BLUE PENNSYLVANIA: A WEEK IN THE NEWS

One of the big local news items this past week was the book ban that the Central Bucks School Board approved for its school libraries.

According to USA Today, “The policy sets criteria for the selection, removal and replacement of books. …Any resident living in the school district could challenge a book in one of its libraries, giving what an ACLU representative in May called an “unlimited” discretion for people to go after books they don’t like and poses serious free speech concerns. “


Opponents of the ban have made the case that the voices of racial, ethnic, and gender minorities will be silenced by the policy, whereas proponents have argued that there is too much age-inappropriate content already languishing of library shelves. Yet it is disturbing that these proponents feel that it’s OK to revert to the types of racist and antisemitic language and tropes in their testimony to the school board that they say that they are against.


At the state level, this type of policy has been encapsulated in legislation such as PA HB 1532, with a short title of “An Act providing for restrictions on racist and sexist concepts, for contracts, for penalty and for private cause of action.” If such a bill became law, classroom discussions around school funding could be cause for a school district to lose state money.


While the Central Bucks School District has acquiesced to antisemites, Doug Mastriano appears to be distancing himself from them, after his recent campaign to woo followers from the newly registered on Gab, a social media site known for its antisemitic posts. Mastriano is realizing that Pennsylvania’s voters are more sophisticated than the socially challenged individuals who populate Gab’s chatrooms. In defending his association with Gab, Mastriano said, “While extremist speech is an unfortunate but inevitable cost of living in a free society, extremist policies are not, and the only candidate in this election who wants to impose extreme policies in Pennsylvania — inflation, crime, lockdowns and mandates — is Josh Shapiro…”


So, before examining Shapiro’s “extreme” inflation and crime policies, let’s surf over to Mastriano’s website, to see how he would address these issues. Mastriano’s only remedy for addressing inflation appears to be the “Immediate establishment of working group to slash the gas tax while maintaining level funding for roads and bridges.” A working group? That’s not much of a plan, since taxes or tolls, in one form or another, will be needed to keep roads and bridges in proper working order.


Mastriano’s website doesn’t address crime per se, but it does aspire to make Pennsylvania a Constitutional Carry State, and to “Establish PA as a ‘Second Amendment Sanctuary’ from misguided Federal laws and orders.” We know that more guns will only exacerbate the problem. Not only did the gun toting law officers in Uvalde, Texas fail to prevent a psychopathic criminal from killing 21 people, but such good guys with guns are sometimes directly responsible for the deaths of innocent people, like 8-year-old Fanta Bility, who was killed last year by Sharon Hill officers in pursuit of other active shooters.


And what exactly are Josh Shapiro’s “extreme” inflation and crime policies? According to his website, he will

· issue gas tax refunds of $250 for every personal passenger vehicle registered in the

Commonwealth, up to four per household (or $1,000).

· eliminate the state cell phone tax – specifically, the gross receipt and sales tax on

cell phone service.

· lower household costs by expanding the Property Tax and Rent Rebate program,

increasing the maximum rebate to $1,000 and making the program available to over

275,000 more eligible people.


With regard to crime, his website speaks to how, as Attorney General, he has already gotten illegal firearms, ghost guns, and drug dealers of the streets while developing a criminal justice system that is impartial, efficient, and less costly to taxpayers.

But there is one more issue that separates Mastriano from the “extreme crime and inflation policies” of Josh Shapiro. This week marks the anniversary of the minimum wage of $7.25/hr., which has been on the books in Pennsylvania for the past 13 years. Not only does this fixed rate reduce buying power due to inflation ($7.25 is worth 33% less than when it was enacted 13 years ago), but crime might also be a by-product of preventing wages to rise. An analysis of participants in summer youth programs in Massachusetts where the minimum wage was $14.95/hr. concluded that participants were 35% less likely to be involved in a violent crime, and 29% less likely to be involved in a property crime. Mastriano is firmly against raising the minimum wage, while Shapiro supports raising it to at least $15/hr.

Now it’s your turn to weigh in on inflation, crime, hate, free speech, guns, and the minimum wage. Below are a number of ways that you can influence voters and would-be voters in the upcoming election to see things the way that you do and to motivate them to vote.

THINGS TO DO

CANVASSING

Wednesday, August 3, from 3:45-5:45 PM at 2 Walnut Grove Dr., Suite 107, Horsham, PA 19044 for Melissa Cerrato for State Rep. SIGN UP HERE.

If you would like to carpool from High Point Allen Lane, please also email geomstern@gmail.com.

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Saturday, August 6, from 12 - 2 PM at 320 Penn St., Reading, PA 19602, for Johanny Cepeda-Freytiz. SIGN UP HERE.

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Sunday, August 7, from 11 AM - 2 PM at (register for the Doylestown address) for Tim Brennan. SIGN UP HERE.


PHONE BANKING

Sundays from anywhere (virtual phone bank) for Josh Shapiro and John Fetterman. SIGN UP HERE

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Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from anywhere (virtual phone bank) for Bucks County candidates. SIGN UP HERE

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Fridays from anywhere (virtual phone bank) for Western Montco candidates. SIGN UP HERE


TEXTING

Help to send voter registration info to unregistered voters in PA. through texting. Field Team 6 is holding weekly voter registration boot camps. The next one is this Thursday August 4th and once you register, they will send you an email with instructions for getting your computer setup to run their system.

Please see the SIGN UP HERE.


CONTRIBUTIONS


FUNDRAISER FOR MELISSA CERRATO FOR STATE REP

Local activists and volunteers are hosting a fundraiser in Mt Airy on August 9, from 6-8 PM, for Melissa Cerrato. We hope you can join! SIGN UP & DONATE HERE.


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