Mark Dodel, BSN, MBA, RN (retired)

Blogs are the opinions of the bloggers only, and do not necessarily represent every Democrat or the Monroe County Democrats However, the MCD sponsors this blog to express and share the many ideas within our party.

Mark has lived in the Poconos for 25+ years now, is retired from Nursing as well as a Healthcare Clinical Systems Analyst and has been active with the Democratic party since the 2008 Presidential election.  He was elected to the Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee in November 2014 and was re-elected to that position on 2018 Primary Election ballot. .

How To Vote By Absentee Ballot

Pennsylvania has some of the most restrictive voting requirements in the country. We don't have vote by mail. We don't have early voting. We don't allow voting anywhere except at your assigned polling location on election day. Believe it or not many other states have one or more of these features which make it a lot easier to vote.

We only allow voting on the assigned Tuesday in the Spring for the Primary and in November for the General elections. Not everyone can be off on those single days and many may be out of the area or incapable of getting to their polling place for health reasons. If any of this applies to you, you need to vote by Absentee Ballot.

To vote by Absentee Ballot in Pennsylvania you must fill out an application form which you can download online. Besides your name you have to enter your address with your township or borough NOT your postoffice. For example my mailing address is Stroudsburg, PA 18360, but on this form I enter Hamilton Township, PA 18360.  You enter your regular mailing address, or if you are away at college or out of the state the address you can receive mail at, in the area for where to mail the ballot. You should also enter your polling place if you know it or Voter Registration will locate it for you. An ID number, either your PA Driver License number or the last four digits of your social security number is required. You then must fill in either a medical reason you can't get to your polling place or a reason you will be away from your polling precinct for the day ( ie work or travel ) . Finally sign and date the form and either drop it off at the county voter office or mail it to the correct address for your county voter office.

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Stop playing politics and fix school funding before many more people can no longer afford to live here any more.

Taking the politics out of fair funding for public education shows that areas of the state that thrive under the current system are losing students as people flee those areas. Those districts are getting 50 to 70% of their education budget funded by the state.

Areas that have experienced fast growth with new families and students are getting less than 50%, in some cases like the Pocono area districts less than 40%, down into the low 30's. Fair funding would balance that so every district gets the same funding from the state. Yes we would benefit from fair funding, but those that will receive less have been benefitting for decades. They are also the reason that Republican legislators in those areas refuse to sign on to property tax reform since they are paying so much less than we have to because the state already picks up the lion's share of their public school costs.

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Not really useful Property Tax Reform...

Senator Scavello has introduced his property tax bill, which states it is "...for the imposition of a Statewide personal income tax; authorizing the imposition of a personal income tax or an earned income tax by a school district subject to voter approval; providing for school property tax exclusion; and making repeals." But reading the actual text of the bill*, IT IS REALLY A STATEWIDE ABILITY FOR A SCHOOL DISTRICT TO ELECT TO IMPOSE A LOCAL INCOME TAX to displace their property tax. This is NOT a statewide personal income tax bill. The state will collect the tax but it is up to the local school board to decide to do this and then put it up to a vote among the voters of the district. 

This just moves the local property tax to a local income tax within that school district. Won't that drive small businesses out of the district if the nearby districts don't do this? Business owners still have to pay property tax and pay a higher income tax.

Recent comment in this post
Linda Zak
Thanks for putting this in plain English...without all the deceptive and misleading phrasing that confuses us voters !
Friday, 27 April 2018 20:13
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Review of Tesla Model X

Recently the Pocono Record had a Chicago Tribune article outlining the current market for electric vehicles (EVs). Affordable plug-in vehicles aim to recharge marketplace.  The article talked about EV sales being down in 2015 and that they account for 1% of annual sales in the US. This is probably for two reasons, the price of gasoline is down under $2 a gallon this past year and also most of these vehicles have limited driving range. Almost all of the cars listed were either gasoline/electric plugin hybrids or all electric models with a range of 75 to 100 miles on a full charge. These are mostly for city driving or short commutes. The gasoline engines extend range but hybrids are very complex machines.

I had a Toyota Highlander Hybrid for over 7 years and while it was a reliable, great car, it had the same maintenance requirements as any other internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle. It needed oil and filter changes, engine air filters, coolant system checks, transmission system checks and fluids changes and of course weekly trips to get the gas tank filled. I originally bought the hybrid when gasoline was over $4 a gallon and the hybrid system was supposed to give about 30% better mileage according to the EPA MPG rating. For most of the years I owned it, especially the later years I got about 23-24 MPG which was more like 20% better mileage than a standard Highlander. I was never able to drive very long as an EV, at most a mile, since the Highlander is a 7 seat SUV, and the hybrid system was pretty much the same as in the much smaller Toyota Prius, only with 2 electric motors (front and rear). With more current, smaller plugin hybrids you can drive 20 miles or so on pure electric, but then it has to switch over to the gasoline engine. So even the plugin hybrid still has to use gas for more than a single short trip. The BMW I3 and Chevy Volt also use gas and electric, but the gasoline motor is just to boost the range of the electric motor. Better and able to drive on electric for longer trips, but still not able to go long distances without eventually using gasoline or stopping frequently to charge the battery pack.

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Copyright

© © Mark Dodel, 2016

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Vote the straight Democratic Ticket this November 3rd and stop the electoral cheating.

 
20151010MCDCBanquet44
What a great time at our annual MCDC Banquet at the Shawnee Inn this past Saturday October 10th.  

We heard from all our county wide candidates and then Congressman Matt Cartwright energized us with his speech about how bad things are in the Capitol now and how much Pennsylvania needs to stop Gerrymandering in 2020 by getting our 3 Democratic candidates for PA Supreme Court.  While there are about a million more Democrats in Pennsylvania, Republicans have 13 of Pennsylvania's 18 US House seats.  And our guest speaker was Judge Christine Donohue, one of our three Democratic candidates for the PA Supreme Court who reiterated how important and historic this election is.  
 
It will be the PA Supreme Court who chooses the commission member who decides how the state will be redistricted.  This is the most important election in the entire nation this year.  If you have never voted in an non-Presidential election, this is the year to do it.  Vote the straight Democratic Ticket and stop the electoral cheating.  

 

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Don't think off year elections are important? This year's is for sure!

Folks, there is an election this year and we need people to VOTE. Yes it is not a Presidential year, but this election is important because it elects our local leaders and more importantly 3 State Supreme Court Justices. Ever wonder why the Democratic party out votes Republicans across PA in Congressional elections, yet there are only 5 Democrats of the 18 Congressional districts? It is because of Gerrymandering of Congressional and State legislative districts to keep them Republican. And re-districting, which is based on the decennial census, is by a committee made up by the leaders of the state legislature and someone appointed by the State Supreme Court. For at least the past 2 redistricting that has always been controlled by Republicans. It is critical that Democrats win the three Supreme Court seats this November or else in 2020 the Republicans will again make sure they control the state for the next decade. So don't wait until 2016, get involved this year and make sure you vote. We can't take back our state and our country unless we vote.

Remember Photo Voter ID?  The Republicans in the legislature certainly haven't forgotten and will do their best to suppress minority votes again next year.  President Trump or President Cruz sound good to you?  We need a Supreme Court that will uphold our right to vote.

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Corbett ads about his education cuts are fantasy!

A good article to read to get the gist of where things stand with Public Education funding in Pennsylvania is "Education cuts? It depends" by Matt Nussbaum, writing in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 24, 2014.

Public Education funding is in reality less than 2010 because the Republicans include payments toward the pension funding which was ignored for the past 15 years under Ridge, Rendell and Corbett. So it is great that Corbett and the legislature are finally doing something about funding the pensions, but this new funding is not directly aiding education and shouldn't be in any comparison to past funding. This article goes a long way to showing what all our school districts are really living with.  WIll your property taxes go down?  Not with this new funding.  The Republicans cut over a billion dollars from public education funding when they took over complete control of all branches of the Commonwealth's government in 2011.  Now that they are in a statewide election they have added back some of those funds but it is still not where things were in 2010.  And the budget they passed is a fiction with an over $1.4 billion structural deficit so the funding levels aren't even real, but it makes for a good TV sound bite.

From one of the comments on the above article: "Another fact is $782 million of the total Mr. Corbett counts goes into the teacher's pension fund, not the classroom, making up lost ground from the 2001 - 2011 pension contribution holiday enacted by the General Assembly, during which time all teachers and other state employees continued to pay their share."  Republicans harp on the fact that Federal stimulus dollars ran out in 2010, after the Republicans in Congress refused to extend a new stimulus to repair our destroyed national economy.  Instead of increasing revenue, the State Legislature cut corporate taxes and slashed public education funding because of the resulting decreased revenue.  

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