How the Harrisburg bureau of the Philadelphia Inquirer tricked me

I believe there is some line of thought that only those who like you enough will take the time to prank you. If this is true, it is entirely possible that the Harrisburg bureau of the Philadelphia Inquirer, one of the largest and oldest metro dailies in the country, loves me.

Late last month, I was working on a large story for the Inquirer when influential Harrisburg correspondent and noted… prankster (the kindest way to put this, I think) Mario Cattabiani told me to drop everything and get on an assignment. He and his fellow Inqy Harrisburg staffers were launching a state government blog at the behest of their editors – which I already knew – and it was going live that day – news to me.

The editors didn’t want to seem to be biting off on the series of already established Harrisburg government blogs so they wanted to profile one of the more respected bloggers and suggested John L. Micek of the Allentown Morning Call, who hosted the popular Capitol Ideas.

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Vince Fumo: his color and charm and corruption charges leave

Vince Fumo is the funniest indicted state senator in the history of the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

To Philadelphians Fumo is tinged with corruption, his name only said amid seething recounts of his 139-count indictment looming in the fall. But in Harrisburg, his professional home since 1978, Fumo is still a force.

After a second heart attack in March and this round of indictments that came last year, Fumo announced he would not seek reelection in November and vacated his post as chairman of the Senate Appropriations committee, a powerful seat he held since 1984. Still, after each negotiating session of state leaders this budget season, it was Fumo who came out, sleeves rolled up, ready to speak to the press.

In what may be the final week of his legislative career, Fumo was loose and downright uppity.

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Slow day in the newsroom: Cherry pit spitting contest

Today, fellow reporters and I had a cherry pit spitting contest and I won.

So, the Pennsylvania state budget for the 2008-2009 fiscal year passed on Friday, so this week has been slow in the state Capitol newsroom. Sometimes you can find coverage, like the Pennsylvnaians who are fighting California wildfires, as I reported yesterday, but other times you can’t.

The Capitol newsroom is shared by a host of reporters from various outlets, all members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents’ Association. When everyone is bored, I hear, sometimes someone finds a fun distraction – though surely more wholesome than the gambling and drinking of the past.

The Patriot-News ran a wire story about a Michigan man who topped some record by spitting a cherry pit more than 56 feet.

So, why wouldn’t we have our own cherry pit spitting contest right in the newsroom?

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Greek mythology and state government; no, it’s funny, I swear

Sometimes you have more color from a story than you can fit. Yesterday, for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, I covered a press conference held by a coalition of citizen groups calling for legislative reform on the third anniversary of the pay-raise controversy.

Interesting read, but I simply couldn’t get the following in the story:

Matt Brouillette of The Commonwealth Foundation, called state Rep. Babette Josephs, D-Philadelphia, a “minion” of House Majority Leader Bill DeWeese, D-Fayette.

Under DeWeese’s control, the chairwoman of the House State Government committee stalls reform legislation, Brouillette said.

“She is Cerberus, guarding the River Styx,” he said, referring to the fierce three-headed dog that is said to patrol the banks of the boundary between the Earth and the underworld in the Greek mythology.

What power I have, to keep this from readers.

Photo courtesy of Margaret Schaut.

Budget debate can wait for Taps, okay?

The press release of the day, filling your desire for the perhaps ridiculous nature of PR. I am going to sit in the State Capitol over July 4th and beyond and this is what we’re focusing on…

House approves Lentz resolution urging schools to teach Taps

HARRISBURG, July 3 – The House of Representatives adopted a resolution (H.R. 803) Tuesday introduced by state Rep. Bryan Lentz, D-Delaware, urging the state secretary of Education to direct Pennsylvania school districts to provide training in the playing of Taps.
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Sometimes you have to go into work with a mohawk

So, I have graduated and started a professional journalism career in Harrisburg, Pa.

I am totally working for the man.

I wear shirts and ties and work in a cubicle. I have a lap top and a voice mail – 717 705 8407 – and *responsibility.

It occurred to me that I can’t entirely give into conformity – all the time. Not yet.

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