3 things that will give you hope that democracy isn’t crumbling – and one that might | Thursday Morning Coffee

October 1, 2020 7:22 am

United States flags blow in the wind in Malibu, Calif. Getty Images

Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

After Tuesday night’s Conflagration in Cleveland, it’s pretty easy to believe (entirely justifiably) that we’re living at the end of the Empire, to think that, any moment now, we’re going to take a look out the window and spy Odoacer and his fellow Goths ambling over the hills, getting ready to party like it’s 476.

So, before we all sit down with a pint of Yes Indeed It’s A Rocky Road, with just one spoon, and give into a Morrissey-rivaling level of despair, here’s a list of three things that happened under the state Capitol dome — and elsewhere — to give you some hope that the wheels of government, however rickety they are, continue to turn.

1. Sweating the small stuff: A bill sponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Lisa Baker, R-Luzerne, that makes it easier to fill a vacant county district attorney’s post in counties with a population of 210,000 people or fewer, has now become law. The new statute clarifies both residency requirements and the order of succession, Baker’s office said in a statement.

“This small change ensures an orderly transition for future district attorney vacancies in rural counties,” Baker said in a statement released by her office. “It is a good reminder that solid legislation tends to be rooted in the community and greatly influenced by local residents.”

(Screen Capture)

2. History Repeats and Rhymes, Dept.
The state House met in ceremonial session at Grace United Methodist Church, on State Street, just blocks from the Capitol, to commemorate its 200th anniversary. The church also housed the General Assembly when the Capitol burned down in 1897.

Also of note:

(Twitter screen capture)

3. The Kids Are Alright, Redux.

(NextGen America image)

A new poll by NexGen America, the advocacy group founded by billionaire Tom Steyer, suggests that the U.S. might be in for a record turnout among young Americans this voting season.

The poll found that motivation among young voters noticeably ticked upward with last week’s death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the nomination battle that’s shortly to get underway in the U.S. Senate, NextGen said in a statement.

“If you would have told me two weeks ago the stakes would be even higher for young people in this election, I wouldn’t have believed you,” said NextGen America Executive Director Ben Wessel in a statement. “After Justice Ginsburg’s passing, our rights to health care, marriage equality, and more are so clearly on the line. As Americans of all ages begin to cast their ballots, we are seeing the motivation of young people continue to rise.”

Rep. Garth Everett, R-Lycoming, announced he is retiring at the end of his current term. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

4. And one thing to annoy you.

As the Capital-Star’s Stephen Caruso reported Wednesday, a resolution now before the House State Government Committee setting up a Republican-helmed Election Oversight Commission prompted no small amount of agita among Democrats, who fear it could enable the GOP to steal the election because it would be allowed to “conduct unlimited investigations of the upcoming election including the ability to subpoena election officials from anywhere in the state,” House Minority Leader Frank Dermody’s, D-Allegheny, office said in a statement.

“This dangerous and unprecedented power grab by one caucus in the General Assembly holds the potential to create massive chaos by interfering with an election while it’s in progress,” Dermody said in a statement.

State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Philadelphia, was even more stark in his warning:

“Democracies die slowly,” Kenyatta said, according to the Associated Press. “And I think that this bill would be a fatal blow to our democracy.”

Committee Chairman Garth Everett, R-Lycoming, the proposal’s sponsor, said the bill only would be used after the election, Caruso reported. The bill was reported to the full House on a party line vote of 15-10. It could come to a vote before the full chamber as soon as today, according to Andy Hoover of the Pennsylvania office of the American Civil Liberties Union.

(Screen Capture)

Dept. of Advertising.
Democratic 10th Congressional District candidate Eugene DePasquale is out with a new ad touting the two-term auditor general’s efforts to help clear a backlog of some 3,000 untested rape kits. By May of this year, four years after announcing that staggering figure, the backlog was down to less than 100, the Tribune-Review reported at the time.

The DePasquale campaign views the ad, the latest in a series of bio and attack spots, as its strongest argument yet for DePasquale’s candidacy as he runs against GOP U.S. Rep. Scott Perry in one of the most closely watched contests in the country. Perry’s been on the attack in his newest ad.

Eugene’s work eliminating the state’s rape kit backlog speaks to who he is, and the representative he will be for south-central Pennsylvania,” spokesman Kunal Atit told the Capital-Star. “Eugene never has and never will, back down from the hard fights on behalf of those in need, and on November 3rd, we are confident the residents of [the 10th District] will elect him to fight for them in Congress.”

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)

Our Stuff.
You asked for it — and we delivered: Here’s the Capital-Star’s clickable, county-by-county, map, compiled by Staff Reporter Elizabeth Hardisonof every place you can hand-deliver your ballot this voting season. From county election offices to drop boxes, Hardison has you covered.

Correspondent Tom Lisi has what you need to know about the Pittsburgh iteration of Joe Biden’s whistle-stop campaign tour, which took him from Cleveland to Johnstown on Wednesday.

Philadelphia’s Black-owned businesses need help if they’re going to survive the pandemic, the president of the U.S. Black Chamber told our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune.

On our Commentary Page, Peter Buck, the Democratic candidate for the Centre County-based 171st District, rebuts a recent Capital-Star op-Ed by House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre. Philly Attorney Linda Kerns says the Pa. Supreme Court made the wrong call with its recent mail-in ballot decision. And this is what you should be talking about when you’re talking about the Black vote, opinion regular Ana White writes.

(Image via

The memory sticks that are used to power Philly’s voting machines have been stolen from an election warehouse, the Inquirer reports.
Jill Biden met with small business leaders during an event in Crabtree, Pa., on Wednesday. The Tribune-Review has the details.
PennLive looks at the debate dividing the Central Dauphin schools: Returning full-time to the classroom or sticking with hybrid learning.
President Donald Trump’s complaints about Philadelphia poll watchers was ‘disinformation,’ Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said Wednesday, the Morning Call reports.
The St. Louis couple that pulled guns on protesters barnstormed for the Trump campaign in NEPA, the Citizens-Voice reports.

Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:


View this post on Instagram


• #raw_pennsylvania • . Featured: @eyeseekbeauty . . ________________________________________________ C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S ! ! ! ________________________________________________ . Selected by: @kylefreddy . Mod on @raw_pennsylvania. . . Raw Memberships. . 5 features on any of our RAW pages makes you a member. . 15 features on any combination of our RAW pages makes you a VIP MEMBER. . 15 features on 15 DIFFERENT RAW pages makes you a VIP GOLD MEMBER. . 35 features on 35 different RAW pages makes you a PLATINUM MEMBER. . 55 features on 55 different RAW pages makes you an ELITE MEMBER. . 80 features on 80 different RAW pages makes you a HALL OF FAME MEMBER. . DIAMOND MEMBER: by invitation only. . Please follow and contact @raw_community_member if you have any questions about your membership level. Membership must be displayed in bio to be featured as member. . . Cc: RAW_Community_Owners . • @chefjane • @kristina_nicolina • . Join us in our fresh, creative new movement. Follow @raw_community and @raw_artgallery_ . Please check out @raw_kingdom for more of our RAW_community pages. • #raw_community . #pennsylvania #pennsylvaniaphotographer #visitpa #onlyinpennsylvania #pa #pittsburgh #412 #pgh #lovepgh #cityofbridges #philly #visitphilly #cityofbrotherlylove #lovephilly #215 #phillystreets #erie #814 #harrisburg #centralpa . Tags for Raw use only: #raw_featured #raw_featured_eyeseekbeauty #raw_pennsylvania_eyeseekbeauty You might be interested in @raw_colours_

A post shared by Pennsylvania • Urban (@raw_pennsylvania) on

Bad stuff in Philly? WHYY-FM takes a look at the good stuff that happened in the city during the pandemic.
Coronavirus cases are dropping in Allegheny CountyWESA-FM reports. looks at how the pandemic has curtailed community policing at a time when better community relations are more important than ever.
U.S. Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif.used simple math to ‘flummox’ a Big Pharma exec during committee action on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. The Cut has the details.

What Goes On.
The House comes in at 11 a.m.
10 a.m., Capitol Steps: 
Dignity for Incarcerated Women event
11 a.m, Capitol Fountain: The fountain gets turned pink for Breast Cancer Awareness

Gov. Tom Wolf heads to Chester County for a joint appearance with state Rep. Christine Howard, D-Chester, and state Sen. Tim Kearney, D-Delaware. The 1:30 p.m. newser is devoted to discussing what will happen to women’s healthcare if the Affordable Care Act is toppled.

Heavy Rotation.
Back on The Killers tip today. Here’s frontman Brandon Flowers doing an absolutely gorgeous solo acoustic performance of ‘Read My Mind.’

Thursday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
Hail and farewell, Hank. The New York Rangers stunned the hockey world on Wednesday, announcing they’d bought out the final year of legendary goalkeeper — and fan favorite — Hendrik Lundquivst’s contract. The Swede played an epic 15 seasons with the team. He’s now an unrestricted free agent, joining what ESPN describes as a crowded market of veteran keepers as the signing period starts on Oct. 9. Here’s hoping Seattle scoops him up, sparking a Marc Andre Fleury second chapter.

And now you’re up to date.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

John L. Micek
John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.