Western Pennsylvania woman speaks hard truth to Democrats in Philly

BY DONALD GILLILAND  dgilliland@tribweb.com

It wasn’t the message they expected or even wanted to hear, but Pennsylvania delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia got an earful from Erin McClelland, of Natrona Heights on Thursday.

McClelland, who’s challenging Republican incumbent Keith Rothfus in the 12th Congressional District, delivered a fiery lunchtime speech exhorting her party leaders to focus more on rural areas and rural needs.

She said people from other states go saucer-eyed when they learn Pennsylvania has two senators, 18 congressmen and not one woman among them.

Female Democratic candidates, she said, labor under the weight of three words: “She can’t win.”

But McClelland didn’t chalk that up to sexism; instead, she said the Democratic party increasingly is pushing away its own rural voters.

Her district is majority Democrat, but increasingly votes Republican.

“These were Democrats. We’re just starting to lose them, and we’re losing more of them every year,” she said.

“The Republican party scares them, and the Democratic party insults them,” McClelland said.

McClelland said if Democrats want to win rural voters away from Donald Trump, they need to show them some respect.

“We call them stupid. They’re not stupid. They are working class people who understand the Constitution incredibly well, are devoted to their faith and work hard,” McClelland said.

Many are fed up with a government “that has lied to them and failed them,” she said. Trump is “saying what they’d like to say to the government.”

McClelland said, “They’re looking for nothing but a fair deal, and they can’t get even that.”

This story was first posted Thursday, July 29, 2016 at 6:31 p.m.

Rain drenches delegates as they enter last day of Democratic Convention

Dean Genth, 66, of Mason City, Iowa
Dean Genth, 66, of Mason City, Iowa

BY TOM FONTAINE  tfontaine@tribweb.com

Iowa delegate Dean Genth’s blue button-down shirt was soaked when the final night of the convention began Thursday.

Like many convention-goers who ventured to Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center in the afternoon, Genth, 66, of Mason City had to make his way through pouring rain.

“No amount of rain is going to dampen my excitement about tonight,” said Genth, who used the ride-share service Uber to get from his Center City hotel to the arena in South Philadelphia.

Genth and his husband, Gary Swenson, hosted a Clinton campaign event at their house in May 2015. Genth and Swenson, the first gay couple to receive a marriage license at the Cerro Gordo Courthouse after the state legalized gay marriage in April 2009, supported Barack Obama when he ran against Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary.

“She was a great candidate then. Now she’s an even better one,” Genth said, pointing to the experience Clinton gained as secretary of State after that primary race.

This story was first posted Thursday, July 28, 2016 at 6:15 p.m.

Who ya gonna call? Trumpbusters!

Jason Bloomberg, 55, of Cheyenne, Wyo. sports an array of buttons as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
Jason Bloomberg, 55, of Cheyenne, Wyo. sports an array of buttons as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

BY TOM FONTAINE  tfontaine@tribweb.com

Jason Bloomberg says he’s a “walking billboard” for defeating Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in November.

His vest was covered with political buttons Wednesday as he walked through a concourse at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center during the Democratic National Convention.

Jason Bloomberg, 55, of Cheyenne, Wyo. sports an array of buttons as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
Jason Bloomberg, 55, of Cheyenne, Wyo. sports an array of buttons as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

More than a dozen of them were emblazoned with the word “Trumpbusters” and an image resembling the logo from the movie “Ghostbusters” – except that the ghost bore a remarkable resemblance to Trump, including his signature sweep of orange hair.

“Our democracy is facing the threat of a Trump presidency,” said Bloomberg, 55, a Hillary Clinton delegate from of Cheyenne, Wyo. “Nothing is progressive about Donald Trump. We need to bust him.”

Bloomberg drove 1,300 miles from Cheyenne to Philadelphia in an electric car, with a fellow Wyoming delegate riding shotgun. He said his car was adorned with anti-Trump messages.

During their 3½-day trip, the Wyoming Trumpbusters stopped many times and struck up conversation with people.

“It was wonderful. Even a lot of Republicans out there don’t like Trump,” Bloomberg said.

This story was first posted Thursday, July 28, 2016 at 10:50 a.m.

DePasquale calls Trump’s Russia request ‘Looney-Tunes’

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale addresses Pennsylvania delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Wednesday, July 27.
Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale addresses Pennsylvania delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Wednesday, July 27.

BY DONALD GILLILAND  dgilliland@tribweb.com

“The world of crazy land, Looney-Tunes, Bugs Bunny,” said Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale at a luncheon for Pennsylvania delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia as he informed them of the latest Donald Trump statement.

DePasquale recounted how during a press conference earlier in the day, the Republican presidential candidate looked into the cameras and asked Russian officials, who American security experts believe to be behind the hacking of Democratic party computers, to look for Hillary Clinton’s emails.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said.

Clinton’s senior policy advisor Jake Sullivan responded: “This has to be the first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent. That’s not hyperbole, those are just the facts. This has gone from being a matter of curiosity, and a matter of politics, to being a national security issue.”

The Associated Press reported members of the Republican Party leadership denounced Trump’s statement.

Former CIA director Leon Panetta told CNN Trump’s statement was “totally outrageous.”

“Asking Russia to engage in American politics,” he said, “that’s beyond the pale.”

“I wish I was making this up,” DePasquale said, characterizing Trump’s campaign as “a world of conspiracy theories and hate mongering.”

“It is up to all of us not to just be against Donald Trump – in my opinion, that’s easy – it’s also about being behind Hillary Clinton because it’s about moving the country forward,” he told delegates.

DePasquale said “it’s easy to forget January 2009 and January 1993,” when Democratic presidents had to begin cleaning up “major messes” left by Republican presidents, but cleaning up after a Trump presidency would be monumental.

“I just can’t imagine it,” he said.

This story was first posted Wednesday, July 27, 2016 at 2:11 p.m.


President to address convention Wednesday

BY DONALD GILLILAND  dgilliland@yahoo.com

President Barack Obama will headline the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia Wednesday.

He will have do well indeed to top the bar set by First Lady Michelle Obama Monday night; her speech won plaudits from Republicans as well as the Democratic faithful.

Vice President Joe Biden will also address the convention, as will vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine; other speakers include former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, retired Navy Rear Admiral John Hutson, and Jesse Jackson.

Actress Sigourney Weaver will speak, as will Angela Bassett, Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly. Lenny Kravitz will perform.

The theme for the evening is “Working Together: A Clear Choice.”

The roster of non-celebrity speakers includes Erica Smegielski, whose mother was the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary and was killed while trying to protect her students; Felicia Sanders & Polly Sheppard, two of the three survivors of the Mother Emanuel Church shooting; and Jamie Dorff, whose husband – an Army helicopter pilot – died while on a search and rescue mission in northern Iraq.

This story was posted Wednesday, July 27, 2016 at 10:37 a.m.

Sanders and Clinton make history

BY SALENA ZITO  szito@tribweb.com

PHILADELPHIA – In a show of symbolic party unity and a bridge to his rival, Bernie Sanders and the state of Vermont formally made former secretary of state Hillary Clinton the first woman nominated for president by a major U.S. party Tuesday evening.

“I move that Hillary Clinton be selected as the nominee of the Democratic Party,” Sanders said after a lengthy roll call with each state and territory announcing its votes at the Democratic National Convention.

Wild cheers filled Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center as Sanders took to the microphone with chants of “Bernie! Bernie!” as he read the historic announcement.

Like the Republicans who made sure that nominee Donald J. Trump was nominated by his home state of New York and announced by his son Donald Jr., the Democrats orchestrated their evening so that the delegates from Sanders’ home state of Vermont would deliver the nomination.

Sanders had an emotional moment earlier in the evening when his big brother Larry Sanders cast a vote on behalf of Democrats Abroad for Bernie Sanders.

“They did not have easy lives, and they died young,” said Sanders as he spoke about their parents Eli and Dorothy. “They would be immensely proud of their son and his accomplishments.”

“They loved him,” said the elder Sanders, visibly choking back tears. “They loved the New Deal of Franklin Roosevelt and would be especially proud that Bernard is pursuing that vision. It is with enormous pride that I cast my vote for Bernie Sanders.”

Bernie was shown both tearing up and smiling along with his wife.

Pennsylvania’s Gov. Tom Wolfe cast Pennsylvania’s vote to Clinton with a nod to Sanders calling “his fight for inclusion, justice and fairness” something that has invigorated the party.

Clinton makes history at the time the party has been visibly hashing out their family divisions in the City of Brother Love, especially after proof surfaced  that DNC party leaders favored Clinton during in the primary process.

The release of hacked internal emails forced DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz to resign and absent herself from any official duties at the big party.

Clinton began her political career as the First Lady of Arkansas, then as a policy activist First Lady to her husband Bill Clinton. She went on to run and win a New York U.S. Senate seat twice, lost a brutal primary presidential election contest to then senator Barack Obama, served as secretary of state, and then began her second run for president in April of 2015.

Clinton will formally accept the historic nomination with a speech Thursday evening. Tuesday night Bill Clinton gave the first ever keynote address from a former president for his wife.

This story was first posted Tuesday, July 26, 2016 at 10:58 p.m.

Allegheny County Executive encourages unity, work among convention delegates

BY SALENA ZITO  szito@tribweb.com

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald addressed the Pennsylvania delegation at the Democratic National Convention Tuesday morning by encouraging the party faithful to take the message and the unity of the convention back home to get the job done for Hillary Clinton.

“Lets go back and do the things we have to – to make sure Pennsylvania stays blue,” he told the banquet room of about 200 delegates.

Fitzgerald told the crowd that he could feel the unity coming together after the first night of speeches at the convention.

“The speeches had a thread that brought us all together for Hillary and drew great contrasts between our party and that of the Republicans,” he said.

Fitzgerald poked Ohio Gov. John Kasich for not attending the convention in his home state and boasted that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf was all over the place in Philadelphia while his state was under the national spotlight for the Democrats’ big party.

Fitzgerald also noted that Lehigh Republican Sen. Pat Toomey was also nowhere to be found in Cleveland.

“We are proud of being Democrats, apparently the Republicans have an issue with that.”

Fitzgerald said he, along with Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Forest Hills Democrat Rep. Mike Doyle, will be in attendance at Clinton’s stop in Pittsburgh Saturday as part of her kick-off bus tour from Philly, through Scranton and Harrisburg beginning Friday, the day after the convention ends.

This story was first posted Tuesday, July 26, 2016 at 4:01 p.m.

Sen. Casey makes the case against Trump at Democratic National Convention

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey talks to Pennsylvania delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Monday, July 25, 2016.
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey talks to Pennsylvania delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Monday, July 25, 2016.

BY TOM FONTAINE  tfontaine@tribweb.com

In a night marked by soaring speeches that called for party unity, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey calmly portrayed Republican nominee Donald Trump as a hypocrite in his brief remarks Monday to the Democratic National Convention.

“The man who wants to make America great again doesn’t make anything in America,” Casey said.

“Donald Trump says he stands for workers and that he’ll put America first, but that’s not how he has conducted himself in business,” Casey said, noting that Trump’s company makes dress shirts in Bangladesh, furniture in Turkey, picture frames in India, wine glasses in Slovenia and neck ties in China.

“Why would Donald Trump make his products in every corner of the globe but not in Altoona, Erie or here in Philadelphia?” said Casey, a Democrat from Scranton who is in his second term in Washington.

Casey’s well-received speech was overshadowed by ones given later in the night by party leaders such as U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Cory Booker and First Lady Michelle Obama.

“It was a great lineup. What a contrast to whatever that was in Cleveland last week,” Casey said Tuesday morning.

In contrast to Trump, Casey described presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton as a “leader with a proven track record of fighting for an economy that works for all of us.”

Casey also described her running mate, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, as “a man with great integrity.”

“I’m not too objective (about Kaine) because I’m a big fan of his. Even someone who doesn’t want to vote for him would grant that he’s a very competent individual,” Casey told the Tribune-Review, pointing out how Kaine has served as a city councilman, mayor, lieutenant governor, governor, U.S. senator and vice presidential candidate.

Among work on which they have collaborated, Casey, Kaine and two other Democratic senators earlier this month sent a letter to the Federal Reserve asking for it to consider easing reporting requirements on some banks — including PNC Bank and Bank of New York, which both have Pittsburgh ties.

Under the Dodd-Frank financial reform act, banks with at least $250 million in assets are required daily to report their liquidity, or ability to cover their debts. The requirement was deemed a way to limit fallout from a future financial panic.

Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the Vermont-based political action committee Democracy for America, told The Washington Post that the request would “help banks dodge consumer-protection standards and regulations designed to prevent banks from destroying our economy.”
Casey disagreed, arguing that the changes called for in his letter would help remove an “onerous” requirement on certain banks. PNC Bank, the nation’s seventh-largest financial institution, has assets of $351 billion and the Bank of New York Mellon, the eighth largest, has assets of $324 billion, according to Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation data.

This story was first posted Tuesday, July 26, 2016 at 12:25 p.m.

Bill Clinton, Meryl Streep top off second day of Democratic National Convention

BY DONALD GILLILAND  dgilliland@tribweb.com

Former President Bill Clinton will be the headliner for the second night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Clinton’s address will be followed by a video introduced by Actress Meryl Streep, after which Alicia Keys will perform.

Former President Jimmy Carter will offer a video message.

It’s a star-studded end to an evening that features Democratic favorites such as Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Sen. Chuck Schumer.

Celebrity appearances will include: Elizabeth Banks, Debra Messing, America Fererra, Lena Dunham, Tony Goldwyn and Erika Alexander.

Pittsburgh Police Chief McLay to address Democratic National Convention

Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay
Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay

BY DONALD GILLILAND  dgilliland@tribweb.com

Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay will address the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia Tuesday night. He is scheduled to speak shortly after 7 p.m. immediately following remarks from former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

McLay and Holder are the Law & Order aspect of portion of the convention program entitled “Fights of Her Life: Social Justice.” They will be followed by remarks from “Mothers of the Movement,” mothers of black men killed by police over the last several years.

“The reason I accepted the opportunity to speak was because I thought it important that there be a balanced narrative between the needs to improve police community relations, and the need to ensure that police are well supported as they do the difficult and dangerous work we ask of them,” McLay said.

McLay will speak to the convention about Pittsburgh’s efforts to adopt the best practices community policing.

Since being appointed chief in 2014, McLay has made a concerted effort to reach out to the black community in Pittsburgh.

“The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police may have lost its legitimacy in the eyes of some of the communities that we serve, and the sad irony of this is the fact that it doesn’t have to be this way,” McLay said the day he was introduced to the city. “We know a smarter way of policing. We know a better way of policing. We simply have to roll up our sleeves, be willing to adapt to the way that we deliver police services and be willing to change.”

In March 2015 Pittsburgh was chosen as one of six cities nationwide to participate in the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice, which is intended to improve relationships and increase trust between communities and the criminal justice system, as well as to advance the public and scholarly understandings of the issues contributing to those relationships.

This story was first posted Tuesday, July 26, 2016 at 10:35 a.m.