Thursday, November 03, 2005

57: "Our Pennsylvania Ship of Fools"

Arrogance is a fool’s disease.

Let’s talk a moment about what is going on in the Pennsylvania legislature, that Ship of Fools that arrogantly sailed into an ice berg called “Voter Anger” last July. The leadership of both houses, and the Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court were complicit in drafting and passing the enormous 16-34% pay raise for legislators and judges. We will name names:

In the Senate: David J. Brightbill (R-Lebanon), Jeffrey E. Piccola (R-Dauphin), Robert J. Mellow (D-Lackawanna), Michael A. O'Pake (D-Berks), Robert J. Thompson (R-Chester), and King Vincent J. Fumo (D-Philadelphia), and of course Robert C. Jubelirer (R., Blair), President Pro Tempore of the Senate.

In the House: H. William DeWeese (D-Greene), Mike Veon (D-Beaver), Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia), Samuel H. Smith (R-Jefferson), David G. Argall (R-Schuylkill), Brett Feese (R-Lycoming), and last but not least, the biggest and most arrogant fool of all, John M. Perzel (R- Philadelphia – Speaker of the House).

In the State Supreme Court: Chief Justice Ralph J. Cappy.

These are the wonderful folks, possessed by greed and fool’s arrogance, who brought you the Midnight Raise of 2005. They are from BOTH parties, and represent the leadership of the Pennsylvania Legislature, and were consulted and egged-on by Chief Justice Cappy.

These are the same folks who have dug in their heels over the past four months by steadfastly refusing to consider a repeal. In their fool’s arrogance, you see, they can not be wrong.

These are the same folks who were overrun by the Senate and House floor membership yesterday, when a revolt was staged against the legislative leadership. First in the Senate, by a 50-0 vote, then, later in the evening, in the House, with only DeWeese and Veon voting against the repeal, with some changes to what the Senate passed. So, as of this moment, there is no repeal. The two houses must reconcile their different versions into one package that is acceptable to all. Word in the press is that the main sticking points are the raises of the judges, and repayment from those who opted to start collecting their raises early.

Certainly, by the time the repeal legislation was forwarded to the House for action, the leadership had begun to rally its forces, wielding threats and promises to defeat the repeal. One major piece of information likely passed down from Chief Justice Cappy was the potential problem with a part of the State Constitution that says that no judicial salaries can be lowered unless all state salaried positions are reduced. However, it is the opinion of this blogger that this would not apply to a repeal of a pay raise, but rather to legislative or executive action done in a cost cutting move.

As mentioned in an earlier blog, this whole action was designed to divert and mollify voter anger at the legislature over the pay raise.

Too little, too late. And it ain’t just about the pay raise! It is about the way power is wielded in state politics, particularly in the legislature, where greed has taken a firm hold since the Republican Majority was seduced onto the rocky shoals of the Gaming Bill (Act 71 of 2004) by offering the legislators a written-in clause allowing them to own parts of casinos. Never mind that the leadership of the legislature, along with the Governor, are the very people who appoint members to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Commission.

Where is Chief Justice Ralph Cappy on that piece of ethical confusion? Clearly, this is a conflict of interest. Cappy ruled on the Constitutionality of Act 71 a few months back, even venturing beyond the scope of the lawsuit filed against the Act. Too bad he could not see his way clear to rule on that conflict!

Worse, last night late, the Pennsylvania Senate committed some millions of taxpayer dollars to the gaming industry in order to treat victims of the gaming industry, which include compulsive gamblers, alcoholics, domestic violence victims, and others.

Voters and Taxpayers should be asking themselves if they really want to be involved with an industry that feeds off addictions, creates domestic, civil, and criminal problems, and increases the load on the social services system? Your legislature is committing millions of dollars to the peripheral support of the gaming industry, and requiring warnings about addiction to be posted in all casinos!

What is wrong with this picture?!?!?!?!

A companion bill to the gaming legislation was Act 72, passed solely to assuage anyone who objected to gambling in Pennsylvania. It was called the Homestead Act, and it took money from the gambling industry, and spread it to all the school districts in the state who wanted it, so homeowners taxes could be rolled back. About 400 of the 502 school districts in the state declined the money, most because they did not wish to surrender their right to control tax rates (the law would have required tax rate changes to go through voters’ hands). Nevertheless, it failed, by 80% to 20%.

Our Governor, Fast Eddie Rendell, has vowed to force the gambling proceeds on the school districts, in spite of the overwhelming objections to it. Many of the school districts simply do not believe the money will be there. Some object to the taint of gambling on the money. But in his arrogant foolishness, Fast Eddie insists. Why? Perhaps it has something to do with his consistent, and repeated trips west to beg political campaign contributions from the gaming industry, something he started on a national basis a few years ago as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and has continued unabated since he became governor. In return for all those political contributions, he committed Pennsylvania to being open to gambling.

See where all this is coming from now?

"Greed knows no limits, and has no character. Greed endures no absolute moral values, and has its own ethics. Greed has no memories but vengeful ones. Greed has no friends, and no family, only partners, and partners are expendable. Greed consumes and corrupts absolutely. Greed is blind to itself."

Greed has afflicted our entire state government.

The Fat Cats get fatter, and more numerous daily, as more and more are “cut into the action”, be it gambling, or pay raises. The political machines promise, and threaten to get their way, with absolutely no input by the citizens of the state. Take a look at the state website for the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Click on "Officers" for either house. Click on their names, then, and look at the occupation most of them list: "Politician". No one should be a career politician. The very idea of that is an affront to our Founders. The citizens of Pennsylvania have been fleeced for years, by both parties.

The current crop of legislators are so blindly and foolishly arrogant that they think they can get away with anything.

It is up to the citizens of Pennsylvania to convince them how wrong they are. You have read it here for months, since before the Midnight Pay Raise: Turn them out of office, every single one! There is no way to tell the good from the bad, so clean house, and start fresh.

It starts next Tuesday. VOTE NO on RETENTION for Justices NIGRO AND NEWMAN of the State Supreme Court. Serve notice that you, the citizens of this once great Commonwealth, are seizing control of state government, as is your right, and duty!

Before you go out the door on Tuesday to vote, check here. We’ll remind you of what you need to do.

And always remember, “Legislation without representation is tyranny!”

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Legislation without representation is tyranny.

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