Monday, October 17, 2005

Commentary--'You're fired'

Stu Bykofsky | 'You're fired'


IN POLL after poll, people say they hate politicians - rank them low as used-car salesmen, lawyers and reporters - yet they almost always return them to office. Voters seem to believe "your guy's" a crook, but "my guy's" OK.

So, in the long-running state pay-raise controversy, I blame "your guy" for waiting until 2 a.m. on the last session in July to vote a pay increase ranging from 16 percent to 54 percent, on top of an automatic 5.2 percent cost- of-living hike they got in January.

The mammoth pay hike is in addition to the $128 they pocket for "essentials" each day they work. Piled on the pork platter is a leased car, a pension, life insurance and a generous health, dental and vision plan.

There's even more, but space is limited. The topper is the end run the Harrisburglars did around the state constitution by snatching the money immediately by calling it "unvouchered expenses." It's theft, pure and simple.

When some angry voters complained, they were told to pound sand.

Since they are not listening to us, their boss, we have to do like Donald Trump and say, "You're fired."

Fire them all?

That's the goal of PaCleanSweep Inc., a nonpartisan group seeking to toss all Pennsylvania incumbents. That's daunting, given that only three or four seats in the 203-member state House change each election.

PaCleanSweep chairman Russ Diamond calls any number more than four replaced a moral victory, "but I am looking for an actual victory."

Since all politics is local, you must start with "your guy."

My "guy" is state Rep. Babette Josephs, who is a nice woman and a loyal Democrat.

But she is a nice woman and loyal Democrat who voted for the pay grab and who's taking the larcenous $950 a month in "unvouchered expenses." She says she'll use the money for a legislative grant in her district.

I'm in your district, Babette, how about giving it to me? After all, it's my money - mine and the other taxpayers'.

Before I fire her, let me applaud Babette for returning my call to discuss the pay raise. Most of the Harrisburglars would sooner volunteer to test avian flu vaccine than talk about it.

Josephs doesn't regret taking the pay increase because she doesn't believe "government service should be reserved for the rich" and being a state rep is her only job.

Prior to the raise, the lowliest state rep got $69,647. It's now a minimum of $81,050, more if you are a committee chair, as is Josephs.

"If you're working full-time and you have dependents... you can't live on it unless you're independently wealthy," Josephs said.

Josephs knew the salary when she ran for office. If she needs more, she ought to find a new job instead of jacking up her own pay without the consent of we, the people.

Median household income in Pennsylvania last year was $42,941. That means most Pennsylvania families are living on far less than even the old salary of $69,647.

To follow my own advice, next year I have to vote against Josephs in the Democratic primary, should she have an opponent, or for the "other guy" in the general election. That would mean voting for a Republican, but I will sprinkle myself with holy water, tie a bag of garlic around my neck, shield myself with a cross and do it.

Will I succeed in unseating Babette?

Probably not - unless enough voters in the 182nd District decide we are in charge.

I will vote to fire my guy. Are you ready to fire your guy?


E-mail or call 215-854-5977. For recent columns:


Vice Chairman of Voter Education

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