Before we begin today, I would like to observe a moment of silence for the victims of the Bowling Green Massacre. Yea, though they walk through the valley of the shadow of death, they shall fear no evil, for Kellyanne Conway art with them in spirit, if not in artifice. Last week: alternative facts. This week: alternative reality. Next week? Place your bets.
Putting the biggest W on the board this week would have to be the new breed of first responders: immigration lawyers who raced to international airports across the country to provide pro bono services for countless people caught in President Trump’s executive order on refugees. What's the opposite of ambulance chasers?
At the other end of the spectrum: From an estimated $4.5 billion tab for repairs to Philly schools to the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education weighing mergers and closures among its 14 universities, students and education professionals in the state did not have a good week.
Let’s learn about the rest of our Winners & Losers:
Larry Farnese: In what a former federal prosecutor said was a clear case of overreach by the government, the state senator was quickly acquitted of federal bribery charges.
PA Rep. Tim Briggs: The Montgomery County Democrat is floating legislation that would mandate media literacy courses to be added to social sciences curriculums for grades 1 through 12 in the state. This eminently sensible way to engage kids in reading about current events in a critical, fake news-spotting way, would be even better if it was twinned with a civics requirement to be fulfilled before graduating from high school.
Mike Brunelle: After barely two years in Gov. Wolf’s office, Brunelle, the onetime executive director of SEIU’s Pennsylvania State Council, was named as chief of staff after Mary Isenhour stepped down from the post to take on an advisory role with Wolf’s re-election campaign.
Pat Toomey: Reading what the junior US senator did and didn’t do this week brings to mind nothing so much as the “Weekend Update” segment, “Really!?!” Unlike other PA pols, including fellow Republicans, Toomey couldn’t be found or bothered to give a statement either way on Trump’s refugee ban, leaving his spokesperson to offer the incredibly wan “traveling” excuse for his inability to formulate a response. In a dodge reminiscent of his 7 p.m. election day announcement that he was voting for Trump, Toomey waited until Monday to declare his support for the ban. And, while he once again didn’t deign to meet with or acknowledge constituents who have been trying to talk to him about numerous concerns, including cabinet candidates like Betsy DeVos, he did release a statement Wednesday indicating his enthusiastic support for her. Better luck next time, Tuesdays With Toomey crowd.
Darrell Clarke: So much for the “ride or die” ethos in City Hall. Just five months after sponsoring a resolution commending Philly Mayor Jim Kenney for his resolute defense of the city’s sanctuary city status, Council President Clarke was doing the equivocation shuffle, opining that, y’know, maybe, just maybe, it’s time to rethink that whole sanctuary city status thing, just in case the Trump administration really can make good on its threat to withhold federal monies from such municipalities.
Bill Milbrand: The Shamokin mayor was arrested on charges of disturbing 14 graves during work to build a cellphone tower in the cemetery where he serves as board president. Coulda been worse: At least it wasn’t a housing development.