Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Power Does Not Mean Privilege In The PA Legislature

From Philly.com

The apparent political culture in Harrisburg transcends the expectations of the average voter who not only expects integrity and honor, but more importantly, deserves no less from a representative or senator. Because one attains power does not mean that privilege can be abused, nor should it be abused. The arrogance towards the oath of office is offset by words of patriotism. They call their critics subversive to the good of society. Dwight Eisenhower once opined that "The opportunist thinks of me and today; the statesman thinks of us and tomorrow." Harrisburg has been infected with an accepted culture of indiffernce to the electorate.

Mark Twain once wrote "The true statesman does not despise any wisdom, however lowly its origin.

Philly.com discusses Bill DeWeeses's increasing credibility dilemma regarding his denial of knowledge that state employees were performing campaign duties on state time.

As The Inquirer reported yesterday, documents in a wide-ranging criminal probe appear to indicate that DeWeese headed a caucus in which erasing the boundary between legislative and political duties was second nature.

DeWeese still insists that he didn't know Democratic state employees were being paid cash bonuses with tax dollars for campaign work, an allegation at the core of Attorney General Tom Corbett's investigation. And Corbett hasn't charged DeWeese with wrongdoing in his two-year-old probe.

But the criminal-probe documents highlight an arrogant culture in the legislature in which the line between political and legislative work is all but ignored - a lesson former State Sen. Vince Fumo learned the hard way.

It is amazing that the culture in Harrisburg not only believes it is acceptable to routinely allow employees to campaign on the taxpayers' dime but fosters the notion that 94 days into 2009 it is more than reasonable not to have passed on law for the governor's signature this year. Dennis Owens of ABC27 out of Pittsburgh did a segment titled "Legislative Session Off to Slow Start".

"This is one of the problems of a full-time legislature. There's always tomorrow," said Tim Potts of the watchdog group Democracy Rising PA. "There is no deadline for getting anything done except the state budget."

"It's shameful for us to be sitting here in session passing little House resolutions of whatever day of the week we're declaring it and not taking action that effects working men and women of this state," said Rep. Stan Saylor, R-York.

Here is the last paragraph of their article.

One week from today, Maryland's part-time legislature will be done for the year. They are in session for 90 days. By next Monday they'll have a completed budget and hundreds of laws awaiting the governor's signature; proof, some critics insist, that Marylander's pay less for their legislature and get more out of them.

Call your legislator and ask him or her when we will see real work for the Commonwealth. If they have time to get their picture in the newspaper and television then they have time to get to work.

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