Governing is often a difficult pursuit. Decisions have to be made regarding public needs that won’t please everyone, and in some cases actually create enemies. The ever-campaigning and politicking Lackawanna County Commissioner Pat O’Malley, on the other hand, seems unwilling to do anything that he suspects might upset anyone. He simply wants to be *liked.* So, as the county’s half-century-old property-values assessment continues to gather dust due to willful neglect, and its pension fund goes unfunded for the year thanks to bull-market returns (remember, Wall Street only ever goes up), and troubles continue to pile up at its prison, O’Malley and Co.’s agenda-topper is to stage a big New Year’s Eve bash at the old Ritz Theater.
Even more so that the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, twice-removed Alabama Supreme Court Justice (and accused pedophile) Roy Moore is a cartoonishly bad political candidate. But the GOP swallowed hard and backed him in last Tuesday’s special senate election, only to lose to conservative Democrat Doug Jones. The idea that a Republican could lose a statewide deep-south race was all but unthinkable, and the party’s decision to go all-in with the nuttier parts of its base doesn’t bode well for 2018.
State Rep. Kevin Haggerty of Dunmore has gone missing. Despite reeling in a base $86,000 annual salary with benefits that ordinary, workaday private-sector schmoes can only dream of, Haggerty has missed every single floor vote since July 22. In short, the representative needs to start earning his pay, or resign.
Arizona Republican Rep. Trent Franks resigned following reports that he offered millions of dollars to one or more female staffers in exchange for … uh … bearing his child. This, of course, is a totally normal thing in Washington, a town where big-bucks surrogate pregnancies are part of the daily 9-to-5. Take Mitch McConnell and his fellow GOP travelers, for example.
Citing bull market returns, county leaders have elected not to contribute to the employee pension fund. But just as the current market has gone up, it will surely go down some day, potentially taking the fund with it (see 2008-09) and leaving taxpayers holding the bag.
The decision to restore former state Senator (and former federal inmate) Bob Mellow’s ludicrously lucrative state pension sets a terrible precedent.
Pennsylvania’s own Sen. Pat Toomey — a guy who refuses to hold open town hall meetings — burns the futures of his middle- and lower-income constituents (to say more of the millions more nationwide) in order top deliver massive, unnecessary tax cuts to millionaires and corporations. Enjoy your cigar, senator.
Pennsylvania’s famously bought-and-paid-for legislature (especially the Republicans who run both of its chambers) limps from one budget deficit to the next, plugging and patching the fiscal holes with cuts, borrowing, gambling revenue and short-term accounting tricks. Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of dollars in potential revenue goes uncollected due to the GOP’s refusal to enact a natural gas severance tax, making Pennsylvania the only major gas-producing state not to levy such.