GOP Misogyny Is My Experience In Montco

GOP Misogyny Is My Experience In Montco

By Susan Jane Goldner

GOP Misogyny Is My Experience In Montco
GOP Misogyny Is My Experience In Montco

So, let me get this straight . . .

The former MontCo Chair Vereb, who resigned to take a cushy position created for him under our very progressive liberal state Attorney General Josh Shapiro in ‘15 (year we lost every row office) is allowed to get away with slander and libel against a sitting incumbent Republican Joe Gale running for re-election for County Commissioner and I’m not allowed to critique candidates up for office as a Committeewoman? Got it. But I suppose I’m not allowed to screenshot THEIR posts…

See what’s going on, folks?

The “protection of women” statement by Vereb is remarkable considering I was physically assaulted by one top party leader at the last party convention in May ‘18, called derogatory names as well by the same sleazebag, then five months later told to “shut my stupid mouth” by my State Rep’s husband who also sat on my committee for questioning legislation. Both of these men are in their late years and are why we’re in the God-awful situation we’re in. There is no such thing as protection of women in PA politics that I’ve ever known of.

Vote Joe Gale is certainly not the problem.

The greasy old men in the GOP are the problem, along with the fact that the swamp can’t simply disagree and agree to let the people decide. They have to resort to blackmail, intimidation, and extortion to remove candidates and committeepeople they don’t want. And the women who do not stand up for other women when they witness verbal, sexual, physical assaults are right there beside them.

GOP Misogyny Is My Experience In Montco

Pennsylvania Ranks Low For Business

Pennsylvania Ranks Low For Business

By Leo Knepper

Pennsylvania Ranks Low For Business

Every year tax dollars are used to bribe businesses to come to or stay in Pennsylvania. The General Assembly, the Governor, and local governments may call it “economic development” but it’s another version of engaging in central planning for economic growth. Based on lackluster job growth, and an ever-dwindling population you would think that our elected officials would have learned their lesson after fifty years of failure; they haven’t.

For evidence of their failure, look no further than the Commonwealth’s rank in terms of overall business tax climate. According to the Tax Foundation’s latest analysis, Pennsylvania ranks thirty-fourth out of the fifty states for business taxes. An article from Watchdog.org gives a good breakdown of the methodology used in the comparison:

“The analysis examined more than 100 variables involving the states’ primary methods of taxation: corporate taxes, individual income taxes, sales taxes, unemployment insurance taxes and property taxes. Many of the top-rated states lack one of those five major taxes, but a few apply all the taxes with low rates and broad bases.

“Pennsylvania ranked No. 43 for its corporate tax; No. 18 for its individual income tax; No. 21 for its sales tax; No. 34 for its property tax; and No. 46 for its unemployment insurance tax.”

Our poor tax climate, an overly-burdensome regulatory environment, and a reputation as a place ripe for lawsuit abuse all combine to put Pennsylvania at the bottom of the list as far as a place to start a new business. If the legislature were really interested in fostering economic growth in the Commonwealth, lawmakers would make a concerted effort to move Pennsylvania into the top ten states to do business.

For evidence of their failure, look no further than the Commonwealth’s rank in terms of overall business tax climate. According to the Tax Foundation’s latest analysis, Pennsylvania ranks thirty-fourth out of the fifty states for business taxes. An article from Watchdog.org gives a good breakdown of the methodology used in the comparison:

“The analysis examined more than 100 variables involving the states’ primary methods of taxation: corporate taxes, individual income taxes, sales taxes, unemployment insurance taxes and property taxes. Many of the top-rated states lack one of those five major taxes, but a few apply all the taxes with low rates and broad bases.

“Pennsylvania ranked No. 43 for its corporate tax; No. 18 for its individual income tax; No. 21 for its sales tax; No. 34 for its property tax; and No. 46 for its unemployment insurance tax.”

Our poor tax climate, an overly-burdensome regulatory environment, and a reputation as a place ripe for lawsuit abuse all combine to put Pennsylvania at the bottom of the list as far as a place to start a new business. If the legislature were really interested in fostering economic growth in the Commonwealth, lawmakers would make a concerted effort to move Pennsylvania into the top ten states to do business.

Mr. Knepper is executive director of Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania.

 

Pennsylvania Ranks Low For Business

Connecticut Subsidizing India IT Exporter Infosys

Connecticut Subsidizing India IT Exporter Infosys

By Marie Larson

You’ve heard it before: Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Connecticut may be in its “shame on me” moment.

Connecticut Subsidizing Indian IT Exporter Infosys

State leaders have made a deal with Infosys, India’s second largest IT exporter. Connecticut is giving away American taxpayer money in return for promises to create jobs. The question is: Who will get those jobs? It’s worth taking a historical look at Infosys to answer that question.

In 2011, the Department of Justice, the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Texas, the Department of State, the Diplomatic Security Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began investigating Infosys in Plano, Texas. Investigations were a result of a whistleblower tip from Jack “Jay” Palmer, who worked for Infosys from 2008 to 2013.

The investigation resulted in charges against Infosys for “systemic visa fraud and abuse of immigration processes, in order to increase profits, minimize costs of securing visas, increase flexibility of employee movement, obtain an unfair advantage over competitors, and avoid tax liabilities.”

In a record $34 million settlementwith the Justice Department, Infosys admitted that it violated U.S. employment laws. Because Infosys promised to take steps to fix irregularities and agreed to “enhanced corporate compliance measures” to include outside monitoring, the company was not required to admit widespread further wrongdoing, according to then-U.S. Attorney John Bales of the Eastern District of Texas.

In the lawsuit, Infosys was accused of using B-1 visas for jobs reserved for American workers. It would have been legally permissible for H-1B visa holders to do the work, but those are limited to 85,000 per year, reserved for foreign workers with “specialty occupations.” B-1 visas are business visitor visas intended for meetings, training or other temporary acts, but not for work. Using the B-1 visas, Infosys violated visa laws and paid its workers the much lower prevailing wage in India. The investigation found that Infosys used 6,500 B-1 visa workers to do work in the U.S. during a five-year period. Moreover, 84 percent of the Infosys forms required for workers’ eligibility had substantive violations.

But as set forth in the book, “Sold Out: How High-Tech Billionaires & Bipartisan Beltway Crapweasels Are Screwing America’s Best & Brightest Workers,”by Michelle Malkin and John Miano,the abuse was an intentional and concerted effort by Infosys management to circumvent U.S. visa laws.

Whistleblower says Infosys intentionally abused the visa system

Whistleblower Palmer said that since Infosys management knew the monitoring of the B-1 system was tenuous, they figured “no one would ever know,” so they “flooded the consulate with (B-1) applications.” Palmer was asked to change contracts to conceal the fact that B-1 visa holders were working on projects, but because he refused, he and his family suffered threats of every kind, including death threats.

“This scheme stole jobs from American workers,” said David M. Marwell, special agent in charge at the Dallas office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. “Infosys substantially increased its profit margins to the tune of millions of dollars.”

Although the investigators found “systemic fraud and abuse,” they dropped civil and criminal charges in exchange for the unrivaled $34 million settlement and the admission of paperwork violations.

Eastern District of Texas attorney Bales said the settlement severely sanctioned what he called the company’s illegal conduct and required Infosys to correct its practices, but many American workers are left wondering why such blatant fraud and abuse continue unchecked. Clearly, as shown by other reports and lawsuits, even the $34 million slap on the wrist did not produce a sufficient deterrent effect. Allowing Infosys to maintain the deniability of visa fraud (albeit not plausible to those familiar with their history) is a huge mistake and an affront to American workers who have – and who will – lose jobs due to the way Infosys has chosen to operate in America.

Bales said this was the first case of its kind for his office, and the extensive investigation showed investigators that Infosys isn’t the only company defrauding the government this way. “We want other companies like Infosys to be on notice that we will be looking,” Bales said.

Americans are waiting. Groups advocating for American workers’ rights, like the Connecticut Tech Workers Coalition, U.S. Tech Workers and Protect U.S. Workers, have been screaming from social media hilltops trying to get the attention of mainstream media, Congress and business leaders in order to stop the widespread fraud and abuse in America’s foreign worker programs, and preserve jobs for Americans.

But the trend doesn’t look promising for their cause. According to Hilarie Gamm, in her book “Billions Lost: The American Tech Crisis and The Roadmap to Change,” the total number of B visas issued has jumped from 4 million to nearly 9 million from 1997 to 2016. So the Infosys settlement leaves Americans to wonder about the real value of a seemingly large fine when Infosys stands to gain billions of dollars by continuing to plow the work visa fields.

Top Infosys employee calls out the company

After Infosys settled with the Department of Justice, Erin Green was hired by Infosys in Plano to help rectify the visa problems brought to light by the lawsuit. But after working at Infosys for a few years, Green filed his own lawsuit against the company for its preferential treatment of its South Asian workers. As reported in the Dallas News, Green’s suit alleges, “While less than 5 percent of the U.S. population is of the South Asian race and national origin, roughly 93 percent to 94 percent of Infosys’ United States workforce ‘is of the South Asian national origin (primarily Indian).’”

Green’s complaint further states, “This disproportionately South Asian and Indian workforce, by race and national origin, is a result of Infosys’ intentional employment discrimination against individuals who are not South Asian, including discrimination in the hiring, promotion, compensation and termination of individuals.”

“Infosys has gone to great lengths to obtain its primarily South Asian workforce in the U.S., in particular by utilizing professional H-1B and L-1 work visas to bring South Asians (primarily Indians) into the United States to work in information technology,” according to the suit, which is currently in arbitration.

And recently, a former Indian Infosys employee filed suit in Texas alleging he suffered retaliation when he told his superiors the B-1 visa was still being used to bring in people to do prohibited work.

Yet, Connecticut’s leaders have made a deal with the same, infamous Infosys.

Accountability in Connecticut’s deal with Infosys

The deal was made under Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who said: “The bottom line is Connecticut is investing in itself,” but it was partly helped by newly elected Gov. Ned Lamont’s recruiting efforts.

Lamont, a fiscal conservative, is facing major budget problems with a projected deficit of $1.7 billion in the next fiscal year. Nonetheless, Connecticut has agreed to pay Infosys $14 million in return for a promise of 1,000 jobs.

Infosys would be eligible to receive:

  • $4 million if 200 jobs are created within two years and retained for two years
  • A second $4 million payment if 500 jobs in total have been created within the next three years, and then retained for two more years
  • A third $4 million payment if the job total reaches 1,000 created within the first five years, and if they are retained for another two years
  • And a final $2 million grant would be provided now to fund job training.

There are several potential problems with the deal. First, there is no requirement that the jobs be for American workers. Most reports on the agreement say Infosys must hire “U.S. workers,” but what qualifies as such? Is an H-1B worker a U.S. worker? Is a foreign student or grad on an F-1 visa who has an OPT (Optional Practical Training) or CPT (Curricular Practical Training) job a U.S. worker? Students on F-1 visas who get OPT or CPT jobs are exempt from Social Security and Medicare taxes, as is their employer, but American students and grads are not. Is Infosys seeking to hit that tax-free easy button?

Second, if Infosys does hire American workers, it is problematic that the contract only requires employees be retained for two years. It begs the question whether Infosys can lay off the first round of workers (for which it will receive $4 million) after two years, and then rehire the same employees in the second and/or third round of “job creation,” receiving payment for the same body again and again?

Third, if you’ve paid attention to the facts of the 2011 Department of Justice lawsuit and how Infosys misused the B-1 visa to bring in workers from India, the word “training” in that last line (“a final $2 million now to provide job training”) should raise questions about whether Infosys will be using the B-1 visa as an umbrella to shuttle in more foreign workers under the guise of providing training.

Regardless, citizens of the Nutmeg State, and states beyond, are doubtful that the picture is as rosy as proponents are trying to paint.

According to HartfordBusiness.com, Cigna, Hartford Healthcare and Stanley Black & Decker were some of the companies whose leaders worked to persuade Ravi Kumar, Infosys president and COO, that Connecticut was “home to insurers, health companies and advanced manufacturershungry for the services Infosys could provide.” (Emphasis added.)

When Infosys opened a facility in Raleigh, NC, its stated intent was to pull from the local college community to fill 2,000 positions, but according to Gamm’s book, Kumar admitted that only about 15 percent of the Infosys hires were from local colleges. 

Connecticut’s 10-member bond commission voted 9-1 to approve the assistance. The only one to vote against the deal was Rep. Chris Davis (R-Ellington), who said Infosys has been one of the leading outsourcers of U.S. jobs to other countries. “Infosys outsourced Connecticut-based employees at Eversource and at financial services and insurance industries across Connecticut,” said Davis.

Craig DiAngelo was one of the 220 workers laid off at Eversource (formerly Northeast Utilities), when the Connecticut utility company hired Infosys in 2013.

Both American and foreign workers lose

“The people they sent over from India earned less than half what we earned, with no benefits, no health insurance, no paid vacation,” said DiAngelo, who now works for a tech consulting company. “Some of the Indian guys worked 12-, 13-, 14-hour days. Sometimes they wouldn’t get paid for weeks. Many of them lived five or six together in one apartment. So not only are American IT workers getting hurt by this, many Indian IT workers are abused.”

Rep. Davis added: “We are going into partnership with a company that has displaced, potentially, thousands of Connecticut employees over the years, and we are giving them taxpayer money.”

The CT Tech Worker Coalition, a group committed to opposing the governor’s deal, is thinking along the same lines: Why is our government handing taxpayer dollars to an Indian outsourcing company notorious for visa violations and for discriminating against – and displacing – American workers? 

John Robert is one of the Connecticut tech workers helping to organize a rally this weekend in Hartford to protest the state giveaway to Indian outsourcing giant, Infosys. He worked at an insurance company and watched as 350 of his fellow IT workers were slowly replaced by H-1Bworkers. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), also of India, was responsible for that outsourcing, and Robert said TCS also brought in L-1, B-1 and OPT workers.

“I’ve noticed that wherever (Infosys) shows up, pink slips start flying,” said Robert. “It really hit home after the Verizon layoff of 44,000 workers, and Infosys was bringing more than 2,500 jobs to India.” Robert was forced out of his job and could only find work two states away for two-thirds of his salary.

“I’m fighting this because Connecticut is my home, and I want to defeat these forces before my daughter enters the workforce,” Robert said.

Other Infosys Sweet Deals

  • Indiana, where Infosys opened a hub in March 2018 with 250 employees, has been promised up to $31 million in tax credits for producing up to 2,000 jobs, according to The Indianapolis Star.

  • A design hub announced last fall in Rhode Island could earn the company $10 million in state incentives for 500 jobs, Rhode Island Public Radio reported.

  • Texas announced a $3 million land grant for 500 jobs, according to The Dallas Morning News.
  • North Carolina promises Infosys $25 million in state grants in exchange for the promise of 2,000 jobs

GOP Bosses Stifle Conservatives

GOP Bosses Stifle Conservatives

By Susan Jane Goldner

The Democrat Party gives the allure (ok, facade) of opportunity and potential with a more welcoming spirit. After five years of being a slave (work with no pay) in the GOP, forced to serve the interests of the political elitist “old guard” swamp establishment here in Pennsylvania, they have tried to stifle and snuff out my strong conservative voice and knock out young people—true public servants—like myself who dare question and challenge the status-quo.

This is deeply troubling and we should all work to fix it.

We saw it happen four years ago with the youngest Commissioner in the County ever to be elected. They have not learned and they will not change patterns of corrupted unethical tactics. It is too imbedded and with high turnover, our local county gop has been able to cover up their years of terrible corruption, bribery, gossipy slander against others. We saw how party loyalists fought President Trump tooth ‘n nail while he was campaigning (then did a 180 and tried to take credit here for his grassroots victory in PA). The reason he’s successful is bc he does not play by the house rules as a leader and political outsider. It should be about an educated citizenry, a concerned electorate, and a free-thinking, liberty-minded society.

It should be about an educated citizenry, a concerned electorate, and a free-thinking, liberty-minded society.

Yes I believe anarchy is coming (Biblical prediction: Book of Chronicles) and has considerably already arrived. Both systems need to be broken up and we need to return to our Nation’s founding principles.

GOP Bosses Stifle Conservatives

Wolf Plans More Pain For PA Drivers

Wolf Plans More Pain For PA Drivers

By Lowman S. Henry

Wolf Plans More Pain For PA Drivers
You get what we vote for ha ha ha

Pennsylvania motorists already pay one of the highest state gasoline taxes in the nation thanks to what was effectively a 30-cent per gallon tax hike during the Tom Corbett Administration. Now, a new multi-state compact advocated by radical environment interests threatens to add to that tax burden.

As with most policies pushed by the Left, this one has a lofty sounding name, it is called the Transportation and Climate Initiative. Its goal is to ratchet up the war on carbon-based fuels by setting new goals for the reduction of their use. And, of course, there is the usual tug at the heart strings rhetoric as the “initiative” seeks to “maximize environmental, economic, social, and public health benefits.”

If you cut through the spin, what actually is being proposed is a tax grab to fund dubious “low carbon technologies” which cannot compete in the marketplace because they are ineffective, overly expensive or both; and – surprise – redirect more money to urban mass transit systems. As Inconvenient Facts author Greg Wrightstone puts it: “They want to take money from Perry County (rural Pennsylvania) and give it to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.”

Wolf Plans More Pain For PA Drivers

As Wrightstone explained the compact on a recent edition of Lincoln Radio Journal, the Wolf Administration has entered into an agreement with nine other mostly northeastern states to cap each of the states’ carbon emissions from transportation (your car). The states have one year to come up with a plan. Such plans will most certainly include additional taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel. Then, Wrightstone concluded, the money will be “redistributed” to “low carbon transportation systems” – in other words urban mass transit.

Those urban transportation systems, specifically the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) in the Philadelphia region and Port Authority Transit (PAT) in the Pittsburgh area have an insatiable appetite for public dollars and annually develop new schemes to fleece taxpayers from other regions to subsidize the many and well-documented inefficiencies and outright corruption that regularly plague those agencies.

Thus, the lofty sounding Transportation and Climate Initiative allows Governor Wolf to advance two of his top agenda items: establish a new revenue stream to keep urban mass transit afloat and penalize users of carbon-based fuels. Keep in mind, those users include you every time you start your car or use a product that was delivered to the store by motor vehicle, which is to say everything.

In addition to the cost to consumers, higher taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel will increase the cost of doing business for companies based in Pennsylvania. This will put them at a competitive disadvantage with states that are not part of this ideologically driven compact. Notably, the state of Ohio declined to participate in the boondoggle, correctly seeing an opportunity to gain a competitive edge over Pennsylvania-based businesses.

All of this raises the issue of how new and/or higher taxes will be imposed. Since this is an administrative agreement, it is entirely possible, even likely, the Wolf Administration will attempt to bypass the General Assembly and impose the new cost as a regulatory fee.

There are many reasons to believe the governor will try that route. First, with Republicans in control of both houses of the General Assembly, the chances of winning legislative approval for a fuel tax increase, especially in the House, are slim to none. Second, the General Assembly has a recent history of allowing its constitutional authority to be usurped by other branches of government without putting up an effective fight.

For example, last year the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in clear violation of the state constitution, abrogated the legislature’s power to draw congressional district lines and instituted by judicial fiat a new congressional district map gerrymandered to favor Democrats in the 2018 election. Legislative Republicans howled in protest, even appealed to the federal courts. But they failed to take the one action that would have been effective: impeach the offending justices, especially one who in a blatant breach of judicial ethics campaigned on doing exactly what was done.

So Governor Wolf can be forgiven if he believes he can impose an entire new layer of taxation on We the People of Penn’s Woods without the legislature taking any effective action to stop him. But – this is an issue where legislative leaders, particularly those in the state Senate, need to stiffen their spines and take a stand.

The policy goals of the Transportation and Climate Initiative are dubious at best. This is a clear tax grab for urban mass transit, and consumers are already overburdened when it comes to gas and fuel taxes. Even for the legislative faint of heart this is a battle worth fighting.

Lowmen Henry is chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal

Wolf Plans More Pain For PA Drivers

For a story regarding a controversial video becoming an anthem of the Yellow Vest movement visit here.

Dems Plan Gerrymand For 2020

Dems Plan Gerrymand For 2020

By Lowman S. Henry

Emboldened by the success of their strategy to re-gerrymander Pennsylvania’s congressional districts, Democrats have set their sights on gaining control over the re-drawing of district lines that will occur upon completion of the 2020 census.

By way of review the Pennsylvania Supreme Court earlier this year ruled the district maps, approved back in 2011 in a bi-partisan and previously court-approved process, amounted to unconstitutional gerrymandering.  The decision was rendered by new justices who in 2015 unethically campaigned on issuing just such a ruling should they be elected to the bench.

The new Democrat justices then imposed new district lines by judicial fiat, in what many correctly saw as a violation of provisions in both the federal and state constitutions.  Since the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of what is constitutional, the only recourse would have been impeachment by the General Assembly.  Even as they watched the high court emasculate their legislative powers, lawmakers could only muster howls of protest while taking no substantial action.

At the end of the day the court ordered map – artfully gerrymandered in its own right – was implemented.  When the dust settled Democrats picked up four congressional seats contributing to a national wave of wins that saw Republicans lose majority control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Having used unethical and extra-constitutional means to achieve that end, Governor Tom Wolf has launched yet another end run against the established process with an eye to controlling the 2021 redistricting.  He has empaneled a 15-member commission to supposedly “improve” the redistricting process.

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, who allowed the Supreme Court to get away with its last power grab, protested that Wolf has no power to set up such a commission, failed to consult with the General Assembly in selecting its members, and charged the commission fails to represent rural Pennsylvania.  Knowing the legislature is a lion that roars, but does not bite, Wolf proceeded with naming the commission.

Keeping in mind that words such as “fair districts,” “reform,” and “improving the process” are merely code for stacking the process in favor of Democrats, Wolf reeled off high sounded rhetoric while in fact naming a commission guaranteed to continue the hijacking of the 2021 redistricting.

He named as chairman of the commission the head of a Philadelphia-based organization posing as a “good government” group.  The League of Women voters, another Democrat front group has a seat at the table as does higher education and “urban affairs” representatives.  To balance partisan Democrats on the commission the governor appointed Charlie Dent, a former Republican congressman well-known for his Left-leading ideology.

In short, the commission is stacked with those whose mission is to overthrow the state constitution and ensure the illicit methodology implemented by partisan Democrats this year supplants the orderly process that for decades had passed court muster.

Exactly what is that process?  Congressional redistricting takes the form of a bill which must be approved by both houses of the General Assembly and then be signed into law by the governor.  To win legislative approval, the congressional redistricting bill must go through the same process as any other legislation:  it is drafted, there are hearings, there is a committee vote followed by a floor vote in each chamber.  Both houses must agree on an identical bill for it to be sent to the governor for signature.

In other words, the very same process by which any other law is enacted is how we do congressional redistricting.  For the governor and his partisan Left-wing allies to suggest that process is unfair is to suggest our entire system of government is unfair.

Here is what the governor is actually saying: Republicans control both houses of the General Assembly and are likely to remain in control through the 2021 redistricting.  That means the GOP will largely control the process, although the governor can wield his veto pen as an end game.

That is not good enough for Tom Wolf.  He wants to subvert having elected representatives use the legislative process and instead have the job done by an unelected commission which he would appoint.

Not only is that unconstitutional, but it undermines the very separation of powers foundation upon which our Republic is built.  This time, Senator Scarnati and his fellow legislative “leaders” need to do more than just talk – they need to stand up to Wolf and his power grab, because this time the very essence of our constitutional republic is at stake.

Lowman Henry is chairman and CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal

Dems Plan Gerrymand For 2020
Dems Plan Gerrymand For 2020

Cronyism Nearly Doubles Montco Courthouse Cost

Cronyism Nearly Doubles Montco Courthouse Cost

By Joe Gale

Cronyism Nearly Doubles Montco Courthouse Cost
Joe Gale

The proposed Montgomery County budget for 2019 includes an unacceptable increase in funding for the Courthouse Campus project in Norristown. This initiative was originally estimated to cost a sizable $281 million but has suddenly risen to a shocking $406 million. That is a jump of $125 million, or 44 percent, for a plan that is already the most expensive capital improvement project in County history.

To make matters worse, I have received letters from politicians including Senator Bob Casey, Governor Tom Wolf and State Representatives Matt Bradford and Mary Jo Daley, as well as notes from various labor and trade unions, pushing me to vote ‘Yes’ on the enactment of a Project Labor Agreement (“PLA”).

Doing so would mandate the use of union labor, thereby excluding 80 percent of otherwise qualified construction firms from participating in the bidding process.

Across the board, PLAs reduce competition and grow construction costs by an average of 20 percent. In this case, that means the Courthouse Campus project could balloon by an additional $80-100 million and reach a total expenditure of half a billion dollars!

Despite vast pressure from political insiders, I will not pander to lobbyists and special interest groups at the expense of Montgomery County taxpayers.

Therefore, I have asked my fellow County Commissioners for common-sense compromise to prevent the already bloated cost of the Courthouse Campus project from further spiraling out of control.

If my fellow Commissioners join me in rejecting a reckless PLA and agree to scale back the Courthouse Campus project to the initial cost of $281 million, I will vote in support of the proposed 2019 Budget to help give the residents, families and businesses of Montgomery County a bi-partisan victory.

Joe Gale is the Republican on the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners.

Cronyism Nearly Doubles Montco Courthouse Cost

Spending Curse Is Bipartisan In Pa.

Spending Curse Is Bipartisan In Pa.

By Leo Knepper

A common sentiment among our followers on social media is that Pennsylvania would be much better off if everyone just voted “red” or elected more Republicans. We can certainly appreciate the sentiment, but it ignores two critical facts from recent history. First, when the General Assembly increased their own pensions by 50 percent, and other government employees by 25 percent in 2001, it was a bipartisan effort. The Governor who signed the bill into law was a Republican, Tom Ridge. Second, when the proposal to increase Pennsylvania’s gasoline tax to the highest in the nation was floated in 2013, it was Republicans who were behind the wheel. Governor Corbett, along with Republican leadership in the House and Senate twisted the arms of other Republicans to make this regressive tax increase a reality.

Not every example of profligate spending has such widespread effects. Consider the $1 million price tag for renovations recently completed at the Capitol in Harrisburg. From an article in The Caucus (subscription required):

“The chief clerk of the Pennsylvania Senate has new office digs — at a cost of more than $1 million in taxpayer money, including $30,000 for draperies and a set of fancy $800 chairs. The spending on the office’s relocation from near the Capitol cafeteria to formerly vacant space on the first floor of the North Office Building included furnishings, renovations and consultants, records show…

“The spending included:

  • More than $30,000 on draperies from Decorating Den Interiors, a Harrisburg-based interior-design company. The cost of outfitting one room with draperies was more than $3,700.
  • $2,300 for a desk of “heritage oak on cherry.”
  • $6,000 for eight “exec swivel” chairs, or $750 per chair.
  • $10,000 for 34 other chairs, or about $294 apiece.”

Every budget season, taxpayers are told that spending has been “cut to the bone” and every year taxpayers are forced to pay an exorbitant cost for pet projects and non-essential programs. In 2017, the General Assembly was sitting on a $95 million slush fund. The money comes from over-allocating funds to themselves, and not returning the surplus to the general fund; making matters worse, the General Assembly’s accounts are not subject to independent audit. Instead, they select the auditing firm and pay them directly. While this is no guarantee of mismanagement, it does set up the possibility of a conflict of interest for the auditing firm.

Further compounding the problem, the General Assembly has no legal obligation to make the changes recommended by their auditor. Therefore, we see many of the same reforms suggested and then ignored year after year. The legislature’s unwillingness to reform its financial process is one of the reasons that CAP supports a limited state constitutional convention. If the legislature is incapable of correcting its own deficiencies, then it is up to taxpayers to impose those reforms ourselves.

Mr. Knepper is executive director of Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania.

Spending Curse Is Bipartisan In Pa.

Spending Curse Is Bipartisan In Pa.

Redder Red, Bluer Blue In Pennsylvania

Redder Red, Bluer Blue In Pennsylvania

By Lowman S. Henry

On the surface it would appear the power dynamic in Pennsylvania state government changed little as a result of last week’s General Election. Governor Tom Wolf was re-elected and Republicans retained solid control of both the state House and the state Senate.

Back from where we started?

Not quite. The 2018 election cycle saw the continuation of two trends: the drift of Democrats into the arms of the socialist Left, and a Republican power shift from the Philadelphia suburbs to the more conservative central and western parts of the state.

Governor Tom Wolf has often (and for good reason) been labeled the most liberal governor in America. To the degree that lieutenant governors matter, the state’s new second banana will push him even further in that direction. Lt. Governor-elect John Fetterman is a Bernie Sanders-style socialist. He replaces the hapless Mike Stack, a Philadelphia pol more interested in the power dynamics of politics than ideology.

Wolf tilted to the far Left to win his first primary four years ago and clearly felt at home. He went on to propose tax hikes that exceeded those offered by governors in all 49 other states combined and has remained a staunch advocate for Left-wing policies ever since. Fetterman, and the avowed socialists who upended traditional Democrats in the primary to claim seats in the General Assembly, are certain to fortify his position.

As liberal policies made the city more and more unlivable Philadelphia Democrats fled to the suburbs. There they have continued voting into office candidates who espouse the very same policies that destroyed the city. As a result, the four counties surrounding Philadelphia which had for decades been the epicenter of Republican power in the state have trended Democrat.

If there was a “blue wave” this election year it crashed ashore in those counties. The numbers could change a bit as the official count progresses, but Republicans lost 13 state House seats and four state Senate seats in that region. It is rare for more than three or four incumbents to lose statewide in a given election cycle, so the GOP wipeout in southeastern Pennsylvania can rightly be described as a blue tidal wave.

Continuing the westward shift of the statewide GOP, Republicans partially offset their losses in the southeast by flipping three Democrat seats, one in Bucks County and two elsewhere in the state. Republicans held historically high majorities in both state legislative chambers. Thus the losses left them in solid control, but with margins closer to the historical average.

What the election did do was to shift the ideological center of both the House and Senate Republican caucuses away from southeastern liberalism into the mainstream conservatism that is popular in the balance of the state.

While legislative Democrats voted in lockstep with their leadership, Republican legislative leaders had the more difficult task of moving conservative policies advocated by their caucus majority, while trying to appease their southeastern members. The goal was to hold onto those southeastern seats; it didn’t work.

The end result is absent the need to protect its members from suburban Philadelphia because “well, they are no longer there” legislative Republicans are now free to stand firmly against the socialist policies Governor Tom Wolf and Democrats are sure to pursue.

This means Pennsylvania’s divided state government has become even more divided. The first battle will come in a matter of weeks when Governor Tom Wolf proposes his next state budget. It is sure to be chock full of tax hikes and new spending. Republicans effectively blocked the more radical elements of his agenda during the governor’s first term. A more conservative majority should be able to do so in the years ahead.

Thus have voters across Penn’s Woods put into effect all the elements needed for epic policy and budget battles which are likely to end in gridlock. Given the fact that most legislation that actually passes expands the dependency state at the expense of taxpayers, gridlock may be the best outcome.

Lowman S. Henry is chairman and CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal.

Redder Red, Bluer Blue In Pennsylvania

Redder Red, Bluer Blue In Pennsylvania

Birthright Citizenship Spawns Tourism

Birthright Citizenship Spawns Tourism

By Joe Guzzardi

Birthright Citizenship Spawns TourismIf President Trump’s promise to end birthright citizenship does nothing else, it will spark the long overdue debate about the constitutional legality of conferring citizenship to all children born on U.S. soil including those delivered by unlawfully present mothers.

Birthright citizenship, also referred to as jus soli or “right of the soil,” has been for decades the improper reading and implementation of the 14th Amendment. Under the jus soli interpretation, children born on American soil, even though their parents are foreign nationals, automatically become U.S. citizens. The opposing argument contends that jus sanguinis should prevail – blood rights that confer birth citizenship only to the children of citizens or lawfully present immigrants.

Facts must be separated from the fiction put forth by media and the pro-immigration lobby. Fact: birthright citizenship is a huge illegal immigration magnet. As a U.S. citizen, a child qualifies for affirmative benefits, free K-12 education, and more affordable in-state college tuition fees. When the child turns 21, he can petition other family members to join him, and thus begin the chain migration process that adds approximately four additional residents per each original immigrant.

From a population growth perspective alone, birthright citizenship is a major driver. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that at least 4.5 million U.S. citizen anchor babies under the age of 18 live in the U.S. CBO’s estimate excludes the millions of over-18 anchor babies or those living overseas with their deported foreign parents. At least another 600,000 citizen childrenwill be born in the U.S. within the next few years, according to CBO.

Fact: birthright citizenship has spawned the disgraceful birth tourism industry wherein wealthy Chinese, Koreans, Turks and others from overseas pay unscrupulous maternity hotel operators room and board while they await their citizen child’s birth.

There are criminal elements in birth tourism. Lying on a visa application – declaring that the visitor is coming to the U.S. as a tourist when her true purpose is to give birth – is a crime. Some of the hotel owners violate municipal building and zoning codes, as well as certain health regulations. Federal agents have launched several California investigations where birth tourism thrives, but their efforts have not deterred those eager to deliver a “U.S. citizen.”

Fact: Only two fully developed countries offer birthright citizenship, Canada and the U.S. Because of abuse and fraud, other advanced nations like Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, France, Germany, the UK, Vatican City and others abandoned automatic citizenship years ago. Those countries recognized birthright citizenship’s folly; the U.S. persists in the untenable practice.

Fiction: The federal government has no legal authority to end birthright citizenship. It appears to be the mainstream media’s near-unanimously held position that they cannot. In its headline story, The Washington Postdeclared that President Trump’s executive order, should he issue it, “would run afoul of the Constitution.” The Associated Press headline was “Trump Far Off Track on Birthright Citizenship,” and The Atlantic wrote, “Trump’s Plan to End Birthright Citizenship Takes Direct Aim at the Constitution.”

Fact: The Supreme Court has never ruled on birthright citizenship, and respected constitutional scholars have politely disagreed over the practice’s legitimacy. Writing in The New York Times, Chapman University Professor John Eastman noted that the Constitution doesn’t mandate birthright citizenship, and that Section 1 of the 14th Amendment disqualifies illegal immigrants’ children – that they must be “subject to the jurisdiction of…” meaning they cannot have allegiance to another nation. Professor Chapman’s detractors contend that the issue is an open and shut case. They demand “Constitutional originalism.” Those born in the U.S. are U.S. citizens, period. Birthright citizenship’s fate is of vital importance to every American and merits an eventual Supreme Court decision, not the controversial Executive Order President Trump proposed. Although it may be too much to expect in today’s political climate, the Supreme Court could finally resolve birthright citizenship’s legality.

Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who has written about immigration for more than three decades. Contact Joe at jguzzardi@pfirdc.org.