Tuesday, February 28, 2006

32: “Happy Birthday Republican Party!”

On this date in 1854, the Republican Party was founded in Ripon, Wisconsin. The founding principle was the opposition of slavery, first to stop its spread, then to eradicate it. As its second presidential candidate, and first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln said,

"No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent. I say this is the leading principle --the sheet anchor of American republicanism."

At the time, the power in the nation was found in the Democratic Party, predominately a product of the 3/5th clause in the Constitution which counted every slave as 3/5th of a person for congressional apportionment, thus giving the Southern dominated Democratic party an almost insurmountable edge in the House of Representatives. Indeed, the majority of the Speakers of the House, the Supreme Court Justices, and the Presidents to that time had been either slave owners, or sympathetic to slavery.

Born out of the death of the old Whig Party, and its earlier split of the Free Soilers, the Republicans quickly organized and gained a national following. Indeed, it was a radical path the Republicans were on in 1854. They were staring at a very steep hill to climb. They nominated the great western explorer, John C. Fremont as their candidate. He ran on a ticket promising “Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Speech, Free Men, Fremont!” He was defeated, but the margin was not nearly so wide as the Democrats had expected. Just as the Whigs had split earlier in the decade, the Democrats were about to experience a split of their own.

At their 1860 convention, the Democratic party was split so deeply that it finally called a halt to the proceedings, only to pick them up again after a few weeks cooling off. That didn’t help. The Southern Democrats went on to nominate John C. Breckenridge, from Kentucky. He had been Northern Democrat James Buchanan’s Vice President. Meanwhile, the Northern wing of the party nominated the Little Giant from Illinois, Steven A. Douglas.

For the Republican nominee, Abe Lincoln, things looked bleak. Throughout the south, he was not even on the ballot in most states. At the end of the election campaign, Douglas realized the split was deadly to the Democrats, and even more perilous to the Union, so he threw his candidacy away and campaigned throughout the South trying desperately to avoid the threatened secession. It failed. Lincoln won handily.

Over the next 70 years, Republican Presidents dominated the scene, perhaps peaking in the 1904 election of Teddy Roosevelt. TR was an exuberant, energetic, straight forward man, practical, and talented, possessed of a keen intellect. He had gotten himself made into a war hero during the Spanish American War by campaigning for a position at the head of a regiment of “Rough Riders”, a mixture of fading cowboys and New York dandies. They achieved their moment of glory on San Juan Hill in Cuba. It was justly earned.

As president, TR was a progressive, trying to change things for the better, in the spirit of Lincoln and the first Republicans. He gave over a chance for a full third term (having taken over for the assassinated McKinley early in his term), pushing hard for Taft in 1908. By 1912, Roosevelt was frustrated with the Republican Party as not being progressive enough, so he (and others) formed the Progressive Party and ran Teddy as its candidate. The Progressive Party was better known as the "Bull Moose” party.

Like the Democrats in 1860, the third party split from the Republicans was deadly, and Democrat Woodrow Wilson was elected.

The post World War II era ushered in the presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower, and proved him as able a civilian commander as he was a military one during the war. “Ike” was personable, friendly, with an engaging grin. Even today, campaign buttons professing that “I like Ike” are highly prized. Since Ike, we have had Richard Nixon, the man who reopened China to the west; Ronald Reagan, who restored a flagging American spirit, and a flagging American economy, and bluffed the Soviets clear out of their “Evil Empire”; George H. W. Bush, who defeated Saddam Hussein and forcibly ejected his troops from Kuwait in one of the most masterful military operations the world has ever witnessed; and our current Commander in Chief, George W. Bush, who is leading us in a War of unknown duration, but certain victory.

We do not always get the best presidents after an election, but we always get good men, who work to fulfill the roll of President with honor and courage. We have been fortunate in the Republican Party that so many have been statesmen, soldiers, scholars, and wonderful presidents, and great leaders. And why not? Look who set the bench mark as a Republican president, 146 years ago.

Happy Birthday Republican Party – 152 years old today!


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

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

Saturday, February 18, 2006

31: "Non-endorsement of Lynn Swann"

THE CENTRIST has been torn all winter over the Republican endorsement for Pennsylvania's next governor. We were at odds over the three main choices, Scranton, Swann and Panyard. When the Scranton campaign fumbled it reduced the field to two. We had already reviewed Panyard back in December in THE CENTRIST #
4: "Anti-Gambling Republican for Governor". Jim Panyard came out in favor of repealing the virulently unethical legislation enabling gaming in Pennsylvania, Act 71 of 2004. We were thrilled to have a candidate who promised to sign, not veto, a repeal of that legislation.

We queried Lynn Swann's campaign about it by email. No response. We sent another query. This got a response from "Receptionist" (apparently someone who screens Swann's email), and promised that THE CENTRIST would hear back shortly from David Alexander, Deputy Political Director. After another week, we sent a follow up message pointing out that political candidates really should not treat friends this way. Still nothing. After several more days, we sent a final email to "Receptionist", informing them that not only would there be no endorsement of Mr. Swann from THE CENTRIST, there would indeed be a non-endorsement posting. This is it.

We believe the Republican Party of Pennsylvania has made a terrible mistake. Frankly, except for a select few, no one in the state knows exactly what Lynn Swann stands for, besides less government, lower taxes, restricting abortion, and educating our children. In other words, 'boiler-plate' Republican issues.

"So what?", you ask. We are glad you asked that question.

The greatest threat to Pennsylvanians today is not more or less government, it is not abortion, it is not the state of our educational system, it is not high taxes. All of these ARE issues. But the greatest issue in Pennsylvania today is the massive corruption of our body politic. By that, I mean, not just the elected officials from Governor to dog-catcher, but the people who back them politically...the party committees, the ward leaders, the local and county and statewide organizations that now rely on voters to walk into a booth and pull the party lever.

Who are these people? Many of them are your friends, relatives, and neighbors. Many are not. Many of them are committed to political ideals, while others are committed to backing candidates who will thank them by passing legislation that will make them money. The higher you go in the hierarchy of politics in the state, the greater the number of those seeking wealth and power, and the fewer who are idealistically motivated. There are few idealists in politics at the state level.

The proof is in the pudding. Look at our state legislature and our governor. Last year they tried to sneak an enormous pay raise through in the dead of night, hoping no one was watching. 16-34%. And it was done at the bidding of the Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The governor, who's wife is a sitting Federal judge, signed the legislation into law. All parties tried to defend it when the news hit the streets. It created enough voter anger that an organized, grass roots campaign got a sitting state Supreme Court justice ousted from office, and only a last minute flurry of campaign ads by former governor Ridge, saved a second justice from a similar fate.

The legislature repealed the raise in November, AFTER the election. There was no admission of wrong doing, or even of 'errors of judgment'. To this day, there are still legislators who have kept the money they took by way of a highly unethical, probably illegal "unvouchered expense" under the raise. Rendell refuses to press the issue.

In 2004, in the very same underhanded and furtive manner, the legislature passed Act 71, which enabled gaming in Pennsylvania. There is so much wrong with this legislation that we would need a few more essays to lay it all out. Suffice to say that it is replete with unethical, unconstitutional, and perhaps illegal sections which allow, among other things, the legislators to secretly own investments in casinos, even while being the appointing body to the Gaming Control Board (GCB); the right for the GCB to allow a casino to be built anywhere, regardless of local opposition, or zoning laws; the right of the GCB to act in secret, to limit public comment, and to meet in private.

Perhaps the biggest threat to Pennsylvania is the harm that will be done by the presence of gaming to its citizens. The gaming industry has been shown to prey on addictive persons, primarily gambling addicts and alcoholics. In many cases, persons who had no idea they were addictive wind up being addicted to both gambling and alcohol. Both are destructive of the individual, the family, and social and economic network surrounding them, and the community social framework.

There are not a lot of people who will get rich from this industry. A handful of investors, a large number of out of state investors and partners, and a bunch of politicians. The odds against Joe Citizen striking it rich in a casino in Pennsylvania are astronomically high. And odds mean very little to the addicted gambler. A recent story on the news told of a woman who gambled daily on her way to work, and stole from her son to support it. At one point, she lost all her money, and on the way out of the casino, was searching the floor for one more nickel to get it all back. This is typical of the desperation created by gambling addiction.

Clearly, Pennsylvania government is in the hands of ‘developers’ – the somewhat nebulous group of investors, builders and some realtors, who are guilty of imposing runaway development on some parts of the state that need little development, while ignoring the large portions of the state that are in need of economic and physical development. This group includes those who would build casinos. Because there are several state agencies that oversee how land is used in Pennsylvania, there is no clear strategy to control development. It is going strictly where it will provide the biggest payoff for the ‘developers’. The worst culprit is the state Department of Community and Economic Development, with its very powerful Commonwealth Financing Authority. They finance the local, County Economic Development Corporations who have totally lost sight of their purpose. They build wherever there is green – space to build on, and money to make.

The laws must be rewritten to correct this as there is simply no protection any more for the rights of the citizen to own property.

Article One of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania states in its Declaration of Rights:
Inherent Rights of Mankind
Section 1.

All men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent and indefeasible rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of acquiring, possessing and protecting property and reputation, and of pursuing their own happiness.

Reservation of Powers in People
Section 25.

To guard against the transgressions of the high powers which we have delegated, we declare that everything in this article is excepted out of the general powers of government and shall forever remain inviolate.

Natural Resources and the Public Estate
Section 27.

The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania's public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.
We believe the current legislature, and the current governor, have violated these articles of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. They have put vast numbers of the citizens of Pennsylvania at risk of great harm to life, and property, and encouraged the spoiling of the natural resources as enumerated in Section 27, by the ‘developers’.

Lynn Swann takes no position on any of these issues – not gambling, or political corruption, or runaway development. For all the voters of Pennsylvania know Swann may be an investor in a casino, and therefore unwilling to commit to the repeal of gaming in Pennsylvania. So this same man who cares so much for your youth that he wants to see them properly educated, and cares so much for the unborn of Pennsylvania, who wants to reduce your taxes by reducing your government, may very well care less about the adults in this Commonwealth being seduced by alcohol and gambling into addictions requiring greater government, and more taxes to handle the growing treatment of problem addicts fostered by the gaming industry in Pennsylvania.

We do not know if Lynn Swann feels that way or not, but we cannot afford to take the risk in not knowing. There is too much at stake.

We had great hopes for Mr. Swann – an outsider with charm, name and face recognition, and a clean background. He seemed to have a message, but when we looked for it, it wasn’t there. Indeed, his own voting record casts a shadow on his fitness to run for elected office, having not participated in many of the elections over the past decade. If he was not interested in Pennsylvania politics then, how can we be sure he is interested now? The fact is, even as an outsider, Swann's endorsement last weekend by the Republican State Committee smacked of politics as usual, and lacked any indicators of the required reforms as demonstrated by the voters last November.

We cannot, and will not, under any circumstances, advocate voting for Ed Rendell. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. Not only has he practically destroyed many of the departments in state government, he is the principle architect of gaming in Pennsylvania. That is a hideous affront to the people of this Commonwealth.

We cannot back Lynn Swann. He is an empty candidate, who charmed his way to the state committee endorsement, gaining it by default more than anything else.

We don’t need a schmooze artist as governor, as we have now. We need a man of character, ethics, and strong moral fiber.

There is one man that fits that bill, but he has withdrawn from the race for financial reasons. That is Jim Panyard.

Come the May Primary Election, I am writing Jim Panyard’s name in as my choice for Republican gubernatorial candidate. If necessary, I will do the same in November.

I encourage you to do the same.


“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

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

Thursday, February 16, 2006

30: “Encouraging News!”

This short message from friend Russ Diamond, over at
Operation Clean Sweep. It seems the “Ins”, that is the current crop of legislators who would not know an ethic if it struck them between the eyes, and in particular, legislative leadership, will stoop to any depths to attempt to discredit any opposition.

That’s good news. It means they are scared – very scared. It is highly deserved.

Here is the posting from Operation Clean Sweep.

Who's 'Unclean' Now?
You may have heard about the anti-CleanSweep website that was launched last weekend. The site spins some ridiculous tales and compares PACleanSweep founder Russ Diamond to Enron chief Ken Lay. Just to set the record straight, all PACleanSweep expenditures are examined and approved by our ten-member Board of Directors before being paid by Treasurer Leo Knepper.

The site was launched through the use of an anonymous registration service located in Arizona. When PACleanSweep contacted the company and filled them in on the details of the site's actual nature, they immediately revealed one Mr. Robert Nye of Elizabethtown PA as the actual registrant.

Apparently, Mr. Nye is an employee of the House Republican Caucus in Harrisburg. Big surprise (not). In 2004, Mr. Nye was apparently on the payroll of the Republican National Committee and served as Deputy Campaign Manager for Republican Scott Paterno, who was Russ's opponent in the race for PA's 17th Congressional district.

Mr. Nye admitted to the Harrisburg Patriot-News that he was indeed responsible for the site, but claims he did it with his own money on his own time and it isn't connected to any political party. Not connected to any political party? Riiiiight, Mr. Nye. Suuuure.

PACleanSweep has one pointed question for Mr. Nye: If you're so proud of the things you have to say, why the reluctance to SIGN YOUR NAME???

Yeah - we figured as much.

We've warned of this type of attack for months now, and here it is, but do we really need any MORE reasons to Sweep out the kind of people populating OUR capitol in Harrisburg?

Please visit Operation Clean Sweep and get involved.

We don’t know about you, but we view this as a very good sign. It certainly shows Republican leadership – that’s Robert Jubelirer, David Brightbill, Jeff Piccola, Joe Scarnati, and JoeConti in the Senate, and the ever honest and forthright (!!) John Perzel, Sam Smith, David Argall, and Elinor Z. Taylor, in the House, are worried about their jobs. And rightfully so!

This one, however, has the odor of Perzel all over it.

Personally, he is the one THE CENTRIST would like so very much to see sent packing. His constituents, who repeatedly elected him should finally be awake by now. He should be easy pickings after his distortions and false claims made in the wake of the Midnight Pay Raise.

These people make THE CENTRIST ashamed to be a Republican!


“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

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

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

29: “Summer Soldiers and Sunshine Patriots”

There it was, in black and white. It stared back up at me like a snake, cornered in the basement, no place to go, but ready to strike. The headline: “Complaint against Pa. chief justice dismissed.” That familiar feeling struck…you know the one -- you get it in your gut when you’ve drunk way too much coffee.

Just one week ago we posted on similar complaints in an essay titled
26: “Taking control, Phase Two”. That, however, was about a suit filed in Federal Court. This one, however, was a request for review of judicial conduct.

Gene Stilp, a political activist from the greater Harrisburg area, had filed the complaint last August after word got out alleging that Chief Justice Ralph Cappy had acted improperly in consulting, (read: urging) the legislative leadership to pass the enormous (and infamous) pay raise, not just for the legislators, but for the judges of Pennsylvania, too. Stilp wanted the reviewers to determine if Cappy violated any ethics rules in the process of those negotiations. (There have been rumors to the effect that the pay raise itself was the brainchild of Cappy.)

First, though, you must understand that the complaint was dismissed by the reviewing body, The Pennsylvania Judicial Review Board. That’s right, the Pennsylvania Judicial Review Board, twelve persons sitting in review of the conduct of the courts in the Commonwealth, and half of them, three attorneys, and three judges, are appointed by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

Wait a minute, do you mean to tell me that judges and attorneys appointed by the State Supreme Court are ruling on the propriety of the actions of the Chief Justice of the…State Supreme Court?

Yes, that is exactly what I am telling you.

Wait, it gets better.

In November, Cappy’s lawyer, one W. Thomas McGough, Jr., Esquire, wrote a letter to the board defending his client. According to an AP story out of Harrisburg, the letter cited the Pennsylvania Code of Judicial Conduct, which allows judges to “…engage in activities to improve the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice”, and “…allows judges to participate in activities concerning the legal system and consult with individuals of the other two branches ‘on matters concerning the administration of justice’.”

Perhaps some kind soul out there could connect those two dots for me…the one about the administration of justice and the improvement of the legal system, to the one about the judge’s pay raise.

Is there a different oath of office for a judge paid $45,000 per year than the judge paid $85,000 per year? Do the people of this great Commonwealth get different qualities of justice based on how much the judges get?

How, exactly then, does a pay raise affect the administration of justice? The one answer possible is the retention of quality judges.

Hello?!?! Based on the performance of Cappy and his followers on the bench, I think that not only would the people of this Commonwealth get better judicial service at a lower rate, but they could also stand to wave good-bye to the current crop, en masse, and appoint a new crop, and by the next day forget all about “Ralph Whatshisname”. Quite frankly, I think the people of this Commonwealth would rather that happen.

Ralph Cappy’s actions regarding the Midnight Pay Raise of July, 2005, have all the appearances of his being involved in a conspiracy to commit grand larceny against the citizens of Pennsylvania.

State employees have not had a raise in two years. By this time next year, they will have had about a 5-6% increase, for an average of about 2% over the three year period. How much did the legislators and judges get in that now-repealed raise…11-34%? And the State employees can’t even get a raise concomitant with the annual rise in the cost of living?

The really sad thing about all of this is that none of them see it – not the governor, the legislators, or the judges…none of them see anything wrong with their actions. Oh, they repealed the raise, but only because the voters threw a sitting judge off the State Supreme Court in the last election. He was a sop thrown to the masses to assuage their anger. Nope, they don’t see it.

There is not a single one of that group that would know an ethic if it struck them between the eyes. So full of hubris are they, and greed, they conspire and change the rules to suit themselves, exempt each other from laws, and rules of ethics, and allow each other increasingly to operate in secret, and with a power to override the will of the people.

Somewhere down on the sidebar to the right is a quotation from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He said, "The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it comes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group."

Government in Pennsylvania has reached that point.

Every day, more and more of your neighbors understand and grasp this fact.

Every day, more and more of your neighbors decide to take action.

You have but one weapon left to defeat this menace called state government: Your vote.

A vote for an incumbent means you do not care.

A vote for an incumbent means you will continue to see your government grow until it begins to take enough money from you that you cannot feed your family, the whole while, the legislators, the governor, and the judges will be getting wealthier and wealthier.

A vote for an incumbent means the next time they pass a sneaky giant pay raise, they will ignore any uproar totally, because you do not care enough to tell them they are wrong, because you don’t care enough to vote somebody in who DOES know the difference between right and wrong. They surely don’t.

A vote for an incumbent will lose you the last public voice you have…the press. Like the legislators, they simply will not believe that you care enough to mean it when you threaten to chase them all out of office. The press has been your friend since last July, and has helped stoke the fires that got Justice Nigro voted out. The press is now being made to pay for their editorials about the Midnight Pay Raise. The legislature is trying to impose a tax that would affect print news media -- all because they were early in raising the alarm about the pay raise, and late supporters of the repeal. Because the press helped greatly in the effort to awaken the voters, the General Assembly has it in for them.

A vote for an incumbent is a signature on a contract to give away your personal sovereignty.

Expediency calls for the ouster of all of them, all the legislators up for office, the Governor, and the judges, when they come up for re-election. We’ll lose a few good ones in the bunch, but you just can’t tell the keepers from the greed-mongers. Vote ‘em all out, and let God sort them out.

The great social contract theorist of the 17th century, Thomas Hobbes wrote that kings not only declare law, they make law, and that they derive their power, or sovereignty, from the consent of the governed, who have given over to him their personal sovereignty.

Do not let apathy allow the last of your personal sovereignty to slip away into the hands of those who govern you.

In the United States, we fought a revolution from 1776 to 1783, to regain that personal sovereignty. And here we’ve gone and given just about all of it back!


“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

Copyright © 2006:
THE CENTRIST”. All Rights Reserved

Monday, February 13, 2006

28: "Signing Time"

Time to put up or shut up. Starting tomorrow, February 14, 2006, Republican and Democratic candidates for the General Assembly and other offices, must begin gathering signatures on their petitions. Here is the latest from PA Clean Sweep, and friend Russ Diamond. Please make a note to go to the petition page (link included below), and learn the ins and outs of signing a candidate’s petition. It is important that you do it correctly or your signature will be challenged and thrown out. Far too many political campaigns are won and lost at this stage simply because the candidate was not prepared to submit proper paperwork. Here is the announcement:

PACleanSweep Announces 10 More Candidates
including a primary challenger to House Minority Leader Bill DeWeese

ANNVILLE, PA [02.13.06] - PACleanSweep today added 10 new names to their growing list of approved candidates, including a Democratic challenger to Bill DeWeese. The total number of PACleanSweep-approved candidates stands at 89 with 77 potential candidates awaiting approval.

House Candidates:
Bill Stalter (R-20)
Lisa Bennington (D-21)
Mike Galovich (D-27)
Robert F 'Bobby' Danko (D-50)
Jason D. Fularz (R-54)
John P Estok (D-59)
Jonathan Keeler (R-106)
Larry Farnese (D-182)
Justin Blumenthal (R-202)

Senate Candidate:
Drake Minder (D-16)

Petitioning for Republican and Democratic candidates begins on Valentine's Day, February 14. Candidates must file their candidacy with the state by March 7 to qualify for the May primary. State House candidates need 300 valid signatures to have their name appear on the primary ballot, while state Senate candidates are required to collect 500.

Complete PACleanSweep Candidate List

How to Sign a Petition...

Pennsylvania Voter Survival Guide

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


Please get out and support the Clean Sweep candidates. It is long past time to kick the hubris out of Harrisburg! You've complained about Harrisburg for eight months (or longer!), so now it is time to take action and stand behind your words. Support these brave souls who are taking on the big guns in Harrisburg - the incumbents. You, the voters of Pennsylvania demonstrated your power when aroused last November by ousting a sitting Justice from the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. That's never been done before. In doing so, you have delivered a warning to the leadership in Harrisburg that you are very displeased with the way things are run. Some of them have ignored your warning, and others have ridiculed it. But, the floor has heard it. Incumbents in record numbers are NOT running for reelection.

So, know your candidates. Back them up. Sign their petitions. And when you get in that booth, make sure you do NOT vote for a candidate with an "I" after their name, indicating an incumbent. After all, this is Operation Clean Sweep.


“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

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

Friday, February 10, 2006

27: "Clean out the Capital!"

Good friend Tim Potts is keeping the pressure on Pennsylvania Government. To go hand in hand with our call to the Attorney General to charge the thieves in the legislature who have not returned the money they are illegally keeping from last years now-repealed pay raise, Tim’s ‘Democracy Rising’ campaign has filed a request to the AG to investigate the alleged collusion that occurred between the three branches of government. Here is Tim Potts’ Democracy Rising Press Release, followed by a copy of the request to the Attorney General:

DR News February 9, 2006
tim@democracyrisngpa.com 717-243-8570
In this issue:
· Attorney General Investigation?
What Competition?
Ghost Voting Again
Faking Lobby Controls

Co-Founders Ask Corbett to Investigate Alleged Case-Fixing:

DR co-founders Kathleen Daugherty and Tim Potts yesterday asked PA Attorney General Tom Corbett to investigate allegations that in 1999 members of the state Supreme Court and members of the General Assembly negotiated the outcome of court cases in exchange for higher funding for the court system.

Former state Rep. Ed Krebs, R-Lebanon, made the allegations in a sworn affidavit submitted to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. The affidavit supports a lawsuit brought by Common Cause Pennsylvania, the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania and individual plaintiffs, including DR co-founder Tim Potts.

The lawsuit argues that Pennsylvania citizens are being denied due process and equal rights protections under the U.S. Constitution because of an ongoing pattern of secret negotiations between the state courts and the state legislature. It asks the federal court to rule that last years pay raise, which state officials have admitted was worked out by all three branches of the government behind closed doors, was unconstitutional.

The Krebs affidavit alleges that in a closed-door meeting of the House Republicans in June 1999, Republican leaders told members they should support a dramatic increase in funding for the courts, because there were two issues currently before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, one concerning workers compensation legislation and the other concerning an increase in the state gasoline tax, about which the Republican leadership was very concerned. In reference to these two pending cases, [then] Majority Leader Perzel stated, We cannot afford to lose them.

Common Cause Executive Director Barry Kauffman also filed affidavits stating that Krebs' account was confirmed by two additional but anonymous members of the House Republican Caucus. For more about the lawsuit, email ccpa@dejazzd.com.

The DR letter to Corbett is attached.

  • Will the attorney general investigate?
  • Were your lawmakers in office in 1999?
  • Did they attend the House Republican Caucus?
  • Were they aware of these allegations at the time?
  • Do your lawmakers agree that these allegations are important enough for the attorney general to investigate?
  • Will they publicly encourage the attorney general to do so?
Competition? What Competition?:

In 2002, only the Democrats provided the voters with a choice in the primary election for governor. With the withdrawal of Republican former Lt. Gov. William Scranton this week, the Republicans will still have a primary election. However, the only candidate to face Lynn Swann will be Jim Panyard, former head of the PA Manufacturers Association, who is not seeking the Republican endorsement and considers his candidacy a long shot.

But of the three remaining candidates Gov. Ed Rendell, Lynn Swann and Jim Panyard only Panyard has responded to the gubernatorial survey on integrity, a constitutional convention, and judicial appointments. The survey was authored by several statewide groups: DR, The League of Women Voters, Common Cause, PA Clean Sweep, the PA Council of Churches, Rock the Capital, Pennsylvanians for Legislator Accountability, and the Commonwealth Foundation.

  • Do candidates believe that election laws should do more to encourage competition for public office? If so, what reforms are needed?
  • Why haven’t Rendell and Swann responded to the survey?
  • Now that the major candidates appear to have wrapped up their nominations, will they be more forthcoming about their views or less?

Ghost Voting Again:

On January 3, the only day of the year the Constitution requires members of the legislature to convene, the state House took 57 official actions on 26 bills with no lawmakers present but Speaker John Perzel, R-Phila. On February 1, the Senate took its turn by passing controversial legislation 42-3 when only 12 Senators were actually present. Senate rules permit proxy voting when senators are performing a legislative assignment outside of the Harrisburg area. However, no proxies were filed and the reason for most, if not all, of the absences was to attend the funeral of a fellow senators mother.

House rules also were violated, according to the Harrisburg Patriot, before the legislation passed 139-53. In the House, Rep. Steve Nickol, R-York, objected, saying that members had no chance to understand what they were doing because the language was inserted in the legislation the day before it was voted in both chambers.

Senate Majority Leader Chip Brightbill, R-Lebanon, told the Patriot, I feel comfortable with the process.

The decision of whether to bless this mess with his signature now rests with Gov. Rendell.


  • How much money did the various organizations interested in this legislation direct to Sen. Brightbill and other lawmakers before the action on this bill?
  • What gifts did he receive?
  • What entertainment did he receive?
  • What campaign contributions did he receive?
  • When did these transactions occur?
  • Was legislation discussed?
  • Will Gov. Rendell veto the legislation and insist that lawmakers adhere to the Constitution and their own rules when passing legislation?
  • Will Gov. Rendell support the best lobby control law in America so that citizens can know as much as possible about the interests that are trying to influence government laws and decisions?


Intends to protect executives and directors of Philadelphia-based Sovereign Bank from changes proposed by shareholders. Supporters say the bill protects jobs. Opponents, according to the Patriot, said the bill would weaken shareholder protections and could have the unintended consequence of making investors more reluctant to invest in companies here.

Faking Lobby Control:

House Speaker John Perzel on Tuesday predicted that Pennsylvania would have a new lobbyist control law by the end of June but refused to predict what would be in it. He did say, however, that he thinks the new law should be created by the same people who produced the pay raise. I will work closely with the governor, leaders of the House and Senate, and the Supreme Court to bring about Pennsylvania’s new Lobby Reform Law, Perzel said.

At the PA Newspaper Association conference last week, lawmakers from both the House and Senate downplayed expectations of true integrity in any new law, arguing that PA would have to take small steps for which they should get lavish praise rather than make the major improvements citizens want.


When it comes to matters of integrity, the perfect is not the enemy of the good; it is the measure of the good. Mediocrity is the enemy of the good because it masquerades as the good.


  • Why can't any legislative leader bring himself or herself to call for the best lobby control law in America? (See http://www.publicintegrity.org/ )
  • Is it because they don’t want it, or because they just aren’t up to the job?

Tim Potts, Co-Founder, Democracy Rising PA


P.O. Box 618, Carlisle, PA 17013717-243-8570

If confirmed, this will expose the long-suspected dirty dealings of the Courts and the Legislature in Pennsylvania.

Here is the letter to the Attorney General of Pennsylvania, the Honorable Tom Corbett:

Hon. Tom Corbett, Attorney General of Pennsylvania
16th Floor, Strawberry Square
Harrisburg, PA 17120

Dear Attorney General Corbett:

On Monday, Common Cause of Pennsylvania, the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, and individual plaintiffs filed an amended complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania (Civil Action No. 1:CV-05-2036). It was accompanied by several sworn affidavits, including one by former State Representative Edward G. Krebs of Lebanon County.

The complaint and its supporting affidavits allege that in 1999 members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly and members of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania negotiated the outcome of cases then pending before the Supreme Court in exchange for increased funding of the court system. If true, these allegations evince a monumental corruption of our constitutional system of representative democracy that must be remedied as quickly and thoroughly as possible.

The cases decided at that time, involving workers’ compensation and the enactment of an increased gasoline tax, have had a substantial impact on all citizens of Pennsylvania and have served as legal precedents in subsequent cases. All of the decisions since 1999 that have relied on the cases alleged to have been improperly decided are suspect, therefore, as fruit of the poisonous tree and may have to be reconsidered.

Events since July 7, 2005, already have eroded public confidence in the independence of our udiciary. This latest allegation can only weaken public confidence further.

While the federal court considers whether to permit the Common Cause case to go forward, we believe it is imperative that you, as Pennsylvania’s highest-ranking law enforcement officer, begin an immediate investigation into whether any civil or criminal laws of the Commonwealth were violated and what appropriate legal action should be taken. Perhaps a special grand jury or special investigating commission is appropriate to make recommendations on this matter. In any event, it is worth taking extraordinary steps to ensure that any investigation is free from even the appearance of political interference.

Mr. Krebs’s affidavit alleges that revelations about improper negotiations between the legislative and judicial branches occurred during a closed meeting of the House Republican Caucus on or about June 15, 1999. Although it is unlikely that there is a record of attendance at this meeting, the universe of potential attendees is known and should provide opportunities for cooperation with an investigation of these allegations. The universe of Supreme Court justices and staff also is known.

If this were an act of kidnapping or some other notorious crime, we believe you would pursue it aggressively. Nothing can be more notorious and worthy of aggressive investigation than the kidnapping of the judicial system itself.
The citizens of Pennsylvania need someone they can trust to get to the bottom of this matter, to do what is necessary to restore public confidence in the impartiality of the courts, and to enforce the constitutional separation of powers. We urge you to accept this challenge.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.


Timothy Potts, Co-Founder Kathleen Daugherty, Co-Founder

Great work Tim, and Kathleen! Oh, the tools that are available to the ordinary citizens of this Commonwealth! The current sack of…legislators and justices… have taken many of them away from us, but we still have some left. The Federal and State Constitutions allow the citizens to petition their government for a redress of grievances. Obviously, there are several methods, or remedies, available.

There do, however, seem to be more than enough grievances to go around.

Get involved. Stay active. Vote. Organize your friends, relatives, neighbors, and co-workers (be careful there!), and spread the word. Tell your friends about
Democracy Rising , and Operation Clean Sweep, Rock the Capital, Common Cause, and other grassroots organizations. Spread the word about this blog!

Do NOT accept this plutocratic form of government these miscreants have constructed for us.

Clean out the Capital!


“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

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

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

26: “Taking control, Phase Two”

Now we are getting somewhere. Our form of government includes a tenet called “checks and balances.” The three branches of government, Executive, Legislative, and Judicial, are supposed to cooperate to a limited extent, but more importantly, they are supposed to watch each other to ensure there is no loss of sovereignty by the people. In other words, no branch should get too powerful.

The problem is that no one is watching all three branches to make sure they do not get too powerful. Indeed, over the past few years, we have seen our Pennsylvania government, all three branches, get far too powerful. It is the result of almost unprecedented cooperation between all three branches. For example, the three conspired to pass the midnight pay raise last year, thank God! I say that because it awakened the populace to such an extent that the actions of these hubris filled people we call Pennsylvania Government is being examined as it never has before.

Here is an article from the Philadelphia Inquirer. Click to go to the article.

Lawsuit alleges state legislators, courts traded favors

By Mario F. Cattabiani and Angela Couloumbis
HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania's leading watchdog group alleged in a lawsuit today that the highest ranks of the legislature traded millions in state aid to the courts for favorable decisions dating to 1999 - and possibly culminating last summer in generous pay raises for more than 1,000 judges.

A state Supreme Court spokesman called the accusations "preposterous."

The allegations were laid out in a revised federal court challenge in Harrisburg to last summer's legislative pay raise, in which Common Cause of Pennsylvania contends that there has been political "back scratching" between top House and Senate members and the state Supreme Court for years.

At the heart of the new allegations is the contention that, seven years ago, legislative leaders negotiated with the high court to fund the state's judiciary, fearing that if they did not, the justices would rule against them on two suits involving constitutional challenges.

Given that history, Common Cause alleges it is more than likely that last summer's unpopular pay raises were the result of a similar deal between Chief Justice Ralph Cappy and legislative leaders.

"What we are telling the court is that this may not be a unique instance, that this may have been going on at various levels for quite a few years," said Barry Kauffman, executive director of Common Cause. "We are asking the [federal] court to get to the bottom of it. If it is going on, it needs to be stopped and the federal courts need to put the hammer down."

Speaking on behalf of Cappy, Tom Darr, deputy court administrator of Pennsylvania, said: "It is regrettable that an organization like Common Cause, which has always stood for the principles of good government, would file such a frivolous lawsuit."

He added: "A preliminary reading shows the allegations to be preposterous, baseless and reckless and the relief sought ridiculous."

The suit provides as evidence conversations held behind closed doors between Republican members of the House in June 1999.

During that internal caucus meeting, then-Majority Leader John M. Perzel (R., Phila.), now speaker of the House, allegedly told colleagues that they were moving ahead with the court funding because "we cannot afford to have the courts rule against us" on the two suits. One suit involved workers compensation, the other an increase in the state tax on gasoline for highway-improvement projects.

Perzel's comments came after members of the caucus complained that the legislature should not give in to "blackmail" by the court, the suit contends.

Former Rep. Ed Krebs, who was at the meeting, attested to the allegation in an affidavit filed with the amended suit. In it, he also alleges that then-Speaker Matt Ryan told fellow Republicans that another member, J. Scot Chadwick, had acted as a negotiator with the Supreme Court on the matter.

In an interview today from his Lebanon County home, Krebs said, "To me, it meant that if we didn't give them the money for the courts, we would lose the cases. It was a quid pro quo."

Chadwick, a former Republican representative from Bradford County, told the Associated Press that he did consult with court officials over the 1999 legislation, but that the meeting was informational, not a quid pro quo negotiation.

"I think that would be very wrong," he said. "I am an attorney by training and that would raise a red flag with me immediately."

The high court wound up ruling in favor of the legislature in both cases.

That wasn't the only instance of possible collusion, according to the suit.

Last summer, the suit alleges, Cappy lobbied the legislature hard to implement the pay raise, which hiked legislative salaries as well as those for judges and other state officials. It was rescinded in November by a contrite legislature that had been whipped in public-opinion polls.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to both the pay raise and the legislature's move to overturn it. Cappy has recused himself from hearing the case, which is separate from the Common Cause federal suit.

That lawsuit quotes an August e-mail about the pay raise that was allegedly written by Republican Senate employee Suzanne O'Berry to Matthew Brouillette, head of the Commonwealth Foundation, a conservative think tank.

"I watched the formulation of all this up close with my 'special connections' to certain offices, and it was much more unsavory than a lot know," O'Berry wrote, according to the suit. "... I will say that family dining debate has become much more exciting."

O'Berry is married to Mike Long, a top aide to Senate President Pro Tempore Robert C. Jubelirer (R., Blair). Jubelirer is among the defendants named in Common Cause's suit.

O'Berry told the Associated Press that she does not recall the e-mail and had no other immediate comment.

Attempts to reach Perzel and Jubelirer were unsuccessful today.

The Common Cause lawsuit asks the federal court to declare unconstitutional private conversations between judges and members of the executive or legislative branches about legislation that might come before them.

Joining in the lawsuit with Common Cause are the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania and state Rep. Greg Vitali (D., Delaware) among others. The defendants include top legislative leaders of both parties in the House and Senate, as well as Gov. Rendell and state Treasurer Robert P. Casey Jr.

Contact staff writer Mario F. Cattabiani at 717-787-5990

I tell you its enough to make you want to stomp around and shout. These folks are lucky you are not in the same room with them right now. I know I’d like to be, and I would give them a piece of my mind.

These folks have consistently sold out the people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and apparently have been doing it for years.

What gives me particular joy is that these greedy people will now have to sit in court to answer for their actions. This is a great second step (after Operation Clean Sweep) in holding these treacherous, hubris-filled, greed-mongers to account. So let’s not stop there, let’s turn up the heat, and start knocking them out of office this spring in the Primary Election.

Congratulations to Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, and the others who have signed on to this effort.


“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

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

Saturday, February 04, 2006

25: “The Mohammed Cartoons”

The recent uproar over the Muslim/Mohammed cartoons that appeared in a Danish Newspaper have inspired a great (apparently) debate (apparently) among those ever watchful guardians of our souls, the media. Having seen these cartoons, we are of two minds.

The first, centers around the Philadelphia Inquirer’s decision to post those cartoons on its website. The immediate question comes to mind: Why? They justify it by stating: “The Inquirer intends no disrespect to the religious beliefs of any of its readers. But when a use of religious imagery that many find offensive becomes a major news story, we believe it is important for readers to be able to judge the content of the image for themselves, as with the 1987 photograph by Andres Serrano of a crucifix in urine. On that basis we reprint this cartoon.”

Hello! It should be obvious by now, even to the editors of the Inquirer, that these cartoons ARE disrespectful to those of the Muslim faith. So was the repulsive Serrano filth. But they’ll leave the judgement of that up to their readers.

Hello! The Inquirer says it will reprint the cartoons, yet their link takes you to the Brussels Journal. Anyone who wanted to see the cartoons could just as easily done a search for them and found their way to the same site. But the Inquirer found it essential to posture their way through this lame excuse for a rationalization to present something to you that will stimulate most, disenchant many, and repulse even more. Many will look at the images and think, “Right on!”. Nevertheless, it should not be up to the Philadelphia Inquirer to decide if you should see these cartoons. Nor was it right for the Inquirer to show, give voice to, tout, or otherwise encourage a sick pseudo-artist like Serrano by pandering to him and giving him a place in the sun.

In doing both, they have once again crossed the boundaries of good taste, common sense and respect. Yes, newspapers, and their staffs should have such ethics and mores, and should be cognizant of them at all times. This should apply to the mainstream media, as well. Their coverage over the past 18 months of the ugly face of the Democratic national leadership has been good for the Republicans, and bad for the Democrats. Nevertheless, it creates a false dichotomy that seriously does damage to many of our most revered institutions. The media should not cover these behaviors, out of respect for the individuals exhibiting it, out of respect for the people and institutions being attacked, and out of a respect for the audience. These are common sense, and good taste ethics.

The other side of the coin regarding the cartoons is actually in defense of them. In essence, the Muslim community has no one to blame but themselves. They have drawn down upon themselves the ire, and disgust of the western world by their behaviors around the world. The actions of Al Queda, the Taliban, and Hamas, in particular, are heinous, reprehensible and crimes against humanity.

Here is what the Brussels Journal has to say was the reason for the original publication: “The newspaper published the cartoons when a Danish author complained that he could find no-one to illustrate his book about Muhammad. Jyllands-Posten [the Danish newspaper that originally published the cartoons] wondered whether there were more cases of self-censorship regarding Islam in Denmark and asked twelve illustrators to draw the prophet for them. Carsten Juste, the paper’s editor, said the cartoons were a test of whether the threat of Islamic terrorism had limited the freedom of expression in Denmark.”

The result was an expression of how Islam and the Muslim world is perceived in Western eyes. It is not the fault of those western eyes that causes the perception to be this way. Indeed, it is the actions of the thousands of Islamicists who gather in the street, riot, fire off guns, all in protest of the results of a democratically held election. It is the fault of the murdering members of Al Qaeda, in all its forms, who hide in cowardly fashion and behead westerners – men and women alike, who have done them no harm, indeed, who have been helping them. It is the fault of the Taliban who’s regime was so repressive, women went underground just to get their hair done. It is the fault of the fundamentalists who should, instead, be called zealots; those same zealots who elect repressive fundamentalist regimes such as Iran, and those who tolerate such regimes like Syria. Anyone why says the Saudis are our friends needs a serious attitude adjustment. They, the Kuwaitis, the Emirates, and the Jordanians are only our friends as long as we do two things: use our military to prop up their totalitarian regimes, and buy their oil at exorbitant prices. It is those two premises that have kept Israel alive since 1948. We do those things because it helps to stabilize the area, and it provides us with a full oil import capacity (and that makes those who we prop up in power very, very wealthy).

Finally, and especially, it is the fault of the Mullahs, for they are the ones who encourage all of the above, and tell their followers it is not a sin to murder innocents, and those who are trying to provide assistance to the people of the Middle East. And those Mullahs are not confined to the Middle East. You will find them in Europe (who do you think was inciting the young Muslims in France to riot last November?), and in the United States, as well as in South Asia, and Southeast Asia. To the Mullahs, it is Jihad – holy war. Unless there is a rapid movement in the ranks of the Mullahs around the world, this will go on, and on for decades. It is not Israel, but Infidels (including Israel) they seek to destroy. Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the 23rd Crusade. The Muslims are showing up, but darn few of us Infidels are.

They have no one to blame but themselves, principally their Mullahs, for the cartoons they got. Remember back to the afternoon of 9/11/2001, when the footage started coming in from the Palestinians, showing them dancing in the streets in celebration of the death and destruction wrought by Al Qaeda. They do not just hate us, they want us dead, violently, as soon as possible. All of us.

And that will issue in a dark age the like of which the world has never seen. I am not too worried about the cartoons. The Muslims should be, however, as it signals a rising tide of resentment and animosity toward people of their faith. They might just get their 23rd Crusade. But it won’t be like any of the previous 22.


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

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

Thursday, February 02, 2006

24: Alan Henry for State Representative in 91st District

Yes, this is an endorsement. For a Democrat. That noise you hear is Daddy yelling at us from beyond the grave, “The last two times you did that were disasters! Jimmy Carter and Ed Rendell! You'd better be right!”

We’re sure we’re right. There are important principles and values at stake here.

Months ago we would have naturally endorsed incumbent Steve Maitland. We even volunteered to help Maitland’s next campaign. Besides, he’s a personable, likeable, all around nice guy. That was before he voted for the Midnight Pay Raise, and before he refused to pay it back, instead paying his law school tuition with it, and weakly rationalizing that it would make him a better representative.

We believe, with others, that it is long past time to stop asking those who still have not repaid the unvouchered expenses they took under that pay raise, to give it back. We believe it is now time for the Attorney General to file charges of felony theft in Commonwealth Court against those so disposed to steal from the taxpayers what the rest of the General Assembly repealed, and the Governor signed into law.

Effective representation begins with trust. When you can no longer trust your representative enough that he will do the right thing, especially something so obviously right, then you can no longer support that representative. This is the case with Steve Maitland, who has broken the trust with his constituents.

We look for a new representative and, with the very capable aid of Russ Diamond at
Operation Clean Sweep, we find Mr. Alan Henry of Upper Adams. Mr. Henry has served the public for many years as a first responder, has some very good training in negotiations, and has an agenda for his term of service, if elected.

Mr. Henry stands on these issues:

  • Term Limits - Mr. Henry vows to keep his promise of serving no more than twelve years (six terms) as State Representative, and will work to impose such a limit on both houses of the General Assembly.
  • Education – Mr. Henry supports the No Child Left Behind program, keeping fiscal control of schools local, reducing class sizes, advancing early childhood education, and lowering college tuition.
  • Property Tax Relief – Alan supports Act 72, and would work to reduce or eliminate property taxes on farmers and homeowners, especially seniors.
  • Development – Alan sees the need to impose per-unit impact fees on developers to alleviate the impact of infrastructure and other related costs currently passed on to the taxpayer.
  • Environment – Alan Henry supports zoning and comprehensive community planning to avoid random developments with failed septic systems and undrinkable water.
  • Emergency Services – As an EMT/First Responder for many years, this would naturally be an area where Alan Henry’s expertise and experience can come directly into play. Alan wants to make the Adams County Emergency Services Training Center a reality.
  • Crime – Mr. Henry supports increased police presence in Adams County.

To see all of Alan Henry’s issue positions, climb on board his extensive website at:

Alan Henry for State Representative – 91st Legislative District

We like the positions Alan Henry has taken on the issues noted above and other issues. Alan has no legislative record, Maitland does. Two bills in 14 years, a broken promise to not run after the twelfth year in office, and not returning the money from the repealed pay raise. Perhaps law school will make him a good attorney, but 14 years in office has not made him a good representative.

When searching for a candidate, one should look for a number of qualities, among which are integrity, honesty, commitment, ambition, candor, and clarity of goals and objectives. These qualities all go far towards the making of a leader. Steve Maitland’s score on these counts has been compromised by his unethical stand on the Pay Raise. Maitland has also proven that he is not a leader. Alan Henry shows all the signs that he will meet and exceed these criteria, and be an effective, capable voice for Adams County in Harrisburg. Adams County needs and deserves new representation.

Let’s help kick the hubris out of Harrisburg by starting in the 91st Legislative District!

Vote for Alan Henry in May, and in November!


“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

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