Sunday, April 30, 2006

Special Alert: "Legislature Trying Another End Run?"

Good friend Tim Potts from Democracy Rising PA sends this alert to us about possible unconstitutional action in the legislature this week:

Dear Friends,

We just received word that the House, Senate and Gov. Rendell are about to pull another fast one on us on Monday. The question is:

Will we stand for it?

Background It’s reported that there is an agreement about the proposed law to reduce property taxes. The conference committee that has been working on the legislation will issue its report Monday morning at 10:30. Under current rules, this means Gov. Rendell could sign it into law Monday night.

Speculation – no one knows for sure – is that the House will pass the conference committee report Monday afternoon; the Senate Monday evening; and the governor sign it Monday night.

This is the same process used to pass the gambling law in 2004 and the pay raise in 2005 – no public hearings on the final bill and no opportunity for citizens to read it, understand it, hear different opinions about it, and express their own opinions to their lawmakers.

Of course, this is different in that there has been a lot of discussion about this issue. The news media have covered the various proposals extensively.

But until Monday morning, we won’t know what the final conference committee report says. The original bill was 89 pages long. We don’t know how long the conference committee report will be. It may have nothing new in it. Or it may have special provisions that we haven’t seen before. We don’t know, and we can’t know until Monday morning when we can see it for ourselves.

What’s the Rush?
One thing is clear. This is a major piece of legislation that will have a profound impact on Pennsylvania. It is not something that should be rushed through the process, and there is no reason why citizens, the news media, and public interest groups from across the political spectrum should be prevented from commenting on it before the vote.

So what’s the rush? Lawmakers want to spend the next two weeks before the primary election telling voters that they cut property taxes. This is politics, not policy.

What To Do?
Now’s when we see whether lawmakers have learned anything from the citizens’ anger over the pay raise. Whether you like the property tax bill or not, you deserve the chance to participate in its passage or defeat.

Democracy Rising PA believes in a process that looks like this:

1. The conference committee should issue the report.
2. The House and Senate should send it to the appropriate standing committees for at least one public hearing.
3. Then, after at least 14 calendar days, the bill should come up for a vote.

Act NOW!
If you agree, NOW is the time to let your lawmakers know that you want them to show a little integrity by allowing time for citizens to participate meaningfully in this important decision.

And pass it on!

Tim Potts,
Co-Founder,
Democracy Rising PA

P.O. Box 618,

Carlisle, PA 17013

717-243-8570

Thanks, Tim. As usual, we are beholden to you for your vigilance and keen eye for the machinations of these hubris-filled politicians.

Contact your representatives and your senators ASAP and put a stop to this continuation of the corruption of Pennsylvania's Constitution and of the body politic in this state!

Please folks, pass this on! Use the envelope down below by the comments section to send this to your family and friends. Just click on the envelope and follow the directions.

GettysBLOG

“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!" --GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” --GettysBLOG

Remember in May! Before you vote,
GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2006: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

140: “The Legislator Test”


Friend
Tony Phyrillas is the City Editor of the Pottstown Mercury. He is also one Hell of a fine columnist. He is one of the not-so-many editors around the state who actually gets it when it comes to the pervasive sickness that infects our Pennsylvania government. Most of them have a jaundiced approach “So, what else is new”, or “Yeah, they’re all crooked, but whaddya gonna do?”

Not
Tony Phyrillas. Tony is angry and disgusted, like many of us, and has been continually applying the heat on the state legislature for quite a while. Tony is another of our Citizen-Patriot Heroes.

Tony has written a column in the Pottstown Mercury that is absolutely fascinating. He lists the non-accomplishments of his seven-term State Representative, and exposes the man as a virtual non-entity in the General Assembly.

Here’s his article:

Unsure of your state legislator? Take this test
Tony Phyrillas, tphyrillas@pottsmerc.com
04/28/2006
If there’s anyone out there still considering
re-electing their incumbent Pennsylvania legislator on May 16, I have a request. Consider turning in your voter registration card.

You obviously are not adequately informed or rational enough to cast a vote. Unless you are related to a Pennsylvania legislator or have some direct financial gain by keeping the person in office, you have no other choice but join the people’s revolution to retake control of this state from 253 self-serving politicians.

I know some of you are trying to rationalize your decision to stick with the poison you know. Maybe the newcomer will be worse, you say. At least I know my state representative. He gives me free maps every time I see him. (I hate to break this to you, but you’ve already paid for the map through your state taxes.) What about that time his district office helped me fill out some paperwork? (The office staff for the next legislator who will occupy the office will also help you with paperwork).

Any attempt to justify casting a vote for any incumbent who voted for the July 2005 pay raise won’t wash. That kind of reasoning proves you’ve been in a coma for the past year.

In case you’ve lost your mind, here’s a couple of legislative highlights to jog your memory.

The middle-of-the-night pay grab. The unvouchered expense scandal. The outrageous perks and rewards legislators lavish on themselves. The inability or unwillingness of lawmakers to provide meaningful property tax relief. The influence lobbyists have on the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the governor. Lifetime pensions for all retiring state legislators that will cost taxpayers at least $4 billion to fund over the next 10 years.

Do you get the picture?

Below, I’ve listed 10 reasons why I will never vote for my state legislator, a fellow by the name of Dante Santoni Jr., who by my calculation has collected more than $1 million of our hard-earned tax dollars in the 14 years he’s been feeding off the public trough in Harrisburg.

Substitute the name of your representative or senator for my local political hack and see what your legislator has been up to.

• Rep. Dante Santoni twice voted to give himself an unconstitutional pay raise, most recently to $89,155 from $69,647 for a job that requires him to be in Harrisburg 77 days a year.
• Rep. Santoni took the pay raise early in violation of the Pennsylvania Constitution.
• Rep. Santoni defended the July 2005 pay raise for months until he and his fellow career politicians were shamed into repealing the pay raise and giving back the money after the news media alerted taxpayers to what happened.
• Rep. Santoni voted against the Commonwealth Caucus plan that would have eliminated property taxes for homeowners.
• Rep. Santoni voted to double his own pension,
allowing him to collect money from taxpayers for the rest of his life.
• Rep. Santoni voted in favor of Ed Rendell’s massive $1 billion income tax increase in 2003.
• Rep. Santoni voted for the crushing $400 million increase on the state gasoline tax.
• Rep. Santoni has sponsored zero -- that’s 0 -- bills during his 14 years as a lawmaker.
• Rep. Santoni has never chaired a committee during his 14 years as a legislator.
• Rep. Santoni earned a dismal F+ grade in The Commonwealth Foundation Liberty Index for 2005-06. Santoni earned an F+ in the 2003-04 report card grading economic policies.

Santoni wants to go back to Harrisburg for another two years to continue his stellar record.

Santoni’s campaign signs read "Working for Us." I haven’t figure out who "us" is. It’s certainly doesn’t include me or my family because Santoni hasn’t done a thing for "us" in the past 14 years.


If you find that your state senator or representative is responsible for even half of the 10 transgressions above, vote for somebody else, write in "Mickey Mouse" or do all of us a favor and stay far away from the polls on May 16.

E-mail Tony Phyrillas at tphyrillas@pottsmerc.com
©The Mercury 2006

Well, we disagree with Tony’s last comment, as we want everyone to vote. Not voting is an indication that you want the situation to remain as it is, with rampant abuse, graft, and corruption of state and local governments where the elected serve only to serve themselves and a few of their usually monied close friends. And this year, both in the primary and in the regular elections you have an option available to you that offers a different choice than “business as usual.”

But we heartily concur with the rest of the column. Tony’s description of the record of Representative Santoni had us repeatedly muttering, “Yeah, that applies to Steve Maitland, too” throughout the list. It's very likely is the same for State Senator Terry Punt, as well.

Please visit Tony Phyrillas’ Blog, as well (click on his name here, or in the first paragraph, or under the heading Citizen-Patriot Heroes on the right sidebar). In it you’ll see Tony projecting that if Russ Diamond and the Operation Clean Sweep candidates are successful, that the Clean Sweep movement in Pennsylvania will grow to the Federal level. That definitely has its possibilities.

However, our thinking here is that the two main parties need to be completely overhauled in the way they do business, the way they vet their candidates, the way they endorse their candidates, and the access by monied interests into the process before a candidate even hits the ground in his or her campaign. Big money from gambling bought Ed Rendell his candidacy in the last gubernatorial election, and it has dumped millions of dollars into his reelection campaign coffers. His opponent is also now beholden to gambling money as he accepted that before the state Republican committee endorsed him. They were also influenced by gambling money. And therein lies the big problem. Both parties require millions of dollars to run their campaigns, and neither party cares where it comes from beyond recording that fact for reporting purposes. Until that is stopped, until the party committees are no long stocked and led on the basis of the size of your campaign contributions, the rest of the problems in State government will continue to appear, and reappear.

What we are saying is that the problem starts with the Pennsylvania State Committees, both Democrat and Republican. That’s where the lobbying begins. That’s where far too much money changes hands. New laws need to be made regarding the operation, funding and control of the state party committees. Party committee members should be pegged with the title “Political Operative”, and as a class, should be governed by the same laws and ethics rules that our politicians will hopefully soon be operating under.

We want lobbying reduced to an absolute and total prohibition of anything of any value being given to or otherwise influencing any elected or appointed official – to the point that if someone wants some legislation passed or altered, they should make an appointment with their legislator and convince him or her of the merits of such a change. No lobbying whatsoever outside the legislature and the Governor’s office. Period. None. That prohibits all lobbying on a local basis!

That will put an awful lot of lawyers out of work. Good! Maybe they should then go practice law, instead of playing politics. And any violators of such a law would lose their right to practice law in Pennsylvania, and suffer stiff fines and imprisonment, as would their targets.

We advocate that you visit the various sites of the Citizen-Patriot Heroes listed to the right. We also advocate that you visit the
Operation Clean Sweep website and familiarize yourselves with the candidates in your area (click on the license plate that says “Survival Guide”). Finally, we strongly urge you to visit Tim Potts great website at Democracy Rising PA, and explore some of the issues ripe for fixing in a Constitutional Convention. [The current leadership in the General Assembly fears a Constitutional Convention as it would strip them of their power, and their ability to make tons of money on top of their legislative salaries.]

Important Note: We will post our voting guide for the Primary in two weeks, May 14, 2006. Be sure to spread the word to come and check it out.

GettysBLOG

“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!" --GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” --GettysBLOG

Remember in May! Before you vote,
GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2006: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

139: “Killing the Golden Goose”


A week ago we celebrated our first birthday. In the course of reviewing a year’s worth of GettysBLOG essays we noticed a recurring theme that just will not go away. It sang out for attention after we had read a number of articles in the Pottstown Mercury [An absolutely great newspaper, by the way, with a very principled editor, something the Gettysburg area seems to be lacking!].

The voices coming from the Limerick area, where a casino is as stupidly proposed as is the one in Gettysburg, have repeatedly stressed the traffic would kill the area, and the fact that the area is simply not in need of economic development. The latter theme is one we have been sounding here since before the casino was announced a little over a year ago. We started GettysBLOG to fight over-development in Adams County, particularly in Straban Township. The casino project simply fell into our laps within days of our launching.

The casino project has come to symbolize the very essence of what is wrong with the approach to development in Adams County, by its business leaders, by its developers, and by its elected officials at the County, township and borough level.

The only governmental body to show a principled stand on the casino issue did so last summer. The Board of the Gettysburg Area School District [GASD] refused to participate in Act 72, the so called Homestead act that would have alleviated some property taxes, replacing the education funding with money from the casinos. Their reason: money tainted by gambling was unacceptable. It is believed they were the only district in the state to say so for that particular reason. 80% of the districts in the state opted to refuse the funding from Act 72, mostly because they had serious doubts the funds would be there.

Those community leaders, the Straban Township Supervisors, the Gettysburg Borough Council, the Adams County Commissioners, the Adams County Economic Development Corporation, the Adams County Chamber of Commerce, all have been deceiving the populace of this area. Is it a conspiracy to deceive? In part it is. At best it is a concerted effort by the majorities and leadership positions of the aforementioned bodies.

The lie? That the Gettysburg/Adams County area needs economic development.

The truth? The Gettysburg/Adams County area does not need economic development.

We have demonstrated repeatedly here that the area is one of the most economically sound and secure areas in the state, and in the nation. Adams County annually has the lowest or the second lowest unemployment rate in the state. It has been that way for more than a decade. The two major industries fulfill the employment needs of the county (tourism and agriculture). The per household income in Adams County is one of the highest in the rural areas of the state, and among counties not near major cities it ranks near the top.

We are not against development, but we are rooted in defiance of massive, runaway development such as that brought to us by such luminaries as David LeVan, Bob Monahan, Dave Sites, S&A Builders, Wormold Construction, and whoever the idiots are who are trying to turn Biglerville and Fairfield into towns larger than Gettysburg.

[For the record, Bob Monahan is breaking federal law. The U.S. Government Printing Office has issued a pamphlet for the United States Department of State about the history and uses of the Great Seal of the U.S. It says:

As for the coat of arms, the Department has expressed concern in the past over the increasing tendency to use it in commercial enterprises and in ways that give the impression of U.S. Government sponsorship or involvement. However, it is the Department’s current practice not to provide an opinion as to the suitability of proposed uses. The matter of legality is left to the Department of Justice. Title 18 of the U.S. Code, as revised in January 1971, prohibits use of the likeness of the Great Seal or any facsimile in “any advertisement, circular, book, pamphlet, or other publication, play, motion picture, telecast, or other production” for the purpose of conveying a false impression of sponsorship or approval by the U.S. Government under threat of a fine of not more than $250 or imprisonment of not more than six months, or both.

As a former member of the State Department, Bob Monahan should know better than to hijack the Great Seal of the U.S. and plaster it all over his pet project, Gateway Gettysburg. It is a rash insult to the honor of this nation to illegally use the seal for crass commercialization. And Bob Monahan has done just that! No fine, please – let’s opt for imprisonment!]

Such avarice and pure destruction is evil to its core, and it has been countenanced by those elected officials and community groups mentioned above. Countenanced, courted, and wooed. Who will benefit from this overdevelopment?

Not you, the average citizen of Adams County. But you can bet your last dollar that David LeVan, Bob Monahan, Dave Sites, S&A Builders, Wormold Construction, and whoever the idiots are who are trying to turn Biglerville and Fairfield into towns larger than Gettysburg will benefit by direct financial gain, as will the Straban Township Supervisors, the Gettysburg Borough Council, the Adams County Commissioners, the Adams County Economic Development Corporation, and the Adams County Chamber of Commerce. There are few exceptions.

These decks have been stacked against you very carefully over the past decade. If you dig deep enough into the backgrounds of your elected officials you will find the connections. Someone owns stock in S&A; someone’s brother is a local building trade contractor; someone used to work for Wormold Construction; and someone else (many someones) have their political campaign warchests filled by LeVan, Monahan, Sites, etc.

Citizens of Adams County, the fix is in and you aren’t part of it. You will get higher taxes, higher crime, choked roads, a loss of agricultural production that will devastate the county, and a loss of tourism dollars that will cripple the county.

Bob Monahan got his. He’s already moved his family out of the area. The only dream he ever had on Little Round Top was one to the sound of a cash register. He leaves a landscape scarred by the bulldozer blade, several very aesthetically ugly buildings, and what will soon become a staggering infrastructure bill that will be shoved down the throats (or, rather up another body orifice) of the citizens of Adams County in mega-increased taxes.

As for LeVan, he’s trying to build his empire along US 30. He almost got a biker bar built for his wife. Instead he got her name (and his) plastered on the rebuilt Majestic Theater. It is now ‘The Majestic Theater at the David and Jennifer LeVan Performing Arts Center’. Gag.

There is a strategy to defeat these greedy people, and salvage your county. And that is to deny them their seats of power. Come the election, do not vote for a single incumbent. Start now, in the primary. Refuse to support the political parties who foster this environment from top to bottom. Vote for Clean Sweep candidates.

Vote out of office the ineffectual and morally compromised Steve Maitland. Remove from office any and all County Commissioners, and Township Supervisors, Borough Council Members, Mayors, and other elected officials.

Support a state constitutional convention to restore integrity and force it on our elected officials.

The time to strike is now. You must harvest your anger, and keep it stoked. These people, and it goes much higher than just in Adams County, want to steal your livelihood, your community, your back yard, the pleasant views you pass on your way about the area, and they are going to make you pay for it.

The following people will not be paying for it: David LeVan, Bob Monahan, Dave Sites, S&A Builders, Wormold Construction, and whoever the idiots are who are trying to turn Biglerville and Fairfield into towns larger than Gettysburg, the Straban Township Supervisors, the Gettysburg Borough Council, the Adams County Commissioners, the Adams County Economic Development Corporation, and the Adams County Chamber of Commerce.

One final note: The Gettysburg Borough Council didn’t just sell their soul to the devil, they sold yours and mine, too, whether we live in the borough or not. They sold us all, lock stock and barrel to the devil, and they never even read the bill of sale. You decide what to do about them. They slit the throat of the golden goose that was the Gettysburg area.

GettysBLOG

“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!" --GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” --GettysBLOG

Remember in May! Before you vote,
GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2006: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Friday, April 28, 2006

138: “Remembering Don Michael Corleone”


In the latest developments involving our “friend” Louis DeNaples and his efforts to turn the old Mt. Airy (Poconos) resort into a casino resort (with the help of business partners and friends on the Pennsylvania Gambling Control Commission Board, courtesy of legislative leader Chip Brightbill), DeNaples turned up at the Gambling Board hearings yesterday. Apparently it was a scene right out of the Godfather movies, when Don Michael Corleone testified before Congress. DeNaples even added a Nun (who testified) and a Priest to his entourage.

The newspapers report today that Don Corleo…oops, I mean DeNaples is “The owner of nearly 100 businesses, including two landfills, and chairman of a Scranton bank valued at $1 billion, DeNaples, who makes few public appearances and even fewer public comments, told the board he had offers to be a partner in other gambling projects but decided to pursue a slots license for Mount Airy Lodge.”
[
Allentown Morning Call]. [What’s a ‘goodfella’ without he’s got a landfill or two, eh? Sheesh! I can hear the old 78 RPM record of Caruso singing in the background while the entourage eats pasta in the kitchen of the Big House. Complete wid da Priest!]

In the same article, DeNaples was described as claiming, “…that despite concerns raised about his business and family connections to the gaming board, which will award slots licenses later this year, he has no ties to it.” Family and business connections but no ties. I am stunned by the sheer and utter blatancy of that contradiction.

The article describes the hubbub about DeNaples this way, “His slots application has drawn interest because of his 1978 felony conviction for submitting phony invoices for cleanup work after Hurricane Agnes in 1972, along with his alleged ties to organized crime.”

DeNaples also made the following claim as reported by the
Morning Call: “''We would operate with integrity, I'm the sole investor and owner of the property.''

I’ll sleep better at night knowing that.

"The Pope, the Holy Father himself, has this very day blessed Michael Corleone; an' you think you know better than the Pope?"
--Dominic Abbandando
(Michael's PR Advisor, son of Genco) to reporters (Godfather III).

GettysBLOG

“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!" --GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” --GettysBLOG

Remember in May! Before you vote,
GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2006: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

137: “Latest from Democracy Rising PA & Tim Potts”


Great friend Tim Potts of Democracy Rising PA is one of our Citizen Patriot Heroes. He is still out front leading the fight against ‘Harrassburg’ and its incumbent hubris filled elected officials, legislators and judges. Tim takes a practical stance against the state’s "gambling bill” it was passed in the same unconstitutional stealth mode as the Midnight Pay Raise last July. [We wonder if PCN is ready for the ratings pop it will get this July when the legislature tries to cram a year’s worth of business in one overnight session. What a disgrace our legislature has become. The laughingstock of the nation.

Here's Tim Potts from Democracy Rising PA:

DR News April 27, 2006
In this issue:
Yes? Did I Say Yes?
The Citizens’ Constitution Convention – Two Views
Snake-Eyes for the Gam(bl)ing Board
The Question for 2006: Kiss or Kick?

Yes? Did I Say Yes?
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s online edition reports that the House changed its mind about slot machine suppliers. Here’s a segment of the report by Tom Barnes and Tracie Mauriello:

“[Last month] the House voted on an amendment -- voted on it twice, in fact -- regarding the issue of slot machine suppliers. These newly created firms will be middlemen that will buy the gaming machines from slots manufacturers, add a markup and re-sell them to casinos. A lot of legislators don't see the need for the middlemen, so they tried to amend the 2004 law to make their use optional rather than mandatory.

“On the first vote, the House did, in fact, change the law to make suppliers optional. The outcome was 102-96. But then after 90 minutes, when some legislators had private discussions outside the chamber with lobbyists representing would-be suppliers, the House reversed itself and voted 111-89 to retain the mandatory use of suppliers.”

Three Republicans flipped:

Michael Diven (Allegheny), Dennis O’Brien (Philadelphia) and Elinor Taylor (Chester).

Fourteen Democrats flipped:

James Casorio (Westmoreland), Thomas Corrigan (Bucks), Paul Costa (Allegheny), Tony DeLuca (Allegheny), Ted Harhai (Westmoreland), Frank LaGrotta (Lawrence), Daylin Leach (Montgomery), Anthony Melio (Bucks), John Pallone (Westmoreland), Frank Pistella (Allegheny), Larry Roberts (Fayette), Ken Ruffing (Allegheny), Stephen Stetler (York), and Tom Tangretti (Westmoreland).

Remember that our House of Representatives is the only legislative chamber in America with absolutely no control over lobbyists. There is no limit to the gifts and entertainment and secret deals House members can cut with lobbyists, and no limit to the campaign contributions incumbents can accept.


The Citizens’ Constitution Convention – Two Views

1. Commonwealth Court on Monday dismissed a lawsuit by activist and Lt. Gov. Candidate Gene Stilp. The suit sought to require the Auditor General to audit the legislature. Currently, the legislature essentially audits itself through a Legislative Audit Advisory Commission whose members consist of – you guessed it – four lawmakers and four others appointed by lawmakers.

The commission hires an “outside” auditor but limits what the auditor can audit. For instance, the auditors are unable to tell taxpayers:

Whether contractors hired by the legislature actually did what taxpayers paid them to do (How many times have you heard lawmakers talk about accountability for others?)

Whether lawmakers legitimately use the money that they charge for postage, office furniture, travel, meals, and entertainment (Didn’t know you were paying for entertainment, did you?)

Whether lawmakers follow the same bidding procedures they require other branches and agencies to follow when buying goods and services (“Lowest responsible bidder” has no verifiable meaning in the General Assembly.)

The Commonwealth Court ruling means that this sham of public accountability will continue indefinitely until the citizens change the Constitution to require a full and independent audit of the House and Senate.

2. House Majority Leader Sam Smith (R-Jefferson), on the same day as the court ruling, told the Harrisburg Press Club that a Constitution convention isn’t in the cards. Here’s how a Harrisburg news service reported the question and Smith’s answer:

Question: Do you support a constitutional convention?
Smith’s Answer: No, not at this time. I have serious concerns with having a constitutional convention when the atmosphere and the people are polarized.

Smith has it exactly wrong. Thanks to the pay raise, the people are united, not polarized, about the need to re-invent our government and require such fundamental elements of integrity as full and independent audits of the General Assembly.

Smith and his colleagues only think people are polarized because most of us stand at the opposite pole from most of them.


Snake-Eyes for the Gam(bl)ing Board
The slots gambling law was the model for the pay raise. Passed without public hearings, with no real opportunity for citizen input, when there were (and are) no limits on lobbyists, late at night on a holiday weekend, it insulted any common-sense reading of the Constitution. Yet our Supreme Court validated the law and two weeks later, the General Assembly used exactly the same procedure for the court-negotiated pay raise.

Regardless of how you feel about gambling, the way the law came into being – and was ratified by the Supreme Court, including former Justice Russell Nigro – remains a travesty.

Few of us like the idea that lawmakers can own up to 1% of multi-billion-dollar gambling businesses. Few of us like the idea that our communities can be colonized by a slots parlor even if community opposition is overwhelming.

And few of us are happy that the state Attorney General is not allowed to investigate the Gam(bl)ing Control Board now that yet another employee of the board has been arrested. This makes four in a year, including two employees charged with getting drunk and fighting at Harrisburg nightspots, one charged with homicide in the death of a young woman, and now a fourth arrested for lying on his job application.

State Police arrested a former police officer for falsely claiming he had a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice administration. In fact, he had a $700 piece of paper from a diploma mill. He admitted buying no books, talking with no instructors, attending no classes, and writing no papers.

Gambling Control Board Chairman Tad Decker apparently doesn’t mind that his $64,000 a year employee falsely swore to supposed facts on his job application, although the board did suspend the employee without pay. Said Decker, “He never claimed he graduated from Harvard or Stanford.”

Diane Berlin, coordinator for CasinoFreeePA, puts it in perspective. “We, the citizens of Pennsylvania, are paying these board members $145,000 a year for what most of them consider part-time jobs and this is the best performance we can get? If such serious mistakes were made repeatedly at a private business, it would be ‘four strikes and you're out’ for the management by now.”

And if citizens had been able to participate meaningfully in the passage of the gambling law, it undoubtedly would be a better law and one that more people could support.

The Question for 2006: Kiss or Kick?
Speaking to a group of Bucks County business people, Gov. Ed Rendell gave yet another explanation for why he supported last year’s secret, shameful and unconstitutional pay raise.

“If I didn't sign it, I might have been governor for the next five years but I would have gotten nothing done, literally, because I need the cooperation of the Legislature,” he said. “... So you have to kiss a little butt.” (Reported by Allison Hawkes in the Doylestown Intelligencer yesterday.)

Yo, Ed. We don’t need a governor who kisses butt. We need a governor who kicks butt – 253 of them to be precise. If you’re not up to it, make way for someone who is.

Especially those particular butts!

And for the record, I absolutely refuse to use the euphemism ‘gaming’…it is gambling, pure and simple. And the only people who will make any money out of gambling in Pennsylvania are a few investors, and a few elected officials.

GettysBLOG

“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!" --GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” --GettysBLOG

Remember in May! Before you vote,
GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2006: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

136: “A Demonstration of Clarity and Integrity”


Apparently we have a local board of supervisors that has some integrity after all. In Limerick Township, the Board of Supervisors has come out four-square against the proposed Boyds Casino after much deliberation.

The board cited traffic congestion for which neither Boyds nor PennDot were able to provide an acceptable solution. Quoted in a story in the
Pottstown Mercury, one of the Supervisors, Chairman David Kane said, “There is a consensus among the board that this whole process was broken at its very inception, yet, we still felt responsible to understand the impact this would have had on taxpayers."

The Supervisors went to the midwest to visit two of Boyds’ operations out there. In a direct application of common sense and professional integrity, Kane said, "Those communities were in need of revitalization. They didn’t have a $92,000 median household income, as Limerick Township does. They were not bordered by pharmaceutical companies and King of Prussia corporate centers, and nearby Philadelphia."

Such clarity seems to be lacking in other localities with pending casino applications. Kane continued, “In talking to the different municipalities where Boyd Gaming has entered into, what they come back to us with is not the crime and prostitution. Traffic was the No. 1 problem that a solution was needed for, and it still is today."

Mike Pincus, a consultant hired by the township to assist in the decision said, "We were unique with this project, out of all the Category II license applicants. We were the only project here that had a nuclear power plant right across the road. It was also the largest project. So the traffic issue really had to be studied for many, many reasons. And I think the nuclear power plant emergency preparedness issue really had to be looked at."

Kane summed up,
"At this point, regardless of Boyd Gaming providing a traffic solution, Limerick Township does not want a casino inside of our borders.”

One of the many problems with the law that enables gambling in Pennsylvania is the clause that allows the Gambling Control Commission Board to ignore local zoning and local sentiment and grant a license to whoever they deem fit. The State Supreme Court struck that passage out, but the state legislature reinserted it in amendments to Act 71. So the wait isn’t over for the folks in Limerick Township.

Congratulations to the Limerick Township board of supervisors for taking such a stance on the proposed casino. They used the proper due diligence, and weighed the consequences. They deemed the already bad traffic situation to be vulnerable to a complete breakdown after the casino opening. Boyds had obviously not participated fully in traffic adjustments at the sites in Indiana and Illinois. Their track record on the issue likely weighed heavily against them with the supervisors.

Additionally, the Limerick Supervisors included nearby communities in their deliberations.

Pincus added,
"One of the things I’ve learned from this process is that it’s important for corporate entities and developers who want to come into Limerick Township, that they understand the community, that they understand the surrounding communities. I think that may have been missing in this process."

Indeed it has, Mr. Pincus. Except in Gettysburg where the investors simply drop a million dollars on the Borough of Gettysburg to buy their support. Now that’s taking a local interest.

Boyds owns the property on which the casino was to be built…it is across the street from the Limerick Nuclear Power Generating Station. Chairman Kane stated, “We would extend every professional courtesy to Boyd Gaming if they came back through with a new use that excluded gaming on that site. However, there is no offer that could be made to the township at this point that I feel would change our course of direction.”

The fight isn't over in Limerick, but their odds just improved drastically.

The odds in favor of the Gettysburg Casino just got a whole lot better.

GettysBLOG

“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!" --GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” --GettysBLOG

Remember in May! Before you vote,
GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2006: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

135: “Gettysburg’s ‘Pig in a Poke’ Revealed”


In exchange for a vague David LeVan $1-2 million promise, Gettysburg Borough Council President Ted Streeter and five of his fellow ‘suckerfish’ agreed to present favorable testimony before the Pennsylvania Gambling Control Board at their local hearings. We thought a number of things odd and downright wrong about the deal, and presented our case in
GettysBLOG
121: “Gettysburg Sold to LeVan for $1 Million”.

Further reflection on the motives of David LeVan were presented in GettysBLOG
124: “David LeVan Gives Lesson in Realpolitik”.

We were told at the time it was a ‘no strings attached’ deal. We wondered how any responsible governmental body could accept a deal that many of their members had not seen, nor read by the time of the vote. Even worse, the Borough Solicitor had not read the offer.

Now, as it turns out, the ‘deal ain’t all it was cracked up to be. At a Borough Finance Committee meeting last Wednesday, Councilman Dick Peterson commented, "Mr. LeVan said this agreement has no strings attached. There are more strings attached to this than there are wires on the Brooklyn Bridge."

It seems they are in the process of ‘negotiating’ the details. LeVan sent his legal mouthpiece, Attorney Jeff Ernico, husband of the infamous investor Barb Ernico, to do his dirty work. And the Borough Council is getting ‘worked’. Note this gem from Ernico: “We've tried zealously to get money for you for a long, long time."

Now, that’s a very interesting comment. It has a number of possible interpretations. One is that it simply is another in a long line of lies coming from all the Chance people who open their mouths in public. Another is that there has been some sort of unwritten agreement between Borough Council President Ted Streeter for a long time, hence the rush to approve the deal virtually sight unseen on April 3rd. The last, and most unlikely based on Chance’s history of dishonesty in public, is that for once they are telling the truth and have been putting pressure on the legislature to put a finer focus on how the local share is to be divvied up.

Right now, as the law stands, all of Adams County stands to get a slim slice of the pie, as most will go to more heavily populated York and Cumberland Counties, and to Franklin County. [It is this uncertainty that prompted Adams County Commissioner Glenn Snyder to demonstrate why the Good Lord made us with butt cracks, as he straddles the fence taking no position on the casino issue “until he knows the money is guaranteed.” Translation: ‘I’m for it for the money.’ Snyder apparently has prehensile glutes.]

Ernico explained to the Borough Council, "We're trying to help facilitate a dialogue between all of the groups. This agreement is saying to you, we want you and Straban and Adams County to work together to try and get a share of the $16 million."

Suddenly, the terms have changed. Suddenly, the Borough has to compete for the money LeVan promised with the County and with Straban Township, both of which have a higher stake in the casino game than the Borough of Gettysburg has. [The Casino will be ‘in’ Adams County, and ‘in’ Straban Township, but there is no such link to the Borough of Gettysburg.] In essence then, David LeVan promised money he does not control.

Showing obvious signs of feeling a draft on his glutes, Council President Ted Streeter said to Ernico, "We crossed the Rubicon for you knowing that six of us could be publicly hung, we went to the wall for you guys."

Hang in there Ted! There may be a lynch mob waiting for you yet.

GettysBLOG

“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!" --GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” --GettysBLOG

Remember in May! Before you vote,
GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2006: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

134: “Russ Diamond is an Ethical Man”


Building an “ethical self” takes a lifetime of work. It starts with the ability to know right from wrong, and includes learning from one’s mistakes, as well as from the mistakes of others. As ethical dilemmas confront us throughout our lives, the “ethical self” contains an increasing amount of “ethical experience” upon which to draw. If we err ethically along the way by making the wrong choice, that too goes into the “ethical self” and makes the decision making easier in the long run.

Those with little or no ethical self in their character do not bother with ethics or ethical dilemmas, as they have more selfish priorities.

In our elected officials, it is of paramount importance that they have a high degree of ethics and live by those ethics.

Based on their actions over the past few years, specifically since the Rendell administration came into office, you could put the entire body of ethics among all our elected officials in Harrisburg into a thimble and have plenty of room left over. Ed Rendell created an atmosphere of ethicless greed when he came into office. How else can you explain the massive budget cuts compared to the enormous pay raise passed after consultations with the Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court, and very likely at the instigation of the Rendell administration. Rendell signed it into law.

Ed Rendell is a wheeler dealer. A little of this goes a long way. He’s a schmooze artist of the highest order. He can work a room like no one else, and everyone in that room will be smiling after having their pockets picked. As chairman of the Democratic National Committee during the Clinton Administration, Ed Rendell wooed, and allowed himself to be wooed in return by the gambling industry, collecting millions of dollars from them and shifting it to targeted Congressional elections around the country. He used these same resources to finance his run for governor. He is using those same resources, plus gambling interests within Pennsylvania to finance his run for reelection. In exchange for the first term, Ed Rendell brought us gambling, in the same unconstitutional stealth manner that was used to pass the pay raise last year. In exchange for the second term, he promises to expand gambling to include table games, and perhaps even outside the casinos and slots parlors, with electronic gambling and slot machines in various non-casino settings.

No one that deeply indebted to a single interest (gambling) can be free: free from ethical, moral, legal and personal conflicts. Ed Rendell has created an atmosphere of greed in Harrisburg that will only resolve with the removal of Rendell, the elected state judges, especially Ralph Cappy, the Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and at the very least, the entire roster of leadership in the General Assembly.

No, Ed Rendell did not make them all greedy and full of hubris, they were already very much that way; but he has created an atmosphere that allows unfettered lobbying by the gambling industry, and developers. That in turn has created the crisis of government we face today.

Russ Diamond is a man with an excellent grounding in ethics. He recognized immediately that the General Assembly had exceeded their authority under the Constitution of Pennsylvania last July when they enacted the stealth pay raise that has since been repealed. Russ started an organization called Operation Clean Sweep Pennsylvania that now has fielded a list of candidates for the General Assembly that numbers over 100.

This ethical man has stepped down from his leadership position with the organization he founded, so he can run for governor as an Independent. Yet, faced with the Herculean task of gathering 67,000 signatures on petitions to get him on the ballot in November (a stacked deck created by the Republican and Democratic parties to keep third party challengers to a minimum), Diamond will be spending the next few months going around the state and helping the Clean Sweep candidates.

What we have seen about Russ Diamond has been a consistent package of high ethics, and good character. He makes good decisions, and has a clear agenda for stabilizing state government and eliminating the awful atmosphere of greed and hubris that pervades the administration, the courts, and the General Assembly thanks to Ed Rendell.

Today, Diamond fired his first shot in his run for Governor. He takes on Lynn Swann, and in the process, challenges the “pundits” that have cast him as a spoiler. We believe Russ Diamond is that rare candidate, a third party candidate with a legitimate chance to win. Both of his opponents are very vulnerable.

Visit this link and listen to Russ Diamond:

http://www.russdiamond.org/audio/swanjube.mp3

And one thing Diamond has that neither Swann nor Rendell posses: a clear vision for Pennsylvania, one unclouded by the influence of outside money.

And please visit both Operation Clean Sweep to find a candidate for your area, and Russ Diamond for Governor. Please lend all your support to the fine candidates. Give generously, sign Russ Diamond’s petition and support your Clean Sweep candidates.

That’s Russ Diamond for Governor of Pennsylvania!

Thank you.

GettysBLOG

“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!" --GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” --GettysBLOG

Remember in May! Before you vote,
GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2006: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Friday, April 21, 2006

133: “Come to the Pay Raise Re-enactment”


You’re thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding me,” right? To which we respond with the words of the late, great Jack Paar, “I kid you not.” Great friend Tim Potts at
Democracy Rising PA forwards his newsletter which we have reproduced here:

DR News April 21
In this issue:
· A Pay Raise Re-enactment
· Another Alternative for Governor
· Automatic Pay Hikes
· Paybacks Are A…
· A Lobbyist’s Tale

A Pay Raise Re-enactment
On May 1, pay raise repeal activist and Democrat Lt. Governor candidate Gene Stilp will host a re-enactment of last July’s pay raise. The event takes place at 10:00 a.m. on the front steps of the Capitol – scene of the “rally for repeal” last September 26.

If you want to represent a lawmaker for the re-enactment, you can sign up at www.rememberthepayraise.org. Like the original July 7 event, there will be no speaking parts. Unlike the original, re-enactors will not get paid – neither a salary nor a per diem.

Another Alternative for Governor
Russ Diamond, founder and former chair of
PA Clean Sweep, last week announced that he is running for governor as an Independent. Democracy Rising PA does not, and will not, endorse candidates for any office. But we can’t help pointing out that Diamond is the only candidate still in the race who has answered the survey sent to gubernatorial candidates by eight statewide organizations, including PA Clean
Sweep
, in December. The survey asked about issues of public integrity, a constitution convention, and the appointment of judges. And Diamond answered it without having to be asked.

In contrast, Republican Lynn Swann’s campaign refuses to return phone calls from Democracy Rising PA asking him to respond to the survey. Democrat Ed Rendell claims he never received the surveys, although the U.S. Postal Service tells us he did – twice. The only other candidate to answer the survey was Republican Jim Panyard, who withdrew from the contest earlier this year.

Look at the survey and both Panyard’s and Diamond’s responses at: http://www.democracyrisingpa.com/bulletins/response.asp

Automatic Pay Hikes
On April 4, during oral argument on the pay raise lawsuits, Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin expressed his approval of a system that compensates state judges on the basis of what their federal counterparts receive. This is, in fact, the same approach to judicial salaries that Chief Justice Ralph Cappy championed in his private negotiations with the executive and legislative branches. It is the scheme
enacted with the pay raise.

In the same way, the pay raise also tied lawmaker salaries and other salaries to those of their supposed federal counterparts. But there’s a problem.

To realize Justice Eakin’s dream would mean that Pennsylvania citizens would never be able to decide for themselves what they want to pay their own public officials without first having to convince the legislature to repeal the law providing for automatic increases.

It is, in other words, a plan that asks for forgiveness rather than permission when taking taxes from the people on a matter of constitutional mportance.

We can’t believe that’s constitutional. The people – the sovereigns – always must have the authority to decide, by specific action and not by default, what they are willing to pay their servants. The General Assembly cannot delegate that authority.

The problem is especially clear with respect to judges. Article V, Section 16 of Pennsylvania’s Constitution prohibits the salaries of judges from being reduced in mid-term. So even if the General Assembly repealed a law tying state salaries to federal salaries, it couldn’t reduce the salaries of judges until the end of their term.

Question: Did Justice Eakin disqualify himself from deciding the Stilp case by his comment in favor of the pay raise scheme in Act 44?

Paybacks are Still A…
Our friends at
Rock the Capital won’t let go. They continue to push for lawmakers to repay to the state Treasury the unconstitutional and piggish “unvouchered expenses” received during the four months between enactment and repeal of the pay raise.

For
RTC – and for every ethical Pennsylvanian – paybacks are appropriate. The repeal, which every lawmaker except Rep. Mike Veon (D-Beaver) supported, means that lawmakers understand they never should have received the pay hikes in the first place.

Keeping the “unvouchered expenses” not only violates the spirit of the repeal, it raises the pensions of those who refuse to repay them.

For a complete breakdown of those who have broken down and put their personal interest ahead of the citizens’ interest by refusing to pay back their unvouchered expenses, go to www.rockthecapital.org.

A Lobbyist’s Tale
This story illustrates another reason why Pennsylvania needs the best lobbyist control law in America. After a presentation about
Democracy Rising PA and our mission, I was approached by a former legislator who is now a lobbyist. He had been in the audience and wanted to ask me some specific questions.

“Suppose I take a lawmaker out to dinner and we talk about legislation. Are you saying that I should have to report immediately where we went, what it cost, and what specific legislation we talked about?”

“Yep,” I said.

“Why?”

“If you’re talking to my legislator about something that affects me, I should know it so that I can present my own views at the same time. It is unfair to constituents for special interests to lobby lawmakers secretly because ordinary citizens get blind-sided with stealth legislation like the gambling law and the pay raise.”

“But isn’t there such a thing as a private conversation?”

“Not when someone’s paying you to talk to a public official and influence decisions that affect the public.”

If we’re lucky, House Speaker John Perzel’s lobbyist control proposal will be announced soon.

When it is, DR will provide a summary for you.

Tim Potts, Co-Founder
Democracy Rising PA
www.democracyrisingpa.com
P.O. Box 618, Carlisle, PA 17013
717-243-8570

Remarkable stuff, Tim, thank you. Tim, Russ Diamond, and Gene Stilp have been out front on the issue of government accountability for a long time. They are three of the many citizen-patriot heroes that have stepped up to the plate in the face of extreme political anger. Those who run the political machine in Pennsylvania, that is the monied interests that sink billions of dollars into their political mouthpieces that we have carelessly elected in years past are angry and fearful that these citizen-patriots will actually upset their carefully constructed applecart, and cut off their “dolce vita.” These politicians have been getting fat from your tax dollars for decades. Now it is totally out of control, and they, and the parties they represent no longer represent your interests.

We cannot urge you in strong enough terms to get involved. Operation Clean Sweep PA candidates need your support, and your money. Most of these organizations could use your time and talent, and your money. Pick one or two from the list to the right under the heading “Citizen-Patriot Heroes”. It does not take millions of dollars to win a seat in the Pennsylvania House, but it will take millions of dollars to win back your government. Stop sending money to the Democratic and Republican parties. Send your money instead directly to the candidates. Avoid the middle man who always takes a cut (“for the party”).

But most importantly, get out and vote on May 16 in the Primary Election and cast your votes for anyone who is not an incumbent.

GettysBLOG

“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!" --GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” --GettysBLOG

Remember in May! Before you vote,
GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2006: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

132: “More Disinformation from Gettysburg Casino Investor”


Barbara Ernico is one of the well-heeled investors in Chance Enterprises, the investment group with a pending license application for a gambling hall in the Gettysburg area. In the past year, since the project was first announced, Mrs. Ernico has distinguished herself as the Chance spokesperson who best represents the No Casino Gettysburg group. Yes, that is correct: those opposed to the gambling hall proposed for Gettysburg.

Ernico has repeatedly ventured onto message boards and letters to the editors pages in several newspapers and presented “Life with Gambling According to Barb”. With the attitude she has, if she lived in France, she would be elected President -- she has that towering arrogance of ignorance that is apparently a prerequisite to office of President of France (A legacy from Marie Antoinette? Is there anyone more out of touch with the French people than Jacques Chirac? “Let them eat cake!”).

Mrs. Ernico has, as we have illustrated here in the past, publicly told bald-faced lies, distorted the truth, and made threats of harm if the casino doesn’t go through, among other miscues, malapropisms and gaffes. [See
53: “Threats and Lies in Gettysburg”, among others.]

Now, Mrs. Ernico has outdone herself, this time in a letter to the editor of the Hanover Sun, published today, April 19, 2006. It is reproduced in its entirety here, but broken up by paragraphs. Her text is in red.

Let’s take this one paragraph at a time. Mrs. Ernico wrote:

Casino will practice good citizenship
The Evening Sun
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Editor:
When Crossroads Gaming Resort and Spa operates, citizens will have no idea that we exist. Communities with a casino such as our resort do not feel a negative impact. One Civil War buff who visited Vicksburg, Miss., 10 years after four casinos were operational never realized casinos were there.

Where to begin??!?!? What a stupid sentence! “…citizens will have no idea we exist”! That’s is a brilliant business sentiment to have. Obviously, she has no idea what she is saying here. Then comes an incredibly dishonest claim: “Communities with a casino such as our resort do not feel a negative impact.” All the statistics in the world except those put forth by the gambling industry say otherwise. It is ludicrously stupid to make a statement like that. And then to back it up, she cites a single, unnamed source to say, "One Civil War buff who visited Vicksburg, Miss., 10 years after four casinos were operational never realized casinos were there.“ One person visits Vicksburg and doesn’t know there is a casino there, let alone four of them? I’ll bet he did not visit Vicksburg to play the slots! Want to bet on that, Barb?

Casinos do play a major role in historic preservation. Some casinos market historic sites and some contribute financially to the well-being of those sites. Good community citizenship is a value held by many casinos today. Ours will be one of those.

Talk about ludicrously stupid things to say! What casinos play a major role in historic preservation? Name one, please?

More important is the information conveyed subtly in her second sentence. She writes: “Some casinos market historic sites and some contribute financially to the well-being of those sites.” As we have been predicting here for about the past month, once the casino license is granted for the Gettysburg area the investors will change the name back from Crossroads to Gettysburg Casino, Spa and Resort. [Putting Straban Township on billboards advertising the casino is a nonstarter, but everybody knows where Gettysburg is located.]

Ten years after Atlantic City became a center for gambling, the federal government began regulating gambling. "Organized crime" left. One leader in Indiana stated, "Guido and the boys are gone." No investor in Crossroads Gaming Resort and Spa is involved with organized crime. *We are local investors who want the fruits of the gaming industry to come to Adams County which deserves and needs its fair share.*

Good grief! The Federal government has no jurisdiction over gambling in America except when it has to do with Native Americans. The Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs is the regulatory body with control over gambling on Indian Reservations. Any other gambling is a matter for the states to control, or not, as the case may be. Apparently Mrs. Ernico is impervious to current events or she would have picked up on that by the news of the Jack Abramoff scandal.

Let’s look at some facts. According to the website
Atlantic City: History:

Following the war, Atlantic City's tourist trade tapered off as economical airfare to the exotic Caribbean and Florida became available. Without the proceeds of the summer trade that sustained the city year-long, Atlantic City sank into disuse and widespread urban decay. In 1974, New Jersey residents voted not to approve a gambling law that was on the ballot. In 1976, the resolution appeared again but was restricted to introducing gambling into Atlantic City in the hope of reviving the resort's economy. The second resolution was approved and Atlantic City became the first city in the eastern half of the U.S. to offer legal gambling. The first casino/hotel, Resorts International, opened in May 1978, and was quickly followed by 10 others.

So, Mrs. Ernico is talking about organized crime leaving Atlantic City by 1988. Perhaps ‘Guido’ has left Atlantic City. However, in an April 6 article in the Reno Gazette-Journal:

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. [AP] New Jersey authorities have accused 11 alleged members of various Asian organized crime syndicates of pedaling counterfeit cigarettes, Ecstasy and marijuana on Atlantic City casino floors.

The indictments, announced Wednesday, accuse the suspects of selling 32,000 cartons of counterfeit cigarettes, 25,000 Ecstasy pills and 80 pounds of marijuana to undercover state troopers.

The charges, which include conspiracy to commit counterfeiting, distribution of controlled dangerous substances and money laundering, leave the suspects each facing more than 20 years in state prison and fines of $200,000 if convicted.

Apparently Guido’s gone and been replaced by “Wo Fat”. Perhaps Barbara Ernico is still living in 1988. She obviously is pretty far behind. Street gangs are now “organized crime”. And prostitution is apparently enough of a problem in Atlantic City to warrant a special about it on HBO recently.

Communities that have one gaming facility, as Adams County will have, do not have social ills that are associated with Las Vegas. Crime does not increase; it generally decreases. Divorce, child abuse and even addiction, do not increase.

She did not mention it but one of the social ills resulting from the presence of gambling is bankruptcies. Lo-and-behold, our very own Federal Reserve Bank system commissioned a study about the presence of gambling halls and bankruptcy and discovered that there was a higher incidence in states with gambling, and indeed, in neighboring states. See the report at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Do Casinos Export Bankruptcy?

Slots gaming is a form of entertainment, like going to a concert, a sporting event, or other entertainment. Americans work hard and they enjoy play. They set a dollar limit when they gamble and the majority do not spend more than their limit. Our industry is prepared to identify and help the 1 to 2 percent who develop problems.
*Barbara Ernico, Camp Hill*

Editor's note: The writer is an investor in the casino project.

This final claim is perhaps the most ludicrously ridiculous of all. What is the entertainment value of sitting in front of a machine for hours on end, pumping dollars into it, and pushing a button repeatedly. You lose $18, and on the 19th button push, you win $40! Congratulations. Now you will sit there and lose $120. And you will walk out of there ‘entertained’?

At a concert, or a ball game, you buy your ticket, and in exchange you are legitimately entertained for a few hours, by music, by a ball game, or perhaps by a movie. And you take specific and unique memories of that experience away with you. You have made a fair (in most cases) exchange for your money. At a gambling hall no such exchange occurs.

As for that “1 to 2 percent who develop problems”, Mrs. Ernico’s statistics are as phony as her euphemism for “gambling addicts”. Here are some statistics from an Iowa study:

  • 5.4%(over 150,000) of Iowa citizens are considered pathological or problem gamblers
  • Over 20% of Iowa’s population is now directly negatively impacted by gambling
  • With each new casino Dr. Rachel Vohlberg’s Iowa study showed problem gamblers increase over 200% within 50 miles of the casino
  • For each gambling employee, there are 14 addicted-problem gamblers in Iowa
  • Bankruptcy rate of increase in Iowa can be directly associated with availability of casinos
  • Teenage gambling addiction is the fastest growing addiction. The Iowa State study of 1996 said “teenagers feel we as adults are providing this for them.”
  • Gambling addiction causes direct increase in divorce, abuse and embezzlement.

Please visit the Statistics website and take a good look around. It will chill you to the bone. There’s a lot more than the above there.

Just today, in fact, a story surfaced in Harrisburg of a very popular, and successful young lobbyist indicted for embezzlement of funds from a non profit organization he had founded. The money, at least $160,000 in a very short time, was used to pay gambling debts. Read the story at
Philly.com.

Finally, please note the two sections marked off by asterisks (*), in Mrs. Ernico’s letter.

*We are local investors who want the fruits of the gaming industry to come to Adams County which deserves and needs its fair share.*

And

*Barbara Ernico, Camp Hill*

Local? Barbara Ernico, and the rest of the Chance Enterprises investors, with the exception of David LeVan, do not live in the Gettysburg area. Nor do they live even in Adams County. [Camp Hill is in Cumberland County, north of Adams County.]

If they were to move, it will be after the casino license is granted, and it will not be to Adams County. Florida, Mexico, Ireland, or the US Virgin Islands are the likely next permanent homes of the investors. They will sell their share for a 500% profit and head out almost immediately. LeVan will probably go to his permanent home out west.

Perhaps now you can understand why Barbara Ernico as an investor, is probably the best thing to have happened to the No Casino Gettysburg movement yet. Her outrageous claims and distortions are laughed at here. It is sad that someone that self-absorbed should not take stock of herself and simply stop. But, ‘that’s entertainment’.

GettysBLOG

“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!" --GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” --GettysBLOG

Remember in May! Before you vote,
GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2006: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

131: “Rally in Harrisburg Thursday”

[reposted from THE CENTRIST]
A quick note to spread the word about this rally on Thursday at the State Capitol building in Harrisburg. This is from Russ Diamond:


PACleanSweep Rally at Capitol; Thurs, 4/20, 11:00 am

PACleanSweep will be sponsoring a rally in the Capitol Rotunda this Thursday, April 20 at 11:00 am for all PACleanSweep candidates. This will be the last centralized event for our candidates before we send them off to campaign for the primary election.

Nearly ten months of blood, sweat and tears have gone into making this primary election the one that turns Pennsylvania around. Our candidates need the support of every available PACleanSweeper in the Capitol this Thursday!

Bring a sign, bring a whisk broom, bring your family and bring your friends! Let’s show the payjackers that we mean business and we’re going to take our government back in 2006!

Let’s give these Pennsylvania heroes a fantastic send-off to remember!

PACleansweep Events Calendar

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
www.PACleanSweep.com.

For Additional Information
Russ Diamond
PACleanSweep Chair
chair@pacleansweep.com

Let’s give a great sendoff to these true patriot heroes. These folks are putting themselves out in front in the fight to recover control of Pennsylvania’s government from the hands of big money interests. Your state and local Democratic and Republican parties have abandoned you for the gold fields of development, gambling and other special interests. We need change, and we need it now. Make your voice heard.

It will be a great day to take off from work! The forecast is for mid 70s and bright sunshine. A fitting climate for what we are trying to accomplish: bring sunshine to the politics of Pennsylvania.

GettysBLOG

“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!" --GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” --GettysBLOG

Remember in May! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2006: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

130: “The Tip of the Iceberg”


It is only the tip of the iceberg. Campaign contributions. It’s all you are allowed to see.

Just how good friends are David LeVan and Ed Rendell? How about $41,000? That’s how much LeVan and his wife paid to “Fast Eddie’s” campaign over the past two years. Don’t take my word for it, go look it up yourself at the Pennsylvania Department of State’s website. [Click here for
Contribution Search.]

That kind of money is not donated to a candidate just because one wants to see that candidate win. That kind of money buys influence. A lot of influence. And if you are already an old friend, well then, you haven’t just bought influence, you’ve bought yourself the best that candidate can provide.

In this case, “Fast Eddie” got himself elected Governor, and got his gambling bill passed by the General Assembly (although they had to do an end run around the Constitution to pass it). In that gambling bill “Fast Eddie”, as Governor, gets to place a man on the Gambling Control Board, the group that decides who gets a license and where they can put their casino.

That’s more than “influence”, that’s a direct connection. You can also understand that when “Fast Eddie” declared the Gettysburg casino a bad idea, he also put in the same breath that he didn’t make the decision, the Board does. People didn’t pay much attention to that. But consider this: all the Board members are political appointees – by the governor, and by the leadership of both houses of the General Assembly. Take a look at the list published by WGAL Channel 8 yesterday, that lists some of the major investors of proposed casino licensees and where their money went. [Click here for the
Campaign Donations List of Casino Hopefuls.]

Now, please, understand, in Pennsylvania, these are the only contributions that the law requires be made public…political campaign contributions.

So ask yourself this question: If this is only what the law requires to be declared and made a matter of public record, how much other money is going in the same directions that is not a campaign contribution, but perhaps a ‘gift’, or a ‘payment in kind’? Perhaps something else. That’s the part of the iceberg you are not permitted to see.

Not only are the odds stacked against you in the casinos, the odds are obviously stacked against you in State and local politics.

Right now, the biggest influence on state and local government throughout Pennsylvania is from the gambling industry. No, not the lottery. Not the punch-boards at your local social club. Not the bingo games at the fire hall, and not the office football pool. Gambling, as in casinos.

[For the record, we refuse to use the word ‘gaming’. Purely and simply it is gambling, and nothing else. So we refer to Act 71 as the Gambling Bill. We call the Board it created the Pennsylvania Gambling Control Commission (although they do not control the gambling, they control only who can make money from it.) So rather than the innocuous euphemism the politicians use, we call it like it is. And in gambling the house always wins, and you lose.]

It would be nice to say that the suspected $1 billion from the gambling industry that is being sunk into Pennsylvania is improving our infrastructure, lowering our taxes, enhancing our educational systems, or caring for our aging population. Not one cent is going to that. It is all going to campaign spending, and to line the pockets of rich investors and powerful politicians. That, quite simply, is called ‘graft’.

We have said here more than once that a developer will build and run. Indeed, Bob “Somebody has to build it so it might as well be me” Monahan has already done so. Here is the man who has the effrontery to put the Great Seal of the United States on his monstrosity called “Gateway Gettysburg” (what an absolutely ugly layout, full of ugly buildings!). Here is the man who got his project, and now has moved his family to the Washington, D.C. area. Monahan couldn’t even wait until it was finished. He got out of town quick. He is certainly not as popular here as he once thought he was.

Monahan also owns the property where the Gettysburg Casino is supposed to be built. It now sports a sign as the “Future Home of the Crossroads Casino, Spa, and Resort. Effrontery. The investors do NOT own that property yet. That won’t go through until the license is granted.

Thanks, heaps Monahan. You’ve certainly done Gettysburg proud. No wonder you ran out of town like a scalded cat! Yeah, you made a movie because you had a vision one night on Little Round Top. But you had to premier it in D.C. first, where the fat cats are located. And here in Gettysburg, a premiere of a movie about Gettysburg? Who are you trying to fool, Monahan? Your vision was of neon, not of gun flashes.

Bob Monahan got off cheap. He only needed to contribute $10,000 to Terry Punt over the past two years. Terry Punt doesn’t live in Gettysburg, so he could care less what happens here.

Get it yet? These folks buy favorable legislation from the leadership in the General Assembly, and the governor. In fact, the Gambling Act, Act 71 of 2004, was passed in the same unconstitutional manner as the Midnight Pay Raise was passed last year. Your legislators and other politicians, including your County Commissioners, Township supervisors, and Township zoning boards are for sale. And they will not allow anything as archaic as a State Constitution to keep them from delivering their enabling legislation that will make tons of money for their campaign contributors, and themselves, no matter what the public wants, no matter what the public good is on the issue. They don’t care. Money talks.

Disgusted? Don’t move to another state – it will soon be just as bad there, if not already so. Don’t withdraw and vow never to vote again! That is unconditional surrender to these cretins holding elected office at all levels in Pennsylvania. It is said we are a nation of laws, so beat them at their own game: vote them all out of office!

It requires a commitment to vote in both elections this year. It requires campaign donations of your own to selected candidates (go to
Operation Clean Sweep for a list of true patriots who have volunteered to run against these “pigs” now holding office.) It requires that when you go behind the curtain in the voting booth, you do not cast a vote for a straight party ticket. Go in that booth with the foreknowledge of who the incumbents are and choose someone else. If no one else is running against them, write someone’s name in. Be prepared!

And of course, before you vote, GettysBLOG!

GettysBLOG

“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!" --GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” --GettysBLOG

Remember in May! Before you vote
,
GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2006: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.