Friday, April 10, 2020

Mi perro

Welcome back, good friends, to the show that never ends! Well, we did take a few weeks off to adjust to our new work settings and an entirely different way of life, but we are back to remind you that no matter how grim the news of the day might be, if we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane. Yes, we somehow worked Emerson, Lake and Palmer AND Jimmy Buffett into the same paragraph. Like we never left…

We will lead off with some COVID-19-related news because is there any other type of news? Infectious disease experts at the University of Washington on Tuesday updated their state-by-state projections, and if those party animals are to be believed, Pennsylvania is five days away from peak infection rates, thanks largely to the aggressive social distancing and quarantine measures taken by the Wolf administration. 

In case you were not aware, your General Assembly has continued to conduct business during these trying times the way most of us have: staring into a computer screen, unshaven, with the same sweatshirt on for three straight days. On Monday, however, three new faces came to town, donned their masks, put their hands on the Bible and joined the Lower Chamber gang. Congrats to newly minted State Reps. K.C. Tomlinson (name rings a bell), Eric Devanzo and Tim Bonner. You all picked a helluva time to run for this job. 

The House and Senate began pandemic proceedings with some nice, bipartisan rhetoric and pledges to work together and yada yadda yadda.  It was gonna be a new day, folks! Bipartisanship! Accord! Puppies and kittens for everyone and rainbow ice cream in the rotunda!

And then BLAM! The wheels came off the nice train Tuesday when the House decided to move forward on a bill that would curtail Governor Wolf’s powers, mainly the ones he used to shut down businesses in the state. Democrats howled in protest as the GOP sped forward, which essentially means things have returned to normal. Bipartisanship has a slightly shorter shelf life than a roll of toilet paper around these parts. 

But hey, we got good news from those crazy kids over at the Fish and Boat Commission! Trout season has opened two weeks earlier than anticipated! It is always good to have an outlet for outdoor activity during a pandemic, when the alternative is to sit around your house for weeks on end, doing dumb things like seeing if your head fits in the microwave, playing deck hockey in your living room or trying to teach your dog Spanish. Not that we have tried any of those things. 

We ran across an enlightening piece from our friends at Penn Capital Star this week that put a spotlight on the politics of COVID-19 responses. In a nutshell, if you have a public policy issue to push forward, a pandemic can be the jumping-off point you’ve been waiting for. Never let a good crisis go to waste, people. 

As we all struggle through the deluge of information flying at us on social media, take a moment to follow us on Twitter @TriadStrategies. Our Public Affairs team, which we would humbly submit is the best in the business, is a veritable one-stop shop of information about both public and private responses and resources to help us all get back to semi-normalcy, if there is such a thing. And don’t forget the Triadvocate, this week featuring musings of our friend Dave Sanko of the PA State Association of Township Supervisors, as well as our own Roy Wells and Asa Saidman.

And while we’re plugging Triad collaborations, we’d like to mention that we’re joining Marsy’s Law for Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence to bring you a free webinar for employers on the dangers of Domestic Violence during COVID-19, at noon on Tuesday of next week. Michelle Cooper, health education specialist at PCADV, will provide tips and resources to keep your colleagues and employees safe. To register, click on this link.

This just in: Wisconsin is run by a bunch of crazy people. Despite the current pandemic, the cheeseheads running that show decided to plow forward with in-person voting this week as the presidential primary slogged on. Great job, Wisconsin. Instead of getting the “I voted!” stickers, Wisconsin residents got coupons for 30% off ventilator care.    

While the novel coronavirus keeps kicking the economy into submission, there was a bright spot on Wednesday as Philly Shipyard announced a deal with TOTE Services to build two new ships, with an option for three more. The deal will help preserve 1,200 jobs. A special shout-out goes to Philly Shipyard board member and Triad Strategies partner Mike Acker for bringing this one home. 

Even in the End Times, hackers are gonna hack, we learned this week. If you haven’t yet heard the phrase “Zoom bombing” you should familiarize yourself with it lest you come face-to-face with something nobody should be seeing during a county commissioner’ meeting. A better idea might be to just bag Zoom altogether and switch to Webex. Reader note: the preceding sentence was not even a subtle Shameless Client Plug for Cisco Systems. It was right there, in your face, no apologies. No time for nuance during pandemics.  

Sixteen years after declaring himself a candidate for president, Bernie Sanders finally extinguished “the Bern” yesterday and ended his quest. His impact on U.S. politics, however, will linger on for years, as he fundamentally changed the dialogue around a host of issues. The Democrats have officially pinned their hopes on Joe Biden, who will now spend the next seven months getting trashed on Twitter.   

According to the state’s Independent Fiscal Office, June of 2019 may very well be remembered as the so-called “salad days” of state budgeting.  The budget was (kinda) balanced, no tax increases loomed, the Rainy Day Fund had some cash in it and everyone decamped for the summer with a grin. That will not be the case this year, as the pandemic has already blown a hole the size of Vermont in the state exchequer. By the time you read this sentence, we could be just shy of $4 billion in the red. So yeah, Happy Easter everyone!   

The good news is that gasoline may drop to below $1 per gallon before this is all over with, as supply is now far outpacing demand. Biweekly trips to the grocery store and pharmacy are not exactly straining the nation’s petroleum supply. All gassed up and nowhere to go. Reminds us of our senior prom, but that’s whole different story. DM us if you wanna hear it, but definitely DO NOT set up a Zoom meeting.

In this week’s We Can’t Make This Up, the possibilities were literally endless. But we finally settled on this story out of Texas. While Americans have been inundated with terrible imagery for the past few months, nobody would bat an eye (normally) if a tractor trailer full of toilet paper flipped over and caught fire on a Texas highway. But thanks to all the chowderheads out there hoarding TP, the vision of that fluffy stuff burning all over the roadway became an unspeakable tragedy. Folks, don’t be chowderheads. No hoarding.

That’s what passes for news around here as Team Triad moves forward without skipping a beat! We promise we won’t leave you again! From all of us, have a great weekend and stay safe!