Friday, February 29, 2008

Bob Kerns vows to unify Montco GOP

After four years under the "leadership" of Ken Davis, the Montgomery County Republican Party is barely standing.

Davis' legacy will be one of defeat and dissension as he presided over the demise of the once dominant political party in Montgomery County.

Any chance Davis was a mole planted by the Democratic Party to destroy the GOP from within? How else do you explain his tenure as party chairman, which mercifully comes to an end in a couple of months.

Bob Kerns wants to clean up the mess Ken Davis and his cohorts Jim Matthews and Bob Asher made.

Kerns officially announced his candidacy for Montgomery County Party Chairman in a letter to GOP committee people. The election of a new chairman is scheduled for May 8.

A few names have been kicked around as a potential new chairman, but Kern is a proven leader who narrowly lost the party chairmanship vote to Davis in 2004 and 2006. How many GOP committee people who supported Davis wish they could take their votes back after the damage he's done to the party?

Here is the text of Kerns' letter:
You and I share a commitment to the future of Montgomery County. Like you, I know that Montgomery County is a unique and special place to live, work and raise a family. More than a century of Republican-led county and local government has provided us with a vibrant economy, safe neighborhoods and good schools. As Montgomery County Republicans, we have a wonderful story to tell.

More than thirty years ago, with only a desire to improve my community, I got involved in our Republican Party. Since that time, it has been my privilege to work for the election of Republican candidates for all levels of office. Aware of the challenges facing our party and the difficulty of recent years, I believe our most prosperous days as a political organization lay ahead of us if we embrace new ideas, bolder and more inclusive leadership, and commit ourselves to uniting behind every Republican candidate in our general elections.

Knowing that our communities, county and Commonwealth are best served by Republican-led government, I have led efforts over the last four years that raised and spent over $300,000 in support of local, school board, county and legislative Republican candidates. Additionally, as finance chairman of last year’s Republican County Commissioners’ campaign, I led efforts raising more than $1 million.

We are a diverse party and that diversity should not divide, but strengthen us. In our diversity, we can win elections by recruiting superior candidates, running aggressive campaigns, and communicating creatively to tell our story in every corner of the county, no matter how heavily influenced by recent voter trends.

The state of our Republican Party in Montgomery County now requires us to take bold and decisive steps to rebuild and reinvigorate our party to permanently re-establish Republican-led government in all corners and at all levels. With specific plans of my own, and committed to listening to the ideas of all Republican committee members, I declare that I will be a candidate for Chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Committee at the 2008 Reorganization Convention scheduled for May 8th.

Your commitment to the future of the Republican Party in Montgomery County is certain as you are seeking your first or another term on the committee. In the weeks leading up to the reorganization convention, I will actively seek your thoughts and input in the implementation of a plan to revitalize our party and secure Montgomery County’s future through Republican-led government. Please know I welcome your ideas and am always available to assist you in all of your grassroots efforts leading up to Primary Election Day, Tuesday, April 22, 2008.

Robert J. Kerns

Watch Tony Phyrillas on TV Sunday

Tony Phyrillas, award-winning political columnist for The Mercury, is featured on "PA Talk Radio" Sunday at 6 p.m. on the Pennsylvania Cable Network.

The one-hour program is a videotaped appearance by Phyrillas on "Great Talk Radio with Nick Lawrence" on WPAZ 1370 AM.

Discussion topics include how Pennsylvania voters could determine the Democratic Party nominee for president, stalled efforts on property tax relief and a new poll that says most Pennsylvania residents don't believe Ed Rendell's casinos will result in significant property tax cuts.

PCN is shown on Comcast Channel 98 in Berks County, Service Electric Cable Channel 23 in Berks/Lehigh counties and Comcast Channel 78 in the Pottstown area.

Consult your cable guide for the Pennsylvania Cable Network channel on your area.

Taxpayers get hosed again

Delaware County is getting a professional soccer team and a $115 million stadium that can accommodate 18,500 fans. Alright you jokers. No more snide remarks about how the soccer team will be lucky to get 500 fans in the seats.

The problem with the stadium deal is the money taxpayers will have to kick in because politicians want free tickets and a plaque with their names on it.

Delaware County taxpayers will get stuck with a $30 million bill. Pennsylvania taxpayers will have to come up with $47 million. And the Delaware River Port Authority is kicking in $10 million. Why is the port authority funding a soccer stadium? Isn't there a bridge somewhere that need replacement or repair?

The rest will come from private funds. Once the stadium is built, somebody will get rich while taxpayers continue to pay for the stadium long after the soccer team folds and moves away.

This isn't Barcelona. Professional soccer has fallen flat on its face in the U.S. and there's no reason to believe anything has changed with the Pennsylvania soccer deal.

Rick Eckstein, a professor of sociology at Villanova University, has written a book about how taxpayers get fleeced when politicians and their rich pals get public funding for sports stadiums.

The book is "Public Dollars, Private Stadiums: The Battle over Building Sports Stadiums."

Stadium promises never pay off, according to Eckstein.

"I have been studying and writing about publicly financed stadiums for more than 10 years and cannot name a single stadium project that has delivered on its original grandiose economic promises, although they do bring benefits to team owners, sports leagues and sometimes players," Eckstein wrote in a recent op-ed piece.

Read more about the soccer stadium in The Delaware County Daily Times.

The company Ed Rendell keeps

This says a lot about Gov. Edward G. Rendell.

He is urging Philadelphia voters to reelect Democrat Vincent Fumo to the Pennsylvania Senate despite the fact that Fumo is facing a 139-count federal indictment on corruption charges and is scheduled to go on trial later this year.

"We would be lost in Harrisburg without him because of his skill," Rendell said of Fumo. "He has done great things, and we are lucky to have him."

What's that they say about the company you keep, governor?

Read the full story in today's Philadelphia Inquirer.

Although he is facing several challengers in both the primary and general election, Fumo is favored to win reelection - if he can avoid federal prison.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Most Pennsylvanians don't believe Rendell slot promises

A new Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday finds two-thirds of Pennsylvania residents don't believe casino revenues will result in significant property tax relief.

The promise of substantial property tax cuts was the big selling point of Gov. Ed Rendell's 2004 plan to bring 51,000 slot machines to Pennsylvania.

Four years later, a majority of Pennsylvania residents have figured out that Rendell's promises have nothing to do with reality.

"Pennsylvania voters are not counting the money they were promised in the form of significant tax cuts paid for by slot machine revenues," said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

"They do believe Harrisburg will receive a billion-dollar windfall, but they don't expect this money to trickle down to them in the form of significant tax cuts or rebates."

It took awhile, but Pennsylvania residents finally figured out that Rendell is a con artist.

Read the full poll at Quinnipiac University's Web site.

Another interesting story this week says that analysts believe that Rendell's predictions for a potential $3 billion take for the state from casinos was too optimistic. Once all the state's casinos are open, they will start taking business away from each other, thus reducing the state's share of money that is supposed to go to property tax relief.

Did Rendell guess wrong or was he just pulling numbers out of thin air when he sold casino gambling to the state Legislature?

Read Slots revenue predicted to tumble in The Morning-Call.

Taxpayers sound off on 18% school raises

One of the most popular features in The Mercury is the Sound Off column, which allows readers to leave comments on news items in the newspaper. It's a way for people who don't want to take the time to write a letter to the editor to get their opinions published.

Below are several comments left by residents on a story about Pottstown School District administrators receiving substantial pay raises. You can read the original article "Administrators to get two pay raises this year" in The Mercury.
I think it's funny about the 18 percent raises for administration in the Pottstown School District when there's classes that still don’t have enough books for the kids, there's technology programs at the high school where they still don't have equipment they need and especially textbooks in that situation. Spending money for all these people who push people around, but the quality of education in Pottstown sucks.

Regarding the raises that the school administrators are getting, I'm not saying they're not good people but borough employees get a couple of pennies, people are losing their houses and we see these raises at a time we cannot afford this. Where's our school board? You wanted these members in so this is what you're going to get — spend, spend, spend. Taxpayers, be prepared, these raises will be passed on to you in a big way.

An $18,000 raise for the business manager for one year — wow! School board members, wise up and join the real world.

Regarding the administrators getting two raises this year, I understand the push back from last year, but I also understand most raises come about on a merit system. Considering our schools are ranked 670 out of 898 for middle schools and 465 out of 693 for high schools, I don't even think the administrators deserve to get a raise, let alone two raises. The fact they didn’t get one last year, they probably shouldn't have gotten one.

Hasn't the school board looked at the tax base of Pottstown? Haven't they driven around to see how many houses are up for sale? Are they trying to send all the old people into poverty? This town is going down, not up. We have to stop somewhere. Eighteen percent for one person? There isn't a person around who gets 18 percent, except maybe a congressman who votes his own salary and I think that's what's happening here.

I've been working for 40 years in Pottstown — Firestone, Bethlehem Steel, Pottstown Landfill and numerous other plants that got shut down and everywhere I worked the most I ever got was a 5 percent raise. Nobody else can get an 18 percent raise like the school administrators. Everybody else has to go by a guideline of 3 to 5 percent. That's why this world's in the rut it’s in — because people like this are getting astronomical raises.

Obama opens Chester County office

We must be getting close to an election.

The Mercury has a story on Sen. Barack Obama opening an office in heavily Republican Chester County. Other Obama offices across Pennsylvania are also expected to open soon.

Pennsylvania voters go to the polls on April 22 and it could be a significant date in determining the Democrat Party's nominee for president.

If Obama wins Texas and Ohio on March 4, he could drive a final stake in Hillary Clinton's presidential hopes by taking Pennsylvania, the last big state (158 delegates) to vote during the primary season.

Time running out for voter registration

If you're one of the nearly 1 million Pennsylvania residents who are registered as independents or in third-parties such as the Green Party or Libertarian Party, you're going to have to sit out the April 22 primary unless you switch to one of the big two parties.

Pennsylvania primaries are closed to independent and third-party voters.

So if you want to have a say in the Hillary Clinton/Barack Obama contest, you have to register as a Democrat. If you want to pick between John McCain, Mike Huckabee or Ron Paul, you have to be a registered Republican.

The deadline to register for the primary or switch your party affiliation is Monday, March 24. That's the day after Easter, so you might want to get your paperwork done before that.

Find out more about how to register and deadlines at the Voters Guide on The Mercury Web site.

Phyrillas on radio Thursday, on TV Sunday

Tony Phyrillas, award-winning political columnist for The Mercury, will be a guest on "Great Talk Radio with Nick Lawrence" on WPAZ 1370 AM today at 4 p.m.

The one-hour radio program will also be videotaped for broadcast across the state on "PA Talk Radio" Sunday at 6 p.m. on the Pennsylvania Cable Network.

Discussion topics include how Pennsylvania voters could determine the Democratic Party nominee for president, stalled efforts on property tax relief and a new poll that says most Pennsylvania residents don't believe Ed Rendell's casinos will result in significant property tax cuts.

Listeners can call the radio station at 610-326-4000 with comments or questions during the live broadcast Thursday.

You can also listen to the program on your computer by logging on to The Mercury and clicking on the link by Tony's picture or and clicking on the "live audio" button at the top of the home page.

Obama rhetoric doesn't match voting record

Must-read column by Rick Santorum in today's Philadelphia Inquirer about the dark side of Mr. Sunshine, aka Sen. Barack Obama.

Santorum, the former GOP senator from Pennsylvania, calls Obama "one of the Senate's fiercest partisans. This senator reflexively sides with the party's extreme wing. There's no record of working with the other side of the aisle. None. It's basically been my way or the highway, combined with a sanctimoniousness that breeds contempt among those on the other side of any issue."


Santorum goes on to write about Obama's opposition to the Born Alive Infants Protection Act.

"Justifying the killing of newborn babies is deeply troubling, but just as striking is his rigid adherence to doctrinaire liberalism," Santorum writes of Obama. "Apparently, the 'audacity of hope' is limited only to those babies born at full term and beyond. Worse, given his support for late-term partial-birth abortions that supporters argued were necessary to end the life of genetically imperfect children, it may be more accurate to say the audacity of hope applies only to those babies born healthy at full term."

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Rendell could use a whack in the head

Am I reading this right?

New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine wants to cut state spending by $500 million? Is that allowed? Isn't there a law that says government has to spend more every year?

Corzine, a liberal Democrat, said Wednesday that the days of New Jersey spending beyond its means are over.

Didn't this guy bump his head in a car crash last year? He must not have recovered his senses yet.

From The Philadelphia Inquirer:
Corzine unveiled a proposal to cut the state budget to $32.97 billion, about $500 million below the current spending plan. The governor proposed eliminating the departments of agriculture, commerce and personnel, and cutting at least 3,000 state jobs, mainly through early retirements.
A politician saying he will cut spending? A politician saying he won't spend more than the state takes in? Reducing state bureaucracy? Eliminating government jobs? This is insane.

Over in Pennsylvania, Gov. Ed Rendell is still pushing for a $1.13 billion increase in state spending for the fiscal year starting July 1, 2008. Rendell also wants to increase the state's debt ceiling to $3.15 billion so he can borrow more money to spend on his pet projects.

Since Rendell, a liberal Democrat, took office in January 2003, state spending has increased by $7.08 billion.

"During Gov. Rendell's tenure, General Fund spending increased five times faster than increases in the average weekly wage," said Matthew J. Brouillette, president of The Commonwealth Foundation. "Today, state government spending is consuming more than 7% more than it did when Gov. Rendell first entered office."

From 2002 to 2007, while government spending increased at a dramatic rate, Pennsylvania ranked 38th in the nation in job growth, 40th in personal income growth, and 42nd in population growth, Brouillette said.

Maybe Rendell could use a sharp blow to the head to knock some fiscal sense into him.

Poll workers in Pennsylvania are underpaid

Every year, my county elections board puts out a desperate call for workers to supervise polling sites. Now I know why they have such a hard time. These people barely earn minimum wage. Polls are open at 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. but workers often have to report by 6 a.m. and stay after polls close at 8 p.m. until all their paperwork is finished.

Pennsylvania appears to be one of the stingiest states in paying poll workers, who check for proper voter registration, set up and monitor voting machines and watch over polling sites during elections.

Here's a letter published in today's edition of The Mercury from veteran poll workers that explains the problem:
Poll workers deserve a raise

Open letter to Joseph Passarella, Montgomery County Election Board:

This letter is being written in hopes that all poll workers in Montgomery County are given an increase in compensation paid to them for their long hours of faithful and dedicated service to the county.

It is an insult and direct slap in the face of our poll workers when you consider that Cape May, N.J. pays their poll workers $200 a day and has lunch and dinner delivered to them. They have a long waiting list of people wanting to work, while we have difficulty getting people to work at our polls.

The judge of elections there is also paid substantially more than the $120 paid to our judges. Our judge puts in 15 hours the day of election plus time spent getting the box, the key from the township building, plus time taking the box back to the New Hanover Township Building after the polls close. This adds up to 2 hours and 41 miles.

Poll workers are paid $6 an hour, and even less if they attend the training class for all new poll workers at the warehouse in Norristown which is 21 miles each way and 3.5 hours spent away from home.

This greatly reflects the value the candidates put on the many people who have put in all these hours to correctly report the results to the board of elections.

This is an issue that needs to be addressed as it is extremely difficult for us to find people who are willing to work for this kind of pay.

When was the last time the poll workers received an increase?

Judge of Elections, Lower Pottsgrove #4
Poll Worker, Clerk

Kats gets GOP nod for 13th Congressional District

Attorney Marina Kats, a 46-year-old Ukrainian immigrant, will challenge U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz in Pennsylvania's 13th Congressional District.

Kats of Abington won the support of the Montgomery County Republican Party, according to The Times-Herald in Norristown.

Kats was vying against Upper Moreland GOP Chairman Lee Falgoust for the party's endorsment.

Kats received 178 committee votes to 81 votes for Falgoust, according to reporter Margaret Gibbons.

Falgoust, a 46-year-old Upper Moreland management consultant, is expected to drop out of the race.

Today is the last day for candidates to withdraw nominating petitions for the April 22 primary.

Featured as one of Philadelphia's "Super Lawyers" (Philadelphia Magazine, June '04) and "Woman of the Year" (Real Philly Magazine, January '05) Kats was named "Consumer Advocate of the Year" for three consecutive years, according to her law firm's Web site. Kats was also named one of the "50 Best Business Women in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania."

Kats is also president of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce.

Schwartz, who is running unopposed in the Democratic primary, is seeking her third two-year term in Congress.

Schwartz is heavily favored to win reelection, but at least Kats offers better competition than what the Republican Party could muster in 2006 when the GOP nominee was Raj Peter Bhakta, a Fort Washington businessman whose claim to fame was that he was a contestant on "The Apprentice" reality show.

Schwartz, one of the most liberal members in the House of Representatives, easily defeated Bhakta by a 66 percent to 34 percent margin.

The 13th District includes sections of Philadelphia and the following Montgomery County municipalities: Abington; Ambler; Bryn Athyn; Green Lane; Hatboro; Hatfield Borough; Hatfield Township; Horsham; Jenkintown; Lansdale; Lower Frederick; Lower Gwynedd; Lower Moreland; Lower Salford; Montgomery Township; New Hanover; North Wales; Plymouth; Rockledge; Schwenksville; Springfield; Towamencin; Upper Dublin; Upper Frederick; Upper Gwynedd; Upper Moreland; Upper Salford; Whitemarsh; and Whitpain.

Watchdog group blasts superintendent's $210,000 contract

Is $210,000 too much to pay school superintendents?

Is a school superintendent worth as much money as a corporate CEO?

What does a superintendent bring to a school district? Do they raise test scores? Do they raise graduation rates? Do they make students smarter?

Does working in the public sector, funded entirely by taxpayer dollars, mean you should make as much money as a counterpart in the private sector?

These are some of the questions that come to mind after reading an article in The West Chester Daily Local News about a superintendent in Chester County who is slated to get a raise this year that will bring her base salary to $210,112. And when you factor in all the other perks, the compensation package is a lot more lucrative.

Eliminating property taxes is one big step in reforming the way Pennsylvania funds public schools. But you still have the issue of teacher strikes and outrageous contracts given to school administrators.

Read the full story, "Watchdog group blasts school chief's new contract" in today's Daily Local News.

Tony Phyrillas invited to PA Leadership Conference

Tony Phyrillas has been invited to take part in a panel discussion at the 2008 Pennsylvania Leadership Conference, the largest gathering of conservatives in Pennsylvania.

Phyrillas will be part of a panel headlined "Pundits, Pollsters & Policy" to be moderated by Lowman Henry of the Lincoln Institute. The event is scheduled for Friday, April 25, at 2 p.m. In addition to Tony Phyrillas, award-winning political columnist for The Mercury in Pottstown, the panel features Amanda Carpenter of; Ryan Shafik of the Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research; and Sue Henry of WILK radio in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton/Hazleton area.

The two-day event will take place April 25-26 in Harrisburg. Among the big-name speakers slated for the conference are Michelle Malkin, Pat Toomey, Dr. Paul Kengor, Michael Steele, Mayor Lou Barletta and Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett.

For a full list of speakers and events, check out the PA Leadership Conference Web site.

The site also offers details on how you can attend the conference.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Been there, done that

It looks like Roggio vs. Gerlach in Pennsylvania's 6th Congressional District.

Just days after he said party leaders wouldn't intimidate him into dropping out of the race, Mike Leibowitz folded like an accordion. Democratic Party leaders must have made him an offer he couldn't refuse.

Leibowitz's departure came after another announced candidate, Bob Rovner, dropped out when he failed to gain the support of the Democratic Party establishment in Montgomery or Chester counties.

That leaves Bob Roggio as the last man standing to challenge three-term Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach.

"I'm thrilled to have the support of Bob Rovner and Mike Leibowitz," Roggio said in a press release. "The 6th District is ready for a real change, and ready to unite around a candidate who can defeat Jim Gerlach. We need someone with real world experience in order to tackle the tough problems that are facing our district, and our country."

Roggio isn't letting his lack of political experience hold him back. Although he's never been elected to office, Roggio has worked as a volunteer for John Kerry's losing presidential bid in 2004 and Bob Casey's winning U.S. Senate run in 2006.

Roggio retired after 30 years from Zenith Products Corp., a manufacturer of bathroom organizational products. He eventually sold the company and has spent much of his time working on community projects.

I took a look at Roggio's Web site and it looks like it was patched together from every other Democratic Congressional candidate Web site. Been there, done that. It bashes George W. Bush on most issues, including jobs, health care and global warming, and calls for surrender in Iraq.

Those were the same issues Lois Murphy tried to use in 2006 against Gerlach — and lost.

Gerlach, a moderate Republican, has a record of independent voting that Democrats would be hard-pressed to link to Bush.

Gerlach has fought hard to win and keep the 6th District in Republican hands over the past six years. He battled well-known, well-funded opponents in Dan Wofford and Lois Murphy.

Roggio doesn't have anything to offer voters other than he's a Democrat who doesn't like anything Republicans do. That's not a convincing argument to make a switch for most voters. I don't think Roggio's strategy of bashing George W. Bush is going to carry the day. Bush won't be on the ballot in 2008.

Roggio is facing an uphill battle to unseat Gerlach.

Catch Tony Phyrillas on radio, TV

Tony Phyrillas, award-winning political columnist for The Mercury, will be a guest on "Great Talk Radio with Nick Lawrence" on WPAZ 1370 AM Thursday at 4 p.m.

The radio program will also be videotaped for broadcast across the state on "PA Talk Radio" on the Pennsylvania Cable Network Sunday at 6 p.m.

Tony and Nick will discuss how Pennsylvania voters could determine the Democratic Party nominee for president. Other topics include stalled efforts on property tax relief in the state Legislature.

Listeners can call the radio station at 610-326-4000 with comments or questions during the live broadcast on Thursday.

You can also listen to the program on your computer by logging on to and clicking on the "live audio" button at the top of the home page.

Murtha challenger knocked off the ballot

Give William T. Russell and "A" for effort, but an "F" for political savvy.

Russell, an Army lieutenant colonel who served in Iraq, moved to Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District with the intention of running against U.S. Rep. John Murtha, the boorish Democrat who frequently criticizes the U.S. military.

One slight problem with Russell's fledgling political career. Pennsylvania law requires a Congressional candidate to gather 1,000 valid signatures to have his or her name placed on the ballot. Russell turned in exactly 1,000 signatures. Anyone involved in politics will tell you that a candidate should gather twice as many signatures as he needs.)

Murtha, who has held the 12th District seat since 1974, filed a court challenge. A judge ruled Tuesday that at least 7 of Russell's signatures were not valid. That left the Republican challenger with 993 valid signatures and plenty of egg on his face.

That also leaves Murtha a clear shot another two-year term in Congress, where he will continue to insult U.S. soldiers, call for surrender in Iraq and continue wasteful spending.

Murtha, 75, was recently named "Porker of the Year" by a taxpayers group which singled Murtha out as the biggest abuser of pork spending in Congress.

Russell, 45, told The Associated Press that bad weather and "other factors made it difficult to collect enough signatures" in Murtha's heavily Democratic district around Johnstown, Pa.

Russell told the AP he doesn't have the money to appeal the judge's ruling or launch a write-in campaign, which would require him to get at least 1,000 votes in the April 22 Republican primary (and be the top vote-getter.)

While it's Russell's reputation on the line, you have to wonder where the Pennsylvania Republican Party and the the Republican National Committee were in this sorry mess.

Party leaders should have offered Russell all the help he needed to get on the ballot and run an effective campaign against an embarrassment like Murtha.

Regional primaries make more sense

I'm sure every candidate who had visions of winning the White House in 2008 -- with the exception of Barack Obama and John McCain -- would like to see a do-over in the primary contests held so far. Remember Rudy Giuliani and his Florida strategy?

And I can't wait to see what happens when the Democratic Party attempts to prevent delegates from Michigan and Florida from casting ballots for Clinton or Obama because those states broke party rules by moving their primary elections up. And who's the genius who came up with the "superdelegate" plan?

There's gotta be a better way to settle on presidential nominees.

The plan getting the most support is regional primaries to be held on a rotating basis. Here's a look at how the plan would work from The Associated Press:
The presidential primary reform plan backed by the Carter-Baker election commission and the National Association of Secretaries of State would establish four regions for primaries and caucuses.

Under the proposal:

— Iowa and New Hampshire would retain their positions as the start of the voting cycle.

— The regional primaries would follow at one-month intervals in March, April, May and June.

— A lottery would be held to determine the order for the regions to vote, with the first region moving to the end of the sequence and the others moving forward in subsequent presidential elections.

Proposed regional groupings:

EAST: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

SOUTH: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

MIDWEST: Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

WEST: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming and Guam.

Don't miss your opportunity to vote

Nearly 1 million Pennsylvania residents won't be able to vote in the April 22 primary election because they are not registered as either Republican or Democrat.

Pennsylvania primaries are closed to independent and third-party voters.

So if you want to have a say in the Hillary Clinton/Barack Obama contest, you have to register as a Democrat. If you want to pick between John McCain, Mike Huckabee or Ron Paul, you have to be a registered Republican.

And you Ralph Nader fans better not hold your breath. The Democratic Party is working feverishly to keep Nader off the ballot in Pennsylvania.

Find out more about how to register and the deadlines by checking out this voters guide on The Mercury Web site.

Second GOP challenger wants to oust Rep. Tim Seip

A second Republican candidate has announced he will seek the party's nomination to run against Rep. Tim Seip, a freshman Democrat who represents parts of Berks and Schuylkill counties.

Seip was a surprise winner in 2006 in the 125th House District, which had been in Republican hands.

James P. McGovern, 35, wants a shot against Seip, according to The Reading Eagle. The other GOP candidate seeking the party's nomination is Gary L. Hornberger, who lost to Seip in 2006.

McGovern says eliminating property taxes is his top priority. He also cited land preservation as another priority.

Although he's never held public office, McGovern previously worked for the state Treasury Department.

This is why school taxes are so high

A story that just leaves you shaking your head in today's edition of The Mercury

In "Administrators to get two raises this year," reporter Evan Brandt states that top administrators in the Pottstown School District were unanimously awarded raises — one as high as 18 percent — adding nearly $90,000 to the district's payroll.

And the administrators will be eligible for another raise just six months from now!!!!!!!!!

The raises for administrators, many of whom are making six-figure salaries to begin with, have no direct impact on the quality of education offered in the Pottstown School District.

I've written before that Pennsylvania has too many school districts (501) and too many administrators. Everyone one of those school districts has a superintendent, a bunch of assistant superintendents, business managers, transportation directors, etc.

You can't blame these people for trying to get every last dollar they can for themselves. In many cases, administrators don't even live in the district they work in, so they don't care about taxpayers in those districts.

The blame has to go with spineless school board members who bend over backwards to please these administrators, who often recommend the raises for themselves.

What's so tough about saying "No" to these overpaid paper-shufflers?

In addition to state and federal mandates, you can blame teacher salaries and administrator salaries for runaway school property tax increases in Pennsylvania. The losers are the students and the taxpayers.

Clinton-Obama 'debate' turns violent

We've all heard of political back-stabbing, but this is ridiculous.

A Collegeville, Pa., man got into an argument with his brother-in-law about whether Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama should be the Democratic presidential nominee. The debate got so heated that the man pulled out a knife and allegedly stabbed the brother-in-law.

Two big ironies involving this story.

The alleged stabber is a registered Republican, according to authorities. I don't recall any violence in the debate over whether John McCain or Mike Huckabee should get the GOP nomination.

Secondly, if the man is convicted of the assault, he would be ineligible to vote for any presidential candidate.

Read the full story in today's edition of The Mercury.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Cut off the head of the snake

A sense of gloom has set in among many reformers because fewer incumbent Pennsylvania lawmakers are facing election challenges in 2008.

Just 32 members of the state Legislature have opponents in the April 22 primary, down from the 61 incumbents who faced challengers two years ago when voters were seething with anger over the July 2005 pay raise.

The anger has subsided with time, but Pennsylvania voters deserve so much more from the most expensive state legislature in the country. Not even the most self-serving can make the argument that Pennsylvania taxpayers are getting their money's worth from the $333 million annual cost to run this Legislature.

Despite the hoopla over the passage of an open-records law this month, this Legislature has approved only two significant reform bills in the 964 days since the pay raise vote.

As I wrote in September 2005, revolutions are not won overnight.
Here's part of what I wrote in that column, which ran 2½ months after the middle-of-the-night pay grab was approved.

"The people's revolution will not be won in a few months. It's going to take years. We need candidates — honest, civic-minded Pennsylvanians — to run against the professional politicians. The politicians are prepared to wait us out. They've fattened their bank accounts with our money. They can wait in their golden palace until we tire and go away. If we abandon the quest to take back our state government, they win."

Three reasons why reform-minded Pennsylvanians should not despair.

· First, 24 incumbent lawmakers have already announced their retirement this year, so there will be at least two dozen new legislators going to Harrisburg.

· Second, there will be an opportunity to kick out more incumbents in November when 97 legislators face opponents.

· Third, there is the prospect of knocking off some of the key political leaders in Harrisburg.

In 2006, voters ended the political careers of the two top-ranking Republicans in the state Senate — Bob Jubelirer and David Brightbill — and the No. 2 Democrat in the House — Mike Veon.

When the dust settled after the 2006 elections, 55 new legislators were sent to Harrisburg. The problem isn't necessarily with the rank-and-file. It's the leadership that is preventing significant change in the way things are done in Harrisburg.

Voters will have an opportunity to knock off captains and colonels and even some generals in 2008. If you cut off the head of the snake, you can kill it.

Among the 97 incumbents facing opposition in the fall are House Majority Leader Bill DeWeese, the No. 1 Democrat in the House and the poster child for everything wrong with Harrisburg.

Also facing fall opponents are House Minority Leader Sam Smith, the top Republican in the House, and Rep. John Perzel, the former Speaker of the House, who is now holding down the post of "speaker emeritus." Both men supported the pay raise and ushered more than $7 billion in new state spending requested by Gov. Ed Rendell.

Rep. Dave Argall, the No. 3 Republican in the House, is facing both primary and general election opposition. Argall also supported the pay raise, but has somewhat redeemed himself by being the highest-ranking member of the House to publicly support the elimination of school property taxes.

Senate President Pro Tempore Sen. Joe Scarnati and Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, the new GOP bosses in the Republican-controlled Senate, also have fall opponents. Both men supported the pay raise, but they've pushed for various reforms in the Senate since voters tossed out Jubelirer and Brightbill.

Voters can also knock out state Sen. Michael O'Pake, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, who is facing Berks County voters for the first time since he supported the 2005 pay raise and took the money early as "unvouchered expenses," a practice ruled unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court.

Reading City Councilman Stephen P. Fuhs is challenging O'Pake, who has been in the Senate for more than 30 years. O'Pake also served for 20 years on the board of directors of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, arguably the most mismanaged agency in Harrisburg.

The ouster of state Sen. Vince Fumo, the Philadelphia Democrat facing a 129-count federal indictment for corruption, would remove a major obstacle for reforming the state Senate. Fumo faces both primary and general election challenges.

The election of Russ Diamond, the citizen activist who led the campaign for a clean sweep of incumbents in 2006, to a state House seat in the 101st District would be invaluable for the reform movement. It would be like having a mole in the enemy camp. Legislators wouldn't dare try anything fishy with Diamond in the room. Diamond has the credentials to lead the reform movement from the inside.

With a few exceptions, the 55 freshman lawmakers who went to Harrisburg in 2006 have been a great disappointment. Most forgot their promises to voters to reform state government. They turned into doormats for legislative leaders.

Voters can make great strides in the revolution to take back state government from the political aristocracy by knocking off the leadership in 2008.

Wisconsin repeats Pennsylvania mistakes

Fascinating article in the Wisconsin State Journal about how state officials did not learn a thing from the Interstate 78 fiasco in Pennsylvania, where more than 1,000 motorists were stranded for up to 24 hours during a storm.

Gov. Ed Rendell, who was watching a basketball game while men, women and children were freezing without food or water on a heavily traveled stretch of highway, made a big deal about a study of the fiasco and how the February 2007 incident would never happen again.

It happened this month in Wisconsin under very similar circumstances.

Wisconsin officials read the Pennsylvania report on the Interstate 78 fiasco, but still made many of the same mistakes.

In both cases, police, transportation and emergency management officials failed to perform the most basic duties they were entrusted with.

"Wisconsin officials knew about a report detailing the state of Pennsylvania's botched response to a severe winter storm there last year. But they still made the same mistakes during the Feb. 6 blizzard here," according to the newspaper.

Reading the story in the Wisconsin State Journal was deja vu all over again:
In the Pennsylvania case, thousands of motorists were stranded for hours and even overnight on Interstate 78 after heavy snow and sleet caused semitrailers to jackknife and block the Interstate. Similar problems here on Feb. 6 left 2,000 vehicles stuck overnight on a roughly 24-mile stretch of Interstate 39-90 between Madison and Janesville.

Gov. Jim Doyle also called for the Wisconsin National Guard to issue a report, delivered last week, on the crisis here. The two state reports detail similar situations:

• In both states, information about the crisis on the ground didn't flow to top highway patrol officials, who failed to grasp that they were facing a large-scale crisis. Both Collins and his Pennsylvania counterpart weren't told about the major blockages until hours after they should have been.

• The command centers run by each state's emergency management agency failed to coordinate an effective response between state and local agencies.

• Both states failed to quickly shut down their Interstates and use electronic signs to communicate with drivers effectively, allowing many more motorists to become part of the traffic jam without adequate food and supplies.

• Neither Doyle nor Rendell learned of the crisis until after 7 p.m., preventing either governor from quickly mobilizing the National Guard to provide help to motorists.

"There was a fundamental failure to communicate among the various governmental entities as well as state agencies," Rendell spokesman Chuck Ardo said of the Pennsylvania response.
Read the full story, "Officials repeated Pa. mistakes" at the newspaper's Web site.

This isn't an indictment of a Democrat or Republican governor, although for the record, both Rendell and Doyle are Democrats.

Government, by its very nature, is incompetent. If you rely on government to protect you during a time of crisis, you're in for a rude awakening.

This is why I won't discuss politics with certain people

News Flash: Man charged in stabbing after spat over Obama vs. Clinton

The Associated Press is reporting that a Collegeville, Pa., man stabbed his brother-in-law during an argument over who should get the Democratic nomination for president.

That's right. It's bad enough that campaigns get nasty, but now we have potential voters attacking people who don't agree with them politically.

This story gets even more bizarre. The alleged stabber, Jose Ortiz, who is charged with felony assault, is a registered Republican, according to the AP story.

I'm no fan of Hillary Clinton and I know people who are planning to vote for her, but I've never come close to attacking a Hillary Clinton supporter.

From the AP:
District Attorney Risa Ferman says Ortiz supports Hillary Clinton and Sean Shurelds supports Barack Obama. She says they got into an argument in a Collegeville home and Shurelds tried to choke Ortiz. She says Ortiz then stabbed Shurelds in the abdomen.
Shurelds was listed in critical condition at a hospital.
There will be a full story about the incident from reporter Margaret Gibbons in Tuesday's edition of The Mercury.

In the meantime, avoid discussing politics with family members, co-workers or anybody you meet on the street.

Anchor-babe Alycia Lane may beat the rap

Bizarre news from New York City about our favorite local television anchor-babe, Alycia Lane.

The Associated Press is reporting that assault charges against Lane have been downgraded to misdemeanors.

Lane was fired from her $700,000-a-year job as a news reader for KYW-3, the CBS affiliate in Philadelphia, after she was charged with hitting a New York City police officer.

Prosecutors reduced the felony assault charges against 35-year-old Alycia Lane to misdemeanors, the AP is reporting today.

Authorities say the plainclothes officer's injuries weren't serious enough for the felony charge, according to the news service.

Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Dina Douglas told Lane on Monday that the charges will be dismissed if she is not arrested in the next six months, the AP says.

I've never heard of anyone being told they'd walk away from criminal charges if they avoided arrest in the future. And why is it that beautiful people get special treatment in the courts?

Lane, whose nickname is "The Latina Bombshell," was fired by KWY shortly after the arrest made national headlines. She is planning to sue the station over the firing.

The December arrest wasn't the first time Lane made national headlines. Lane also e-mailed bikini-clad photos of herself to a former co-worker. The photos were intercepted by the man's wife, who made the incident public.

Too much at stake to sit it out

Repeat after me. President Barack Obama. President Hillary Clinton.

If you don't like the sound of those phrases, you better show up to vote in November.

There's too much at stake to turn the country over to the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate or to go Back to the Future with another round of the Hillary and Bill Clinton Show.

You want to pay more in taxes? You want the U.S. to surrender in Iraq like it did in Vietnam? You want the government to take over health care? You want the U.S. to rely on the United Nations for protection? You want to pay a global warming tax? You want amnesty for illegal aliens?

Read "Why Conservatives Must Vote in 2008" by JB Williams at

Up in smoke?

Whatever happened to the smoking ban that the Pennsylvania Legislature was going to enact in 2007? We're into February and there's hardly a peep out of Harrisburg about enacting the ban, which Gov. Rendell said he would sign into law.

Mike Spohn at the Open Mike blog writes about the foot-dragging in the state Legislature.

"The issue isn't about your right to smoke. The issue is the health and well-being of those around you and the nonsmoking employees who work in such places day after day," Spohn writes. "I hate walking into a restaurant knowing that as soon as the doors open, the odor of smoke will come wafting toward me and cling to my clothes the way trouble clings to Britney Spears."

I'm not sure where the bill stands, but I recall special interest groups trying to water down the bill last year before it was sent back to committee, where bills are often sent to die.

Rep. Taylor moonlights as tour guide

I can't tell you how many times I've heard state lawmakers bemoan how busy they are.

Veteran Montgomery County reporter Margaret Gibbons has a hilarious column in The Times-Herald about a state legislator who has so much time on his hands that he's setting up tours of Harrisburg for constituents -- at $25 a pop.

Gibbons doesn't think giving tours is the best use of Rep. Rick Taylor's time, especially with a starting salary of $76,163.

"If Taylor wants to truly serve his constituents, he should show them his fellow lawmakers in action or inaction, as is most often the case, or take them into the backrooms where the real legislating is still done. He should let them see how easily promises made can be broken," Gibbons writes.

Read the full column about Rep. Rick Taylor, D-151st Dist., in The Times-Herald. Gibbons also tackles several other topics in her column, including a look at patronage hiring by Montgomery County officials.

Taylor is facing a strong GOP challenger this fall in Todd Stephens, an assistant county district attorney.

Maybe Rep. Taylor can become a full-time tour guide after the election.

No. 1

For the second time in 2008 and the second time in as many months, TONY PHYRILLAS has made it to No. 1 on the ranking of the most influential political blogs in Pennsylvania.

It's lonely at the top. As you can see from the Top 10 list below, TONY PHYRILLAS is the only conservative blog in the Top 5. You try living with the pressure of four angry liberals nipping at your heels. The only other conservative in the Top 10 list is at No. 8.

2 The Pennsylvania Progressive
3 Pennsyltucky Politics
4 Suburban Guerrilla
5 Attytood
6 Comments From Left Field
7 Booman Tribune
9 Lehigh Valley Ramblings
10 Mark Rauterkus

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Democrat vows to stay in 6th Congressional District race

And then there were two ...

Montgomery County Democrats met recently to endorse candidates in contested primary races. The big news from the meeting was the party endorsement for Bob Roggio to challenge U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach, a three-term Republican.

Roggio won the Montgomery County endorsement easily over two rivals, Bob Rovner and Mike Leibowitz, according to The Mercury.

Roggio received 59 out of 75 Montgomery County votes. At the Chester County endorsement convention last month, Roggio got 88 out of 111 votes. The 6th District also covers parts of Berks County and a tiny portion of Lehigh County.

Rovner dropped out of the race Saturday and endorsed Roggio. No surprise there. Rovner's biggest contribution to the race so far was telling a newspaper, "I have nothing bad to say about Jim Gerlach."

But Leibowitz vows to stay in the race.

"I think I'm the strongest candidate to take on Jim Gerlach, and I think I have broad-based support across the 6th Congressional District," Leibowitz told the Daily Local News.

"The best way to pick a candidate is not to ask 80 political insiders sitting in a smoke-filled room," Leibowitz added. "The best way to pick a candidate is through a primary. For Rovner to suggest people don't deserve the chance to have their say in a primary, is old-time party politics."

Candidates who have filed nominating petitions for the April 22 primary election have until Feb. 27 to withdraw their names from the ballot. Let's see if Democratic Party arm-twisting can persuade Leibowitz to drop out by Wednesday.

Gerlach (that's him smiling above) doesn't seem too worried about a potential Democratic challenger.

Before the endorsement vote, Gerlach's campaign put out a press release pondering which of the three potential challengers would come out ahead with the title of "most liberal."

"Bob Roggio has pledged to raise taxes by over $2,000 per year on Pennsylvania taxpayers, Mike Liebowitz wants to spend billions on socialized bureaucrat-driven healthcare run by the same government who can't secure our borders, and Bob Rovner has said he has nothing bad to say about Jim Gerlach," said Mark Campbell, Gerlach's political director. "We agree. Congressman Jim Gerlach has been ranked one of the most independent members in Washington, supports making tax cuts permanent, securing our borders, making healthcare affordable through private market solutions and has led efforts over the last decade to preserve farmland and open space. Jim Gerlach will proudly put his record, accomplishments and service up against either of these three candidates this fall."

Montgomery County Democrats also endorsed candidates in two other contested races, according to The Times-Herald in Norristown.

Democratic committee members in that 61st House District voted 25-7 to endorse the candidacy of political insider Frank X. Custer of Upper Gwynedd, over Todd Eisenberg, a lawyer from Montgomery Township.

The seat is now held by Rep. Kate Harper, a Republican seeking reelection.

Custer is a public relations consultant who previously served as the press secretary and senior adviser to Rep. Joe M. Hoeffel when Hoeffel was in Congress. Custer previously ran for Montgomery County commissioner.

The 61st District includes Upper Gwynedd and North Wales and parts of Lower Gwynedd, Montgomery Township, Plymouth, Towamencin and Whitpain.

In the contested race for state treasurer, Montgomery County Democrats went with somebody they knew.

The majority of the 300 Democratic committee members that attended the convention gave the nod to Lower Merion businessman Rob McCord over three other prospective candidates in his bid to become the party's nominee for state treasurer, according to reporter Margaret Gibbons.

The unchallenged Republican candidate for that post is former Montgomery County Commissioners' Chairman Thomas J. Ellis, a lawyer from Cheltenham.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

35 years of failure from Sen. Mike O'Pake

Michael A. O'Pake, 68, is running for another four-year term in the Pennsylvania Senate. Nothing surprising there. He's been holding the 11th District seat in Berks County for 35 years.

What's interesting is what O'Pake told the Reading Eagle about why he's running for another term.

O'Pake wants to go back to Harrisburg to work on school property tax relief. That's the same promise he's been making to Berks County residents for 35 years. At some point, the voters in Berks County have to realize that O'Pake can't deliver. He's had 35 years to address the property tax issue, but has failed for 35 consecutive years. Why keep sending him back to Harrisburg?

While he's failed to provide property tax relief for homeowners, O'Pake was able to deliver several pay raises for himself in the past four decades, including voting yes to the infamous, middle-of-the-night pay raise in July 2005.

O'Pake also told the newspaper he wants to "offer hope and opportunity to people, so they can get good paying jobs, benefit from quality education and give back to the community." Sounds a little like Barack Obama.

O'Pake's legacy in nearly 40 years in the state Legislature can be summed up in two words, "Empty promises."

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Convicted child rapist runs church at YMCA

This is one of those stories that is so outrageous you can't possibly make any of it up.

A convicted child rapist has been charged with violating Pennsylvania's Megan's Law by failing to notify authorities that he operated a church in rented space at the Pottstown YWCA, according to The Mercury.

At the same time Guy Carlton Jones was acting as a pastor, he was free on $150,000 unsecured bail while awaiting trial in Montgomery County Court on charges of indecent assault, unlawful contact with a minor and child endangerment in connection with an alleged Feb. 16, 2007, incident at his home, the newspaper says.

It shows once again that you can't trust government to perform its most basic duty: protect its citizens.

For those who are smitten with Barack Obama and his flowery promises of "hope" and "change" and free health-care, good-paying job, the capture of Osama bin Laden and the return of U.S. prestige abroad, etc., get a grip. Politicians lie. They'll tell you what you want to hear. And despite your better instincts, you believe the politicians. The Iraq War. Katrina. One-sided trade agreements that export U.S. jobs. Our health care system. Closer to home, remember the Interstate 78 fiasco when 1,000 motorists were left stranded overnight on a highway while Ed Rendell was warm and cozy in the governor's mansion watching a basketball game? Government can't do anything right.

"Many Americans have too much faith in government and in laws," says columnist Charley Reese. "Government is like a retarded giant — very powerful but stupid."

More from one of my favorite Charley Reese columns:
Almost nothing government tries to do succeeds. Just looking back at the past few decades, it has — despite enormous expenditures — failed to find a cure for cancer, failed to stop illegal drugs, failed to stop illegal immigrants, failed to protect the American people from terrorists, failed to improve public education, failed to keep up with repairing the infrastructure, failed to eliminate the deficit, failed to eliminate the trade deficits, failed to curb inflation, etc., etc., and so forth.

I could go on and on, because virtually every program started by government has failed in its objectives or sputtered along in the most ineffective and expensive manner.

There is a simple explanation. Men do not become gods when they are elected to public office. To use the vernacular, "there ain't nobody here but us humans." All humans are fallible. They don't change just because their paycheck comes from the government. People on government payrolls are no more or no less honest, smart, stupid, vain, ambitious, etc., than people in the private sector.

We don't expect either perfection or miracles from the private sector, and we shouldn't expect them from the public sector.

The way to handle a retarded giant is exactly the way our Founding Fathers intended. Keep it simple. Give the government simple tasks, and not many of those. The way to keep it from usurping its legitimate powers is to maintain a divided government.
Read the story from today's edition of The Mercury about the convicted sex offender who set up a "church" at a YWCA building.

He didn't bother to notify authorities that he is a registered sex offender under Megan's Law and should not have been hanging around a facility where young people would congregate such as a YWCA.

Once again, the government can't protect you.

Read the full story by reporter Carl Hessler at

More back-stabbing by Jim Matthews

With friends like this, who needs enemies?

Two Republican candidates who ran for Montgomery County row offices last November are accusing Montgomery County Commissioners' Chairman Jim Matthews of stabbing them in the back.

Reporter Margaret Gibbons says that Matthews, a U.S. Navy veteran, reneged on an alleged commitment to the pair to jointly reach out to the county's 60,000-plus veterans to bolster their candidacies, according to a letter sent out this week by Robert J. Sander and Dr. Gordon S. Clement to GOP committee members.

From Gibbons' article:
The pair was among the five Republican row office candidates to suffer unprecedented defeats by Democrats at the same time as the head of the GOP ticket, commissioner candidates Matthews and Bruce L. Castor Jr., won election.

In the letter, Clement and Sander said the entire GOP slate of candidates had agreed to run as a team.

Also, realizing the importance of the county’s veterans’ votes, the pair said they met with Matthews and planned a strategy to reach out together to veterans “with whom we all shared a natural bond based on our military service.”

The pair subsequently learned in September that Matthews, long at odds with Castor and who had started running his own shadow campaign, had done extensive outreach and mailings to veterans that excluded both Sander and Clement.

"Jim made a pledge to us personally (not Bruce and not the team) that we would work on this area together," Sander and Clement state in their letter. "Jim broke his word to both of us."
Matthews ran his own campaign on the side (with the assistance of county party chairman Ken Davis and National GOP Committeeman Bob Asher) and eventually made a pact with Democrat Joe Hoeffel to share power on the commissioners' board, leaving Republican Bruce L. Castor Jr. the odd man out.

Read the full story in today's edition of The Times-Herald in Norristown.

You can also read more about the letters at the Writemarsh blog.

One million Pennsylvanians won't get to vote April 22

Nearly 1 million Pennsylvania voters will be barred from participating in the state's presidential primary unless they join one of the major political parties in the next month, according to The Associated Press.

The wire service is also reporting today that the Democratic Party is working on enticing independent voters as well as members of the Libertarian, Green and Socialist parties to register Democrats so they can have a say in the Barack Obama-Hillary Clinton race, which could be decided in Pennsylvania on April 22, 2008.

The last day to register for Pennsylvania's primary election is Monday, March 24.

That is also the deadline for changing your party affiliation in order to vote in either the Democratic or Republican primary.

Pennsylvania does not allow independent or third-party voters to participate in primary elections. You can change your party registration at any time, but you must submit the form at least 30 days prior to an election.

You can download a voter registration form, which can also be used to change your party affiliation, at the Pennsylvania Department of State Web site, or pick one up at your county elections office, most municipal buildings, some libraries and some post offices.

If you don't have computer access, you can call the state elections bureau at 1-800-552-8683.

Is Hillary Clinton a fraud?

As if you needed another reason not to vote for Hillary Clinton, the folks at New Media Journal have compiled their online series about Clinton's 2000 race for U.S. Senate into a book.

"The Fraudulent Senator" examines the 2000 senatorial campaign of Hillary Rodham Clinton, offering detailed information into Clinton's political and criminal past surrounding a star-studded fundraising event and concert coordinated, underwritten and produced by West Coast businessman Peter Paul.

"As Hillary Clinton quests for the White House, find out why she shouldn't even be in the Senate," according to a press release from the authors.

"The Fraudulent Senator" is now available in paperback at for $13.85 or you can download the book as a PDF for $5.00.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Forced indoctrination of school children by global warming fanatics

A must-read editorial in today's edition of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review examines the growing and dangerous trend of forcing public school children to worship at the altar of global warming hysteria.

The newspaper says "A seemingly harmless bill in the California State Assembly -- mandating that "climate change" be among the science topics taught to all California public school students -- has ominous implications nationwide."

California has always been the start of most looney tune concepts, but how La La Land goes, so goes the rest of the country.

The newspaper points out that if California, which is the nation's largest purchaser of textbooks, forces publishers to include global warming as part of the science curriculum, children all over the U.S. will be force-fed the various myths and distortions of the Al Gore crowd.

"The climate change textbook curriculum could give the politically correct progressives that infest California state government the opportunity to indoctrinate America's public school students," the editorial states.

The global warming propaganda has already seeped into public schools across the country. I recently received a call from the mother of a student in the Owen J. Roberts School District in Chester County, Pa. Her 14-year-old son was forced to watch "An Inconvenient Truth" as part of his 9th Grade science class.

Since the Gore "mock-umentary" was too long to show in one class period, the students had to watch it over two days. The students were also forced to fill out a worksheet about all the "facts" they learned from Al Gore's film.

When the mom found out from her son about being forced to watch the film, she took him out of the class for the second half of the film. I applaud the mom for having the courage to stand up for her student.

Despite all the hoopla by the liberal media, Gore's film was discredited in a British court last year when a judge ruled that parts of the film exaggerated the global warming impact on the planet. The judge found nine factual errors (we call them lies in this country) spoken by Al Gore in the film. An expert witness testified during the trial that he uncovered 20 "inconvenient truths" in Gore's film.

Check out this post in the Daily Mail, "Schools must warn of Gore climate film bias." British schools must issue a warning before they show "An Inconvenient Truth" to students. No such warnings are required in the United States.

The liberal infiltration of public education has been well documented. It had been confined to political science and social studies class. Now the far left idealogues are taking over science classes.

"Given the political climate of the Left Coast, the biggest threat of such a curriculum is that liberals will turn young minds into mush," the editorial states. I couldn't agree more.

If you're a concerned parent, you have to fight for your child. Be prepared to confront your local school board if the members go off the deep end and force children to jump on the global warming bandwagon. (See the links on the left side of this blog to various sites that expose the climate change myths.)

Read the full editorial at The Tribune-Review Web site,

Simpler times

I'm not sure how much of an issue immigration will be in the 2008 presidential campaign. I don't know much about Barack Obama's stance on the issue, but I'd bet it's similar to that of John McCain.

It appears immigration was an issue 100 years ago, but it was dealt with in a more straightforward manner:
Today's Highlight in History:

In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt signed an immigration act which excluded "idiots, imbeciles, feebleminded persons, epileptics, insane persons" from being admitted to the United States.

Ed Rendell Exposed

Despite what you might think, I'm not the only one who sees through Ed Rendell's smokescreen.

The Clarke Report has an interesting post about how Fast Eddie is fleecing the middle class in Pennsylvania.

"The bottom line is that government is out of control," writes Hank Clarke, a fellow conservative voice from Schuylkill County. "Ed Rendell and his Democrat flunkies may say that he cares about you, your spouse, your children, and your house, but have his actions (or inaction with property tax reform) really proven it?"

It's worth checking out the full post.

Murtha named 'Porker of the Year'

Citizens Against Government Waste, a Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group, has named Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha as its "Porker of the Year," signifying the member of Congress who has wasted the most taxpayer dollars in 2007.

Rep. John "Jack" Murtha, a Democrat, won the dubious honor by a landslide, receiving 63.4 percent of the vote, according to Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW).

Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) received 10.6 percent, while Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) came in with 9.9 percent, Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) had 6.7 percent, and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.) both finished up with 4.1 percent.

The finalists were chosen by CAGW staff from among the 12 Porker of the Month winners for 2007.

"Rep. Murtha has long been known inside the Beltway for using threats, power plays, and backroom deals to control spending decisions. There is an area of the House floor known as 'Murtha's Corner,' where the legendary appropriator dispenses earmarks," according to a CAGW press release. "The overwhelming vote for Porker of the Year vote shows that his shameful behavior is attracting attention throughout the country. The congressman inserts pork whenever he can to serve himself and his district. In fiscal year 2008, he brought home 72 pork projects worth $149.2 million."

Rep. Murtha also purposefully put up roadblocks and barriers to hinder earmark accountability and reform, Citizens Against Government Waste says.

From its press release: According to an October 2007 issue of Congressional Quarterly Weekly, Rep. Murtha's response to a reporter's inquiry regarding the difficulty of matching up earmark information in appropriations bills was: "So, you have to work. Tough [expletive]." The House Appropriation Committee included earmarks in its reports but they were unsearchable and the lists were difficult to read.

"For flouting the rules and playing games with reform, while filling spending bills with pork and arrogantly threatening anyone that challenges his authority, Rep. Jack Murtha is the 2007 Porker of the Year," the release concludes.

More information on the winner and finalists can be found on CAGW's blog,

William T. Russell is challenging Murtha in the Novemeber election, but voters in Murtha's Western Pennsylvania district inexplicably keep sending the "Porker of the Year" back to Congress.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The ACLU gets it right for once

This is one of those debates where I see legitimate points on both sides.

One of the most annoying things about political campaigns is being bombarded by hundreds of political signs on the side of the road. Candidates now compete to see how many signs they put up and how early to put them up. I complained last fall about political signs appearing in September when the election wasn't until November.

If your opponent puts up a sign, you put up two. If he puts up five, you put up 10. And then there's the candidates who don't bother removing the signs after the election. I still see a sign for Reading Mayor Tom McMahon on Lancaster Avenue just before the Bingaman Street bridge every time I come to that traffic light. That sign has been there for at least five months and the McMahon people have made no effort to remove it. He won the election. He's the mayor of Reading. Can't he send a public works guy out there to remove the sign?

You can also make a strong argument for not restricting the placement of political signs. Political speech is protected by the First Amendment. Candidates have a right to make their case to potential voters (except where McCain-Feingold steps in and restricts speech, but that's another story).

The dispute over political signs is headed to court in Pennsylvania, where the ACLU has sued South Park Township near Pittsburgh over restrictions the township has placed on how long political signs can be displayed.

A federal judge issued a temporary injunction Tuesday, preventing South Park Township from enforcing its sign ordinance, which limits the placement of political signs to 30 days before the election and mandates they be removed within five days after Election Day.

The ACLU objects to the restrictions. While I oppose 99 percent of what the fascist ACLU stands for, I'm inclined to side with the group on this one, especially since the South Park Township ordinance may also cover signs placed on private property.

"The constitution guarantees freedom of speech year-round, not just 30 days before an election," Witold "Vic" Walczak, legal director for the Pennsylvania ACLU, told The Associated Press.

The ACLU sued on behalf of Joseph P. Rudolph, who wants to display signs on his lawn for the April 22 primary election, according to the wire service. U.S. District Judge Gary Lancaster, who issued the temporary restraining order Tuesday afternoon, scheduled a hearing for Feb. 27, the AP reports.

South Park Township's solicitor, Paul Gitnik, said the township does not restrict political signs on private property. It places limits only on signs in the public right of way, the lawyer says. The ACLU contends it has proof that the ordinance also restricts signs on private property.

The ordinance also requires politicians to post a $25 bond with the township, which Gitnik said is to ensure signs are removed after elections. The township refunds the money after signs are removed, the solicitor said.

I'm anxious to see how the case turns out. I think restrictions on how long political signs can be placed on public property are reasonable. There's a point where hundreds of signs placed next to a highway can become a distraction to motorists, not to mention an eyesore.

And those signs don't last long in bad weather. Should the candidates and their supporters be responsible for picking up signs the wind blew down? What happens with public works crews have to cut the grass along a highway? Are they responsible for putting the signs back exactly the way they found them? What if a sign gets chewed up by the lawnmower?

As for political signs on private property, the government has no business telling a homeowner when, where or how many signs he can display on his own land.

Taxpayers' group unveils new Web site

The Pennsylvania Taxpayers Cyber Coalition has unveiled a redesigned Web site.

The group, "dedicated to equitable tax funding of Pennsylvania schools," had plenty of information on its old Web site, but navigating through it was cumbersome.

The new site is much easier on the eyes but is still packed with information about the effort to bring property tax relief to Pennsylvania homeowners.

The site also offers links to more than two dozen taxpayer groups across the state that make up the coalition.

Kudos to David Baldinger for his work on the Web site and in keeping the taxpayers' group focused on the prize -- total elimination of school property taxes.

Just how screwed up is Pennsylvania?

Despite the daily propaganda coming from the Rendell administration about how wonderful things are in Pennsylvania, three independent studies predict a dire future for the Keystone State unless dramatic changes are made in the way the state conducts business.

The independent studies released by three major research institutions are:
* An assessment of the fiscal health of Pennsylvania municipalities by the Pennsylvania Economy League, called "Structuring Healthy Communities;"
* An update of the 2003 "Back to Prosperity" report, entitled "Committing to Prosperity," prepared by the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program for The Campaign to Renew Pennsylvania; and
* "Strengthening Rural Pennsylvania," a policy brief on rural issues authored by a team of researchers from The Pennsylvania State University.
All three studies can be read at the RenewPA Web site.

"Without major changes in the structures and laws that govern municipalities and the way they are financed, and unless communities are empowered to work more closely together, their fiscal and physical integrity is at grave risk and the state's economy will continue to struggle in the coming decades," according to the Web site.

Damn oil companies, Damn Democrats

Why is it when gas prices fall they drop by one or two pennies, but when gas prices rise, they go up a nickel or a dime? Aren't the same market forces at work in either case. I drove by a gas station on my way home last night and the price for regular unleaded was $2.99. This morning on my way in to work, the price had risen to $3.09. What the hell happened in the world overnight to cause such a spike?

As far as I can tell, nobody blew up anything in the Middle East overnight. So why did gas jump by 10 cents overnight?

And as long as we're on the subject, didn't Nancy Pelosi promise to go after the big oil companies if we elected more Democrats to Congress? Well, Democrats control both house of Congress and gas prices are higher than they were before the Democrats came to power. What gives? Did she lie? Why aren't Democrats doing anything to lower the price of gas? I want the cheap gas Democrats promised.

And why aren't the networks doing nightly stories on gas prices. I recall countless stories during the 2006 election cycle about how expensive gas had become under George W. Bush and the Republicans in Congress? Where's the media hype today?

Oh, well, at least I'll get free medical coverage when Hillary Clinton becomes president.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Berks GOP endorsements have familiar ring

The Berks County Republican Committee held its annual candidate endorsement convention over the weekend.

Party honchos didn't exactly go out on any limbs in picking 2008 candidates to support. The party likes to stick with incumbent elected officials and has an annoying habit of not endorsing in most contested primary races.

I guess party officials don't want to hurt anyone's feelings or end up with egg on their face by backing the wrong candidate.

Saturday's gathering featured U.S. Congressman Jim Gerlach, who is seeking a fourth term in the 6th Congressional District, part of which is in Berks County. Also attending was Toni Gilhooley, who is the GOP sacrificial lamb in the 17th Congressional District, where Rep. Tim Holden is seeking a ninth term.

Attorney General Tom Corbett couldn't make the meeting, so he sent one of his deputies, Ron Stanko, who also happens to be the former GOP chairman in Berks, to speak on his behalf.

Tom Ellis from neighboring Montgomery County attended the Berks gathering to seek support for his bid for state treasurer.

Chet Beiler from Lancaster County wants to be the next Auditor General and spoke to his Berks neighbors about his plans for the office.

Things got a little more interesting when the GOP committee members heard candidates for Legislative races.

There are four Berks legislative districts with primary election contests:

House 124th – Dave Argall, John Schichram

House 125th – Gary Hornberger, James P. McGovern

House 130th – Aaron Durso, Richard Gokey, Billy Reed

House 187th – Gary Day, Allen Cerullo

State Sen. Jim Rhoads, R-29th Dist., and state Rep. Sam Rohrer, R-128th Dist., attended Saturday's gathering to get the party's support. Neither lawmaker is facing a primary challenger on April 22.

Candidates running for legislative seats held by Democrats also got a chance to speak to the party faithful.

Aaron Durso and Richard Gokey are two of the three Republicans seeking the nomination for the 130th House District held by Democrat David Kessler. The third Republican, Billy A. Reed, who is on the outs with the party establishment, didn't bother attending the convention.

Gary Day, who is seeking the GOP nomination for the 187th House Dist., and John Schichram, who is running against Rep. Dave Argall in the 124th House Dist., also attended. Argall was a no-show.

The Berks GOP committee endorsed all unopposed candidates for Congress, statewide and legislative positions. In addition to the speakers at the convention, the endorsed candidates included Congressman Charlie Dent, R-15th Dist., Congressman Joe Pitts, R-16th Dist., Steve Fuhs, who wants to unseat state Sen. Michael A. O'Pake in the 11th Senate Dist., Rep. Jim Cox, 129th Dist., and Rep. Doug Reichley, 134th Dist.

The only "real endorsements" made Saturday were for Rep. Dave Argall, R-124th Dist., and Gary Day, candidate for 187th House Dist.

The committee did not vote on an endorsement for the president of the United States. This is a cautious bunch in Berks. They're not ready to jump on that John McCain bandwagon just yet.

Lindsay Lohan channels Marilyn Monroe

With her movie career in the toilet, what's left for Lindsay Lohan?

The former child star, whose promising film career has been overshadowed by tabloid headlines, is attempting a comeback by doing what many female celebrities do to revive their sinking careers ... Take off their clothes.

Lohan is featured in the pages of New York magazine wearing a blond wig and little else.

The pictorial recreates Marilyn Monroe's last nude photo shoot by photographer Bert Stern, who was behind the camera for the Vogue photos of Marilyn Monroe some 45 years ago.

Fast forward four decades. Same photographer. Same location (the Hotel Bel-Air in California). A different model. Instead of the Hollywood icon, in steps Lindsay Lohan, whose film career has been overshadowed by automobile crashes, DUI arrests and stints are rehab centers.

Stern told the Associated press that he thought the photo shoot would be good for Lohan's career, giving her the chance to portray herself as a "grown-up."

He also praised Lohan for her willingness to do the photo shoot in the nude, the news service reported.

"I thought she was a natural, not at all squeamish," Stern told the AP.

Squeamish? Has this guy seen "I Know Who Killed Me" or "Georgia Rule" or "Just My Luck"?

This has not been a good year for Lohan ... and it's only February.

Lohan is nominated for several Razzies for her awful performance in "I Know Who Killed Me" and she's also been named to Mr. Blackwell's Worst Dressed List. She was also photographed guzzling champagne at a New Year's party despite her much-publicized drinking problems.

I guess she has nothing to lose by posing nude. It certainly can't hurt her career.