Thursday, July 17, 2008

Looking for ethics in Harrisburg

Nothing like a little scandal to get the good folks who represent us out in Harrisburg talking about reform again.

The breast-beating broke out shortly after charges were filed against one current state representative, one former House Democratic leader and a slew of legislative staffers.

It was your business as usual Harrisburg shenanigans, workers whose main job description seemed to be working on political campaigns. One top aide faces charges that he put his young paramour on the public payroll. No one knows exactly what – if anything – she did for her salary. She apparently did it pretty well, however. She also was given a bonus – also on the taxpayers’ tab. Oh, and this guy’s wife? She also faces charges in the probe.

Attorney General Tom Corbett, perhaps feeling a bit of heat in that all those charged were Democrats, assured us that this is an ongoing investigation and he expects more charges to be filed.

Swell.

Now people are talking about reform. Again.

Nine lawmakers are calling for a special legislative session to deal solely with legislative ethics. Which kind of makes you wonder how many Harrisburg pols it takes to discover ethics.

This reform-minded group believes the public has lost faith in our leaders in the state Capitol? Gee, ya think?

We’ve been down this road before. And not all that long ago.

Remember the infamous legislative pay-grab? Our legislators voted themselves a pay hike in the wee hours of the night, then high-tailed it out of town.

The flaming embers they left behind soon erupted into a conflagration. It sparked a voter backlash not seen in this state in a long time. Eventually a sitting Supreme Court justice was rejected in what is usally a perfunctory vote. A slew of legislators were shown the door. Others decided to get out before the public, hot on their tail with pitchforks in hand, could get their mitts on them at the voting booth.

And so once again the mea culpas are being heard in Harrisburg.

“We are under a dark cloud,” said Rep. Eugene DePasquale, D-York. “We need to get back to the people’s work.”

Yeah, we’ll believe that when we see it. This tempest soon will pass as well.

And the Legislature will indeed get back to their work. Getting re-elected being at the top of the list.

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