The Office of the Communications Director
News Briefing | 8/31/2018
Philly Voice, John Kopp, Rod Rosenstein pledges swift federal response if safe injection site opens in Philly
The U.S. Department of Justice will take swift action against any safe injection site that opens in Philadelphia or elsewhere in the United States, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Wednesday. Philadelphia officials have pledged to welcome any private company that wants to establish a safe injection site where drug users can take opioids under the supervision of medical personnel and without fear of arrest. But in an op-ed published Monday by The New York Times, Rosenstein promised a “swift and aggressive action” from the federal government should a city approve a safe injection site. He reiterated that threat Wednesday when speaking with WHYY’s Bobby Allyn. “They’re not just handing out (clean) needles – they’re actually inviting people to bring these illegal drugs into their places of business,” Rosenstein said. “If you start down that road, you’re really going to undermine the deterrent message that I think is so important in order to prevent people from becoming addicted in the future.”
The Morning Call, Peter Hall, Ex-Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer guilty on all counts
jury convicted former Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer on Thursday of 11 criminal charges related to a pay-to-play scheme in which federal prosecutors said he traded public works contracts for campaign contributions and bribed the City Council president to repeal a law limiting how much campaign money he could accept. “By and large the consensus was that the weight of the evidence was in the mayor’s own words. He condemned himself,” jury foreman Pete Castor of Lancaster said. Spencer showed little emotion as Castor read the verdicts in a soft, sometimes barely audible voice. His attorney, Geoffrey Johnson, offered consolation, putting his arm around Spencer as the foreman’s words sank in. “We’re assessing our options and we will keep up the good fight,” said Johnson, who called the verdict disappointing and surprising. “I think we have substantial legal challenges on a number of the counts.”
PennLive, Jan Murphy, Pa. House policy banning non-believers from delivering opening invocation ruled unconstitutional
A federal judge has ordered the House of Representatives to allow nontheists – those who don’t believe in a supreme deity – to be given the opportunity to offer an opening invocation at the start of House sessions. In a court ruling in a lawsuit filed by the nonbelievers issued late Wednesday, U.S. Middle District Judge Christopher Conner also declared the House’s opening prayer policy to be unconstitutional. The problem for Pennsylvania’s House is that its guest chaplain policy “categorically excludes those who would present an uplifting message of hope, mutual respect, and peace yet – based upon their nontheistic beliefs – would fail to incorporate theistic entreaties to a divine or higher power,” the judge found.
Philadelphia Inquirer, Editorial Board, A ‘people’s debate’ between Wolf and Wagner would be a great democratic exercise. We’ll even host it.
Debate is one of the cornerstones of a healthy democracy. And in a time when many people are fretting over the state of our democracy, robust debate is even more important. That’s why we’re disappointed that Gov. Wolf has agreed to only one debate with his rival for office, former state Sen. Scott Wagner. Even more disappointing: the single debate he’s agreed to will cost $300 a ticket for members of the public. The election is less than 70 days away, when voters in Pennsylvania must decide to give Wolf, a Democrat, another four years or hand the keys to the governor’s mansion to Wagner, a Republican. According to multiple independent polls, Wolf is holding a strong lead — averaging 15.5 points. The Wagner campaign claims that they invited Wolf to debate multiple times — including a call for 67 debates – one in each county in Pennsylvania. The Wolf campaign called the invitation a gimmick. Speaking of gimmicks, the single debate currently confirmed by both campaigns will feature Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek as moderator and last just 45 minutes. It will serve as the entertainment for the Pa. Chamber of Business and Industry’s Annual Dinner. Members will pay $275; non-members, $300 ticket. The questions will focus on “topic that are critical to Pennsylvania businesses.” The chamber says that the 45 minutes will be aired on Pennsylvania Cable Network and perhaps other outlets.
PoliticsPA, John Cole, PA8: Cartwright and Chrin Strike Different Tones in New Attack Ads
Different kinds of attacks. Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Lackawanna) and GOP challenger John Chrin (R-Skytop) have released two new ads this week continuing the trend of attack ads in the race for the 8th Congressional District. Cartwright’s newest 30 second television ad, titled “John Chrin Runs for Congress” has an actors portrayal of Chrin contemplating a run for Congress in a Wall Street office. “This is what it’s going to cost you to buy a seat in New Jersey or Pennsylvania,” says an actor playing the role as an assistant to Chrin showing a bar graph.
Reuters, Julie Gordon & Sharay Angulo, U.S., Canada slug it out as deadline looms to clinch NAFTA
Canada and the United States will make a final push to iron out differences on a pact to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) by a Friday deadline set by President Donald Trump, but the atmosphere soured late on Thursday according to a media report. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland were unable to clinch a deal despite meeting late into the evening on Thursday. They will reconvene on Friday morning, with Mexico on standby to return to talks aimed at ending a year of hard-fought three-way negotiations. But Canadian officials are now expressing concern that a final NAFTA deal will not be concluded on Friday, the Globe and Mail reported, citing a source familiar with situation.
CBS, Staff Reports, Trump says Jeff Sessions’ job is safe for now
President Trump has repeatedly attacked Attorney General Jeff Sessions. But Mr. Trump told Bloomberg News that his job is safe, at least until after the midterm elections. CBS News Washington correspondent Paula Reid reports.
Slate, Isaac Chotiner, Does Andrew Gillum Really Have a Shot?
On Tuesday, Florida Democrats nominated Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, as their candidate for governor. Gillum, who is African-American, ran an impressive come-from-behind campaign to defeat former congresswoman Gwen Graham; in the fall, he will face Rep. Ron DeSantis, a Trump admirer who kicked off the general election by saying that voters shouldn’t “monkey this up” by voting for Gillum. Meanwhile, Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson is in a surprisingly competitive race for Senate with Republican governor Rick Scott. To discuss Florida and the broader state of play heading into the final midterm sprint before November, I spoke by phone with Dave Wasserman, the U.S. House editor of the Cook Political Report. An edited and condensed version of our conversation is below.