Why I Won’t Be Coverin the PA Dems This Week

The Pennsylvania Democratic Party is convening Friday and Saturday in nearby Lancaster but I won’t be covering their activities.  A lot of resolutions and business are on the agenda but the powers that be (primarily the corrupt Bob Brady) will block everything once again.  I won’t be there however.  I’m fed up with Democrats violating their national charter by closing public meetings.  I’ve now been kicked out four times including at the last meeting when Fadia Halma evicted me from a By Laws Committee meeting.

In previous Party meetings Jack Hanna has thrown me out of the Southwest Caucus twice and Berks County Chair illegally closed a County Committee meeting and I was told I had to leave.

The DNC national Charter says that ALL Democratic Party meetings are open to the public.  That includes the press.  Closing these meetings tot he press or kicking me out of them is direct violation of their national Party rules.  I’ll no longer spend my time and money going to their meetings simply to be tossed out.  No more.

The By Laws Committee meeting at the last Party conference was very important.  The Progressive Caucus had proposed a by laws change prohibiting County Chairs from unilaterally dismissing duly elected committee people because they don’t agree with their politics, the Democratic candidates they choose to support (in unendorsed campaigns) or because they simply don’t want them.  Philadelphia County Chair Bob Brady and Berks County Chair Tom Herman have both been guilty of such actions.  I left the Democratic Party five years ago because of Herman’s actions against me when I chose to support Mike Morrill for the 126th State House seat against turncoat Tom Caltagirone.

So this by laws change was personal for me and I went to the By Laws Committee to witness and report on what transpired.  Ms. Halma told me the meeting would be closed and I had to leave.  Then Bob Brady killed the proposal behind closed doors.  I presume there was smoke leaking from under that closed doorway.  Doing business in smoke filled rooms continues in today’s Pennsylvania Democratic Party.

Blog Update

I apologize for the lack of posting the past three weeks.  Our old house went under contract a month ago and the last weeks were hectic and frenetic going through all the hassles and wrinkles of preparing to close.  The deal did finally close last Friday so my time will begin reverting back to normal.

Things have been rather quiet on the state level with only one statewide race so there hasn’t been a lot about which to write and comment.  Since I no longer interview or cover Democratic candidates thanks to that undemocratic Party constantly throwing me out of their required “open” meetings things have quieted down considerably.   If you’re wondering why I’m not attending and covering your events ask Fadia Halma why she chose to block me from the By Laws Committee meeting at the last Democratic State Committee meeting.  Jack Hanna has kicked me out of two of his Southwest Caucus meetings and Berks County Chair Tom Herman tossed me out of one of his “open to the public” meetings.

The DNC Charter requires that ALL Party meetings be open to the public.

PA Dems Meet This Weekend

Pennsylvania Democrats are meeting tomorrow and Saturday at the Hershey Lodge.  The winter meeting is always interesting because it is their endorsement event.  Judicial races on the ballot this year means Friday night receptions as the candidates attempt to wine and dine the State Committee members.  The ones with the best (and freest) booze and food usually win.  I’ve actually overheard Committee people say they vote based on who has the best spread.

A lot of potential 2014 candidates should be found roaming the halls, chatting people in the bar and in the restaurant.  Tom Wolf is about ready to launch his gubernatorial effort and this week Brad Koplinski commenced his campaign for Lt. Governor.  Brad is a good guy but if Dems want to oust Gov. gasbag another unbalanced (east/west) ticket might doom them.  Not having anyone from SE Pennsylvania helped put Corbett in the Governors Mansion.

There will be interesting resolutions coming up for a vote.  I expect a lot of talk about fracking this weekend.  Snow is also expected though not enough to cause the problems they had a few years ago in Lancaster.  

I’m wondering if the Democrats are ready to apologize to me for kicking me out of the Southwestern Caucus meeting last summer.  As a result of this breach of Party rules I stopped covering their candidates.  It was the third time it happened in violation of the DNC Charter and, well you know, three strikes and you’re out.

I plan on asking various officials how they feel about the Party being so closely tied to predator priest protector Rep. Thomas Caltagirone.  Here’s a nifty quiz for them:  explain how Graham Spanier is to Jerry Sandusky as Tom Caltagirone is to child molesting priests?  How much do they want to be compared with The Second Mile?  How close do they want to be to the guy who blocked reform legislation that would have gone after those predatory priests?

News & Notes June 13, 2012

I have yet to receive an explanation or apology for being summarily dismissed from a Pennsylvania Democratic Party meeting again Saturday.  Until I get an apology I will discontinue covering the campaigns of Democratic candidates.  This includes Barack Obama’s re-election.  It is a violation of the DNC charter to close Party meetings and this is three times it has happened in a short period.  My Campaign 2012 columns will cease until the DNC responds.

Tom Corbett’s poll numbers continue sinking like a stone.  Pennsylvanians now support him by only 36%.  This was before the Shell Oil giveaway which would hire 30,000 teachers.  What’s more important, 30,000 teachers or one more dirty energy plant?

Commerce Secretary John Bryson has taken a leave of absence after seizures caused him to be involved in hit and run accidents recently.  

A Navy drone crashed on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  President Obama is now using these unmanned planes to spy on us at home.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, closet queen, has broken with Grover Norquist.  As more and more cracks dent the adolescent idea of no new revenues ever his Americans For Tax Reform loses power.

Of course Tea Party extremists like Keith Rothfus are still stupid enough to put extreme politics ahead of the public welfare.  He has signed Norquists idiotic pledge along with others from Club For Growth (Pat Toomey’s organization) and the American Family Business Institute.  He’d rather you pay taxes than people like Alice Walton who is worth $21 billion.

American servicewomen are being raped in alarming numbers.  Even more alarming is the fact that not much is done to those who assault them and abortions for pregnancies resulting from sexual assaults is not readily available.  Sen. Jean Shaheen is proposing a bill guaranteeing abortion coverage for women service members who are raped.  Will Pat Toomey and Bob Casey step forward and protect our fighting women?  Will our Teapublicans in the House also do so?

North Dakota rejected a very radical law which could have restored slavery.  The religious freedom law would have allowed anyone in that deeply red state to disobey any law based on their religious beliefs.  Since the Bible condones slavery…

Arizona also had an election yesterday replacing Congresswoman Gabby Giffords with her former staffer Ron Barber.  Hers was a swing district so this could be a harbinger for the fall.  Of course Wisconsin also could be if you’re into reading political tea leaves.

Cuts to higher education didn’t begin with Tom Corbett though he has taken them to unprecedented levels..  Pennsylvania’s share of operating expenses for our state related universities has been declining for decades.  Toxic Tom’s actions have accelerated the decline dramatically.  We now have the distinction of having the top two most expensive in state tuitions in the country for state related universities.  Penn State is first and Pitt second.  This is a dubious and shameful distinction.

On Thursday the President will make an address at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland if you’re in that area.  He was in Philadelphia last night for a fundraiser at The Franklin Institute.  It was a pool reporter situation so I didn’t have access.  Tom Fitzgerald of The Inquirer was the pool reporter.  Supporters paid up to $40,000 for the privilege of meeting the President.

The Department of Energy has awarded grants to Air Products and Chemicals of Allentown and Lyondell Chemicals of Newtown Square.  13 projects received a total of $54 million to increase energy efficiency.

Citizens of the 8th Congressional District are giving Mike Fitzpatrick fits over recent news he gave federal earmarks to a campaign contributor.  This is called “pay to play.”  Another name for it is corruption.

Constituent Ginny Hoffman of Levittown said it’s time that elected officials get their priorities straight and help people who actually need it. Hoffman attempted to ask Congressman Fitzpatrick about his recent legislation benefiting his donors.

“When I open the newspaper I see that he is giving out a lot of pork to his donors instead of helping middle class people. I tried to tell him to help us, the people that are losing our homes and our jobs, instead of his wealthy donors. But I was blocked by his staff before I could ask my question,” she said.

PA Dems Endorse Marriage Equality, Women’s Rights

I got a tingling sensation all over as Pennsylvania Democrats overwhelmingly approved a resolution endorsing marriage equality today.  In an emotionally charged meeting with impassioned speeches for women’s rights and gay rights the State Committee, meeting in Valley Forge in a hotel infamously built by non union labor, voted to enter the 21st century.  Marybeth Kuznick wrote and introduced the resolution for women, condemning the conservative war on women.  She noted in one of the caucus sessions that there is only one Democratic woman west of Harrisburg serving there in the legislature.  I met Sharon Brown who is running for Jane Orie’s vacant Senate seat to double that number.  Kuznick got a standing ovation from the women as embarrassed me then stood up to join them.

The marriage equality resolution is something I heard about several weeks ago on an “off the record” basis so I couldn’t write about until now.  Inspired by the President’s position Adams County Chair Roger Lund, married to his partner in DC, introduced a motion to waive the rules and pass the resolution.  There was much discussion in every caucus about support for the measure.  As Party Chair Jim Burn said they didn’t want it to fall short of the 2/3 vote needed to suspend the rules.  Because State Committee people weren’t provided a copy of it in their 30 day packets the rules had to be suspended for a vote on the actual resolution.  Afraid of headlines saying they refused to support the President they wanted to be the votes were there.

I went to the Southwestern Caucus thinking it would have the most vocal opposition (the Northwest Caucus actually voted against it) and I wanted to gauge the level of opposition.  Caucus Chair Jack Hanna escorted me out of the meeting and said I couldn’t attend and report on its discussions.  This is the second time in a year I’ve been tossed out of a Pennsylvania Democratic Party meeting.  The first is why I refused to attend and cover its January meeting when Berks Chair Tom Herman said I couldn’t cover his County Committee meeting.  It is against the DNC Charter to bar the public from Party meetings.  It appears I’ll have to call DNC headquarters in DC again and file yet another complaint.

A committeeman from Cambria County got very vocal at that caucus meeting invoking Biblical passages.  Of course this is a legal matter not a religious one.  The Bible also allows slavery, condemns people who eat pork and shellfish and says you shouldn’t cut your hair.  So much for ancient abominations.  The caucus voted 11-7 in support of the bill.  So, so much for throwing me out of your meeting Mr. Hanna…

Other points of contention today centered around procedures for dismissing elected committee people, a subject near and dear to my heart.  The progressive caucus wants set rules and procedures for such actions.  Also, a slate of people to represent the state on the DNC was issued and voted upon by the Chair.  This top down procedure was objected to by progressives who want and open election where anyone can run for the seats.  Burn promised reform and proposed a resolution which passed to set up a committee to devise such a system for the future.  Vice Chair Penny Gerber, off the reservation on the issue, then bemoaned the fact it would lead to floor fights.  Well, elections aren’t always pretty but that’s called democracy.  A Party which calls itself Democratic should be.

Josh Shapiro and Ed Rendell spoke to the gathering.  Montgomery County was hosting the event at the Valley Forge Radisson Hotel and Casino and Josh is now Chair of the MontCo Commissioners.  Democrats control that county for the first time in 130 years.  The former Governor spoke strongly for President Obama but refrained from any mention of his successor.  I’d love to hear his opinions on Tom Corbett.

I touched base with candidates Rob McCord, Eugene DePasquale, Missa Eaton and Rick Daugherty.  I hope to do interviews with all of them soon.

State Party Gets it Wrong…Again

Shannon Bilger sent me an email Wednesday morning making further illegitimate claims regarding the selection process to fill Jack Murtha’s Congressional seat.  One of his claims has been that we’ve criticized the process because we didn’t like the outcome.  That’s foolish because we criticized the process BEFORE there was an outcome.  In fact his claim simply underscores the fact the process was rigged because it assumes the outcome.  He also sent me the link to the Jack Hanna memo proposing the rules for the process.  Hanna is Chair of the State Committee Rules Committee and was a supporter of Barbara Hafer for the seat.  Unfortunately for Bilger the very first paragraph of Hanna’s proposal said it was but a draft and open to input and revision.  Therefore it couldn’t have been something he was forcing through.  Here is Bilger’s email to me:

John,

I don’t dislike you, but you are wrong.  This entire process was controlled by Jack Hanna.  Compare his original proposal to TJ (2/17/10, Link below) and his final draft (attached).  By the way, Jack wrote the final draft that was used.   The only real difference is that we insisted the number of delegates be no more than 100.  Jack proposed 200, 157 of which would have been appointed.  We thought it was wrong to have more appointed than elected Delegates.  I think we were much fairer than you give us credit.

Jack was Barbara Hafer’s Representative.  I have about 10 other pieces of information that I can post, but I would rather you actually read it and maybe you will be man enough to admit you are wrong.

http://www.pa2010.com/wp-conte…

The truth is Hanna tried to “rig” the process for Hafer, not the State Party for Critz.  I believed this so much that I walked out of one of our meetings.   Also, just for information sake, we sent the table with the allocations to the campaigns and their representatives on 2/24/2010.  That might be how he got the information in the in your picture.  Also your description of the picture is very wrong.  It does not list the names, just the allocation that was sent to Jack on 2/21/2010.   I have that email too as well as his reply thanking me for sending it.

Btw, where in the world did you come up with the 40% turnout.  My likely was 1,075,122 which was 24.94%.  We will see how close I was when the counties finish scanning their Poll books.  Also, I have not been in charge of the website since June of 2004.  Not sure which members of the congressional delegation were on the website 3 years after they left office.  Maybe you can shed some light on this for me.  Could not be Coyne or Borski

Once we get the State Committee Meeting behind us, I will go through all my records and forward them to you about the CD12 process.  I think you will be very surprised by what you assumed and was not so.

Shannon

In fairness I contacted Jack Hanna so he could respond to the direct accusations leveled against him by Mr. Bilger.  His response to me late yesterday:

John:

First, I very much appreciate the opportunity to respond to what are flat out mischaracterizations and false implications of what happened regarding my ” rigging” the election.

I wish to respond to you in detail and will do so early next week since I have some immediate matters to attend to like marshaling and whipping support for a new Chair tomorrow and Saturday.

However, I’ll offer two immediate facts that support my position and contradicts Bilger’s. First my memo speaks for itself and its obvious the way the election was conducted in no way compares with the way I advocated it occur. Second, the results were so weighted in favor of Critz that my preference for Hafer conspicuously didn’t have an impact nor affected the out-come.

There is much more to say about this and I will but my immediate attentions are focused on other matters for the moment. I will pick up the string with you early next week to complete my response. Thank you.

Jack Hanna

Obviously we’ll have more on this next week.  All State Committee delegates are busy today and tomorrow electing new leadership.  One immediate thought which crossed my mind after reading the email from Shannon is that if Jack Hanna “rigged” the selection process for Barbara Hafer wouldn’t she be a Congresswoman right now?  The fact Mark Critz is in that seat by virtue of the rigged selection process disproves his claim against Mr. Hanna.   I doubt that if Jack Hanna were rigging a process for Hafer and the State Party was NOT for Critz he wouldn’t be Congressman Critz.  There’s also the damning evidence of the photo Critz posted online pointing to the Fayette County delegates prior to their selection.  There’s simply no getting around that or the fact he bragged about having already having enough votes to win.

Tomorrow’s election for Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chair and other officers will be interesting.  Dan Onorato has publicly stated he remains neutral and Joe Sestak is out for blood after the Governor’s meddling in his race and TJ Rooney’s unfortunate personal attacks.  It isn’t likely any Chair will be elected against Sestak’s wishes or the Party is dead.  They simply cannot afford to have the top of the ticket not working with and for them.  That’s what happens though when you publicly screw the top of the ticket.  So many stupid decisions have been made recently that significant change is needed.  These people aren’t used to change however and I’m not holding my breath.

Rumors abound about a compromise Chair candidate who might be temporary or that Tim Brennan, President of the YD’s, will be Vice Chair.  He would be a return to the bad old days due to his attempt to force a Congressional candidate (Sheila Dow-Ford) out of a primary.  I doubt that would sit well with Congressman Sestak.  I certainly hope so.  All in all the person I wouldn’t want to be right now is Shannon Bilger.

PA Dems: Covering Up Their Backroom Shenanigans

Someone needs to remind the Pennsylvania Democratic Party that the cover up is worse than the crime.  The crime here was their exposed attempt to rig the selection process last March to replace the late John Murtha in Congress.  We here at The Pennsylvania Progressive exposed the shenanigans which forced the Party to open up the process to a bit of sunlight.  Not enough to be fair an dopen but enough for them to try and claim they didn’t get caught with their pants down.  Unfortunately for the PA Dems its hard to run away with your pants around your ankles.

Since I wrote an article reminding Pennsylvania Democrats of this pungent process rigging an employee of the Party has engaged in lies, personal attacks, revisionist history and shame trying to cover up what they did.  Shannon Bilger, IT Manager of the State Party, has attempted to keep digging the Party a deeper and deeper hole.  This illustrates all that is wrong with the PA Democratic Party;  it tries to bypass by laws, ethics, rules, laws and common sense to do whatever it wishes to do.  It ignores people’s civil rights to support whatever Democrat they wish in unendorsed races and then threatens to sue them.  Then someone like Shannon comes here and attempts to lie about it all.  Shame.

This cover up of what happened in the 12th CD is especially horrid because they tried to blame it on Jack Hanna, Chair of the Party’s Rules Committee.  I’ve had some disagreements with Mr. Hanna but he was not the person responsible for this debacle.  In fact, according to credible news reports based on a memo he sent to the Party, he was outraged by the rigged process and set out to make it right.  I can’t imagine how outraged he is after being run under the bus on this blog by an employee of the Party, registering with his PADEMS email address and on Party time.  I assume since he continues to comment he is speaking officially for the Party.  That’s a shame because he is full of crap and we keep exposing his lies.  The Party keeps digging itself a deeper hole by covering up what they did.  The first rule of damage control is simple:  stop digging.  Now the cover up is threatening to be worse than the original sin.  More and more state committee people are becoming aware of what transpired and of this futile attempt at revisionist history  on the part of the Party.

If there was a better argument for change and reform I know of none other than Mr. Bilger’s personal and unfounded attacks and his lies and distortions.  He is a shame to the Party and must be dismissed post haste.  His conduct trying to obfuscate the facts makes him a cancer on the body public and a disgrace to Democrats everywhere.

Its time to clean up the mess which has become of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party and it begins this Friday and Saturday by electing new leadership.

Democratic State Committee Meeting

Pennsylvania Democrats today nominated Teresa Sarmini for the November ballot for Superior Court.  Due to the retirement of Judge Maureen Lally-Green a fourth spot on the Court is open and voters will elect four Superior Court Judges.  Sarmina won the nomination on the first ballot.

Congressman Joe Sestak was there all day with a large contingent of campaign staff and seemed to make considerable progress towards gaining key support in the final state committee meeting before January’s endorsement vote.

Senator Specter promised the county Chairs free tickets to his upcoming $1000/person event in Philadelphia with President Obama.  TJ Rooney then announced the Senator will pay for every state committee person to attend.  This makes me thing the Senator is having trouble selling tickets if he has to begin tickets away at $1000 apiece.  It’ll remain to be seen if he can buy off committee people for a thousand bucks a pop.  This hits me as trying to buy votes.

I got video interviews with many candidates though I did miss out interviewing Commonwealth Court Judge candidate Linda Judson.  I will have to try to get that done sometime when she’s in my area, if possible.  Instead of doing her interview I had to redo a taping of the new candidate Teresa Sarmina and, consequently, missed Judson.  I’ll be processing these video segments for the log asap.  I also spoke with all the candidates we have yet to interview on Democratic Talk Radio and we’ll be setting them up in the near future.

State Committee also passed a resolution calling on the Congressional delegation to support a new federal law requiring verified paper ballots in all new voting machines.  Kudos go to Marybeth Kuznick for her tireless work on our behalf on this important issue.  There was also a tribute to the late Sen. Kennedy.  The best speaker was Paul McNulty who recalled being a Kennedy delegate in 1980 and loquaciously reminded everyone of “The Dream Must Never Die” speech and said we must insure it never dies.  That mantle is now passed to all of us.

After the bump listen to the entire historic speech.

Here is Marybeth Kuznik’s talk to the Labor Caucus about supporting the verified paper ballot resolution: