January 5, 2023

January 6th, which is now a high holiday for Democratic strategists who want to hold press conferences, will mark the 2024 kickoff to President Biden’s re-election campaign. The Biden team had to move the event up a day this year, because southeastern PA is gonna get a dusting of snow on Saturday, but you get the point. The destination? Valley Forge, PA, which is the site of his planned speech if you consider Blue Bell to be in Valley Forge.

Biden will also likely be celebrating the December jobs report, which showed the economy created another 216,000 jobs, bringing the 2023 total to 2.3 million jobs. Remember last January when every economist predicted a job-crushing recession? Yeah, that was funny. Maybe we can get the same economists to predict the Cowboys will beat the Eagles in the playoffs?

It was a big week for women in government, as Cherelle Parker kicked off the festivities by taking the oath as the 100th mayor in Philly history! Parker immediately signed some executive orders, including one calling for a state of emergency on crime. There is a new sheriff in town, people! Well actually, the sheriff is the same, but you get the idea.

Across the state, Sara Innamorato took the oath as Allegheny County executive and immediately announced she will raise the wages for thousands of county workers. Keeping your campaign promise within eight hours of taking your oath is moving with the type of determination Najee Harris runs with.  We will see if she has the same stiff arm.

Up next were state Sen. Kim Ward, who was sworn in for another term as president of the Senate, and Judge Anne Lazarus, who was installed as the president judge of the Superior Court. Kudos to both of them!

We learned this week that violent crime in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County has dropped to its lowest level since 2019. One would not know this, however, if you spend your time listening to podcasts and talk radio, where hosts love to talk about the violent hellscape they purportedly live in. Having your chipped ham stolen as you leave Giant Eagle is NOT a violent crime, people.

Before we leave Pittsburgh, we need to bring to your attention the story of a Cecil the Yinzer Goldendoodle, who surprised his family by eating $4,000 cash off of the kitchen counter. The fact that Cecil still roams the earth tells you all you need to know about the love between a family and its dog.

Education funding reform advocates are shooting one across the bow of the S.S. Pennsylvania by demanding that the state cough up a $2 billion “down payment” on equitable school funding, lest the Commonwealth be sued again. Nice state budget you have there. Be a shame if something happened to it. Anyway, the governor’s budget address in February is about to become must-see TV.

And while the fight over state funding for public schools has dominated the debate, lest we forget that Pennsylvania is SECOND-TO-LAST in the nation when it comes to supporting higher education. In fact, state-related universities are operating at per capita funding levels equal to those of 2007, when George W. Bush was in the White House. Have y’all had any raises in salary since then?

Speaking of presidents, heading into 2024 voters are identifying foreign policy as one of their top-tier concerns. And while one’s definition of a successful foreign policy differs widely among the parties, it is safe to say that the issue hasn’t been this high on voters’ minds since W was in the Oval. Maybe folks are finally chilling out about the economy.

And like swallows returning to Capistrano, county officials opened the year by warning everyone that we are woefully unprepared for the upcoming elections. While 2023 might have been a good time to update those voting laws, alas, that ship has sailed and is halfway to Europe.

People who give a flying fig about transportation funding are also sounding the alarm that they need cash faster than J.G. Wentworth can get it to them. Man, January comes with a LOT of alarm sounding, doesn’t it? The clock turns over on 1/1, and we all turn into Chicken Littles. But, if you like safe roads, bridges, ports and trains, maybe you need to pay attention.

Former Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke wrapped up his 40-year career this week and will be rightly remembered as one of the most effective leaders the city has seen in recent history. It was a privilege working with you, Mr. Clarke!

This weekend, the Pennsylvania Farm Show kicks off. To celebrate, here is a butter sculpture. Join us as we watch local news anchors eat their weight in food-court grub.  

On the Triad Socials this week, say congrats to Jennifer Riley on her four-year Triadiversary!

And in our We Can’t Make This Up segment, we take you down under, where Australian authorities have located what is believed to be the largest male venomous spider on earth. Hercules the Sydney funnel-web spider is currently residing in a reptile park, which would not happen if we had found it. Think kerosene and a blowtorch.

That’s what passes for news around here, as we roll into 2024 with reckless abandon, or at least partially controlled abandon. We will be back next week if we all figure out how to survive two freaking inches of snow. From all your friends at Team Triad, have a great weekend!