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Perhaps the only thing more heartbreaking than the string of child cancer cases in Washington County in recent years is the total lack of accountability by the region’s elected officials. A quick look at the political landscape makes it easy to understand why. State Senator Camera Bartolotta and State Representatives Jason Ortitay and Tim O’Neal all owe their political existence to campaign money from the oil and gas industry, with O’Neal even working in the industry before being elected. Not surprisingly, they collectively assumed the mantle as ardent defenders of the companies operating in and around their districts. Nowhere has this been more apparent than in response to the public outcry over the cancer cluster in Washington County. Bartolotta, Ortitay, and O’Neal: The Oil and Gas Industry’s Three Stooges The…

The chief frustration among Democrats regarding the impeachment of President Donald Trump, aside from his brazen disregard for the law, is his unprecedented stonewalling. By ignoring lawfully issued subpoenas and refusing to allow members of his administration to testify before Congress, Trump has effectively forced Democrats into a political corner. Waiting for the battle to play out in the courts will take longer than the limited timeline of 2020 will allow. Moving forward without the “smoking gun” that undoubtedly lies somewhere within Trump’s Fortress of Criminal Solitude leaves room for Trump sycophants to defend him and muddy the political waters. Both paths seem to lead to a place that allows Trump to proclaim victory not based on the substance of the allegations, but on his continuous and unprecedented disregard for…

NOTE: THIS POST IS SATIRICAL IN NATURE. THE INTENT IS TO SHOW THE FAILURE OF LOCAL LEGISLATORS TO PRIORITIZE HEALTH AND SAFETY OVER EVERYTHING ELSE, ESPECIALLY MONEY. With tens of thousands of residents from southwestern Pennsylvania reaping the consequences of the region’s booming oil and gas industry, local state legislators and senators are joining the rush to make sure they don’t miss out on the financial benefits. Recently, Senators Camera Bartolotta and Elder Vogel joined forces with their colleagues State Representatives Jason Ortitay, Josh Kail, and Tim O’Neal to form a new company to address the needs of the region. Their new venture, Kiddie Koffins, is aimed squarely at the rising rates of child cancer from a cancer cluster primarily located in Washington County. Representative Kail recalls the initial brainstorming session that led to the formation of Kiddie Koffins. “We…

Ask any Democratic political junkie what their favorite television show is, and the response will almost unanimously be “The West Wing.” For me, Aaron Sorkin’s political masterpiece came along at a pivotal point in my life. As a young college graduate and then law school student, I was looking for a way to make my mark on the world but wasn’t entirely sure of the best way to do it. It’s no exaggeration to say The West Wing was the thing that drove me to embrace public service, and I know I’m not the only one. I bring this up because yesterday marked the twentieth anniversary of the premiere of the West Wing on NBC. Honestly, it’s hard to look at the show and not feel depressed about how it…

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Let’s get one thing straight right up front. Lindsey Williams won. Nobody can dispute the results of the election for the vacant seat in Pennsylvania’s 38th Senate District. Lindsey Williams: 62,361 Votes Jeremy Shaffer: 61,568 Votes I’m no mathematician, per se, but I checked my work several times and used the calculator app on my phone to be sure. Senator-elect Lindsey Williams beat Republican Douchey McDoucherson Jeremy Shaffer by 793 votes. Done deal, right? You’d think so, but never underestimate the enduring petty dickishness of Republican legislative leaders in Harrisburg. Here’s a quick breakdown of this utterly bullshit “issue” making equally bullshit headlines.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text] What Are The Legal Issues? Article II, Section 5 of the Pennsylvania Constitution lays out the requirements to be a state senator as follows:[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”Qualifications of members. Senators shall be at…

One of the cardinal rules for Thanksgiving dinner in recent years is to avoid talking about politics at family gatherings. In fact, the concept of the racist Drunk Uncle is now equally identifiable with Thanksgiving as cranberry sauce, with the common denominator being that nobody wants to put either of them anywhere near their mouth. But if you’re looking for some cutesy Buzzfeed-style garbage about “navigating politics at Thanksgiving”, look elsewhere. This year, with some notable exceptions we’ll discuss shortly, you need to talk about politics with your family at Thanksgiving. Here’s why. A Country Divided (Like Crazy Divided) Not only is America now more divided than any time in recent history, but our ability to pick and choose our news sources based on our political biases also leaves us…

As the 2018 Election Cycle begins its wind into the homestretch, some Democratic candidates for Pennsylvania State House and Senate will wake up one day in early October to realize those months of planning, personal sacrifice, and hard work will likely not be enough to put their campaigns over the top. Most voters may not understand this, but many campaigns are decided well in advance of Election Day; not by the voters, but by “the Stakeholders” who fund most closely-contested political campaigns. Who are the Stakeholders and why do they matter? It’s not as clandestine as it sounds. In Democratic politics, the stakeholders are composed mainly of labor unions, the legal community and other professional groups that have a vested interest in what happens in the State Legislature. Because most…

As someone who eats and breathes politics, I’m usually pretty quick to offer my take on a story, whether it’s solicited or not. Saying what’s on my mind has never been a problem for me. So as the story of children being detained in cages at the U.S. – Mexico border first broke, I assumed I would sit down at my computer after my kids had gone to bed for the night. The plan was to write a post blasting Trump and his administration for pursuing such a craven policy and then brazenly lying about it. Then I heard the audio of the children, and I realized this was different. The impact of those voices transcends politics as we know it, at least for me. My default emotional state when…

Sometimes the inner workings of government can be complicated and require a nuanced understanding of how and why things happen the way they do. Then there are the times when you’re like “What the hell are those clowns doing?” This is one of the latter. Earlier this week, TribLive.com published an article titled, “Cash-strapped state giving $1 million to Nutting-owned Seven Springs, Hidden Valley.” You can read the entire piece here, but the bottom line is this: Pennsylvania, yes the very same Pennsylvania that couldn’t get around to passing a state budget for the first time in modern history, is giving a $1 million to Bob Nutting, the billionaire (yes that’s billion with a “b”) owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates. This isn’t a tax credit or some write-off; the Commonwealth…