Saturday, August 1, 2015

POSTED: Wednesday, June 10, 2015, 8:57 AM

I feel certain you'll be shocked, shocked I tell you, to learn that the state's long-touted, long-"working" bipartisan Basic Education Funding Commission has failed to meet a deadline imposed by law a year ago.

With its report on how to make state school spending fairer to all school districts (read: especially Philadelphia) due today, June 10, the commission yesterday issued a statement at 5:25 p.m. saying, yeah, well, we're not going to make that deadline so we're extending it another week.


POSTED: Monday, June 8, 2015, 8:57 AM
Was former Penn State President Rodney Erickson, the highest-paid college president in America for 2013-14, the best college president in America and worth a salary of $1.5 million?

I've always questioned why those at the top of the education food chain -- all of whom no doubt argue that education is a critical if not THE critical element in maintaining and advancing a civil society -- seem to collect salaries and perks far beyond anything anyone would consider, well, reasonable.

This applies to school superintendents, administrators, college football coaches and college presidents.

Release Sunday of a new report on higher education spending does little to smooth the edge of my question.

POSTED: Tuesday, June 2, 2015, 8:50 AM
A recent poll says voters rank all major presidential candidates more unfavorable than favorable - except for Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. His ranking is equally unfavorable/favorable, at 31 percent for each. JOHN LOCHER / Associated Press

It likely comes as no surprise that the 2016 GOP field for president is polling like a smorgasbord, which is to say a variety of hot and cold meats and what not, or that Hillary Clinton, while way ahead, still has image problems.

But what's striking in a brand new Washington Post/ABC News national poll is that Americans rank all top candidates (except for one) as more "unfavorable" than "favorable."

In other words, we really don't like anybody.

POSTED: Friday, May 29, 2015, 8:51 AM
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a round table discussion at Smuttynose Brewery, Friday, May 22, 2015, in Hampton,NH (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

Last week, I growled about Rick Santorum stretching the truth regarding his role in creating U.S. sanctions against Iran. He claimed he did it. Fact-checking showed he didn't.

Well, now comes some fact-checking on Hillary Clinton's claims that three Republican candidates for president dismiss the issue of equal pay for women as bogus, a waste of time and reminiscent of communism.

Now I understand it's standard practice for politicians to self-inflate their own importance and/or take opponents' quotes way out of context.

POSTED: Thursday, May 28, 2015, 9:04 AM
Rick Santorum salutes as he formally declares his candidacy for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination during an event in Cabot, Pennsylvania, on May 27, 2015. (REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk)

And now in the category of news that never goes away no matter what -- like a Bush for president or a Clinton for president -- we have the return of Rick Santorum and the resurrection of Joe Paterno.

Santorum on Wednesday announced he's again running for president, and a Pennsylvania lawmaker wants to name a turnpike bridge spanning the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg in honor of the late Penn State coach.

These are things that stir things up. Again.

POSTED: Tuesday, May 26, 2015, 8:41 AM
Voting booths await. (Emily Babay/Staff)

If it's the year before a presidential race, it's another year for Pennsylvania to try to become more relevant in the selection of presidential candidates.
Just don't count on it happening.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports another effort is brewing to move the state's 2016 presidential primary up from April to March in order to make us more of a national player, bring the state more political attention (and campaign spending) and generally boost our political profile.
State Rep. Keith Greiner, R-Lancaster County, is sponsoring a measure to move the primary from the fourth Tuesday in April to the third week in March.
This would put Pa. on the same day as other big states -- Florida, Illinois, Missouri -- currently scheduled to hold primaries March 15.
"Super Tuesday" next year is March 1 with seven state primaries and two caucuses.
(You can see the currently-scheduled full primary slate here.)
The argument for an earlier primary here isn't new but it's never gotten much support. In 2008, by accident, the state got attention despite it's later primary because the fight between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton dragged out longer than most (Hillary, you'll recall, won Pa. back then.)
Why don't we move our primary up? Same reason we don't do anything politically progressive -- inconvenient to our politicians.
Both party heads tell the Post-Gazette (as they have every time the issue comes up) that pushing forward would require others running for other offices -- read especially incumbents -- to get out and get their nominating petitions signed in the dead of winter, even pushing back into December.
GOP chairman Rob Gleason tells the P-G, "I've always kind of resisted that." Democratic Party chief Jim Burn says, "I see no reason to change throws everything out of whack."
So, you know, get ready to have your say in picking the next president next April 26 -- right after more than half the state have their say.

POSTED: Thursday, May 21, 2015, 8:50 AM
Philadelphia democratic mayoral candidate and former city councilman Jim Kenney Election Night Event celebration, Tuesday, May 19, 2015. ( Steven M. Falk / Staff Photographer )

In the aftermath of yet another low, low voter turnout election -- the lowest of the last four open-seat primary races for mayor and, according to the Inky, even lower in the burbs -- a few things beyond general disinterest strike me.

KANE, KANE, KANE: with the state's political and legal community fixated on what happens when to the case of Kathleen Kane, the Montco electorate just might have given the issue a little push.

That's because Montco DA Risa Vetri Ferman, a Republican who cross-filled for county judge, won her party's nomination for one of three open spots on the county bench but did not win the Democratic nomination.

John Baer, Daily News Political Columnist @ 8:50 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, May 19, 2015, 8:40 AM
Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum fields questions from Bruce Rastetter at the Iowa Ag Summit on March 7, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. The event allows the invited speakers, many of whom are potential 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls, to outline their views on agricultural issue. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, a/k/a he would be president (again), today picked up The Washington Post's highest, um, political honor: four Pinocchio's, for what The Post designates as "whoppers."

The notice comes in response to Santorum's latest version of his role in U.S. sanctions against Iran which he spelled out in a speech in Iowa over the weekend.

Santorum said,“Twelve years ago I introduced a bill on Iran to put sanctions in place. You know those crushing sanctions that brought Iran to the table? I was the author that put those sanctions in law twelve years ago. And I was opposed by none other than Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in the process.”

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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