08 February 2006

Pennsylvania Clean Sweep

we noticed a column in todays shreveport times by emily metzgar titled " Pennsylvania voters less patient." ms metzgar writes about how back in july the pennsylvania legislature in the dead of night voted itself a payraise (sound familar) that according to metzgar made it the second highest paid legislature in the nation.

well the good people of pennsylvania wasnt about to take this laying down even though the payraise was repealed in december. grass roots activists started "Pennsylvania Clean Sweep" and their goal is to recruit 253 people to replace all 253 incumbents. good for them!

while we wish our pennsylvania brethern the best of luck - dont stop there: we hope that they vote out bush crime family shill and enabler arlen specter too (one example). dont forget rick santorum either.

heres ms metzgars column:

Emily Metzgar: Pennsylvania voters less patient
February 8, 2006

Last July, the Pennsylvania state Legislature voted to give itself a pay raise. The late-night vote, making Pennsylvania's lawmakers the second-highest paid in the nation, triggered voter fury in that state. Although the pay raise was ultimately repealed in December, for Pennsylvania's citizen activists it was too little too late. The result is a statewide grassroots effort known as Pennsylvania Clean Sweep whose singular goal is to replace all state legislators.

Perhaps it's time for Louisiana to borrow a page from the playbook of Russ Diamond, one of several Pennsylvania citizens responding with action to disappointment with his elected officials. Diamond's rallying cry as he travels his state promoting Pennsylvania Clean Sweep is "Accountability wears no party label." The group's goal is to recruit a total of 253 people to run against the state's 253 incumbent state legislators. As of last week, 81 candidates had been recruited to run against incumbents: 47 Republicans, 32 Democrats, 1 Libertarian and 1 Independent. The only requirement to participate as a candidate in Pennsylvania Clean Sweep is to promise that, if elected, the new lawmaker will submit all pay raise proposals to the public for their approval. That kind of accountability is the essence of good government.

The citizens of Pennsylvania have organized a citizens' revolt based on outrage toward a single vote in the state Legislature -- a vote that ultimately was reversed. Meanwhile in Louisiana, after utter state failure during the 2005 hurricane season, with the state still lacking a comprehensive post-hurricane recovery plan, and after years of consistently dismal performance on nearly every economic, political and social indicator of importance, the people of Louisiana are unmoved.

Clearly the people of Pennsylvania have a lower tolerance for government shenanigans. Moreover, the state of Pennsylvania apparently has media that cover the shenanigans providing voters the unvarnished facts and allowing voters to decide for themselves how to interpret those facts. The result is unadulterated voter outrage.

Louisiana's political environment is dysfunctional. Consider the state's fumbled hurricane response; the Legislature's failure to consolidate levees in last year's special session; proposed legislation raising concerns about the integrity of voting procedures in the state; legislators and their families benefiting financially from hurricane recovery efforts; and leadership's stated intent to devote federal relief monies to repair and reconstruction of state buildings. That's more than shenanigans. That's shameful.

But there's more to dislike than the post-hurricane response. What about years of official neglect of the state's grinding poverty, failure to re-evaluate budget priorities; failure to reform indigent defense; failure to institute meaningful ethics rules; failure to support structural changes in the state's public education policies; failure to reform the state's public hospital system; and burgeoning state government? Louisiana's myriad public policy failures ought to have triggered voter outrage long ago. Instead, the silence from Louisiana's voters is deafening.

Emily Metzgar is a Shreveport-based freelance writer. Write to her in care of The Times, P.O. Box 30222, Shreveport, LA 71130-0222. E-mail to shreveportopinion@gannett.com.