News & Brews March 4, 2021

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Philly labor leader and political donor indicted…again

IBEW 98 leader John J. “Johnny Doc” Dougherty was indicted yesterday (again), this time for threatening a contractor. He is already awaiting trial following his 2019 indictment on charges of embezzlement, bribery, and theft. Aside from the obvious, this is noteworthy given Johnny Doc directs his union’s political donations to dozens of elected officials statewide, earning him recognition as the most powerful un-elected politician in Philly. Just who gets money from Johnny Doc? I’m glad you asked. Among sitting elected officials getting donations from him since 2010 are 62 state legislators, 47 judges, 4 district attorneys, and 45 other city or county officials. We created a handy infogram here.

State to direct J&J vaccine to educators

As expected, Gov. Wolf announced yesterday that the newly approved Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine will be prioritized for teachers and other school staff, with distribution set to begin on March 10. According to Wolf, this means most school employees should be able to return to work by the end of March. In theory, this should mean schools can then fully re-open. Not everyone is happy, however, with moving teachers up in line. Both the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association and the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association reacted with calls to prioritize their members (scroll to the end of the piece).

Wolf on nursing home policy: “I just don’t know”

As lawmakers prepare to investigate Gov. Wolf’s policy forcing nursing homes to accept COVID-positive patients, ABC27’s Dennis Owens pressed the governor on the distinction between his administration’s directive that nursing homes “must” accept these patients and federal guidelines that nursing homes “can” accept them. Wolf’s response? “I’m not sure. I just don’t know.” This prompted Rep. Zach Mako (Northampton and Lehigh counties) to ask, “Who’s really running the show?” and Sen. John Yudichak (Carbon and Luzerne counties) to note, “We had staffers in these agencies making decisions without the Governor in the room. That is not an excuse. You have to show up for work and do the job.” Indeed.

House committee to begin hearings on Wolf’s COVID policies

House State Government Committee Chairman Seth Grove (York County) announced his committee will hold several hearings on Gov. Wolf’s policies throughout the pandemic, including his decision to shut Right-to-Know offices and his handling of PPE distribution. The schedule and topics for the hearings are as follows, and livestream info can be found here.

  • Lack of government transparency and RTKs during COVID-19 on March 9 at 1 p.m.
  • Government telework policies and data during COVID-19 on March 15 at 9 a.m.
  • Agency regulatory/statutory suspensions and innovation due to COVID-19 on March 22 at 9 a.m.
  • PPE procurement, storage and distribution on March 29 at 1 p.m.

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