Tuesday, January 26, 2010

***Update*** The 147th Endorsement.

Apparently, Ken Fody's good friend, Jim Matthews, gave Fody more than a check...he also gave him a place on the Writemarsh Wall of Shame as the latest victim of the dreaded "Matthews Effect".

Marcy Toepel was endorsed and nominated at tonight's gathering and garnered 58.7% of the vote, winning 27 votes to 19.

Note to Ken Fody...How's that fat check from your buddy Jimbo working for you now?

Congratulations, Marcy. On to the State House!

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Monday, January 25, 2010

The Race to Represent the 147th Legislative District.

There is a race for the seat left vacant by Senator Bob Mensch...and it's heating up to be a three-way race. Ken Fody, Nicholas Fountain and now Marcy Toepel.

Far be it for me to disappoint...so let's talk about the Matthews Candidate...

Ken Fody hosted an event with former Senator Rick Santorum last week. Committee members were surprised to see censured Montco Commissioner Jim Matthews in attendance as the event was by invitation only and was not a fundraiser.

Fody has been heard boasting that not only did his "friend" Matthews attend but he made a contribution to Fody's campaign.

Fody's opponent, Marcy Toepel, was on the GOP ticket with Jimbo in 2007. Matthews diverted $300,000 from the 2007 team campaign to his own separatist campaign for Commissioner. The result of his treachery? Toepel and four other row office candidates narrowly lost their election as a result.

Toepel, at the time the Deputy Clerk of Courts, was then hired by another department in the county. Matthews tried to block that hire at the time. (click here for the Times Herald story)

Republicans were so incensed by Matthews move that one prominent GOP attorney publicly switched parties in protest. (Click here for Times Herald report)

Committee members will vote tomorrow night. It will be interesting to see if Matthews choice emerges as the candidate, or suffers the dreaded "Matthews Effect".

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pay To Play in Montco...Part 2

C-BIZ, Jimbo and J-Huff have loads of 'splaining to do.

It seems that, according to the Times Herald, there is nothing at all (yet), in writing, that authorizes C-BIZ to act as an agent, on the County's behalf, to obtain competitive health care plans for County employees.

The Times Herald has yet to receive a resolution or contract showing the county authorized the consultant to act on the county’s behalf. However, more county documents related to CBIZ are anticipated by Jan. 29.
But, it only gets better...in 2007, while running for county commissioner, both Jimbo and J-Huff received healthy doses of C-BIZ dollars into their respective campaign funds. From today's Times Herald:
The Times Herald previously reported that since 2006, CBIZ officials have contributed a total of $24,463 to Matthew’s political campaign coffers. In 2007, contributions totaled $14,875, with five executives making monetary contributions adding up to $12,375 on Oct. 9, 2007, less than a month before the 2007 election, according to campaign finance reports.
Just 12 days earlier, CBIZ gave the Damsker-Hoeffel campaign five equal contributions adding up to $12,500. However, Castor, who was favored to win a seat on the board, was apparently not on the consultant’s donors’ list.

On Feb. 12, 2008, CBIZ senior executive F. Bruce Walter gave Matthews, by then the commissioners’ chairman, a $1,000 campaign donation. Three months later, Walter gave $200 to Hoeffel’s campaign, according to 2008 campaign records.
So, J-Huff has been a willing recipient of C-BIZ campaign contributions, as has Jimbo, C-BIZ gets a sweet no-bid contract, a seemingly verbal (and therefore illegal) contract, without a paper trail, yet, this isn't "Pay to Play"?

The Times Herald and Republican Commissioner, Bruce L. Castor, Jr., have requested the RFP (request for proposal) and have been told both that one "doesn't exist" and that one does exist, but is "proprietary". (see below)
Calling the RFP’s information proprietary, Walter refused to provide Castor with a copy when he requested one in December. As a result, the commissioner also filed an open records request with the county in an effort to determine if one exists. The Times Herald has also submitted a written request for the RFP with the CBIZ executive.

In response to the newspaper’s first request in December for the RFP, the county said it did not issue the document and therefore couldn’t provide a copy.
The County did not issue the document...lets let that sink in, shall we? (cue Jeopardy music) Okay, our tax dollars are going into the pocket of a company who procures health insurance for the County employees on the County's behalf, and there's no competition for this contract. Why? Because there was no bidding and there is no contract, C-BIZ got the "job" because the gave tons of money to both Hoeffel's and Matthews' political campaign funds.

As for Castor? Well, Castor did not receive one penny in political contributions from anybody at C-BIZ, so one can only assume that one of two things happened...C-BIZ was assured that Castor would lose the election (unlikely, as he polled highest throughout the campaign) or, even more egregious, C-BIZ, knowing that they would have one of the two democrats on board already, "bought" Jimbo on the off chance he would win.

No wonder J-Huff didn't get all up in Jimbo's grill about this, like he did on the recent NMS Contract debacle (Jimbo's proposal that only union contractors be allowed to bid on the correctional facilities building expansion contracts)...he (allegedly) was already in on it and didn't want to bring attention to the fact that he was (again, allegedly) already in C-BIZ's pocket.

Either way, it's Pay to Play, it's not legal or ethical, and the players in this farce should all have to answer to the people of Montgomery County, one way or another.

Click here to read the entire article in today's Times Herald.


Click on the link above and scroll down to read the comments..they're priceless!


And here is the rest of it. Read Full Text/Comments

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Funny Video

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A Thought For The Day

"Martha Coakley was a bad candidate" seems to be the mantra for the democrats this morning...

If she was so bad, then why was she enjoying double digit poll numbers just a few weeks ago? If she was so bad, then why did they run her in the first place?

She's only a "bad candidate" because she lost. Oh, how quickly they turn on their own.


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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Opinion Column From Sunday's Times Herald

More on C-BIZ and the insurance debacle:

County needs a major makeover to change image
Sunday, January 17, 2010

By The Times Herald

There are comparisons to be made with the county’s ham-handed attempt to communicate the need for employees to start contributing to their health care costs and the U.S. government’s ham-handed attempt to overhaul health care across America.

We firmly believe the county could have communicated more clearly with employees and made the transition for them much more palatable, just as our federal government could be doing now with a piece of legislation that could end up costing taxpayers billions of dollars, depending on who you listen to.

Unfortunately, the comparisons don’t end there.

There is something eerily similar to Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska getting $300 million in entitlements in exchange for voting for the health care bill and county commissioner Chairman Jim Matthews being on the receiving end of campaign contributions from the county’s health care consultant, CBIZ.

Of course, we could easily clear up the misconception on the county side if documents outlining the consultant’s contract with the county and the requests for proposals the consultant sent out to get the best price on a health care management firm were turned over to The Times Herald as we have requested in a Freedom Of Information Act request we filed with the county.

The misconception on the federal side, however, probably cannot be cleared up since it has become painfully obvious that several U.S. senators were convinced to vote on the bill based on what, or should we say, how much, federal funding would be sent to their home state.

Transparency in federal government is much harder to attain than on the local level, even though President Obama all but declared it would happen if he were elected.

Of course, he also promised he would end the practice of rewarding congressmen and congresswomen for their votes, otherwise known as pork, but we must remember both of those promises were made on the campaign trail.

Locally, we should demand transparency.

Perhaps then the comparisons would begin to fade.
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A Comment on Newsbusters.com:

I found this amusing and worthy of sharing:

A man was arrested today at JFK as he attempted to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a compass, a slide-rule and a calculator...

At a morning press conference, the Attorney General said he believes the man is a member of the notorious Al-Gebra movement. He did not identify the man, who has been charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of math instruction.

'"Al-Gebra is a problem for us," the Attorney General said. "They derive solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in search of absolute values." They use secret code names like 'X' and 'Y' and refer to themselves as "unknowns", but we have determined that they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country.

Asked to comment on the arrest, President Obama said, "If God had wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction, he would have given us more fingers and toes." White House aides could not recall a more profound statement by the President. It is believed that the Nobel Prize for Physics could follow.

I don't know the author, so I can't attribute it to anyone, but I will say that it was not written by me (although I'd love to take credit for this gem!).


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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

CBIZ-Pay to Play? Say It Isn't So, Jimbo!!!

From the Times Herald:

COURTHOUSE — Thus far, Montgomery County officials have been unable to provide proof that the commissioners authorized CBIZ to act on the county’s behalf to solicit health insurance plans; however, the county is still searching through its storage vaults for records, according to a letter that accompanied documents received from a December open records request by The Times Herald.

On Dec. 22, The Times Herald asked for all memoranda, e-mail or other correspondence between the county and CBIZ in 2009, as well as any contracts, agreements and government resolutions that would show how the consultant came to represent the county over the past decade or more.

Five days later, The Times Herald received 91 pages that included e-mail messages, letters, a 2010 employee benefits renewal proposal for Montgomery County, a service agreement for a health-savings account and a “historical overview” of the county’s health plans.

But nothing so far answers the lingering questions over the county’s relationship with CBIZ, contractual or otherwise.
read the entire article here.

Nobody knows who authorized CBIZ, yet they give Jimbo over 28k in campaign contributions? The answer is obvious, ManBearPig, of course!

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New White House Spin on "Jobs Saved"...

The Obama Administration has changed the way we speak of how stimulus money "saves" jobs...

In a little-noticed December 18, 2009 memo from Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag the Obama administration is changing the way stimulus jobs are counted.

The memo, first noted by ProPublica, says that those receiving stimulus funds no longer have to say whether a job has been saved or created.

“Instead, recipients will more easily and objectively report on jobs funded with Recovery Act dollars,” Orszag wrote.

Funny thing is, this is still misleading to the public...it's an outright falsehood to count a job which was in no danger of being lost as "created" or "saved", just because of an influx of taxpayer dollars to finance some of it.
Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wrote to the chair of the Recovery Act Transparency and Accountability Board Earl Devaney saying that “the new guidance counts every jobs that is funded using stimulus money – even if it existed before the Recovery Act, and was not in any danger of being eliminated – as ‘created or saved.’ This definition ignores the plain meanings of the words ‘created’ and ‘saved’ and makes Recovery.gov’s ‘ ‘JOBS CREATED/SAVED’ label a falsehood, further eroding the confidence of the American people in their government.”

Read the whole article here.


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Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Secret Revealed...Why the Donkey is the Symbol of the Democratic Party

From Joe Hoeffel's own mouth...because he needs to "commune with the animals...I didn't get a chance to see the horses".

"Commune with the animals", you say?

Well, yes. (play the video)

The man is for gay marriage. Thinks G-d is a woman. Rick Santorum says the next step will be "man and dog", so why not "commune with a horse"?

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Friday, January 8, 2010

A Reflection

14 years ago today, we celebrated the end of a 2 day blizzard which dropped over 30" of snow on our region.

As I dug out my trusty Ford F150 4x4, my wife sat inside, tremendously pregnant. As I neard the end of my task, she got up and made me soup and grilled cheese for lunch.

As I sat eating my hot, steamy comfort food, I called my folks in Philly to see how they were faring. As I spoke to my mother on the phone, Karen started making hand gestures at me...she was putting her hand in the air and opening and closing her 5 fingers.

Puzzled, I asked mom to hold on and Karen said to me "I'm 5 minutes apart". I looked at her funny, and she said "I'm in labor". And thus began my second adventure of that day, as I returned to the phone and said "mom, I gotta go, the baby's coming...call you when it get's here".

We called the doc, who told us to stay put until Karen's water broke, which it did early afternoon. There was a state of emergency in the region, with the roads closed to all but emergency vehicles. We climbed into the F150, locked in the hubs and went on our merry way.

After a brief detour, we arrived a Suburban General (Mercy Suburban, now) and welcomed the arrival of our son, Jesse Colin Shaw, at 11:14 pm.

It's snowing again today, not the epic snow of 14 years ago, but enough to remind me and enough to compel me to share this with you today.

Happy Birthday, Jesse "Scraps" Shaw. I hope your next 14 years brings you all fo the joy and happiness that the first 14 have. Love ya!

As an aside, today is also Elvis Presley's birthday. Jesse is a budding musician, so it's fitting that he was lucky enough to be born on this day.


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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Jim Gerlach Withdrawls

January 7, 2010

Dear Friends and Supporters,

I wanted you to be the first to know that after much thought and deliberation, I have decided to end my campaign for Governor. I am releasing the attached statement to the media, but wanted to reach out to you to thank you for your support and vote of confidence. Running for Governor has been a tremendous experience, one that has enabled me to meet so many wonderful people from all across our Commonwealth. I value those meetings and the new friendships I have made, and thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support and friendship. Please know that I will continue my public service with the same dedication and commitment as ever.

Yours in gratitude,

Jim Gerlach



Vows to Continue Public Service and Working Hard to Improve Our Commonwealth and Country

(EXTON, PA) - Republican Congressman Jim Gerlach announced Thursday that he was ending his campaign for governor.

"I entered the race for Governor in order to continue my public service, put forth new ideas for creating jobs, protecting our taxpayers, families and seniors and reinvigorating the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that we all love so much. I am not giving up on achieving those goals. I am, however, ending my campaign for governor.

"This decision comes after great reflection with my wonderful wife, Karen, our children and numerous, candid discussions with all of our dedicated supporters and staff. This past year has been extremely gratifying, and I have few regrets. Ideas have been the bedrock of my campaign. I unveiled a "17-point Pledge to Pennsylvania" - the most specific and comprehensive vision for leading our Commonwealth offered thus far by any candidate for Governor. I am convinced that these are the best ideas for guiding our Commonwealth back to greatness. But the harsh reality is that the best ideas alone do not always propel candidates to victory on Election Day.

"While we have successfully raised over $1 million, traveled thousands of miles all across this Commonwealth and signed up more than 19,000 supporters eager to help us win, today's media-driven campaigns require four times that amount to wage a successful primary. That left me with two choices: either spend all of my time raising money with little time left for meeting with voters; or withdrawing my candidacy and working even harder to serve the public. I am choosing to serve the public -- many of whom have graciously rewarded me with their support for nearly two decades.

"I want to express my tremendous appreciation to and affection for our many contributors, supporters, volunteers, staff, and well-wishers. You have been nothing short of awesome and it is because of your support and encouragement that I will continue to travel the Commonwealth advocating commonsense ideas to create jobs, reduce taxes and cut runaway spending, and make government work for all of our families. I want to be clear about one thing: this campaign for governor has stoked my passion for honest, effective, and efficient government, and I intend to continue to raise my voice, and work hard in the months and years ahead."

For Immediate Release: January 7, 2010

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

You Vill Sign Zee Contrrrract Or Eeet Von't Be Preeeeetty!

Jimbo brings a whole new attitude to the County for the New Year...do what I say or else.

County employees are rejecting the new Flex benefit plan that Matthews has been trying to spoon feed them for months now. Whatever their personal problem with the FLEX program is, in the end, it's the employees choice as to which program they want to pay for.

The problem is, although the FLEX premiums are lower, the copays and the costs of the plan, if you actually get sick are tremendously high.
And forget it if you have some pre-existing condition...you're pretty much S.O.L. on the Matthews Flex plan.

But JimTurd is pressing on...he's actually ridiculing people if they do not sign up for his program.

"This is ridiculous, delirious," said Matthews. (of the county employees decision to exercise their personal CHOICE to keep their existing insurance)
Matthews is also threatening the department heads into forcing these same employees to sign up for his FLEX plan:
Department heads with the largest number of employees still enrolled in the HMO or Personal Choice plans "will have to personally answer to me and it won't be pretty," vowed Matthews
So now, Chairman JimTurd not only wants to give you no choice, he vows to threaten your boss for not making you comply?

To add insult to injury, Jimbo is now acting as chief financial advisor to the thousands of county employees who will be "choosing" their healthcare package between now and the newly extended date of February 15th...

“That makes no mathematical sense,” he said. “I’m not going to stand for it.”
King James is not going to stand for you making your own decision about how to spend your own money?

And he is calling the County employees delirious?

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Monday, January 4, 2010

Montco Bipartisanship?

Way back when, about 2 years ago, Jim Matthews would have the good people of Montgomery County think he was interested in running a bipartisan government, an agreement he made with commissioner-elect Hoeffel in a power grab designed to leave Republican Commissioner, Bruce L. Castor, Jr. out of the proverbial "loop", subsequently empowering he and J-Huf to pack the courthouse with his political buddies, in the worst case of patronage gone wild that anyone can recall.

Well, today, in the true spirit of bipartisanship, The county Commissioners, along with the row officers, all came to Norristown High School to witness history...the first time in the history of our county that there has been 7 judges sworn in, the first time that 5 female judges have been sworn in at one time, and the first time a democrat has been elected to the bench in the 38th district, court of common pleas.

Only, Joe Hoeffel was nowhere to be found. That is, until Lois Murphy, the lone democrat elected to the bench, was sworn in.

J-Huf waltzed in right before Murphy was to be sworn in, and left right afterward. Truer bipartisanship has never been demonstrated...

Even Jimbo stayed for all 7. Jo-Jo...you ought to be ashamed of yourself. Nice call on that bipartisan agreement, Jimbo...Your "boy" is really holding up his end!

On a side note, it was a very nice morning, as I got to see people I think an awful lot of sworn in to the bench...respect to each and every one of them.


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Obama Countdown