Thursday, January 29, 2009


The Houghton-Mifflin dictionary defines Chutzpah as "Utter nerve; effrontery." It is a word that has its roots in the Yiddish language, and more often than not, conveys a sense of the negative.

Wikipedia defines "public trust" as:

"The concept of the public trust relates back to the origins of democratic government and its seminal idea that within the public lies the true power and future of a society; therefore, whatever trust the public places in its officials must be respected."
Chutzpah is the nicest way we can describe yesterday's announcement that Steve Maitland has thrown his hat in the ring for a vacant seat on the bench in Adams County. The County's population topped 100,000, so we get a fourth sitting judge.

We don't know what else to say except this: holding public office includes holding the public trust. The two are as inexorably linked as bees and pollen. Without the pollen, the bees can make honey, but each cycle there would be fewer blossoms to pollenate. Eventually only a rare blossom, and an even more rare bee. Having a public official who does not work to maintain the public trust means that you do not have a public official, you have an elected official who is serving himself.

We believe that is what happened with Steve Maitland during the last terms in office as the Representative in the 91st Legislative District. Maitland introduced very little legislation in his 14 years in office, so there is little to recommend his skills as a legislator. But at the end, he became involved with the infamous "Midnight Payraise" instituted by corrupt members of the legislature and the State Supreme Court, and with at least the tacit approval of Governor Rendell and his administration. They raped the taxpayer's wallets, and betrayed the public trust. Given the opportunity to rectify the situation, the legislature and the Courts refused to back down, citing that what they did was "legal". Well, "legal" it might have been [and it is still an open question], but moral and ethical it was not. So blinded by greed and hubris it took the unseating of a well ensconced State Supreme Court Justice, and the near unseating of another to get their attention. They repealed the pay raise, which included the language that allowed them to take their raise in advance by dint of a fabication of State Supreme Court Justice Ralph Cappy and legislative leadership, the "unvouchered expense."

Taxpayer uproar went up a notch when many legislators refused to return the advanced money they had collected. Some gave it to charity, others simply returned it. Still others, among them Steve Maitland, refused to return it, despite public and private pleas for him to "do the right thing." Sadly, those same corrupt officials, many of whom were unceremoniously dumped out of office over the next two elections, butchered the repeal, not including the unvouchered expense, and barring it from being counted toward pension benefits. So the legislators pensions are inflated by money they received unethically.

Maitland was turned out in a primary by voters in his own party by our current Representative Dan Moul, a man who in one term has accomplished more for his constituents and for the state than Maitland did in fourteen years.

We use the term hubris. The Literary Dictionary defines hubris thus:

"hubris [hew‐bris] or hybris, the Greek word for ‘insolence’ or ‘affront’, applied to the arrogance or pride of the protagonist in a tragedy in which he or she defies moral laws or the prohibitions of the gods. The protagonist's transgression or hamartia leads eventually to his or her downfall, which may be understood as divine retribution or nemesis. Hubris is commonly translated as ‘overweening (i.e. excessively presumptuous) pride’. In proverbial terms, hubris is thus the pride that comes before a fall."
We cite as an example of hubris the farewell speech Maitland gave to the House of Representative in which he stated that the voters didn't know how lucky they were to have him as their Representative [or words to that effect]. We responded then, and repeat that response, that Steve Maitland didn't know how lucky he was to have that position. He left bitter and angry, and to this day has never apologized or made any attempt to return the money he kept from a pay raise that was repealed. He still has his myopic hubris-glasses on.

He is not alone in this, there are others, as well, and most of them were also thrown out of office. [The Judges of the state went to court to keep their raises and in a very self-serving decision by the state Supreme Court Justice Ron Castille, who would later be elevated to Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court, possibly for his "good work" on the pay raise case, the state's judiciary got to keep their pay raise.]

Perhaps Maitland thinks the voters have forgotten why he was thrown out of office by his own party. Apparently he has. The voters have not, and will not.

Today, Maitland practices law, a gift from the taxpayers and voters of Pennsylvania. He used his "unvouchered expense" money to pay for law school, and maybe for his backyard pool.

We say this: We believed Maitland to be unfit for public office three years ago, and nothing he has said or done has, or can change that belief. He is the same man he was when he voted for the Midnght Payraise, took the "unvouchered expense" money, and kept the "unvouchered expense" money after the raise was repealed, refusing flat out to return a single penny of it by claiming he deserved it because he didn't steal from the taxpayers all those other 14 years in office, and using it for law school would make him a better legislator. Hello?

And he wants us now to elect him to the bench where he will mete out justice to those who come before him?!!??

That's chutzpah. That's hubris.

Not with ethics like those. And those ethics, in our opinion, make him unqualified for a seat on the Adams County -- or any other bench.

And that means, ABSOLUTELY NOT!


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