Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Baker Still Wins After Luzerne County Corrects its Totals
Here are the election results as listed by the Department of State:
20th Senatorial District Wide Results
Baker 10,933 46.02%
Madeira 5,010 21.09%
Haggerty 4,236 17.83%
Bigus 2,999 12.62%
Sutton 579 2.44%
Baker 4,428 41.72%
Haggerty 2,110 19.88%
Madeira 1,935 18.23%
Bigus 1,798 16.94%
Sutton 301 2.84%
Baker 163 54.33%
Haggerty 67 22.33%
Madeira 44 14.67%
Bigus 19 6.33%
Sutton 7 2.33%
Baker 1,414 54.18%
Madeira 680 26.05%
Haggerty 364 13.95%
Bigus 115 4.41%
Sutton 37 1.42%
Baker 917 59.47%
Haggerty 363 23.54%
Bigus 136 8.82%
Madeira 80 5.19%
Sutton 46 2.99%
Baker 2,286 45.52%
Madeira 1,308 26.05%
Haggerty 873 17.38%
Bigus 477 9.50%
Sutton 78 1.55%
Baker 1,725 46.54%
Madeira 958 25.85%
Haggerty 459 12.39%
Bigus 454 12.25%
Sutton 110 2.97%
Sunday, May 21, 2006
OK, We're Sticking Around
20thsenatorial Will Cover the General Election
You've talked us into it. So as long as Baker doesn't have us shut down, deported, or imprisoned, we will continue to cover this race. The ole microbus probably has another campaign left.
We'll be taking a little break for a while, but we'll try to post periodically throughout the summer. Come Fall, we'll be plugging away. Please send any information you have to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. There's a lot more investigating into certain issues that has to be done. Help us out.
Friday, May 19, 2006
Time For A Little Break
Post Election Analysis
Now that the election is over, I can get back to cataloguing my Lawrence Welk records. I promised an analysis of the election, and I will provide that before I take my leave. Baker people need not read this, because it will get in the way of your kool aid drinking.
The election came down to that old saying: "You can fool all of the people some of the time, and you can fool some of the people all of the time. "
Lisa Baker spent twenty years running for this seat. The powers that be chose her to be Charlie Lemmond's replacement long before any of the other candidates decided to run --the best we can guess is sometime in the late 1980s. They realized that Baker would make the perfect front person for their needs. She was semi-attractive, semi-articulate, and semi-intelligent. She also lacked any leadership ability which would only be a detriment, because God forbid she thought for herself. This qualities and lack of qualities made her ideal for their plan. She was good at following directions, and that is exactly what they needed. She was also a non-offensive person -- always ready with a phony smile, a insincere handshake, and usually carrying a large check of other people's money.
Being the chief of staff for Lemmond, a title we believe was made up after the fact, she was able to travel the district glad handing and taking credit for the Lemmond "accomplishments." We note accomplishments, because an in depth look at Lemmond's record proves another old saying --- even a blind chicken gets a kernel of corn now and again.
When the Republicans took over the governor's mansion in 1995, the powers that be decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to send Baker to Harrisburg. They called in a few favors, and reluctantly, newly elected governor Tom Ridge, gave her a position of "deputy chief of staff." "Deputy chief of staff" sounds impressive, but it is impressive in title only. The position, one of fifteen or so, is given primarily as a political payoff.
This position again allowed Baker to take credit for projects to which she was only tangentially connected. Many of these projects were listed on her website as "her accomplishments." Remember this simple truism: the easiest way to pad your resume is to take credit for other people's successes. Taking credit for the stuff she took credit for is like 20thsenatorial taking credit for the success of the blogosphere. This may come to a shock to many of our loyal readers, but 20thsenatorial is only one of millions of blogs, so whereas we may have added to the success of blogs in general, we only played a miniscule role.
All good things must come to an end, as did Baker's job as deputy chief of staff. Fortunately for Baker, she had a golden parachute in the form of the Blue Ribbon Foundation. This gave Baker another opportunity to travel throughout the district and hand out other people's money. The most offensive thing about this job was that the money came directly from higher health care premiums. We had the honor of personally hearing Baker say the money "doesn't come from premiums." Well, let me tell you this, the Blue Ribbon Foundation doesn't run fund raising bake sales. Baker's comments are either outright lies or demonstrate a complete ignorance of how the health care system works.
So for twenty years, Baker was able to establish a reputation of being the "woman with the big check." She never faced adversity head on, and when something adverse did happen -- the gas spill in the Hazleton area -- she ran for cover. This image of a smiling, check giving woman was very hard to overcome.
Russ Bigus began an attack on Baker and the Blue Cross connection, but unfortunately, he did his attack in newspaper ads. Sorry Russ, nobody reads them. Haggerty continued the attack on the airwaves. Unfortunately, Haggerty's attack began too late. Baker had already solidified herself as the "Golden Child." Lemmond and Ridge said she was "top shelf." We were particularly offended by Ridge calling Baker "a leader." For 20 plus years all Baker demonstrated was her ability to be a good staffer and good at following orders. It appears Tom gave the "leader" comment about as much thought as that color code crap.
In the end, Haggerty's attack ads on Baker paid off, but not to his benefit. The top beneficiary of the Haggerty attack ads was Madeira. Without the Haggerty attack, Baker's percentage would have topped 65%. Unfortunately for Haggerty, he experienced some "shoot the messenger" wounds. People began to question Baker, and they needed an alternative. They found that in Madeira, and to a lesser degree Bigus. Baker should thank her lucky stars that this was a multi-candidate race. If the opposition had gotten together, Baker would be looking to Pat Solano, et. al. for another golden parachute.
As for me, there is an old saying, "Old bloggers never die, they just fade away into the blogosphere." Thank you everyone for this opportunity. We appreciated all your kind words and all your comments. We have certainly had a diversity of opinion on 20thsenatorial, and to that the citizens of the 20th owe all of you a big thank you.
We wish Bob McNamara all the luck in the fall, but this district is way too Republican for him to have a chance. To Lisa Baker, we hope she rises above the political hacks who put her where she is today, and we pray to God that Tom Ridge's "leader" comments were more than the bullshit we know they were. We do not look forward to the 20 plus years of mediocrity which Baker is bound to give us. Please prove us wrong Lisa. Please prove to us that you are not just another puppet of the powers that be. You don't need them anymore. Break away and put that Shippensburg education to use.
As for us, we believe Lawrence put it best: adios, au revoir, auf wiedersehen
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Queen E-LISA-beth Reigns
Baker Gets Crowned
Needless to say we are disgusted with the outcome of the Republican primary. We will be doing a complete Monday morning quarterback analysis of the race sometime within the next few days. What further adds to our disgust is two run-ins with her majesty on election day. If royalty exists in NEPA. it is Lisa Baker.
We had the honor of meeting the annointed one and her entourage at a polling place in Pike County. If anyone believes that Baker can represent the needs of the "common man," they are sadly mistaken. Our other run in with Her Highness occured at her 'victory' party, (a victory for her, a defeat for NEPA.) We haven't been in a room of so many stuck-up, self important people in a hell of a long time. It was quite appropriate that these snobs decided to hold their party at a country club. The biggest sacrifice that most of the people in that room had to make was settling for sevruga over beluga caviar.
Too bad the district is gerrymandered so much to the Republicans, because it looks as though we'll have Lisa Baker to kick around for many years to come. The only solace we have is the fact that our expectations of her are so low, that she can do nothing but exceed those expectations.
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Enough is Enough (20thsenatorial Undorsement)
A Vote For Lisa Baker is a Vote for the Status Quo
We have had the pleasure of covering the 20th senatorial race for the past two months. We've observed the candidates at candidate forums and debates, we've traveled from Oakland Borough to Middle Smithfield Township to Nescopeck Borough, we've talked to average voters, we've examined the candidates' issue statements, their responses to our questions and the questions of others. We feel we know the candidates pretty well. One thing has become abundently clear, Lisa Baker should not be our next senator. We need change in Harrisburg and she is too much of the same.
Every time we've seen her at an event, she has a binder of canned answers. She never personally responded to any of our inquiries --- every answer came from a staffer. After reviewing her financial report, we are convinced that she is too beholden to the good ol' boy network which gave her everything she has. Throughout her adult life, she has been handed every job, and the powers that be have groomed her for this Senate position for many years. We live in a democracy, not a monarchy. We elect our senators and representatives, we do not have them thrust upon us by the elitists who think we're too dumb to think for ourselves.
We have four other Republican candidates who would provide a fresh face in Harrisburg.
We are very impressed with Carl Sutton. Sutton, a newcomer to politics, started out slow. In the early part of the campaign, Sutton was hesistent and a bit nervous, but his performance at the Lisa Baker Lovefest in Pike County may be reason enough to vote for him. Carl Sutton will take no crap from the insiders in Harrisburg.
Russ Bigus has impressed us, too. He was the first of the candidates to hammer Lisa Baker on the Blue Cross connection. He brought that issue to the forefront, and that's what we need in Harrisburg --- someone who's not afraid to stand up to the Blue Crosses of this world.
David Madeira has shown a dedication to purpose that is seldom seen in politics. Although we don't agree with all of his views, he is very sincere in his beliefs. He also was very responsive to us with our many inquiries. If this is any indication of what he would be like as a Senator, he'll make us proud.
Jim Haggerty has a proven track record in Kingston. He balanced eight consecutive budgets and cut taxes six times. This is the type of fiscal responsibility that Harrisburg needs to see. We also believe that Haggerty could be a star in Harrisburg.
So when it comes to the 20th Senate seat. Get out and vote. If you want change in Harrisburg, which almost all of us do, DON'T VOTE FOR LISA BAKER. Vote for Haggerty, Bigus, Madeira, or Sutton.
FOR DEMOCRATS ONLY
We really like Bob McNamara. He is a man of impeccable character and would make a fine Senator. So to those Democrats in the 20th (both of you) vote for Bob. Bob will have an uphill battle in November, but he will make a worthy opponent for whomever he faces.
Issue 11 ----- Tort Reform
Candidates Express Their Views on Tort Reform
We asked the candidates for their responses to 13 questions. Here is issue 11. We put the candidates names in the blogomatic candidate randomization selector, so the order of their answers is totally random. Here's the eleventh of our questions.
What is your position on tort reform?
The system is set up to protect the consumer and that’s the way it should be. There are safeguards in place to protect physicians. We need better quality healthcare. Sometimes a person has to sue to ensure others get it.
According to William M. Sage, MD, JD, The key to making this work is selectivity. Hospitals and medical groups with demonstrated capacity to deliver high-quality care should receive malpractice relief in exchange for putting in place systems that detect and prevent medical errors, communicate effectively with patients, and pay timely, reasonable compensation for avoidable injuries. I agree with this direction for reform.Haggerty
I am opposed to putting arbitrary limits on damage awards. A one size fits all damage limitation will do nothing but victimize those who seriously injured by the negligence of others. Lawyers do not make damage awards, juries of non-lawyers make awards. Most important, there is no solid evidence that arbitrary caps on damages actually reduce insurance costs.
Strike a balance between those injured in the course of medical care and the need for access to medical care. Caps on non-economic damages like California has had for decades reduce the time and cost of adjudication and increase access to the courts for non-fatal injuries - justice for all. “Loser-Pays” protects the rights of the injured and the innocent simultaneously. Support Empower PA.
The Fair Share Act, recently vetoed by Governor Rendell, would have provided that a defendant be financially responsible only for his or her proportionate share of liability in a civil case and would have brought Pennsylvania in line with lawsuit reform measures passed in 44 other states. I support enactment of this legislation
Additionally, I support common sense caps on non-economic damages in civil cases.
There is a crisis with all matters regarding litigation in PA. We have been witness to people suing and being awarded large sums of money for things that we truly their fault. In reforming this process, the first area that should be examined is frivolous lawsuits that cost all of us money in legal fees and court costs as well as the lawsuits that are filed that simply take advantage of good doctors. I do not believe an overall "cap" should be placed on everything, but I do believe we are in desperate need of medical malpractice reform and more protection for our Physicians.
Issue 10 ----- Gambling
Candidates Express Their Views on Gambling
(This is not the major announcement.)
We asked the candidates for their responses to 13 questions. We've made it to issue 10. We put the candidates names in the blogomatic candidate randomization selector, so the order of their answers is totally random. Here's the tenth of our questions.
What is your position on legalized gambling in Pennsylvania?
Act 71 and Act 72 were about 3 issues: Referendum, Gambling and Property Tax Relief. As a Superintendent along with our School Board, we became an Act 72 School because that was the only way to provide for some property tax relief to our home and farm owners. I am not a proponent of gambling but I wouldn’t turn the clock back towards no effort for property tax relief.
Gambling is legalized in many forms in Pennsylvania. The upcoming revenues that will be generated from slot machines are expected to be $1-2 billion. This should be used in a program I have developed to reward academic excellence and help families with the cost of higher education. High school students who graduate with a “b” or higher average would be eligible to receive scholarships to attend our state-system schools.
I don’t believe increasing our dependence on gambling revenues is sound public policy, or that gambling should be viewed as an economic development tool. However, gambling is here, and we need to provide our communities with the resources to address the consequences, namely more state police and assistance to local law enforcement departments.
The Gaming Control Board must be open and accountable to the public and the system must be appropriately and vigorously monitored.
I support Representative Clymer’s efforts to repeal gambling. Like the pay raise, it was unconstitutional in process and wrong in principle. It pretended to cut taxes and limit spending, but all it did was open the floodgates for a vice. Some have said it is here to stay, but that is what they said about the pay raise. If we want to repeal it, we can. PA doesn’t need gambling, we need good jobs.
What is your position on legalized gambling in Pennsylvania? Gambling in PA is going to foster yet another addiction. However, many Pennsylvanian's that I have spoken to on the campaign trail are happy gambling is coming! If we are going to have gambling, and it looks like we are, then we should take advantage of the revenue with regards to reducing our burden of property tax. As you know, I have already taken these steps as an elected official of the Dallas School Board in voting for Act 72.
I believe the revenues from legalized gambling in Pennsylvania can go a long way to reducing the property tax burden in the Commonwealth. High property taxes are an undue burden on all property owners, but particularly upon our senior citizens.
Friday, May 12, 2006
20thsenatorial Will be Making a Announcement Tomorrow
We are pleased to announce that tomorrow we will be making a major announcement. Please stay tuned for details.
Much Ado About Nothing
Haggerty Receives a Whopping $675 more from Lawyers than Baker
Jim Haggerty should be ashamed of himself. If you're a lawyer, Haggerty, where's all that lawyer money. The financial reports have been reviewed, and Haggerty's lawyer contributions amount to $675 more than Baker. (Based on financial reports filed on May 6, 2006, we determined that Baker received $12,600 from people identified in the legal profession, whereas Haggerty received $13,275) Maybe he's not as "in bed" with the lawyers as the conventional wisdom would have us think. We were, to say the least, surprised. We were beginning to believe the "word on the street," but we guess R. Saunders and John Adams were right --- facts are stubborn things.
Perhaps Baker's old boss Senator Charles Lemmond (also one of those "evil" lawyers) could account for Baker's more than respectabe showing among lawyers. A cursory review of old Lemmond financial report shows that Lemmond always received hefty donations from the legal community.
Haggerty did in fact receive contributions from those in the legal field, which was expected. After all, the guy is a lawyer. So was Charlie Lemmond. In fairness, we checked Madeira's report, a chiropractor, who took a lot of money from chiropractors. Bigus and Sutton did not have sufficient funds to warrant scrutiny.
A further review of Haggerty's finacial report shows that only 3 of the top 20 money contributors to the Haggerty campaign were lawyers. Haggerty's three largest contributors consisted of $10,000 from his aunt, $5,000 from a college room mate, and $5000 from a Kingston businessman.
We're really glad we took the advice of the commenters, or we wouldn't have gotten to the bottom of this. Thank you.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Back In The Saddle Again
Felt to Dust Off the FBI Duds to Get Financial Reports
Since we have been unable to access the Haggerty financial report on line, we have called W. Mark Felt back into action. W. is, as we speak, waiting for Haggerty to move the planter on his front porch to a specific location. That will tell W. where Haggerty will be dead dropping a copy of the campaign finance report.
Hopefully tomorrow morning, after W.'s nap, we will be fine tooth combing the financial report.
Is This Baker's Jack Abramoff Moment?
Baker's Blue Ribbon Foundation Gives Wyoming Valley Health Care System (WVHCS) $200,000 in 2003
WVHCS Executives Give Baker for Senate $2000 in Campaign Contributions in 2005
20thsenatorial has discovered what may be Lisa Baker's Jack Abramoff moment. The Times Leader reported today that "the biggest recipient" in 2003 of Blue Ribbon Foundation funds "was Wyoming Valley Health Care System, which received $200,000..." This amount represents nearly one quarter of all monies disbursed by the Blue Ribbon Foundation in 2003.
On November 29, 2005 and December 15, 2005, WVHCS said "thank you" in the form of two $1000 campaign contributions from Dr. William Host and James P. Carmody. Dr. Host is the President and CEO of WVHCS. Carmody is the Vice President of Human Resources for WVHCS.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
One Happy Family
Follow The Money --- Baker for Senate, Back Mountain Recreation, and the Northeast PA Leadership Fund (20thsenatorial Exclusive)
W. Mark has been telling us to "follow the money" for a long time. So we decided to listen to the old coot.
20thsenatorial has uncovered some very interesting tidbits from the PA Department of State's website. Financial reports can be obtained on any political action committee or candidate committee back to 1998. You can also search individual contributors. See DOS site.
Back Mountain Recreation, Inc. (BMR) is a charitable, non-profit corporation dedicated to the conservation of open space and the development of recreational facilities in the Back Mountain region of Northeastern Pennsylvania. This may be its stated purpose, but apparently the board of the BMR's purpose is to elect Lisa Baker to the State Senate. Over the last six months, five of the ten board members gave a total of $3225 to Baker for Senate. This does not include the $1000 contribution from Board Member Richard Allan to the Northeast PA Leadership Fund, which was subsequently funneled into Baker for Senate. Interesting coincidence or not?
Brian Grove, campaign manager for Baker is still listed as the Executive Director of the organization on their website, although he is currently a project management consultant, earning a salary of $4,000 a month. In fiscal year 2005 (7/1/04-6/30/05,) Grove was paid $53,016 according to the organization's 2005 Form 990. (This is not his annual salary due to an unpaid leave of absence to work for Bush/Cheney. In fiscal 2004, Grove received $69,204 from BMR. )
The Northeast PA Leadership Fund is currently registered with the Department of State as a political action committee at 22 Kimberly Drive, Dallas. Coincidently, that is the residence of BMR board member and Baker contributor, Richard Allan. Prior to 2006, the Northeast PA Leadership Fund was registered at 230 Lane Hill Road, Tunkhannock, PA, the residence of Baker campaign manager Brian Grove. Baker tells us he was the founding Treasurer of the Northeast PA Leadership Fund.
Now it all makes sense. If you need a flow chart to figure all of this out, send $5.95 plus tax to 20thsenatorial at PO Box 1234, Clifton, New Jersey 07890. Add an additional $2.95 for overseas shipping.
Baker Refers to Her Time With the Ridge Administration as "Her Reign" (20thsenatorial Exclusive)
We here at 20thsenatorial thought we fought a revolution back in the 18th century to rid this nation of the monarchy. Apparently Elisabeth J. Baker hasn't received that news or at least disputes it. On Monday night at the Susquehanna County League of Women Voters debate, Baker referred to her time with Governor Tom Ridge as "her reign." Yes, "her reign."
The comment raised more than a few eyebrows in the crowd at the United Methodist Church in South Gibson, Susquehanna County. We heard one woman say, "her reign? Is she going to be sworn in or receive a coronation?"
We've asked Baker for a comment on this, and will post it when we receive it.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Bigus and Madeira to Duel
Who's the Biggest Sportsman
With no other way to solve their differences, Madeira and Bigus have decided to duel to determine who's the biggest sportsman. Madeira started the disagreement, claiming he once shot a fourteen pointer, arrowed a six pointer, and clubbed a four pointer, all in the same season.
Bigus countered with an assertion that he once downed a bear and and elk with one shot (although conspiracy theorists believe there was a second shooter.) Senator Arlen Specter has come down on Bigus' side, saying that one bullet could have killed both animals. Pat Toomey, a well known Madeira supporter, immediately countered by saying such a "magic bullet' could not have killed both animals and believes there may have been a CIA connection.
On information received by Buzz the Intern, it appears the duel will take place Saturday morning on the west bank of the Susquehanna, just below Shickshinny. Haggerty will act as Madeira's second for the duel and Baker will act as Bigus' second. It is rumored that Sutton will take some time off from his relentless door-to-door effort to sell tickets to the event to raise money for his cash starved campaign. McNamara, a "Just Say No To Dueling" advocate for many years, says he will not attend.
Wanna Be Director of the Blue Ribbon Foundation?
Give Money to The Northeast PA Leadership Fund (20thsenatorial Exclusive)
Blue Ribbon Foundation Director Cynthia Yevich was one of the earliest contributors to the Northeast PA Leadership Fund (NEPALF.) Cynthia Yevich, the current holder of the Lisa Baker position at the Blue Ribbon Foundation gave $100.00 on December 14, 2004 and $150.00 on September 15, 2005. Her first contribution was only the second one received by the Political Action Committee. We almost didn't find it among the multi-thousand dollar contributions of the likes of Andrew ($5,000) and William Sordoni ($5,000), Robert DiSanto ($10,000) , and Robert Tambur ($10,000.)
NEPALF was set up to promote the political career of Baker. Just like Ridge's similarly named Fund for Pennsylvania Leadership, NEPALF collected large sums of money to promote their candidate. NEPALF has given two major campaign contributions to one candidate -- Lisa Baker. On April 3, 2006, the PAC wrote a $20,000.00 check to Baker for Senate. The fund also gave Baker $5,000.00 on November 9, 2005. (Their other contributions, besides spending $4000 on computer equipment, amounted to $750.00.)
The mailing address of the NEPA LF is 22 Kimberly Drive, Dallas, PA 18612. So if you're looking for a job at the Blue Ribbon Foundation, just send a check, along with a resume.
W. Mark Felt always said "follow the money."
Kronkyte Endorses McNamara & Baker
Kronkyte Endorses McNamara in the Republican Primary and Baker in the Democratic Primary
This crusty old newsman has given the upcoming senatorial election a lot of thought. Newsmen usually stay above the fray, but in this election I have decided that the issues are much too important for me to sit back in my rocking chair and twiddle my thumbs. I have decided to make my opinion known, and unfortunately this is the only place that will print the ravings of a washed-up, cantankerous old curmudgeon like me.
After much rumination and consternation, my choices for senator in the 20th district are Lisa Baker on the Democratic side and Bob McNamara on the GOP side. Before you go off and blow a gasket and complain to Bill Paley, I know that these two fine candidates are not running in the primaries that they should be, but that's the point. Lisa Baker is much more of a Democrat than Bob McNamara is a Republican. Come on, she's pro choice, a big governmenter, and she pals around with those two RINOs (Republican in Name Only) Ridge and Lemmond. Furthermore, McNamara's guidance at the Defense Department in the 1960s would make any Rumsfeld loving Republican proud.
So on election day, test out the write in capacity of those new fangled voting machines. Write in Lisa Baker on the Democratic side and Bob McNamara on the Republican side.
And that's the way it is.
Liar, Liar Pants on Fire
Madeira Says Bigus Lied in His Mailer About Being the Only "Sportsman" in the Race
Madeira has issued a press release questioning Bigus' assertion that Bigus is the only sportsman in the race. To paraphrase Bill Clinton, it depends on what your definition of is, is, or in this case, what your definition of sportsman is. Here's Madeira's press release in full, followed by Bigus' response to 20thsenatorial.
From: David Madeira for Senate
May 8, 2006
Bigus, Come Clean on Your Lies!
(DALLAS, PENNSYLVANIA) Today, many Northeast Pennsylvania residents got a bonus with their daily paper – a flier from the Russ Bigus camp stuffed in the box once again touting that he is the only sportsman in the race. One problem. It isn’t true.
State Senate Candidate David Madeira is calling opponent Russ Bigus on his repeated assertion that he is "the ONLY sportman in the senate campaign." Madeira said, "It's gone from a small fish story to a whale of a tale. My opponent is claiming something that he knows not to be true and I have told him so personally months ago. I come from a many generations of hunters and have been a sportsman since I was old enough to get a hunting license.”
“I am a life member of the Gun Owners of America and a member of the NRA since 1993. For Russ to continue to make his assertions shows a reckless disregard, not just for the truth, but for basic provable facts. What can you believe on that flyer? Is he telling the truth about never taking a pay raise? Is he telling the truth about supporting term limits? If he is can’t get his facts straight now, what will he do when he gets in office?”
While Madeira was unsuccessful in his forays into the woods this year, last year he was able to bag an 8-pointer, which is currently at the taxidermist being mounted. Madeira so believes in the second amendment and teaching good sportsmanship that his daughter, who is his hunting buddy, has even been awarded the Outstanding Hunter/Trapper Education Student “Interest-Commitment” Achievement Award from the Factoryville Sportsman’s Club in Wyoming County.
Baker's Response to BRF Article Dubious at Best
R. Saunder's Responds to Baker's Response to Blue Ribbon Foundation Article
Yesterday we posted an article by R. Saunders about Lisa Baker and the Blue Ribbon Foundation. The article, which has even caused a number of Baker supporters we know to change their opinion on her, has received rave reviews. Baker's response on the other hand has been factually disputed by R. Saunders.
Lisa Baker's dispute with the conclusions of yesterday's published article was as predictable as this morning's sunrise. But she did not and could not dispute the facts upon which those conclusions are based. John Adams once told us that facts are stubborn things. Whatever may be the wishes or inclinations of Lisa Baker, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.
Baker says she was given her position with Blue Cross in April of 2002, and she would like us to believe that this was "well before Governor Schweiker made known his decision not to seek reelection." Facts are stubborn things, and factually this is not true.
In fact, Schweiker announced eighteen months prior to Baker's departure that he would not run for Governor in 2002. In an article titled "Schweiker Says 'No' to Run for Governor" published on October 5, 2000 in the Harrisburg Patriot News, Schweiker announced, surprisingly enough, that he would not run for governor. He cited concerns the pressure of a race would have on his family.
Subsequent events, particularly Schweiker's promotion to governor in 2001, did change the picture a bit. But subsequent events did not change Schweiker's mind. Had Schweiker been contemplating a run for Governor in April of 2002, as Baker suggests, chances are he would have submitted nominating petitions before the March 12, 2002 filing deadline -- which he did not; and his name would have appeared on the May 20, 2002 primary ballot -- which it did not.
A simple review of campaign finance reports puts to bed any notion that Schweiker was considering a bid for governor in 2002. Baker may be the ultimate Harrisburg insider, but even non-insiders know that in order to make a serious run for statewide office, the first thing that is needed is money -- a lot of money. Just ask the candidates who actually were in the race for governor. For the period ending December 31, 2001, gubernatorial candidates Ed Rendell, Mike Fisher and Bob Casey, Jr. had campaign war chests with a combined total of more than $20 million. For the same period, Schweiker's coffers boasted a tad over $16 thousand -- hardly a man contemplating a run for reelection as Pennsylvania Governor. For some perspective, on a single day in May, Baker paid a Virginia firm $13 thousand just to conduct a survey for her.
Baker's misstatement of fact aside, what is most disturbing about her response is her recognition that her position with Blue Cross presented a conflict of interest. It is disturbing because this conflict did not materialize with her formal announcement as a candidate last fall. For someone who readily admits she has coveted public office the "better part of her adult life," for someone who purchased "bakerforsenate.com" in 2000, a conflict of interest existed from the moment Baker took the job as director. If only fairness, honesty and integrity had guided her then.
Another Week, Another Lawsuit Against Haggerty
Blue Cross Ad Agency Sues Haggerty a Week Before the Election (20thsenatorial Exclusive)
The advertising agency that won a Gold Medal at the 2005 Addy Awards for a Blue Cross of NEPA ad has sued Haggerty for $17,000.00. (The Addy Awards are given annually by the Northeastern Pennsylvania Ad Club.) The Citizens Voice reports today that the Scranton based ad agency Lavelle Murray has filed a lawsuit alleging Haggerty stiffed them on a $17,000.00 bill for services. To read the article in full see Blue Cross Ad Agency Sues Haggerty. (For those of you who need a refresher course, Lisa Baker once worked for a subsidiary of Blue Cross, and still has substantial ties to the not for profit group.)
Haggerty says that Lavelle Murray never contracted with him for work on the Senate campaign, but Lavelle Murray submitted a proposal, which was rejected by the Haggerty campaign. The proposal called for a $430,000.00 budget, which Haggerty deemed excessive.
20thsenatorial has received a copy of the one page proposal, which has prompted Buzz the Intern to call to see if Lavelle Murray is hiring. Buzz said, "If I can get $17,000.00 for putting together a one page exorbitent advertising proposal, I'd rather work there than for some two bit blogger who thinks the WNBA is the greatest thing since sliced bread."
Haggerty's Mayoral campaign committee had hired Lavelle Murray to handle its advertising for Haggerty's successful 2005 re-election campaign. Haggerty said, "This lawsuit will be laughed out of court. Lavelle Murray's business practice of trying to charge us for a rejected proposal is blatantly unreasonable." He added that the suit was filed a week before the primary election for the sole purpose of embarrassing him. "Does it coincide with an election? Yes," Cullen, Lavelle Murray's attorney said. "That's when candidates are asking voters to trust them and give them their vote. Timing is essential with this."
Monday, May 08, 2006
Baker's Blue Ribbon Foundation
Baker Handed Out Blue Cross Premium Money to Promote Her Senate Campaign (20thsenatorial Exclusive)
20thsenatorial has received the following submission from R. Saunders. We have decided to print the article, because after significant fact checking we have determined that Mr. Saunders has really done his research and to not post the article would be a disservice to our readers.
We gave all the candidates advance notice on this article, and we will post their responses at the end of the article.
"The Bullsh*t Behind the Ribbon"
There's a new book on the market by author Stanley Bing, which soon will be climbing a best seller list near you. It's titled "100 Bullsh*t Jobs and How to Get Them." The book consists of short essays describing various jobs such as: Aromatherapist, New Media Executive, Feng Shui Consultant, and many more. All the jobs have one thing in common. As Amazon.com tells it, the "lucky individuals who 'work' in these positions enjoy the best lives imaginable -- they are paid well, they rarely break a sweat, and their professions are highly respected, because nobody really knows what they do." But this article is not a book review. This article is about a job that meets all of Bing's criteria and more, but somehow was overlooked and didn't make his list. This article is a case for job number 101: Executive Director of the Blue Ribbon Foundation of Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
The Blue Ribbon Foundation (BRF) is a charitable organization with a net worth in the neighborhood of $7 million. According to papers filed with the Pennsylvania Corporations Bureau, it was created on July 15, 2002 as a charitable arm of Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Blue Cross, whose nearly half a billion dollar surplus (that's billion with a 'b') has been the subject of much debate and controversy in recent years, breathed financial life into the BRF by making an irrevocable donation of marketable equity securities valued at $7.49 million. That was followed up in 2003 with a donation of $1.025 million more. In other words, big Blue bankrolled little Blue.
The job of Director of the BRF as best can be determined, is to oversee an organization whose express purpose is to literally give away all of this money. With that as a job description, the person given the Directorship was sure to be a very popular person, and specifically, a very popular person in Northeastern Pennsylvania, the region the BRF was setup to serve. Spending many a day traveling around the region handing out free money was bound to make many a friend for the Director. Some might say a network of friends. Don't misunderstand. Since its inception, the BRF has done some wonderful things to, as their website tells us "produce measurable results and positive health outcomes" -- whatever that means. But clearly, and in all seriousness, those that have been recipients of BRF money have done wonderful things in the name of health care to enhance the quality of life for all of us in communities across Northeastern Pennsylvania.
On the surface the BRF appears to be a benevolent source for all that is good. Lurking below the surface, however, are two very troubling issues. The first involves the source of the loot, and the second involves the true motivation behind the person who was given the job as the BRF's first ever Director. The second question will be addressed first. For those who may not know, the person chosen to head the BRF, to travel northeast PA handing out giant bank checks, this champion of charity was none other than 20th district senatorial candidate, Lisa Baker. Baker was given the job as Director of the BRF in 2002. She held the position until late last year when she resigned in order to become a full time candidate for public office. According to tax returns filed by the BRF in 2003, Baker's first full year as Director, her yearly salary was $106,723.00. If Baker's true motivation for taking the job was indeed benevolent, she should be applauded. But certain facts suggest she had ulterior, and less-than-altruistic motives. These are certain facts other than the glaringly exorbitant salary.
Most startling is this little nugget: on March 31, 2000, Lisa Baker purchased the internet domain name, "bakerforsenate.com." At the time, Baker was one of several deputy chiefs of staff to then Governor Tom Ridge. Prior to that, she had held the position of chief of staff to State Senator Charles Lemmond, who in 2000 was rumored to be contemplating retirement. Based on her internet buy alone, it is clear Baker had designs on succeeding her former boss long before his public and official retirement announcement in September of 2005. Unfortunately for Baker, shortly after her 2000 website buy, her scheme seemingly began to unravel. A convergence of events would put her political ambitions on hold. In October of 2001, Ridge left Harrisburg for Washington to become Director of Homeland Security. Ridge's successor, Lieutenant Governor Mark Schweiker, kept much of the Ridge staff, including Baker, but Schweiker announced he would not seek reelection in 2002. Lemmond however did seek reelection in 2002. Good thing for Baker she had not opted for the equally available "bakerforsenate2002.com." The Lemmond seat she coveted would not be open until at the earliest 2006.
In November of 2002, Democrat Ed Rendell was elected Governor, confirming what the polls had been predicting all summer. Suddenly, Lisa Baker was out of a job. Or was she? Contingency plans had been in the works. In the summer of 2002, just as Lisa Baker's political universe appeared to be collapsing around her, the BRF miraculously appeared on the scene. Prior to that date, the BRF simply did not exist. Coincidentally, prior to that date, Lisa Baker did not need the BRF to exist.
In life, timing is everything, and for Lisa Baker, the birth of the BRF couldn't have come at a more opportune time. It could be argued, in light of the timing of events, that the BRF was created exclusively for Baker by her friends in positions of power -- something of a golden parachute. Others have suggested that the BRF had its genesis prior to Baker's forced early departure from the executive branch of Pennsylvania government, and that Baker was specifically recruited to head up the BRF by the powers that be in Blue Cross. At the risk of getting into a chicken-or-the-egg discussion, this difference of opinion does deserve one comment. If in fact Baker was plucked from the service of government to fill the position of BRF Director, credit should be given where credit is due. Nobody is better at giving away other people's money than those in government. The Blue Cross execs therefore should be commended for looking to a career government bureaucrat to head an organization dedicated to giving away other people's money. Baker's hidden political motivation for taking the job as Director of the BRF, whether or not the position was created for her, can also be traced to events that predate her 2000 buy of "bakerforsenate.com."
To get the complete picture of her agenda, you must go all the way back to 1991. In 1991, Baker's former boss, Tom Ridge, was thinking about running for governor of Pennsylvania. At the time, he was beginning to make a name for himself as a member of Congress, but he had a problem. A large part of the electorate had no idea who he was. He was unknown in most of the state, including the population centers. Ridge was from Erie, a city so remote that he actually lived closer to Detroit and to Toronto than he did to Harrisburg. But Tom Ridge then, like Baker in 2002, had a plan. He directed Mark Holman, his then chief of staff, to leave Washington and set up an office in Harrisburg. There, just blocks from the governor's mansion, Holman became the executive director of the Fund for Pennsylvania Leadership (FPL), a political action committee that Ridge founded. A story written in 2003 for Erie's Times-News best explains the rise of their favorite son:
"The organization (FPL) in 1992 spent more than $50,000 on Republican races and county organizations in Pennsylvania. It made donations to 250 candidates in 56 of the state's 67 counties. Every donation had a purpose -- to get Ridge's name out there, and to start forming the network that Ridge would need to win the race for governor. Republican candidates for district attorney, sheriff, row offices -- they received anywhere from $250 to $500 from the Fund for Pennsylvania Leadership, and, indirectly, from TomRidge, potential GOP candidate for governor in 1994."
Ridge's plan of course worked, and the rest they say is history. The similarities between the FPL in 1992 and the BRF ten years later are, to say the least, eerie. Yet there is one critical difference - and that is, as was referred to above - the source of the loot. The FPL was a political action committee formed by Tom Ridge for Tom Ridge. There was no hidden agenda. The FPL's money essentially belonged to Tom Ridge. People gave to the FPL knowing full well the money would be used to promote the political ambitions of Tom Ridge. In stark contrast, the BRF's money belonged to subscribers of Blue Cross, not to Lisa Baker. People gave and still give money to Blue Cross to provide for their health care needs. Nobody ever gave a dime to Blue Cross for the purpose of promoting the political ambitions of Lisa Baker. It is undeniable that, as the face of the BRF for three years, Lisa Baker's political ambitions were being promoted, particularly in the 20th senatorial district. All of this went on while Blue Cross was raising its premiums at a rate faster than that of inflation, and year after year was banking massive surpluses.
It may surprise some to know that these are not problems unique to Pennsylvanians. Blue Cross plans with excessive premiums and ballooning surpluses have come under fire nationwide. What is surprising is that other states confronting this very same perfidy have proposed and implemented very different solutions.
In North Carolina, Blue Cross decided to reduce profit margins by 33% and cut back on the rate of premium increase. In New Jersey, premiums were reduced and rebates offered to subscribers. In December of 2003, Blue Cross of Tennessee refunded $67 million of its excessive surplus funds to its subscribers. And as this article is being written, state Attorney General Mike Hatch is investigating his state's $1.1 Billion Blue Cross surplus on behalf of the good people of Minnesota.
Tempting as it may be to launch into a discourse on the inequities of Blue's overabundance of green, further discussion in this area is beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to say that while in other states excessive surplus funds were being returned to subscribers, here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, excessive surplus funds were being doled out to lucky BRF applicants by a smiling political opportunist named Lisa Baker.
Author Stanley Bing will be receiving a copy of the forgoing, so be sure to check back at Barnes and Noble sometime soon, and don't be surprised if you see a revised edition on display, a revised edition proclaiming, "101 Bullsh*t Jobs -- and How to Get Them."
2. Pennsylvania Corporations Bureau
THERE ARE MORE SOURCES THAN THIS, just didn't have time to list them all.
The idea that Blue Cross created a charitable foundation to serve as a political vehicle for me is preposterous. The Blue Ribbon Foundation was created to fund community prevention and wellness programs as a means to reduce the rising costs of health care. This model is being used by health insurers across the nation.
I, along with several other candidates, was recruited by Blue Cross to apply for the position of executive director. I was hired in April 2002 because of my experience managing the Commonwealth's Capital Budget program, as well as my knowledge of the communities of the region. All of this took place well before Governor Schweiker made known his decision not to seek reelection.
During my tenure, the foundation provided funding for many fine initiatives including obesity prevention, diabetes management and education, colorectal cancer awareness and prenatal programs. It's an enormous stretch to contend that these worthwhile projects were done for political gain or influence. The foundation's service area encompassed far more territory than the six counties of the 20th Senatorial District, and grants were awarded for projects impacting residents in each of 13 counties throughout northeastern and north central Pennsylvania.
Those who say that the person given the directorship was sure to be a very popular person are wrong. The job of informing more than 80 percent of applicants that their requests were declined was no easy task and, I assure you, did nothing to boost my popularity.
I've had aspirations of running for public office for the better part of my adult life. This has never been a secret. When the opportunity to run for state Senator presented itself last fall, I recognized the potential conflict of interest by remaining at the foundation, and I resigned my position immediately.
I believe in openness and accountability, and the foundation's records are public and available for anyone to inspect. Similarly, my Senate campaign is based on, and will continue to reflect, the qualities of fairness, honesty and integrity -- qualities essential in a Senator of the Commonwealth.
R. Saunders will be submitting a response to Baker's response in the next few days. He assures me that her response is factually incorrect.
"I was aware of my opponents preparations to secure this seat last May when I made my decision to run, but as I went around the District people told me that they wanted someone who is from the community, a business man and conservative leader who has always earned his living by serving others in the private sector. Someone who has always been transparent with the voters - in short - not a politician. That is why I am running. My opponent has worked hard to ensure her political future, but this year voters are looking for someone who has more allegiance to the voters than to power politics."
I always thought that the BRF was a division of Pabst. Someone should come up with a new jingle. I guess you want a comment.
"It would be interesting to see if any other applicants were considered to head the BRF. Also, upon looking at the Foundation Awards, I see why there are Baker signs in so many doctors' offices."
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Felt Springs for a Trip to Richmond
We're back in town after a short trip to Richmond, Virginia. W. Mark Felt just starting receiving his royalty checks from his new book, and he decided to spring for a limousine to take us to and from the NASCAR race in Richmond.
It was a great race. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. won. It's just too bad that the race was a sell out. W. had to sit in the limo during the whole race, because we didn't have enough money to pay for a scalped ticket for him. I guess it wasn't that bad, because loud noises frighten W.
We'll be posting bright and early tomorrow, with a story that will blow your socks off.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Coming Soon to A Blog Near You
20thsenatorial Announces Its Upcoming Schedule
We are pleased to announce that we have a special feature article which will be posted in the near future. We have received portions of the article, and it is a blockbuster.
We also did an interview with the solicitor from Wilkes-Barre City. He has informed us that the Times Leader editorial about the Haggerty law suit contained serious inaccuracies about the Times Leader's dealings with the City of Wilkes-Barre.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Issue 9 ----- Pay Raise
Candidates Express Their Views on Last Year's Pay Raise
We asked the candidates for their responses to 13 questions. Over the next few days, we will post their answers. We put the candidates names in the blogomatic candidate randomization selector, so the order of their answers is totally random. Here's the ninth of our questions.
What are your thought’s on last year’s pay raise?
I will never take a pay raise while in office. The process needs to be examined immediately. the minimum wage has not changed, fire and ambulance companies are suffering; yet, the Legislature felt it necessary to give themselves a raise AT 2 A.M.!
Last year's pay raise was excessive and abusive. The manner in which it was passed was an insult to every citizen of Pennsylvania. I became Mayor of Kingston in 1998 with a salary of $8,000 and no benefits. Nine years later, I still get $8,000 and no benefits. I never asked for a pay raise, I never sought a pay raise, and I never wanted a pay raise. Actions speak louder than words.
I am opposed to the pay raise and, if elected, I will not vote for a legislative pay raise in the future. Government must be open and accountable, and the process by which the legislature approved last year’s pay raise was neither. I will work to ensure that we are answerable to the people in all matters of state government.
It was unconstitutional and I worked for its repeal, but I formed my campaign committee in May of 2005 (before the pay raise). My campaign is not a reaction to one issue that has already been resolved; it is a serious challenge to the uncontrolled growth of state government. If you want to know what the real upcoming crisis is, look at the looming pension crisis.
I certainly was not happy with this late night pay grab. I am very pleased that this pay raise was repealed. It indicates to me that the legislators heard the outcry of their constituents.
The pay raise was unconstitutional. It also showed that legislators are out for themselves and not for the people they are supposed to represent. I plan on being a public servant. The legislative seats have become glamorous positions. It’s time for some fresh faces in Harrisburg. If you’re sick and tired of politicians, then I’m your candidate. I come from the ranks of the working class, and I’ll look out for your needs.
Pike County Republican Women Respond to the Lisa Baker Lovefest
Yolanda Goldsack Blames The Lovefest on Two Disrespectful Men
20thsenatorial, in its never ending battle to wake up sleeping dogs, has come upon the response of Yolanda Goldsack, Chairwoman of the Pike County Republican Women (PCRW.) We reported earlier this week that The PCRW's Dinner had turned into a Lisa Baker Lovefest. See "The Emperor is Wearing No Clothes." Apparently we weren't the only ones who thought so. Here's Yolanda's unedited letter to the Board of the PCRW.
I received a phone call on May 1st from Jim Haggerty's office complaining as Mr. Sutton had done at the dinner that this function was not a function for all Republican Candidates, but a function endorsing Lisa Baker.
They pointed out that on the tables there were flowers put there by Bill and Austin LaMac endorsing Lisa Baker.
When Mr. LaMac Sr. was asked by Council Member Lynn Murco to please remove the flowers from the table he responded with "We'll be friends after the election" and refused to remove the flowers.
To add more fuel to the fire making this look more like a function for Lisa Baker, there were also Silver bags placed on the tables by Mr. Forbes that read Forbes forged like steel for Lisa Baker. Lisa Baker signs were also posted at the Head Table giving the impression that the Pike County Council of Republican Women was endorsing Lisa Baker.
All other Republican Candidates and their supporters respected the instructions in the invitation that there would be a separate table provided for their campaign material.
The actions of these two men was an embarrassment to the Women's Council and to the Lisa Baker Camp.
It is my recommendation that a formal letter by the Republican Women's Council be sent to all Candidates apologizing for the actions of the two men that showed no respect for the Women's Council and their fellow Republicans.
The Council needs to make it clear that the Council during the Primary does not endorse any candidate.
I further recommend that an emergency Board meeting be held ASAP to formulate this letter.
I also recommend that at future functions it should be made clear in the invitations that any campaign material placed on the dinner tables will be removed and Candidate Signs cannot be posted at the head table.
You No Answer Our Questions, We No Posta Your Press Releases
New Policy for Posting of Candidate Press Releases
20thsenatorial has instituted a new policy. Director of Rules and Regulations of 20thsenatorial Dr. Earl Butz, pictured to the right, announced the implementation of a new 20thsenatorial policy for candidate submissions.
"We have been asking candidates specific questions on specific issues. Some candidates have been very cooperative in giving responses, others have not. From this point forward (May 3, 2006,) we will not post candidate press releases if they have not answered our questions regarding specific issues. We are not looking for "War and Peace" length answers to our questions, just answers. If you cannot do the courtesy of answering our questions, we will not do you the courtesy of posting your press releases."
Vernon Wormer, Enforcer of 20thsenatorial Rules and Regulations (pictured above left) has also chimed in on this matter.
"Any candidate who does not answers questions posed to them by 20thsenatorial will be placed on double secret probation until the time that the questions are answered. Your cooperation will be greatly appreciated."
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Times Leader Does It Again
Law Suit Against Haggerty Has Nothing To Do With Senate Election
Sometimes it's difficult to write some of these blogs. Other times it's easy. And finally, sometimes we all just sit around and shake our heads. The shaking our heads usually comes after reading Dave Iseman and his editorial staff at the Times Leader. Well, the schizophrenic Wilkes-Barre daily has done it again. Here's today's lead editorial. Schizophrenic Daily's Editorial.
Haggerty said last week that the law suit against him over the police blotter was politically motivated and that its timing was meant to do him damage in the May 16th primary. Well, the Times Leader has debunked that.
"The election didn't have anything to do with the timing of our lawsuit. Our beef with Haggerty isn't anything new. We've been fighting with him about police blotter since November 2002. "
So, if this battle has been going on for 3 1/2 years, why didn't you sue him 3 1/2 years ago? Or maybe 2 1/2 years ago? Or maybe one year ago? Twenty days before the election! What were you waiting for --- your Biorhythms to be peaking, a fortune cookie that said "good day to file a law suit," or Mars and Venus to be in a synchronis orbit with the Earth? Your own editorial proves that your law suit was politically motivated. Believe it or not, we are not that stupid.
I guess it is much easier if you don't think when you read the Times Leader.
Susquehanna GOP Women Endorse Baker
Another Endorsement for Baker
We received the following press release from the Baker camp. It is printed in its entirety.
Baker Endorsed by Susquehanna County Council of Republican Women
Endorsement is a first for the organization.
DALLAS – The Baker for Senate campaign is pleased to announce that the Susquehanna County Council of Republican Women has endorsed the candidacy of Lisa Baker in the 20th Senatorial District race.
“The Council works to educate women about Republican principles, stimulate interest in public issues, provide political education, and increase the number of Republican women voters and elected officials,” said council president Sue Eddleston. “We have never endorsed in a primary before, but our membership is very enthusiastic about Lisa’s experience and platform. Lisa knows our community, knows the issues, and has a record of getting things done for over 20 years. We are proud to lend our support.”
“The Susquehanna County Council of Republican Women is dedicated to the advancement of Republican principles and the promotion of honest government,” said Baker. “I’m grateful to have the support of this dynamic group of Republican leaders.”
Candidates Tell us When and Why
Four out of Six Give 20thsenatorial answers (20thsenatorial exclusive)
Last week, 20th Senatorial asked the candidates a simple question: When and why did you decide to run? We received answers from four of the candidates. They are posted in the order in which we received them. We speculated as to when the other two made up their minds to run.
In August of 2004, after two successful years as President of the Pennsylvania Chiropractic Association, the Association's legislative staff asked me when I was going to run for public office. I laughed it off until my wife gave me an elbow in the ribs and said "I think you should consider it. I would like to have you represent me in Harrisburg." As I watched the property tax debate stumble along and gambling legislation pass with no real hope for property tax relief and no real taxpayer controls on spending, I decided she was right. As an entrepreneur, I researched the feasibility and politics of the district and decided I could win running as who I am "a Reagan Conservative." In May of 2005 I formed a committee and began raising money and assembling my team, traveling throughout the district meeting people in preparation for my October 4th announcement.
As my wife tells the story it was on our second date. We been married 28 years. Actually, It was before Mr. Lemmond's last election. I felt that we need a change and as the next senator, I will be an aggressive and active lawmaker who will lead the fight to reform the legislative process in order to restore public faith in state government. Whether it be property tax relief, more efficiency in education or affordable health care and prescription drugs for our citizens, I think that our citizens need to have some one like me who will be open and accountable for my actions as our state senator.
I used to complain a lot about the politicians in our area, and then one day one of my co-workers said I should run for office. This happened sometime last year, I can't exactly pinpoint the date. When I saw that Lemmond was retiring after 20 years of service, I thought this would be a good opportunity to enter the public service realm.
Campaigning is a real enjoyable experience. I have fun attending events, sharing my ideas, and meeting new people. I have worn out a pair of shoes from walking around District 20. Although it's been a good exercise program, I also have been eating quite well at all the dinners and breakfasts.
I made my decision to run shortly after Senator Lemmond decided to retire.
The experience of being Mayor of the 20th District's largest community made me the best candidate for the job. Eight years of balancing budgets, handling hundreds of personnel matters, negotiating multi-year/mutli-million dollar labor contracts, and providing unparalleled municipal services, all while cutting taxes six times, I believe shows that I am uniquely qualified to be your next Senator.
Bigus did not respond, but we did find this on his website. "I promise you that I will put forth 100% effort to not only keep NEPA a great place to live, but to make it better than it has ever been. We have everything here and with some input and planning from a wide array of people like you, I think NEPA can be a model for other Pennsylvanian and American communities".
As far as when Bigus decided to run, if the registration of his web site (bigus4senate.com) is any indication, that was registered on December 22, 2005. We additionally note that "bigusforsenate" was registered earlier that day through Domains By Proxy, Inc. Domains By Proxy is a company that, for a fee, becomes the named owner of your website. They keep the real owner's name in confidence. They pledge "Your domain is registered in the name of Domains By Proxy -- so our contact information is made public -- not yours. " We have it on very good information that the private owner of that name is in the Baker camp.
Baker did not respond to our question. As far as why, we took this from her website. "The citizens of the 20th Senatorial District count on having a Senator who is honest and decent. They expect to have a Senator who will represent their interests with diligence, integrity and competency. These are values that I cherish, too, and they are values that I have worked hard to incorporate into my personal and professional life."
With regard to the when, we have determined that the timing of that is at least as far back as 2000, if not before. bakerforsenate.com was registered to Lisa Baker on March 31, 2000 through Register.com.
Just for the curious, here are the dates when the other candidates registered their websites (domain names.)
McNamara: April 6, 2006
Madeira: June 1, 2005
Sutton: January 17, 2006
Haggerty: September 25, 2005
Madeira Weighs in on the Property Rights Protection Act
Madeira Urges Governor to Sign
We received the following press release from the Madeira camp. It is posted below in its entirety.
Madeira applauds legislatures efforts to preserve Property Rights.Urges governor to sign immediately.
(DALLAS, PENNSYLVANIA) Yesterday, (April 26th) the Pennsylvania legislature unanimously agreed to begin the process of restoring the property rights of Pennsylvanians. The “Property Rights Protection Act”, Senate Bill 881 and its companion bill, House Bill 2054, will prohibit eminent domain abuse by restricting taking private property for private commercial uses, tightening the definition of “blight” that is used to condemn private property, and increase reimbursements to private property owners when eminent domain is exercised against them. The Supreme Court ruled last July in the Kelo v. City of New London decision that property could be seized by the government and then resold for private commercial uses.
David Madeira, candidate for the 20th District Senate Seat and strong opponent of the recent Supreme Court decision, was pleased by the vote. “Congratulations to the House and Senate for unanimously supporting this first step to restore property rights in PA. More work needs to be done to ensure that the definition of blight is not abused, but I urge the Governor to sign this into legislation immediately.”
At a meeting last evening, the Blooming Grove Republican Club asked the candidates for the 20th District Senatorial seat their stance on this issue. Madeira strongly supported property rights while Jim Haggerty, a lawyer, argued with the crowd, saying they did not understand the Kelo decision and how it is critical to democracy. He said that in a Democracy a majority of the people in a community should be able to take away private property rights for the “greater good.”
Susquehanna, Pike and Wayne Counties are currently facing one of the first backlashes of the Supreme Court’s Kelo decision. The New York Regional Interconnect project plans to route high-voltage power lines that would dip into Susquehanna County and run east to follow along the upper Delaware River. The power lines will follow the Norfolk Southern rail lines that cross the river into Pennsylvania in several areas. The company is already talking about taking private property for this privately funded commercial project that will benefit New York City. This project will put companies, such as Kittatinny Canoes, highly dependent on the upper Delaware River for its business, in peril.
Madeira, who is against the project if it jeopardizes the scenic and cultural resources of the region, said “I am very concerned it will be destructive to the tourism-based economy in Pike and Wayne Counties. Not only will they take private property, but the project will damage a major source of income for many of these residents for the benefit of the residents of New York State.”
Monday, May 01, 2006
The Emperor is Wearing No Clothes
Sutton Calls Him (or in this case Her) On It
We were duped. We were told that the Pike County Republican Women were holding a candidates' night. Okay, we bit. Sounded like a good idea. The only problem was that it wasn't a candidates' night. It was a Lisa Baker Lovefest. There were Baker signs throughout the room, including on the head table. Each place setting had a little bouquet of flowers, courtesy of Baker. Each setting also included a "gift" from Harry Forbes (who's forged in steel for Lisa Baker.)
"I felt like walking back out to my car, grabbing one of my signs, and pasting it on the lectern. At least that way, there'd be at least one other candidate's sign in the room. We (the other candidates) were told there would be a table for our campaign materials, nothing more. Everyone was expecting a level playing field, everyone except Baker, I guess. The problem is, with the exception of Baker, we (the other candidates) were never told we could place our signs in the room or anything else."
I went up to Carl afterwards and told him I admired him for saying what needed to be said. It was unfortunate that he had to use up his time to point out the injustice then be chastised repeatedly from the podium afterwards.
I too challenged those present that the Republican Party is at a crossroads. I reminded them that President Reagan said the most terrifying words in the English language are “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” I said that if we continue to elect Republicans who don’t support our platform, but vote for pay raises, pension increases and vote-buying giveaways, voters will reject us and we will lose our majority status.
Politics is about both relationships and ideas. I try to build relationships everywhere I go, but ideas are what good government is all about. Lisa has chosen to make her campaign about who she knows and who knows her and it is an effective strategy with the “in crowd”, but leaves most “average people” feeling left out. In fact, my supporters have experienced “shunning” for breaking ranks with party leadership, but they are with me because they like what I stand for.
I have only sought endorsements from those aligned with my ideals. For the last year while campaigning all across this district, I regularly have people come up after events like this and tell me that while they can’t support me publicly because of peer pressure, they will be voting for me.
But without a doubt, the highlight of the night was the prefatory remarks of Carl Sutton. He was like the kid who said the emperor wasn't wearing any clothes. Here's what he said.
"I'm new to politics, but I'm smart enough to know the difference between a primary election and the general election. I've run a clean campaign, an honorable campaign. But I'm disgusted by these signs on the wall for Baker and the ones on the table in front of me. And the fact that a candidate for another office wasn't even invited to attend here tonight. Then there's the flowers on the table, the bag of treats handed out. Let me tell you, if you're vote can't be bought, then listen to me."
What summed up the evening better than anything else, were whispered comments between two friends in the back of the room. "That guy's got guts. He's saying what everybody's thinking. " To which his friend replied. "Somebody oughta pin a medal on that boy."
Baker and Bigus were asked to comment on the affair, but we have not received responses from them.
Another Baker Endorsement
Building Industry Association of Northeastern Pennsylvania Endorses Baker
We received the following press release for the Baker camp. It is posted in its entirety.
DALLAS – The Baker for Senate Campaign is pleased to announce that Lisa Baker has received the endorsement of the Building Industry Association of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BIA-NEPA).
BIA-NEPA represents 416 member businesses (associate and builder members) in Luzerne and surrounding counties.
Issue 8 ----- Environment versus Development
Candidates Express Their the Protecting the Environment and Development
We asked the candidates for their responses to 13 questions. Over the next few days, we will post their answers. We put the candidates names in the blogomatic candidate randomization selector, so the order of their answers is totally random. Here's the eighth of our questions.
Pike and Wayne County are the two fastest growing counties in Pennsylvania. How would you protect the environment and still allow residential and commercial improvements?
I have a visible track-record of promoting commercial and industrial development without sacrificing open space that is so much a part of our heritage. I will continue to protect farmland and greenspace from suburban sprawl and overzealous development. I support conservation programs, such as the Pennsylvania Greenways program, Growing Greener, and the Easement Purchase Program. I will be supportive of initiatives which preserve and protect our lands and waters for fishing, hiking, and farming.
As you can see by my earlier answers, I think that the General Assembly needs to provide leadership. These counties and their municipalities need guidance for planning . Currently, individual municipalities control growth within their boundaries. The state should be encouraging regionalization to allow municipalities to jointly address these issues.
Bigus did not respond to our questionnaire, but here's some stuff we took from his website on a similar issue. There needs to be more programs for farmers. The family farm is fading rapidly. There may be a chance to support our current family farms and provide programming to keep them in operation.
The growing population has caused property values to go up, which puts farmland at risk. A farmer in Wayne County could make more off of selling his land than farming it. This puts our economy at risk when farms leave. To preserve farmland, we need to encourage alternative energy sites which will make acreage more profitable. This includes windfarms and farmer owned ethanol plants. The community can grow while we keep farmland open.
I believe elimination of property taxes is the single most significant move we can make to balance the need to protect the environment and preserve private property rights while still allow for normal growth and development. Private efforts at preservation, like the North Branch Land Trust, of which I am a member, also hold significant promise in this regard. We need to take responsibility for our own future.
These decisions must be made by the local communities, but state government can take a lead by encouraging municipal cooperation, including comprehensive regional planning, multi-municipal zoning and other smart growth policies.
I will work to give local governments the tools and incentives to work together in dealing with these issues. Many pit development versus the environment; however, I truly believe that you can do right by both with greater municipal cooperation, planning and consensus building.
Did Baker Build the Tunkhannock Viaduct?
Sources Say "No"
We have received some inquiries about whether or not Lisa Baker built the Tunkhannock Viaduct in Nicholson. We sent Buzz on the road to investigate. Buzz spoke with the former Mayor of Nicholson, "Diamond" Joe Quimby. Quimby said, "The viaduct was built in 1915, so Lisa did not built it. She didn't build a lot of things she takes credit for. So I guess you could say she built the viaduct, too."
Glad we could clear that up for you. Buzz will be looking into, Baker's involvement with the Panama Canal, the Empire State Building, and the Pyramids of Giza.