Even as an increasing number of lawmakers and former lawmakers privately reveal what they know about our scandal-plagued General Assembly and other aspects of state government, their public silence continues. Reminiscent of the three monkeys - See No Evil, Hear No Evil, and Speak No Evil - this public silence itself speaks volumes about what Attorney General Tom Corbett has called the "culture of corruption" in the Capitol.
DR does not, and will not, advocate the defeat of all incumbents. We continue to believe that each incumbent should be judged on his or her record of service. But part of that record includes whether those in a position to be straight with citizens instead continue to stonewall the people they are supposed to serve. It is incumbent upon incumbents to be honest and open with the citizens about problems in our government and how to solve them.
One More Time
Last December, DR and 10 other organizations that advocate higher standards of public integrity asked Gov. Ed Rendell to convene a Special Session on Public Integrity. Following our government's failure to raise standards of public integrity in 2007, the coalition agreed that a special session would permit a needed focus for both those inside government and for citizens. Click here for the January 14 edition of DR News to see the coalition's letter to Rendell.
Rendell refused. Through a spokesman, he said that a special session would not be "a constructive use of [the General Assembly's] time" and that "public officials already take an oath and swear to act with integrity." Click here for the January 21st edition of DR News.
Following this month's presentments alleging theft, conspiracy and conflicts of interest by a former lawmaker, a current lawmaker and 10 legislative staff, the idea for a special session has re-surfaced. Sen. Jeffrey Piccola, R-Dauphin, has begun a petition drive to force Rendell to call a special session. If a majority of representatives (102) and a majority of senators (26) sign the petition, the governor has no choice under the Constitution.
Click here to see the petition and the list of lawmakers who have signed so far.
What Do Citizens Think?
Funny you should ask. A Susquehanna Polling/ABC27 poll released last week provides an answer from voters in central PA.
- 69% said that the special session should "happen now," and another 25% said it could wait until fall. (Total: 94%)
- 82% said that lawmakers should make reforming state government a "high priority." In fact, 18% said that "reforming state government to cut down on corruption and abuse" should be the governor's and legislature's "top priority." Only "creating jobs and strengthening the economy" (24%) and "reducing property taxes" (20%) ranked higher.
- 80% said they had heard about the presentments against 12 people in the Bonus Scandal.
- When a substantial majority of citizens want to make reforming state government a "high priority," why aren't the governor and a substantial majority of lawmakers scrambling to give Pennsylvania the highest standards of public integrity in America?
- Why have only seven senators and 16 representatives signed the petition for a Special Session on Public Integrity? (as of July 30)
- Do those who oppose a special session believe there are no problems to solve? Or, if they acknowledge the obvious problems, what makes them think the legislature will address those problems in regular session after doing so little for the past four years?
Purely by accident, we recently came upon a TV clip of DR President Tim Potts on youtube.com, of all places. It's part of a program called "The War Stories," produced by Harrisburg public TV station WITF. The program recorded World War II veterans and their families talking about their experiences and how the war affected them.
Click here for the six-and-a-half-minute story of what keeps Potts on the job for Democracy Rising PA. And please pass it on.
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