Support Rises for Constitutional Convention Referendum

Member Group : News Releases

Democracy Rising PA Newsletter

At the urging of a DR member, Rep. Bryan Lentz, D-Delaware, became the second
lawmaker to sign the petition. "I am not afraid of a convention and don’t think the average citizen should be either. What they should be afraid of is no convention because without it we are unlikely to get the major changes done that we need…" Lentz wrote in an email to DR, Jan. 6

Meanwhile, below are more calls for a referendum, a convention or both. And
here [ ]
is the link to the petition for a referendum.

Last Year for Rendell, [ ]
Editorial, York Daily Record, Jan. 5
Change in county starts with you, Editorial, Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader, Jan. 6

Capitol & cafeteria: Of mice and rats, [ ]
John Baer in the Philadelphia Daily News, Jan. 6

Guilty pleas raise Bonusgate to new level, [ ]
Editorial, Shamokin News Item, Jan. 8

Pleas can be means to end, [ ]
Editorial, Pottsville Republican, Jan. 11

After convictions, a call to reform PA legislature, [ ]
Editorial, Hazleton Standard-Speaker, Jan. 11

Forward march, [ ]
Editorial, Uniontown Herald-Standard, Jan. 12

Restoring Confidence, [ ]
Terry Madonna and Michael Young, Jan. 12

Then there are the fear-mongers.
To see the worst example of citizen bashing yet to appear, read
A Pa. constitutional sideshow, [ ]
an op-ed by Larry Ceisler in the Jan. 6 Philadelphia Daily News. It’s hard to think
of an insult to the citizenry he didn’t include. Nor did he include a recitation of
which oligarchs on his client list he thinks should rule the world.

Bonus Scandal: 8 down, 4 to go, of original 12
This Tuesday, after months of delays and pre-trial maneuvers, the final four of the
original 12 Bonus Scandal defendants go on trial. The dozen were originally arrested
in July 2008, more than a year and a half ago.
Click here [ ]
for a preview from The Patriot.

Chief among them is former Rep. Mike Veon, D-Beaver, whose most recent challenge to
the prosecution occurred last week. Veon’s lawyers first sought another delay, which
was denied. Then they sought to have some 67,000 emails excluded from evidence at
the trial. His attorneys argue that prosecutors failed to get access to the hard
drives of House Democrats’ computers, allowing then Majority Leader Bill DeWeese,
D-Greene, to choose what emails to provide to prosecutors. This makes it difficult,
according to Veon’s lawyers, to know whether the emails have been altered and to
know the full context in which the emails were written.
Click here [ ]
for a story from the Post-Gazette.

One of the original 12, former Rep. Sean Ramaley, D-Beaver, was acquitted. For seven
others, the suspense is over except for sentencing. They appeared in court to plead
guilty to various crimes involving a conspiracy to spend more than $1 million of tax
dollars on bonuses to reward employees who worked on Democratic political campaigns.
They also illegally conspired to spend tax dollars on election campaigns. But that’s
not all. Tax funds were used to keep the mistress of one of the confessed criminals
on the payroll and in an apartment in Pittsburgh.
Click here [ ]
for an Inquirer story.

The guilty pleas move the Bonus Scandal from speculation to fact as the Post-Gazette
wrote in this editorial:
Capitol stench: The Bonusgate guilty pleas confirm corruption. [ ]

While sentencing won’t occur for a while, prosecutors have said that those found
guilty will make restitution to taxpayers for their own salaries and bonuses as well
as money paid to others who campaigned at the direction of the guilty parties.

Some who pled guilty last week forfeited their pensions. For others, keeping their
pensions may depend on how cooperative they are as witnesses against remaining

Prosecutors allowed the first former lawmaker to be convicted of misconduct, Frank
LaGrotta, D-Lawrence, to keep his pension. LaGrotta gave his sister and niece
tax-funded jobs for doing little or no work. All pled guilty.
Click here [ ]
for a previous edition of DR News about LaGrotta’s case.


* What did citizens get in exchange for leniency with LaGrotta?
* After public officials are convicted of using their offices and people’s taxes
for illegal purposes, why should taxpayers be required to continue paying them
for the rest of their lives?

A total of 25 lawmakers, former lawmakers, legislative staff and former legislative
staff have been charged with crimes so far. The investigation continues.

Some Good News to Finish
December 13 edition [ ]
reported on the per diems Senators have received from January 2008 through October
2009. Careful readers noted the absence of some senators from the list. In part
that may be the result of senators simply not claiming per diems until later.

But two senators have a policy of refusing per diems. They are Sen. Richard Alloway,
R-Franklin, and Sen. Andrew Dinniman, D-Chester.

Why wait ’til May or November?

Vote for Integrity [ ]
now and help DR get off to a great start in 2010.


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