Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Voter ID ~ Right or Wrong for Pennsylvania?

Show me your ID! 

The debate on requiring voters to produce ID continues......

Politics PA debates as follows: 

The Corbett administration promised Wednesday to ease the burden of obtaining a photo ID in order to vote. They claimed the new provision simplifies the method for Pennsylvania-born voters, who can request PennDOT verify their birth using state health records.

The law, which passed in March, requires all citizens present photo identification at the polls before being allowed to cast their ballots. If a voter is without ID, they may cast a provisional ballot that will be accepted if they present election officials with an acceptable ID within six days.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, approximately 12 percent of the country’s eligible voters may not have a government-issued photo ID; that percentage is even higher for students, seniors and minorities.
This new provision allows PennDOT to verify voters’ births without them having to show their original birth certificate or paying a $10 fee to receive a new copy.
And while the new requirement may appease disgruntled voters, especially minorities, the law still causes a high number of difficulties.
First, residents born outside of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will not be eligible for the PennDOT verification service. If voters meet that requirement, there is still another hurdle.
For PennDOT to verify a voter’s state birth records, the individual must first visit the driver’s license center with not only his or her Social Security card, but at least two proofs of residency.
If they don’t have access to their Social Security card, they have apply to the Social Security Administration to receive their state birth records.
But it’s not that simple.
To do so, they must have either a certified copy of their driver’s license (which would allow them to vote under the new law regardless), a state-issued ID (which you need your Social Security card to receive in the first place) or a passport (which is already accepted as proper form of voting ID).
Additionally, the new law requires a subsequent trip to the driver’s license center to pick up the non driver ID card, after the state confirms the voter’s birth. Physically impaired voters, or those without reliable transportation, may therefore still find that obtaining an ID is difficult.
Vic Walczak, legal director for the Pennsylvania ACLU, told the Philadelphia Inquirer this slight change will not affect the 10 individuals who are suing, citing the law as a violation of the state constitution.
Walczak also told the Inquirer that the provision “does not go nearly far enough in enabling all registered voters to get the necessary ID.”
Hearings against the law began on July 25, with a decision expected by early August.

Slate questions: The GOP’s Self-Inflicted Wounds?

Could Republican-sponsored voter ID laws actually disenfranchise Republicans?

Pennsylvania’s voter ID law goes on trial today. The first thing this challenge to the state’s law has going for it are the real people who will testify about why it means they can’t vote. The second thing is the Pennsylvania constitution. And the third is the utter lack of legitimate justification for the burdens the law imposes.
This law should go down, and now, before it can cause problems in November. But if you’re a Democrat worried that the law—which requires voters to show an approved form of photo ID at the polls—is going to cost President Obama the election, there’s a possible silver lining here. The number of voters affected may not be as huge, or as overwhelmingly Democratic, as it seems.
Let’s start with the trial. Talking Points Memo and the New York Times have introduced us to 93-year-old Viviette Applewhite and 60-year-old Wilola Shinholster Lee. Applewhite has never had a driver’s license, lost her Social Security card when her purse was stolen, and can’t easily get a new one because she has changed her name twice to marry. Lee—who was born in Georgia but has lived in Pennsylvania since she was 5 years old—lost her birth certificate in a house fire and she can’t get another one. (According to the state of Georgia, her original birth certificate was lost in a fire there, too.) Thanks to smart P.R. by the ACLU and the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, which represent the plaintiffs, you can read or see these women and other affected voters.
If it seems obvious that you need disenfranchised voters to challenge a voter ID law, it somehow wasn’t in 2008, when the suit to block Indiana’s law offered up no witnesses who said they’d find it hard to vote because of the new requirements. The case, Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, was actually a farce on both sides: Indiana couldn’t present any evidence that the voter fraud the law was supposed to prevent existed. But Indiana’s law wasn’t as onerous as the new wave of voter ID laws—check out this disturbing roundup from the Brennan Center—and in a decision by Justice John Paul Stevens six Supreme Court justices ruled that Indiana’s law could stand. So you can see why Viviette Applewhite and Wilola Lee have a starring role this time around.
The precedent set by Crawford remains a stumbling block for the Pennsylvania plaintiffs, but not a huge one. That’s because they are relying on the state constitution, which explicitly protects the right to vote—a guarantee that is missing from our dear national founding document. Relying similarly on the Wisconsin constitution, two judges in that state recentlystruck down their onerous voter ID law, finding that its requirements were “unlikely to protect the electoral process,” and substantially impaired the right to vote as guaranteed by the state constitution. The Missouri Supreme Court also tossed voter ID based on the state constitution in 2006.
Pennsylvania’s defense of its law is especially weak. The Justice Department has launched its own inquiry into whether the law discriminates against minority voters. The state has already admitted that there have been no investigations or findings of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania—the crime the law is designed to stop. That’s right, not a single one. In a country with too little voter participation and too much apathy, it is just unconscionable that we would put people through the bureaucratic wringer to vote with absolutely no evidence of the harm this is supposed to stop. 
Attorney General Eric Holder is right to call these laws poll taxes, invoking the ugly past of the Jim Crow South. It costs money to get the approved identification if you don’t already have the obvious documents. And the motive for the laws now is just as suspect as then. Pennsylvania Republicans have done us the favor of making this clear, in the statement of state House Majority Leader Mike Turzai: “Voter ID, which is going to allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania—done.”
What if it turns out, however, that the Republicans haven’t dealt the utterly partisan blow they think they have? The state made headlines by announcing that as many as 759,000 Pennsylvania voters may not have the proper ID to vote, because they don’t have a current driver’s license. And about 185,000 of those people live in Philadelphia, a Democratic stronghold with a plurality of black voters.  Obama won Pennsylvania by 600,000 votes; John Kerry beat George W. Bush by only 144,000. So hundreds of thousands of disenfranchised people this time around, with hordes of them in Philadelphia, would be big.
But there is data floating around that suggests that both the 759,000 and the 185,000 numbers may be significantly inflated. I got access to it only by promising not to say where it comes from, but the experts I was talking to read me numbers that disputed the well-known public figures. This data reportedly shows that between 60 and 65 percent of the eligible voters who may not have valid ID, and a similar percentage of people who actually voted in 2008, don’t have the right ID because their drivers’ licenses have expired. This expired-license group skews elderly and does not skew African-American. Which suggests it may not be made up largely of Democrats, since older voters are more likely to be Republicans. Also noteworthy: While many of the voters without valid licenses live in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, plenty also live in the suburbs—where the GOP is strong. [Update, 6:20 p.m., July 25: I’ve now read for myself an expert report for the plaintiffs filed in court, and it confirms much of what I've writen above.]

It’s possible, then, that if Pennsylvania’s voter ID law goes into effect, there will be a lot of angry white, Republican, suburban voters turned away in November along with black Democrats like Viviette Applewhite. None of this makes voter ID laws one whit better. As drafted, with maximum hassle and zero proof that they’re preventing real fraud, they’re a scourge on our democracy, which is battered enough already. In general, they do burden minority and poor voters more than others, which should be the opposite of a selling point. And restrictive voting laws are in effect in other states where the presidential election could be close, including Florida, Iowa, and Ohio.
But if it turns out that voter ID laws don’t overwhelmingly tilt in favor of the Republicans who support them—well, that would at least be a teeny bit satisfying.  To the extent the party takes a political hit for disenfranchising people, it would be doing so for nothing. And then maybe we’d get rid of these bad laws, once and for all.

How do you feel about voter ID?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Proposed Abington Hospital Merger

There is a strong possibility that Abington Hospital will merge with Holy Redeemer

VIDEO: Abington Memorial, Holy Redeemer announce joint venture

This is the beginning of an article written by Karen Heller for

Abington Memorial Hospital, the only level-2 trauma center in Montgomery County, enjoys a sterling reputation for its more than 60 physicians in obstetrics and gynecology. The medical center is far larger and generates more than twice the revenue of Holy Redeemer.
Yet, in the announced merger of the two hospitals, one that is being widely decried by staff and patients, the Catholic medical facility appears to triumph in dictating reproductive health care policy to secular Abington, eliminating abortion services, while securing chairmanship of the board.
It's a case of the marlin swallowing the whale.
For physicians and patients who make clear, conscious decisions about working at or patronizing a sectarian or independent medical facility, the merger is heresy.

Other relevant articles:


The Outcry:

The Support

Life supports the merger.

We want to hear from you! How do you feel about this merger?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Local Services ~ Support Local

Who are your local service providers? Support Small Business!

Here are a list of local service providers. Please tell who to add to the list!

Healthcare Providers

Dr. Charles S. Ireland ~ Roslyn 

Northeast Dental ~ Willow Grove

Horsham Dental Effects ~ Horsham

Laurence B. Cohen ~ Glenside

Advanced Family Dental Care ~ Elkins Park

Dental Wellness ~ Hatboro

Main Line Health Center ~ Collegeville

Johns Chiropractic ~ King Of Prussia

Service Contractors 
Durante Electric ~ Montgomery County

Attilio Plumbing ~ Bridgeport

Joe the handy man ~ Conshohocken

Siletta Plumbing ~ Conshohocken

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Local Businesses Part Deux

 Support local businesses in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania

 Flower Arrangement from Botanical Expressions in Flourtown

This post is second in a series of "Buy Local Montco." Today we are listing some locally owned and operated businesses. Today we are focusing on retailers in the county. Our next post will focus on locally owned and operated service companies in Montgomery County. We welcome your suggestions for all categories. Please suggest local businesses in the comments section below so we can increase this list and encourage "shopping local." Please also see our 1st post on local restaurants. This list is extremely limited!!! Please help us build it!!

Support our Montgomery County Retailers  

Barbara B's Jewelry ~ Flourtown 

Bags and Bangles ~ Lafayette Hill

Belle of the Ball Bridal ~ Norristown 

Botanical Expressions ~ Flourtown

Conshohocken Italian Bakery ~ Conshohocken 

Down to Earth Kids ~ Lafayette Hill 

El Quetzal ~ Ardmore

Flourtown Bakery ~ Flourtown 

Hollod's True Value ~ Lafayette Hill 

Oreland Hardware ~  Oreland

Primex ~  Glenside

Phantastic Phinds ~ Erdenheim

Paper Rock Scissors ~ Conshohocken

Shoe Bar ~ Lafayette Hill

SGS Paper ~ Glenside

The Market at Lafayette Hill  ~ Lafayette Hill 

Please also join our facebook group!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Buy Local

Montgomery County, Pennsylvania has great small businesses. Supporting our local economy grows our local economy.

This post is first in a series of "Buy Local Montco." Today we are listing some locally owned and operated restaurants. Our next post will focus on locally owned and operated retailers in Montgomery County, followed by service companies. We welcome your suggestions for all categories. Please suggest local businesses in the comments section below.


We have some of the most amazing restaurants in this county. It is curious that small, farm to table restaurants struggle to survive, while if you drive by the mall on any given night, you'll see an hour long wait to get into a chain restaurant serving salty, mass produced foods. If we, as a community, support our local restaurants and food establishments, we will encourage more great chefs to open restaurants in our county. With so many people who complain about the lack of local restaurants, it would stand to reason that our citizens would want to encourage the growth of this local industry in each community. Next time you eat out, please think of our local restaurants.

Here are some local restaurants worth visiting. Please leave names of your favorites in the comments section and we'll add them to our list.

A Taste of Britain ~ Wayne
Blackfish ~ Conshohocken
211 York ~ Jenkintown
333 Belrose ~ Radnor
Al Dar Bistro ~ Bala Cynwyd
Arpeggio ~ Spring House
Athena ~ Glenside
Austrian Village ~ Jenkintown
Bella Rosa ~ Skippack
Blue Bell Inn ~ Blue Bell
Bocelli ~ Gwynedd Valley
Bonjung ~ Collegeville
Brasserie 73 ~ Skippack
Brittingham's Irish Pub ~ Lafayette Hill
Cafe Tea ~ Ambler
Cantina Feliz ~ Fort Washington
Capone's ~ Norristown
Carlino's ~ Ardmore
Caspian Grille ~ Lafayette Hill
Chiangmai ~ Conshohocken
Chick's Tavern ~ Bridgeport
Chops ~ Bala Cynwyd
Conshohocken Italian Bakery
Coyote Crossing ~ Conshohocken
Dettera ~ Ambler
East Meets West ~ Broad Axe
El Sarape ~ Blue Bell
El Limon ~ Conshohocken
Elcy's Cafe ~ Glenside
Fairlane Grill ~ Erdenheim
Farmer's Daughter ~ Blue Bell
Flanigan's Boathouse ~ Conshohocken
Flavor ~ Wayne
Funky Lil Kitchen ~ Pottstown
Georges' ~ Wayne
Halligan's ~ Flourtown
Hunan ~ Ardmore
Luigi's Pizza ~  North Hills
Los Sarapes ~ Ambler
MaGerk's ~ Fort Washington
Margeret Kuo's ~ Wayne
Mandarin Garden ~ Willow Grove
Max & David's ~ Elkin's Park
Michael's ~ Broad Axe
Mindi's Desserts ~ Oreland
New Kimono ~ Lafayette Hill
Nadia Thai ~ Lansdale
Palace of Asia ~ Fort Washington
Ooka ~ Willow Grove
Pasta Via ~ Conshohocken
Pepper's ~ Ardmore
Persian Grille ~ Lafayette Hill
Pho Thai Nam ~ Blue Bell
Pudge's ~ Blue Bell
Pumpernick's ~ North Wales
Radice ~ Blue Bell
Saffron ~ Ambler & Bala Cynwyd
South Ocean ~ Flourtown
Sola ~ Bryn Mawr
Spamps ~ Conshohocken
Spampinato's ~ Conshohocken
Stonerose Restaurant ~ Conshohocken
Trattoria Totaro ~ Conshohocekn
Tony & Joe's ~ Conshohocken
Sang Kee ~ Wynnewood
Savona ~ Gulf Mills
Spring Mill Cafe ~Whitemarsh
Tamarido's ~ Broad Axe
Teresa's ~ Wayne
Union Jack's ~ Glenside
Verdad ~ Ardmore
William Penn Inn ~ Gwenedd
White Elephant ~ Huntington Valley
Zwahlen's ~ Audobon
Ye Olde Ale House ~ Lafayette Hill

Who have we missed? Please leave the name of your favorite Montgomery County restaurants below!


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Welcome to PA Local Civics Spotlight

Welcome to PA Local Civics Spotlight

The PA Local Civics Spotlight is your spotlight on local politics in Montgomery County. We are a group of citizens encouraging a bi-partisan approach to local politics. Our group started as a simple facebook page where discussions are encouraged in the following manner:  No shouting, no name calling. Just intelligent analysis and discussion of local issues.

We encourage your participation in this group regardless of your political affiliation. Our goal is to promote thoughtful, meaningful, conversation in a respectful manner as a means to building a bi-partisan community online, all working toward a common goal. 

Tell us your opinion; what would you like to know more about? Tell us, are you interested in:

  • Community events 
  • Individual Township Politics
  • Crime Reports
  • County Wide legislation
  • Voter rights, rules and regulations
  • School district information
  • Charitable events
  • Local politician spotlights 

We want to here from you!