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Election Day: Judges matter, and here is who matters most

Here in Dauphin County we have four candidates to choose from for three seats.

I have some connection to each candidate, though much less with one. My opinions about each candidate is based on extensive personal experiences with them over many years.

If you care about having fair judges in front of you or your friends in the court room, then here is who you would vote for:

  1. Ed Marsico. Though Ed is very much a moderate “establishment” Republican, and he is cross-filed as both D&R, Ed is probably one of the most experienced judicial candidates Pennsylvania has ever had. Ed’s proximity to the state capital area has given him the unique opportunity to prosecute the widest variety of crimes. I admit to being frustrated that Ed did not stand up for his lieutenant, super-qualified deputy prosecutor Steve Rozman, back in the primary race, instead of going along with the county GOP politicized endorsement process. Ed is a fair guy, and he will be an outstanding judge. Please vote for Ed Marsico.
  2. Royce Morris. Royce represents the Abraham Lincoln wing of the Republican Party, though cross-filed as a D&R, and is a person who has been a highly respected defense attorney for a wide variety and spectrum of people caught up in the beginning and later stages of criminal law procedure. Royce would be the first black member of the Dauphin County bar, and while that alone might motivate some people to vote for him, voters can rest assured he is interested in actual justice per the law. Royce is a refreshing face in the judiciary for so many reasons. Please for for Royce Morris.
  3. John McNally. John is the only candidate running as a Republican. The three local people reading this blog already know well that John McNally and I have suffered a decreasingly effective relationship over the past six years. So too speak. John is very much a political establishment insider and ladder-climber, and several times a beneficiary of lame political shenanigans, endorsements and financial largess that were not reflective of the other candidates in various races he was a candidate in. John and I have had our differences, and we have run against each other directly and indirectly. We are about as opposite on so many issues and ways of doing things as you can find. That said, John has undergone some serious personal growth and introspection in the past couple years that could only produce a better person and a better judge, and I am setting aside my own personal history. Please vote for John McNally.

The fourth candidate is attorney Lori Serratelli, who was appointed to a vacant county judgeship last year. Lori is a good person but a political extremist, to be honest. Of the four candidates on the November 7th ballot, she is the one most likely to legislate and activate from the bench, disregarding law in favor of the current liberal method of dispensing with jurisprudence and dispensing politics, instead. We have seen this model as recently as this week, when a federal judge decided she was the new Commander in Chief of the US Armed Forces, using her civilian (non-military) court to overreach into the executive branch’s business by blocking a military decision by the US President. The current President made a decision that overturned a decision by the past Commander in Chief, and this federal judge decided to insert herself into the command structure. Lori is very much cut from this same activist cloth.  We don’t need this model in central Pennsylvania. Please do not vote for Lori.

 

Second Letter to Candidate Josh Feldman

Dear Josh,

Congratulations, you did maintain your position on the ballot after our challenge. But you have traded away your credibility and integrity in the process.

I read the courtroom transcript of your March 17, 2017 testimony, and on page five you stated under oath that you consciously falsely signed two affidavits. Even though you have only been an active attorney for a grand total of 78 days, surely you know that affidavits are the bedrock of our legal system. A falsified affidavit undermines everything our legal system stands on and stands for. The person who falsifies an affidavit is obviously unqualified to fill a judicial role. You are unqualified, Josh. Your own court testimony impeached your own credibility.

Additionally, you have run for this magisterial seat on the representation of being “the only attorney” among the candidates. But you only became an active licensed attorney on March 2, 2017, the day before you filed your first set of ballot petitions. On page three of your court testimony, you admit that you do not actually practice law and have no court room experience, having become “inactive” just one month after bar admission and having been “retired” from 2010 until this March 2nd.

Your attorney information page on the Disciplinary Board of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court says “I do not maintain professional liability insurance because I do not have private clients and have no possible exposure to possible malpractice actions.”

So your biggest selling point is actually flim-flam, a faint technicality. What is the point of electing an attorney who has no experience actually being an attorney, and who right out of the gate violates the most important election laws to try to get ahead?

Josh, how on earth could your lawyer have allowed you to take the stand in your own defense at the ballot petition hearing?  Do you not realize the self-damning testimony you gave in court?

Perhaps no one should be surprised, as your incompetent goofball lawyer Adam Klein now has yet one more loss to his credit.  You have learned an expensive but important lesson: Just because a lawyer is smug and arrogant does not mean he is seriously up to the task of effectively representing you.

Josh, I pledged $250 toward the outcome not as some sort of silly bet or wager, but as a principled statement about my belief in personal accountability.  My philosophy of government requires me to do this: I had put my name out there as a plaintiff in a formal complaint about your ballot petitions, and you stayed on the ballot. In that process we learned that you have poor character, your word means nothing, and you have greatly over-represented your qualifications.

So, Josh, you do get the enclosed $250 check, but you will get no apology from me, because when you took the stand in court you admitted to filing false affidavits on your ballot petitions. You impeached your own credibility.  If you cannot be trusted to file basic honest paperwork, then what do the voters expect of you if you become a magistrate and sit in judgment of us?  Your petitions were flawed, Josh, and remain so, even though they technically contained enough signatures to keep you cross-filed and on the ballot.

This whole experience is sad to me. You have hurt yourself through your own over-reach, and then you were further injured by poor legal counsel. I like the fact that you are a fellow small business owner, and I wish that you had earnestly run for office on that good qualification alone. People could respect you for that.

Sincerely,

Josh

Josh First

Harrisburg City, PA

May 12, 2017

Marsico, Rozman and Morris for Dauphin County Judge

If you consider experience and qualifications alone when selecting a county judge, then there are only three logical people to get your vote on May 16th, 2017:

Ed Marsico

Michael Rozman

Royce Morris

Ed Marsico has been Dauphin County’s district attorney for a long time, so long that I have lost count of the years. During his time as the chief law enforcement official for Dauphin County, Ed has always struck a balance of fairness and restraint, when lesser people would have given in to anger over some of the heinous crimes committed in the Harrisburg area. That always struck me as the sign of a well developed personality, because man, I did not feel that way about some of the scumbag criminals he prosecuted. I wanted a public stoning. Ed pursued justice. Without any stain on his long career as a visible and scrutinized public servant, Ed Marsico is the most qualified candidate for county judge in this race and one of the most qualified we have ever had. He has earned your vote. (Ed has done a great job as DA, and I and many others would have liked to have had him run for Pennsylvania Attorney General, but Ed is devoted to Dauphin County).

Michael Rozman has served as deputy district attorney under Marsico for a long time. Often laboring away out of the limelight, Rozman has racked up some of the greatest experience any lawyer can have. Rozman’s mastery of forensics, crime scene investigations, police interviews and interrogations, and knowing how to distinguish a bad boy from a true bad guy puts him head and shoulders above any of the other candidates, except for his boss, Ed Marsico. Again, if experience and outstanding qualification matters to you, if you want justice and not politics in the court room, and if you want to be judged by someone who has had decades of experience dealing with courts, criminal matters, justice, and police work, then Michael Rozman has earned your vote.

Royce Morris is also exceptionally qualified to be judge, and he is the Yin to the Yang of Marsico and Rozman. Morris has been one of Central Pennsylvania’s leading criminal defense lawyers for a long, long time. His view of criminal law is seasoned with the understanding of the behavior and reasons why certain bad things happen and how people either purposefully or mistakenly end up in the criminal justice system. Royce has received accolades from judges, jurors, prosecutors, defendants and police officers for the careful way he has handled some of the region’s toughest defense cases. Again, if experience is what you care about, and you want to be judged by someone who is not a party hack or a devotee of political climbing, then Royce Morris earns your vote.

It is true that there are other candidates for the three vacant seats on the Dauphin County court. But none of those candidates has anywhere near the hard-bitten experience dealing with tough crimes and careful analysis like Marsico, Rozman, and Morris have had.

The quality difference between the top three candidates and the others is measured in light years, which is to say an enormous gap, not even close.

Yes, it is true that a Republican political endorsement was made for this seat, which benefited one of the other candidates, and while I am no fan of political endorsements in general, if there is one place where a political endorsement does not belong, where it actually indicates weakness and not strength, it is during the selection of a judge. Politics has no business entering the court room or the judge selection process, and only you, the informed voter can stop it.

About eight years ago now-Judge Andrew Dowling was not endorsed by the Dauphin GOP, and he was told not to run, and yet he went on to win his seat on the court, overcoming what is obviously a very shallow and judicially meaningless political process. A better process would be to rank judicial candidates by a letter system, or by gradations of qualification (e.g. Highly Qualified, Qualified, Not Qualified). That election, when Dowling overcame the political hackery, was a refreshing reminder of the wisdom and power of the citizen voter.

Three years ago outstanding judicial candidate Bill Tully was passed over by the Dauphin GOP, and another, very young and less qualified candidate was endorsed. He was closer to the political establishment. The voters rejected that set-up, too, and sent Tully to be the next Dauphin County judge. That election, when Tully overcame the political hackery, was a refreshing reminder of the wisdom and power of the citizen voter.

Readers may ask why I write these essays about candidates and politics, and I will tell you it is simply because I have always had a passion for good government and fairness. Believe me, I make no friends writing these things, I receive no money and actually have lost business because of my opinions. And I have garnered some enemies along the way, too. But if Americans are not brave enough to stand up for what they deserve, then they get really bad government filled with political hacks who care nothing for the welfare of their fellow citizens. Maybe I am brave, maybe I am foolish, but I stand up nonetheless, and I tell it like I see it, and I tell it from the perspective of the person in the street.

Vote for Marsico, Rozman, and Morris, and you will get judges we can be proud of. That is my opinion.

Welcoming Mr. Scott Frederick, WCO

I would like to extend a hearty welcome to Dauphin County’s new Wildlife Conservation Officer, Mr. Scott Frederick.  He is a recent graduate of the PA Game Commission’s Ross Leffler School of Conservation and he will be dedicated to conserving wildlife in Dauphin County.  He joins Mike Doherty, Terry, Derek, and other hard-working conservation officers, and their deputies, in the pursuit of promoting sound wildlife management, fair wildlife laws, and recruiting new hunters and trappers.

Scott, you will find us and our friends to be law-abiding, good citizens, who share your passion for healthy wildlife and wildlife habitat.  We will be there to help you whenever we can, and we look forward to working with you.  Welcome to Dauphin County!

Small success stories come in big, snoring packages

Sitting at lunch today with someone in his late 60s, we reminisced about how sparse bears and turkeys were 40 years ago in central Pennsylvania.

We also recalled how pheasants were in our back yards every morning, forty years ago, and how sad it is that they are now gone, victims of abundant raptors, foxes, coyotes, skunks, possums, raccoons, and loss of traditional farmland edge habitat.

Doug remarked that pheasants are not a native species, and that as much as he enjoyed hunting these colorful, beautiful birds, if he had to make a trade-off, he is happy with the outcome of surplus bears and turkeys.

While I wish I could have it all ways – abundant wildlife of all types, I agree with Doug.

Just to drive home how successful Pennsylvania’s bear conservation program has been, a friend texted me yesterday to say that the bear I had found sleeping under a log on his farm on the southern Lower Paxton Township line three weeks ago is still snoring away there.  He has set up a couple trail cameras around it to monitor its movements.  Although we did not hear any squeals of little newborn bear cubs then or this week, and we do not know its sex, it may have since given birth.  That long stay in that one place could be pregnancy, and would account for how long the bear has remained in the scraped out den-nest it made for itself.

What is amazing is that this deeply snoring bear is literally on the edge of suburbia.  Well, it is actually deep into suburbia, in a relatively small island of open space.  Think about it this way:  Bears used to be a symbol of wild places.  Now, they are often suburban dumpster divers.  That speaks well to the large population of bears still inhabiting the truly wild areas away from suburbia.  That original population of deep forest and mountain dwellers is obviously in very good health.

And on that same farm there are now roving bands of wild turkeys, something not seen since the mid-1800s, when wild turkeys were literally all eaten up in this region.

Conservation success stories are abundant, and here we have two – bears and turkeys.  We cannot take these wins for granted, however; we must safeguard what has been accomplished.  I hope that the Wolf Administration soon appoints the new Sportsmen’s Advisor.  That is a unique leadership position Pennsylvania can not afford to leave vacant.

 

A brief Thank You to Janice Creason

Janice Creason is the Dauphin County treasurer, and in the summer she and her staff have to scramble to process doe tag applications.  I know Janice works hard ahead of time and in overtime to get our applications processed as fast as possible.

Hunting is a big part of my life, and it is a multi-billion dollar annual industry in Pennsylvania.  Hunting is a crucial sector of the rural economy, and it is renewable and sustainable, and very safe.  People who help hunting are helping Pennsylvania taxpayers and PA jobs.

Thank you, Janice!

For You, Land Dedication this Sunday

This Sunday at 1:00, in Clark’s Valley, Dauphin County, a wonderful ceremony will be held to dedicate a mile-long stretch of Clark’s Creek to the public.  Sold by Flemish Down LLC at a bargain sale price to the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy, the pretty property was then flipped to the PA Fish & Boat Commission so that the public can fish and hunt on it until the next glacier comes through.

I had a hand in it.

I remain confused by fellow Americans who see land conservation as some sort of sinister plot, a “land grab,” and other negative epithets.  These same people have no problem with open land being converted to concrete, a permanent alteration of an otherwise functioning system that spews clean air and water without anyone lifting a finger.  If converting to concrete is good, and maintaining as a functional system supporting human life is bad, then I have to say that logic and reason are not behind the opposition.  These are mutually exclusive perspectives.

Put another way, if open land is bad, and developed land is good, from where do we get our food, water, and air?  Is land really only good and valuable if it has been developed?  Can humans replicate the free air- and water-producing services of open land?  No?

Other benefits of this land protection include stable stream banks, wildlife habitat, scenic beauty, public recreation, and so on.  Thanks to the generous Blum + Cameron family, the public now has a quiet place to picnic, fish, hike, and look at.  Last year we documented dozens of native wildflowers there, and to me, they alone are reason enough to keep this property open; I have yet to meet a human (common, easy to find) who looks or smells as good as a pink lady slipper, trillium, jack-in-the-pulpit, or bluett (all uncommon, hard to find).

Harrisburg Mayor’s Race & More

Dauphin County, PA, Election Round-Up: All Politics are Indeed Local, So Vote & Protect Your Property Values

By Josh First
November 4, 2013

Voters tend to get most excited about, and participate most in “big” presidential elections, but three local political races are about to be decided in two days, and each one has a direct impact on home values in Dauphin County, on your taxes, your kids, on businesses and your friends’ and families’ jobs. Here they are.

Judge

Despite performing zero reporting about the incredible primary race this spring for judge, and very little reporting about the general race between Bill Tully and Anne Cornick, Harrisburg’s local part-time newspaper The Patriot News suddenly had the evident deep wisdom and cultivated knowledge to make an “informed” endorsement Sunday. No, their endorsement would never, ever, ever be political ((cough, cough)). While they are both lawyers, Tully is Cornick’s professionally experienced senior by about two decades, has an impressive resume several pages longer than hers, and he is eminently more qualified to be the next judge. Most political races have a Yin and a Yang, a black hat and a white hat, a positive and a negative, a qualified candidate and a foil highlighting the superior candidate’s abilities, and we’ve got that here. Vote for high quality over politics, for quality over the foil, please; vote for Bill Tully.

Susquehanna School Board

How often do we hear of school board races actually meaning more than, at most, how much our property taxes will be rising? Well, this school board race in Susquehanna Township actually means a lot, not only to residents of Susquehanna Township, but to every citizen living around it. Much more than school taxes rides on the outcome of this election. As goes one domino, so goes another next to it. Lower Paxton Township, this is about you, too.

Susquehanna Township was, at one time, the successful Yin to Harrisburg’s painfully struggling Yang of a school district. It was a study of contrasting similarities, shared goals, and an example of multiracial harmony. Not necessarily any longer. The quality of the Susquehanna School District hangs by a thread. It is riven by all kinds of cross-cutting forces, not the least example of which includes last week’s announcement of the resignation of administrator Shawn Sharkey (can a more appropriately named ‘villain’ be conjured in fiction?), reportedly for sleeping with an under-age student. Resignations of high quality administrators and staff, and fierce interoffice politics, have been raging throughout the district for several years. Leadership is needed in this vacuum.

Making it all worse, racialism and apparent racism are at the core of a dangerous and divisive move to segregate the school district. Demands of a group of school board candidates led by Jesse Rawls would divvy up the district’s teaching and professional positions by the representation of citizens’ skin color, not the content of their character or their credentials. Nothing to do with quality, education, or training: Jobs assigned strictly by shades of pink and brown. Sound fair and reliable to you? Making matters worse, Rawls has been alleged to have unrepentantly called one of his opponents a kike, as in the equivalent of The N Word for Jews.

Oh, the sad irony of the magnificent 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, being invoked to establish just another regime of racial control. Are good citizens really going to vote for that?

Property values and much more depend greatly on the quality of the school district. If voters want some order brought to the chaos in the Susquehanna School District, then vote for Bob Marcus and Bruce Warshawsky, whose sole focus is on academic excellence. Imagine that: The simple, basic pursuit of school/ teacher/ student excellence as central to educating the kids of Susquehanna Township School District.

Mayor of Harrisburg

Voters hate making a decision between one mediocre candidate and another. That is probably what Harrisburg citizens face on Tuesday, with the stellar Independent candidate Nevin Mindlin artificially run out of the race and removed from the ballot. Once again, The Patriot News made an odd, nakedly political endorsement in this election that bore no resemblance to the facts surrounding the candidate they endorsed, those same facts reported in their own newsprint.

Candidate Dan Miller is a Certified Public Accountant who has served as Harrisburg’s Controller. He has extensive local government experience, as well as business experience. He also has a persnickety personality and does not always listen well, as my Mom used to say. Collaboratively, and not combatively, is how Harrisburg’s next mayor must run things. Can Miller do that? One hopes.

Candidate Eric Papenfuse has very little government experience, and his business experience is running an alternative book store serving organic, free range, expensive teas. As a former candidate myself, I appreciated that his bookstore became a center of official political debates run by Harrisburg Hope, a political group we then learned was designed to support Papenfuse’s candidacy. But he’s still not real qualified to be mayor.

More to the point, two key things really speak to Papenfuse’s likely leadership direction, the first being his 2009 invitation and hosting of domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, an extremist now posing as an educational “expert,” at his bookstore. Papenfuse has given varying reasons why he served Ayers’ purposes, including recently telling me on a call-in radio program that Ayers is deserving of “free speech.” Well, lots of evil people also deserve free speech, but what kind of person would actually facilitate giving them a platform? Answer: The same kind of person who is also associated with Occupy Wall Street, Eric Papenfuse.

The second indication is a letter to the editor Papenfuse wrote (Patriot News, January 30, 2010) about his bizarre vision for public education, specifically citing Harrisburg University and Harrisburg SciTech. Advocating for teaching Harrisburg’s disadvantaged inner city students to be “radical thinkers,” instead of “workers,” Papenfuse wants inner city students to be schooled in anger, poetry, street theater, and activism. Forget getting an accounting degree, a chemistry degree, an IT degree, or eventually a law degree. Forget being a constructive, positive contributor to society who can earn a living and support a family. No, according to Papenfuse, Harrisburg’s kids must be cannon fodder in his, and Ayers’ social unrest movement, perpetually living on government handouts, perpetually at war with their fellow Americans. This is an obvious recipe for disaster for Harrisburg’s students and their families. Let’s ask the voters of our great city: Do you want your kids to be Eric Papenfuse’s political cannon fodder? Or do you want them to get ahead in life?

If Miller is a snip-snap, too-smart-for-you accountant, perhaps too assured of his own correct thinking, Papenfuse is on the cusp of introducing radical, ultra-divisive politics to Harrisburg the likes of which we have never before seen. Dan Miller has my vote, not because I am enamored of him, not because I think he is the best thing since sliced bread, not because I think he is the best candidate hands-down. But he is a damned sight better, and better qualified, than Eric Papenfuse. I hope you will vote for Dan Miller for those simple reasons alone.

Stay in the conversation at www.joshfirst.com and on our Facebook page.

NRA? All the way!

The National Rifle Association has agreed to run the former Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, now to be called the Great American Outdoor Show.

Dauphin County commissioner Jeff Haste led the effort to find a suitable vendor for the huge PA Farm Show complex. The ESOS has been worth anywhere from $45 million to $88 million annually to the local economy, and losing it was a huge impact on the region.

The fact that yours truly played the key role in blowing the whistle is both happy and sad. I’ve been blamed for ruining the show and praised for calling attention to the former promoter, Reed Exhibitions, and getting them knocked out. Alex Cameron, Jr., was the vendor who tipped me off.

My friend and custom knife maker/supplier is John Johnson, and he took a financial beating because the show wasn’t held. Now he has confidence that the 2014 show will be better than several of the prior ones put together, and he can plan accordingly.

The NRA has invited all five million of its members to visit the 2014 show, so you know it’s going to be crowded, fun, and full of exciting gear and trips. And you can be sure that modern sporting rifles will be present and accounted for, in force….

Thank you to Commissioner Haste, the Corbett Administration, and the NRA for getting the show re-established. And thank you to all of the patriotic Americans who decided to take a hit to stop the British – based Reed Exhibitions this past February.

See you all next February at the Great American Outdoor Show!

UPDATE: As if you haven’t already read this elsewhere, the US Senate voted down the unconstitutional ‘background check’ federal database gun confiscation bill proposed shamefully by senators Manchin (WV) and Toomey (PA). Let’s get these two buffoons out of office post-haste. You cannot be a US senator, attack the US Constitution this way, and then be taken seriously by those of us in favor of maximum freedom for citizens.

Good News From Dauphin County: Redefinition of ‘Establishment Candidate’

Good News: Dauphin County, PA’s Redefinition of the ‘Establishment’ Candidate

By Josh First
March 15, 2013

Two consummate political insiders are quietly leading an interesting, even inspiring redefinition of ‘establishment politician’, and it’s happening in a quiet Dauphin County, PA judge’s race usually known more for voter disinterest and a lack of exposure to the candidates than as an all-out competition. That’s now all changing as a competitive scramble for limited primary votes gets the two candidates out into the cold, knocking on doors every day, asking for ballot petition signatures, and handing out their campaign literature.

Both Bill Tully and Fran Chardo have long and active ties to the local GOP political establishment, serving as county GOP committeemen and assistant district attorneys, among other official and unofficial roles.

Another political insider, Jim Zugay, until recently the Dauphin County Recorder of Deeds, dropped out of the race over a month ago after failing to obtain the Dauphin County Republican Committee endorsement. Reportedly, Zugay had been promised the endorsement, and would not compete in an open primary without it.

Both Tully and Chardo asked for an open primary with no GOP endorsement, instead relying upon their existing individual relationships within the party. Tully is endorsed by popular Dauphin County Sheriff Jack Lotwick, and Chardo has the support of his boss Ed Marsico, Dauphin County’s popular District Attorney.

Chardo has spent his career in the DA’s office, now serving as head assistant district attorney. Tully also served as an assistant DA, and has also done a long stint as a private defense and civil litigation attorney.

Both men are clean cut, personable, articulate, respected community leaders and family men, with excellent professional and political qualifications. Either one can pick up a phone and talk with nearly any elected leader in the state. Both are quintessential political insiders with roots in and allegiances to ‘the system’.

Except for one thing: By running in this race, these candidates both bucked their own system. You know, the smoke-filled back room system, where party bosses horse trade and usually weed out strong prospective candidates either through pressure and threats, or enticements of government jobs and contracts, future support, or party endorsements that provide some and deprive other candidates of campaign seed funds. That party machine system has been steadily eroding in Dauphin County over the past few years.

Indeed, it seems to be breaking down in the state Republican Committee, as well, where appetites are stronger for greater opportunity through healthy primary competitions rendering the fittest candidate to carry the GOP torch. Last year was a fiasco for the Dauphin County GOP machine, where party bosses ran untested, apparently unqualified candidates against independent-minded incumbents and self-starters, and lost, at great cost to party finances and credibility.

Now, these two self-driven judicial candidates face off, each with his own array of marquee supporters, and no party endorsement, which strikes me and most other Americans as the way American political races are supposed to be run. Chardo has a good strong personal presence, while Tully is older, more experienced, and probably a little more independent of party bosses. Each one has prosecuted bad guys before a judge. Either one will give you a fair and professional hearing as a presiding judge.

The primary election will be held on May 21st, 2013, and your vote absolutely matters. In my book, both candidates are already winners for bravely breaking new political ground, and letting the voters decide, instead of the party bosses.

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