Wednesday, December 16, 2009

DejaVu- Stish, Eachus, DeWeese

The arrest of Bill DeWeese, recent alleged Harrisburg corruption defendant, reminded me of the way Todd Eachus was elected in the 116th District that includes the City of Hazleton. Role the tape back to 1994 when Democrat Representative Tom Stish, 116th, decided to switch parties and become a Republican at the behest of then House Majority Chairman John Perzel, another recent alleged Harrisburg corruption defendant.

Bill DeWeese seized on the party switch to convince Exeter businessman Todd Eachus to move into the 116th and run as a Democrat against Tom Stish.

From Todd Eachus's bio:

Todd was born September 26, 1962 in Harrisburg, Pa., moved to Wilkes-Barre, Pa. in 1964 and graduated from Wilkes-Barre Coughlin High School in 1980. He received his bachelor’s from Pitzer College of the Claremont Colleges, Claremont, Calif. in 1984, where he also was a three-year College Football Letterman, Pomona/Pitzer Fighting Sagehens. He married Ellen Kusiak-Eachus of Plains, Pa. in 1985. They have three sons: Anthony, Benjamin and Nathan.

Todd began his public service career in 1985 on the staff of Congressman Frank J. Guarini, until opening his own small business in 1990 as President and Owner of Portable Space in Exeter, which he ran until being elected to the state House in 1996.

I believe they call that carpetbagging. Bill DeWeese was so enthused to enlist Eachus that he even broke House Rules.

Mr.DeWEESE. Todd Eachus; Todd Eachus. Have you ever
heard of that name before? Todd Eachus. This is the Todd Eachus
proposal, and I am pleased, like my colleague, the gentleman
from Allegheny County, Mr. Trello, to be here and support the
Todd Eachus bill.
People out in our great rambling State often wonder if they can
have an impact on government by running for public life. They
can. This young hard-charger from the Hazleton area is having
The SPEAKER. Mr. DeWeese-
Mr. DeWEESE. -impact today in the General Assembly of
Yes, Mr. Speaker ?
The SPEAKER. Mr. DeWeese, I believe-
Mr. DeWEESE. What ?
The SPEAKER. -I believe, without looking at the rules, that
bringing in the names of opponents of members is improper, and
I would ask you to not do that.
Mr. DeWEESE. Out of respect for the Speaker, which knows
no limit, I shall not use Mr. Eachus' name again, until he is
The SPEAKER. Well, I think you were right; you will not be
using that name again.

Well Perzel actually turned out wrong with that last statement but then again with DeWeese's arrest probably now receives some vindication.

DeWeese used intimidation to keep his Democratic members in line, something Eachus picked up on and tried to emulate.

DeWeese accused Stish of seeking his 15 minutes of fame at the expense of fellow Democrats with this infamous and memorable quote: “He is like a dead mackerel in the moonlight. He shines and stinks at the same time.”

Mario Cattabiani of the Philadelphia Inquirer recently tracked the now-unemployed, just-barely-scraping-by Stish down in Florida.

Stish told Cattabiani that the Big Switch cost him childhood friends, his marriage and earned him hatred and enemies. He was the target of vandalism and graffiti. He lost re-election in 1996 because the Democrats wanted his scalp so badly. Ridge gave him a job in his administration for a while but Stish said he was eventually forced out. He claimed abandonment by his Republican suitors.

Stish told Cattabiani, that he'd tell any lawmaker pondering a similar move: “Just don't do it. You will be basically giving up everything of worth. If you do it, be prepared." Stish said he is “barely making it,” surviving on his two state pensions from eight years in the Legislature and previous time as a teacher.

Now DeWeese – who to this day speaks contemptuously of Stish -- is making sure every House Democrat hears Stish’s words about what happened to him. He is copying and distributing to all remaining and incoming Democratic House members a copy of the Inquirer’s account quoting Stish.

Now Eachus, as House Majority Leader, has words coming back to haunt him.

Now DeWeese and Reps. Keith McCall and Todd Eachus, neither of whom yet get the kind of awed respect for tactics, politics and acumen that Veon earned, have to get on-the-job-training.

They have to step in during a tough budget year, with tax votes, a major transportation funding increase, a property tax fight and do the legislative magic that Veon used to do.

Those are big cowboy boots to fill. And if they fail, if they lose votes, if the increasingly conservative House Republican caucus unifies and denies them on a few key votes, the House Democrats will look weak.

Also, if a House Democrat runs for local office (mayor, county commissioner) and has to leave office at some point, their majority could be called into question.

Also, while many Democrats in the east are delighted that younger members like Eachus, D-Luzerne, and Reps. Josh Shapiro and Mike Gerber, both D-Montgomery, are taking major roles in party affairs, many are not.
Some long-time and mid-tenured House Democrats who have seen seniority rewarded their whole careers say privately they would like to see the young whippersnappers get tripped up.

The budget fiasco and the hold up of table game legislation bore out the inept and unqualified credentials that led the Democrats to elect Eachus as House Leader. It will remain to be seen whether he holds onto that position. Insiders are saying he already lost it.

Eachus's associations with Robert Powell, Jill Moran, Greg Skrepenak, Bill DeWeese, Steve Stetler, Michael Veon, Michael Manzo, and Rachel Manzo are part of a new book coming out called "It's The Company I Keep."

It is challenging to hold onto one's office when a Representative will fight like hell to secure $500 million for a "fantasy airport", but won't help with a dime for the biggest city in his district. Eachus is putting up opposition to cleaning up mine reclamation but has no problem with dirty laundry all around his feet.

Since Eachus wasn't from this area before representing it he lacks the passion for its constiuents. Moving here was about furthering a career not because he wanted to be a part of the area. That is the precise reason he hasn't supported major projects in Hazleton with any funding. The repugnancy he demonstrates against Republicans is such an instinctive antagonism that he can't see how he morally failed Hazleton as its representative. Of course with a teacher like DeWeese it is no wonder.

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