July 9, 2021
Much has happened in our beloved Commonwealth and beyond since we last chatted, but we would be remiss if we did not let y’all know that PA Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward is home and recovering from double mastectomy surgery and wants you all to get the message: get your mammograms!
Former President Donald Trump sued every large tech company on God’s green earth this week, or at least signaled that he’s gonna sue them, or maybe hinted that he might. If you thought that time might heal the former POTUS’ view of how social media treated him in in 2020, ya thought wrong, sunshine. He’s gonna ride that grievance train ‘til it runs outta track.
And a smattering of PA GOP lawmakers is making it clear that they have not yet given up on a forensic audit of the 2020 election results, which has prompted an escalation of rhetoric from Governor Wolf, who this week asked the age-old question: you and what army?
Remember a few weeks ago when President Biden met with Russian champion bear wrestler Vlad Putin and told him in no uncertain terms to stop hacking American companies? Yeah, that hasn’t happened yet. Maybe a strongly worded letter next time, Joe?
There is a new entry in the GOP primary race for Pat Toomey’s U.S Senate seat. Trump appointee and longtime pal Carla Sands is throwing her very expensive Prada hat into the ring as she completed her post as U.S. Ambassador to Denmark, a country that the former president did not try to buy.
Meanwhile, state Democrats who aren’t yet thrilled with their choices in 2022 are getting a little bit tired of the Silence of the Lamb. Congressman Conor Lamb is still undecided, but his entry would scramble the eggs of the entire field. Especially vexed with Lamb’s entry would be Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who is currently all alone in the western PA lane.
In case you missed it during your post-July 4 hangover, state employees have finally returned to their offices after COVID-imposed exile to their kitchens and basements. We are sure that returning to their dull, gray cubicles next to Randy who doesn’t stop talking was a wonderful experience.
Sixty percent of Pennsylvanians are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This is a big deal when you consider what the delta variant is doing to states with low vaccination rates right now. Keep getting jabbed, Pennsylvania.
Redistricting reform in the Keystone State is deader than Dillinger until probably five to 10 years from now, according to us. Yes, we spent the past two years tracking this stuff because we are nerds and thus, we enjoy looking at maps and voter performance numbers. Find your own kink, people, and stop judging. Anyway, the General Assembly got awfully close to doing something on that reform front before dropping back three steps and punting. Reform, it turns out, means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.
The progressive wing of the Democrats’ party in Pennsylvania is mad as all get out that Governor Wolf did not fight harder (their words, not ours) for their agenda in this year’s state budget. Meanwhile, the conservative wing of the GOP is spitting nails about how much money this budget will cost PA taxpayers. This is where we remind everyone that it passed the state Senate 43-7. Not exactly a nail-biter.
Despite the unhappiness of some, schools and nursing homes were the big winners in this year’s budget plan, which makes a lot of sense given what schools and nursing homes just had to endure. There was also a budget-related bill passed that will provide much-needed relief to ventilator and tracheostomy care facilities, which we know because that was a Team Triad production. Much more to come on that one in the days ahead.
The legislature also punted on bag ban moratoriums this time around, which means that municipalities far and wide are already lining up to bag plastic bags (do we hear plastic straws, anyone?) Do not expect this one will go gently into that good night.
The City of Pittsburgh is doing something a bit novel with its pile of Biden Bucks, which clocks in around $335 million. Officials are asking for public input on how they should spend it, which is pretty damned cool. We would like to open by asking for a general overhaul of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ lineup.
Breaking news from our Triad news desk: the situation over at PSERS still vaguely resembles a dumpster fire. More at 11.
The state budget also contained good news for the fine folks in Erie, who have advocated long and hard for a new community college. It included $5 million to get that baby off the ground. Good on ya, Erie!
Speaking of babies, Team Triad was introduced to its newest firecracker, Duncan Matthew Ortenzio, who shares a birthday with our great nation. Congratulations to new parents Daena and Kevin!
And still speaking of babies, our own Roy Wells and his wife, Sharon, took on new titles last week as little Elton River Suski just eked out baby Ortenzio in the office pool. Congrats to Gigi and Grumpy, who are busy passing out stogies.
Elsewhere on the Triad socials recently, our own Todd Brysiak gives you his own budget rundown, which is a must-read for well-read politicos such as yourselves.
In our We Can’t Make This Up segment, we take you to lovely Maine, where a man accused of stealing a car tried to post his $200 bail with counterfeit money and was promptly returned to his cell. We are not sure what’s funnier – the fact that a guy tried to use play dough to bail himself out, or the fact that in the Maine judicial system, $200 is a suitable bond amount for trying to jack a car.
That’s what passes for news around here as summer hits full gear and Harrisburg is, at least temporarily, kinda empty. Make sure to come back next week, when we will desperately look for something newsworthy to fill this space. Until then, from everyone at Team Triad, have a great weekend!