Spring 2018

Cigar Reviews: Spring 2018

Caldwell Eastern Standard Cypress Room (robusto) Dominican  Republic        6.0”x54                               Medium 94-Rated I’ll start my review with one word: smooth. Then I’ll add another just before it: buttery smooth. Everything about Caldwell Eastern Standard is smooth. From the silky Ecuador Connecticut wrapper to the soft, pillowy smoke that fills thy palate. Beneath this dark-ish leaf, Nicaraguan and […]

Caldwell Eastern Standard Cypress Room (robusto)
Dominican  Republic        6.0”x54                               Medium
94-Rated
I’ll start my review with one word: smooth. Then I’ll add another just before it: buttery smooth. Everything about Caldwell Eastern Standard is smooth. From the silky Ecuador Connecticut wrapper to the soft, pillowy smoke that fills thy palate. Beneath this dark-ish leaf, Nicaraguan and Dominican tobaccos unite to present a medium-bodied array of cedar and cream with a lemon-like citrus. During the burn, a dash of white pepper completes each puff and lingers nicely on the finish.
Camacho Powerband Gordo
Honduras                            6.0”x60                               Full
91-Rated
This 60-ring vitola is big, beefy, solid from head to toe and sits heavy in my hand. The pre-light is straight barnyard, which I love. Upon lighting, I get blasted with charcoal and earth. A bold start, that eventually mellows to unveil a dark, roasted display of bitter cocoa and toasted oak. The finish is long, dominated by earthy undertones and complemented by pepper. The strength increases towards the nub, helping to complete a robust and satisfying experience.
Cohiba Blue Robusto
Dominican Republic        5.5”x50                               Medium
90-Rated
A 3-country blend from Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican mingle inside a leathery-brown Honduran wrapper to create Cohiba Blue. The cigar burns a bit fast, but stays cool and brings a wealth of subtle flavors I enjoy. Leather, sweet tobacco, cedar and cream. The smoke is smooth out of the gates and remains medium in body throughout. I noticed no bells, nor whistles, but found Cohiba Blue to be a straightforward yet flavorful cigar with delightful aromas.
Mi Querida SakaKhan (Churchill)
Nicaragua 7.0”x50 Medium-Full
93-Rated
Sometimes I say chewy. Grab a Mi Querida. You’ll know why. The dark, Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper on this slow-burning Churchill delivers a rich and sweet flavor with a chewy mouthfeel. A nice vehicle to prepare my palate for a dense series of earth, cocoa and espresso bean. Midway through, the Nicaraguan tobaccos inside kick in, revealing earth and pepper backed by ample power. I suggest setting aside a good hour-plus for this cigar. It burns slow and is worth the attention.
Rocky Patel 1961 Toro
Nicaragua                            6.5” x 52                               Medium
91-Rated
Disclaimer: 1961 may not be Rocky’s finest creation, but I’ll be damned if you can find something more relaxing with an RP band on it. The cigar is gorgeous, sporting an oily, reddish Habano wrapper from Ecuador. Underneath, well-aged Nicaraguan tobaccos marry to create a smooth and sweet cigar. I get sweet tobacco and sweet cedar, followed by a spicy-sweet aftertaste. The aroma is like freshly baked bread and, every now and then, it hits the taste buds. It’s pretty darn good.

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Wine Glasses: The Last Step from Grape to Pleasure

The typical wine drinker tends to put a fair amount of thought into the wines they purchase, but less so into the glass. Yet the glass is the final step in a wine’s long journey from grape to your palate. It is a vessel that has the final word and matching the wine you are […]

The typical wine drinker tends to put a fair amount of thought into the wines they purchase, but less so into the glass. Yet the glass is the final step in a wine’s long journey from grape to your palate. It is a vessel that has the final word and matching the wine you are drinking with the correct style of glass can enhance that experience.
Historically wine has been drunk from a number of different containers of various size, shape, and construction – from leather wine bags or cow horns to wooden bowls to ornately wrought cups of metals and other materials.
Today’s wine glass is typically made of colorless crystal or glass (to best evaluate the wine’s color) with a foot and stem (although stemless are also popular if a bit more informal), and a bowl that typically narrows at the top.
The design of the glass is often matched to the style of wine to best match each wine’s specific aroma and flavor profile. The concept behind which is that most of how we perceive taste is actually through our sense of smell (olfactory). As wine is poured into the bowl-shaped glass, it interacts with air as it swirls around. As most wine glasses are narrower at the top, these aromas are captured, concentrated and focused to deliver maximum sensation.
The Bordeaux glass, with its a taller, narrower oval profile, and the Burgundy glass, with a wider, rounder bowl shape, are two of the most common shapes for red wines. A scaled down version of both is typically used for whites.
Champagne, in the past often drunk in wide, flat “coupes” has evolved to the flute, and now the trend is towards using a classic white wine glass to optimize the wine’s aroma and flavor best. In addition to these basics, there is an overwhelming array of other glasses for Port, Sherry, specific wine regions, grape varieties, and more.
While the sheer number of wines glass styles available is often more closely driven by marketing than practicality, pairing the wine with the right glass does work. A light delicate white may not have the stuffing to fill a large Bordeaux glass, leaving the wine’s aroma diffused or diluted, while a smaller white wine glass will nicely capture and deliver them. Conversely, a full-bodied classic red like Bordeaux will seem confined in a small glass, and you will miss some of what it has to offer.  A larger Bordeaux shape will allow its aromas to fully develop and be enjoyed to their fullest potential.
Heavy cut crystal has given way to a finer, more delicate and lighter glass, with companies such as Riedel and Zalto, with its sleek, modern angular shape, currently crafting some of the finest and most popular examples. It was the Austrian Riedel company, with incredible marketing savvy, that lead the charge to ever more wine specific shapes, sizes, and price points.
And while the incredible array of stemware on the market can seem daunting, just a few shapes and styles will get all but the most finicky wine lover quite nicely to the bottom of the bottle.
A standard white wine glass, a scaled down elongated egg shape, will do for any wine in a pinch. Practical and affordable, if you were to have just one glass this would be it.
Adding a large Bordeaux glass for deep, full-bodied reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah, and a rounder Burgundy bowl shape for aromatic reds (like Pinot Noir or and a few full-bodied whites) would be the next step. And depending on your preference for enjoying your sparkling wines, adding a Champagne flute would cover just about all of your wine needs.
Many of the finest and most expensive models are also very fragile, and perhaps best kept for special occasions and your finest bottles. It’s not a bad strategy to supplement them with a set of less expensive, sturdier, everyday glasses for casual use.
So when you next open a bottle of wine, be sure to get the most out if it and think about the glass as it conveys the wine on the last step of the journey. Cheers!

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Not Just Your Usual Gym: Workouts for Busy Professionals

“I’m traveling, so I’ll just schedule my rest days on my travel days.” What do you think drives statements like this? If you’re a heavy traveler, maybe it’s the frustration and boredom from the low-quality fitness facilities in many hotels. Another simple answer is just the fact that many busy professionals have fallen into a […]

“I’m traveling, so I’ll just schedule my rest days on my travel days.” What do you think drives statements like this? If you’re a heavy traveler, maybe it’s the frustration and boredom from the low-quality fitness facilities in many hotels. Another simple answer is just the fact that many busy professionals have fallen into a robotic training regime which doesn’t allow for flexibility and excitement from challenging yourself with new experiences. There’s more to a successful fit life than living on a hotel treadmill. If you travel often, many of us become overwhelmed with the decision to take the risk of selecting a new place to drop in as a guest.
Well, this is 2018, it’s time to drop the excuses and embrace the fears. Trying out new types of exercise or visiting boutique fitness facilities will assuredly come with initial concerns. The big benefit though is the excitement of gaining new ways to challenge your body and mind. This is your opportunity to think outside of the norm and try new ways to grow your healthy lifestyle balance. Here in the USA, we’ve developed limitless ways to stay fit.
Depending on who you speak to these days, you’ll find all types of trends that your fellow high performers are investing time into. Some of the top trends that have flowed over into 2018 include: HIIT, CrossFit, Zumba, Pilates, GRIT Workouts, Boxing, MMA, Barre, Yoga, and good old-fashioned weightlifting.
For the longest time now, a popular choice for travelers was to join a big name gym which had locations in all major cities. This ensures you can visit any of their facilities as an included benefit to your membership. Well, times have changed, and we can grow beyond the basic chain fitness brands. If you don’t mind paying a small drop-in fee, you can visit many other specialized facilities. Some of these can include local HIIT fitness facilities, CrossFit Boxes, MMA gyms, Yoga, and more. CrossFit is a great example of a worldwide brand that has grown beyond major cities. CrossFit boxes exist in just about any local community. This is thanks to its strong ties to entrepreneurial coaches who decided to build their own healthy community of members.
Here’s a quick overview of some of the top movers that have held sustained annual interest into 2018:
HIIT:
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and high work rate-type resistance training, also referred to as metabolic resistance training.
Quoted from the blog of NASM – National Academy of Sports Medicine.
CrossFit:
Constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity. CrossFit workouts are based on functional movements, and these movements reflect the best aspects of gymnastics, weightlifting, running, rowing and more. These are the core movements of life.
Quoted from CrossFit.com
GRIT Strength:
LES MILLS GRIT ™ Strength is a 30-minute high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout, designed to improve strength and build lean muscle. This workout uses barbell, weight plate, and body weight exercises to blast all major muscle groups.
Quoted from LesMills.com
TITLE Boxing and MMA Training:
Boxing has been traced back to as early as January 1681. The first recorded boxing match, in Britain, was engineered by Christopher Monck, 2nd Duke of Albemarle.
As of 2018, you can train in Kickboxing, Cage Fighting, and many of the MMA styles. This was a major expansion since 2007, beyond the traditional form of boxing when TITLE was founded in 1998.
Quoted from TitleBoxing.com
Barre:
Barre is about the physical as well as the aesthetic benefits of lengthening muscles while strengthening them. Barre combines Pilates, Yoga and Ballet moves to give you beautiful, sculpted, lean muscles – without the impact and injuries dancers endure.
Quoted from BarreOnline.com
“Don’t knock it, ‘til you try it!” Life is short, movement of the body is crucial at all ages. Openness to change, as in fitness, shifts with age, income, and lifestyle. Nutrition, rest/recovery, and exercise are all essential for balancing a healthy life. Please be patient with your goals and allow for realistic timelines to prevent self-defeating reactions. As with any new change, it takes time to allow your interest and positive results to get established.
Disclaimer… The information provided above is my own research, opinions, and experiences. Scott Mulvaney (LIVETHEFUEL) is not liable for any personal decisions. Please always consult a professional doctor when appropriate, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions.

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Hard Rock Resort Punta Cana!

Where can you find a gorgeous beach, all-inclusive amenities, 1,485 lavish rooms, a 45,000 square foot casino, an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus golf course, an opulent state of the art spa and live concerts by famed artists like Justin Bieber, Maroon Five, and Sting?  Those features and more are all located at the ultra-hip Hard Rock […]

Where can you find a gorgeous beach, all-inclusive amenities, 1,485 lavish rooms, a 45,000 square foot casino, an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus golf course, an opulent state of the art spa and live concerts by famed artists like Justin Bieber, Maroon Five, and Sting?  Those features and more are all located at the ultra-hip Hard Rock Resort in Punta Cana, DR.  Gone are the days where everything quiets down at 9 pm at an island resort.  Hard Rock has made it their mission to indulge their clientele in entertainment, gaming, and sports activities as well as highlight the all-inclusive dining features luxury Caribbean resorts have been known for.
The Hard Rock resort in Punta Cana has 13 unique restaurants, four trendy bars, a super chic nightclub (Club Oro), children’s activity center, 12 outdoor pools, and wedding packages designed by famous wedding planner to the stars, Colin Cowie.
Each of their over the top rooms are classified as suites.  Their entry-level suite is over 781 square feet and includes a double Jacuzzi, in room stocked mini bar, 24-hour room service, free Wi-Fi and LCD TV with satellite.
Because Punta Cana has seen a huge spike in tourism over the last decade, the government has completed several projects to entice visitors to travel to the Dominican.  In 2012, major road work resulted in a sleek new highway that offers travelers the option to fly into Santo Domingo, La Romana or Punta Cana with less than an hour drive between destinations.  No longer do vacationers have to dread a 3-hour drive from the airport.  With more choices of airports to fly into, travelers have more options thus providing more competition for reduced airfare prices.
The Dominican Republic has been a leader in tourism over the past 15 years, and the calm Caribbean waters along Punta Cana’s famous beaches create an idyllic vacation setting.  With the addition of the Hard Rock Resort, Punta Cana now has a world-class casino, and their 14,000 square foot Club Oro nightclub transforms this sleepy beach town into one of the trendiest spots south of Miami!
Hard Rock Punta Cana also uses their ties with the music industry to host star-studded concerts throughout the year. Celebrities are often seen frequenting the pools and gaming till all hours of the night in the casino.  Every reservation at Hard Rock also includes resort credit, unlimited golf and limitless spa services that only require guests to pay a small tax/gratuity.  These added features and Hard Rock’s live music events have truly redefined traveler’s expectations for an all-inclusive experience.

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Yes, Virginia, There Is a Pilot Shortage!

Say what you will about why, how, and who is responsible, but from an aviation perspective, business is booming. The competition is fierce for qualified aviators. To cover current and future aviation needs, Boeing states that over 637,000 new pilots need to join the workforce in the next twenty years. That means that eighty-seven trained, […]

Say what you will about why, how, and who is responsible, but from an aviation perspective, business is booming. The competition is fierce for qualified aviators. To cover current and future aviation needs, Boeing states that over 637,000 new pilots need to join the workforce in the next twenty years. That means that eighty-seven trained, and qualified candidates must begin their pilot training and aviation career, every single day, to meet the forecasted growth.

The concern for a pilot shortage has been discussed for several years, but no one could have been ready for the impact it is currently having.
In a 2013 article in Robb Report’s Private Aviation Sourcebook, Pete Agur (chairman and founder of the VanAllen Group; an aviation consulting firm in Georgia) wrote about the potential downside to a continued economic upswing following the Great Recession: a pilot shortage. He spoke of the ability of older more experienced pilots whose 401Ks and retirement accounts had been adversely affected by the recession becoming solvent again and able to retire. As this predicted mass exodus of older pilots is occurring, fewer young people have been choosing aviation paths for a multitude of reasons.
Historically, most pilots were trained by the military. Today, the use of drones and lack of large-scale military buildup has drastically reduced the number of pilots, pilot jobs, and flight training in the military. The navy has predicted a 10 percent shortage of pilots by 2020, and the air force is expecting to be 1,000 pilots short of its target number by 2022. Further, the industry has neglected to market to a huge demographic — women. Currently, only 3-5 percent of pilots worldwide are female. “At least 50 percent of the population is female, but very few women pursue a professional pilot career,” says Ron Rapp, an experienced corporate pilot, and prolific aviation writer.
Another reason is the length of time to train is a long and expensive road. The salaries and working conditions at regional airlines—essentially the minor leagues for pilots looking to move up to major carriers or corporate-jet jobs—used to deter people from entering the pilot profession. They started around $20K with lousy schedules and worse benefits. Considering that aspiring aviators could conceivably spend $100K in training costs, you begin to see the problem. But that is changing significantly. For example, Piedmont, a feeder for American Airlines, is advertising for pilots:

  • $60,000 the first year pay for first officers with all signing bonuses
  • $39.37 per hour for 1,000 hours
  • $16,200 signing bonus
  • $5,000 signing bonus for current Part 121 experience

They show a graph that says in 15 years they’ll be making over $300K.
Envoy, another feeder for American Airlines is advertising a potential $45K signing bonus.
Airlines are targeting business aviation pilots specifically because they’re a known quality.
While this shortage is great for aviators, it is having an adverse effect on smaller business operators. The industry as a whole has not adapted in a timely manner. While the larger operators and the airlines have lowered their minimum flight time requirements and increased their beginning salaries and signing bonuses the auditing companies have not adjusted their requirements for their higher ratings. Large corporations view safety auditing companies like Wyvern and ArGus as the standard bearers for private aviation. These auditing companies charge tens of thousands of dollars to audit companies on their procedures & crews. They also have flight time minimums for pilot experience for those higher ratings. As the more experienced pilots go to bigger companies who can afford to pay the higher salaries being demanded, the smaller operations have to scrabble over the entry-level aviators. This is not to say that entry-level aviators are NOT safe. In over 25 years in the industry, I’ve seen 500-hour pilots who were much safer in the cockpit than 2000 hour pilots who thought they were infallible.

However, the auditing companies say differently, and the big corporations listen.
Eventually, the industry will balance out. Pilots will make a decent wage, charter & airline prices will rise to cover them & perhaps even the auditing companies will be more realistic about what constitutes a safe operation. But it’s going to be a while.

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The Business of Collaboration

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller Business is often fueled by healthy competition. The desire to succeed in our respective industries is what drives success. We create a business plan and marketing campaign based on the marketplace as well as what our competitors are doing. All […]

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
– Helen Keller
Business is often fueled by healthy competition. The desire to succeed in our respective industries is what drives success. We create a business plan and marketing campaign based on the marketplace as well as what our competitors are doing. All of this can lead to a robust and thriving local economy and top-notch service offerings. It’s a very good thing for our community, but at what expense?
Collaboration has long been celebrated and encouraged in the non-profit sector. We love the idea of community programs sharing resources and ideas that work toward the same common goals. However, the concept of collaboration outside of the non-profit world if often met with trepidation. Why would you work with your competition?
The real question is, why wouldn’t you? Business collaboration allows you to learn from your peers, take on a greater scope of work, service your clients more fully, and create something bigger than yourself. Amazing mentorship and often friendship is born from working together with others in your field. While it can feel like a calculated risk, putting yourself and your business in the room with others in your industry can also fuel ideas and best practices.
Take Mothers, the master collaborators. Calling upon each other to help with carpools, class parties, field trips, and play dates. Moms regularly share best practices, seek advice from one another, and lend a helping hand anytime one is needed. This makes us ALL better. In fact, I think you would be hard-pressed to find a Mom who doesn’t agree that collaboration with her fellow Moms is the key to her success.
As my business grew, I knew that finding other similar businesses and professionals to help me on this journey was critical to our success. Engaging with other video and digital content professionals, learning about their processes, sharing ideas, and mentoring each other on the industry, challenges us to improve our skills and encourages us to find unique ways to work together. This collaborative approach to work resonated with everyone we spoke with, and we quickly realized there was a need to foster this concept, especially among women. And so, #410Collaborative was born.
We are founded on the common goal of collaboration being at the core of everything we do. We are made up of four female business owners and work with countless others who share our vision. We offer monthly seminars hosted by women designed to uplift, enlighten, and encourage anyone who attends. Finally, we are a place where you can enjoy a creative workspace, share ideas freely, or just stop in to take a few minutes to be mindful and recharge. We are truly grateful for the opportunities we have been given to collaborate and want to share those experiences with everyone we meet!

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The Way You Look Matters

It’s an interesting point of view how this day and age people and businesses still like to think and say, “It’s not all about the way you look.” I am here to tell you the way you look is not everything, but it surely helps a lot more than you think. We are going to […]

It’s an interesting point of view how this day and age people and businesses still like to think and say, “It’s not all about the way you look.” I am here to tell you the way you look is not everything, but it surely helps a lot more than you think. We are going to explore why the way your business look matters because yes, it matters a great deal.
I have encountered a majority of small and medium-sized companies, start-ups, etc. that have had the great fortune of being in business and performed growth. The problem is when they reach a threshold they simply cannot break. They ask themselves, “Why?!” Well, some of these companies have just let themselves GO. They started some growth, made some money, and completely disregarded the way they look as an entity to the rest of the world. There is a saying, “Looks fill our eyes, while personalities fill our hearts.” This statement applies to businesses as well.
You as a company want to have continuous growth and get that really big client you wish for. You long for the contract that changes everything and takes you to the next level. Well… maybe it’s time to take a good look in the mirror and analyze what’s staring back at you. Is your company as a whole really communicating what it needs to land that client and/or contract? Are you still reflecting a garage startup begging for any type of client to bring you revenue? Here are some of the things you need to take a look at immediately. First off, take a good look at your competition, local and national. This will tell you image-wise, what the real difference is. Secondly, look at the client you desire, it’s competition, and whom they have worked with in the past. This will show you the type of companies they rub shoulders with and the type of shoulders they want to keep rubbing. Is your company looking like one of those? Lastly, reflect on your own business and think, “How can I make it look like a national or global brand?”
A lot of companies think restructuring their image and/or branding might be an unnecessary expense. On the contrary, I am here to remind you that is not an “expense.” It is a necessary investment you need to seriously consider every so often, and make sure you keep up with it over time. As well as investing in yourself as a company, in order to be able to get recognized by clients you want to work with… look the part and act as if. Those two sentences, as a small or medium business, should be in your mind at all times. LOOK THE PART: Look like the company that you are thriving to be. ACT AS IF: Handle yourself as the larger, more successful company you want to be. Both go hand in hand with getting yourself from a small, startup business to a real player in your industry. Whether you are selling napkins, uniforms, manufacturing equipment, forklifts, hospitality services, food, etc. ANYTHING and EVERYTHING can always look BETTER. Get yourself ready to dazzle your potential client, your potential partner, your potential success.
Think of it as a first date, when you go out on a first date you go all in to impress. That same principle applies to this industry every single day you are in the business. Including but not limited to your physical office, website, social media channels, your team, etc. Always make sure you look perfect.
How do you get the perfect look? Branding or image consulting is what you may need. Let’s face it; everybody can’t be good at everything, so find yourself someone that can translate your business personality into graphic emotions. Invest in the way you look so you can turn heads in your industry. In this day in the business world, there is always someone trying to take your spot, take your clientele, or take your market. Investing in digital marketing, resourceful staff, assets, continuous education, and training your business branding is what will fill their eyes. With these pieces in place, your company’s mission and vision can then fill their hearts.
The way you look matters more than you think. Get your business prepared to turn heads wherever you go. Whether you have a local business, you are trying to grow, or a mid-size company you’re working to expand internationally or nationwide, presentation is your first attention grabber. Make sure you turn heads in every way possible by digital, physical and traditional marketing. Now, make them fall in love with your business by making them notice you first.
Please visit us: www.blacksquaregrp.com For all design/branding consultations and inquiries please email us: design@blacksquaregrp.com Subject: NetworkMagazine

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Trump Woke the Sleeping Giant

A year into this Trump administration the American people are disgusted to see that our politics have devolved into an international embarrassment.  Based on recent wins for the Democratic party, Trump’s attempts to use the media as a tool of mass distraction are failing big league. The further we get away from his 2016 victory […]

A year into this Trump administration the American people are disgusted to see that our politics have devolved into an international embarrassment.  Based on recent wins for the Democratic party, Trump’s attempts to use the media as a tool of mass distraction are failing big league. The further we get away from his 2016 victory the more he reveals the Republican party for what it has become, a tool for the extremely wealthy to drain the American workforce.

The Democratic Parties recent victories show that the new crops of Democrats stepping forward to run against the GOP have learned how to talk to both their base and blue-collar Republican voters.  Trump, the man who built his brand around being a billionaire, cynically and hypocritically positioned himself as the person who would fight for the average working man and woman.  He has yet to do anything to help his voters.  He’s helped corporate shareholders with his permanent corporate tax cuts, but he’s also turned average voters into activists, and non-voters into voters against him. The longer he is in office, the more apparent it becomes that he cannot or never intended to deliver on his campaign promises. He is in office because he is an astute carnival barker who knows what catches people’s attention.  The problem now is the voters are paying attention to the actual effects of GOP policies and no longer the talking points they’ve been so effective in delivering over decades.

Once a voter is engaged especially when they learn more about issues and policy it is almost impossible to get them to stop voting.  What was so encouraging about the 2017 election in Lehigh County is that Democrats who had never voted in a municipal election in their lives, came out to vote.  They helped Phillips Armstrong overcome being outspent 10:1 and elected him as our County Executive.  Northampton County flipped their Executive and council majority to Democrat.  The 2017 election results in the Lehigh Valley showed that 2018 has the potential to change politics as usual for the foreseeable future.

We finally got see if this was a trend that would continue in Pennsylvania. The Democrats were able to flip a 20-point Trump District in the narrowest of margins. Conor Lamb won the seat formerly held by Rick Santorum.  Lamb ran against the GOP tax cuts for the wealthy and rejected the corporate PAC donations that paved the way for them.   He was solely focused on the issues that affect the working class regardless of party and embraced unions that the democratic party has neglected and abandoned. He too was outspent 3 to 1, but even an avalanche of money in a deep red districted didn’t guarantee a win. If Democrats can stick to a real economic message, they will win back legislative majorities this year.

There is always a risk that Democrats walk away with the wrong message from these encouraging recent wins.  These victories show that voters are voting for their economic interests, but if they can’t distinguish you from the GOP incumbents on economic issues and corporate influence, they won’t turn out. If Democrats continue to fight for policies that address needs of the working class over Wall Street, the sky is the limit for the victories to come.

Many of us on the left feel like our Democracy is hanging on by a thread, but there is still hope to change things.  We need to win, and we need to win big. It’s time for a bold new democratic majority that enacts policies that help the average person have a more secure future. The voters are entrusting us to act on their behalf, and if we fail, we will have no one to blame but ourselves when Trump or another Trump-inspired GOP creation runs again in 2020.

We need bold ideas with a path to implement them.  We need to have candidates fight for the “pie-in-the-sky” ideas like raising the minimum wage, free college, and investment in our infrastructure.  In those districts that lean to the Democrats, elect bold progressives who will push the message forward.

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Pivotal Politics: Pennsylvania’s Crucial Role in the 2018 Midterms

For the second time in less than two years, Pennsylvania will play a pivotal role in a federal election cycle. With the redrawing of the Commonwealths congressional districts, coupled with multiple incumbent retirements from the U.S House delegation, Pennsylvania is poised to become a political battle as the 2018 mid-term elections ramp up. First-term midterm […]

For the second time in less than two years, Pennsylvania will play a pivotal role in a federal election cycle. With the redrawing of the Commonwealths congressional districts, coupled with multiple incumbent retirements from the U.S House delegation, Pennsylvania is poised to become a political battle as the 2018 mid-term elections ramp up.

First-term midterm elections are historically bad for the party that holds power, and in many cases are viewed as a referendum on the current administration. The 2018 elections are nothing different in that regard. What is different this year are the many complex and unusual circumstances that have led to the recent redistricting in Pennsylvania and the state’s new pivotal position in the upcoming national elections. It is the goal of this essay to provide a brief overview of the events leading up to Pennsylvania’s new congressional map and produce an analysis of potential ramifications from the PA Supreme Courts recent redistricting decision on the make-up of the United States House of Representatives.

Background

The League of Women Voters and a group of Democratic citizens filed a lawsuit in 2017 arguing that the Congressional Map put into place in 2011 was unconstitutional according to the Pennsylvania State Constitution. The essence of the language in the lawsuit was that the 2011 Congressional Map discriminated against democratic voters. The PA Supreme Court chose to hear the case in early 2018 and the situation intensified from there.

In January of 2018, the PA Supreme Court heard oral arguments and subsequently issued a decision overturning the 2011 Congressional Map. This decision initiated a period in which the state legislature would draft a new map and submit it to the governor for approval or veto. In early February, the United States Supreme Court rejected a request for a stay from the State Senate President and State House Speaker, in which they claim that the PA Supreme Court took power away from the State Assembly, per the United States Constitution. Following the initiation of said lawsuit, the State Legislature submitted a new map to Governor Wolf, who rejected the plan. State Democratic Leaders and the Governor then submitted their own plan directly to the PA Supreme Court, who began drafting a version of a new Congressional map with the help of an outside consultant. A new Congressional map was presented, and Congressional candidates statewide now have a nomination petition deadline of March 20th, separate from all other candidates in the commonwealth.

The information listed above is consolidated to provide a brief background of the events that lead to the new 7th Congressional District in the Lehigh Valley, formerly the 15th District. If you are interested in a more complex overview of the situation, the Philadelphia Inquirer has published an article that provides more context.

Where We Stand

So, what does this new congressional map mean for the future of the Lehigh Valley and the makeup of the United States House of Representatives after the 2018-midterm elections?

Nationally, many politicos see the March 13th Special Election in Western Pennsylvania, where the two candidates, Rick Saccone and Connor Lamb, who will never face each other again, as a preview to the elections in November. As I have mentioned in a previous article, middle-class, white voters were essential to Trump’s victory.

Pennsylvania being a Rust Belt state, is full of these types of voters. Depending on their view of the President and the Party, rust belt voters may once again play a pivotal role in determining the outcome of both the March 13th Special Election and the 2018 Midterms, if they show up to vote.

Locally, the new 7th Congressional District is radically different from the former 15th District. The two remaining Republican Candidates, Olympic Gold Medalist and President of the Lehigh County Board of Commissioner Marty Nothstein, and former Lehigh County Commissioner and Local Businessman Dean Browning, will face off in the May Primary. The winner of that race will then become the Republican nominee for the November General Election. The Lehigh Valley has been represented by a Republican since the late 1990’s, with outgoing GOP Congressman Charlie Dent holding the seat since 2004.
In short, Pennsylvania is once again positioned to be a determining factor in the makeup of the federal government, just as it was in the 2016 Presidential Elections when President Trump won the state. Over the past two years, Pennsylvania has certainly earned the title of “Swing State.” Judging by the issues currently at play, “swing state” is a title the Commonwealth will hold well into the future depending on the outcome of the federal courts ruling on the states redistricting.

Lai, Jonathan. “Pennsylvania, gerrymandered: A guide to Pa.s congressional map redistricting fight – Philly.” Philly.com. March 09, 2018. Accessed March 10, 2018. http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/state/pennsylvania-gerrymandering-case-congressional-redistricting-map-coverage-guide-20180308.html.

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LVCPO on the Rise

The Lehigh Valley Consortium of Professional Organizations (LVCPO) is a formally constituted nonprofit corporation with the following eleven professional corporations as members, represented by officers of their respective Boards of Directors: American Planning Association of Pennsylvania – Lehigh Valley/Berks Section Association of Fund Raising Professionals – Eastern – Pennsylvania Chapter Bar Association of Lehigh County […]

The Lehigh Valley Consortium of Professional Organizations (LVCPO) is a formally constituted nonprofit corporation with the following eleven professional corporations as members, represented by officers of their respective Boards of Directors:

  • American Planning Association of Pennsylvania – Lehigh Valley/Berks Section
  • Association of Fund Raising Professionals – Eastern – Pennsylvania Chapter
  • Bar Association of Lehigh County (BALC)
  • Estate Planning Council of the Lehigh Valley (LVEPC)
  • Forum for Ethics in the Workplace – Salesian Center, DeSales University
  • Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors Association
  • National Association of Insurance & Financial Advisors – Lehigh Valley Chapter (NAIFA-LV)
  • Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants of the Lehigh Valley (PICPA – LV)
  • Risk Management Association of the Lehigh Valley
  • Society of Professional Engineers of the Lehigh Valley (SPE-LV)
  • Exit Planning Institute, Lehigh Valley Chapter

How did this organization, LVCPO with over 6,000 professionals represented by the above organizations, come into being? The idea behind LVCPO emanated from a discussion between Dan LaBert, the then Executive Director of the BALC and Bob Rust, Lehigh Valley attorney of Rust Law, LLC and a member of BALC. Their idea was to form an organization that would encourage individuals from sister professions to interact with one another by attending programs held at the Barrister’s Club. These programs would feature presentations on current matters important to all the members of the member organizations and provide the opportunity to network and develop business opportunities at a social hour following each program.

Moreover, each session was to be private, thereby encouraging open and candid Q&A sessions with each speaker or panel of speakers.

An ad hoc organization was put in place with representatives of the BALC, LVEPC, NAIFA-LV, PICPA-LV and the SPE-LV forming an informal Board with Dan LaBert as the de facto Executive Director. For several years, LVCPO continued to operate in this fashion, hosting many successful programs and bringing together members to hear elected officials speak to important current topics and to mix and mingle.
In 2012, Ray Bridgeman was appointed Executive Director of the BALC and Director of the LVCPO. He not only picked up where Dan left off, he played a key role in taking LVCPO to a whole new level. Together with Bob Brown (current President of the LVCPO Board), they challenged the ad hoc governing board to incorporate LVCPO, establish a formal board with representatives from each member organization, and to charge each Board Director of the new board to aggressively seek greater participation in LVCPO programs by the members of their respective organization.

With this new vision, LVCPO put on amazing seminars with dynamic area leaders presenting, such as Don Cunningham (CEO-LVEDC), J.B. Reilly (CEO-City Center Investment Corp.) and Dr. Christopher Borick (Director of Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion). One of its principal goals was to provide networking opportunities between all its members, and this new plan has produced amazing signature events with hundreds in attendance, including high end car shows and beer and spirit tasting events from local companies, along with entertainment.
Formal incorporation ensued thereafter with a de jure Board made up of rotating Board members from the member organizations, three at large members and Ray Bridgeman as a permanent Board member and Treasurer. The first president of the newly constituted Board was Irv Keister (NAIFA-LV), followed by Rosemary Lamaestra (PICPA-LV), David Ellowitch (LVEPC) and Bob Rust (At large).

Under the leadership of lrv, Rose and David, the number of member organizations soon grew from four (4) to ten (10) organizations, thereby increasing exponentially the opportunities for interdisciplinary networking and business development between the members of the member organizations. Moreover, given the significant number of professionals present at each of LVCPO’s programs, the organization is able to draw top speakers willing to candidly address current “hot topics.”

While the LVCPO story is one of success, the authors recognize that the organization has just started to realize the tremendous potential for interdisciplinary discourse and business development that is “there for the taking” by the 6,000 plus individual professionals belonging to the LVCPO member organizations.

It is with this mind, that the authors strongly encourage those professionals who have yet to attend a LVCPO program to access LVCPO’s website to learn more about the organization and to identify the Board member of their member organization who is currently sitting on the LVCPO Board. Moreover, the authors welcome inquires (rbridgeman@lehighbar.org and rnrust@rustlawllc.com), as do the current President of the LVCPO Board, Bob Brown (bob.brown@lpl.com), current President Elect, Rick Roseberry (RRoseberry@maserconsulting.com) and current Secretary, Ron Semanick (ronjon369@rcn.com).

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