Beaver Falls Native Linwood Alford Has Always Been ‘Called to Serve’

By Timothy Cox
Beaver County Times

BEAVER FALLS, March 7, 2022 — For older generations in the city, the name Linwood Alford has been a constant for several years.

As a Google subject, his name quickly arises as the childhood friend of NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Willie Namath.

Boating buddies Linwood Alford (Left) and Joe Namath. The Beaver Falls natives have known each other since childhood. Alford is best known outside Beaver County for his friendship with Namath, but county residents tout his service to his community.


Now, The Times provides Alford a chance to recite his own story – including his early years, in connection with the world-renowned professional athlete.

Service to the community


As a career, for many years, Alford has focused his energies in support of those who may have difficulties helping themselves. A self-described “union man” and proud Democrat, Alford initially worked in the construction industry before serving on boards while committing his life to the continuous improvement of Beaver Countians, in all phases, regardless of ethnicity, creed or culture.

Linwood Alford as member of board of directors for the Larry Bruno Foundation Pictured are, first row, l-r, Ron Main, Artie DeSisto; second row, Linwood Alford, Pete Pietrandrea, Ed DeRose, Bob Ricci; and third row, Jim Carbone, Judge Richard Mancini and Steve Higgins.
In recent years, Alford has served as vice president of Lincoln Park (Midland Innovation Technology) Charter School; vice president of Beaver County Democratic Board; director of Civil Rights Labor Council; Job Training Board and (I-DAC) aka Individual Diversity Awareness Council; and as an official with the Beaver-Lawrence Central Labor Council.

He’s also a member of the Aliquippa Council of Men and Fathers.

In addition to Namath, Linwood has several local notables of which he considers close friends and associates including Senior Beaver County Judge Richard Mancini, Ambridge attorney Steve Kocherzat, area broadcast notable Chris Shovlin, Beaver Valley NAACP President Mtume Imani and another lifelong friend, Victor Freddie Mannerino.

“I’ve known him for many years – but respected him, even before I knew him,” Mancini said.

If it pleases the court


“I’ve always called Linwood a gem for our local community. Regardless of creed, color or religion – he’s just been a good person. Of course, many people know him as Joe Namath’s original friend, but there’s so much more to him than that. It goes back to his upbringing. Real Beaver Falls residents know,” added Mancini, 68, himself a Beaver Falls native.

In his spare time, Alford works as a tip staffer at the Beaver County Courthouse, under the auspices of Mancini. He describes his courtroom role as similar to a bailiff, adding that he often introduces the judge to courtroom attendees.

“He’s a natural in this position,” Mancini said. “Linwood is a people person and it takes someone with personality in order to be effective in this role.”

Sixth Street Brothers’


Linwood was born Jan. 5, 1944 – the youngest of eight siblings to Clifford and Mary Lee Coleman Alford.

Having recently turned 78, Alford admits he’s humbled and blessed to have maintained a sharp memory, enough to still recall significant past episodes of his life.

Having joined Tabernacle Baptist Church at age 13, Alford said he remains forever thankful that his parents provided him with a spiritual foundation that has kept him in safe, protective environments “especially during his 14-month” U.S. Army stint in Vietnam.

Continue reading Beaver Falls Native Linwood Alford Has Always Been ‘Called to Serve’

Pennsylvania Has A New Congressional Map That Will Keep The State Intensely Competitive

The map slightly favors Republicans — with some important wins for Democrats.

Pennsylvania’s new congressional map, as chosen by the state Supreme Court.

By Jonathan Lai
Philadelphia Inquirer

Feb 23, 2022 – The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has selected a new congressional map that will shape power and politics for the next decade, one that’s largely based on the current map and slightly favors Republicans — but with some important wins for Democrats.

In a 4-3 decision Wednesday, the court chose a map that was drawn by a Stanford professor and proposed by Democratic plaintiffs. It’s a major decision for the justices, one that will draw intense political scrutiny for the court’s elected Democratic majority. It also left the state’s May 17 primary in place, despite worries it would need to be delayed.

Congressional maps are redrawn every decade to reflect changes in population, and Pennsylvania has a history of partisan gerrymandering — drawing maps to unfairly favor one political party. With the state losing one of its 18 seats in the House of Representatives, the new districts will help determine control of Congress and how communities are represented in the years to come.

With at least four competitive House districts, Pennsylvania is a key battleground in this year’s campaign for control of Congress, with Republicans needing to gain just five seats nationwide to take the majority.

The new map was drawn by Jonathan Rodden, a well-known Stanford expert on redistricting and political geography. Rodden drew the map based on the current one, using a “least-change” approach.

It creates nine districts that voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020, and eight that voted for Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, according to a detailed data analysis conducted for The Inquirer by the nonpartisan Princeton Gerrymandering Project. It slightly favors Republicans on multiple measures of partisan skew, according to the analysis.

Looking at the two-party vote share in the two most recent presidential and U.S. Senate elections, The Inquirer classifies six of the districts as strongly Republican, five as strongly Democratic, and three each as leaning Democratic and Republican. Four districts in the new map are so closely divided that either party could realistically win them, the same as in the previous version, and a few others could become competitive in wave elections.

Unlike redistricting in some other states this year, the new Pennsylvania map doesn’t reduce the number of competitive swing seats.

But there are some individual winners and losers within the parties.

Continue reading Pennsylvania Has A New Congressional Map That Will Keep The State Intensely Competitive

Next PA Lt Gov? Domestic-Abuse Allegation Haunts Law-and-Order MAGA Candidate

Teddy Daniels, a GOP primary candidate for lieutenant governor in Pennsylvania–Zach D Roberts/NurPhoto/AP

Teddy Daniels is running for Pennsylvania lieutenant governor as an award-winning officer, but court records and news archives obtained by Rolling Stone reveal he was caught committing “unbecoming conduct” at one police department and suspended at another

By HUNTER WALKER
Rolling Stone

As he asks voters to make him Pennsylvania’s next lieutenant governor, Teddy Daniels has promoted himself as an Army combat veteran, a former police officer, and a successful businessman. He also, perhaps above all, wants them to know that he stands with Donald Trump. Daniels’ support for the former president has included promoting conspiracy theories about the last election and posting video from the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

What Daniels is not advertising is that, according to court documents, his personal history includes domestic-abuse allegations, and the law-enforcement career that he’s made a cornerstone of his campaign has multiple major blemishes. Daniels’ ex-wife claimed in court that he was “physically and mentally abusive” during their marriage and later harassed her at her workplace, and both she and another woman have accused him of being negligent in paying child support.

Court records reveal that during his career as an officer he was the subject of an “internal affairs investigation” that concluded he had engaged in “unbecoming conduct” by “providing deceptive information to an investigator” and “using official state record for personal reasons.” Local newspaper accounts also indicate that Daniels was suspended and ultimately agreed to separate from a different police department in 2010.

But in the modern Republican Party, extreme does not mean fringe. Within the past year, Daniels has scored prime-time appearances on Fox News and a personal meeting with Trump. As he runs for lieutenant governor, Daniels has the support of Doug Mastriano, a MAGA-minded legislator and gubernatorial candidate who’s a close second in early primary polling.

The primary is in May, and as voters weigh whether to nominate Daniels to be the number-two official in the country’s fifth most-populous state, his personal history merits a close review.

Daniels declined an interview request from Rolling Stone and declined to answer a string of written questions about the specific allegations detailed in the court documents, his view of the 2020 election, and his activities on Jan. 6. Instead, he sent Rolling Stone a short statement: “Given that the Liberal rag Rolling Stone idolizes the Boston bomber, it is no surprise they’d grasp at non existent straws in printing FALSE, and MALICIOUS ALLEGATIONS to try to defame a wounded combat veteran, decorated police officer, and leading candidate in Pennsylvania just like they did to Donald Trump with the Russia Hoax and Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.”

In November 2000, Daniels married a woman in Maryland whose identity Rolling Stone is withholding. The pair had a child together in April 2002, and separated roughly three months later. That separation was the beginning of a contentious, decade-long-plus legal saga as the pair argued over child support and visitation, according to the court records reviewed by Rolling Stone.

As their court fight dragged on, in 2013, the ex-wife asked the district court of Maryland for an order of protection citing alleged “domestic violence.” In written statements accompanying the petition, Daniels’ ex-wife claimed he was “physically and mentally abusive during marriage” and that he “pushed, kicked, and hit” her, including an incident where he allegedly “kicked in” a door and left her forearm “bruised.” The court denied the petition and said she “could not meet the required burden of proof” about the alleged physical abuse a decade earlier. The ex-wife did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

However, the ex-wife’s petition for protection documented allegations of Daniels harassing her in 2013 by contacting the hospital where she worked to accuse her of violating a “court order.” The petition included messages Daniels purportedly wrote to a general email address for the president of the hospital to demand his ex-wife’s contact information. “Could you please forward me her office number? I am filing papers next week for her to be served by the Sheriff at work since I have no other contact info,” Daniels wrote. “I do not wish her or the hospital any public embarrassment and hopefully with her office line, things can be worked out before things are brought into the public eye.”

The petition included a follow up email from the hospital’s director of security, who “strongly urge[d]” Daniels not to “continue to harass” his ex-wife “at her place of employment.”

The publicly accessible court records reviewed by Rolling Stone did not contain any response from Daniels and his attorneys to this alleged workplace harassment. In other court documents, Daniels repeatedly suggested his motivation in his dealings with his ex-wife was to see his child. Lawyers who represented Daniels and his ex-wife did not respond to requests for comment.

Daniels’ legal battle with his ex-wife was not his first. In 1999, Daniels sued a woman he’d had a child with in 1996 to get custody and visitation rights and work out child support. During the subsequent legal battle, the woman’s lawyer accused Daniels of having previously “engaged in conduct which has been threatening” to the woman and made her feel “justifiably unsafe.” The presiding court official rebuffed that line of argument, saying that the woman had previously agreed in a consent order to Daniels visiting their child. The woman, whose name Rolling Stone is withholding, could not be reached for comment. Her attorney declined to comment and said they had no recollection of the case from two decades ago.

In both the cases involving his ex-wife and the other woman, Daniels was accused of failing to keep up with child support, the court documents reveal. Court records confirm that Daniels was in “arrears” with child support to his ex-wife in 2002 and 2006. In court documents from 2009, Daniels’ ex-wife described him as “a chronic offender of continuous failed payments” for child support. Daniels’ lawyers contested this claim. Court documents in the legal fight between Daniels and the woman he had a child with in 1996 reveal he was in arrears on his child support to that woman during 2000 and 2001.

Daniels’ police experience is a central part of his campaign. His website boasts that he “was awarded the accolade of Law Enforcement Officer of the Year in 2002.” Daniels declined to answer inquiries about the specifics of the award, including question about where it was presented and by whom.

Court records and newspaper articles suggest Daniels ran into professional trouble at multiple police departments during his law-enforcement career. Daniels’ ex-wife provided the court with a pair of documents indicating he was disciplined for “unbecoming conduct by providing deceptive information to an investigator” and “abuse” of “state record for personal reasons” in 1999 while he was an officer with the police department in Bel Air, Maryland. The court records, which the ex-wife included in her request for the order of protection, did not provide further detail about the alleged violations or include a response to the accusations from Daniels and his attorneys. Daniels did not address specific questions about the allegations from Rolling Stone.

According to the materials Daniels’ ex-wife provided to the court, he received a “letter of reprimand” from Bel Air Police Chief Leo Matrangola in December 1999. “Improper behavior is a matter of habit,” Matrangola wrote to Daniels. “I would like you to understand that any future misuse of police information or untruthfulness will be considered grounds for termination.” A representative for the Bel Air Police Department did not respond to a request for comment. Matrangola passed away in 2015.

In the 2009 court document in which his ex-wife accused Daniels of failing to provide child support, she also alleged he was once “FIRED within 6 months” of taking a job with the police force in Douglass Township, Pennsylvania. The records do not reflect whether Daniels and his attorney responded to that allegation. Daniels did not respond to specific questions about the alleged firing. The chief of the Douglass Township Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Daniels also had issues at another police job, this time with the department in Minersville, Pennsylvania. According to a November, 2010 report in a local paper, Daniels was suspended from that department over unspecified allegations in August of that year. The suspension was extended after a confidential hearing, and again following a subsequent session of the town council. Daniels left the department via a separation agreement that the council approved that November.

“The allegations that led to the suspension were not made public,” the local Pottsville Republican Herald reported, adding: “The details of the agreement are being kept confidential by the council at Daniels’ request.” Daniels did not respond to specific questions about his reported suspension from the police department in Minersville. The town’s current police chief did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Along with his law-enforcement and military credentials, Daniels has built his political career around support for Trump. He first ran for Congress in 2020, but he lost a crowded, contested primary. He started running for Congress again in 2022, but he instead jumped into the lieutenant governor’s race last month. Daniels announced the lieutenant-governor campaign after Mastriano, the gubernatorial candidate running with Daniels’ support, launched his bid for governor.

Mastriano was subpoenaed by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on Tuesday, due to his alleged involvement in a plan to put forward a slate of “alternate electors” to overturn Trump’s loss and public statements indicating he was “present during the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.” He and Daniels are part of a wave of GOP candidates who seem to have attended the protests against Trump’s election loss that turned violent on Jan. 6, 2021. As the U.S. Capitol was attacked that day, Daniels seemed to be front and center. He posted a video showing crowds swarming the building that appeared to be shot from the east front steps, well inside the barricades that were set up that day.

“I am here,” he wrote. “God bless our patriots.”

And Daniels has made support for the broader effort to challenge Trump’s loss — and opposition to the investigation of the attack on the Capitol — part of his campaign. In addition to questioning Trump’s defeat and suggesting he would change voting systems to guarantee future Republican victory, Daniels appeared on One America News Network last year, where he said the House select committee investigating Jan. 6 “has to stop immediately.”

Daniels also apparently objects to investigations into his own past. In January, after he became aware of the reporting for this story, he posted a video to Facebook, claiming the article was a set up by either the “liberal left” or the “establishment right” because he had “upset the powers to be at a very, very, very high level.”

“Rolling Stone magazine with their unlimited budget is now preparing, researching, and writing to do a hit piece on me,” he declared in the video, seated beneath an assault rifle and a photo of him with Trump. “Who put them up to it? I can tell you this, there’s only two entities out there that hate the America First agenda, and it’s the establishment right and the liberal left.”

“Every shit rag liberal paper in the country has come after me,” Daniels said. “I survived combat. Nothing that these man bun wearing purple-haired sissies can do to me can hurt me.”

In the video, Daniels urged Rolling Stone to “come get some.”

“All right shitbag, I know your deal. What do you got? Let’s sit down. Let’s meet, and go ahead and write,” Daniels said. “Rolling Stone, you know how to contact me. … I dare you to try that strong-arm shit with me, because we will meet in person, and it won’t be a good meeting. I promise you that.”

Continue reading Next PA Lt Gov? Domestic-Abuse Allegation Haunts Law-and-Order MAGA Candidate

‘We have rights’: Renters protest ‘unlivable’ conditions at Aliquippa’s Towne Towers

Chrissy SuttlesBeaver County TimesView Comments

Tamika Lee with Beaver County United on Wednesday urged Towne Towers residents to start a claim with Neighborhood Legal Services and withhold their rent until property owners address 'unlivable conditions' at the 434 Franklin Ave. building.

ALIQUIPPA — Iris Jackson says she hasn’t had reliable heat in six days as frigid air continues to grip western Pennsylvania.

That’s par for the course at downtown Aliquippa’s Towne Towers, the longtime tenant said, as is rampant flooding, pests and mold. 

Jackson, using her walker for support, joined Beaver County United activists on Wednesday demanding property owners address “unlivable conditions” at the century-old 434 Franklin Ave. building.

Such conditions, Jackson said, include unpredictable heating in the winter, inadequate air conditioning in the summer, flooding due to unrepaired pipes, water-damaged ceilings, rodent infestations and broken elevators.

The rodent infestation has led to feces and urine in the halls and ceilings, residents reported at the rally. Mold and mildew are often spotted throughout the 60-unit building that houses a number of low-income renters, including older adults with disabilities. 

Iris Jackson, of Aliquippa, tells Aliquippa Code Enforcement Officer Jim Bologna about the “deplorable” state of Towne Towers at Wednesday’s rally.

Speaking outside of the Aliquippa City Building, Jackson said property managers are abusing their power and ignoring renters’ complaints.

“No one should have to go without heat in the middle of winter,” Jackson said. “As tenants, we have rights. Rats…I almost sat on one. I killed another in my kitchen; I have urine and feces coming down my ceiling from 2020 that’s still not fixed.”

Towne Towers is owned by Texas-based Eureka Multifamily Group, which also owns Valley Terrace Apartments in Aliquippa. The company on its website touts a range of amenities at both properties, including “individually controlled central air and heating.” Calls made to the building’s office and Eureka leadership were not immediately returned Wednesday. 

“I think tenants should withhold their rent until housing fixes their situation,” said Tamika Lee with Beaver County United, urging residents to start a claim with Neighborhood Legal Services. “If you are paying your rent, there is no reason you shouldn’t be able to access your building. Forcing tenants to pay rent in unlivable conditions like this is violent, and management needs to be held accountable for neglecting their tenants while taking their money.”

Property owners and landlords are facing widespread scrutiny throughout the region for their sluggish response to heating interruptions as temperatures plummet. 

More:The Cornerstone of Beaver County offering aid across Beaver County

Towne Towers, at 434 Franklin Ave. in Aliquippa, is over 100 years old.

State laws governing landlords are sometimes hard to enforce. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court in the 1970s established the “implied warranty of habitability” that entitles renters to a safe, habitable home. This, in part, requires landlords to make non-cosmetic repairs that would otherwise put lives or welfare at risk, including lack of running water and inadequate heat in the winter. 

Landlords are also typically responsible for eliminating insect or rodent infestations and fixing substantial leaks. What’s considered “adequate” heat in a rental unit is often determined at the municipal level, according to the Housing Equality Center of Pennsylvania.

The city “isn’t sitting idly by,” said Aliquippa Mayor Dwan Walker and Aliquippa Code Enforcement Officer Jim Bologna, but because the building is privately owned and receives Section 8 funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, their influence is “limited.”

“The city has been fighting,” Walker said. He and Bologna have met with HUD officials and property owners to work toward a solution, they said.

Western Pennsylvania Is Dying – Or Is It?

By Andrew Cuff

TribLive

Dec. 18, 2021 – To many Americans, the regions surrounding Pittsburgh have become a collection of “ghost towns” to avoid or a lost culture to elegize. Western Pennsylvania is now a socially acceptable target for stereotypes conjuring images of blighted vacant lots, shuttered mills and welfare recipients addicted to painkillers.

Even the familiar term “Rust Belt” lends itself to images of decline. Showtime’s new small-town Pennsylvania drama “American Rust,” which one reviewer called a “badly written chunk of misery porn,” subjects viewers to tropes like teen criminality, desperate and unemployed parents with starving kids, and cold, unloving neighbors. The show dramatizes every cherry-picked anecdote and caricature wielded by Politico in one 2017 report on the Trump voters of Johnstown.

But Johnstown community leaders responded brilliantly to Politico’s depiction of their neighborhoods. Their argument — that focusing only on the negative is disingenuous — holds true in 2021, too. While pessimists insist that 2020 census data herald demographic disaster in Pittsburgh’s outlying counties, including Johnstown’s Cambria County, a balanced look at the numbers tell a different story.

It’s true that three of Pennsylvania’s eight western counties, the most rural ones, saw a significant decline in population from 2010 to 2020. This 6% average decline likely is due to aging, death or outmigration. The region as a whole grew, but only by 0.5% — a rate that lags the state and national averages (2.4% and 7.4%, respectively).

But comparing these numbers with the 2000 and 2010 census shows these statistics are well within the margin of natural fluctuation or at least remain on steady pace with trends that date to the 1950s. If anything, Western Pennsylvania is not experiencing any truly worrying trend of “population drain” — at worst, it is seeing merely plodding growth.

Besides, population explosions are not always a good thing. Outgoing Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto has spent six years furiously trying to reverse the city’s seven-decade trend of population loss, focusing on quantity at the expense of quality. Mayor-elect Ed Gainey, who defeated Democrat Peduto in May’s primary, emphasized the city’s strengths — hospitality, flexibility and culture — as a blueprint for reform. Pittsburghers don’t want to create an unlivable city just to meet an arbitrary population goal.

This outlook is even more prevalent in Western Pennsylvania’s small towns. Ask any resident of Greensburg or Irwin, for example, if their priority is flooding their towns with new residents. If such places were in demographic crisis, that goal might make sense. Instead, these small towns have focused on stability during and after covid, especially for their small business communities.

A localist philosophy was key to these towns’ resilience during the pandemic. According to the Pennsylvania Economic League of Greater Pittsburgh’s Business Conditions Survey, 65% of the region’s small businesses (100 or fewer employees) reported steady or increased demand for their goods and services by December 2020. And this September, 89% of small businesses reported staffing remained steady or increased quarter over quarter in 2021, while 40% of small businesses have raised wages since May.

That’s because small-town consumers made it a point to buy local during and after the pandemic, a trend evidenced early on by April 2020 survey results from the National Retail Federation. The success of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) co-ops also made an impact in Western Pennsylvania, where ubiquitous farmers markets constitute a genuine parallel grocery option.

One example of a business bolstered by loyal customers during the pandemic is Disobedient Spirits, a craft distiller in Indiana County’s Homer City. Manager Rachel Russell described the phenomenon as a “shutdown surge,” telling me that statewide pandemic restrictions lost them plenty of bar and table business, but individual sales shot up. “For a few weeks, orders were off the charts because we were the only place to buy liquor for miles in any direction,” she recalled. “It dropped some after the state-owned stores reopened, but we kept a lot of regulars.”

With this buy-in from the community, small-town leaders were able to invest in local initiatives spotlighting local distinctives. Forest County’s Marienville, for instance, has made the most of its unique snowmobiling trails, becoming a tourism and retirement destination with skyrocketing property values.

Downtown revitalization efforts like the Main Street beautification in my hometown of Latrobe generate unparalleled resilience and small business growth, according to the Brookings Institution.

Structural changes that will persist after the pandemic suggest that the region’s small towns are likely to get even stronger. Highly educated remote workers are exiting expensive cities in historic numbers, and small-town living is the best way to stretch their dollar — especially during the current hyperinflation and tight housing market. Others fleeing social unrest, politicized school districts or exorbitant covid restrictions will follow the same pattern.

Now is Pennsylvania’s moment to strengthen small towns by giving them room to be unique. Regulations, bureaucracy, and heavy taxes – whether imposed from Harrisburg or Washington — will only burden small towns with the same economic sluggishness as major cities. These places are a hedge against centralization and inequality, often representing the last sound option for millennials or minorities to own homes, start businesses and raise children.

Neither Showtime dramas nor census results capture the strength and resilience of western Pennsylvania. We don’t need an elegy — we need to stay the course of community, solidarity and commonsense policy.

Gov. Tom Wolf will appoint mail voting advocate Leigh M. Chapman to be Pa.’s new top elections official

By SEAN COLLINS WALSH Philadelphia Inquirer DECEMBER 28, 2021

Leigh M. Chapman will become acting secretary of the commonwealth on Jan. 8.
Leigh M. Chapman will become acting secretary of the commonwealth on Jan. 8.Read moreOffice of Gov.

Gov. Tom Wolf plans to appoint Leigh M. Chapman, a lawyer who leads a nonprofit that promotes mail voting, to be the state’s next top elections official, tasking her with overseeing a midterm election cycle that will bring national scrutiny to Pennsylvania while the state fends off continued GOP attacks stemming from the 2020 presidential election.

Chapman will become acting secretary of the commonwealth on Jan. 8, Wolf announced Monday. She previously served as policy director in the agency she will soon head, the Department of State, from 2015 to 2017.

“Throughout my career, I have worked to ensure that voting rights are protected, and to improve access to the ballot box,” Chapman said. “I look forward to continuing that work in my new role, and to build on the tremendously successful election reforms in Pennsylvania over the last several years.”

Chapman will replace Veronica Degraffenreid, who received praise from Wolf for overseeing the office in an acting capacity following the February resignation of the last permanent secretary, Kathy Boockvar.

Wolf originally intended to elevate Degraffenreid to a permanent role in the office but withdrew the nomination after she clashed with Senate Republicans over their controversial review of the 2020 presidential election. She will become a special adviser to Wolf after Chapman takes over the department.

Wolf’s announcement Monday was silent on whether he intended Chapman to assume the secretary role on a permanent basis, which would require legislative confirmation.

“She will be acting secretary, where she will be able to perform the full duties and responsibilities of a confirmed secretary,” Wolf spokesperson Elizabeth Rementer said in a separate statement.

The chain of events leading to Chapman’s appointment began with Boockvar, who oversaw the implementation of Pennsylvania’s 2019 mail voting law, which was passed with bipartisan support and administered the presidential election cycle amid the coronavirus pandemic. Decisions she made around mail balloting became the target of GOP attacks on the integrity of the 2020 election in Pennsylvania, fueled by false statements by former President Donald Trump and his Republican supporters.

She resigned unexpectedly months later due to an unrelated issue when it was revealed that her office bungled the administration of a referendum to extend the statute of limitations for civil claims filed by child sex abuse victims against their abusers. The Department of State is required to advertise state constitutional amendments before they are placed on the ballot but failed to do so in time for the 2021 primary.

Chapman, 37, who earned her law degree from Howard University and her undergraduate from the University of Virginia, has previously worked for the law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf and for the nonprofits Let America Vote, the Advancement Project, and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

Chapman’s appointment may draw objections from Republicans because she will be rejoining state government after serving as executive director of Deliver My Vote, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that helps voters obtain mail ballots and researches the impact of voting by mail.

The group’s website lists Brian Dunn as a founder. He is a partner in a firm called Field Strategies, which on its website says it “has been instrumental in securing victories for Democratic Presidents, Governors, U.S. Senators, U.S. Representatives and statewide ballot initiatives” and runs voter registration and “vote-by-mail signup drives, helping to reshape the electorate favorably for Democratic causes.”

Although Republicans and Democrats worked together to pass the state’s mail balloting law before the pandemic, it became a partisan issue largely thanks to Trump baselessly questioning whether voting by mail allowed Democrats to steal the election from him. Trump’s lies about mail balloting have caused many GOP voters to abandon voting by mail despite using it in the past in roughly equal numbers as Democrats.

In 2020, more than 2.6 million Pennsylvanians voted by mail in the presidential election, while fewer than 300,000 voted by mail in 2016, before the law took effect. Most of the growth was in Democratic ballots, analysts say.

Further complicating matters for Chapman, the department she will soon lead is still facing attacks from Republicans over the 2020 election, with GOP lawmakers in the state Senate pursuing a controversial review of the results.

“I have full confidence that Leigh M. Chapman will continue the Department’s efforts to lead Pennsylvania through a smooth election process and ensure that Pennsylvania voters continue to experience free and fair elections, among many responsibilities,” Wolf, a Democrat, said in a statement.

That scrutiny is likely to increase next year, as Pennsylvania voters will pick a new governor and U.S. senator and play a key role in deciding control of Congress. Additionally, state leaders are hashing out new district maps for the legislature and U.S. House delegation.

Republican leaders in the General Assembly did not return requests for comment Monday.

What The Infrastructure Bill Could Mean For PA Amtrak Expansion

Amtrak train at Bryn Mawr, Pa. traveling westbound towards Pittsburgh
Wikimedia Commons photo by Tam0031

By Ryan Deto
Pittsburgh City Paper

President Joe Biden signed the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill on Nov. 15, which would funnel federal funds to a bevy of infrastructure projects across the country. Pennsylvania is due to get money for roads, bridges, public transit, broadband, and more. For Pittsburgh, it could mean funding busway extensions, new highway interchanges, and sewage and stormwater improvements.

But another big winner in the bill is Amtrak. The national train provider is set to receive $66 billion in funding that will go to fleet acquisition, state grants, rail projects, and improvements across the Amtrak system, says Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn in an interview with NBC News.

What that means for Pennsylvania is likely to be worked out over time, as agreements have to be reached with private rail companies and likely additional state funding should be allocated.

However, Amtrak has already provided a plan for expansion in case the infrastructure bill was passed. And Amtrak officials have said the funding allocated should be enough to move forward with these plans.

And Pennsylvania is a clear winner in that Amtrak proposal. The Keystone State could see 15 new train round trips under Amtrak’s 2035 Vision Plan, and that includes three new routes serving cities in Eastern Pennsylvania, as well as additional trips to and from Pittsburgh.

The 15 additional train round trips in Pennsylvania as proposed by Amtrak are:


1 new round trip between Pittsburgh and New York City, which includes an extension to Cleveland
1 new round trip between Cleveland and Buffalo, that would travel through Erie
3 new round trips between Scranton and NYC
3 new round trips between Reading and Philadelphia
2 new round trips between Allentown and NYC
5 new round trips between Harrisburg and NYC on the Keystone Service

For Pittsburgh, this would add intercity service to Cleveland that leaves and arrives at a reasonable hour. Currently, rail travel between the two Rust Belt cities is done between midnight and 5 a.m.

Adding another round trip between Pittsburgh and New York City could also provide options for commuters in Westmoreland or Cambria counties to travel by rail into Pittsburgh. Currently, the Pennsylvanian train arrives in Pittsburgh at 8 p.m. and leaves towards Harrisburg at 7:30 a.m.

But Eastern Pennsylvania is the real winner in the Amtrak proposal. Three new lines have been proposed that would expand train service into Scranton, Allentown, and Reading.

Final alignments are not complete, but the proposal says the Scranton line will connect the Northeastern Pennsylvania city, which is the birthplace of President Biden, to New York City. The route includes stops in Tobyhanna, Mt. Pocono, and East Stroudsburg before entering New Jersey.

The proposed Allentown line would connect the Lehigh Valley city, now the third largest in the state, to New York City, and includes stops in Bethlehem and Easton before entering New Jersey.

A line from Reading is proposed to connect to Philadelphia (with eventual passage to New York City) and proposed stops include Pottstown, Phoenixville, King of Prussia, and Norristown.

Erie will see additional roundtrip traveling from Cleveland to Buffalo. This route doesn’t have any additional stops in Pennsylvania but does add stops in Ashtabula, Ohio, and Westfield, N.Y.

The proposal, which still has many details to work out, has garnered support from Pennsylvania politicians State Reps. Joe Ciresi (DMontgomery) and Manuel Guzman (DBerks). who represent areas that would get additional train service under the proposal. They praised the plan after the infrastructure bill passed the U.S. House on Nov. 10.

Gov. Tom Wolf met and spoke with Amtrak officials on Sept. 10 and he said the proposed expansion will “improve equity, accessibility, and reliability in transportation” for the commonwealth. He also called on the state government to match the federal response.

“We need statelevel transportation solutions to match this federal leadership so we can build and sustain this vision,” said Wolf in a September press release. “I am pleased to support this plan which would expand services to many more Pennsylvanians, strengthen local businesses, the regional economy, and the commonwealth as a whole.”

GOP State Lawmakers File Lawsuit to Have Mail-in Voting Tossed Out

By J D Prose

Beaver County Times

Sept 3, 2021 – Lawmakers argued in the suit filed late Tuesday in Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court that Act 77, under which no-excuse mail-in voting was allowed, violates the state and U.S. constitutions and should have been pursued through a state constitutional amendment, even though 11 of them voted for the legislation in 2019.

The GOP legislators on the lawsuit are: 

  • Timothy Bonner, Mercer County, who was not in office when Act 77 passed. 
  • Mike Jones, York County, who voted for Act 77. 
  • David Zimmerman, Lancaster County, who voted against Act 77. 
  • Barry Jozwiak, Berks County, who voted for Act 77. 
  • Kathy Rapp, Warren County, who voted for Act 77. 
  • David Maloney, Berks, who voted for Act 77. 
  • Barbara Gleim, Cumberland County, who voted for Act 77. 
  • Bob Brooks, Westmoreland County, who voted for Act 77. 
  • Aaron Bernstine, Lawrence County, who voted for Act 77. 
  • Timothy Twardzik, Schuylkill County, who was not in office when Act 77 passed. 
  • Dawn Keefer, York County, who voted for Act 77. 
  • Dan Moul, Adams County, who voted for Act 77. 
  • Frank Ryan, Lebanon County, who voted for Act 77. 
  • Bud Cook, Washington County, who voted for Act 77. 

“Last year, over 2.5 million Pennsylvanians embraced mail-in voting and other safe secure and modern forms of voting which Act 77 allowed for the first time in the commonwealth,” said Lyndsay Kensinger, a spokesperson for Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf. 

“The fact that members of the General Assembly who voted for Act 77 and were chosen for office in elections in which it was in effect are now suing to overturn it is hypocritical and a betrayal of voters,” Kensinger said. “We should continue to modernize our election system and make it more convenient for voters to make their voices heard. Instead these members are seeking to silence voters as they perpetuate false claims of a stolen election.”

However, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a likely Democratic candidate for governor in 2022, said Thursday on Twitter: “This lawsuit is not only the height of hypocrisy, but it also has real consequences and damages public trust in our elections.” 

After initially supporting mail-in voting, Republicans have followed former President Donald Trump’s calls against the practice and launched several legal attacks on the process, although none of them have been successful.  

Trump began baselessly warning about mail-in voting fraud last year before the November election when it became clear that Democrats were flocking to mailed ballots amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  

More:Wolf, Democrats say Pa. already had election audits — and Biden won

More:A bill overhauling Pa.’s election law could soon pass the House. What’s the fight over?

GOP election probe 

As Trump’s evidence-free claims continue, Republican lawmakers have repeatedly called into question the results of the presidential election, but not the races that they won. 

On Thursday, the state Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee announced that it has created a webpage for Pennsylvania voters to submit sworn testimony about their voting experiences and any irregularities they have witnessed.  

The effort is part of what committee Chairman Sen. Cris Dush, R-Jefferson County, called an election integrity investigation. Testimony can be submitted at https://intergovernmental.pasenategop.com/electioninvestigation/.

Dush recently replaced state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin County, as committee chairman after Mastriano was removed amid bickering with Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman over the committee’s efforts to subpoena records from York, Tioga and Philadelphia counties.

Mastriano has been at the forefront of the movement questioning the 2020 election results and was part of a Republican group that visited Arizona to review the GOP-led election audit there.  

Dush also said that the committee will hold public hearings and request documents from counties and the Pennsylvania Department of State “to conduct a comprehensive election investigation – including potentially using the committee’s subpoena powers,” according to a statement. 

Governor Wolf Talks Revitalization During Aug 11 Visit to Aliquippa

Gov. Tom Wolf, right, stands beside Aliquippa Mayor Dwan Walker on Wednesday in Aliquippa. Wolf visited the city to discuss ways Aliquippa will use the $11 million in state grants it has received since 2015.
Aliquippa Mayor Dwan Walker with Gov Wolf

ALIQUIPPA — Gov. Tom Wolf visited Aliquippa Wednesday morning to take a closer look at what a several-million-dollar investment into the city will look like.

The city was awarded several state grants since 2015 reaching a little over $11 million. Each grant targets innovation and revitalization in the old mill town, which has struggled economically since the demise of the steel industry.

Talking Tykes:Aliquippa: Some of the greatest started here, but it wants to be more than a football town

“If you think about the history of Aliquippa, 51% of the population lived and worked in that mill,” Mayor Dwan Walker said Wednesday. “So why not us? Why not Aliquippa come back as a phoenix rising from the ashes, why not a renaissance in Aliquippa?”

Walker explained what the city has done, and plans to do in the future, with the grant money. 

Some of those projects include reconfiguration of the Route 51 interchange, manufacturing, updated housing and commercial buildings, updated zoning ordinances, pedestrian and vehicle safety measures, and other developments spearheaded by local committees, residents and officials, including the Aliquippa school board, city council and water authority, the city Economic Development Corporation, and others.

Wolf visited the East End Development Site in Aliquippa to see how state investments have helped the city to remove blighted properties and prepare the land near a Route 51 interchange for future business development and prepare to capitalize on the petrochemicals plant that Shell Chemicals is constructing a few miles from the city. 

Aliquippa Mayor Dwan Walker, right, answers questions from the press on Wednesday during a visit from Gov. Tom Wolf, left, to discuss ways the city will use the $11 million in state grants it has received since 2015.

More than $7.7 million of the $11 million will support the East End Development Site.

Some of the investments made in Aliquippa to date include:

  • Grant and low-interest loan financing to perform environmental site assessments and remediation work at former industrial sites through the Industrial Sites Reuse Program.
  • Funding through the Blight Remediation Program to assist with blight remediation.
  • $7 million to reconfigure the Route 51 interchange adjacent to the East End Development site through the TIIF program.
  • $72,500 in Act 47 funding to support Aliquippa in its redevelopment efforts.
  • $365,000 in Keystone Communities funding to demolish commercial buildings at the East End Development site.
  • $500,000 to make pedestrian and vehicular safety improvements to the main corridor on Fifth Avenue through the Multi-Modal Transportation Program
  • $140,233 to complete site preparation and clearance on the Bricks site project.
  • $25,000 through the Municipal Assistance Program to update land-use regulations including the zoning ordinance.
  • More than $2.4 million in Neighborhood Partnership Funding via a donation from BNY Mellon to fund the redevelopment of Aliquippa.

Visiting Aliquippa reminded Wolf of his own town of York. Before getting into politics, the governor said he was involved in revitalizing that community.

“I got into politics because I was concerned about my own community, York,” Wolf said. “And I saw in Dwan the kind of leadership that every community really needs.

“It takes both state and local leadership to make projects like Aliquippa’s effective,” he said.

“There is an inside game and an outside game, and state is the outside game, and we need to do what we can do to help, but it really is a wonderful thing when you have leadership and the energy that you’re showing, Dwan, because Aliquippa early deserves to be back to where it was, and even better,” Wolf said. “And you’re doing that, and I’m proud to be a partner with you.”

Some during Wednesday’s briefing asked if gentrification could result from these revitalization efforts.

Wolf said having local people spearhead these projects will help keep the integrity of the community.

“Who’s in charge of this development? That’s going to make a really big difference,” he said. “They’re not just at the table, they are the table.”

Walker said as a life-long resident of Aliquippa, he and others committed to these projects will make sure gentrification doesn’t happen.

“Gentrification is not something we speak of,” he said. “Everybody in this city will have an equal opportunity to speak on anything that comes. We’re looking for partners, we’re not looking for bullies.

“So if you want to sit down and talk about how the future is going to be, we’re here to listen. But if you’re going to come in and take advantage of us, we’ve already had that happen,” Walker added. “I don’t know why our residents think gentrification is going to happen — it’s not.” 

He called the projects and initiatives in the city “a renaissance of Aliquippa,” built on partnership and collaboration, and hope and possibility.”

“The state programs have helped usher in a renaissance in the city of Aliquippa,” Walker said.

Gov. Tom Wolf stands with local leaders during his visit to Aliquippa on Wednesday. Leaders spoke with the governor about ways the city will use the $11 million in state grants it has received since 2015.

Stop Catastrophic Climate Change in Congress

By Randy Shannon

August 1, 2021

The US Congress is an important battleground in the campaign to slow, stop, and reverse global warming induced catastrophic climate change. The dumping of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels is overwhelming planet Earth.

The financial weight of the coal, oil, and gas industries and their Wall Street owners floods Capitol Hill with their thousands of lobbyists. They write legislation then lobby and threaten Congress to pass dozens of laws that transfer public funds to their industry. These funds are transferred in numerous ways – tax credits, depletion allowances, interest rebates, research funds, loan guarantees, amortization, foreign tax credits, oil spill deductions, income tax exemptions, credits for coal washing.

The carbon polluting industry’s control of Congress guarantees that taxpayers, and actually all citizens, directly subsidize global warming. And we are increasingly victimized by the effects of catastrophic climate change – increased hurricanes, floods, fires; rising ocean levels; melting arctic ice with consequent growing release of methane hydrates that accelerate global warming.

On July 28 Rep. Michael Doyle PA-18 introduced HR4758, co-sponsored by Rep. Conor Lamb PA-17, Mike Kelly PA-16, and Bill Huizenga MI-2. This bill “amends the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to extend and modify the section 45 credit for refined coal from steel industry fuel, and for other purposes.” This bill has not been printed yet, so the details are not yet available. (https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/117/hr4758)

Continue reading Stop Catastrophic Climate Change in Congress
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