CF Ask: Are All Lawmakers Crooks?

Commonwealth Foundation, today, itemized the recent charges, convictions and investigations of current and recent Pennsylvania state legislators and boldly claimed the crime rate in the state Capitol to be higher than our worst cities.

The CF’s Nathan Benefield pointed out that State Rep. Mike Veon, who had served as PA House Democrat Whip, has been sentenced to 6 to 14 years for his role in Bonusgate while trials are pending against former speakers of the house Bill DeWeese and John Perzel as well as former representatives Brett Feese and Steve Stetler. Note that Perzel and Feese are Republicans while DeWeese and Stetler are Democrats.

Benefield also points out that on the Senate side former powerbroker  Vince Fumo has been convicted, Sen. Jane Orie  has been indicted, and the feds have raided the homes and offices of Democratic Leader Bob Mellow  and Sen. Ray Musto. Here, Ms. Orie is the lone Republican and I’ll grant you that my suspicion is that when all is said and done the scandal will be the behavior of the prosecutor, who happens to belong to a powerful Democrat family, rather than that of the Senator.

Still it is the reasonable person that will think that the Pennsylvania is run by thieves and this would of course explain our chronic budget crisis and bloated pension plans
Don’t forget that those in trouble aren’t  backbenchers felt by their colleagues to be dirty, but men whom their peers elected to led them i.e. two speakers of the house, a Democrat house whip and a Democrat senate leader.

Yes, Pennsylvania, you are run by thieves.

One solution Commonwealth Foundation broached to bring a level of quasi-honesty to Harrisburg is term limits. To that I say dead on.

Pension Reform Is Generational Theft

By State Rep. Sam Rohrer

I was one of only six members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to vote against a bill that would increase the cost to taxpayers paying for retirement benefits for current state employees, teachers and legislators in the state’s two pension systems.

House Bill 2497 is like slapping a fresh coat of paint on a building with a crumbling foundation. The changes in this legislation would do very little to improve the existing structural deficiencies in the state’s pension systems.

The bill implements a series of changes to the state’s two major retirement systems — the State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS) and the Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS).

The measure would achieve a short-term reduction in contributions by refinancing current pension liabilities over a 30-year period and in reality deferring costs.

This is a case study in generational theft. The Rendell administration skimped in recent years on its obligation to fully fund the pension systems and now that responsibility will be passed on to future generations. This bill just puts the burdens of today on the taxpayers of tomorrow. It makes some responsible changes for newly hired workers, but adds billions of dollars in costs to future taxpayers who will be saddled with greater problems than we now have.

The pension change was likely motivated by a desire to use any short-term savings to pay for additional state government spending.

For years, politicians in Washington, D.C., have been raiding the Social Security system to pay for pet projects. This bill does something similar on the state level. By pushing off pension costs to future years, the General Assembly just frees up more dollars to spend today. There are no substantive savings for taxpayers in this bill. If there were, taxpayers should expect to see the overall costs of state government go down. This is just a numbers game where a near-term decision will underfund the pensions so overspending can occur in another area.

The changes in the pension benefits systems fall far short of bringing them in line with similar private sector retirement plans. The bill maintains the existing defined benefit system, where state employees, school teachers and legislators are guaranteed certain benefits. Under this system, if pension investments fail to meet their goals, taxpayers are on the hook to make up the difference.

Approximately two-thirds of private employers have shifted to defined contribution plans, where the business will match an employee’s contribution to a retirement account. Under this system, the employee bears the burden of risk associated with fluctuations in investment performance.

The decision to maintain the defined benefit pension systems will wind up costing taxpayers significantly more than a defined contribution system, especially if pension system investments underperform in the years ahead.

Many Pennsylvania retirees and workers lost huge chunks of their pensions in the economic meltdown. Yet this bill tells them that, while their own retirement benefits fluctuate, they must guarantee the benefits of taxpayer-paid workers. This legislation essentially says there is one set of rules for taxpayers for their own retirement accounts and a completely different set of rules for those who work for government.

Some of the beneficial changes in the pension bill included:

Doubling the amount of time from five years to 10 years that an employee must work before becoming “vested” – or guaranteed benefits – in the pension plans.

Reducing the multiplier used to calculate pension benefits from 2.5 percent to 2 percent.

Increasing the minimum retirement age for PSERS members to 65 with three years of service instead of the current minimum of 62 with one year of service.

Increase from 50 to 55 the retirement age for representatives and senators who take office for the first time next year.

Eliminates the option for retirees to take a lump-sum payment upon retirement.

All of the changes would only apply to new state workers, teachers and lawmakers who are hired or take office next year. The benefits and requirements of current pension plan participants would not change.

While these changes are a small step in the right direction, they are overridden by the sheer magnitude of the interest costs alone due to the re-amortization over 30 years, all of which will be paid by future taxpayers. In addition, these changes do not protect taxpayers by bringing public pension benefits in line with equivalent private sector retirement plans.

Taxpayers are tired of living by one set of rules while government lives by another. It appears Harrisburg still hasn’t heard that important message.

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Mr. Rohrer , a Republican, has represented Berks County’s 128th District 128th District in the Pennsylvania House since 1993. He will retire from the Legislature at the end of the year. This column This column ran in the Mercury serving Pottstown, Pa.

Feds Call On Mr. Mellow

Agents from the FBI and IRS executed search warrants  at the home and district office of Pennsylvania Senate Democrat Leader Robert J. (Bob) Mellow yesterday.

The feds were mum on what it was about and Mellow spokeswoman Lisa Scullin said the senator is cooperating with all request.

Mellow has represented the 22nd District  since 1971. 

He announced in February that he was going to retire to spend more time with his family.

Mellow’s pension is expected to be $313,000. If, however, this matter leads to a conviction for a crime in which Mellow used his position to commit theft, bribery, forgery or perjury, Mr and Mrs. Taxpayer will be off the hook.

Most would accept that voting to give yourself a $313,000 pension is a crime.

In other Pa. corruption news, Mike Veon  the Democrat who represented the 14th District in the State House from 1985 to 2006 and achieved the rank of party whip, was sentenced, yesterday, to six to 14 years for his role in Bonusgate in which tax dollars were used by incumbents in both parties, albeit mostly by the Democrats, to fund re-election campaigns.  

A Sign Of Hope For Philadelphia?

To cure a disease the diagnosis must be correct and Kevin Kelly speaking before theDelaware County Patriots Delaware County Patriots, tonight, June 17, at Kings Mills In Aston, Pa., revealed he might just know what ails Philadelphia.

Kelly is seeking to make the Philadelphia GOP viable and bring a choice to residents of that city especially in the benighted Black and Hispanic wards.

The de facto head of the city Republicans is Michael Meehan who is the son of former de facto GOP chief Billy Meehan who is the son of former de facto GOP chief Austin Meehan.

Kelly, who is no third-party bomb throwing loon, described how when he approached Michael Meehan to volunteer to work to bring some life into the city GOP he was patted on the head and told to go away. He soon realized that Meehan and the rest of the party leadership had it real soft and cozy in the minority role getting no-bid contracts and a cut of the city’s patronage for not putting up a fight.

Meanwhile crime is amok in certain city neighborhoods, the schools stink, taxes are high and service in general is rather poor.

So Kelly told how he became an insurgent, and began recruiting Black and Hispanic committeepeople from the ignored wards. This amazingly made the GOP leadership rather angry and they pulled out all stops to foil Kelly. The latest round in the fight occurred just a few days before Kelly’s Delaware County appearance. 

Kelly told the Delaware Countians about the importance of a viable Philadelphia GOP for the rest of the state and even the nation. He said Republicans always start with a half-million vote shortfall in state races due to the city party’s corruption and contentment at being second.

He said also that support for the Democrats in the Black and Hispanic neighborhoods is only skin deep and it was far easier than one might expect to register them for the GOP.

The crowd at Kings Mills was about 200 and motivated. The event was well organized. The Patriots are an organization the political parties might have to soon acknowledge and maybe even fear if they are okay with state legislators getting $313,000 pensions  and bureaucrats at the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency making $290,000 salaries, right Bill Adolph?

Half Losing Insurance Under OCare

Half Losing Insurance Under OCare — The consequences of the ObamaCare monstrosity hammered through by Democrat Party against the will of the American people March 23 are beginning to be revealed.

A draft of proposed regulation  made public Monday includes a estimate that half of all workers will not be in their existing “grandfathered” health care plans by 2013.
John Goodman , who is CEO of the National Center For Policy Analysis, also notes  that over the next decade 7.4 million Medicare Advantage enrollees will lose coverage they otherwise would have received. Also, losing coverage will be between 1 and 2 million persons with limited benefit insurance because their carriers don’t comply with the “no lifetime limit on benefits” regulation.
Goodman also notes that 18 million low-income persons will be moved into Medicaid, which is not going to be adding doctors and nurses.
In fact, the whole nation can expect a doctor shortage
Half Losing Insurance Under OCare

Half Losing Insurance Under OCare

Walt Godzieba R.I.P.

Walter J. Godzieba died June 14 at Heartland Hospice House in Wilmington, Del. He was 86 and lived in Springfield.

Walt was born in Clifton Heights and was graduated from Clifton Heights High School. He was a Navy veteran of World War II and a retired machinist from Westinghouse.

He was a member of Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church, 100 S. Penn St., Clifton Heights.

He is survived by his wife of 56 years Jennifer nee Sheleva; a daughter, Miliza E. Tenerelli of Philadelphia; and a nephew.

Visitation is 7-9 tonight and 9 a.m. tomorrow at Williams-Lombardo Funeral Home, Baltimore Avenue and Summitt St., Clifton Heights.

Parastas is at 7:30 tonight at the funeral home.

A service will held 10 a.m. tomorrow at Saints Peter and Paul. Burial will be at Saint Mary’s Cemetery in Elkins Park. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to the church.

A Suggestion For President Obama

President Obama’s speech last night indicated that he is way out of his depth in dealing with the Deepwater disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Even his biggest cheerleaders, to their horror, are realizing this.

Here is my humble and sincere suggestion for helping him resolve the crisis: appoint former President George W. Bush as temporary oil-spill czar. Give him carte-blanche executive branch powers for plugging the leak and beginning the clean-up.

After two or three weeks the matter would be settled and President Bush could return to his well-earned privacy and rest in Texas.  President Obama, of course, could go back to golfing, winning Nobel prizes, and partying with Hollywood celebrities and former Beatles.

Rolling Road Fox Of Springfield

Residents of the Rolling Road/Windsor Circle area of Springfield, Pa. have been seeing a red fox use the neighborhood as its hunting grounds. One woman saw it eat a squirrel about 7 a.m. then kill another to carry off.

If that’s not enough worry for the squirrels a hawk has also been hunting successfully in the area. 

The area has also become infested with chipmunks and deer have been seen in front yards. These are not large sweeping lawns, people.

Thirty-five years ago this would not have been imagined. Nature was pigeons, sparrows and the occasional skunk or raccoon. Glaring signs warned people to stay out of Darby Creek, which has now become a destination for trout fishing.

So things have gotten better in some ways.

The fox may be cute, btw, but watch your cats and small dogs.
Rolling Road Fox
Rolling Road Fox

‘Nova Prof Tells Beck Repealing 17th Amendment Would Help Check Feds

Villanova University poli sci professor Colleen Sheehan told Glenn Beck on his last Founders Friday  that repealing the 17th Amendment would put a useful check on Washington. For recent graduates of public schools and those who still get their news from the dinosaurs, the 17th Amendment  adopted in 1913 established the direct election of U.S. senators. Before that they had been picked by state legislatures.

Ms. Sheehan, who represented the 149th District  in the Pennsylvania House in 1995-96, said their visits with their state legislators would be far more than bored courtesy calls if the picking of them was as how our Founders envisioned. This would mean no silly federal mandates and no passing the buck on funding them.

Her statements can be found at about the 2:40 mark although the entire things is worth watching.