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Look for the Union Label on the Carton of Milk from 1987

It’s been a while since something in Pennsylvania has been screwed up enough to get front-paged by Drudge. As of today my wait is over. Apparently AFSCME employees in the Sharpsville School District went to the mat for the right to eat expired food.

The grievance was based on the allegation that the school district “violated established past practice” in charging cafeteria workers for food or drinks that couldn’t be sold or consumed by students. These items would include food or drinks with expired dates or foods that had been reheated, none of which can be served to students according to safe food regulations.

But according to the settlement, cafeteria employees indeed can eat and drink those expired or reheated items – at their own risk. And they don’t have to pay for them.

The items cannot be sold or given to any other party, the agreement says.

People. United. Will never be defeated. People. United. Will eat rotten meat.

Me? I blame Scott Walker’s reforms.

June 11, 2012 at 9:51 pm Comments (2)

Lessons For Gov. Christie On “CopterGate”

 In the 1970’s, a special state prosecutor was appointed to investigate “ongoing, widespread and systematic corruption” at every level of the police department in Philadelphia. Despite allegations that police engaged in bribes to permit gambling, prostitution and other illegal activities, the investigation came to known simply as the “Hamburger Report” because it revealed that some cops had accepted free hamburgers from a restaurant.

The serious charges were overlooked by the media and public as the hamburger issue took center stage, ultimately discrediting much of the hard work put forth by the investigators.  It was irrelevant that the hamburger allegation, in the grand scheme of the report, was extremely minor.  The circus surrounding the burgers ruled the headlines, and the more important issues suffered.

That same type of situation is now engulfing New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie, as he continues to navigate the political minefield that has come to be known as “CopterGate.”

It is an issue that, in reality, is irrelevant to governing the state, but is quickly turning into an agenda-threatening quagmire from which the Governor has yet to extricate himself.

*****

As my grandfather always said, “arrogance isn’t arrogance if you can back it up.”

Given the national attention generated from Christie’s substantial achievements — accomplished despite sizable Democratic legislative majorities — that quote has been most applicable to the Governor.

Until now.

Critics and political foes winced in despair as they saw that Christie was an immovable object when it came to reining in out-of-control public sector unions, putting the brakes on state spending and making teachers more accountable, all while not raising taxes. He was a man on a mission, barnstorming the state to sell his ideas and explain why painful cuts were necessary. Chris Christie, unlike some other Republican governors from critical swing states, understood what the bully pulpit was, and redefined how to use it to maximum effect.

He is a leader who rarely reads a speech or uses a teleprompter, and actively courts the media rather than avoiding them.  His blunt, down-to-earth and sometimes in-your-face style resonates not just throughout the state, but the nation. The fact that he is a politician who actually speaks his mind, and does so off-the-cuff, has made him — although not all his policies — extremely popular.

But there is a danger in Christie having such an aggressive, and some say, abrasive personality, given that he is involved in so many controversial issues and holds himself to a higher standard.

While that style can score the Governor huge political points, it can also be an Achilles heel when an unexpected negative comes along.  Such a personality is one that seems to throw fuel on the fire.

Christie is just learning that concept.

The Governor recently took a state police helicopter to his son’s high school baseball game, landing in full view of the spectators and riding in a black car with tinted windows the two hundred feet to the bleachers.  Several innings into the game, he took off and flew to the Governor’s mansion — to meet with presidential fundraisers from Iowa.

Christie was caught offguard by the ensuing firestorm, and, as a result, voluntarily reimbursed the state police for the first leg of the trip, and had the state GOP organization reimburse the trip to the mansion.

At a press conference, he did not apologize nor admit wrongdoing, and stated that, while his trips were legal (which they were) and appropriate, he made the reimbursement so as not to “allow” the media and political “hacks” to turn the CopterGate issue into a circus.

He also said that he would not “permit” the issue to divert attention from the serious problems facing New Jersey.

That all sounds good, but reality is something entirely different. As the Governor should know, those things are not within his power to control.  The story not only isn’t going away, but it’s a certainty the Democrats are already producing television ads attacking Christie for what they will undoubtedly label as a hypocritical and elitist action. 

Like the Hamburger Report, it’s irrelevant whether the Governor thinks the issue is a trivial one that should just go away.  Perception is reality, and Christie’s adversaries will make sure that the public and media perceive the issue to be more important than it really is. Some legislators are even calling for hearings investigating his use of helicopters and whether anyone was denied medical transport because of the Governor’s baseball game trip.

It’s classic Politics 101.  When you can’t beat your opponent on the real issues, find something juicy (but unimportant), and run with it.  Getting a powerhouse like Chris Christie off-track is just as good as defeating his agenda. 

*****

Christie is too strong to be down for long, and he will weather this storm. And assuming he doesn’t hand his political foes another golden opportunity, his reputation will recover.  But there are certain truisms, fair or not, that he would be wise to understand, especially if, as many expect, he runs for President in the future.

1)      You are a Republican, and there is a double standard. Deal with it.  The media, overall, is a facilitator of that, and it’ s not changing anytime soon.  The quicker GOP leaders understand that, the more effective they are.

2)      You are, most definitely, not an MIA, Do-Nothing Governor.  The fact that you are tackling the toughest issues — in heavily-unionized, traditionally Democratic New Jersey, no less — and winning, is remarkable.  But that makes you a target, and your adversaries, who have been unsuccessfully looking for a way to dent your armor, for once hit a bulls-eye.  Don’t give them another opportunity, since they cannot win on the issues.

 3)      Rationalizations for un-shrewd political moves only make the situation worse.  Stating that your predecessors used helicopters much more than you have, the pilots need the airtime anyway, and even reimbursing the state police, are meaningless, as the damage is already done. (Truth is, Christie has used helicopters very sparingly, flying only 33 times in 17 months, versus, in some cases, over 1,000 trips by former governors). The issue is not a Governor using a state helicopter, but using it for personal and political trips.

4)      No one disputes that you are a dedicated father who cherishes watching your son’s game, but 99 percent of other parents feel the same way, and a majority of them often cannot make those games due to work constraints. Your use of state resources, whether or not they are cost-neutral, makes you look like anything but a man of the people.

5)      The only way not to “permit” serious issues from being sidetracked, and not “allowing” the media and the “hacks” to turn these types of issues into a “circus,” is to not give them the material to do so. 

*****

In a little over a year, Governor Christie has done the impossible.  He has made New Jersey relevant and competitive, and, more important, brought a palpable sense of pride back to residents of the Garden State.  In doing so, though, he has also made many self-interested enemies who have been breathlessly waiting to pounce on the Governor for first mistake.

While he opened the door for them in a way that was wholly preventable, he has the force of personality to slam it shut by not repeating that kind of mistake.  For the sake of New Jersey, let’s hope he does, so that his remarkable successes do not get overshadowed by Jersey’s own Hamburger Report.

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com

 Readers of his column, “Freindly Fire,” hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller “Catastrophe.” Freind, whose column appears regularly in Philadelphia

Magazine and nationally in Newsmax, also serves as a frequent guest commentator on talk radio and state/national television, most notably on FOX Philadelphia.  He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

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June 7, 2011 at 8:54 pm Comments (0)

Senator Robbins’ vote for HB 2497 is a vote for Big Government and Big Spending

The vote on HB 2497 occurred this afternoon at roughly 2:10pm.

HB 2497 has been labeled as the “SERS & PSERS pension reform bill”.  Unfortunately, the bill doesn’t provide real reform at all.  Instead, it provides a way to finance the unsustainable pension system.

The Bill passed the State Senate 41 to 8.

Senator Bob Robbins of Pennsylvania’s 50th Senatorial District voted for the bill. Once again, Senator Robbins voted for big government and big spending.

In contrast, I feel strongly that the State Pension system is completely unsustainable. If elected, I WILL NOT become part of the problem. I have signed a promissory with EmpowerPA.org whereby if I am elected I will decline a state pension. That document is available for on-line review HERE.

If I were a member of the Pennsylvania State Senate, I would have joined with Senators Folmer, Eichelberger, and others and voted AGAINST HB 2497.

The bill is essentially a 30-year mortgage on current and future generations of Pennsylvanian’s. This ‘mortgage’ will be used to bailout the Unions as a payback for past and future financial support and donations. This is highlighted by the PSEA’s overwhelming support for the bill and their efforts to push for it’s passage (read HERE).

The Bill FAILS to move the state pension system to a 401K-style plan, which is the ONLY way to properly reform the pension system. Instead, it was amended to include the creation of a new ‘fiscal office’, which is just another layer of unnecessary bureaucracy in an already bloated legislative staff. Our legislators need to understand that we need LESS spending, LESS bureaucracy, and LESS self-service. What we need is MORE fiscal responsibility, MORE relief for taxpayers, and MORE public service.

Today Senate leadership, including Bob Robbins, voted to bankrupt future generations of Pennsylvanians by voting for HB 2497.

If Senator Robbins’ past voting history FOR 2AM pay raises . . . FOR unconstitutional budgets . . . and FOR himself and his pension are not enough reason to vote him out on November 2nd, today’s vote FOR a 30-year mortgage to fund his pension should give voters of the area good reason to vote Bob Robbins out of office on Election Day.

.

October 14, 2010 at 3:24 pm Comments (0)

The 2010 General Election: Our Opportunity to Take Out the Trash

The movement is growing . . . people are angry . . . but this time is different! Rather than sitting at home and throwing their shoes (and gosh knows what else) at the TV, people are getting out and trying to make a difference. Devoted Democrats and Republicans alike are annoyed at that “darn TEA Party movement”. Democrats call them “right-wing nut jobs”, and Republicans call them “spoilers”, “kooks”, and (of all things) “right-wing nut jobs”. But who are they really? These “so called TEA Partiers” (as they were referred to by Alan Colmes this morning on Fox) are normal people like you and me who are fed up with big government, big spending, and the continued loss of our freedom and liberty. We are sick and tired of the establishment (referring to BOTH parties) running the show, and we are getting involved in politics like never before. They (the TEA Partiers) are SO MUCH like you and I that they ACTUALLY ARE you and I. If you are reading this message right now, YOU are one of US.

We call ourselves TEA Partiers, but we don’t actually have a “party”. We simply describe ourselves as “conservatives”. Some of us have tried to be “conservative Republicans” . . . some of us have tried to be “conservative Democrats” . . . some of us have tried both! Some are trying to take the Republican Party back . . . while others yet are considering starting their own Conservative Party. There are some of us that have gone so far as dare to be a conservative unaffiliated independent with NO tie to ANY party. We are, however, all one and the same.

Yesterday there were some very big Primary races across the United States. The results of those races are surprising some people . . . but not us. Conservative TEA Partiers are beating Republicans on their own turf, and overwhelmingly so in some races. Today the talking heads are saying “sure, they won but they have NO CHANCE in the General Election”. To that I say . . . “really? . . . REALLY? . . . seriously?”

Most (if not all) of you know that I am involved in my own race right now. I am running against a 20-year incumbent Republican State Senator (Bob Robbins). My race exemplifies the battle of the TEA Party movement, and here are a few clear illustrations:

CONSERVATIVE vs. NOT

ME:
I am a conservative. I firmly support a platform of “good government”.

MY OPPONENT:
My opponent is a Republican . . . but he is NO conservative. When asked questions he tells people to look at his record. Well, when you do actually look at his record you find that he is not for limited government, fiscal responsibility, or liberty. This is clearly shown in his poor marks on the Liberty Index. CLICK HERE for an outline of the results of the Liberty Index.

LIMITED GOVERNMENT vs. NOT

ME:
I am FOR a platform of smaller and more limited government, term limits, fiscal responsibility, and public service. I have outlined my full platform and details regarding my political views on my website. CLICK HERE for details.

MY OPPONENT:
My opponent supports NONE of those things. He voted FOR an unconstitutional state budget. The problems with the budget and his support for it were outlined in an on-line article HERE. It was also pointed out by Bob Guzzardi of the Conservative Reform Network HERE. He spends tens of thousands of dollars to protect his LONG career. This was described in a blog post by Rich Talbert of Grove City HERE. His history of fiscal irresponsibility was documented by former Republican State Committeewoman Helen Kirk HERE.

TERM LIMITS vs. NOT

ME:
I am for term limits. If elected I will limit myself to no longer than 2 terms (8 years) as a State Senator. I have agreed and signed the EmpowerPA.org candidate survey that reflects that opinion HERE.

MY OPPONENT:
My opponent has PROVEN that he does not support term limits by his 20 year career as a State Senator.

NO STATE PENSIONS FOR ELECTED OFFICIALS vs. NOT

ME:
I feel that the State Pensions offered to elected officials are not sustainable. I have signed a promissory with EmpowerPA.org whereby if I am elected I will decline a state pension. That document is available for on-line review HERE.

MY OPPONENT:
My opponent is not only NOT against his pension, he is willing to do anything to keep it . . . including running as both a Democrat and a Republican this year. Don’t believe it? Well, don’t take my word for it . . . read the article written by Grove City’s Rich Talbert on the topic HERE.

Is Biros vs. Robbins Northwest Pennsylvania’s equivalent to O’Donnell vs. Castle in Delaware?

When you simply examine the shape and taste of a political race, it is interesting to compare my race to yesterday’s race in Delaware. While the election in Delaware was a Primary, there are a number of similarities. First, the Delaware Primary will be much like the General Election here in the 50th District because I believe it will ultimately be decided by conservatives. Pennsylvania’s 50th District is very conservative, and I don’t believe that left-leaning Democrats will be much of a force on November 2nd. The biggest difference, though, is that being a General Election my race will benefit from the votes of independent and conservative Democrat voters.

Stepping inside the voters minds for a minute

None of us know how voters will be thinking on November 2nd. No one can anticipate the attitudes of the people that get up, get dressed, and drive to the polls on Election Day. I would, however, be interested to do a poll on voters reactions to the ballot itself . . . as that will be the moment when voters make their final decision on who should get their vote.

Below is an image of the actual ballot as it will appear on the voting machines in the 50th District (a printable copy is available for download as a PDF HERE):

STRAIGHT PARTY:

Upon close review you will find something that rarely happens. Under “straight party”, you will see that voters will have the opportunity to vote for the party of “unaffiliated independent”. Get accustomed to this as I have a feeling that it is something that will begin to appear more often as the years progress.

SENATOR IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY 50TH DISTRICT:

The race between me and Bob Robbins is the perfect example of a race between “TEA Party mentality” and “the old guard”. In true Arlen Spector style, Bob Robbins’ listing on the ballot tells you everything that you need to know about him . . . DEMOCRATIC/REPUBLICAN . . . he is trying to be EVERYTHING to EVERYONE and will do ANYTHING to win. As a true TEA Partier, my listing on the ballot tells you everything that you need to know about me . . . UNAFFILIATED INDEPENDENT . . . controlled by NO party.

How will voters react on November 2nd when they look at their choices for Senator in the 50th District? I’m not sure, but I’m hoping that we all remember that on November 2nd we need to “Take Out the Trash!”

.

September 15, 2010 at 3:40 pm Comments (0)

LibertyIndex.com Provides a Report Card for PA Legislators

Have you ever asked an elected official where they stand on an issue and they simply respond with “check my record”? Well, in Mercer County that is an every day occurrence. As a candidate for public office, people ask me my opinions on issues every day. I respond as openly and as completely as possible as a matter of transparency. When I can I provide written responses and I usually attempt to post those responses to my blog or my website. Unfortunately, INCUMBENTS don’t offer the same level of transparency. Why? Because, as ‘career politicians’ they are more concerned about staying out of the spotlight and simply hanging on to what they have. They figure that if they keep their mouths shut they will squeak through another election cycle without being spotted and called out. Uninformed voters will vote for them because they don’t know any better.

When an incumbent elected official says “check my record”, have you? Most people don’t have the knowledge or resources to really dig down deep and research the voting record of an elected official . . . and that is why the response works so well. Luckily for us, there are individuals and groups out there that are willing to do the hard work for us. One example of such a resource is the LibertyIndex.

This Liberty Index is produced by RGI Inc, the Conservative Reform Network and The Conservative Reform PAC , Bob Guzzardi, President http://www.bobguzzardi.com/ . According to the LibertyIndex.com website, “The purpose of the Liberty Index is to allow the user to find out how his or her Senator and Representative voted and to give the user our evaluation of his or her performance. Because the Liberty Index advances an agenda of Limited Government and Economic Freedom, we have rated legislation whether or not it advances that goal.”

I’ve used the LibertyIndex.com as a tool in the past. Some of you may remember that in early 2009 I published the results from the LibertyIndex.com for each of the legislators that represent Mercer County. That blog post can be read HERE.

Mr. Guzzardi recently released new statistics for the 2009-2010 legislative voting calendar. I was, of course, eager to see how the legislators from Mercer County performed. I was not surprised by the results, but you may be. As a summary for the 2010 session, Mercer County legislators scored as follows:

Senator Bob Robbins (D/R – 50th): F-
Representative Dick Stevenson (R – 8th): C
Representative Mark Longietti (D-7th): F-
Representative Michele Brooks (R-17th): B-

Hmmmmm. On a scale of Limited Government, Economic Freedom, and Liberty ONLY TWO Mercer County legislators scored at or above average. Conservative Representatives Stevenson (C) and Brooks (B-) had voting records to be proud of. On the other hand, not-so-conservative Democrat/Republican Senator Bob Robbins (F-) and Democrat Representative Mark Longietti (F-) received frightening ratings. Interesting, don’t you think?
With the basic scores in hand, we should all be asking ourselves “are these legislators really representing us properly?”. Is this a fluke? Well, perhaps we should dig a little deeper. According to the date from the LibertyIndex.com, here are the results for those same legislators since 2003:

Upon review of the voting records of Mercer County’s legislators over a longer period of time, we find that Senator Bob Robbins and Representative Mark Longietti score at a consistent D+ to F- range. Representatives Stevenson and Brooks continue to keep their heads above water with consistent A- to C ratings.

So again I ask “are these legislators really representing us properly”. “Is this a fluke?”

When I look at the data it seems clear to me that Representatives Stevenson and Brooks are working to promote Liberty in Northwest Pennsylvania. It also seems clear that Senator Bob Robbins and Representative Mark Longietti are working hard to strip us of Liberty and they are clearly working against limited government and economic freedom.

ARE THERE OTHER INDEXES?

There are plenty of resources out on the web that provide summaries of data just like the Liberty Index.  The Liberty Index, though, focuses on issues that are important to ME (and those of us that are committed to Good Government).  I actually compared these same legislators from Mercer County in my own index just a few months ago. 

In my blog post titled “The Mercer Conservative Index: Grading Lawmakers and Candidates on a Simple Scale of Fiscal Conservatism and Public Service” I compared Mercer County’s legislators on a scale that I designed based on such issues as intellect, public service, likability, and transparency & accountability.  Oddly enough, the results of that comparison were not that different than the Liberty Index.  Specifically, Senator Bob Robbins rated an “F” (see the details HERE), and Representative Michele Brooks rated a “B” (see the details HERE).  Could these grades be so far off if there are such close similarities between the end results?

WHAT IS PARTICULARLY INTERESTING?

When you look at the results of the Liberty Index and the Mercer Conservative Index, don’t you wonder how or why these very different legislators seem to stick together and support each other so fiercely? If they don’t agree philosophically or legislatively, why do they support each other politically?  Does it go back to the idea that political party and ideals really don’t matter?  Does it go back to the fact that incumbents simply support incumbents (like in the Mercer County Incumbent Party) because they are ultimately more concerned with their ‘careers’ than public service? 

PLEASE DON’T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT

I invite you all to check out the data on the LibertyIndex.com on your own. The on-line database is rich with valuable information. You can view the records of each and every legislator, and those records link to the voting records as well as the actual legislation in question. Take a close look at their records and decide for yourself if you agree with the work that your legislators are doing for you.

TALK TO YOUR LEGISLATORS

I have taken the time to gather the detailed results for the legislators that represent Mercer County. I’ve collected those results into one downloadable PDF document that can be accessed HERE. I urge you to download it and print it out. The next time you meet up with one of Mercer County’s legislators, ask them where they stand on the issues of Liberty, Limited Government, and Economic Freedom. When they say “check my record”, please pull the document out and tell them that you have. Then remember that moment when you go to vote on November 2nd.

September 9, 2010 at 2:28 pm Comments (0)

Kelly vs. Dahlkemper in Mercer County

Yesterday, AARP hosted a candidate forum in Hermitage, PA where Republican candidate Mike Kelly took on Democrat incumbent Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper. I attended the event along with a few hundred of my closest friends. I have been interested to see the two candidates take on the issues face to face, and today’s event achieved that perfectly.

While I don’t have the time to devote to outlining all of the details of the event, I’d like to focus on a number of highlights . . . from start to finish.

The Start

The debate began with a coin toss. Mike Kelly chose heads and won. It was his option on who would make the first opening statement. Mike said “Ladies first”. It was cute, but many of us laughed out loud. We all know that this is NOT a race that involves any type of chivalry, so the attempt was laughable.

Kathy Dahlkemper’s opening statements outlined her achievements from her first 20 months in office. She mentioned securing Medicare, improving health care for seniors, and attempting to secure Social Security. Kathy also stated that she didn’t like the “direction that our country was going” and she felt that we need to invest in our children and invest in infrastructure and move forward . . . rather than moving back to the near collapse of our economy. For a minute . . . just a minute . . . she sounded like a TEA Partier. Hmmmm.

Mike Kelly’s opening statement started with “I’m not here as a politician”. I laughed out loud. He went on to say that he would be speaking from the heart today because he, too, is concerned. He highlighted his thoughts by saying things like “things are not good” and “the future is not rosey”. He rallied the TEA Partiers in the crowd by saying that it isn’t “We the People” anymore . . . it is “We the Government”. In closing he stated “the beneficiary should be the American people . . . not a Party”. For a minute . . . just a minute . . . he sounded like an Independent. Hmmmmm.

The Middle

The questions started with predetermined questions from AARP including topics like the economy, stabilizing Social Security, Medicare, and the deficit.

The line of questioning then moved to questions that were submitted by attendees of the forum. Those questions ranged from Cap and Trade, farming, education, tort reform, and international relations.

The topics were diverse, but the answers to the questions from both candidates were extremely interesting. Not so much in what they said but how they said it . . . if you know what I mean.

My Scoring

To explain and rate the general conversation, allow me to provide a few examples and score some of the highlights of the debate accordingly:

Kathy Dahlkemper claimed that the problems that we have were there before she was elected . . . Kelly responded by saying “don’t blame Bush”. [+1 for Kelly]

SCORE: Kelly 1 point; Dahlkemper 0 points

Kathy Dahlkemper stated that Social Security is the only program that never contributed one cent to the national debt and, instead, it is a source to borrow from. She feels that it needs to be protected in a “lock box” . . . which received groans from the crowd (including myself). [-1 for Dahlkemper]

SCORE: Kelly still 1 point; Dahlkemper -1 points

In response to a question regarding the recent cut in Medicare payments by 21%, Mike Kelly blamed health care reform legislation. Kathy Dahlkemper had to explain that Mike obviously didn’t understand the question as the change in Medicare had nothing to do with the recent health care legislation bill that was passed. [+1 Dahlkemper]

SCORE: Kelly still 1 point; Dahlkemper 0 points

Regarding the deficit, Dahlkemper stated that she is a Blue Dog Democrat and believes in fiscal responsibility . . . and we all laughed. [-1 Dahlkemper]

SCORE: Kelly still 1 point; Dahlkemper -1 point

In response to the same question regarding the deficit, Kelly said “We need to hold elected officials accountable to the people . . . not accountable to the Party”. To this I say “Bravo”, and once again Kelly sounds (for just one minute) like an Independent and not a Republican. [+1 Kelly]

SCORE: Kelly 2 points; Dahlkemper -1 point

In response to Cap and Trade, Kelly didn’t answer the question. [-1 Kelly]
Dahlkemper’s response is that she voted against Cap and Trade [+1 Dahlkemper]

SCORE: Kelly still 1 point; Dahlkemper 0 points

In an interesting twist, Kelly felt it necessary to say that Dahlkemper only voted for Cap and Trade at 5 minutes before midnight after making certain that her Party had the necessary votes to pass it. For this, Mike Kelly loses points as it was an unnecessary jab and it made him look petty

SCORE: Kelly 0 points; Dahlkemper 0 points

In response to a question regarding helping farmers, Kelly pointed out that a big problem is the death tax. [+1 Kelly]
Dahlkemper, on the other hand, said that the death tax is fair is not problem with a little tax planning. Ugh. Really! Seriously? [-1 Dahlkemper]

SCORE: Kelly 1 point; Dahlkemper -1 point

Something odd happened during the question regarding tort reform. Dahlkemper stated that tort reform is actually a state issue, but in some strange twist the conversation turned to “Cash for Clunkers”. In the end, Kelly explained that $600,000 in “cash for clunkers” money went through his dealership and was paid TO customers. He stated that he was not a beneficiary of the stimulus money. Kathy Dahlkemper, however, correctly stated that he was a beneficiary of the profits generated from the increased business that came from “cash for clunkers”. Mrs. Dahlkemper clearly won the argument and earned a point. [+1 Dahlkemper]

SCORE: Kelly still 1 point; Dahlkemper 0 points

The End

In the closing comments, Mike Kelly explained that it comes down to “faith and trust”. He stated the “we have lost faith in the people that represent us”. He explained that they don’t vote for us but vote with their party. (once again . . . for just a minute . . . Kelly sounds more like an Independent than a Republican). He explained that this leads to a lack of trust. He said that when he comes home from Washington he wants to say “I voted the way my people told me . . . not my Party”.

For this Mike earns another point in my book [+1 Kelly]

SCORE: Kelly 2 points; Dahlkemper 0 points

In Dahlkemper’s closing comments, she stated that there are two things that she looks at when she votes. (1) her conscience (2) her constituents. It all sounds nice as a sound bite, but she seemed to offend a huge number of her constituents with her health care vote and it never seemed to bother her conscience a bit. I won’t discount her points for it, but it makes me say “Hmmmmm”.

However, in a horrible display of lack of self control, Mike Kelly made a series of annoyed faces in reaction to many of Dahlkemper’s remarks and markedly so during her closing remarks. I found the move distasteful and I have to discount a point for it [-1 Kelly]

Final Score

In the end, Kelly earned 1 point, and Dahlkemper ended up with 0.

Comments and Suggestions (even though no one asked for them)

Dahlkemper looked good. She looked calm, cool, collected, and confident. She held her own and kept her composure. If she can maintain this, she will do well. When she gets shaken, she makes mistakes. Mike managed to do it to her once during the debate, and the general anger of the crowd seemed to concern her (and rightly so). This could be her weakness.

Mike looked nervous, flushed, angry (something I’ve warned him about on multiple occasions), and (at times) frustrated. He needs to calm down and keep his composure. He needs to be the “loveable teddy bear” that we all like so much, and his alter ego (the “angry football player”) needs to stay tucked away for the next few months. If he can do this he will do VERY well. If not, he will self destruct.

What did I like?

I enjoyed seeing that Dahlkemper made attempts to sound like a fiscal conservative, although actions speak louder than words. So far she has demonstrated that she is only a fiscal conservative in the press . . . but not in real life.

I enjoyed hearing Kelly make numerous statements that it is about “We the People” and NOT the Party, but again . . . actions speak louder than words. Unfortunately, Mike has demonstrated that he is all about “the Party” and he is prepared to march with the GOP (even if it is off the next cliff). Why? Because that is where the money is.

Most of all, I think it is really funny that everyone wants to paint themselves as a “fiscal conservative Independent”. Unfortunately, we all know that there is only ONE of those in this area . . . and SHE is running for State Senate!

:-D
August 31, 2010 at 12:15 pm Comments (0)

On The Road to Harrisburg: Biros’ Candidacy for State Senate is Official

PRESS RELEASE
MERCER COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA

Independent State Senate candidate Roberta Biros received verification from the Pennsylvania Department of State this afternoon that the nomination papers that she filed on Thursday, July 29, have gone unchallenged. According to Pennsylvania election law, all challenges to nomination papers were to be filed with the Department of State no later than 5 pm on Monday, August 9. As a result, her name will appear as an independent candidate for State Senate in Pennsylvania’s 50th District on the November 2nd General Election ballot.

To mark the closing of the nomination process, Mrs. Biros today proudly introduced the members of her campaign committee, Citizens to Elect Roberta Biros for State Senate.

Dr. Martha Moore of Sandy Lake serves as Committee Treasurer.

“Dr. Moore is a former CPA and a well-respected medical professional,” Mrs.Biros said. “As the primary administrator of the committee, Dr. Moore is the lead for all campaign and committee activities. I am thrilled to have someone of her reputation and character working with me.”

Mrs. Biros selected Joe Zentis of Hermitage to be her Committee Chairman.

“Mr. Zentis brings a high level of energy and creative thinking to the team,” Mrs. Biros said. “He is a well-known writer, author, and entrepreneur, and his level of commitment to my Platform of Good Government is unmatched. Mr. Zentis will be involved in campaign strategy, planning, and team building.”

As a hands-on candidate, Roberta will be working shoulder-to-shoulder with Dr. Moore, Mr. Zentis, and her entire team of volunteers during her campaign for State Senate in Pennsylvania’s 50th District. If you are interested in joining Roberta’s campaign team, please contact the campaign committee by email at biros4senate@gmail.com or access the campaign website at http://www.electbiros.com/ for additional information.

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August 11, 2010 at 11:47 pm Comments (0)

Biros Files Nomination Papers

Mercer County: Thursday, July 29, 2010

Roberta Biros, Independent Candidate for State Senate, officially filed her nomination papers in the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth today, July 29, 2010.

Roberta personally delivered the nomination papers that qualify her as a candidate for State Senate in Pennsylvania’s 50th District this afternoon. According to the election standards of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Roberta was required to gather 827 signatures from registered voters in the 50th District (including Mercer, Crawford, and portions of Butler and Lawrence Counties) in order for her name to appear as an Unaffiliated Independent candidate in the November election.

Roberta Biros’ opponent in November is long-time Republican Senator Bob Robbins, who will be running as the nominee on both the Democrat and Republican tickets this year.

Roberta Biros is challenging Mr. Robbins on a platform of Good Government. She believes that Pennsylvania needs to decrease the size and cost of government and decrease spending. Roberta supports (and has agreed to in writing) the initiatives of EmpowerPA.org including term limits, support of a part-time legislature, and pension and tax reforms. Roberta has signed a “Declination of State Pension” pledge where she states that, if elected, she will decline enrollment in the State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS). She has also accepted the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” where she officially opposes increases in State spending and taxes. In her effort towards full transparency and accountability, Roberta’s Platform for Good Government is available through here website at http://www.electbiros.com/.

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July 29, 2010 at 9:05 pm Comments (0)

PA 2010 State Budget Passes Senate and House: An Example of Spending Money that We Don’t Have


For the first time in his ‘reign’ as Governor, Ed Rendell has a budget that passed through the State House and Senate before the June 30th deadline. Congratulations Governor Rendell! Congratulations, too, to the 37 Senators and 177 Representatives that signed on to that “pile of garbage” that they called a State Budget.

Why is it a pile of garbage? . . . Because it is UNCONSTITUTIONAL

Our legislature is REQUIRED BY LAW to pass a balanced budget. The budget that passed the House and Senate yesterday is balanced on federal funds that don’t yet exist and a tax on the extraction of Marcellus Shale natural gas that has yet to be passed. In essence, “the budget stands for nothing” . . . which is appropriate since that is also the case with many of our legislators.

Who is to blame?

The opportunity to STOP the budget was in the Republican controlled Senate. The budget bill passed the State Senate by a vote of 37 to 13. There were only 13 Senators that did the right thing by voting NO to this example of fiscal irresponsibility. What about the Senate leadership? Here are their votes . . . for the record.

REPUBLICANS

YES – Joseph B. Scarnati III (President of the Senate)
YES – Dominic Pileggi (Majority Floor Leader)
YES – Michael Waugh (Majority Caucus Chair)
YES – Robert Robbins (Majority Caucus Secretary)
YES – Jake Corman (Majority Appropriations Committee Chair)
YES – Patrick M. Browne (Majority Caucus Administrator)
YES – Edwin Erickson (Majority Policy Committee Chair)

DEMOCRATS

YES – Roberta Mellow (Minority Floor Leader)
YES – Michael O’Pake (Minority Whip)
YES – Vincent Hughes (Minority Caucus Chair)
YES – Sean Logan (Minority Caucus Secretary)
YES – Jay Costa (Minority Appropriations Committee Chair)
YES – Christine Tartaglione (Minority Caucus Administrator)
YES – Richard Kasunic (Minority Policy Committee Chair)

THIS PROVES that the Senate leadership MUST change . . . one way or another!

The budget bill passed the State House by a vote of 117 to 84. This is not a shock seeing that the House is controlled by Rendell Democrats. What is shocking in this number, however, is that 16 Republicans voted WITH the Rendell Democrats in order to achieve a supermajority which was required to waive a rule requiring 24 hours’ notice before a bill is voted.

If you would like to see how your Senators and Representatives voted, please refer to the voting records below:

June 30 Budget Vote in Senate is HERE
June 30 Budget Vote in House is HERE

What about Northwest PA?

MOST of the legislators from our region in Northwest Pennsylvania agree with my views on the budget, and MOST of them voted against the budget bill yesterday. Specifically . . .

Mercer County Legislators

Representative Michele Brooks (R) – NO
Representative Dick Stevenson (R) – NO
Representative Mark Longietti (D) – YES
Senator Bob Robbins (R) – YES

Crawford County Legislators

Representative John Evans (R) – NO
Representative Brad Roae (R) – NO
Representative Michele Brooks (R) – NO
Senator Bob Robbins (R) – YES

Republican Representatives (and Conservatives) Michele Brooks, Dick Stevenson, John Evans, and Brad Roae all did the RIGHT thing and voted NO to the budget.

Rendell Democrats Bob Robbins and Representative Mark Longietti voted YES to the budget. Representative Mark Longietti did what his caucus told him to do . . . in the end he supported his Governor and his Caucus (right or wrong). Republican Senator Bob Robbins PROVED his allegiance to the Democrats that WROTE HIM IN in the Primary (all 800 of them) and he also supported his fellow Democrat Governor and his new Caucus.

As a Republican LEADER in the Senate, Bob Robbins should be ashamed of himself. Even more important, his CONSTITUENTS should be angry with him. It shows that he was more concerned with getting rid of the “budget problem” in an election year that he was with standing on principles of good government and fiscal responsibility.

In press releases that were sent out last night, Bob Robbins fellow legislators from this area made their thoughts about the budget clear . . .

Representative Michele Brooks stated:

“Although this budget was passed on time – as it should be – it falls short to earn my support. I have many serious concerns about funding allocations and the source of hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.”

“Many of us have concerns regarding whether this budget is constitutionally balanced as it relies heavily on $850 million in funding from the federal government, which has not yet been approved by Congress and there are some doubts whether it will be approved. It also has a structural deficit of approximately $3 billion.”

Representative Brad Roae stated:

“State budgets are about priorities,” Roae said. “This budget sets the wrong priorities for Pennsyvlania.”

“This budget literally spends money the state doesn’t have,” Roae said. “This budget is based on the hope of a federal bailout for the state. If the federal government runs up the deficit to pay for this bailout, taxpayers will be paying for it for years to come.”

“This budget doesn’t reflect my priorities and it certainly doesn’t reflect the wishes
of the people I represent,” Roae said. “We needed to reduce spending due to the recession, but the cuts in this budget weren’t applied fairly. This budget sets up huge tax increases or painful spending cuts for next year. I simply could not support a budget that is this irresponsible.”

According to these statements, it seems to me that the conservative legislators that represent our area need help to fight for fiscal responsibility in Harrisburg . . . and they are not getting that from their own Senator. Hmmmmmm.

Where do I stand on the subject?

Anyone that voted FOR this budget made a conscious effort to pull the wool over the eyes of taxpayers. This is not a VALID budget . . . no matter how you look at it.

It is the responsibility of our legislators to make certain that the state government does not spend beyond its means. If we don’t have the money, we ought not to be spending it. Federal dollars that simply aren’t there should not be considered in the calculations, and tax revenues from Marcellus Shale should NOT be considered in the equations either. IF the tax on Marcellus Shale extraction is pushed through (in October), it will be the worst fiscal decision in Pennsylvania . . . ever!

If I were the Senator in Pennsylvania’s 50th District, I would have voted NO to yesterday’s budget. I would have continued to vote NO until the budget was actually balanced on REAL numbers. More importantly, I would have been pushing for these changes back in February and March . . . when budget negotiations SHOULD have been taking place. Waiting until the 11th hour so that they can push through the equivalent of a legislative joke is shameful.

I usually sign off by stating “as alway, just my opinion”. Today it is important that I sign off by stating the following:

This is not just my opinion. It is my official statement.

Roberta Biros
Editor, Mercer County Conservatives

July 1, 2010 at 11:33 am Comments (2)

A Message from Mike Kelly: Good Luck with That!

Yesterday I received an email message from the Mike Kelly campaign. It was an abrupt little message providing contact information for the “new” campaign team (the old contacts were all fired . . . dismissed . . . let go . . . kicked to the curb). The message also provided instructions for publicizing Mike’s latest “letter to the editor”. There was no courteous “hi there” from Mike or his new campaign people . . . just instructions and marching orders.

Here is Mike’s letter in its entirety:

Editor:

Now that the dust has settled, I wanted to write and acknowledge the voters, volunteers, and ther candidates who played a role in the 3rd Congressional district’s Primary Election. As you ll know, it was a hotly contested battle for the Republican nomination and I am both humbled and flattered to be moving forward on the General Election ballot. My wife Vicky and I want to thank the other candidates for a spirited campaign, the voters who participated, our tremendous volunteers for all their hard work, and the media outlets for recognizing the importance of the race and giving the candidates the opportunity to share his and her views on the issues that families in western Pennsylvania care most about.

The other five candidates in the Primary deserve our respect and admiration. They are all patriots who have a deep concern for our country’s future and they showed their passion by coming forward and getting their names on the ballot. They, like me, worked tirelessly for months to earn the support of voters in all of the district’s seven counties. Because of them, I am a better candidate and, it is my hope, that we are a stronger party. To those of you who supported someone other than me during the Primary, I plan on making a similar effort to earn your support moving forward.
What we have learned throughout this process is that there is far more that unites us than separates us.

While I will work tirelessly to unite the Republican Party, our message is an inclusive one that I hope will appeal to people regardless of party affiliation. You don’t have to be a Republican or Democrat to oppose deficit spending. You don’t have to be a Republican or a Democrat to support policies and initiatives that will lower our unemployment rate in western Pennsylvania. You don’t have to be a Republican or Democrat to say “no” to additional Wall Street bailouts and nationalized health care. These are quality-of-life issues that should be party-blind and I will campaign accordingly by reaching-out to like-minded Democrats and Independents throughout the district. This election isn’t about party or geography. Instead, it’s about the direction of our country. It’s about how the policies of this administration and congress have adversely affected western Pennsylvania.

Between now and November I look forward to visiting your communities, hearing your concerns, and building relationships in all seven of the counties that make up our Congressional district. I have a lot of work to do and can assure you that I am up to the task. Together, I am confident that we can get western Pennsylvania, and our country, back on the right track.

Thank you,
Mike Kelly
Republican Candidate for Congress

Now, for my response to Mike’s letter:

First, the email that I received wasn’t even the slightest bit friendly or polite. It was strictly instructions. It was an interesting way to try to get the press onto the Kelly bandwagon . . . reverse psychology of some type I suppose. “Good luck with that”, Mike.

Second, I find it funny that Mike Kelly decided to contact and thank the other five candidates in the race through a letter to the editor. Sort of odd, don’t you think? It would seem that a personal call from Mike would be more appropriate, but I guess that isn’t Mike’s style either. It seems to imply that Mike doesn’t consider the other five (5) candidates OR their supporters to be very important. Again I say, “good luck with that”.

Third, Mike states that he is not trying to unite conservatives, but instead is attempting to unite Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. It would be a great move if I believed it, but it sounds like the words of a politician . . . not a leader or public servant.

He states “it isn’t about party or geography”, but I’d like to disagree. Mike’s priorities should VERY MUCH be about GEOGRAPHY. Since the Primary, Mike has been everywhere BUT northwestern Pennsylvania. In true RINO fashion, Mike’s attention has been spent in Washington DC . . . with no interest in healing the wounds in the 3rd Congressional District that were left after the Primary. Mike is a “DC Guy” now I suppose, but I would warn that he ought not to count those chickens too prematurely (if you know what I mean).

Mike Kelly’s new image as a Phil English Republican is not going to fair well with Republicans, Democrats, or Independents in our cozy little corner of Northwestern Pennsylvania. In case Mike was unaware, Phil English LOST because voters in the 3rd Congressional District were tired of big spending, selfish politicians. I wouldn’t be so quick to harness my horse to the “Phil English” wagon, but that is a choice that Mike needs to make. After all, this election is Mike’s to lose. The only person that might advise Mike Kelly to tie himself to Phil English would be none other than “Phil English” himself, but surely Mike Kelly is smarter than that . . . right?

In closing I say to Mike Kelly and his new team . . . “Good luck with that”.

As always, just my opinion.
~Roberta Biros, Editor of Mercer County Conservatives

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June 21, 2010 at 3:33 pm Comment (1)

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