Monday, May 24, 2010

Pennsylvania Grand Jury Recommends Sweeping Government Overhauls

In this report out of the Associated Press announces sweeping findings from the Grand Jury empaneled to investigate the misuse of taxpayer money commonly known as Bonusgate.

Despite dissemination of this report Todd Eachus's state site contains no mention of it.

A grand jury that investigated the state legislative corruption scandal known as Bonusgate wants the General Assembly to make sweeping changes, from how it hires and supervises employees to how it provides constituent services and even the way it debates passage of the annual budget.

A 34-page report obtained Monday by The Associated Press describes the Legislature as bloated with unnecessary staff and living in a time warp that reflects practices other states outlawed decades ago.

“This grand jury concludes, without any hesitation, that the current operational structure and ingrained procedures of the Pennsylvania House Democratic and Republican caucuses are irretrievably broken and in desperate need of systemic change,” the jury wrote.

“In the eyes of this grand jury, it is beyond dispute that numerous legislative employees have for years spent an enormous amount of time working on political campaigns when they were supposed to be performing their legislative duties,” the grand jury wrote. “All campaign work on legislative time must be eliminated and this will result in a surplus of legislative work unless rapid, meaningful change occurs.”

The 2,800 legislative employees amount to nine for each representative and 17 for each senator, the jury said.

“Despite the best efforts of numerous witnesses before the grand jury, nobody was able to justify such a large number of employees for this body,” the jurors wrote.

Among other reforms, the grand jury said the Legislature should:
— Eliminate, or at least make more transparent, the special leadership accounts that give House leaders millions of dollars in discretionary spending to control.
— Stop per diem payments to lawmakers, or at least tie them to actual expenses.
— Convert the General Assembly to a part-time body, impose term limits and give House members four-year terms.
— Combine the House Democratic and Republican print shops, information technology departments and personnel offices. Hire based on “standardized, published job descriptions.”
— Cease constituent service work related to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, described as a giveaway to businesses and a wasteful means of currying favor with voters at taxpayers’ expense.
— Impose tougher ethics practices, halt all payments and benefits to staffers on leave to campaign and ban compensatory time. Keep legislative employees from entering campaign offices during work hours.
— Prohibit using the same vendor for legislative and campaign purposes.
— Revamp the state budget process, making line items more descriptive and halting per diems if the budget is not passed by June 30.
— Eliminate taxpayer-funded political caucuses.

The report also called for a limited constitutional convention, saying it was concerned that the General Assembly “will remain in its ’time warp’ and meddle with, obfuscate, ignore or kill every recommendation.

Let's see if Eachus knows what the term leadership really means. Let's see if he rises to the occasion or serves us more slight of hand. Let's see if Brett Marcy can spin his words more.

Just today the AFL-CIO was demanding that there be no more cuts to Pennsylvania to preserve their member jobs which include doing campaign work on legislative time according to the Grand Jury.

This post is the facts..get ready for the fiction.

No comments: