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Thank you Sunday Hunting activists!

Despite many last minute bold-faced betrayals and stabs-in-the-back by the PA Farm Bureau that delayed and delayed and delayed the passage of SB 147, which allowed for hunting on just three Sundays, the bill finally passed the PA House today.

It now goes to the PA Senate for a concurrence vote.  It has already passed the PA senate once before, thanks to the bold leadership of Senator Dan Laughlin from Erie, so this should be a perfunctory and symbolic vote, some time in the next few weeks. After that it goes to Governor Wolf, who has said he will sign it.

Unfortunately, because of the PA Farm Bureau’s vindictive approach, where they knew they were going to lose this issue so they tried to delay its implementation for as long as they could, to deny hunters the pleasure of more hunting time afield with our children, we will not get Sunday hunting this big game season. It will have to come into play in the spring of 2020.

As some of you know, my son and I do not hunt on Saturdays. This put us at a disadvantage with other hunters who do hunt on Saturdays. We would happily trade our Saturdays for the following Sundays, but that was never considered by the PA Farm Bureau, who simply demanded that everyone goose-step in unison and follow their marching orders.

So Isaac and I very much appreciate those Pennsylvanians who empathized with our plight these many years, and who felt our pain when official state law excluded us from participating equally with all other Pennsylvanians in something we love to do, and who stood with us and advocated for our equal rights all this time.

Rosa Parks did not NEED to sit at the front of the bus, but she wanted to, and she deserved to have that choice. For at least three days next year, my son and I will not have to sit at the back of the hunting bus.

Thank you to all who got this done.

Special appreciation goes to Robb Miller, the Governor’s Sportsmen’s Advisor and a long-long time professional politico who has championed Sunday hunting through thick and thin for at least twenty years; to Kathy Davis Gehman, who founded HUSH (Hunters United for Sunday Hunting) and led the legal charge and associated fundraising, in which I was one of the plaintiffs; to Harold Daub, who picked up the HUSH gauntlet when the rest of us were dispirited, donned his armor, and led the next political and social charge; to Kevin Askew and Jahred Klahre, two young guys who joined Harold at HUSH and really put the fine touches on the public outreach that became so effective. National Shooting Sports Foundation staff, the NRA, Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania, PFSC – the PA Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs (now Conservationists), United Bow Hunters of PA, and many other groups and individuals also helped in both big ways and small to get this passed.

In these politically divided days, it is important to note that this effort took hard work from professional political partisans in both the Democrat and Republicans parties, and also from generic registered Republicans and Democrats at the grass roots level. It is truly a bi-partisan issue, and it took members of both political parties working together to get it this far. In the sense that America and states like Pennsylvania are well served when diverse people find common political ground to solve big issues, this is a victory.

Above all else, this is a victory for individual liberty over Big Government.

And if you don’t like Sunday hunting, you do not have to hunt on Sunday. That is your choice, your freedom.

God bless America.

PA senate floor scrap is microcosm of GOP vs Dems nationwide

If you pay attention to politics, and why else would you be one of the three readers here on this blog than you are a political junkie, then you know that one hoax after another has been trotted out against the president since he took office, in an effort to blunt his presidency.

If one hoax doesn’t work, like the “Russia collusion” thing that the chief “investigator” himself (Mueller) torpedoed in public, then another one is tried. Latest and greatest hoax is this Ukraine thing where one political party tries to cover up their corruption in the Ukraine by accusing the president of doing something wrong when he literally calls for an investigation into the corruption.

As ridiculous as this is, there is an arrangement that has taken shape in Washington, DC, and across America. Basically one political party is at war and uses anything available to them to advance that war, at any cost, and the other political party is kind of dumbfounded like a deer in the headlights.

One political party is throwing dust up in the air and running around screaming, or allowing ANTIFA Brownshirts to attack peaceful protesters while the city police are illegally told to not protect the peaceful protesters, while the other political party stands there slack-jawed, incredulous that anyone would abuse our governmental system so badly. That the DOJ is AWOL on ANTIFA and anti-civil rights mayors who enable their violence does not help.

If you want to watch all of what is happening in Washington, DC, and Seattle and Portland and Minneapolis and Charlotte, in a nutshell, then watch a fascinating fight on the Pennsylvania senate floor (below) where the Democrats throw the law and senate rules right out the window, and in response the Republicans mill around like a bunch of confused and rattled little school girls while one of them barks repetitively for a very long time about how the Democrats WILL follow the rules and hand over that microphone right now.

Which the Democrats do not do, of course. Instead, they do exactly what they want to do, which is to take control of the senate through lawless chaos and anarchy. They have zero respect or use for the law, or the rules, because at the moment neither suits their purpose. Wait until the rules and the law finally DO suit their purpose, and then watch out! They will bring a hammer and a sickle down on anyone standing up to them.

So, like what happens in DC, the Pennsylvania senate Republicans here are basically standing there flat-footed, dazed, confused, addled, with Jake Corman barking “Point of order! Point of order!”  like a worn out old dog whose angry bark is all it has. He has no bite.

Sad thing to me is that Jake is not a small guy, physically. He should have some confidence to stand up to his political opponents. I wanted to fist fight him a few years ago, but he wouldn’t stoop to it, and now here he is facing off with a real live Democrat insurrection, and he can’t even muster the courage to storm the podium and wrestle back the microphone and control of the senate floor. What a loser!

Jake, you are a weak kneed little girl, because all your career you have had everything handed to you. When you are needed most, you don’t have the strength of character to stand up and fight.

Lawless Democrats, confused, spineless Republicans, just like across America and in DC.

By the way, this lawlessness is exactly how the Communists took control of eastern Europe, because the good guys/better guys were too proper, followed ‘the rules’ even when there were no rules, and thereby failed to assert themselves when their leadership was most needed. The good guys lost.

Here is the amazing video.

[Screen grab] Pathetic and weak career politician Jake Corman barking like an annoying little lap dog at the mean Democrats who have stolen control of his precious senate floor process. Corman is surrounded by a bunch of little school girls dressed like men, who mill about confusedly. This is a snapshot of what is happening Across America as lawless Democrats take control while mystified Republicans stand around and ineffectively say “Hey, you can’t do that, you’re not allowed to do that.”

Somebody Primary RINO US Sen. Pat Toomey

Few personality types bother guys more than weak, weasely, whiny men, and US Senator Pat Toomey is all that in spades, and much more, or less. It stinks to have an elected “leader” like Toomey demonstrate so little leadership quality, and even worse, to publicly flout his less-than-manly characteristics. Always appearing in public with some kind of fakey senatorial bearing, Toomey’s speech is similarly a fake serious tone, a kind of deeply thoughtful grasshopper. What a show. He reminds us very much of another phony RINO, congressman Charlie Dent, now thankfully gone from public life where he also did so much damage to the American people.

Pat Toomey is one of the great RINOs of today’s Republican Party. For the uninitiated, RINO means “Republican In Name Only,” which really translates into a liberal. Not a conservative. In it for the money. Not committed to freedom or liberty or the US Constitution.

Toomey exhibits weak-kneed indecision and back-stabbing liberalism traits pretty much every day on the job. He does not have the president’s back, but much like another RINO senator, Mittens Romney, Toomey seeks to falsely burnish his credentials by actually blocking, damaging, or criticizing the one person who is trying to right the American ship, President Trump. As if Toomey is so, so thoughtful and carefully considerate.

Toomey has been a real go-getter on disarming law abiding citizens, hatching one gun-grabbing scheme after another, always punishing the law-abiding and never, ever being tough on actual crime and real criminals. The other day he was one of a few US Senate RINOs to vote with the anti-America Democrats against the president’s border emergency wall, as if there is no border crisis, no illegal invasion crisis.  Toomey might as well join AOC down at the border handing out taxpayer-funded sombreros and bottled water to illegals on their way into the taxpayer funded haven of America.

And on this new Trump-Ukraine phone call fake scandal, where a rogue spy within the American defense system filed a fake “whistleblower complaint,” Toomey says the President’s phone call may have been “inappropriate,” but not impeachable. Since when was the effort by the US President to bring to justice a treasonous and corrupt American, Joe Biden, inappropriate? America and Ukraine have an anti-corruption treaty that the president was implementing, as is his job. Toomey should have pointed to admittedly corrupt Joe Biden as the subject of this scandal. Biden used his previous Vice President position to blackmail Ukraine and to enrich his family.

Is Toomey against bringing Biden to justice?

Even worse, several US senators from the Democrat Party actually visited the Ukraine and wrote a letter, directly threatening Ukraine leaders, saying they would vote to withhold promised US defense funds if the Ukraine actually DID investigate Joe Biden’s son. How is that for hypocritical and bald-faced lying irony?

And yet, where is Pat Toomey on all of this? He says nothing about his senate colleagues blackmailing Ukraine and is ho-hum about the US President just doing his duty as president.

Like just about every other Washington, DC political hack, spineless career politician Pat Toomey remains purposefully and deeply insulated from reality, and yet he has so much negative impact on the real lives the rest of us lead. If there is one solid RINO candidate for a strong primary opponent, it is Pat Toomey. The guy has no fight in him, not for us, and it would be easy for a good primary opponent to simply tick off the laundry list of assaults Toomey has led against citizen rights and needs over the years he has inhabited this seat. Someone please primary this bad guy. You will get a lot of support from real Republicans. That is, patriots and conservatives.

Chief Weasel and RINO king, Pat Toomey, begging for a primary opponent

SB 619 captures tug of war between big government and the citizenry

SB 619 is PA state senator Gene Yaw’s fix to a problem that should not even exist. And yet, this bill is being greeted by so-called environmental advocates as some sort of “attack” on environmental quality and environmental protection.

Senate Bill 619 is about one simple thing: Making Pennsylvania state government regulators spell out exactly what is, and what is not, an environmental spill that is so bad that it contaminates waterways and is a violation of our state “clean streams” law.

You would think that in late 2019, 243 years after the founding of America, all state governments would be run by responsible adults who are committed to the wellbeing of their fellow citizens first and foremost. A commitment like that would first and foremost be to the rule of law and the due process rights that undergird and frame everything that is American representative government. Simply put, the government cannot willy nilly decide for itself, based on ambiguous, general, opaque, undefined, arbitrary standards, what is an environmental contamination, and what is not an environmental contamination.

In representative government, We, The People are entitled to know our boundaries, where the borders are to our behavior, and where the government gets to step in and correct us. This understanding keeps us from making decisions in good faith that end up getting us entangled with government enforcers who hit us with fines and penalties for making an incorrect decision.

Presently, and unbelievably, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has no clearly defined standards for what qualifies as a reportable spill and contamination into a waterway. PA DEP’s entire standard is, get this, for real: “We will know it when we see it.”

Folks, I am not exaggerating, I am not making this up. This is how much infinite latitude the state government has now and wants to maintain. This means that literally every time something – a cup of coffee, a can of paint, a bucket of mine sludge, or any miniscule part thereof – falls from its original container into the environment, and into or next to a waterway, it must be reported to PA DEP. And PA DEP reserves the right to fine whoever is responsible, irrespective of whether or not that spill involved anything dangerous, toxic, or at such a small dilution that it is de minimus in its effect.

In practice, this means that PA DEP both chases its tail going after ridiculously unimportant “spills” that pose no threat to anything, which underserves the citizenry who underwrite PA DEP’s budget, and that the agency also holds a huge arbitrary hammer over the head of every single citizen, contractor, and industrial or commercial operator in or passing through the Commonwealth. While being arbitrary is bad enough, reports from the field – you know, the little people who actually work outside getting stuff done for the rest of us consumers – is that plenty of PA DEP staff use that arbitrary standard in capricious ways. These PA DEP staff are, simply put, empowered to be vindictive and petty little tyrants whenever they want to be.

To their shame, the opponents of SB 619 are acting as if the bill is some sort of assault on environmental quality, when it is not, not even close. The PA Fish & Boat Commission is actually on record opposing SB 619 because it allows for “interpretation” in the law. This is embarrassingly bad government to say things like this. Needless to say, the private sector opponents of SB 619 say even worse and less accurate things than the PFBC has written.

Can you imagine something so horrid as there being two sides to a story, some “interpretation” about what happened, and not having just one omnipotent government agency position, take it or take it, because you can’t leave it, because the government agency has 100% of the say in what happened, and you can’t figure it out until some government employee tells you? Is it really so terrible to rein in our government agencies and require them to live by defined standards like the rest of us have to live? Like our Federal and State Constitutions require? Like a whole bunch of other states already have?

SB 619 simply asks PA DEP to establish criteria and standards so that the citizenry and the industries they work in can know when they are following the law, and when they are not. It asks government employees to live by the rules everyone else must live by. It asks government to not engage in arbitrary and capricious behavior, which undermines everything our Republic and our Commonwealth are about. You know, that liberty and freedom stuff that seems so insignificant to the self-appointed guardians of environmental quality. One thing is clear: My fellow environmental professionals may care about the environment, but they do not care about democracy or good government.

This bill is not about environmental quality, it is about democracy, the role of government, good government, government transparency and accountability, and limits on government power. It represents the tug of war going on nationwide between people who want unfettered big government power, and those of us who want government to live within the Constitutional boundaries everyone else lives in.

SB 619 needs to be implemented now.

(c) 2006 Bonnie Jacobs

is Penn State for real?

I know, I know, PSU alum are not supposed to criticize our Mother Ship, Penn State University. But the cold hard facts are material, and it is important to at least raise one’s voice about important things.

For the record, I do not hate Penn State, though I have severed my commitment to PSU football because of the brutally unfair way the PSU board treated my hero and universally admired icon  coach Joe Paterno. No, the opposite is true, I care very much about PSU.  I am grateful for the stellar undergraduate education I received there. In fact, I received as good or better an education at PSU as or than available at supposedly elite Ivy League schools. That is because PSU is so large, has so many facilities and professors, that anyone who really wants to be educated, to talk with their professors, to spend time debating and studying with like-minded students, can spend all their time as a student being educated. If they but want to.

Which is pretty much what I did there. I served on the Student Senate, ran for student body president, engaged in all kinds of political activism, and studied, studied, studied. My professors, notably Art Goldschmidt, Jackson Spielvogel, Jim Eisenstein, and especially Ed Keynes, helped me grow as only a devoted educator can do. I served many of my best professors as a teaching or research assistant. They each studied me, saw my strengths and weaknesses, and challenged me in ways and in areas where I needed to grow the most, and where that growth would matter the most to my eventual debut as an educated adult.

On the other hand, my impression of Ivy League schools is that they are so one-dimensional and politically correct, that one must only gain entry and then spend four years parroting and agreeing with one’s professors to get out with a degree. No growth, no challenge, no self-development at the Ivy league schools, just indoctrination by the staff and parroting back by the students. Where is the value in that?

So what the hell is going on at Penn State with the sky-high tuition? At $38,000 a year IN STATE tuition, PSU ranks right up there with many private schools as well as public universities OUT of state.

Being run now strictly as a profit-loss bottom-line business, as opposed to an educational institution, PSU sets tuition fees that are affordable only to wealthy students, crazy parents, foreign students backed by foreign governments, and  the children of PSU employees.  Ye olde regular American or Pennsylvanian family simply cannot afford the Pennsylvania STATE university.

This situation is exacerbated by a so-called professional caste of elected officials, state representatives and state senators, who tell us all the time that they are professionals and they know what they are doing. What they are doing with PSU is constantly shoveling into its gaping maw more and more taxpayer money, with zero strings attached. No special scholarships for highly qualifying Pennsylvania students. No accountability to the taxpayers, no service to the Pennsylvania public.

And for those who justify this unfair situation because PSU is a big research station, OK, you name the program and let’s look into it. Some are pretty good, and some are worthless. For example, PSU has its own breeder reactor, so we know the PSU students of nuclear physics are probably getting cutting-edge education from nuclear physics researchers there. On the other hand, fake “climate researcher” Michael Mann was just hugely discredited in a court of law, and ordered to pay big legal fees as a result. Mann could not produce in court the data he used to make his name peddling phony science. As we all know, science is totally about reproducability, the ability to reproduce experiments and outcomes that other scientists have claimed. Mann cannot do that. Mann has been a political activist first and foremost, and has besmirched PSU’s good name as a research institution.

Maybe Mann can be now sued by Pennsylvania taxpayers for his fraud, and compelled to create a scholarship fund with his many ill-gotten gains.

We can call it the “Penn State Real Science Scholarship Fund.” And if it has only five bucks in it, it will still be a hell of a lot more than PSU has so far designated to supporting qualified in-state students who want to study real subjects.

 

Pennsylvanians deserve an open primary

“I don’t want some unaffiliated voter determining the nominee in my political party,” goes the overused and unpersuading assertion for why closed primaries, where voters can only vote for who is in their particular political party, and not across party lines. Independents cannot vote for Republicans or Democrats, only for Independents and so on etc.

Pennsylvania has a closed primary election.

If there is one thing that the two main political parties can agree on, it’s that they do not want to share power with anyone else; certainly not the voters! So many cozy deals between the Democrats and Republicans – dividing up the spoils of elected office – have been revealed over the years (the biggest most recent is the PA Turnpike Commission scandal) that is it any wonder why this happy and very lucrative lovefest between the two political parties is being protected at all costs…

The thing is, both the Republican and the Democrat parties are private organizations. I found this out first hand in 2009 when I ran for congress, against the wishes of the PA Republican Party. I was one of those first-in “Tea Party” candidates who declared after just six months of Obama’s treasonous communism and the GOP’s complacency. Except that neither I nor the other similar grass roots candidates knew that we were in the “Tea Party.” We were just mad as hell at both political parties, neither of which seemed interested in helping us, the working people of America, and were rather devoted to the constellations of money-sucking special interest leeches circling about each of them. Elected officials, party hacks, and party functionaries in both political parties did just fine in that scenario, even if the rest of America was falling apart.

And when we began to push our own GOP, we learned that they were accountable to no one, because they were and remain a private entity.

A couple years ago another independent-minded candidate ran in a Dauphin County Democrat primary, and learned the same lesson from his own party. Nope, no transparency for you, you little peon citizen!

Both political parties answer to absolutely no one in the public, because they are private corporations. They can play all kinds of money games, and rumor whispering games, and endorsement games, and information hiding games, because they can; and no one can do anything about it.

So why are we taxpaying voters footing the enormous annual election bills for these two private entities, so that they can hold on to power and keep us citizens at bay, fending off change and accountability?

Why do the Democrats and the Republicans alone get to determine so many important outcomes in our government, when we taxpayers are the ones who are paying for how these two political parties are elected in the first place, let alone all of the expenditures they feed to themselves and their chums? In other words, we voters pay for everything and are told no, we can get only a small portion of what we should get in return, in terms of determining the political outcomes that affect us.

If the two parties want to remain private, and also want to have closed primaries, then let them pay for all of the election expenses in Pennsylvania. We taxpaying voters owe these two private entities nothing, as they owe us nothing (they tell us).

It is well past time to open up our primaries. That flexibility is the true representation of freedom, the freedom to choose, which is the core of representative government. And in Pennsylvania’s particular case, that freedom to choose is about political parties sharing something with the taxpayers who pay for all of the elections of which the two parties are, so far, the sole beneficiaries. It is not right, it is not good, it is not fair.

Open up and let us in!

Awesome fist courtesy of Lee Vanden Brink

PA Farm Bureau & PA Grange thieving property rights and gun rights

Who would think that two organizations I have always revered would turn out to be the absolute biggest threats to private property rights and our Second Amendment rights?

Sadly, it is true that the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and the Pennsylvania Grange have gone on a crusade against private property rights, hunting, and gun rights that has shocked everyone to the bone, most especially the traditional opponents of these activities like the Humane Society and CeasefirePA, who have now joined with them.

When the PFB and the Grange shack up with the Humane Society, a group dedicated to ending farming and animal husbandry as we know it, and with CeasefirePA, and against the NRA, then you know both organizations have gone off the rails. But the fact is, both PFB and the Grange are in full crusade mode right now, and there is no end in sight.

It all started with their opposition to expanding Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania. Including small game, groundhogs, or big game in Sunday hunting (presently limited to coyotes, foxes, and crows), somehow ignited a firestorm of indignation among the octogenarians running both of these organizations. Canes were rattled, and the political war was on against anyone advocating for more hunting opportunities in Pennsylvania. Every bit of political and legislative capital these two groups can muster has been brought to bear in every avenue of political decision making. The net result is not just that they are on record being against other people hunting on Sunday, but that our existing hunting rights, gun rights, and property rights are now being diminished and in the case of Sunday target shooting, at real risk. Until now, no one outside of the anti-gun CeasefirePA had been opposed to target shooting, especially on private property.

Pennsylvania is one of just THREE states in America that has no big game hunting on Sunday. So it’s not like Pennsylvanians asking for expanded Sunday hunting are on the fringe of some crazy movement. The rest of the country is already doing it.

But PFB and the Grange have acted as if Sunday hunting will end civilization as we know it, and they went to war with a scorched earth approach. Both organizations are now on record trying to eliminate even target shooting on Sunday, even on private land, let alone archery hunting on private land on Sunday. This has been an all-out political assault on private property rights and on our Second Amendment rights. What private property owners do on their own land on any day of the week is of zero consequence to anyone else, but PFB and the Grange have made it their business to control what you do.

Didn’t Pennsylvania pass the right-to-farm laws so that farmers could do what they need to do, seven days a week, without interference? Turns out that the organizations dedicated to farming are not dedicated to the actual farmers and property owners themselves. Not really. Lots of farmers and farmland owners want to hunt and shoot on Sunday.

Take the Grange. Their motto is “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.”

Their mission is “Pennsylvania State Grange supports the local Granges to help members grow as individuals, unify their communities and create opportunity through legislation and community service.”

And yet the Grange is taking hard political positions exactly opposite of their motto and mission. There is no unity, liberty, or charity in their opposition to private property rights and to the Second Amendment. There is nothing helping members grow as individuals when the Grange stands in our way of hunting with our families and friends, on our own private land, when our complicated schedules allow for us to be together.

Beware these two organizations. They are prime examples of how a few people can hijack an organization and destroy its credibility in one swift and foolish move, and take our most sacred rights down the toilet with them.

Asking PA Fish & Boat to protect our best trout waters

June 17, 2019

Mr. Tim Schaeffer, Executive Director
Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission
1601 Elmerton Ave, Harrisburg, PA 17110

Dear Tim,

This past weekend I listened to a presentation about making Pennsylvania’s best, most productive trout streams “all-tackle,” which includes bait fishing. While the presentation was primarily about the newly acquired stretch of Spruce Creek, a clear timetable was laid out for making all of our best trout waters all-tackle over the coming three years.

Traditionally, or at least for several decades in many cases, these few hundred miles out of 80,000 miles of Pennsylvania waterways, have been restricted to artificial lures and flies. Those limitations were installed to protect trout from being gut-hooked or gullet-hooked by swallowing bait left to sit on the bottom of the waterway. Once a fish is gullet- or gut-hooked, it is guaranteed to die. This is fine for a put-and-take waterway, or for panfish, or for private waters. But for expensive stocked trout paid for by the license-buying fisherman, or even worse, for native reproducing trout, using bait is almost always a death sentence that eliminates the re-use (through catch and release) of that limited and valuable resource.

The main representation of this all-tackle proposal is that using bait in moving waters does not result in nearly as much fish mortality as once believed. Several studies or carefully observed fishing situations over the late 1990s to 2017 were cited as evidence.

Not having had the time to review this evidence, or to compare it to other factors like increasingly improved water quality state-wide, which resulted in better stream conditions and more trout, my concern is this proposal is moving too fast and asking too much. We just do not really know all that is happening in our best streams. The consequences of being wrong about this could easily set Pennsylvania’s best trout waters back, and it would take years to rebuild them to their current productivity. Additionally, we must consider the long road we have walked to educate anglers that trout and other sport fish are worth much more being released alive than they are being hung on a stringer and then stuffed into a freezer for a year. The cultural progress we have all made on this point has strengthened the use of fishing methods that strongly enhance the success of catch-and-release waters. Would allowing bait on all our catch-and-release waterways be taking a step backwards, after slowly, painfully teaching fishermen that a dead trout is much less useful or fun than a trout slipped back into the water alive to be caught again?

I request that PFBC staff conduct and issue their own wide-ranging analysis of catch-and-release bait fishing in moving waters before adopting anything beyond the Spruce Creek all-tackle catch-and-release stretch. If PFBC staff are confident that, under the right conditions, bait fishing will not result in undue or excessive fish mortality and the degradation of our hard-won resource, then that will be enough for me to drop my opposition. So long as the proper monitoring is in place to ensure that the decision is correctable, should new information develop.

Separately, it made me happy to see you appear officially in public in casual clothes, including shorts. The stuffy formality that used to attach to these executive director positions was a barrier to effectively reaching and communicating with the user communities. Easy but professional informality speaks volumes that you are most focused on solving substantive policy issues, good government, and on effectively connecting with the public, not on self-aggrandizement. What a breath of fresh air, it is exactly what Pennsylvania needs, thank you.

Sincerely yours,

Josh First

PA wildlife: damned if we do, damned if we don’t

Like every other state in the Union, Pennsylvania protects, conserves, and manages its wildlife through a combination of user-pays fees like hunting and fishing licenses on the one hand, and a helping of federal funding collected from user-self-imposed federal taxes on hunting and fishing equipment like boats, guns, ammunition, fishing rods etc on the other hand (the same people who buy the hunting and fishing licenses).

Yes, 100% of the nation’s citizenry benefits from the self-imposed taxes and fees paid by just 1% of the population: the hunters, trappers, and fishermen.  Yes, you read that right: just 1% of the population is carrying 100% of the public burden.

And yes, as you are correctly about to say out loud, you and I will not see this bizarre and totally unsustainable arrangement in any other area of public policy. Not in roads, not in schools, not in airports, not in museums, not in anything else official and run for public benefit. And so, yes, it is a fact that wildlife agencies across America are perennially underfunded, and have been for so long that it’s now accepted as the way America does its wildlife business. Here in Pennsylvania, despite endless rising costs and endlessly more expensive public pensions, both houses of the PA legislature have long blocked the PA Game Commission from getting a hunting license increase in decades. So the PGC is even more behind the financial Eight Ball than most other state wildlife agencies. Hunters and wildlife managers in other states look at Pennsylvania and shake their heads. It doesn’t have to be this way, but it is.

Despite the obvious imbalance and weakness inherent in such a unique and faulty funding arrangement, for fifty years this approach worked pretty well, nationally and in Pennsylvania, with some states occasionally putting new money into holes that opened up in the regular wildlife funding support. Those states with significantly increasing human populations tend to be forced into dealing with inevitable wildlife-human conflicts more than other states, and when Mr. and Mrs. America are increasingly hitting deer with their cars, you can bet that they will demand their home state do something about it. So more money is found.

So along comes the Pennsylvania Auditor General, to investigate the management and expenditure of money at the PGC. And why not, right? The PGC is a public agency, and hunting license revenue is a public trust. So sure, go ahead, look into it, audit the agency. And so it was done, and some interesting things emerged just a bit over a week ago.

In the “Atta boy” column is the fact that there appears to be no corruption, graft, or misuse of scarce sportsmen’s dollars at the PGC. By all accounts, PGC is transparent and well run. Given how much the sportsmen are always scrutinizing the agency, we all figured as much. But it is nice to have our beliefs and trust confirmed like this. We love the PGC even more today than before the audit.

In the “Aww shucks” column is the revelation that PGC staff do not immediately deposit oil and gas royalty checks when they are received, nor does the PGC ascertain for itself if those royalty payments are accurate in the first place, instead trusting the oil and gas companies to do what is right on their own. Hmmmm….This is a potential problem area, and we are all glad the auditors found it.  Anyone who knows the PGC can bet money on the fact that PGC staff are right now doing all of this payment followup with a vengeance. Look out, oil and gas companies!

But then there is the big weird issue, the biggest issue of all, where the auditors “discover” that the PGC is sitting on $72 million in the bank. And accordingly, the auditors immediately and erroneously ascribe this to bad money management. After all, they say, public money is meant to be spent. “If you got ’em, smoke ’em,” goes the ancient and totally irresponsible government approach to managing public dollars. After all, under normal budgeting culture, agencies that do not spend the money budgeted to them risk losing those dollars in the next budget cycle. Failure to spend money is correlated with a failure to implement an agency’s mission, and for senior agency managers, there is the usual ego factor; the bigger the budget, the bigger the…you know. This is the old approach to managing government funds, and it is wrong, and it certainly does not fit the PGC’s reality or targeted way of doing business.

Let’s ask you a question: If you knew your family was going to be receiving less and less money going forward, and yet your family costs would be held steady, wouldn’t you begin to bank any extra money you had, in preparation for lean times ahead? If your family is responsible, then yes, this is what you do, it is what we all do. And it is what the PGC has done, thankfully.

But as a result of the audit, this single fact is being used to beat on the agency, to coerce the PGC to adopt unsustainable policies and irresponsible money management, despite the agency sailing through ever less sustainable funding waters every day. Seems like now every elected official and every Monday morning quarterback sportsman has some variation on the foolish theme that PGC has more money than it knows what to do with. Wrong!

So the real outcome of the audit is that Pennsylvania wildlife are damned either way, because the PGC is the useful straw man whipping boy for every aspiring demagogue in Pennsylvania politics. No matter what the PGC does, our wildlife resources are going to suffer. If PGC carefully, frugally husbands its limited resources, preparing for rainy days and needy wildlife, then the agency’s critics say the agency is miserly and hoarding, and they seek to punish the agency. And on the other hand, if the PGC immediately spends every dime it has, and has no money left over to deal with yet more unfunded mandates like Chronic Wasting Disease, then critics say the agency is wasteful and ineffective, and they seek to punish the agency.

And either way, the net result is the PGC’s critics damn and condemn our wildlife. Because that is the true result of all this second-guessing and monkeying about with the PGC budget and funding streams. Plenty of elected officials use their criticism of the PGC to artificially burnish their “good government” credentials, when in fact they are demanding the worst sort of government, and a total disservice to the sportsmen and wildlife everyone enjoys.

Many years ago, sportsmen were organized enough to react strongly to political demagogues who threatened our wildlife resource (and PA’s $1.6 billion annual hunting economy) with their petty politics. This latest iteration of the politics of wildlife management indicates that we need to get back to the old days, where sportsmen were unified and forceful, even vengeful, in their expectation that their elected officials would not politicize or hurt our commonly held wildlife resource.

Trump got played by the PA GOPe this week

Pennsylvania Primary Election Day Tuesday this week was not an especially exciting time, as voting days can go, because few names and positions were on the ballot, anywhere.

Somewhere up north Mabel’s cow got more votes than the local township highway manager, which caused a brief fuss. A tie-breaker of sorts was held and the road master challenged the cow to mow the grass along the road margin faster and better than he could. The cow did eat along at a pretty good clip, but the three voters agreed that the fresh cow patties left behind were a detriment. Some Amish happened along, ate the cow, and that settled it.

One bright spot here in Central Pennsylvania is where Senator Rich Alloway retired, kind of abruptly, if you ask me, and a special election was held between a hard-bitten retired Army colonel and long time entrepreneur, and a young, sweeeet, gentle as the morning breeze airhead of a Millennial Democrat who just wants to play Santa Claus with your money, goshdarnit her intentions are just so good.

The Army colonel won.

Three cheers for Central Pennsylvania.

One truly sad aspect of the day was the outcome of the most watched and only state-wide election for Pennsylvania Superior Court judge. With three beautiful and practically identical looking Republican women running for two open seats, a lot more interest was garnered.

Of the three primary contestants, former Montour County District Attorney Rebecca Warren is the most qualified for that seat. Articulate, forceful, experienced, principled, poised even with a kid on her hip, Warren has a well-deserved strong state-wide following. She was no shoo-in for one of the two seats, but it appeared she had a very good chance.

Too good of a chance for the Pennsylvania GOP, which is made of people who dislike conservatives even more than Democrats. So the PA GOPe ran a team of two candidates, Ms. Peck and Miss King, against the lone conservative, Warren.

As a plausible candidate for even township road master, let alone the very high court she aimed for, Miss Meghan King is only slightly more believable than the airhead who ran against the Army colonel in Alloway’s former district, and is probably less knowledgable than the cow up north. Seriously, the highly inexperienced, young, and dumb-of-tongue King was not up to the task of running for much of any public seat, and yet here she is, buoyed up by the good ol’ boys of the PA GOPe. It’s a lot of horsepower behind a newspaper sailboat, which is intriguing almost as much as why Alloway abruptly flew the cuckoo’s nest.

Serious forces are at work here, folks, “a dark and powerful magic,” to quote my favorite magician.

Peck stands on her own merits, and I’d be proud to have her on the Superior Court. But King? For real?! She sounds and looks like a child, and her public speaking is hesitant, halting, uncertain, because, goshdarnit, she was hand-picked to be a puppet or a parrot for the good ol’ boys, and she has not one clue about what it is she is saying or doing up at the podium. King is going to get check-mated by some kookus mongus leftwing Democrat in November. It won’t take much.

So Tuesday’s election came down to the amazing Rebecca Warren vs. the GOP good ol’ boys’ puppet, Miss King, and at the last minute, President Trump was duped by the GOPe guys into tweeting his support for Miss King after his wonderful rally in Montour County, here in central PA. And sure as shootin’, next thing ya know, Miss King obtained more votes than either of the other two candidates, and the cow to boot. Sure, Warren came very close to winning a seat, but King did not earn what she got through both the party establishment support and from the president’s tweet.

What bothers people like me about this election outcome is we work for years to find and get behind solid, conservative, independent-minded, constitutionally-based grass roots candidates like Rebecca Warren, and then the GOPe comes along and snatches away the victory and replaces it with a dishrag of a human being. It’s why the Republican Party, nationwide, is full of so many lame human beings, with no gumption, no vision; they just have a desire for power and to do what they are told by party bosses. They connive their way through all of these elections.

If President Trump actually knew how much damage he just did by supporting Miss King, and how badly he was duped by the PA GOPe, he would swear off primary endorsements forever. He did the same thing in Alabama two years ago and got stung. Winning primary elections by conniving simply places unqualified losers in positions of power, which works great only for those pulling the puppet strings.  We don’t get great people, like Trump. When will Trump learn that he would never get the PA GOPe endorsement, not even for township road master, if he were in King’s shoes. The PA GOPe strongly opposes strong, independent – minded candidates.

Those of us who admire President Trump are hopeful that he will learn to ignore the same GOPe guys who have screwed him over since 2015 and who will continue to interfere with his agenda until 2025 (unless there is five bucks to be made; then they will come flocking). Otherwise he is simply shooting himself in the foot by helping zeros like King get elected over people who admire him, who share his values, and who want to fully implement his agenda, like Warren.

Dear PA GOPe: We know you guys care only about holding power, but you should know that with every stolen election like this where a grass roots Rebecca Warren loses, you chip away at the base’s commitment to the GOP and you make us dislike you ever more.

A naturally close race was artificially influenced by a well-intended tweet from our President. Under normal circumstances, in rural Tioga County Warren should have received 50% of the votes cast.