NEW CASTLE —
(Second of two editorials)
The most dramatic local race in the April 24 primary is likely to be for Congress in the 4th District.
Two Democratic congressional incumbents, Jason Altmire and Mark Critz, are facing off against each other for a seat that was crafted in the aftermath of congressional redistricting. Population losses in western Pennsylvania forced the elimination of one of the commonwealth’s congressional districts, and Republicans who controlled the redistricting process in Harrisburg decided to set up this intraparty tussle.
It almost didn’t happen. Altmire came close to being tossed off the ballot over questions about the validity of some of his nominating petitions. In the end, a judge ruled in Altmire’s favor. But the decision hinged upon the residency of one of the petition circulators and could have gone either way.
It’s worth noting that the individual who circulated these petitions was not a volunteer, but rather a paid member of Altmire’s campaign staff. And last year, she worked in Altmire’s congressional office on the public payroll.
This is perfectly legal, but such shifting between government employment and campaign work raises questions. That’s particularly true in light of Pennsylvania’s Bonusgate scandal.
Bonusgate and related wrongdoing dealt largely with the use of government staff to perform campaign work on taxpayer time. While that line wasn’t crossed by Altmire, there’s a lesson here about the dysfunctional nature of modern politics in America.
Ideally, the circulating of petitions and performing of much campaign work would come from volunteers or party loyalists. Instead, an industry has arisen, oftentimes with individual candidates operating free of party systems and funding all campaign activities.
This setup, we believe, reflects a fundamental disconnect between the people and their elected representatives. Too often, candidates find it easier to use financial resources to hire people and to run ads instead of employing more personal outreach efforts.
In turn, campaign donations become the tail that wags the dog. And the sense that money dominates the political process serves to further alienate many citizens.
We assume that scandals such as Bonusgate serve as huge embarrassments for elected officials, even those not implicated. They ought to be eager to implement standards that give their line of work more respect.
There are many ways to do this, ranging from less partisan redistricting methods to tougher ethics rules for office holders and penalties to back them up.
But the response — especially in Harrisburg — is no response at all. Like an addict afraid to get clean, Pennsylvania’s politicians persist in embracing the status quo.
NEW CASTLE —
(Second of two editorials)
Our Opinion: Everyone loses with changes in Senate rules
Current squabbles over filibuster rules in the U.S. Senate remind us of an old saying: Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.
Our Opinion: Washington gets a budget deal of minor value
Any bipartisan budget agreement coming out of Congress these days is worthy of note.
Even the one reached this week — which nibbles around the edges of various dicey issues but fails to effectively tackle the federal deficit to resolve key concerns about taxation and entitlement spending.
Our Opinion: Local tax incentive efforts have little in common
There’s been a lot of local activity lately in terms of tax abatement. In New Castle, a proposal surfaced last month to change the existing property tax abatement schedule in the city.
Our Opinion: World should offer more than words, sentiment to honor Mandela
The tributes are pouring in from around the globe in memory of Nelson Mandela. And so it should be. If humanity is fortunate, someone of Mandela’s stature comes along every generation or so.
Our Opinion: Purchase of city house raises policy issues
Having the city buy a house on East Hillcrest Avenue because of neighbor complaints is bad public policy. The house in question was the scene of a shooting in October, in which three people were injured.
Our Opinion: Famed musician faces hate speech charges in France
Bob Dylan always has something interesting to say. Even when it’s not particularly wise or insightful. But Dylan still can contribute something instructive regarding free expression in the process.
Our Opinion: Wilmington district avoids trouble with tuition vote
The Wilmington Area School Board’s decision against giving non-resident teachers free student tuition was the right one.
Our Opinion: IRS seeks tougher rules for advocacy organizations
Americans have a fundamental First Amendment right to espouse and advocate their political views. But do they have a right to expect others to subsidize those views?
Our Opinion: Nation fails to take clear stand on drug’s medical use
To understand the shortcomings in putting state power ahead of federal authority, consider the matter of medical marijuana. Slowly but surely, states have been liberalizing marijuana laws. Every year, more and more states authorize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Our Opinion: Senate Democrats use ‘nuclear option’ and moderation is the victim
Last week’s decision by Senate Democrats to limit use of the filibuster will widen Washington’s partisan divide. Democrats argue they had good reason to end the practice of blocking votes on judicial and executive branch nominees — and they are right.
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- Our Opinion: Everyone loses with changes in Senate rules