Tuesday, March 20, 2007

For Dirty Pols Like Reichley and Harhart, We Need Clean Election Laws

Under cover of darkness in 2005, greasy hands made their way into your wallets. These thieves weren't worried about the law. They WERE the law. I'm referring to our friends in the land of midnight pay raises, who gave themselves a nice legislative raise less than two years ago.

Since that time, some of these miscreants have jumped ship for jobs as lobbyists or in some goofy state bureaucracy. But many bandits remain. These include two Lehigh County state representatives - Douglas Reichley and Julie Harhart. Both were overwhelmingly reelected, along with 88% of their pals. And I know why.

A Pittsburgh paper reveals Harhart ($190,805) and Reichley ($216,380) spent more of your money than anyone else in the state house over the last two years for "public service ads." These supposedly promote government services. But let's face it. They're just thinly disguised campaign ads. When a newspaper asked them to explain, you'd think they'd jump at the chance. After all, this is free advertising. But this is what we learn from Pittsburgh. "Reichley and Harhart could not be reached for comment."

Maybe they were taping.

By now, they've probably had time to cook up a story for the Morning Call, but I like their first answer.

Since candidates are already spending your money to get reelected, why not let them? That's the beauty of the clean elections laws. How does it work? A candidate collect a set number of small dollar qualifying contributions ($5 or $10), agrees to strict spending limits, and refuses further private money. Her campaign will be publicly funded. Participation is voluntary, which makes it difficult to claim an unconstitutional infringement on free speech.

Once elected, an incumbent can actually concentrate on issues instead of endless fundraising.

Six states have already adopted some form of clean elections laws. Last week, New Jersey's state senate extended its pilot project another year. Campaigns are also underway in nearby New York and Maryland.

Pennsylvania, which has so many problems, is a far cry from clean elections. But a movement is afoot.
There was a time when people understood that, even if they didn't pay close attention to what our elected officials were doing, they could expect to be treated, more or less, fairly because our system, our democracy, is a fair system.

But right now our democracy in not working. People rightly feel that their government no longer belongs to them - that their representatives are no longer working for them. Bringing Clean Elections to our state and national governments is the first step toward re-establishing our democracy.
If you think clean elections laws are worth pursuing, why not drop a line to reform@pahouse.net?

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bernie!

Thank God the Internet lets voters in the Lehigh Valley read papers in Pittsburgh!!

Because it was the Tribune-Review (not the Morning Call) that broke the story about Reichley and Harhart spending $500,000 on public service spots while running for re-election.

Every other newspaper in Pennsylvania reports on OUR state legislators except the Morning Call.

Pete Fucking Lefler (State Editor) thinks it's more important to cover Bill DeWeese, Joe Scarnati, and "The Big Boys," instead of paying any attention to our local LV delegation. Yeah, that's what local readers really care about...

PLUS, Petie Left-Nut has an obvious BIAS against reporting anything negative about any Republican state legislator.

That's why local readers will NEVER see a single word in print about Reichley and Harhart spending half A MILLION DOLLARS running PSAs 24/7/365 for the last 2 years.

Now, IF it had been Lisa Boscola or Steve Samuelson running those ads, OH MY GOD!

It would've been on the FRONT PAGE (ABOVE THE FOLD) FOR 4 WEEKS!! There would've been editorials calling for them to resign by now (if not sooner)!

REPUBLICAN PAPER.
REPUBLICAN PAPER.
REPUBLICAN PAPER.
REPUBLICAN PAPER.

Thank God for a free press outside the Lehigh Valley!

And thank God for BLOGS!!!!!

Bernie Takes No Prisoners

Anonymous said...

I read the Express because the Morning Call sucks.

Anonymous said...

Like, dude, you just figured that out?? Morn Call always hated Dems

why I cancelled my subscrip

Anonymous said...

there reporters suck and they dont care so why should we give a crap

Bernie O'Hare said...

Dems think the MC is a Republican paper. Republicans think the MC is a Dem paper. It's silly.

I'll tell you what I think and wait for the slings and arrows. Both the ET and MC are fairly moderate papers. The MC leans ever so slightly to the left, and the ET leans ever so slightly to the right.

And the comment about "there reporters" is just garbage. I have met some very good reporters at both papers in years of windmill tilting. They are your best friend, like it or not. If they weren't there, doing what they do, this would no longer be a democracy. Don't kid yourself. Believe me, blogs don't come close to a paper. If the print media was not out there, it wouldn't be long before the government started taking dissenters away under cover of darkness.

Over the years, I have repeatedly challenged reporters from both papers when I thought they had something wrong or were showing bias. In nearly every instance, it turns out that I was the one who had the facts screwed up. I've given up. It's too embarrassing. In the rare case where a reporter may have missed something, he'd readily admit it.

I've gone through that "newspapers are biased" phase myself. Just ain't true. The person who is biased is me.

Yes, the Tribune-Review broke the story, but I would be shocked if nothing appeared in the Morining Call. It involves two LC legislators, one of whom the editorial board endorsed. Also, the endorsed one, Reichley, wants to be a judge. People must know how much money he spent on public service ads and that the amount is obscene, even when compared to the standards of other state reps. The MC has an obligation to report these facts, and I would be surprised if it failed to do so.

So I'll be accepting bets between now and 4 AM. I say the story appears in print soon.

To the anonymous dude who said "there reporters suck," that's totally unfair and untrue. I'm sorry you feel that way, but it just doesn't mesh with what I have experienced or the simple truth that the print news media has far more credibility than any blog. Take a look at the poll at Lehigh Valley Media. Blogs are just one notch above talk radio, and I'm not sure we deserve even that exalted status.

Greendogdem said...

I had sent several letters of complaint about these ads to the sec of state's office, during the election. That they were government sponsored political ads and how could the be legal. I got the standard thank you for writing and we will look into it letters. Than I never heard anything about it again

Bernie O'Hare said...

GreenDog, Were these ads running during the campaign? I know incumbents may not send any "informational mailers" either 60 or 90 days before an election. Do you remember when these ads were running?

Chris Casey said...

The Morning Call is a "Status Quo" newspaper. They want to play nice and get along with those in power.
Just so happens that R's are in power right now. Micek had this story on Friday, yet here it is Tuesday, and the editorial board hasn't run it yet. What the hell are they waiting for? Oh, wait, I know, the blogging community is covering it already, so there's no need!

Greendogdem said...

I think most of them were outside of the area. I think I saw one or two on tv after that point

Greendogdem said...

area=time period

Bernie O'Hare said...

Chris, Micek did have a link to the story on his blog, and mentioned both Reichley and Harhart. But you have to click the link to learn these LV legislators outspent everyone else.

You sent me an email last night to tell me this was running as a story in the print media. That's why I was so confidentally accepting bets.

Type in Reichley's name at mcall and you'll see three
three recent stories about him. One tells us Reichley is trying to get flood help in Lower Macungie. Another tells us about some goofy seminar. There is nothing informing us that both he and Harhart outspent every other member of the state house in public service ads over two years.

The paper does have an obligation to run w/ this story. Isn't Reichley running for judge? People need to know this. If it fails to do so, I'd have to agree the reason would be media bias. But I'd be very surprised.

Rising Sun said...

May I offer the opinion that if there is a bias, it is not a partisan one at the Morning Call, but a bias towards incumbents in general? I think this is naturally a difficult thing to avoid, as incumbents can control access. Reporters and editors should try hard to avoid this, but sometimes they (as humans do) fail.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Agreed. That's fair.

Tom Foolery said...

The legislature recently voted against stopping these ads. Even samuelson and freeman voted aginst the bill to stop these ads. So we're screwed. Nothing will change..

Chris Casey said...

Bernie, I just sent you an email to clarify why I thought what I did.
Tom Foolery, you are wrong, the MCall listed our legislators votes on page A3 of the Sunday paper, and Freeman and Samuelson voted AGAINST allowing PSA's. It's a matter of record.

Rising Sun said...

I could never see Freeman or Samuellson compromising themselves that much, although sometimes these announcements are useful. They should be useful far, far from election time too though sometimes.

Bernie O'Hare said...

TomFoolery, I hope we do see some changes, but even I know this will not happen overnight. Chris, no worries.

Anonymous said...

Bernie!

YOU, my cynical, skeptical friend, will be waiting A LONG TIME before you EVER see a single word about Reichley and Harhart leading the Legislature in spending on PSAs.

Ain't gonna happen.

It would ONLY be news to the Morning Gall IF it involved a Democratic legislator. Charlie Dent could fart tomorrow and he'd get accolades on the front page. If a Dem did that, the paper would blast him or her for causing global warming!

This is not the ONLY time this has happened. This is a pattern that is premeditated and predictable. And it's bullshit. I bet Reichley is laughing his Nazi ass off right now!

I was taught in Journalism School that "Newspapers are the lamps that light the truth." More like lapdogs that lay down and look the other way.

I'll double your bet and raise you! The Morning Gall will NEVER print a single word about Reichley and Harhart's PSAs for this entire year. Double or nothing?

Bernie Takes No Prisoners

Bernie O'Hare said...

Double or nothing? You're on. If I lose I have to kiss both Joe Long and Lamont McClure. If I win, you have to kiss Ron Angle.

Chris Casey said...

I think you two should kiss each other's Asses! That I'd pay to see!

Anonymous said...

Bernie!

I already have enough pictures of you kissing Joe Long and Lamont. I put them in various places around my office to scare away the rats and cockroaches...

Let me put it to you in terms that even someone as warped as you can understand...

You could sneak into the Publisher's office at the Morning Gall tomorrow, inflate your inflatable girlfriend, hold a gun to her head and threaten to kill her unless they printed the story about Reichley and Harhart's PSAs, and then call everyone in the newsroom names... bad names... very bad names... even like "poo-poo head"... and they would STILL NEVER PRINT A BAD WORD ABOUT A REPUBLICAN LEGISLATOR.

Triple or nothing!

Bernie Takes No Prisoners

Anonymous said...

Hey, I know it's a little off-topic, but I'd really like to thank you for this blog. It helps me keep stay current when I'm away at college.
I've been very excited about a possible Lisa Boscola candidacy for PA-15 in 2008. In a seat like this, we deserve to have a credible challenger to Charlie Dent. Just wondering, how would she fare in the primary, do you think? I remember some M.C. article speculating that she was considering switching parties awhile back, and I'm worried that that could hurt her in a primary. What would be her response? What was the deal with that article, anyway? Slow news day?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 11:28, If you like this blog, it's bc of the many interesting people like yourself who pop on and participate. The comments are almost always better than the posts.

Your question is a very good one. Fortunately for you, Bernie TNP is Lisa's chief of staff, and he's the man who can answer your question. But after he reads tomorrow's paper, he's gonna' have to kiss Angle AND Jolly Joe Timmer.

Rising Sun said...

Anon 11:28,

Lisa would be the clear front runner. However, she will have a primary opponent, officially now. Lisa is still the front-runner.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info!

R mosh-muff said...

anon vs anon. Even Anon vs anon would make a little sense.

Of course '"there" reporters' is a scream.

Anonymous said...

Bernie!

1) I wouldn't kiss Ron Angle with your Inflatable Girlfriend's lips;

2) I've filed a protest with Wolf Blitzer of CNN because Bill White's column today does NOT qualify as real "reporting" on the PSA spending spree by 2 Republican legislators -- I mean, he didn't even mention the names of Reichley or Harhart until the 18th paragraph. Bill used kid gloves (for some reason) on the whole scandal and even he would admit it;

3) Sen. Boscola had 3 VERY good meetings this past week about running for Congress. Several "big money" people came forward (unsolicited) to pledge their support (because they know she is the ONLY candidate who can beat Dent in '08) and one VERY big hitter locally met with her in Harrisburg to tell her that a group of well-established office-holders and community leaders are convinced that she MUST run next year because she WILL win; and

4) I'm still waiting for you to give me a date when I can go on WGPA with you and see how many FCC fines we can incur for Jolly Joe.

Bernie Takes No Prisoners

Bernie O'Hare said...

1) You lose the bet, dude. In addition to Bill's column, I talked both to Micek and Lefler. I'm about to bury your ass.

2) In addition to Bill White's devastating column, you will see a news report.

3) I understand Lisa is backing Sam Bennett.

4) I will get some dates tomorrow.