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Inquirer Daily News

Archive: December, 2012

POSTED: Friday, December 14, 2012, 8:45 AM

Many (okay, most) of youse will be happy to know this is my last blog.

HA! Gotcha! I just mean my last blog for 2012.

Time for Baer Growls to go into annual hibernation.

POSTED: Thursday, December 13, 2012, 8:51 AM

PA Welfare Secretary Gary Alexander is a driven man.

He drives himself to work. He has a long commute. From Rhode Island to Harrisburg, about 700 miles roundtrip.

The online news service PA Independent reports that Alexander, who runs an agency with a budget of $10.5 billion and 16,000 employees, routinely goes back and forth from his home in "The Ocean State" to his job in Harrisburg -- racking up 41,727 miles in a year in state-owned vehicles, more than half of that designated as "commute" travel.

POSTED: Wednesday, December 12, 2012, 9:02 AM

Probably as partial residual of this year's presidential campaign new polling on the "fiscal cliff" shows more voters approve of President Obama's stance than that of Speaker Boehner.

Gotta be that branding thing. Republicans still, I guess, don't get it.

A Washngton Post-ABC News poll released Wednesday says 47% of registered voters approve of Obama's handling of "cliff" negotiations so far, while only 24% of voters approve of Boehner's performance.

POSTED: Tuesday, December 11, 2012, 8:30 AM
Puerto Rican boys exercise at a gym specialized in children's fitness in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, April 20, 2007. Statistics point to a growing generation of Puerto Rican children struggling with obesity and related diseases, once rarely seen among such young people. The problem is worse here than on the U.S. mainland: Studies show 26 percent of youngsters are obese, compared to 18 percent on the U.S. mainland. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Unaccustomed as I am to reporting good news (hence the title of this blog), I hope you all saw the news story in Tuesday's New York Times about a drop in childhood obesity in some American cities, including Philadelphia.

Yep, something good, it appears, is happening in a city long derided as home of the fat, ugly and corrupt.

And while the Times notes the drop in obesity rates is small and occuring over time, it is encouraging to read that actions taken by any government anywhere in areas aimed at improving the health of citizens can actually pay off.

POSTED: Monday, December 10, 2012, 8:59 AM

(A brief discussion twixt Baer & Baer's editor, a.k.a. BE)

JB: Yo, boss, you see that thing about Corbett crowing that he had a drink and a cigar with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia during PA Society weekend in NYC?

BE: I did. Seemed to be a real highlight for the guv, and the fact they shared time at the Carnegie Club is appropriate given that Andrew Carnegie was involved in the PA Society and a speaker at one of it's annual dinners.

POSTED: Friday, December 7, 2012, 8:31 AM

Though not yet formally announced, a Pentecostal minister from Central Pennsylvania says he's running for governor as a Democrat because of his passion for the values of William Penn: good government in which "everybody is honored, respected and valued."

Max Myers, 59, is no longer pastoring (he's running a small business, buying investment properties in Harrisburg and renting them) and is getting in the race because "somewhere along the line" he got tired of saying somebody who cares about issues such as poverty, urban transformation and civil rights should do so.

Here's his website.

POSTED: Thursday, December 6, 2012, 8:29 AM

(A brief chat twixt Baer & Baer’s editor, a.k.a. BE)

JB: You know, of course, of my life-long affection for the annual Pennsylvania Farm Show, the 97th of which is scheduled January 5-12 in Harrisburg.

BE: Of course! The high-fat food, the animals, the life-size butter sculpture, the square dances, the tractor pulls, the sheep-to-shawl competition and my recommended addition – the hog-to-BLT contest.

POSTED: Wednesday, December 5, 2012, 9:01 AM

As 2012 winds down, chatter over fixing PA's public pension problem picks up. But about the only thing that's clear is how difficult a problem it is to fix.

Gov. Corbett Tuesday told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review editorial board that among options are raising the retirement age for state and public school workers, changing the formula for calculating pensions (i.e. reducing them) and applying such changes not only to new state workers but also to those not yet vested in the system.

This immediately brought a response from the president of PA's AFL-CIO, Rick Bloomingdale, who called the debate a "phony crisis," and from the Republican state House where its top spokesman Steve Miskin said, "I wish he (Corbett) would talk to the leaders before he goes to the press" with proposals.

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 baerj@phillynews.com.

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 baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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