Just in . . . Gerlach Withdraws from Governor’s Race

Did you hear that Republican US Rep Jim Gerlach is withdrawing from the PA governor’s race?

In a statement, Rep Gerlach, said “I entered the race for governor in order to continue my public service, put forth new ideas for creating jobs, protecting our taxpayers, families and seniors, and reinvigorating the great commonwealth of Pennsylvania that we all love so much.”

In leaving the governor’s race, Rep Gerlach did not say immediately whether he would now be a candidate for re-election as congressman from the 6th US House District. When he decided to run for governor, he originally said that he would give up that job he has held for 7 years.

Although Rep Gerlach had successfully raised over $1 million to date, he did not think he had enough campaign cash to continue. His feeling was that a successful primary would cost at least $4 million! Rep Gerlach figured that he had 2 choices – (1) he could spent all his time fundraising over the next 4 months until the primary or (2) withdraw from the race and work even harder for the people of his district.

I’m still stuck on the $4 million estimated price tag for a primary governor’s race in Pennsylvania . . . wow!

What is a Leader?

As we close out one year, and begin a new one, we all reflect on our lives.  As I watched the last few Board of Supervisor meetings, I reflected on the effect that Judy DiFillipo’s retirement would have on our community.  Having served this township as a supervisor for 20 years, I wrote the following ‘As I See It’ article for this week’s edition of Main Line Suburban Life newspaper to honor Judy and her leadership qualities that benefited the residents for 2 decades.  And as a means of full disclosure, . . . yes, Judy and I very close friends.

For those who do not receive the paper, here is my article:

    As I See It:

    Tredyffrin lost something special with DiFilippo’s departure

Published: Wednesday, January 6, 2010

By Pattye Benson

Year’s end is always a time of reflection. We look back over the last 12 months and take measure of where we are now in relation to where we were when the year began. As we begin 2010, the residents of Tredyffrin Township will have the opportunity to reflect on what will now be a “missing link” in our local leadership.

What makes a good leader? Not everyone is made to be a leader … there are leaders and then there are followers. Leaders come from all walks of life and economic backgrounds and from either gender. Leadership does not discriminate. For the last 20 years Tredyffrin Township was fortunate to have a “leader” in retiring Supervisor Judy DiFilippo. For many in the community, Judy represented what can and should be “good” about serving as an elected official. Whether you watched the Board of Supervisors meetings from home or sat in the audience, she possessed the ability to transform and command respect from others on either side of her.

Judy guided the township in an orderly and purposeful manner, even in situations of discontent and uncertainty in the community. As a supervisor she was tolerant of ambiguity and remained calm, composed and steadfast to the main purpose… to serve the residents of Tredyffrin Township. We all knew that we could trust Judy; she governed as she lived her life, with honesty, integrity and strong internal guiding principles that she did not compromise. Judy “walked the talk” and in doing so earned our respect and the right to have responsibility for this community. Her “calming of the waters” approach to governing reassured us … we just all knew that it would be OK as long as Judy was guiding the ship.

Judy understood the importance of serving a wider community. We may not have always agreed with her decisions but we could be confident that the community’s best interests were at the core of her decisions. As a supervisor Judy could wade through difficult information, comprehend what is relevant, make a well-considered decision and take action based on that decision. Judy believed her purpose as an elected official was to serve all the community and did so with genuine concern for all of the residents. As a leader Judy inspired others to follow. She led yet people did not feel that they were being led. Judy served as a quiet leader without demanding recognition and praise, a quality that is quite rare among many elected officials.

I understand all too well her many attributes; our friendship goes back nearly as long as she served as a township supervisor. For close to 20 years our lives have been intertwined … standing next to each other as members of the Noteables; co-chairing the Tredyffrin 300 celebration as well as many other events for the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust; together producing the historical documentary, “Tredyffrin … The First 300 Years,” etc. For me Judy has been the one constant friend in my life who would listen first, counsel second and never judge my decisions (even if she did not always agree with them). A true sign of a gifted leader (and close friend) is someone who really listens; the fastest and most effective way to show that you care and that you are competent. Many of us are challenged by the concept of listening but not Judy. I envy this natural talent in my friend and just another quality that sets her apart from many in the world of politics.

A good leader is committed to excellence. Second best does not lead to success. Judy not only maintained a high standard for herself but also was proactive in raising the bar in order to achieve excellence in all areas. Just her presence makes those around her want to be better people.

How will we feel that the person who “set the bar” for 20 years, who created the real “gold standard” for Tredyffrin Township, is no longer sitting on the dais? Yes, we know that Judy will stay involved in our community, and yes, I know that she and I will remain the best of friends, but I fear that the residents of Tredyffrin Township lost something very special when Judy DiFilippo decided to retire from the Board of Supervisors.

Pattye Benson lives in Malvern.

Local Company Named Best Philadelphia-area Stock for 2009

As our family’s financial planner, I manage our personal portfolio and am always exploring various ways to diversify our holdings and follow Wall Street daily.  Although the nation’s economic times have caused me to lean towards international stocks of late, I am equally interested in following local Philadelphia area based companies. 

In the review of 2009 US stock markets last week, there is indication that technology stocks are on the rebound and that banking industry stocks underperforming (no surprise on that one).  Was there a similar pattern in the Philadelphia area market?  This morning, I was thrilled to read online that the Philadelphia region has named Unisys Corp. as the biggest gainer in 2009! 

The biggest gainer came as a surprise to me. It was Unisys Corp. of Blue Bell. (Unisys has a very large office location on Swedesford Road in Tredyffrin).  Its shares rose 353.7 percent in 2009, a reflection of continuing cost-cutting at the computer-services company and its return to profitability in the second quarter after four years of losses.

As a means of full disclosure . . . the reason for my excitement in this announcement?  My husband Jeff has worked for Unisys for 30+ years, and the recent economic climate has terminated in major layoffs of many employees, decrease of benefits and increase of employee costs, etc.  So to have some good news on the home front, well, that’s just plain good news!

The third-best performer in the Philadelphia area was Safeguard Scientifics Inc., the Wayne company that invests in and manages software and life-science companies. Its shares rose 149 percent last year.

Maybe we are starting to turn the corner on the economic front (at least locally) . . . here’s hoping it’s true!

Casinos Hit the Jackpot in Pennsylvania

The casinos have hit the jackpot. . . Pennsylvania Legislature has given them the authority to install table games such as poker and blackjack. The PA House voted 103-89 in favor of table games and the bill is now on Gov. Rendell’s desk, who will likely sign it today.  The larger casinos will be allowed 250 tables for the new table games and the smaller resort casinos will be permitted to have 50 tables.  The gambling regulators expect it may take up to six months to get the table games up and running.

For those who want to know . . . in addition to poker and black, the new law will include craps, baccarat and roulette.  Table games will be taxes at a rate of 16% of gross revenue, with 2 percentage points going to local counties and municipalities.  At the end of the second year, the gross tax rate will drop to 14%. Licensing fee to the larger casinos will be $16.5 million and the small resort casinos fee will be a charge of $7.5 Million.  The fees will increase after June 1.  It would seem to me that the licensing fees are really going to help fill the coffers of the state but some gambling opponents have argued that the fees are too small.  There was also a suggestion that there should have been a ‘bidding war’ and let the licenses go to the highest bidder. Pennsylvania  has nine operating casinos and all are expected to apply for the new table games licensing. In addition to infusing the state with licensing and tax revenue, the PA Gaming Board is expects casino table games will add thousand of jobs in the Commonwealth.

Gov. Rendell had turned to the table games revenue as a way to help settle the 2010 budget issues.  If you remember, Pennsylvania lawmakers it a 100+day impasse that finally ended in October but the details for the table games had remained unresolved.  If Gov. Rendell did not have the OK on this gambling bill settled by tomorrow, he was threatening layoff of more State employees; I heard the number could have been has high as 1,000.

What’s the saying, desperate times call for desperate measures.  Not being a gambler, I guess I don’t have a strong opinion one way or the other . . . except I am excited that the approval of the table games bill will offer our residents thousands of job opportunities.  Not to mention the millions from licensing fees and tax revenues.