Register of Wills candidate wants to abolish office

Ross Feinberg, the Republican candidate for Register of Wills, held a news conference last week at City Hall to declare that his office would consist of employees who conform to civil service standards.

Too many employees, he said, are ward leaders, committee people, election board officials and former state representatives.

“When I am the Register of Wills, there will be zero,” Feinberg said. “The patronage mill ends here. When I move to abolish the office by having it absorbed into the court system, I will make sure none of this is possible”

Feinberg, of Rhawnhurst, faces Democrat Ron Donatucci, who was first elected in 1979.

Donatucci is seeking another term even though he signed up for the Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) in 2007.

The Committee of Seventy, a government watchdog group, has called for eliminating the office of Register of Wills, and a study by the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority said eliminating the office could save taxpayers millions of dollars.

The next Register of Wills, Feinberg has said, should be appointed by the judges in Orphans Court. Most of the duties of the office could be taken over by the courts, he said, much as they did after the office of the Clerk of Quarter Sessions was eliminated.

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The campaign of Al Taubenberger, a Republican challenger for an at-large City Council seat, released a Harper Polling survey of 632 likely-voting Republicans, independents and ticket-splitting Democrats that shows Taubenberger in a strong position.

Seven people are elected at large. The five Democrats are shoo-ins, based on their party’s registration advantage.

The survey showed Republican Councilman Denny O’Brien with the strongest image and name identification among the GOP candidates. O’Brien leads among men, women, conservatives, moderates, Republicans and and ticket-splitting Democrats.

When voters were asked to name their first and second choices, O’Brien was in the lead.

The survey placed Taubenberger in second place, followed by incumbent Councilman David Oh.

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Gov. Tom Wolf has endorsed Democratic mayoral nominee Jim Kenney. In his endorsement, the governor stressed Kenney’s commitment to expanding access to pre-kindergarten and quality public schools for Philadelphians in need.

“Jim Kenney and I share the belief that funding education is a moral issue, not a political one,” Wolf said. “Jim’s commitment to expanding early childhood education and increasing the number of community schools are important steps toward closing the opportunity gap. I look forward to working with Jim to ensure that every Pennsylvania child has access to a quality education, regardless of where they live.”

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Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Political Action Committee also endorsed Kenney, who served in City Council for 23 years.

“We have a great champion for women’s health in Jim Kenney,” said Sari Stevens, executive director of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates and PAC. “He has stood by our organization and spoken up for access to reproductive health care in his tenure. Mr. Kenney understands that the services Planned Parenthood provides Pennsylvania’s residents — including family planning, STI testing and treatment, and breast exams — are critical to Philadelphia women and men. At a time when women’s basic healthcare is being politicized, and our nearly 100-year-old organization is under attack, it is heartening to know that the next mayor of Philadelphia stands with Planned Parenthood. We’re proud to support Jim Kenney.”

Kenney expressed his commitment to Planned Parenthood, which has been under fire recently after an undercover video showed that the organization has illegally sold aborted baby organs and tissue to research companies for profit.

“I thank Planned Parenthood for their support, and I’m proud to stand with them in the fight for women’s healthcare,” he said. “No employer nor politician, nor anyone else for that matter, has any business telling a woman what she can do with her body. As a father and as a citizen, I am incredibly grateful for the services Planned Parenthood provides and for their unwavering commitment to our country’s women, even in the face of baseless conservative attacks.”

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Last week, the state House of Representatives voted 127–73 against a budget proposal by Gov. Tom Wolf that would have raised the income tax and gas drilling tax.

All Republicans, including Reps. John Taylor, Martina White and Tom Murt, joined nine Democrats in voting against the plan.

Democratic Reps. Kevin Boyle, Mark Cohen, Jason Dawkins, Mike Driscoll, Dwight Evans and Ed Neilson voted for the proposal.

“The tax proposal that came before the House today included a 16-percent income tax increase that would have hit our hard-working, middle-class families especially hard. Although the proposal also included a severance tax on natural gas drilling, the revenue generated by that tax is minimal, as predicted,” Taylor said.

“In fact, of the estimated $1.4 billion in new revenue in the 2015–16 fiscal year, 95 percent of it comes from income taxes on Pennsylvania families and small employers. Just 5 percent would come from a severance tax, even though the governor is proposing one of the highest severance taxes in the nation. A tax on natural gas is simply not going to solve our budget challenges, and it actually could make them worse if the tax is so excessive that it drives the industry out of the state. And if the industry leaves, thousands of tradesmen, including plumbers, boilermakers, pipe fitters and electricians, would find themselves out of work.”

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The Green Party of Philadelphia is looking for progressive candidates to run for elected office.

In 2016, every seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives will be up for election, and the Green Party wants candidates on the ballot for voters to consider. The party plans to field candidates for state representative who are fed up with the deadlock in Harrisburg.

The Green Party will support candidates who are interested in a Green New Deal with jobs for all, free public education from pre-school through state university, investment in renewable energy and an end to mass incarceration.

“The Green Party is not your typical group of old political hacks. We are interested in young people who are ready to take the plunge into politics, especially women and people of color who are usually excluded by the two corporate parties,” said Hillary Kane, the city Green Party treasurer.

The Green Party is a national political party founded on the four pillars of nonviolence, grassroots democracy, ecological wisdom and social justice.

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Former Congressman Joe Sestak, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, last week completed an 18-mile walk from Wilkes-Barre to Scranton, talking about the specific policies he wants the people to hold him accountable for.

“I believe that the biggest deficit in America is the trust deficit,” he told a group of supporters gathered a mile outside Scranton. “As I said when I announced my campaign, the people don’t want a politician or the establishment, they want a person they can trust to actually do what they say and serve with a tireless dedication that puts people above party.”

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The America Rising Political Action Committee is criticizing Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty for leaving her job as chief of staff for Gov. Tom Wolf to join the race.

Pennsylvania has been without a budget for more than three months.

McGinty spent just six months as chief of staff.

“Katie McGinty abandoned Pennsylvanians in the middle of a budget crisis that is hurting children, families and seniors across the state, displaying a lack of responsibility and leadership that casts doubt on her fitness to represent Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate. As the Keystone State marks 100 days without a budget, it is a stark reminder that Katie McGinty puts her political career first and Pennsylvania last,” said Amelia Chassé, America Rising PAC press secretary.

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Nine Lehigh Valley lawmakers have endorsed Republican Emil Giordano for Superior Court.

The group consists of U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, state Sens. Mario Scavello and Lisa Boscola and state Reps. Ryan Mackenzie, Justin Simmons, Gary Day, Julie Harhart, Joe Emrick and Marcia Hahn.

Interestingly, Boscola is a Democrat. The Democratic candidate in the race is Alice Beck Dubow, a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge.

“I am very proud to have bipartisan support from so many of our Lehigh Valley-area lawmakers,” Giordano said.

Giordano serves on the Northampton County Court of Common Pleas, a position he has held since 2003. Prior to being elected, he served as an assistant district attorney, assistant public defender, civil litigator and as lead counsel in his private law practice.

Giordano resides in Bethlehem with his wife, Tina, and his two sons, Joseph and Caden.

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The Associated Builders and Contractors of Pennsylvania has endorsed Republican Paul Lalley for Commonwealth Court.

“Paul Lalley displays the character, temperament, and experience that are essential for a Commonwealth Court judge,” said ABC representatives in a joint statement. “We are offering our endorsement of Paul Lalley and are confident that he will bring the knowledge and experience that are very much needed to our Commonwealth Court.”

Lalley is an attorney with Campbell, Durrant, Beatty, Palombo and Miller in Allegheny County. He focuses on labor and employment, municipal law/school law and appellate law. He received a “Highly Recommended” rating from the Allegheny County Bar Association and “Recommended” rating from the Pennsylvania Bar Association.

Lalley, a Montgomery County native, is married with two daughters.

The Democratic candidate is Pittsburgh lawyer Michael Wojcik. ••