resources and community atmosphere than it would benefit.

Even their Democrat opponents admit that there are no “particular issues or problems with the current council” that might require a change in Township Leadership.  The opposition also openly AGREES with the premise and direction that both the HLRA and Township Council has taken on the future look of the JRB Willow Grove property.

So, you have to ask yourself … Why would you change what is so obviously working for the community in which you live?!?  What would possess one to think we could improve on one of the Best Places to Live in America?!?

It’s obvious that you shouldn’t and wouldn’t think seriously about either!

VOTE GREG NESBITT AND MARK McCOUCH on Tuesday, November 8!