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Archive: April, 2013

POSTED: Tuesday, April 30, 2013, 8:36 AM
Constitutents of state Senate Majority Leader Joe Scarnati run two feral swine hunting preserves in Tioga County, family businesses in operation for decades, he says, he crafted a bill to protect the boars under the Department of Agriculture; and the bill sailed through the Senate.

The old English phrase "in a pig's eye," which, according to those who follow such things, is used here in the colonies as an expression of emphatic disbelief, seems appropriate these days for all the doings in Harrisburg.

It came to mind during remarks Monday by Senate President Joe Scarnati at a Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon.

The GOP leader, who represents a vast eight-county district in the far regions of the state's northern tier, was talking about media fixation on efforts to privatize booze in the context of all the other issues facing the Legislature.

POSTED: Monday, April 29, 2013, 8:46 AM
Governor Corbett talks about his budget proposal to increase funding for rape crisis services and prevention education at a press conference held at the offices of Women Organized Against Rape as Kristen Houser (left) and Ralph J. Riviello (right) listen. February 28, 2013. ( MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / Staff Photographer ).

Yet another bad polling day for incumbent Republican Gov. Corbett needs a little bit of political perspective.

A new Quinnipiac University poll released Monday morning shows that if the election (which is 18 months away) were today, any one of three Democrats (only one of which is actually an announced candidate) would beat Corbett with relative ease.

Announced candidate U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz would win by 13 points (47-34); potential candidate and former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak would win by 14 points (48-34) and potential candidate state Treasurer Rob McCord would win by nine points (44-35).

POSTED: Thursday, April 25, 2013, 8:52 AM
The federal government pays service fees for 13,000-plus bank accounts with nothing in them, the Washington Post reports.

Perhaps if you're of a certain age or a big fan of rock you recall the 1985 tune by the British band Dire Straits, "Money for Nothing."

Well, the song title comes to mind after reading a story in The Washington Post detailing yet another example of your tax dollars are work.

The story explains that one of the ways Washington wastes money is the federal government's lax attention to 13,000-plus bank accounts with nothing in them for which your tax dollars are used to pay service fees. Nice.

POSTED: Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 8:39 AM

And so a seven-judge panel of Commonwealth Court on Tuesday ruled unanimously against Gov. Corbett in a right-to-know case involving an Associated Press effort to make public the governor's schedule and emails.

The governor's office said it will not appeal the ruling (which, again, was unanimous; by SEVEN judges) and will comply with AP's request.

This is yet another example of tax dollars, time and effort spent (read: wasted) on behalf of stuff the Corbett administration thinks it's right about when clearly it isn't.

POSTED: Monday, April 22, 2013, 8:55 AM
In this photo released by the White House, President Barack Obama shoots clay targets on the range at Camp David, Md., Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012. The White House released a photo of Obama firing a gun, two days before he heads to Minnesota to discuss gun control. In a recent interview with The New Republic magazine, Obama said yes when asked if he has ever fired a gun. He said "we do skeet shooting all the time," except for his daughters, at Camp David. (AP Photo/The White House, Pete Souza)

And now, as demonstration that Pennsylvania remains Pennsylvania, comes the state's annual "PA Second Amendment Action Day" at the Capitol.

On Tuesday morning, hundreds will gather as they do each year to affirm allegiance to the right to bear arms, an event organized by the state's arguably number one conservative lawmaker, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler County.

This year's event comes less than a week after a majority of U.S. senators supported but (because of Senate rules) failed to adopt a measure expanding criminal background checks for gun purchases.

POSTED: Thursday, April 18, 2013, 8:53 AM

With Washington and national media focused on guns, immigration reform, poison letters and, sadly, the aftermath of the Boston bombings, it seems the nation has forgotten all about the "devastating" impact to the economy from the so-called sequestration.

Maybe it's still too soon. Maybe devastation still is coming.

But I recall ominous predictions of very bad things across the economy when automatic federal budget cuts totalling $85 billion this year took effect back on March 1.

POSTED: Wednesday, April 17, 2013, 8:52 AM

In two seats of government, Washington and Harrisburg, it appears guns are on the comeback trail as the U.S. Senate prepared to vote Wednesday on a measure to expand gun-purchase background checks.

The Wall Street Journal reports the background check measure crafted by Republican PA Sen. Pat Toomey and West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is teetering "on the brink of failure."

And The Washington Post cites new polling that shows "ebbing" supporting for gun control. The Post says an Associated Press poll this month shows 49 percent of Americans support stricter gun laws, a number that is down from 58 percent in January.

POSTED: Tuesday, April 16, 2013, 8:33 AM
Gov. Corbett and possible primary challenger Bruce Castor

In what can reasonably be called the closest thing to good political news Gov. Corbett has gotten in a very long time, Montco Commissioner Bruce Castor now says the Guv isn't the stone-cold loser he might appear to be.

Despite bad polling numbers and national political watchers rating Corbett's reelection odds a toss-up, Castor told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "I no longer think he has no chance."

High praise from a fellow-Republican who's been attacking Corbett from the right and who still says he might challenge Corbett in a GOP primary next spring.

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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