Articles for February 2016

Primary Update

So it seems that Guy Reschenthaler has a possible opponent after all as Ed Eichenlaub has succeeded in submitting enough petitions (see page 4 of link) to make himself an official candidate in the Democratic primary on April 26th. Eichenlaub has apparently never before ran for public office, but he has extensive experience in public service as he is an Allegheny County Health Inspector. Aside from pages from sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn, the only easy-to-find web presence is from a 2013 WTAE report on tips to keep a kitchen clean. One reason for starting this site is to try to create public awareness of the political process in general, and Pennsylvania and the communities within the 37th Senatorial District specifically, and I applaud any political novice who is willing to put in the time, effort, and money to run for office. It is not an easy thing to do and the hurdles involved are possibly greater than many think.

The difficulties will be even greater for Eichenlaub as he is running against a man who, though only a Senator for the past few months, has political experience that extends to his prior time as a magistrate judge in district 05-02-16 (Jefferson Hills, Pleasant Hills, South Park). He ran in 2013 and won both the Democratic and Republican primaries against his much older or more experienced opponents. One, Sean Audley, had been a practicing lawyer for 23 years, and the other, Edward Snee, was a long-time police officer and had been serving as a South Park Township Supervisor for four years.  Audley and Snee were both registered Democrats with Reschenthaler being the sole Republican. Despite this, Reschenthaler won both party primaries, 1,179-312-281 on the Republican side (not surprising given party affiliation of the candidates) and 972-698-664 on the Democratic side, and this within an area that had an overall 12,034-8,297 registration advantage for the Democrats. combining both primary votes, Reschenthaler won 863-299-175 in Jefferson Hills, Reschenthaler’s home municipality, 652-439-139 in Pleasant Hills, Audley’s home municipality, and 636-272-631 in South Park, Snee’s home municipality. As you can see, he won a majority of all votes in all three municipalities and won each primary tally within each municipality except for the Democratic primary in South Park, which Snee won handily, providing him with roughly half of the overall number of votes he received in both primaries in all municipalities. In other words, Reschenthaler was able to win both Democrats and Republicans to his side in significant numbers, overcoming what should have been a natural advantage for Audley in terms of experience and party affiliation. Not having been a resident in the area at that time, I do not know what that might have been, but I would like to find out.

Regardless, Reschenthaler has political experience, financial means, and strong support from his local community on his side. This has visibly manifested itself in the form of a formal protest against the signatures provided by Eichenlaub, filed under docket number 98 MD 2016 in the Commonwealth Court by Carole King, Albert Fencik, Jr., and Janice Cmar. All three petitioners live in Jefferson Hills and are citizens of some prominence. King served as Borough Treasurer from 1978-1990 and Police Clerk from 1990-2012, earning sufficient respect that the Borough Council publicly commended her in 2012. Cmar is, in fact, the mayor of Jefferson Hills, having been sworn in by Reschenthaler as his first act as Magistrate Judge in 2014.  Fencik is a little more obscure, at least by web-searching standards, but he was probably once a resident of Lincoln Place as this 1986 letter to the editor of Pittsburgh Press would attest and disliked the 4% wage tax that Pittsburgh levied at the time. Regardless, Reschenthaler has some significant residents of Jefferson Hills supporting him and are willing to help him out in this contest. That means Eichenlaub will have his work cut out for him even if he managed to get past the objection.

Slow News Month

January has ended with four days of Senate sessions with six bills passed, two of which are concurrences with House-amended bills that had already passed the Senate. The Senate (and House) will not reconvene until February 8th, which can only mean there are no important issues facing the Commonwealth that need immediate attention.

Guy Reschenthaler also now appears as the Prime Sponsor for a resolution submitted to the Senate. Since this is a resolution, it is NOT the lobbying-violation-fine-increase bill announced last month, but instead it is SR275: “A Resolution urging the Congress of the United States to pass H.R. 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015.” I can only assume that Reschenthaler has begun taking a keen interest in the mental health of Americans and that this resolution has nothing to do with the fact that the sponsor of H.R. 2646 is Tim Murphy, the well-entrenched and well-funded U.S. Congressman from the 18th Pennsylvania district, which includes almost the entirety of the 37th district of the Pennsylvania Senate. Otherwise, one may think that the resolution is specifically geared to curry favor from Congressman Murphy.

Also, someone pointed out to me that Reschenthaler does NOT provide an email address that can be used to contact him or his office directly, and that anyone who wishes to do so should use a form provided on his website. I wanted to see how this compared with the other Senators and discovered that only three, John Sabatina, Patrick Stefano, and Reschenthaler do not provide an email link on their Senate page, and though Sabatina and Stefano provide links to their websites, Facebook page, and Twitter feed, Reschenthaler only provides a link to his website. Perhaps this is just a reflection of how new he is to the Senate as he does have a Facebook page, a Twitter feed, a (probably personal) Google+ page, and even a YouTube channel (with nothing on it). Interestingly, 10 Senators who provide an email link actually link to the “Contact Me” form on their website, which means only 36 of the current 49 Senators provide a contact email address. Of the 13 who do not, 12 are Republican and 1 (Sabatina) is a Democrat.