Monday, October 24, 2016

Christina Hartman, Chris Rabb receive “People’s Action 22” designation, two of nation’s 22 rising progressive stars

Christina Hartman, Chris Rabb receive “People’s Action 22” designation, two of nation’s 22 rising progressive stars

[HARRISBURG, PA]  Keystone Progress is excited to announce today that People’s Action, a national organization of more than a million people working with 48 local grassroots organizations across 29 states, is endorsing Christina Hartman for Congress CD-16, Lancaster) and Chris Rabb for State Representative (HD 200, Philadelphia).

The endorsement comes as People’s Action releases a national progressive slate of 22 candidates running for positions from local school boards to state legislative bodies to the U.S. Senate.

In endorsing Hartman and Rabb, People’s Action affirms that they have the leadership qualities, values, and vision needed to serve the people of Pennsylvania. As part of People’s Action 22, they will take her place alongside a slate of rising stars, building on the progressive political revolution ignited by Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.

They will join with other local candidates who are committed to fighting for people instead of corporations; standing up for racial and gender justice; working for a fair economy, and climate justice.

 “We thrilled that People’s Action has joined Keystone Progress in endorsing these two dynamic progressive leaders,” said Ritchie Tabachnick, the Chair of the Board of Keystone Progress. “We are part of a growing progressive movement with the power to win on our issues and to elect progressive champions who share our values in Pennsylvania.”

Other members of the People’s Action 22 include:
      Gina Melaragno, in Maine, who was inspired to run for state representative by her own experience with lack of health care access.
      Pramila Jayapal, a Washington state senator is a candidate for Congress, who founded Hate Free Zone (now OneAmerica) in response to hate and discrimination after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
      LaTonya Johnson, candidate for state senate in Wisconsin, owned and operated a child care center for 10 years, caring for Milwaukee’s poorest children and their parents, struggling to cover their basic needs.
      Zephyr Teachout, candidate for New York, U.S. House of Representatives, was the first executive director of the Sunlight Foundation, working for transparent government. She fought big banks and stopped fracking in New York.

“While the presidential election has often been dispiriting, there is tremendous hope down-ballot, with candidates from within our movement fighting for a just economy and a democracy that works for everyone,” said George Goehl, co-executive director of People’s Action.  

“Each of these candidates represents the world we believe is possible, one where everyone has what they need to reach their full potential. With these down-ballot candidates, we have a start on creating the world as it should be,” said Goehl.

Complete List of People's Action 22: Our slate of 2016 endorsed candidates

Russ Feingold                     Wisconsin, U.S. Senate
Christina Hartman             Pennsylvania, U.S. House of Representatives District 16
Pramila Jayapal                 Washington, U.S. House of Representatives, District 7
Zephyr Teachout                New York, U.S. House of Representatives, District 19

Heidi Brooks                       Maine, State House of Representatives District 61
Mari Cordes                         Vermont, House of Representatives, Addison, District  4
Arturo Fierro                       New Mexico, State House of Representatives District 7
Lauren Freedman              Michigan, Kalamazoo School Board
Kim Foxx                              Illinois, Cook County, State's Attorney
LaTonya Johnson              Wisconsin, State Senate District 6
Denise Lopez                    Nevada, Sparks City Council Ward 1
Theresa Mah                       Illinois, State House of Representatives, District 2
Gina Melaragno                  Maine, State House of Representatives District 62
Sara Niccoli                         New York, State Senate, District 46
Ilhan Omar                           Minnesota, State House of Representatives District 60B
Chris Rabb                           Pennsylvania, State House of Representatives District 200
Jamie Raskin                      Maryland, Congressional District 8
Gustavo Rivera                  New York, State Senate District 33
J. Alejandro Urrutia           New Hampshire, State House of Representatives District                                                                                          Hillsborough 37
Andru Volinsky                   New Hampshire, Executive Council Dist. 2
Mandy Wright                      Wisconsin, State Assembly, District 85
David Zuckerman              Vermont, Lieutenant Governor

# # #

People’s Action is a powerful new force for democracy and economic fairness. From family farms to big cities, from coast to coast, we’re fighting for community over greed, justice over racism, and people and planet over big corporations.

Keystone Progress is Pennsylvania’s largest and most effective progressive organization. Combining cutting-edge communication strategies with old-school community organizing, Keystone Progress is organizing in communities across the commonwealth, building chapters that put people and planet first.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Faculty at PA State Universities Strike

Andrea Sears, Public News Service

Faculty say they were forced to strike when state negotiators did not return to the bargaining table. (David Chambers)
Faculty say they were forced to strike when state negotiators did not return to the bargaining table. (David Chambers)
HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Faculty at Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities are on strike after contract negotiations came to a standstill Tuesday night. More than 5,000 members of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties took to the picket lines early Wednesday morning.

David Chambers, chair of the political science department at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, said the state didn't return to the bargaining table after its last offer was rejected.

"Our team was available and remained through the night in the negotiation room and in fact attempted a back-channel communication and heard nothing,” Chambers said. "There were no responses from the state system at all."

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education said it offered $159 million in raises, but the faculty disputes that number. According to Chambers, union negotiators have been unable to find that total in the figures the state system has offered.

"Even if $159 million was true, it's misleading because it does not take into consideration the $70 million to $90 million that the chancellor is asking for in givebacks,” Chambers said.

The union said it offered $ 50 million in concessions, but the state system is demanding more.

The last contract expired more than a year ago, and contract talks have been going on for almost two years. The strike is the first since the system was created 34 years ago. According to Chambers, walking off the job was a last resort.

"We were pushed to this point,” he said. "So our hope is that the strike will demonstrate to the chancellor our resolve, which will result in a shorter strike, and hopefully back to the negotiation table."

Union president Kenneth Mash has said faculty members will return to work when negotiators have agreed on a new contract.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

PA Could Be Carbon-Free by 2050

Andrea Sears, Public News Service 

Switching to 100 percent renewable source would save $9 billion in energy and fuel costs in Pennsylvania in 2050 alone. (USDA/Wikimedia Commons)
Switching to 100 percent renewable source would save $9 billion in energy and fuel costs in Pennsylvania in 2050 alone. (USDA/Wikimedia Commons)
BRISTOL, Pa. - The Keystone State could get all its power from renewable energy sources and generate thousands of jobs by the middle of this century, according to a new report.

Titled "Envisioning Pennsylvania's Energy Future," the report outlines a plan for increased investments in wind and solar power and energy efficiency that would virtually eliminate reliance on fossil fuels. According to Tracy Carluccio, deputy director of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, electricity consumers would see savings of $134 billion over 35 years.

"Also, as a result of these policies," she said, "the report calculates that we will see a net increase of nearly 500,000 jobs over this same period of time."

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network is sponsoring a free webinar on the report at 1 p.m. Thursday. Information is available at

Energy efficiency and conservation are major components of the plan. Carluccio said the technology to substantially reduce the amount of electricity generation required to power the state already exists.

"It's not just a substitution," she said. "It's not just a policy that will help us stretch a dollar, but will actually replace the need for the generation of dirty fossil fuels."

The plan also relies on the electrification of transportation and heating, as well as modernization of building codes to conserve energy.

Pennsylvania is the third-largest energy-producing state and top electricity-exporting state in the nation. Carluccio said the Commonwealth needs to be a major contributor to the global effort to cut greenhouse-gas emissions and fight climate change.

"We must lead by example and become a model for the rest of the nation," she said, "and say we do not need fossil fuels in order to meet our energy needs."

The report, prepared for the Delaware Riverkeeper Network by EQ Research and Synapse Energy Economics, is online at

Friday, October 7, 2016

Students Sue School District Over Transgender Bathroom Policy

Andrea Sears, Public News Service 

Elissa Ridenour, 18, says she has been using the girls restrooms without incident since she entered high school. (Lambda Legal)
Elissa Ridenour, 18, says she has been using the girls restrooms without incident since she entered high school. (Lambda Legal)
PITTSBURGH – Three transgender high school seniors are taking their school district to federal court over its newly-enacted restroom policy. Three weeks ago, the Pine-Richland School Board passed a resolution prohibiting transgender students from using restrooms that match their gender identity.

Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, a staff attorney with Lambda Legal, said the board had been warned repeatedly by the students, and by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education, that the policy it had been discussing since last spring is unconstitutional.

"And they also did it knowing the harms that arise out of having a policy that discriminates on the basis of gender identity, and that erase and do not recognize the gender identity of students," he said.

The lawsuit, filed in the federal district court in Pittsburgh, asks for a permanent injunction preventing enforcement of the policy.

Gonzalez-Pagan said the new bathroom policy has created a problem where there was none. He noted that the students filing the complaint say they'd never had a problem using the restrooms appropriate to their gender identities.

"The reality is that our students were recognized and respected by their peers, teachers, and the school district as who they are," he added. "And they've been using the restrooms that match their gender identity for as long as they've been presenting as their true selves."

One of the students has been presenting as female since she entered high school.

Gonzalez-Pagan pointed out that the policy at Pine-Richland runs counter to the wave of acceptance and tolerance that has been sweeping Pennsylvania.

"In the last year, nearly a dozen school districts have passed affirming, respectful policies that allow transgender students to use the restrooms that match their gender identity," he explained.

The resolution instituting the transgender restroom policy was passed on September 12th by a five-to-four vote of the Pine-Richland School Board.