Sunday, April 30, 2006

Special Alert: "Legislature Trying Another End Run?"

Good friend Tim Potts from Democracy Rising PA sends this alert to us about possible unconstitutional action in the legislature this week:

Dear Friends,

We just received word that the House, Senate and Gov. Rendell are about to pull another fast one on us on Monday. The question is:

Will we stand for it?

It’s reported that there is an agreement about the proposed law to reduce property taxes. The conference committee that has been working on the legislation will issue its report Monday morning at 10:30. Under current rules, this means Gov. Rendell could sign it into law Monday night.

Speculation – no one knows for sure – is that the House will pass the conference committee report Monday afternoon; the Senate Monday evening; and the governor sign it Monday night.

This is the same process used to pass the gambling law in 2004 and the pay raise in 2005 – no public hearings on the final bill and no opportunity for citizens to read it, understand it, hear different opinions about it, and express their own opinions to their lawmakers.

Of course, this is different in that there has been a lot of discussion about this issue. The news media have covered the various proposals extensively.

But until Monday morning, we won’t know what the final conference committee report says. The original bill was 89 pages long. We don’t know how long the conference committee report will be. It may have nothing new in it. Or it may have special provisions that we haven’t seen before. We don’t know, and we can’t know until Monday morning when we can see it for ourselves.

What’s the Rush?
One thing is clear. This is a major piece of legislation that will have a profound impact on Pennsylvania. It is not something that should be rushed through the process, and there is no reason why citizens, the news media, and public interest groups from across the political spectrum should be prevented from commenting on it before the vote.

So what’s the rush? Lawmakers want to spend the next two weeks before the primary election telling voters that they cut property taxes. This is politics, not policy.

What To Do?
Now’s when we see whether lawmakers have learned anything from the citizens’ anger over the pay raise. Whether you like the property tax bill or not, you deserve the chance to participate in its passage or defeat.

Democracy Rising PA believes in a process that looks like this:

1. The conference committee should issue the report.
2. The House and Senate should send it to the appropriate standing committees for at least one public hearing.
3. Then, after at least 14 calendar days, the bill should come up for a vote.

Act NOW!
If you agree, NOW is the time to let your lawmakers know that you want them to show a little integrity by allowing time for citizens to participate meaningfully in this important decision.

And pass it on!

Tim Potts,
Democracy Rising PA

P.O. Box 618,

Carlisle, PA 17013


Thanks, Tim. As usual, we are beholden to you for your vigilance and keen eye for the machinations of these hubris-filled politicians.

Contact your representatives and your senators ASAP and put a stop to this continuation of the corruption of Pennsylvania's Constitution and of the body politic in this state!

Please folks, pass this on! Use the envelope down below by the comments section to send this to your family and friends. Just click on the envelope and follow the directions.


“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.

58: "The Legislator Test"

Tony Phyrillas is the City Editor of the Pottstown Mercury. He is also one Hell of a fine columnist. He is one of the not-so-many editors around the state who actually gets it when it comes to the pervasive sickness that infects our Pennsylvania government. Most of them have a jaundiced approach “So, what else is new”, or “Yeah, they’re all crooked, but whaddya gonna do?”

Tony Phyrillas. Tony is angry and disgusted, like many of us, and has been continually applying the heat on the state legislature for quite a while. Tony is another of our Citizen-Patriot Heroes.

Tony has written a column in the Pottstown Mercury that is absolutely fascinating. He lists the non-accomplishments of his seven-term State Representative, and exposes the man as a virtual non-entity in the General Assembly.

Here’s his article:

Unsure of your state legislator? Take this test
Tony Phyrillas,
If there’s anyone out there still considering
re-electing their incumbent Pennsylvania legislator on May 16, I have a request. Consider turning in your voter registration card.

You obviously are not adequately informed or rational enough to cast a vote. Unless you are related to a Pennsylvania legislator or have some direct financial gain by keeping the person in office, you have no other choice but join the people’s revolution to retake control of this state from 253 self-serving politicians.

I know some of you are trying to rationalize your decision to stick with the poison you know. Maybe the newcomer will be worse, you say. At least I know my state representative. He gives me free maps every time I see him. (I hate to break this to you, but you’ve already paid for the map through your state taxes.) What about that time his district office helped me fill out some paperwork? (The office staff for the next legislator who will occupy the office will also help you with paperwork).

Any attempt to justify casting a vote for any incumbent who voted for the July 2005 pay raise won’t wash. That kind of reasoning proves you’ve been in a coma for the past year.

In case you’ve lost your mind, here’s a couple of legislative highlights to jog your memory.

The middle-of-the-night pay grab. The unvouchered expense scandal. The outrageous perks and rewards legislators lavish on themselves. The inability or unwillingness of lawmakers to provide meaningful property tax relief. The influence lobbyists have on the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the governor. Lifetime pensions for all retiring state legislators that will cost taxpayers at least $4 billion to fund over the next 10 years.

Do you get the picture?

Below, I’ve listed 10 reasons why I will never vote for my state legislator, a fellow by the name of Dante Santoni Jr., who by my calculation has collected more than $1 million of our hard-earned tax dollars in the 14 years he’s been feeding off the public trough in Harrisburg.

Substitute the name of your representative or senator for my local political hack and see what your legislator has been up to.

• Rep. Dante Santoni twice voted to give himself an unconstitutional pay raise, most recently to $89,155 from $69,647 for a job that requires him to be in Harrisburg 77 days a year.
• Rep. Santoni took the pay raise early in violation of the Pennsylvania Constitution.
• Rep. Santoni defended the July 2005 pay raise for months until he and his fellow career politicians were shamed into repealing the pay raise and giving back the money after the news media alerted taxpayers to what happened.
• Rep. Santoni voted against the Commonwealth Caucus plan that would have eliminated property taxes for homeowners.
• Rep. Santoni voted to double his own pension,
allowing him to collect money from taxpayers for the rest of his life.
• Rep. Santoni voted in favor of Ed Rendell’s massive $1 billion income tax increase in 2003.
• Rep. Santoni voted for the crushing $400 million increase on the state gasoline tax.
• Rep. Santoni has sponsored zero -- that’s 0 -- bills during his 14 years as a lawmaker.
• Rep. Santoni has never chaired a committee during his 14 years as a legislator.
• Rep. Santoni earned a dismal F+ grade in The Commonwealth Foundation Liberty Index for 2005-06. Santoni earned an F+ in the 2003-04 report card grading economic policies.

Santoni wants to go back to Harrisburg for another two years to continue his stellar record.

Santoni’s campaign signs read "Working for Us." I haven’t figure out who "us" is. It’s certainly doesn’t include me or my family because Santoni hasn’t done a thing for "us" in the past 14 years.

If you find that your state senator or representative is responsible for even half of the 10 transgressions above, vote for somebody else, write in "Mickey Mouse" or do all of us a favor and stay far away from the polls on May 16.

E-mail Tony Phyrillas at
©The Mercury 2006

Well, we disagree with Tony’s last comment, as we want everyone to vote. Not voting is an indication that you want the situation to remain as it is, with rampant abuse, graft, and corruption of state and local governments where the elected serve only to serve themselves and a few of their usually monied close friends. And this year, both in the primary and in the regular elections you have an option available to you that offers a different choice than “business as usual.”

But we heartily concur with the rest of the column. Tony’s description of the record of Representative Santoni had us repeatedly muttering, “Yeah, that applies to Steve Maitland, too” throughout the list. It's very likely is the same for State Senator Terry Punt, as well.

Please visit Tony Phyrillas’ Blog, as well (click on his name here, or in the first paragraph, or under the heading Citizen-Patriot Heroes on the right sidebar). In it you’ll see Tony projecting that if Russ Diamond and the Operation Clean Sweep candidates are successful, that the Clean Sweep movement in Pennsylvania will grow to the Federal level. That definitely has its possibilities.

However, our thinking here is that the two main parties need to be completely overhauled in the way they do business, the way they vet their candidates, the way they endorse their candidates, and the access by monied interests into the process before a candidate even hits the ground in his or her campaign. Big money from gambling bought Ed Rendell his candidacy in the last gubernatorial election, and it has dumped millions of dollars into his reelection campaign coffers. His opponent is also now beholden to gambling money as he accepted that before the state Republican committee endorsed him. They were also influenced by gambling money. And therein lies the big problem. Both parties require millions of dollars to run their campaigns, and neither party cares where it comes from beyond recording that fact for reporting purposes. Until that is stopped, until the party committees are no long stocked and led on the basis of the size of your campaign contributions, the rest of the problems in State government will continue to appear, and reappear.

What we are saying is that the problem starts with the Pennsylvania State Committees, both Democrat and Republican. That’s where the lobbying begins. That’s where far too much money changes hands. New laws need to be made regarding the operation, funding and control of the state party committees. Party committee members should be pegged with the title “Political Operative”, and as a class, should be governed by the same laws and ethics rules that our politicians will hopefully soon be operating under.

We want lobbying reduced to an absolute and total prohibition of anything of any value being given to or otherwise influencing any elected or appointed official – to the point that if someone wants some legislation passed or altered, they should make an appointment with their legislator and convince him or her of the merits of such a change. No lobbying whatsoever outside the legislature and the Governor’s office. Period. None. That prohibits all lobbying on a local basis!

That will put an awful lot of lawyers out of work. Good! Maybe they should then go practice law, instead of playing politics. And any violators of such a law would lose their right to practice law in Pennsylvania, and suffer stiff fines and imprisonment, as would their targets.

We advocate that you visit the various sites of the Citizen-Patriot Heroes listed to the right. We also advocate that you visit the
Operation Clean Sweep website and familiarize yourselves with the candidates in your area (click on the license plate that says “Survival Guide”). Finally, we strongly urge you to visit Tim Potts great website at Democracy Rising PA, and explore some of the issues ripe for fixing in a Constitutional Convention. [The current leadership in the General Assembly fears a Constitutional Convention as it would strip them of their power, and their ability to make tons of money on top of their legislative salaries.]

Important Note: We will post our voting guide for the Primary in two weeks, May 14, 2006. Be sure to spread the word to come and check it out.


“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, April 28, 2006

57: "Remembering Don Michael Corleone"

In the latest developments involving our “friend” Louis DeNaples and his efforts to turn the old Mt. Airy (Poconos) resort into a casino resort (with the help of business partners and friends on the Pennsylvania Gambling Control Commission Board, courtesy of legislative leader Chip Brightbill), DeNaples turned up at the Gambling Board hearings yesterday. Apparently it was a scene right out of the Godfather movies, when Don Michael Corleone testified before Congress. DeNaples even added a Nun (who testified) and a Priest to his entourage.

The newspapers report today that Don Corleo…oops, I mean DeNaples is “The owner of nearly 100 businesses, including two landfills, and chairman of a Scranton bank valued at $1 billion, DeNaples, who makes few public appearances and even fewer public comments, told the board he had offers to be a partner in other gambling projects but decided to pursue a slots license for Mount Airy Lodge.”
Allentown Morning Call]. [What’s a ‘goodfella’ without he’s got a landfill or two, eh? Sheesh! I can hear the old 78 RPM record of Caruso singing in the background while the entourage eats pasta in the kitchen of the Big House. Complete wid da Priest!]

In the same article, DeNaples was described as claiming, “…that despite concerns raised about his business and family connections to the gaming board, which will award slots licenses later this year, he has no ties to it.” Family and business connections but no ties. I am stunned by the sheer and utter blatancy of that contradiction.

The article describes the hubbub about DeNaples this way, “His slots application has drawn interest because of his 1978 felony conviction for submitting phony invoices for cleanup work after Hurricane Agnes in 1972, along with his alleged ties to organized crime.”

DeNaples also made the following claim as reported by the
Morning Call: “''We would operate with integrity, I'm the sole investor and owner of the property.''

I’ll sleep better at night knowing that.

"The Pope, the Holy Father himself, has this very day blessed Michael Corleone; an' you think you know better than the Pope?"
--Dominic Abbandando
(Michael's PR Advisor, son of Genco) to reporters (Godfather III).


“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, April 27, 2006

56: Russ Diamond Campaigns for Cleansweep Candidates

In our last blog we spent a considerable amount of time discussing the high level of ethics of Russ Diamond. We can point now to the fact that Diamond, who stepped down from his position as Chairman of Operation Clean Sweep Pennsylvania to run for Governor, is hitting the campaign trail now -- for Operation Clean Sweep candidates.

Here is Russ Diamond's schedule of events coming up:

SEPA PACleanSweep Candidates' Rally
4/29/2006 2:30 p.m.
Holiday Inn - Northeast
3499 Street Road
Bensalem PA 19020
Russ will be present to help PACleanSweep approved candidates rally to a great finish in the Primary. Public & Media invited
Tom Lingenfelter
Pay Raise Re-Enactment
5/1/2006 10:00 a.m.
State Capitol Building
500 North 3rd Street
Harrisburg PA 17101
Join Gene Stilp, Russ and the rest of the anti-pay raise gang for a fun-filled event commemorating the Great Pay Raise of 2005. Pennsylvania loves re-enactments, and this promises to be one to remember!

Please visit:

to volunteer to portray your (least) favorite payjacker!
Irv Livingood Rally
5/9/2006 7:00 p.m.
Alsace Manor Fire Co. Social Hall
1 Antietam Road
Fleetwood PA 19522
Come out to meet Irv Livingood, candidate for State Representative in District 126 as well as Russ Diamond, Independent candidate for Governor.

Irv Livingood
Margaret Mitchener Abolish School Property Tax Rally
5/13/2006 1:00 p.m.
Wayne County Fairgrounds
Rt 191
Honesdale PA 18431
(Rt 191 - north of Honesdale)
Rally to support the Commonwealth Caucus's plan for changing the funding for education from a property tax to a broadened sales tax. Russ Diamond will attend and speak about property taxes.
Margaret Mitchener
Primary Election & Best Petitioning Day
All Day

Statewide -- PA
After you vote 'em all out, volunteer to gather signatures on Russ' petition at a busy polling location in your area. This is the best day to get signatures! If you pledge to gather at least 100 signatures and encourage a few of your friends to do the same, we just might get this whole petitioning hurdle out of the way!

We strongly urge you to come out and meet Russ and the Clean Sweep candidates. Find out what they are all about! See what you can do to help, like gathering signatures for Russ's campaign, make contributions, and volunteer to help campaigns.

Get involved! It's our mess! It happened on our watch. Its up to all of us to clean it up.

You owe it to the kids of Pennsylvania. You owe it to yourselves. And you owe it to all the incumbents who will be looking for work next winter!


“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, April 22, 2006

55: “Russ Diamond is an Ethical Man”

Building an “ethical self” takes a lifetime of work. It starts with the ability to know right from wrong, and includes learning from one’s mistakes, as well as from the mistakes of others. As ethical dilemmas confront us throughout our lives, the “ethical self” contains an increasing amount of “ethical experience” upon which to draw. If we err ethically along the way by making the wrong choice, that too goes into the “ethical self” and makes the decision making easier in the long run.

Those with little or no ethical self in their character do not bother with ethics or ethical dilemmas, as they have more selfish priorities.

In our elected officials, it is of paramount importance that they have a high degree of ethics and live by those ethics.

Based on their actions over the past few years, specifically since the Rendell administration came into office, you could put the entire body of ethics among all our elected officials in Harrisburg into a thimble and have plenty of room left over. Ed Rendell created an atmosphere of ethicless greed when he came into office. How else can you explain the massive budget cuts compared to the enormous pay raise passed after consultations with the Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court, and very likely at the instigation of the Rendell administration. Rendell signed it into law.

Ed Rendell is a wheeler dealer. A little of this goes a long way. He’s a schmooze artist of the highest order. He can work a room like no one else, and everyone in that room will be smiling after having their pockets picked. As chairman of the Democratic National Committee during the Clinton Administration, Ed Rendell wooed, and allowed himself to be wooed in return by the gambling industry, collecting millions of dollars from them and shifting it to targeted Congressional elections around the country. He used these same resources to finance his run for governor. He is using those same resources, plus gambling interests within Pennsylvania to finance his run for reelection. In exchange for the first term, Ed Rendell brought us gambling, in the same unconstitutional stealth manner that was used to pass the pay raise last year. In exchange for the second term, he promises to expand gambling to include table games, and perhaps even outside the casinos and slots parlors, with electronic gambling and slot machines in various non-casino settings.

No one that deeply indebted to a single interest (gambling) can be free: free from ethical, moral, legal and personal conflicts. Ed Rendell has created an atmosphere of greed in Harrisburg that will only resolve with the removal of Rendell, the elected state judges, especially Ralph Cappy, the Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and at the very least, the entire roster of leadership in the General Assembly.

No, Ed Rendell did not make them all greedy and full of hubris, they were already very much that way; but he has created an atmosphere that allows unfettered lobbying by the gambling industry, and developers. That in turn has created the crisis of government we face today.

Russ Diamond is a man with an excellent grounding in ethics. He recognized immediately that the General Assembly had exceeded their authority under the Constitution of Pennsylvania last July when they enacted the stealth pay raise that has since been repealed. Russ started an organization called Operation Clean Sweep Pennsylvania that now has fielded a list of candidates for the General Assembly that numbers over 100.

This ethical man has stepped down from his leadership position with the organization he founded, so he can run for governor as an Independent. Yet, faced with the Herculean task of gathering 67,000 signatures on petitions to get him on the ballot in November (a stacked deck created by the Republican and Democratic parties to keep third party challengers to a minimum), Diamond will be spending the next few months going around the state and helping the Clean Sweep candidates.

What we have seen about Russ Diamond has been a consistent package of high ethics, and good character. He makes good decisions, and has a clear agenda for stabilizing state government and eliminating the awful atmosphere of greed and hubris that pervades the administration, the courts, and the General Assembly thanks to Ed Rendell.

Today, Diamond fired his first shot in his run for Governor. He takes on Lynn Swann, and in the process, challenges the “pundits” that have cast him as a spoiler. We believe Russ Diamond is that rare candidate, a third party candidate with a legitimate chance to win. Both of his opponents are very vulnerable.

Visit this link and listen to Russ Diamond:

And one thing Diamond has that neither Swann nor Rendell posses: a clear vision for Pennsylvania, one unclouded by the influence of outside money.

And please visit both Operation Clean Sweep to find a candidate for your area, and Russ Diamond for Governor. Please lend all your support to the fine candidates. Give generously, sign Russ Diamond’s petition and support your Clean Sweep candidates.

That’s Russ Diamond for Governor of Pennsylvania!

Thank you.


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

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

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

Friday, April 21, 2006

54: “Come to the Pay Raise Re-enactment”

You’re thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding me,” right? To which we respond with the words of the late, great Jack Paar, “I kid you not.” Great friend Tim Potts at
Democracy Rising PA forwards his newsletter which we have reproduced here:

DR News April 21
In this issue:
· A Pay Raise Re-enactment
· Another Alternative for Governor
· Automatic Pay Hikes
· Paybacks Are A…
· A Lobbyist’s Tale

A Pay Raise Re-enactment
On May 1, pay raise repeal activist and Democrat Lt. Governor candidate Gene Stilp will host a re-enactment of last July’s pay raise. The event takes place at 10:00 a.m. on the front steps of the Capitol – scene of the “rally for repeal” last September 26.

If you want to represent a lawmaker for the re-enactment, you can sign up at Like the original July 7 event, there will be no speaking parts. Unlike the original, re-enactors will not get paid – neither a salary nor a per diem.

Another Alternative for Governor
Russ Diamond, founder and former chair of
PA Clean Sweep, last week announced that he is running for governor as an Independent. Democracy Rising PA does not, and will not, endorse candidates for any office. But we can’t help pointing out that Diamond is the only candidate still in the race who has answered the survey sent to gubernatorial candidates by eight statewide organizations, including PA Clean
, in December. The survey asked about issues of public integrity, a constitution convention, and the appointment of judges. And Diamond answered it without having to be asked.

In contrast, Republican Lynn Swann’s campaign refuses to return phone calls from Democracy Rising PA asking him to respond to the survey. Democrat Ed Rendell claims he never received the surveys, although the U.S. Postal Service tells us he did – twice. The only other candidate to answer the survey was Republican Jim Panyard, who withdrew from the contest earlier this year.

Look at the survey and both Panyard’s and Diamond’s responses at:

Automatic Pay Hikes
On April 4, during oral argument on the pay raise lawsuits, Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin expressed his approval of a system that compensates state judges on the basis of what their federal counterparts receive. This is, in fact, the same approach to judicial salaries that Chief Justice Ralph Cappy championed in his private negotiations with the executive and legislative branches. It is the scheme
enacted with the pay raise.

In the same way, the pay raise also tied lawmaker salaries and other salaries to those of their supposed federal counterparts. But there’s a problem.

To realize Justice Eakin’s dream would mean that Pennsylvania citizens would never be able to decide for themselves what they want to pay their own public officials without first having to convince the legislature to repeal the law providing for automatic increases.

It is, in other words, a plan that asks for forgiveness rather than permission when taking taxes from the people on a matter of constitutional mportance.

We can’t believe that’s constitutional. The people – the sovereigns – always must have the authority to decide, by specific action and not by default, what they are willing to pay their servants. The General Assembly cannot delegate that authority.

The problem is especially clear with respect to judges. Article V, Section 16 of Pennsylvania’s Constitution prohibits the salaries of judges from being reduced in mid-term. So even if the General Assembly repealed a law tying state salaries to federal salaries, it couldn’t reduce the salaries of judges until the end of their term.

Question: Did Justice Eakin disqualify himself from deciding the Stilp case by his comment in favor of the pay raise scheme in Act 44?

Paybacks are Still A…
Our friends at
Rock the Capital won’t let go. They continue to push for lawmakers to repay to the state Treasury the unconstitutional and piggish “unvouchered expenses” received during the four months between enactment and repeal of the pay raise.

RTC – and for every ethical Pennsylvanian – paybacks are appropriate. The repeal, which every lawmaker except Rep. Mike Veon (D-Beaver) supported, means that lawmakers understand they never should have received the pay hikes in the first place.

Keeping the “unvouchered expenses” not only violates the spirit of the repeal, it raises the pensions of those who refuse to repay them.

For a complete breakdown of those who have broken down and put their personal interest ahead of the citizens’ interest by refusing to pay back their unvouchered expenses, go to

A Lobbyist’s Tale
This story illustrates another reason why Pennsylvania needs the best lobbyist control law in America. After a presentation about
Democracy Rising PA and our mission, I was approached by a former legislator who is now a lobbyist. He had been in the audience and wanted to ask me some specific questions.

“Suppose I take a lawmaker out to dinner and we talk about legislation. Are you saying that I should have to report immediately where we went, what it cost, and what specific legislation we talked about?”

“Yep,” I said.


“If you’re talking to my legislator about something that affects me, I should know it so that I can present my own views at the same time. It is unfair to constituents for special interests to lobby lawmakers secretly because ordinary citizens get blind-sided with stealth legislation like the gambling law and the pay raise.”

“But isn’t there such a thing as a private conversation?”

“Not when someone’s paying you to talk to a public official and influence decisions that affect the public.”

If we’re lucky, House Speaker John Perzel’s lobbyist control proposal will be announced soon.

When it is, DR will provide a summary for you.

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

Remarkable stuff, Tim, thank you. Tim, Russ Diamond, and Gene Stilp have been out front on the issue of government accountability for a long time. They are three of the many citizen-patriot heroes that have stepped up to the plate in the face of extreme political anger. Those who run the political machine in Pennsylvania, that is the monied interests that sink billions of dollars into their political mouthpieces that we have carelessly elected in years past are angry and fearful that these citizen-patriots will actually upset their carefully constructed applecart, and cut off their “dolce vita.” These politicians have been getting fat from your tax dollars for decades. Now it is totally out of control, and they, and the parties they represent no longer represent your interests.

We cannot urge you in strong enough terms to get involved. Operation Clean Sweep PA candidates need your support, and your money. Most of these organizations could use your time and talent, and your money. Pick one or two from the list to the right under the heading “Citizen-Patriot Heroes”. It does not take millions of dollars to win a seat in the Pennsylvania House, but it will take millions of dollars to win back your government. Stop sending money to the Democratic and Republican parties. Send your money instead directly to the candidates. Avoid the middle man who always takes a cut (“for the party”).

But most importantly, get out and vote on May 16 in the Primary Election and cast your votes for anyone who is not an incumbent.


“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, April 18, 2006

53: “Rally in Harrisburg Thursday”

A quick note to spread the word about this rally on Thursday at the State Capitol building in Harrisburg. This is from Russ Diamond:

PACleanSweep Rally at Capitol; Thurs, 4/20, 11:00 am

PACleanSweep will be sponsoring a rally in the Capitol Rotunda this Thursday, April 20 at 11:00 am for all PACleanSweep candidates. This will be the last centralized event for our candidates before we send them off to campaign for the primary election.

Nearly ten months of blood, sweat and tears have gone into making this primary election the one that turns Pennsylvania around. Our candidates need the support of every available PACleanSweeper in the Capitol this Thursday!

Bring a sign, bring a whisk broom, bring your family and bring your friends! Let’s show the payjackers that we mean business and we’re going to take our government back in 2006!

Let’s give these Pennsylvania heroes a fantastic send-off to remember!

PACleansweep Events Calendar

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 Additional Information
Russ Diamond
PACleanSweep Chair

Let’s give a great sendoff to these true patriot heroes. These folks are putting themselves out in front in the fight to recover control of Pennsylvania’s government from the hands of big money interests. Your state and local Democratic and Republican parties have abandoned you for the gold fields of development, gambling and other special interests. We need change, and we need it now. Make your voice heard.

It will be a great day to take off from work! The forecast is for mid 70s and bright sunshine. A fitting climate for what we are trying to accomplish: bring sunshine to the politics of Pennsylvania.


“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, April 13, 2006

52: “Diamond for Governor!”

It is with great delight and much pride that THE CENTRIST announces not only the candidacy of Russ Diamond for Governor, but also our endorsement.

Russ Diamond has become one of our true heroes for the modern times. Russ first appeared to us as the principled leader of the Operation Clean Sweep organization that was formed in opposition to the stealth Pay Raise passed in the legislature last year.

Since that time, Russ has proven himself an able leader, and shown a steadfast and principled determination to right the enormous wrongs that are possessed by the Pennsylvania Ship of State. No one has a better handle on the ins and outs of state government than does Russ, and no one can gain office and do a better job at rooting out the evils that pervade the halls of our capitol building.

Here is Russ’s most welcome announcement, in a segment of a Harrisburg Patriot Online article from this morning:

Anti-incumbency founder announces independent bid for governor
9:08 a.m. ET
The Associated Press
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The founder of a group trying to oust incumbent legislators over their botched attempt to raise their own salaries will run for governor as an independent candidate.

Russ Diamond, who organized PACleanSweep in the weeks following the July 7 pay-raise vote, disclosed his candidacy in an interview with The New York Times and then announced it in a statement Thursday. He will need to collect 67,070 signatures of registered voters by Aug. 1 to challenge Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell in November and Republican challenger Lynn Swann, the former football player and

"We've taken on the Legislature. ... Now it's time to focus some energy on the executive branch," Diamond said in a statement. "The governor is the one man who could have stopped the pay raise with one stroke of his pen, but failed to do so."

The pay-raise law, which increased lawmakers' salaries by 16 percent to 54 percent, was repealed in November.

Diamond said his platform calls for a constitutional convention, repealing a 2004 law that legalized slot-machine gambling, and reducing property taxes, among other things.

PACleanSweep has recruited more than 100 candidates to run for the Legislature, including about 40 who are challenging incumbents in the May 16 primary, although some of those candidates are also competing against each other.

This most welcome news is invigorating in the almost too quiet days before the May Primary Election.

We have refused to endorse Ed Rendell as he is the man who gave us the gambling nightmare already in progress. He signed into law at least two pieces of legislation that were passed unconstitutionally.

We have refused to endorse Lynn Swann because he is an empty candidate already in the clutches of the gambling industry.

We have endorse Jim Panyard, but he will not run.

So we are heartily pleased that such a hero as Russ Diamond has decided to run.

He has shown he has integrity, and character, he has demonstrated a knowledge of government and how it works, as well as how it is supposed to work.

Russ will be fighting an uphill battle against two heavy hitters, with their own campaign war chests, and those of their respective political party machines behind them. Russ will need your support, both financial and in the voting booth on election day. Details will follow soon about where to make contributions to the “Russ Diamond for Governor” campaign.

Russ will also need your signature on the petition to run. Republicans and Democrats need 2,000 signatures to run for Governor. As a third party candidate, Russ is required to get the equivalent of 2% of the highest vote getter in the last election, in this case, Bob Casey’s more than 3.3 million votes. Russ needs 67,000 signatures on his petition to run without benefit of party backing. That's 33 and a half times what Fast Eddie and Swannie are required to produce.

Now, perhaps, you get a glimmer of what your two major parties have done to state and local government. That is why we must elect Russ Diamond as the first Independent governor of Pennsylvania history!

Dump Rendell! Vote Diamond!


“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.

51: “An Open Letter to Pennsylvania Voters”

Dear Voter,

You are about to embark on a history making journey that no one has ever undertaken before. You have the opportunity to perform good work the likes of which have not been seen since our Founders signed the Declaration of Independence.

I wish that it was an overstatement to say that. Sadly, it is not.

Everyone knows the words,

“When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political ties that bind it to another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government."

These valiant, and stalwart men, who risked everything to take this political move were left with a vastly inferior, underpaid, under-equipped, and underfed army to protect them, an army led by a man who’s main military experience had been in surrendering frontier forts and losing frontier battles during the last phase of the French and Indian Wars. It so happened, he was the only man who came to the interview dressed in his uniform, and at over six feet in height, George Washington made a commanding figure. He got the job.

These men did not stop with the words above, however. The began to list the complaints they held against their king, George III of England, specifically identifying him.

The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good…

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only…

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance...

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us…

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

The Declaration of Independence is our national founding document. It lays out the case for the unilateral declaration of separation from Great Britain.

We have not included all the items on the list, but you can grab a copy of the Declaration of Independence almost anywhere, from an online search to the back of the Dictionary on your bookshelf.

Dear Voters of Pennsylvania, you have an opportunity to make history here, because for the first time in almost two and a half centuries, you have the opportunity to make your vote count in the process of stopping such abuses of government in our Commonwealth.

Until now, you have had little to no say in what your two major parties have offered up as party platforms, and party candidates. Unless you contribute enough money to your political party, and take an active role locally, you have no say at all. Your voice is outbid, not by the loudest bidder, but by the highest bidder. Year in and year out, your parties have sent the richest adherents to the party committees, and the rising stars of the party line. When your candidates raise funds, they turn to the quick fix, political contributions made at dinner-fundraisers, where the well-heeled get to press their interests on the candidates in return for that political fuel: cash. When that isn’t enough to feed the TV ad machines, they turn to the monied interests, the lobby groups, and in Pennsylvania, this almost always means developers, and that includes the billions (literally) of dollars pumped into the state political machines of both parties by the gambling industry. It has not always been so. It used to be far less, and it used to be only developers and their investors, banks and foundations that would lobby with heavy money. That was until gambling was legalized and the tens of millions suddenly became tens of billions in almost untraceable financial influence.

You as an individual are not on an equal footing with those who seek to influence Pennsylvania politics. You do not have the financial wherewithal to compete on an equal footing with them. This is what your two political parties have done to you.

If you finally get the point that your voice has no weight in the political climate of Pennsylvania, you are almost correct.

This year, starting in the May Primary, you will have the unique opportunity to begin the correction of this sad state of affairs. It calls for great risk. It calls for placing your faith in a few radicals, much the same as the colonists of the thirteen colonies did in their Continental Congress in 1775 and again in 1776. It was an extraordinary thing those men did. They wrote this document (that is, Thomas Jefferson wrote the document and they all approved it), and then they publicly signed their names. As Benjamin Franklin then noted, “We must all hang together, or most assuredly we will all hang.”

In their list of grievances, some few of which are listed above, one can perceive a number of direct or indirect correlations to the actions of the Governor, the State Supreme Court, and the General Assembly over the past few years, actions that have begun to rob you of your civil rights (the increasing number of occurrences of the superseding of state law over local laws), the abridgement of the state constitution in passing new legislation (Act 71 of 2004, and the Pay Raise of 2005, both passed in the dead of night, without the required 3 days of public comment in each house, and with both starting as bills of another topic being changed into the stealth legislation that was passed…both evolutions contrary to the Pennsylvania Constitution.), and the total breakdown of the State judiciary, in particular the Supreme Court and its Chief Justice who was complicit in the passage of at least the Pay Raise, even to promising that no legal challenge would be allowed.

Such is the nature of the tyranny since Governor Rendell took office. He signed both unconstitutional acts into law. He promised to veto any attempt to repeal Act 71 (the Gambling Bill), even though it was passed unconstitutionally.

The list of grievances above all refer to “He”, being King George III. In our case, we can substitute a number of figures from State Government and from without, all complicit in the seizure of your sovereign rights to have a say in your own government. Those would include, the Governor, the Judges, the General Assembly, and of course, the great lobbying industry of the developers, and investors particularly the gambling industry – the latter paying the former in exchange for enabling and easing the introduction of gambling.

Whether you support gambling or not is not the issue. It is the manner of how it, and the pay raise were done. It was the abridgement of your rights in the process of constitutional government that brings you to a moment in history in which you can finally make a difference.

It is easy. Get out and vote. Take others to the polls so they too can vote. Do not vote for any incumbents. Urge those you take to the polls to vote the same way. Break the cycle of dependency on your party machines, and return power back into your hands, not those of the rich.

Your only party loyalty during the May and November elections of 2006 must be “New”. They may be Democrat, Republican, Independent, Green, Constitutional, Libertarian or whatever, just do not pull the party lever. M
ake yourself aware of who the incumbents are, then vote for someone else.

We strongly recommend to take a look at
Operation Clean Sweep and get a list of their candidates, who have all taken a pledge to clean up state government.

It starts with you taking enough interest in your own future to care, and then vote. If you do not, you have surrendered to those who have the money, and have told them you are not worthy to determine your own fate, nor to exercise your rights of personal sovereignty.

That’s an ugly thing to allow yourself to do. Even worse, it is an ugly thing to do to your fellow voters.

Vote! Elect non-incumbents, no matter how much you like and think you can trust your current representatives and Senators, do not vote for them. Cast them out of the General Assembly and let some people with real integrity in there to try and refashion government the way it is supposed to run: in service to you, and not to itself.

Carpe Diem! Seize the day! Make history!


“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, April 06, 2006

50: “Your Help Urgently Needed!”

[Reposted from GettysBLOG]
Great friend Tim Potts at Democracy Rising offers this update full of information, advice, and urgent requests. We humbly ask you readers to please take heed of these and respond with every ounce of courage and common sense you can muster. True government reform in Pennsylvania can only come if you, the voters and taxpayers of this once-great Commonwealth, will take action to reform it. Quite simply, our state of government at this moment is not only in crisis, but it is in the process of transcending into a state of fascism, as described in GettysBLOG
121: “Gettysburg Sold to LeVan for $1 Million”.

No, we’re not kidding, and no, we’re not Chicken Little – Pennsylvania is literally in a deep quagmire of greed and graft and corruption in its government from top to bottom. The ONLY hope for fixing the mess is you, the taxpaying, voting citizens of Pennsylvania. No one else can do it. No single person can do it. Only a concerted effort of voter discipline, and grassroots efforts can accomplish this reform and return Pennsylvania to the masterpiece of Liberty it once was. Until you get angry enough and fed up enough to do something about it, it will continue its rapid run to into the cesspool of corruption.

This problem transcends party lines, for truly, the two major parties have long since abandoned the people, and been taken over by the monied interests. They have changed and fixed the rules totally in their favor, and made it difficult for the average citizen to have any other choice at all, thus paving the way for their curried favorites to gain and retain elected office. And the whole while you and I have followed blithely along voting the party line for decades while this system took root and blossomed into something only a few steps away from having guys in brown shirts running our polling places.

Here is the latest from Tim Potts:

Democracy Rising News

April 6, 2006
In this issue:
It’s Action Time - SU3!
You’re the Lobbyist
Is Gambling Stopping Property Tax Relief?
Your $28,000 Home Library
Where You Stand
At Work in the Capitol

It’s Action Time – SU3!
“SU3!” is our shorthand for what citizens need to do to reclaim their government: Sign Up! Speak Up! Show Up!

Sign Up! – April 17 is the last day to register to vote in the May 16 primary election. If you’re already registered (which nearly all DR Fans are), see if you can register a friend or neighbor. Here’s the state’s directory of county voter registration contacts:

Speak Up! – Talk with friends and neighbors about the importance of this election. We can send the message in this election that democracy is Job 1, and that democracy doesn’t work without integrity.

Show Up! – Get to the polls and vote. May 9 is the last day to apply for a civilian absentee ballot. May 12 is the last day for county election boards to receive absentee ballots. And May 17 is primary election day. A strong turnout will send another message – that those who want integrity have staying power.

You’re the Lobbyist
The House of Representatives is getting ready to act on lobbyist control. But according to Brian Preski, chief of staff to House Speaker John Perzel, what they have in mind is a far cry from the best lobbyist control law in America.

According to news reports about a recent Harrisburg presentation to lobbyists, Preski said the House would act because the media are forcing action. (No one gives us citizens credit for bending lawmakers to our will. But they can’t deny the 806,000 votes citizens, not media, cast against Supreme Court Justice Russell Nigro last November.)

Preski predicted the House version of lobbyist control:

Will not require the kind of detail that watchdogs and citizens need to understand who is trying to influence what legislation.
Will not increase penalties for breaking the law.
Will not strengthen enforcement of the law.
Will prevent auditors from looking at the details of lobbyist spending.

So it’s time for you to be the lobbyist. Tell your representative (and senator for that matter) you will not settle for half-measures. There is no reason why Pennsylvania can’t have the best law in the nation – one that bans gifts to public officials completely, requires full disclosure of lobbyist contacts with individual public officials on easily searchable web sites, and imposes real penalties for breaking the law. Tell them if they can’t give you the best law in America, you’ll vote for someone else who will.

Is Gambling Stopping Property Tax Relief?
Some lawmakers think so, and one lawmaker said it out loud. Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre, wrote in the Centre Daily Times on April 4, “According to one of my colleagues,…the state cannot afford to fix property taxes now, or there will not be any reason to expand gambling to include all forms of gaming.”

Did we mention that Pennsylvania needs the best lobbyist control law in America?

Your $28,000 Home Library
You paid for it. The problem is that it’s not in your home, not even in your public library. It’s in the home of Rep. Mark Cohen, D-Phila. On Sunday, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Cohen charged state taxpayers $28,200 for more than 800 books over the past two years.

To put this in perspective, Reporter Mario Cattabiani wrote that the combined budget for two Philadelphia high school and two middle school libraries during those same two years was just $21,600. The four schools enroll 5,000 students. Here’s the story:

Where You Stand
In case you’re unsure, and in case you don’t trust the labels others lay on you, here’s the “World’s Smallest Political Test”:

In just a few minutes, you can learn where you stand on the political spectrum. The 10-question, multiple-choice test is the brainchild of the Libertarian group Advocates for Self-Government. So far, out of nearly 6 million test-takers, here are the totals using the site’s terminology. Make of it what you will.
Libertarians – 34.68%
Centrists – 30.33%
Left (Liberals) – 18.77%
Statist (Big Government) – 8.62%
Right (Conservative) – 7.61%

At Work in the Capitol
PA Clean Sweep revealed last week that a computer in the state House of Representatives holds the record for visits to In fact, it has held the record every month but one since the site opened for business last July 18.

The House computer, two computers in the Senate and another one in the PA Legislative Data Processing Center combined for more than 212,000 visits to the web site – an average of 1,212 visits per work day.

Someone isn’t giving the taxpayers our money’s worth. We wish PA Clean Sweep luck in finding out who he or she is.

You may remember that a House Republican staffer was revealed as the source of a web site attacking PA Clean Sweep. The staffer has denied doing any work on his web site using taxpayer computers or taxpayer time.

We don’t have to put up with this. We can have the highest standards of public integrity in America. We just have to stop electing people who refuse to do the job.

Exactly! Thank you Tim! It is indeed up to all of us. As usual, we will recommend the following organizations, and we urge you all in the strongest of terms to visit these sites and pick one or more with which to get involved…directly involved. Operation Cleansweep, Democracy Rising, Rock the Capital.


Remember in May! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

“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, April 05, 2006

49: “Four Heroes”

We are constantly encouraged by the efforts of four individuals in particular, who are active in taking steps to right the ship of government in Pennsylvania. These four, Tim Potts of Democracy Rising, Russ Diamond of Operation Clean Sweep, Gene Stilp, a citizen-activist, and Eric Epstein of Rock the Capital are in the van of the reform movement rising from the grassroots of Pennsylvania.

To be sure, there are others. But these four are out in front of the effort, and now have joined forces in a law suit seeking to declare the Midnight Pay Raise of last summer unconstitutional under the Pennsylvania Constitution, which says, among other things, that members of the General Assembly may not benefit from a pay raise until the next session of the General Assembly, and that bills may not be amended to change their original scope or purpose. Act 44, as the Midnight Pay Raise is formally known, violated both of those provisions, among others.

THE CENTRIST fully supports these men in this effort to clean out the greedy jackals in Harrisburg that inhabit all three branches of state government. Of particular interest is the provision about not altering the original intent or scope of a bill. Our most grand and worshipful masters in the General Assembly, who treat the business of state government much the same way as the Medieval Church treated secular knowledge, has been passing bills on the most tenuous of connections to their original intent. Most connections would not survive a “six degrees of separation” analysis. If the court upholds this provision as having been violated, and strikes down Act 44 accordingly, then the precedent is in place to strike as unconstitutional Act 71 of 2004, passed in the exact same stealth manner a year before the Midnight Pay Raise”.

Here at last is the opportunity for the one branch of state government that should be guarding the rights of the people, rather than conspiring against them as did Chief Justices of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Ralph Cappy, who has admitted his roll in consulting and conspiring with the leadership of the General Assembly in not only passing the Midnight Pay Raise, but also in creating that most despicable process, the “unvouchered expense”. The unvouchered expense allowed legislators to collect on their pay raises early, many of whom continue to keep the money despite the repeal of the pay raise.

Below is a press release on the oral arguments made yesterday before the State Supreme Court, less Ralph Cappy, who has recused himself from the case. In this case, picture Cappy as the manager of a baseball team ejected by the umpires during the game. He must leave the bench, but he stays in the tunnel leading to the dugout so he can continue to run the team:

Argument in Pay Raise Lawsuit Brings Four Reformers to Court
April 3, 2006
For Immediate Release
On Tuesday, when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court hears argument about whether the pay raise of 2005 was unconstitutional, four of the state’s leading advocates for government integrity will witness the proceedings.

Gene Stilp, a citizen activist from Dauphin County, filed one of the lawsuits the court will consider. The other three filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Stilp. They are Russ Diamond, chair of PA Clean Sweep; Eric Epstein, coordinator of Rock the Capital; and Tim Potts, co-founder of Democracy Rising PA.

While Stilp will participate in the argument, the other three will be only interested bystanders. The court last week refused the request of their attorney to participate in oral argument.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on five questions:

Does Stilp have standing to bring a lawsuit seeking to have the pay raise declared unconstitutional?

Did the General Assembly violate Article III of the state Constitution in the way it enacted the pay raise?

Does the system of unvouchered expenses established in the pay raise bill violate the Constitution’s prohibition against lawmakers receiving additional compensation during their current term of office?

If the pay raise law is declared unconstitutional, does that violate the section of the Constitution that prohibits reducing the salaries of judges?

Is the Stilp case moot as a result of the General Assembly passing a partial repeal of the pay raise?

Last July 7 at 2:00 a.m., the Pennsylvania House and Senate passed legislation without public hearings, public debate or public knowledge increasing the salaries of officials in all three branches of government.

Following intense public pressure throughout the fall, the General Assembly repealed the pay raise but did not require those who had received increased salaries and unvouchered expenses to return the funds. As a result, lawmakers who took the unvouchered expenses will receive higher pension benefits.

The repeal also authorized a cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, of 3.6 percent for lawmakers and other public officials. The COLA took effect December 1.

Stilp and the other three contend that the General Assembly violated five provisions of the Constitution whose purpose is to ensure that citizens have the opportunity to participate in the formation of laws and to ensure that lawmakers must stand for re-election before raises take effect.

They also argue that by declaring the original pay raise unconstitutional, there is no need for the court to address the question of whether the repeal violated the Constitution’s prohibition against lowering the salaries of judges because the judges would have no right to the additional compensation in the first place.

Here is a link to the brief Diamond, Epstein and Potts filed in support of Stilp’s lawsuit:

Common Cause/PA, which is challenging the pay raise in federal court, has chosen the four advocates to receive its “Public Service Achievement Award.” Three of the four – Stilp, Diamond and Potts – received “Citizen of the Year” honors for 2005 from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Chronology of the Case
August 10, 2005
Gene Stilp files a lawsuit in Commonwealth Court seeking to have Act 44 of 2005 (the pay raise) declared unconstitutional, alleging violations of Article III of the Pennsylvania Constitution in the manner of enactment and in the substance of the enactment.

Article III, Section 1: “No law shall be passed except by bill, and no bill shall be so altered or amended, on its passage through either House, ask to change its original purpose.”

Article III, Section 2: “No bill shall be considered unless referred to a committee, printed for the use of the members and returned therefrom.”

Article III, Section 3: “No bill shall be passed, containing more than one subject, which shall be clearly expressed in its title, except a general appropriation bill or a bill codifying or compiling the law or part thereof.”

Article III, Section 4: “Every bill shall be considered on three different days in each House. All amendments made thereto shall be printed for the use of the members before the final vote is taken on the bill, and before the final vote is taken, upon written request addressed to the presiding officer of either House by at least twenty-five percent of the members elected to that House, any bill shall be read at length in that House. No bill shall become a law, unless on its final passage, the vote is taken by yeas and nays, the names of the persons voting for and against it are entered on the Journal, and a majority of the members elected to each House is recorded thereon as voting in its favor.”

Article III, Section 8: “The members of the General Assembly shall receive such salary and mileage for regular and special sessions as shall be fixed by law, and no other compensation whatever, whether for service upon committee or otherwise. No member of either House shall during the term for which he may have been elected, receive any increase in salary or mileage, under any law passed during such term.”

November 16, 2006
The General Assembly passes and Gov. Ed Rendell signs Act 72 of 2005, which repealed Act 44 in part but did not require the return of “unvouchered expenses” authorized by Act 44.

November 30, 2005
Senior Judge James R. Kelley dismissed the Stilp suit as moot because of the enactment of Act 72.

December 22, 2005
The Supreme Court took plenary jurisdiction over the case and listed it for argument at the same session with Herron v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which seeks to have Act 72 declared unconstitutional, alleging violations of Article V of the Constitution.

Article V, Section 16(a): “Justices, judges and justices of the peace shall be compensated by the Commonwealth as provided by law. Their compensation shall not be diminished during their terms of office, unless by law applying generally to all salaried officers of the Commonwealth.”

Once again we salute these wonderful citizens who are taking the fight for clean government to the front lines, and we congratulate them on the first of many honors that are due to them.

Please help. It is your state government. Here are some things you can do to help: contribute to these folks, visit their websites, get involved, stay involved, recruit others to the commitment to clean up state government, and whatever else you do, vote, but keep your hands off the party levers! Make informed choices. Stick with Operation Clean Sweep candidates, and do not under any circumstances vote for an incumbent!

Stay tuned!


“Kick the hubris out of Harrisburg!” --

"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, April 01, 2006

48: “More Updates on Graft, Corruption & Gambling”

I highly recommend that you save the Keystone Review Blog to your bookmarks, or favorites, and visit it regularly. Here are two more entries that bear directly on why Operation Clean Sweep is still in business. Here Keystone Review editor/writer Lousi R. Petolicchio follows the money headed into the hands of Chip Brightbill, Republican Floor Leader in the Senate. Brightbill is thus the ‘enforcer’ when it comes to gathering votes on the floor.

Adventure$ With Chip: Show Me The Money Update!
By L. R. Petolicchio
Posted March 23, 2006
Updated March 31, 2006

Editor's Note: In a recent article by The Philadelphia Inquirer, it was revealed that lobbyist and former state legislator Stephen R. Wojdak has an interest in a gaming machine distributor seeking to do business in Pennsylvania; a review of campaign finance records found that self-described gaming opponent David J. "Chip" Brightbill received $4000 in 2005 from Wojdak, bringing the total amount of money Brightbill has received in the period of 2003-2005 from gaming interests or lobbyists whose clients include gaming interests to more than $56,000.

Following is a breakdown of financial contributions received by state Senator David J. "Chip" Brightbill between 2003 and 2005 either from gaming interests or lobbyists whose clients include gaming interests (i.e.: many of the lobbying firms have multiple clients, both gaming and non-gaming):

$2500 - April 1, 2004 - Wallace R. Barr, Executive head of Park Place-Caesar's Entertainment (link is for; the homepage for Harrah's will appear)
$1000 - August 26, 2004 - Pennsylvania Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective Association
$1000 - August 25, 2005 - Pennsylvania Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective Association
(while the PA chapter does not have it's own website, the national group includes them as an affiliate )

$723 - Sept. 30, 2003 - Pugliese Associates
$1000 - October 23, 2003 - Pugliese PAC
$1250 - March 15, 2005 - Pugliese PAC
$1264 - May 24, 2004 - Pugliese PAC
(Rocco Pugliese currently represents Pennsylvania Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective Association and Sands Pennsylvania; past clients included Multimedia Games and Pittsburgh Palisades Park, LLC)

$10,000 - March 15, 2005 - D & L Realty
(Dominck & Louis A DeNaples are reportedly business partners in at least three ventures - D & L Realty, Keystone Landfill, and DeNaples Auto Parts; Louis owns the Mount Airy Lodge, for which he has applied for a slots license)*

$1000 - August 26, 2004 - Bruce R. Hironimus
(Hironimus has been identified as both a lobbyist for the gambling interests as well as a gambling interest )

$500 - Sept. 26, 2003 - F. Joseph Loeper
$500 - Dec. 17, 2003 - F. Jospeh Loeper
$1000 - April 1, 2004 - F. Joseph Loeper
$1000 - March 30, 2005 - F. Joseph Loeper
$1000 - November 4, 2005 - F. Joseph Loeper
(Loeper, a former state Senator, was a lobbyist for Callowhill Center Associates in 2004 and 2005 and a lobbyist 100% Purses, Inc., dba Freedom Park and Chester Downs and Marina, LLC in 2003)

$3750 - Dec. 17, 2003 - Malady & Wooten Public Affairs, LLP
$1000 - Nov. 8, 2004 - Malady & Wooten Public Affairs, LLP
(Malady & Wooten are lobbyist for 100% Purses, Inc., dba Freedom Park,Chester Downs and Marina, LLC, and Resorts USA)
$750 - April 21, 2003 - Kevin M. Pasquay
(Pasquay is a lobbyist for Ameristar Casinos, Inc.)

$250 - Sept. 23, 2003 - Greenlee Partners State PAC
$2011 - Dec. 7, 2003 - Greenlee Partners State PAC
$750 - May 19, 2004 - Greenlee Partners State PAC
$1850 - August 26, 2004 - Greenlee Partners State PAC
$1500 - May 4, 2005 - Greenlee Partners State PAC
$1000 - August 25, 2005 - Greenlee Partners State PAC
(Greenlee Partners lobbyist for Harrah's Entertainment, MTR Gaming, Chance Enterprises, Standing Stone Gaming and Scientific Games Int'l.)

[Note, Greenlee Partners is also the source of ‘Harrisburg Online’]

Read the rest at:
Adventure$ with Chip: Show Me The Money Update!


Still another entry, even later:

Adventure$ With Chip: Thousands From Convicted Felon, Slots?
By L. R. Petolicchio
Posted March 23, 2006

The 20-minute long DVD which was distributed to the Republican committee people during the past few months seemed to make the case pretty clearly: Pennsylvania State Senator David J. "Chip" Brightbill was a man of unquestionable moral values and was opposed to the slots legislation.

There were no ifs, ands, or buts about it: he was opposed to and would vote against expanded gambling in Pennsylvania.

Never mind the fact that as the powerful Senate Majority Leader (grand poobah of the Republican majority in the state Senate) he did nothing to push, prod or threaten pro-slots Republicans into opposing the gambling bill. Never mind the fact that as chairman of the Senate Rules Committee (which determines which bills ever see the light of day) he remained silent while the slots bill was brought to the floor for a vote.

The Chipster was opposed to expanded gambling in the Keystone State; end of discussion.

One would have thought, after watching this video, that the ol' Chipster was pure as the wind driven snow, and that not only he but his entire campaign operation were so squeaky clean you could use his expense account sheets as dinner plates.

Well, before you chuck the Royal Dalton, and if you're an opponent of the slots legislation and were convinced that "Chip$" Brightbill was as innocent as a newborn babe, you better sit down; we've got some bad news for you.

Simply put, after a cursory review was made of Brightbill's campaign finance report and a cross check was run on his donors, it was discovered that not only had he received tens of thousands of dollars from gambling interests and lobbyists for gaming interests but one of those contributions came from a source associated with a convicted felon who is seeking a slots license!

According to his own campaign finance reports between 2003 and 2005, Brightbill
received in excess of $50,000 either directly from gaming or gaming related organizations and/or lobbyists whose clients included gaming interests - including a $10,000 contribution in 2005 from D & L Realty. D & L Realty is owned by brothers Dominick & Louis A. DeNaples, and Louis DeNaples is an applicant for a slots license for the Mount Airy Lodge, which he purchased in 2004 for the purpose of turning it into a slots parlor.

Louis DeNaples is also a convicted felon with alleged ties to organized crime.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer of January 4, 2005, DeNaples received a federal felony conviction for fraud in 1978, and DeNaples has been referenced in multiple Pennsylvania Crime Commission reports since the 1980's.

Read the rest of the article at: Adventure$ With Chip: Thousands From Convicted Felon, Slots?


You know friends, the interesting thing in all of this is that Brightbill and the rest go so far out of their way to portray themselves as anti-gambling good-guys. If that is the case, then why do we have gambling coming to Pennsylvania? Indeed, why are they ALL taking money from the gambling interests?

If gambling is supposed to be so good, and healthy, and to cure the social and fiscal ills of Pennsylvania, why are all these legislators hiding it under a cloak of secrecy?

Finally, we note with disgust the appearance of still another patently dishonest (read: lying) advertisement in the Hanover Sun – the space sold to Chance Enterprises who now make the wild and totally dishonest claim of $16 million to local government. Now, as written, and still unamended, neither Act 71 (The Pennsylvania Gambling Act) nor Act 72 (The Homestead Tax Relief Act) have anything in them that guarantee any amount of money locally above and beyond the roughly $450,000 that would go to Straban Township.

In the same ad, we note, they have reduced their claim of 4,000 jobs to 3,000 (our previous argument still stands: there are not enough people in the area to fill 3,000 jobs), and 1,100 construction jobs. We remind those gullible enough to believe anything Chance Enterprises puts out that those construction jobs were promised to unionized workers, who basically do not exist in the area, and so would come in temporarily for the life of the job, and then leave, taking their incomes with them.

False and misleading advertising. Does the Hanover Sun have no standards? Must it rely on the FTC to enforce the rules regarding truth in advertising?

This is very disappointing to see the Hanover Sun become complicit in the scamming of the Adams County populace.


“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.