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Letter to Candidate Josh Feldman

Dear Josh Feldman,

It brought me no pleasure of any sort when I became the plaintiff in a court challenge against your Republican ballot petitions for the local Magistrate job here in Uptown Harrisburg several days ago.

The magistrate seat is currently held by Judge Barb Pianka, and she is seeking re-election. You are a declared candidate seeking to unseat Pianka, as you have a right to do as an American citizen. In fact, as an aside, I am glad you are running, in the sense that I think more people ought to run for all elected offices. Additionally, I am totally opposed to the current ballot petition process, because it artificially and unfairly favors incumbents and establishment political parties and their political machines, which works against individual citizens and against the collective interest of We The People, the citizenry.

America needs fewer career politicians, fewer elected officials who are simply owned by special interests who use government for their own personal/ private enrichment, and we need more solid citizens who view elected office as a temporary public service to their fellow citizens, not as a taxpayer-funded career.

So, in that broad, philosophical sense, I support your run for office.

And, I must accept and work with the specific ballot petition process as it is now, not as I wish it were (not).

Josh, you are challenging a judge whom I and many others in this area hold in good regard. Judge Pianka has not only done a good job, she has also not done the bad things that normally earn a sitting official a strong challenge. For example, no one has accused Judge Pianka of taking bribes, falling asleep in the court room, abusing people in her court room, malpractice, erratic behavior, or other typically disqualifying actions. Had she done any of that, you would probably have my emphatic support, or at least my tacit support, depending on other candidates in the race.

Uptown Harrisburg is an oasis, and Midtown Harrisburg is becoming an oasis through continued investment and re-development. By oasis I mean these places are locations with bona fide residential taxpayers, businesses, relatively low crime, and a good quality of life, as opposed to a greater proportion of the city proper. Judge Barb Pianka is to a fair degree responsible for this status, because of her measured judicial approach in this district. So losing Judge Pianka could lead to a loss of stability and quality of life in these areas. Too many of us have homes and investments here to justify risking a change with a new, unproven magistrate.

Thus, I support Judge Pianka and will continue to support her until she develops a fatal flaw or faces a superior candidate. Neither of those conditions are in play now.

I am a Republican plaintiff complaining about your Republican (cross-filed) ballot petitions because as I have come to understand, those petitions are deeply flawed. I signed as a plaintiff with that understanding. If, in the course of the unfolding legal proceeding, your petitions are determined to be not faulty and are acceptable, then I will do the two following things: First, I will issue you a public apology. Though I am acting as plaintiff in good faith, I believe in taking responsibility for my mistakes. Second, I will contribute $250.00 toward your legal fees incurred while defending your petitions.

After all of this is settled one way or another, Josh, I hope that you will become more active in the city’s political and cultural landscape. Hopefully this first foray of yours is not your last. State representative Patty Kim has become far too comfortable, too partisan, too passive, and remains unproductive; we would all do well to see a change in that seat. Or perhaps city council would be a place to try out your political interests.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter, and good luck in all things but your pursuit of unseating Judge Pianka.

 

Josh First

Citizen

 

PA GOP squashes buzzing gnat candidate with atomic bomb

Governor Tom Corbett’s campaign had nothing to fear from primary opponent Bob Guzzardi, a political activist, commentator, business owner, gadfly, and apparently super annoying buzzing gnat, too.

Running on a minimalist platform of leaner and more transparent government, Guzzardi succinctly represents the “Tea Party” damn-the-torpedoes attitude in his $400.00 (yes, that was his campaign war chest) run up the middle against a hulking incumbent’s campaign.  Guzzardi had racked up just one Big Media interview that I know of.  He struggled for traction in political circles.  The likelihood of Guzzardi actually denting Corbett’s armor, much less beating him, was as high as your likelihood of winning the big jackpot lottery – zip.

But that did not stop the incumbent governor’s campaign from doing all it could to get Guzzardi removed from the primary ballot, using PA’s awful election laws.  The first attempt failed, as perhaps the only merciful judge on Commonwealth Court held weeks ago that Guzzardi’s purported bureaucratic red tape filing misdeed was de minimus, and that he would remain on the ballot.

Courts are statutorily directed to try to keep candidates on the ballot, because democracy is best served by voters having choices.  Disqualifying candidates should be a significant hurdle.  Well, as has been increasingly seen in Pennsylvania, knocking candidates from ballots is very easy, too easy.

Today the PA Supreme Court voted Guzzardi off the ballot in what sure looks like a politicized decision that relies on the de minimus crap the lower court did not take seriously.  For those who think Pennsylvania has truly independent courts, stop deluding yourself.

Critics of Guzzardi’s nomination papers mishap need to acquaint themselves personally with this deliberately arcane and completely politicized PA process.  PA’s election laws are a black hole spider web designed to keep people out of the political process.  Look no further than Harrisburg mayoral candidate Nevin Mindlin last year, whose entire candidacy was tossed on the most ridiculous, manufactured, and picayune of excuses.

Mindlin was an independent -minded Republican who had the audacity to buck bi-partisan parasitic politics, and thus was ensnared in faux Red Tape, as anyone in his role was bound to be under the current election laws.

I don’t know Guzzardi. But I do think he’s entitled to run if he wants, and many other states make it much easier to run for elected office, which is good for democracy.

Pennsylvania’s bipartisan establishment deliberately makes independents/ outcasts/ gadflies/ charismatics getting on the ballot either legally impossible or impossibly expensive (the high cost of successfully defending an otherwise legally sound filing).

What Pennsylvanians have now seen is that no matter what a “threatening” candidate does when filing – following the written rules or following the directives of the local elections staff – he is bound to be challenged by his party, and he will probably be DQ’d.  Worse, there’s no disincentive for this behavior (for example, challengers who lose, could be required to pay the candidate’s legal fees).

Ballot challenges delay fundraising, delay volunteers, delay interviews, and cast a shadow over a candidate, irrespective of how cheesy the challenge is. This is bad for the citizens, bad for democracy, and frankly, it is un-American. It is, however, good for insulated party establishments that have turned politics into a self-serving financial enterprise. This has to change.

If I am elected to the state senate in two years, better election law will be a priority. There – that just earned me a 2016 ballot challenge! :-D Bring it, boys! We will be ready and waiting for ya….

p.s. I do not know Bob Guzzardi, despite trying to meet him.  I do know people who know him, or who have met him. Some say he is a valuable muckraker who elevates key issues into the public square.  Others say he is a bored troublemaker who vents his personal dissatisfactions into the political arena.  Either way, I say politics should be “Bring All Comers, and may the best candidate win.”  Guzzardi should have stayed on the ballot; he was no threat to Gov. Tom Corbett.

Interesting times…ancient Chinese curse

An ancient Chinese curse goes “May you live in interesting times,” meaning that turbulence should mar your life.

Well, turbulence has arrived: Tom Ridge is now joining anti gun activist Mike Bloomberg in a new effort to destroy the Second Amendment. At a time when murders are at record lows, due in great part to greatly liberalized concealed carry opportunities across America, it’s impossible to justify Bloomberg’s obsessive focus on stopping that increased self defense. Ridge has been a political hero of mine, and he was an excellent governor.  How sad.

Another oddity is the unlikely presence of a primary competitor to present governor Tom Corbett. Political activist Bob Guzzardi will remain on the ballot, despite PA GOP efforts to remove him. I’ve never met Guzzardi, but I do believe in competition and political choices for voters. Guzzardi represents those values. Corbett has nothing to fear, and he should use the challenge to strengthen his responses to the ridiculous attacks by Democrat candidates for governor, specifically the bizarre claim that budgets have been cut for schools.

Dangerous waters ahead

Does the right hand know what the left hand is doing at the Corbett campaign?  Are the very young people working there really up to it, do they have the background to successfully carry this off?  Trying to knock an unknown candidate off the ballot looks weak. Trying to pick a fight with sportsmen is just plain foolish. Good grief, people!

Sad day for Harrisburg City

Nevin Mindlin will NOT be appearing on the Harrisburg mayor ballot. He issued a press release that took to task the establishments of both parties. Nevin is a threat to the system that fed off of Harrisburg City and the surrounding area. So he was artificially squeezed out in an unprecedented legal move that contradicted established law. Very sad day for democracy and the forgotten taxpayer…

Nevin Mindlin for Mayor files appeal

In a show of strength and commitment, Nevin Mindlin filed an appeal today, challenging last week’s politicized court holding that threw him off the ballot.
If there’s one thing Harrisburg needs now, it’s a strong leader like Mindlin.