Jenn O’Mara Birthday Greeting –– A few days ago was my birthday, and in the evening I got a call from my state rep Jenn O’Mara wishing me a happy one. At first I thought it was a robo but as the conversation continued I realized it was live.
I was impressed. Granted, if my birthday was in June and this was an off-year election perhaps I wouldn’t have been so honored but I was still impressed.
So thank you Jenn, you made my night. I will be voting straight R, Nov. 3, which means for Bob Smythe in Pennsylvania’s 165th House District but what you did was very nice and you seem like a nice person.
If you want to get my vote push for ending prevailing wage. It would have made the cost of Springfield’s new white elephant high school about 20 percent less. Single parents, newlyweds with diabetic kids and the elderly are paying for it you know, and the extra money doesn’t help the trades unless you happen to be the one running the union.
Don’t sweat it though. I doubt Smythe will try to end it either.
Charlton Opponent Submits 900 Signatures — Regina Scheerer, the retired teacher who is taking on incumbent State Rep. Alex Charlton, delivered nominating petitions containing nearly 900 signatures, Friday, to the Pennsylvania Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation.
Only 300 signatures are needed.
Unless there are some bizarrely major issues (shenanigans), expect to see Mrs. Scheerer’s name on the ballot for the May 15 Republican Primary.
Charlton was elected to represent Pennsylvania’s 165th District in 2016 replacing long-time incumbent Bill Adolph.
Since then, he has time and again poked his constituents in the eye. He has opposed commonsense reforms aimed at curtailing vote fraud. He has endeavored to maintain the corrupt system that lets money be automatically deducted from the paychecks of public employees to pay for politicking. This politicking often involves supporting things that the employee opposes.
The final straw for Mrs. Scheerer, though, came Dec. 12 when Alex voted against limiting abortions to the first 20 weeks of pregnancy rather than the existing 24. He was one of six Republicans to do so. Civilized people understand that failing to protect weak and helpless life lead to nihilism and despair. Most of Western Europe bans abortion — with some strict exceptions — at 12 weeks. Note, this would be 12 weeks gestational age which would be about nine weeks after conception.
Even hip, progressive Sweden and Norway ban them at 18 weeks gestational age.
Alex, however, who ran as a pro-lifer, thinks that’s too oppressive.
The 165th District has 63, 769 residents as of 2011 and consists of Morton Borough; Springfield Township except for the 2nd precinct of the 3rd Ward; Marple Township except for the 5th Ward; and the 4th and 6th wards of Radnor Township along with 1st Precinct of the 1st Ward, the 1st Precinct of the 3rd Ward and the 2nd Precinct of the 5th Ward.
For the record, Mrs. Scheerer says she will not take the legislative pension.
In other words, a new high school costing $150 million under the prevailing wage law would cost $120 million without it. In other words all gain and no pain just by crossing out some words on a piece of paper.
Are you listening Springfield residents? Alex Charlton? Tom McGarrigle?
West Virginia Goes Right To Work — Legendary labor powerhouse West Virginia — the land of Matewan and the UMWA — just went “right to work”.
“Right to work” means it is illegal to make as a condition of employment joining a union or paying union dues. One can still join a union, of course, or pay dues. He just can’t be fired if he chooses not to do so. Maybe he doesn’t like his hard-earned, involuntarily taken money being used for his local’s leader’s $277,000 salary. Or perhaps, he’s really mad that it winds up as donations to politicians who support unrestricted immigration, closing refineries, and Planned Parenthood while opposing letting him have the means to defend himself if he should feel the need.
West Virginian also, yesterday, repealed its prevailing wage law which is a law that mandates workers on public projects be paid at a rate set by the government rather than the market.
Pennsylvania also has a prevailing wage law. It is estimated that it adds 20 percent to the cost of public works. This means that a new high school that cost $130 million with prevailing wage would cost $104 million without it. It would be almost as if the community magically found $26 million.
If reforms such as these could happen in West Virginia, Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin, there is no reason to think they couldn’t happen in Pennsylvania.
West Virginia Goes Right To Work and ends prevailing wage.
Bill Adolph Tribute –Bill Adolph has announced that he will not seek re-election which will mean that come 2017 the 165th District in the Pennsylvania State House will have a new face for the first time since 1989.
The 165 District consists of all of Morton Borough, most of Springfield and Marple Townships and a large part of Radnor. Specifics can be found here.
Since this blog came into existence, we’ve probably been harder on Bill more often than not — actually we have been seriously hard on him at times — but we will never deny he cares deeply about his community. A Springfield resident, he has lived in the same house off Springfield Road for as long as we can remember, and the same can be said about his accountant’s office on Saxer Avenue. He was easy to find and easy to approach and if he wanted to hold the seat for another 28 years we suspect he’d have no problem doing so.
So Godspeed Bill. Hopefully you stay in Springfield and stay active on the political scene.
Now, regarding those who seek to replace him regardless of party registration, we have your issue.
The (non-partisan) Springfield School Board has approved a new high school with an estimated cost of between $118 million and $140 million. The Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act of 1961 requires wages to be paid at an amount set by the Bureau of Labor Law Compliance. This law inflates the cost by perhaps up to 40 percent albeit 20 percent seems to be the consensus. Using the lowball estimates, simply repealing the law — and it doesn’t have to be replaced with anything — would save the Springfield taxpayers $23.6 million on this project alone.
And of course, other communities would save in the same proportions for all county, school and municipal projects.
Repeal should really be a no-brainer.
And so there you have a winning issue, candidates for the 165th District.
State Sen. Scott Wagner (R-28) compared Pennsylvania to the Titanic with disaster just ahead at tonight’s (April 6) meeting of the Delaware County Patriots.
About 100 persons attended the event which was held at the Knights of Columbus hall in Newtown Square.
“The ship is going down and we got to do something about it,” Wagner said.
He was referring to Pennsylvania’s fiscal crisis driven by out-of-control state pensions and spiraling property taxes.
He blamed the cause on corruption giving special scorn to those on his side of the aisle. Wagner, who started three successful businesses in York County that now employ 600 persons, described how GOP leaders would hit him up for money at campaign time and that he would write ever bigger checks. Yet, he noted, the simple things that should have made life easier for himself and his employees never seemed to happen.
“They weren’t taking care of you,” he says. “They were taking care of themselves.”
This inspired him to seek office and in a special election on March 18, 2014, he ran a write-in campaign to fill the remainder of the term left vacant by late State Senator Mike Waugh. It was the first time a write-in candidate won a state senate seat. Wagner got 10,595 votes (47.7 percent), while the endorsed Republican nominee received 5,920 votes and Democratic nominee got 5,704.
He won an election to a full-term in November.
Wagner notes that in the private sector pensions rarely reach 40 percent of the working pay. He said in the public sector in this state it is approaching 80 percent. He notes that average pay for a teacher in his school district is $88,000 for 180 days of work and they can look forward to getting $75,000 per year for the rest of their life upon retirement. This would be at age 60 after 30 years, or earlier after 35 years.
He said that it angers him to see soldiers coming home from overseas in wheelchairs missing limbs knowing they could look forward to $800 per month in benefits when retired teachers would be getting over $6,000.
He said if things don’t change benefits and wages would soon be dollar for dollar.
“If Pennsylvania could file for bankruptcy, I’d be the first to prepare a bill,” he said.
Wagner proposed specific solutions. He said abolishing the prevailing wage mandate that requires wages for public works projects be set by the union-dominated Department of Labor and Industry rather than the market would save school districts between $200 million and $300 million annually.
He said he will not vote for a state budget unless the state gets rid of prevailing wage.
Wagner is also pushing to turn the state pension programs into 401K defined contribution types rather than the existing defined benefit packages.
He said he is also working on ways in which force give-backs in the existing benefits package.
A related issue that he is also trying to address is the cause of the corruption that led to this crisis.
He noted that he has been targeted by Pennsylvania AFL-CIO leader Rick Bloomingdale for his push for paycheck protection for union members. He said that about $750 annually is automatically deduction from each union member’s paycheck with the members having little say for which causes the money should be used.
The state’s AFL-CIO has about 800,000 members, so that’s about $600 million that winds up supporting not-so-pro labor causes like opening borders and stopping pipelines.
Wagner pointed out that Bloomingdale’s salary is over $300,000.
Wagner mentioned that he had a recent lunch with presidential hopeful Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker who was notably successful in stopping union corruption in his state. Wagner said the big difference between Wisconsin and Pennsylvania is that unlike in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin Republicans did not get any union money.
“Eighty percent of Republicans take money from unions,” Wagner said.
Wagner said he is far from making an endorsement but that he likes Walker
Wagner said that he is pushing for the sale of the state’s liquor stores.
“State liquor stores aren’t making the kind of money people think they are,” he said.
In a bit of irony, Wagner is now running the Senate Republican Campaign Committee which so bitterly fought him a year ago. He said that he has his eye on several Democrat seats in the western part of the state and expect to flip four or five to the GOP in 2016. The Republicans now hold a 30-20 lead in the body but Wagner notes that four or five from the Philadelphia suburbs often end up supporting the Democrats.
It was rather daring that Wagner would make his speech on his adversaries’ turf.
Wagner did have some nice things to say about Dominic Pileggi (R-9) who he was instrumental in removing as Senate Majority Leader earlier this year.
“I think he’s a brilliant guy,” he said.
He said Pileggi’s weak spot was that his training as a lawyer kept him from seeing the steps needed to save the state.
Pileggi is running for election as a Common Pleas Court judge this fall and would leave his senate seat if he should win as expected. Wagner said he expects a more conservative senator to replace Pileggi.
Wagner got some grief in the question period regarding his support for SB 76, a bill that was tabled last fall and would have replaced the property tax with either an income or sales tax to fund schools. Many members in the audience said they feared it would mean the end of local control of schools. Wagner said the bill was not perfect, is not likely to pass as is, and needs further work.
He said property tax relief is desperately needed, however, and SB 76 gets things moving.
Wagner said he does not expect a state budget to be passed until October. He said any claims that the government is going to shut down are “bullshit” a word he repeated several times. He noted that the state is still going to be collecting taxes whether the budget is passed or not.
Also at the meeting was Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Paul Panepinto who was seeking support for his independent run as a state Supreme Court judge. Judge Panepinto needs 17,000 signatures by July to get on the ballot. He recently made headlines for fining lawyer Nancy Raynor $1 million for her behavior during a medical malpractice case.
Wagner gave him a ringing endorsement calling him the “real deal”.
Here’s a thought about funding the proposed Springfield High School project regardless of the option picked: treat it holistically.
Consider other savings in the school budget to be part of funding for the new (or repaired) school.
Ending the prevailing wage mandate would cost the district nothing and still save money. School Director Doug Carney, Feb. 4, said he did not feel the savings would be that much concerning the high school project. Suppose, however, it was just a mere $100,000. Or even $10,000. One suspects if the district could get $100,000 (or $10,000) for naming rights to a classroom — one of the out-of-the-box suggestions being considered for funding — the district would be very happy.
One is pretty confident that if the proposed money-raising foundation got a $10,000 donation, the district would be happy.
And that’s not even considering savings in other projects — school, municipal or county — ending the prevailing wage mandate would garner. All tax dollars at all levels ultimately come from the same source, after all, whether it be via a purchase, a property or a paycheck.
So a strong public push to end this mandate would be perfectly logical in the context of building the high school project.
Let’s consider the mandate for school districts (and counties and townships) to pay for advertisements in newspapers of general circulation when announcing meetings and seeking bids and such. The cost statewide was $26 million in 2006. This is just a straw on the back of the Springfield taxpayer but one less straw is one less straw.
It would cost nothing for the school board — and the township commissioners and County Council — to pass a resolution calling for its end.
The most damning thing about this mandate is that it actually inhibits good government. Changing the mandate to one where public notices are placed on a searchable government website would make the process far more transparent than the status quo besides being a lot cheaper.
And then let’s get the teachers involved in the matter. Would they be willing to forgo a salary increase in their next contract to help pay for the project? If a resident surviving on Social Security or who has just seen his unemployment expire asks them to, does that mean the resident is anti-child?
Pennsylvania Independent reports that state senators Pat Browne (R-16), John Rafferty (R-44) and Tommy Tomlinson (R-6) received a massive union cash dump shortly before yesterday’s (Nov. 4) election with Browne getting $37,000 from 10 groups including $10,000 from the PSEA (public school teachers) and $500 from 1776 PAC UFCW (state stores); Rafferty getting $7,000 broken down as $5,000 from the PSEA, $1,000 from the Professional Firefighters Association PAC and $1,000 from Steamfitters Local 420; and Tomlinson getting $22,000 from seven groups including $10,000 from PA SEIU (government workers) and $1,000 from 1776 PAC UFCW.
It’s a pretty good bet that this trio will vote with Democrats in opposing legislation such as selling the state stores, effective pension reform and making education more effective but less burdensome on the average Joe and Jill.
30 Million Dollars Found Money if Pennsylvania changes the law.
The Springfield School (Pa) District is pushing for a new $150 million high school that would add about $400 to the already crushing and ever-increasing school property tax for the average homeowner.
Leaving aside the dubious necessity of the building, that cost could be cut by $30 million almost literally overnight simply by putting some ink on paper — or erasing some off.
Pennsylvania’s prevailing wage law adds 20 percent to cost of all public construction projects for absolutely no reason other than to enrich those whose wealth comes from playing politics and it is these who are the true “1% ers”.
So why not scrap a law that impoverishes 99 percent of us? Because 99 percent of us don’t like to play politics. We better learn. Springfield residents contact your state representative Bill Adolph (R-165), who has quite a bit of say in what goes on in Harrisburg, and let him know you can’t hurt anymore. Let him know your grandparents can’t hurt anymore. Let him know your children can’t hurt anymore.