Friday, December 30, 2005

15: “Every Red Cent, Part 3”

Good friend Russ Diamond of PA Clean Sweep is keeping up the pressure with his “Wall of Shame”, a complete listing, with photos, of all the legislators and their record on the pay raise, including whether they have paid it back or not. If not, they go on a special Wall of Shame on his website. To come off, they must provide documentation that they have, or have made arrangements to pay back the “Unvouchered Expenses” they took almost as soon as the pay raise went into effect.

PA Clean Sweep is also still aiming for a complete clean sweep (the return of no incumbents) in the next elections. In line with that, the organization, which is NOT a political party, and has NO political affiliation, is recruiting candidates to run against these unethical, and shameful legislators who have made Pennsylvania the laughingstock of the nation. Here is Russ Diamond’s press release:

PACleanSweep Launches "Help Wanted" Candidate Recruitment Campaign

Grassroots citizens group to run radio, internet ads to attract legislative challengers.

ANNVILLE, PA - [12.29.05] PACleanSweep has launched an advertising campaign aimed at encouraging citizens to run for a seat in the Pennsylvania General Assembly in 2006. The "Help Wanted" campaign will run throughout the month of January.

The initial advertising buy includes internet ads on Philadelphia area blogs and the popular political site as well as radio spots on WILK-AM in Luzerne County. Additional media buys are planned in coming weeks, and PACleanSweep is soliciting contributions to purchase airtime in a variety of markets.

"After criss-crossing the Commonwealth for the past few months, I'm convinced that Pennsylvanians are ready for a real change," said PACleanSweep founder and Chair Russ Diamond. "But change cannot take place unless the incumbents have challengers. We need honest, hard working citizens willing to go to Harrisburg and do the right thing."

A page on the group's website –

- offers the radio ads in downloadable MP3 format. In addition to promoting the idea of running for office, PACleanSweep's ads offer assistance to would-be candidates and tout the group's recent role in focusing voter pressure on repealing the pay raise.

"It was the people who brought about the repeal, and we need that same kind of effort to successfully raise challengers," added Diamond, "because we can't return government to citizens until we return citizens to government."

Prospective candidates interested in getting their name on the May primary ballot will be able to start gathering signatures on February 14 and have until March 7 to turn in their petitions and other paperwork to the Department of State. To date, the group has raised 93 prospective candidates across Pennsylvania, 60 of whom are lined up to face an incumbent at the primary election.

Listen to the "Help Wanted" radio ads (mp3 format) About PACleanSweep PACleanSweep is a non-partisan effort dedicated to defeating incumbent elected officials in Pennsylvania and replacing them with true public servants. For more information, please visit:

For More Information:
Russ Diamond
PACleanSweep Chair

Or Contact:
Jerry Kelley
Media Relations

THE CENTRIST applauds the continuing efforts of such leaders as Russ Diamond of PA Clean Sweep, and Tim Potts of Democracy Rising and other folks who have been out front of this effort from the start. Even after the defeat of Justice Nigro, and near defeat of Justice Newman early last month, our legislators continue to play games with the rules, and the money. It is inefficient to try to sort out the few good legislators from the bad. Hence, Operation Clean Sweep!

THE CENTRIST would like to see something else, however, and that is a campaign to get the leadership of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, that is the Speaker and Officers of the House of Representatives, and the President Pro Tempore and Officers of the Pennsylvania Senate, to immediately resign their positions of leadership, and all committee assignments.

Failing this, perhaps the floor needs to rebel again and call for new leadership elections. Vote the bums out. They are corrupt in their duties.

THE CENTRIST also wants to see a strict lobbying law, based on the premise that if you want a lobbyist to work on your behalf in Harrisburg, all he can do is meet with Representative, senators and staff, in the Capitol, and make oral and written presentations on your behalf. Lobbyists would have to work for a living, and be good persuaders. As part of the law, nothing of any value may be received by any member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, their staffs, employees of the Pennsylvania legislative caucuses. No dinners, no gifts, no money, not even a pen with a company’s name on it. No trips, no golf outings, nada. Need space to address a large group of legislators? No problem, we’ll clear a hearing room for you. And, no, lobbyists do NOT get special admission privileges to the Capitol, no parking, no free lunch, nada. Want to work for your client? Get an appointment and go see the man.

If it isn’t obvious to everyone by now, Pennsylvania’s political parties are eyeball-deep in the clutches of special interests. Many are on the take from these interests. They have even, as in the case of ownership of casinos, made it legal to be on the take…and not only that, it can remain hidden from the public!
Read the law!

(Note: the link takes you to another blog that contains Act 71 of 2004, a monstrous assault on the well-being of Pennsylvanians, and a monstrous piece of secretive legislation passed with no hearings, no public comment in the wee hours of an early July morning in 2004, in the same fashion the pay raise was passed in 2005! The Legislation is so big it was broken into 9 parts to make it handle easier in the blog.)

Pennsylvania desperately needs a lobbying law. It is the only state in the nation without one. Even the Federal government has one.

If you make it as strict as above, you will not need a lobbyist disclosure clause. Rather, the personal and political financial records of all legislators, the governor and his staff, justices and judges, and senior (appointed) officials of Pennsylvania government must submit a quarterly detail of all transactions (personal and political). All. A watchdog committee of citizens, with groups such as Democracy Rising, Common Cause, and the League of Women Voters represented, but not in control of said committee, should peruse these records quarterly and report any violations of ethics and lobbying laws.

The Ethics law must be re-written, and a Constitutional Amendment passed to establish that no piece of legislation can make any legislator immune from any ethics laws, sunshine laws, etc. What are saying here? We’re saying that often, legislators will put language into a bill that says, “you can do this, and you can’t do that. When enforced, the penalty is..” They follow this with an exclusionary clause that exempts them from adhering to the same stipulations as everyone else.

No more of that. No more special status!

This insanity simply must stop. Many of these legislators truly believe they are special, and therefore, do not have to have the same standards you, the common citizens have. No offense intended to the readers, but a legislator’s solid personal waste is the same color and has the same aura as everyone else’s.

They’ve fed at the trough long enough, folks! Vote ‘em out, pressure them to resign. Anything, just get them all out of office ASAP before they do more damage to Pennsylvania and Pennsylvanians. Clean ‘em all out! Let God sort ‘em out then.

Remember: “Legislation without representation is tyranny!”

Don’t put up with it!


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

Copyright © 2005, “
THE CENTRIST”. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

14: “Every Red Cent! Part 2”

Friend Tim Potts over at Democracy Rising has issued this Pay Watch bulletin. Additionally, there is news about the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania hearing two cases arguing the Constitutionality of both the pay raise, and the repeal. Details in the second half of this posting.

Meanwhile, the bozos in the State Senate (and a much larger collection in the State House of Representatives) still have not figured out the right thing to do, in spite of unprecedented voter activism in the last election telling them in no uncertain terms what to do: PAY IT ALL BACK! EVERY RED CENT! Here’s Tim Potts:

Pay Watch 18 – Paybacks Are A….
Thoughts on Covering Democracy in Pennsylvania
December 28, 2005
Disasters always linger with foul vapors and visions arising from their memory. So it is with the Pay Raise of 2005. Despite its repeal and the tacit admission that it never should have occurred, some lawmakers cling to their ill-gotten gains like river sludge to basement walls following a flood.

As we turn the corner on 2005 and head into the election season of 2006, two organizations that were at the forefront of the repeal movement are documenting the continuing disaster. Rock the Capital (organizers of the September 26 Rally for Repeal in Harrisburg) and PA Clean Sweep (champions of giving voters a choice in next year’s elections) are making sure that every voter can find out whether those who claim to represent them have returned their “unvouchered expenses.”

Rock the Capital (RTC) has been tracking the Senate where 27 Senators initially took this unconstitutional increase in income. As of December 19, RTC reports that 16 Senators have repaid or have pledged to repay the unvouchered expenses while nine Senators have said they will not return your money to the State Treasury. Those nine – all but one of whom are Democrats – are:

Sen. Jay Costa, D-Allegheny
Sen. Vince Fumo, D-Philadelphia
Sen. Vince Hughes, D-Philadelphia
Sen. Shirley Kitchen, D-Philadelphia
Sen. Gerry LaValle, D-Beaver
Sen. Charles Lemmond, R-Luzerne
Sen. Robert Mellow, D-Lackawanna
Sen. Raphael Musto, D-Luzerne
Sen. Michael Stack, D-Philadelphia

Three of these senators are up for re-election in 2006, but only two of them – Mellow and Musto – may face the voters. Lemmond has decided to keep the money and retire, thereby increasing his legislative pension.

Pennsylvania’s pension plan for legislators, boosted by 50 percent in 2001, is among the most generous pension plans in America.

For the full RTC report, including some revealing public comments by these senators, visit:

Meanwhile, PA Clean Sweep has created a “Hall of Shame” for those who took unvouchered expenses:
(Be patient; it can take a little while to load.)

Here they identify, and provide emails and phone numbers for, those lawmakers in both the House and Senate who:

  • Took the money and won’t prove that they’ve given it back. PA Clean Sweep lists 136 of them as of today.
  • Took the money but have provided proof that they’ve given it back. There are 22 so far.

Of course, if the PA Supreme Court rules (as it should) that the original pay raise of July 7 was unconstitutional, everyone will have to repay the unvouchered expenses and all of the organizations working for higher public integrity can claim, “Paybacks Are Accomplished.”

Questions for Lawmakers
If keeping unvouchered expenses because they were “legal at the time” (the Mellow excuse) is a matter of principle, what principle was at play on July 7 when you made the secretly negotiated pay raise “legal” without public knowledge or public debate in the middle of the night?

Which lawmakers will return the unvouchered expenses, and which will continue to treat citizens and taxpayers with contempt?

How many lawmakers would rather retire than repent? How many of those who keep the money will retire like Sen. Lemmond rather than face up to their constituents? How many who didn’t take the money will find the prospect of facing a reform agenda next year to be so daunting that they will find other work to do?

Questions for Citizens
Will Pennsylvania citizens keep pushing lawmakers to return their repealed pay raise? Will this be a “tipping point” issue with voters on primary or general Election Day – an issue that will change votes, all other things being relatively equal?

Will Pennsylvania citizens use the continuing reluctance of lawmakers to make amends as leverage to force broader reforms in one of the worst legislatures in

Tim Potts, Co-Founder
Democracy Rising PA
P.O. Box 618, Carlisle, PA 17013

As always Tim, we are in your debt for keeping these clown’s feet to the fire. We need a concerted effort in May to unseat incumbents by placing other candidates on the ballot, and in November, an even greater effort to turn the all of the Representatives, and as many of the Senators as are up for re-election. They have brought shame and disgrace on our great Commonwealth.

In other news, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has agreed to here Gene Stilp’s case that the Midnight Pay Raise was unconstitutional. Also, the court has agreed to here the suit of nine greedy judges who think the Repeal was unconstitutional. Whichever case gets decided first, I suppose, will signal the decision of the other. Here is the article from the Philadelphia Inquirer on this news:

Top court will hear pay-raise lawsuits
It will judge both the act increasing salaries, and the one repealing the raises. The issue is mired in politics.
By Amy Worden
Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau
Posted on Wed, Dec. 28, 2005

HARRISBURG - The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, for the first time in 20 years, has agreed to hear a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a legislative pay raise.
In a 6-0 ruling the court also said it would consider another lawsuit that challenges the repeal of the pay raise.

Almost immediately, questions were raised about the potential conflict of interest with a court that benefitted from the July pay raise and would stand to benefit from its decision. Some experts said the court would likely apply a legal standard that says if all judges eligible to hear a case have a conflict, the necessity for a decision prevails over the conflict of interest.

Chief Justice Ralph J. Cappy, who was criticized for his role in drafting key concepts of the pay-raise legislation and for his vocal defense of the legislature, has recused himself from all pay-raise cases.

The court said in its ruling Thursday that it would consider a case filed by Harrisburg political activist Gene Stilp that questions the propriety of how the General Assembly passed the legislation, which gave raises of 16 percent to 34 percent to officials in all three branches of government.

The Stilp case will examine constitutional questions in the act that have been the subject of lawsuits before, including whether the pay-raise law reflected the bill's original purpose, that legislation be brought before a committee before it goes before the full chamber, and that bills pertain to a single subject and be considered on three separate days.

The suit also challenges the legislature's use of "unvouchered expenses," which allowed lawmakers to take the raise immediately and thus sidestep a constitutional
prohibition against voting themselves a mid-term pay increase. In a 1986 ruling that has been used by the legislature to defend subsequent raises, the state Supreme Court found that the use of unvouchered expenses was

The Supreme Court agreed to hear the Stilp case after the Commonwealth Court - where it was originally filed last summer - found his suit moot following repeal of the pay-raise legislation.

Yesterday, Stilp said the high court's action recognizes the public-policy implications of the legislature's action, which touched off a statewide good-government movement.

"This is part of the effort to restore integrity to the courts of Pennsylvania," said Stilp, who first sued over a legislative pay raise 10 years ago.

The second related case the Supreme Court will hear was filed by Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge John W. Herron, challenging the repeal of the pay raise.
Herron's suit was one of three suits filed earlier this month by nine judges who cited a state law that says judges' salaries can't be cut unless the salaries of all state officers are reduced at the same time. That provision is intended to insulate judges from political influence.

"I'm pleased that the Supreme Court has assumed jurisdiction over the case," said Herron's attorney, Robert C. Heim. "It does so only in matters where it has concluded that it is a matter of substantial importance to the litigants and to the public."

Stephen MacNett, chief counsel for the Senate Republicans, defended the constitutionality of both acts yesterday. "We spent a lot of time discussing how to handle the repeal," he said.

Among the parties named in the lawsuits are Gov. Rendell, House Speaker John M. Perzel (R., Phila.) and Sen. Robert C. Jubelirer (R., Blair), president pro tempore of the Senate.

Asked at a news conference yesterday in Philadelphia whether the administration would defend the raise, Rendell said that he could see his administration supporting only the constitutionality of the judges' raises.

Some critics questioned the appearance of a conflict of interest in state judges hearing a pay-raise case. Rep. Greg Vitali (D., Delaware), a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit over the pay raise, said he wondered whether judges who "have pecuniary
interest in the outcome" have a conflict of interest in hearing the case.

Stilp said he planned to file a motion next week to have Supreme Court Justice Sandra Schultz Newman removed from the case because he led a campaign to oust her in last month's elections. Newman, one of two justices targeted by an anti-incumbent campaign, narrowly won a second term on the bench, while Supreme
Court Justice Russell M. Nigro was voted out of office.
Nigro's term will expire Sunday.
Staff writer Amy Worden can be reached at 717-783-2584 or Inquirer staff writers Carrie Budoff and Christine Schiavo contributed to this article.


This article is posted online at the Philadelphia Inquirer. Click this link:

This blogger’s feeling here is that this case should not be heard by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and that it should go to the United States Supreme Court, as no state court can be shown to have no stake in the outcome. If the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania rules on these cases, they will be forever tarnished, and branded as unfair, and impartial, no matter which way they rule. If justice is to be served here, it needs to go to the high court. In other words, the entire Supreme Court of Pennsylvania needs to recuse itself on these cases! However, since issues of state constitutions are not within the purview of the Federal government, except as they cross over the line between state and Federal rights, in this case, the Supreme Court could fairly be asked to issue a brief as an amicus curae.

Finally, where in the world is the American Civil Liberties Union on this issue?


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

Copyright © 2005, “THE CENTRIST”. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

13: “The Left Wing Media”

Previously here, we have written about the New York Times and its single-minded mission to print all the news that’s fit to smear the right, and all the treason fit to print.

Now let’s talk about As blatant as the New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, and Atlanta Journal Constitution are about being liberally biased, (and as in denial as papers such as the Philadelphia Inquirer are about it), is insidious. Some of the things they do are very slickly handled. For instance, anything that is embarrassing to the Bush Administration is left up on their website for over a week, while anything embarrassing to the liberals is up and gone in a flash. That way, they can say, “We covered it!”

Sure they can. Like the newspapers listed above, they manufacture issues where none exist, or blow them all out of proportion.

Here is an example of one that currently has running as a sub under another story. The main story on their web site is one announcing the discovery of a mass grave in Karbala, Iraq, containing the remains of about twenty victims of Saddam Hussein’s henchmen from a period in 1991 when there was an uprising against him, which was brutally put down. Now, I can guarantee you that this story, which adds fuel to the reason why we went to war with Iraq (it wasn’t just WMDs, that EVERYONE agreed were there, it was also the human rights violations committed by the Saddam Hussein regime – it’s in the archives, you could look it up), will not have a long life on But one of their “Watch” videos is an almost 4 minute piece by Nic Robertson (This Gulf War’s Peter Arnett – about as duplicitously anti-American as you can get, and Arnett was indeed discredited after the first Gulf War. What saved him from sabotage or treason charges was his foreign citizenship, and the intelligence he inadvertently leaked with his stories. He was a foreigner who made his career and living off anti-American reporting for American media). This piece is called
Marines must deal with the moral issue of killing the enemy . Hello? On the surface, it appears to be a sympathetic piece, and even handed.

Nothing can obsess the liberals as much as a war, and nothing can stir their fires as much as killing an enemy. Watch if CNN leaves this story up at all (they won’t, because the Marine makes it quite clear in the piece that when it comes down to the Iraqi going home, or the Marine, it is always the Marine.), but they might because he also talks about a situation where they saw (at great distance) a group of Iraqis digging in the ground. Figuring it to be an IED, they zeroed in on them and killed them. Later intel confirmed they were building the foundation for their home. (That should stir up the progressives and make them madder than wet hens. And I believe that is the intent of the piece.)

They are casualties of war. They are regrettable, and they cost a man who commits that act, peace for the rest of his life. But so does killing the uniformed enemy solder charging at the Marine’s position.

In the opening sequence of the 1970 film “Patton”, George C. Scott recreates a famous speech given by the real General Patton to his 3rd Army troops on the eve of D-Day, June 5, 1944. In his sanitized version - the real Patton was much saltier than the one portrayed by Scott in a magnificent tour de force – Patton cautioned his men about “chickening out” in combat:

Now, some of you boys, I know, are wondering whether or not you'll chicken-out under fire. Don't worry about it. I can assure you that you will all do your duty. The Nazis are the enemy. Wade into them. Spill their blood. Shoot them in the belly. When you put your hand into a bunch of goo that a moment before was your best friend's face, you'll know what to do.

Patton insisted that the proper way to soldier was not to die for this country, but to make the other guy die for his. Indeed, that’s how you win a war. He said, in the same speech:

Now, I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.

George Patton had it absolutely correct.

There are no longer any uniformed soldiers fighting against the new Iraqi government and the continuing American presence in Iraq, just vicious, unprincipled murderous thugs who kill for no ideal other than they want to control Iraq, while 11 million Iraqis periodically and repeatedly dip their fingers in purple ink when voting against the that very concept. They have been made irrelevant, because what they are doing now, is simply, unadulterated murder. They are not, and have not swayed anyone to their particular religious brand of extremism, except like minded individuals from across the Arab world, and forces ordered into Iraq from surrounding Arabic countries, mainly Syria and Iran, who have a political stake in the insurgency, doomed as it is.

The problem we are facing right now is that the Iraqis, who are rapidly assuming the responsibility for policing and protecting their own country, still require a U.S. presence to suppress the insurgency enough to allow democracy to spread and flourish, and take a firm root in the new Iraq. Were we to pull out now, Iraq would fall in a few months, if not to direct military intervention by Syria and/or Iran, then to their minions who will grab power through violence and murder, and install an extremist Islamic government in Iraq – a twin of Iran. Democracy in Iraq will die a quick death, and it will make meaningless the deaths of some 30,000 Iraqis, and over 2,000 Americans, plus other members of the international coalition.

Since the time Cain picked up a rock and crushed Abel’s skull with it, man has been violently killing man. From the caveman who killed his neighbor in the next cave because he had better animal pelts to wear, to the Romans who killed Jesus because it was politically expedient, to the Middle Ages when Christians and Muslims slaughtered each other in the name of religion, to the Great Wars of the Twentieth Century, men (and women) have been killing each other over various ideals.

We Americans like to think we have a good handle on such things as human rights, human dignity, moral high ground, Liberty, Freedom, and Democracy. We may sometimes do the wrong things, but they will be done for the right reasons. We will never do something for the wrong reason. We have, since becoming a full-fledged nation among nations, and able to stand equally among the nations of the earth at the end of our American Civil War, liberated people from oppression in Central America, the Caribbean, the Philippines, and even once in Mexico. We have freed the (most ungrateful) French from the German jackboots twice in the past century, and with the help of Great Britain (and on one occasion, the Soviet Union) freed most of the rest of Europe as well, not once, but twice. We pretty much defeated the Japanese in WW II by ourselves, and liberated millions throughout Asia from a brutal racist regime.

Late in the century we destroyed Nazism, Fascism, and lastly, defeated Communism without firing a shot. We have spread Democracy across the planet, and have done so to the betterment of all mankind. All of those ‘isms’ were extremist socio-political ideals where one small group found a path to power, and Democracy was left dangling in the wind.

There is still much to do, like Tibet, Nepal, and to see that Palestine gets a square deal, and so, too the Israelis. We will soon be dealing with the rise of a new brand of communism in South America, already manifesting itself in the northern part of that continent.

All-in-all, we’ve done pretty well for mankind. The scales are balanced almost exclusively in our favor.

So why this media blitz to make war wrong, especially when diplomacy has failed?

Perhaps the left needs to take a look at things, in particular, what they, themselves, are doing and have been doing.

[Cartoon Source:
Glenn McCoy by Glenn McCoy; ©2005 Belleville News-Democrat]


"It is the duty of every citizen according to his best capacities to give validity to his convictions in political affairs. " Albert Einstein
Copyright © 2005, “
THE CENTRIST”. All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

12: “Pigs at the Trough – Still!”

Before claiming Republican status, THE CENTRIST claims citizenship status. On the basis of that status, we wish to report the Pigs are at the trough – still. Really. Gorging themselves.

John Perzel is a moron if he thinks he can continue to get away with these shenanigans, and he pulled another one last night. Friend Russ Diamond over at Operation Clean Sweep was watching things. Here’s Russ's report:

If you were watching the END of the House session tonight at 12:20, you saw Perzel gavel to a close the special session, and then immediately gavel to order the 'new day' of the Regular Session.

During that Regular session, the only thing that occurred was that Sam Smith and Perzel wished the members a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year.

In case you missed what actually happened there (or the reason for what happened there), by gaveling the new day's Regular Session to order, the members were able to collect an additional per diem for the one minute it took to be wished happy holidays. I guess that was Perzel's Christmas gift to them.
You may ask, who the heck authorized that dimwit to do that? Well…he did…that is…the dimwit did…that is he and Smith did. Smith is another dimwit for pulling a stunt like this. Do they think no one is watching any more? Do they think no one cares? Do they think for one moment that what happened in the November election will not happen again, or that they are immune from it? Or are they just not thinking?

Just who are these pigs? John Perzel is the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Sam Smith is the Majority Leader in the same chamber. Both are Republicans. Both bring shame not only on the Republican Party here in Pennsylvania, but they continue to daily make a mockery of our General Assembly. Oh, yes, indeed they have plenty of help from across the aisle, and from the Governor’s office, as well as from our courts (see below). But these two are in the majority party, and control the activities in the House. This is simply another example of the graft and corruption that goes on DAILY! These “public servants” (more like public boar hogs), are so filled with hubris that they think they are exempt from being thrown out of office just as the “innocent” Justice J. Russell Nigro last November.

Bulletin for the Speaker of the House: Sharpen up that resume, bubby! Come the end of your current term, you are history! Same for Sam Smith. History, boys! Toast! Stick a fork in them, they are done!

THE CENTRIST is checking to see if this move violated any laws, so we can have these bozos indicted and removed from office before they can do any more damage. At the very least the floor should recall them from their leadership positions, and bar them from serving in a committee or caucus leadership slot, or on any committees. The same should be applied to Bill DeWeese, Vince Fumo, Bob Jubelirer, Bob Mellow, Mike O’Pake, David Brightbill, and Jeff Piccola. They should be stripped of every ounce of responsibility and perquisites of office and allowed to serve only their own constituencies until they leave office. Frankly, they should all resign in shame, but they are incapable of that emotion. And Jeff Piccola better not come sniffing around these parts looking for an endorsement for his run for the Governor’s mansion!

This crew stinks to high heaven! They are about as arrogant as politicians come.

Is THE CENTRIST incensed? You bet! And not just at these pigs!

Add to the list the seven more judges who have stupidly, arrogantly and unethically joined the first two porcine magistrates who filed suit in the State Supreme Court to have the pay raise repeal overturned. Now, this is the same State Supreme Court who advised the legislators to pass the Midnight Raise last July, that got one of their buddies deposed from the bench because the legislative hogs were too stupid and greedy to say ‘no’. Will this suit get a fair and ethical and impartial hearing in this court? Not on your life!

Finally, we come to THE CENTRIST’s own representative. The “Honorable” Steve Maitland has consistently refused to acknowledge the wrongness of the pay raise. He voted for the raise. He took the early money (unvouchered expense). He refuses to pay it back. He claims it is being used to pay his tuition at law school so he can better represent his constituents.

No one in state service is entitled to free tuition. No one in state service is entitled to keep money wrongly given, accepted and that does not rightfully belong to them. That raise was repealed.

If this is how Steve Maitland “respects” his constituency, then perhaps it is time for him to sharpen his resume, too.

THE CENTRIST wants the General Assembly, on their return to work from the holiday break, to come together in another Committee of the Whole, and hammer out a piece of legislation that requires the clerk of the House, and the Clerk of the Senate to deduct the full amount of any outstanding (unrepaid unvouchered expenses) from the paycheck of every member still owing, an amount equal to the entire outstanding balance, or the full net pay of the member, whichever figure is lower, until that balance is repaid. No pay until every single red cent is repaid. If they can’t find it in themselves to do the right thing we’ll do it for them – the hard way.

Contact your representative and get them to sign on to this concept!

What your elected leaders, such as Representative Maitland, have been doing is thumbing their noses at you. They do not fear you, nor do they respect you. Their greed and hubris makes them unfit for public service.

Operation Clean Sweep is in full operation. It has not gone away, nor has it stopped operating just because Russell Nigro’s career as a Supreme Court justice was forced to a premature ending. Operation Clean Sweep’s next target is the spring primaries. Candidates will be entered to run against the incumbents. If successful, good! If not, then the non-incumbents will get the endorsements in the fall election.

Fellow citizens, this is your chance to send a message in the strongest terms possible. These folks are simply not fit to run their own bathrooms let alone the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Sweep ‘em all out of office, and let God sort them out!


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

Copyright © 2005,THE CENTRIST”. All Rights Reserved.

11: “Oh, those Philly Dems!”

Those raucous Philly Democrats are at it again! This time they have opened the Street Administration to a Whistle-blower Lawsuit! In a city known best for the corruption of its Democratic Machine run administrations, has there been as corrupt an Administration as that of John Street? Almost everyone around him has either been indicted or is under investigation by the Feds. (Sadly, State law enforcement officials stay out of Philadelphia politics. Perhaps that’s because most of the state officials are graduates of the Philly Democratic Machine!).

This from today’s Philadelphia Inquirer:

Posted on Wed, Dec. 21,
Mariano aide who testified loses her job
Anna Davila talked to a grand jury. She was laid off last week. Mariano's chief of staff said there was no connection.

By Michael Currie Schaffer
Inquirer Staff Writer

Councilman Rick Mariano's new chief of staff calls it a "review of office functions." The attorney for Anna Davila calls it a case of intimidation.

Either way, the Mariano staffer whose testimony about being punished for not taking a bribe was a prominent feature in the councilman's federal corruption indictment is out of a job.

"It's absolutely related to her testimony," Davila's lawyer, Patrick Egan, said.

Davila, 40, told a federal grand jury that Mariano berated her after she refused to take money and a trip to Florida in exchange for helping a local businessman obtain city licenses. At an Oct. 25 news conference announcing the indictments of Mariano and five others - including the businessman - U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan praised Davila, who was referred to only by her initials.

Within days, Davila was complaining to federal authorities about a slew of harassing calls related to her role in the investigation. One caller allegedly told her he knew she was alone and threatened her; another allegedly suggested she find work as a prostitute. Davila told authorities she thought the calls were from someone loyal to Mariano, according to FBI documents.

Egan said Davila soon went on medical leave, citing stress caused by the calls.

But the Nov. 27 issue of the Spanish-language newspaper Al Dia quoted Davila's siblings as saying she was being pressured to quit.

That brought a rebuke from Jay McCalla, who took over as Mariano's chief of staff in early November.

In a Nov. 30 letter, McCalla told Davila that he would place her on paid leave once she returned from sick leave "to allow a careful and definitive examination" on the
allegations "made on your behalf."

Last Thursday's letter terminating Davila made no mention of the investigation. Rather, McCalla wrote that Davila was being laid off as part of a review of office functions, particularly zoning. The letter allowed Davila to use leave time until the end of the year, meaning her health benefits will last until Jan. 31.

However, McCalla wrote, Davila would be terminated at once if she returned to Mariano's office for any reason.

In an interview, McCalla said Davila's departure had nothing to do with her testimony or her complaints.

"There's no relation to anything other than circumstances that exist within the office in terms of workload and the organization of the office," McCalla said.

Davila, who was paid $30,600 a year, was the only staffer laid off.

As for his investigation of the claims that Davila had been pressured to quit, McCalla said: "We had been unable to find anyone that has overheard or seen anything that would lend credence to her charges. But that's a completely separate

Davila's departure makes her the third Mariano staffer to depart this fall.

On Oct. 21, a day after he set off a suicide scare by climbing to the top of the City Hall tower, Mariano telephoned from the hospital to fire legislative aide John Lisko and McCalla's predecessor, Walt De Treux, prompting investigators to look into the dismissals for possible witness intimidation.

Like Davila, both men had testified before the grand jury investigating the councilman.

In the case of Davila, McCalla said he had consulted the city's Law Department and Council administrative staff to make sure her termination was legal.

"All parties are satisfied," McCalla said.

Not as far as Davila's concerned. In an interview yesterday, she said she was contemplating a lawsuit.

"Right now, I feel as though he was very unfair, taking his anger out on people," she said of Mariano. "It's totally unfair that he takes it out on me instead of the big people with power."
Contact staff writer Michael Currie Schaffer at 215-854-4565 or Inquirer staff writer John Shiffman contributed to this article.

THE CENTRIST will be watching the developments of this case in particular. Apparently if you have moral courage, and ethics and work in Philadelphia for the Democratic Political Machine, you are rewarded with unemployment.


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

Copyright © 2005, “
THE CENTRIST”. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

10: “All the Treason Fit to Print”

The CENTRIST is waiting. Waiting for Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald to open an investigation into the New York Times, and its role in the leak and publication of information about NSA intercepts. The CENTRIST is also waiting for Congress to do the same.

We’ll likely see the first long before the second. Instead of showing some moral courage, the members of Congress lined up to get their face time and express outrage that the President of the United States was spying on Americans. All this without any details beyond what a leftist reporter for the New York Times wrote, to accompany the launch of his latest “Attack Bush” book. The CENTRIST must be nuts looking for moral courage from a bunch of moral cowards called members of Congress.

It’s time to investigate, and indict the New York Times, which has been playing a dangerous game of running the edge of treason for decades.

It’s time to hammer that newspaper with fines for breaking laws.

It does not take a rocket scientist to show that both the New York Times and the Washington Post should be fined, and their editors jailed for complicity in the Valerie Plame affair – they should never have printed Plame’s name as a CIA agent! Certainly they bear a responsibility – a complicit responsibility in this crime of outing a CIA agent.

Now, the New York times violates Federal law once again by revealing state secrets, and offering aid and comfort to the enemy. Not that the Times hasn’t done this before…can you say “Pentagon Papers”?

The Times is not a newspaper, it’s a political propaganda organ that has crossed the line to commission of treason far too often.

Do not make any mistake, the CENTRIST values the Bill of Rights and the Freedom of the press, but there is a responsibility that attends the First Amendment. Clearly and repeatedly, the New York Times has violated that responsibility that it owes to the First Amendment; it has abused the First Amendment, and insulted it. Now it has crossed the line past the protections of free speech, and a free press. Just as freedom of speech has been found to not include yelling “Fire” in a theater when no fire exists, so is there a line across which the press must not travel. The line, in both cases involves responsibility, something the New York Times apparently knows little about.

It’s not just time, it’s past time to put these miscreants, these criminals masquerading as news reporters and editors in prison where they belong. They are costing American lives.


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

Copyright © 2005, “
THE CENTRIST”. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, December 19, 2005

09: “Santorum for US Senate”

The 1991 death of Pennsylvania’s bright and rising star, Senator John Heinz, gave rise to a feeling of despair among Pennsylvania Republicans -- that a person like Heinz rarely comes along more often than once in every few generations. His tragic death robbed Pennsylvanians of a source of pride, and trust in Senatorial leadership that was found missing in his replacement, Democrat Harris Wofford. As bright and vibrant as Heinz was, Wofford was cold, and lifeless.

Enter Rick Santorum. After twelve years in the Senate, Santorum has built a reputation of his own. No comparison to Heinz is valid…Santorum has set his own standards. He is young, energetic, and vibrant, with a marvelous intellect, and a track record that most candidates would be proud to run on, yet few have the outstanding record Santorum has. From Agriculture to Veterans, from Energy to Social Security, few have done as much to help Pennsylvania’s citizens, and families -- and that includes everyone from the oldest family member down to, and including the family pet!

Rick Santorum has demonstrated a quiet competency and is recognized for his leadership in the Senate…he leads by example. Rick Santorum does not need to be on all the evening news channels with sound bites every night…that’s a compulsion of the left. Instead, we see Senator Santorum leaving the White House after an advisory meeting with the President and Congressional leadership, or working on a western Pennsylvania construction project with his sleeves rolled up.

Rick Santorum is a family man with family values, the kind of compassionate family values that made “Red Counties” red in the last election. That’s the CENTRIST’s kind of values, too.

Rick Santorum is for low taxes, less government, farmland preservation, and has worked hard to make Pennsylvania agriculture important again. He believes it takes a family to raise a child, not a village.

Have you ever had your doctor’s prescription denied by your insurance company because they don’t think it’s the right drug for you? Some things really get the CENTRIST’s gears grinding and that is one of them. It is the height of hubris to overrule a physician’s treatment plan. Rick Santorum believes this is something that needs to be changed, in order to provide the kind of doctor-patient health care free from intrusion and interference.

Senator Rick Santorum has shown the kind of leadership that becomes, over time, the respected solid leadership of a national statesman. Senators come and go (unless they are from Massachusetts or the Carolinas), and we fervently hope that Senator Santorum will be around the Senate (or higher!) for a long time to come. He will help make Pennsylvanians safe, secure, prosperous and proud.

THE CENTRIST warmly and strongly endorses Senator Rick Santorum for reelection to the United States Senate! Vote Santorum for U.S. Senate in 2006!


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

Copyright © 2005, “THE CENTRIST”. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, December 16, 2005

08: “The Flying Purple Finger of Fate!”

Any boomer will remember back to the days when the irreverent comedy team of Rowan and Martin took good natured jabs at people of all stripes, and politicians from both sides of the aisle, on their weekly revue called Laugh In. One of their weekly features was called the Flying Fickle Finger of Fate Award, and they would announce a winner each week, usually, this was pure satire.

In no way satirical, yet much more fateful, were the millions of purple ink-stained fingers proudly waved in the air for photo-journalists and media cameras yesterday in Iraq. The numbers are not in yet, but they clearly will surpass the courageous turnout in the previous two elections. Early estimates place the turnout as high as 11 million of the estimated 15 million registered voters in Iraq. [When was the last time the U.S. turnout approached 73%?] Even better news was the fact that the Sunnis, the minority that essentially ruled Iraq under Saddam Hussein, are finally embracing the process after marginalizing themselves. The Sunnis are the main source of Iraqi insurgents. [Not to be confused with their imported partners in crime, Al Qaeda in Iraq.]

There are some things to be inferred from this event, and, indeed, from the previous elections.

First, while we view these millions of voters as being courageous, and they are, indeed, courageous for risking life and limb by braving terrorist attacks simply to go and vote, they do so because they have embraced the process, and want to be willing participants in the formation of their own government. After three decades of sham elections under Hussein, they now have an honest chance to make a difference, and take part in the process of deciding how the government will be formed, what its makeup will be, and how it will govern.

Second, the unmistakable imprint of the United States, and in particular, the policies of President George W. Bush, is clear in these events. The President has made good on his promise to bring democracy to that part of the world. First in Afghanistan, and now in Iraq. The people are choosing their form of government, and those who will run it. Be clear on this: that was an impossibility in Afghanistan under the Taliban, and in Iraq under Saddam Hussein and his Baathist thugs.

Third, the election turnout yesterday is a clear, and unequivocal repudiation of the “cut and run” cat-calls of late by about a half-dozen or so of our most (in)famous braying jackasses from across the aisle, namely Dean, Reid, Pelosi, Murtha, Schumer, Kennedy, and Kerry. [How did an honorable man like Jack Murtha get himself turned around enough to get mixed up with that gang of cowards?] These folks (the named, not the Iraqis!) not only dishonor the more than 2,000 fallen American fighting men and women, and the many wounded, indeed, all who have served in this effort of bringing democracy to a world that had no concept of it, but they dishonor the courage of the 11 million who are actively participating in the rebuilding of their own country, and doing so with the help of the United States of America. They do this because they want to win politically, and without a message, they must insult, defame, and tarnish all successes, making them failures.

John Kerry was a traitor to the United States during the Vietnam War, in the actions he took, and the words he spoke after returning to the U.S. from “serving” there with the U.S. Navy. [Even his own mates from the unit he was in made a strong case casting doubt on his take on his own service there. In fairness, there was an event where he saved a crewman’s life for which he should be commended, but just about every other detail of his stint has been discredited by those who served along side of him.]

John Kerry has called our president a liar. John Kerry has called for the U.S. to cut and run just like he did in the early 1970s when he was actively aiding and abetting the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong in their fight against the United States. U.S. prisoners of war held in the “Hanoi Hilton” have testified that Kerry’s actions added as much as a year to their imprisonment, torture, and near starvation, by giving encouragement to our enemies, their captors.

Now he is doing the same thing, only this time, it is over Iraq. His words, his stand, his baseless accusations provide aid and comfort to Al Qaeda, to Usama bin Laden, and to Zarqawi’s Al Qaeda in Iraq. Kerry’s attacks on the administration, his claim that President Bush has no plan in Iraq, that President Bush has a plan for failure in Iraq, that we cannot win in Iraq, that we are causing the insurgency in Iraq, provide encouragement to our enemies. Not only are they encouraged by Kerry’s actions and words, they use them to recruit, to raise money, and to step up their attacks.

To this, THE CENTRIST says, not this time John! If anyone is responsible for the insurgency in Iraq being as powerful and long-lived as it is, it is the people named above, the “Friends of John Kerry”, and their powerful voice in the media. They are the reason the people of this nation have been shielded from the facts:

  • that thousands of new schools have opened in Iraq and are busy educating their children in a democracy;
  • that far more Iraqi homes have electricity, TVs, telephones, computers, and internet connections now than ever did under Saddam Hussein;
  • that Iraq is pumping oil and selling it to profit the people of Iraq, not just Saddam and his Baathist henchman, or a few dozen long-nosed Frenchmen;
  • that Iraqi police and military forces now fully protect more than half of the nation; that enlistments in the Iraqi police and military are up in spite of suicide murderers blowing themselves up in long lines of recruits;
  • that three enormously important elections have been held with relative security over the past year;
  • that Iraqi businesses are up, running and thriving in an economy that, savaged by decades of oppression under Saddam Hussein, and from the war that toppled him from power, has made a remarkable recovery. Though it still has a long way to go, the Iraqi economy is thriving;
  • and that an Iraqi Constitution is being adopted in far less time than it took the United States to adopt our own.

Nope, not this time John. Take your treasonous, traitorous talk somewhere else where it will be much more appreciated, like France, Canada, or even Iran. Shoot, you’d fit in fine with the president of Iran, he has his feet rooted in as much reality as you do, John.

So, THE CENTRIST raises the Flying Purple Finger of Fate to John Kerry, for his Vietnam turncoat act redux. Can you guess which finger it is?


Cartoon resource: Glen McCoy, ©2005 Belleville News-Democrat

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

Copyright © 2005, “

THE CENTRIST”. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

07: “Matters of National Security & Personal Ethics”

It’s not rocket science. And you can bet the group of well-heeled friends of Governor Edward G. “Fast Eddie” Rendell don’t qualify as rocket scientists, either. A group of them has purchased land next to the Limerick Nuclear Power Generating Station in Montgomery County, and decided they want to put a casino in it. [boggle!!!]

The good folks living in the area near the Limerick reactors, have enough on their hands in dealing with a reactor that is entering its 20th year of service, and requires extra security for reasons involving terrorism, and national security.

None of these “Friends of Fast Eddie” could qualify as the brightest candle on the birthday cake.

These boys want to drag more than a thousand additional vehicles per day up and down a rebuilt Route 422, destination right next door to the Limerick Nuclear plant.

Sure, boys, we’ll just go ahead and increase the Department of Homeland Security’s operating budget, and increase security at the plant. Or maybe your buddy, “Fast Eddie” could call out the Pennsylvania National Guard to conduct random vehicle searches along Route 422, using bomb-sniffing dogs.

Now, if I was an Islamic extremist hiding somewhere in the mountainous (and nebulous) region of Waziristan, and I’d just read about this plan for Limerick, I’d signal my boys in the good old US of A, and tell them they finally have a target, one which will soon be totally beyond any reasonable level of protection.

Look, it’s really pretty simple. You have guards at the gates, and other security in a perimeter around the nuclear facility at Limerick. The place is likely wired to the hilt, too, with surveillance and security equipment. They maybe see 20 vehicles an hour during the day, and maybe 3-5 over night, going by the gate. Increase that rate by 500%, and have the traffic pulling in next door, and you could hide a dozen guys named Hassan, Omar, or Yasser in that traffic and the guards would likely never see them. So, when H-O-Y plumbing pulls up in a large truck, and begins firing RPGs into the Nuclear Power Station from the parking lot of the casino next door, the good folks living in Montgomery County will be in the dark – until they start to glow. And all of this because suddenly the security team for the reactors at Limerick have to play “Where’s Waldo” 24/7.

Jack Bauer, you are needed in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania! Bring your buds from CTU along!

These “Friends of Fast Eddie” are almost smart enough to qualify for the legislature. They’re certainly greed-blinded enough to qualify as Pennsylvania Lawmakers!

Now, I realize that scuttling this project increases the chances of Gettysburg getting a casino, and that would indeed be a travesty, as another “Friend of Fast Eddie” attempts to get his cut of the pie. Not an issue of national security, this project is an issue of moral and ethical values, and common sense. It seems pure greed has overwhelmed those values.

Former CEO of Conrail and local entrepreneur David LeVan has assumed the position as “Front Man” for a group of investors from Cumberland County (called Chance Enterprises), and Commerce Bank, which seems to be the common connection of all of them. LeVan, who is from Gettysburg, is an alumnus of Gettysburg College, and returned here after a career in high finance where he became the last CEO of Conrail, finally breaking it up. David LeVan is a long-time “Friend of Fast Eddie”.

These folks want to put a casino near the Gettysburg Battlefield. Until last week, they were going to trade on the name of Gettysburg by calling it the Gettysburg Gaming Resort and Spa. Now, after some pressure, they have decided to change the name to Crossroads Gaming Resort and Spa.

The only problem with this pseudo-step-in-the-right-direction is that no matter what you call it, the proposed casino (as of this writing) still has a Gettysburg address. This blogger detailed many of the things that are wrong with the state backed gaming law in essay 03: “A Matter of Ethics – Part 2 – The Gaming Act”.

David LeVan returned to Gettysburg when his connection with Conrail ended (about the same time Conrail ended, too!), and immediately began spreading around some of his “Golden Parachute” money from his previous employment. He gave to the most indigent organizations, historical and community based, and he gave to some of the more upscale organizations as well, such as the Majestic Theater renovation recently accomplished by new owners Gettysburg College, on the board of which LeVan sits.

You have to spend money to make money. The good will of those recipient-organizations would be needed once the casino project was announced. One of the other investors, Barbara Ernico of Camp Hill, Cumberland County, is a factor for the Hoffman Charitable Trust, and makes the recommendations to that trust as to where they will donate their money. While most certainly not illegal, these two situations certainly have the appearance of applying pressure on non-profit organizations in Adams County that have become dependent on the money of both LeVan and the Hoffman Trust. In light of a number of threats made by Mrs. Ernico, that pressure is definitely there. One historical preservation association sold its soul to David LeVan out of a misplaced sense of loyalty for financial help in the past, and continued help in the future.

Ethics. Moral values. The legislature doesn’t have them, the governor doesn’t have them, the state Supreme Court doesn’t have them, and, apparently, neither do the investment groups trying to make a go of these two locations for casinos.

As detailed in 03: “A Matter of Ethics – Part 2 – The Gaming Act”, the gaming act, Act 71 of 2004, is a bad piece of legislation, rotten to its core, and rife with avenues into its own industry that lead to graft and corruption. Indeed, in a few cases already exposed to the light of day, it already has. This irresponsible piece of legislation allows the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to install and govern an industry heretofore not found in the Commonwealth, that will expand addictive behaviors, cause an increase in crime, create a mental health risk, and create social crises in marriages, families, and their financial situations. That is how the Governor, the State Supreme Court, and the Pennsylvania General Assembly care for their constituents.

The very definition of the word weal, part of the word commonwealth, is:

weal1 (wēl) n. Prosperity;

happiness: in weal and woe.

The welfare of the community; the general good: the public weal.

[Middle English wele, from Old English wela.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2004, 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Any way it can be cut, those three elective branches of state government have violated the public trust. In that single act, Act 71, they have exposed the citizenry of Pennsylvania to the great risks to life and health, and general well being (weal) that accompany gambling.

No matter how you cut it, at best that is irresponsible, at worst, it is criminally negligent. A class action suit could, conceivably, find success in Federal Court to this effect.

Also, there are two pieces of legislation recently introduced into the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, that would affect the gaming industry in Pennsylvania. Representative Steve Maitland (R-Adams County), has introduced a bill that would bar the construction of a gaming facility within 15 miles of a National Park, or National Historic Area. The proposed Gettysburg Casino is one mile from the East Cavalry Battlefield segment of the Gettysburg Battlefield National Military Park, and the proposed casino at Limerick is 10 miles from the Valley Forge National Military Park. Representative Paul Clymer (R-Bucks County)(one of the true good guys in state government) has introduced a bill to repeal Act 71.

Experts and pundits don’t give either of these two bills a chance for survival of a “Fast Eddie” veto. Still, it is another voice heard crying in the wilderness, calling for sanity in the halls of Pennsylvania government.

In the meantime, we must pray that common sense, good community participation (that goes beyond spreading money around) and honest dealing will compel Chance Enterprises to leave Adams County alone, and the other “Friends of Fast Eddie” to leave Montgomery County alone.

In 1776, Thomas Paine, one of the Founding Fathers, and the publicist of the American Revolution, wrote in his pamphlet titled The Crisis:

These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.

When it happens, when this affront to the people of Pennsylvania is beaten back, when the gaming bill is no more, the triumph over the tyranny of the dollar-driven current state government, will indeed be a most glorious triumph.


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

Copyright © 2005, "THE CENTRIST" . All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

06: “Stopping the Gravy Train!”

Good friend Tim Potts over at Democracy Rising joins Common Cause of Pennsylvania and The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania today in calling for passage of a lobbying law in Pennsylvania. The legislature of this great Commonwealth, which has become a national laughingstock and poster boy for greed and corruption, is the ONLY STATE IN THE NATION WITHOUT A LOBBYIST DISCLOSURE LAW! Even the federal government has one!

Tim has very kindly shared his comments with us, and they are posted below. Tim also shares this bit of background: “The Senate passed a proposal, Senate Bill 1, on April 20. In the House, it was amended and improved in the State Government Committee. On June 22 it passed the committee and has been available for a vote by the full House ever since. You may find additional information at
Common Cause of Pennsylvania and The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania.

Speaking only for myself, I believe the proposal needs additional work. It does not give Pennsylvania the toughest and best lobbyist control law in America, and I can think of no reason why we deserve less than the best. For a comparison of state laws and what might constitute the best law in the nation, visit, the web site of the Center for Public Integrity in Washington, DC.”

Here is the text of Tim Potts’ statement:

Democracy Rising PA
P.O. Box 618, Carlisle, PA
17013, 717-243-8570,
Statement by Timothy Potts, Co-Founder
on the Issue of Lobbyist Control Legislation
December 7, 2005

It should be clear from the historic defeat of Justice Russell Nigro that a sea change is occurring in Pennsylvania politics. Because 806,000 voters refused to settle for a judiciary that condones unconstitutional conduct by the governor and legislature, millions of Pennsylvania citizens now know they have the power to produce principled change.

There is no reason that Pennsylvania should not have the highest standards of public integrity in America. All that stands between 12 million Pennsylvanians and that goal are 129 people – a majority in the House, a majority in the Senate, and the governor. We have them vastly outnumbered if we make integrity in government – enforceable, reliable integrity – a requirement for holding public office in the 2006 elections and beyond.

The issue of controlling the conduct of lobbyists is a great place to start. For Pennsylvania not to have such a law is even more scandalous and corrupt than the pay raise. It shames representative democracy, and it mocks us as citizens in a democracy.

Pennsylvanians deserve the best law America has to offer. “Good enough” is not good enough.

That means prohibiting lobbyists from giving anything of value to public officials. 66 percent of us want a law that meets that standard.*

It means requiring lobbyists to disclose all expenditures. 87 percent of us want a law that meets that standard.*

It means having a law with aggressive, adequately funded enforcement powers against those who would compromise our representative democracy for their personal gain.

Pennsylvania does not have to be the “better-than-nothing-state.”

Pennsylvania can be the “better-than-everyone-state.”

After years of corruption and ineptitude, after years when the real problems of Pennsylvania never get solved, Senators and Representatives need to redeem themselves in the eyes of voters. Giving Pennsylvania the toughest and best lobbyist control law in America is the first test of their commitment to a government that works for its citizens.

It’s time for Pennsylvania to go from worst to first, and if the governor and lawmakers who currently serve are not up to the task, the voters have the power and the will to choose someone else who is.

*2005 IssuesPA poll. For complete results, visit

Tim Potts, Co-Founder
Democracy Rising PA
P.O. Box 618,
Carlisle, PA 17013

Well said, Tim, well said. Pennsylvania’s elected officials are in sore need of serious ethics limitations, and one main area is lobbying. Fixing state government starts somewhere and cutting off the gravy train is a great place to start. [Blogger’s Note: the term gravy train first appeared in print in Pennsylvania, in a Connellsville Courier story of a break-in, way back in 1895.]

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is fortunate, in one sense, that so many citizens’ groups are taking an active interest in trying to fix a problem that is so very wrong, and obvious to everyone except our elected officials and judges.

Bravo to those groups of concerned citizens who are taking action to help fix our government.


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

Copyright © 2005, "THE CENTRIST" . All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

05: “What did Shakespeare Say About Lawyers?”

There must be something in that Schuylkill River water they drink in Philly. As of this morning, two local judges, Common Pleas Judge Albert W. Sheppard, and Philadelphia Orphans Court Judge John W. Herron have indicated their displeasure at the repeal of their raises last month by the Pennsylvania General Assembly. A third member of the legal profession in Philadelphia, Attorney Alan W. Feldman, newly installed Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association, has promised to change the law relating to the voters’ right to retain judges on the bench.

These three gents give new meaning to the epithet Philadelphia lawyer. Attorney Feldman, founder of his own prestigious Philadelphia law firm, has vowed to remove the selection/retention of judges from the ignorant and malicious hands of the voters. In an article tucked away nicely in the Business section of the
Philadelphia Inquirer today, reporter Reid Kanaley writes about Feldman:

On the merit-selection issue, Feldman said the Nigro case showed that judges needed to be insulated from "political repercussions."

Nigro, a former Philadelphia Common Pleas judge, suffered an unprecedented loss in the yes/no vote for retention to the Supreme Court. He had been targeted by groups angry over the pay raises approved last summer by state legislators for themselves, judges, and some senior executive branch officials.

One merit-selection alternative proposed by State Sens. Vincent Fumo and Anthony Williams, both Philadelphia Democrats, calls for judicial appointments by the governor, on the recommendation of a 19-member panel, with confirmation by two-thirds of the state Senate.

"It's absolutely essential that we do this" to take the choosing of judges out of the election system and its dependence on campaign money, ward politics and ballot positions, Feldman said.

Feldman, 54, of Bala Cynwyd, is a Philadelphia native, and a graduate of Central High School, Temple University and Temple's law school. His firm specializes in personal-injury, product-liability, medical-malpractice, and other civil litigation.

The arrogance, the sheer “let them eat cake” attitude here is absolutely palpable. For someone coming into office as the head of one of the most prestigious bar associations in the country, this litigation lawyer simply has no clue about the fundamental rights of a citizen in a democracy. Allow me to spell it out for him: Justice Nigro was turned out of office to send a number of messages from the voters of Pennsylvania:
  • The voters were angry at the size of the pay raise and how it was passed.
  • The voters became increasingly angry at the recalcitrance of the legislature to repeal the pay raise.
  • The voters were angry at apparent unethical interference by Chief Justice Ralph Cappy in giving legal advice to legislative leadership during passage of the pay raise.
  • The voters were angry at the magnificent and expensive perks taken by the justices of the state Supreme Court, particularly Justice Nigro.
  • Were it not for last minute public appeals by former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, we’d be talking about Justice Sandra Newman now, as well.

Would someone please remind Chancellor Feldman that notwithstanding the wishes of a great many Pennsylvanians of all stripes, Philadelphia is still a part of Pennsylvania! Remind him also that government in Pennsylvania as a plutocracy is about to come to an end. Perhaps, in his expert legal opinion, he would recommend litigation by concerned citizens as the avenue to take to gain relief from the supposed injustices of the pay raise? Perhaps his firm could supply the attorneys! You don’t suppose he was thinking the pay raises were justified, do you? And he’s the Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association?

Judge Sheppard is filing his lawsuit in the State Supreme Court (wait…wasn’t it the Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court who gave legal advice to the legislative leadership when they were passing the pay raise about 2 AM one night early last July?) Ahem…this really is silly. Hizzoner wants the body of justices that was directly involved in advising the General Assembly in the passage of the pay raise, to rule on, and overturn the voter-forced appeal of that pay raise?


That’s what it says in an article, also in today’s
Philadelphia Inquirer, by Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau Reporter Amy Worden. She writes:

At the time of the repeal vote last month, many lawmakers said lawsuits were inevitable given the question over the legislature's ability to control judges' salaries. Some lawmakers predicted that after the extraordinary Election Day defeat of Supreme Court Justice Russell M. Nigro, judges would be loath to challenge the repeal.

The lawsuit says the bill subjects the judiciary to the "whims of the legislature," thereby compromising the constitution. The "act was not undertaken in the best interests of Pennsylvania, but rather solely for the internal concerns and paranoia of the legislature."

Additionally, another suit, filed by Philadelphia Orphans’ Court Judge John W. Herron will be filed today. Perhaps these two esteemed members of the bench should take a step back, and draw a deep breath, and understand that it wasn’t the legislature that repealed that raise, it was the voters. The legislature stalled on it until after the election and the removal of Justice Nigro, and near removal of Justice Newman, so they could measure the strength of voter anger. [Blogger note: State Representative Steven Maitland (R-Adams) claims, "The legislature did not delay the repeal of the pay raise until after the election in order to measure the depth of the voters' feelings on the issue. The truth is we just couldn't get it done any faster!" Perceptions are important in politics. Had the legislature wanted to, they could have remained in session long enough to repeal the raise. After all, they stayed long enough to pass the raise!] Those two justices of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court were specifically targeted by angry voters across the state, in spite of the lack of such feeling among jaded voters in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

And as for Chancellor Feldman, his civics lesson needs to be expanded. Those justices of the Supreme Court ARE appointed, and then must run for retention every ten years. It doesn’t really require much of a campaign war chest. They do not have opponents. They run on their record. Hard to imagine anything wrong with that, eh? Or, does Chancellor Feldman feel that a Supreme Court Justice’s record is something for which they should not be held accountable?

The voters of Pennsylvania have spoken. They will continue to speak next May, and again next November. Perhaps these three members of the legal profession ought to fade away and allow other, less arrogant, less hubris-filled, more politically aware people to take their places. Perhaps Chancellor Feldman should go back to suing doctors for malpractice, and someone else should be Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association.


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

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