Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

Three Tenors of Pittsburgh Endorse Joe Sestak

Couldn't say it any better:

Please see also the speeches by Allegheny County Councilman Bill Robinson and PA State Senator Jim Ferlo, along with that of Pittsburgh City Councilman Douglas Shields (above).

NOTES: Ferlo is up for reelection tomorrow -- a fact of which I was wholly ignorant until I received my Democratic Committee slate card in the mail just the other day. Ferlo is running unopposed in the primary and has no declared opposition to date in the general. This Sestak rally was held on his home turf in Lawrenceville, in the Butler Street business district.

Leaving the rally, I spotted a car with DEWEESE bumper stickers plastered all along the side, and some Sestak paraphernalia as well. Weird.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

FOR GOVERNOR: Support Joe Hoeffel, or future governor Dan Onorato.

Why not start here:

I know, Hoeffel's more liberal. And he has the charisma of a block of wood. Bob Casey Jr. is the only one who can violate the no-charisma rule and still win. (MacYapper)

I don't agree with that. I agree with much else in the essay, but I want to be clear about this point before we continue.

All things being equal, the left is less likely to get "fired up and ready to go" about Onorato than about Hoeffel. The Democratic party's right will get fired up about Onorato in fewer numbers than the coalition of good old hippies, academics, feminists and certain minorities will get active and rally behind Hoeffel against Corbett.

More to the point, the fight about certain values -- let's call them "civil rights", "equal opportunity", and "equal protection under the law" -- is a fight that needs waged. Most every time. Period.

Joe Hoeffel is charismatic enough. It's money he lacks, and it's hunger. The hunger of the desperate.


On the whole -- with qualifications that will be addressed -- Dan Onorato seems fully capable of being "knocked and dragged" into the progressive camp. That is, if the progressive coalition stays relentlessly engaged. Fortunately for everyone, the Democratic party as it exists in the People and in the Nation is trending liberal and pragmatically on the offensive, even if Allegheny County establishment forces lag behind.

Those doors labeled "rights", "opportunities" and "protections" are less likely to be open -- or even operable -- in Tom Corbett's office. Though it will be a long general election campaign and our minds should be open.

Onorato's flat-out obstruction of his government's obligation to provide Allegheny County taxpayers with a fair and legal property tax system is a big concern -- but it is the result of a lack of political courage, which is sadly understandable given his constituency. He has since pledged -- a bit under his breath -- that as Governor he will work to institute fair and uniform property tax schemata across the state. With him, it might be enough of an issue that he'll have to follow through, and that will be a blessing.

Onorato's appetites for hard executive power, soft political power and his abuses of expediency are not becoming. Yet actually, this tendency might be easier to police in the Governor's mansion. Let's promote him away from this cowed backwater and allow him have some learning experiences in a vigorous, multiparty, multi-factional universe. There will come a constitutional crisis or two along the way but all in good fun.

Onorato's record on the environment and environmentalism is what is most concerning -- given especially the need for Pennsylvania to eventually exploit more local energy opportunities. The fragility of our extremely valuable natural environment -- clean water, healthy air, stable and fertile ground -- will increasingly come up against both the speed and the ruthlessness of special business interests. It would be better to have someone capable of making wise environmental calls in real time. It is the reason I will be voting for Joe Hoeffel.

It is also the most important thing Pennsylvania citizens will need to eventually inculcate in Governor Onorato.


In July of 2007, Dan Onorato rounded up 272 Canada geese with some sort of laser device, herded them into a temporary facility and gassed them. "Humanely", we were assured, though we never learned the chemicals used.

Some Allegheny County residents complain that the goose population is thriving too well. They do not appreciate goose droppings in public parks in particular, and do not trust the geese not to get feisty.

There have been no goose-related illnesses or public safety incidents recorded. An organization named Geese Peace and Voices for Animals had lobbied the Onorato administration -- well in advance -- to utilize a "proven" gander-management strategy of moving some nests in the spring while sterilizing others. They claim that County Executive Onorato committed to this program, abandoned it without ever having truly instituted it, and went back on a promise.

Be that as it may -- what kind of environmentalist elects to gas almost 300 of God's creatures, with no regret, only braggadocio? What kind of science-minded individual then offers to donate mystery-toxin wild goose flesh to food pantries? (I do not think any pantry ever took them up on the offer.)

That is but one example. The Allegheny Health Department's record with air quality control standards is another indicator. Onorato's near-silence on the importance of intelligently regulating, monitoring, and enforcing real protections upon energy drilling is another. The fact that Onorato's signature trumpeted achievement when it comes to environmentalism is "saving greenfields" by way of developing old industrial sites -- basically just by way of qualifying for economic development money from another pot set aside for that -- is another.

Dan Onorato has yet to be "knocked and dragged" into a firm stance on the environment. This is especially problematic seeing as how he brands himself appropriately as the "business-friendly" Democrat, and is bankrolled by a broad swath of big business including energy companies. This will require attention and organization.


So why not line up behind Hoeffel and leave it at that?

"Dan Onorato, Jack Wagner, I know you are both strong supporters of public education, " said Hoeffel, " We've stood together on dozens of stages across the commonwealth and agreed on this fundamental issue. Join me now in taking a strong, clear stand against vouchers."

Hoeffel observed that Onorato especially should be vocal on this issue, having received the endorsement of — and over $77,000 from — PSEA, the largest teachers' union in the state. "I believe that the teachers of this state need to hear from Dan Onorato. Dan Onorato should stand up for public education, schools, students and teachers and forcefully denounce vouchers. (Joe Hoeffel)

This was the big offensive that came out on May 12th. Hoeffel demands that Onorato step out and "denounce" Anthony Williams' call for school vouchers -- so it's already kind of a bank shot. It does not draw attention to a very clear distinction between Hoeffel and Onorato, nor does it draw attention to anything enormously negative about Onorato, of which there are options.

Hoeffel probably made this move because he thinks it's right, not because he thinks it'll move the election. Much like his stated reason for getting in the race -- to remind people that liberalism exists and has political power which cannot be ignored. That mission was partially accomplished and will be accomplished further.

If there's one thing Democrats require here it's an election-mover; we'd be foolish not to acknowledge that. Onorato's angry little Yosemite Sam "let me be clear about my record!" routine is a fine political approach, as is his aw-shucks "These are the realities I can't help it it's not my fault" routine. Even when he's getting knocked around, he's never at a loss for a plausible-sounding argument rooted in something.

And we need to acknowledge another thing: Dan Onorato is from Pittsburgh. As governor he would almost assuredly, in his way, finagle more resources, options and considerations for the City and its region, during a desperately important time. Shake trees, scrape around the bottom of the barrel, bend some rules, invent some others get it done. Yes we'll have to keep and eye on that too.

There is a reason Dan Onorato is considered to be so far ahead in this four-person field as to be a foregone conclusion. He is the most skilled and complete political leader we've seen in a long time. I don't think he's yet in Eddie Rendell's class, but wait until he gets some real political experience. Let's hammer him when he needs to be hammered, let's pull him where Pennsylvania needs him to be pulled (particularly on the environment), let's vote for Hoeffel if we want to show progressive strength, let's cut Onorato some slack and let's ride this wave as far as we can take it. It's headed in the right general direction.