Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Russ Diamond PA Convention Game

Russ Diamond, known for founding PA Clean Sweep back in 2005 to mount opponents to incumbents in the Pennsylvania state legislature who voted themselves salary increases and took them in the form of unvouchered expenses, and who also mounted a campaign for Governor of PA which failed, is reshaping his argument for a Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention.

Diamond's opinion-piece is posted on a Centrist at Heart which touts itself as a moderate conservative site and also published in a Herald-Standard commentary entitled: "Latecomer Rendell tries to hijack reform train."

In it, Diamond slams PA Governor Ed Rendell's consideration of adoption of a series of government reforms and equates Rendell's proposals to an attempt to hijack the "reform train."

There's no doubt Russ Diamond attempts trickery to reel in "the people" to his cause of holding a so-called citizens' convention.

Diamond again first tries to convince readers that there is a broad and massive PA reform movement darn it, there really, really is.

If you keep saying something over and over again it must be true.

Don't be fooled. There is no widespread, outraged public screaming for a PA Constitutional Convention to be held to enact reform measures the state's legislators could propose themselves and the Governor could sign.

There isn't a mass of people storming Harrisburg to demand a PA Convention be held to alter the structure and the foundation of our PA republican form of government.

Admittedly, Governor Ed Rendell has adopted the language of candidates who ran on issues of reform, but contrary to Diamond's presentation, there is no massive reform train - desirous of overhauling our PA Constitution - to hijack.

The ending of his opinion piece shows Diamond's willingness to try again to fool the people of Pennsylvania all the time on the issue of a PA Constitutional Convention.

Diamond wraps up his opinion-piece with:

if he truly believes in the right of self-governance as enumerated by Article I of the Constitution, a carefully crafted citizens' convention provides no cause for hand wringing, anguish or hesitation of spirit.

See how Diamond spins?

If you believe in the right of self-governance... there's no cause for hand-wringing with a carefully crafted citizens' convention.

I guess if one lists a really long list of the dangers of both a limited and unlimited convention, as we've done here at Net the Truth Online (and Vote Fix) ever since the issue of a convention arose in August 2005 during Diamond's speech at a PA Newspaper Association meeting, then one must not believe in the right of self-governance, according to Diamond.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007 PA Constitution Did No Wrong

Wednesday, February 21, 2007 PA Constitutional Convention: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

Saturday, January 27, 2007 PA Reform Populists Want Convention Initiatives Referendums

(See sidebar and archives search for more)

Don't let Diamond fool you. Those of us who have an objection to a PA Constitutional Cconvention believe in self-governance, and as well, maintaining the foundation of our nation and our state as a republic, representative government over direct democracy.

The Founders warned of democracy. Those who want an unlimited or open general convention also want initiatives and referendums which is direct democracy.

  • Update: April 27, 2007 However, Diamond has responded he isn't among those who desire an open or unlimited general convention, rather, he proposes a general convention, excluding Article I. Diamond further relays he doesn't want an unlimited constitutional convention.

Lastly, it wasn't Rendell's idea to form an Office of Public Records Advocate. That's the proposal of newly elected freshman, Timothy Mahoney, whose idea Rendell obviously now supports as does re-elected Democrat H. William DeWeese.

And, the idea is an example of what can be proposed, supported, accepted, and adopted in legislation without the need for a PA Constitutional Convention.

Let the public get behind the effort for open records legislation, and all other reform measures. Educate them to become informed on the issues, and then make their opinions well-known to their representatives.

In addition, the state legislature recently adopted 31 of 32 reform measures, which again, shows there is no need to mount a convention to get the PA legislators to reform themselves.

Governor Rendell makes a well-stated case against a convention by the very action of his proposing the type of reforms he's proposed. He got the message from the defeats of a handful of the state's top leadership in the '06 Primary and General elections.

We can discuss whether his proposals have merit, but we don't need a PA Convention to propose amendments to the Constitution. The PA Constitution did no wrong.

It doesn't take a convention to get the state legislators and Governor to clean up their own acts. It takes the threat of people becoming engaged in their own action - at the polling place - the last election, the next election, and the next.

Latecomer Rendell tries to hijack reform train
By Russ Diamond

Gov. Ed Rendell should step aside from his bid to become the state's reformer-in-chief. While some of his ideas may have merit, the governor has no more right than the average citizen to prescribe the structure of state government in Pennsylvania and his viewpoint is distorted by his position.

Perhaps his goal of a better open records policy is desirable, but his suggestion of creating an Office of Public Records Advocate might be just another plump patronage position to be filled by political pals. Maybe the people can come up with a better plan for making government more transparent.

Perhaps merit selection for state appellate judges is an idea worth considering, but what if the people would rather make all judicial races non-partisan affairs and ban contributions to those races by lawyers?

How could Rendell's proposed Appellate Court Nominating Commission, dominated by a majority of legislative and executive appointees and confirmed by the Senate, improve the independence of the judiciary?

Independence from the other two branches should be encouraged, but independence from the sovereign people at the voting booth should not.

Perhaps the governor's suggested campaign finance limits appear to level the electoral playing field. On the other hand, maybe the people of this Commonwealth realize that the voter revolt of 2006 would not have been possible under those limitations and that no financial ceiling could ever negate the current incumbency protection program.

Perhaps Rendell's legislative term limits sound like a good idea, but reality in Pennsylvania suggests that if the General Assembly was truly part-time and was stripped of the unconstitutional perks it now enjoys, term limits would be utterly unnecessary.

Perhaps Pennsylvanians want a smaller legislature, but maybe they'd like a larger one, or to keep its size the same, with some of the above mentioned features and fewer expenses. Maybe they want to look at the other 49 states to see what others are doing before deciding which path is best for the Commonwealth.

Perhaps the time has come for citizen redistricting, but Rendell's 11-member commission would include four legislators and three appointees of the governor, two of whom would be legislators.

The remaining four would be appointed by - you guessed it - the four legislative caucus leaders. Pennsylvanians just might have a slightly different notion of how a citizens redistricting commission should look.

On constitutional issues in Pennsylvania, the governor's opinion has no more real or deserved weight than the average citizen's.

Perhaps the governor has some good ideas. Perhaps he doesn't. Either way, today's climate dictates that constitutional change should not be viewed only through the myopic lens of the chief executive.

The merit of Rendell's ideas should be discussed openly among citizens, not quietly between the three branches of government. Other citizens should be able to discuss their ideas as well.

The proper forum for such a discussion is a constitutional convention. Surely, the governor would be free to provide his vision for consideration at such a gathering.

"Citizens will not rest until there is an end to perks, an end to control by private interests and an end to political rules that shut them out of the process," the governor said in a press release.

But his plan eliminates no perks, suppresses the freedom of speech in political races and utterly shuts the people out of the process of structural change.

Nearly two years after the reform train left the station as Ed Rendell signed the pay raise, the governor is using his bully pulpit to try to hijack it.

Perhaps he doesn't realize that many other citizens were on board well ahead of him. Their voices on constitutional matters deserve an equally fair hearing.

In announcing his preferred reforms, Rendell expressed trepidation at the prospect of a constitutional convention, but if he truly believes in the right of self-governance as enumerated by Article I of the Constitution, a carefully crafted citizens' convention provides no cause for hand wringing, anguish or hesitation of spirit.

A plan for such a convention of the people is available at www.PACleanSweep.com.

Russ Diamond of Annville is chair of PACleanSweep.com



Monday, April 02, 2007
Russ Diamond: Rendell Hijacking the Reform Train



Rendell proposes major government reforms
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
By Tracie Mauriello, Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau

HARRISBURG -- Gov. Ed Rendell had no qualms about accepting $100,000-and-up campaign contributions when he ran for re-election last fall.

Now, though, he says that's too much; contributions should be limited to $5,000 in gubernatorial elections and $2,000 in most other races.

"There's far too much influence in the governmental process by people and organizations with large amounts of money," Mr. Rendell told reporters yesterday at the Pennsylvania Press Club's monthly luncheon.

Campaign finance limits are one part of a package of reforms the governor is putting forth.

He also wants to expand open records laws, change the judicial selection process, reduce the size of the Legislature and impose term limits on senators and representatives, all by 2012.

Meanwhile, Sen. Jeffrey Piccola, R-Dauphin, held a hearing yesterday on whether to hold a constitutional convention later this year or in 2008 to address term limits and the size of the Legislature. He expects it would last three months and involve 150 delegates elected from around the state.

Several citizens groups who fought against the 2005 pay raise urged such a convention but differ over whether the agenda should be limited to just a few issues or whether any aspect of state government should be up for discussion.

Matthew Brouillette of the Commonwealth Foundation urged a limited agenda, saying he didn't want the process to get bogged down in controversial social issues such as gun control and violence.

Meanwhile, Tim Potts of Democracy Rising and Russ Diamond of Clean Sweep advocated an open agenda.

Mr. Rendell prefers to amend the constitution without a convention. Changes would have to be approved by two separate sessions of the Legislature and by voters during a statewide referendum.

"I see dangers in calling a constitutional convention," he said. "I don't think we can limit the scope of such a convention" and talks could drag on for months without action.

Judicial selection is a key part of Mr. Rendell's reform package. He wants them to be selected through a merit system, instead of a political one, where campaigns often are financed by lawyers or businesses that are involved in a lot of lawsuits.

Under his proposal, a 14-member committee would nominate between two to five candidates. The governor would select one for Senate approval. If the Senate rejects three candidates brought forth by the governor, the nominating panel would have final authority on an appointment.

Meanwhile, Mr. Rendell is calling for a separate committee to redistrict the state into fewer legislative districts...



Highlights of the Citizens' Constitutional Convention Act of 2007 as proposed by Russ Diamond, PACleanSweep Chair

Convention to be "general" except for Article I



Presented by Russ Diamond Chair, PACleanSweep
March 26, 2007


The Reformers
By Brad Bumsted
Sunday, March 25, 2007


A Call For A Constitutional Convention In PA
Posted by Chris on Tuesday, April 3, 2007 at 9:32 am and filed under GrassrootsPA.

Russ Diamond
Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2007 at 5:35 pm | Permalink not yet rated + -

As an instructional aid, the 1873 convention excluded Article I. The delegates messed with it anyway and the voters approved their tamperings. This could be avoided by including fidelity to the enabling act in the delgates oath of office. I’ve done that at http://www.pacleansweep.com/ccc07.html

This would subject the convention to court challenge *if* the delegates stray from the mandate. Wasn’t thought of in 1873...


Written on March 26th, 2007 in News Of The Day, PA Politics, PA Government, PA Constitutional Convention, PA Constitution
by Tim Potts_DR News

A co-founder of Democracy Rising PA today asked the Senate State Government Committee to authorize the Commonwealth’s first general constitutional convention in more than 130 years and to adopt a method for selecting delegates “to achieve the goal of fair representation for all … segments of the citizenry.”

Tim Potts said Democracy Rising PA since 2005 has collected ideas for changes to the state’s Constitution. Now numbering more than 180, the ideas touch every Article of the Constitution.

Democracy Rising PA is the only group so far calling for a general convention. Others have proposed to limit the areas of the Constitution that delegates could address.

Potts said Democracy Rising PA believes it would be unconstitutional and contrary to the principles of self-governance to hold a limited convention.

To limit the convention, he said, would be “tantamount to King George telling Thomas Jefferson what he could discuss in the Declaration of Independence and to deny that those convened in Philadelphia in 1787 could go beyond the confederation to propose to their fellow citizens a more perfect union. It bespeaks a distrust of citizens that undermines the foundation of this noble experiment.”

Potts said a limited convention could forbid discussion of dozens of ideas, including...



Russ Diamond said...

Believing in Art I Sec 2 is "trickery?" Not wanting payjacking, constitution-skirting folks in ivory towers to tailor the process for their own benefit is somehow underhanded?

Perhaps, instead of focusing on our fears regarding a concon, we should commence an open and civilized dialogue about the process. I invite you to email me with your opening salvo...

Net the Truth Online said...

Thank you for your response.

You say: "not wanting payjacking, constitution-skirting folks in ivory towers to tailor the process for their own benefit is somehow underhanded?"

You don't need a PA Convention to get them out of office.

You don't need to alter the structure of our PA government to get them out of an office of trust when they disregard the PA Constitution and break their oaths.

The PA Constitution is not at fault for their unconstitutional actions.

They are obviously not in safe ivory towers after the Primary and General elections - top leaders were defeated - and Republican base was upset enough to kick out some 14 of 17 incumbents in the Primary.

What trickery you've used is you've equated anybody who has objections to an open unlimited convention as someone who doesn't believe in self-governance.

We have a constitutional based system of self governance - it is called representative, republican government.

We have every chance to alter the people we elect who take oaths of office to support and defend the Constitution and then break those oaths.

It's called elections.

There isn't just fear regarding a PA Convention, there's the reality of the convention altering our form of government from a republican form to direct democracy, which initiatives and referendum are.

We can have an open and civilized dialogue about how to address the defects in the very people who seek public office time and time again under the two-party majority system - apart from a call to convene a convention.

Russ Diamond said...

What trickery you've used is you've equated anybody who has objections to an open unlimited convention as someone who doesn't believe in self-governance.

Who's spinning now? Not me!

if he truly believes in the right of self-governance as enumerated by Article I of the Constitution, a carefully crafted citizens' convention provides no cause for hand wringing, anguish or hesitation of spirit.

...is what I actually said. In no way, shape or form do I advocate an "open unlimited convention." Perhaps you're confusing me with Tim Potts, who does actually advocate that.

Perhaps the difference lies in what we'd consider "carefully crafted." What I've proposed to the Senate, and will soon propose to the House is at http://www.pacleansweep.com/ccc07.html

If adopted, it would hardly be the free-for-all that many - including me - do not advocate.

We have systemic problems in PA that changing the faces through elections simply will not address.

I'd urge you to read the rest of the backstory on a concon available at pacleansweep.com

We can do this without abandoning the republican form of government. In fact, we could strengthen and rebuild confidence in it!

Net the Truth Online said...

Did you not support the Roadmap to Reform? Is the following not your answer? Do you not cite Babb's concerns and make the post which follows?

Re: Roadmap to Reform: Subversive?

On Jun 1, 2006, at 12:01 AM, Russ Diamond wrote:

Re: Roadmap to Reform: Subversive?

--- In pacleansweep@yahoogroups.com, James Babb wrote:

> Democracy Rising's "Roadmap to Reform": *Authorize a general constitutional convention at which all sections of the Constitution are available for amendment and to
which all interested citizens have an equal opportunity to become delegates

As far as I can tell, any candidate that signs on to this
provision of the roadmap will be in violation of their oath to defend the constitution.


If that's your position, Jim, then what does Article I, Section 2

Political Powers
Section 2.

All power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority and instituted for their peace, safety and happiness. For the advancement of these ends they have at all times an inalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform or abolish their government in such manner as they may think proper.

(I'll be swearing an oath to defend this part of the Constitution,
too. And so will you!)



Net the Truth Online said...

Aside from that, you've presented in your Highlights of Citizens' Constitutional Convention Act of 2007:


Convention to be “general,” except for Article I.

You engage in a discussion at grassroots blog


wherein you retort to concerns that even a convention so contained could be opened up by the delegates.

Here's what you proposed:
Well, you can set limitations in the enabling act. You can include loyalty to the act in the delegate oath of office. You can campaign for and elect only delegates who are not willing to violate that oath. If they do, you can challenge the entire process in court. You can push for a convention president and parlimentarian who would rule all such suggestions “out of order.” You can challenge the convention again in court if it overrides the ruling of the chair and attempts to exceed the limitations of the enabling act.

And of course, you can always whip up a campaign to defeat the proposals of the convention at the ballot box.

Quite a few ’safeties’ there, none of which are idiotic…

Despite an enabling act, oaths of office, etc. delegates to a PA Convention have the power during the convening of a convention that is unlike any other power.

In other words, the delegates can set their own precedent however they so choose. They can determine a different voting process than was set beforehand, far different than your 2/3rds proposal.

You know this, so proposing to exclude Article I sounds great, but it is mere spin.

Exclude whatever you think will sell the convention beforehand, once the convention delegates meet, they have a power even the governor and all of the state legislators and the judicial branch combined do not have.

You must know this as you continously cite the right of the people to abolish their government. (that's why the citizens' convention)

Further, after the fact of delegates doing whatever, any court challenge would be laughable as the delegates would attend to that during the convention.

This is the precise reason a convention is so dangerous.

Delegates might follow pre-set limitations, but THEY ARE NOT BOUND OR OBLIGATED TO FOLLOW LIMITATIONS.

The convention delegates have the power (of the people) implied to be given to them to propose amendments to the PA Constitution, and to craft a new document which could abolish our current form of government.

You know abolishment of our form of government is feasible - only during the Constitutional Convention process.

Net the Truth Online said...

Next, you say over at grassroots blog

delegates could use
Article XII - “Enforcement”
This is where you could add referendum, recall, limited initiative, citizen impeachment, etc.


No matter how you get there, your intention is for just the type of government our Founding Fathers warned against - all a piece of what is known as direct democracy.

Your newspin would like us to believe otherwise.

We can do this without abandoning the republican form of government. In fact, we could strengthen and rebuild confidence in it!

That just doesn't hold up under the scrutiny of the other statements you've made as cited above.

Russ Diamond said...

Just so you're clear, here is what I would support re: the scary "direct democracy" provisions:

1. Recall: only for constitutional violations.

2. Referendum: only to confirm or deny acts of the General Assembly. The slots law, for example. The pay raise, for another.

3. Initiative: only as an alternative method of amending the Constitution or calling a convention, with supermajority prerequisites. (See the 1776 Constitution and the 1790 "convention" for how this right was stripped from the people.)

These do not lead to direct democracy, they would be reactionary rights to address abuses in government.

What you don't understand is that the reason I am involved in this particular issue is because others on the left, like Mr. Potts, were pushing for it and making headway.

I felt it was my duty to get 'in the mix' to try to preserve the republican form of government before the lefties got too carried away with themselves (they outnumber us by 600,000 in this state, BTW).

Fearmongering, which is what you are doing, only serves to help people who believe in our form of government sit on the sidelines. That's EXACTLY what the lefties want - you, sitting in a corner, cowering in fear.

By what rationale do you claim Delegates might follow pre-set limitations, but THEY ARE NOT BOUND OR OBLIGATED TO FOLLOW LIMITATIONS to be true if they are sworn to abide by those limitations, subjecting the entire process to court challenge?

Finally, look at the list of groups who supported the Roadmap to Reform. PACleanSweep is not on it. Care to ponder why?

Net the Truth Online said...

Finally, look at the list of groups who supported the Roadmap to Reform. PACleanSweep is not on it. Care to ponder why?

I don't need to look at the list as I didn't refer to the R2R list of orgs. I don't need to ponder about PCS, the org.

I referred to you and your June 2006 PCS group message - using gov2b4pa.

Why don't you explain what your response to Re: Roadmap to Reform: Subversive? - Dabbs meant at the time of your post?

Net the Truth Online said...

Rationale = precedent

Philadelphia Convention


Rationale = Convention sovereignty


Rationale = Convention called by the people

{115} From all the foregoing we see that the legislature probably has no power to restrict either an authorized or a popular convention; whenever it has succeeded, this has been due more to force of circumstances than to legal rights. Even the power to impose reasonable restrictions is doubtful...


Russ Diamond said...

You asked: Did you not support the Roadmap to Reform? apparently without seeing for yourself that I did not. But hey, YCOP did!

All I asked Babb was what Article I, Section 2 means to him. I'll ask you the same thing: What does it mean to you?

I'll tell you what it means to me: exactly what it says. What does that include? Voting them all out. Lobbying for statutory change. Running for office. Supporting other candidates. Protesting. Being quoted in the media. Amendments. Convention. Armed insurrection. (All of which must be followed by the qualifier: "if necessary.")

Whatever it takes to throw off the chains of tyranny and reinstitute liberty, but limited to reasonable response, much like the thoughtful process required to responsibly defend one's property or life from an intruder.

Asking the question does not equate to defending the Roadmap to Reform. It's simply asking the question to stir debate.

Sure, previous conventions did not "color within the lines." But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try our darnedest to do it properly.

Waiting for the legislature to reform itself is like asking kids to set the limits regarding the consumption of candy.

Net the Truth Online said...

it really isn't so far out to conclude you supported R2Rs position for a general and unlimited convention given the following: appearances in 2005 wherein you expressed support for a convention, only qualifying it shouldn't be comprised of incumbent legislators; your announcement to run for governor of PA back in April '06 and your platform then - to facilitate a constitutional convention; dozens of related news articles at that time which included that part of your platform without any disclaimers or qualifiers; the Democracy Rising interview of the time; the way you answered Babb;...

What does it mean to you?

It means what it says

All power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority and instituted for their peace, safety and happiness. For the advancement of these ends they have at all times an inalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform or abolish their government in such manner as they may think proper.

It means the ability to use an unfettered, unlimited, sovereign Constitutional Convention as the only means to avoid armed insurrection to alter, reform, or abolish government, and to permit a bloodless shall we say means to revolution and accomplish all three-tiered actions in one fell swoop:

alter, reform, and abolish government.

Russ Diamond said...

No it isn't that far out, but it is still an assumption. The connection of dots sometimes leaves all the important details out.

Hopefully, this exchange has filled in some of those blanks for you. We may still disagree, but at least we're clearer on exactly what we disagree on.


PS: Chance I give of a convention of any sort happening in PA: about 10-15%

Net the Truth Online said...
This comment has been removed by the author.