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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.

 

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

Huffington Post: No democracy for you!

A Huffington Post headline reads “Congress Inaction Prompts Obama to Act Alone.”

American civics class 101 teaches citizens that the executive branch cannot act alone, not really. If Congress is inactive, the president can only enforce laws that are on the books. He cannot create new laws. That would be dictatorial.

Ah-hah. There’s the point. Obama fans LOVE his dictatorship. Unashamedly.

Just remind us of that love when we have a new president from the other party, surrounded by angry citizens demanding retroactive corrections to the Obama years. You’ll learn to love it then, friends.

You call that a scandal? I’ll show you a scandal

New Jersey governor Chris Christie is rightly under fire for shutting down eastbound traffic lanes across the George Washington Bridge into NYC.

Emails, texts, and other sources used by Christie’s senior staff paint an unflattering picture of a guy using every means possible to punish politicians, and citizens, who don’t do what he wants. Like endorse him for reelection. It’s criminal behavior on its face and also because at least one person died due to traffic backups and slow ambulance service.

Amazing now how the American media is buzzing with this scandal, but the deadly Benghazi scandal (abandonment of US personnel and subsequent coverup of their cruel deaths) and the criminal IRS political scandal (destruction of elementary Constitutional principles in government behavior) are nearly off the media’s radar. Where’s the buzz about these huge scandals? Where are the public demands for justice, the mocking, the sneers, the tongue-clucking among network news anchors that they now employ against Christie?

On one hand, we have a scandal about traffic. On the other hand, we have multiple scandals about earth-shaking abuse of power, criminal negligence, undermining of the Constitution that holds America together and guarantees citizen rights. It’s impossible to justify reporting on the bridge, but not on Benghazi, IRS, US Dept. of Justice malfeasance, etc.

I regularly listen to NPR radio, and this double standard was especially strong there, as would be expected.

This double standard, or political activism masquerading as journalism, is just one more example of how the national media have abandoned their watchdog role and are now partisan cheerleaders.

According to the establishment media, Obama can’t do anything wrong; Republicans can’t do anything right. It’s shameful and all the more reason for new, additional fair and balanced news outlets. It’s why citizen reporters are the real journalists.

Patriot News Editorial on Mindlin’s Toss from Ballot

“Infrequently” best describes how often an editorial by the local newspaper, The Patriot News, would appeal to me on logic, principle, or understanding of the facts. However, independent candidate Nevin Mindlin’s political assassination by both Democrats and Republicans is so notoriously egregious that the Patriot News stated the case pretty well, so here it is:

Commonwealth Court sides with mystery challengers to Mindlin’s candidacy: Editorial
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Patriot-News Editorial Board By Patriot-News Editorial Board
on October 07, 2013 at 10:59 AM, updated October 07, 2013 at 12:09 PM

Nevin Mindlin, the one-time independent candidate for Harrisburg mayor, is a candidate no more. He has been knocked off the November ballot by court rulings based on the mindlessly literal application of a nonsensical state law. With little time for an appeal to the state Supreme Court, he has decided against waging a write-in campaign.

Nevin Mindlin went to Commonwealth Court in September, seeking to get back on November’s mayoral ballot. Friday, the court turned him down.

Though Mindlin was an independent candidate, not affiliated with any party or organization, state law requires him to name a committee that would replace him should he leave the race. That requirement makes sense for a political party, but it makes no sense for an independent candidate. By definition, an independent candidate is independent of organizational structures that would be entitled to claim an independent’s slot on the ballot.

Knowing all that, Mindlin did not name that committee. The Dauphin County elections office accepted his petition, without any warning that his petition had any fatal defect.

None of that mattered to the lower court that knocked him off the ballot earlier this summer. And it didn’t matter to Commonwealth Court, which last Friday upheld the dubious ruling.

Commonwealth Court used a legal technicality to dodge the heart of Mindlin’s case. He said that the state law in question violates a right enshrined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — freedom of association. In this case, the law forces Mindlin to associate with a “committee” empowered to choose some undetermined future candidate who could replace him, when the whole point of his candidacy is that he is independent of backroom-type arrangements like that.

Mindlin’s case is an example of the sleazy, insider political game-playing that fuels public disillusionment with elected officials and government.

The court’s hostility to Mindlin’s arguments also contradicts a well-established principle set by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in election cases. Courts in the commonwealth, when applying the election code, are supposed to construe the requirements liberally, “so as not to deprive an individual of his right to run for office, or voters of their right to elect a candidate of their choice.”

Again, the Commonwealth Court used a technicality to completely ignore those claims under the state Constitution.

Mindlin’s campaign is the latest casualty of ballot bounty hunters, ordinary citizens who mysteriously come forward, armed with expensive lawyers, to press a legal challenge to a candidate’s filing papers.

Hired guns parse signatures for the slimmest possible rationale to disqualify them: using a first initial instead of full name, women whose maiden name and married name are different, imperfect handwriting, stray marks in the signature block.

Even if the candidate survives the challenge, (as third-party Allegheny County council candidate Jim Barr did earlier this summer), he or she has to expend precious time and money fighting in court.

These often-shadowy court challenges to candidates’ paperwork have a corrosive effect on public confidence in the integrity of the election system.

In a comment on PennLive, one reader said Mindlin “must have stepped on the wrong toes.” Another announced, “I won’t be voting for anybody; the best candidate just got bounced.”

Many have wondered who paid the legal bills for challenging Mindlin. But without any public disclosure requirements, the mystery money can remain secret.

All in all, Mindlin’s case is an example of the sleazy, insider political game-playing that fuels public disillusionment with elected officials and government.

Pennsylvania’s legislature could rewrite election law to strike the nonsensical provision that kept Mindlin off the ballot. The legislature could require those filing challenges against candidates to identify how they are paying for all that expensive legal work. The Legislature could lower the unreasonably high barriers now imposed on third parties seeking to get on the state’s ballot.

But as with so many dysfunctional aspects of Pennsylvania’s laws affecting politicians, those who get to make the rules are content with the status quo. After all, they got there by playing by the rules as they are – why would legislators want to change them?

From their selfish perspective, it makes political sense. But from the perspective of the citizen whom elected officials are supposed to serve, allowing ballot bounty hunters so much room to squelch candidates is nonsense.
(from http://www.pennlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2013/10/mindlin_off_ballot_commonwealth_court_bad_ruling.html#comments)

You vs. Machine

Since the days of the Luddites, Human versus Machine has been a persistent theme, with the human being the “good” side, and the machine wearing the black hat. It’s easy to see why.

This theme has been fully developed by Hollywood, with movies such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, the Terminator series, and plenty of other sci-fi fiction, with future dystopias where humans battle cruel robots and machines that are either under their own control or under some robotic impulse, either way sparing the humans no quarter.

Truth is often the father of fiction, and this week we have seen three real-life Human vs. Machine stories that are much more compelling than the fake thrillers on screen. One is local, one is regional, and one is national.

First up is the local story, where Harrisburg mayoral candidate Nevin Mindlin argued his court appeal this Wednesday in front of a three-judge panel. A former Republican, the hyper-qualified Mindlin is now an Independent. He was removed from the ballot by a bizarre last-second technical objection by his opponent’s friends, after a hearing in a heavily politicized Dauphin County courtroom. See, Mindlin represents a threat to the combined and congruent interests of both the Democratic Party establishment machine and the Republican Party establishment machine, both of which fed in a bipartisan parasitic manner off of the body of Harrisburg City. Mindlin is completely independent of party bosses, and he will run the city (to the extent he can) in a way that is fairest for the Taxpayer. The establishments of both major parties have much to lose if Mindlin wins, because he will demand a criminal investigation into the debt shenanigans that destroyed the city, as opposed to Eric Papenfuse, who will simply look the other way and let the problems slip into the past, while the taxpayers are saddled with yet more unjustified losses. It is Man vs. machine, or really, vs. machines.

Regionally, the Mid-West has been a political toss-up, with one-time Republican Colorado becoming more liberal as Californians flee their home disaster and seek to bring the same bad ideas to an innocent, rural wonderland. This week we saw the recall of two defiantly arrogant state senators who had led the charge for insane gun laws. These laws do zero to effect crime and do everything to hamper lawful gun ownership, the kind Americans have enjoyed since the very beginning of the nation. The fact that both state senators were Democrats and the fact that their opponents did not include the Republican Party, but rather were an assembly of pissed-off citizens makes this a true-life Human vs. Machine contest. The local citizens who led the recall effort faced down and beat the Michael Bloomberg anti-gun machine, the Democratic Party machine, and several other political machines.

Naturally, the mainstream media has said very little if anything about this incredible feat. Naturally they haven’t, because to inform the voters out there that their future might really be in their hands, then their favored political party might lose power. So they hush it up. Recall that the failed effort to recall Wisconsin’s governor and several allied state senators was reported heavily every day for months and months, until it in fact failed. And then the mainstream media quickly slunk away and said “Never mind, folks.”

Finally, one Human vs. Machine story is still playing out in front of us on the national stage. That is the effort to define who is a journalist and what is journalism. No kidding.

With traditional and mainstream media sources dying left and right, this effort to exclude citizen journalists and artificially buoy up the legacy media is really just an effort to retain an old power that is quickly slipping through away, but which the Democrats need.

The advent of Internet media, blogs, and email have greatly leveled the playing field between citizen, voter, and political machine. At one time the only place where a voter could get news was from the news media, which is heavily invested in liberal and Leftist values (witness the 100th major media personality to leave the mainstream media and join the 0bama administration, this week, going from “satellite” duty to “in-house” role). Now, voters can get all kinds of reporting and information, without subjecting themselves to the heavy filtering and manipulation of the mainstream media, as best represented by CBS, NPR, ABC, NBC, the New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, etc. This threat to one of the most important sources of power and control has one political party scrambling. And so is no surprise that US Senator Dianne Feinstein of California is now leading the charge to make only the failing legacy media be defined as “real” journalism, and the new media, with citizen reporters like me, as somehow unfit and thus, not “real” journalists.

Never mind that any website is pretty much the same website as the New York Times, except that with many others (like here) you get no advertisements. Never mind that journalism school is really just an advocacy training system, teaching young liberals how to go out and spread their Gospel of Leftism and liberalism.

I mean, really, how much training does it really take to make calls, knock on doors, interview people, look up facts, and then write about them? Journalism school should be about one semester long.

So now we see the Human vs. Machine playing out with us citizens fighting to maintain our right to free speech, our right to be heard like anyone else, our right to have our desktop printing presses be just as valued as someone else’s larger printing press. And the machine we are battling is a national political party.

As usual, I sign off by asking you dear readers to do something practical about this problem. Do something to support the little guy, like help Nevin Mindlin by going door-to-door for him in Harrisburg City. Donate ten bucks to your favorite gun rights group. And write an op-ed or a comment on some website, as a symbol of your own independent thinking, free of the hatchet jobs of political parties or the mainstream media.

Harrisburg City mayoral race free-for-all shows weakness of rules-happy system

Watching all of the petty legal shenanigans unfold in our mayoral race reinforces the lesson that lots of rules works against democracy, and works in favor of rule makers.
Here’s a city in need of an independent minded leader, and both main political parties gang up to protect and promote the one guy, Eric Papenfuse, who is most likely to sell out the city taxpayers.
If you like democracy, and you want ordinary citizens to be part of the political process, then eliminate these arcane and unnecessary rules. They are barriers to legitimate political participation.
In our case, these silly rules are going to help protect the guilty (the bondsmen who issued faulty bonds that bankrupted Harrisburg) in both main political parties. And that tells us all we need to know.

What a week

This week started out wacky, with Oprah Winfrey claiming the death of would-be murderer Trayvon Martin was the same as the torture-murder of 14-year-old Emmit Till decades ago in the segregated South. Winfrey then went on to claim she faces all kinds of oppression and racism, not because people disagree with her odd personal views and decreasing credibility, but because she is black. There is no evidence to support her claim.

In the alternative, there is all sorts of evidence to support the claim that young black men are torturing and killing one another at record numbers across the nation. Not that it would be an issue, because the false notion that America remains a racist place must be kept alive, no matter how silly it appears. How sad for the young black men whose lives are disintegrating in front of the nation, that they have been abandoned by both blacks and white liberals. Perhaps they are mere cannon fodder in the larger culture war against traditional American values like responsibility, self-restraint, self-reliance, etc. On the left, it has always been the attitude that a few eggs must be broken to make the Saul Alinsky omelette…

But the fact is that this week is marked most by the wacky politics here in Harrisburg City. The nation’s first, best-known, and most broke city, if you break it down per capita.

To wit: Controller Dan Miller, a Democrat, won the Republican write-in vote in May, losing the Democratic race to arch-left-kook Eric Papenfuse, while former Republican candidate Nevin Mindlin won the Independent spot on the ballot.

Or did they?

Out of the blue came a young Mr. Nate Curtis, seeking the Independent spot, months after the issue was settled in the primary election. Republican establishment staffers were behind his candidacy.

Miller announced Monday he was not running on the Republican ticket, only to announce today that he was. Well-funded bipartisan teams from the establishment wings of both parties have descended on Curtis, Miller, and Mindlin to challenge every aspect of their candidacies, seeking to knock them out and leave the Eric Papenfuse race for mayor uncontested.

No matter how arcane the arguments, these attacks on Harrisburg’s chance to finally elect a qualified, competent, independent-minded mayor highlight something we have heard before about Pennsylvania election rules and laws: They suck.

Green Party candidates like Ralph Nader have complained that Pennsylvania’s election rules and laws are obviously skewed in favor of the two main parties, and are designed to create a labyrinthine environment in which only the most carefully constructed candidacies can survive. And of course, the only people who can carefully construct such a campaign are members of the two private, taxpayer-funded
political parties, the Democrats and Republicans, the folks who wrote and interpret the election rules and laws.

Curtis is truly vulnerable, because he has not resided in Harrisburg for the past year. Residency requirements are pretty straight forward, and there’s nothing wrong with demanding that you live among the people you seek to represent for at least one year.

Mindlin is not a member of any political party, so he believes he is immune from the charge that his campaign lacks the otherwise – required campaign committee sitting in the wings, waiting to select someone else if Mindlin fails to actually run for the office he and he alone is running for. Say what? See? Very silly, arcane stuff, not at all in the interests of expanded democracy or representative government. It is designed to trip up, disqualify, and eliminate candidates who lack huge infrastructure behind them.

Miller wants Papenfuse to lose, and he has plenty of supporters who feel the same way, so he will fight to stay on the ballot.

It may well be a three-way race between Mindlin, Miller, and Papenfuse. Or, it could be litigated and determined that only Miller and Papenfuse have standing to run.

In the end, Pennsylvanians remain badly served by arcane laws designed to keep them out of the way and on the sidelines, eating the thin gruel served up by an entrenched two-party apparatus and their respective special interests. And I dream of Mindlin or Miller winning this November…