Once every ten years, the United States counts every person residing in the country. This is the year! And today, April 1, 2020 is Census Day! The census includes every person living in a household or apartment, group quarters, and individuals living on the streets throughout the United State of America..
Throughout the country, April 1 is the designated day on which every person residing with you, even if only temporarily, is to be counted. This includes all newborn babies and children and anyone else who resides with you that day – including people (like foster kids or your parents) who might be temporarily residing with you.
Why is the census so important? The results are used to determine how much funding local communities receive for key public services. Funding for such things as our roads, our police and fire departments, and our schools and hospitals are based on the Census. It also determines how many seats each state gets in Congress. State and local officials also use census counts to draw boundaries for congressional, state legislative, and school districts.
On or about March 15, every household should should have received a postcard from the US Census Bureau inviting you to fill out the Census on-line, by phone, or you can request a paper version. This postcard contains a unique number so that the Census only counts people at your address one time only. If you lost this card (see sample below), you can still fill out the Census, but it will take a bit of extra work.
The website where you fill out your census information is https://my2020census.gov. On the landing page, you are asked to press the button labeled, “Start Questionnaire.” On the next page, you are asked to enter the unique number listed on the postcard that was mailed to you. Once you do that, you will confirm your home address and answer the census questions for each member of your household.
If you don’t have that unique number, you can click on the link that says, If you do not have a Census ID, click here. That link will take you to a series of questions asking for your if you live in a state, in Puerto Rico, or somewhere else. Note, “somewhere else drops you out of the program indicating that either your location is ineligible for the Census OR that you live in a territory where an enumerator will come to your home to complete the Census with you. The other two links step you through a series of questions to locate your residence. Once the “where do you live” type questions are complete, you will then answer the census question for each member of your household.
Getting a complete and accurate census count is critically important. If you do not respond to the postcard, the U.S. Census Bureau will send you a paper version to fill out and mail back to them. If you still haven’t filled it out by probably the end of April , they will follow up in person to collect your response. And in this era of the Corona Virus pandemic, filling it out on line, by phone, or on paper will help keep you and your neighbors safe.
Note to college students. Due to the pandemic and the resulting closure of colleges, universities, and trade schools throughout the country, you may have returned home. The US Census Bureau wants you to fill out the form as if you are living in the college town on April 1. Here’s what the Census Bureau says re college students and Covid-19:
In general, students in colleges and universities temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 virus will still be counted as part of this process. Even if they are home on census day, April 1, they should be counted according to the residence criteria which states they should be counted where they live and sleep most of the time. We are asking schools to contact their students and remind them to respond.
No matter how you respond, your personal information is confidential. The Census Bureau is required by law to protect your answers. Your responses are used only to produce statistics. The Census Bureau does not disclose any personal information and it can never be used to identify you.
Thank you for being a good neighbor and for filling out your Census 2020 form.
On January 15, 2021, PA Treasurer Joe Torsella sent a letter to the PA General Assembly members. It was a farewell letter to the legislature reflecting back on his four-year term as Treasurer, his work with the legislature, his reelection loss last November, and the anti-democratic activities that occurred since then. It is a powerful letter talking about the fragility of a democracy and what needs to be done to repair and strengthen it for the future. Much like George Washington’s Farewell Speech, I believe that this letter should also be remembered and his thoughts taken to heart. As he said in this letter, “In the wake of the events of the last few weeks and months, I find myself compelled to issue a warning and a call to action.” This is that warning and call to action.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA HARRISBURG, PA 17120
JOSEPH M. TORSELILA TREASURER JANUARY 15, 2021
Throughout my term as Pennsylvania State Treasurer, I have written regularly to share my views. And despite our inevitable disagreements, the ongoing “conversation” 1 have had with members of the legislature over the past four years ranks among the most gratifying experiences of my time in this public service, which has been among the greatest honors of my life.
I have always considered you, the members of the General Assembly, to be colleagues. And I have come to know many of you – in both parties – as friends. On the day I was sworn in four years ago, I was touched to see so many legislators in the audience from across the state and across the aisle, including the current representative and senator from Berwick, the town in Columbia County where I grew up (so long ago!). And for four years, when constituents who had grown understandably cynical would ask me about the divisiveness and dysfunction of politics, I relished being able to point to the spirit of that day – and to the long list of ways we in Harrisburg found to work together despite our differences.
Recounting the list of our joint achievements – creating Keystone Scholars, launching the ABLE program, dramatically improving financial transparency, collaborating on Act 5 pension reforms, helping Pennsylvanians weather the storm of COVID-19, and more – always made me feel proud to be a public servant and, more importantly, hopeful about the future of our democracy.
I remain mindful of the various financial challenges we face, and I would like for the last letter I write to you as Treasurer to focus on the important work of building on the progress we have made over the last four years. But in the wake of the events of the last few weeks and months, I find myself compelled to issue a warning, and a call to action. It is clear that we face a larger challenge: the ongoing threat to the legitimacy of our bedrock democratic institutions.
These days, I often find myself thinking back to the ten years I spent as founding President and CEO of the National Constitution Center, the years I spent representing our nation as an ambassador at the United Nations, and the countless times in both roles I…
explained and boasted about the American experiment in self-government, which remains the most important and daring political innovation the world has ever seen.
Ushering visiting tourists or even foreign heads of state through the Constitution Center, I would extol the Founders’ understanding that constitutions are not magical guarantees of the “ordered liberty” they aspired to for the United States. They simply offer a prescription for habits of the democratic heart. When a citizenry internalizes those habits, constitutions work. When those habits are disregarded, those founding documents become meaningless pieces of paper, like the beautiful, stirring, and utterly powerless and irrelevant constitution of the former Soviet Union.
And lingering at the exhibit on the election of 1800 – the first peaceful transition of power between two bitterly contending political parties in world history – I would describe that election as the moment when we Americans proved we had the hearts, not just the rhetoric, of a democratic republic, the first link in a chain that stretched all the way to the present day.
Now, for the first time in our history, that chain has been broken. What’s worse, duly elected public servants chose to break it. The insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last week – an organized and violent attempt to prevent Congress from carrying out its constitutional duty- represented the horrifying climax of an extra-legal effort to thwart the results of a free, fair, and legitimate election. And while the President may bear the most direct responsibility for the events of January 6, far too many elected officials have spent the last two months helping to spread the ugly and corrosive lie that the 2020 election was “fraudulent,” or “rigged,” or “stolen.”
Two things should be very, very clear.
First: The Pennsylvania electorate voted to elect Democrat Joe Biden president, to un-elect Democrat Joe Torsella, and to send a Republican General Assembly to work with Democratic Governor Tom Wolf. Any fourth grader can tell that’s not a “rigged” election; it’s Pennsylvanians having their nuanced, considered – if personally frustrating or disappointing to some of us – and sovereign say.
Second: If you are reading this letter, it is because the election of 2020 sent you into office (for all of you in the house and the half of you in the senate who faced the voters.) Writing as someone who lost in that election, trust that I am as unhappy about my result as you are happy about yours. But accepting with grace the results of this election – or any election – is perhaps the most important duty we seek when we run for office. For we may run to advance our views or those of our party, but we serve to represent all citizens, and we swear to uphold their constitution: the sacred compact we’ve made that elections are how we resolve our differences, even when they are as deep as those between Adams and Jefferson in 1800.
At the Constitution Center, I would warn that democracies are strong -but also fragile. And at the UN, I watched countless nominal democracies-on-paper slide into something else in practice: autocracies at best, hotbeds of civil strife at worst. It is distressing and heartbreaking to observe that the actions of people with the gall to call themselves patriots have brought us closer to that precipice than ever before.
I won’t pretend that we all share an equal measure of responsibility for this danger. But I’ve said what I have to say to, and about, those who continue to fan the flames of misinformation, inviting further damage to our democracy.
But, fair or not, the responsibility for stopping this slide into chaos belongs to each of us. As a (soon to be former) elected official, I’ve made more than my own share of mistakes. But I’ve also learned that each new day in office offered me a chance to redeem those mistakes. That is what all of us -public servants and citizens alike -have before us now.
We cannot ever erase last week’s stain on our democratic soul. We cannot unbreak this chain. But we can forge a new one. Maybe even a stronger one. And in doing so, we can find not just redemption, but a new sense of purpose that might guide us through the stormy seas of this moment in our history.
It may seem trite or naive to suggest that there is opportunity in this crisis. But that suggestion is rooted not just in hope, but in history.
The Founders knew what to do because they had learned, the hard way, what not to do -from the examples of short-lived democracies in their history books, the mistakes of the British monarchy from which they declared independence, the early experiments in democracy made by the thirteen states, and their own abject failure to secure the blessings of liberty via their first attempt at a national government, the Articles of Confederation.
During the Civil War, our union was dealt a near-fatal -and similarly self-inflicted -blow. (Indeed, one of the most jarring images of this crisis is the sight of soldiers sleeping in the Capitol Rotunda for the first time since then.) But President Lincoln and a generation of public servants -few of whom entered politics expecting to determine the fate of democracy itself-stitched it back together, remaking the Constitution with the Reconstruction amendments. And generations later when Jim Crow revealed the ultimate shortcomings and hypocrisy of our efforts at reconciliation, we remade it once again through the Civil Rights movement.
There is a reason we can look back and admire the leadership displayed by those who have held elected office during times of turmoil -it is because only admirable leadership could have shepherded our country through.
Whatever brought each of us into public service, this is now the defining responsibility of our generation: reforging the chain of democracy, reimagining our civil compact, resurrecting the guardrails of public reason that allow citizens to converge around a shared understanding of facts, recommitting to respect the people’s sovereign will, and restoring the understanding that We the People must share a common purpose because we will share a common fate.
As an elected representative of the thirteen million citizens of this Commonwealth, you have an opportunity and obligation to embrace that charge. It is clearer than ever that the real treasure in Pennsylvania is not the $120 billion in our Treasury. It is our long and storied tradition of leadership in the American experiment of self-government. From our role in writing the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, to hosting the first national government, to defending the Union in the Civil War and evolving it during the Civil Rights movement, to answering the call of service and duty over more than two centuries, we Pennsylvanians have written countless chapters of the American story that I was so proud to boast of.
I hope that we will prove equal to that example by coming together once again in spirit, renewing our bonds as one American family, and reclaiming our identity as the world’s greatest constitutional democracy under the rule of law. The American story is ours to continue, our nation’s precious legacy ours to restore.
I urge you to summon all your courage and wisdom to address this challenge. I will do my part as a citizen, and I wish you luck in doing yours as a public official. And I offer you my enduring friendship, support, and gratitude for doing so.
Last night, the two Vice-Presidential candidates–current VP Mike Pence and US Senator Kamala Harris–took the stage in Utah to debate each other for the upcoming general election on November 3, 2020. This debate was sponsored by the Presidential Commission on Debates.
Both candidates made several broad statements on the topics raised. Questions as to the accuracy of these responses by both candidates were asked (or shouted at our television and computer screens and at our radio speakers).
As many of those engaged in the presidential election season, I wanted to know who gave the clearest and most accurate presentation on the policies and concerns of the American people.
Was it Kamela?
Or was it Mike?
So I turned to the Annenberg Center for Public Policy at the University of Pennsylvania for their non-partisan review of the claims made by both candidates. As suspected, there was the truth, part truth, less than clear statements, and some falsehoods or exaggerations in what was said during the 90-minute debate. By Pence and by Harris.
You make your decision on whom to vote for based on this review as well as other information you gather. I have made my decision. I hope you make yours as well, based on the facts in this critical race for our democracy in 2020.
For the last six weeks, everyone across the United States has experienced the worldwide pandemic and quarantine from the COVID019 coronavirus. Many have also experienced illness, loss of jobs and income, and in some cases, death of loved ones.
But America will eventually come back from this COVID-19 pandemic. We are all looking for a brighter future where we will eventually have family gatherings, concerts, and sporting events again.
When we do, we will need funding to help sustain the infrastructure to help make this happen. Infrastructure like our parks, our ballfields, our roads, our schools, our healthcare facilities, our transportation, and our economy. This infrastructure is overseen and funded by multiple entities, including the federal government.
The 2020 Census helps make this happen. Completion of the Census affects how much funding your community receives, how your community plans for the future, and how you are represented at all levels of government. For each person that completes the Census, the community will receive an estimated $2600/year/person in grants and funding from the federal government.
As of Thursday, May 7, 2020, 58 percent of the US population has completed their Census forms. Pennsylvania is doing a bit better at 61 percent. But we need a COMPLETE count in every community so that we can each receive our fair share of the federal funds and representation in our governmental bodies at the federal and state levels.
You can help out your community when it comes back from the COVID-19 pandemic by filling out your #2020Census form. You can fill out your form online today at http://my2020census.gov, over the phone at 844-330-2020, or by mail.
Let’s make it a brighter future for all. Thank you.
April 1 was Census Day. That’s the day that you are counted as living in the United States. But that doesn’t mean that you missed your chance to be counted.
As of May 3, only about 57 percent of the US population has completed their Census forms.
But we need everyone to be counted. The US Census Bureau is still asking you to fill out your census form. It’s time.
You count. Your children also count. So… remember to include your children, including newborns born on or before April 1, when you fill out your Census form.
As the Census Borough states, not only do your responses help us adults, it also helps the kids:
Census results affect planning and funding for education—including programs such as Head Start, Pell Grants, school lunches, rural education, adult education, and grants for preschool special education.
By each of us completing our forms, both my community and your community can get the federal funds necessary to help keep our schools and community vibrant. FYI, for every person listed, your community will receive an estimated $2,600 per year per person for the next ten years from the US Treasury.
I co-chair the Bellefonte Borough Census Complete Counts Committee. This committee is made up of members of the communty who are working with the US Census Bureau to help ensure that everyone in our town is counted in the 2020 Census.
Over time we have done several outreach efforts. At the beginning of March, before the pandemic spread to Pennsylvania, we hand-delivered postcards to every household in town. It included a picture of the letter that the US Census Bureau sent out to everyone on approximately March 15.
The borough is putting a one-sentence reminder to all households and businesses that pay for utilities in town to remember to fill out the census.
We also created banners that went up on our two main streets in town reminding people to “Participate in the 2020 Census.”
We had also planned on holding drop-in centers around town to help the public fill out their Census forms. But due to the coronavirus pandemic and the shelter-at-home/social distancing orders, these assistance centers were canceled.
Instead, we are attempting to send out a message on social media during this era of social distancing, to take a few minutes to fill out your Census form in the safety of your home. You can do it online at http://my.2020Census.gov, by phone at 844-330-2020, or by mail once you receive your paper version of the Census.
We have spread the word through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Reddit, Pinterest, and Youtube. Here is the first one posted on YouTube.
The beaches and businesses in two Southern states are opening up in the middle of the COVID-19 epidemic. On April 27, the number of U.S. confirmed cases is 1,010,507, and the number of deaths is 56,803, just short of the 58,220 U.S. military fatalities in the 20 years of the Vietnam War. The actual number […]
Bellefonte Borough and Pittsburgh Region Green Cities would like to invite you to a Drive Electric PA Initiative Ride/Drive and Workshop on August 9 and 10, 2019 from 9:30 am to 1:00 pm each day.
This event will be held at the Temple Court Building, 3rd floor meeting room and in our parking lot behind the YMCA here in Bellefonte.
The first two hours of the workshop will provide you with information regarding electric vehicles and the benefits of using them. The last hour will be used to see, ride, and drive in the various electric vehicles that will be in the parking lot.
Attendees are encouraged to register; however, there is no registration fee. Attached is the flyer for this event with a linkage to the registration page.
The program on Friday, August 9, 2019 is designed for municipalities, authorities, fleet managers, school districts and any others associated with community governance and services. The program on Saturday, August 10, 2019 is designed for businesses, developers, and the general public. You may however attend whichever event you prefer.
There have been three mass shootings across the country in the last week.
On January 23, 2019, a 21-year old man entered a Suntrust Bank in Sebring, Florida and killed all five people present, none of whom he knew according to news reports. His victims were all women: Cynthia Watson, Marisol Lopez, Debra Cook, Ana Pinon-Williams, and Jessica Montague. The alleged shooter is Zephen Xaver, who is currently under arrest for five counts of premeditated murder. A vigil in honor of these victims was held on January 27, 2019.
On January 26, 2019, a 21-year old man from Livingston Parish, Louisiana killed his girlfriend, her father, and her brother at their home then drove to his parents’ house and killed them. His victims were: Summer Ernest; her father, Billy Ernest; and her younger brother, Tanner Ernest, 17 as well as his parents Elizabeth and Keith Theriot. His name is Dakota Theriot. He was arrested at his grandparents’ home near Richmond, VA and now faces five counts of murder. According to a comment I received (see comments below) the community did not hold a vigil in honor of these mass shooting victims. The first funeral was held on Saturday, February 9, 2019, two weeks after the shooting occurred.
And on January 24, 2019, the third mass shooting occurred in my community. In this case, a 21-year old man from Bellefonte, PA who graduated high school with my son shot and killed four people in State College, PA. The victims included himself, two men visiting State College from Ohio, and an 83-year old man who was killed on his 60th wedding anniversary. He also critically wounded a fifth person.
The shooter was Jordan Witmer, a 2015 graduate of Bellefonte Area High School who had just finished a 3-4 year stint with the US Army. The critically-wounded woman is Nicole Abrino, who was or may have been his girlfriend at the time of the shooting. The father and son were Dean Beachy (age 62) and Steven Beachy (age 19) from Ohio; they had attempted to intervene in the argument between Witmer before the shooting occurred. George McCormick was murdered in his home after Witmer fled the scene at P.J. Harrigan’s Bar and Grille. After crashing his car, Witmer broke into the McCormick home in Ferguson Township and then shot and killed Mr. McCormick. Witmer then died by suicide. George’s wife, Joann Shaw McCormick was unharmed; she had locked herself in their bathroom and called 911.
Abrino (age 21) of State College was shot in the chest and is currently in stable condition at UPMC in Pittsburgh. She has had two surgeries so far to deal with her injuries, and a GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help her family pay for her medical expenses.
After the shooting, McCormick’s family reached out to the other victims with a message of condolence. Kristine McCormick Vahey, younger sister of George McCormick, offered her condolences to the other victims of this mass shooting, which was published in StateCollege.com:
“The family of George McCormick would like to offer our condolences to the Beachy family on the loss of their loved ones and prayers for Nicole Abrino and her family. We would also like to offer our condolences to the family of Jordan Witmer. While we don’t understand and may never understand why this happened, we know that the Witmer family is also grieving a loss.”
And, just like in Florida, our community held a vigil to honor these mass shooting victims. I attended this vigil. We came together to honor the first responders, the victims (including Jordan Witmer) and the families of this shooting and called for some actions to end this type of violence.
Due to the solemnity of the event, I did not create a video. So that you get to an idea of what was said, I have culled several news reports of the vigil to obtain quotes from the speakers and some of the people who came to the vigil. Here are these comments:
“In the wake of the violence that has taken four lives and left one hospitalized, we thought it was fitting to have it this week, honor those victims and remember their lives.” (quote from WJAC-TV)
”We enter into silence today, remembering the employees of P.J. Harrigan’s and the Ramada Inn and Conference Center. First responders, law enforcement and medical professionals. Nicole Abrino, the single gunshot survivor, and her family as they mourn and heal. Those whose lives have been taken forever: 19-year-old Steven Beachy, his father, Dean Beachy, and 83-year-old George McCormick, a longtime State College and Penn State community member. And Jordan Witmer, the Bellefonte grad who perpetuated the crimes, and his family as they make sense of what happened.” (quote from The Centre Daily Times)
Ben Wideman, campus pastor for 3rd Way Collective at Penn State and chief organizer of this vigil
“The violent loss of our friends and neighbors is all but unbearable. And so, God, we come today asking you to help us fathom that which is unfathomable.” (quote from WPSU Radio)
—Carol Thomas Cissel, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in State College
“I just feel a little lost, actually, because I don’t totally know what the solution is. We need a different way of expressing or dealing with issues, more sensible gun regulation but also mental health, but I don’t know totally what the answer is or what formula it should be.” (quote from The Centre Daily Times)
Michele Hamilton, President of Ni-Ta-Nee NOW, one of the co-hosts for this vigil
“I think certainly something like what happened this evening, to draw people together and say, ‘this didn’t just affect those families that were involved, but it affected all of us.’ This to me is actually the beginning of healing — allowing people to connect to each other and finding resources, whether it’s faith, communities, Tides or just one another, to band together and say ‘let’s support each other.’ The very first thing is to know you’re not alone.” (quote from The Centre Daily Times)
— Tides Program Director Evelyn Wald (Tides is a local non-profit organization offering no-cost support to families coping with the death of their loved ones)
Yes, we all need to heal. Here in Bellefonte, many people knew Mr. Witmer. My son didn’t know him personally but said he recalls that Witmer was well liked. At one time, Witmer lived about two blocks away from us. The community, his former neighbors and family state that they had no idea of any violent tendencies. All are hurting. We can’t condone what any of these shooters did. But we can mourn.
I agree. We should never have to deal with any form of violence against others. Mass shootings or otherwise. But we can come together to mourn and then work to reduce these kinds of incidents in the future.
Meanwhile, I think Patty Kleban sums up the thoughts of those of us who attended the vigils both here in Pennsylvania and Florida. She wrote the article titled, “In the Face of Tragedy, a Victim’s Family Responds with Grace” After quoting Kristine McCormick Vahey, she eloquently ends her article:
Life is short, and we never know what we have beyond right now. Hug those close to you. Forgive your enemies. Show others grace and compassion. Perhaps by sharing our love, we may give others — and ourselves — hope.
Rick Rosenthal looks the part. He has a white beard. He wears red suits all the time. His job for the last seven years has been that of a surrogate Santa Claus. And he’s an Orthodox Jew. Here’s his story of giving back to kids.
Rick Rosenthal is a professional, year-round Santa who also attends Congregation Young Israel of Toco Hills in Atlanta. (Courtesy of Rosenthal)
(JTA) — Just like any other Santa Claus, Santa Rick will spend much of the next couple of weeks sitting children on his knee, asking whether they’ve been good and listening to their Christmas wishes.
If it’s a Saturday, he may have slept overnight in the building. And he’ll only accept payment after nightfall.
For Santa Rick’s last name is Rosenthal, and he’s an Orthodox Jew who does not drive or handle money on Shabbat. But that doesn’t stop him from doing his job.
“I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t help a child,” said Rosenthal, 66, who lives in Atlanta and attends Young Israel of Toco Hills. “If you look at the world as children do, that’s a better feeling. I’m a better person and a better Jew because I’m Santa.”
Rosenthal — a full-time, professional Santa — sees no contradiction between serving as the symbol of Christmas and living as an observant Jew. To him, Santa is a nonreligious spiritual figure who provides trust, reassurance and comfort to the young and old.
He says that anyone who is inclined to criticize him for working as a Santa should consider ways they help non-Jews observe holidays — like working a shift on Christmas when Christians take the day off.
“As a Jew, we are to be a light unto the world,” Rosenthal said, paraphrasing a famous Jewish aphorism from the Bible. “That’s one of our jobs. If we can help make people’s lives better, we should do that. It’s a mitzvah. If we can ease tensions between Jews and non-Jews, we can do that….”
Progressive commentary from Gainesville, Florida, once called the Berkeley of the South. Potano was the chief of and the only known name of the Native American tribe inhabiting the area around what is now Gainesville at the time the Europeans arrived.
“It takes no compromise to give people their rights…it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” – Harvey Milk
Learn more about the state laws being introduced and passed around the U.S. that is limiting Women's rights. Did you know that the Women's Equal Right Amendment from 1983 still needs to be ratified by 3 more states before it goes into effect?