Last month I wrote a column titled "Enemies of the State (of Pennsylvania)," where I listed the villains responsible for the Great Pay Grab of 2005 and other abuses of power by the ruling political elite in Harrisburg.
This time, I’d like to focus on the heroes of the people’s revolution to take back the state from self-serving, greedy politicians. The grassroots effort to reclaim the state is remarkable. Over the past three months, dozens of Pennsylvania residents have risen to lead the revolt against the legislative aristocracy and their blue blood brethren in the governor’s mansion and the state courts.
Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, independents, Green Party members, conservatives and liberals have banded together for one common goal: remove the elected nobility that has bled Pennsylvania dry and restore Constitutional order in a state where lawmakers openly flaunt their disregard for the law.
Here are some of the key leaders (in no particular order) of the citizen revolt against the Harrisburg Hogs:
RUSS DIAMOND: The founder of the Web site www.pacleansweep.com, Diamond wants every member of the bloated Pennsylvania legislature kicked out of office. His Web site offers practical advice on how to organize a campaign to run against the entrenched legislators. He is also recruiting candidates who are willing to sign a pledge to repeal the pay raise and restore decency in state government.
GENE STILP: The granddaddy of the pay raise protest, Stilp was the man who filed a lawsuit when the legislators pulled the same pay raise stung in 1995. Stilp filed a lawsuit against the pay raise this year and most recently filed another lawsuit seeking an audit of financial records. Updates on his efforts to expose the corruption in Harrisburg can be found at http://genestilp.blogspot.com Stilp is also the man responsible for the 25-foot inflatable pink pig that was the backdrop for the Sept. 26 anti-pay raise rally in Harrisburg.
CHRIS LILIK: The founder of Young Conservatives of Pennsylvania, Lilik is confronting the pay-jackers on several fronts. His Web site, www.grassrootspa.com, is the best place to start your day for a recap of all the news involving the state legislature and efforts to repeal the pay hike. A second Web site, www.informedpa.com, is the launching pad of a campaign by the Young Conservatives of Pennsylvania to expose the legislative leaders who pushed through the pay heist. The group has raised money to pay for radio ads and billboards exposing the career politicians who need to be thrown out of office.
TIM POTTS: A one-time worker for Democratic legislators, Potts has escaped the Dark Side and is now working hard to restore accountability in Harrisburg. His is a co-founder of a group called Democracy Rising PA, which has four goals: make it easier for people to participate in public life, encourage competition of ideas for solving the state’s problems, give people maximum accountability for their taxes and set the highest standards of public integrity in the nation. For more information, go to www.democracyrisingpa.org
BARRY KAUFFMAN: The executive director of the non-partisan citizens’ watchdog group Common Cause/Pennsylvania, Kauffman has been exposing unethical behavior in Harrisburg for years. He was one of the leaders who filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Constitutionality of the July 7 pay raise. His Web site is www.commoncause.org, which has a link to the Pennsylvania organization.
JOHN KENNEDY: A maverick former state representative from central Pennsylvania who bucked the trend for years by refusing to accept many of the perks fellow legislators gave themselves, Kennedy has set up a Web site to help fight the pay raise, www.declarationofaction.org. Kennedy served in the state House from 1981 to 1988 and is living proof that legislators don’t have to mooch off the public all their lives.
As I’ve said before, the revolution cannot be won overnight. But we cannot live under the tyranny of 253 renegade legislators. Visit the Web sites mentioned here to educate yourself and spread the word. We must organize and gain strength if we are to have any hope of driving out the 253 kidnappers who took Democracy hostage in Pennsylvania.
E-mail Tony Phyrillas at firstname.lastname@example.org