School Shootings – An American Tragedy

by Tom Buglio

In light of the recent horrific Parkland, Florida school shooting, once again Americans are faced with the stark reality of gun violence happening in a place that should be among the safest for our children: their schools. The shooting by a disturbed young man with an AR-15 is just the latest mass atrocity involving guns in school, as there have been 18 shootings this young year, and over 200 since Sandy Hook in 2012!

Nowhere else in the developed world is there this kind of carnage. What is to be done? Do we have to accept the need for making our schools into secured fortresses with metal detectors, and armed guards? Do we need to put more $ into identifying emotionally challenged children? Do we arm teachers and administrators, as we surely will hear calls for from the gun rights side. Should we ban the semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15 which caused so much bloodshed in such a short amount of time in Newtown, Aurora, Parkland and Las Vegas?

All of these ideas and more need consideration, but more than that, they need ACTION! How can any responsible school teacher or administrator not think about the next school shooting, which is surely coming.

Many school districts have spent a vast amount of time and $ fortifying their schools, as communicated by Dr. Scanlon, Superintendent of West Chester Area Schools in a recent news article. It is truly impressive, and disturbing what schools have to do to create a sense of security today. Parkland School practiced many of the same safety measures, including a drill on the same day of the shooting, to no avail.

I submit that, while we need to do everything we can with our schools to protect children, the crux of the problem is that we live in a society where it is too easy to get a gun. And the reality is that with the current makeup of Congress, nothing at a national level will change. For those politicians who feel it is more important to protect gun rights and the 2nd amendment than it is their children and grandchildren, or to protect their current status collecting money from the NRA, shame on them!

Real change will happen when we give these politicians the boot, and vote into power courageous legislators unafraid of the NRA, willing to plug the many gaps in our system that enabled a troubled young man to fantasize about becoming a famous school shooter, acquiring an arsenal of deadly weapons, and then making his fantasy into a terrible reality.

The aftermath of Parkland is depressingly familiar, as we see the agony and grief of families trying to make sense of the senseless. But it feels different: there is a wave of anger in the survivors and families of the victims that is palpable, demanding their government do something NOW!

If we want to truly make progressive change in terms of reducing gun violence, we all need to get angry and hold onto this anger through the next election. Make sure you vote, and that the person who gets your vote will protect our children, and not the gun industry. For only when we have elected officials truly committed to gun safety will we see real change.

Governor Wolf Statement on Remedial Congressional Map from PA Supreme Court

Governor Wolf, February 19, 2018

Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf released the following statement on the new remedial congressional map ordered by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court:

“Over the last month, I have personally heard from thousands of Pennsylvanians and they are sick and tired of gerrymandering, which perpetuates gridlock, alienates citizens and stifles reform. I have stood for fairness and rejected a proposed map that was universally seen as another partisan gerrymander. I applaud the court for their decision and I respect their effort to remedy Pennsylvania’s unfair and unequal congressional elections.

“Now, my focus will be on making sure the Department of State can support our counties and all candidates in the election process, particularly during the petition period. My administration will work expeditiously to update Department of State systems and ensure all processes are in place to assist candidates for Congress.”

Here’s the new map, from ABC News:

The last-minute Republican leaders’ map split Chester County between 2 districts and put parts of 3 counties in the 6th district. The Supreme Court’s decision puts all of Chester County in the 6th, which is only fair atonement for the outgoing gerrymander, considering that the County has 5/7 of the population of one district. In fact, the map does a great job of keeping county splits to a minimum, both in SE PA and in the state as a whole.

Expectations of a Mapmaker

By Amanda, 18.Feb.2018

With the failure of the General Assembly and Governor to approve a map by the court deadline, it now falls to Nathaniel Persily to draw Pennsylvania’s next congressional map. This court-appointed special master is known for his skills as a mapmaker in other states. No matter how skilled, no one is perfect. How will we know if he gets it right in Pennsylvania?
Population Deviation

The court directive to keep counties and municipalities whole was clear. Strong constitutional language bans any splits that are not necessary. Federal courts provide states with some flexibility to district population so they may protect the boundaries of their local governments.

In some instances, by creating districts which vary slightly in population, counties and municipalities may stay whole which would otherwise be split. Pennsylvania law does not require mathematical equality. Federal law allows small deviations to avoid splits.

What does this mean? A split is not “absolutely necessary” when by using a small population variance the result would respect more local government boundaries than is possible by using no variance….

keep reading by Amanda

Parents need a helping hand: H.B. 2035

Statement on H.B. 2035 from Melissa Shusterman, candidate for PA House 157

Rep. Carolyn T. Comitta, along with several bipartisan cosponsors, has recently introduced H.B. 2035. H.B. 2035 would provide a tax deduction of up to $10,000 to help offset the costs of childcare for Pennsylvania families. Childcare is a necessity for many Pennsylvanians but is a cost that is rising quickly and burdening families.

For many years, I had to raise my son as a single mother while also starting my own business. I know how hard it is to balance raising a family and the demands of a career. I know the stress of having to make hard choices on a tight budget. I also know that this bill will go a long way to easing the strain on Pennsylvania’s hard-working families. Childcare should not be an impossibility for so many of them. I wholeheartedly support this bill.

If elected State Representative, I will vote for this bill and continue to work towards making life easier for the families of our state and our district.