Monday, May 29, 2006

Newfound Gutsiness Based On Sick Two-Party Majority System

THEY are the problem with the system in Harrisburg. Democrat and Republicans - no matter which political Party of the two majority Parties attain the majority, it is they who become arrogant, settled in their posts of public trust, because, "the people" continue to re-elect them.

See "Bobbleheads vs Good People" which argues for a dramatic alteration of the two-Party system in Pennsylvania rather than an open, unlimited PA Constitutional Convention.

Lawmakers propose Harrisburg reforms in wake of pay raise controversy
By Alison Hawkes, For the Herald-Standard
HARRISBURG - Rep. Pete Daley said he had a gun to his head last July.

Vote for the pay raise, or risk losing his chairmanship position on the agriculture committee and $350,000 in community and economic development money slated to his Fayette and Washington County districts.

In past pay raises, he said he voted 'no' and paid the legislative price. This time he chose the pay raise. No leader told him he'd get gored, Daley (D-Calilfornia) said. It was just a feeling based on precedent. "I was always a reformer," said the 24-year lawmaker.

"Unfortunately this time around, I was sitting in the corner with a gun to my head with the idea I could get my brains blown out here.

"Daley is now part of a growing cadre of lawmakers proposing legislative reforms to clean up Harrisburg. Spurred on by the public's anti-pay raise sentiment and historic upsets in last week's primary, individual lawmakers and loose coalitions have formed to advance change.

Some say the newfound interest is just election year politics, and these are fair-weather reformers.

"I'm not buying it," said Daley's presumptive GOP opponent Ed Angell. "You need to put someone in that position who has the integrity to do the right thing. Where does he draw the line between right and wrong then if he didn't draw it here?"

But government reform activists working to advance the "Roadmap to Reform," a broad overhaul to the way Harrisburg does business, say they don't need sainthood from lawmakers, they need active partners regardless of their motivations.

Rock the Capitol coordinator Eric Epstein stoked the need for reconciliation at a press conference Thursday.

"I don't have the ability to crawl inside someone's mind and determine when and how they have their epiphanies," he said. "Converts often become fanatics. I welcome reform fanatics to our ranks.

"Some of the reform-minded lawmakers say they've been disgruntled for years but public support now makes their bold moves possible. In the House, a Republican group calling itself the Jefferson Reform Initiative has grown from seven lawmakers in December to an estimated 35 now. They inspired a similar group to form among House Democrats, now comprised of a couple dozen lawmakers. Leaders of the groups said they're not ready to release all the names of the participants.

Their mission is to wrestle away some of the enormous power of leadership and hand it to the rank and file, as well as set up a fairer, more deliberate legislative process by changing the House rules when the new term starts in January.

If they have their way, gone will be midnight hour votes, important changes thrust into bills at the last minute by the leadership-controlled Rules Committee, and committee chairmanships that can last decades.

Some are even calling for an easier ability to recall leaders in mid term.

Change may be possible because while the reform-minded don't have the numbers yet to effectuate an overhaul, nearly 50 newcomers will take office next year with the massive number of retirements and primary election upsets of incumbents...

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