Jennifer D. Wade Journal

Welcome to my online diary, enjoy your stay!

Blog posts January 2008

Comings and Goings

Breaking news this AM:  John Edwards will drop of of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.  Not really a surprise, considering how poorly he fared in South Carolina.  He'll reportedly hold off on endorsing either Obama or Clinton.  Read the story HERE.  You have to wonder if, in addition to his poor prospects of being elected, the illness of his wife factored into his decision to get out sooner rather than later.

Rudy Giuliani is also getting out today.  He put all his eggs in the basket called Florida, and every egg ended up getting cracked.  Not only did he get trounced by McCain and Romney in last night's GOP primary, but he just barely managed to finish ahead of Huckabee, who hardly campaigned in Florida at all.  Later today, Rudy will throw his support to McCain.

And, what's up in the race for PA's 5th congressional district?  We haven't had any new candidates enter the race for two days now!

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Where are the Web Sites?

I spent some time today updating the political wing of my WEB SITE.   I tried to track down web sites for the various candidates running for the various political offices in Pennsylvania.  Didn't do too badly, either.  Except for the 5th Congressional District.  There are, like, I don't know, 47 people running for John Peterson's open seat.  So far, only two candidates seem to have web sites - and one of those sites is basically "under construction."

What's the deal?  Is everyone waiting to see if they can actually get enough signatures on their nominating petitions before having an "official" candidate web site?  Or, maybe they feel they just don't need one.  What with someone new getting into the race every other day, the people who are already in are getting lots of publicity every thime there's another article.

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Compare and Contrast

Posting music videos on the weekend seems to be popular in the blogosphere - not that there's anything wrong with that.

So, without further ado, I give you Mr. Peter Gabriel!

And, then I give you Hyannis Sound!

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Fun with Slugs

At work, we cover news stories, and each story is assigned a "slug," a short title that we in the newsroom use when referring to the story.  In most cases, the slug contains two elements - the first part is usually a reference to the geographical location, i.e. state, county or city; the second part describes what happened.

To keep the slugs as short as possible, we use a lot of abbreviations.  Here are some of the most common:

LACKA=Lackawanna County
LUZ=Luzerne County
NUMB=Northumberland County
LYC=Lycoming County

So, as an example, if Gov. Rendell came to Moosic (in Lackawanna County) with a check for some business development, the slug could be LACKA RENDELL or maybe LACKA BIZ.

With that it mind, here are some of the more humorous slugs that we've used:

WAYNE GARTH - for a story about a high school athlete who passed through Wayne County on a cross-state run to raise money for a new track at his high school.

LACKA SEX - for stories that involve various sex-related crimes in Lackawanna County.  (This slug occurs fairly often, as do NUMB SEX and LYC SEX)

NUMB SKULL - for a story about a skull that turned up somewhere in Northumberland County.

And, the recent slug that made me think of writing this post in the first place.  The story was about some Catholic sisters who are moving out of their convent in Elysburg.  Can you guess?


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Check Your Math!

So, Friday morning, just as I was getting up, the mail arrived.  It turned out to be statements for a couple of bills that I had already paid, an offer from a magazine that I used to subscribe to, an offer for car insurance, and something from the agency that collects my local taxes.

I figured that the agency was sending me some sort of form that I would use to fill out my 2007 return.  Wrong!

Turns out, this agency (and, if you live in NEPA, you probably know which agency it is) sent me a form notifying me that they had done an audit on my earned income taxes and had discovered that I owed them in excess of $1,200!  Out of the goodness of their hearts, they would allow me to pay in three monthly installments of more than $400 each.

Since I'd only been awake for about five minutes, my mind was working a little slowly.  I recalled filling out the local earned income tax forms over the past few years.  I think I ended up owing a little bit last year (which I paid), so I was pretty sure this delinqency notice was a mistake.

About a minute later, I knew for sure it was a mistake when I saw the year that this alleged audit covered - 2003!  2003 was the year that I moved back to the area from Harrisburg - in November!  There's no way that I could possibly owe anywhere near what they said for approximately five weeks of work.

Now that I had been up for about 10 minutes and was now fully alert, I gathered the appropriate W-2 form from my files and called the agency.  After two transfers, I was connected to the appropriate person.  She said did I live at (my current address)?  I said, yes, but I didn't live there in 2003.  In 2003, I lived in York County until I moved back here around Thanksgiving!  So, she said, you got a new job?  Not really, I said, just a different employer.  So, she said, you got two W-2s.  Yes!

At that point, she said that it looked like I had already paid the required EIT, so I should disregard the notice.  I said, "Are you sure?"  She said yes.

I hung up, and promptly wrote the word "DISREGARD" and the date on the form and filed it with my 2003 taxes.  Just in case.

All I have to say is, I thought audits were supposed to expose errors, not create them!  Maybe this agency should audit the auditors before sending out erroneous letters and giving people a rude awakening right before the weekend.

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Return Trip

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When in Doubt, Do a Study

OK.  So, you know how more and more state lawmakers lately seem to be backing the plan to privatize the Turnpike if it means there won't have to be tolls on 80?  Well, turns out, there's gonna be a study.
Rep. Joseph MARKOSEK (D) chairs the House Transportation Committee in Harrisburg.  In a news release dated January 11, Markosek announced that a study is being commissioned to, well, study the idea of leasing the Turnpike.  Said study, to be done by academic types from PSU and Harvard, will examine whether leasing the Turnpike is a good idea when compared to the provisions (i.e. tolls on 80) included in last year's Act 44.
The news release states that the House Dems are still committed to tolling 80, but they're going to spend $75K to gather information which they can use in a fight against the anti-tolling forces brewing over in the Senate (see THIS entry).
The study is supposed to be completed in about a month.  Here's the entire release if you're interested:
House Transportation Committee Chairman Joseph Markosek, D-Allegheny/Westmoreland, and House Democratic leaders today announced the commission of a study regarding the lease of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
The study, to be performed by professors from Harvard and Penn State universities, will examine and evaluate key aspects of a proposal to lease the Turnpike; specifically looking at whether it makes financial sense and constitutes sound public policy for the Commonwealth to lease the Turnpike to for-profit or nonprofit corporations in comparison to the provisions in Act 44 of 2007. Act 44 established the funding mechanism to repair the state's roads and bridges and mass transit systems of all sizes.
The Democratic leaders stressed their commitment to Act 44 but said the study is needed in order to gather as much information as possible if forced to the table to discuss the issue with their Senate counterparts.
“Act 44 represents a carefully deliberated and realistic path to repairing, maintaining and improving our transportation infrastructure, most notably our deteriorating roads and bridges" Markosek said. “We are confident of its merits and are in no way abandoning our commitment to implementing that historic measure. But it would be irresponsible to not prepare ourselves if forced to deliberate an option that is now receiving serious consideration from the governor and some of our Senate counterparts."
Part of the funding raised under Act 44 will come from implementing tolls on Interstate 80. The state plans to design a toll system that will minimize the effect on local travelers who make up a minority of the road’s users. Most of I-80 drivers either operate commercial vehicles or vehicles from outside Pennsylvania.
House Majority Whip Keith McCall, D-Carbon, said he and Majority Leader Bill DeWeese believe the study is now more critical than ever because the House could be sent a plan by the Senate to lease the Turnpike to private investors.
"It's a shame that some lawmakers have been so quick to abandon Act 44," McCall said. "The majority of traffic on I-80 is passing through from other states. As those motorists pass through, they're handing Pennsylvania taxpayers the bill for repairing the damage they leave behind. Tolling I-80 allows the state to equalize the impact on motorists across the state and provides the funds necessary to make our roads and bridges safer."
Markosek said the principal author of the study will be John Foote, a senior fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University who has written extensively on the topic of toll road concessions and is considered a national leader in that area. Gary Gray, visiting professor of finance at Penn State-University Park, and Patrick Cusatis, assistant professor of finance at Penn State-Harrisburg, also will be involved directly in the study, which is expected to cost up to $75,000 and be completed by mid-February.  
"Right now we know that Turnpike tolls would have to be doubled at the very least in order to raise the same revenue that would be generated under Act 44," Markosek said. "We are eager to learn more comparisons and from people who have spent their careers studying this type of issue in academia."

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No Bloom on This Rose

In my experience, numbers from SURVEYUSA have been pretty accurate.  My station used the service extensively a few years ago, and their numbers for Kerry/Bush and Casey/Santorum were right on.  It came out last week that Michael Bloomberg is doing his own polling in every state.  Assuming that the SurveyUSA numbers are accurate, it will be interesting to see if Bloomberg's numbers are different and if decides to run anyway.   Read on:

Poll: Bloomberg would lose key states

NEW YORK, Jan. 16 (UPI) --

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg would lose the U.S. presidential vote in key states if he runs as an independent, a new poll indicates.

The poll by SurveyUSA showed that despite his strong approval ratings in New York, he would lose in the city, The New York Sun reported Wednesday.

In the best scenario for Bloomberg, he would get 28 percent of the vote in a three-way race between Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill, and Republican former Arkansas Gov. Michael Huckabee, losing to Obama.

In another hypothetical match-up, Bloomberg would get 18 percent of the vote in a race against fellow New Yorkers, Sen. Hillary Clinton and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

In California, which has more electoral votes than any other state and would likely be critical to a presidential victory, he does no better than 12 percent, the poll indicated.

The survey found that one-in-four national voters do not know who Bloomberg is, and that only 11 percent have a favorable impression of the billionaire mayor.

No more than 13 percent said they would vote for him in a presidential election.

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Cruise Control

OK.  Let's try this again.  There's a lot of buzz right now about this video from Mr. Top Gun himself.  So much buzz, that the video I first posted, was removed due to copyright issues.  Here's a shorter version with some funky production at the beginning.  First,  some clues to help you decipher the message:

KSW=Keep Scientology Working
DAVID MISCAVIGE=the leader of Scientology
SP=Supressive person=a critic of Scientology
PTS=Potential Trouble Source=someone who has contact with an SP

Further reading:


I think that's enough.

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Of Politics and Toll Roads

Some comings and goings in the local Congressional races.

In the 10th District, Republican Don Ely is out, and is throwing his support behind Dan Meuser.  You can read an article HERE or check out GORT for more info.  By my count, that leaves four Republicans - Mueser, Chris Hackett, Paul Swiderski, and Davis Haire - in the running to challenge Chris Carney in November.  Links to the candidates' websites are HERE.

In the 5th District, where John "80 Tolls Over My Dead Body" Peterson has decided to retire, the ballot is getting crowded.  Businessman Matt Shaner, a Republican, was the first to announce.  Now comes word that journalist and Iraq veteran Bill Cahir, a native of State College, is joining the fray on the Democratic side.  You can read about him HERE.  The post also mentions two former Centre County Commissioners and the mayor of Lock Haven as possible candidates.

Lest you worry that Peterson's retirement will remove a big roadblock to the 80 tolling plan, have no fear.  JOHN GORDNER is here.  According to the AP, the state senator from Columbia County will, within the next couple of weeks, introduce a bill that proposes to scrap tolls on 80 in favor of privatizing the Turnpike.  The privatizing would be done in three phases and would also reportedly rule out leasing the road to foreigners.  You can read the article HERE.

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Here's a look at how the US presidential race is playing in the UK.  The Dems are getting most of the attention.

These are four recent page ones from THE INDEPENDENT:

3 January 2008                                                   5 January 2008

7 January 2008                                                  9 January 2008

Here is a cartoon from THE GUARDIAN:

If you follow THIS link, you will see Arnie Arnesen, a "progressive" talk radio host in New Hampshire, trying to explain to the good people of Britain just how the hell Hillary managed to defeat Obama in the primary.

And, HERE'S something from the Times of London, to represent the more conservative view.

So, here's what I see.  I see the Brits chomping at the bit to get rid of Bush.  I see they're not ignoring the Republicans, but they seem to be banking on the Democrats.  I see them jumping onto the Barack bandwagon.  I see a picture of Hillary that makes her seem like she's  - OMG!! - simply astonished while the pictures of the male candidates look much more - shall we say - politically correct.  And, I see that the Brits are just as interested in easy weight loss as we Yanks.

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Why They Play the Game

Sports fans know.  The oddsmakers may have one team favored by 20 points over another.  But, when the underdog manages to pull out a win, they say, "This is why they play the game."

Well, tonight we found out why they count the votes.  Because the polls aren't always right.  Hillary scored an "upset" win over Barack in New Hampshire.  And, McCain came from behind to beat Romney.  Interesting, especially since I've been hearing since Sunday that Hillary had pretty much no chance in NH and, if she lost there, she pretty much might as well quit the race on the spot because there would be no stopping Obama.

Because I was at work, I didn't get to see any of Hillary's speech after her victory. (Odd, I know, being that I work at a TV station and the speech was being carried live on the LIVE CHANNEL.  But, I was doing other things at the time).  Anyway, on a website, I watched a little clip of Hillary thanking the voters of New Hampshire.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.  Substitute the words "You like me, you really like me," and it's like Sally Field all over again.  That's just what it reminded me of.

So, the question now is, what does Hillary do next?  An article on the wire mentioned two differing schools of thought - campaign hard in South Carolina and Nevada. Or, pretty much blow off those states in favor of California, NY, and the bigger states that have primaries on Super Duper Tuesday.  Personally, I can't see how, after tonight, she can afford to bypass SC and NV.  Now that she has some momentum, she has to try to keep it, I think.

Edwards finished third and is promising to carry on.  But, it's Clinton vs. Obama now. And, who knows?  Maybe Pennsylvania's April primary will be relevant after all.

On the GOP side, it's looking more and more like McCain vs. Huckabee.  Conventional wisdom has Romney down for the count since he couldn't win in a state that's right next to his own backyard.  The question is, how much more of his own money is he willing to spend to stay in the game.

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Word of the Year

Now that it's 2008, it's safe to reveal the 2007 Word of the Year, as chosen by the language lovers at the AMERICAN DIALECT SOCIETY.

Last month, in THIS post, I noted that the prefix i- would be my choice for the WOTY.  Well, i- was wrong.  And so was I.

The 2007 Word of the Year is subprime.  You can read the entire news release HERE.  Not only did the whole mortgage mess help to make subprime the word of the year, it also led the linguists to create a whole new category devoted to terms related to real estate. 

Even though i- was wrong, I will say that my premonition about a prefix was not far off target.  The environmentally-friendly prefix green- took top honors in the category of "Most Useful Word."  It was also voted "Most Likely to Succeed."

Another contender for Word of the Year was Facebook, which refers to the social networking Web site.  It's a relatively new word, but it's a versatile one because "Facebook" can be used as a noun or a verb.

Here's all I'll say about Facebook.  I just opened an account.  So far, I have no friends.

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After Iowa

The thinning of the herd has begun.  Dodd dropped out of the Democratic field just before 11PM.  Biden followed a few minutes later.  Haven't heard anything about Richardson yet, but he may not be far behind.

On the GOP side, no one has dropped out yet, but Fred Thompson may be able to stay in longer than I thought thanks to what's looking like a 3rd place finish.

On to New Hampshire.

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Star Power

At work, there's a video monitor that sits on a ledge very, very close to my desk.  This monitor is usually tuned to what we call "the live channel."  It's a satellite channel that the network's video provider uses to send packages and live shots to affiliates.  Often, all we see is a slate.  But, other times, we're treated to live pictures of breaking news from all over the country.  If something is burning, crashing or being chased, we often see it first on the live channel.  (Of course, just because WE see it, doesn't mean YOU get to see it.  You'd be surprised at how many high - or low - speed chases we DON'T air!)

Anyway, for the past several days, the live channel has been alive with coverage of campaign events from Iowa.  If one of the leading candidates had a rally or gave a speech, the live channel would show it - until it was time to switch to another event for another candidate.

For the past couple of nights, the live channel has been filled with stars - as in the Hollywood variety.  Last night, it was Chuck Norris and wife for Mike Huckabee.  Tonight, we had James Denton from "Desperate Housewives" and Jean Smart from "24" (or "Designing Women" for the older crowd) with John Edwards.  Of course, Obama has Oprah.  But, Hillary may have the biggest star of all with Arkansas Bill.

All of which got me to thinking, does the support of someone famous actually translate into votes for (or even against) a particular candidate?  I mean, James Denton seems like a nice guy.  But, I'm not going to vote for Edwards just because Mike from DH is in his corner.  On the other hand, if I EVER find out who Tom Cruise supports, that candidate will NOT get my vote.

Maybe the main point of celebrity endorsements is just to get potential voters into the proverbial tent.  Then, it's up to the candidate to close the deal.  But, if my favorite celeb sides with Mike Gravel, well, I may end up casting my vote for a new showbiz idol. 

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