Thursday, January 25, 2007

Tony Phyrillas: Citizen activist continues the fight

Say what you will about Gene Stilp, the publicity-seeking, Harrisburg-area gadfly and occasional political candidate who has traveled the state with a giant inflatable pink pig. The man is persistent.

I'm sure a lot of politicians were hoping they'd seen the last of Stilp after his campaign for lieutenant governor went nowhere last year.

But Stilp won't go away. He continues to tilt at the windmills of privilege and perks in Harrisburg. And Pennsylvania is better for it.

Stilp, associated with a group called Taxpayers and Ratepayers United, has been busy these days writing letters to the members of the Pennsylvania House of Lords, otherwise known as the state Legislature.

There's no proof that anyone is paying attention, but give Stilp a pat on the back for continuing the good fight.

Some of Stilp's latest targets include the $5.1 million that Prince John Perzel, Speaker Emeritus, managed to remove from the Speaker's stash when it was becoming clear late last year that Prince John would be sent into exile.

"Unfortunately, even after the mistake of the pay raise, actions occur which are not normal in the view of the average citizen." Stilp writes. "It is amazing to the average citizen that a member of the legislature can move $5.1 million dollars from one account to another at his own volition."

Stilp wants each of the 203 members of the House to explain to their constituents how one individual (Prince John Perzel) can have sole control of $5.1 million in taxpayer funds.

Stilp has a lot of questions for lawmakers:

The account was said to be a "surplus" account that had been built up over the years. Why wasn't that taxpayer money returned to the taxpayers?

How do you clearly explain to the taxpayers back home the methodology that allows this to accumulation to happen?

How can you make sure these actions do not reoccur?

Can you give a clear history of the workings of the financing of the Speaker's office for the past decades that shows how these actions are taken?

Who else is involved?

Will you start the investigation of the $5.1 million surplus?

Can you prepare a resolution to accomplish this? Will you subpoena the former Speaker, now Speaker Emeritus?

Do you approve or disapprove of the actions that have occurred?

Does the former Speaker currently have access to the funds that he personally transferred?

What are the transferred funds currently being used for? Who now controls these funds if it is not the former Speaker?

What are you going to do to return the $5.1 million to the taxpayers and not to any House account?

Stilp isn't waiting by his mailbox for a reply from the Harrisburg crowd. What he is hoping will happen is for individual newspapers, radio and television stations across Pennsylvania to start asking some of those questions to legislators in their coverage area.

If this truly is a new era of reform in Harrisburg, we cannot tolerate the back-room dealing of people like Prince John Perzel or anyone else who treats the state treasury as their private ATM machine.

Tony Phyrillas is a columnist for The Mercury in Pottstown, Pa. Tony recently was awarded First Prize in Opinion Columns from the 2,000 member national trade organization Suburban Newspapers of America. The Mercury won seven awards, more than any other newspaper in the Pennsylvania. E-mail him at

1 comment:

Casey Roncaglione said...

The sources of, and the uses of these funds, are for the control and empowerment of those desire to dictate the course of state.