The first event of Sam Rohrer’s tenure as director of the Pennsylvania Chapter of Americans for Prosperity (AFP) can’t be said to have gone off without a hitch but today’s 8-hour RightOnline Training Seminar ended as a major success.
The event was not held at the Valley Forge Convention Center as scheduled but at the adjacent Radisson Hotel. A raging windstorms snarled roads throughout Southeast Pennsylvania causing the start to be delayed for late arrivals. Then, just as things got underway, power went out throughout Montgomery County putting, for a couple of hours, the proceedings in the dim glow of emergency lights and making the prepared PowerPoint presentations a moot endeavor.
Using the restrooms at the prestigious facility became a ad hoc cellphone flashlight adventure.
Still, the presenters, many of whose names are recognized throughout the nation, improvised and taught their lessons sans technology at the technology-oriented conference.
And the lights really were on for most the day.
Rohrer’s opening remarks were followed by ones from Steve Lonegan , the former mayor of Bogota, N.J. who ran against Chris Christie in 2009 Republican New Jersey Republican gubernatorial primary. Lonegan is the director of AFP’s New Jersey chapter.
“The once proud Democratic Party of my union grandparents has now become the Democrat Party of government workers,” Lonegan said referring to the turmoil that the Democrats and government workers are now causing by bizarre, angry demonstrations in Wisconsin, which are filled with violent imagery.
The first session of seminars followed with noted blogger Erick Telford giving a lesson on basic blogging and Rich Shaftan of Mountaintop Media giving tips on how to handle the press. They were followed by long-time journalist Trent Seibert of Texas Watchdog who described ways citizen-bloggers could do investigative reporting.
It was during Seibert’s talk that the power went out, ruining an elaborate visual display he said he had prepared. This ironically occurred while he was pointing out how bloggers caused major grief to Oscar/Nobel/etc. winner Al Gore by exposing his energy hypocrisy.
Still Seibert managed to convey that audits are often overlooked means of exposing government malfeasance that Tea Party activist would do well to mine. He cited several useful websites, including one capable of generating Freedom Of Information Act letters, whose links AFP would be sending to event attenders.
In describing the new power of blogs, it was either Telford or Seibert who said that it was a Montana blogger who exposed the lies Dan Rather told shortly before the 2004 election regarding President Bush’s Texas Air National Guard Service. The one who did the exposing was from Georgia and the site on which the exposing occurred was FreeRepublic.Com
With the power out, the agenda was rearranged with talks by Pennsylvania State Rep Jim Cox (R-129) and Lonegan coming next.
Cox noted a big difference between Gov. Tom Corbet and his predecessor Ed Rendell in that while Rendell would have a press conference at the drop of a hat, Corbett has been avoiding them. He said he hoped it was because Corbett was deliberately preparing a case to make to the citizens regarding his plans for the state. Cox said we will know on March 8 when he makes his budget address.
Cox said there were 98 new faces in the State House since 2007 and 110 since 2005 so the chance for real reform is good.
He said there has already been some significant rule changes. Uncontested resolutions — such as those honoring a Little League championship team — can now be voted on in bulk saving the legislators about an hour and a half a week. He also said bills are now going to be almost complete coming out of committee allowing more time to study them and less time for sneaky amendments.
Cox said he is concerned about various plans being aired to shrink the size of the legislature as this would result in representation that is much less responsive to the citizenry.
He said his crusade to abolish property taxes is advancing and a property tax relief caucus has formed in the House which now has 91 members.
Lonegan said that New Jersey led the nation in economic growth from 1776 to 1976. He said it’s now 48th. He said that while The Garden State’s property tax rate was the third highest in the nation by the 1960s it had neither a sales nor income tax. He said that in 1966 tax a “temporary” sales tax strongly supported by the New Jersey State Education Association was passed to ease the property tax burden. The tax was made permanent in 1970 and raised to 5 percent. Six years later a income tax was added.
Lonegan said the rates continued to rise and that the state now has among the highest sales and income tax rates in the country and the highest property tax rate.
He said the NJEA is now pushing to consolidate school districts “to save money.”
The post lunch seminars featured Ethan Demme of Keystone Conservative talking about social media; Jennifer Stefano of Americans for Prosperity giving advice on the media skills for which she is noted; Telford describing the power of online video; and Shafton explaining how to interpret polling.
The day would down with a panel discussion consisting of Demme, columnist Chris Freind and New Jersey blogger Rob Eichmann; followed by a talk by Guy Benson of Townhall.com
During the panel discussion Freind noted that he picks on both parties and described how he was harshly critical of Gov. Corbett’s $42 million plan to bail out Aker Shipyard. Lonegan chimed in that Christie just OK’d a $260 million bailout of an Atlantic City casino.
Benson encouraged all Tea Party people to stick to truth and the high road in dealing with their opponents despite the temptation to do otherwise regarding their hypocrisy concerning claims of desire for civil debate.
The event ended with a call by Lonegan for Pennslvania Tea Party members to pressure State House Appropriations Committee Chairman Bill Adolph (R-165) into letting HB 42 come to a vote. HB 42 — The Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act — protects the rights of patients to pay directly for medical services, and it prohibits penalties levied on citizens and businesses for declining to participate in a particular health plan.