Archive of posts for October, 2011:

Democrats contend for control of Montgomery County

Posted by admin on Saturday, October 29, 2011

Dave Davies of WHYY writes:

While political trends in much of the country are tilting toward Republican candidates, Democrats in suburban Montgomery County are poised for what they hope is a historic victory on Nov. 8—control of the three-member commission which manages county government.

Montgomery County is the third most populous in Pennsylvania; for decades, it’s been a rich source of Republican votes and fundraising.

“It would be a big win for Democrats if they could capture the commission.” said Republican strategist Jeff Jubelirer.

Montgomery County isn’t the Republican bastion it used to be. Many liberals and moderates have moved in, and Democratic registration now exceeds Republican by 36,000 votes.

While Democrats are running a rising star of the party, state Rep. Josh Shapiro, Republicans have struggled to overcome internal divisions. Read the rest of this entry »

Shapiro/Richards Second Television Ad

Posted by admin on Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dems Say Montco Commissioners Should Get Access To Casino Revenues

Posted by admin on Monday, October 24, 2011

Brad Segall of KYW, CBS Philly reports:

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS) – The Democratic candidates for Montgomery County commissioner are calling on their Republican opponents to support legislation that would funnel some of the money from the soon-to-be-opened Valley Forge Resort Casino directly to the county.

Under current law, the money generated by the table games and slot machines will go into a state fund that would be doled out from Harrisburg.

But Pennsylvania State Rep. Josh Shapiro, a candidate for county commissioner, has attached amendments to a gaming bill that would give the commissioners direct access to that money.

Shapiro and his running mate, Leslie Richards, called on Bruce Castor (current GOP commissioner running for re-election) and Jenny Brown (running for commissioner for the first time) to put aside party bickering and embrace an idea he says is good for the county, “and one that quite frankly they have said before that they were for and now all of sudden because we’re for it, they seem to be against it,” Shapiro says.

Shapiro also blamed the current board of commissioners for failing to have open lines of communications with the county delegation in Harrisburg that could have avoided this problem.

The casino is scheduled to open in the spring.

Read the full story here.

Press Release: Shapiro and Richards urge opponents to put petty partisanship aside and support Shapiro amendments to reclaim Montco casino money

Posted by admin on Monday, October 24, 2011

Josh Shapiro and Leslie Richards, the Democratic candidates for Montgomery County commissioner, today urged incumbent Commissioner Bruce Castor, to put his mouth where the money is and support legislation that would give the county revenue from the Valley Forge Resort Casino scheduled to open next spring.

Last month the board of commissioners, including Castor, sent a letter to the county’s state legislators asking that they support legislation that would give the expected $1 million-plus in revenue directly to the county. Under current legislation it will go to a state fund and be used for narrowly designated county projects.

Last week, Shapiro, who represents the 153rd district in the state legislature, filed amendments to a gaming bill on the House calendar that would give the county commissioners direct access to the funds. Today he urged Castor and his colleagues to support his amendments the next time a gaming bill is brought to the floor.

In a newspaper article over the weekend, Castor complained that Shapiro’s action put him in a bad position – he either has to give his opponent a pat on the back or oppose an idea he originally supported.

“Commissioner Castor and his running mate, Jenny Brown don’t have to give me a pat on the back, but they should give the taxpayers of Montgomery County a helping hand in their struggle in this poor economic climate,” said Shapiro, who was joined at the press conference by his running mate, Leslie Richards. “I urge Commissioner Castor and Ms. Brown, to put aside their childish, petty partisanship and stop worrying about who gets credit for what. Apparently the last three years of sophomoric bickering has robbed Commissioner Castor of whatever good government sensibilities he might have once had.”

Richards, a supervisor in Whitemarsh Township, also urged Castor and Brown to step up. “I’m not a legislator, and I’m not a commissioner – yet, but in Whitemarsh, if I or any of my colleagues acted this petty, we would be skewered. Obviously, Mr. Castor and Ms. Brown are more interested in getting a pound of flesh, rather than doing a ton of good.” She also referenced a candidate forum recently in which Brown said bipartisanship is a terrible idea.

Shapiro and Richards also criticized Castor and Brown, for lying about Shapiro’s voting record on this issue and claiming that he voted to take the casino revenue away from the county’s direct control.

“The story in the Philadelphia Inquirer spelled it out simply and accurately,” Shapiro said.

He (Shapiro) did not – as Castor’s campaign has alleged – vote to take the local share away from the commissioners; he had not been elected to the House when the original 2004 gaming legislation restricted the county’s direct access. – Philadelphia Inquirer, October 22, 2011.

“The original gaming bill, which took the slots revenue from Montgomery County, was passed before I was elected to the General Assembly,” Shapiro said. “I voted against the subsequent bill in 2009 that took the table games revenue away from the county.

“To characterize any of my votes as being anti-Montgomery County is not only wrong, it is a lie,” Shapiro said.

Shapiro and Richards also detailed their plans for improving inter-governmental relations after they are elected, especially the relationship with the county legislators. The commissioners found out only recently that the revenue from the Valley Forge casino would not go directly to the county.

Press Release: Tea Party tries last minute stunt to protect Jenny Brown

Posted by admin on Monday, October 24, 2011

Republican Montgomery County commissioner candidate Jenny Brown has been under intense criticism for being the only candidate to meet with the Tea Party and telling them that she shares their partisan principles. Now, the Tea Party is attempting to pull a last minute campaign stunt to protect Brown by inviting the four commissioner candidates to a debate just days before the election.

“The Tea Party, which claims to be non-partisan, is attempting to cover Jenny Brown’s tracks by proposing a candidate debate just days before the election,” said Josh Shapiro, who along with Leslie Richards, is a Democratic candidate for county commissioner. “We have taken part in several spirited debates and candidate forums, and have actually agreed to do more than our opponents, but all of those have been set up for months. This so-called debate offer at the 11th hour has suspect timing, muddy reasoning, questionable genesis, and all too apparent goals.”

Richards pointed out that the invitation came on Friday, just days before the election. “This is simply a stunt to take the spotlight off Jenny Brown, who is the only candidate in this race to have met with the Tea Party, let alone agree with them,” she said. “I think it is instructive that Jenny Brown met with the Tea Party, said she shared their partisan values and last week said that bi-partisanship is a terrible idea,” said Richards who has been hailed for her bi-partisan efforts in Whitemarsh Township. “This attitude is alien to how we should do things in Montgomery County.”

Richards added that the Tea Party has been “a disruptive political force in America having held the country hostage during the debt ceiling debate, and its claim to be non-partisan strains credulity. “The Tea Party is a cover organization for those who are the most partisan and extreme in our society and their candidates tend to be people like Christine O’Donnell, Michelle Bachmann and, apparently, Jenny Brown.”

Shapiro said that in a recent radio debate, Brown had the opportunity to disassociate herself from the Tea Party, but chose not to. “Jenny Brown is apparently comfortable with the Tea Party label, and it will be interesting to see if her running mate is as well.”

First Shapiro Richards TV ad ready for airing

Posted by admin on Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The first television ad for the Shapiro Richards for Montgomery County Commissioner campaign has been completed and will hit the airwaves on Thursday, October 20. It can be viewed by going to the Shapiro Richards website at www.shapirorichards.com.

Press Release: Shapiro, Richards will improve communication and coordination With legislative delegation and local governments

Posted by admin on Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Item: The Pennsylvania General Assembly passes legislation taking away Montgomery County’s share of Valley Forge casino revenues, and county finds out after the fact.

Item: Local governments complain about lack of information as county proposes they chip in millions for new county emergency radio system.

Josh Shapiro and Leslie Richards, the Democratic candidates for Montgomery County, today said they would move immediately after being elected to improve the communication and coordination between the county government and the county’s legislative delegation and local governments.

“We will immediately designate an individual in our administration to begin to build better communications and coordination between our administration and our state representatives and senators and between the county and our local governments,” said Leslie Richards.  “This lack of ability of our county government to work closely and cooperatively with other levels of government has been costly and non-productive, and it will end under our administration.”

Shapiro agreed.  “Too often during the last 100-plus years of Republican control of the Montgomery County government, our county government has functioned as if it were in a governmental vacuum,” Shapiro said.  “There has been little or no communication or coordination with the county’s legislative delegation, and even less with local municipal governments.”

The Democratic team pointed out that this lack of leadership from the long list of Republican administrations has resulted in Montgomery County’s voice in the Legislature being far less than its position as the third largest county in the Commonwealth, and, arguably, the economic engine of the state would demand.  On the other hand, the county government has consistently failed to communicate with local governments, which has led to misunderstandings and lack of coordination between local municipalities.

“Our legislators represent relatively small areas of the county,” Richards said.  “In most cases, our local officials represent even smaller areas and both are naturally most interested in caring for their own constituents’ needs.  When it comes to safeguarding the interests of the county as a whole and the nearly 800,000 county residents, it is incumbent on the county commissioners to communicate with both levels of government and serve as the conduit of information and to provide the impetus to effect positive results for Montgomery County.”

Shapiro was adamant that this increased cooperation with different levels of government would be conducted without partisan considerations.

“With the county’s legislative delegation almost evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, this cooperation becomes even more important,” he said.  “Leslie and I have long worked in a bipartisan fashion, and this new effort will be the same.  We will treat our county legislators as partners, not as opponents.”

Richards added, “We are here to govern, not score political points.  If a Republican legislator takes the lead on an issue important to the people of Montgomery County, we will make sure that legislator is recognized for his or her efforts without any hesitation or fear that it will provide a political advantage.”

Richards also noted that a closer relationship with local governments could also foster better cooperation between municipalities on issues such as planning, zoning and traffic control.

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Race for Montgomery County Commissioner Heating Up

Posted by admin on Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Larry Kane of KYW CBS Philly reports:

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – With 21 days left, it is the most contested election in this so-called political off year: the race for Montgomery County Commissioner.

Faced with a serious race from Democrats Josh Shapiro and Leslie Richards, Republican incumbents Bruce Castor and Jenny Brown have raised the hot button issue of taxes. Shapiro and Richards say they will not raise taxes. Brown and Castor have not gone quite that far, saying they will hold the line on taxes, but in a newspaper article a month ago, Castor was quoted as saying, “We can’t say we aren’t going to raise taxes,” because, he suggested, what might happened down the road.

The words here might seem unusual in this political climate. Democrats making a no tax promise, Republicans not going that far.

The question is: are Brown and Castor protecting themselves in case they have to increases taxes? And are Shapiro and Richards confident they can govern without increasing tax revenues? One thing is certain: this election is the most serious challenge yet to Republican power in the third largest county in Pennsylvania and both sides admit it could be close

Listen to full audio report here: Race For Montgomery County Commissioner Heating Up

Read the full article here.

Press Release: Shapiro, Richards promote “Montco First” policy

Posted by admin on Friday, October 14, 2011

In an effort to promote Montgomery County businesses, Montgomery County Democratic county commissioner candidates Josh Shapiro and Leslie Richards said today they would institute a “Montgomery County First” program that would give priority to county businesses and suppliers when the county has to purchase goods and services, while still meeting necessary purchasing requirements. Secondarily, they would give preference to Pennsylvania companies and finally U.S. companies.

“A Shapiro-Richards administration will give first preference to a Montgomery County-based company when purchasing goods and services for the county,” said Richards.

Shapiro pointed out that he and Richards have already outlined steps to create jobs in Montgomery County. “This is an important way to maintain and create jobs in Montgomery County. It is going to take a concerted effort on numerous fronts, and our Montgomery County First program is a part of that.”

Leslie Richards is a Whitemarsh Township supervisor and is a senior project manager at a woman-owned civil engineering firm. Josh Shapiro is a Pennsylvania State Representative currently serving his fourth term representing Abington and Upper Dublin.

Press Release: Brown Castor, hypocrisy is thy name and flip-flopping is thy game

Posted by admin on Thursday, October 13, 2011

The following is a joint statement from Josh Shapiro and Leslie Richards, Democratic candidates for Montgomery County Commissioner, in response to statements made yesterday by their opponents, incumbent Commissioner Bruce Castor and Jenny Brown.  Castor and Brown yesterday said they would borrow money to finance the funding of the county pension fund.  See the following quotes from today’s edition of the Times Herald:

“So we have a $25 million shortfall in the employee pension fund,” Castor said. “As I have said repeatedly (as commissioner), our employees and retirees are in no immediate danger.”

Given the difficulty of taking money from the general fund to make up the shortage, the candidates would consider pension obligation bonds to fully fund the pension. Of course, timing is crucial, and Castor believes now might be the right time.

Ironically, at a recent candidate forum, Brown in criticizing the borrowing policies of the current administration of which Castor is a part, said that just because money is cheap to borrow right now doesn’t mean you should borrow.

The Shapiro Richards statement:

“In a thinly veiled attempt to get press coverage for a flagging campaign, incumbent Commissioner Bruce Castor and Jenny Brown yesterday pulled a head-spinning about face that even Linda Blair would be proud of.  After a one-note campaign that has trumpeted a “no borrowing” mantra, Brown and Castor yesterday advocated borrowing money for a problem even they admit is not critical, and then Mr. Castor says he thinks he can ‘time’ the market.  We must have missed the Wall Street part of his resume.  Timing the market is dangerous, and it is wrong to gamble with taxpayer money.  To make the Brown Castor flip flop even more ridiculous is the fact that this proposed borrowing is for general operating expenses, not a capital project.

The Brown Castor campaign says they are fiscally conservative, but say they may raise taxes.  They, with great fanfare, unveil a fiscal program that highlights a cap on borrowing, but will then advocate borrowing for a non-critical reason by timing the market.  Brown and Castor are rewriting the definition of conservative.