Saturday, February 6, 2016

Save the 'Womenfolk!'

The debate over natural gas drilling heads in a new direction as a House Democratic leader warns against social downfall.

Save the 'Womenfolk!'


UPDATE: Rep. Sturla today apologized for using the term “womenfolk.” He couched it with the usual “if anyone was offended.”

A member of state House Democratic leadership is offering a new argument against expanded drilling for natural gas -- one that's got the GOP all gassed up.

Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster County, head of the House Democratic Policy Committee, was asked by the online news service to respond to a Corbett administration contention that expanding drilling in state forests would "solve just about every economic problem we have."

Apparently, Sturla saw the remark by Commerce and Economic Development Secretary Alan Walker as something of a red flag.

More coverage
Commonwealth Confidential: Boom towns like 'Wild West'?

Here's part of what Sturla emailed capitolwire in response: "...exactly what are all those things the drillers are doing for the local communities? Patronizing the bars are night? Driving up the cost of rental housing? Spreading sexually transmitted disease amongst the womenfolk?"

One wag immediately labeled Sturla "Rep. Mike Sturla, D-19th Century."

The official GOP response wasn't as kind.

“Talk about wrong-headed, misinformed, archaic, and just shocking,” said Rep. Sandra Major, House Republican Caucus Chair. “The House Democrat leadership attitude, after studying the impacts of the Marcellus Shale industry in Pennsylvania, is insulting.”

And then there was this:

"The people of this Commonwealth deserve better than hyperbole or fear mongering.” Rep. Matt Baker, R-Bradford County, said. “The hate-speech, misinformation, stereotyping and sensationalism from the House Democrat Policy Committee chairman is deplorable.”

And this:

"Drunks and promiscuous `womenfolk' -- that is what the House Democratic leaders are calling the hard-working men and women living within the Marcellus Shale region," Rep. Sheryl Delozier, R-Cumberland County, said. "Who can really support such notions from leaders who think so little of those working in a growing industry?"

And then the GOP state party weighed in:

“I don’t know what is more offensive, Sturla’s reference to Pennsylvania women as `womenfolk' or his assertion that we are promiscuous?  Rep. Mike Sturla should apologize for these incredibly stupid comments and his Democratic colleagues should denounce them immediately," said party vice chair Joyce Haas.

Ah, Pennsylvania politics. Part throwback. Part sniper. All nonsense all the time. Grrr.

Daily News Political Columnist
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About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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