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Perry County Ground Zero, Round II

Perry County Ground Zero, Round II

By Josh First

Perry County, Pennsylvania, may be a deeply rural and tranquil place with just two traffic lights, but it is Ground Zero for the latest battle over your Constitutional gun rights.

The results of this battle have enormous implications for all Pennsylvanians, irrespective of where they live, because any legal holding will eventually apply not just to one county, but all counties and all citizens.

Unquestionably acting on political goals, the three county auditors recently sued the county sheriff, Carl Nace, demanding that he provide the names and addresses of concealed carry permit applicants his office processes. Nace refused, citing state law which seems crystal clear on the subject.

Much has been written here and elsewhere about this lawsuit and its genesis, so I will not re-trace those steps, but it is valuable to report back on where things stand as of yesterday.

Yesterday a hearing was held in New Bloomfield, Perry County’s seat of local government, on the auditors’ lawsuit against Nace. The hearing was intended to give both parties an opportunity to argue their case before a judge. The three county auditors are the plaintiff, and Sheriff Nace is the defendant.

I sat literally front and center in the court room, accompanied by Carl Fox and Jim Lucas, among many other wonderful citizens, activists, and concerned citizens. Carl Fox is president of the Duncannon Sportsman’s Association, and Jim Lucas is an engineer and well known political activist. Both Carl and Jim are involved in supporting Sheriff Nace and determining the background to the lawsuit. Both men believe the lawsuit has political purposes and goals, and is not some innocent procedural cause in the interest of perfect auditing everywhere.

Attorney Joshua Prince represented Nace, and attorney Craig Staudenmaier represented the three county auditors. The auditors were not present, either at the court house, nor at the hearing. Nace sat with his attorney in the court room.

Judge George Zanic sat directly in front of me with a clear line of sight between us, and I hope he wasn’t put off by my large prescription sunglasses, which I wear to keep summertime migraine headaches at bay, even inside. With my new, white, grizzled beard, wrap-around sunglasses, and unkempt end-of-summer hair, several people I already know approached me to learn who I was. One asked me if I was there for “the opposition,” and then laughed out loud when he realized who I was. That beard is coming off today! And yes, this is an indication that I am having a hard time letting go of the fantastic, if exhausting, summer I spent with my wife, kids, and friends.

Judge Zanic boiled down the entire argument to two points, one in each set of motions filed by each party. Zanic appeared most curious and skeptical about attorney Craig Staudenmaier’s assertions and claims about the need for the information, and the deficiency he says the county audit suffers from without the applicants’ names and addresses. More questions were asked of Staudenmaier than of Prince, and those questions for Staudenmaier were more pointed than those posed by the judge to Prince.

The judge was clearly having trouble understanding the plaintiff’s demand, or the need for the demand in the first place.

Citing general auditing standards, Judge Zanic referred to his own experience as a professional and as a former district attorney. Zanic disagreed with Staudenmaier about what information is necessary for any audit, let alone a county audit that was successfully completed by another firm when the auditors failed to do their own.

Prince did an excellent job in all respects, demonstrating a clear and quick knowledge of the governing statute, related laws, and the facts. Prince was articulate, clearly well prepared, and he stayed with Nace after the judge departed; both men answered questions from citizens and reporters.

Staudenmaier was often halting in his explanations, seemingly confused at times, and he argued in circles, often failing to directly answer the judge’s pointed questions. Some of his answers were rudimentary and elicited grumpy mutters from the audience. As soon as the judge left, Staudenmaier shot out of his seat, grabbed his papers, and fled out the back of the court house, through a hallway and door off limits to the audience. He took no questions from anyone in the court room, nor from anyone outside the court house.

Channels 43 and 27 were there, as was the Patriot News. Kudos to reporter Dennis Owens for pointing out that the auditors were not present at their own hearing, which is unnecessarily costing the county taxpayers a lot of money.  Their absence raises questions about just how seriously they take all this mess they have created.

Uniformed sheriffs and deputies from at least 15 counties were in attendance, in support of Sheriff Nace.

The court room was about 85% full.

“I hope to have a decision for you very soon,” said Judge Zanic.

Here is my take-away:

1) A person can draw their own conclusions about the quality or necessity of elected officials who take taxpayer money, who initiate unnecessary and expensive litigation, and who then do not show up in public or even at their own hearing. You cannot kick the hornet’s nest without getting stung, and then complain about it, but that is what these three auditors are doing. What they have said, and what their spokesman attorney Craig Staudenmaier has said, is that these three feel unhappy about the negative reactions their citizens have had over this lawsuit. Some counties do not have auditors, and it seems that the three in Perry County have proven they are either unfit or not needed. Perry County should either eliminate the office of county auditor, or vote these three out of office.

2) Perry County should do everything it can to determine who is behind the auditors’ lawsuit, including determining who paid Staudenmaier. This should be done to determine what political forces are in play (CeaseFirePA? Bloomberg? Soros? The Democratic Party of Pennsylvania? A local elected official?), and why they are present, and also let’s see if the people who started this expensive mess can then be held accountable and pay for it out of their own pockets.

3) Perry County should prepare to recover any costs or legal fees associated with this lawsuit, whether from the three auditors or from someone else who may be accountable. I think that Joshua Prince is representing Sheriff Nace for free, but no one should have to spend time defending someone from a frivolous lawsuit at their sole expense.

 

 

What Would Nixon Do, or Do Americans really want to recover from this?

Obama’s “re-set” with Russia empowered Putin to become Stalin II. Russia is expanding un-checked in all directions as it re-creates the totalitarian Soviet Union, sacrificing airliners full of civilians along the way, with impunity.

Obama’s apology tour in the Middle East empowered Muslim imperialists to go to war against everyone, including the very European nations that have increasingly hosted them.

The Middle East is breaking apart everywhere and along every ideological fault line possible.  The West’s sole outpost there, Israel, is surrounded by enemies, desperately conducting a non-war of non-defense, under circumstances where the World War II Allies carpet bombed and incinerated hundreds of thousands of their enemies in a single day, in battles fought day after day.

At home, Obama illegally trucks in hundreds of thousands of sick, diseased, poor illegal aliens to help bolster his political party, in economically depressed areas already loaded with broken communities.

If Richard Nixon resigned because of a failed nonviolent office break-in to get psychological files on an American traitor, then what should Obama do?

What will the Republican Party do to protect America from its enemies, foreign and domestic?

Is anyone paying attention?  Do more than a handful of Americans really give a damn what happens to America and its representative government of checks and balances?

Do Americans want to recover to the great nation we were before, or are they satisfied to watch Western Civilization crumble around them, come what may?

Harrisburg politics as usual from someone we should not expect it from

“Politics as usual.”

That is a statement, a curse, a wry observation, an accusation, a vexation to the free citizen, and most surely, it is a threat to good government.

Wherever there is “politics as usual,” we find double standards, empty promises, hypocrisy, a lack of forethought, an absence of careful or diligent thought, and an act of putting political gain ahead of citizen gain. And please don’t kid yourself that only “their” political party does it.  Both main political parties engage in politics as usual, and even some of the fringe political parties are awash in it, because for their single issue cause to succeed they must overlook tons of contrary evidence to keep selling their purist issue.

This past week saw a classic example of politics as usual, and it disappointed me, because the person who engaged in it ought to know better.  I certainly believe that he is better than that, and that he has a capacity to act bigger than his silly politicized statement.

What happened was that Governor Tom Corbett line-item-vetoed some “legislative” funding (that is taxpayer dollars used by the legislature for their office coffee, cars, walking-around-money, and parking on Capitol Hill), and state senator Rob Teplitz claimed that it would damage Harrisburg’s recovery plan.

Nothing could be farther from the truth, because that money vetoed out of the budget belongs to taxpayers and has zero to do with Harrisburg’s recovery.  Only an overly creative imagination can find some vague link between the loss of cheap cash for legislators and the loss of economic advance for Harrisburg City.

Making it worse is that Senator Teplitz voted against the state budget to begin with.  If he votes against something, how can he then claim that someone else shouldn’t vote against it, too?

The simple reason that Teplitz said this is for cheap political gain, a lame attempt to damage Corbett among voters in Harrisburg City. This qualifies as politics as usual, and it is destructive of the political process because it cheapens the political process.  It dumbs it down.  Instead of talking about Big Important Issues, we end up talking about nonsense that has nothing to do with anything material or substantial, and voters walk away from it.

When voters walk away from the political process, America is damaged.  Maximum voter participation is needed for the nation to function properly.

Teplitz should know better than to do this.  He is a bright guy, and I think he is a good guy.  Although principled, he is overwhelmingly partisan, and that is why this kind of silly waste of time came naturally to him.  Like all other partisans, Democrat and Republican, Teplitz only really cares about the party enterprise.  He forgets about the citizens, their Constitutional rights, their personal money they remove from their pockets and place in the state coffers.

It is no secret I hope to be the Republican nominee in 2016 for the 15th PA senate district.  If he runs for re-election then, Teplitz will be my opponent.  I have no problem publicly singing his praises where he has earned them, and I can attest to several good things he has done for me and other people in the district.  If Teplitz has had one strength so far, that I have seen, one truly laudable characteristic, it has been his willingness to wade into bad government, force a meeting or two, confront recalcitrant bureaucrats, and represent well a constituent’s interests. That is a real skill, and we should all recognize it.

That is why Teplitz disappoints so badly with his spurious attack on Corbett.  I just know he can be bigger and better than this politics as usual.

 

PA AG Kane: The Breck Girl

Pennsylvania’s attorney general is Kathleen Kane.

Pennsylvania citizens deserve much better than Kane.  We deserve more than what she brings to her public job.

Kane acts like the silky models who showed off their long hair with pirouettes and head tosses for Breck Shampoo.  One is reminded of the song “I’m Too Sexy.”

Based on her carefully groomed public appearances that coincide with an honest-to-goodness inability to grasp or articulate the issues of her office and the public, she is henceforth dubbed “The Breck Girl.”

Kane’s flippant, vacuous approach to serious public policy and legal issues, emphasized by a physical appearance crutch, complete with slow-motion hair tosses and giraffe-like Cheshire Cat radioactive radiant grins, have earned her this nickname.

Breck Girl, you are not up to the job.  You are incompetent.  If Pennsylvania had a recall provision in our constitution, you’d be recalled by now.

Hopefully, you will be impeached soon.  If Pennsylvania must have a Democrat as AG, I personally know several men and women attorneys in that party who would qualify much better than you, Breck Girl.

Perry County gets an eyeful of cr@p from anti-gun schemers

In what must be a warm-up for the 2016 state senate race in Perry County (in which I hope to be the Republican nominee), gun control schemers have drummed up a ridiculous problem. The Perry County Auditors are now suing Sheriff Nace for personal gun owner records, to which they have no legal access nor any expectation of access.

It is a political stunt.  It is an effort to undermine gun owner rights and put gun owners on the defensive, in order to make easier the state senator’s re-election there.

Given that the newly incumbent and very liberal state senator there is far in the minority in Perry County, where even the Democrats are fiercely pro-Second Amendment, this is undoubtedly a politically fostered, carefully coordinated effort between the senator’s political party and anti-gun activists.

Corbett’s Ten Percent challenge

Looking at the statewide vote results (votes Corbett received compared to votes Jim Cawley received) and at counties where Bob Guzzardi appeared on the ballot opposite governor Tom Corbett, it appears there’s about ten percent of Republican voters who are seriously disaffected with Corbett.

These are the voters who could not bring themselves to vote for Corbett, even while voting for other Republicans, or who actively wrote in alternative names.  York County has a surprisingly high number of about 25%.

Are these the angry Penn Staters, whose murky ghost has been hovering in Corbett’s background since the fictional Louis Freeh report sank the beloved institution known as Joe Paterno, and took down his creation (PSU), too?  Corbett seemed to join in the blaming of Paterno for the predations of Jerry Sandusky, or at least his actions and statements left many Penn Staters wondering if he did. 

Or are these voters associated with some of Corbett’s better known “Oopsy” moments, like personally standing at a lectern, reading glasses and pencil in hand, roll-call strong arming the Republican State Committee into reluctantly endorsing Steve Welch for US Senate. Republican voters later overwhelmingly rejected the very urban, effete Welch, and embraced muddy boots, down to earth coal miner Tom Smith.

Maybe these are voters affiliated with people who were once close to Corbett, but who did not see ‘promises kept’ at the personal level.

It’s impossible now to know exactly who these voters are, and whether or not they can be brought back into the Republican fold in time for November’s general election.  Plenty of polls, voter surveys, and canvassing are going to occur in the coming weeks, in search of the necessary mix of voters to get Corbett into his second term.

One thing is for sure: In Democrat-heavy Pennsylvania, Corbett wins only with a fully unified Republican party behind him. Right now, he’s got real work to do to achieve that.

Voter Access, Public Funding of Private Elections…

I so totally agree with the gist of this opinion piece by our local newspaper of record, the Patriot News:

By Matt Zencey, May 15, 2014

Tuesday is Primary Election Day, and every year when it rolls around, I’m reminded of this unpleasant fact: Tax-paying Pennsylvanians who don’t belong to a political party are forced to help pay for an election in which they are not allowed vote.

You can’t vote for candidates Tuesday unless you are a registered member of a political party that has candidates on the ballot.

I wrote a column last year complaining about this injustice that is inflicted on politically independent Pennsylvanians. It’s a system that isn’t going to change anytime soon, because the power-brokers who make the rules are the same people who benefit from taxpayer subsidies of their party’s candidate selection process.

In last year’s column, I wondered whether this arrangement violates Pennsylvania constitution’s requirement of “free and equal” elections. What’s “equal” about an election, funded by tax dollars, where a duly registered voter has no say in which candidate wins?

Now it’s true, as I wrote back then, that the U.S. Supreme Court clearly says political parties have a First Amendment right to determine who may vote in “their” political primaries.

The question is whether political parties [THAT ARE PRIVATE ENTITIES] have a First Amendment right to force you [THE PUBLIC] to pay for their candidate selection process.

I don’t think so.

If you are going to participate in a primary election that you help pay for, you are forced to affiliate with a political party. That violates your First Amendment rights.

Pennsylvania’s closed primary election delivers a tax-subsidized government benefit to two preferred political organizations – the Democratic and Republican parties.

All of us are paying so they can pick their candidate who will enjoy a huge government privilege – one of two guaranteed spots on the general election ballot. (Pennsylvania law also makes it extraordinarily difficult for a third-party to get its candidates on the ballot.)

It doesn’t have to be this way.

California recently adopted a much fairer primary election system by voter initiative.

All candidates of all parties appear on a ballot available to all registered voters within the relevant district. The top two vote getters move on to the general election in the fall. The winners could be two Republicans, or two Democrats, one of each party. A so-called minor party candidate might even win a spot on the fall ballot.

This way, taxpayers are not forced to subsidize a process that’s stacked in favor of two political parties. And it’s clearly constitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court has explicitly saidthat a non-partisan primary that is open to all voters and allocates spots on the general election ballot falls squarely within the First Amendment.

But good luck getting such a system here in Pennsylvania. Unlike in California, the poo-bahs who hold political power in Pennsylvania have denied voters the power to pass their own laws by statewide initiative.

On this one, we have to try to persuade legislators and the governor to do the right thing and reform a system that has put them in power and keeps them there.

I’m not holding my breath.

Matt Zencey is Deputy Opinion Editor of Pennlive and The Patriot-News. Email mzencey@pennlive.com and on Twitter @MattZencey.

http://www.pennlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/05/is_pennsylvania_closed_primary.html

Is it time to recall PA AG Kane?

In 2012, Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Kathleen Kane campaigned on being fresh, new, unconnected to party politics.  She challenged the ultimate Republican insider, and crushed him by a good 15%.  Kane became Pennsylvania’s first Democrat AG only because so many Republican voters defected from the GOP and voted for Kane.

Within six months into her four-year tenure, signs were evident that she was not this politically dispassionate, politically disconnected professional and fair-minded arbiter she represented herself to be.

Rather, it became clear that she was politically correct (dogmatically liberal) and willing to use the AG office to score partisan political points, going so far as to choose not to enforce or defend state laws with which she personally disagrees.  That right there is pretty much the end of democratic government, when elected officials stop enforcing laws they personally disagree with.  Democracy only works if everyone agrees that whatever the law is, it is, and it is the law of the land until it is changed.

Kane’s icing on the cake was to cold-stop an investigation of four Democrat elected officials in the Philadelphia area.  Kane does not deny that the four had been caught on tape or video taking bribes. One of the officials can be heard saying “Well, happy birthday to [me]!” as he pockets a wad of illegal cash.

In what stinks of political favoritism, Kane simply made up a lame excuse and stopped the ongoing investigation of obvious official corruption.

When Kane was called out about it by the Philadelphia Inquirer, a newspaper unused to criticizing Democrats, she showed up to a meeting with the paper’s board with her libel lawyer in tow.  A subsequent show of legal force and more open threats of a lawsuit against her critics, by Kane, has only made things worse for her.  But she is not backing down.  Mind you, the Inquirer merely reported the facts; the paper did not ascribe motive or allege that Kane herself was part of the cash scandal.  So it is hard to see what kind of libel suit this elected official thought she was going to actually win.  Intimidation was her first and last approach, however, which tells you all you need to know about her very low quality as an elected official.

Additionally, Philadelphia City DA Seth Williams, a Democrat, has criticized Kane for ending the investigation.  Seth and I were close friends while students at Penn State, and yes, he is an active Democrat, and he is also a straight shooter.

Now, Kane says she supports another newspaper’s open records effort to get the documents about the terminated investigation.  Well, actually, after opposing it, Kane only now supports releasing “certain” documents; you know, the documents that support her position.  The investigation’s documents that will cast her political activism in a bad light, well, they should remain sealed, she says.

Governor Tom Corbett may well be a one-term governor, which presently it appears is his sad destiny, if the polling data is even close to accurate.  Well, folks, let’s make this Kathleen Kane a half-term AG.  She is incompetent, she is politicizing Pennsylvania’s established laws, and she is using blunt force legal intimidation to blunt honest criticism of her official job performance.  Let’s start a recall of AG Kane, and get someone in that office who is a plain vanilla enforcer of The Law, as that role is supposed to be.

In an ideal world, party affiliation should not matter in the AG office.  I myself am partial to the potential AG candidacy of Ed Marsico, Dauphin County’s present District Attorney.  Marsico is an honest guy, a hard working guy, and has shown few partisan inclinations in his day to day work of making Dauphin County a safe place to live and work.  Marsico would be a big enough improvement over Kane to warrant a recall effort against her.  Surely there are other professional-grade DAs out there, too, who also would qualify to fill out the remainder Kane’s term.

Let’s get that recall effort started and Pennsylvania’s law enforcement back on track.

UPDATE: How on earth could I forget? Kane is having some difficulty investigating the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, where cash gifts and other toxic ethics violations have occurred recently.  Now….why would Kane have such a tough time bringing to bear her full weight on such obviously corrupt violations of Pennsylvania laws?  Why, it would not perhaps happen to be the presence of KANE TRUCKING contracts with the PLCB, right?  The KANE TRUCKING contracts with the PLCB are worth millions of dollars to Kathleen Kane, personally.  Got it.  Fox guarding the henhouse here.  Good old fashioned corruption, at least on the face of it.  Time to end this sick experiment, and send Mrs. Moneybags Kane home.

 

Historic win in York, Pa

Tonight, candidate Scott Wagner beat all the odds and won a contrived special election by write-in. The Pa-28th state senate district is in his hands.

As I’ve experienced myself, when your own party decides you’ve served enough of a purpose, or not enough, the people you were loyal to can try to dump you overboard. Such happened to Scott.

But tonight, Scott bested both the Democrats and the Republican establishment. It’s a historic win by any standard, especially by write-in.  Congratulations to Scott Wagner and to his campaign manager Ryan Shafik.

Freedom of opportunity reigns.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kane actually drops investigation against her political buddies

An overwhelming number and percentage of Pennsylvanians voted for a new PA Attorney General in 2012, to the point where a record spread was achieved.

Democrat Kane beat Republican Freed by 15%, an unheard of, unimaginable number.

The primary reason that so many Republican voters voted for Kane was that she was seen as clean, fresh, a new antidote to the deeply insider Freed and the same-old-gang of Good Ol’ Boy Republicans who had controlled that office since its creation in the early 1980s.  The Penn State – Sandusky scandal really hurt the Republicans in so many ways, and Kane was seen as the snake oil potion that would solve all of the problems, aches, worries, unfairness, baldness, and gout that was then plaguing Pennsylvania and Penn State.

Enter Kane the politician.  Wow.  If you had any questions about her political abilities and inclinations, wonder no more.  She has proven herself to be as adaptable as a chameleon, and as trusty as a rake left tines-up in the grass.

Last Friday (never a strong day for media, so always a strong day for government news releases seeking minimal coverage of their actions), Kane officially terminated a three-year-long investigation of a bunch of obviously corrupt elected officials in Philadelphia.  Caught on tape and camera taking bribes, these officials set the gold standard for how to make a great city fall to pieces.

But only days after she announced an indictment against a black state senator from the Philly area, Kane determined that there are “too many African Americans” involved in this sting, and that it is therefore racially biased.  No kidding.  Obviously, any future mob take-downs will be thrown out because too many white guys are involved, right?  This is both an embarrassing example of the bad government caused by Political Corrrectness, and an embarrassing example of the corruption of AG Kane.

Look, lady, either someone behaves legally, or not.  Either someone breaks the law, or not.  Skin color has zero to do with it.  And if skin color becomes the new standard for applying laws, then the country is going down the tubes, quick, because there’s a lot more Caucasian people overall, and more crime committed by Caucasians, than anyone else.  Allowing all that crime to move forward because we want to apply some vague, bizarre notion of “fairness” will allow crime to take over.  What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

Kane has proven herself to be just as political, just as capable of bad decisions as anyone else could have been in the AG seat.  That honeymoon was short.