New Castle News

Mitchel Olszak

June 11, 2012

Mitchel Olszak: Local Republicans put burden on taxpayers

NEW CASTLE — When you hold fast to a particular ideology, it’s only a matter of time before the inconsistencies appear.

We’ve seen that countless times throughout history. Perhaps the most glaring example today is “communist” China, where capitalism routinely is embraced.

But you can find other, perhaps less dramatic, examples closer to home. Consider the Lawrence County Republican Party.

We all know the GOP is in full anti-government mode these days, calling for tax and spending cuts in multiple areas. These demands are fueled by an ideology that proclaims big government is bad, local control and decision making is best and individuals ought to fend for themselves.

In a way, it’s the “rugged individualism” of yesteryear.

But if this is what Republicans are supposed to believe, how do you explain the court case now filed in Lawrence County? Individuals who were ousted from the local Republican committee are pursuing legal action, demanding the courts — i.e., government — reinstate them to their positions.

Personally, I think these people have a legitimate beef. Yet why are they running to the courts, which are subsidized by the taxpayers, to solve their problems? Shouldn’t the local Republican Party hash out its own difficulties without tapping into my tax dollars?

But if this court case is ideologically inconsistent, consider the matter of the local GOP chairman, William Schafer. He has made it more than clear the public will not be allowed to observe this year’s election of officers by the county Republican committee. According to Schafer, this is a private affair; meddling citizens and taxpayers can take a hike.

This stance clashes with years of precedent, where the New Castle News has duly observed and reported these proceedings, for both Republicans and Democrats in the county. But suddenly, Schafer has determined the committee elections are on a need-to-know basis. And as a taxpayer, you don’t need to know.

The irony — and ideological inconsistency — here is that Republicans in Lawrence County just voted for committee members in April. And guess who bankrolled the election?

That’s right, local taxpayers.

Schafer’s GOP milks us for money to conduct its committee elections, then he turns around and thumbs his nose at the people who pay.

It’s a pretty sweet deal. The Rotary Club, Masons and other private organizations can’t expect taxpayers to foot the bill for their elections. But Republicans and Democrats can. Then the political parties can tell us to mind our own business when we want to see what we’re getting for our money.

The sad fact is that in Pennsylvania, the Republicans and Democrats call the shots when it comes to elections. Voters registered as independents are shut out of primaries. And candidates seeking to run free of a party mantle must jump through a daunting series of hoops to make it onto the ballot.

It’s worth noting that no local politician — Democrat or Republican — is demanding that Schafer open the doors to the public. It speaks volumes about their lack of concern for political party openness.

You might hope that Republicans who supposedly don’t believe in free rides from the taxpayers would have the decency to either respect the public’s right to know, or else refuse to exploit us by paying for their own elections.

Of course, that would require a sacrifice — along with a commitment to consistency. Sadly, history teaches us that ideologues expect their rules to apply to others, not necessarily to themselves.

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Mitchel Olszak
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