Wednesday, December 31, 2014

What deserves our attention in 2015?

Last week's column caught me off guard, but I'm already gearing up for my first column of the New Year. What's the biggest issue facing us in 2015? Property taxes are still in my cross hairs, but is there something else that deserves more attention? Just in case you missed it, here's last week's rant. And, when you're sitting around the house this weekend, take a moment or two to think about what really gets you fired up. It might just be something we should all be a little ticked off about.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Trying to put a bow on 2014 just won't work

More people than I imagined actually showed up in this year’s mid-term election. I was predicting somewhere along the lines of our primary, which was dismal. Less than 19 percent of voters in the county level and less than 7 percent in the county seat decided it was worth their while to vote back in May. The general election was much healthier, with more than 40 percent turnout on the county level. But honestly, I can’t in good conscious put a bow on turnout until we get a little closer to the 70 and 80 percent turnout, and sometimes 90 percent, we see in third-world countries. When we do get there, or at least get close to those numbers, perhaps then we could take a look at the size of our government on the state and federal levels. For this week’s rant, though, let’s concentrate on state government. Did you know we have the second largest state legislature in the United States? Well, did you know our second largest state legislature actually costs twice as much as the largest, California’s, by about double? Let’s try putting a bow on this slippery little devil when 2015 rolls around, shall we? There have been several attempts in the past. A couple of years ago Speaker of the House Sam Smith offered up a bill to reduce the size of state government. The first time around it died in the Senate because of inaction. Surprise, surprise. The second time around, just last year, the speaker split his effort into two bills, one for the House and one for the Senate, but of course, members of both bodies decided to tack amendments on that, I’m speculating, they knew would probably table the proposals. There’s a lot going on in Harrisburg that even the most experienced bow tier would have trouble getting into one shiny box, but we simply cannot give up on the effort. Closer to home, we did pull off a major redesign of all of our newspapers in the Philadelphia area. And, we actually put some bows on them during Breast Cancer Awareness month. On a personal level, I joined the newly formed board of the Greater Norristown Society of the Arts and we’ve been working extremely hard this year to breathe new life into the Centre Theater. We’re nowhere near putting a bow on the theater, but we are making strides toward getting the society to a solvent level. We’re launching a new music school that we’re hoping will become all the rage. Think about it, a music school in Norristown. What’s next, a symphony orchestra? And, of course, it wouldn’t be a rant if I didn’t end this week’s column with the biggest missing bow of the year, property tax reform. We just don’t seem to be able to get that bowed tied, even a little bit. Just when you think we at least have a piece of ribbon wrapped around a portion of the problem someone comes along with a pair of scissors.

Monday, December 8, 2014

To be fair, state legislator pay should be frozen

As I look back on my columns for 2014 it seems like I’ve written one long column, I’m talking novel long, about the need for property tax reform in Pennsylvania. Along the way I complained about some of the things our state legislature deemed more important than providing relief to property owners, who are being held hostage in the name of public education, and while I know my words have not fallen on deaf ears, our elected officials have been successful in sidestepping the issue the entire legislative session. In their defense they have been busy, though. This past legislative session a total of 369 proposals were enacted, according to, a Harrisburg-based media outlet. House members introduced 3,160 proposals, and 1,091 resolutions, while their counterparts in the Senate introduce 1,981 proposals and more than 500 resolutions. Man, that’s a lot of paperwork. Somehow or another, our state legislature found a way to come together to pass 369 bills during this past legislative session. And yet not a single measure on property tax relief found its way to the governor’s desk. To be fair, though, neither did a measure on liquor privatization or pension reform. You know that guy in the office that always looks like he’s busier than a one-legged man in a butt kicking contest, that’s our state legislature. While I’m not one to complain, as I tried to explain in my complete rant in this week's column, which you can find in its entirety right here, I’m suggesting we freeze the salaries of our state legislators right where they are.