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.

Clinton campaign emphasizes different convention tone

BY SALENA ZITO  szito@tribweb.com

PHILADELPHIA – Hillary Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook promised reporters the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia “is going to be optimistic, it’s going to be hopeful and it’s going to be talking about specific plans,” as protesting Bernie Sanders supporters shouted their displeasure to passing delegates entering the convention center downtown.

Mook said this convention would have a fundamentally different tone than the darkness of the GOP convention in Cleveland last week where Texas Sen. Ted Cruz walked off the stage to boos when he failed to endorse the nominee, Donald Trump.

“Boy, was it depressing, it was all doom and gloom,” Mook said of the Republican National Convention. “Our convention is going to be optimistic, it’s going to be hopeful,” he said.

“Sen. Bernie Sanders has already endorsed Secretary Clinton, he is coming to double-down on that endorsement,” Mook said of Clinton’s primary rival.

Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon said there will be a full roll-call vote of all of the delegations on Tuesday, something that Sanders supporters stressed they wanted to have as part of the convention. The roll-call will give them a moment to publicly demonstrate Sanders’ presence at the event.

“It is exactly in keeping with our philosophy that every vote should be counted, and that means every delegate being counted on the floor of the convention,” Fallon said.

Sanders will speak Monday evening along with First Lady Michelle Obama.

Fallon said outgoing DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s decision not to speak after she announced her resignation Sunday was her own and that Clinton had nothing to do with it.

As far as Trump goes, Mook told reporters to ignore polls showing him with a convention bump following his acceptance: “I’d suspend any polling analysis until after the convention.”

This story was first posted Monday, July 25, 2016 at 1:12 p.m.

Pennsylvania Democrats call for party unity

Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman Marcel Groen speaks to delegates to the Democratic National Convention over breakfast Monday, July 25.
Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman Marcel Groen speaks to delegates to the Democratic National Convention over breakfast Monday, July 25.

BY TOM FONTAINE  tfontaine@tribweb.com

Pennsylvania Democratic Chair Marcel Groen opened the state delegation’s breakfast meeting Monday with a call for party unity.

The Democratic National Convention is getting under way amid an email scandal that appears to show that leaders of the neutral Democratic National Committee favored presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders, as Sanders had alleged during his campaign. Thousands of Sanders supporters took to the streets of Philadelphia in protest Sunday.

Democratic Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said she plans to resign after the convention. It’s unclear if there will be any other fallout from the email scandal.

At the start of Monday’s breakfast, Groen asked all delegates committed to Sanders and his supporters to stand up. He applauded them, and the large crowd followed suit.

“OK, you can sit down now,” Groen joked after the lengthy applause.

“We want you, we need you, we want you to be part of us,” Groen, a Philadelphia attorney and former chair of the Montgomery County Democrats, told the Sanders supporters. “We need your thoughts, your passion and your ideas … In order to speak with one voice, it can’t just be your voice and it can’t just be our voice. It has to be all of our voices.”

Other speakers Monday echoed Groen’s call for unity, including U.S. Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Bob Casey of Scranton, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign manager.

Ellison, the lone member of the House Black Caucus to endorse Sanders, made a direct appeal to Sanders’ supporters. Ensuring the development of a progressive agenda, he told them, “requires all of us to get out there and fight.”

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker speaks to Pennsylvania delegates at the Democratic National Convention.
U.S. Sen. Cory Booker speaks to Pennsylvania delegates at the Democratic National Convention.

Booker, one of the finalists for the vice presidential position that Clinton offered to Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, gave a rousing speech that brought the crowd to its feet.

“It’s never about what (Republicans) say – It’s about what we do,” Booker said. “This is a party with a purpose. You’ve got to stand up and get off the sidelines.”

In trying to compliment Booker, Groen took an unintentional swipe at Casey – the next speaker – by saying that Casey didn’t have the oratory skills of Booker. The crowd groaned, but Casey took the dig in stride, noting how a columnist once compared his personality to oatmeal.

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.

Casey said the two key issues at stake in this election are economic security and national security – and the Democratic ticket is well-positioned to deal with both issues, given their experience. Casey said he worked closely with both Clinton and Kaine during his time in the Senate.

“The good news here for our candidates and for us is that we have two candidates who are serious candidates … they are serious enough to put on paper what they would do if elected. The other side doesn’t have that,” Casey said.

Podesta said Clinton’s campaign already has 30 offices open across Pennyslvania and it plans to open more. More than 300 organizers are campaigning on Clinton’s behalf.

“We are working to build a real coordinated campaign. We have a message and a candidate that this country needs,” Podesta said.

This story was first posted Monday, July 25, 2016 at 12:30 p.m.

Pennsylvania shares pride of place at Democratic convention

BY TOM FONTAINE  tfontaine@tribweb.com

Pennsylvania’s delegation to the Democratic National Convention is one of eight that will be seated on the convention floor at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center.

Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and her running mate, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, have close ties to several states on the floor.

Clinton’s father was from Scranton, and she was baptized and spent her childhood summers in Pennsylvania. She was born Illinois, formerly served as First Lady of Arkansas, and served as a senator from New York. Kaine currently serves Virginia in the U.S. Senate.

Delegations from Florida, Iowa and Nebraska are also on the convention floor.

The remaining 49 delegations will be in the lower level of the arena, which seats 19,500 people. The convention opens Monday afternoon and runs through Thursday.

Pennsylvania has 210 Democratic delegates, of which 127 are committed to Clinton and 83 to U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Immediately after convention, Clinton to launch bus tour into Pennsylvania, Ohio Rust Belt

This file photo taken on July 14, 2016 shows US Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and US Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, waving during a campaign rally at Ernst Community Cultural Center in Annandale, Virginia. (Getty Images)
This file photo taken on July 14, 2016 shows US Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and US Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, waving during a campaign rally at Ernst Community Cultural Center in Annandale, Virginia. (AFP/Getty Images)

BY SALENA ZITO  szito@tribweb.com

First stop for Hillary Clinton after her nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this week?
The Rust Belt.
Clinton and her running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, plan to launch a bus tour from Independence Hall straight into Donald Trump strongholds in Western Pennsylvania and Ohio, according to a Clinton aide.
The tour will focus on jobs and the economy and will include predominantly white, former industrial towns like Johnstown in Cambria County, where Mitt Romney won four years ago with 58 percent. The tour will also hit Youngstown and Columbus in Ohio.
Along the way, of course, the bus will stop in larger centers such as Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, but the fact the Democrats are focusing first on Pennsylvania and Ohio and going to places like Johnstown and Youngstown means they haven’t written off the areas where Trump’s campaign has gained considerable traction.
It may also be an indication the Democrats understand that in this election, Pennsylvania could be won – or lost – on the margins.
The bus will leave Philadelphia Friday, make a combination of public rallies, smaller issue events, and local retail stops across Pennsylvania on Friday and Saturday, enter Ohio Saturday night, and finish on Sunday.
This story was first posted Sunday, July 24, 2016 at 12:01 p.m.

In Cleveland some enjoyed history as well as politics

Black and white sailors load a shell into a siege gun, one one of the bronze sculptures on the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Cleveland's public square. Although blacks did not serve as soldiers in the Union army until 1863 and then only in a segregated capacity, the Navy - by tradition - had been integrated from the very beginning. Donald Gilliland photo
Black and white sailors load a shell into a siege gun, one one of the bronze sculptures on the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Cleveland’s public square. Although blacks did not serve as soldiers in the Union army until 1863 and then only in a segregated capacity, the Navy – by tradition – had been integrated from the very beginning. Donald Gilliland photo


BY TOM FONTAINE
 tfontaine@tribweb.com

Thousands of visitors flocked to Public Square in Cleveland’s downtown during the Republican National Convention.

Many went there to protest, but some learned about history.

The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument commemorates Cuyahoga County’s 9,000 Civil War veterans. Throughout the week, the monument’s executive director Tim Daley sat in front of the monument and told its story.

Tim Daley, executive director of the Cuyahoga County Soldiers & Sailors Monument in Cleveland.  Donald Gilliland photo
Tim Daley, executive director of the Cuyahoga County Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Monument in Cleveland.

“Only 10 percent of native Clevelanders have ever been inside” the monument, Daley said, noting the commission that takes care of the monument is working to change that.

The monument, built for $280,000 in 1894 and recently renovated for $2 million, is impressive. A 125-foot column towers above a memorial room and esplanade. The memorial room has four bronze relief statues that recognize the Women’s Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Aid Society, a forerunner to the Red Cross; the beginning of the war in Ohio; the emancipation of slaves; and the end of the war.

Busts also recognize officers who died in the Civil War.

Cuyahoga County, in which Cleveland is located, contributed greatly to the Civil War. The 9,000 men who served in the war represented about one-fifth of the county’s population, which was about 50,000 at the time, Daley said.

And of the men who served, about 1,100 died.

Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Cleveland.  Donald Gilliland photo
Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Cleveland. Donald Gilliland photo