Monday, September 24, 2007

Politicians take care of their own

Everyone knows that Pennsylvania voters, angered by the 2005 middle-of-the-night Legislative pay raise, forced 1 in 5 state lawmakers out of office last year, either by pushing them into early retirement or throwing the bums out at the ballot box.

But the thing that leaves people shaking their heads about the political process is the fact that many ex-lawmakers managed to land on their feet despite betraying the public trust by supporting the 2 a.m. raid on the state treasury.

All 55 lawmakers who were ousted in 2006 are enjoying lifetime pensions far more generous than anything beleaguered Pennsylvania residents can ever hope for. And many of the lawmakers have found better-paying jobs in state government or went to work as high-paid lobbyists.

A good example is former state Sen. Joe Conti, who went from making around $75,000 a year in the Senate to chief executive officer of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board at an annual salary of $150,000.

Politicians take care of themselves, their family and friends, the lobbyists and fellow politicians. That doesn't leave much room for constituents.

Berks County voters managed to vote out payjackers in 2006 and forced Rep. Sheila Miller into retirement. But guess who just came out of retirement to land a $65,000-a-year job as Berks County Agriculture Coordinator? None other than our old friend, Sheila Miller.

The Berks County Commissioners, controlled by Democrats, gave the Republican Miller the agriculture post last week. I'm not saying Miller isn't qualified for the job. She owns a farm and served on the House Agriculture Committee in Harrisburg. But was Miller the only farmer in the county who wanted the job?

Should the Berks County Commissioners reward a fellow politician who voted for the 2005 pay raise and took the money as unvouchered expenses?

The Reading Eagle reported that Miller was involved a 2005 study that recommended creation of the new post. Isn't it convenient that Mrs. Miller is now available to take the job herself?

That new $65,000 job, with great benefits and another taxpayer-funded pension, is on top of the hefty state pension Miller got when she "retired" from the House last year.

If you're wondering why so many people don't vote and don't really care about the political process, it's because the system has been corrupted by so many self-serving career politicians who always take care of their own.

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