Friday, May 04, 2007

Dante Santoni soaks up tax dollars

A Berks County blogger now refers to him as "Ace Ventura" because of his peculiar hairstyle, but I have a new nickname for state Rep. Dante Santoni, D-126th District.

The sponge.

Santoni, a poster child for everything wrong with the way Harrisburg operates, has mastered the art of soaking up our tax dollars.

Santoni's dismal record of accomplishment in Harrisburg has been well documented by me in the past. See "What Have You Done For Me Lately, Dante?" or "Scraping The Bottom Of The Legislative Barrel" or "My Secret Life As A Democrat" or "Still Undecided About Your State Legislator?" or "Dante Santoni Is A Phony" or "Take My Legislators, Please" on why Santoni is a total bust as a state representative.

What bothers me about Santoni these days is the apparent disdain for his constituents.

According to an investigation by WGAL Channel 8 in Lancaster, Santoni spent nearly $106,000 in taxpayer dollars on "public service announcements" in 2006 to help get himself re-elected. (To recap, Santoni couldn't even manage a majority of the Democratic votes in the May 2006 Primary Election, but because his two opponents split the vote, Santoni was re-nominated and easily won re-election in the predominantly Democratic 126th District around Reading.)

In announcing his bid for a new term last February at Antietam Middle-Senior High School, the best Santoni could do for an accomplishment during his 14 years in Harrisburg was securing a $5,000 grant to buy musical instruments for the school.

Santoni gets paid $72,000 a year in salary. When you factor in all the other perks of a Pennsylvania legislator, he draws about $150,000 a year in taxpayer dollars. On top of that, he sticks the taxpayers with another bill for $106,000 for TV ads and all this guy can bring back to his district is $5,000 for band instruments?

Quick, somebody do the math. Are the residents of the 126th District getting their money's worth in Santoni?

Those "public service announcements" that aired in the months before the November 2006 election featured Santoni touting all sorts of state programs that he had nothing to do with, but it got his face and name in front of the voters for free.

Santoni spent tens of thousands more on political ads, promoting himself as a "reformer." Santoni couldn’t spell R-E-F-O-R-M if you spotted him five of the six letters.

In calling for change in the way Harrisburg does business, Santoni had this to say in his TV spots: "This commercial is an opportunity for me to speak to voters directly about reforming Harrisburg and the critical issues I've stood up for. We need real reform in Harrisburg and need to send people to the state legislature we can trust to get the job done."

The Santoni Spin continued: "Harrisburg is broke and we need to fix it. I'm Dante Santoni. I'm working to change the way Harrisburg does business with real campaign finance and lobbyist reform. We need government to work for us ... I'll keep fighting and I won’t let you down."

But when it came time to vote on reform measures in the House earlier this year, Santoni voted NO to a proposal to abolish "public service announcements" during an election year. So much for not letting us down. So much for changing the way Harrisburg does business. So much for fighting for us.

Dante Santoni is in politics to enrich himself. Nobody else matters, certainly not the people of the 126th District. He's voted for countless tax increases. He's voted himself pay raises. He voted for a 50 percent increase in his taxpayer-funded pension. He's taken every perk available to politicians in the Pennsylvania House of Lords.

Reformer? Not a chance. Public Servant? No way. Self-serving career politician? You bet.

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