Thursday, January 11, 2007

Defrocked PA leader Perzel resurrected Speaker Emeritus

today's Herald Standard headline doesn't give indication of the real scoop... Blah blah, reformer timing off by decade blah blah, great story next week.

The big revelation was PA Republicans created a new, unique post called Speaker Emeritus, just for John Perzel, who was defeated as Speaker of the House January 2, 2007, in a move by Democratic Leader, H. William DeWeese. All but 3 Democrats voted for Dennis O'Brian for speaker, and all but 6 Republicans voted for John Perzel. The 3 Dems voted for Perzel. O'Brien abstained from a vote.

A week of caucusing with headlines such as

Pa. House Republicans urging reorganization.

Indications state Republicans were possibly considering a second reorganization, but the speaker emeritus position was not in the floodlights. Who'd have thought of it?

Gene Stilp cleverly: Speaker Demeritus

...The new position doesn't come with more pay, Miskin said. After losing the speaker's election, Perzel's salary dove from $114,916 to $73,614, the base legislative pay.

Perzel, who helped orchestrate the legislative pay raise in the summer of 2005 and drew public anger for his vehement defense of it, has become a target of activists across the state.

Gene Stilp, a Harrisburg activist who filed several lawsuits challenging the since-repealed pay raise, poked fun at the new position.

"We are starting the effort to call him Speaker Demeritus," said Stilp. "For us, he is the best source of material in the world."

Via Penn Patriot... Tony Phyrillas: Perzel PA Plague, malignancy on Pennsylvania legislature, position an "absurdity."

House GOP names Perzel ‘speaker emeritus’By Mario F. Cattabiani

HARRISBURG - State Rep. John M. Perzel, who tried desperately but unsuccessfully to retain the House speaker's gavel last week, finds himself back in the GOP leadership ranks in a post created just for him.

Republican leaders announced late yesterday that they unanimously decided to give Perzel (R., Phila.) the new title of speaker emeritus.

Post Gazette

State Republicans name Rep. Perzel 'speaker emeritus'
Thursday, January 11, 2007

By Tom Barnes, Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau

HARRISBURG -- State Rep. John Perzel didn't get what he really wanted for the 2007-08 legislative term, another two years as speaker of the House. But he got what might be considered a consolation prize, the new title of "speaker emeritus."

"The House Republican caucus wanted to keep John Perzel as part of the team," Steve Miskin, spokesman for House Minority Leader Sam Smith, R-Punxsutawney, told Capitol reporters. Mr. Perzel "has knowledge and experience that will benefit the caucus."

What exactly does a speaker emeritus do, since one has never existed before? has the story headlined

Perzel to become speaker emeritusBy Mario F. Cattabiani
Inquirer Staff Writer

State Rep. John M. Perzel won't lose his speaker's title after all. He'll just add emeritus to it.

In a move some already are mocking, Republican House leaders have created the leadership post for Perzel, who last week was stripped of the speaker's gavel he had so desperately tried to retain.

Not wanting to lose their top fund-raiser, GOP leaders announced late Tuesday that they unanimously decided to make Perzel "speaker emeritus" - a post that comes with a small staff, but not the discretionary funds and big paycheck the Northeast Philadelphia Republican was accustomed to as the top House official.

Perzel's "reign of error" - Lincoln Institute's Lowman Henry

Wednesday posts at voicepa and grassrootspa

Then there's the Herald Standard's headline, with Speaker Emeritus basically buried at the end of the story about efforts of who knows his name except those who voted for him and against him in his district?

Reformer counts capitol struggle
By Alison Hawkes, For the Herald-Standard

HARRISBURG - Bucks County Rep. Davis Steil got a dose of strong political medicine, and the bad-tasting kind, early into his 15-year tenure.

He said it was concerning his first land-use bill and it was headed for obscurity all because of a political process he was just beginning to understand.

...More recently, "reform" for Steil has been about changing his own party leadership. He became one of six Republican lawmakers to vote last week against heavyweight Rep. John Perzel for Speaker and in favor of the Democrat's choice, Rep. Dennis O'Brien, both Republicans.

"I thought it was time to change some faces," Steil said.

The move has provoked anger from fellow Republicans, even those he's normally close to on legislative and district matters.

"Dave's vote, like it or not, gives the power to Democrats to control everything," said

Rep. Scott Petri, a Bucks County Republican whose district adjoins Steil's.

Bucks County Republican Chairman Harry Fawkes said he's going to talk to Steil about the Speaker vote but is withholding immediate judgment.

"I think his character is the best," said Fawkes. "I think what he did, he thought was right."

But Steil feels comfortable, especially given the "literally hundreds of emails and faxes supporting me" from the public.

However, Perzel is now in the leadership picture again. Republican leaders announced this week they appointed Perzel to a newly created leadership position called "Speaker Emeritus." While the details are yet to be fully explained, Perzel will likely have a role in winning back a Republican majority. He'll be taking the same $73,626 a year salary as rank-and- file members, but will have several extra staffers and an office in leadership quarters that's "respectful of a former Speaker," according to a House GOP spokesman.

Steil said he's not against Perzel's new post.

But Steil admits his own vote against Perzel could be detrimental to his legislative work and to his ability to continue to take the lead on rules changes.

"I'm sure it will hurt for a while. I suspect some people who had confidence in my abilities" might not now, he said. "But I think this rules reform has a life of its own now. It's gone too far to be abandoned."

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