Sunday, May 3, 2015

POSTED: Thursday, August 14, 2014, 8:32 AM

The campaigns of Republican Gov. Corbett and Democrat Tom Wolf have agreed to three debates at sites spanning the state to be held September 22, October 1 and October 8.

The first debate, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry is set for Monday, September 22 at 7:30 p.m. in Hershey as part the chamber's 30th annual dinner. It is to focus on jobs, the economy, business taxes, etc. It's to be moderated by Harrisburg TV anchor Dennis Owens of ABC27 and carried live statewide on the Pennsylvania Cable Network.

The second debate is set for Philly on Wednesday, October 1 at 8 a.m. in the studios of KWY Newsradio to be moderated by veteran Philly broadcaster Larry Kane.

John Baer @ 8:32 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, August 13, 2014, 8:22 AM

And so, here in the state that still practices a form of prohibition, comes news that the Liquor Control Board, a.k.a. the booze police, is considering hiking prices 5 percent.

This, I feel certain, will cause steam to shoot out of the ears of state House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, Pennsylvania's point man for privatization.

The Associated Press reports it obtained an internal board memo saying that due to increased operating costs the board should consider boosting its mark up on liquor and wine from 30% to 35% to make up for the agency's shrinking income.

John Baer @ 8:22 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, August 6, 2014, 8:55 AM

Perhaps you caught some of the news coming from the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington and the White House dinner for hundreds Tuesday night.

I'm not going to run my usual rant on the entertainment (Lionel Richie), invited movie stars (Robert DeNiro) or the menu and the wines -- the latter you can read about it here.

What caught my eye was a series of one-paragraph "news" releases from the White House press office about various meetings between VP Joe Biden (he who may or may not run for president in 2016) and African-nation presidents.

John Baer @ 8:55 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, August 5, 2014, 8:38 AM
Former president Bill Clinton greets Trib Total Media employees after speaking at Penguin Court in Ligonier in honor of Trib Total Media publisher Richard Mellon Scaife on Saturday, August 2, 2014. (Stephanie Strasburg | TRIB TOTAL, Staff)

Not sure if you saw this. Seems to me it wasn't widely reported. It's an example of how odd politics can be.

Former President Bill Clinton last Saturday attended and spoke at a memorial service for one-time enemy billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife.

The service was held for employees of Scaife's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review at the site of Scaife's boyhood home in the Laurel Highlands of Western Pennsylvania.

John Baer @ 8:38 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, August 4, 2014, 8:49 AM

Hope you caught some or all of the smack-down over the weekend in the tick-tight Kentucky U.S. Senate race.

It was Democratic challenger Allison Lundergan Grimes v. GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell at the annual Fancy Farm Picnic, an event held in the small village of Fancy Farm in Western Kentucky since 1880.

It wasn't exactly a traditional debate. Both candidates rolled out a series of one-liners to a crowd estimated at 5,000 packed with sign-waving, booing and cheering supporters of each.

John Baer @ 8:49 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, August 1, 2014, 8:38 AM
Pennsylvania's largest teachers union has endorsed state Sen. Daylin Leach in the Democratic primary for the 13th Congressional District. ( Charles Fox / Staff Photographer /File )

Democratic state Sen. Daylin Leach, of Montgomery County, charged taxpayers to travel along with three aides to Denver to check out Colorado's legalized marijuana industry -- and to get a taste of its product.

The trip cost taxpayers about $5,000. Not a ton of taxpayer dollars, granted. But about $5,000 more than it would have cost to read any of the ongoing, extensive accounts of Colorado's lawful doobie experience, which began six months ago.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports on the junket and quotes Leach saying, "No one paid for or charged the state for any smoke."

John Baer @ 8:38 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 8:46 AM

The he's-still-everywhere-all-the-time former Philly mayor, national Democratic Party boss and PA guv Ed Rendell has his say in this week's New Yorker magazine profile of Veep Joe Biden.

In a lengthy, comprehensive piece by mag staffer Evan Osnos, "The Biden Agenda," Rendell holds forth on his friendship with Biden and Hillary Clinton.

Asked what sort of challenge Biden could make should he decide to run against Hillary (assuming she runs) for the Democratic nomination in 2016, Rendell says, "He (Biden) can't, because his political supporters and his financial supporters are all for Hillary."

John Baer @ 8:46 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, July 25, 2014, 8:26 AM

This could be a chicken-and-egg thing.

A new CNN/Opinion Research poll shows there is no single public issue that a majority of Americans view as "extremely important."

This is the first time we're seeing such results since before the recession.

John Baer @ 8:26 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
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

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