The Rozzi Party

I made it from Upper Merion to Temple just in time to catch Mark Rozzi entering his party after receiving the concession call from rival Frank Denbowski.  The pizza place was filled with family and friends and all were celebrating the win.  Rozzi came from nowhere, a political novice with a young campaign manager with no experience and they soundly defeated a seasoned pro with serious backing and a well known consulting group.  Rozzi won because he was better on the issues, had the backing of Dante Santoni Jr. and ran a positive campaign.

At Planned Parenthood we saw an opportunity to switch a seat which had been anti-choice and a remarkable young talent in Rozzi.  Now women in Pennsylvania will have a strong new ally in Harrisburg as this heavily Democratic seat in and around Reading will be an automatic pick-up come November.  This was one of those races where the primary was the real election.

I’ve known Frank Denbowski for years and he’s a good man.  Unfortunately he surrounded himself with negative people who ran a negative race.  Yesterday they sent a bizarre mail piece to voters accusing Rozzi of midnight pay raises and saying he’d destroy the middle class.  No class.

Mark Rozzi entering Margherita’s:

With Dante Santoni Jr:

With his beautiful wife Jackie:

Two excited men, Mark Rozzi and his campaign manager Chad Schlanger:

News & Notes April 23, 2012

Tomorrow is election day, don’t let bad weather keep you from exercising your right to vote.  People in Syria are dying in the streets fighting for this right.   On the other hand don’t allow Tom Corbett to rob you of your right to vote.  They’ll be rolling out the Voter ID program though the law says you don’t have to produce an ID until the November election.

Matt Cartwright got the endorsements of three Northeastern PA papers.  Marybeth Kuznick is also racking up endorsements for her House race.

The Reading Eagle isn’t running the news that Frank Denbowski broke state election law.

Denbowski isn’t alone.  Marty Schmotzer didn’t even file a report.  The difference is we already knew Marty was a crook.

The DCCC points out how Jim Gerlach voted to give the Dallas Cowboys a tax break.  Their vote would provide all major sports teams owners another cut.  Have those crumbs trickled down to you yet?  Ronald Reagan promised they would.

NARAL’s pro-choice voters guide is available here.

This week there will be a major women’s rally in Harrisburg.  Join us on April 28th at 10AM on the Capitol steps.

Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer is already tangled up in a web of cronyism and corruption.  That didn’t take long.

It appears fracking is already destroying fish in the Susquehanna River.  Will Corbett’s DEP do anything?

Two notable trials are going on this week:  Roger Clemens and John Edwards.

Wal-Mart spent millions bribing Mexican officials so they could build stores.  How much did they spend here?

The Catholic League got all in a lather over a skit Jon Stewart did.  They responded by showing him amidst fire on the day Jews use to remember victims of the Holocaust.  Very bad idea…

New Mexico Senate candidate Heather Wilson says bullying of gay teens is simply teasing.  Sure, hundreds of kids commit suicide every year over “teasing.”  She lost her Congressional seat over ties to George W. Bush’s GonzalesGate.  Should we tease her about that?

Education Voters PA has endorsed several candidates:  Erin Molchany, Shauna D’Alessandro, Duane Milne, Babette Josephs, James Roebuck and Sen. Patricia Vance.  Milne and Vance are moderate Republicans being challenged from their right (Tea Party).

Mitt Romney stepped in it when he dissed a famous Pittsburgh bakery.  Just when he was making progress trying to win the battleground state this fall he stepped in a pile of sh*t.  Maybe he still has time to come to Philadelphia and say how bad Tastykakes are…  Then he can throw up outside Pat’s Steaks.  Go to Lancaster and say something bad about scrapple?  He may as well try for the whole enchilada!

We’re finally getting some rain.  The last six months have been very dry, months we normally see considerable precipitation.  Climate change is affecting us and rivers are so low we can’t go kayaking.  I drove up along the Delaware Saturday, a stretch I’ve paddled many times, and was shocked at the low levels.  How will climate change affect our state in the future?  Here’s how.

Denbowski House Campaign Wasn’t Legal Until April 13th

Friends of Frank Denbowski was not registered with the Pennsylvania Department of State until April 13, 2012.  He told me he’d registered it in February which, obviously, was a lie.  Though the document is dated February 17, 2012 it was not filed until April 13, 2012.

Pennsylvania election law, as little of it as there is, requires all candidates for state office who spend over $250 to form a Committee with a treasurer and register with the Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation (BCEL), part of the Department of State.  Then then must file periodic campaign finance reports.

Jonathon Marks, Commissioner of BCEL told me in an email today that Friends of Frank Denbowski was registered with them on April 13, 2012.  The papers were filed along with its campaign finance report.  They were not able to provide me with the documents Friday because they had not been processed.  That’s all a separate issue.

Typically, the bureau’s process works and interim requests for campaign expense information can be filled because the bureau’s staff is able to efficiently locate reports utilizing the candidate and committee information maintained in our database. In the case of the Friends of Frank Denbowsky, it appears that the committee’s registration statement was filed at the same time the 2nd Friday report was filed. I have attached copies of the committee registration statement and 2nd Friday report for your reference.

Denbowski failed to comply with election law and until he registered his committee was limited to expenditures of $250.  According to his current report he exceeded that on February 3 when he bought yard signs.  Therefore any expenditures since that date have been illegal.

His report also has some serious issues.  The cover page lists $2,000 of in kind donations but none are disclosed.  He hired Fleck Consulting to run his campaign but there are no payments to them.  He paid $12,000 for a television ad buy but it isn’t listed meaning it happened after April 13th.  His report shows cash in hand on that date of $6,471.73 so where did the remainder of that money come from?  Having raised $21,797, mostly from political action committees (only eight individuals contributed money), in the previous several months suddenly $5500 comes in to pay for TV…

It appears that Friends of Frank Denbowski is hiding expenditures.  Mike Fleck doesn’t come cheaply.  He charged Archie Follweiler $21,000 to run his State House campaign several years ago.  Where are those expenses?

PA BCEL: “Friends of Frank Denbowski” Doesn’t Exist

The Pennsylvania Department of State’s Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation (BCEL) told me this morning they have no record of Frank Denbowski’s campaign committee.  He is running for the State House in District 126, a seat currently held by Dante Santoni Jr.  State election law requires that any candidate spending more than $250 form a campaign committee and register it with the state.  They are then required to file periodic campaign finance reports with BCEL.  I have been searching the BCEL database for Denbowski’s reports for a week and finally drove to Harrisburg this morning to get them.  I was told no reports exist and that they have no record of “Friends of Frank Denbowski” being a legally registered campaign committee.

I spoke with Mr. Denbowski and he insists he has filed the appropriate paperwork and has time and date stamped receipts.  If he registered his Committee in February as he claims then BCEL should have a record of it.  Mike Fleck, consultant to the Denbowski campaign called me and stated “we confirmed they have our reports.  I don’t know why they couldn’t give them to you.”

Gov. Corbett’s budget cuts have cut the BCEL staff from 31 people to 20, a third of its previous size.  Considering the importance of election integrity if they are unable to process crucial paperwork in a timely manner all elections are suspect.  Voters have the right to examine all campaign finance reports prior to an election.  We are on the Friday before a Tuesday election day and BCEL is unable to provide me with documents the candidate claims to have submitted.  Of course had Denbowski done so electronically none of this would be an issue.  Mark Rozzi’s electronically filed campaign finance report has been online at the BCEL website for a week.  In 2012 it is inexcusable for a candidate to not be able to use basic technology.

Fleck told me he would scan their documents and send them to me via email.

I called the Department of State and asked why they are unable to produce documents when citizens drive there and request them.  They have no answer for me yet either.

Meanwhile I have been attempting to obtain these documents since 8:30 this morning and by 1:30 PM have nothing.  I’ll update the story as events unfold.

Update:  Three and a half hours after they were promised I still haven’t received copies of the documents from the Denbowski campaign.  I did get a copy of them from another campaign which managed to go to the Berks County Elections Services, obtain a copy (without state time stamps), scan them and email them to me. At this point I’m not sure I’d even trust them, too much time has elapsed to use Photoshop.  Until I get something from the PA Dept. of State I’m not saying the campaign committee was properly registered.

Update II:  The Department of State has sent the Denbowski campaign a letter stating their campaign finance report was filed on time.  Thus far no one has provided proof the Committee was registered.  I have been seeking this information all day.

State House District 126 Endorsement: Mark Rozzi

I met with Mark Rozzi this afternoon for an interview.  The small business owner is running for Dante Santoni Jr.’s open seat in House District 126.  This includes much of Reading along with Muhlenberg, Temple and Mt. Penn.  This is my House District and I was very interested in who was considering making a run and was hoping a pro choice candidate would emerge whom I could support.  Mark Rozzi is that candidate.

Two other Democrats are running, Jerry Delcollo and Frank Denbowski.  Delcollo isn’t a factor.  Frank is someone I’ve known for eight years and I’ve always thought he was a good man.  He served in several capacities with the City of Reading most recently as Chief of Staff to former Mayor Tom McMahon.  There was a lot wrong with that City Hall, scandals about mismanagement and inefficiencies.  Checks sent in to City Hall couldn’t even get cashed before they expired.  Entire shoe boxes full of checks would intermittently be found sitting in someone’s office while the City bled money and laid off workers.  Through that all I could support Denbowski if he were truly pro choice and pro marriage equality.  He is not.

Mark Rozzi is and brings a breath of fresh air to Berks County politics.  While many of those around Denbowski are spreading vague rumors and lies about Rozzi he has maintained a positive, focused campaign.  I think it says something about a candidate when his campaign runs a gutter effort.  The candidate is always ultimately responsible for the campaign run of his/her behalf and this has reflected badly on Frank Denbowski.  If someone can’t run an honest campaign how can we expect them to be an honest legislator?

Here is my interview with Mark Rozzi:

Legislative Caucuses Present Dueling Tax Plans

Rep. Jim Cox unveiled the newest iteration of the failed Commonwealth Plan for property tax reform joined by several conservative, anti-worker Democrats.  Meanwhile Senate Democrats introduced their own plan yesterday.  The Cox plan, a derivative of Sam Rohrer’s notoriously regressive “reform” which died when its numbers didn’t add up replaces school property taxes with a higher personal income tax and expanded sales tax.

Sales taxes are very regressive because they drain more, as a percentage, of a working or poor person’s income than a rich one.  Property taxes, by their nature are progressive because they more valuable your property the more you remit.  Businesses and industry also pay property taxes and are the biggest beneficiaries of “reform.”  Isn’t it interesting that legislators like Cox and Tom Caltagirone (D-Allentown Diocese) support a system which provides a huge tax exemption to businesses while shifting that burden to working people?  Since they’d now tax coffins this would, in reality, enact a “death tax.”  Democratic House candidate Frank Denbowski, who would be another Caltagirone lapdog, came out in support of the Republican plan this week.

By comparison the Senate Democratic plan, touted by Vince Hughes and Judy Schwank, among others, would pump another $1 billion into spending for job creation, education, the disabled and health care for kids which Gov. Corbett has slashed.  A gas extraction tax which is commensurate with the value of the resource plus an end to the Delaware Loophole would raise about that amount of money.  Senate Democrats have advocated changing the personal income tax to a progressive system which would result in greatly reducing or eliminating school property taxes.  This shifts the burden back onto those best able to afford it rather than those who cannot.  Eliminating a major tax on businesses and corporations and shifting that to working people is immoral.