Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The LuLac Edition #1965, February 29th, 2012

Just a little more time for stuff we missed!


Today is “Leap Day”. Every four years we get an extra day on the calendar. We’ll use it wisely today on LuLac. During 2011 there were a few anniversaries we failed to commemorate. We’ll do that today.


The late John Heinz.


1991 was the twentieth anniversary of the death of U.S. Senator John Heinz. He was killed in a plane crash in the Philadelphia suburbs. He was doing what Pennsylvania Senators do, travel the state and speak to constituents at public meetings. Heinz was rumored to be the Republican candidate for Governor in 1994. After an 8 year Democrat stint in the Governor’s office, the pendulum was going to swing back to the GOP. Heinz was going to run for Governor and hopefully parlay that into a run for President in the year 2000. Or perhaps sooner in 1996. The Governor’s chair would give him added public administrative experience. However, then came that fateful day in April. On April 4, 1991, the energetic Senator from Pennsylvania, H. John Heinz III, talked to reporters at a news conference in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. It was important that the public be made aware of his next event, a town hall meeting in nearby Merion. There he would conduct the first in a series of hearings to investigate the telemarketing of medical equipment to Medicare beneficiaries. The topic: "Bleeding Medicare Dry: The Great Sales Scam." At the conclusion of the press conference the self confident man boarded a plane to Philadelphia on his way to meet with the editorial board of the local newspaper, before heading on to Merion. A tall, handsome athletic man, Senator Heinz was one of the most popular Senators in Pennsylvania history. He promoted those social welfare causes fellow Republicans, such as then-President George H. W. Bush, found too burdensome to business profits. True to himself and to the needs of his constituents he chose political independence with a patrician certitude. His autonomy was insured by his personal fortune of approximately $500 million dollars. In his first Senate race, he had spent $2.9 million of his own funds to back his campaign. No language speaks as loudly in Washington D.C. as cold, hard cash. Senator Heinz came to the gaming table with a well backed hand of cards. His voice would clearly be heard. John or “Johnny” as he called himself, was the only child of industrialist turned philanthropist H.J. Heinz II and Joan Diehl (Heinz) McCauley and the only grandson of H.J. Heinz, founder of the H.J. Heinz Company. H. J. Heinz made his jars clear, not green, so people could see that the pickles and tomatoes were pure. Honesty made him rich and revered by Pennsylvania citizens. The Heinz Company, famous worldwide for “Ketchup” and “57 Varieties” was one of the biggest employers in the state. Since the mid-19th century the company had provided thousands of jobs in agriculture and industry, a fact not unnoticed by voters. John Heinz was pro-peace, a bold and dangerous way to do politics any time. In his first campaign for Congress in 1971, Heinz, then age 33, had just completed his service as an enlisted man in the Air Force. Upon his return he urged President Nixon to withdraw American troops from Vietnam.
Heinz also favored spending taxpayers dollars to help Americans live better. He said families who earned less than $12,000 annually should get a five percent cut in federal income taxes. He said the federal government should pay welfare costs and increase aid for education. Again his voice was heard when he won his seat in Congress. Once there, he continued to demand an early end to the Vietnam War. He even urged President Nixon to normalize relations with Cuba. In 1976 Pennsylvanians elected him to the United States Senate. Heinz promoted his own type of Republicanism even more intensely. As a Senator, he delved deeply into foreign policy. He criticized President Reagan for using the threat of deploying new weapons as a tactic to push the Soviet Union to engage in arms limitations talks. Heinz took on domestic issues to protect children and help the poor. When the Reagan administration tried to cut federal funding for school lunches for the poor by having ketchup reclassified as a vegetable to save money, Heinz stood up on the floor of the Senate and testified, “Ketchup is a condiment, not a food. And I should know.” The Senator's actions spoke eloquently about his support for the middle class and the hard working public. He pushed laws to protect Pittsburgh steel and the Philadelphia shipyards from foreign competition. He wanted everyone in the world to buy American products so Americans would have jobs and prosperity. His popularity continued to grow and respect for his positions spread beyond the state boundaries of Pennsylvania. As Heinz flew on his chartered plan to Philadelphia, he looked forward to his new town hall hearing. What would people tell him he should do to protect their Medicare benefits? How would he respond? Another Heinz investigative report was a probability. His reports had been effective as the basis for corrective legislation regarding the safety of pacemakers, the Social Security disability review process, the Supplemental Security Income program, nursing homes, hospital discharges and dialysis reuse. Heinz had become known as the “champion of the elderly”. When George H. W. Bush became President, Heinz made his biggest pitch ever to protect Social Security. Bush, on the other hand, started to invade Social Security. In 1990, on the Today Show, Heinz was asked what he thought about Bush's administration using social security funds for the general budget. He was asked whether or not he agreed with the term the Rochester Democrat Chronicle had used to describe the practice. Was it “thievery”? Heinz said, “Certainly not. It's not thievery, it's embezzlement. Embezzlement, sir, is what is going on.” In an attempt to remove the Social Security Trust Fund from federal deficit calculations, Heinz introduced the Social Security Truth in Budgeting Act (1989) and the Social Security Preservation Act (1990). He ended the financial penalty imposed on Social Security recipients who work after age 65. He succeeded in barring the mandatory retirement policies practiced by most employers. His bill ensured payment of the Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) (1986). He was the key Senator who pushed through the laws to extend catastrophic Medicare insurance. He battled to provide Medicaid benefits to low-income pregnant women and children. The plane, a two-engine Piper Aerostar, reported difficulty with its landing gear and the helicopter flew nearby to help assess the problem, according to preliminary information provided by aviation officials in Washington. During this maneuver both planes were in contact with air traffic controllers and with each other, an official said. “They were under positive control,” he said, meaning that air traffic controllers were giving them instructions for flying hear the airport.
The weather was good and the helicopter was flying under visual flight rules, which do not require an approved flight plan. The Senator’s plane was on an instrument-flying plan taking it from Williamsport, Pa. to Philadelphia the official said. He said the helicopter flew near the Senator’s plane once, but could not detect any problem with its landing gear. The plane flew past the airport, circling for another attempt to land At that point the helicopter made a second pass near the Senator’s plane to take another look, and the two aircraft collided. The New York Times further reported: Investigators will want to determine why the two aircraft were allowed to fly so close to each other. A more common procedure, when a plane reports problems with the landing gear, is to order it to fly low over the airport so that observers on the ground can look at its undercarriage. Sometimes warning lights in a plane’s cockpit indicate problems with landing gear even when they are properly deployed. And even with the landing gear up, it is possible to land a small plane on its belly without severe risk to occupants. Airport fire and rescue equipment would be on hand to handle any fire or injuries. The plane fell onto the grounds of an elementary school in Lower Merion Township. The Senator, two people in his plane, two pilots in the helicopter and two children playing outside at noon recess were killed.
The Heinz death changed the political landscape of Pennsylvania. In 1991 a special election was held between former Governor Dick Thornburgh and sitting Bush Attorney General and Bob Casey appointed Harris Wolford. Wolford was one of the founding members of the Peace Corps. In the general with the backing of the Casey administration, Wolford became the United States Senator duly elected to fill out the term of the late John Heinz. Three years later in the 1994 election, Wolford ran against an obscure right wing religious two Congressman from western Pennsylvania. To the surprise of many, Wolford lost that election to one Mr. Rick Santorum. Santorum served 12 years in the Senate and is currently running for President.

Ms. Magazine, original cover on left, NY Magazine tribute on right.


2011 saw the 40th anniversary of the Founding of Ms. Magazine. I was in high school when this landmark magazine was founded by Gloria Steinem. Ms. magazine was featured on the cover of New York magazine, the place where it all started 40 years ago in December 2011. It was appropriate since New York‘s editor Clay Felker offered to make the very first issue of Ms. an insert in his magazine, where Gloria Steinem was a staff writer. Ms.Magazine, founded by veteran journalist and feminist Gloria Steinem and backed by glossy New York Magazine, promised to be something more: a place where women could read about real women like themselves, and connect to the nascent women’s movement - devoted to equality in the workplace and in all aspects of their lives. The right to legalized abortion and birth control was just one of many powerful issues embraced by the women’s liberation movement of the early 1970s. Like the civil rights movement, equality, justice and community were key ideals for the feminists of that era. Ms. is credited with being among the first to bring the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace to widespread attention. Ms. pointed out what women already knew: that such behavior was more than a personal violation. It forced many women to choose between their dignity and their jobs. Ms. Magazine is only quarterly now, other media is now filling in where the Magazine pioneered originally. But its impact on society and politics will outlast any number of issues it might still be destined to publish.

James Taylor and Carole King.


A few weeks back, singer/songwriter Carole King turned 70. King is one of the most prolific writers and performers of her time. As a singer, her Tapestry album topped the U.S. album chart for 15 weeks in 1971, and remained on the charts for more than six years. She was most successful as a performer in the first half of the 1970s, although she was a successful songwriter long before and long after. She had her first No. 1 hit as a songwriter in 1961 at age 18, with Will You Love Me Tomorrow, which she wrote with Gerry Goffin. In 2000, Joel Whitburn, a Billboard Magazine pop music researcher, named her the most successful female songwriter of 1955–99, because she wrote or co-wrote 118 pop hits on the Billboard Hot 100. ]King has made 25 solo albums, the most successful being Tapestry. Her most recent non-compilation album is Live at the Troubadour, a collaboration with James Taylor, which reached No.4 on the charts in its first week, and has sold over 600,000 copies.] She has won four Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for her songwriting. In 2009, Carole King was inducted into the "Hit Parade" Hall of Fame. She holds the record for the longest time for an album by a female to remain on the charts and the longest time for an album by a female to hold the No.1 position, both for Tapestry. In 2010, King and James Taylor staged their Troubadour Reunion Tour together, recalling the first time they played at The Troubadour in Los Angeles in 1970. The pair had reunited two and a half years earlier with the band they used in 1970 to mark the club's 50th anniversary. They enjoyed it so much that they decided to take the band on the road. The touring band featured players from that original band: Russ Kunkel, Leland Sklar, and Danny Kortchmar. Also present was King's son-in-law, Robbie Kondor. King played piano and Taylor guitar on each others' songs, and they sang together some of the numbers they were both associated with. The tour began in Australia in March, returning to the United States in May. It was a major commercial success, with King playing to some of the largest audiences of her career. Total ticket sales exceeded 700,000 and the tour grossed over 59 million dollars, making it one of the most successful tours of the year. Mrs. Lulac and I had the opportunity to see that event at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. We both marveled at how lithe and energetic King was along with James Taylor. It was n the top 5 of the concerts we attended in our lives. King’s most recent effort was a holiday album that was co produced y her daughter Louise.

Statue of the late Frank Rizzo in downtown Philly.


2011 saw the 20th anniversary of Frank Rizzo’s death. Rizzo, former Mayor of Philadelphia died on July 16th while campaigning for a third term for his old job. Rizzo had a tremendous impact on Philadelphia politics. An extremely polarizing figure, Philadelphians were either extreme supporters or detractors. A Democrat, Rizzo's politics were primarily in the conservative wing of the Democratic party. His political appeal, however, transcended political parties. His switch from the Democratic party to the Republican party spawned a political term, "Rizzocrats" -- people who would follow Rizzo regardless of party affiliation.Rizzo was running as a Republican and even after many tumultuous years in and out of office, he was still widely regarded in Philadelphia. His relationship with the media was problematic but even 2 decades after his death, the day he died struck a chord with reporters who covered him. Rizzo had a controversial relationship with the media. He sparred with beat reporters, including Andrea Mitchell, who was one of the first female urban beat reporters, and yet hired several into city posts after his re-election in 1975. His relationship with local television news anchor Larry Kane was especially noted. Both Mitchell, in her book Talking Back, and Kane, in his book Larry Kane's Philadelphia, said that when they heard about Rizzo's death, they broke down and cried.

WALN Party Channel Girls, Vickie and Layla.


At the end of last year, when we did our 2011 salute to “Women We Love”, we did a short feature on WALN Satellite Cable Radio’s Party Channel girl Mandee Marie. We were told by our Facebook friend, Happy Jack Burns that Mandee was no longer with WALN. That said we salute the original Party Channel girls pictured in this edition, Layla ands Vickie. Also on that “Women We love” update, Mrs. LuLac was perturbed she wasn’t included in the bunch. Needless to say, she’s always on the top of my list and I’d be in the gutter without her.


At 10:12 AM, Anonymous Pope George Ringo said...

WOW! 2 Pennsylvania icons....Frank Rizzo and H. John Heinz...two legends who were complete opposites.
I was honored to receive an autographed picture and original letter of good wishes from Mayor Rizzon in 1978. I could tell it is genuine because he had a horrible secretary who misspelled several words.
John Heinz, what can you say except he is ample proof that One Man Can Make a Difference.
Imagine how different things may have been had he lived.
Life goes on.
God Bless.

At 6:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny if the Heinz company had to be built under the punitive policies of someone like Sen Heinz, he wouldn't have had the fortune to allow his independence?


Post a Comment

<< Home