Friday, September 09, 2005

47: "Operation Clean Sweep"

This just in from our friend Russ Diamond at Operation Clean Sweep (see sidebar):
It's been over two months since the General Assembly unconstitutionally boosted its own pay. They've been blasted in print, trumped on talk radio and the subject of derision around water coolers and on the Internet.

Incumbent reaction to the public outrage has ranged from apologetic backtracking to condescending defiance to incomprehensible silence. But that's just the beginning - they've been on vacation the whole time. When they return to Harrisburg in a few weeks, Pennsylvanians should be prepared for what's next.

Caught a bit off guard by the negative spotlight, they'll be eager to wipe this issue from your mind. But beware of lawmakers bearing gifts.

A few are already delivering slick campaign materials disguised as "legislative updates" and televised "public service announcements" trumpeting their duplication of state agency functions. Others are planning to set up "trust funds" and "foundations" with their unconstitutional booty.

Some have introduced repeal bills to prove their mettle. Others will be dipping their toes in the proverbial waters through co-sponsorship. They may repeal the unconstitutional income of unvouchered expenses. They might repeal Act 44 entirely, although this is doubtful. But it is no big secret that leadership stands stubbornly in the way of these initiatives.

They may then attempt to tackle a few select hot button issues such as the minimum wage, property taxes or fuel prices. They'll start to show up at community functions. They'll bring oversized novelty checks bearing the name of your favorite cause when the cameras are available.

In short, they'll try to impress upon Pennsylvanians that we have a good legislature, out there fighting the good fight. But it's all a ruse. Don't be fooled for a minute. Beware of lawmakers bearing gifts.

A quick review of the last few years serves as a reminder of the true nature of our General Assembly.

The shameless court-approved scheme of Act 71, the slots bill. The absolute debacle known as Act 72. Notoriously late budgets, including the six-month fiasco of 2003. The dubious Growing Greener II initiative. No progress whatsoever on our astronomical health care crisis, crumbling infrastructure or broken public education system.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania flounders in personal income, job and population growth as compared to other states. Over 130,000 manufacturing jobs lost since 2000. We outpace every other state when counting young people who leave for gainful employment elsewhere. But general fund spending has increased by a whopping 18 percent since FY 2002-03. And then came Act 44 - the pay raise - the last straw.

Despite all the real problems the legislature should have seriously addressed in recent years, the only subject the ruling class seems willing to take action on is increasing your tax burden through more spending and indulging themselves with more riches and perks.

So what are we to do in the interest of correcting this situation? You could sign a petition, but petitions have no legal standing. You could file a lawsuit, but in light of Chief Justice Ralph Cappy's public support of Act 44, chances for success are in serious doubt.

There is only one legal solution no legislator can escape for any reason other than retirement or resignation - facing re-election. In 2006, 228 of the 253 lawmakers across the Commonwealth must face the challenge of the ballot box.

Only one group is working to provide qualified opponents for all 228 incumbents statewide - PACleanSweep. The major political parties may also provide a few opponents, but the parties are part and parcel of how we got into this predicament in the first place. PACleanSweep is not a political party. Ours is a non-partisan effort, recruiting and uniting candidates from all political affiliations.

We have a plan to challenge these incumbents - every last one of them, regardless of how "nice" they may seem. They aren't elect to be nice, they're elected to serve your district and Pennsylvania as a whole while upholding and defending the PA Constitution. According to the realities enumerated above, they have failed on all counts.

I urge you to visit our website at to find out more about this once-in-a-lifetime plan. And please - beware of lawmakers bearing gifts.

At PACleanSweep, we're looking for founding fathers for a NEW Pennsylvania. Founding mothers, too.

Russ Diamond, Founder, PACleanSweep has attracted over 59,000 unique visitors and 3300 subscribers since July 18. 21 candidates have signed the PACleanSweep Declaration and have pledged to challenge incumbents in 2006.

Pass it on!

We support friend Russ and his efforts at Operation Clean Sweep. The current crop of legislatiors have dishonored themselves, their constituents, and this Commonwealth by their actions. Please visit the Operation Clean Sweep website and join their efforts. Even better, consider running for office!

“Legislation without representation is tyranny!”


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