Sunday, December 31, 2006


Rocco Palmo has an interesting post with some great photos at his blog "Whispers in the Loggia" about the Mummers parade in Philly.

Feast of the Holy Family

Today, the Sunday after Christmas, Catholics celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

The Gospel reading at Mass (Luke 2:41-52) was the story of the 12-year-old Jesus in the temple:

Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom.

After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him.

After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers.

When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”

And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?"

But they did not understand what he said to them. He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.

And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.

In The Rough

Last night, we saw "Blood Diamond," a film about the illegal diamond trade and civil war in Sierra Leone in West Africa.

It is an important movie to see -- to learn more about conflict diamonds and how First World brides encourage their flow. But, with some iffy acting and contrived action sequences, the film itself comes up short.

I had trouble with Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead role of the diamond mercenary. Except for a good final scene, I was never able to accept him in the part. Maybe it was the accent.

Jennifer Connelly, playing an American journalist, saves every scene in which she is featured.

Djimon Housoun was excellent as the father dragged away from his family and plunged into the chaos. I would not be surprised to see him receive an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for the part. (Although, some might argue it's another MAAF role.)

Michael Sheen had a bit part at the end of the movie as a London-based diamond merchant. While he has only a few lines here, be sure to check him out as Tony Blair in "The Queen."

Saturday, December 30, 2006


The juxtaposition in today's news of the execution of Saddam Hussein and the funeral services of Gerald Ford is telling.

Saddam Hussein was an absolute dictator who achieved and maintained executive power through mass killings, repression and fear. His decades of tyranny came to end via a spider hole and a hangman's noose.

Gerald Ford was a true democrat who had executive power thrust upon him by constitutional means. After less than three years of service, he lost an election and peacefully exited. He died surrounded by his family and is now honored by a grateful nation.

May God bless democracy. May it spread peacefully throughout the world and improve the quality of life for all people.

Putting Out Fires

Terri Johnson penned an article in yesterday's O-R about discussions at a Washington City Council meeting on understaffing at the WashPA Fire Department -- and the effect of the all-paid FD on the city's troubled finances.

Also, there is a letter to the editor from City Councilman Bob Nicollela in today's paper about financing for the city's downtown revitalization project.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Long But Good

Last night, we saw the new spy movie "The Good Shepherd." It stars Matt Damon as an operative in the formative years of the CIA.

It was a bit too long but overall worth seeing.

I thought director Robert De Niro did a good job showing connections between World War II and post-war intelligence gathering and Cold War intelligence gathering. (The fictional relationships in the movie specifically make a connection to the botched 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion.)

Several big names had supporting roles. Joe Pesci had an unnecessary cameo. Michael Gambon, who portrays Professor Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films, played an old English spy masquerading as a Yale poetry professor.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


As democratic as we Americans like to consider ourselves, I think there will always be in our national psyche some Old World fascination with the high and powerful among us -- our modern-day royalty if you like.

This fascination and interest is often seen in regard to American presidents. It's likely one of reasons The West Wing was such a popular television program.

The death yesterday evening of Gerald Ford brings this point home. In his case, however, I think President Ford will be more remembered for his times than for his own life -- but his impact upon those times was great.

Had President Ford not pardoned Richard Nixon for his Watergate sins and been elected in 1976, it's impossible to know what America would look like today. Perhaps we would not have known the Reagan era and the Clinton era -- and all the changes those times entailed for our body politic and our American culture.

To borrow words from John Henry Newman, President Ford was "a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons."

(The photo above is from the National Archives via wikipedia. Pictured are Presidents Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Reagan, Carter and Ford with their wives at the April 27, 1994, funeral of Richard Nixon.)

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

From the Gospel of Luke 2:1-14:

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled.

This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria.

So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son.

She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock.

The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear.

The angel said to them,

“Do not be afraid. For behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

(Image above from Catholic Online.)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Because Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday this year, many Christian traditions consider today both the Fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve.

In the last week of Advent, many Catholics pray what are called the "O Antiphons." These ancient prayers speak to an increasingly urgent longing for the coming Messiah:

O Wisdom, you come forth from the mouth of the Most High. You fill the universe and hold all things together in a strong yet gentle manner. O come to teach us the way of truth.

O Adonai and leader of Israel, you appeared to Moses in a burning bush and you gave him the Law on Sinai. O come and save us with your mighty power.

O stock of Jesse, you stand as a signal for the nations; kings fall silent before you whom the peoples acclaim. O come to deliver us, and do not delay.

O key of David and scepter of Israel, what you open no one else can close again; what you close no one can open. O come to lead the captive from prison; free those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

O Rising Sun, you are the splendor of eternal light and the sun of justice. O come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

O King whom all the peoples desire, you are the cornerstone which makes all one. O come and save man whom you made from clay.

O Emmanuel, you are our king and judge, the One whom the peoples await and their Savior. O come and save us, Lord, our God.

Saturday, December 23, 2006


Last night, ABC re-aired the Barbara Walters special "Heaven: Where Is It? How Do We Get There?". The special included interviews with several religious leaders, among them Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the Dalai Lama and Pastor Joel Osteen. According to ABC:

Osteen's televised sermons attract about 7 million viewers on Sunday mornings, and 36,000 evangelicals pack his Lakewood church in Houston every week, the largest weekly religious gathering in the country.

There is much to appreciate in Pastor Osteen's message -- which is positive and hope-filled. We need more of this in our world. But, I do have a critique.

Early in the interview with Walters, Osteen states he believes in the Bible literally. Later in the show, he speaks favorably of prosperity and is seen praying for people to get promotions, raises and bonuses.

From my reading of the Gospels, seeking material wealth is what Christ says we are not to do -- if we are taking a literal interpretation of Christ's words. I am specifically thinking of the following passages from the Gospel of Luke:

Luke 6:24-26; 12:13-21; 16:13-15, 19-31; 18:9-14, 15-25; 1:50-53.

This is from Luke (18:18-25):

An official asked him this question, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

Jesus answered him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother.'"

And he replied, "All of these I have observed from my youth."

When Jesus heard this he said to him, "There is still one thing left for you: sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have a treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

But when he heard this he became quite sad, for he was very rich.

Jesus looked at him (now sad) and said, "How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!

For it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God."

Road Trip to Cleveland?

As unlikely as it seems to be saying this, I think it may be time for a road trip to Cleveland.

Purpose? To visit the "A Christmas Story" House. The wood-frame house in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood has been restored to how it looked in the movie. It's now open to the public for tours. They even have the "major prize" illuminated in the window.

CNN and NPR and the P-G have already been there. Marylynne Pitz of the P-G called the house "a kind of glowing, Midwestern Taj Mahal."

(Photo from which credits Scott Shaw of The Plain Dealer via the AP.)

Friday, December 22, 2006


Last night, I bought one last Christmas present while shopping at J.C. Penney at the old Washington Mall. I'm pleased to report that there were some Christmas shoppers at Penney's and there were a decent number of cars in the parking lot (in front of the remaining stores).

It was good to see activity at the Washington Mall, which these days is usually a ghost town. The mall's wikipedia entry refers to it as "ailing" and notes that Penney's will move in 2007 to a new site less than a mile away.

The photo above of an empty corridor in the Washington Mall is from an article at, "the retail history blog." The article provides background on the mall's demise.

I was once a more frequent shopper at the Washington Mall. As a kid, it's where we went back-to-school shopping. I shopped there when I was first out of college and working in WashPA. But, like others, as so many of the food outlets and stores left the Washington Mall, I found myself headed more often to the other newer retail centers in the vicinity -- as well to Robinson Town Center and The Pointe at North Fayette.

In fact, I only went there last night because I was in the area and wanted to use a Penney's gift card. (I admit it. I was re-gifting. Don't hate me.)

In Washington County, we have many elected officials and bureaucrats (at the county, state and local levels) who talk a good game about economic development projects and all that they have done for job creation... blah...blah...blah...

Here's hoping one of these Masters of the Universe steps forward and pushes/assists the owners of the Mall toward the reinvigoration of this once-vibrant retail hub. It has an excellent location adjacent to I-70 and Route 19. Instead of applauding the development of more green space for new retail activity, why not actively encourage the revitalization of this existing mall?

Speaking of economic development and government officials ... on to the topic du jour in Southwestern Pennsylvania:

Sick of the cheesy carols that dominate so many radio stations this time of year, I was listening to talk radio in the car after leaving the mall.

The show was about the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board's decision to award the City of Pittsburgh's only stand-alone slots casino license to a location on the North Shore -- and the bleak outlook for the Penguins franchise in Pittsburgh due to the losing bid for the slots parlor attached to a new arena Uptown.

One caller, who identified himself as a union carpenter, said something provocative.

This caller suggested that perhaps there is a behind-the-scenes (and he implied sinister) connection between the award of the license for the "Majestic Star" casino and the construction of the North Shore connector (a the light rail line soon to be built between Downtown Pittsburgh and the North Shore underneath the Allegheny River).


Thursday, December 21, 2006

No Synergy

The AP's Alan Robinson has an article in today's papers about the displeasure of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pirates organizations with the decision of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to locate a slots casino on the North Shore west of the Carnegie Science Center.

The Penguins wanted it and didn't get it. The Steelers and Pirates don't want it -- and they got it. So much for synergy and coordinated efforts among Pittsburgh's major league sports franchises.

If the Rooney family and the McClatchy/Nutting group didn't want a casino on the North Shore why didn't they put their significant political and economic clout into stopping it?

(Hat-tip: Chris Lilik of GrassrootsPA.)

Sleeping in Airports

Website of the Day: Sleeping in Airports

Be sure to check out what stranded sleepers have said about PIT.

Hat-tip: NPR's Marketplace. They featured this site in a segment on Wednesday evening.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Patricia Lowry on the slots parlor

For many years, I have enjoyed the writing and perspectives of Patricia Lowry, the P-G's architecture critic. Yesterday, her column was about the three proposals for the slots casino slated for the City of Pittsburgh.

She gives a nod to the "Majestic Star" casino proposed for the North Shore. But didn't Dan Rooney say he doesn't want it there? The Steelers owner probably knows the Northside better than anyone.

Ms. Lowry references an op-ed piece in last week's P-G by Pittsburgh-based architects and urban designers Dan Rothschild and Ken Doyno in which they endorse the North Shore plan.

A majority of PUMP members favored the Isle of Capri plan for the Hill District that would include building a new arena for the Penguins.

If the Isle of Capri plan were to be successful, I wonder its impact on Epiphany Catholic Church (pictured below). Being across the street from the site, a casino there could pose a challenging but unique opportunity for ministry.

According to an article in today's P-G, the successful applicant will be announced this a.m.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Last night, we went to see the new Will Smith movie, "The Pursuit of Happyness." (They talk about the incorrect spelling in the movie.)

It was pretty good. Look for Smith to get an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Chris Gardner.

Take some tissues.

The film references the phrase "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" from the Declaration of Independence.

Update: Yesterday on NPR's Fresh Air, David Edelstein called "The Pursuit of Happyness" an "economic cliffhanger." He used the same term in his New York Magazine review. It's a very apt description.

People of Spirit

Sometimes obituaries are the most compelling part of the newspaper:

In today's O-R: Stella Olesky, 84, who played Championship Girls B'Ball at Wash High in the late '30s and then served in the Air Force during WWII and Korea.

In yesterday's P-G: Rev. Benjamin Walker, 76, a Benedictine priest who loved God and the Steelers.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Letters on WashPA's debts

Dueling Letters to the Editor appear in today's O-R about the City of Washington's financial problems. The first was penned by Councilman Matt Staniszewski and the other by former Councilman Lou Waller, Jr.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A Tom Collins for Toronto

The newly-announced archbishop-designate of Toronto has an appreciation for John Henry Newman and "The Lord of the Rings."

Sounds like a good guy to me.

Hat-tip: Whispers in the Loggia, a blog about Catholic Church-related matters by Rocco Palma, age 23, of Philadelphia. Rocco also writes for

Rejoice!: The Third Sunday of Advent

Today is the Third Sunday of Advent, or what Catholics call "Gaudete Sunday," when the pink or rose-colored candle is lit on the Advent wreath. ("Gaudete" translates from the Latin as "rejoice" -- reminding us to be joyful as we contemplate the coming of the Messiah.)

The second reading at Mass today was from the Letter to the Philippians (4:4-7):

Brothers and sisters:
Rejoice in the Lord always.
I shall say it again: rejoice!
Your kindness should be known to all.
The Lord is near.
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Friday, December 15, 2006

No Trans Fats in Philly?

Big Brother Government Alert:

The Associated Press is reporting that Philadelphia Councilman Juan F. Ramos has introduced legislation to ban food products with trans fats from the city's restaurants.

Exposing the health detriments of trans fats is a good goal. But, how can banning the use of legal food products (just for not being healthy) possibly be considered the proper role of a city government?

Shouldn't there be a "non-trans-fats section" first?

(Hat-tip: Chris Lilik at Grassrootspa)

A Witness of His Own

Can/should judges be able to call their own witnesses?

Bill Toland penned a piece for today's P-G about one Allegheny County judge who yesterday did just that.

Paraphrasing an attorney, Bill said the move was: "...if not unprecedented, at least pretty darned unusual."

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Here's one for the "never would have known this" file:

Associated Press brief in the P-G on the intersection of faith customs and fire protection in Lancaster County.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Post-Gazette classical music critic Andrew Druckenbrod notes today:

Tenor leaves La Scala stage amid boos

Upset by a herald of boos, tenor Roberto Alagna walked out of a performance of "Aida" at Milan's La Scala opera house Sunday.

Alagna shocked the audience by walking offstage after he was booed during his singing of "Celeste Aida," the Associated Press reported. It was not clear why he was being heckled, but Italian audiences often have factions that support their favorite singers.

The exit put the opera house in a bind, and Alagna's understudy ran onto the stage still wearing his blue jeans.

Photo above by Marco Brescia taken from PlaybillArts.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Our Lady for the Americas

For Catholics in the Western Hemisphere, today (December 12) is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

To read about our belief in this appearance in 1531 of Mary to St. Juan Diego on a hill outside present-day Mexico City, visit this site or, for a more scholarly look, check out this entry at wikipedia.

The Gospel reading this morning at the Feast Day Mass was from the Gospel of Luke (1:39-47). It tells of Mary's visit to her kinswoman Elizabeth after learning that she was to be the mother of Jesus:

Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said:

“Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.”

Monday, December 11, 2006

"Excluded From The Process"

Another punch landed today in the very public fight taking place over the City of Washington's fiscal woes.

Former WashPA mayor / current city treasurer L. Anthony "Sonny" Spossey penned a letter in today's Observer-Reporter going after Councilman Matt Staniszewski for incorrectly stating the amount of the city's 2006 collected tax revenues. He also defended the tax office staff and claimed that he and other members of the city government were wrongly excluded from development of the WashPA's 2007 budget.

Problems with the Machines?

There recently have been several items in the local media about the 2006 General Election performance of the new touch-screen voting machines:

Dave Brown had an article in last Tuesday's Tribune-Review coming out of an Allegheny County Elections Board meeting with citizen complaints about vote "flipping."

Bill Toland at the Post-Gazette also has been reporting on these complaints. Here is an article he co-wrote with Jerome L. Sherman in last Tuesday's P-G about the same Elections Board meeting and a public hearing of a National Institute of Standards and Technology advisory committee.

Barbara Miller has a story in today's O-R about the equipment at the Washington County Elections Office used to tabulate precinct results and what caused the long delay to get the county's results on November 7. (It also includes AP background on the NIST committee hearing.)

(Photos above from

Waiting for a Shepherd

Ann Rodgers has an article in today's P-G about speculation on who will be the next Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh.

I wonder if the wait means the Vatican wants to make the announcement as a Christmas present?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Prepare the Way

For many Christian traditions, today is the Second Sunday of Advent. The Gospel at Mass was from the Gospel of Luke (3: 1 - 6). It quotes an Old Testament passage:

“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
Every valley shall be filled
and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Reading the Report

One of the hot topics this week was the Iraq Study Group Report. Go here to download it and read it in full.

Something I didn't know until just now: The U.S. government funds an Institute of Peace, which facilitated the Iraq Study Group.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Do Not Be Afraid

For Catholics, today (December 8), is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. We mark the day to celebrate our belief that the Virgin Mary was sinless to prepare her for her role as the mother of Jesus.

Tonight, at Mass, the Gospel reading was from the Gospel of Luke (1: 26-38):

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.

And coming to her, he said,“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.

Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”

But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.”

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Related Aside: One of my favorite places is the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on the grounds of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. They recently completed the installation of a mosaic on the interior of a dome in basilica's Upper Church. It's called the Redemption Dome.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Date that Lives in Infamy

Today is the 65th Anniversary of the December 7, 1941, bombing of Pearl Harbor. The attack brought the United States into World War II.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Over at Life in Progress, Heidi Price has a post about her stop at one the slot machine parlors that now dominate the small towns of the West Virginia Panhandle.

I can't find the article online but Heidi's post put me in mind of the item that appeared some time ago in one of the papers about how many of the ice cream shops in and near Chester, West Virginia (home of Mountaineer Park), had closed to become slots parlors.

Could this be a sign of things to come in the Pennsylvania of Governor Rendell (free drinks) and a Speaker DeWeese (table games)?

Being the Christmas season, I guess all of this also put me in mind of the George Bailey-less Pottersville in "It's A Wonderful Life." Will slot machines change our own versions of Bedford Falls?

Photo of George Bailey in Pottersville from

Finger-Pointing in WashPA

Finger-pointing. Passing blame. That's how officials of the City of Washington are addressing WashPA's financial meltown.

See Christie Campbell's article in today's O-R for the play-by-play.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Teen Struggles

Heidi Price has penned a two-part series on childhood depression and bipolar disorder for the Observer-Reporter.

"Another Bad Day" appeared on Sunday. It included the story of one local teenager, a chart with suggestions on how to identify the signs of childhood depression and a list of questions to ask about depression medications.

"When Will I Get Better?" appears in today's paper with a chart that includes suggestions on how to identify bipolar disorder.

Also in today's paper was Amanda Gilooly's accompanying article "Sorting out symptoms: Is it normal teen angst or something more?".

The source of the charts is the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. There are also these other resources.


Jerry Lewis in France.

David Hasselhoff in Germany.

Lionel Richie in Iraq and Libya.

Go figure.

(Hat-tip: NPR's Day-to-Day. I would link to Andrew Corsello's original GQ article but it's only in print. Photo by the AP's Richard Drew.)

Not Our Bag, Baby!

The Christian Coalition doesn't care about poverty?

From Elizabeth Fisher's article in the Bucks County Courier Times (hat-tip: Chris Lilik of GrassrootsPA):

The Rev. Joel Hunter was president-elect of the Christian Coalition of America, but he won't be taking up the reins. Not after raising issues that have divided the 2 million-member organization and led the Bucks County Chapter to sever ties altogether.

Hunter had hoped to expand the coalition's agenda of opposing abortion and gay marriage to include poverty and the environment, calling the last two “issues that Jesus would have cared about.” But his plans were shot down at a Nov. 21 board meeting in Orlando, spurring his resignation of the position he had not yet assumed. ...

Hunter's resignation was a blow to the national organization, whose power seems to be deflating because of friction about its finances and plans by some members to push for nontraditional policies.

“[The board] pretty much said, "[poverty and the environmental issues] are fine, but they're not our issues; that's not our base,' '' Hunter said.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

First Sunday of Advent

Many Christian traditions recognize today as the First Sunday of Advent. Advent is the season of preparation for our celebration of Jesus Christ coming into the world.

The first reading at Mass today speaks of the coming Messiah:

From the Book of Prophet Jeremiah (33: 14-16):

The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah. In those days, in that time, I will raise up for David a just shoot; he shall do what is right and just in the land. In those days Judah shall be safe and Jerusalem shall dwell secure; this is what they shall call her: “The LORD our justice.”

(Photo from

Saturday, December 02, 2006

WashPA's woes

Christie Campbell has an alarming article in today's Observer-Reporter about the City of Washington's cash flow problems. It has become increasingly obvious that WashPA's tax base is no longer able to sustain the city's government operations and services.

The city's officials should approach the leadership of the neighboring municipalities and begin taking serious steps leading to municipal consolidations or at least some consolidated services. WashPA is bordered by East Washington Borough, South Strabane Township, North Franklin Township and Canton Township -- one or more of which could join with the city to realize economy-of-scale savings.

It's also time for Washington County Commissioners Bracken Burns, Larry Maggi and Diana Irey as well as State Senator Barry Stout and State Representative Tim Solobay to spend some of their political capital to push the city officials and the leaders of the neighboring municipalities to come together in support of such municipal consolidations and/or shared services agreements.

These county and state-level officials need to push these hard decisions to be made. They need to push the municipal officials to make some unpopular decisions and possibly lose their fiefdoms for the greater long-term good.

There have been enough meetings. There have been enough studies. It is time for action.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Defined Benefits

Tracie Mauriello of the Post-Gazette's Harrisburg Bureau has an article in today's paper with a good accompanying chart that shows the expected pension benefits for the local legislators who won't be returning to Harrisburg in January due to retirements and election defeats.

While it's good to know that the legislators are contributing to their pensions, it would be better if they were moved out of a defined-benefit pension system into individualized 401k plans -- so that they have a real-life appreciation for the dynamics of modern retirement planning facing most Pennsylvanians.

Fifty-three legislators from throughout PA won't be returning next year -- an incredibly high number for the modern General Assembly. It's not quite a clean sweep, but probably a step in the right direction.

For some new analysis of this from outside the state, check out these posts at and wonkette.

Home with the flu?

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Mario F. Cattabiani and Angela Couloumbis have an interesting article at that outlines possible ways John Perzel could remain PA House Speaker even if the Democrats become the chamber's majority party by a count of 102 to 101. How?:

He could try to lure a Democrat to turn Republican. And he implied last week that efforts were under way to do just that.

Or he could attempt to go where few lawmakers have gone: run for speaker in January, and try to get a few Democrats - possibly from the Philadelphia delegation -to vote for him. Or even to convince them to stay home with the flu on the day of the election, ensuring that Republicans outnumber Democrats that day.

Whatever path he takes, those who have worked with him or observed him over the years say it is unlikely he will let go of his leadership position, and all the power and perks that go with it, without a battle.

"Perzel will fight to the last dead dog to hold on because that's the nature of power," said political analyst G. Terry Madonna of Franklin and Marshall College.


A Pittsburgher for President?

In March 2005, during my brief stint as a local Congressional staffer, I attended a breakfast gathering of the Pittsburgh chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The chapter's speaker that morning was Governor Tom Vilsack of Iowa, a native of Pittsburgh who grew up in Squirrel Hill. In his remarks, Governor Vilsack came off as friendly and very knowledgeable about sustainable economic development and smart growth.

Today, Governor Vilsack announced he will be a candidate in 2008 for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.

Not that I expect many Democrats to take this Republican's advice on who should be their nominee for President -- but I think they would do well to give consideration to this native son of Western Pennsylvania.

Friday, November 24, 2006


Last night, we went to see the new movie "Bobby," a fictional portrait of the kinds of people who may have been present in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on June 4, 1968, where Senator Robert F. Kennedy was shot shortly after midnight after giving his '68 California Primary victory speech in the hotel's ballroom.

The most compelling part of the movie is its ending -- RFK's own voice from his "On the Mindless Menace of Violence" address delivered the day after Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

Below is what I believe is the complete text of the speech. There are some paragraphs and phrases here that are not in the audio clip in the movie -- I'm not certain if RFK omitted them himself in the delivery or if they were taken out by the movie's editors.

On the Mindless Menace of Violence

An Address by Senator Robert F. Kennedy
City Club of Cleveland, Cleveland, Ohio
April 5, 1968

This is a time of shame and sorrow. It is not a day for politics. I have saved this one opportunity, my only event of today, to speak briefly to you about the mindless menace of violence in America which again stains our land and every one of our lives.

It is not the concern of any one race. The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown. They are, most important of all, human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one - no matter where he lives or what he does - can be certain who will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on and on in this country of ours.

Why? What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr's cause has ever been stilled by an assassin's bullet.

No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled, uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of reason.

Whenever any American's life is taken by another American unnecessarily - whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of the law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence - whenever we tear at the fabric of the life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded.

"Among free men," said Abraham Lincoln, "there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet; and those who take such appeal are sure to lose their cause and pay the costs."

Yet we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike. We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter in far-off lands. We glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment. We make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire whatever weapons and ammunition they desire.

Too often we honor swagger and bluster and wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others. Some Americans who preach non-violence abroad fail to practice it here at home. Some who accuse others of inciting riots have by their own conduct invited them.

Some look for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear: violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.

For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is the slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.

This is the breaking of a man's spirit by denying him the chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men. And this too afflicts us all.

I have not come here to propose a set of specific remedies nor is there a single set. For a broad and adequate outline we know what must be done. When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies, to be met not with cooperation but with conquest; to be subjugated and mastered.

We learn, at the last, to look at our brothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community; men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort. We learn to share only a common fear, only a common desire to retreat from each other, only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force. For all this, there are no final answers.

Yet we know what we must do. It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens. The question is not what programs we should seek to enact. The question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of humane purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence.

We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of others. We must admit in ourselves that our own children's future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.

Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land. Of course we cannot vanquish it with a program, nor with a resolution.

But we can perhaps remember, if only for a time, that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek, as do we, nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and in happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.

Surely, this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely, we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men, and surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our own hearts brothers and countrymen once again.

Banning "robo-calls"?

Should political "robo-calls" be banned to households on the "Do Not Call" list?

Tom Barnes of the P-G's Harrisburg Bureau has an article in today's paper about one state representative who thinks so.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

In Memoriam: Gilbert Tucker: 1919 - 2006

Northwestern Washington County lost another local leader Tuesday with the passing of Gilbert Tucker. Mr. Tucker gave decades of service to the McDonald posts of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).

He will be remembered for wearing his own white WWII-era U.S. Navy uniform each year during McDonald's Memorial Day ceremonies.

Mr. Tucker's obituary appears in today's O-R.

The Rock: "A New Place To Go"

Several times during the 2006 campaign, I was extremely impressed when visiting "The Rock," the new youth center fashioned out of the former Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church in Oakdale. Freelance writer Andrea Iglar this week penned an article for the Post-Gazette about the center. At the end of the piece, she interviews my cousin, Jeff:

Last Wednesday evening, Jeff Snatchko arrived to pick up his daughter and son, who'd come to the center to get help with math homework and to play games.

"When I was growing up in Oakdale, there was really nothing like this for us to do," Mr. Snatchko said. "It's a great thing for the town that the kids can look forward to coming and doing things and maybe get some guidance. It does get them out of the house and away from the TV."

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's overwhelming to think of the number of people to whom I owe gratitude this Thanksgiving. In the past 12 months (and for the past several years), so many friends, family members, neighbors and supporters accompanied me on the journey of my campaigns for the State House.

THANK YOU to all of you for all of your contributions – by circulating nominating petitions, hosting events in your homes, taking me door-to-door in your neighborhoods, writing friend-to-friend postcards, making phone calls, putting up yard signs, helping on Election Days, attending fundraisers and making contributions. So many were so very generous over and over again – and there is no way I can fully express my thanks. Please accept my apologies for any instance in which I neglected to thank you personally for a contribution of any kind.

May God bless all of you during the holidays!

And, a little Small Town Americana this Thanksgiving 2006: below is a campaign photo we never posted to the blog:

Pictured (clockwise after yours truly) are Betty Brodmerkel of Frankfurt Springs Borough; our assistant campaign manager, Andy Walz; my goddaugher, Georgianna Horvath; Rocco Giglio of Mt. Pleasant Township; my cousin, Casey Horvath (holding her son, Brandon Richard); and Ernie McCullough of South Franklin Township. This photograph was taken by Harry Giglio, a Pittsburgh-based photographer who lives in the Village of Primrose in Mt. Pleasant Township.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Today's O-R

An editorial in today's Observer-Reporter notes the vote totals in our race.

Monday, November 20, 2006

A Second Tour in Afghanistan

Another area native currently serving overseas in the military is Captain Jonathon Malone, a Hanover Township native and 1993 graduate of Burgettstown High School. Captain Malone, whose unit orignates from Fort Drum in New York, is currently on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan. He's expected home in February, 2007.

Captain Malone's sister, Jennifer Bertha, is the elected Republican Committeewoman of Burgettstown Borough and one of the founders of the Burgettstown Area Republican Committee (BARC). Jen was a strong supporter of my campaigns in both 2004 and 2006.

Please e-mail Jen at for Captain Malone's address if you would like to send him a package or letter of encouragement.

THANK YOU, Captain Malone, for your service! May God Bless you and all those serving with you. You are in our prayers.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Kami leaves for Kuwait

On Saturday, Staff Sergeant Kami Demnyan leaves for a tour of duty with the U.S. armed forces in the Middle East -- beginning with convoy duty in Kuwait. Kami, who grew up in Midway Borough, is a fellow member of the Fort Cherry High School Class of 1994.

Kami has spent her career in the military -- and all of us from the FC Class of '94 are incredibly proud of her!

Kami, may God bless you and all of your fellow soldiers during your service in the Middle East. You are in our prayers.

Letters and packages can be sent to Kami at:

SSgt Demnyan, Kami
70th MTD (USAF)
APO, AE 09366

(A note from Kami's recent e-mail update: "Remember it takes about a month to get our mail -- so start sending now!")

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Pictures from the Campaign Trail

Thanks to Sarah Zablotsky for sending us these photos that were taken on our final Thursday of the campaign:

I'm here with Herkey and Gos following lunch at the Midway Senior Center.

Sarah with Tom and Andy.

Yours truly with Sarah at our Campaign HQ in McDonald.

Monday, November 13, 2006

In Memoriam: Don Zalaznik: 1923 - 2006

I met a lot of characters over the course of my campaigns for the PA House of Representatives. On Sunday, we lost one of them: Don Zalaznik of Smith Township.

It would not be accurate to say Don was a supporter of my campaigns -- he was a loyal Democrat and a supporter of both Vic Lescovitz and Paul Walsh. But, Don was a friend -- I can't begin to count the number of times he growled at me (in a friendly way) for being a Republican. I think I confounded him -- in Don's world, a guy with family roots in Primrose and McDonald with a vowel at the end of his name had no business being a Republican.

Don's obituary from today's O-R is below. It's a fine obit but fails to mention his role as a community activist for the towns and villages of northwestern Washington County. Annually, he would bring together municipal and county officials and other leaders for an informal breakfast at Village Green Golf Club -- for the attendees to get to know each other better and perhaps work together on future projects. Don also was a generous donor to all kinds of community organizations -- from the McDonald Volunteer Fire Department to the Burgettstown Knights of Columbus.

Don will be missed by many -- including this "damn Republican." In Memoriam:

Donald A. Zalaznik

Donald A. Zalaznik, 83, of Bulger, died Sunday, November 12, 2006, in Wyngate Personal Homecare, Parkersburg, W.Va.

He was born June 9, 1923, in Thomas, a son of Frank and Johanna Zalaznik.

Mr. Zalaznik graduated from Union High School. He was a general contractor and co-owner of Fallen Timber Golf Course and Midway Block Co.

He was a member of Burgettstown Senior Citizens Center, Cantankerous Model T Club, Covered Bridge Antique Club and Midway SNPJ.

His wife, Donna L. Nagode Zalaznik, died January 12, 1990.

Surviving are two daughters, Diane (Dan) Brucker and Debbie Zalaznik, and two sons, Donald (Paula) Zalaznik and Dennis (Cindy) Zalaznik, all of Bulger; nine grandchildren, Bryan, Kevin, Niki, Donnie, Robby and Chris Zalaznik and Jaclyn, Jessica and Chris Brucker; and three sisters, Wilda Janeshek of Alabama, Lillian Sray of Cuddy and Della Janeshek of Midway.

Deceased, in addition to his wife, are four sisters, Jean Dornan, Frances Bucheli, Katherine Martin and Emma Roach; and two brothers, Frank and Ray Zalaznik.

Friends will be received from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday and noon to 4 and 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday in Thomas-Little Funeral Service Inc., 106 St. John Street, Midway (724-796-3301). Additional visitation will be held from 10 to 11 a.m., the hour of services, Thursday, November 16, in Center United Presbyterian Church, 110 Washington Avenue, Midway. Everyone please meet at the church. Interment will follow in Center Cemetery, Midway.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Society or a charity of one's choice.

Friday, November 10, 2006


In the storm before and after Election Day, it's easy for us to overlook that tomorrow, November 11, is Veterans Day. This Associated Press photo speaks to the sacrifices our veterans have made in the past and present:

The AP's caption: "Pearl Harbor survivor Houston James of Dallas embraced Marine Staff Sgt. Mark Graunke Jr during a Veterans Day commemoration in Dallas. Graunke lost a hand, a leg and an eye when he defused a bomb in Iraq last year."

I pray that God blesses all of our veterans and all of the men and women serving today in our Armed Forces. I pray that these men and women may becomes peacemakers in their own ways and return home soon and safely. I pray we may soon have peace in Iraq, Afghanistan and everywhere in the world where there is violence and unrest.

May God also bless all of the families and friends of those in the military, with special prayers for the families of those who have died in service to their country.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Family Photo

In the interest of complete blog coverage:

It's not a moment I will remember will undiluted pleasure but below is a picture from today's O-R that Gregg Tarr captured last night at our Election Night party at Fort Cherry Golf Club:

Greg's caption: Republican state House candidate Paul Snatchko looks over polling results in the 46th District race Tuesday night at Fort Cherry Golf Club along with his mother, Diane Hertzler, brother Joe Snatchko, second from left, and friend and supporter John Welch, right. (GREG TARR/O-R)

Not mentioned in the caption is my cousin, Luke Snatchko, who is also in the background. THANK YOU to all of my family members and friends who stayed late last night to wait for the results.


According to the Pennsylvania Department of State's election returns Website, the unofficial returns show that we received 46.2 percent of the vote in yesterday's election to choose the new state representative from the 46th District.

THANK YOU to all of the voters who supported my candidacy and to all of my supporters -- family members, friends, neighbors, campaign volunteers and donors. This was an effort of hundreds of people and I'm thankful for the contributions that all of you made.

THANKS AGAIN in a special way to everyone who worked yesterday for me outside the polls, as well as to our poll watchers, drivers and those who made phone calls. I am extremely grateful for all of your efforts. Your work had an impact!

It's hard to put the results into perspective the morning-after. But, what I do know is this: Representative democracy is the best system of government available to us. For democracy to work, we need candidates to run for office. And, as it's a zero-sum game, at least 50 percent of those candiates have to be unsuccessful. Without that, we would not have democracy.

I hope that my State House campaigns have inspired others to become active in local politics and perhaps consider being candidates themselves someday.

Some food for thought from Theodore Roosevelt:

"Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorius triumphs, even though checkered by failure ... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat."

Monday, November 06, 2006

Public Service

Earlier tonight, I took part in the regular monthly meeting of McDonald Borough Council, of which I have had the honor to serve as a member for more than four years. Serving on council has been a tremendous experience for me -- and I am grateful to the voters of my hometown who have given me this opportunity to serve.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 7, I am asking the voters of Pennsylvania's 46th Legislative District to elect me to be their next representative in the General Assembly -- and give me the opportunity for public service in a larger capacity. It's a historic moment -- the first time in more than 26 years that the district's voters are guaranteed to elect a new state representative.

If elected, I would work hard to be a servant leader and put the interests of the people ahead of my own and those of the political bosses. As one voter told me earlier this year: "Don't be a politician. Just be a human being."

With just hours before the polls open, I'm overwhelmed by the hundreds and hundreds of people from all three counties of the 46th District to whom I owe thanks for walking with me on this journey. Family members, high school friends, college friends, past co-workers, neighbors, donors, advisors -- some I have known since childhood, others only for a few months. So many people have been vital parts of my campaigns.

In a particular way, I want to say THANK YOU to all those who will be outside the polls speaking on my behalf tomorrow. Thank you for sacrificing all or part of your day for this important part of the campaign!

THANKS also to all those family members and friends who have been in and out of our campaign headquarters in these last few weeks making phone calls and writing friend-to-friend postcards. Your active involvement means a great deal to me -- and your companionship has helped to keep me sane. (Special thanks to my campaign chairwoman, Meryl Hatton; to my cousin, Luke Snatchko; and to John Welch -- all of whom took on leadership roles.)

A HUGE debt of THANKS is owed to my assistant campaign manager, Andy Walz. Andy sacrificed his first months out of college for this campaign and his dedication and spirit gave new energy to our efforts. We would have been much less without him. THANK YOU, ANDY!

Finally, I need to say that my 2006 candidacy would not have been possible were it not for the work of my campaign manager, Tom Baker. Tom sacrificed a year of his life for this campaign. Every day for the past year, he worked diligently to spread the word about me and the race -- most of those days making an hour-long drive from the East End of Pittsburgh to Washington County to do it. Tom's friendly tenacity was often what kept me going. Regardless of whether I am the top vote-getter tomorrow, Tom Baker's efforts have strengthened the body politic of the 46th Legislative District.

THANK YOU, Tom, for all of your work!

Polls are open tomorrow from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Please remember to VOTE and take a friend with you!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

From Beaver County

Yesterday's Beaver County Times included an article on the 46th District race.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Our Commercial

Today, our campaign commercial began airing on the local Comcast cable system. You can also view it here.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Endorsement Photos

THANK YOU to Betty Brodmerkel for these pictures she took October 20 at our press conference in Burgettstown where I was endorsed by Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett:

THANKS AGAIN to Attorney General Corbett for expressing his confidence and trust in me as a candidate and public official. I am proud to have his support!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Two More Events

As we near the finish-line, we would like to invite you to two more campaign events:

Tomorrow, Monday, October 30, we will have one last informal "Meet the Candidate" gathering -- this time at Jackson's Restaurant at the Hilton Garden Inn at Southpointe in Cecil Township (1000 Corporate Drive, Canonsburg). We'll be gathered there in the seating area next to the bar from approximately 5:15 to 6:30 p.m. Our special guest will be former Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor Bill Scranton. We're honored to have Bill join us -- and grateful for his support of our campaign!

There is no set cost to attend the event -- but, of course, any contributions will help us to spread the word about our positive agenda for the 46th District. Appetizers to be served. To RSVP or for more details, please call Tom Baker at (412) 608-8842.

Also, mark your calendars:

Sunday, November 5, we will have an OPEN HOUSE & RALLY at our campaign headquarters at 106 West Lincoln Avenue in McDonald. The open house will run from Noon to 4 p.m. for poll workers and others to pick up their materials for Election Day. I will give some remarks at approximately 2:30 p.m. Food and drinks to be served! Come hungry!

Please join us in this final push to Election Day, November 7!

Getting Inside the Polls

Barbara Miller has an article in today's O-R about some Washington County polling places that are not sufficiently accessible for people with disabilities. The article is based on a study of the county's polling places done by Tri-County Patriots for Independent Living (TRIPIL).

Some of the polling places in the 46th District that were identified as being problematic are:

Chartiers Township 6th Precinct: Chartiers-Houston Library, 730 W. Grant St.

Smith Township 4th Precinct: Cherry Valley Sportsmen's Association, 423 Joffre-Cherry Valley Road

Hanover Township (Washington Co.) 2nd Precinct: Hanover Township Volunteer Fire Department, 9 Starck Drive

Hopewell Township: Hopewell Township Building, 20 Park View Road

Canton Township 2nd Precinct: Holy Trinity National Catholic Church Social Hall, 605 Hewitt Ave.

Cecil Township 1st Precinct: Iceoplex at Southpointe, 114 Southpointe Boulevard

Canton Township 1st Precinct: Polish Club, 64 Griffith Ave.

If anyone in these or any precincts needs assistance on Election Day going to vote, they should call our campaign at (412) 608-8842 or (724) 350-1540 and we will put you in touch with a volunteer who will help.

Also, the article sites as one example the "cumbersome" doors at the Chartiers-Houston Library that are difficult for people with disabilities to open. The librarian noted these doors are also energy inefficient and they are looking into grant funding to replace them.

If I am elected on November 7, I would seek to be a partner in securing grant monies for such initiatives that make life more livable for people with disabilities -- not to mention ensuring their ability to vote!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

One of the Top 22

Reporter Pete DeCoursey of Capitolwire & the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal today named the 46th District race as one of the 22 closest for the 203 seats up for grabs in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Here's his take on this race:

Rep. Vic Lescovitz, D-Washington, is retiring, and Democrat Jesse White is having trouble uniting his party. Republican Paul Snatchko has run a strong campaign and put this race into the margin of error.

Today's O-R also carries a story on the race by Amanda Gillooly.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Endorsed In Print

I am proud this morning to have received the endorsement of the Observer-Reporter:

Come January, the 46th Legislative District will have a new representative in Harrisburg for the first time in 26 years because of the retirement of Rep. Victor Lescovitz. Fortunately, the voters have two excellent, young candidates to choose between. Of the two, we recommend the election of Republican Paul Snatchko.

Monday, October 23, 2006

In Today's Mail

In today's mail, I received this certificate (scan below):

Earlier this year, I took the National Incident Management System (NIMS) class with other members of McDonald Borough Council and some members of the McDonald Volunteer Fire Department. Municipal officials are required to take the class for their communities to receive funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) when disasters strike.

If I am elected to the State House on November 7, I would grateful to be going to Harrisburg equipped with this training and experience from the ranks of local government.

An Editorial

Today's O-R has an editorial about the recent mailing sent to voters in the 46th District from the Democratic State Committee.

There also was a letter in Sunday's O-R about the mailing.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Press Release: AG Corbett Endorses Snatchko

Snatchko 2006
Paul Snatchko for the
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

302 West Lincoln Ave., #4, McDonald, PA 15057 * (412) 608-8842

October 20, 2006

Contact: Tom Baker
(412) 608-8842

Attorney General Corbett Endorses Snatchko
in 46th District State House Race

BURGETTSTOWN --- Pennsylvania’s top law enforcement official, Attorney General Tom Corbett, today formally endorsed the candidacy of McDonald Borough Councilman Paul Snatchko for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from the 46th Legislative District.

“I am proud to endorse Paul Snatchko’s candidacy for the State House. He has the knowledge, experience and drive to well represent the people of Southwestern Pennsylvania in their legislature,” said Corbett. “Paul is a fine example of the kind of public servant we need in our government today.”

Corbett’s announcement took place in front of the Petrucci’s IGA Market, a grocery store on the main street in Burgettstown, one of the boroughs of the 46th District. The Petrucci’s Market recently reopened in a new building following extensive damage to the former store on the site caused by the flood waters of the remnant of Hurricane Ivan in September, 2004.

Snatchko said he was extremely gratified to receive Corbett’s support. “If elected on November 7, I will seek to work with the Attorney General and others in our state government to ensure that Pennsylvania is a safe place to live and work,” said Snatchko. “I will support legislation that guarantees all of our state’s law enforcement personnel have the tools they need to do their jobs well and efficiently.”

Corbett pointed to Snatchko’s four years of service on McDonald Borough Council for evidence of his existing knowledge of police procedures and law enforcement matters. “Paul has knowledge of the organizational dynamics and costs associated with running a local police department. This municipal background would be an asset for him while serving as a member of the House,” said Corbett.

Snatchko, 30, is a political and media consultant whose clients have included the Washington County Republican Party and judicial candidates in Allegheny and Washington counties. A 1998 graduate of New York University with a degree in journalism, he also has worked as a newspaper reporter and as case investigator for the Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Hero Fund Commission.

Snatchko also has been endorsed by Chamber PAC (political action committee of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry), PA REALTOR PAC (political action committee of the Pennsylvania Association of REALTORS), the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation PAC, LIFE-PAC and Firearms Owners Against Crime. He also was “recommended” for election by PA CleanSweep. He has received an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund.

Snatchko’s 2006 candidacy is his third for the 46th District seat. He ran strong grassroots campaigns against the district’s incumbent in both 2002 and 2004, gaining 45.5 percent and 47.1 percent of the vote respectively, despite facing a nearly 2-to-1 party registration disadvantage.

The 46th Legislative District includes the small towns and rural areas of northwestern and part of central Washington County, as well as parts of southern Allegheny and Beaver counties. In Washington County, the district includes Buffalo Township, Burgettstown Borough, Canton Township, Cecil Township, Chartiers Township, Cross Creek Township, Green Hills Borough, Hanover Township, Hopewell Township, Independence Township, Jefferson Township, McDonald Borough, Midway Borough, Mount Pleasant Township, Robinson Township, Smith Township, South Franklin Township and West Middletown Borough. The Allegheny County portion of the district includes McDonald Borough, Oakdale Borough and the 5th precinct of South Fayette Township. In Beaver County, the district includes Frankfort Springs Borough and Hanover Township.

For more information, or to interview the candidate, please call (412) 608-8842. A photo of Paul Snatchko in .jpg format is available for use by media outlets.

-- 30 --

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Real World Experience

Yesterday, the Democratic State Committee sent a mailing to voters in the 46th District attacking me. The mailing pointed out that I am single; that I am a renter; that I have sought this office twice before; and, referring to my career, stated that I "lack any real world experience" and "haven't done much of anything."

I hesitate to justify the mailing with a response. It distracts us from addressing the important issues of this campaign -- property tax reform, government reform, health care, job creation and several others.

But, as the mailing may have prompted some voters to seek out more information on the Internet -- and those folks may have found their way to this blog -- here are some of my thoughts:

First, I am proud of my professional career. In May 1998, I received a B.A. in journalism from New York University. After that, I moved home to Southwestern Pennsylvania to pursue my career:

-- From June 1998 to February 2000, I was a staff writer for the Observer-Reporter, the daily newspaper that serves Washington and Greene counties and parts of the South Hills of Pittsburgh. As is the case at most county-seat dailies in the United States, the staff writers at the O-R are both beat reporters and generalists -- so you provide news coverage of many different things. As a reporter, the communities in my beat included Peters Township, Canonsburg Borough, Cecil Township, North Strabane Township and North Franklin Township. I covered municipal meetings, school board meetings, community events, crime stories and human-interest stories. I also regularly contributed feature stories to the paper's Sunday "Region" section. If you look back through my clips, you will find several stories on the happenings of local veterans groups.

Some might find it notable that I was nominated by the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania for the "Best Spot News" article written in 1999 in a medium-sized daily newspaper in our region.

During my time at the O-R, I also was extremely proud to represent the newspaper for two weeks during a journalist exchange program in the Siberian Steel City of Novokuznetsk, Russia (located about 200 miles from the Chinese and Mongolian borders). While there, I interviewed a serial murderer at the city prision and spent a weekend in a forgotten fishing village on the Tom River. That village could only be reached by boat and had few modern conveniences. Seems to me that's "real world" experience.

-- In February 2000, I left the O-R and went to work for the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission. I worked there as a "case investigator" (a researcher and technical writer) until June 2003. That's more than three years. The Hero Fund, founded in 1904 by Andrew Carnegie, is the Pittsburgh-based foundation that awards the Carnegie Medal to civilians all over the United States and Canada who risk their lives while saving the lives of others -- often from burning buildings, burning vehicles, drownings and during assaults. In all, I conducted investigations and wrote in-depth reports on approximately 100 such acts of heroism.

-- In 2000 and 2001, I worked a second job as a freelance writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. I was their correspondent for Peters Township, Cecil Township and Canonsburg Borough -- writing news briefs for the daily Local section and full articles for the P-G's Sunday Washington section and SOUTH edition.

-- In June 2003, I left the Hero Fund to pursue a full-time career as an independent political and media consultant. In this role, I have been paid to work on political campaigns for judicial candidates in both Washington and Allegheny counties and for the Washington County Republican Party. While many denigrate work in politics, I believe my efforts have helped to strengthen the democratic process in our area. I've registered countless numbers of new voters, spread positive messages about many good candidates and have been a small part of the functioning of the electoral process in our democratic republic.

Second, I am proud of my campaigns for public office.

In 2002, I was the only person in the entire 46th District who had the tenacity to take on our district's longtime incumbent. With a budget of only about $10,000 and after a strong grassroots campaign, I received 45.5 percent of the vote -- a historic number for a Republican in this 2-1 Democratic district. I'm proud of that campaign and I'm proud of the trust so many voters placed in me. I'm thankful for my loyal supporters who helped me in that year.

In 2004, after another hard-fought grassroots campaign, we also came up a bit short -- receiving 47.1 percent of the vote. It wasn't the win we had hoped for -- but it was the closest State House race in Pennsylvania in which an incumbent was reelected (and the third closest statewide). I'm proud of this race, too, even if I was not elected. I'm proud of the efforts of all of the family members and friends who supported me. I'm proud of the important issues we raised. I'm proud our longtime incumbent began to do more voter outreach. And, again, I was thankful to have the support of an overwhelming number of voters from both major political parties.

But, regardless of the historic vote totals in these races, it was still simply important that we had actual competitive races in which issues were debated and voters were energized. We need more candidates to participate in the system -- especially young candidates! We need more incumbents to be challenged. We need more interest in our electoral process. Shame on the Democratic State Committee for attacking anyone for exercising their right to run for office.

Also, I need to note, part of my public service has included more than four years of service on McDonald Borough Council. In this role, I have helped to develop the borough's budgets, helped to direct our community's approach to public safety and promoted the borough as a good place for businesses to operate and families to live. Perhaps my proudest achievement thus far on borough council was spearheading the creation by ordinance of our Park & Recreation Board -- which has been doing an excellent job securing state grant funds for improvements in our town's parks.


Third, I object to the implication by the Democratic State Committee that there is something notable about being a single person or renting one's home. Obviously, the Democratic State Committee doesn't place value on all human beings -- regardless of their marital status and economic status. My hunch is that many single people and renters were offended by their attack -- as well as the loved ones of single people and renters.

Fourth, I want all of the voters of the 46th District to know that despite of this negative attack on me and my candidacy, neither I nor anyone associated with my campaign will respond in a similar fashion. I know these sorts of misleading negative attack mailings do nothing but hurt our democratic process -- they coarsen our public dialogue and keep people away from the polls.

I have heard it loud and clear from the voters all year long -- the people want an end to this politics as usual. It's time for NEW LEADERS to take their place in the halls of Pennsylvania's government -- leaders who will seek good and effective government and seek to bring integrity back into our political process. If I am elected to the State House on November 7, I hope I can help do just that.