State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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Links: Fall could bring more waiting than legislating, & news from Tampa

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Aug 27, 2012 12:29 PM

Capitolwire’s Pete DeCoursey looks ahead to the fall legislative session – when, sure, it’s possible lawmakers will act to limit state debt and get charter school legislation in place.  But for the most part, the Legislature and the governor’s office will be playing the waiting game.  Waiting for whom?  Royal Dutch Shell still has to make a final decision about building a processing facility in southwestern PA, yielding this chestnut from DeCoursey: “shell or get off the pot.” 

Beyond that, there are about three more shoes to drop.  The Associated Press reports on the Supreme Court’s September in the “spotlight,” with three marquee laws to consider: voter ID, legislative redistricting, and the natural gas drilling law passed in February to limit local zoning in favor of more predictable, statewide drilling regulations.  It would all be tantalizing enough, but there’s an added rub: the bench is missing one Republican justice, on suspension as she fights corruption charges.  Decisions very well could come down to a 3 to 3 tie:

"It would be an obvious signal to Pennsylvanians that decisions being reached are political, and not based on the law," said G. Terry Madonna, a professor of public affairs and pollster at Franklin and Marshall College.

A three-to-three decision along the justices' party lines on one of the three cases might be understandable, Madonna said. After all, the justices are political creatures and are products of partisan elections.

But a three-to-three decision — along partisan lines or otherwise — on any decision also means the court effectively takes no action and leaves the law without the clarity and finality of a high court decision.

The news from Tampa

The York Daily Record talks to local Republican consultant Charlie Gerow about the quadrennial campfire that is the Republican National Convention – a chance to speak to the country “at a time when everybody is listening,” he said.  It’s also a time to, ahem, let loose:

"There will be more parties than at Mardi Gras," said Gerow, a Cumberland County resident who has attended nine conventions before this one, in a variety of roles. "I, of course, don't participate in any of those. I'm busy working and studying the issues."

Then he laughed for several seconds.

Post-Gazette ace Tracie Mauriello is filing from the RNC as well, but journos and voyeurs might be just as interested in her posts about process and being a newbie at the convention:

You know what they say about the best-laid plans.

Instead of covering the first night of the Republican National Convention on Monday, I and 15,000 other journalists will be doing what most reporters hate most: covering the weather.

Absolutely not state-related

I spent part of our last August weekend reading veteran journos’ reaction to the death of Neil Armstrong, whose discomfort at reaching celebrity status wasn’t always well-understood.  This from Nancy Nall:

Later, after he’d retired from the space program, Armstrong returned to Ohio to live, teaching at the University of Cincinnati. He gave very few interviews (but some). He was that increasingly rare bird in American life — the truly self-effacing man. He knew his role in history, and participated in responsible scholarship to document and preserve the experience. He talked to serious journalists on significant anniversaries, cooperated with an authorized biography, but never, ever capered for an outsize share of the glory. What many are saying this weekend is true: The space program was one with many, many moving parts, and he was only one of them. His insistence that he not take more credit than was his due may seem strange to us now, at a time when so many publicity hounds bay for the spotlight, but once upon a time this was known as character.

I asked [Armstrong’s biographer James] Hansen to tell me something about the moon landing I might not already know. He said that in parts of the Muslim world, it is believed that Armstrong heard the Islamic call to prayer while on the lunar surface, and immediately upon returning to earth, sought out the proper religious authorities and converted to Islam. (It’s true. The rumor, that is.) Armstrong had to issue a statement a few years back. Apparently these Muslims believe he lived in Lebanon, which is true, but Lebanon, Ohio, near the former home of Kash’s Big Bargain Barn, not Kashi’s Falafel Palace.


Photo credit: G. Rick Wilson.

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