Club News

Frank Farry – Republican Candidate for the PA State House District 142 Seat

This morning we were honored to host Fraank Farry, the Republican candidate for the 142nd Pennsylvania State House seat.

Representative Frank Farry was first elected to serve the people of the 142nd Legislative District in 2008.

During the 2019-20 session, he has been appointed to serve on the House Consumer Affairs where he chairs the Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Gaming Oversight, chairs the Committee On Ethics, along with the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, where he continues to chair the Sub-Committee on Security and Emergency Response Readiness. In addition, Frank serves as a House Republican Deputy Whip and chairman of the House Firefighters and Emergency Services Caucus.

Over the course of his legislative career, he has been successful in advancing legislation to designate cancer as an occupational disease for firefighters, offering protection to both career and volunteer firefighters who develop cancer as a result of their service. Farry has advanced legislation establishing the Safe2Say Program which provides methods of anonymous reporting concerning unsafe or potentially harmful criminal activities in schools or to individuals. He has also authored legislation to save taxpayer dollars by allowing counties that operate their own criminal laboratory to receive the money generated by the criminal laboratory user fee imposed on guilty defendants within that county. Additionally, he championed public safety measures to require carbon monoxide alarms in multi-family dwellings and prevent minors from the dangers of indoor tanning.

Farry has been recognized by medical organizations, child advocacy groups, drug and alcohol safety councils, and small business organizations for his advocacy efforts. He was received the James Baird Award from the Firemen’s Legislative Federation of Pennsylvania, which is presented to a legislator who has demonstrated outstanding support on behalf of Pennsylvania emergency services. Additionally, the Jesse W. Soby, American Legion Post No. 148 presented Farry with an award for his dedicated service to the community and state.

In addition to his professional endeavors, Farry is also very active in his community, serving as a volunteer firefighter with the Langhorne-Middletown Fire Company since June 1990 and as chief of the organization since January 2001. He currently serves on the board of trustees for Bucks County Community College, is a past board member of the Middletown Community Foundation and the Lower Bucks Chapter of the American Red Cross, past president of the Bucks County Consortium of Municipalities, and has served on numerous township and county boards and commissions.

Before being elected to serve the people of the 142nd District, Farry served as assistant township manager and director of community services for Middletown Township from October 2000 to June 2008. He also worked as a legal intern in the U.S. Department of Justice.

A lifelong resident of Bucks County, Farry is a graduate of Neshaminy High School. He received a bachelor of science in economics from the University of Pennsylvania, a master of science in public policy from Rutgers University and a juris doctor from Rutgers University School of Law.

Farry currently resides in Langhorne with his wife and two children, where he is an attorney at the law firm of Begley, Carlin & Mandio.

On the issues …

In describing today's political landscape, he believes it is the most chaotic he’s ever seen and that voter opinions are hardened to the point most refuse to even listen to the “other” side. 

It does not support the “voting integrity panel legislation state Republicans are pushing in Harrisburg.

Frank mentioned that the first batch of requested Mail-in ballots were being mailed today (October 7th).

Middletown has not been immune from COVID-19, as he lost count when over 700 cases had been reported.  Sadly, he noted, that the pandemic is REAL and that two country fire department employees had died from the virus.

The challenges the public and government of the commonwealth has faced during the past eight months fall into three major categories:

  • The economy – which businesses should be opened and when.  One group hit hard and requested relief were the car dealerships.
  • Schools – again where and how to open them safely for in-person learning.
  • Unemployment – and the breakdown in the commonwealth’s payment system, still non-functioning and thus delaying badly needed payments to those out of work residents.

Too often, he bemoans, “Politics has won the day with respect to the pandemic” and it is “despicable!”

Frank discussed the legislation passed in December 2019 permitting mail-in balloting, while acknowledging its challenges and the mis-information being circulated about potential fraud, mostly coming from the Administration.

Frank mentioned he has sponsored or co-sponsored 27 bills which have been passed into law, including closing loopholes in Meagan’s Law, job-related care for fire fighters and defining COVID as a potential cause of such job-related infections.

He believes in wearing masks and believes they are a major source of protection from COVID-19 at least until vaccines are available.   He mentioned that Woods Services of Langhorne has stepped up to help make masks … from American-made textiles (which were a challenge to acquire).

As for reducing the size of the state legislature, he is not overly optimistic, although he voted in favor of such a move.  However, he is concerned that the advertised savings will not be anywhere near as large as some proponents have suggested.

Frank has worked with Fair Districts PA to eliminate the problems stemming from gerrymandering.  At the same time, he worries that political influence will continue to dominate the process.

With the exception of the most violent of crimes, he favors judicial discretion in sentencing. 

He thinks that having elected judges in “Nuts!”.  He would rather see the governor nominate judges which would then need to be approved by the State Senate.

Frank talked about the state’s backstop legislation to assist people in the event the U.S. Supreme Court rules the Affordable Care Act in unconstitutional, protecting those with pre-existing conditions.  When asked if the legislation would also prevent health insurance companies from reinstating lifetime caps on insurance, he did not recall but would find out and get back to us.  His office called to day and is looking into the matter.

Club president Bob Morris thanked Frank for his again joining our meeting.

 

Sandy Kerr from the League of Woman Voters Joined Today’s Meeting

With the all-important presidential and Congressional elections just 35 days away, it was timely that we were joined this morning by Sandy Kerr from the league of Woman Voters which is also celebrating its 100th anniversary.

Founded on February 14th, 1920, prior to the adoption of the 19th Amendment, its mission has been  to empower women to create a more perfect democracy.   The League was founded by leaders of the women’s suffrage movement. F or 100 years, it has been a nonpartisan, activist, grassroots organization that believes voters should play a critical role in democracy.

Sandy began with a brief history of the League of Woman Voters:

1920

February 14 LWV Founded

The League was officially founded in Chicago in 1920, just six months before the 19th amendment was ratified and women won the vote. Formed by the suffragists of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, the League began as a "mighty political experiment" designed to help 20 million women carry out their new responsibilities as voters.

Locally, in Bucks County, chapters were formed in Newtown in 1920 an din New Hope in 1924.

 

August 26 19th Amendment Ratified

After it passed in the House and Senate, the final hurdle for the 19th Amendment was ratification by the states. As anti-suffrage groups still fought to oppose ratification, suffrage leaders mobilized to continue their pressure campaign in the states. Finally, the Amendment was ratified in Tennessee and officially made law on August 26.

It should be noted that the passage did NOT provide universal suffrage for all women.  It was not until the Snyder Act of 1924 that Native American women were grated the right to vote.  Even with the passing of this citizenship bill, Native Americans were still prevented from participating in elections because the Constitution left it up to the states to decide who has the right to vote. After the passage of the 1924 citizenship bill, it still took over forty years for all fifty states to allow Native Americans to vote. For example, Maine was one of the last states to comply with the Indian Citizenship Act, even though it had granted tax paying Native Americans the right to vote in its original 1819 state constitution. As reported by Henry Mitchell, a resident of that state, Native Americans were prevented from voting in Maine in the late 1930s.

In 1948, the Arizona Supreme Court struck down a provision of its state constitution that kept Indians from voting. Other states eventually followed suit. Even with the lawful right to vote in every state, Native Americans suffered from the same mechanisms and strategies, such as poll taxes, literacy tests, fraud and intimidation, that kept African Americans from exercising that right. In 1965, with passage of the Voting Rights Act and subsequent legislation in 1970, 1975, and 1982, many other voting protections were reaffirmed and strengthened.

1944 — 45

 

UN Established & LWV Named NGO Observer

After World War II, the League carried out a nationwide public support campaign, at the request of President Franklin Roosevelt, to establish the United Nations and to ensure U.S. participation. Following the campaign, President Harry Truman invited the League to serve as a consultant to the U.S. delegation at the United Nations Charter Conference. One of the first organizations officially recognized by the UN as a non-governmental organization (NGO), the League still maintains official observer status today.

 

1957

LWV Education Fund Established

As the League became more active in issue advocacy, the need arose for a separate organizational arm for activities like voter registration and information. The League of Women Voters Education Fund was established to encourage the active and informed participation of citizens in government and to increase understanding of major public policy issues.

 

1972

Major Campaign to Ratify the ERA

In 1972, shortly after congressional passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), LWV voted officially to support “equal rights for all regardless of sex.” The League followed this vote with a nationwide pressure campaign that continued through the 1970s. That national campaign ended in 1982, but LWV continues to push for ERA ratification today.

1976

Emmy Award for Presidential Debates

The League sponsored the first televised presidential debates since 1960, for which we received an Emmy award for Outstanding Achievement in Broadcast Journalism.

1980s

LWV Sponsors Presidential Debates

The League sponsored televised general election Presidential debates in 1980 and 1984, as well as presidential primary forums in 1980, 1984, and 1988. The debates focused on nonpartisan issues with a main goal of informing voters. As candidates demanded increasingly partisan conditions, however, the League withdrew its sponsorship of general election debates in 1988. Leagues around the country continue to hold debates and forums for local and state offices today.

1993

NVRA Becomes Law

The League’s grassroots campaign for national legislation to reform voter registration resulted in passage of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), also known as the “motor-voter” bill. The goal: increase accessibility to the electoral process. The motor-voter bill enabled citizens to register at motor vehicle agencies automatically, as well as by mail and at agencies that service the public.

2002

HAVA Becomes Law

When the 2000 election exposed the many problems facing the election system, the League began to work on election reform. Working closely with a civil rights coalition, LWV helped draft and pass the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which established provisional balloting, requirements for updating voting systems, and the Election Assistance Commission.

2006

LWV Launches VOTE411.org

The League provided a dedicated website for voter information as early as the 1990s. In 2006, the League launched the next generation of online voter education with VOTE411.org, a “one-stop-shop” for election-related information. Today, VOTE411 provides both general and state-specific nonpartisan resources to the voting public, including a nationwide polling place locator, a ballot look-up tool, candidate positions on issues, and more.

2019

LWV Launches People Powered Fair Maps Campaign

In June 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that partisan gerrymandering cannot be solved by the federal courts. In response, the League initiated People Powered Fair Maps, a coordinated effort across all 50 states and D.C. to create fair and transparent, people-powered redistricting processes to eliminate partisan and racial gerrymandering nationwide.

2020

LWV Celebrates 100 Years

February 14th, 2020, marks 100 years that the League of Women Voters has empowered voters and defended democracy. Over the last century, we’ve fought for election protection, democratic reforms, and equal access to the ballot—all while maintaining our commitment to nonpartisanship and fostering an informed electorate. As we look into our next hundred years, we aim to build power for the next generation of women leaders and voting rights activists. That’s why we’re celebrating our 100-year milestone with a nationwide coordinated Day of Action called Women Power the Vote.

What will the next 100 years hold?

The League of Women Voters has evolved from a mighty political experiment designed to help 20 million newly enfranchised women vote in 1920, to what it is today: a unique, nonpartisan organization that is a recognized force in molding political leaders, shaping public policy, and promoting informed citizen participation at all levels of government. To join us for our next 100 years, join your local League today!

 

The discussions proceeded with many questions concerning current voter registration and voting options and deadlines.

In order to be eligible to vote in Pennsylvania you have to register to vote before Election Day in Pennsylvania. You can find the deadline to register to vote in the "Dates and deadlines" section.

  • be a citizen of the United States at least one month before the next election
  • be a resident of Pennsylvania and your election district at least 30 days before the election
  • be at least 18 years of age on the day of the next election
  • You may also register if you:
  • are a pretrial detainee, confined in a penal institution awaiting trial on charges of a felony or a misdemeanor;
  • got released or will get released by the date of the next election from a correctional facility or halfway house (this must be upon completion of the term of incarceration for conviction of a misdemeanor or a felony);
  • are on probation or released on parole; or
  • are under house arrest (home confinement)

Voting and registration deadlines are also extremely important.

Election day is Nov. 3

 

Registration deadlines

Online: Oct. 19

By mail: Received by Oct. 19

In person: Oct. 19

 

Absentee ballot deadlines

Request: Oct. 27

Return by mail: Postmarked by Nov. 3

Return in person: Nov. 3 by 8:00 p.m.

 

Early voting

Sep. 14 – Oct. 27, but dates and hours may vary based on where you live

 

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the option of Mail-In Voting has become available to all citizens of the Commonwealth.  The deadlines for Mail-in Voting are the same as for Absentee Voting.  And, pursuant to a recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling, “Mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania have previously been due by the time polls close on Election Day. But the court's order adds a three-day extension to receive ballots that are postmarked by 8 p.m. on Election Day. Ballots with a pre-election postmark will now be counted as long as they are received by 5 p.m. on Nov. 6, three days after the polls close.”

It should be noted that Republicans in the State Legislature have threatened to go to court to overturn this state supreme court ruling.

For people who choose for Mail-In Voting, there are some simple procedures to ensure that a personal vote will be deemed valid and counted … particularly as it realtes to the use of teh "secrecy" envelope in which the actual ballot must be inserted.

In the wake of the president’s threats to send poll watchers to every voting precinct in the country, the following is relevant to poll watchers in the Commonwealth.

Poll watchers:  Poll watchers must be a registered elector of the county. A poll watcher does not have to be a resident of the election district that they are appointed to watch.

Section 417 of the Pennsylvania Election Code, 25 P.S. § 2687, provides for the appointment of watchers. Under section 417(a), “[e]ach candidate for…election at any election shall be entitled to appoint two watchers for each election district in which such candidate is voted for.” In addition, “[e]ach political party and each political body which has nominated candidates…shall be entitled to appoint three watchers at any general…election for each election district in which the candidates of such party or political body are to be voted for.” 25 P.S. § 2687(a).  

Each watcher so appointed must be a qualified registered elector of the county in which the election district for which the watcher was appointed is located. Each watcher so appointed shall be authorized to serve in the election district for which the watcher was appointed and, when the watcher is not serving in the election district for which the watcher was appointed, in any other election district in the county in which the watcher is a qualified registered elector…. It shall not be a requirement that a watcher be a resident of the election district for which the watcher is appointed.  

And, in another latecourt ruling, a federal judge stays Trump campaign lawsuit over Pa. voting rules; https://whyy.org/articles/federal-judge-stays-trump-campaign-lawsuit-over-pennsylvania-voting-rules/ 

Sandy also provided some important websites and three videos which should answer any additional questions individuals might have concerning voting in the 2020 elections.

Important websites and contact info:

Votespa.com –  polling place info, check your registration status, register online to vote, apply for an absentee or mail in ballot etc. 

Vote411.org – this is the League site for personalized voting information:  registration status, what’s on your ballot, polling place info, local candidate forum information, candidate positions etc

Bucks County Board of Elections portal for up to date info on the 2020 election:  http://www.buckscounty.org/2020Election

Bucks County Board of Elections phone:  215-348-6154  (follow the prompts)

Election video links

Attached are the YouTube links to the 3 League videos on registering to vote, voting by mail and voting in person.  Hopefully these will address most of the questions your group has about voting in the upcoming election. 


http://bit.ly/Register_to_Vote_2020

 http://bit.ly/Vote_in_Person_2020

 https://bit.ly/Vote_Securely_by_Mail_in_2020

The Club thanked Sandy for her most informative presentation and answers to many questions.

The bottom line is to

V O T E

on or before November 3rd
 

 

Morris Derry from No More Pain, Inc. Joined Us this Morning

We were delighted to have Morris Holland Derry, III, speak to our Club remotely this morning.

Morris is a most interesting individual who, against all odds, transcended having been incarcerated for 5-6 year term to becoming an entrepreneur committed to helping the homeless, addicted and other nearly invisible and underserved populations in Bucks and Philadelphia counties.

Beginning in 1996 while serving his sentence be became aware of the high number of people he saw who were released from prison only to return a short time later.  After his release in 2000, Morris successfully completed his subsequent parole without incident.  Fast forward to 2016, with the help of Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub and the County Probation office, founded No More Pain, Inc., a non -profit organization that mentors individuals who suffer from substance abuse, domestic violence, homelessness, cancer, ex-cons and youth development.   His organization is analogous to Big Brothers Big Sisters, except it targets adults … hoping that through mentoring those who often have no hope to give them a different outlook and succeed against seemingly insurmountable odds.

He jokes that he has told Matt Weintraub that while he will never be out of a job prosecuting violators of the law, he hope he can at least see that the DA stops seeing the same repeat offenders time after time.

Morris has also dedicated his life to helping others in a variety of ways.  Over the last eight years he bas gone out faithfully 3-4 nights each week, not only to hand out pizzas other donations, but also to spend time and talk with everyone he meets.  His only goal is to change and save lives.  Morris has assisted people to get into treatment centers, detox and rehabs.

For former felons, he has worked to develop apprenticeship programs with corporations, including McDonalds.  As No More Pain does not have any outside funding, he is unable to take in and establish mentoring programs for as many people as he would like.  Most of those in these programs come through the Bucks County Probation system.

Morris emphasize that the people he seeks out and works with do not all come from lower-income and blue collar locals like Bristol, Kensington, or Morrisville but also more affluent communities such as Newtown. 

The conversation moved on to the Black Lives Matter movement in which Morris has participated and been aa guest speaker.  While he deplores the looting, burning and other violence which has accompanied too many of the recent demonstrations, those participating represent just a small fraction of those who are out peacefully protesting the discrimination which has been faced by African Americans for 401 years.  

He, as other Black in the country, has become frustrated that in the years since the slaying of Eric Gardner on July 17, 2014 and the tragic and unnecessary death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, there has been far too little progress toward fully equality in America for people of color.  While peaceful protests can bring the disenfranchisements of and challenges facing communities of color and result in "promises" to rectify those situations, once the demonstrations end, so does all too much of the work necessary to fulfill those promises. 

Morris has participated in some 33 recent protests, from Doylestown to Bristol; in each instance respecting the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s vision of non-violence.

Club member Fran Zeiter suggested that Morris and his organization might accomplish even more if they used the next few weeks to encourage as many of the people he comes in contact with the complete their Census forms (current deadline, September 30th), and also to both Register to Vote (October 19th) and the Vote, either by mail (Mail-in voting application deadline October 27th) or in person on November 3rd.

Also discussed were ways our Club might be able to reach out to attract new members who are both younger and from more diverse communities. On the other side of the coin were ideas on encouraging the communities of color to take the steps to become involved in local, service organizations such as Rotary.  On a related note, Morris did share that at one time when Bristol Borough advertised several job openings and its hope to attract applicants of color, there were not responses. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions allow out Club to meet inperson, we hope to have Morris back to meet us in person.

Donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

The Club presented Monique Riotto, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Eastern Chapter Light the Night Campaign Manager, with a check representing the generous donations from participants in the Club's Virtual Charity Walk this past summer.

Masked and socially distancing from left to right, Ira Sherman, the Club's former Light the Night Chair; Lou Hatfield, Club Secretary; Monique Riotto, Irv Perlstein, Fundraising Co-Chair; Alan Agree Leukemia & Lymphoma Chair; and Dick Newbert behind the camera.

The mission of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (to identify treatments and cures for blood cancers) has been and remains particularly important and personal to our membership as several of our members have been stricken with blood cancers, two of whom have tragically passed away from their cancer as have a child of two of our members.

During the past seven years, the Club has donated in excess of $52,000 to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, earning it specific recognition as one of the top "corporate" donors for the past two years.  Our Cumulative 2020 donations will top $12,100, exceeding our former best year's efforts by a third.. 

Lauren Lareau, Democratic Candidate for the 142nd District Seat in the Pennsylvania House or Representatives

We were honored to host Lauren Lareau, the Democratic candidate competing for the 142nd District seat i nteh Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

Lauren joined us remotely as our meeting contine via Zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She talked briefly about why she was running

I KNOW WE CAN DO BETTER.

Pennsylvanians deserve better. I am a Democrat running to be your State Representative because there is nothing I want more than to build a stronger foundation for our children, our communities, and our state. Harrisburg needs hard-working professionals with experience outside of politics, who can see the big picture, reset priorities and find pragmatic solutions.

"My first priority is to make our state more competitive and to increase opportunities. This includes:

  • Lowering health care costs with the PA Healthcare Plan

  • Increasing state funding for K-12 and college education

  • Committing Pennsylvania to 100% Renewable Energy by 2050"

and her background.  Her family is from Pennsylvania; and she was born in Johnstown, the grand daughter of a Philadelphia police officer who raised his family in East Falls after he served in the Navy, and the daughter of the first person in her family to get a college degree. When it came time to raise my own family, I moved to Langhorne to make a life for myself, and my son, Lucas.

"Education is my life's passion: I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education with a Master's Degree in Human Development, ahead of schedule and with honors. I am a proud small business owner of a tutoring company, and have dedicated my career to helping high school students prepare for success in college and beyond. There's no greater thrill in my life than helping adolescents realize their potential" she told us.

Her commitment to education is one of the major reasons she is running to be your State Representative. Her son was a member of the last graduating class from Oliver Heckman Elementary, and she was appalled to learn that cuts in state funding contributed to its closure, and the consolidation that recently took place in the Neshaminy School District. "We can't afford to put off paying for our children's education– our future is riding on it!"

Prior to starting her tutoring business, and before the Affordable Care Act was passed, Lauren was a Cancer Information Specialist for the National Cancer Institute where she spoke to thousands of callers who had questions about different types of cancer, and where they could get treatment. Ninety percent of the callers also needed help paying for treatment, because so many people were being dropped from their insurance, or denied treatment claims by their insurance company, or couldn’t afford the premiums because of a pre-existing condition. She becaem determined to make sure we keep premiums low and healthcare affordable.

Lauren is also committed to protecting the environment, and shocked to learn that Pennsylvania is the only state in the country that doesn't have an extraction tax, while 90% of what gas companies extract is sold out of state. "We are destroying our land for this resource, without compensation, while gas companies make a fortune. We need an extraction tax, and I will fight with my fellow Democrats to achieve this goal. We can use the proceeds to invest in renewable energy, so we can finally begin the transition to a green energy economy, with cleaner air and water for our community."

Furthermore, as a small business owner, she knows how important small businesses are to the local economy and pledges work to keep taxes low, and ensure that entrepreneurs have the necessary investment and guidance through the municipal bureaucracy to become successful businesses that hire members of our community.

More detailed positions on those and other issues can be found on her website and hae been included below.

HEALTH CARE:

Improved access to affordable healthcare has always been essential to our community. That’s why Lauren supports the PA Healthcare Plan. This is a plan that will work for all Pennsylvanians because it:

  • Lowers health care costs and premiums

  • Protects the ACA’s coverage of all pre-existing conditions

  • Protects and expands Medicare and Medicaid

  • Protects CHIP

  • Lowers prescription drug costs for seniors

  • Enforces the Parity Law for Mental Healthcare

No one should ever have to choose between paying for their home or their food, and paying for medical treatment. Healthcare is also a social justice issue that must be addressed; People of Color are more likely to work in jobs that lack access to healthcare.

ENVIRONMENT:

Pennsylvania is a Commonwealth, so we should all benefit from our common wealth.

We must be more responsible with our environmental resources, which is why Lauren supports a moratorium on new fracking wells, in addition to a shale tax on gas companies. Pennsylvania is the only state in the country that doesn't have a shale tax, and that is simply irresponsible since PA is the second largest producer of natural gas in the country.

The proceeds of this tax should be used to invest in renewable energy technology and infrastructure projects, so that Pennsylvania can be a leader in renewable energy job creation and the conversion from fossil fuels to a green energy economy. Lauren wants to see Pennsylvania committed to 100% renewable energy by 2050.

Access to a clean environment is also a social justice issue that must be addressed. Historically, poor communities have been taken advantage of by large corporations that use their communities as a dumping ground for the toxic waste from their factories.

EDUCATION:

Education is essential to the foundation of our society. Local public schools don’t just serve students; they act as community centers and help raise property values. We must continue the work Governor Wolf is doing to restore public school funding at the state level because Pennsylvania still ranks 44th in the country when it comes to school funding.

With expected future revenue losses coming up in this year’s budget debate, Pennsylvania public schools are looking at a serious shortfall in state funding next year. We can’t let that happen, so we need to elect leaders like Lauren who will fight for public education funding.

While charter schools may have their place in some communities, funding of charter schools should never deplete funds from the public system. Every child in our state deserves equal access to a quality education.

Access to a quality education is also a social justice issue that must be addressed. Education is the great equalizer, and the path to success for those not born into wealth.


HIGHER EDUCATION AND STUDENT LOAN DEBT:

Students in Pennsylvania are weighed down by ballooning debt that can take a lifetime to pay off. This reality is not only bad for students, it’s bad for our economy. When young graduates are forced to delay buying a home or car, they are prevented from contributing to our economic growth.

Lauren believes we can and should help more students afford state and community colleges, which is why she supports the Pennsylvania Promise to make education free for Pennsylvania residents in public colleges throughout PA.

Access to affordable higher education is also a social justice issue, as students from lower income families need different support in order to successfully complete their degree.

FAIR DISTRICTS:

I support a Constitutional Amendment that creates an Independent Commission responsible for drawing all voting districts within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Drawing these districts should not be left the whim of either party, and and independent commission is the only way to end gerrymandering, and ensure that fair maps are always drawn after each Census.

WAGES:

Anyone who works a full time job should not be living below the poverty line, or qualify for government assistance. Period.

Every state that borders Pennsylvania has a higher minimum wage than we do— even West Virginia has a minimum wage of $8.75 per hour (that’s $1.50 more than PA per hour!). And none of these states experienced job losses when they raised their minimum wage, which is what we continue to be warned by politicians who refuse to consider raising our state’s minimum wage. There is no excuse that we can’t help working Pennsylvanians earn more, which is why Lauren supports raising the minimum wage to $15/hour, and tying it to inflation going forward.

This is also a social justice issue, because People of Color are more likely to work in minimum wage jobs.

UNIONS

Unions are the foundation of the middle class.

With recent Court decisions in favor of "Fair Share" legislation, unions are in danger of losing the actual fair share of fees they need to collect in order to represent non-members. It is now more critical than ever that we stand up and protect Pennsylvania's workers, and the ability of unions to defend workers’ rights.

Lauren vows to fight against so-called "fair share" and "right to work" laws that are designed to weaken unions' abilities to protect workers, and will do everything in her power as a state legislature to defend the Bacon Davis Act.

WOMEN’S HEALTH

Women’s health has been under attack at the federal and state level for too long. There is a lot we can do here in Pennsylvania to protect women’s access to healthcare and reproductive rights. But we need to elect leaders who will consistently fight for women’s healthcare, not just when it is politically expedient.

Planned Parenthood is a life saving medical clinic that provides primary care in communities that need it most, and should be funded as the vital community resource that it is. Studies have shown that increasing access to birth control and health education significantly reduce the number of abortions. When a woman does have to make a heartbreaking choice to end a pregnancy, that decision belongs in the privacy of her doctor’s office, and not on the floor of the State Assembly.

LGBTQ RIGHTS

No one should face discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Period. Anyone who identifies as LGBTQ is not currently protected under PA state law, which is why Lauren supports adding this group of individuals to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.

SMALL BUSINESS

As a small business owner, Lauren knows first hand how important it is to support the backbone of our local economy. In order to do that we have to keep taxes low on small businesses.

We can also partner more effectively with Small Business Development Centers by adding more grants to help entrepreneurs develop their business ideas, so more small businesses have a chance to grow into the thriving business that boosts our local economy.

PROTECTING AND SECURING OUR SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHTS

Lauren supports the second amendment as a constitutional right, and she believes in respecting the "well-regulated" piece of this amendment. That means Lauren supports:

  • universal background checks

  • eliminating the gun show/private buyers loophole

  • ban domestic abusers from possessing guns

  • red flag laws

SOCIAL JUSTICE:

For too long, our state legislature has ignored the plight of those in need. Too many members of our community suffer from homelessness, untreated mental illnesses, drug addiction, and youth violence. We need to address these issues directly by increasing access to affordable housing, increasing funding for medicaid and mental health services, drug addiction treatment and rehabilitation services, as well as invest in positive youth development.

Instead, our legislature has pulled support for Medicaid and Medicare, and the Parity law for insuring mental health remains unenforced, so we don’t have enough support to help those struggling with mental health issues and drug addiction. The result of these decisions at the state level causes an undue burden on our police force, as they are forced to clean up the issues left ignored by our state legislature. The stress of being unequipped to deal with these problems manifests itself in dangerous police practices that leave our communities less safe, and some members of our community under threat.

Diversity is our strength, and immigrants have historically come to our shores to make America the great nation that it is. The debilitating and systemic racism against new comers to this country, as well as our country’s foundation in slavery, is a stain on our history, and we must seek to address the current social crisis that is unfolding as a result of centuries of inequity and injustice. In order to achieve peace and unity, I support the following policy changes at the state level, as well as changing the way we employ police to serve and protect our communities:

  • Prohibit the transfer of offensive military equipment to police departments

  • End "qualified immunity," so police officers can be held civilly liable for abuses

  • Require agencies to make records of police misconduct publicly available

Develop Citizen Advisory Boards at the municipal level that can hold local police departments accountable for police misconduct.

The Club thaked Lauren for again joining our meeting and wished her well th eupcoming November 3rd election.

Donation to A Woman’s Place

The Club was delighted to present a check for $3,387.00 to A Woman's Place, Bucks County's only domestic violence organization in Bucks County, Pennsylvania where it provides free, private, and confidential services to those in need.

(l to r) Rosemary Katz, A Woman’s Place Manager of Donor Relations; Dick Newbert, Fundraising Chari; Fred Edelman and Fran Zeiter, A Woman’s Place Co-chairs; and Marianne Lynch A Woman’s Place Executive Director – Photographer Debbie Newbert

These monies were raised from so many generous individuals who participated in our Club's Virtual Charity Walk which took place over a six week period in July and August. 

 

Letters of Thanks

Our Club and its members are grateful for opportunities to provide financial and other support to needy organizations and individuals who may have fallen on challenging times.  And, while recognition for such events is appreciated, it is never sought out.  

However, it was gratifying to recently receive three letters, two in response to our providing $800.00 to a former Vietnam veteran through VFW Post 6393, with which we have a long-standing relationship.. 

We also received a letter from the recipient of those monies.

We would also like to acknowledge donations to our Club from both the VFW Post and its Commander, Russ Davidson.

Another letter came form a teacher at the William Dick School, which we continue to support with monies, school supplies, clothing and other in-kind donations.

It should also be noted that the writer and Levittown Auto, made a donations to our Club which will be earmarked and added to the funds we are accruing for future support of the school.

Our deepest thanks for their letters.  

Middletown Chief of Police Joe Bartorilla

We were again joined this morning by Joe Bartorilla, Middletown’s Chief of Police during our weekly Zoom meeting.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in public administration and a master’s degree in administrative science, both from Fairleigh Dickinson University. He also graduated from the FBI National Academy, the Northwest University School of Police Staff and Command and the Police Executive Research Forum’s Senior Management Institute.  Joe was also a 20-year veteran of the Philadelphia police force before being named chief after a seven-month search by the Township’s Board of Supervisors. 

Since then Chief Bartorilla has lived up to his commitment to be an accessible chief and be a part of the community.  “I’m not the type of chief who will come into the office and shut the door at 8:00 AM and then leave at 60 PM,” he said. “You’re going to know who I am; you are going to meet me.”

Joe spoke at length about the two unique challenges his department has faced in just the past several months; COVID-19 and the issues arising from the death of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter movement.

The Middletown Police Department took the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic seriously very early and began assembling PPE for its personnel … recognizing that the very nature of their job required them to come in regular contact with people throughout the community when social distancing was often not an option. Their custom masks are even carry the department’s logo for additional recognition.

Despite all their preparation, nine officers contracted COVID-19.  However, none of them required hospitalization and they have had no new infections for the past four months.  The first of those who caught the disease had many of the symptoms and was really sick.  A second officer had relatively mild symptoms (loss to taste and smell) but took much longer to recover as she had a lingering cough for a period of time.  In all instances, mandated contract tracing was necessary to identify everyone, personal and on-the-job, with whom they had recently been in contact.

The department to a far more aggressive approach that recommended by the county where it came to requiring masks and social distancing (wherever possible and practicable).  Joe feels that Bucks County has done a good job in containing the spread and that the Commonwealth had done “pretty well”.

In related matters, while he has not seen any “sharp” increases, there have been upticks in domestic violence in the county as well as in homelessness and the needs for children in youth.   Initially, one of the biggest challenges was the shelters and organizations who help were reluctant to admit people as so much was unknown about COVID-19.  Fortunately, this situation has improved, and Joe has been impressed with the recent responses from local houses of worship and volunteer organizations who have tried to assist these people … including A Woman’s Place for which the Club has again recently raised funds through its Virtual Charity Walk.

Chief Bartorilla then went on to describe the department’s role and responses to the civil unrest resulting from the BLM movement in the wake of the death of George Floyd.  The key date for the Middletown Police Department was Sunday, May 31st when rioting and looting began to occur in Trenton and Philadelphia … and began to spread to section of the city not normally plagued by such incidents and well as some of the suburbs. 

Upon learning of a planned rally at the Five Points intersection on social media, officers were deployed to what appeared to be about 100 peaceful demonstrators.  Meanwhile, five other officers wee sent to the Neshaminy Mall in Bensalem where reports of looting surface … and to support the Bensalem Police Department which has sent some of its officers to Philadelphia.

Chief Bartorilla, using his cell phone, learned of some threats to the Oxford Valley Mall and possibly Sesame Place.  He instructed his men to circle the Mall in their cars with their police lights on to send a signal that they were prepared for any unlawful activity.  Similar efforts to discourage problems continue for the next week.

They did have one incident stemming from some vandalism of some vehicles at the Happy Hour Tavern.  The suspects were located and detained along Veterans Highway.  Fortunately, they were extremely “respectful” and for the most part “cooperative”.  Three arrests resulted.

The recent arrest in the Bronx of the individual who punched a teenage worker a Sesame Place resulted form the officer on duty at the amusement park having gotten the license plate for the perpetrators and the timely cooperation of the NYPD.  The man was arrested and ha since been transferred to Bucks County where is currently resides in jail.  His wife was given 30-day s to turn herself in, as the authorities wanted to give her the time to make arrangements for the care of her four children.

Joe gives Governor Wolf credit for his “education” not “confrontation” policy when it comes to dealing with individuals not wearing a face covering or properly socially distancing.

A question came up about solicitation calls from people alleging to be from police benevolent organizations.  Joe identified three, the Bucks County Order of Police, the Bucks County Chief’s of Police and the Bucks County Police Association (which supports many charitable causes) as legitimate groups.  At the same time, he encourages people not to be intimidated or feel they had to contribute to any of these groups.

He also hoped that the Department’s Shop with a Cop initiative could again be held, even if on a scaled-down basis, but knows that everything rests on the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Club thanked for his candor and availability to our Club, its members and community at-large.

The COVID-19 Pandemic Doesn’t Slow Our Club Down!

Despite the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainties surrounding the opening of Philadelphia schools, members of the  Club have continued to collect and donate hundreds of dollars of classroom and other supplies for the William Dick School.  Earlier today, Alan Agree packed his car full and drove to Philly where an excited cadre of teachers and staff were there to greet him

 and unload his vehicle.

.While, "neither rain, nor snow, nor dark of night" slows down the mail … we've discovered, even while masking, social distancing and taking all other recommended precautions during the pandemic, our Club and its dedicated members can continue to support any number of causes and individual in need.