Politics as Usual

Abandon ship

It didn’t take long for Gov. Tom Corbett to lose one of his top mates after falling in the Nov. 4 election to Democrat Tom Wolf.

Last week, Corbett’s administration announced that General Counsel James Schultz had returned to private practice. He will chair the government law and regulatory affairs department at Cozen O’Connor’s Philadelphia office.

“On behalf of the entire commonwealth, I thank Jim for his tireless efforts and dedication to the people of Pennsylvania,” Corbett said in a statement. “He demonstrated a legal expertise and keen insight that has helped move Pennsylvania forward.”

Schultz was replaced by Jarad W. Handelman, who had been Corbett’s first executive deputy general counsel, overseeing the operation and management of the governor’s legal office, which has nearly 500 attorneys in the 34 agencies.

Handelman lives in Dauphin County. Before joining government service, he was in private practice for 12 years with the Hershey law firm of James, Smith, Dietterick Connelly.

Steve Esack

Anchors away

Democratic Gov.-elect Tom Wolf announced Thursday who will help his chief of staff, Katie McGinty, as crew members of his transition team, which will help select Cabinet secretaries for various government agencies

Some of the new members of Wolf’s transition team may look familiar. They served under Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell. But it’s routine for incoming governors to tap people who served prior administrations: Outgoing Republican Gov. Tom Corbett had people from GOP Gov. Tom Ridge’s administration on his transition team.

Here’s the lineup:

• Drexel University President John A. Fry is the transition chairman. Fry is the former president of Franklin Marshall College in Lancaster, where Wolf’s wife, Frances, is a member of the board of trustees.

• York Mayor C. Kim Bracey is the transition vice chairwoman. She was an early supporter of Wolf’s run for governor and Wolf has donated to her mayoral campaigns and to philanthropic issues in York, near his suburban home of Mount Wolf.

• Jim Brown, chief of staff to Sen. Bob Casey, and Cynthia Shapira, chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Center for Women in Politics at Chatham University, also will serve as transition vice chairs.

• The transition team’s lawyer is Denise Smyler, a private attorney who had been chief legal counsel to the Philadelphia police commissioner.

• Mary Soderberg will head the transition team’s budget deficit and fiscal stabilization task force. She had been Rendell’s budget secretary and executive director of the House Democratic Appropriations Committee.

• Montgomery County Commissioners Chairman Josh Shapiro will join Soderberg on the budget team.

Steve Esack

Casey’s brain injury bill clears Congress

Sen. Bob Casey’s bill on traumatic brain injuries is headed to the president’s desk after the U.S. House approved it Thursday.

Traumatic brain injuries can result from a bump or blow to the head, and the consequences can range from a mild concussion to lifelong complications or death. In 2010, approximately 2.5 million TBIs occurred, leading to more than 50,000 deaths, according to Casey’s office.

His legislation, which was co-sponsored by Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, reauthorizes various federal programs that aid Americans suffering from brain injuries. Those programs involve educational efforts through health departments and other organizations, as well as research on preventing brain injuries.

Pennsylvania has used a $2 million grant through the federal traumatic brain injury program and another $1.2 million in matching state funds to raise awareness of concussion safety among coaches, school personnel, domestic violence service providers and others throughout the state.

Other grants through the federal program have paid for outreach to groups that aid disabled veterans.

— Laura Olson

Caucus role for Cartwright

Rep. Matt Cartwright was elected to be a regional whip for the House Democratic caucus during the upcoming two-year session, his office announced Friday.

Regional whips in each party help to develop strategy, distribute information and track how lawmakers plan to vote on each bill.

The new role for Cartwright, whose 17th District includes Easton and other portions of Northampton County, means he will be working closely with other minority Democrats from Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky.

“I look forward to working with my fellow Democrats to support a legislative agenda that puts people first,” Cartwright said in a statement. “Now more than ever we must be unified in putting forth an agenda that will create jobs and improve our economy, support our veterans, protect the environment, and strengthen Social Security and Medicare.”

— Laura Olson

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