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: Ohio’s earthquake response demands Pennsylvania action
Confirmation by Ohio officials that fracking caused several low-level earthquakes near the Lawrence County border warrants attention. Yet it’s by no means clear that Pennsylvania is responding appropriately.
Our Opinion: School attack leads to inevitable questions
Another mass attack at a public school has people grasping for answers. They shouldn’t be surprised if no good explanations are forthcoming.
Our Opinion: Western Europe must embrace energy options
Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to demonstrate that he poses a problem for the West. And like many problems, Putin is one that may be best addressed by bypassing it.
Our Opinion: America may abandon Mideast peace efforts
President Obama may join other American chief executives in coming up short on achieving a Middle East peace. The State Department is sending signals that it may abandon current efforts to negotiate a key agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
Our Opinion: Health program hits signup mark, but questions linger
So what are we to make of the latest news regarding Obamacare? The Obama administration says more than 7 million people signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, slightly surpassing early expectations.
Our Opinion: Ban of cash gifts to politicians belatedly imposed
Sometimes it takes massive embarrassment to get people to do the right thing. Proving that is the Pennsylvania Legislature, where this week House leaders ordered a ban on most cash gifts for members.
Our Opinion: Major study finds food link to lower death rate
If there ever was a compelling case that people should eat more fruits and vegetables, this is it. A study in Great Britain examined the eating habits of 65,000 people and came away with some startling results.
Our Opinion: Another census report shows local population drop
Well, it happened again. The latest release of data by the U.S. Census Bureau offered estimates that Lawrence County lost population in 2013.
Our Opinion: Financial failings in local education create concerns
We think it’s safe to say that taxpayers have high expectations of public school systems. After all, they receive considerable public funding to perform the primary task assigned to them — the education of young people.
Our Opinion: What happens if shale gas operations cause earthquakes?
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has no plans to take any action regarding several recent earthquakes in Ohio.
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- Our Opinion: Ohio’s earthquake response demands Pennsylvania action