Category Archives: Chester County

Interview with Lindy Li

by Nathaniel Smith, Politics: A View from West Chester,

Recently I interviewed Lindy Li, a Princeton graduate who has been active in Chester County political life.

On May 18 you gave a speech entitled “American audacity” at the United Nations World Summit on Innovation and Entrepreneurship [see text here and video here]. You feared that “The same intractable issues will anchor us down.” What sort of issues did you have in mind?

lindy-li-2Lack of campaign finance reform prevents progress on almost every front. I’d love to do something about climate change, but we can’t because of moneyed interests. I’d love to do something about gun violence and to prevent the senseless slaughter of innocent Americans, but we can’t because of deep-pocketed organizations that very effectively impose their political will upon our lawmakers. The American people must hold our elected officials’ feet to the fire and demand action now. We need to be better organized and vocal than those who seek to maintain the status quo.

You said “my story is one of transcending limitations.” For example?

Being a young Chinese-American woman means that according to some I immediately have three strikes against me. The key is to transform my potential weaknesses into my greatest strengths.

You were at a dinner with President Obama recently?

Yes, we spoke briefly. I am also invited to go to the White House on June 14th for the United State of Women Summit, where the President, Vice President, and First Lady will be speaking. This event will gather together women leaders from across America….

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Saving the Post Office

By Nathaniel Smith, Columnist, The Times of Chester County, May 11, 2015

Handcuffed by Congress, Postal Service faces a murky future

I’ve always been a fan of the post office. I enjoy getting the mail out of the letterbox attached to my house six days a week; I like knowing that a mail carrier is walking around my neighborhood and going to people’s doors without asking for subscriptions or conversions. I enjoy taking an occasional package over to the corner of Gay and Walnut streets and sending it off to somewhere near or far. The country and world make sense to me in part because our post offices and the postal services around the globe work together to ensure that a letter or package from Pennsylvania goes wherever its sender wishes.

Now, it seems, the US Post Office can’t afford any more to own and operate the handsome building in downtown West Chester, which has served as post office since it was built in 1907….

continue reading at The Times of Chester County

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Women candidates and the two parties

by Nathaniel Smith, Politics: A View from West Chester, 10/25/14

On 9/8/14 the Daily Local News published a letter from me under the title “More women would be good for state and country.”

Though I don’t doubt that that title is literally true, what I really said is that “a record number of women and supporters of women’s rights elected to office in Harrisburg and Washington this year would be good for Pennsylvania and the country.”

As it happens, it would be good for Democrats too, as they have more women running. I’m going to say more here.

On August 26, Women’s Equality Day, people across the country celebrated the 94th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave American women the right to vote.

As president Obama’s August 25 proclamation began by saying:

On August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment was certified, securing for women the fundamental right to vote. The product of decades spent organizing, protesting, and agitating, it was a turning point on the long march toward equality for all, and it inspired generations of courageous women who took up this unfinished struggle in their own time. On the anniversary of this civil rights milestone, we honor the character and perseverance of America’s women and all those who work to make the same rights and opportunities possible for our daughters and sons….

As the president goes on to say, women deserve equal rights, treatment, pay, and opportunities. Shouldn’t that be obvious to every one of us?…

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Filed under 2014 election, Chester County, Nathaniel Smith, PA govt & politics, Women's Issues

Why no primary election for jury commissioner this year?

by Nathaniel Smith, Politics: A View from West Chester, 4/6/13

As we can read today in “Judge rules no primary to pick jury commissioners” by Mark Solforo (AP), Daily Local News, 4/5/13:

HARRISBURG — A state judge has ruled that county jury commissioner races will not appear on next month’s spring primary ballot and the candidates instead will be chosen by the political parties…

But this is an elective row office? The two part-time jury commissioners by law have represented both parties, traditionally in order to reassure residents that jury selection is not tainted by political bias.

In an age of scandal in all institutions, who would be surprised if, somewhere in our great state where jailing political leaders is common and even a Supreme Court Justice is on her way to jail for public corruption, an unelected bureaucrat beholden to those in power made accommodations in a jury pool?

Those wishing to abolish the office say that computers do all the work anyhow. Some argument (as in the national effort, happily quashed in Chester County, to take away voting by paper-verifiable ballots). Then why not turn a whole lot of elective offices over to robots? Do we want robocracy or democracy?

So why are residents in danger of losing the reassurance of fairness and why did voters lose their rights this year?

I see two underlying reasons:

1) The Corbett administration and legislators friendly to his ideology have been eager to pare back government, and it was easy to pick on jury commissioners (of which, in Chester County, a Democrat has long been the lone non-Republican row officer, in addition to one commissioner out of three, also required by law).

The current snafu thus lines up with a whole list of Corbett-Harrisburg overreachings, such as the Voter ID mess, still tied up in court; the highly partisan redistricting in 2011, also overturned in court; and Corbett’s rescission of adultBasic health care, recently overturned in court (see my comments in “Court upholds rule of law and adultBasic Care“).

2) The two-party system, which is an artifact of our predominant “winner-take-all” vote count….

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Filed under 2013 election, Chester County, Nathaniel Smith