Friday, December 22, 2006

Tony Phyrillas: A lump of coal for John Perzel

John Perzel's reign of terror in Pennsylvania appears to be over.

The fat lady is singing up a storm in Chester County and the sound is carrying all the way to Northeast Philadelphia and the halls of the state Capitol in Harrisburg.

With Thursday's concession by Republican Shannon Royer in the last disputed Legislative race, the Democrats have officially won a majority in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

Allow me to rephrase that. The Republicans lost the majority they held before the Nov. 7 election.

Democrat Barbara McIlvaine Smith won the 156th House District seat by a mere 28 votes, but that one victory tips the balance of power in Harrisburg for the first time in 12 years. Imagine that. Twenty-eight votes will mean the difference in where millions of tax dollars are spent and which party gets the lion's share of the patronage and the amenities holding state office has to offer.

The biggest loser is John Perzel, who goes from Speaker of the House to the Republican Doghouse. Perzel presided over the biggest disaster since the Titanic sailed on its maiden voyage.


The 109-seat majority the Republicans enjoyed before the November massacre is now a 102-101 Democratic edge.

I hate to say I told you so, but I warned every Republican who would listen back in June that Perzel would sink the party.


I spoke those words to several incumbent Republican legislators, Republican committee people and GOP candidates for legislature. Nobody listened. Or they heard me but decided they didn't have the backbone to stand up to Perzel.


The only chance Republicans had to hold on to the majority in the state House this year was to toss Perzel overboard before the November elections. The party faithful refused ... and they went down with the ship.


Now we have to live with two years of Bill "Mushmouth" DeWeese. And with DeWeese's brain (Mike Veon) surgically removed by voters in Western Pennsylvania, the lights will be on, but nobody will be home in Harrisburg.


I guess I shouldn't be too upset at the GOP's reversal of fortunes. It's probably worth two years of Democratic control of the state House to finally be rid ourselves of John Perzel, whose arrogance and asinine behavior were allowed to fester unchecked too long in Harrisburg.

We can only hope Perzel will go away. During an interview with the Pennsylvania Cable Network earlier this year, Perzel said, "I don't think that I would want to continue doing this if my party were not to win. I would not enjoy being in the minority at this stage in my life, I would not enjoy that any more." Of course, Perzel says a lot of things that he doesn't mean.


The ouster of Republican Senate leaders Robert Jubilirer and Chip Brightbill in the May primary and Perzel's downfall in November are steps in the right direction, not only for the Republican Party but for Pennsylvania in general.


Three of the biggest obstacles to reforming Pennsylvania's corrupt political system are gone. Unfortunately, we still have Ed Rendell, who couldn't spell R-E-F-O-R-M if you spotted him the first three and the last two letters.


And don't count on DeWeese to pull a Nancy Pelosi and promise to "drain the swamp" in Harrisburg. DeWeese has wallowed for decades in the political muck of Harrisburg.


Once again, Republicans took care of business while Democrats rewarded partisanship and greed.


New House members will be sworn in Jan. 2. Now is the time to get a message to your local legislator that you're on to them and you will remember in 2008 how they voted for legislative leadership positions.


With Perzel out of the picture, the Pennsylvania Legislature can have a fresh start. But that means new leadership across the board.


Wouldn't it great if Democrats develop some backbone and unload DeWeese in favor of a true reformer? I won't hold my breath. The Democrats are lemmings. This is after all, the party that gave us the Three Stooges of Pennsylvania politics: Rendell, Catherine Baker Knoll and Bobby Casey Jr.

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

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You owe an apology to Moe, Larry and Curly.