Pennsylvania voters select candidates

One-on-One with Patrick Murphy, Democrat for Attorney General

Patrick Murphy

Patrick Murphy

Patrick Murphy grew up in a law enforcement family in Philadelphia, and joined the Army at the age of 19.  “Most of the time I was a military prosecutor, prosecuting serious criminals in New York and North Carolina,” Murphy says of his military career.  He twice deployed overseas, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. 

A 2006 grassroots campaign landed Murphy in Congress, where he led the fight to repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.  In 2010 Murphy lost his Bucks County seat to Mike Fitzpatrick – the same man he defeated two terms earlier. 

Murphy has been practicing and teaching law for the past few years, and tells us he’s ready to stand up for what is right as Attorney General.  “You’ve got to fight crime wherever it happens,” Murphy tells us, “whether that crime happens on the street, in the corporate boardroom or in the halls of Harrisburg.” 

This too is a grassroots campaign for Murphy, who’s been traveling the state in the weeks leading up to the April 24th primary election.  “I’ve put 47,000 miles on my car, I literally have holes in my shoes right now,” he says. 

If the Democratic candidate is elected in November – whether it’s Murphy or Kathleen Kane – it would be history making, as no Democratic has ever been “elected” Attorney General in Pennsylvania.  It became an elected office in 1980. 

Murphy says he would aggressively crackdown on environmental crimes, consumer protection issues and sex predators.    “I’m going to do what’s right every single time.”

You can hear portions of our interview with Patrick Murphy on Radio Pennsylvania Roundtable.  Radio PA has also reached out to Democrat Kathleen Kane’s campaign.

RadioPA Roundtable

Radio PA Roundtable 04.13.12

Radio PA Roundtable is a 30-minute program featuring in-depth reporting on the top news stories of the week. Professionally produced and delivered every Friday, Roundtable includes commercial breaks for local sale and quarterly reports for affiliate files.

Click the audio player below to hear the full broadcast:


Legislative Reapportionment Commission Okays Preliminary Plan… Again

Pennsylvania’s latest set of redistricting maps is now available for public comment.  The redrawn House and Senate maps put more emphasis on reducing municipal splits, and less emphasis on population deviation, per the direction of the state Supreme Court.  The high court threw out the Legislative Reapportionment Commission’s first attempt early this year.

The House maps reduce the number of municipal splits from 108 to 68, according to GOP Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny).  “Population deviation however – in particular reason to reduce splits – did increase from 5.97% to 7.76%.” 

Rep. Turzai notes that five House seats were moved based on the new population data, but he says it was to nobody’s partisan advantage. 

The court-appointed chairman of the five-member panel made waves when he insisted on a change in the proposed Senate map.  Population shifts dictate that a Senate seat be moved from western PA to the northeast.  Senate Republican Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) contends the data dictates that Democrat Jim Brewster’s seat be moved, but he acquiesced to Chairman Stephen McEwen who wanted to move Republican Jane Orie’s seat instead.  Orie was recently convicted on public corruption charges, which means her seat is vacant. 

The Commission voted 4 – 1 in favor of the preliminary maps, with Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) casting the lone dissenting vote.   House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody (D-Allegheny) stressed that this is not the end of the redistricting process.  “I am hopeful and confident that, as we listen and consider public comments, more will get done to improve the final plan,” Dermody said at Thursday’s meeting. 

A public hearing is set for May 2nd.

Santorum Ends Presidential Bid in Pennsylvania

Former Pennsylvania U. S. Senator Rick Santorum has suspended his campaign for the GOP presidential nomination in the same state where he started it last June.  Santorum announced on Tuesday in Gettysburg that he would suspend his race for the White House.

Santorum won 11 primaries, but front runner Mitt Romney had won the largest share of the delegates so far. His exit comes just two weeks before the Pennsylvania primary.

Santorum told reporters while the presidential race is over for him, he won’t give up the fight to keep President Obama from achieving a second term. Santorum did not endorse Romney at his press conference and left without answering questions from reporters.

DEP Starts Aerial Spraying for Black Fly Control

The state started black fly suppression spraying operations in several counties on April 9th.   Spraying usually begins in late April or early May, but it has started earlier this year.

Amanda Witman, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, says surveillance detected the flies a few weeks earlier, but that does not mean they’re out in increased numbers.   That’s what the spraying is intended to prevent, by targeting the larval stage of four types of black flies that are pests to humans.  

Spraying is scheduled for 44 waterways in 33 counties. Witman says they plan to cover 1500 stream miles, which is a little less than last year.

Witman says the spraying uses BTI, a naturally occurring bacterium, which degrades quickly in the environment and does not hurt the ecosystem.  It is sprayed from low-flying helicopters, and spraying operations depend on weather conditions.

Witman says people living along the waterways should be familiar with the program. It has been around for many years. It covers large rivers like parts of the Susquehanna, Delaware and Juniata as well as smaller streams.

Witman says if you’re new to an area and concerned about a low flying helicopter, there are ways to check whether spraying is scheduled for that day. DEP notifies local Emergency Management officials about any spraying activity.  You can also get more information about the Black Fly Suppression Program at DEP’s web site.

New Voter ID Requirements?

One-on-One with David Christian, Republican for US Senate

David Christian

David Christian’s background is the first thing that sets him apart from the other five Republicans running for US Senate.  At the age of 17, he convinced his mother to let him join the Army.  He was one of the youngest most highly-decorated officers in the Vietnam War. 

After returning home and rehabilitating his battlefield injuries, Christian became a businessman and veterans’ advocate.  He’s alarmed by the 12.1% unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans.  “If they can drive a tank and fly a helicopter, we can get them into a job,” Christian tells us.

He believes in retooling and retraining American workers for the jobs of the 21st century, but says the biggest obstacle to job growth is over-regulation from Washington DC.  “If we had the regulations in place that we have today… we wouldn’t have had a Henry Ford; we wouldn’t have had a Carnegie; we wouldn’t have had Edison.”  In the US Senate, Christian wants to fight for a moratorium on government regulations. 

The Bucks County resident serves as a business consultant and president of a defense manufacturing company in Northeast Philadelphia.  He was recently in central Asia, where he saw gasoline selling for just 32-cents a gallon.  “We have to look at oil in the soil here in Pennsylvania,” Christian says.  He believes it will bring billions of dollars in investments and tens of thousands of jobs.   

 Christian believes Washington DC needs more leaders with his gumption.  “It doesn’t matter if your neighbor is a Democrat, Republican, or a one-eyed horn toad, you should be out there fighting for them, because they’re an American,” he tells Radio PA.  “We’re Americans first and foremost.”

Radio PA has reached out to all five candidates running for the GOP nomination for US Senate.  We’ve already spoken with Sam Rohrer, Marc Scaringi and Steve Welch.  You can catch all of the long-form interviews on Radio PA Roundtable.

RadioPA Roundtable

Radio PA Roundtable 04.06.12

Radio PA Roundtable is a 30-minute program featuring in-depth reporting on the top news stories of the week. Professionally produced and delivered every Friday, Roundtable includes commercial breaks for local sale and quarterly reports for affiliate files.

Click the audio player below to hear the full broadcast:


PNC Economic Outlook Survey Shows Increasing Optimism Among Small Businesses

The PNC Economic Outlook Survey of small business owners in Pennsylvania shows increasing optimism about their sales and hiring.    61% are optimistic about the local economy in the near future, an improvement from the fall survey. A growing number, 18% compared to 9% in the fall, expect to hire full time employees. More than half expect sales to increase.

Gus Faucher , a senior economist with PNC Financial Services Group, says the Pennsylvania economy is doing better in general than the national economy.  He says it tends to be concentrated in stable industries and it’s benefiting from natural gas exploration.  He says small business owners in the state are  the most optimistic they’ve been since prior to the Great Recession.

More than half expect sales to increase. However, there is some concern about inflation, especially in light of rising gasoline prices.  Faucher says 79% of those surveyed expect consumer prices to rise in the coming year, perhaps influenced by the jump in gas prices.

Faucher says the survey shows renewed interest in credit. 15% said they will likely take out a new loan or line of credit in the next six months. While more than one-fifth still say credit is difficult to obtain, he says that number has gone down over the past year or so.

Faucher says Western Pennsylvania is benefiting from Marcellus Shale in terms of direct jobs as well as support industries such as manufacturing. He says Eastern Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia area are lagging behind.  He says the Harrisburg area is suffering because of the financial difficulties in the capital city as well as layoffs in state government.

Businesses in Pennsylvania are still pessimistic about the national outlook, but Faucher says that number is lower than it was in the fall. He says they see local conditions picking up before the national economy.