Friday, September 29, 2006

Tony Phyrillas: Lois Murphy is not my neighbor

I live in Pennsylvania's 6th Congressional District, home of Rep. Jim Gerlach, a moderate Republican seeking re-election to a third term in what has become one of the most contentious political fights in the country.

Gerlach's Democratic opponent is Lois Murphy, a lawyer who lives in the affluent Main Line area outside Philadelphia. Murphy ran against Gerlach two years ago and came within 6,500 votes of beating the incumbent thanks largely to John Kerry's coattails. She's back again, running essentially the same campaign she did in 2004.

The Gerlach-Murphy contest is one of the most closely watched in the country as Democrats attempt to regain control of Congress. The Democrats need to pick up 15 House seats and five Senate seats to wrest control from the Republicans.

Because Gerlach narrowly won re-election two years ago, he is considered one of the most vulnerable incumbents in Congress. Democrats smell blood and have sent in the wolves to do battle on behalf of Murphy, who could use all the help she can get.

The Harvard-educated Murphy is probably a smart woman, but she's a terrible campaigner, spouting off Democratic talking points by rote. She has yet to give voters in the 6th District a single reason she deserves to go to Congress other than she's not Jim Gerlach.

Murphy has never held political office, although she served as a campaign coordinator for Gov. Ed Rendell four years ago. She's been active in various liberal causes through the years, and if voters are being asked to judge Murphy by the company she keeps, she's in trouble.

Nancy Pelosi, the San Francisco liberal who fancies herself the next Speaker of the House should Democrats win in November, is featured prominently under the list of supporters on Murphy's Web site. The ACLU is also in Murphy's camp, sponsoring attack ads on Gerlach. Murphy is also backed by big labor, the pro-abortion lobby and an assortment of shadowy liberal political action groups.

Murphy is more comfortable at a cocktail party with Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and Barbara Boxer than at a factory, a farm or a middle-class neighborhood in the 6th District, which stretches across three suburban Philadelphia counties.

Which brings me to the point about why Murphy doesn't fit in with 6th District voters. Her campaign and Democratic Party operatives working on her behalf have bombarded voters with glossy mailings blaming Gerlach for high gas prices, the war in Iraq, global warming and the loss of manufacturing jobs in Pennsylvania.

Somebody should tell Murphy that her doom-and-gloom assessment of Pennsylvania's economy differs greatly from the positive spin Gov. Ed Rendell is putting on the state's business climate. Rendell is Murphy’s honorary campaign chairman, but the two apparently are not on speaking terms because they can't seem to coordinate their political attacks.

A recent Murphy mailing caught my attention because it began with the words "Dear Neighbor." That's rich. Lois Murphy is not my neighbor. She's a puppet of the far left who wouldn't have a reason to be in my neighborhood unless her limousine had a flat tire. Murphy isn't comfortable mingling with the common folk in the 6th District.

She resembles John Kerry during campaign stops. Murphy was extremely uncomfortable at a recent stop at a senior citizens' center. This wasn't the country club set that a limousine liberal like Lois Murphy is used to hanging out with.

And Murphy couldn't find her way to one of the sprawling family farms in Berks or Chester counties if you gave her a map and a compass. It's hard to represent a district when you've purposely avoided visiting 90 percent of it. In contrast, Gerlach spends a lot of time talking to regular people in his district about what’s on their minds.

Murphy is wrong for the 6th District in so many ways. The bulk of the 6th District is fiscally conservative, including most of the registered Democrats. Lois is a tax-and-spend liberal.

This is a woman who served as president and a board member of NARAL Pro-Choice Pennsylvania. NARAL is a lobbying group that pushes its pro-abortion agenda and threatens politicians who dare vote for parental notification when a child seeks an abortion.

Murphy goes to great lengths to avoid taking a stand on important issues. Would 6th District voters support someone who wants to raise taxes, give amnesty to illegal aliens, raid the Social Security Trust Fund, surrender to the terrorists in Iraq and force socialized medicine on Americans? Lois Murphy’s marching orders come directly from Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi and their positions are clear.

On her Web site and in campaign literature, Lois Murphy asks the question, "Wouldn't it be great to be represented by someone who shares your values and will stand up for what is right?"

I couldn't agree more with Murphy. I want a member of Congress who shares my values and stands up for what's right. That's why I'm voting for Jim Gerlach.

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

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

CASEY RONCAGLIONE: From The Campaign Trail

I have met many people in my campaign to be the State Representative for Upper Darby, Drexel Hill, East Lansdowne and Millbourne.

All have been gracious, many receptive, one was hard to convince. I knocked on his door and introduced myself, "Hi, my name is Casey Roncaglione and I want to be your next State Representative." No sooner had I finished speaking, the man said he would be voting for Mario Civera because Mr. Civera, who used to be a barber, cut his hair when he was a child. When I told him that Mr.Civera gets free haircuts now, paid for by the taxpayers, he began to listen as I went through the list of perks and freebies that Representatives get.

It's a long list for Mr. Civera, and I told him about some of them.

He gets catered meals, free haircuts, gym memberships, money for his Cadillac lease, travel expenses, food and lodging.

Free health care.

A daily per-diem pay of $141 a day.

"Legislative weekends" in Philadelphia which include free hotels, meals and sports tickets from lobbyists.

Up to $29,400 in office expenses.

A pension that was boosted by %50 in 2001 and free private attorneys to defend leadership against citizen complaints.

Millions of dollars in leadership accounts, where he sent his payraise money, that are used for political advantage.

And that is just a sampling of what we know about

The man at the door told me this was news to him. I'm not sure I changed his mind about his vote but he was definitely less happy about his haircut memories, and who knows what will happen when he does vote.
And that's the point.
In a time where taxes keep rising, along with the costs of daily living, how can Mr. Civera and fellow Representatives keep taking all these perks while hard working people are paying their own way everyday. I think it's about time that our State Representatives live more like the people they represent instead of treating our treasury as their own personal expense accounts. Why not use a state car, which is much cheaper, instead of a $650 leased Caddy. Contribute to the health plan like everyone else who has insurance. Say no to free gifts from lobbyists who expect favors in return. Pay for your own haircuts and meals.

The cost of state government is a burden on every taxpayer and leaves many worthwhile projects that would benefit our neighborhoods unfunded. Most of these perks would have been unknown to me and the man at the door if it had not been for the Payraise that Mr. Civera and fellow Representatives voted for themselves. The payraise was bad enough, but once the rug was lifted, we began to see how good our Representatives had made life for themselves.

A new Legislature will take over in January and there are many reforms and changes that need to be made. At the top of the list will be ending the free lunch for our Representatives. I'm hoping to be part of the new group of Representatives, and I'll definitely change the way things are done.

After all, our Representatives work for us not for themselves, though it seems many of them have forgotten that. I won't forget.

Casey R. Roncaglione
Democratic Candidate
164th Legislative District

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Tony Phyrillas: Activists rally in Harrisburg: Remember the Pay Raise

They're back!!!!!!!!

The Pennsylvania Legislature is back in session after a two-month summer vacation. A coalition of citizen activist groups greeted the well-rested politicians with a rally/press conference in Harrisburg on the one-year anniversary of the rally organized by the very same activists to mark the one-year anniversay of the infamous July 2005 midnight raid on the state treasury.

A lot has happened in the past two years, but it all comes down to what Pennsylvania voters do on Nov. 7. That's when Gov. Ed Rendell (who signed the pay raise into law) and all 203 members of the Pennsylvania House and 25 state Senators will be on the ballot.

If there was ever a time to take back this state from the greedy career politicians, this is it. Below is a release distributed today by Tim Potts of Democracy Rising PA. Also of note is the link to a 49-page report prepared by detailing the sorry mess that began with the payjacking of 2005.

Please print out the report and found out where your legislator stands. Some of these politicians are still refusing to return the money even through the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that "unvouchered expenses" are unconstitutional.

(As you all know by now, the members of the Supreme Court decided to keep their portion of the pay raise even though the court ruled that the process of handing out the pay raises was illegal. It's good to be a judge in Pennsylvania and to be able to rule on your own pay raise. We'll remember the judges in the 2007 and 2009 retention elections.)

It's time for voters to exact their revenge on Rendell and the Larcenous Legislators.

Democracy Rising PA News

September 26, 2006 717-243-8570


One year ago today, more than 1,000 citizens, standing in a gentle rain, presented their state officials with more than 130,000 signatures on petitions demanding the repeal of the pay raise.

Organized by Rock the Capital, the Rally for Repeal was a signal event in the long battle to restore integrity to Pennsylvania government, a battle that continues today. The signal to lawmakers was clear: repeal, repay, reform or resign.

One year later, the pay raise has been repealed, and 32 lawmakers have resigned while voters removed another 17 from office in the May primary election. But as Rock the Capital documents today, many lawmakers are keeping the unvouchered expenses that even our Supreme Court has ruled unconstitutional.

To see whether your lawmakers are among the unrepentant, go to

Participating in today’s news conference were

· Eric Epstein, Rock the Capital

· Matthew Brouillette, The Commonwealth Foundation

· Gene Stilp, citizen activist

· Barry Kauffman, Common Cause/PA

· Andrea Stalnecker, PA Clean Sweep

· Chris Lilik, Young Conservatives of PA

· Richard Schirato, PA Citizens for Legislator Accountability

Attached are two other documents. One is the statement by Democracy Rising PA Co-founder Tim Potts at today’s news conference. The other is Democracy Rising PA’s side-by-side comparison of the Roadmap to Reform with proposals by lawmakers during the past year.

The full Roadmap to Reform and its sponsoring organizations are at

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

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

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Tony Phyrillas: Should we call off the election?

Two new polls show Gov. Ed Rendell holds a commanding lead over GOP challenger Lynn Swann as the race for Pennsylvania governor enters the homestretch.

With about six weeks to go, Swann trails Rendell in one poll by 28 percentage points. Another poll shows Rendell ahead of Swann by an 18-point margin.

Maybe we should just call off the Nov. 7 election and declare Rendell the winner.

A funny thing about polls. They can be wrong. John Kerry was ahead in the polls in the 2004 presidential campaign every day in 2004. He was ahead of George W. Bush on Election Day. Even the exit polls had Kerry winning the presidency and you'd think people would have no qualms telling pollsters who they voted for after they had cast their ballots. Then the real election results started coming in. George Bush was elected president by 2 million votes.

Maybe we shouldn't be so quick to write off Lynn Swann. Maybe we should give Pennsylvania voters a chance to pick their next governor before we start making plans for Rendell's re-election party.

Something called the Keystone Poll shows Rendell leading Republican Lynn Swann 52 percent to 34 percent — with 14 percent undecided. Another poll, the IssuesPA/Pew survey, has Rendell so far ahead in the race, Swann needs to call a taxi to catch up. Rendell is ahead 58 percent to 30 percent, and 11 percent undecided, according to the IssuesPA/Pew poll.

Commenting on the IssuesPA/Pew poll, Swann campaign spokesman Leonardo Alcivar told the Associated Press, "We don’t believe this poll." Well, that settles it. Not surprisingly, the Rendell camp was ecstatic about the latest polls.

Campaign spokesman Dan Fee told the AP, Rendell was "gratified to know that voters are responding so strongly to the governor's record of achievement."

I don't get paid to say nice things about the governor or pretend he's doing a good job, so I'm having a hard time understanding Rendell's big lead in the polls.

Any impartial review of Rendell's record shows that he has been a terrible governor. Yet it appears Rendell will coast to reelection.

Never mind that he promised to cut everyone's property taxes by 30 percent and has failed to deliver on that promise in four years. Never mind that state spending has risen at twice the rate of inflation since Rendell took office to an astronomical $26 billion.

Never mind that Rendell raised the state income tax by 10 percent and imposed a $52 a year EMS tax on most working Pennsylvanian.

Never mind that Pennsylvania lags behind most other states in getting welfare recipients off the public dole and into jobs. Never mind that nearly 1 million Pennsylvanians don't have health insurance. Never mind that the casino gambling bill Rendell signed has loopholes big enough to drive a truck through.

Never mind that Rendell signed the notorious July 2005 pay raise bill into law and praised it as good legislation. Never mind that Pennsylvania has one of the highest corporate net income tax rates in the country, discouraging businesses from bringing jobs to the state.

OK, you get the picture.

Think of Rendell as the captain of the Titanic and the ship of state has struck the iceberg. The ship is going down and there's not enough lifeboats for all of us.

Six weeks is a lifetime in politics. Swann can still pull this one out. It won't be easy because Rendell, the darling of lobbyists and corporate fat cats, is sitting on $10 million in the bank and has already spent $10 million in television advertising. Swann's best chance to derail the Rendell victory lap will come in two televised debates scheduled for early October.

The first is Oct. 4 in Pittsburgh, followed by a second debate Oct. 10 in Philadelphia. Both will be carried live on television and will be rebroadcast on the Pennsylvania Cable Network. Swann has plenty of ammunition to go after Rendell and has a full hour of free television time to reach voters. If Swann is to have any chance of unseating Rendell, he must make his case during these two crucial forums.

And speaking of television, if you missed Thursday night's telecast of the "Journalists Roundtable" program, in which I joined two other panelists to discuss the Rendell-Swann race as well as the Casey-Santorum contest, you can catch the most scintillating hour on television this Sunday (Sept. 24) at 7 p.m. and again at 11 p.m. on your local PCN cable channel.

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

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Tony Phyrillas: Rendell soft on crime

One day after the FBI released a report showing that violent crime is on the rise across the United States and one day after GOP challenger Lynn Swann unveiled an ambitious anti-crime plan involving hiring up to 5,000 more police officers in Pennsylvania, Gov. Ed Rendell decided it was time to do something about crime.

Rendell announced $10 million in "Police on Patrol" grants to be awarded to police departments across the state to help them hire additional officers.

It's good to be the incumbent governor. You can pull money out of your pocket anytime you need to counter stinging criticism of your record.

Rendell, the former district attorney and two-term mayor of Philadelphia, has been oblivious to the rising crime rate in most of Pennsylvania's cities, including his beloved Philadelphia.

Is Pennsylvania a more dangerous place to live since Ed Rendell became governor? It sure is. The FBI statistics show it. Philadelphia's murder-a-day pace backs up those numbers.

And what is Gov. Rendell's solution to the deadly violence plaguing many Pennsylvania cities? The old liberal standby: Gun control. Rendell is pushing the legislature to enact a bill to limit gun purchases to one per day.

While that sounds like a reasonable approach, what are the odds that people who are gunning down their fellow Pennsylvanians purchased their gun at a store and filled out all the proper paperwork? Drug dealers, ex-cons and other low-lifes don't buy guns at gun shops. They buy them off the street or steal them. Limiting gun purchases to one a day is political pandering to pretend you're addressing the problem. It's what Rendell specializes in.

After four years of neglecting crime, Rendell is pretending he's serious about the issue. Does the fact that the election is less than 50 days away have anything to do with Rendell's new-found interest in fighting crime?

Today is the 263rd day of 2006. So far this year, 274 people have been murdered in Philadelphia. The city has already broken its previous year's homicide total of 272 and we still have a hundred days left in the year. More than 1,200 Philadelphia residents have been shot this year.

And it's not just a Philadelphia problem. Reading, which has a population of 80,000, had a total of 936 violent crimes reported in 2005, including 22 homicides. Two police officers have been killed in the line of duty by gunfire in the streets of Reading since 2004.

Allentown, Lancaster, Pittsburgh, York, Altoona, Chester, Wilkes-Barre, Williamsport. You name any city of significant size in Pennsylvania and you've got a problem with violent crime.

"Police on Patrol will provide the funding necessary to ramp up police presence on city streets and help to begin to stem the flow of illegal gun running, random violent acts against innocent citizens and drug trafficking across our commonwealth," Rendell said Tuesday in announcing the grants.

The question I have is where has Rendell been since 2003? Why wasn't this money delivered to police departments earlier? The answer is painfully clear: While people are dying on the streets of our cities, the governor is waiting until an opportune time to make the biggest political impact with this money.

Swann's approach is more comprehensive. If elected, Swann said he would authorize putting up to 5,000 additional law enforcement officers on the streets of Pennsylvania's largest cities by 2010.

At a campaign stop in Philadelphia, Swann said he would also increase enforcement of current gun laws, expand community-based crime fighting programs and create a "drug dealer registry" similar to sex offender registries, according to the Associated Press.

Rendell's plan is much more limited in scope. For three years, $50,000 grants will be awarded annually to selected communities who will commit to hiring new police officers for street patrols and will keep them on staff after the state funds expire, according to a Rendell news release.

Swann also said he would urge the legislature to enact legislation establishing a mandatory 25-year minimum prison term for some child sex offenders, with lifetime satellite monitoring after they are released. Seventeen states have enacted versions of the measure, called "Jessica's Law" for a 9-year-old Florida girl who was raped and murdered, the AP reported.

John Perzel, the Republican speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, has floated a plan to hire 10,000 more cops by 2010. Perzel's idea will be debated during the upcoming Committee of the Whole in the state House scheduled for Sept. 26.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett, who joined Swann in Philadelphia, said that law enforcement "has not been the focus" of the Rendell administration. That's an understatement.

When it comes to fighting crime and protecting the citizens of Pennsylvania, Gov. Ed Rendell has been AWOL.

Returning to TV

I'll be making a return appearance on the "Journalists Roundtable" program this Thursday at 8 p.m. on the Pennsylvania Cable Network Check your local cable service for the channel. PCN will repeat the one-hour program Sunday at 7 p.m. and again at 11 p.m.

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

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Tony Phyrillas: All you need to know about Lynn Swann

I've heard repeatedly that Pennsylvania voters don't know enough about Lynn Swann, the Republican candidate for governor.

This could explain Ed Rendell's commanding lead in the polls despite a shabby record as governor.

I'm not buying the excuse that voters don't know Lynn Swann. It's not like Swann has been hiding for the last 20 years. He's a legendary football player who is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, having led the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowl victories in his nine years with the team.

After retiring from football, Swann stayed in the Pittsburgh area and began a successful career as a broadcaster for ABC television. He has toured the country as a motivational speaker. Since 1980, Lynn Swann has been the national spokesman for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

Whatever you need to know about Swann can be found at his Web site, Swann's campaign even put together a 143-page paperback book about the candidate and his position on the major issues: "A New Direction: My Plan for a Better Pennsylvania." (They'll send you the book for a $10 donation or you can download it yourself from the Web site for free.)

Swann makes no secret of why he wants to be governor: "Our party needs a principled conservative with a vision to get government under control, lower the tax burden on our working families and job creators, and make sure that our children have the opportunity for a quality education that will give them the skills they need to succeed," Swann states on his Web site. "In short, we need a governor who offers fresh and energetic leadership and a vision that offers opportunities for Pennsylvanians."

What will Swann do for Pennsylvania if he's elected governor? He wants to cut property taxes, reform state government, create more economic opportunities, preserve Pennsylvania farms, pass medical malpractice reforms, get people off welfare and improve education.

Have you noticed that Ed Rendell hasn't given a single reason why he wants another four years as governor other than to keep doing more of the same.

The same things Rendell gave us in his first four years? Higher taxes, runaway spending, unregulated gambling, crumbling roads and bridges, congested highways, failing schools, secret deals with legislative leaders in the middle of the night and rising violent crime?

The choice we make Nov. 7 will determine Pennsylvania's future. Will you choose a burned-out career politician who has broken most of his promises or a political newcomer who has a vision for a better Pennsylvania?

We're running out of time to turn things around in Pennsylvania. We don't have the luxury of four more years of a mediocre governor whose only goal is to enrich his friends and political cronies. (See previous post: "Why Ed Rendell lost my vote.")

Ed Rendell has spent $10 million so far on television commercials designed to fool voters into thinking he's accomplished something since taking office. Why does an incumbent governor have to spend so much money on propaganda? Why is Rendell trying so hard to hide his record?

For those who say that Swann doesn't have the experience to be governor, consider this. How did Pennsylvania get into the mess it's in? Professional politicians like Ed Rendell got us into this hole. And the first rule of holes is: "If you're in a hole, stop digging."

If you're still thinking about voting for Rendell because you don't know enough about Lynn Swann, here's all you need to know:

Lynn Swann did not sign the July 2005 pay raise that gave the governor, judges and legislators pay raises of 16 percent to 54 percent. Rendell did. Rendell could have stopped the pay raise, but he joined the rest of the Harrisburg Hogs in raiding the public treasury and he even praised the pay raise vote.

Lynn Swann did not promise to cut property taxes for every Pennsylvania homeowner by 30 percent while running for the office in 2002, only to break that promise four years in a row. Rendell did.

Since Ed Rendell was sworn into office, property taxes in Pennsylvania have risen by $2 billion. Ed Rendell never met a tax hike he didn't like. Rendell also signed the largest increase in the state income tax in the state's history in 2003. Rendell signed the $52 EMS tax and raised fees for state permits and licenses.

If re-elected, Rendell will raise the state income tax again and will probably raise the state's gasoline tax, already one of the highest in the nation.

The Nov. 7 election is a referendum on Ed Rendell, a limousine liberal who will continue to pick your pockets until he's out of office. That's all you need to know about the race for governor.

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

Monday, September 18, 2006

Russ Diamond: Because They Can

Red flags should go up anytime a Court requires one hundred pages to explain its position, and the recent opinion by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court regarding the 2005 pay raise fiasco is no exception.

The case was unusual in its origin, as the Court reached down to combine three separate cases from lower courts for an opportunity to make a general legal opinion. One case challenged the constitutionality of the pay raise itself, while two others challenged the constitutionality of its repeal.

This combination allowed the Court to cherry pick arguments from briefs filed on behalf of many different parties in each case in order to form its eventual ruling. One wonders whether the Court would have made such a move had their own compensation not been at stake.

Logic would dictate that if the pay raise itself was unconstitutional, any issue regarding its repeal would be moot. But the Court approached it differently, establishing opinions regarding the repeal first, based upon the assumption that the pay raise was constitutional. Doing it any other way would not have allowed the preservation of the judicial raises.

While the opinion goes to great lengths to explain the necessity for an independent judiciary and demands that the other two co-equal branches of government be kept from stepping on judicial turf, it offers no reciprocal respect of the legislature’s prerogative to make a bill an ‘all or nothing’ affair by inserting a non-severability clause.

Another contradiction lies with the Court’s willingness to revisit its original ruling on unvouchered expenses, while on the other hand considering its 2005 opinion regarding legislative shenanigans with the slots bill to be rock-solid precedent. In other words, it’s acceptable to correct a twenty year old mistake but unacceptable to do the same for a decision made just last year.

The biggest insult to our intelligence, however, is the Court’s claim that it had nothing to do with the original pay raise legislation. Published reports from as early as November 2004 mention Chief Justice Ralph Cappy’s overtures to the legislature for a judicial pay raise.

The opinion opens with an explanation of the political implications of the pay raise and an account of the public fallout, including the first-ever non-retention of one of its own last year. With this in mind, the fact that the lone dissenter to this opinion is the very next justice up for retention in 2007 comes as no surprise.

The timing of this ruling raises questions as well. Is its release less than seven weeks before a general election an indication that the Court wished to ‘stick it’ to the legislature in return for botching pay raises for the judiciary? The emphasis on protecting judicial turf lends credence to the notion, as does the fact that public anti-pay raise furor has otherwise taken a hiatus of late.

In legalese, the Court needed one hundred pages to delineate why they restored their own pay raises, but in plain English it takes only three words: Because they can. This should come as no surprise to citizens who regularly follow the Court’s slicing and dicing of the Constitution’s plain language.

The usual follow-up to the brazen ‘because we can’ position is an equally arrogant question: So waddaya gonna do about it? The Court’s opinion actually hints at the answer.

“In our democratic form of government, there are other methods, besides lawsuits, which may serve as a corrective tool for legislative excesses, the primary method being the political process. This case has borne out the effectiveness of that process,” the Court notes.

The opinion fails to mention, however, that the same option is available to address judicial excesses. Pennsylvanians who wish to regain control of their government should choose to not retain members of the judiciary at future elections, following the precedent set last year with Russell Nigro.

Not just because we can, but also because it’s the right thing to do.

Russ Diamond is an Independent candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

110: Grand Theft Judicial

Let’s review the recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision on last year’s pay raise for you.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, under Chief Justice Ralph Cappy, the architect of the unconstitutional pay raise (or “payjacking” passed in the wee hours of an early July morning during last minute efforts to pass a state budget) of 2005, took under review the constitutionality of the entire pay raise of 2005 issue. Cappy recused himself, but still led the court, much as an ejected manager of a baseball team still manages from the runway behind the dugout. [Note: Cappy was also the creator of the “unvouchered expense” which allowed legislators to grab their raise immediately, thus inflating their salaries and their retirement funds at the same time!]

In short, the court found [in a single decision]:
  • The Pay Raise was unconstitutional
  • The Unvouchered Expense was unconstitutional
  • The repeal of the pay raise was constitutional
  • The legislators do not have to give the unconstitutional unvouchered expense money back
  • The portion of the unconstitutional pay raise that raised judicial salaries for all state judges was exempt from the constitutional repeal of the raise, passed after voters threw out a Supreme Court justice in the November Election
So, the raise and the unvouchered expense were unconstitutional, and the repeal was constitutional, except for the part dealing with the raises for judges, and the unvouchered expense money doesn’t have to be returned.

Is this unlike the child who buys his Mom a box of chocolates for Christmas and then eats most of them?

This ruling has Cappy’s greedy finger prints all over it.

But the worst of it is this: all the money previously returned by most legislators who took the unvouchered expense was never turned over to the state treasury – it was held by the clerks of the House and the Senate. Which means, our greedy legislative leadership can (and will) return the money to the legislators, since the Supremes have said they can keep it and also allow it to pad their retirement accounts.

Pardon me, dear taxpayer, but I would also point out this latest ‘BOHICA’ comes without benefit of any lubricant whatsoever.

Have you had enough yet?


Support Russ Diamond for Governor!

Support the Roadmap to Reform!

“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

Remember in November! Before you vote,

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

Thursday, September 14, 2006


This just in from friend Tim Potts at DemocracyRisingPA. It confirms our worst fears about the Pennsylvania Supreme Court under Chief Justice Ralph Cappy. Here are all the gory details of another major setback for the citizens of Pennsylvania. [We should have bagged both justices last November!]:

Democracy Rising PA News
September 14, 2006


The PA Supreme Court today:
· upheld the way the pay raise was passed;
· declared “unvouchered expenses” to be unconstitutional but allowed lawmakers to keep them – and the higher pensions resulting from them; and
· declared the non-severability clause “unenforceable,” thereby upholding the pay raise for some 1,200 judges throughout the state and local judicial system – including back pay to the date the pay raise was repealed last November.

This is a conspicuously bad decision by a court that has conspicuous contempt for citizens. It is further evidence of the need for a Citizens’ Constitutional Convention to assert the rights of citizens and to reform our courts. Here’s what the decision means to us:

1. The Supreme Court has declared again -- as it did in the gambling case – that stealth legislation is OK with them. They unanimously chose to ignore what the Constitution plainly says, what it plainly meant when it was written, and what the citizens plainly want from their government. From now on, the legislature will use this patently unconstitutional procedure any time it wants to hide what it’s doing from the people, knowing that the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania will not lift a pen to defend the democratic rights of citizens.

2. The Supreme Court’s ruling allows lawmakers to profit from an admittedly unconstitutional act The Court said lawmakers who took the unvouchered expenses “acted in good-faith reliance on the presumption of [the pay raise law’s] constitutionality.” Of course, there was nothing but bad faith in the way the pay raise was enacted – not one shred of good faith in the entire year-long process that was hidden from the citizens.

3. The legislature and the governor have abused the presumption of constitutionality that the court relies on. And now the Supreme Court has supremely abused the citizens’ presumption that the courts are fair and unbiased. None of those presumptions is valid, and none of those abuses will go unpunished.

4. The Court of Common Sense will remember this decision next year when judicial retention elections take place. The Supreme Court has given Pennsylvania citizens no choice but to vote off the bench every judge – at every level – who agrees with this gross misinterpretation of our Constitution.

5. This decision is further evidence that Common Cause, the League of Women Voters and others are right to take our cause to federal court. This ruling makes clear that Pennsylvania citizens can have no confidence that their Supreme Court is capable of making legally sound decisions that are faithful to the Constitution and the most fundamental principles of representative democracy.

6. The General Assembly and Governor should do two things as soon as practicable with due regard for the Constitution’s legislative due process rights of citizens that the Court has rejected:
  • Repeal the pay raise for all future judges who are not already on the bench. This will create a two-tiered payroll system, but there is no other choice to return control to the citizens over what they pay their public servants.
  • Create an independent panel, like the federal government’s Base Re-Alignment and Closure Commission, to regularly recommend salaries for public officials subject to approval by the General Assembly without amendment.
7. The decision blatantly contradicts Chief Justice Ralph Cappy when it says that “this Court did not play any role in the enactment of the legislation that became Act 44.” The Court’s assertion requires Cappy to release records of every meeting between himself and members of the other branches so that citizens can see whom he met, when, and what effect those meetings had on drafts of what became Act 44. The Court owes the citizens either an apology for this assertion or proof of its truthfulness.

8. Rumor has it that Gene Stilp is fitting the Pay Raise Pig for a judicial robe!

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

Thanks, Tim, although the news is bad, it is certainly not unexpected. We know Cappy is less than ethical to start with, and now we know it has spread to the rest of the state courts. Greed wins another round.

I'll bet this really frosts the legislators since the Judges all get their pay raise, all the way back to July of 2005. What a sick deal.

There is no shame in Harrisburg on the part of any elected officials including the judges, and that is a major problem. Get out your brooms for November!


Support Russ Diamond for Governor!

Support the Roadmap to Reform!

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

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

Remember in November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

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

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Tony Phyrillas: Why I hate Gov. Ed Rendell

I was on a radio program recently when a listener called in to ask why I hate Gov. Ed Rendell so much. I was surprised by the question. I'm not sure why the caller had the impression I hate Rendell. I've never met Ed Rendell. It's hard to hate somebody you've never met.

I think Rendell has been a terrible governor, but I never said I hate the man. I'm sure he's a nice guy. And it appears Rendell and I have a couple of things in common: We love the Eagles and we like to eat food that isn't good for us.

I helped elect Ed Rendell in 2002. I looked at his record as Philadelphia mayor. I reviewed his campaign promises and I bought into his vision for a "new Pennsylvania." I voted for him. Four year later, it's painfully clear that Ed Rendell lied to me (and a few hundred thousand other Pennsylvania voters).

There's an old expression: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." I trusted Ed Rendell. He betrayed that trust. I'll never vote for him again.

I believed Ed Rendell when he promised in 2002 he would cut property taxes. It's 2006. My property taxes have risen 22 percent since Rendell took office. Pennsylvania property owners have paid $2 billion more in property taxes under Rendell. You call that tax relief?

The pundits who say Ed Rendell is a sure bet to win re-election assume he will get every vote he did when he won in 2002. That's not the case. Rendell needs to find one more new vote this year because I won't be voting for him. Thousands of other Pennsylvanians — maybe hundreds of thousands — won't be voting for Rendell either. Unless Pennsylvania voters are just plain dumb, why would they vote for a politician who broke his promise?

In 2002, Rendell attracted Republican voters who weren't impressed with GOP candidate Mike Fisher, who never articulated why he wanted to be governor. Fisher had no vision for Pennsylvania's future. Unfortunately, Rendell's vision included raising taxes, increasing state spending at twice the rate of inflation and mortgaging the state's future with massive borrowing.

I know that independent voters and members of the Libertarian, Green and other third parties won't vote for Rendell in 2006. The Democratic Party, which is run by Rendell, has worked feverishly this year to deny third party candidates access to statewide offices.

Rendell has lost the anti-gambling vote. He told voters in 2002 he wanted to revive the state's horse racing industry by allowing slots at racetracks. Instead, he pushed a bill through the legislature that will bring 61,000 slots throughout Pennsylvania.

The casino money at the end of the rainbow is a mirage. Just look at New Jersey, which takes in $475 million a year from 20 full casinos. Rendell is promising $1 billion for tax relief from 14 slot parlors? Do the math. Rendell's scheme to cut taxes using casino revenues is built on a house of cards.

Rendell won't get support from the growing taxpayers' movement led by the Pennsylvania Coalition of Taxpayer Associations because he pushed Act 72 and later Act 1 down the throats of unsuspecting homeowners. Rendell's shell game with public school funding will mean higher school taxes for most Pennsylvania residents for years to come.

Rendell has lost the support of reformers. State government needs fumigation, but Rendell likes the "pay-to-play" culture of Harrisburg. He can do business with the legislative leadership that gave us the infamous July 2005 pay raise. Rendell signed the pay raise bill because he said he needed to "kiss a little butt" in order to work with the legislature.

Rendell has lost support of Pennsylvania physicians. He promised to fix the medical malpractice mess. Instead he gave us MCARE abatement which costs taxpayers 220 million a year and vetoed the Fair Share Act that he said he would sign into law if sent to him.

Rendell has lost the support of senior citizens who are smart enough to see through the dog-and-pony show Rendell puts on when it comes to tax reform. A $250 rebate for somebody who is paying $3,000 in property taxes isn't enough to buy Rendell a single vote.

Rendell has lost the support of the business community as he presides over one of the worst economic climates in the country. Forbes magazine ranks Pennsylvania 41 out of 50 states in business climate. High taxes and government regulations have driven out many of the state's businesses.

Nobody is more disappointed in Ed Rendell than I am. I hired him to do a job. I pay his salary. He works for me. He hasn't done the job I hired him to do. Four years of failure is all I can afford in a governor. On Nov. 7, I'm going to hire someone else for the job.

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

Saturday, September 09, 2006

PennPatriot Supports Casey Roncaglione, Democratic Candidate 164th District Pennsylvania House

Very rarely in the game of politics does one issue trump every other issue during an election. But, thanks to the pay raise one issue has reached this elite status. That issue is state government reform.

Why is reform so important? All you have to do is look the large amounts of gambling money that has poored into Harrisburg from gambling lobbyists, look at the way gambling and the pay raise was pushed through the state legislature and look at the late night backroom deals that has led our state government down the path of greed and corruption. After examining what has been going on in Harrisburg over the past three years, it's not hard to realize just what is at stake and why change is so important in this upcoming November election.

By pledging to advance the ideas of reform in Pennsylvania one enters a very new and exciting world. A world that is founded on values, ideas and friendships instead of party partisanship, greed and lobbyists. It is a world that crosses party lines and where a conversation on a blog or in an email could lead to new ideas or end up becoming a political movement. Yes reform is exiciting in Pennsylvania.

This is why I am pledging my support to Democratic Candidate for the 164th District State House of Representatives,
Casey Roncaglione. Casey understands what is at stake in this election and is dedicated to advancing the state government reforms layed out in Democracy Rising's Roadmap for Reform. Casey is challenging a tough Republican RINO, Rep. Mario Civera. Civera voted for the pay raise and had no intention of returning the pay raise after it was repealed. It is time for out of touch republican and democratic state legislators to get their walking papers from the voters this November.

Politics should be about doing the right thing. Casey has pledge to do the right thing as your state legislator. I would encourage the voters of the 164th District to step up and do the right thing by voting for Casey Roncaglione this November.

Our message to the people of Pennsylvania is simple. Lets work together to knock the greedy lobbyists, political pundits and power hungary politicians out of our state government. Please join PennPatriot Online and Gettysblog in supporting candidates like Casey Roncaglione that have pledged to advance reform in Pennsylvania.

One person can do a lot to help advance the reform movement.
  • Contact your local legislator and tell them to support the road map to reform
  • Tell you legislator to support changing the leadership in the State Legislature
  • Write a letter to the editor of you local Newspaper
  • Become an advocate for the road map
  • Email a friend and urge them to do the same
Please support these reform groups that are advocates for state government reform
For more information on state government reform check out IssuesPA & PA Taxpayers Cyber Coalition

If you are a PA blogger please join us in supporting the roadmap to reform.

Add the Reform Now Banner below to your website and link it to Encourage your visitors to support the Road Map to Reform. I will post those blogs that support the Road Map under the title of Blogs For PA Reform on PennPatriot Online. Drop me an email to be added to the list.

PennPatriot is the leading political blogger in the midstate area. Bookmark and read his blogs at:

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Tony Phyrillas: The incredible shrinking candidate

NBC's "Meet the Press" kicked off a two-month series of Senate debates Sunday with one of the marquee races in the country: Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, a two-term Republican, versus Bob Casey, the current state treasurer and perennial candidate.

A candidate for four different state offices in the past six years, Casey promised that his run for Senate would be his last. If you believe that one, I have some lakefront property in New Orleans I'd like to sell you.

Casey has a history of running for his next cushy political job as soon as he starts collecting a paycheck for the current one. Casey hasn't shown up for work in the state treasurer's office half the time in 2006, but has no problem collecting a hefty state paycheck.

What Casey really wants is to be governor of Pennsylvania, but his mentor, Ed Rendell, currently holds that job, and Rendell is seeking another four-year term this November.

If Casey becomes a U.S. senator, I guarantee you hell resign midway through the six-year term to run for governor in 2010, following the same path as Jon Corzine in New Jersey.

Imagining Bobby Casey Jr. as a U.S. senator is a stretch. The man has toiled in unimportant jobs like auditor general and treasurer, but has little to show for the many years of feeding at the public trough. He shuffles a lot of paper around and signs checks, but the fact that Casey can skip work half the year without anybody missing him says a lot about the work he does.

Casey has name recognition, his father was a two-term governor, and he has the backing of every far left political activist and blogger in the country. But he lacks gravitas. It's hard to take this guy seriously about anything.

Casey reminds me of John F. Kerry but with a lot less hair. He speaks in a monotone voice and never really says anything. He's a champion flip-flopper. He recites bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo but has no vision for Pennsylvania or the nation. He's a walking sleeping pill. Bobby Casey Jr. couldn't excite a crowd if he fired a Taser gun at his audience.

The joint appearance on "Meet the Press" gave Pennsylvania voters (at least those who watch public affairs programs on Sunday morning) an opportunity to size up the candidates side by side. Casey has avoided voters (and newspaper interviews) as much as possible, prompting one columnist to label him "Hermetic Bob."

I've read a few critiques of Sunday’s debate by the pundits and I'm scratching my head. Some political commentators are saying that Casey held his own against Santorum. I'm wondering if the pundits watched the same debate.

I thought Santorum mopped the floor with Casey, who appeared nervous, interrupted Santorum and host Tim Russert frequently and dodged most of Russert's questions. An exasperated Russert tried two or three times to get Casey to answer very basic questions, often to no avail.

Silent Bob Casey wasn't about to take a position on any important issues, especially with potential voters watching.

On Social Security, Casey said there's no problem. When Russert reminded Casey that the number of retirees will double in the next 20-30 years, Casey didn't seem to grasp the economics. (This is supposed to be the state treasurer, after all. I'm wondering if Casey needs a refresher in third-grade math.) If you have twice as many people (up to 40 million more) retiring and you depend on the same shrinking pool of workers to fund Social Security, where is the money coming from? Casey had no answer.

On runaway spending in Washington, D.C., Casey said he'd repeal the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 to reduce the debt. Last time I checked, the national debt was pushing $8.5 trillion. The Bush tax cuts add up to about $60 billion in lost revenue. These might big numbers for the state treasurer, but restoring $60 billion doesn’t make a dent in the $8.5 trillion debt.

On Iraq, Casey said we need a new direction. He didn't elaborate. (Think cut-and-run).

Casey enjoyed a 20-point lead in the polls earlier this year. The race is now a dead heat. As I've been saying for the past year, the more you know about Bob Casey, the less there is to like. More Pennsylvania voters are getting to know Casey. That's why Santorum has closed the gap.

Santorum is one of the brightest, most sensible, articulate and hardest working members in the U.S. Senate. He's the third highest-ranking member of the Senate and has done a lot for his home state. Voters aren't going to give up that kind of clout so Bobby Casey Jr. can get on-the-job training.

Santorum will win a third term to the Senate this November. Bobby Casey will return to his job of state treasurer and he’ll bide his time until 2010 when he will run for governor — against Republican Lynn Swann, who will defeat Ed Rendell on Nov. 7.

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

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

109: Go Get ‘em Ms. Harris!

It won’t be the Iraq War that hurts the Republicans in November. And it will be of little help to the Democrats, as some of them are already wisely perceiving. No, not the war. What will hurt the Republicans is the Republican National Committee and Republican incumbents.

Just as they have become in Pennsylvania, our other states and national Republican office-holders have lost their ear to the people, having succumbed to the rat-race of reelection campaign fundraising.

Suddenly from Florida comes a message: despite being publicly humiliated by the Florida Republican Party, and being branded a sure loser by them, Katherine Harris won her primary fight in the race to unseat incumbent Bill Nelson. She did so convincingly despite her own party’s detractors and nay-sayers.

Considering what national Democrats have been saying about her after her courageous stand as Florida Secretary of State in the 2000 Presidential Election, what the Republicans in Florida were publicly saying about her during the run up to yesterday’s Florida Primary Election was mild. However, what they were whispering privately to anyone who would listen rivals even the worst of the Democrats’ venom.

What became obvious to just about everybody in November and December of 2000 is that Katherine Harris is a woman of integrity and courage. Lesser lights would have cut and run, dumping the Florida Presidential vote on the courts with the pressure placed on Ms. Harris. Not Katherine Harris. She stood her ground, did her job within the confines of the Florida Constitution, and totally ignored the viciously mean and ugly things and personal attacks the Democrats were saying about her.

Now she has shown the same poise, the same courage, and the same integrity in the Primary Election, and obviously the voters love her for it. She is plain spoken and without the usual political guile that frames election speeches and interviews.

In short, she appeals to Conservative voters because she has class, integrity, courage, and poise. I doubt I would be able to ignore the ugly things that her detractors have been saying about her for nearly six years.

The Republican Party of Florida ought to be ashamed of the way they have treated Katherine Harris, and by rights ought to jump on her bandwagon now and do everything within their power to get her elected. Her election to the US Senate in November will bode well for Florida’s citizens, the Republican Party and the Bush administration.

Nope, it won’t be Iraq that hurts the Republicans in November, or the immigration debate. It will be the Republicans themselves who simply are not putting enough fresh blood into an idea-starved, ideologically challenged Congress.


We support the Roadmap to Reform!

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

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

Remember in November! Before you vote,

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

Monday, September 04, 2006

Why Roncaglione Trumps Civera

Reprinted from
GettysBLOG, and from THE CENTRIST.

We have roots in Delaware County, so we take an interest in the goings-on in that neck of the woods. A while back we surfed our way into several interesting blogsites from Delco, including, but not limited to:
Delaware County for a Better Democracy, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, and its companion blog, I Live In Delaware County. We were also caught up by the wonderful, wickedly pointed Common Sense, and have been disappointed that there have been no posts since May.

What really drew our attention was the website and blog of a rising young political hopeful who has the courage of his convictions to step up and challenge an entrenched RINO [Republican in Name Only] for a seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

Casey Roncaglione is a student at Temple University who got sick and tired of seeing the fat cats in Harassburg get fatter, more harassing and graft laden with every passing moment. Our General Assembly no longer represents their constituents, but rather represents only their members. Statewide, both political parties have abandoned their roots, endorsing candidates who seek only to feather their own nests at the expense of the taxpaying public. Casey Roncaglione seeks to unseat a card-carrying charter member of the Great Pennsylvania Legislative Graft and Mutual Influence Machine. The GPLG&MIM is comprised mostly of lawyers [no surprise there…and we all know what Shakespeare had to say about lawyers] who have perverted the Pennsylvania Constitution and made a mockery of the legislation supposedly enacted to protect the public from just such people as the current representative of the 164th Legislative District, one Mario Civera.

“Civera is entrenched in a legislative position of leadership and we do not want Delaware County to lose that edge.”, you reason. “Casey is young and inexperienced.”, you state.

It is for those reasons, among others, that Roncaglione, and other first time candidates facing long-term incumbents should be your first choice come November’s General Election. If you haven’t figured out by now that all that experience gained by Mario Civera is what has enabled him, and his fellow ‘fat cats’ to pass flawed and unconstitutional laws in an unconstitutional fashion [Act 71 of 2004, Act 72 of 2004, the Pay Raise of 2005], and to dance the Gamblers Dance with the lobbyists from the casino industry, milking them for what the State Legislators think is all they are worth, but in reality is only a pittance. In other words, our General Assembly members, especially those in leadership positions like Civera, can’t even commit graft to any degree of competency.

Our Pennsylvania General Assembly is an embarrassment, the laughing-stock of the nation. Pennsylvania is the only state in the nation with no lobbyist disclosure law [No, the weak piece of pseudo-legislation that John Perzel pushed early this summer would not have worked, and indeed, would allow the legislators to get away with even more than they already do!].

Elected officials from the Borough, Town Council, and Township level on up give only lip service to our toothless Sunshine Law, sometimes not bothering to conceal their contempt for it when they blithely declare, “It does not apply.”

And one has to wonder why the taxpayers of this once great Commonwealth are forced to pay much more than $1 million in legal and PR fees for the State Senator from Philadelphia, Prince Vince Fumo, who is under investigation by the Feds for money shenanigans allegedly involving his non-profit corporation. Pardon me, but I never okayed that money being spent for his personal legal expenses! No body ever asked me, either. This guy just walked into about $80 million when he sold his family bank, so its not like he needed the money…he simply felt he was entitled to it, so he went ahead and spent it!

Even worse is an arrogant Speaker of the House who just cannot keep his mouth shut, in spite of the sound advice to do so given by his tax-payer funded attorneys! Perzel has apologized for last summer’s pay raise – and then proceeded to defend it by pointing out that some of his legislators have bad credit because they don’t make enough money! [And these folks only work, what, 72 days a year? 77 maybe?]

What’s wrong with this picture?

That kind of hubris, that kind of graft and the corruption that goes along with it, that arrogant disregard for the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, that selfishness, and pure, unadulterated greed has gotten the citizens of Pennsylvania into a deep mess the remedy for which requires heroic efforts, courage, and determination on the part of the Pennsylvania Electorate.

Look, I am a conservative [currently abandoned by my party], but to me that is irrelevant. This problem is deep enough that it transcends partisan politics.

The chronicler of the Constitutional Convention, and fourth President of the United States of America, James Madison wrote, "I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."

That describes exactly what has happened in Pennsylvania.

There is something rotten in the State of Pennsylvania, and it is the General Assembly. People like Fumo, Perzel – and his lackey Mario Civera – have put us in a condition of terrible jeopardy by their utter greed and avarice. They have made me ashamed to be from Pennsylvania.

Call Casey Roncaglione a crusader, but that is exactly what we need. Casey’s élan, and intellect should serve us well in the House of Representatives. He has shown an insightful and analytical mind, clearly grasping the issues, and identifying the problems that need to be solved. He has embraced the
Roadmap to Reform, and has vowed to work for meaningful changes in the way the General Assembly conducts the business of legislation. [click on the thumb print to visit the Roadmap to Reform.]

Roadmap to Reform

Mr. Roncaglione will provide a breath of fresh air in an otherwise foul and odiferous environment. We pray there will be many like Casey: new members of the legislature. For every new person elected, an incumbent is not. That is a first step to victory for the reform of our state government. Casey Roncaglione has much to offer the people of the 164th District, and the citizens of Pennsylvania. Explore his blog, and his website Casey Roncaglione for State Representative, and see what he is all about. Make an effort to get to know who he is and what he stands for. I think he’d make a pretty good Republican; I also think he’s pretty good for a Democrat! He’s genuine, folks. And he is one of you/us.

We urge you in November to first make sure you go to the polls and vote. When you vote, we urge you to vote to regain control of your Commonwealth, and the way to do that is to vote out Mario Civera, complicit in what is very wrong in Harrisburg, and elect Casey Roncaglione, to give Delaware County and Pennsylvania a fresh, clean start.

Remember in November! Vote! And when you do, VOTE RONCAGLIONE!

Novus Livy

Novus Livy writes two blogs,
GettysBLOG, for issues affecting Gettysburg and Adams County, and THE CENTRIST, a Conservative blog dealing with National and State issues.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Tony Phyrillas: The left blames Bush for poor people

Here's a news flash. Poor people have been around for a long time. You can look it up in the Bible, which was written 2,000 years ago. The Gospel of Matthew attributes these words to Jesus Christ: "For you have the poor with you always, but me you do not have always." Matthew 26:11

But to hear the liberal media, poor people magically appeared in the United States on the day George W. Bush was sworn in as president in 2001.

The anti-Bush media jumped all over a new report by the U.S. Census Bureau on the poverty rate in the United States. Newspapers ran headlines such as "More poor" and "Swelling poverty risk seen in U.S." and "Rising economy leaves Americans behind."

I doubt that many of the partisan scribes took time to actually read the 86-page report. If they had, they would have reached the same conclusion that the Census Bureau did: "Real median household income increased between 2004 and 2005. Both the number of people in poverty and the poverty rate were not statistically different between 2004 and 2005."

The poverty rate for whites — which make up the majority of people below the poverty level — decreased, while the overall rate was statistically unchanged, the Census Bureau concluded.

After four consecutive years of increases, the poverty rate stabilized in 2005. That should have been the front page banner headline in every newspaper in the country. Since a high of 22.4 percent in 1959, the first year for which poverty estimates are available, the poverty rate in the U.S. has dropped nearly in half.

The poverty rates under George W. Bush are lower than they were in the 1990s when Bill Clinton was president. But you'll never see the left-wing media report anything positive about the Bush economic recovery. And you'll never see any criticism of the Clinton era, especially with Madame Hillary Clinton, the darling of the liberal media, about to make her much-anticipated assault on the White House.

There were 37 million people living in poverty in 2005, or 12.6 percent of the U.S. population. The poverty rate for whites dropped to 8.3 percent in 2005 from 8.7 percent in 2004.

Poverty rates remained statistically unchanged for blacks and Hispanics between 2004 and 2005 even with the devastation that predominantly black New Orleans suffered in 2005.

Whites account for about 44 percent of people in poverty and 66.7 percent of the total U.S. population. Where is the Rev. Jesse Jackson to decry the horrible state of poverty among white people in this country?

The federal government has spent more money on anti-poverty programs during the Bush administration than at any other point in history. Same goes for funding public education in America's poorest school districts. And for all the shameful race-baiting the liberal media engaged in during Hurricane Katrina (and continues today on the one-year anniversary of the disaster), liberals can't ignore the fact that black home ownership is at an all-time high in the U.S. and there's a thriving black middle-class under the Bush administration.

If poverty is something the government can solve by raising taxes and redistributing the nation's wealth, why hasn't poverty been eradicated over the past 40 years? Why didn't Lyndon Johnson or Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton eliminate poverty when they were in the White House?

Don't get me wrong. It's a national disgrace that we have so many Americans struggling to get by while many others are living in the lap of luxury. Blaming Bush is not the solution. And the Democratic Party, as usual, has no answer for any of the nation's problems.

Here's another detail the liberal media forgot to mention. The income and poverty estimates released by the Census Bureau are based solely on income before taxes and do not include the value of "noncash benefits such as food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, public housing and employer-provided fringe benefits."

Here's what got missed in the fine print as the left-wing media rushed to blame George Bush for poor people.

Real median income of households in the United States rose by 1.1 percent between 2004 and 2005, from $45,817 to $46,326. Real median income of households rose by 2.9 percent in the Northeast and 1.5 percent in the West. Statistical declines in median income were recorded in the Midwest and the South.

The moral of the story is don't believe what you read in the left-wing press, including the New York Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Don't believe the mainstream television media (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN) which promote the far-left agenda of liberal elitists.

Next time you read something in one of those big city liberal newspapers that sounds fishy, go to the source yourself. You can download the entire report on poverty from the Census Bureau's Web site at

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