February 3, 2023

The U.S economy continues to flatten job-creation expectations like Eagles linebackers flatten quarterbacks. A whopping 517,000 jobs were added in January, with unemployment falling to 3.4%, a level this nation hasn’t seen since 1969. We remember the summer of ’69 fondly. In fact, that was the year we got our first real six-string at the Five and Dime.

Seeing as how interest-rate hikes have started to slow, inflation is ticking downward and job growth keeps plugging along, there is surely NO WAY IN HELL that Congress would ever do anything to tank the economy, right? Oh, sorry Mr. Debt Ceiling, did not see you looming over our shoulder like the Grim Reaper.

President Biden announced this week that he will declare both of the COVID-19 national disaster declarations null and void on May 11. So, if you have any last minute COVID shopping you need to do before the big day, at least you have a few months left.

In amazingly reassuring news, the FDA still cannot agree on who should get COVID boosters, what strain the boosters should be or even how often boosters are needed, if ever. No wonder Biden is calling the whole thing off, albeit about a year after the rest of the nation called it off. COVID fatigue is a real thing, people.

Congress will be kicking the tires on the five trillion in COVID-19 relief money that Uncle Sugar sprinkled all over the nation during both the Trump and Biden administrations to try and ascertain if there was any fraud going on with the programs it created. News flash: pretty sure we already know the answer to that question. Consider that if even one percent of that total was misspent or stolen (which, coincidentally, would make it the most successful government program in history), that would mean fifty billion clams walked out the door, if clams actually could walk.

We know that at least one of those programs went off the rails in Pennsylvania, as the state’s housing finance agency pulled the plug on a private contract to manage $375 million in mortgage relief money. The vendor in question touted its skill in handling disaster relief funding, which we were shocked to learn actually meant that they are adept at creating disasters. Mission accomplished.

It was Groundhog Day on Thursday, and everyone dutifully quoted Bill Murray all day, and it looks like more winter yadda yadda yadda. The day we celebrate the meteorological wombat named Phil has been around for an astounding 137 years, or about as long as that weirdo Gus has been on our televisions pitching lottery tickets. Seriously, with all the creative talent in this world, Gus is the best we can do?

Gov. Josh Shapiro this week continued his string of executive-order signings by affixing his signature to one that orders a whole lot of hybrid state employees to return to their offices, like yesterday. Shapiro administration officials pointed to the lack of collaboration among staff as a driving reason, which means they obviously haven’t read any of our content on how to foster such collaboration, regardless of where on the planet one happens to be.

Shapiro also began the process of streamlining the state’s professional licensing process by instituting what is essentially a “money-back-if-you-are-not-satisfied” process. We often hear elected officials talking about how we should make the government run like a business. Well, there ya have it, friends and neighbors.

One reason Shapiro is busy signing executive orders is that the Statehouse is still in limbo, and therefore not doing any fancy legislating. Fear not – there are three special elections next week that should help provide some clarity to the road ahead.

In the meantime, the House GOP caucus is about to shrink by one member as Lynda Schlegel Culver was elected to the state Senate this week.

Running to replace Culver in the House is a 20-year-old man who would, if elected, be the youngest person to ever serve in the legislature, as well as the first member who could make liquor laws while simultaneously not being allowed to drink.

State tax collections were off by 5% in January in what might be the first fiscal dark cloud Pennsylvania has seen in quite a while. Before you smash the panic button, remember that we are also sitting on more than 10 billion in operating surpluses and rainy-day cash combined. Save the hysteria until next year around this time.

Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey has responded to Steel City business owners’ pleas by announcing he will triple the number of police officers dahntahn in an effort to stop violent crime. Gainey, who is not exactly a Blue Dog Democrat, has been making some waves in the Mon, Allegheny and Ohio, with this new policy coming on the heels of his not-so-subtle shot across the bow of the S.S. UPMC. Hizzoner is doing things!

When Winter Storm Elliot pummeled North Carolina’s power grid into submission, there was a race to place the blame on renewable energy sources as the culprit (we see you, Wall Street Journal), despite the fact that wind and solar make up only about 7% of the Tarheel State’s power supply. Well, as it turns out, while multiple factors were at play for the rolling backout, renewables were not one of them. Who would have thought that perhaps the other 93% might have played a role? Inconceivable.

We note with sadness this week the passing of our friend, former state Rep. Garth Everett, who left us far too soon. God bless and keep his family and friends in this difficult time.

Over on the Triad socials this week, stop in and say happy 5th anniversary to Todd Brysiak, and a hearty and happy 4th anniversary to Megan Dapp. Top people doing a top job, all day long!

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment, we take you to Quebec, Canada, a gorgeous place full of natural beauty and a Punxsutawney Phil knockoff named Fred La Marmotte, which roughly translates to “Fred the Wombat” in French. Unfortunately, before Fred was able to predict the weather in Canada for the next six weeks, he quietly passed away in his wombat cave or whatever you call it. R.I.P., Fred, and for all the Canadian readers out there, here is our weather prediction for Canada over the next six weeks: cold with a moderate chance of really cold.

That’s what passes for news around here at Team Triad as we gallop into February. We will be back at ya next week with a bunch of stuff we think you should know, as well as a few things you could have probably lived without ever knowing. Until then, from all of us at Team Triad, have a great weekend.