Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin has finally resigned in advance of her sentencing in early May. She and two sisters were convicted in the past year of using their state offices, resources and staffs to run Orie Melvin’s two Supreme Court campaigns. Former State Senator Jane Orie is already in prison. Janine Orie was convicted with Orie Melvin in February. The House Judiciary Committee was already advancing impeachment proceedings when the resignation was announced this week.
This leaves the Supreme Court divided 3-3 on partisan lines so any deadlocks will uphold whatever Superior and Commonwealth Court cases wind up in tie votes. Gov. Corbett must now appoint someone to resume the eight years of the ten year term now vacated by Justice Orie Melvin. The State Senate must approve that nominee by two thirds vote meaning the 27-23 GOP majority must gain bipartisan support to approve the Governor’s choice. This means that person must be a moderate, at least.
Superior Court Judge Jack Panella of Bethlehem ran against Orie Melvin but was handicapped by her illegal use of state employees on her campaign. He should be the obvious choice since he was the only candidate for the seat who ran a clean, legal campaign.
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin was convicted today following four days of jury deliberations. She was convicted of using government funds and staff to campaign for the Commonwealth’s highest court in both 2003 and 2009. Her sister Janine Orie was also convicted. The jury couldn’t come to agreement on one charge of official oppression. The sisters can join former State Senator Jane Orie in state prison. This is proof that the family which corrupts together gets to stay in prison together. The Justice now must be removed from the Court and Gov. Corbett will appoint a replacement who will serve the balance of her ten year term.
I heard a lot of rumors about how the former Superior Court Judge was conducting her 2009 campaign and knew it was rife with corruption. I wrote about some of those allegations at the time.
Justice Joan Orie Melvin will no longer collect her $195,000+ salary while on trial for corruption. The Court of Judicial Discipline determined her conduct was so “egregious” to necessitate the action. While a Superior Court Judge she ordered and berated her staff to conduct campaign work in her chambers, on state time and with state resources. Many legislators and staffers in the State House went to prison for doing the same thing yet, even during those BonusGate trials Orie Melvin had the hubris to do the very same thing while running for her Supreme Court seat.
Sister Janine Orie is also on trial for orchestrating the scheme and sister Jane Orie is in prison after surrendering her Senate seat after her conviction. A few things seem common to the Orie sisters: greed, hubris and corruption.
Rumor has it that Ed Rendell is quickly writing an update for the second edition of his book “A Nation of Wusses” to add Mitt Romney. How big a wuss is Mitt that he snuck off to a different Wawa to avoid the former Governor and his posse of 250 demonstrators?
Jerry Sandusky’s lawyers commenced their defense this morning. How do you counter eight young men who testified about eerily similar progressions by the coach whose best move turns out to be tickling? A psychologist will say he suffers from something called hystrionic personality disorder. I’m betting the jury sacks him with a hysteric-ectomy, removing him from the public arean and off to state prison. I still think there isn’t enough evidence to convict on the counts on two boys who have yet to be identified.
Former Sen. Bob Mellow, already a convicted felon, lost his huge state pension last week. taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for lush retirement packages for those who robbed them.
Randy Vulakovich, a State Representative, is the GOP choice to run for Sen. Jane Orie’s vacant seat. One more corrupt lawmaker spending time in prison, Orie may soon be joined by her sisters. Melissa Hart lost the nomination and Vulakovich will face Democrat Dr. Sharon Brown.
Romney is now talking tough about Israel after billionaire Sheldon Adelson has vowed to spend $100 million to get him elected. Welcome to the Amerika of Citizens United where the USA is now owned, lock, stock and barrel, by the likes of Adelson, the Koch Brothers and a handful of other billionaires. Kiss democracy good-bye.
These young people were in Quakertown Saturday with their RomneyMobile:
The Democratic candidates continued on to Cornwall Terrace in Lebanon County where they spoke again:
The state is rejuvenating HEMAP (finally!!) with cash from the national mortgage fraud settlement. This was one of th emost successful mortgage help programs in the nation until Tom Corbett killed it.
Allegheny County is suing the state over Voter ID. The county says it is too expensive and there is not sufficient time to implement it before November. The ACLU, in partnership with several other organizations is already suing on civil rights grounds. Pennsylvania will spend $10 million to fix a non-existent problem while critically needed programs go unfunded. These are Republican priorities in action.
Have you seen those BP propaganda commercials claiming everything in the Gulf is fine? Well, except for all the deformed fish… Here’s a counter ad:
Karma is a funny thing. Former Arizona lawmaker Russell Pearce, author of that state’s infamous “papers” law, was kicked out of two Mexican restaurants where he wanted to hold fundraisers. I think he got the big burrito instead…
In yet another show of a total lack of civility by conservatives Neil Munroe interrupted the President twice on Friday. He works for the radical website The Daily Caller.
Former State Senator Jane Orie was sentenced today to 2 1/2 to 10 years and hauled straight off to state prison. There was no determination on restitution.
Jury selection begins tomorrow in the Sandusky trial in Centre County. I seriously doubt there’s anywhere near the necessary evidence for a conviction. The AG’s office hasn’t even found all the alleged victims. How do you try someone for a crime when you don’t even know who the victim was?
I was at the Capitol all day today visiting state House members about the payday lending bill and Rep. Metcalf’s attempt to defund us at Planned Parenthood. A Medicare/Medicaid expert at Saturday’s White House Summit said all federal funding for women’s health would be at risk if the bill passed. Texas lost $35 billion when it passed similar legislation.
UFCW Local 1776 volunteers were plying the hallways working against Mike Turzai’s attempt to defund the Commonwealth by $500 million/year by privatizing liquor stores. I also ran into Sharon Ward of the Keystone Research Center, Andy Hoover of the ACLU and others.
I also got to the Treasury Department. It turns out they’ve been holding a small amount of my money for the last thirty years. I should get a check in 7-10 days.
Harrisburg Pride returns this year. If you’re in central PA this LGBT celebration is one to attend. June is Pride month for our community. I plan on being at Philly Pride this Sunday.
Tea Party Congressman Allen West has said many outrageous things. He’s Washington’s Daryl Metcalfe: a crazy man masquerading as a lawmaker. Here he is talking about a bill called the “Let Women Die” Act:
A vote for a bill that would allow hospitals to turn away a woman seeking an abortion, even if it is necessary to save her life (and further giving them license to refuse to refer her to another hospital that could save her life), is not what many would call a laughing matter. But at a town-hall meeting this week, Allen West proved many of us wrong, even calling out to his wife, saying, “Did you know that I voted to let you die?” He also jovially mentioned his vote in favor to redefine rape.
The recall election of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is tomorrow. Walker is a real sleazball. Here are some excerpts from the Tom Barret/Walker debate:
Trayvon Martin killer George Zimmerman is back in jail. Caught lying about his financial condition for bond a judge revoked his previous release. This has destroyed any credibility the man has making his case for justified homicide weak.
Americans are stupid. 47% in a recent poll believe in creationism over evolution and science. These same morons don’t believe in global warming even as seas have risen 7 inches and are threatening seaside communities. How many people have to flee or relocate due to the melting of the ice caps before they wake up from their delusions? It doesn’t matter what sort of denial you’re in, the oceans aren’t going to stop rising because climate change is very real. What will happen in the future when millions of people around the world have to flee inland? I can’t imagine the chaos.
How many Pennsylvanians will die to create a few jobs from fracking? Time will tell. Unfortunately idiots think getting a handful of jobs is worth polluting our entire state. Pennsylvanians aren’t immune from the general stupidity. A mobile home park in Jersey Shore is being evicted to supply water for the fracking industry. No company should force people from their homes so they can make a profit.
Marriage bigots boycotting JC Penney are disappointed the company is celebrating Fathers Day with an ad which has two gay dads. They’re a real couple with real kids. Please go do some shopping at Penneys.
There’s a lot of news happening. I’ve been battling one of my periodic headaches for the last week so I apologize for not posting more.
Congressional candidate Missa Eaton (PA-3) in northwestern PA, is holding a reception in Philadelphia to support her candidacy against car dealer Mike Kelly. The District includes Erie and about five neighboring counties down towards Pittsburgh.
The jury in the John Edwards trial came back with an acquittal and was hung on the remainder of the six counts against the former Senator, Presidential and Vice Presidential candidate. They found him not guilty of accepting an illegal campaign contribution from “Bunny” Mellon. If that wasn’t considered a campaign contribution it means he couldn’t have violated campaign finance law, something most legal experts expected. Though the man did some despicable things they weren’t illegal, just immoral.
Elsewhere on the legal front the 1st District Court of Appeals in Boston declared DOMA unconstitutional in a unanimous decision. They found it unconscionable that federal benefits for straight couples are denied to same sex ones. The Fourteenth Amendment is pretty clear on this: equal justice under law is the law of the land. The case is headed for the Supreme Court where we’ll see if the inscription over the entrance means anything. AFER released this statement:
“Today’s momentous decision by the First Circuit Court of Appeals is yet another example of the clear pattern of consistent recognition among federal courts that marriage inequality-by any level of government-violates our nation’s core constitutional principles,” said AFER Executive Director Adam Umhoefer. “Whether it is California’s Proposition 8 or the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, court after court has affirmed that marriage discrimination against gay and lesbian Americans is unfair, unjust, and unconstitutional.”
Conservatives are condemning “activist judges.”
For all those morons who still are blaming liberals for the debt situation here’s a visual explanation:
Bad policy decisions also have repercussions. The state budget woes caused by Gov. Gasbag’s stubborn refusal to lead are causing problems within the State Police. Now, instead of using available funds to train new cadets for a force being hit hard by retirements at the same time local municipalities are turning to it for police coverage, they’re buying a back-up radio system. Are there any adults living in the Governor’s Mansion yet?
Sen. Daylin Leach is outraged the Governor is trying to appoint his political protege Bill Ward (formerly his failed Chief of Staff) to the bench. This is called “getting kicked upstairs.”
“If he wants to send Mr. Ward to Disneyland or wants to get him to meet Beyonce, I would have no problem with that as long as it didn’t involve state money,” said Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery County.
“To me, the whole concept of justice is a very sacred concept and the process has to be above reproach,” Leach said. “This is not about rewarding cronies.”
The Gila wildfire in southwestern New Mexico is now over 300 square miles. This isn’t the region I visit but last year I visited the site of the Los Conchas fire which, before this, was the biggest they’d had. It was disheartening to see the devastation and also encouraging to witness nature recovering. Climate change has turned the southwest into a tinderbox where lightening can cause such destruction.
The Justice department is calling on Florida Gov. Rick Scott to cease and desist in his illegal purging of voter rolls. Isn’t it a strange coincidence that the people Republican keep disenfranchising happen to be Democrats? Somehow they keep screaming about voter fraud (which is virtually non-existent) while they engage in election fraud. This really boomeranged on Scott after a 91 year old veteran was purged.
As if the student loan situation isn’t bad enough now banks have found a way to rip off these young people. Combined with the fraud surrounding the recent facebook IPO this is yet another warning that strict regulation of banks is critical to our future survival as a capitalist society. If this keeps on the people will demand socialism.
There’s an old saying that people who play with fire get burned. You’d think that playing with poisonous snakes would fit that right? What if your father died this way and you continued doing it yourself? Is that a definition of insanity or stupidity? A rattlesnake bit and killed a pastor with one of those ridiculous cults this week. I think he should have died before having a chance to procreate. This is Darwinism at its finest.
Walter Brasch’s day 5 Memorial Day protest song compilation has three songs by Tom Paxton today:
Mitt Romney came to Philadelphia and got an earful at a charter school. Did he really say smaller class sizes don’t lead to better outcomes in education? This man has led a sheltered life. Perhaps he really meant larger groups of bullies lead to shorter hair for gay classmates. Or that smaller cars mean better rides on the roof for Golden Retrievers.
The prosecution of Catholic Church priests for hiding predatory priests and shuffling them around to molest more kids is still underway in Philadelphia. Meanwhile the Church is initiating politically motivated lawsuits against the President’s contraception mandate. They’d rather let people die than get birth control? So says this article. Remember, this is the moral authority many Democrats cite as their guidance on many crucial policies in Harrisburg. Jo Ann Nardelli would be impressed. Church hospitals are, in some communities (like Santa Fe) the only hospital in the area. The Church should NOT be tax exempt.
Controversial Congressman Allen West says stay at home Moms are working Moms (we all know that) unless they’re on welfare. Then they’re leeches on the public teet. Oh my, what bigotry.
Maternity leave is a given in almost every country but America. How is it we dare call ourselves civilized? We let people die rather than provide universal health care, our child mortality rate is bad, our life expectancies are decreasing yet we pay twice as much for health care as socialist countries. That’s yet another failure of capitalism. If Mexico can afford to give 12 weeks of paid maternity leave maybe the U.S. can spare two?
Since the state has taken over the City of Harrisburg (canceling democracy for those citizens) they’re anxious for more. Now, after slashing funding, they are out to take over school districts. The Reading School District is set to fire 170 teachers, close five schools and shred hundreds of support personnel including teachers aides and security. One thing you can say for Gov. gasbag: he isn’t doing anything he didn’t say he was going to do. Corbett did point to Chris Christie as his mentor during the campaign after all. That was a strong clue he’d gut public education.
Unfortunately for the Governor he’s taking a huge amount of heat for his stubborn policies. The fact he’s more loyal to Grover Norquist than the children of Pennsylvania tells us where his priorities lay. Thousands took to the streets Wednesday across Pennsylvania protesting his policies. is he listening?
He’s listening to his “kitchen cabinet,” those high ranking GOP operatives who told him he needs to do a better job of selling his austerity budgets. Not, mind you, changing his failed policies but in how he and his staff sell them to the public. As such he has decided to nominate his chief of staff to the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. This isn’t a staff shake-up mind you (I still have that ocean front property in Kansas for sale), just kicking the guy upstairs to make room for new blood.
It’s bad enough these public officials stole from us but we’re also paying for their legal bills?
The Susquehanna River is part of a new initiative by the Department of the Interior called America’s Great Outdoors Rivers Initiative. As you readers know I’m an avid kayaker and the Lower Susquehanna is a beautiful place. The Conewago area is full of eagles and other raptors.
Pennsylvania: Susquehanna River – Lower Susquehanna River Conservation Landscape Initiative
The National Park Service, other federal, state, and local agencies, and non-governmental organizations are expanding and improving and recreation and education opportunities and public access along the Susquehanna River, which is an important link to Pennsylvania’s natural and cultural heritage. On May 16, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar designated the Susquehanna River as a historic connecting trail and integral part of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.
The White House will be doing a Community Action Summit in early June to focus on the Hispanic community at Temple University. I will be participating in my capacity as a Planned Parenthood Board member.
In The First Four Months Of 2012, More Than 416,000 People with Medicare Saved an Average of $724 on Prescription Drugs and 12.1 Million Used a Free Preventive Service
Under the new health care law – the Affordable Care Act — seniors and people with disabilities in Medicare have saved a total of $3.5 billion on prescription drugs in the Medicare drug benefit coverage gap or “donut hole” from the enactment of the law in March 2010 through April of 2012. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released data today showing that, in the first four months of 2012 alone, more than 416,000 people saved an average of $724 on the prescription drugs they purchased after they hit the prescription drug coverage gap or “donut hole,” for a total of $301.5 million in savings. These savings build on the law’s success in 2010 and 2011, when more than 5.1 million people with Medicare saved over $3.2 billion on prescription drugs.
In addition, CMS announced that this year, from January through April, 12.1 million people in traditional Medicare received at least one preventive service at no cost to them – including over 856,000 who have taken advantage of the Annual Wellness Visit provided in the Affordable Care Act. In 2011, over 26 million people in traditional Medicare received one or more preventive benefits free of charge.
Pennsylvania Greens endorsed Dr. Jill Stein for president at their recent state meeting in State College. She’ll likely be my vote in November assuming she wins the national nomination.
Jane Orie is no longer a State Senator. Convicted of public corruption she resigned today in a letter dated Friday. That same day her sister Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin was arrested on similar charges. It’s a good day for Pennsylvania.
The Lockerbie bomber finally died. It should have happened in misery in a Scottish prison. I recall that awful Christmas when Pan Am 103 was blown up in the sky over Britain. I was living in Delaware and a local college guy was on the plane. He is buried in the same cemetery as my grandparents and I recall the grief his family went through every time I’m there visiting.
The Obama-Biden campaign has yet another attack on Romney and Bain Capital. Mitt brags about all the money he earned turning businesses and middle class workers into disasters. That makes it fair game. Voters need to pay attention to how he made his millions and who paid the real cost.
Some questions are being raised by Mother Jones about OSHA and their dedication to worker’s health, safety and lives:
1. The number of students who have to go into debt to get a bachelor’s degree has risen from 45% in 1993 to 94% today.
2. There is now more than $1 trillion in outstanding student loan debt in the United States.
3. Over the last 10 years, tuition and fees at state schools have increased 72%.
4. During the late 1970s, Ohio spent 17% of their budget on higher education and 4% of prisions. Today, Ohio spends 11% on higher ed and 8% of prisons.
5. This year, national, state and local spending on higher education reached a 25-year low.
Florida is purging its voter rolls again. You’ll recall that back in 2000 they eliminated tens of thousands of African-American voters because they shared the same name with some convicted felons. This is real election fraud. Now they’re at it again.
NATO protests in Chicago have caused yet more paramilitary police responses. Citizens upset with the cost of hosting the meeting ($50 million) when services for the poor and disabled are being cut marched on Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s house. George W. Bush spent billions equipping and training these police forces to stifle and crush peaceful dissent as part of his post 9/11 panic policies. The quality of this video isn’t the best but it shows the level of violence being used by police:
Contributor Walter Brasch is focusing on the injustice of war as we go into another Memorial Day weekend. Today’s is Bobby Darin:
We also pause to remember Robin Gibb this morning:
This video combines both a tribute to Gibb and a message about our fighting forces in danger:
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin suspended herself from all official duties today because she is to surrender on nine criminal counts this afternoon. She is the third Orie sister to face indictment in a wide ranging corruption investigation by the Allegheny County District Attorney. Interestingly Gov. Tom Corbett overlooked all of this while supposedly investigating the Republican Senate caucus. State Sen. Jane Orie faces sentencing next month for her role in using taxpayer funded resources for political purposes. Janine Orie is set to face trial for running Melvin’s two Court races from the Senator’s offices using state staff and offices.
The dark cloud hanging over Justice Melvin as those cases unraveled was dire and today she faces the consequences. At 2 PM she will surrender on charges handed down by a grand jury. Her court race in 2009 involved sister Janine running her campaign from sister Jane’s State Senate offices using that taxpayer paid staff. Those staffers handled all facets of the campaign including speech writing, fundraising, driving the candidate and even working at the polls. Part of the Senator’s charges included obstruction of justice for trying to eliminate campaign materials from her state office before search warrants could be exercised, an obvious cover-up which was caught on surveillance.
As I sit back and reflect on all that I heard about that corrupt campaign at the time I can’t but contemplate “we could have had a Judge Panella!”
Two large wind farm projects for the state have been canceled because federal tax credits are going by the wayside. If we’re subsidizing fossil fuels why can’t we subsidize clean, renewable energy? The smart policy is to support clean energy and end tax credits for dirty ones.
Speaking of smart, does the Tea Party have an IQ test for membership? Have you spoken with any of these morons? I bet if you score more than 90 you’re rejected. Their signs are the most hilarious examples of illiteracy around.
U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest found that a section of the NDAA which gives the government powers to regulate the detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists could be used against journalists, scholars and activists to curtail their first amendment rights.
The NDAA is clearly unconstitutional and President Obama failed when he decided not to veto the bill.
VP Biden went after Romney’s days as a vulture capitalist in an appearance in Youngstown, Ohio yesterday:
Biden casts the race as one between an Obama vision that promotes fairness and a Romney ideology that helps the wealthy at the expense of the middle class. It’s a strategy that combines an attack on Romney with a sunny appraisal of the country’s future under Obama.
“Then there’s Romney economics, which says as long as the government helps the guys at the very top do well, workers and small businesses and communities can be left to fend for themselves,” Biden says, according to excerpts of his speech released by the campaign.
As the country nears the debt limit ceiling Tea baggers are again threatening to hold the nation hostage to their radical agenda. Republicans spent all of this money and now refuse to pay the bill. I keep hearing these people claim the government needs to live within its means just as the average family must. First of all the average family doesn’t. Because real wages have been stagnant ever since this Reagan Revolution began, they live on credit. Still, they have to pay the bills when they come due. The country must also. Since 1981 Republican presidents have spent like drunken sailors with the approval of Congress. Now they have to pay the bill even if it means increasing taxes on the 1%.
President Obama has nominated two Judges for the federal bench:
Matthew W. Brann: Nominee for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
Matthew W. Brann has been a partner at the law firm of Brann, Williams, Caldwell & Sheetz since 1995, where he concentrates his practice in the area of tort, contract, commercial, and real property litigation. Prior to joining the firm as an associate in 1991, Brann served as a law clerk with the Court of Common Pleas in Bradford County, Pennsylvania. Brann received his J.D. in 1990 from the Dickinson School of Law and his B.A. in 1987 from the University of Notre Dame.
Judge Malachy Edward Mannion: Nominee for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
Judge Malachy Edward Mannion has been a United States Magistrate Judge for the Middle District of Pennsylvania since 2001. Apart from a four-year stint as a partner at the law firm of Hourigan, Kluger, Spohrer & Quinn PC in the mid-90s, Judge Mannion spent the fifteen years prior to his appointment to the bench serving as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. While a federal prosecutor, he served as Chief of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force from 1989 to 1993. From 1980 to 1986, Judge Mannion was an Assistant District Attorney in the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office. He began his legal career as an associate at the law firm of Bartels, Pykett & Aronwald. Judge Mannion received his J.D. in 1979 from Pace University School of Law and his B.S. in 1976 from the University of Scranton.
I reported recently that prisoner John Carter was killed by prison guards at Rockview State Prison. Now criminal complaints have been filed against the guards involved in the murder:
According to multiple, detailed witness accounts reported to the Human Rights Coalition and family of Carter, staff in riot gear filled his solitary confinement cell with an extraordinary quantity of OC chemical munitions, otherwise known as pepper-spray. Following the attack with pepper-spray, his cell door was opened and guards rushed him, assaulting Carter, who was reportedly unconscious, with electro-shock weapons and beating him.
Why is this not being investigated by the Attorney General?
In that vein a grand jury in Pittsburgh has until the end of the month to decide whether or not to indict Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin. The testimony in her sister Sen. Jane Orie’s criminal trial has revealed extensive corruption in the use of state resources for Melvin’s two state Supreme Court races. She continues to sit on the Court under a cloud of suspicion.
Why didn’t AG Tom Corbett investigate the obvious corruption in the Senate during his extensive probes of the legislature? It appears they botched the Sandusky case too. There doesn’t seem to be anywhere enough evidence to convict the former coach. When it turns out the date of the most heinous account was off by more than a year I think there was shoddy work done by the OAG.
Congressional Republicans refused to vote for the expanded Violence Against Women Act, a signature piece of legislation pushed by Joe Biden when he was in the Senate. Now they’ve voted for a version which actually weakens current protections. Jim Gerlach and Mike Fitzpatrick were among state Members of Congress to weaken protections for women against violence. Why don’t all women deserve to be protected from domestic violence? What do these men have against women?
70’s disco queen Donna Summer had her last dance today when she died from cancer: