Smart Talk Monday: COVID biggest issue according to F&M poll; TMI emergency planning scaled back; COVID-19 testing takes to the road


The latest Franklin and Marshall College poll of registered voters released last week found that respondents consider the COVID-19 pandemic the most important problem facing Pennsylvania and may, as a result, feel less optimistic about their finances.

The 2020 general election and voter intentions were also key poll questions, and more voters plan to cast their ballot in person than by mail.

Franklin and Marshall College political analyst and pollster Dr. G. Terry Madonna, Ph.D., appears on Monday’s Smart Talk to discuss the results and provide perspective.

The legacy of Three Mile Island Nuclear Power plant will be forever marred by the partial meltdown of one of the reactors more than forty years ago.  

The reactors sit along the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg and are owned by the Exelon Corporation. Exelon shut down the generating station almost a year ago to begin the decades-long decommissioning process 

The corporation recently appealed to the federal government to scale back some of their emergency response planning; a move that alarms an area watchdog group.  

Joining Smart Talk to share their concerns is Eric Epstein, Chairman of the Harrisburg-based group TMI Alert 

Finally, the Coronavirus pandemic has hit people of color living in under-served communities particularly hard. One organization’s solution is to launch a COVID-19 mobile testing and education RV to tour the state are reach out to these communities 

George Fernandez is the Founder and CEO of Latino Connection and he appears on Smart Talk to share the plan to offer a needed service tailored to this demographic.   

Smart Talk Thursday; Women in elected office after the 19th Amendment

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote. The fight for women’s suffrage was a decades-long battle that took more than 70 years to win.

Women representation in elected office didn’t happen quickly after the passage, particularly at the national level. An entirely male Congress passed the 19th Amendment, but 50 years later there were still only one female senator and ten representatives. Today in 2020, only a quarter of the legislature is comprised of women.

What happened in Pennsylvania after the ratification? Did women take advantage of this new right to run for elected office to represent voters? For the women who did seek office, how were they received by the electorate and once in office, did their gender help or hinder their role?

Pennsylvania and the nation are now preparing for the 2020 general election, which features the first-ever black woman on a Presidential ticket. Smart Talk Thursday will focus on the role of women as voters and in elected office over the past 100 years. Joining the conversation are Dr. Curtis Miner, Ph.D., senior history curator at the State Museum of Pennsylvania, Dana Brown, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University, retired Republican state Senator Pat Vance of Cumberland County and Democratic state Representative Patty Kim of Dauphin County.

After Suffrage, Pennsylvania’s Inaugural Class of Women Legislators, by Dr. Curtis Miner, is available here.

Smart Talk Wednesday; Pa.’s plan for mail-in voting

More Americans may be voting by mail in this fall’s 2020 presidential election rather in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

President Donald Trump has suggested that voting by mail has potential for fraud. That’s even though reports of fraud associated with mail-in voting are almost non-existent.

In the meantime, the U.S. Postal Service said last week there is no guarantee ballots could be returned in time for the November 3rd election after overtime for postal workers were eliminated and sorting machines removed. Those changes were rescinded on Tuesday until after the election.

Pennsylvania’s Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Bookvar is on Smart Talk to discuss mail-in voting and what’s being done to ensure those ballots are counted.

Call 1-877-VOTESPA if you have questions about your voter registration, or visit


Smart Talk Tuesday; Census 2020 and Pennsylvania cities raise the alarm for funding

In March, Pennsylvania homes received mailed invitations to complete the 2020 Census.

The count continues and census takers are now visiting communities to collect information from residents who have not sent in the mailed questionnaire.

There is a lot at stake to make certain everyone is counted, including future Congressional representation and billions of dollars in federal funding.

Norman Bristol Colon, executive director of the Governor’s Census 2020 Complete Count Commission appears on Smart Talk to provide a status of the Census count.

Visit My Census 2020 for information about how to register for the Census.

It will take a long time for Pennsylvania to economically recover from the pandemic’s impact. Cities and municipalities across the state say that there is no time to wait for a recovery and are pleading for help now.

Losses from tax revenues and business closures are signaling big problems ahead. Rick Schuettler is the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Municipal League and he joins Smart Talk to spotlight the economic issues facing municipalities if no additional aid is received.

Smart Talk Monday; Redistricting legislation; PIAA looks to salvage fall sports; Keeping kids “safe and secure”

Next year, lawmakers will use the information obtained in the 2020 census to draw new congressional maps. Pennsylvania state House and Senate maps are determined differently; drawn by a five-member legislative commission comprised of both political parties.

Many argue that the current system allows for gerrymandering because members bring their own biases to bear in the process, and thereby favoring their party.

Republican state representative Wendi Thomas, of Bucks County introduced redistricting reform legislation that focuses on the rules for redistricting, rather than who is commissioned to draw the maps.

The legislation has received support from grassroots voting advocates, and members of both parties. Representative Thomas appears on Smart Talk to discuss details and where the legislation stands.

Governor Tom Wolf recently released guidance for sports in Pennsylvania, recommending that youth school sports postpone athletics until at least January 2021.

The Pennsylvania school sports governing body (PIAA) responded by delaying their decision and requesting an audience with the Governor’s office.

PIAA Associate Executive Director Melissa Nash Mertz joins Smart Talk to discuss the possibility of a “path forward” for fall sports.

At young ages, kids are exposed to adult realities and issues through the media and popular culture. Many parents and caregivers struggle to talk about some of these difficult topics.

One place to start is with a new web resource by the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR), called

Joining Smart Talk to share details are Jackie Strohm, Prevention & Resource Coordinator for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) and project lead, along with Lexi Livelsberger, former PCAR team member who uses the resources with her two children.

Smart Talk Thursday: COVID questions answered

It has been almost six months since the COVID-19 pandemic began in the U.S. Since that day at the end of February, more than five million people have tested positive for the virus with 162,000 dying from it. In Pennsylvania, more than 121,000 have contracted the virus and 7,400 have died.

We have learned much COVID-19 over the past six months about symptoms, how the virus is spread, who is at risk and the role of face masks. However, many people still have questions about the virus, how to avoid exposure, what to do if you experience symptoms and the return of children to school.

Dr. John Goldman is an infectious disease specialist with UPMC Pinnacle and he joins us on Thursday’s Smart Talk to answer questions about COVID-19 and stopping the spread.

Dr. Goldman has been on Smart Talk previously to answer questions about the virus. His appearance Thursday will be a good indicator of how much has changed and that has been learned about the coronavirus.

Smart Talk Wednesday; Election lawsuits; Named streams better protected; Pa. artist designs new coin

The 2020 General election is ramping up to be the first of its kind in many ways, including the myriad of lawsuits pending in Pennsylvania.

Maintaining voter rolls and controversy surrounding new voting technology are heading to court, along with lawsuits over Pennsylvania election procedures.

Joining Smart Talk to analyze the election landscape is PA Post reporter Emily Previti.

Streams and creeks are an important part of Pennsylvania’s natural landscape. They provide habitat for native species, mitigate flooding, and offer boundless recreation opportunities.

There are more than 85-thousand miles of rivers and streams in the state, and protecting these waters is vital to their health. Only five percent of fresh-water creeks and streams in the U.S. are named; an important distinction for water conservation and pollution control. Water quality experts say that named streams are more likely to be protected from litter and unwanted runoff.

So, what goes into naming creeks and waterways? Joining Smart Talk on Wednesday is Jennifer Runyan, a researcher with the U.S. Board on Geographic Names to talk about the process of naming geographic features.

This month, the U.S. Mint will release the Women’s Suffrage Centennial silver dollar coin, celebrating the milestone 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

A Philadelphia-based artist was commissioned to design the coin that pays tribute to women integral to the Suffrage movement.

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss the design process and her membership in the U.S. Mint’s Artistic Infusion Program is Professor Christina Hess, Chair of the Illustration Department at Pennsylvania College of Art & Design in Lancaster.

Women’s Suffrage Centennial 2020 Proof Silver Dollar, designed by artist Christina Hess. Copyright U.S. Mint.
Women’s Suffrage Reverse of Centennial 2020 Proof Silver Dollar, designed by artist Christina Hess. Copyright U.S. Mint.

Smart Talk Tuesday: How Pa. benefits from Great American Outdoors Act; Offensive mascots?

The Great American Outdoors Act will provide three billion dollars a year to conservation projects, outdoor recreation and maintenance of national parks and other public lands.

The bill signed into law by President Trump last week, with widespread bi-partisan support, is being called by at least one supporter as the most significant conservation legislation enacted in nearly half a century. However, there are those who say the money isn’t enough to cover the estimated $20 billion maintenance backlog on federally owned lands.

Tuesday’s Smart Talk explores how the Outdoors Act will impact national parks, federal land and other venues in Pennsylvania.

Appearing on the program are Lauren Imgrund, Deputy Secretary for Conservation and Technical Services, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, Steven Sims, Superintendent of the Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site, and Stephanie Wein, Clean Water & Conservation Advocate, PennEnvironment.

Also on Tuesday’s show, the Black Lives Matter movement and a renewed focus on inequality and discrimination led to statues and monuments of Confederate Civil War leaders and those who may have been racist in their lifetimes being torn down or replaced.

Questioning or criticizing history wasn’t just confined to African-Americans. Criticism from Native-Americans – many of whom have been saying that sports mascots are offensive – grew louder.

Tuesday’s Smart Talk includes conversation with several people who want the Susquehanna Township High School “Indians” to change their name and mascot.

Joining us are Allyn Rosenberger, 2013 Susquehanna Township High School graduate who launched a community campaign and petition to retire the school’s mascot and James Crews, 1989 alumni of Susquehanna High School who is native American.

Smart Talk Monday: Safely voting this fall; Flu shots lead to less chance of Alzheimer’s?; Lancaster Water Week

This November’s election will be unlike any other in American history. Voter turnout and subsequently, the candidates that win or lose, could be determined by whether voters feel safe from the COVID-19 virus.

A coalition of non-profits and community leaders has formed VoteSafe PA – a group that says it is dedicated to “an efficient, accessible, secure mail-in ballot process and safe, in-person voting sites that ensure Pennsylvanians won’t have to risk their health for simply standing in line to vote.”

On Monday’s Smart Talk, we’ll learn more from VoteSafe PA co-chairs – former state House Majority Leader Dave Reed and former Congressman Patrick Murphy.

Also on Monday’s Smart Talk, new research indicates flu shots and pneumonia vaccines lead to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. On Smart Talk to tell us more about the research are Dr. Oscar Lopez, MD, Professor of Neurology, University of Pittsburgh and Sara Murphy, Vice President of Programs and Services with the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Pennsylvania Chapter.

Finally, we’re in the midst of Lancaster Conservancy Water Week and that includes a series of events to clean up and protect waterways in Lancaster County.

Joining us on Monday’s program to discuss how that’s being done are Fritz Schroeder, Senior Vice President of Community Impact with the Lancaster Conservancy and Allyson Ladley Gibson, coordinator, Lancaster Clean Water Partners.

Smart Talk Wednesday; US Senator Pat Toomey; Peyton’s Law – Saving Young Hearts

Pennsylvania Republican U.S. Senator Pat Toomey appears on Wednesday’s Smart Talk.

Among the issues we’ll discuss with Sen. Toomey are the on-going efforts in Congress to pass another coronavirus relief bill. So far in negotiations, Democrats have pushed a wide-ranging package that includes the continuation of $600 weekly in unemployment benefits and billions of dollars for hard hit states and cities. Republicans reportedly favor a more scaled back bill that ties unemployment benefits to workers’ incomes before the pandemic to encourage them to return to their jobs and not rely on the additional jobless payments.

Also, when 19-year-old Peyton Walker died suddenly in 2013 of Sudden Cardiac Arrest, her loss left her family reeling.

They harnessed their grief into action, starting a foundation in Peyton’s name to save other families from knowing the pain and heartache of losing a child from SCA.

Pennsylvania recently passed Peyton’s Law, making the state only the second in the country to enact legislation to educate parents about SCA and the importance of heart testing.

Peyton Walker Foundation president and Peyton’s mother Julie Walker joins us on Smart Talk to share the details.

Finally, 30 years ago the country of Iraq invaded Kuwait, their neighbor to the south and home to eight percent of the world’s oil reserves.

The American response was swift and started with a military build-up that included an international coalition of forces. Six months later, Desert Storm began to forcibly expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait. The war lasted only 43 days.

But the murky aftermath still clouds the legacy of what should be considered a successful ending to the Persian Gulf War.

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss the anniversary is Conrad Crane, Ph.D., Chief of Analysis and Research for the USARMY Heritage and Education Center.