Thursday, February 18, 2010

Why King Edwin's Election to Dem State Committee Is Illegal

On Tuesday, I told you that Allentown Mayor Edwin Pawlowski is running for the state Democratic Committee. Capitol Ideas one-uped me, posting a copy of Pawlowski's Royal Decree, asking people to circulate his nomination petition.

He may want to think twice before turning in those nomination petitions. You see, he can't legally serve on the Democratic State Committee if he wants to retain his Allentown throne.

You see, there's this little thing called the Home Rule Charter, and according to Section 3-306(B), "The Mayor shall not serve as an elected official in any other office in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or political subdivision thereof." That would rule out the Democratic State Committee, which is an elected office in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Uh oh.

Other Allentown officials, like department heads or city council members, may hold elected offices so long as there is no compensation. But in the case of Hizzoner, he is restricted from any elected office, regardless whether it is paid.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

I disagree. State committee is NOT an elected position of the Commonwelath of PA. It is an elected position of the Democratic Party in the Commonwealth of PA. I believe you are mis-interpreting the Home Rule Charter.

Anonymous said...

Bernie -

Thanks for letting the cat out of the bag. I thought we finally had a way to get rid of him!

Chris Casey said...

I would like to know where the Mayor will find time to serve as a State Committee member. Are things going so well in Allentown that he can spare the time? I don't think so. No disrespect is intended, but I look at this as trying to stack the deck with cronies to perpetuate a corrupt system.
The State dem Committee needs fresh blood. I would like to run but have learned I can't. But that's me, I have this thing for following rules once I learn them.

Anonymous said...

As soon as possible after a Primary Election, the Secretary of the Commonwealth shall certify a list of all Democratic candidates who were on the Primary Ballot either for a Democratic State Committee position or, during a presidential year, a district-level delegate/alternate position. The Democratic State Committee shall then determine the winners from the list, so certified, according to the rules. Democratic State Committee, upon ascertainment of the winners, shall certify their names to the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office so that he or she can issue certificates of election as prescribed by law.
RULES OF THE PENNSYLVANIA DEMOCRATIC PARTY - AS AMENDED MARCH 19, 2005

Anonymous said...

I agree with both the Anon 5:22 and Chris Casey - its a bad idea, but I don't think it violates the home rule charter. By your interpretation he could not serve on a board or committee at his church or a youth group or any other organization that exists within the state of PA.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I get your point, but I do not think the state committee is a youth group or just any organization. It can in many instances be responsible for selecting candidates for public office. Its members must be publicly elected. It makes sense that it would apply. A mayor, once elected, should be interested in good government, not partisan politics. But a state committeeman, Republican or Democrat, is interested only in promoting people from within his own party. This puts a mayor in the position where he must serve two masters - the public & the Democratic or Republican party.

Anonymous said...

Who actually casts the ballots to elect State Democratic Committee representatives?

I definitely agree with the sentiment that he needs to focus on city business first. He was just appointed to the Airport board (which I think was a good thing), and that will take time.

But no doubt Pawlowski is planning his next step and this would be a big help for him.

The Banker

Bernie O'Hare said...

The committeemen are elected during the primary.

Xitch13 said...

I would be interested in hearing your opinion on Mr. Angle's holding of two elected offices and contrast it against Mr. Pawlowski's attempt.

Anonymous said...

He received almost 80% of the vote in one of the state's largest cities in an extraordinarily bad year for Ds. Cunningham barely limped to re-election. Ed's arguably the most popular D in the state's third largest metropolitan area. The mayor's job is a stepping stone. And let's be honest. If he never showed for work as Allentown mayor in the next four years, nobody would notice. He's already moving on.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Xitch13,

I have laid out my position w/ respect to Angle holding a position on school board and county council, and in some detail. This situation is certainly analagous facially and it may very well be that Pawlowski cannot be banned constitutionally from being on the state committee. But I think, as a general rule, elected officials should not be committeeman bc there are divided loyalties. By the way, I believe Angle is a mamber of his state committee. I think that's wrong, too.

Anonymous said...

There is case law on the subject. I believe one of the cases involved a city councilman and constable in Coatsville. IMO, the interpretation of those cases would allow Pawlawski to be on state committee.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the Mayor is also a member of the Lehigh/Northampton County Airport Authority

Dennis Pearson ... Resident of the City of Allentown and Lehigh County ... Former worker in Bethlehem and Northampton County

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 10:02, Is it Commw. Ct or court of comon pleas? Do you have a link? I'll try to track it down.

Anonymous said...

Mr. O Hare has a good point. The charter sought to avoid conflicts of interest.

If a circumstance comes up where the wishes of the State Democratic Committee are in conflict with the wishes of the City of Allentown,

Where does the Mayor stand? (If he can stand at all.)

I concur that he cannot hold both offices.

Anonymous said...

Pawlowski already moving on?

What?

No way. Impossible.

Pawlowski is not a carpetbagger!

Anonymous said...

Pawlowski is the greatest thing to happen to Allentown since sliced bread.

History will prove this to be correct.

Look at all of Pawlowski's outstanding accomplishments.

I point to Johnny Manana's as Example A of Pawlowski's outstanding and unmatched leadership in leading the Economic Revival of Allentown!

ALLENTOWN DEMOCRAT VOTER

Alan Earnshaw said...

Bernie,

I don't think a political party is a "political subdivision" of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I interpret a political subdivision as a county, township, city, borough, or school district.

Nevertheless, I agree that it does not seem like a good idea to have the mayor of the third largest city in Pennsylvania serving on the state committee of any political party.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Alan,

We agree this is a bad idea and I see your point, too. I could well be wrong.

I believe it applies. Note, the charter prohibition applies to "any other office in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or political subdivision thereof." If the intent was to make it apply exculsively to elected officials, it would read "in any other office of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or political subdivision thereof."

Bernie O'Hare said...

Incidentally, I found the case mentioned. It's COMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania, ex rel. James P. MacELREE, II, Appellant,
v. Richard LEGREE, Appellee, 530 Pa. 381, 609 A.2d 155 (1992).

In that case, the state supremes held that a city council member was prohibited from simultaneously serving as constable of city.

Capitol Ideas said...

Bernie:
As a term of art, a political subdivision refers to a county, municipality, township, boro, etc. I don't think there's any prohibition against the Mayor seeking a seat on DSC.
For instance, U.S. Rep. Bob Brady is also the chairman of the Philadelphia Democratic City Committee.
And I believe TJ Rooney served as Democratic state chairman while still in the Legislature.
Just a thought.
John L. Micek
The Morning Call

Anonymous said...

There is no legal prohibition of him serving on the DSC. On the other hand it is disappointing because the mayor should keep his eye on the ball- serving Allentown first v. party hacks. He keeps reminding us of how demanding it is to run the city and I agree. Compromising his time with statewide political party activities is not what we elected him to do.

Bernie O'Hare said...

John,

We're not referring to Congress or the state house. Pawlowski is governed by a Home Rule Charter, and it's language seems to indicate he is barred from serving as a member of the state committee.

I'm aware that political subivision refers to municipal government. I interpret the language of the HRC to read that Mayor Ed may not serve as an elected committeeman, on either the state level or some lower level.

And next time, please don't clutter this blog with facts, damn it!

Anonymous said...

If the HRC conflicts with the State Law the Charter loses. That happened with the sloppily written Northampton County Charter, ask Seyfried.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

The Pawlowski administration routinely flouts the home rule charter because no one is left to call them on it. That’s just the way it is.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Are you the real Scott or the fake Scott. We like the fake Scott better he was more sincere!

Anonymous said...

Polumbski is the best thing for Allentown since sliced bread give me a break maybe moldy bread sliced bread .

Anonymous said...

King Ed ,Stay out of the diner and take your official goonies with you . Your all starting to look like fictures there every morning, Aren't you to be working by 9am fixing Allentown instead of wasting the tax payers money having breakfast . What a loser

Anonymous said...

Boonie, you're such a hypocrit. Your mancrush Rong Angle is violating the Northampton County Home Rule Charter, PA State School Code and the PA County Code, and you twist yourself into a pretzel trying to vindicate him. Mayor Ed tries to run for a Party position which I do not believe his Charter prohibits and you are on here blasting him.

Anonymous said...

Ohare mancrush Bob Freeman is also a state committeeman.

Hiimm, yum yum!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Last time I checked, state Rep. Bob Freeman is not bound by A-town's HRC. And is it really necessary for you to debase yourself like that? Do you honestly think that wins you any points?

Anonymous said...

Didn't Pawlowski argue the O'Hare side of this argument when confronting Nepon in his bid for the primary. If I recall, he suggested that it was not do-able under the home rule charter, and suggested Nepon either quit his city position or drop out of the race. Nepon argued that the Primary was not a City position, but a party position. Is Pawlowski speaking out of both sides of his mouth?

Bernie O'Hare said...

That's an interesting point, and one I failed to consider. Aside from the HRC, I think it's bad judgment. He was elected as Matyor to represent everyone. As a state committeeman, he will be promoting the agenda and candidates of only one party. He cannot serve two masters.

Anonymous said...

Hey Ohare, what the Hell happened to Northampton County Council? No video feed tonight. did those weasels already pull the plug on the people?

I wouldn't be surprised!

Bernie O'Hare said...

I was at the meeting and, while I was there, Clerk Franf Flisser goit a text from his son, saying he could see all of them. McClure told Flisser to tell his son he should be studying.

Xitch13 said...

Thank you for your response Bernie.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

You should take a look at the Mayor's newest hire, and her track record.

Would make for a very interesting article.