Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
I get a ton of reader email. Some of it is friendly. Some of it is critical. And some of it? Well, when I read it, I am reminded that there are endless permutations of the most famous of the Anglo-Saxon curse words. And, to your eternal credit, you are not shy about deploying it.
But an email from one reader, Robin F., that arrived after Wednesday’s column criticizing two Republican lawmakers’ stances on the COVID-19 vaccine and mask requirements, caught me up, and gave me some food for thought.
“Who writes this?” Robin asked. “This is slighted and biased. This is not what journalism should be at all.”
An excellent question, and one that deserves an answer: The Morning Coffee is an opinion column, written every morning by me, Capital-Star Editor-in-Chief John L. Micek.
Like all opinion columns, it represents my opinion only, and not that of the Capital-Star as a news organization, nor any of its employees or staff. It also is clearly labeled as ‘Commentary” on our home page, so readers know exactly what they’re in for when they open it.
But that’s not the case with this newsletter, and starting this morning, that’s going to change. Notably, you’re always going to see my byline, so you’ll know exactly who’s behind this column every day.
And even though I’ve been at this a while now, the Capital-Star, which launched as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit newsroom in February 2019, is still a relatively young news organization.
Thanks to a marketing drive that our parent organization, States Newsroom, conducted last year, we’ve been blessed to welcome many thousands of engaged readers from both within and without Pennsylvania who, while they’re politically savvy and opinionated, aren’t necessarily familiar with me or our news organization.
So a word or two about us.
If you’ve seen our masthead, then you know we’re devoted to bringing you honest and aggressive coverage of Pennsylvania state government, politics, and policy. And we mean it. Staff Reporters Stephen Caruso and Elizabeth Hardison, along with Associate Editor Cassie Miller, bring you the kind of hard-nosed, fact-driven reporting that you have a right to expect from any newsroom, without fear or favor. Our coverage over these last 24 months has borne that out.
We’re also committed to bringing you coverage that looks like Pennsylvania.
And thanks to our partnerships with The Philadelphia Tribune, Philadelphia’s historically Black newspaper; the Philadelphia Gay News, Presente: Pittsburgh Latino Magazine, and Pittsburgh City Paper, we’re able to bring you voices and stories from across the state that you might not have a chance to read otherwise.
On our Commentary Page, you’ll find a wide array of opinion from commentary writers from Pennsylvania and beyond, Our dedicated roster of in-house contributors similarly reflects the diversity of the nation’s sixth-most populous state. And on our Estrella-Capital page, you’ll find Spanish language coverage for Pennsylvania’s ever-growing and vibrant Latino population.
As a matter of further transparency, I curate the Commentary Page. And, as is the case with any news organization, there is a strict division between opinion and news.
But back to this newsletter.
If you’ve been reading for a while now, and I know a lot of you have, then you’ve probably noticed that it’s a mix of straight reporting and opinion on goings-on under the Capitol dome in Harrisburg and Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. But regardless of where the news happens, it’s always focused on how the intersection of politics and policy affects Pennsylvania and your every day life.
I’m unabashedly progressive. And I make no apology for that. An opinion column needs a strong point of view. That said, I am also perfectly willing to take ideological fellow travelers to task as the occasion demands.
We won’t always agree. And that’s fine. But I do hope you’ll come away as entertained as you are informed.
When I started writing this column a decade-and-a-half ago, it was with the goal of creating a place to hang out, where readers could engage in the free exchange of ideas. That’s still the goal. So if you have column suggestions and story tips, a birthday or career or life change you want mentioned, or a new song burning up your speakers, don’t hesitate to drop me a line at [email protected].
I’ve loved our conversation so far. I’m looking forward to keeping it going.
John L. Micek | Editor
Elizabeth Hardison leads our coverage with a new Franklin & Marshall College poll, the first of the post-Terry Madonna era, finding that half of Pa.’s registered Republicans say they approve of the GOP’s Jan. 6 votes against the Electoral College results certifying President Joe Biden’s victory.
Two Lackawanna County Democratic lawmakers, Reps. Kyle Mullins and Marty Flynn, are vying for the 22nd Senate District seat formerly held by Sen. John Blake. Local Dems pick their candidate on Saturday, Stephen Caruso reports.
The U.S. House has sent President Joe Biden a sprawling, $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package that includes billions of dollars in assistance for Pennsylvania. Capital-Star Washington Reporter Laura Olson, with an assist from me, has the details.
On our Commentary Page this morning, this March 24 is Red Cross Giving Day, and the head of the central Pennsylvania branch of the venerable emergency aid organization wants your help so it can help your neighbors in need. And curtailing absentee voting could end up coming back to bite Republicans, opinion regular John A. Tures argues.
Pennsylvania’s senior citizens are ‘at their wit’s end’ trying to get the COVID-19 vaccine, the Inquirer reports.
Officials in Allegheny County are asking residents to avoid large St. Patrick’s Day gatherings, the Tribune-Review reports.
With the supply of vaccine growing, Pa. logged two days of 110,000 shots, PennLive reports.
A new report reviews three rebuilding scenarios for the site of the former Allentown State Hospital, the Morning Call reports.
HACC, Harrisburg’s community college, will extend its online education through this fall, LancasterOnline reports.
Luzerne County’s decision to declare the district attorney’s office vacant sparked chaos on Wednesday, the Citizens’ Voice reports.
Central Pennsylvania’s Rutter’s convenience store chain is going to make its pandemic pay hikes permanent, the York Daily Record reports.
Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:
View this post on Instagram
Gyms and restaurants in New Jersey will soon start operating at 50 percent capacity, WHYY-FM reports.
On its first day of operation, a new mass vaccination site in Lancaster County vaccinated 500 people, WITF-FM reports.
State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, is pushing a bill that he says would increase transparency about the membership and composition of local boards and commissions, GoErie reports.
The state Department of Labor & Industry says it’s adding 500 to 1,000 new employees at its call centers, the Observer-Reporter reports.
President Joe Biden will visit Delaware County next Tuesday, PoliticsPA reports.
A hack in Florida has exposed the vulnerabilities of public water systems, Stateline.org reports.
Planning for a post-pandemic Congress is already under way, Roll Call reports.
The Biden White House’s next big legislative package may tackle China, NYMag’s Intelligencer reports.
What Goes On.
Budget hearings continue before the Senate Appropriations Committee today. All sessions are live-streamed from the Senate floor.
10 a.m: Department of Environmental Protection
1:30 p.m.: Department of State
In the House:
10 a.m., 205 Ryan: House Commerce Committee
10 a.m., G50 Irvis: House Democratic Policy Committee
You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to Tim Mack in the office of U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-4th District, who celebrates today. Congratulations, sir. May your day be filled with grime and favorable football headlines.
Who You Calling a Neanderthal Dept?
President Joe Biden made our nearest evolutionary ancestor cool again when he unfavorably compared Republicans to Neanderthals the other week. As Inverse notes, Neanderthals, unlike Republicans, may have become extinct earlier from the scene than previously thought.
Moment Of Zen Dept.
Because your day is provably better with video of birds in it, here’s a whole mess of snow geese gathering in Lancaster County on Monday (via LancasterOnline).
Proof of Human Kindness.
The Philly AIDS Thrift has announced it’s awarding $200,000 in grants benefiting 24 Philly-area organizations fighting HIV/AIDS during the pandemic, our partners at the Philadelphia Gay News report.
The legendary U2 record, ‘The Joshua Tree,’ celebrated its 34th anniversary earlier this week. It’s impossible to pick just one song from this landmark LP, so here’s the super-deluxe reissue, which should keep you busy for the next three hours-plus.
Thursday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
Los Angeles goalie Troy Grosenick won his first start in six years as the Kings skated past rivals the Anaheim Ducks 5-1 on Wednesday night. Grosenick made 33 saves after last playing in the NHL in 2014.
And now you’re up to date.
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