Friday, October 14, 2005

54: "Operation CleanSweep Update"


This just in from friend Russ Diamond at Operation CleanSweep:


PACleanSweep Opinion
October 14, 2005

Turn Out the Royal Justices


In 1794, Alexander Hamilton wrote, "the political putrefaction of Pennsylvania is greater than I had any idea of." Sadly, we've only gone downhill from there. The problem is one of culture - a culture of arrogance and greed among elected officials.

The insulation from reality in Harrisburg neither begins nor ends with the General Assembly. Yes, like thieves in the night they voted themselves a 17 to 54 percent pay raise, but Governor Ed Rendell quickly hailed the action and signed the bill into law (Act 44), while Chief Justice Ralph Cappy called the lawmakers' actions "courageous."

The rest is history, as they say. The public fumed. Some lawmakers backtracked by giving the money back or co- sponsoring repeal bills sure to die in committee. The Governor now admits the "unvouchered expenses" may be illegal and calls for their repeal. But the Chief Justice remains firmly in favor of the payjacking.

Why? Because the culture of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is as bad or worse than in the legislative or the executive branches.

According to the Associated Press, the "state's seven Supreme Court justices last year billed taxpayers for a total of $164,000 in food, travel and lodging," and "an analysis of expense records revealed that some expenses were not accompanied by receipts or vouchers, and some receipts were vague in describing the expense." The expenses were reimbursed nonetheless.

Luxuries the Supremes believe you should underwrite include $1766 framed pictures, car washes for their taxpayer-funded vehicles, $300 dinners and junkets to the Bahamas.

Justice Russell Nigro, despite a Supreme Court policy discouraging charges for booze, billed you $85.00 for a bottle of wine and $123.00 for three other bottles. Earlier this year he charged you $1,254.12 for four dinners and one lunch.

Justice Sandra Schultz Newman billed you for OnStar service in her taxpayer-funded 2004 Cadillac SRX. This seems a bit odd when the records show she effectively bought her seat on the bench with nearly $1.7 million of her own money.

These are not snapshots of public servants, but portraits of royalty. Their salaries of more than $170,000 per year put them among the highest paid in the nation. Their $17,000 benefits package far exceeds anything most Pennsylvanians could ever hope for.

Behind the ruling class mentality, however, is an absolute disregard for the plain language of the PA Constitution. Shortly before the pay raise, the Court upheld Act 71 - the slots bill - which clearly violated Article III, Section 1. The Court made a similar ruling in 2002 in a case involving the PA School Boards Association.

These rulings and others paved the way for the General Assembly's payjacking, which violates both Article III, Section 1 and Article II, Section 8 (twice). Lawmakers bought some insurance by including raises for the executive and judicial branches and making Act 44 "non-severable." What judge could impartially rule on their own pay raise?

Further, the Court works on the assumption of the legislature acting constitutionally, a theory most citizens recognize as an utter fairy tale.

Cappy, the architect and lobbyist for the judicial payjacking, defends lavish expenditures for attending conventions as a way to gain respect nationally for the Supremes, but many legal scholars and analysts consider our Court a laughingstock. Although a lawsuit challenging Act 44 has been filed, even kangaroos would hop away from the Court in this particular case.

Pennsylvania has indeed gone downhill since Hamilton's time and perhaps we've hit rock bottom. If so, there's nowhere to go but up. One method is to replace lawmakers. Another is to turn out the Royal Justices.

Both Newman and Nigro face a retention election on November 8. They have no opponents. Voters are merely asked if they'd like to keep these two on the bench or not. It's a simple yes or no question.

At PACleanSweep, we believe the time to get Pennsylvania moving back in the right direction is now. The culture of arrogance and greed has not served the Commonwealth well. We ask every Pennsylvanian to join us in voting a resounding "NO" on Newman and Nigro on November 8.

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 PaCleanSweep.com

For More Information
Russ Diamond
PACleanSweep Chair
info@pacleansweep.com

Thanks Russ! Keep those reminders coming! It's about time Pennsylvania voters stood up to this arrogance of power in Harrisburg. Our elected officials, in all three branches of government, have set about creating a separate socio-economic class for themselves, while ignoring the needs of the citizenry. “Legislation without representation is tyranny!”

GettysBLOG

“Remember in November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!”

“Legislation without representation is tyranny!”

Please remember to donate your time, talent and funds to
NoCasinoGettysburg either at their office or website.

NO Casino Gettysburg
Box 3173,
Gettysburg, PA 17325

or contact them via the phone at 717-334-6333.

http://www.nocasinogettysburg.com/

Thank you for donating!

Copyright © 2005, GettysBLOG and GettysBLOG2. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, October 10, 2005

53: “Threats and Lies in Gettysburg”

A pair of investors from Chance Enterprises, the money group behind the proposed casino in Gettysburg, made another foray into the public arena recently. First, Mrs. Barbara Ernico, a Camp Hill based do-gooder, posted to the No Casino Gettysburg message board the other day, with an incredible threat [proving once again why she should not be allowed out in public!]. Second, Mr. David LeVan graced us with his personal “wisdom according to Dave”, that is based on so many fundamental dishonesties as to be patently absurd, in the Gettysburg Times [The Voice of Development in Adams County.]

[Please note: Everything indented is direct quote. We wouldn't make this stuff up...honest! GettysBLOG's responses are in bold, non-indented.]

First Mrs. Ernico, doing her best Marie Antoinette impersonation -- KEM is the person to whom she was responding on the No Casino Gettysburg Message Board...and by the way, has anyone asked themselves why Chance Enterprises does not run a message board on their website?:

I have become an investor because I believe the casino will provide much needed revenue to Adams County and that the people of this community will not be harmed. They don't have to be harmed if we all work together, responsibly, to build and support Adams County.

That is a threat. Barbara Ernico administers grant money in Adams County for the Hoffman Charitable Trust. She is actually threatening to cut off funding to non-profit groups in Adams County if the investors don’t get their way!

She went on to say...

So you, KEM, who are purported to live in Connecticut, know what is best for this community?! If you lived in the area, you would know what kind of red ink the county and borough governments are looking at in their budgets.

Irrelevant. The casino will not address this.

You would know how many good family farmers are not able to make a living anymore from the "fruits" of their labors and are selling their farms.

They are selling their farms because dishonest local government rezones them and developers come in and offer big cash. Duh!

Just how flat has the historic tourism been in the last few years?

Not flat at all. Its up. This is a lie. But Chance Enterprises people have been blatantly lying about the economic benefits of the casino from day one. They want to bring jobs to a county with the lowest unemployment rate in the state. They want to draw in more tourists for the tourism industry (thank you very much, but no thanks), the National Park here does just fine without you. In fact, it has been shown through reliable polls that the presence of a casino here will cut off many visitors from returning.

How hard have the borough people worked for the past 5 years to bring those battlefield [sic?] to the downtown? How many hours does the average battlefield visitor spend in Gettysburg?

That's because it WAS part of the Battlefield, and this actually argues against the casino issue.

Do you know how many millions of dollars Adams County lost in federal funds for programs for children and families last year?

Irrelevant. Barbara does not know the answer to this either. She is blowing smoke. She is also restating her threat, making it more potent because the county’s social service network has (according to her) lost government funding. The casino will not replace any losses, even if there were any. Federal and state funding for social service is up every year, and the need for such services in Adams County is incredibly low due to the good employment figures! Finally, the Pennsylvania Gaming Act, Act 71, has nothing in it that addresses funding of social service of any kind.

How many of these No Casino people sit on the Boards of Directors of local non-profit organizations trying to raise funding for local programs and solve local problems?

What a load of c**p! We have a do-gooder tooting her own horn to try to gain credit for trying to wreck the county by bringing a casino here...this is all totally irrelevant to the issue! This once again reiterates her threat to cut funding streams from the Hoffman Charitable Trust. Perhaps the Hoffman Trust folks would have an interest in seeing the person who makes the decisions on where their money goes, making such threats on behalf of an organization with which they have no connection!

Have you read the Healthy Adams County report on the rising juvenile crime and the staggering drug problem in Adams County?

And the casino would address this by adding to the rising crime rate and make the drug problem, which is NOT staggering, truly staggering. More silliness by Mrs. Ernico.

I don't live here KEM, but I know the answers to the questions I raised.

I do live here, and I know she is asking irrelevant questions, that have nothing to do with the casino issue. And she cannot prove otherwise. Further, it should be noted that, if Chance Enterprises is so concerned for Adams County, why is David LeVan the only one who lives in Adams County? [Do you want all those profits leaving Adams County, or would you rather see them stay here?]

KEM, in your arrogance, you do not know me! and you don't know what is best for Adams County. And the same goes for you Missouri, and Texas (who disappeared, but still may log in) and the rest of you out-of-towners. And, sadly, the same goes to the in-town No Casino people.

So, if it applies to all out-of-towners, it therefore must apply to her as well. It is odd that she can apparently recognize arrogance in others but not when she looks in the mirror.

Her whole post is actually pretty stupid. She does not do well in public. Primarily, she cannot help being unaware of her arrogant, “let-them-eat-cake” attitude. It shines through her words.

Specious argument is the mainstay of Chance Enterprises. Barbara Ernico specializes in it, so does David LeVan. It is the use of attractive argument that has the ring of truth to it, but is arguably false. In other words, it’s a pack of lies.

Take for example, this letter to the editor of the Gettysburg Times from October 7, 2005, by David LeVan.

Letter to the Editor, Gettysburg Times, October 7:

Editor,
Gettysburg Times:

In the wake of comments made by Pennsylvania's Governor concerning gaming here in Gettysburg, I would to like to reiterate the facts behind the Gettysburg Gaming Resort and Spa. Have we decided to fold our tents and go elsewhere? The resounding answer is, "No." We continue to believe in this venture and we will not be deterred.

Well, “others” will have a say in this insult to our community.

Those of us directly involved with this facility agree that gaming should not be placed two blocks away from historic sites, as the governor described with the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. That is why we chose a location that is almost two miles outside of Gettysburg borough and our hallowed battle grounds of the Civil War that Americans regard with pride and respect.

Two blocks, or two miles, the concept is the same. LeVan and Chance Enterprises are trading on a sacred national shrine, and trading on that shrine’s nationally recognizable name. Just as Las Vegas is identified with gambling, so Gettysburg is identified with national history of such significance that the two would never be confused…nor should they be. To build a casino in Adams County is to dishonor the men who fought here, who bled here, who died here. Apparently Abraham Lincoln’s words have no value to Mr. LeVan, nor to any of the investors. And herein lies the problem for Chance Enterprises, the investment group behind the casino, and which David LeVan leads. As much bad publicity as this enterprise has garnered so far (and it is an unmitigated public relations disaster for the casino group), no major casino management corporation would agree to back this effort and run it for the investors. The No Casino group has national and international backing from any number of highly respected organizations, and individuals. Harrah’s, Donald Trump, Steve Wynn, are three of the largest and best known major players in Las Vegas, and they would not accept the publicity fight that Chance Enterprises is so badly losing. This blogger suspects that prior to Mr. LeVan’s angry threats on the No Casino Gettysburg message board this past summer, wherein he threatened to sue a number of people for libel, that Chance Enterprises lost their Casino management backer. The suspicion is that they have since found another backer, but no one so credible or famous as the major players from Las Vegas and Atlantic City. They continue to shield their backer from the public, unwilling to allow the fight to spread to them. Other potential licensees readily publish who their backers are. Harrah’s for example, is hopeful of being one of the casinos in Philadelphia, while Trump is vying for the other one there.

While we agree any gaming facility should be placed far from historic sites, we do not believe Gettysburg's historical significance should bar the entirety of Adams County residents the economic opportunity the Gettysburg Gaming Resort and Spa will prromote. This project will involve a slots-only parlor and will result in new annual tax revenue in excess of $10 million for our area, as well as new jobs and expanded economic development.

Philadelphia is a city known nationwide for its significance in our history. Philadelphia is the birthplace of freedom and served as an early capitol for our nation, yet with tasteful and respectful placement, gaming has actually been standard to "the City of Brotherly Love" through the same legislation by which we are petitioning for our own license. Pittsburgh also has honored historic sites and again is also mandated through legislation to have gaming property.

There is no "mandate". There are limits to how many may be placed in certain counties of the state, particularly, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, but they are NOT mandated. Nothing in the law states, infers, or implies that casinos MUST be built there. Indeed, how would they do so if no investors were to step forward? How would they enforce this "mandate"? This is another of Mr. LeVan's lies. Quite simply, Philadelphia was smart enough to insist that the two casinos be placed as far from the historic center city district as is practical, at the northern and southern ends of Philadelphia County, and Philadelphia, being the political domain of Sire Edward Rendell, "wants" the casinos. As for economic opportunities for Adams County Residents stemming from the casino…they would be few and far between, and a far, far cry from the dishonestly promised millions of dollars.

The history of the battlefield area fills everyone who lives here with pride and the resort will not play on that legacy, nor reference the Civil War or its icons on the gaming property.

Yes, and Mr. LeVan, et al, intends to fill his pockets by doing just that very thing, trading on that historical location and historical name to make their millions of dollars. The lie is in the answer to the question, “Why build it here?”. The name, and of course, the very reason the two armies met here in 1863…the road network that leads here, from Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.

The governor was correct in his statement that he does not "have the power to choose" where Pennsylvania's gaming licenses are awarded and we believe the gaming board members who do have that power will agree with us that Adams County deserves this opportunity.

Fascinating, this concern for Adams County. There is absolutely nothing in the legislation, or in anyone’s plans that would benefit Adams County beyond a few hundred thousand dollars per year. Chicken feed. And worse, the development that accompanies all of this will drive taxes through the roof.

Here is perhaps the most important point to citizens living in areas where casinos are planned. The small amounts of money your communities will garner from the profits of the casinos, will be swallowed up in enormous budgetary requirements to support the casinos’ presence. Infrastructure: water, sewer, road widening and in some cases, road building, traffic signals; all come at a very high price. So do newer houses, more classrooms, new wings on hospitals, more police, fire, and rescue crews, and their equipment, and so on. The cost of municipal service after development will make current budgets look more like a childhood allowance. And the major selling point of all developers is the “lower taxes up there, folks! Taxes are now and always have been no more than a whistle in that township, I promise you!” A prime example of this is Straban Township, where "The Strabaddies", as I refer to the supervisors, have sought legislative help from a Dauphin County representative (signifying the unwillingness of the Adams County Representative) to author an amendment to Act 71, the Pennsylvania Gaming Act, that would up their take from the casino from $475,000 per year to $1,000,000 per year so they could start their own police force. [Which begs the question: If casinos are so safe, and do not effect crime rates, why in the world would they need a police force?]

We in Chance Enterprises will continue to work for a license for Gettysburg Gaming Resort & Spa because we have the best plan to bring economic prosperity to our area while preserving the significance Gettysburg has played in our nation's history.

David M. LeVan
Gettysburg, Chance Enterprises

Sorry Mr. LeVan, economic prosperity was already here long before you were. It remains strong and steady, even in the economic downturn after 9/11. Tourism is up, unemployment is down, the productivity of Adams county farmers is at an all-time high, and the local economy is booming, no thanks to you, your out of town investors, "The Strabaddies", the Adams County Economic Development Corporation, the Adams County Commissioners, the state legislature, and the gambling-friendly Governor Edward Rendell.

Adams County has no need of your “economic prosperity”, as it is defined as economic prosperity only for those listed just above.

Take your investment elsewhere, where it would be needed, wanted, and of more assistance. It is none of those things in Adams County.

So, the above is an example of the stupidity and cupidity of the folks behind Chance Enterprises. "No great lie goes untold, no truth remains untarnished!", should be their motto. They keep their hired mouthpiece, an attorney named Brabender from a Pittsburgh lobbying firm, on a short leash because he has no clue what to say, and is almost as bad for them as Mrs. Ernico.

GettysBLOG

“Remember in November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!”

“Legislation without representation is tyranny!”


Please remember to donate your time, talent and funds to NoCasinoGettysburg either at their office or website.

NO Casino Gettysburg
Box 3173,
Gettysburg, PA 17325


or contact them via the phone at 717-334-6333.

http://www.nocasinogettysburg.com/

Thank you for donating!

Copyright © 2005, GettysBLOG and GettysBLOG2. All Rights Reserved.