Senate Education Committee Sends Voucher Bill to Floor

The Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee sent SB1 to the floor for a vote today.  The school voucher bill would impoverish financially strapped school districts by siphoning funds to private and parochial schools.  If parents wish to send their kids to private schools they should do so with their own funds.  It is already unconscionable that taxpayers must transport children to private schools but now they’ll also have to pay up to $9,000/year for their tuition.

No amendments to the bill were passed and Sen. Tony Williams, who has accepted $5 million from voucher supporters, rammed the bill through.  The only votes against forcing students in religious schools from being forced into indoctrination classes were Daylin Leach and Jim Ferlo.  On a White House conference call this afternoon I was in the Q&A queue to ask whether the Administration would challenge the constitutionality of such a law in court.  I wasn’t able to ask my question but I will continue to attempt to do so.  Using public tax dollars to fund religious schools is already a violation of the state constitution and clearly is against the separation of church and state.  Shame on all Democratic Senators (Williams and Dinniman included) who supported such legislation.

Tony Williams was bought and paid for by advocates of privatizing our public schools.

The Homestretch

This Saturday morning finds us in the homestretch of this year’s important primary campaign and me in western Pennsylvania.  I drove out to Ebensburg yesterday so I can cover Joe Sestak today.  He’ll be here in Ebensburg this morning for the Cambria County Democratic Breakfast as will Jack Wagner and, I expect, a few others.  At 1 PM we’ll be in Pittsburgh’s Leslie Park for another rally.  Joe’s day ends in Erie at 4 PM at the West Perry Square Gazebo.  Tomorrow he does a final GOTV rally at home in Media at 6 PM at the Delaware County Courthouse.

Poll show the Senate race a dead heat and these final days will swing this election one way or the other.  Rain forecast for Tuesday may be the final bellweather for either Congressman Sestak or Senator Specter.

The race for the Governor’s mansion is also interesting.  Four Democrats are sparring though Allegheney County Executive Dan Onorato has opened a large lead due to his warchest and ability to flood television with ads.  Tony Williams keeps hammering him though while Republicans continue largely undecided between Tom Corbett and Sam “The Crazy Fundie” Rohrer.  Polls show as much as 40% of Republicans undecided meaning that contest could go either way.  Attorney General Corbett is fatally flawed due to his political prosecutions and blatant lie about his health care lawsuit not being political.  Rohrer is a nutso religious fundamentalist who doesn’t believe in government except when it benefits him or his friends.

The most interesting contest of all Tuesday may be the GOP contest for Lt. Governor because there are nine, count ’em 9, candidates.  That means someone could conceivably win with 15% of the vote.  Wingnut Daryl Metcalfe could team up with Rohrer to give the GOP a ticket comparable to Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann.  

It’s going to be a long day, especially if I follow Congressman Sestak all the way to Erie, and I’ll upload video as I can depending on time and internet connections.

Public Education Becoming Key Issue in Governor’s Race

Tony Williams entered the race for Governor in late January and immediately thrust the issue of public education into the mix.  Seeing as his campaign is being funded by devotees of charter schools trying to siphon funds from our public schools he has made school vouchers a central issue.  Vouchers are a right wing proposal which were designed to destroy our system of public education.  They allow our tax dollars, meant to fund and educate children in public schools, to be used to fund private schools.

I have no problem with parents opting to send their kids to private schools.  I have a problem when you want to use tax dollars to do so.  Pay for it yourself and, while you’re at it, transport your kids there yourself.  Why do we use public school buses to take kids to private schools?  

Our educational system needs major reforms and how we fund our schools is a central issue. Using vouchers to siphon even more money from them is the worst option however.  How will we fully fund education by taking funds away and giving them to private entities?  This is governmental privatization and that’s almost always a bad idea.  What we need to do first of all is eliminate the concept of taxing property and real estate to fund schools.  A progressive income tax and taxes on the extraction of natural gas can fully fund our system of public education.  The issue here is the loss of local control.  No one wants to lose that control so seniors keep losing their homes to taxes and sheriff’s sales, people are overly burdened with property taxes and nothing changes.  It must.

Let’s institute a constitutional convention and enable progressive taxation.  Then the state can collect these funds and distribute them equally among all districts according to a per student amount.  The costing out study done several years ago told us what it takes to educate each child.  Unfortunately our urban, poor districts cannot raise the same resources as rich, suburban ones.  Tony Williams decries the gap between schools like Philadelphia’s and Lower Merion and he’s right, the parents of kids in Philadelphia deserve better, the children deserve better.  Vouchers and charter schools are not the solution however.  Studies show charter schools are no better and be worse while enabling corruption and nepotism.  If we have the political will and the courage to tax properly and distribute funds equally we can  solve the problems.  How many bills has Sen. Williams introduced in Harrisburg to end the property tax, pass progressive income taxes (its actually Sen. Mike O’Pake’s bill) and demand equal distribution of funds?

Willaims and his charter school supporters are trying to buy the Governor’s mansion on this issue.  One candidate has stood steadfast behind our public schools however:  Joe Hoeffel.  Since her entered the race last September Joe has spoken about funding education equally and equitably.  He appeared on Democratic Talk Radio in September and spoke about his plan.  He didn’t wait for Sen. Williams and his cockamamie plan he backed our teachers, administrators and children with a real plan which will produce real results without destroying our public schools.  He challenged Dan Onorato today to support public schools in the face of Williams’ issue:

“There’s another important component to fully funding public education,” added Hoeffel. “Where do we get the money? Our state’s financial situation is precarious, and we need a solid plan. I have had a solid strategy for raising the revenue needed to fully fund public education and early childhood education, without burdening taxpayers. We must change our regressive state income tax to a progressive, graduated state income tax, and lessen the amount of school funding that comes from property taxes. And we must close corporate tax loopholes — including the Delaware Loophole, which allows many large multi-state corporations to pay no state tax at all — to ensure we collect the revenue we’re supposed to collect.”

While Onorato has said that — like Hoeffel — he “would gradually boost the state share of school funding,” his “policy outlines do not specify exactly how he would come up with the revenue needed to balance budgets” according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette of April 28th. And the Morning Call has reported that Onorato “perhaps sensing that it would cause apoplexy among business leaders … stopped well short of saying he’d support the elimination of the Delaware Tax Loophole that most state businesses use to avoid paying” the Corporate Net Income Tax.

“Next to job creation, education is the most important issue of this election. None of us should be silent and let our support be assumed. And all of us need to not just support education, but have a solid plan for funding. I’ve made my support and plan very clear,” said Hoeffel. “I’d like to hear the same from my opponents and particularly, Dan Onorato.”

Hoeffel, ended with one last comment.  “It’s one thing to say you are for a plan that supports public education — But without a funding mechanism, it’s just a disrespectful, empty promise.”

Joe Hoeffel For Governor

Joe Hoeffel is on the air with his first ad of the Governor’s campaign.  I love how he flips a pair of flip flops and goes after flip flopping candidates Dan Onorato and Tony Williams.

Joe has always been there with us on progressive issues and hasn’t been afraid to say he supports them in his stump speeches.  He isn’t afraid to tell audiences everywhere he goes that discrimination against anyone is bad and that women have the right to safe, legal abortions.  He has a strong platform and his commercial shows his personal side too, one I’ve had the pleasure of seeing many times.  There is a clear choice next week.  Our Commonwealth faces very serious budget issues.  We have a $450 million hole in the transportation segment and billions because we didn’t fund our pension obligations.

The pension issue may be the most serious crisis.  While Tony Williams voted to increase his state pension by 50% he didn’t do the tough work involved in funding those obligations in his role as State Senator.  No one in Harrisburg did though.  An aversion to raising taxes resulted in smoke and mirror gimmicks which led to risky investments, investments which ultimately soured, to avoid yet another budget battle.  Pensions must be funded and pension funds must be invested wisely and conservatively so the monies will meet future obligations.  That didn’t happen in Pennsylvania.  Anti-tax Republicans and Democrats fearful of being labeled “tax and spend” by foes refused to make the hard decisions.  Now its time to pay the piper and those same legislators who padded their own pensions are faced with having to fund the pensions with several billion dollars exactly when state revenues have crashed have to face the error of their ways.

Republicans Tom Corbett and Sam Rohrer have signed pledges to not raise any taxes.  Therefore they have self limited what they can do to solve this huge crisis.  The federal stimulus money currently filling a $2 billion hole in the budget leaves next year.  Do the math and you’ll find $450 million missing in transportation money, $2 billion in lost stimulus funds and $2-4 billion in pension obligations and the next Governor cannot simply continue to cut jobs and services.

Voters have said they want anyone convicted of three major crimes put away for life so our prisons are so full we’re outsourcing our criminals to other state prisons.  We’re spending huge amounts of tax dollars housing non violent offenders, trying them in courts and paying judges, prosecutors, defenders, deputies, bailiffs and all the other necessary personnel.  If we cannot cut them kiss your parks, recreation, roads, bridges, public safety, services like children and youth, aging, schools and everything else good bye.  Candidates who box themselves in for political purposes leave themselves, and us, with no recourse to solve gargantuan problems.  This shows extremely bad judgment.

We must elect someone with a proven record of coming together with both sides to find solutions.  Someone not afraid to make tough decisions and do whatever has to be done to move Pennsylvania forward.  Someone who doesn’t run from his record to pander to voters, someone proud of his record and unafraid to say where he stands.  We need Joe Hoeffel as Governor.

News & Notes May 10, 2010

Joe Sestak is mounting one of the most shocking comebacks in political history.  A month ago he was down by around 17 points and awakens this morning five points ahead of reeling Arlen Specter.  The Muhlenberg College tracking poll is a four day average and each day his margin is increasing so that means his real lead today is more than five.

The Congressman takes his Senatorial campaign to Wilkes-Barre today outside the Luzerne County courthouse at noon if you’re in that area and have yet to see him.

President Obama will appoint Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court this morning.  Sheis yet another moderate selection which, again, moves the Court to the right because she replaces a strongly liberal Justice.  The country thought it elected a liberal to the White House but Obama is nothing of the sort.

Update:  Sen. Arlen Specter voted against Elena Kagan as Solicitor General.  Will he flip flop once again now that he’s in a tough race and she’s Obama’s selection for the Supreme Court?  If so is there nothing he won’t pander to to win another term?  If she wasn’t fit, in his mind, to be the country’s top lawyer before the Court how can he explain she should be on that Court?

Did you catch Betty White on SNL?  She has been an undervalued national treasure for decades.  I’m so happy to see her receiving her due before they are eulogies.

On that note singer Lena Horne passed away at age 92.  She broke many racial barriers in a day when segregation was common.  Her courage will live on.

As Tony Williams and Dan Onorato battle it out with negative ads will Joe Hoeffel and Jack Wagner, now both on the air, be the beneficiaries?  Does Williams’ pay raise and pension votes still carry baggage with voters four years later?

What’s the big deal with reading a suspect Miranda rights?  Its the law of the land.  How convenient is it that these folks carrying copies of the constitution around are the first to toss it in the trash?

NOW President Terry O’Neil and former NARAL President Kate Michelman both endorsed 6th CD candidate Manan Trivedi last week.  I stopped by Trivedi’s canvass operation Saturday afternoon in Wyomissing.  The new father and Iraq War veteran is running against Doug Pike in next week’s primary.

Sen. Bob Bennett lost his seat Saturday when Republicans turned out the hard right conservative because he wasn’t conservative enough.  Extremists are running the GOP over a cliff.  Voters were upset over Bennett’s vote for the Bush Administration’s TARP program bailing out the banks.  Don’t they understand yet that those moves, unpopular as they were, staved off a repeat of the 1930’s?  The Great Bush Recession might have been worse than the Great Depression had the entire financial system collapsed.

We’re continuing to fix the system and Republicans are fighting reform every step of the way.  I don’t understand how, on one hand, the rank and file are upset with Senators like Bennett who did what had to be done and then obstruct actual reform designed to prevent future bailouts on the other.

Emails Prove Corbett Suit Is All Political

Emails obtained from Wisconsin through Keystone Progress’ partners prove Attorney General Tom Corbett is conducting the same kind of misuse of taxpayer funds for his own political campaign as those officials he is prosecuting in BonusGate.  He has been indicting and prosecuting legislators and staffers for misallocating tax money to run campaigns and use state offices and resources to do so.  Now we know Corbett is doing exactly the same thing in his frivolous lawsuit contesting the legality of health insurance reform.  The AG has publicly denied such misconduct and now has egg all over his face.  He violated Pennsylvania’s Open Records Law by refusing to comply with requests for these communications and we now understand why he was willing to take that risk.  Unfortunately for Corbett other state AG’s did turn over some documents which include his staffers and office in conversations planning the legal action.

The entire affair seems to have been initiated by Ed Gillespie, former RNC Chair and now head of the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC).  Their political director, responsible for helping elect Republicans to state level seats such as Attorney General, initiated the emails in which 14 state AG’s filed legal action only seven minutes after President Obama signed the bill into law.  The effort was begun before the bill even got passed by Congress so Tom Corbett didn’t even know what was in the bill before he agreed to join the lawsuit.  He is spending state money and resources for an effort which is entirely political in nature and which is being overseen and managed by the RSLC’s Political Director.  He is using this issue to run for Governor so he is doing the exact same thing in which he has charged Mike Veon, Bill DeWeese, John Perzel and others.  How can he go into court and prosecute these people while engaging in the same activity with public monies himself?

The emails prove Corbett’s complicity and he must release all communications he and his staff sent and received about this matter.  First of all this, we now know, a political operation and not legitimate litigation.  Secondly the emails have nothing to do with the actual litigation.  They were his marching orders from the organization which gave him $691,000 in his last election for Attorney General.  The RSLC owns Tom Corbett and he obviously felt he had to say “how high” when Ed Gillespie told him to jump.

How embarrassing is it to have a state Attorney General who is so beholden to his Party’s political operations he cannot use good judgment when it comes to expending tax money?  How embarrassing is it to have an AG who is currently prosecuting legislators for the same misdeeds he himself is committing?  How embarrassing is it to have an AG who is violating our Open Records Law?  How embarrassing is it to have the prospect this man could be our next Governor?

Governor’s Primary Race Heats Up

With the primary two weeks away things are heating up in the race for Governor on the Democratic side.  As polls show Dan Onorato pulling away due to his sizable money advantage and paid television spots Tony Williams launched an ad attacking the Allegheny County Executives claims.  Dan’s primary claim to be best qualified stems from his statements he has reinvigorated Pittsburgh’s economy.  I can’t tell you how many from Allegheny County have told me how intensely they dislike Mr. Onorato over the past 18 months.  Not one has said anything positive about him (I stand corrected by Tom Waters who does) to me since he began his campaign for Governor.  Let me repeat that:  not one person from his home county has had anything good to say about the man.  That’s amazingly unusual.  I understand that every public official makes some enemies, you cannot do your job without making some.  I judge people by who their enemies are.  Everyone has friends and supporters though and Dan Onorato’s seem invisible.

In the middle of these comments I also have heard that he has failed to support key Democratic candidates.  John Morganelli tells about how he drove to Pittsburgh while running for Attorney General for events Dan planned to arrive and have no one there wasting valuable time and money.  There are also reports he failed to support Jack Panella last year.  I called the Superior Court Judge when this first arose and he told me he didn’t want to get involved in any such controversya nd, as a sitting Judge, is prohibited from doing so by law.  However other sources told me that Dan Onorato was instrumental in securing the Teamsters endorsement for Jack’s opponent Joan Orie Melvin.  I also note that Panella only received about 58% of the vote in Allegheny County, a number which seems awfully low for a Democrat at the top of the ticket in a heavily Democratic county.  Why couldn’t Dan Onorato deliver the vote for Jack in that race for the Supreme Court?

Now Jack Wagner and Tony Williams are telling voters that Onorato’s claims to have turned his economy around are false.  He also is vulnerable on the green front as he claims he has environmental cred but his city had the worst air in the country.

I attended SundayOUT! last weekend and had a great time relaxing and visiting with many of the major candidates who came to The Piazza in Philadelphia to meet with LGBT voters.  Dan Onorato and Joe Hoeffel had booths both attended.  Joe Hoeffel, as I explained to some of the young voters, has always been out in front supporting our community and says so right in his stump speech.  He doesn’t wait for a question, he says he supports equal rights for every citizen.  Dan Onorato doesn’t support marriage equality and apparently his people were getting questions about his positions since he had a table at the festival.  Some were actually offended the Equality Forum even allowed him to have a presence there “since he doesn’t support our community.”  I thought that was a good point but I’m not involved with the organization.  It does underscore how Dan is anti-choice and anti-equality however (as is Jack Wagner).  Wagner doesn’t attempt to hide his positions though and is honest about not supporting women or gays and lesbians.  Onorato tries to fudge it and make it seem he does when he doesn’t.  Do Democrats want another John Kerry as their candidate?  If Dan Onorato flip flops any more he should run in New Jersey where he at least has the beach to explain those flip flops.  Expect to see more negative ads appearing before May 18th as the real Dan Onorato is unveiled.

Corbett Rejects Open Records Request

In Pennsylvania the Attorney General is charged with upholding and enforcing the law.  Tom Corbett is the chief law enforcement official protecting us from criminals, scammers, opportunists and fraud.  The recent Pennsylvania Open Records Law is one of the most expansive in the nation and assumes all records are public, not private.  Exceptions are logically those involving security issues, personnel and litigation.

On March 26 Keystone Progress filed two Right to Know requests with Corbett demanding copies of communications regarding his lawsuit against implementation of health insurance reform.  As a candidate for Governor our Attorney General seemingly conspired with other GOP AG’s to get together and challenge the new law.  Keystone Progress filed the request for those communications which have no legal protection under the Open Records Law because they have nothing to do with the litigation itself.  If Tom Corbett consulted constitutional legal experts, for example, those might be legitimately protected and he could go to court and establish that under the law.  He cannot simply categorically dismiss a legal request such as this.  He has.

The Open Records Law gives the Attorney General five days to comply.  They wound up demanding more time to comply with Keystone’s request and now have simply refused to comply.  Is our Attorney General now violating the law?  I’m not a lawyer but that was the my first reaction when I saw this yesterday:

Corbett’s office denied that request in a letter dated April 29. Corbett’s response was signed by Robert A. Mulle, Chief Deputy Attorney General and Right to Know Officer for the Office of Attorney General.

“What is Corbett hiding?  Why is he afraid to tell the people the truth?” asked Michael Morrill, executive director of Keystone Progress.  “This is a straightforward request for information that has nothing to do with the case itself.  Our request is for information about the political aspects of how they determined whether to file a suit on a law that hadn’t even been written.”

Corbett has come under increasing criticism for politicizing the Office of Attorney General.  In addition to the obviously political lawsuit challenging healthcare reform, Corbett has been accused of selectively prosecuting mostly Democrats in the “Bonusgate” scandal, while ignoring Republican malfeasance such as Senator Jane Orie’s alleged use of public funds to help elect her sister, state Supreme court Justice Joan Orie Melvin.

The Right to Know request asked for all correspondence to and from Republican Attorney General Tom Corbett and the Attorney General’s staff with individuals inside and outside of Pennsylvania urging Corbett to file the Republican-orchestrated frivolous lawsuit. Corbett’s announcement of filing his suit occurred before anyone had a chance to read the legislation.

The first request is seeking any correspondence between Corbett and his office and entities outside of the Commonwealth.  The Attorney General has coordinated his activities with other attorneys general, even before there was legislation to challenge.

The second filing seeks correspondence between Corbett and his office and Members of the General Assembly and their staff.  Legislators were encouraging the Attorney General to file a suit, again even before there was legislation

I imagine the next step is for Keystone Progress to go to court and request a Judge (probably in Commonwealth Court) to grant an injunction or whatever to force the Attorney General to comply with the law.  How bad is it when your AG won’t comply with state law?  This is the man who wants to be our next Governor.  What laws could he decide to comply with and which would he ignore as Governor?  Do we really want someone as Governor who is so arbitrary?  Heck I don’t want someone like that as Attorney General!

 

Hoeffel: We need to invest in our local banks, businesses and communities

Derivatives weren’t the only toxic asset pawned off on Americans before the financial collapse, something called swaps were foisted on school districts, local and county governments and even the state government.  Con men who referred to themselves as “financial consultants” told our elected officials these were safe, conservative investments for public funds which provided higher rates of return.  I actually witnessed a few of these presentation and couldn’t comprehend why a county government would invest in something which was impossible to understand.  There’s one simple rule for investing:  if you can’t understand how the money is made don’t buy the investment.  Joe Hoeffel came out today and said it’s time for Pennsylvania to invest in Pennsylvania:

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Joe Hoeffel thinks it is about time Pennsylvania invests in Pennsylvania, and he will do something about it.

At a press conference today, Hoeffel outlined a plan that will encourage investment in Pennsylvania’s banks and credit unions and award contracts to Pennsylvania businesses.

“Homeowners across America entered into mortgages which seemed like good deals at the time — only to later discover big banks were profiting at their expense,” Hoeffel said.  “Pennsylvania’s financial crisis, and the difficulties faced by many cities, counties, and school districts across the commonwealth, has similar roots. Municipalities and agencies made risky investments with taxpayer money, and big banks profited while we lost.”

Hoeffel’s plan calls for investment in local and community banks and credit unions and recognizing the added value of awarding contracts to Pennsylvania businesses.   He believes Pennsylvania can build a system where taxpayers, financial institutions, and businesses work together with the common interest of investing in our communities and rebuilding Pennsylvania’s economy.

Hoeffel explained that in the years leading up to the current financial crisis, a complex and controversial fiscal practice called interest-rate swaps became commonplace in Pennsylvania.  These exotic “financial instruments” were supposed to benefit the governments that entered into them, but when the economy changed and floating rates took off, taxpayer dollars became big profits for big banks, according to Hoeffel.

He cited several examples:

   *  In late 2008, the Bethlehem Area School District spent $10.2 million of taxpayer’s money not on reducing class size or providing activities for their students.  They gave it to J.P. Morgan.

   * In 2009, Montgomery County paid $12.3 million to two banks, United Bank of Scotland and PNC.

   * This past November, the Delaware River Port Authority, the intergovernmental agency that operates ports, bridges, and transportation between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, paid United Bank of Scotland $111 million, even though the agency’s budget for the entire year was supposed to be $159 million.

   * On April 8th of this year, the cash-strapped City of Philadelphia, facing a second year of debilitating service cuts and the prospect of charging a fee to collect trash, raised funds not to clean streets or put more cops on them but to pay Citigroup $48.6 million.

“Bethlehem schools, Montgomery County, the DRPA, and the City of Philadelphia paid these exorbitant costs just to get out of reckless investments, Hoeffel said. Today, he said, 86 of Pennsylvania’s municipal governments and 107 school districts have nearly $15 billion in public debt tied up in these interest-rate swaps.  The Philadelphia School District alone ties over $1 billion in debt to interest-rate swaps.

Hoeffel said he would ban future interest-rate swaps by adding a provision to the Local Government Unit Debt Act and the Municipal Authorities Act to explicitly prohibit local governments from gambling tax dollars in interest-rate swaps, or any other bizarre “financial instruments.” He then would act to end all active swap arrangements as soon as possible and refinance using conventional financial instruments, preferably utilizing responsible Pennsylvania community banks and credit unions.

One of the keys to growing Pennsylvania is investing in Pennsylvania’s financial institutions.  “Unlike J.P. Morgan and Citigroup, Pennsylvania’s community banks and credit unions are tied to the success of our towns, schools, and communities.  Many are rated as much safer than the big banks.

“According to a study published in January, smaller, safer community banks in Pennsylvania “play a significant role in the economic growth of both rural and urban” parts of the state, he said.  “Furthermore, one of the most valuable traits of community banks is their unique knowledge of the local economy and expertise in local business prospects, which makes them integral to growing the economies of communities around the state.”

He said he would encourage municipalities, agencies, and school districts across the Commonwealth to rethink the way we use public assets and invest in the institutions that invest in us.  “By shifting public assets out of the banks that have bilked us for millions, and into local institutions that support our taxpayers and grow our small businesses, we can make our money work for us, not the tycoons of Wall Street,” he said.

To make these policies possible, Hoeffel supports two key changes to state law.

   * Drop the mandated collateral for state deposits in all banks from the Pennsylvania requirement of 120 percent of the deposit to the more common standard of 102 percent used around the country. “Our higher requirement is unnecessary and puts undue restrictions on community banks and credit unions,” Hoeffel said.

   * Extend from one year to three years the life of the Certificates of Deposit that the state invests in banks. “Three years will make it much easier for community banks to loan the money into the local community,” Hoeffel explained.

Hoeffel said he would also:

   * Encourage the state treasurer to increase the investment of state assets into community banks and credit unions, rewarding those that make loans in the state.

   * Establish goals for placing unused bond proceeds in community banks and credit unions in the same ratio and shifting the state pension money from big banks into community banks and credit unions.

   * Push for a change in the way two percent of the state’s pension funds are invested in venture capital funds, from the current directive to “consider geographical diversity” to a strategy of investment in businesses in the commonwealth, which will give businesses a greater incentive to start in Pennsylvania.

Hoeffel also pledged to create fairer bidding practices for Pennsylvania businesses.

“When the state buys goods from out-of-state businesses, we send money out of the state and never see it again,” he explained.  “But when we buy from in-state businesses, some of that money returns to Pennsylvania in the form of taxes from the companies and workers.”

Sam Durso, Philadelphia Coordinator of the national Move Your Money Campaign, joined Hoeffel in calling for greater support of community banks and credit unions: “We thank Joe Hoeffel for his timely support, and we call on all candidates across the city and the state to join the Move Your Money campaign in supporting the community banks and credit unions that support our local economies and small businesses. Financial reform is coming, and the message is clear: now is the time to invest in the institutions that invest in us.”

Corbett to Those Calling For His Resignation: “You’re Criminals”

Several groups, some of them non partisan organizations known for supporting good government, called for Attorney General Tom Corbett to resign this week as he runs for Governor on a platform of battling political corruption in Harrisburg.  Of course the AG doesn’t seem to realize that pursuing political prosecutions for the express purpose of pandering to voters IS political corruption itself.  Indicting Democrats and then figuring out what crimes for which to charge them is corruption.  Throwing dozens of charges out there then having Judges and juries nullifying most of them isn’t a legitimate political tactic.

Tom Corbett is a corrupt AG and that is why people are calling for his resignation.  There exists an obvious and serious conflict of interest at work here and his ignoring it doesn’t make it disappear.  Corbett said this after a press conference calling for him to resign:

“It appears that these groups have joined the chorus of criminal defendants who have been charged with political corruption.”

He thinks these people are criminals because they have exposed him as just another corrupt politician.  Do you really want someone like that to be our next Governor?  Haven’t we witnessed enough corruption throughout the Commonwealth lately?