Wednesday, February 15, 2006

95: "Summer Soldiers and Sunshine Patriots"

There it was, in black and white. It stared back up at me like a snake, cornered in the basement, no place to go, but ready to strike. The headline: “Complaint against Pa. chief justice dismissed.” That familiar feeling struck…you know the one -- you get it in your gut when you’ve drunk way too much coffee.

Just one week ago our fellow blogger, THE CENTRIST, posted on similar complaints in an essay titled
26: “Taking control, Phase Two”. That, however, was about a suit filed in Federal Court. This one, however, was a request for review of judicial conduct.

Gene Stilp, a political activist from the greater Harrisburg area, had filed the complaint last August after word got out alleging that Chief Justice Ralph Cappy had acted improperly in consulting, (read: urging) the legislative leadership to pass the enormous (and infamous) pay raise, not just for the legislators, but for the judges of Pennsylvania, too. Stilp wanted the reviewers to determine if Cappy violated any ethics rules in the process of those negotiations. (There have been rumors to the effect that the pay raise itself was the brainchild of Cappy.)

First, though, you must understand that the complaint was dismissed by the reviewing body, The Pennsylvania Judicial Review Board. That’s right, the Pennsylvania Judicial Review Board, twelve persons sitting in review of the conduct of the courts in the Commonwealth, and half of them, three attorneys, and three judges, are appointed by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

Wait a minute, do you mean to tell me that judges and attorneys appointed by the State Supreme Court are ruling on the propriety of the actions of the Chief Justice of the…State Supreme Court?

Yes, that is exactly what I am telling you.

Wait, it gets better.

In November, Cappy’s lawyer, one W. Thomas McGough, Jr., Esquire, wrote a letter to the board defending his client. According to an AP story out of Harrisburg, the letter cited the Pennsylvania Code of Judicial Conduct, which allows judges to “…engage in activities to improve the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice”, and “…allows judges to participate in activities concerning the legal system and consult with individuals of the other two branches ‘on matters concerning the administration of justice’.”

Perhaps some kind soul out there could connect those two dots for me…the one about the administration of justice and the improvement of the legal system, to the one about the judge’s pay raise.

Is there a different oath of office for a judge paid $45,000 per year than the judge paid $85,000 per year? Do the people of this great Commonwealth get different qualities of justice based on how much the judges get?

How, exactly then, does a pay raise affect the administration of justice? The one answer possible is the retention of quality judges.

Hello?!?! Based on the performance of Cappy and his followers on the bench, I think that not only would the people of this Commonwealth get better judicial service at a lower rate, but they could also stand to wave good-bye to the current crop, en masse, and appoint a new crop, and by the next day forget all about “Ralph Whatshisname”. Quite frankly, I think the people of this Commonwealth would rather that happen.

Ralph Cappy’s actions regarding the Midnight Pay Raise of July, 2005, have all the appearances of his being involved in a conspiracy to commit grand larceny against the citizens of Pennsylvania.

State employees have not had a raise in two years. By this time next year, they will have had about a 5-6% increase, for an average of about 2% over the three year period. How much did the legislators and judges get in that now-repealed raise…11-34%? And the State employees can’t even get a raise concomitant with the annual rise in the cost of living?

The really sad thing about all of this is that none of them see it – not the governor, the legislators, or the judges…none of them see anything wrong with their actions. Oh, they repealed the raise, but only because the voters threw a sitting judge off the State Supreme Court in the last election. He was a sop thrown to the masses to assuage their anger. Nope, they don’t see it.

There is not a single one of that group that would know an ethic if it struck them between the eyes. So full of hubris are they, and greed, they conspire and change the rules to suit themselves, exempt each other from laws, and rules of ethics, and allow each other increasingly to operate in secret, and with a power to override the will of the people.

Somewhere down on the sidebar to the right is a quotation from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He said, "The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it comes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group."

Government in Pennsylvania has reached that point.

Every day, more and more of your neighbors understand and grasp this fact.

Every day, more and more of your neighbors decide to take action.

You have but one weapon left to defeat this menace called state government: Your vote.

A vote for an incumbent means you do not care.

A vote for an incumbent means you will continue to see your government grow until it begins to take enough money from you that you cannot feed your family, the whole while, the legislators, the governor, and the judges will be getting wealthier and wealthier.

A vote for an incumbent means the next time they pass a sneaky giant pay raise, they will ignore any uproar totally, because you do not care enough to tell them they are wrong, because you don’t care enough to vote somebody in who DOES know the difference between right and wrong. They surely don’t.

A vote for an incumbent will lose you the last public voice you have…the press. Like the legislators, they simply will not believe that you care enough to mean it when you threaten to chase them all out of office. The press has been your friend since last July, and has helped stoke the fires that got Justice Nigro voted out. The press is now being made to pay for their editorials about the Midnight Pay Raise. The legislature is trying to impose a tax that would affect print news media -- all because they were early in raising the alarm about the pay raise, and late supporters of the repeal. Because the press helped greatly in the effort to awaken the voters, the General Assembly has it in for them.

A vote for an incumbent is a signature on a contract to give away your personal sovereignty.

Expediency calls for the ouster of all of them, all the legislators up for office, the Governor, and the judges, when they come up for re-election. We’ll lose a few good ones in the bunch, but you just can’t tell the keepers from the greed-mongers. Vote ‘em all out, and let God sort them out.

The great social contract theorist of the 17th century, Thomas Hobbes wrote that kings not only declare law, they make law, and that they derive their power, or sovereignty, from the consent of the governed, who have given over to him their personal sovereignty.

Do not let apathy allow the last of your personal sovereignty to slip away into the hands of those who govern you.

In the United States, we fought a revolution from 1776 to 1783, to regain that personal sovereignty. And here we’ve gone and given just about all of it back!


“Kick the hubris out of Harrisburg!” THE CENTRIST

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!"

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.”

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