State House 157

Incumbent State Rep Warren Kampf (R) has Democrat challenger(s) for PA 157 race!

Democrat Jed Grobstein of Paoli released the following press release today officially throwing his hat in the ring in the PA State House 157 race. Conestoga High School grad and former high school teacher in South Bronx, NY, Grobstein believes that he can make a difference in Harrisburg.  According to the press release, Grobstein will focus his campaign on Gov. Corbett’s educational budget cuts and State Rep Warren Kampf’s voting record on the transportation bill.

Things may get interesting for the PA State House 157 race because Grobstein may not be the only Democrat looking to unseat the Republican incumbent. I have also been told by several people in the last couple of days that Democrat Marian Moskowitz, a real estate attorney from Malvern has also decided to enter the 157 race.  This could be an interesting local campaign season!

PRESS RELEASE: Teacher Announces Campaign for PA 157th with $51,000 on Hand, Takes Kampf to Task for $1 billion in Cuts to Education

Jed Grobstein today announced his bid for the Democratic nomination to the State House in the Pennsylvania 157th, saying “Warren Kampf has taken our residents for granted for far too long. Pennsylvania needs smart, proactive leadership in Harrisburg, and not just a gaggle of Corbett yes-men. As a teacher in the South Bronx, I learned how to listen, how to be a problem-solver, and how to bring people together, and I think we need more of that in Harrisburg.”

Grobstein’s campaign, Jed for PA House, filed its 2013 annual report showing that it had raised more than $40,000 in just eight weeks. The campaign also reported having more than $51,000 on hand.

Grobstein noted that Warren Kampf “has worked with Gov. Corbett to cut $1 billion from education, and to make it more difficult for mothers to receive the health care they need. He unconditionally refused to support a bipartisan transportation bill and attempted to deny funding to critical transportation infrastructure, bridges, highways and our own Paoli Transportation Center.”

Grobstein served as a math teacher and a Democratic organizer, and he is proud to be running for office less than a mile from his childhood home. While teaching math in the South Bronx, Grobstein worked as the chairman of his department and founded the advocacy organization ‘Keep Our Schools Alive’ to encourage parents, students and teachers to participate in their school’s governance.

A graduate of Conestoga High School in Berwyn and Pomona College in Los Angeles, Grobstein received his Masters in Education from City College in New York. Teaching in the South Bronx, Grobstein served as chair of his Math Department and worked to develop new curriculum for the classroom while integrating assessment and instruction.

When New York City began closing high schools in 2009, Grobstein organized and founded ‘Keep Our Schools Alive’ (KOSA) to encourage stakeholders, parents, students and teachers, to participate in the city’s decision-making process. KOSA argued that the school closings were arbitrary and that the city had failed to engage essential stakeholders. The State Supreme Court agreed, and in 2010 it reversed the city’s decision, saying that the Department of Education had failed to gather sufficient community input.

Grobstein returned to Pennsylvania at the end of 2010 to pursue a career in the United States Marine Corps. When a shoulder injury prevented him from enlisting, Jed accepted a staff position with Organizing for America on President Obama’s re-election campaign. Following that election Jed served as campaign manager for Delaware County’s Democratic slate and produced historic gains in a county long known for its Republican dominance.

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Need Jobs Now!

What’s the saying, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’?

As I drove along Swedesford Road to Wegmans a few days ago, I actually did a u-turn in the middle of the road … not quite believing what I saw.  In the median strip on Swedesford Road in the shadow of the Great Valley Corporate Center and its mega-commercial buildings, were these two gentlemen holding ‘need help’ signs.  I stopped the car to chat with them – both were out-of-work, one for 2-1/2 years, the other for 18 months.  One was a union carpenter but explained that his local union had no work for him and he was managing by living off odd jobs.  The other man, a veteran, explained that he had lost his family and his house since losing his job.

They said they generally came to this location in the morning during the work week, hoping that someone would offer them a job (even a few hours of work) or donate food or money.  As if on cue, a well-dressed young may stopped his car and came over to us –  giving each man a bag of food from a local carry-out. Aside from a polite thank you, no other words were exchanged, leaving me with the impression that this was not the first time this young man stopped to offer the men lunch.

I asked why did they choose this particular location and they said they thought it was important to serve as a reminder to the local corporate center workers, that they themselves were but  ‘one paycheck away from a similar situation’.  I asked them who they blamed — their response, “the government” … adding that “nobody cares”.  

This photo serves as a reminder that unemployment and the job crisis is no longer ‘somewhere else’ — it’s right here in our backyard —  Pennsylvania … Chester County … Tredyffrin Township!  In the coming months between now and November,  I want to hear some real ideas about how to get people back to work in this country.  And that includes jobs for people in Chester County.

 

 

 

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Kampf-Drucker 2012 Election Rematch for PA House of Representatives, District 157

Rumored for weeks, it is now official – Election Day 2012 will see a rematch between State Rep Warren Kampf (R) and former State Rep Paul Drucker (D) for the PA House of Representatives, District 157.

Drucker defeated opponent Guy Ciarrocchi (R) on November 4, 2008 to succeed retiring Republican Carole Rubley.  If you recall, the Drucker-Ciarrocchi race had the distinction of being the most expensive (and possibly the nastiest) race in the state in 2008.  A close race for the legislative district 157, Drucker defeated Ciarrocchi by a margin of 50.95% to 49.1%.

After serving 2 years as our State Representative, Drucker was defeated in 2010 in his re-election bid by Republican Warren Kampf.  Earlier this month, Kampf formally announced his decision to seek a second term to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

The Chester County Democratic Party held their nominating convention tonight. Democratic Committeepersons and proxies cast their votes and by the end of the night, Drucker emerged from the convention endorsement process as the chosen endorsed PA House of Representative democratic candidate for District 157.

The Pennsylvania Primary Election date is April 24, 2012 and is likely an uncontested primary for both Kampf and Drucker.

Looking ahead to this rematch between Drucker and Kampf, can we hope that the candidates, and their campaign committees, will stick to the actual voting records and history on issues of their opponent?

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Looks like the 422 Tolling Vision has Taken a Step Forward to Becoming Tomorrow’s Reality!

The vision of some to toll 422 moved one step closer to a reality yesterday . . . and by all accounts, did so with flying colors. 

Barry Seymour of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) along with Joe Hoeffel, Montgomery County Commissioner presented the 422-tolling proposal to the Governors Transportation Funding Advisory Commission.  To review the 422 Corridor Plus slide presentation from the meeting, click here.  — I found the information detailed and informative; helped to give me a better picture on the scope of the project.

I was curious to hear the comments and reactions to the 422 presentation and spoke with a Paoli resident who attended the Harrisburg meeting.  Reportedly, there was no tolling opposition from the advisory group – in fact, there was much positive feedback from those in attendance.  Although this meeting is only the first step in a long process, it seems that the DVRPC’s presentation answered several of the questions that I had —

If approved, what the timeline for the 422 project:  2015. 
How much commuter time saved:  DVRPC estimates 20 min.
Toll costs:  A range, $.50 – $2.65, depending on distance travelled.  Four electronic toll booths to be constructed; drivers to use EZ pass.

As discussed earlier, the management of the 422 tolling project would remain local and all revenue generated from the project would be used for local projects, including the light rail commuter train.  I don’t know how I feel about creating another commission or board for this project.  According to a friend, this project could fall under the umbrella of the PA Turnpike Commission with a mandate to keep the tolls generated from 422 locally in Berks, Montgomery and Chester counties. If that’s the case, why create another board; why not have the project fall under the Turnpike Commissioner’s responsibility. I guess the thought is if the project is handled separately under local management, it helps sell the project to residents and possibly adds a level guarantee that the tolling dollars remain here.

In asking how the project would be funded, I was told that initially it would be funded with a $1 billion bond, which would be repaid by tolling revenue.  I’m guessing that the bond issue needs support from the local municipalities involved – would the funding of the project require a voter referendum in the Chester, Montgomery and Berks county districts involved?

Looks like the 422 tolling vision of some has taken a step forward to becoming tomorrow’s reality!

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For Whom the Road Tolls: Day of Reckoning for Rt. 422 Tolling Begins

The tolling of Rt. 422 was front-page headlines in Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer. Rising to the top of the local news charts, the tolling of 422 is not ‘new’ news for most of us. Unless you have had your head buried in the sand, you could not have missed this much discussed campaign topic during the last State House 157 election cycle.  There was much heated debate from both sides on the ‘to toll or not to toll’ 422 issue.

If you are one of the 110,000+ commuters who daily sit in parking lot gridlock, known as Rt. 422, it looks like there may be light at the end of the tunnel. Tomorrow (Monday), Barry Seymour of Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) will present agenda item, ‘US 422 Plus: A Proposal for Funding Improvements’  (click here for agenda) to the Governors Transportation Funding Advisory Committee.  The DVRPC $625K plan “would create a locally run authority to collect 11 cents per mile and keep that money to fund improvements such as new lanes”.  Seymour hopes his DVRPC plan will convince the advisory committee and ultimately Gov. Corbett of the value of the 422-tolling project.

If granted legislative approval, the project would become the first locally managed highway toll system of its kind in Pennsylvania . . . a ‘model’ for the state.  All of the revenue would be devoted to 422-corridor projects and DVRPC plan supporters believe that making Rt. 422 a toll road in Berks, Montgomery and Chester counties is the only way to pay for a new passenger-rail service to Reading and to finance the badly needed upgrades to the congested highway. 

Others voice opposition to the 422 tolling issue, including our own State Rep Warren Kampf.  Still standing behind his campaign promise to voters not to toll 422, Kampf believes that “Tolling is just another way of taxing people going to work in these hard economic times. They’re already paying a lot of money in gas taxes and other fees” and he doesn’t “think that this is something they want.”

Where does this leave the frustrated, brake-slamming, horn-worthy commuters who suffer the daily use of Route 422?  Maybe answers will emerge as the day of reckoning begins in Harrisburg tomorrow.

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Once a State Rep Campaign Debate, Could the Tolling of Rt. 422 be a ‘Model’ for Tolling Highways across the State?

 What’s the saying, ‘What Goes Around, Comes Around” . . . ? 

For most of the year 2010, voters of Tredyffrin Township had a front row seat as the ‘tolling of Rt. 422’ issue became a political football in the PA State House 157 race between incumbent State Rep Paul Drucker (D) and challenger Warren Kampf (R).  Some political insiders might even argue that Drucker’s stance on 422 tolling may have contributed to the loss of his state representative position last November.

Although a heated campaign issue, post-election the tolling of Rt. 422 has had nearly non-existent discussion.  That is until now. According to Pennsylvania Independent, an on-line news service, the 25-mile, four-lane US Route 422 will be promoted on Monday, June 6 as a potential ‘model’ for tolling highways across the state as a means to increase transportation funding. 

Gov. Corbett’s recently appointed 30-member Transportation Funding Commission will hear a presentation on how tolls would work on Rt. 422 in Montgomery, Chester and Berks counties.  The executive commission is looking at a way to generate at least $2.5 billion in annual transportation funding for infrastructure needs and the ‘tolling of 422’ may serve as the state’s model for how to do it.

According to Barry Schoch, Secretary of Transportation for Pennsylvania and chairman of the commission, “Route 422 model would allow county or municipal authorities to form a ‘local taxation authority’ and keep the revenue from tolls and local taxes dedicated for local highways”. 

Construction of a local suburban commuter rail line was one of the possible uses of 422 tolls and a means to alleviate some of the highway traffic.  If you recall, the Philadelphia-based Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) created a Route 422 Corridor Master Plan and presented their findings in 2010 to local municipalities, including Tredyffrin Township.  Their plan, among other things, provided for a light rail commuter service and suggested tolling on Rt. 422 as a way of financing the project.

During 2010, the tolling of 422 provided a major talking point for the Drucker and Kampf political campaigns.  Drucker supported DVRPC and the Route 422 Corridor Master Plan, which included tolling of 422.  However, Drucker was specific that the tolling was for the commuter who was traveling the entire stretch of the highway on a regular basis, not the occasional user or those that would use it on-off. 

In response to Drucker, Kampf’s opposing position on the Route 422 Corridor Master Plan was simple.  On his campaign website, Kampf stated “My position on tolling Route 422 is clear: I oppose it.”  Remaining true to his campaign words, when asked to respond to the upcoming Transportation Funding Commission presentation to use tolling of 422 as a model for the state, Kampf said, “Tolling is another way of taxing people. . .”  He is opposed to using state and local funds to build, operate and maintain a commuter rail line that would benefit rail commuters at the expense of others. 

Like much of the country, many of Pennsylvania’s roads and bridges are in crisis; desperately in need of repairs. Although lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree on the infrastructure needs, they may not be as unified in the funding solutions.  No one has a crystal ball, but we now see evidence from Corbett’s Transportation Funding Commission that supports Drucker’s vision for the future . . . a suburban commuter rail line and the use of tolls to finance  infrastructure improvements.

Some could argue that State Rep Kampf battled former State Rep Drucker successfully on the 422 tolling issue, but it looks like Kampf could face a far greater challenge in Harrisburg . . . and,  from both sides.

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Pennsylvania is Still #1 in the Country . . . Worst Bridges in America!

Based on a new Transportation of America report, Pennsylvanians had better face it; we need all the luck we can get.  Cross your fingers, carry a rabbit’s foot, rub a lucky penny . . .  keep your lucky charm handy the next time you cross a bridge in the Commonwealth.

With 25,000 state-owned bridges, Pennsylvania is on the list in third place for the largest number of bridges in the nation. However, according to the new report, Pennsylvania leads the nation in largest percentage of structurally deficient bridges. The bridge deficiency number should not come as a shock to state residents, as Pennsylvania has led the nation in troubled bridges every year since 2007. Leading the nation for ‘worst bridges in America’ is a title I would rather Pennsylvania not claim!  The average age of bridges on the state system is 50 years old and approximately 6,000 are structurally deficient.

What exactly does ‘structurally deficient bridge’ mean?  According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation website, “A structurally deficient bridge is safe, but in need of costly repairs or replacement to bring it to current standards.”

Transportation for America considers a bridge “structurally deficient” if at least one of three components – the deck, substructure, or superstructure – has been rated “poor” by inspectors. The deck is the roadway surface of a bridge, while the superstructure refers to beams and other components that support the deck. The substructure includes piers, abutments and other parts of a bridge’s foundation.

What remains to be seen is where the state will get the necessary funding to fix its bridges and roads. One option discussed is to sell the states 620 liquor stores and use the revenue for bridge and road projects.  However, as we know, the topic of ‘selling’ state stores is still only in the talking stage. Complicating the transportation-funding question is the fact that the federal stimulus funds are drying up.

Other than potential revenue from the sale of state liquor stores, what are some other creative funding sources?  With Pennsylvania suffering from budget gaps, the problem is not likely to be solved in the near future.

How is Pennsylvania going to repair its aging infrastructure; how will the state pay for repair of its bad roads and needy bridges?  

And do I dare suggest the ‘T’ word . . . Tolling?

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On School Voucher Question, State Rep Kampf offers a ‘Wait and See Approach’

On Thursday, March 3, I emailed State Rep. Warren Kampf in regards to the proposed school voucher legislation. I followed up my email with a telephone call to his Paoli office on March 7.  At that time, his chief of staff, Sean Dempsy spoke with Rep. Kampf re my email and offered that Rep. Kampf would have a response to me by the end of the week.  Here is an excerpt from my email to our State Representative, which I posted on Community Matters last week:

“ . . . There has been much discussion about the proposed school voucher bill S.B.1. which would help the state’s poorest children from the lowest-performing schools by providing options of attending public, private or parochial school. This week the Senate Education Committee voted 8-2 in favor of the bill and the proposed legislation will move forward in the process.

It is important for constituents to know where our elected officials stand on all important issues, including the school voucher program. State Senator Andy Dinniman (D-Chester) serves on the Senate Education Committee and voted in favor of the proposed school voucher legislation.  As our State Representative, could you please offer your thoughts on the proposed ‘opportunity scholarship’ legislation?  In your response, please address specific issues including the plan’s estimated price tag of $860 million, the constitutionality of the proposed legislation and the issue of funding parochial schools with taxpayer money.”

Rep. Kampf did not respond to my email.  At 5 PM today, I received an email from Dempsey referring me to the State Rep’s website to read his position on school choice . . .  Rep. Kampf’s “wait and see approach” (see below).

Kampf Praises Creative Solutions, Cautious on ‘School Choice’

3/11/2011
By Rep. Warren Kampf, 157th District 

Competition is critical to the efficiency of any enterprise, whether it is businesses competing for consumers by becoming more cost-effective or schools improving their teaching methods to lure students.  There is a place for competition in our education system. 

But before we adopt any so-called “school choice” proposal, we must examine whether the new system costs the state and school districts more money or subsidizes inefficient private schools.   

At this stage, I am taking a wait and see approach.  As for Senate Bill 1, it is difficult to comment on a bill that will be significantly transformed by the time it reaches the House.  As is the case with another “school choice” bill, House Bill 240, I expect the legislature to pass numerous amendments to alter its rules and scope, though in what way I cannot yet predict.

I will just restate my position that whatever new system is tried, it should be done in a way that improves the overall quality of our state education system, and does not drive up costs for taxpayers and already cash-strapped schools without some very clear, tangible benefits to all of our children. 

I remain open to creative ideas for improving Pennsylvania’s public school system.  I am aware that the system works well in some districts, and is more troubled in others.  It is my goal to embrace what works and fix what needs improvement.

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State Rep-Elect Warren Kampf Decides to Refuse 1.7% Pay Increase

We have been following the news from Harrisburg that newly elected and returning legislators were scheduled to receive a 1.7% cost-of-living pay raise. This increase was obviously causing a stir by tax-payers . . . many elections were won by candidates based on fiscal conservatism, amid high unemployment numbers and screams to stop the spending. Last week, Auditor General Jack Wagner became vocal on the topic; calling for a moratorium on the scheduled 1.7% cost of living adjustment for public officials.

In a November 24 post on Community Matters, I wrote, “Fiscal responsibility was certainly a hallmark in our recent local election, so wonder what our newly elected State Representative Warren Kampf will decide.  Should he keep his 1.7 percent increase? For those Pennsylvania legislators who campaigned on controlling legislative expenses, how can they now accept the pay increase?” 

I am pleased to report that State Rep-elect Warren Kampf sent the following email this weekend:

Refusing Annual Legislative COLA

As my first official e-mail to you, I wanted to make you aware that I will return to the state the Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) given annually to legislators, the governor, judges and top officials in the executive branch.

In this economy and with the budget deficit Pennsylvania is facing, an increase in pay would be inappropriate. I was elected to help get the Commonwealth’s financial house in order and to accept a COLA my first day on the job would be contrary to my principles of fiscal discipline.

The annual COLA is based on the Consumer Price Index published by the U.S. Department of Labor. This year, it represents a 1.7 percent increase. It is not based on the same economic factors used to determine the Social Security COLA, which remained flat this year.

My first order of business representing the people of the 157th District will not be to accept a raise. Most of the citizens I was elected to serve have not seen a pay increase in several years, and it would not be fair of me to take one.

I am looking forward to working with my colleagues to reform legislative compensation and how business is done in Harrisburg. If you have any questions, concerns or comments, feel free to contact me. I want to hear your thoughts on how to improve Pennsylvania and the issues that personally impact you and our district. 

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PA State Rep. Paul Drucker Reports House Will Hold Voting Session Nov. 15

After much debate and discussion, PA State Rep Paul Drucker is reporting that the house will reconvene for voting session on November.  Here is the press release:

House to hold voting session Nov. 15

I am pleased to inform you that legislative leaders have announced that the state House will reconvene voting session on Monday, Nov. 15.

This means that the House will be able to complete work on important, bipartisan bills and send them to the governor for his signature. I am pleased that legislative leaders listened to rank-and-file members and are allowing us to finish the job we were elected to do.

As you know, my colleagues and I urged leaders to come back into session after voting session days that had been scheduled for Nov. 8, 9, 10, 15 and 16 were canceled.

Several House bills, including pension reform legislation, will now get the attention they deserve.

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