Sunday, April 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Wednesday, March 26, 2014, 8:16 AM

Reports from Rome say Pope Francis pulled a last-minute move to avoid a private meeting with Mayor Nutter, Gov. Corbett and others seeking to lure the Pontiff to Philly in September 2015 for a world meeting on families.

Here are possible reasons why the Pope pulled the plug:

10. He heard the 2015 invite included a Phillies game.

POSTED: Tuesday, March 25, 2014, 8:36 AM

Joe Peters, top communications aide to embattled Atty. Gen. Kathleen Kane, is gone.

Peters, a Scranton native and former federal prosecutor with what has to be the strongest resume in Capitol press secretary history, confirmed in an email Monday night that he no longer is a Kane employee.

He described his departure as "quick," with no access to his work phone, work email or contacts.

POSTED: Monday, March 24, 2014, 8:47 AM

The sting operation that snared a bunch of Philly Democratic pols and that raises still-unanswered questions about the conduct of former top state prosecutors and current Attorney General Kathleen Kane sure would make for a great TV debate.

And that's exactly what one of the principals in the case, its lead prosectutor Frank Fina, proposed in a Sunday Inquirer essay.

Fina, who now works for Philly DA Seth Williams but ran the state sting when working for the AG's office, has been knocked hard by Kane for running what she calls a bad investigation, tainted with racism.

POSTED: Thursday, March 20, 2014, 8:50 AM

Hey, everybody, good news.

Just when you thought the PA Legislature was once again headed down the drain of common criminality -- four Philly lawmakers apparently caught on tape taking unreported cash; a state Senator charged with using her office for personal/political gain -- comes word that House and Senate members this week got a big helping of ethics training.

That's right, folks, it appears legislative leaders know a thing or two about timing.

POSTED: Wednesday, March 19, 2014, 8:25 AM

Maybe it was an anomaly, but a special state Senate election in York County on Tuesday erased everything that's accepted as normal in Pennsylvania politics.

A maverick Republican who owns a trash-hauling firm, who wants to replace property taxes with new taxes on food and clothing, who says he won't take a state pension or health insurance and who supports legalizing medical marijuana scored an unprecendented victory as a write-in candidate, beating a GOP-backed 16-year state House member.

Scott Wagner thus became the first in state history to win a Senate race with write-in votes. And he did so by a wide margin over party-picked Rep. Ron Miller, 47 percent to 27 percent, according to the Associated Press, in a low-turnout election.

POSTED: Thursday, March 13, 2014, 9:17 AM
John Baer: Democratic Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced charges against State Rep. LeAnna Washington with a prepared statement and no further comment. Would Kane have done the same thing if it had been a long-time incumbent white Republican male?

Like diner daily specials, almost everything that occurs in the arena of politics comes with at least two sides.

Take the announcement of charges against veteran African-American Democratic state lawmaker LeAnna Washington, accused of using her public office for personal and political gain.

(Apparently, she never got the memo. Or read a newspaper in the last several years.)

POSTED: Wednesday, March 12, 2014, 8:46 AM

The Washington Post reports a bunch of fun phone facts that it says is putting pressure on political pollsters to accurately reflect the electorate's views.

The basic premise is because we're not using telephone landlines to the extent we once did and are more reliant on cellphones that pollsters need to either greatly increase their cellphone calls or rely on heavy mathematical skewing.

It isn't really news that Americans are changing the way they communicate, but it is dramatic to see to what extent.

POSTED: Wednesday, March 5, 2014, 8:10 AM
Former state Sen. Vince Fumo. (ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / FILE) (DN)

Former Democratic state Sen. Vince Fumo is undergoing treatment for prostate cancer, the Daily News has learned.

The 70-year old Fumo, whose series of health problems is eclipsed only by his series of legal problems, is receiving proton radiation -- a sophisticated, high-tech cancer treatment -- five days a-week at the University of Pennsylvania's Roberts Proton Therapy Center.

Fumo confirmed the regimen in a telephone interview. He said he's been receiving treatment for about five weeks and has another four weeks to go.

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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