News Column

OPINION: Summer shorts ...

July 13, 2014

By Colin McNickle, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

July 13--As expected, the group calling itself NextGen Climate Action Committee has begun airing a heavy rotation of anti-Tom Corbett television ads. Mr. Corbett supposedly is the Keystone State's carbon pollution devil incarnate. The ads are the brainchild of liberal San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer, a former hedge fund manager and envirocrat who's vowing to spend $100 million this election cycle to unseat select (i.e., Republican, i.e., those who have not snorted packet after packet of climate-change Kool-Aid powder) pols running for re-election this year.

But even the reliably eco-wacko New York Times is not too smitten with Mr. Steyer's environmentalist credentials. Last week it noted that, yes, Steyer had divested in coal-extraction operations but that they'll continue to generate for the next 30 years the kind of mucho carbon that supposedly so upsets him. The Times expose should be easy pickin's for the Corbett campaign to strike back. At least one would think. ...

The Corbett administration must be getting worried about whether the newspapers of Trib Total Media will be endorsing him for re-election. Late last month, Jess Valen, a communications assistant for Tom Corbett for Governor, emailed to ask if the Trib would "be endorsing in the governor's race" this year and, if so, "can you inform me of the endorsement process?"

Really, a gubernatorial campaign doesn't know "the endorsement process" that it went through a mere four years ago? And as to endorsing itself, "We always consider endorsing in such major races," I emailed Ms. Valen back, sensing the fishing expedition on which someone had dispatched her.

Of course, Gov. Corbett is more than welcome to visit the Trib editorial board anytime and that invitation was extended to Valen. That said, Corbett has availed himself to our open invitation to visit only once since he assumed office (to discuss, appropriately enough, the state pension crisis). Still, tone-deafness to your base isn't very astute, as his struggling campaign attests. ...

The City of Cleveland stands to reap a gazillion dollars in economic benefits and a bazillion mentions in the media that will offer incredible and incalculable intangible benefits by hosting the 2016 Republican National Convention. Or so the sales job after the sales job would have you believe. But economic "multipliers" employed by chamber of commerce types typically are wildly inflated and seldom, conveniently, factor in costs. As for those "intangibles" of all that media coverage, given the conventions' long declining TV ratings and more and more media outlets' view that the respective parties' nominating conventions are short on substance and long on partying, "benefits" become an exercise in definitional rationalization. But best of luck to Cleveland. For it will need it after a thorough and honest accounting of those "benefits." ...

In case you missed it, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia has struck a blow for equal ballot access. A tribunal of the court voted 2-1 to reinstate a federal lawsuit filed in 2012 by the Constitution, Green and Libertarian parties. The court ruled that the parties indeed have standing to challenge state election laws that do not treat them on equal footing with the duopoly Democrats and Republicans. U.S. District Court in Philadelphia had thrown out the lawsuit, incredibly claiming the parties had no standing. Most onerous in the law is third parties being required to obtain a significantly higher number of signatures on nominating petitions to gain ballot access. And that's a rigged process.


Colin McNickle is Trib Total Media's director of editorial pages (412-320-7836 or


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