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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

These Pennsylvania Congressmen disregarded their own national-debt concerns with tax-bill vote

Posted By on Wed, Dec 20, 2017 at 1:07 PM

Keith Rothfus (left), Tom Marino (center) and Mike Kelly (right)
  • Keith Rothfus (left), Tom Marino (center) and Mike Kelly (right)
Twenty-one trillion dollars and counting. That is what the national-debt clock reads on the homepage of U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Butler). A similar clock also appears on the pages of U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Sewickley) and U.S. Rep. Tom Marino (R-Williamsport).

The increase in the national debt has always been a big issue for these Pennsylvania Republicans, as they have consistently campaigned on shrinking the debt and have warned of the dangers if the U.S. can not pay it back. In 2014, Kelly voted against raising the debt limit and said in a statement after his vote: “My constituents in Western Pennsylvania sent me to Washington because government spending has reached a crisis level, and I gave them my word that I would to do everything in my power to reverse course.”

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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Pittsburgh City Councilor Dan Gilman to take over as mayor's chief of staff

Posted By on Tue, Dec 19, 2017 at 3:47 PM

Dan Gilman at a city council meeting - CP PHOTO BY MIKE SCHWARZ
  • CP photo by Mike Schwarz
  • Dan Gilman at a city council meeting
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Pittsburgh City Councilor Daniel Gilman have been longtime allies. In 2013, Gilman filled the mayor's seat on council after Peduto was elected mayor. And before that, Gilman served as Peduto's right-hand man as chief of staff for the nine years Peduto was on on council.

Now, Gilman will once again be taking on that role. Today, the mayor's office announced Gilman would be taking over as the mayor's chief of staff on Jan. 3. Gilman is filling the vacancy left by Kevin Acklin who announced his resignation earlier this month.

"Dan is the perfect person to continue my and Kevin's work the last four years to make Pittsburgh a city for all. In fact, he's been integral to that work all along," Peduto said in a press release. "I am grateful to Dan and his family for taking this next step in his public service to the city."

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Monday, December 18, 2017

U.S. Rep. candidate Beth Tarasi says Congressman Keith Rothfus should reveal how the tax bill would benefit him

Posted By on Mon, Dec 18, 2017 at 5:57 PM

  • Photo courtesy of the campaign
  • Beth Tarasi
U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Sewickley) has been a strong supporter of Congressional Republicans’ efforts to pass their tax-cut bill. He voted in favor of the U.S. House version of the bill and has offered full-throated support for the House-Senate version introduced on Dec. 15.

“This tax reform legislation puts more money in the pockets of hardworking Pennsylvanians, creates more jobs in our state, and lessens the power of Washington,” said Rothfus in a November statement.

But non-partisan analysis of the bill shows most of tax-cut bill benefits will go to the wealthy, and any benefits for working-class Americans will be limited. While income tax cuts will be doled out to all Americans initially, those cuts will expire in 2025. The corporate tax rate, however, will be cut from 35 percent to 21 percent and will be permanent.

Sewickley lawyer and Democratic U.S. Rep. candidate Beth Tarasi is running for Rothfus’ seat and is calling for Rothfus to tell his constituents how he would personally benefit from the GOP tax bill, considering his large net worth. Rothfus, with a net worth of more than $6 million, has the second highest net worth of any representative in Pennsylvania.

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Pittsburgh-area U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle really wants to keep net neutrality alive

Posted By on Thu, Dec 14, 2017 at 12:01 PM

  • CP photo by Ryan Deto
  • Mike Doyle
Pittsburghers that follow their congressman closely know that U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Forest Hills) is pretty furious that the Federal Communications Commission wants to strip net-neutrality rules that govern the internet.

The FCC is proposing axing the rules, and FCC chair Ajit Pai announced a vote will take place today, Dec. 14. Republicans like Pai claim that current net-neutrality rules, which bar internet service providers from slowing down or favoring certain web content, are an overly burdensome regulation on the internet that has hurt investment.

But Democrats, like Doyle, believe that repealing the rules will hurt consumers.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Republican gubernatorial candidate Paul Mango doesn’t seem to understand the economics of immigration

Posted By on Tue, Dec 12, 2017 at 5:31 PM

  • Photo courtesy of the campaign
  • Paul Mango
Gubernatorial candidate and former business consultant Paul Mango (R-Richland) released a video on Dec. 1 decrying so-called “sanctuary cities” (municipalities that limit communication between local law enforcement and federal immigration officers). “As your next governor I will guarantee you this: We are not going to tolerate sanctuary cities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” said Mango in the video. He was referencing a recent court ruling in San Francisco, where an undocumented immigrant was acquitted of murder and manslaughter charges in the accidental shooting death of Kate Steinle.

Critics claim that San Francisco’s sanctuary policy allowed the immigrant, Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, to avoid deportation even though he had been convicted of some drug charges prior to the shooting. After the shooting, Zarate was still convicted of illegal firearm possession, and will likely be deported. However, immigration experts, like Pittsburgh immigration lawyer Abbie Rosario, say that sanctuary policies encourage immigrants to report crimes and keep neighborhoods safer. Rosario says that politicians like Mango who criticize sanctuary cities aren’t necessarily focused on policy, but are more interested in espousing “racist undertones.”

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Friday, December 8, 2017

State rep. candidate Emily Skopov wants Daryl Metcalfe out of committee chair seat

Posted By on Fri, Dec 8, 2017 at 2:07 PM

  • Photo courtesy of the candidate
  • Emily Skopov
On Dec. 5, a video of Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Cranberry) exclaiming he is a “heterosexual” when a Democratic colleague touched his arm went viral. It spread so far and wide, that on Dec. 7 it was featured on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel Live.

And while Metcalfe’s blatant homophobia is undoubtedly humorous to most Americans, some people involved in Pennsylvania state politics are taking it seriously. On Dec. 6, Gov. Tom Wolf (D-York) requested that House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Marshall) re-examine Metcalfe’s chairmanship of the House’s state government committee.

And the woman who is running to challenge Turzai’s state House District 28 seat, Democrat Emily Skopov of Marshall, was even more unambiguous in her request; she believes Turzai needs to remove Metcalfe from the committee chair.

“Mike Turzai needs to do the right thing and remove Daryl Metcalfe as chair,” said Skopov in a press release. “Metcalfe’s actions are repugnant and dishonor our state government. By allowing Metcalfe to continue as chair, Mike Turzai further demonstrates his lack of a moral compass, endorsing homophobia and bigotry. It is time for Speaker Turzai to grow a spine and do the right thing.”

Metcalfe is arguably the general assembly’s most anti-LGBTQ member. He has tried to deny spousal benefits to same-sex couples and tried to make it illegal for LGBTQ people to marry. Metcalfe also chairs the state House’s state government committee, and thus controls the fate of civil-rights legislation that can affect the lives of LGBTQ Pennsylvanians. He has used this position to refuse to let the Fairness Act see a vote (the bill would grant LGBTQ Pennsylvanians the same non-discrimination rights that minorities and Christians receive under federal law).

According to a 2015 study from the Public Religion Research Institute, 70 percent of Pennsylvanians support a statewide LGBTQ non-discrimination law, while only 25 percent oppose such a law.

Turzai, as the state House’s highest ranking member, has the ability to move Metcalfe out of the state government committee into another committee chairmanship, but he alone cannot strip Metcalfe from his current chairmanship, because of Metcalfe's seniority. It should also be noted that Turzai placed anti-marijuana state Rep. Matt Baker (R-Tioga) at the chair of the health committee, which was a main reason why the state took so long to pass a medical-marijuana bill, despite widespread public support.

In a Dec. 7 article in Lancaster's LNP , Turzai brushed off calls to move Metcalfe out of the state government chair seat. A request for comment to Turzai's office was not returned.

Regardless, Skopov feels that Metcalfe should be removed from the state government committee because of his anti-LGBTQ views, as well as other controversial behavior in the past. For example, even though the 1964 federal civil-rights act granted non-discrimination rights to immigrants, in 2015 Metcalfe attempted to pass English-only legislation and brought a white nationalist to Harrisburg to lobby for his cause.

“Time and time again, Representative Metcalfe has displayed bigotry, and Mike Turzai has remained silent,” said Skopov in a press release. “Mike Turzai either supports homophobia and bigotry or he doesn’t. If he refuses to strip Metcalfe of his chairmanship, everyone will know exactly where he stands.”

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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf says Rep. Daryl Metcalfe’s committee seat should be re-examined in light of homophobic comments

Posted By on Wed, Dec 6, 2017 at 4:33 PM

A Dec. 5 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette headline was one for the ages: “State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe comes out as heterosexual.” The P-G story was about Metcalfe (R-Cranberry) freaking out when state Rep. Matt Bradford (D-Montgomery) briefly touched his arm during a committee meeting about land-use policies.

“Representative Bradford, look, I am heterosexual,” said Metcalfe after Bradford tapped his arm. “I love my wife, I don’t like men, as you might. Stop touching me all the time.”

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Monday, December 4, 2017

Protesters block entrance to Sen. Pat Toomey’s Pittsburgh office, hope to inspire more action against proposed tax bill

Posted By on Mon, Dec 4, 2017 at 4:26 PM

Chelsey Engel outside of Pat Toomey's office in Downtown Pittsburgh - PHOTO COURTESY OF IKE GITTLEN
  • Photo courtesy of Ike Gittlen
  • Chelsey Engel outside of Pat Toomey's office in Downtown Pittsburgh
In 2017, Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Lehigh) has had a consistent record of ignoring the requests of thousands of protesters. The senator has met with a few members of Tuesdays with Toomey, a left-leaning group organized in late 2016, and Toomey has held some highly-restrictive tele town hall meetings, but constituents upset with Toomey’s choices told City Paper in September that they have grown tired of trying to persuade him of altering his votes and stances.

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