Gov. Tom Wolf Has Prostate Cancer; Treatment Starts Soon

Tom Wolf - cancer diagnosis press conference

Tom Wolf speaks at the press conference about his cancer diagnosis this morning.

Gov. Tom Wolf has prostate cancer, he announced today.

It was caught early, Wolf said at a press conference, and is not expected to interfere at all with his duties as governor. In the coming weeks, he will undergo treatment. He said that, because he caught it early, his prognosis is excellent.

“I’m convinced it’s eminently treatable,” Wolf said. “I feel great. It was detected very early, so the procedure is going to be a truly minor one.” Wolf said he won’t undergo chemotherapy.

The treatments for his cancer will not require him to hand over power to Lt. Gov. Mike Stack. He said he’ll undergo his treatment in the York area, where he’s from, and will take a short vacation at some point with his family before treatment starts. “I haven’t had a vacation yet as governor,” Wolf said. Read more »

Gov. Wolf Requests Federal Disaster Money for January Snowstorm

January 2016 snowstorm

Photo | Dan McQuade

January’s snowstorm was so bad, Tom Wolf wants federal money to help recover from it.

Pennsylvania’s governor announced today he has requested federal disaster assistance for the storm, dubbed Winter Storm Jonas by the Weather Channel.

“Our numbers so far show that municipal, county and state agencies spent more than $55 million to respond to this storm,” Wolf said in a release. “In many places, it wiped out an entire year’s budget for snow response and removal, and winter isn’t over yet.” Read more »

Wolf’s Policy Director, John Hanger, Resigns

Former Pennsylvania environmental protection secretary John Hanger during a gubernatorial candidates forum Tuesday Feb. 4, 2014 in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)

John Hanger, Gov. Wolf’s secretary of policy and planning. | AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma

Governor Tom Wolf’s secretary of policy and planning, John Hanger, is leaving the administration.

In a statement, Hanger explained that he wants to spend more time with his wife and daughter, who live in Worcester, Mass. His last day will be February 26th. Hanger’s wife is vice provost for faculty affairs at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Read more »

Misdemeanor Crimes Are Now Easier to Get Sealed in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf - criminal record sealing bill signing

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signs the bill expanding criminal record sealing today in Harrisburg. (Photo: Wolf’s Twitter)

Today, Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law a bill that makes it easier for people to have their criminal records sealed in Pennsylvania. The law only applies to non-violent misdemeanors.

“Too many first-time and low-level offenders are serving their time and unable to improve their lives after leaving the system because they have a criminal record,” Wolf said in a statement. “And, they are too likely then to return to the system. We must do everything we can to break this cycle; it is robbing too many of their lives and it is costing taxpayers far too much.”

Pennsylvania Senate Bill 166 amends the criminal code to allow people who have served their time in prison and have not been arrested in the last seven to 10 years to petition the court to have non-violent misdemeanor convictions sealed. Read more »

Gov. Tom Wolf to Lawmakers on Budget: “The Time for Games Is Over”

Gov. Tom Wolf talked doom and gloom at today’s annual budget address.

“Pennsylvania now faces a $2 billion budget deficit,” Wolf told a joint session of the Pennsylvania House and Senate today in Harrisburg. “This deficit isn’t just a cloud hanging over Pennsylvania’s long-term future. It is a time bomb, ticking away, right now, even as I speak. If it explodes – if the people in this chamber allow it to explode – then Pennsylvania will experience a fiscal catastrophe the likes of which we have never seen.”

Budget problems have been exacerbated this year because the state is currently operating on a partial budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year. A full budget is more than 200 days late. Wolf focused more on chiding the legislature than on his plans for the new budget, though he did release a 900-page budget at the same time as his speech.

“The time for games is over,” Wolf said. “And now it’s time to finish the job we should have finished last year. … I can’t accept – Pennsylvania can’t afford – another irresponsible budget that ignores the fact of this fiscal crisis and pretends our problems don’t exist.” Read more »

Pa. Opts Out of Standardized Testing — For Now

Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday signed a bill that delays implementation of statewide standardized testing as a graduation requirement until the 2018-2019 school year.

The Keystone Exams were to become a graduation requirement in 2017, but the prospect had drawn increasing opposition from educators and parents as the date drew near — with a fear that implementation would drive down graduation rates: Statewide, the passage rate so far has been just 54 percent; last year, NPR reported that four out of five Philadelphia students would be unlikely to meet the standard.

“While we should have high academic and educational standards in the commonwealth, there have been issues with the implementation of the Keystone exams, which is why I am signing a bill to delay their use as a graduation requirement,” Wolf said in a statement announcing the signing. “My administration is currently engaging teachers, administrators and students, community leaders, stakeholders and advocates from around the state to develop a comprehensive school accountability system that will support schools and help Pennsylvania students succeed.” Read more »

Wolf Administration Defends Response to Storm That Left Hundreds Stranded

Members of the Temple women's gymnastics team stuck on Pennsylvania turnpike

Members of the Temple women’s gymnastics team show off their provisions. They were stuck on the Pennsylvania Turnpike for more than a day. (Photo: @TUWG)

The administration of Gov. Tom Wolf is defending its response to the storm that left hundreds of travelers stranded overnight on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

More than 500 cars, trucks and buses — including vehicles carrying Duquesne University men’s basketball team and the Temple University women’s gymnastics squad — got stuck on the turnpike Friday as the storm set in, with snowfall reaching near three feet in some areas.

“Despite the historic and daunting conditions of the storm, there were no fatalities or major injuries … due to the response of local and state responders who worked tirelessly to check on vehicles and keep drivers safe,” Mark Smith, a special assistant to the governor, said in a Sunday afternoon blog post.

He added: “Considering the low temperatures, heavy snowfall and number of vehicles trapped, this is a true accomplishment for those first responders, many of whom were from fire departments and other local agencies.” Read more »

This Report May Make You Look at the SRC Differently

Philadelphia School District Building

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Gov. Tom Wolf wants to shut down the School Reform Commission and return Philadelphia’s public schools to local control. Former Mayor Michael Nutter is also on board with the idea. And last year, city voters approved a non-binding referendum calling on the state to ditch the SRC.

Does the evidence show that is the best arrangement, though? The Pew Philadelphia Research Initiative compared Philadelphia’s setup with that of 15 other big-city school districts. The report laid out a few important findings that both advocates and critics of a proposed local board should keep in mind: Read more »

Johnny Doc: “I’m Getting Out of Politics a Little Bit”

John Dougherty | Photo by Jeff Fusco

John Dougherty, head of the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council. | Photo by Jeff Fusco

John Dougherty is such a big deal that he doesn’t need the Democratic City Committee anymore. The electricians union boss tells Citified he has stepped down as leader of the First Ward in South Philadelphia.

“I’m getting out of politics a little bit,” he said. Read more »

This Winter You’ll Be Able to Track PennDOT Snow Plows

Remember this?

If we ever get snow this winter — a big “if” — techies and good government types have a special treat waiting for them: They’ll be able to track PennDot’s snow plows in real time.

Gov. Tom Wolf announced the new program Monday morning. Computer users will go to to track the location of more than 500 PennDOT plow trucks and more than 200 contracted rental trucks as they work to clear state roadways of snow. Read more »

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