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Inquirer Daily News

Archive: June, 2011

POSTED: Thursday, June 30, 2011, 8:18 AM

With President Obama and GOP frontrunner-challenger Mitt Romney in town, as the Inquirer's Thomas Fitgerald reports, Philadelphia's wealthy are showing their political colors.

Politicspa.com lists members of Romney's PA finance committee here. These include:

  Tom Caramanico (McCormick Taylor engineering)
  Pasquale Deon Sr. (of Bucks County: owner, Pat Deon Beverages; WBCB-AM, Levittown; SEPTA board chair; Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission member)
  J. Brett Harvey (Consol Energy, coal mining)
  John Ireland (Valley Forge Advisors Investment Corp.)
  Ira Lubert (real estate investor, Valley Forge casino owner, and lead partner in Independence Capital, whose $12 billion+ in assets includes a billion dollars in PA state pension money)
  Mitchell Morgan (Morgan Properties, the King of Prussia firm that is New Jersey's largest apartment landlord; a prominent friend of Israel; past host at PA fundraisers for GW Bush and John McCain)
  Jeff Orleans (Orleans Homebuilders, whose bankruptcy followed the housing collapse)
  William Sasso (Stradley & Ronon law firm, co-chair of Gov. Corbett's transition team, lawyer for the Archdiocese and other prominent clients, chairman of the National Constitution Center)
  Dr. Dick Schmidt (orthopedist)
  Jim Shacklett (National Label Co.)

POSTED: Thursday, June 30, 2011, 7:40 AM

Tea Party-style conservatives have exaggerated in trying to claim Thomas Jefferson as one of their anti-government, anti-bank allies, writes economist Ed Yardeni in his newsletter today.

But that should be no comfort to Obama, who would have disappointed Jefferson, he adds:

"Thomas Jefferson... was a leading member of the original Tea Party. If he were alive today, he would certainly be shocked by the size of the US government and the amount that it owes and continues to borrow. However, he probably saw it coming and would not be completely surprised.

POSTED: Wednesday, June 29, 2011, 2:02 PM

Hawker Beechcraft Corp., the Wichita-based business-jet and general-aviation airplane maker, has agreed to lease and expand the former MBNA Corp. jet terminal at New Castle County Airport near Wilmington and hire 100 mechanics and other workers over the next five years, to service Philadelphia-area companies' corporate aircraft. Company statement here.

Delaware is paying Hawker Beechcraft $750,000 to lure "new jobs, not relocations," Karen M. Smith, spokeswoman for the Delaware Economic Development Office, told me.  Hawker says applicants can browse jobs here.

The Delaware River and Bay Authority, which operates the Delaware Memorial Bridges near Wilmington on I-295, the Port of Wilmington and Cape May-Lewes ferry as well as the airport, will lend Hawker $700,000, at 2% interest, to expand the facility with a 7,000 square foot maintenance shop, and split another $235,000 in wiring, flooring, lighting and painting, said DRBA spokesman James E. Salmon.

POSTED: Wednesday, June 29, 2011, 12:37 PM

Josh Kopelman, ex of eBay's Half.com and now co-head of First Round Capital, the busiest venture capital firm based around Philadelphia, still likes to back hometown companies, though his firm has long since gone national, and he says today's technology makes it easier than ever to track investments far from home. More from Kopelman here.

One thing that crimps Philadelphia's role as a software center - it's not a lack of money, especially now that it's cheaper than ever to start a software-based firm - but the lack of software engineers hereabouts.

If he were looking for drug experts, Kopelman told me, he could find a boatload within a marathon run of his West Conshy office, given all the Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, Wyeth, Teva, Shire, AstraZeneca alumni that crowd the 202 corridor, plus the local hospitals and med and pharma schools.

POSTED: Wednesday, June 29, 2011, 11:40 AM

Don Johnson, the former Philadelphia Park executive and student of blackjack who took Atlantic City's Tropicana, Borgata and Caesars casinos for around $15 million earlier this year, according to the Atlantic City Press, sprayed six- and seven-figure bottles of champagne around the room in a London nightclub while visiting his hometown pal rocker Jon Bon Jovi last weekend, reports Britain's Mirror here.  Johnson has a champagne history in Vegas also, says DailyFiasco here.

POSTED: Wednesday, June 29, 2011, 10:36 AM
From the American Revolution Center website (From the American Revolution Center website)

UPDATE: More on PA's RACP grants - $437 million to 104 private projects statewide year-to-date - in my print column in today's Philadelphia Inquirer here.

EARLIER: From Valentine's Day through June 21, Pennsylvania's Republican Gov. Tom Corbett has approved $249 million in funding for 40 Philadelphia-area projects, to the benefit of for-profit companies, developers, and nonprofit agencies, under the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP).

The projects Corbett backed (as negotiations over cuts to state college subsidies, public schools and welfare programs raged in the State Capitol) were culled from a list approved by both houses of the state legislature under Corbett's predecessor, Democrat Ed Rendell, and financed from Pennsylvania state bond borrowing, to be repaid by taxpayers.

POSTED: Tuesday, June 28, 2011, 2:55 PM

Hospital and business lobbyists praised PA House and Senate Republicans for sending Gov. Corbett the "Fair Share Act," which restricts legal damages from companies with a relatively minor role in product liability or malpractice. Consumers' and workers' lawyers who fought the bill warned it will reward businesses that rely on irresponsible foreign or independent contractors. Corbett plans to sign the bill in the Capitol Rotunda at Harrisburg.

The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania praised the law, which ends "joint and several" liability for defendants that a court finds were less than 60% liable for causing an injury. Association boss Carolyn F. Scanlan predicted the new limits will "keep doctors practicing, hospital services open for patients, and preserve essential jobs."

"Pennsylvania's system of joint and several liability has been used by personal injury attorneys as a search for 'deep pocket' defendants," Pennsylvania state chamber of commerce vice chair Gene Barr said last week. "Joint and several liability has become nothing more than a tool to force settlements from job creators and health-care providers that might be minimally at fault or not a fault at all."

POSTED: Tuesday, June 28, 2011, 2:13 PM

Shares of Susquehanna Bancorp, of Lititz, Lancaster County, skidded 15% in the past two months, as the Lititz, Lancaster County bank prepared its $283 million purchase of Abington Bancorp, and announced plans to buy Tower Bancorp and its Chester County subsidiary, 1F, for $343 million.

Boss William Reuter is promising he's done with buying other banks, around here, for now. The deals "get us to where we want to be," he told me. "In terms of acquisitions, we have what we need." Though he may want to open a few more branches in Center City and Bucks County on his own, he added. Susquehanna's downtown branches serve its suburban commuter base, which stretches all the way up US 422 to Berks County.

The two deals make Susquehanna Bank the #5 bank in PA. It's #8 in Philadelphia and its PA suburbs, with 55 local branches and more than $2 billion in deposits, according to FDIC data. Susquehanna is #6 in Burlington-Camden-Gloucester counties, NJ, with 18 branches and $700 million deposited. Its Philly regional headquarters is on the Delaware River's Camden waterfront, headed by regional bank chief Joe Lizza.

About this blog

PhillyDeals posts raw drafts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area finance, investment, commercial real estate, tech, hiring and public spending, which he's been writing since 1989, mostly for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn, taught writing at St. Joe's, and has written the book Comcasted, more than a thousand columns, and thousands of articles, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com or 215 854 5194.

Joseph N. DiStefano
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