↓ Archives ↓

Posts Tagged → Tom Wolf

Laura Ellsworth for Governor?

Attorney Laura Ellsworth is running for governor of Pennsylvania.

I have heard her speak at length, and heard her debate, and she is impressive. She is the kind of person I would want representing me as a lawyer: Articulate, earnest, knowledgeable.

She would also make an interesting college professor, or a policy think tank analyst.

But is she right for governor of Pennsylvania? As a Republican?

Polls by everyone – Democrats, Republicans, independent research firms, including your aunt and your auto mechanic, show Ellsworth getting somewhere between five hundred votes and five percent of the primary vote on May 15th.

Not nearly enough to win by any way possible. Mango is barely trailing Wagner by a percent or two, statistically tied.

Laura Ellsworth is as liberal policy-wise as her choice for US president in 2016, John Kasich, who she joyfully announced she wrote in on her November 2016 ballot (i.e. she did not vote for Trump).

She is big on gun confiscation from law-abiding citizens, one of those big government elitist feel-good actions that has zero relationship to crime reduction and lots of conflict with the constitution.

She has the foolish America-is-too-big-to-fail attitude toward illegal immigration, which she does not oppose.

She is in lock-step with the teacher’s unions on a variety of policies, not the least of which is continuing Pennsylvania’s broken and punitive property tax system that leaves about ten thousand elderly grandmas kicked out of their own homes every year to pay some teacher’s gold-plated pension.

None of these are conservative policy positions.

And Ellsworth refuses to talk substantively about the bigger political and cultural context, the larger world surrounding Pennsylvania. Such as the criminalization of policy differences through phony investigations as the Democrat Party’s new approach to losing elections (which is what the Communists successfully did in Europe). Such as the implications of the illegal, unconstitutional Mueller witch hunt. It is as if Ellsworth lives in a Western Pennsylvania bubble full of cool ideas.

This is hardly the stuff a worthy, sturdy governor is made of.

Then again, she has now been endorsed by former governor Tom Corbett, one of the modern era’s most failed, incompetent, though ethical, governors.

Because of his grossly negligent political incompetence and 40-grit sandpaper communication style, Corbett was soundly rejected by his own Republican voters in his quest for a second term in 2014. So accepting his blessing to run for governor is like lighting yourself on fire and then hoping someone nearby has a fire extinguisher.

By the obvious measure of the Republican electorate’s mood, Ellsworth is willfully tilting at windmills here. She is not a serious candidate.

Yesterday I had an illuminating conversation about this governor’s race with a long-time woman friend. She is a lawyer and a lobbyist, smart as hell, articulate, principled and tough. She was a Paul Mango supporter.

She said that watching Paul Mango and Scott Wagner duke it out with negative ads was like watching two school boys fighting at recess, with all the other students standing around yelling, and she doesn’t like it.

So she is going to vote for Ellsworth, as a protest.

When I pointed out that voting for Ellsworth is literally throwing away your vote, and most likely helping Scott Wagner get elected, she sighed deeply.

“I know. I feel like I can’t win here.”

I don’t think my friend is alone. Most older women do not like conflict, especially this kind of warfare going on between Mango and Wagner.

With about 40% of the likely Republican voters still uncommitted to any candidate here, there might be a lot more women voters like my friend than we expect.

Tell you what, as a conservative Republican voter for a long, long time, I have never been in this position before. It is a bittersweet feeling.

Never before have I seen a situation where the third candidate made it likely that the most explosive, confrontational, wrecking-ball candidate would get elected. But that is what is likely happening here.

If enough people like my friend vote for Ellsworth, then Ellsworth will end up taking away just enough votes from Mango to help Wagner win.

While I am supporting Mango, the fact is that Scott Wagner will be better on most policies than current governor Tom Wolf. And a lot, lot more destructive of the political establishment than Mango will ever be. Usually, it is the other way around in three-way elections, where the most liberal establishment candidate gets elected due to the presence of the third candidate.

So once again, politics makes strange bedfellows and it is full of irony. Laura Ellsworth is such a liberal candidate that her candidacy will cause the most confrontational, anti-liberal, anti-establishment candidate to get elected to governor. You could not write a political thriller more complicated and unlikely than this.

Gov. Wolf must pull Marcus Brown nomination

Governor Tom Wolf nominated Marcus Brown to be Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner.

Brown is a deeply, amazingly flawed candidate whose poor record literally involved recent malicious vandalism and theft. That is, the most basic, lowest form of law breaking. It’s behavior far beneath the dignity of any professional, and even farther, unimaginable, really, for someone representing the pinnacle of law enforcement. Brown is under investigation and will probably be charged soon with the crime. It’s an awkward scenario.

Brown’s many other flaws are notorious and even kind of crazy, like shutting down an entire highway and having Maryland state police go car-to-car with their guns drawn. That’s insane. It’s patently unconstitutional behavior and obviously tyrannical.

Brown is a man who has gotten away with all kinds infractions and law-breaking his entire career. He’s got a huge sense of entitlement. He is not cut out to be any sort of law enforcement officer, need we say the head of the PA State Police.

I know what it’s like to be a nominee running into an opposing state senator. I’ve been there and it can be an unfair fight, especially when the senator will tell no one what his objection is. Nevertheless, that same state senator is now joined by many others in formal opposition to Brown’s nomination, for good reasons that are a matter of the public record, not some personal vendetta.

Wolf doesn’t need this headache. There are going to be worthy disputes and tests with the legislature aplenty in the next four years. Wolf should choose his fights carefully, and in my experienced opinion, this is a bad one for him to stand on. He’s not going to win. And he’s promoting someone, Marcus Brown, who is unworthy of any support at all, much less a taxpayer-funded job, based on his historic and recent law breaking.

A Severance Tax, now?

Talk about an addiction to spending other people’s money.

Yesterday in southeast PA, far away from the communities where this issue is most important and the citizens might not be so welcoming, Governor Tom Wolf staked out his position on creating a new 5% “severance tax” on natural gas from the Marcellus shale feature.

Right now, natural gas is selling at historic low prices, especially here in Pennsylvania.  The financial incentive to drill more or spend more money to get more gas is very low, and drill rigs have been disappearing from across the region for a year.

The Saudis began dumping oil months ago, in an effort to punish competing oil producers Iran and Russia, with the secondary effect of dropping gasoline prices so low that the natural gas industry got hit from that side, too.

So now is not only a bad time for the gas industry, it is also a time of greatly diminished returns on investment and on royalties received.  Scalping 5% off the top of that is punishing to everyone, including gas consumers, who will see their rates increase proportionally.

Here’s the biggest problem with a severance tax: Pennsylvania already has a 3% impact fee on Marcellus gas, and a Corporate Net Income Tax of 9.99% (let’s call it ten percent, OK?).  Most of the other gas and oil producing states have no such additional taxes; their severance taxes are the one and only tax their oil and gas producers pay, not the multiple high taxes and fees drillers in PA pay.

Pennsylvania government is therefore already reaping much higher revenue from the gas industry than other gas producing states.  That means that the companies doing business here are already burdened much more than elsewhere.

So adding a severance tax now, at this economically bad time, without commensurately lowering other taxes, or the existing Impact Fee, makes no sense.  Unless the people promoting this have an infantile view of how America and business work.

And that right there is the problem.  Way too many advocates for tax-and-spend policies like an additional severance tax have a Marxist view of business; essentially, to them, business exists to pour money into liberal schemes.

And speaking of spending, who believes that spending more and more and more taxpayer dollars on public schools, public teachers unions, and public teachers’ pensions, actually equates with better education?

So many studies disprove that (see the Mercatus Center), but it is a liberal mantra that taxpayers must spend ever more of their money to support public unions that support political liberals.  And both parents of students and taxpayers alike now correctly see that system for what it is – simple, legalized political graft to fund one political party.

Public schools are mostly a disaster, yet teacher’s unions and their political buddies continue to pound on the table for more and more money.  Homeowners are essentially now renting their houses from the teacher’s unions, and proposed laws like Act 76 seek to fix that unfair situation by removing the vampire fangs from homeowners and letting the larger society pay for its expenditure.

Going door-to-door for political races year after year, property tax has been the number one issue I have encountered among elderly homeowners.  So many of them can no longer afford to pay the taxes on their houses, that they must sell them and move, despite a lifetime of investing in them.  This is patently un-American and unfair.

So Tom Wolf is moving in exactly the opposite direction we need on this subject, and instead of trying to fix the tax situation, he seeks to make it worse.  To be fair, Wolf campaigned on raising taxes.  He just needs to remember that he did not get elected by voters who want higher taxes, they wanted to fire former governor Tom Corbett.

 

Don’t howl too loudly, Wolf Pack

If the Tom Corbett administration was marked by poor communications, unaccountable senior staff running amok in the name of their boss, a hands-off management style by the chief executive, and a general lack of charisma, there’s a good indication that the Tom Wolf administration is headed the exact same way for similar reasons.

And they might experience the same one-term result that marked Corbett.

Maybe Katie McGinty will run a right and responsive ship. Maybe John Hanger will avoid sharp conflicts with the Republican legislature.  Those will be advantages over the Corbett administration. But the missing outside voices from across the aisle are an indication that an insular culture is already taking place. From insularity springs all kinds of foolish mistakes.

There will be time enough for natural disagreement. But unless the Wolf Administration wants to go down fighting from the beginning, and thus get saddled with a deadly four years of failure, they’d better start thinking hard how to navigate the minefield, to give and to take, to lead.

Tom Wolf & Republican legislature should agree on this, if nothing else

A version of the following essay was published by the Patriot News at the following URL: http://www.pennlive.com/opinion/2014/12/if_they_can_agree_on_nothing_e.html#incart_river

Conservation: An Area Where Democrat Tom Wolf and the Republican Legislature Should Agree
By Josh First

Land and water conservation are not luxuries, they are necessities in a world of growing demand for natural resources. As America’s population grows, the natural resources that sustain us, feed, us, cloth us, nurture us, warm us, and yes, even make toilet paper (and who can do without that), must be produced in ever greater supply.

Some of these resources are at static levels, like clean water, while others, like trees, are renewable. All are gifts that God commands us to manage wisely in Genesis.

Pennsylvania is facing some challenges in this regard, however, as the Susquehanna River shows serious signs of strain, and our world-famous forests face a devastating onslaught of invasive pests and diseases.

John Arway, executive director of the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission, has been advocating for officially declaring the Susquehanna River an “impaired waterway” for years. The data Arway draws upon support his concerns: Dissolved oxygen so low that few animals can live in the water, one of three inter-sex (hermaphroditic) smallmouth bass populations in the country, a bass population with insufficient young to keep the species alive, the remaining bass covered in tumors and pfiesteria lesions, invasive rusty crayfish pushing out the tastier native crayfish, among many other factors. Once-abundant mayfly hatches are now non-existent.

Fishermen used to travel to Harrisburg from around the country to fish for smallmouth bass; not any more.

This past September a friend and I hunted geese out in the river, wading in our shorts. We saw none of the usual turtles, water snakes, birds, or fish that once teemed there, and the water smelled…odd. One day later, a small scratch on my leg had became infected with MRSA, and I spent four days hooked up to increasingly stronger antibiotics at Osteopathic Hospital.

In November, we canoed out to islands and hunted ducks flying south. Except that over the past ten years there are fewer and fewer ducks now flying south along the Susquehanna River. We speculate that there is nothing in it for them to feed upon, and migrating ducks must have turned their attention to more sustaining routes.

The river almost seems….dead.

Feeding the waterways are Pennsylvania’s forests, the envy of forest products producers around the world. Our state’s award-winning public lands and their surrounding mature private forestlands sustainably and renewably produce a greater volume of the widest variety of valuable hardwoods than any other state in America.

Our forest economy isn’t just about timber production, however, as hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation themselves represent large economic sectors. Our robust black bear and wild turkey populations draw hunters from around the world, but these popular species depend almost entirely on acorns from oak trees; without acorns, they would hardly exist.

The oak forests at the core of our world-famous hunting and valuable timber were once considered under the gun from overabundant deer herds, but with that problem now resolved they face an adversary that could turn them into the 21st century version of the American chestnut – sudden oak death disease.

Recall that the American chestnut, like the now-extinct passenger pigeon, once carpeted the entire east coast with unimaginably abundant white flowers and nutritious nuts that fed wildlife and humans alike, and its wood was a more available version of cypress – strong, rot-resistant, straight grained, easy to work. And then, like the once unimaginably vast swarms of passenger pigeons that had blackened the day sky until they also suddenly disappeared, the mighty chestnut was wiped out in a few short years, 100 years ago, by an imported disease.

Our oaks, ash trees, and walnut trees seem to be facing a similar doomsday right now.

Thousand cankers, emerald ash borer, lanternfly, ailanthus, mile-a-minute weed, Japanese honeysuckle, Asian bittersweet vine, and many, many other non-native invasive plants, bugs, and diseases now threaten our valuable native forests on a scale unimagined just a few years ago.

Ironically, the edges of our state and federal highways appear to be the greatest means of spreading these pests.

Today, Pennsylvania has a true balance of power between Democrat governor-elect Tom Wolf, and an overwhelmingly Republican legislature. There isn’t much policy that these two equal forces are going to agree on. But if there is one area that they should easily find common ground, it is land and water conservation.

Something is seriously wrong with the Susquehanna River, and something is about to be seriously wrong with our forests.

Whether a crushing regulatory response is the appropriate way to address these issues, or not, let’s hope that Pennsylvania state government can help fix these problems before they become catastrophes future history books write about.

Josh First is a businessman in Harrisburg

Tom Wolf, you confuse me

Tom Wolf is a candidate for Pennsylvania governor.

He appears to be the front-runner in his party’s primary race.  For a number of reasons, he has the greatest amount of voter name recognition and support.

Why candidate Katie McGinty is not taking off, I don’t know.  Katie is charismatic, maintains a million-dollar smile, and knows how to effectively communicate with people.  She is both infuriatingly liberal and also, in my direct experience, surprisingly capable of being pragmatic and non-ideological.  McGinty’s A-rating from the anti-freedom group CeaseFirePA hurts her; Wolf got a C from them, which helps in freedom-friendly Pennsylvania. Why he didn’t get a D, and then really strut his individual liberty credentials, is confusing.

Wolf lacks charisma, but seems to make up for it with his honest-to-goodness aw-shucks folksy way.

Here’s what really confuses me about Wolf: He is a business man who advocates for policies that are bad for business, like an additional tax on over-taxed natural gas.

Tom Wolf, you will probably challenge Tom Corbett for governor.  I am a small business owner and I want to see more from you that is business friendly.  Otherwise, I remain confused by you.