Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Tony Phyrillas: Rendell puts one over on senior citizens

The press release put out by Gov. Ed Rendell's office Tuesday began with a screaming headline: "Rendell Signs Bill to Deliver Largest Property Tax Cut in Pennsylvania History." That sure sounds like big news. Too bad it's not true. None of it.

Rendell posed in front of the cameras inside the Nanticoke home of senior citizen Nellie Hughes and put on a performance worthy of an Oscar.

"Today is a great day for Pennsylvania homeowners, especially seniors who have been driven from their homes as they attempt to escape the burden of skyrocketing property taxes for far too long," Rendell said. "After 30 years of debate and failed plans, Pennsylvanians like Nellie Hughes will finally get the tax relief they deserve."

Rendell is a smooth-talking politician who never lets the truth get in the way of self-serving adulation. The governor nearly dislocated his shoulder trying to pat himself on the back.

The $1 billion tax cut that Rendell took credit for Tuesday is not a tax cut after all. It's not even $1 billion. It's a rebate plan for a small group of senior citizens (600,000) who will have to hold on at least four more years to see any money. In other words, Nellie Hughes, who is 88, and the other seniors that Rendell is trying to snow may not live long enough to see their $200 rebate, which won't come until the 2009-10 school year at the earliest.

The rest of the state’s 12 million residents get nothing under Rendell's "property tax cut."

And the entire plan is predicated on the need for gamblers, many of whom are senior citizens, to lose $1 billion when the state's slot parlors finally open in 2009 or 2010. In the meantime, Rendell will borrow $400 million from the state lottery to fund the rebate scheme and pay it back from those future gambling revenues. This is what Rendell calls tax relief?

In the meantime, the school district Nellie Hughes lives in will raise property taxes in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 — guaranteed. If she's still alive, Nellie Hughes will most likely be paying more in taxes in 2010 than she is today. That's what Ed Rendell considers a property tax.

This is where the Kool Aid drinkers from the left chime in about how the tax rebate plan was passed by the Republican-controlled House and Senate. That is correct. The measure passed the Senate and House by wide margins.

But it did not become law until Gov. Rendell went to Nellie Hughes' home and signed the bill. The buck stops with Ed Rendell.

The Lynn Swann campaign also put out a press release Tuesday about Rendell's "Band-Aid property tax bill" that is a lot closer to the truth than anything Rendell's propaganda machine spit out. Swann's press release has the more accurate headline on it: "Legislation Leaves 80 percent of Pennsylvania's Homeowners Without Any Relief."

"With the signing of this legislation, Ed Rendell has made it official — he has broken his election year promise to 'drop property taxes for every Pennsylvanian by 30 percent,'" Swann said.

Swann couldn't help but take a jab at Rendell's use of the term "historic" to describe the tax rebate ploy.

"The last time Ed Rendell signed property tax legislation that he deemed 'historic,' it was called Act 72, and it was rejected by 80 percent of Pennsylvania's school districts," Swann said. "Since then, property taxes have skyrocketed nearly $2 billion under this administration, and Pennsylvania's homeowners have been left in the cold."

Hoping to finally kick-start his sluggish campaign to unseat Rendell, Republican Swann went on the offensive: "As the Governor declares 'We did it!' and signs this Band-Aid legislation, the majority of Pennsylvanians are looking at their rising property tax bills and wondering 'You did what!?'"

Swann recently introduced a plan that will provide every property owner in Pennsylvania with tax relief during Swann’s first year in office. The full plan can be viewed at

Rendell's "plan" is an afterthought that comes four months before the election. It took Rendell 3½ years to finally address property taxes, but leaving 80 percent of homeowners without relief is not exactly a plan.

Voters will have a clear choice this November when they elect a new governor. More of Rendell's broken promises and parlor tricks or Swann's pledge to deal with property taxes in his first year in office.

Tony Phyrillas is a columnist for The Mercury in Pottstown, Pa. E-mail him at

97: "An Update From Democracy Rising"

Good friend Tim Potts at DemocracyRisingPA sends along these alerts and reminders to keep you posted on the hucksters we have elected to the General Assembly:

Democracy Rising PA News
June 28, 2007

In this issue:
· Another Fast One -- Lobbying Control Rushes Through the House
· Defending the Indefensible – Perzel and Smith
· Tick, Tick, Tick

Another Fast One – Lobbying Control Rushes Through the House
Last week, the PA House pulled another fast one with a lobbying control proposal, House Bill 700 by Rep. John Maher, R-Allegheny. Introduced last year, it languished for 364 days on the House calendar before being sent to the Appropriations Committee for 61 days. Then it was back on the House calendar for nine days before a significant last-minute amendment and a vote on June 22 with just two hours notice to representatives and citizens. The procedure is similar to the way the pay raise, the gambling law, and other important legislation passes the House.

Despite 434 days of “legislative consideration,” citizens once again had no opportunity to tell their representatives their opinion about the final proposal before it was too late. As Barry Kauffman, executive director of
Common Cause/PA put it, “It was highly inappropriate to conceal a so-called good government bill from representatives and the public until just two hours prior to the vote.”

The final vote was 190-1. The lone “no” vote was Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware. Vitali alone argued against the fast-track while all other representatives who were present (12 were absent) were content to vote for something they didn’t have time to understand and that barely moves the needle of public integrity.

No Excuses:
There are no good reasons to compromise public integrity; there are only bad reasons. Here are three common excuses lawmakers give for failing to give PA the best lobbying control law in America.

1. “Sure it could be a lot better, but it’s better than nothing.” Some things are not better than nothing. Think of an insurance policy that doesn’t pay when your home is destroyed. Think of a pension plan that goes bankrupt when you’re ready to retire. You’ve paid into the policy and the plan for years, but you wind up with nothing. That’s not “better than nothing,” and neither is a law that fails to protect you from corruption by public officials as every lobbying control proposal now in the General Assembly fails to do.
2. “Sure it could be a lot better, but it’s the best we can do.” Would you take that excuse from a mechanic who couldn’t repair your brakes? Or would you find another mechanic – especially if the first mechanic (like today’s incumbent lawmakers) created the problem in the first place?
3. “Sure it could be a lot better, but the perfect is the enemy of the good.” This is one of Rep. Maher’s favorites. When it comes to integrity, the perfect is not the enemy of the good; it is the measure of the good. The harder we try to achieve the perfect, the more likely we are to get something good, perhaps the best in America.

Defending the Indefensible – John Perzel and Sam Smith
After firmly planting his feet in his mouth about the pay raise once again, House Speaker John Perzel, R-Philadelphia, incredibly told Capitol reporters he would not have anything more to say about it. This is, you may recall, exactly what he said a year ago when hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians signed petitions demanding the repeal of the pay raise and Perzel tried to stonewall us.

This time, though, he says he means it. “I have been defending something that the people have determined to be indefensible,” he said.

But if he does mean it, he needs to amend his actions as well as his words. His mea culpa occurred on the same day that The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Mario Cattabiani reported that the state has spent more than $1 million of taxpayer money on lawyers to defend the indefensible. Not surprisingly, instead of using the dozens of lawyers already on the state payroll, the three branches of government have hired outside counsel at a cost of up to $625 an hour. Coincidentally or not, many of the outside lawyers are contributors to the campaigns of those who hired them.

More than half of the money -- $561,000 – was spent to defend Sen. Robert Jubelirer, R-Blair, and Sen. Chip Brightbill, R-Lebanon. Both lost their primary elections last month.

But it was House Majority Leader Sam Smith, R-Jefferson, who tried hardest to justify the cost. “I understand why people think it is a waste of money, but if we think we are right about the process, we have to defend it,” Smith said.

Harrisburg Patriot, in an editorial titled, “Just another outrage,” takes it from here:

“But let’s look at the process… The 15 percent to 54 percent pay increase for legislators, judges and high administration officials was approved late at night at the last minute, without public hearings or open committee meetings, in violation of the clear language of the Constitution intended to avoid the very tactics lawmakers employed to fill their pockets. And they further violated the Constitution – not to mention a decent respect for the opinions of their constituents – by collecting the increase before the finish of the term.

“That the taxpayers are now being called upon to pay for the Legislature to defend the indefensible is nothing short of an outrage, and another in a long list of reasons why the people need to reclaim their representative government.”

As we have suggested before, the three branches of government can and should stop wasting our money by dropping their opposition to the lawsuits against the pay raise and by deciding to work according to the Constitution they swore to obey.

Tick, Tick, Tick
· Days since the pay raise of 2005: 356
· Days until Election Day: 125
· Roadmap reforms enacted: 0

Read the
Roadmap to Reform at

Tim Potts, DemocracyRisingPA

Thank you Tim. As usual you bring us the ammunition with which we will be holding these hucksters’ feet to the fire.


“Kick the hubris out of Harrisburg!” -- THE CENTRIST

"It is the duty of every citizen according to his best capacities to give validity to his convictions in political affairs." -- Albert Einstein

Remember in November! Before you vote,

Copyright © 2006:
THE CENTRIST”. All Rights Reserved.

Russ Diamond: Dan and Joan

Dan & Joan
I'd like to tell you about Dan and Joan Sullivan. Dan is a retired truck driver in York County. Dan and his wife Joan are in serious danger of losing their home.

Why? In addition to their $1300 monthly mortgage payment, Dan and Joan also pay $300 per month in property taxes. Those property taxes are likely to go up in the next few years, but Dan and Joan are living on a fixed income.

If they can’t afford to pay their taxes, the government will seize Dan and Joan’s home and throw them out on the street.

To add insult to injury, the Governor just signed HB39 into law, a pitiful attempt at property tax “relief” put forth by our hapless General Assembly. Under this so-called plan, Dan and Joan won’t see any relief until at least 2008 – maybe even as late as 2009.

To make matters worse, any relief they do eventually get will come through borrowing from the lottery fund – which is specifically targeted to help people like Dan and Joan – and from imaginary slots money. Never mind robbing Peter to pay Paul – this is robbing PAUL to pay Paul!

Finally, any “relief” Dan and Joan eventually see will likely be more than offset by property tax increases before that “relief” arrives. HB39 is nothing but a cheap accounting trick by elected officials in Harrisburg trying to make themselves look good in an election year.

That's right - the same folks who had time to illegally raise their own salaries by 16-54% in the middle of the night last year aren't doing a darned thing for Dan and Joan.

How many other people are there like Dan and Joan in Pennsylvania? Far too many!

I’m dedicated to abolishing property taxes once and for all in Pennsylvania, so Dan and Joan can rest easy with the knowledge that the government will NEVER be able to force them out of their home.

If you think people like Dan and Joan should have the right to stay in their homes and enjoy their retirement, then help me gather 67,070 signatures by the end of July so I can get on the ballot and keep the property tax issue on the front burner.

If we don't, people who’ve worked an entire lifetime will be kicked out of their homes and the government will get their property. That’s not what good government is supposed to do – it’s supposed to protect Dan and Joan’s property rights.

Russ Diamond is an Independent candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania. Visit his website at

Monday, June 26, 2006

PennPatriot: Bob Casey and the War On Terrorism

The general election is only five months away and the latest poll reveals that 42% of the people polled said they knew very little about Bob Casey. This is troubling when you sit back and really consider just what is at stake in this election. If you are truthful to yourself, you know just what is at stake. Deep down Americans know that our nation's future security may depend on who we vote for in November. So it is time for Pennsylvanians to wake up and seriously examine Bob Casey's views on fighting the War On Terrorism.

Just in case you have been mislead by the mainstream media, The War On Terrorism is not really about Afghanastan, Iraq, Al Qaeda or Osama bin Ladin. This war is really about a battle of ideals, beliefs and values. It is a classic clash of civilizations. What Islamic extremists want is simple. They want to destroy the power of christianity in the world by destroying the civilizations that were founded upon its' principles (The West). When terrorists talk about "The West" the christian world is what they are refering to not just the United States. The primary goal of Islamic fascism is to restore Islam as the predominent power in the world.

Isn't it funny how the mainstream media and the Democratic Party Leadership never mentions exactly what the Islamic extremists want to accomplish. According to them the primary root cause of global terrorism in the world is our own foreign policy. This assumption or belief cannot be further from the truth and those who spread this message are a serious threat to our future security. I truly believe that Islamic fascism is the greatest threat to christian values and to the principles of democracy that this world has ever seen. It is a bigger threat than German fascism in the 1930's, 40's and Soviet Communism in the 50's, 60' and 70's. Islamic fascism is a threat to our security, our economy, to our families, and perhaps most import, to the basic foundations of our society.

So now that you know just what is at stake and why we must win the War On Terrorism, where does Bob Casey stand? Casey's campaign website states the following:

In the U.S. Senate, Bob Casey will ask the tough questions and demand truthful answers from this or any other administration that puts our troops in harm's way. He will also push for restoring relationships with our allies and re-establishing the international respect and goodwill that the current administration has largely squandered.

Truthfulness? Here again we see that Democratic Party leadership's belief that the United States is the root cause of terrorism in the world. They simply refuse to face the threat posed by Islamic fascisism. Furthermore, is Casey's view really a solution? The answer is no. How are you going to "restore relationships" with allies that also refuse to face the reality and the threat of Islamic fascism. I don't think France will be a big help at this point Casey.

Casey also believes that winning the war ends with capturing Osama Bin Ladin. Again this belief is a gross misunderstanding of what this war is really about. The Casey website doesn't even mention defeating Islamic fascism or the word victory. Based on the following Casey doesn't seem to think that it isn't a war at all. Here is a passage from Casey's website:

Our original military actions to destroy Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan were correct and effective steps to take. But Osama bin Laden is still on the loose. As Pennsylvania's Senator, Bob Casey will push the White House and the Pentagon to redouble efforts to capture or kill bin Laden and crush the terrorist threat. Our troops at home and abroad should be honored for their dedicated work and their sacrifice. Bob Casey will make sure that same kind of relentless commitment to stamping out terrorism exists in Washington.

We will not defeat Islamic fasicsm by just capturing Osama bin Laden. If your understand that Islamic fasicm is like a cancer to the civilized, christian world you fully understand why President Bush has chosen to take the course that he has. President Bush has chosen to attack the institutions that support and foster Islamic fascist cells. Nation's like Lybia, Afghanastan, and Iraq are all country's that financially supported and harbored terrorist cells. Syria and Iran are also country's that are in the same category. However, the Democratic Party leadership and Bob Casey can not seem to put two and two together. They continue to seperate the Iraq front in the War On Terrorism. They really don't see the big picture.

Casey's views stated on his campaign website are more like criticisms of President Bush than real solutions to winning the war. President Bush's fundamental belief that the only way to defeat Islamic fascism is to spread democratic principles in the Middle East may be a gamble, but it is a viable strategy. What is the Democratic Party alternative? Basically this approach worked in Eastern Europe and President Bush believes it will work again in the Middle East. Historically, Democracy is the only proven strategy to defeat fascism in the world.

Senator Rick Santorum has been a leader in the U.S. Senate in working with the Bush administration to win the War On Terrorism. He has proposed real solutions not broad/vague criticsms. He understands the nature of this war and just what is at stake. Based on reviewing Casey's views on his campaign website, I believe Pennsylvanians can not afford to replace a Senator that has been a "voice for victory" with someone that seems to have no clue about the very nature of the war we are fighting.

PennPatriot - Randy Potter

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Russ Diamond: Smoking Them Out

Much has been written and said lately about banning smoking in public places. The City of Philadelphia recently passed a smoking ban which could go into effect as soon as January, 2007.

Let’s examine the facts:

Smoking kills. Tobacco use ranks among the top leaders in cause of death for people in modern society. And is there any thinking person who doubts the cold hard facts about second-hand smoke? No one should be subjected to second-hand smoke against their will.

For these very valid reasons, many people have voiced their support for a ban on smoking in public places. Where they completely miss the boat, however, is in their definition of a public place.

Like nearly every other question or issue government faces, whether to ban smoking or not is actually a question of property rights. At any given time, ask yourself one simple question: Whose property am I on?

If you’re at the Capitol building in Harrisburg, your county courthouse or the local elementary school, you are clearly on public property. That property is owned by the public at large and administered by some governmental body for the common good. As a member of the public at large, you can claim some right to be on that property.

If you’re in a bar, restaurant, tavern or any other business establishment, you are on private property. You are there at the invitation of the owner. Patronizing any given business is not a right, but a privilege - the owner can un-invite you just as easily as he or she invited you.

The ability of smoking ban proponents to blur the distinction between public and private property baffles me. It especially baffles me in Pennsylvania, where the number one political issue is property taxes.

The property tax battle, at its very core, poses a nearly identical question: Who owns our property? Should we own it outright or should we rent it from the government in perpetuity?

America was founded on the right to own private property. Our God-given right to “life, liberty and property” was included in the original version of the Declaration of Independence. (The text was changed to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” at the behest of Benjamin Franklin.)

Our God-given right of “acquiring, possessing and protecting property” is firmly ensconced in Article I, Section 1 of the PA Constitution. Note that property is so important that it is listed in the very first declaration of the document, right after “life and liberty.”

Even the smallest child understands the basic concept of property rights: “Mine!”

In light of these realities, is banning smoking inside public places a good idea? Yes.

Given the litigious nature of society today and the potential liabilities associated with second-hand smoke, banning smoking in public (government) buildings makes sense. In addition to the duty of government to provide for the use of that property in some way benefiting the public good, it also has a duty to protect the public from any negative effects of that property’s use.
But banning smoking on private property makes about as much sense as passing a law preventing businesses from going smoke-free. The best solution - as always - is to let the free market decide.

In my hometown, there are three different taverns/eateries. Two allow smoking; one doesn’t. All three do their fair share of business. Those who prefer a smoke-free atmosphere patronize the smoke-free establishment. Those who don’t, don’t. And of course, there are those who do not make their decision based on this particular issue and patronize all three.

If at some point, the respective owners of the two smoking establishments perceive they are losing business to the smoke-free establishment, they will consider changing their policy. Conversely, if the smoke-free establishment loses business to the smoking-allowed establishments up the street, they will consider changing their policy as well.

Either way, it will be a matter of business survival. The decision rightfully belongs to those business owners.

Allowing the nanny state to further trespass on private property is not the direction we need to go in Pennsylvania. What this Commonwealth needs is a reaffirmation of our God-given private property rights, as enumerated by our Constitution.

Russ Diamond is an Independent candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania. Visit his website at

Friday, June 23, 2006

96: The Braying Gang of 8 & The Enemy Fourth Estate!

Seven men arrested in the Miami area (one in Atlanta) who were allying themselves with Al Qaeda, and were planning to kill Americans, and perhaps bring down the Sears Tower in Chicago.

I’ll tell you straight: I lay this one squarely at the collective feet of Howard Dean, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Teddy Kennedy, Russ Feingold, Jack Murtha and Chuck Schumer. This is the Braying Gang of Eight (BG8), that for three years have been screaming at every camera and microphone possible how evil the US is, how evil George Bush is, and it finally paid off for them.

BG8 can be held directly responsible for creating an atmosphere in this country that fostered such hatred for America by these men. 5 of the 7 are American citizens, the other two foreign nationals.

In documenting the French Revolution, Thomas Carlyle coined the term Fourth Estate, that being an estate (or sociopolitical body) after Royalty, the Church, and the Commoners:

Pamphleteering opens its abysmal throat wider and wider: never to close more…Alas, yes: Speculation, Philosophism, once the ornament and wealth of the saloon, will now coin itself into mere Practical Propositions, and circulate on street and highway, universally; with results! A Fourth Estate, of Able Editors, springs up; increases and multiplies; irrepressible, incalculable. New Printers, new Journals, and ever new (so prurient is the world), let our Three Hundred curb and consolidate as they can!
The New York Times, LA Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal all apparently believe they are in the midst of the French Revolution, and are being watched by the passionately dispassionate Carlyle. Today they all published an account of how the U.S. is tracking terrorists by watching how their money moves.

Apparently, more than a few people who work for the government felt the need to leak the information to the media.

Well, there goes another tool in the arsenal used in fighting a hidden enemy. We aren’t allowed to listen in on their communications since we might be listening to an American Citizen’s private telephone conversation, and now we can’t track large transfers of money to international banks that might be Al Qaeda money.

This lunacy has to stop and it has to stop now.

First, any government employee who has leaked to the press information which compromises our national security, right down to the life and well-being of an undercover agent, must be held legally accountable, and tried, convicted and sentenced to prison for treason.

Second, these liberal socialist newspaper owners and editors who think they have the responsibility to expose all our state secrets in a wild attempt to make the Bush administration look bad also need to be held accountable. They should be subject to crippling fines for exposing secrets which compromise our national security. While they cannot be held criminally liable because of constitutional freedoms, they can and should be held civilly liable for the damage they have done to the War on Terror. Collectively they should be fined a billion dollars each (my figure) for aiding and abetting treason.

There is nothing in the Constitution that guarantees a news organization must publish everything that comes its way. And the Fourth Estate has an obligation to provide protection of the very government that guarantees its freedoms. Otherwise, it would be complicit in its own self-caused demise.

But these lefties that own the big newspapers don’t process things that far. Instead, in their efforts to make the Bush administration look bad, they continue to erode the government’s ability to protect the nation from harm.

It is an extremely arrogant position to take. And an extremely stupid one as well.
So, if you can’t jail them, sue them. Who knows, maybe the US Government will someday own the New York Times! Wouldn’t that be a kick in the old wazoo!


“Kick the hubris out of Harrisburg!” -- THE CENTRIST

"It is the duty of every citizen according to his best capacities to give validity to his convictions in political affairs." -- Albert Einstein

Remember in November! Before you vote,

Copyright © 2006:
THE CENTRIST”. All Rights Reserved.

Tony Phyrillas: Tax rebate ploy isn't fooling anyone

The verdict is in.

Even before Gov. Ed Rendell has had a chance to sign the compromise Senate-House tax rebate bill into law and stand before the TV cameras to pretend he's delivered on his promise to cut property taxes, just about everybody agrees the bill stinks to high hell.

Forget any political mileage Rendell and the legislators who voted for it anticipated to get. I've yet to come across a single person dumb enough to believe that House Bill 39 is anything more than a feeble attempt by career politicians to fool voters. Rendell and the Harrisburg bunch aren’t fooling anyone but themselves.

The scheme has been panned by the Pennsylvania Taxpayer Alliance, an umbrella organization that represents a dozen grassroots citizen groups across the state.

Lynn Swann, the Republican candidate for governor, and Russ Diamond, the founder of PaCleanSweep and an independent candidate for governor, has also blasted the rebate plan. "Call this bill 'relief' or 'reform' is a joke," Diamond said.

Even members of the legislature have been uncharacteristically frank in their assessment of the compromise plan.

"The people of Pennsylvania deserve more than a legislature that takes the course of least resistance just so something can be passed. This is nothing more than political appeasement, and we are going to be right back where we started in only a year or two as property taxes continue to rise," stated Rep. Curt Schroder, a Republican from Chester County. "This plan simply just does not go far enough to help the hard working families of Pennsylvania."

Under the plan approved by the House last week, seniors with an annual income under $15,000 will get a few hundred dollars back in 2009 or 2010 — if state revenues from casinos reaches $1 billion. Seniors still have to pay property taxes.

Schroder pointed out that relatively few seniors in his district will be eligible for the tax rebates because of the low income threshold. He also cautioned that the rebates could quickly be eaten up in future years as school districts again increase property taxes. In other words, don't spend that $200 right away because you may end paying $600 more to support your local school district.

Schroder was one of 61 House members, mostly Republicans, who voted against the tax rebate plan previously approved by the state Senate and championed by Rendell.

Many of the 61 conservatives in the House supported an amendment that would have increased the sales tax by 1 percent and eliminated property taxes.

"We had an opportunity to provide the citizens of this Commonwealth with significant relief, but we settled for a plan being pushed by the governor and the Senate," said Schroder, pointing fingers at the Democratic governor and the Republican-controlled Senate.

Another Republican who took his frustration out at his fellow House members was Rep. Sam Rohrer, chairman of the Commonwealth Caucus, a group of legislators who've been pushing for the elimination of property taxes by expanding and increasing the state sales tax.

The House has taken three votes on the Commonwealth Caucus in the past year, but too many Republicans joined Democrats to defeat the measure.

"The reality that the Pennsylvania House of Representatives cannot agree to eliminate 100 percent of school property taxes when the opportunity was handed to them for a third time on a silver platter is impossible to accept for Pennsylvania property owners who have been promised this economic relief for more than three decades," Rohrer said. "They are tired of being insecure in their properties that they have toiled, saved and raised their families in for years. They are tired of living under the very realistic fear of losing their homes, farms or businesses due to property tax bills they can no longer afford to pay. They are tired of political pandering. But most of all, they are tired of being ignored by their elected officials at all levels of state government from the General Assembly to the governor’s office who talk about taking revolutionary action and ultimately choose to decide against the crystal clear will of the people."

Wow. When was the last time a politician was so candid?

Although the theme of the past year has been a clean sweep of Harrisburg politicians, there are good people who are looking out for the people of Pennsylvania, including Schroder and Rohrer. Other Pottstown-area representatives who voted against the rebate scheme include Raymond Bunt, Jackie Crahalla, Tim Hennessey and Tom Quigley.

The problem is that there aren't enough of them to move the roadblocks put into place by self-serving Philadelphia politicians like Ed Rendell and Republican House Speaker John Perzel.

Tony Phyrillas is a columnist for The Mercury in Pottstown, Pa. E-mail him at

Thursday, June 22, 2006

PennLiberty: Minimum Wage Folly

The Patriot News posted the following article on the minimum wage.

Call me a cold-hearted Republican. Maybe I am, but frankly, I find all this talk about the minimum wage to be ridiculous.

I do not support an increase in the minimum wage. I don't support the existance of a minimum wage at all.

Wages are supposed to be determined by an agreement between the employer and the employee.

As a business owner, if I don't work my butt off, get clients, and earn money, guess what happens - I don't get any money - none. There is no minimum wage for employers. I know of many employers who scrape by and hold off on paying themselves, just to ensure that their employees get paid. These small business owners really do care about their employees, so they voluntarily go without paying themselves sometimes, in order to keep their employees on board. No government agency or rule forced them to do that. They know that their employees are invaluable to the survival of their businesses. Many would love to pay their employees more, but can't afford to. Many would love to pay for their employees' health care, but they can't afford to.

The minimum wage is one of the worst ideas that I can think of (ranks right up there with Social Security). Wages are not a government mandate, they are determined by the market - which always gives a fair wage.

Let's examine if the minimum wage was eliminated. Would some wages go down, sure in some cases. I suspect that in most cases, it wouldn't have any effect. I'll tell you what, having the minimum wage in place artifically holds down other wages. Why? Because if you have multiple employees you may not be able to pay all of the employees what they are worth for the job that they do. Simple jobs should be paid less, if people are willing to do them for less. But if you are forced to pay a higher wage for a lower value job, how can you pay a higher wage for a higher valued job?

Back to the whole idea of the minimum wage as a bad idea. Where does it say that government can determine how much a person should be paid? Why the arbitrary number that is chosen. If $5.15 an hour is too low, why is $7.15 the ideal amount - why not more? Why not ensure that everyone gets paid $50,000 a year? The fact remains that the minimum wage is an arbitrary number. The whole system is ridiculous. It's another example of government sticking its nose in an area it doesn't belong. Government has no business determining wages, just as it has no business determining what kind of health care people should have, how they save for retirement, and a whole host of other areas.

My hope is that the legislators who supposedly support small businesses get some backbone and tell the truth about this issue, instead of trying to look good and feel like they care.


Tony Phyrillas: Paying for Rendell's poor judgment

Gov. Ed Rendell has signed a lot of bad legislation during his first four years in Harrisburg.

In 2003, Rendell put his signature on a $1 billion increase in the state income tax that put the breaks on economic growth in Pennsylvania while much of the rest of the nation has experienced a booming economy.

In 2004, Rendell signed a bill that ushered in the era of casino gambling to the Keystone State, but the bill was so poorly drafted that we still don't have tangible signs of gaming today other than the bureaucracy Rendell set up to administer gambling. But the Gaming Board is so inept that it's unlikely the state will see any revenues until 2009 or 2010 at the earliest.

The companion legislation to gambling was Act 72, Rendell's hair-brained scheme to fund public education using those pie-in-the-sky gambling revenues. The law was so full of ambiguity and loopholes that it was rejected by 80 percent of the state's school boards.

In July 2005, Rendell signed the infamous pay raise bill into law, giving himself, judges and the bloated state legislature raises of 16 percent to 54 percent. We know how well that turned out.

Pennsylvania residents were so outraged by the middle-of-the-night pay grab that they tossed out a state Supreme Court justice seeking retention vote in November 2005. Voter anger continued through the May primary when voters threw out 17 incumbent legislators, including the two most powerful men in the state Senate.

There's plenty of other ways Rendell has hit working Pennsylvanians where it hurts — in the wallet.

Under Rendell, the state gasoline tax has risen to 32 cents per gallon, the second highest in the nation. Fees to inspect your car or to go hunting and fishing or just to have a piece of paper notarized have jumped to record highs under Rendell, a classic tax-and-spend liberal who believes government should take more of your money and spend it any way it wants.

And don't get me started on the state liquor store system that Rendell loves so much. Pennsylvanians who want to enjoy a bottle of wine or other spirits have to buy from a state-run monopoly that rivals the Soviet Union for mismanagement and price gouging.

Rendell apologists are quick to point out that all bills came out of the Republican-controlled legislature. True, but none of the bills mentioned could become law until Rendell signs them. The governor can veto any legislation that isn't in the best interest of Pennsylvania residents, a priority that generally finishes a distant second behind Rendell's personal political interests.

Republicans don't have enough of a majority in either chamber of the state legislature to override any of Rendell's veto because the lockstep Democrats always back Rendell, so the buck stops with the governor.

Sadly, Rendell's biggest allies in the legislature appear to be Republicans, who share equal responsibility for the sad state of Pennsylvania affairs.

Without the help of Senate Pro Tempore Robert Jubelirer, Senate Majority Leader Chip Brightbill and House Speaker John Perzel — the top three Republicans in the legislature — Rendell would never have been able to get his liberal agenda through the General Assembly.

Take note that Jubelirer and Brightbill were voted out of office May 16 by Republican primary voters in their respective home districts and Perzel (rhymes with Rendell) has to get through the November election unscathed to continue assisting his good pal and fellow Philadelphian, Ed Rendell.

Another bad piece of legislation Rendell signed into law was almost forgotten until a recent traffic accident involving the star quarterback of Pennsylvania's best football team. (Hint: It wasn't Donovan McNabb).

Rendell signed a bill in 2003 that repealed a 35-year-old law that required Pennsylvania motorcyclists to wear helmets. The helmet law repeal made absolutely no sense, but Rendell couldn't pass up an opportunity to kiss up to a few thrill-seekers who don't want to wear helmets while hurtling through the state's highways at 80 mph with only their skulls to protect their brains from macadam.

Rendell's repeal of the helmet law has resulted in hundreds of serious crashes involving motorcycle riders who died or suffered serious injuries.

The most publicized crash was June 12 when Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was struck by a car while riding his motorcycle sans helmet.

State law requires that motorists wear seatbelts or face fines if they're pulled over for other infractions. There are laws protecting infants and children riding in cars. Kids riding bicycles must wear helmets. Why would you allow a motorcyclist to ride without a helmet?

Just like the people who choose to ride without helmets, you have to wonder about Rendell's impaired judgment when it comes to signing bills into law. Rendell's record of failure speaks for itself. Pennsylvania can't afford four more years of Ed Rendell.

Tony Phyrillas is a columnist for The Mercury in Pottstown, Pa. E-mail him at

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


We wish to welcome to the blogs, new contributing members, including Russ Diamond, Randy C., Penn Patriot, Penn Liberty, and of course, the inestimable Tony Phyrillas! More may be joining in the near future, including some surprises. Stay tuned.

The new contributors are added voices to the Reform movement. We think that you will like seeing the different voices, with divergent styles and converging thoughts. The Reform movement is alive and well here.

We will be moving this blog to a dedicated server sometime next month. It is highly recommended that those of you who receive email notifications from us every time an essay is posted, please subscribe to the blogs through the subscription window at the top right of the page. This will result in your receipt of notification of new posts every morning from Feedblitz. If no new post has been made, you will not get any notification. The Feedblitz notification carries the first 250 words of the post, and links to the post.

After we move, we will send one announcement out by email and post on the blogs another message that we have moved. This emailing and the post announcing the move will include the link to the blogs, which you may save if you wish.

That will be the last email notification we send out. If you do not wish to register with Feedblitz, then we suggest you save the link to the blogs in your Favorites or Bookmarks, and remember to visit us often, especially as the election nears. And don’t forget to tell others – friends and family- where to find us!

We regret that Google’s Blogger has become more of a hindrance than a help in posting blogs. However, Things Change (one of our favorite movies) and so we will be moving. Not going away, just going someplace different, and we hope, better.

We appreciate your loyalty as members of our readership, and hope that you will accompany us on our move.

Thank you!


“Kick the hubris out of Harrisburg!” -- THE CENTRIST

"It is the duty of every citizen according to his best capacities to give validity to his convictions in political affairs." -- Albert Einstein

Remember in November! Before you vote,

Copyright © 2006:
THE CENTRIST”. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Tony Phyrillas: Congress gives itself a sneaky pay raise

The national debt is more than $8.3 trillion and rising. Let me write out the entire number so you can get a sense of how money that is. Currently, the U.S. debt is estimated at $8,382,069,710,723. If you divide the debt among every man, woman and child living in the United States, each of us owes $28,035.

The national debt is just one of many problems plaguing this country.

More than 45 million Americans don't have health insurance.

Millions of Americans live below the poverty level. The national minimum wage is $5.15 and Congress has repeatedly rejected calls to raise it for an estimated 7.3 million Americans.

More than 12 million illegal aliens are living among us, with thousands more streaming across our border every day.

The war in Iraq and Afghanistan is more than three years old and has drained $400 billion from our treasury, with no end in sight for either conflict.

Gas prices have eaten away at the incomes of most working Americans and Congress hasn't lifted a finger to curtail the runaway profits of multinational oil companies.

Cable companies have increased their rates more than 50 percent higher than the rate of inflation in the past decade.

Our infrastructure (roads, bridges, highways, sewer plants) is crumbling around us.

So what has Congress been doing to fix all these problems? Not much.

Your congressman has been busy collecting lots of money from lobbyists and corporate interests so he or she can return to Washington, D.C., for another two years (or six years in the case of the U.S. Senate).

But Congress did find time from its busy schedule to give itself a pay raise.

Despite record low approval ratings (which are much deserved), lawmakers accepted a $3,300 pay raise on June 13 that will increase their annual salaries to $168,500.

The 2 percent cost-of-living (COLA) raise was the seventh straight pay raise for members of the House and the Senate.

There was a time when lawmakers routinely turned down the annual COLA, but the Republicans who have controlled Congress for the past decade decided they wouldn’t mind more money in their pockets.

Since 1989, Congress voted to make annual cost-of-living pay increases automatic unless the lawmakers voted otherwise. And guess what? They've forgotten to turn down the money ever since.

The pay raise didn't get much coverage in the media. I don't recall a press release from my congressman saying what a wonderful job he’s doing and how he deserves more money.

The pay raise was hidden inside the annual Transportation and Treasury Department spending bill. Members of Congress may be greedy, but they're not stupid. They'll take your money, but they won't be up front about it.

The bill gave government civil servants get raises of 2.7 percent, the same as military personnel will receive, according to the Associated Press. Under a complicated formula, the increase translates to 2 percent for members of Congress, the AP reported.

Who's going to notice a measly $3,300 more for members of Congress when these public servants have run up an $8.3 trillion debt?

It's not just the House that gave itself a sneaky pay raise. Last year, the Senate voted 92-6 to deny the raise, but those sneaky senators quietly backed away from the raise issue in House-Senate talks. In other words, if the House members vote to give themselves a raise, who are we to stand in the way?

Two-thirds of the members of the Senate are millionaires, so another $3,300 is pocket change for them. But wouldn't $3,300 go a long way to helping you and I pay for gas to get to work so we can pay taxes to keep these congressmen living in the lap of luxury? I know I could use another $3,300 to pay my electric and food bills this summer. I'm still paying off my heating bills from last winter.

I might even use the money to take my kids to the shore for a couple of days. We haven't take a vacation in six years. By the way, Congress will take its annual two-month summer vacation soon. That's not to be confused with the spring vacation congressmen recently took or the one they'll take right before the November election.

I applaud Rep. Jim Matheson, a Democrat from Utah, for attempting to get a direct vote to block the pay raise, which is automatically awarded unless lawmakers vote not to accept it. His efforts went nowhere. Matheson was the only member to speak on the topic, according to the Associated Press.

"I do not think that it is appropriate to let this bill go through without an up or down vote on whether or not Congress should have an increase in its own pay," Matheson said. But by a 249-167 vote, the House rejected Matheson's procedural attempt to get a direct vote on the pay raise, the Associated Press reported.

Matheson said he will once again be donating his annual pay raise to local Utah charities.

Maybe you should ask your representative or senator why he or she took the pay raise when they come around this fall asking for your vote.

Let's not forget that public pressure forced the Pennsylvania Legislature to give back its ill-gotten pay raise of July 2005. Americans everywhere should demand that Congress give back the money — and start earning its pay for a change.

Tony Phyrillas is the city editor and political columnist for The Mercury in Pottstown, Pa.

95: “What’s Wrong With This Picture?”

In another one of those revelations to hit the papers on a Monday morning, we learn that Pennsylvania Taxpayers are footing the bill to defend in court the Midnight Pay Raise of last July.

Ordinarily we could shrug this off as the cost of forcing our elected officials to do honest, legitimate work in a legal and Constitutional manner, but there are a few things that disturb us about these cases, filed by such activists as Gene Stilp, Tim Potts of
DemocracyRisingPA, and Barry Kauffman of PACommonCause, Citizen-Patriot Heroes all, and how they are being defended (and why?).

What’s wrong with this picture #1:
First, let us understand that these elected officials, who include Governor Rendell, Chief Justice Ralph Cappy, and the Republican leadership of both houses of the General Assembly, are defending their actions because they believe the public’s extreme and severe reaction to the Midnight Pay Raise was because of the size of the raise. Indeed, it was – in part. But this ‘Gang of Six’ (Rendell, Cappy, ousted Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Jubelirer, ousted Senate Majority Leader David J. “Chip” Brightbill, Speaker of the House John Perzel, and Majority Floor Leader Sam Smith) are fighting because they believe they did nothing wrong in the process of passing the Midnight Pay Raise. In an article by Mario F. Cattabiani at the Philadelphia Inquirer online
click here to read the article), Floor Leader Smith says, "Do I like hiring lawyers to defend these kinds of suits? No, I hate to do this. I understand why people think it is a waste of money, but if we think we are right about the process, we have to defend it."

The Gang of Six are caught in the crosshairs of an issue where most who read the specific articles of the Pennsylvania Constitution agree that the conspirators (the Gang of Six), crossed the line into unconstitutional territory. Article II, Section 8 of the Pennsylvania Constitution quite clearly states:

Section 8.

The members of the General Assembly shall receive such salary and mileage for regular and special sessions as shall be fixed by law, and no other compensation whatever, whether for service upon committee or otherwise. No member of either House shall during the term for which he may have been elected, receive any increase of salary, or mileage, under any law passed during such term.

Clearly, with the thinly disguised device called the ‘unvouchered expense’ [invented by Cappy], dozens of legislators were able to take an increase from the Midnight Pay Raise, passed during the term for which they were elected.

Let us continue. The Constitution also says in Article III that bills, once proposed, may not be altered as to their purpose:

Passage of Laws
Section 1.
No law shall be passed except by bill, and no bill shall be so altered or amended, on its passage through either House, as to change its original purpose.

Just as the Gambling Bill, Act 71 of 2004 had been altered [It was first proposed to require the State Police to conduct background checks on persons working in the Barn areas of race tracks. Instead, it was turned into a mammoth piece of legislation that created several new regulated industries on Pennsylvania and the bureaucracy to control them.] the Pay Raise started out as something entirely different.

Further, the Constitution calls for bills to be considered for three days in each house:

Consideration of Bills
Section 4.

Every bill shall be considered on three different days in each House. All amendments made thereto shall be printed for the use of the members before the final vote is taken on the bill and before the final vote is taken, upon written request addressed to the presiding officer of either House by at least twenty-five percent of the members elected to that House, any bill shall be read at length in that House. No bill shall become a law, unless on its final passage the vote is taken by yeas and nays, the names of the persons voting for and against it are entered on the journal, and a majority of the members elected to each House is recorded thereon as voting in its favor.

This article details exactly how bills are to be passed. Again, like the Gambling Bill, the Pay Raise was crafted in secret, and proposed in the wee hours of the morning during the budget crunch of a week-late budget, and passed immediately, then signed into law by Rendell the next day.

My question to Mr. Smith, and the rest of the Gang of Six is, “Just how do you justify the violation of these three articles of the Pennsylvania Constitution?” I am serious. I invite Mr. Smith to write a response to that question and I will publish it unedited right here!

What’s wrong with this picture #2:
The Inquirer article also quotes the Chief Counsel to the Senate Republican Caucus Stephen McNett as saying, "We are not litigators." then ‘adding that the outside lawyers are experts in constitutional law.’ Why in the world would the Republican Caucus hire an attorney who is NOT an expert on Constitutional Law?

What’s wrong with this picture #3:
Cattabiani’s article also details these disturbing statistics:

  • A Pittsburgh based law firm has been paid $450,000 to represent Republicans in the General Assembly. The firm contributed $14,500 to Jubelirer’s failed re-election campaign.
  • A Philadelphia firm, representing John Perzel has been paid $295,000. The firm contributed $37,000 to Perzel’s re-election campaign.

Does no one else see a conflict of interest here? This clearly illustrates what kind of (scuzzbuckets came to mind, but we'll be good here) crooks we are dealing with here.

What’s wrong with this picture #4:
Recently, one of the law suits discussed in the article was dismissed by the Federal Court saying, in effect, the repeal and the election results were the remedy sought by the plaintiffs (among the plaintiffs were those Citizen-Patriot Heroes listed in our second paragraph, Messers Stilp, Potts, and Kauffman). In other words, she refused to hear the case. There is nothing in either the U.S. or the Pennsylvania Constitution that either provides or precludes a path for citizens seeking relief from matters directly involving the Commonwealth Courts, however, Judge Yvette Kane erred in not taking into consideration the Pennsylvania Constitution, which says,

Political Powers
Section 2.
All power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority and instituted for their peace, safety and happiness. For the advancement of these ends they have at all times an inalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform or abolish their government in such manner as they may think proper.

The conspiratorial actions of the Gang of Six require that the citizens of this Commonwealth exercise their ‘inalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform or abolish their government in such manner as they may think proper.”

It is less than five months until election day. Can you keep the fire stoked? What actions are you taking now to give yourself choices in November? What actions are you taking to assist other citizens in seeking justice for you and all citizens of Pennsylvania in the courts? These suits cost money. Have you given to the cause of reform and justice? Click on their links and find out how you can help “fix the picture”.


“Kick the hubris out of Harrisburg!” -- THE CENTRIST

"It is the duty of every citizen according to his best capacities to give validity to his convictions in political affairs." -- Albert Einstein

Remember in November! Before you vote,

Copyright © 2006:
THE CENTRIST”. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

94: "The Failure of State Government"

It is now one month after the Primary Election. The following list of demands for action on the part of the General Assembly have not been acted upon:
  • Senators Brightbill and Jubelirer are still in their leadership posts.
  • Speaker Perzel is still Speaker.
  • Senator Fumo is still in leadership.
  • None of the returned money from the unvouchered expenses of last summer’s pay raises has been sent to the Pennsylvania Treasury’s General Fund, and we simply do not know if pay records and retirement records have been adjusted accordingly.
  • No bills have been introduced requiring all who still have not repaid the unvouchered expenses to do so immediately or have their pay stopped until the money has been deducted in full, with interest from their pay.
  • Institute a fine of $1,000 per month [payable to the Commonwealth General Fund] for any member who has not fully returned any and all unvouchered expense money starting for the month of July. Deduct the fine directly from the legislator's paycheck effective the last day of each month the debt remains unsatisfied. This fine is not tax deductible against any tax.
  • No moratorium has been issued to the Pennsylvania Gambling Control Board prohibiting them from issuing any licenses of any kind for one year.
  • No legitimate tax reform has been enacted.
  • No legitimate lobbying reform has been proposed.
We would add these few to the list:
  • Immediately cancel all contracts paid for with taxpayer money that provide Public Relations, legal advice or advisory services to any and all members of the General Assembly, its committees, caucuses, or groups.
  • Prohibit the enactment of any and all legislation that would automatically provide for an annual pay raise for the General Assembly. Repeal any legislation currently in force. This forces the legislature to vote for every pay raise separately, and to do so only for the next session. OR
  • Pass a Constitutional amendment permanently linking increases in the pay of members of the General Assembly, the Administration, and the Courts to the same raises given to state employees in the two unions with the largest representation of state employees, under their contracts. The aforementioned group to have the same retirement benefits as the state employees, such money to come from a common fund. This would simplify retirement fund management for the entire state. The aforementioned group to have the same healthcare benefits as the state employees. [This amendment would create one of the largest pension funds in the country, enhancing its attractiveness to investors, giving it greater security against failure, and providing greater benefits to all state employees from the Governor down. The same goes for the Healthcare Benefits. This amendment would create an enormous healthcare base-pool providing greater bargaining power with healthcare providers. Indeed, it may become feasible to no longer contract out to healthcare corporations, but to commence state management of the benefits.]
  • Reduce extra pay for leadership to a maximum of $2000 per year, which is a stipend, and not part of regular pay, therefore, not countable toward retirement benefits.
  • Enforce draconian cuts in Caucus staff. Enforce drastic cuts in legislative staff.
  • Eliminate per diems.
  • Eliminate all lobbying by other than non-profit organizations registered with the Pennsylvania Department of State, Pennsylvania Citizens, or individual owners or corporate executives wishing to do business in Pennsylvania (this excludes those businesses wishing to do business with the Commonwealth, which would have to submit to a bidding process through the State Department of General Services.) No expenditures of money or items of any value may change hands.
  • Pass a Constitutional Amendment barring the furlough of state employees when budgets have not been passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by the Governor. Continue to pay state employees under their current contract. Stop all legislative pay and allowances from June 30 forward in any year in which the budget is not passed by midnight, June 30, until such time as the budget has been signed into law. Legislators, and the employees of the Governor's administration shall receive no pay for days without a budget, nor any expenses to be reimbursed during periods without a budget, nor will any compensation be paid to any member of the General Assembly, their staffs, and the Governor and the members of the Governors Administration for such period as the state is without a budget, at any time in the future. There shall be no recess from either chamber until the budget is passed. Action may be suspended for one hour each instance in order to allow members to eat breakfast, luch, dinner, and eight hours from midnight until 8AM the next morning for rest. There will be no excused absences except for severe illness, or death in the immediate family of the member. The Governor is required to remain in the Capital while no budget has been passed. [Days and partial days, which count as full days, measured from midnight to midnight, without a budget are days without pay for the Genral Assembly and the Governor and administration members. It is reprehensible that the Governor or the General Assembly would threaten furlough of state employees when they are not to blame for budgetary crises!].
These are common sense reform measures designed to return control of Pennsylvania State government back to the citizens of the Commonwealth, where it belongs.

Contact your legislator and demand action on these points.

Feel free to forward this post to your legislator using the envelope at the bottom of the entry. Send it to your friends and family, too. Links to legislative email addresses for the General Assembly are found here:
Unless and until you get directly involved and start to take action, the General Assembly will continue to ignore you while they strip you of your rights, your money, and your honor.


“Kick the hubris out of Harrisburg!” -- THE CENTRIST

"It is the duty of every citizen according to his best capacities to give validity to his convictions in political affairs." -- Albert Einstein

Remember in November! Before you vote,

Copyright © 2006:
THE CENTRIST”. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

93: "That Damned Fool Perzel!"

John Perzel is an ignorant, egotistical, arrogant, self-centered elitist who thinks what he leaves in the toilet bowl doesn’t stink. In fact, Perzel stinks. For that matter, so does Vince Fumo. Between them, the tax payers are soaked for several hundred thousands of dollars per year for Public Relations firms?

Pardon me? Why would a politician require the services of a PR firm?

Perzel’s latest escapade in public shows one reason: he is completely out of touch with reality. He is a blabbermouth who spouts facts to support his ridiculous claims – and the facts turn out to be complete fabrications.

WITF, the Public TV Station in Hershey on Thursday night, John Perzel reported that 30 members of the House of Representatives could not apply for a credit card because of bad credit. To remedy this, he defended the unconstitutional Pay Raise of last summer! He claimed that there is a problem with the pay of members of the House who have been in office for 25 years getting the same pay as someone who was elected months ago in a special election to fill an empty seat.

Perzel comes across as a clueless moron. First, and foremost, there can be no justification for what Perzel, Rendell, and Chief Justice Ralph Cappy did last July in unconstitutionally passing that Pay Raise. None. Zero. Zip. Secondly, Perzel has no clue why 25 members of the House have bad credit, and it is none of his business. It is tough on them. They didn’t have to run for office. Third, it’s become obvious why there should not be someone in office for 25 years…they grow too comfortable and lose sight of what is important. Elected officials are supposed to be citizens first, and second they are to represent their constituency, always keeping in mind what is best for that constituency. We have no sympathy whatsoever for overpaid elected officials who have been in office far too long, and think they deserve to be compensated for their experience – and that includes Perzel and Fumo, as well as quite a few others. Again, tough on them. We’ll bet the voters in Perzel’s district and in Fumo’s are getting pretty fed up with their excesses. Their Democratic Machine goons cannot follow the voters into the booth in November. [Yes, we know Perzel is supposed to be Republican, but he is in no way a Republican. Never was, never will be.]

This is what we propose.

There are, at last count, 58 Republicans on the floor of the House (as of last week’s vote on the property tax bill where Perzel forced some 49 gutless Republicans to vote for the bill) who have spine enough to defy Perzel.

We need to force these 49 back into the fold and have them demand a vote for Speaker. They should propose someone of the caliber of Paul Clymer, and NOT one of Perzel’s lackeys. Definitely not Sam Smith.

Perzel’s constituents ought to ask him to step down immediately from office. He is not only out of touch, he is out of control.

John Perzel is a fool. Not just a fool, but a dangerous fool – one with power. That must be taken from him immediately.

Then, I suggest that since Perzel believes they make more money than a legislator, that he apply for a job starting in January as a Philadelphia Tattoo Artist, or a Lancaster County Dairy Milker.

Perzel’s been on stage too long. Somebody get the hook!


“Kick the hubris out of Harrisburg!” -- THE CENTRIST

"It is the duty of every citizen according to his best capacities to give validity to his convictions in political affairs." -- Albert Einstein

Remember in November! Before you vote,

Copyright © 2006: “
THE CENTRIST”. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

PennLiberty: My Diamond Interview

I went to Jubilee Day in Mechanicsburg, PA today. As with every Jubilee Day, it was packed. It helps that the weather was absolutely perfect - which brought out even more people. Some estimate that the crowd will reach 60,000 - which is not an underestimate by any means - Jubilee Day is the largest one day street festival this side of the Mississippi if I am not mistaken.

As I wove through the crowd, I past all sorts of interesting vendors and people.

I passed the Cumberland County Democrat booth. They were hard at work talking with people from behind the tables that lined the front of their tent.

I passed by the Cumberland County Republican booth. They were doing the same thing, but outperforming their Democrat counterparts in that they were handing out balloons.

I finally came to the Russ Diamond for Governor tent. Here's what I saw: Their table was towards the back of the tent. The volunteers were barely under the tent - they were out in the street - getting people to sign petitions. These were energized volunteers. They know they are working for a cause greater than themselves - you can feel the energy, literally when you get near this tent.

The best part about this whole thing - these are real people doing this - not some high-paid consultant from New York City, or party hacks twisting arms to get signatures. Both Russ Diamond and Tom Lingenfelter were working on getting signatures as well - how often do you see candidates for higher office doing the grunt work.

On to the interview - Russ sat down with me in the tent for about 15 mintues and we chatted about the race. I asked him about the property tax bill that was just passed. Here was his response - He stated that he has a relative in California that does stand-up comedy. Russ said that his relative would find the legislation to be a good joke.

I didn't really come with too many prepared questions, I just wanted to let the conversation flow - and it did. Russ told me that there aren't too many politicians in Harrisburg that are willing to put themselves second to the will of the people. "We need people in office who are willing to do something to make some changes."

He spoke about Swann. Russ said that at first he was excited that Mr. Swann had entered the race, but, like many reformers have pointed out, there are too many ties to the establishment - how much change could Swann really bring about?

I asked him about how the signature campaign was going. He was honest - he didn't know. He said it was tough to tell - lots of people have petitions out there. They don't send them in until a full sheet is filled in. But he was very confident that he would have enough signatures to get on the ballot. He said expects to see a flood of the petitions come back to him about two weeks before the filing deadline.

We spoke about the reform movement for awhile also. He said that the reformers have to be united beind a candidate if they really want to see change. He equated the situation with that of a marriage. When a marriage is in trouble, you go to marriage counseling. In this case, you have the people and their legislatures. The only problem is that one partner isn't willing to go to counseling - legislators. In fact they have become much like an abusive spouse. If Reformers don't get behind a candidate, put social issues aside for the time being and focus on government reforms, it will be like one spouse putting up a new set of rules on the refrigerator without discussing the rules with the other spouse who won't even go to counseling.

Too many reformers are sitting on the sidelines, for fear of losing their tax status possibly - which he understands, but it still bothers him. If you are going to be for reform, go all the way. It bothers him to some degree because these are the same people he would like to have as part of his cabinet should he be elected - they have the right ideas, but they may be too locked into a particular party structure.

Russ also told me that in the near future he will be revealing what he calls an "Employment Contract for Governor." It's pretty much an employment contract. It will lay out what Russ will work on and fight for during his one and only term. He said that it would hold him accountable to work on those specific items that are a part of the contract.

Lastly, Russ said that it was exciting to see people getting excited about the reform issues he is talking about. He's always believed in them, and it's exciting to know that the rest of the public is getting on board with these same ideas. He recognized the huge effort that is before him, but his excitement told me that he was ready, and they he knew he could do it. The passion and energy of Russ Diamond and his volunteers shows a true grassroots effort that the other candidates and parties are lacking as evidenced in their Jubilee Day campaigning style - letting people come to them. Russ and his merry band of volunteers were taking their messag to the people - literally. And the neat thing was that people were listening, people were talking, people were excited, and most importantly for the Diamond campaign - people were signing their name on the petition - in droves.