Happy Holidays. It’s been quite a year. We started 2021 fending off an insurrection, and then weathered the various Republican onslaughts throughout the year against wearing masks, vaccinations, and just treating other people with respect. Republicans are now ending the year fighting common decency on a number of fronts.
THE 2020 “FORENSIC INVESTIGATION”
At the end of November, state senate Republicans chose Envoy Sage to be the company that would be in charge of what they are calling a “forensic investigation” of the 2020 election. Although two previous state audits found no fraud, and similar GOP engineered “investigations” in other states came up empty handed, Republicans in PA are willing to spend over $270,000 dollars of taxpayer money that will likely produce similar results.
The cost, however, pales against the loss of privacy to Pennsylvania voters if Envoy Sage is given permission by the Pennsylvania courts to obtain our driver’s license ID’s and partial Social Security Numbers.
Although Envoy Sage stipulates in its contract with Senate Republicans that such information will be protected, other sections of the document appear to call this assertion into question.
For example, the contract contains redactions of the pay rates for the various employment categories at the company (p. 28). The reason for the redactions is that “A record contains or reveals a trade secret or confidential proprietary information.” Yet, Envoy Sage provides information about hours and costs for many of the employee categories (pp 33, 34). Based upon my computations, I was able to obtain rates for most of these positions.
RATE STRUCTURE FOR ENVOY SAGE EMPLOYEE POSITIONSLabor CategoryHourly Labor Rate
Hourly Labor Rate
Communication & Media SME
Consultant Lvl 1
Consultant Lvl 2
Cyber Forensics SME Lvl 3
Investigator Lvl 2
IT Network SME
Legal Consultant Lvl 3
Researcher Lvl 1
Researcher Lvl 2
Voting Systems SME
If these numbers are correct, and Envoy Sage cannot adequately protect its own private data, why should we expect it to do a better job with ours?
Pennsylvania’s Republican House members this week produced its first draft of how the 17 Congressional districts will be formed. An analysis by FiveThirtyEight asserted that the draft leaned clearly to the right, as opposed to the partition of the current 18 districts which have been highly competitive since their creation in 2018.
Another analysis conducted by the Inquirer demonstrated that the votes in 10 of the 17 districts in the draft proposal went to Donald Trump in both 2016 and 2020.
Mehmet Oz, Medical Doctor, is to medicine what the Wizard of Oz is to wizardry. From weight loss nostrums such as green coffee extract and raspberry ketone to recommending hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, it is understandable why Claire McCaskill, when she was the chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance, declared to Dr. Oz that “the scientific community is almost monolithic against you.”
Not content with simply misleading the public about fraudulent medical information, the doctor is now trying to convince that the real land of Oz is in Pennsylvania rather than his mansion in northern New Jersey, thereby allowing him to run as a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate from the Keystone State. Regardless of all this bad publicity, however, Mehmet Oz’s celebrity has already brought him within two percentage points of the alleged Democratic frontrunner, Lt. Governor John Fetterman.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Next year, we will be electing a new Governor, a Senator, a State Supreme Court Justice, a new Congress, and a new state legislature. Voter registration is paramount right now, and school districts are the perfect place to begin to register new voters. You can advocate for a voter education and registration policy in your district by speaking at school board meetings or by writing emails to board members. Please email me If you live outside of Philadelphia and need more information about how to make this happen. If you live in the city, you can very easily write to the Board, City Council, and the Mayor’s Chief Education Officer.
AFSCME DC 47 has created a web page that makes this process painless.
2. enter your name, address, email;
3. click on START WRITING;
4. you will be carried to a second page where you can modify the letter, and sign your name; and
5. when you are through, simply click on SEND LETTER.