Archive for the 'Politics' Category

Butler Tea Party a Success . . . Sour Grapes for Some (and—News Flash–Paul Huber spotted wearing cowboy boots)

Written by Roberta Biros

What a weekend! It was an example of political wrangling at its best (and worst). In the end there were winners and there were losers, and I’m here to report what I saw first hand.

NOTE: I recently had a friend say that they appreciate my style of writing because I manage to cut through all the garbage and get to the basics. That is what I’ve attempted to do in this case. There will be those that think I’ve cut away too much, but I’ve only cut out those things that muddied the waters. If you don’t like what is left, I apologize . . . but . . . as always, it’s just my opinion.

Background Information

A Tea Party was organized in Butler PA. The first sign of the event to “regular people” like you and I were signs that popped up in the Butler area advertising the date, time, and location. It was pointed out to me early on, however, that the simple street address that was included on those signs was actually the address for Kelly Chevrolet and Cadillac on Pittsburgh Road in Butler. It seemed fishy . . . it appeared to be a set up . . . it came across as an event ORGANIZED AND FUNDED by Mike Kelly in an effort to hijack the Tea Party movement.

On Friday evening (late) an email message was sent out by the people at the Clayton Grabb campaign. The message stated that “we the undersigned” have decided to boycott the event and hold our own event on the same day and at the same time as a form of protest against the original event (I paraphrased there, but the actual release can be read HERE).

On Saturday, a message was sent out in response by candidate Steve Fisher. Mr. Fisher made it very clear that he never approved the first letter and he did not approve of the boycott. He had every intention of attending both events, but his first priority was to the Tea Party as he had already given his word and commitment to them (again, I paraphrase, but you can read his release HERE).

I published everything. I then promised that I would attend both events in an effort to see for myself EXACTLY what was going on. I did what I said I would do, and now I’m here to summarize everything for all of you.

My Plan

My husband and I made the hour long trip to Butler on Sunday morning. We arrived at the primary event location (Mike Kelly’s car dealership) at about 11am. We made a brief visit across the street for coffee, donuts, news papers, and a rest room brake before making our way to the Mike Kelly parking lot. I approached a group of event participants (who were all wearing “Freedom Patriots” t-shirts). I openly explained who I was and asked if they would be willing to talk to me about the event and the problems that had surfaced during the past few days. They were happy to do so, and I’ll report my findings below.

At about 1PM, my husband and I took a drive to the secondary event at Alameda Park. There were signs leading into the pavilion area. At that time only Clayton Grabb was on hand. I left my husband with a pad, pencil, and camera so that he could cover the start of the second event. I returned to the primary event location (the Kelly lot) with a camera-equipped Blackberry, a pen, and paper. The goal was to cover both events simultaneously, but I would leave the Tea Party (primary event) AS SOON as the presentations were completed. I would then head over to the second location to take part in that event also.

A plan was in place for full coverage of both events. My husband and I went in our separate directions with clear instructions.

An Overview of the Butler Tea Party event at Mike Kelly’s car dealership (and some background information)

This event was a real Tea Party. The organizers planned a great mix of speakers, presenters, and political analysts and politicians. They had booths representing various groups and charitable organizations, and they were focused on offering an informative program. The organizers admitted that this was their FIRST Tea Party, but they were excited to get involved in the process.

When the organizers first made their decision to have a Tea Party, they attempted to rent a park location. At first they were told that the fee would be $250 for the park rental. They explained that after the park found out that the event would be a Tea Party, the price changed to $1000 per hour for a total of $3000 plus insurance. They couldn’t afford a price anywhere close to $3000, and felt that they could not get a large enough venue to handle a crowd that could reach 2000. Mike Kelly stepped in and offered the use of his lot at no charge. The Freedom Patriots group jumped at the offer. Kelly provided a free (and very spacious) venue and he offered the use of his electrical service. The Freedom Patriots were left to organize the event, invite speakers and vendors, and they were also left with other responsibilities like acquiring portable rest rooms. A deal had been struck.

I estimate that between 250 and 400 people were in attendance, which was pretty good considering the day long threat of rain. It was absolutely a REAL TEA PARTY that was attended by REAL TEA PARTIERS. It was not an advertisement for Mike Kelly and it was NOT focused on the race for the 3rd Congressional District. It was a gathering of concerned citizens discussing issues of history and politics. It was proud patriots taking advantage of their freedom to assemble. It was supported by a handful of candidates that showed integrity by supporting the Tea Party movement. In exchanged they were each given five minutes to speak at the end of the event . . . in the wind and rain.

ABOVE: A photo of the crowd at the Tea Party from the far front corner.

BELOW: A tent was provided for the speakers while they waited for an opportunity
to address the crowd. The three congressional candidates that attended
(Steve Fisher, Mike Kelly, and Martha Moore) sat together.


Congratulations to the Freedom Patriots for their success in their very first Tea Party! It was a difficult task, but you did a great job in pulling it all together. I give them credit for providing the hard work, time, and effort, and I congratulate them for keeping their heads held high even after attacks from naysayers and attempts to derail their event.

An Overview of the candidates that spoke at the Tea Party

The list of speakers (in presentation order) was as follows:

Darryl Metcalfe, candidate for Lt. Governor
Steve Fisher, candidate for 3rd Congressional District
Martha Moore, candidate for 3rd Congressional District
Mary Shaff, representative for the campaign for Jean Craig Pepper for Lt. Governor
Mike Kelly, candidate for 3rd Congressional District

Highlights from the speakers?

Daryl Metcalfe wants to create a “new type of Lt. Governor’s office” in that he wants it to become the “Accountability Office”. A great concept that I really liked.

In a particularly classy move, Steve Fisher thanked Mike Kelly for his involvement in the event and thanked him for the use of the Kelly property for the Tea Party. He then explained that the “Tea Party is not about us (the candidates) . . . it is about YOU (the concerned citizens that attend).” It was a comment that struck a chord with attendees, and it was something that sorely needed to be said.

Martha Moore made a point of explaining to the ladies in the crowd that the day “was a bad hair day” and apologized for her appearance which was a result of rain and wind. It made me laugh as I was experiencing the same “bad hair day” as Dr. Moore (but that is clearly why God invented hats). Dr. Moore continues to make me smile.

Jean Craig Pepper’s representative spoke briefly about Craig Pepper’s campaign and attempted to provide the same humorous flair as Craig Pepper herself. It was a brief but interesting presentation.

Mike Kelly closed the event by reminding everyone that attended that the event was supposed to be about the Tea Party. He stressed . . . “let the record show that on Sunday, May 2nd, 2010, a Tea Party was held in Butler Pennsylvania”. It was a brief speech, and he did not “show boat”. He kept his comments short and sweet because WE ALL were suffering from the wind and rain . . . his brevity was appreciated. It was yet another classy move that I witnessed on this day.

An Overview of the Candidate Forum at Alameda Park (and some background information)

At the conclusion of the closing statements by Mike Kelly (about 4pm), I headed for my car. Due to some limitations in parking spaces, I was blocked in. It took me about 5 twists and turns of my vehicle in an effort to “skootch” out of the parking spot, but I managed to exit the parking lot without doing any damage (whew). I quickly made the ~5 mile trip to the secondary location.

The Candidate Forum (the secondary event) was held in Odd Fellows Gazeob in Alameda Park. I tried to be careful not to “squeal tires” while serpentining the parking lot as the event was already well underway. Upon arrival I quickly parked and headed up into the pavilion. I took a seat beside my husband. I quietly asked him how things were going, and he responded “it’s been very heated”.


ABOVE: A photo of the beginning of the event during the mix and mingle session.

BELOW: Another photo of the mix and mingle session from inside the shelter.


According to my husband, the event began with a mix and mingle session. The presentation portion of the event began at about 3pm. I arrived at about 4:15pm and the “forum” portion of the event was still underway. There appeared to be less than 50 people in the pavilion, although it was apparent there were more attendees earlier (as demonstrated by gaps in the parking spaces in the lot). The format was very casual. The three candidates in attendance (Clayton Grabb, Ed Franz, and Paul Huber) stood at one end of the shelter and answered questions in rotation from attendees that were seated at picnic tables in the center of the shelter. There was no specific format for questions or answers. It was very relaxed and unrestricted. Unfortunately, the lack of structure also lead to lack of self-control from some attendees.

Of the <50 people in attendance, it is our estimation that 90+% were friends, family, and firm supporters of either Grabb, Franz, or Huber. The shelter was not filled with “undecided voters that were trying to learn about the candidates”. Instead it was our impression that the crowd was an assembly of very firm supporters of one of the candidates in attendance. The event, therefore, became a catalyst for unfriendly and (at times) unruly banter between attendees and candidates. It amounted to candidates and their respective camps arguing with one another.

That was the case until shortly after my arrival. A few minutes after I got to the event, Dr. Martha Moore’s car entered the parking lot. Dr. Moore, who also attended the primary event, made the trip to the secondary event. As she pulled into the parking lot the criticisms had already begun. As she approached the pavilion, candidate Ed Franz chose to throw some fuel on the fire by “joking” that they should now conclude the event (before Dr. Moore reached the shelter). Upon entry, Dr. Moore was offered the opportunity to speak and her arrival was met with booos and yelling.

I yelled from the back of the pavilion “come on now . . . give her a chance to speak”, but my words were ignored (as I was sort of considered the enemy at this point too). None of the original three candidates (Grabb, Franz, or Huber) stepped forward to stop the nonsense. They let it go.

The line of questioning to Dr. Moore was regarding her decision to attend the first event. They questioned her about the “fake Tea Party” and the “fake Tea Partiers”. At one point (out of frustration), Dr. Moore said “why don’t you ask Roberta . . . she was there”. I felt so bad for the beating that she was taking. It was unfair, but it was not MY place to step in to help her. The individuals who should have helped her stood silent.

At about 4:45, it was announced that time was almost up. It was suggested that the forum again break down into a mix and mingle session so that those in attendance could have the opportunity to talk with Dr. Moore. Again the crowd erupted and an attendee stood up and yelled “if she wanted to talk to us she could have been here before . . .but instead she went to the other event”. More yelling ensued.

I’ve been to a number of political events in the past two years. I can only compare the behavior in this event to ONE. It was a DEMOCRAT event in March of 2009 where a crowd of angry Democrats attempted to shout down a conservative candidate (who also happened to be a Democrat). I wrote briefly about that experience HERE. However, that event didn’t come any where near the hostility that could be felt in the Odd Fellows Gazebo on Sunday afternoon.

I’m sure there will be people that attended the event at Alameda Park that will complain about these comments and they’ll try to say how wonderful the event was. I suppose that if you are on the side that is “throwing stones”, you have a different perspective. I, on the other hand, have NEVER supported beating up on the little guy. It sickens me to see an innocent individual and candidate (like Dr. Martha Moore) verbally attacked while a group of three men (who are also candidates) stood by with their hands in their pockets and watched.

I challenge ANYONE to refute the fact that one of those men/candidates shouldn’t have stepped forward to say “please treat Dr. Moore with respect as she has taken the time to join us today, and we thank her for being here”. They did not, and I lost respect for each and every one of them at that moment. The truth is, they were all still “angry” with Dr. Moore and saw her as the enemy. Why? . . . Because she dared to attend a TEA PARTY.

The Butler Fiasco was caused by one problem compounding another

There were lots of fingers to be pointed if you want to “blame” someone for the problems that occurred on Sunday. The Freedom Patriots did not fully understand the political toes that were being stepped on, and Mike Kelly didn’t make a point of explaining that the choice to use his car lot might appear biased. Mike Kelly took advantage of the situation, and it was a brilliant move on his part. He was able to show that he was charitable and he managed to get his name tied to a potentially high-profile event. If Clayton Grabb, Paul Huber, or Ed Franz could have held an event for 400+ people in their back yards, they would have also jumped at the opportunity (and don’t EVEN try to tell me otherwise).

It was the responsibility of the Tea Party organizers to refuse Kelly’s offer, but they were not politically savvy enough to realize the mistake that they had made. They didn’t see the event as a “forum for the 3rd Congressional Candidates”. They were concerned with holding a Tea Party and they didn’t understand the complicated political undertones that were involved.

Unfortunately, the other candidates (Huber, Moore, and Franz led by Grabb) began a campaign against the TEA PARTY organizers. Rather than doing their homework and taking the time to discuss the problem with the Freedom Patriots, they took it upon themselves to be the judge and jury. They made a VERY BOLD MOVE and took a stand to boycott the Tea Party. Their biggest mistake, however, was in hastily drafting an “official notice” without first crossing their T’s and dotting their I’s. They authored a “we the undersigned” letter without realizing that that type of document is intended to be drafted as a group. Instead, the letter was drafted by a few without getting the sign off of the other candidates for which they were speaking. That is a HUGE error. PERIOD. They “signed” the names of candidates, but did so without their full and explicit written authorization. It was a bold move, but it was a mistake.

Lastly, intelligent people learn from history. So, I’d like to offer a reference to the Nixon years and Watergate . . . “It’s not the crime, it’s the cover up”.

If you make a mistake, just stand up and say “crap, I made a huge mistake”. Don’t compound the original mistake by explaining . . . blaming other people . . . pointing fingers . . . and throwing more people under the bus. Just say “I made a mistake and I apologize for it”.

Winners and Losers?

In the end, there were winners. The biggest winners were the Freedom Patriots who pulled off an excellent Tea Party and I congratulate them. The other winners were Mike Kelly, Steve Fisher, and Dr. Martha Moore, who managed to demonstrate that the people are more important than the candidates. The Tea Party event was not about any of them, and they were happy to take a back seat to the “real” event.

The losers? You know what I’m going to say, and I won’t apologize for it.

The losers were Clayton Grabb, Ed Franz, and Paul Huber. They made the Tea Party event about politics rather than about people gathering to celebrate freedom. They tried to put their own candidacies above the ideals of the Tea Party movement. Most importantly, they made this about anger and fighting. When given the opportunity to stand up and try to calm the waters (by defending Dr. Moore, for instance) they chose to take a back seat and watch.

This was just one event, and it was simply one more opportunity for concerned citizens to compare the candidates that are competing for the Republican nomination for the 3rd Congressional Seat. There is still time for these individuals to stand up to right the wrongs, and there is still time for others to crash and burn. This one day (Sunday, May 2nd) will not decide the election, but it is just another opportunity to see how these candidates work under stress.

The Highlight? Paul Huber’s Boots!

Lastly, I’d like to make reference to my subtitle of this blog post. The header photo is a picture of Paul Huber’s cowboy boots. I’ve always seen Paul dressed like a business man, and I LOVED seeing him dress down a bit for an event. I laughed when I saw it because it was so darn “cool”, and I told him that it would be the headline. There were many witnesses to my promise, and I always keep my promises.

As always, just my opinion.
~Mercer County Conservatives

HEADLINE: No one was arrested at the Mercer PA GOP Meet and Greet

Written by Roberta Biros

All was calm and friendly at Hempfield Station One on Thursday night for the Meet and Greet of Republican Candidates that was sponsored by the Mercer County GOP. Fair warning from this “blogmaster” prevented confrontation and kept “greedy incumbents’ out of the limelight. These were all good things. I attended the affair with “backup” and bailout cash, but it was unnecessary as everyone was on their best behavior. No arrests!

Some ‘not-so-local’ attendees may have thought that the crowd was small, but as a Mercer Countian I was impressed with the turn out. Those that attended were genuinely interested in hearing the candidates (and their representatives speak), and they listened intently to the presentations from nine speakers. I’ve written exhaustively about each of the candidates in the past, so I’ll focus my comments today on some summary thoughts from the evening, a few ‘highlights’, a couple of ‘head scratch moments’, and a photo montage with comments.

Summary

Representing the candidates for Governor, we had Mercer County Commissioner John Lechner speaking on behalf of the Corbett campaign and Ed Henderson was on hand to speak on behalf of the campaign for Sam Rohrer. Once again, Ed Henderson did a stand up job in representing Rohrer’s campaign. He accidentally coined a phrase last night when he stated “Sam’s the Man”. It was an inadvertent slogan, but (in my opinion) it should be adopted campaign wide. In John Lechner’s presentation for Corbett’s campaign he took time to touch on the BonusGate scandal (a topic that is close to my heart). He pointed out that the investigations were not politically driven . . . which I accept, but I would have liked the opportunity to ask one question. “If the investigations weren’t politically driven, why hasn’t the Attorney Generals office gotten actively involved in the Jane Orie investigation with the same intensity?” This was just a question that I had at the top of my head, but, unfortunately, NO QUESTIONS were accepted from the audience. Bummer.

Who was on hand to represent the candidates for Lt. Governor? No one. Not a single individual showed up to discuss the candidacies of nine different Republicans that are competing for the nomination in the Primary. Hmmm. Was it disinterest on the part of the campaigns or was it lack of effort on the part of the event planners to notify the candidates of the opportunity? The Mercer GOP has a history of only inviting the candidates that they actually want to attend the event, so this may not have been a simple clerical error. Either way, it was a missed opportunity for the candidates and it was a missed opportunity for concerned citizens to be educated about their choices.

Were Senatorial candidates represented? I suppose you could say “sort of”. Committee Chairman Dave King told everyone that they should vote for Pat Toomey, but he failed to mention that Toomey has a Republican opponent in the race in Peg Luksik. Rather than providing an informative presentation of ALL of the names on the ballot, Dr. King choose to focus his attention on the GOP’s personal horse in the race. Again, this is the norm for the Mercer GOP, but as a matter of fairness I found the move despicable. The obvious attempt to insult Ms. Luksik was mentioned to me MORE THAN ONCE by concerned attendees. Shame on Dr. King and the Mercer County GOP for lacking open-door and even-handed political policies . . . but are we really surprised?

The big race in the area is for the 3rd Congressional District and all six candidates were personally on hand for this gathering. Dr. Martha Moore, Mike Kelly, Ed Franz, Paul Huber, Steve Fisher, and Clayton Grabb were all provided an opportunity to speak. Having listened to these candidates present their platforms more times than I can count, I’ll admit that there was very little ‘new material’ for me to report from last night, but I’ll try.

Dr. Martha Moore has managed to re-invented herself. She has embraced herself for exactly what she is and she makes no attempt to morph into something that she is not. She is a straight-shootin’, no-bologna-talkin’, firecracker of a concerned citizen. She spoke from the heart with levity and quirkiness that has gained her a bit of a “Betty White following”. She has become the highlight of events and I have become a real fan. God Bless Dr. Martha Moore.

Mike Kelly drew the short straw when he was selected to speak AFTER Dr. Moore. She is tough act to follow. His points were basically the same. He made one comment that I thought was worth repeating. When describing his role as a business owner he said “You can get through the good times with a smile on your face, and you get the through not-so-good times with a bigger smile on your face”. I found the comment humorous as one of the main complaints that I’ve had with Mr. Kelly is his inability to ‘put a smile’ on his face in an effort to hide his anger. I thought the irony was funny.

Ed Franz’ message was pretty much the same as usual. I would like to point out to Mr. Franz that he really shouldn’t continue to repeat (time and time again) about how he supported “conservative candidates like Phil English”. As a conservative, Mr. Franz, your choice of friends doesn’t impress me, and your desire to repeat it to the crowd at each and event makes me laugh. I’d admit that Ed did switch it up just a bit last night when he mentioned that (aside from supporting Phil English) he has also worked for the campaigns of Michele Brooks and Bob Robbins. Hmmmm. Good to know, and thanks for the info. As a “conservative”, it is good to see his choice of friends. In a musical reference that is loosely tied to the great “Meatloaf” I say “One Out of Three Ain’t Bad”.

Paul Huber was himself. He has a polished delivery and a packaged message that hasn’t changed much. His jokes and delivery are good, but they don’t change from one presentation to the next. There was nothing about last night that stood out to me, although he did get into some deep discussions with attendees when the meeting broke out into individual conversations. He worked the crowd well.

The most memorable part of Steve Fisher’s evening was Chairman King’s introduction of Mr. Fisher as “Mike Fisher” rather than “Steve Fisher”. Steve politely and light-heartedly corrected Dr. King’s error (which made Steve look great), but in the end Dr. King made himself look like a dufus (which was not a long trip). As with my earlier note that the Mercer GOP failed to fairly represent ALL of the Republican candidates, Dr. King highlights how out-of-touch the County Committee is by failing to know the candidates names. I know each and every one of the 3rd Congressional Candidates on sight (and, in return, they all know me . . . it is referred to as mutual respect). Dr. King should have done his homework. It was, perhaps, a Freudian slip, but I don’t forgive him for it either way. It was unprofessional to say the least. Steve Fisher wasn’t phased and he managed to present himself with the same positive and upbeat message that he offers at each event. It is worth noting that Steve Fisher and his campaign showed their commitment to the people of Mercer County with a forma information booth at the event (the only candidate that took time and effort to do so), and he seemed to have a large team on hand to handle questions and engage the attendees. Steve Fisher showed a commitment and seriousness that was not matched at this particular gathering.

Clayton Grabb did not disappoint. Surprisingly Dr. King “allowed” Mr. Grabb to speak, which was a relief (knowing that Dr. King has not been shy about his dislike for “Tea Party Candidates” like Clayton). Mr. Grabb did not hold back and again used his quote “My Republican Party has left us down before”, which was met with nods across the crowd (and an unapproving look from Dr. King). Mr. Grabb’s big quote of the night also made it in The Herald when he stated “I’m not going to work with Obama, I will be going there to cut him off at the knees, to make sure he doesn’t do anymore damage to this country of ours”. Clayton’s message doesn’t change from one venue to the next, but it is always spot-on and connects with those in attendance.

In Closing . . .

It was the Mercer County GOP’s night to shine . . . and they did not. The Committee leadership did what they always do . . . they attempted to hijack an event with the eventual goal of hijacking an election.

If you’d like another angle on the night’s events, I suggest that you read a post by my fellow Mercer County blogger, Rich Talbert HERE.

In the words of Rich Talbert, “(Chairman) King MUST Resign”.

Photo Montage with Comments:

The Steve Fisher campaign was well represented with a full promotional booth and numerous representatives (below).

Ed Henderson of Stoneboro (below) was on hand to represent Sam Rohrer, candidate for Governor.

Before the formal presentations began, I was able to catch some shots of candidates mixing with the attendees. Here is Paul Huber (below) discussing issues with constituents.

Mike Kelly (below) is having a serious discussion with attendees.

Clayton Grabb (below) is sharing his thoughts with some interested locals.

Ed Franz (below) chatting it up with friends and concerned citizens.

Dr. King (below) presented the opening announcements and closing statements. He managed to promote the candidates that he supports and attempted to stumble over those he does not. His preferences were clear. [As a side note, the duct tape on the decorative photo of Lincoln was a nice touch. The tape has a strikingly familiar look which is similar to a Mercer GOP yard sign mis-hap from last year. Perhaps Dr. King and his crew need to realize that transparent tape was invented YEARS ago. I'll be glad o provide them with an 89 cent roll next time I see them.]


Dr. Martha Moore (below) was the first to speak. She admitted later that she was unprepared, but that is generally when she is at her best.

Steve Fisher (below) addressed the crowd. He and his staff were on hand to answer questions and to discuss issues.

As always, just my opinion.

~Mercer County Conservatives

3rd Congressional District: BUTLER EVENT URGENT NOTICE

PA-3rd Congressional District Republican Candidate Forum
Proposed for Sunday – May 2, 2010
Location: Odd Fellows Gazebo-Alameda Park Butler, PA
Time: 2 PM to 5 PM

4/30/2010

We the undersigned candidates for the May 18 Republican Primary for US Congress PA-3rd District have elected to rescind our invitations to the Tea Party proposed by Freedom Patriots to be held at 252 Pittsburgh Road Butler, PA on Sunday, May 2nd.

After much deliberation and mutual agreement, we feel that the location of the venue offered as courtesy by Candidate Mike Kelly to the Tea Party organizers presents a non-neutral setting for the other candidates to present themselves and their positions in an open forum.

The property for the venue is part of Mr. Kelly’s business we have come to understand, and in light of this fact we have mutually proposed an alternate setting for an open candidate forum.

The event will be held from 2 PM to 5 PM on the same day at a location convenient to attendees from the original event and others to come hear the candidates speak. The location also provides under cover shelter should the forecast for rain that day hold. This will be a no frills event strictly to inform voters, and Mr. Kelly is more than welcome to join this event and speak with his fellow candidates at a neutral setting.

We extend our sincerest apologies to Freedom Patriots for any inconvenience, and hope that they recognize the need for fair and open debate in all aspects of this very critical election cycle for voters.

The location of the PA-3rd Congressional District Republican Candidate Forum will be at:

Odd Fellows Gazebo
Alameda Park
Butler County Parks and Recreation
184 Alameda Road
Butler, PA 16001

With Kind Regards,
(in alphabetical order)

Steven Fisher
Ed Franz
Clayton Grabb
Paul Huber
Martha Moore

ANNOUNCEMENT UPDATE–PLEASE READ:

After this announcement was received and published, we were notified by the Steve Fisher campaign that this announcement was sent out without his prior approval. Steve Fisher’s response to this announcement is published HERE.

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NOT AS SHEEP by Dr. Steven Porter

Summary provided by Roberta Biros

Please read these comments from Dr. Steven Porter. Dr. Porter and I have discussed the topic of independent candidates personally, and I valued his input and comments. He is “spot on” with his post on the topic [READ HERE]!

Dr. Porter is very closely tied to our area. He ran for Congress in 2004 and 2006. Most recently he ran for Congress in the 3rd District as an unaffiliated independent in 2008 against Republican Phil English and Democrat Kathy Dahlkemper. After gathering FAR MORE signatures that were necessary on his nomination papers, Dr. Porter’s petitions were challenged by political insiders in an effort to keep him OUT of the election. The political insiders won their legal challenge. They may have prevented Dr. Porter’s name from being included on the ballot, but they did not “defeat him”.

Dr. Porter remains a political activist and he is confident that good government directed by “the People” is still within our reach. Read his comments HERE, and you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

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Mercer County GOP Meet and Greet: Supporting Conservative Candidates or Selfish Self Promotion of Incumbents and Endorsed Candidates?

Written by Roberta Biros

It is with mixed emotions that I post this event announcement today. The event is sponsored by the Mercer County GOP and the details are provided below:

EVENT ANNOUNCEMENT

Meet and Greet of Republican Candidates
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Hempfield Station One
6th Avenue
Greenville, PA
7PM – 9PM

First, the event is a wonderful opportunity for the candidates that are facing challengers in the Primary (only three weeks away) to meet, mix, and mingle with the people of Mercer County. I am completely supportive of that concept, and I have attended more than my share of similar events in the past six weeks. I will be attending this event (as I have all of the others in the area) to document who is there and what they have to say. I do this to provide information to the voters of the area so that they are well informed when they go to the polls on May 18th. I also spend the time and effort in covering these events because NO ONE ELSE IN THE PRESS WILL. I write about all of the political activities in the area because we need to STIMILATE INTEREST in this election in order to generate REAL CHANGE in November.

Unfortunately, there are some that believe that this particular Meet and Greet may be hijacked by incumbent politicians in an effort to promote themselves (rather than the candidates that are struggling to win their respective Primaries). The two-hour event should be focused candidates for Governor, Lt. Governor, and Congress (3rd and 4th Districts). IT SHOULD NOT be spent on incumbents that have no opponents in the Primary or (in some cases) no opponents in the General Election.

If Senator Bob Robbins, Representative Michele Brooks, and Representative Dick Stevenson show up with the intention of upstaging the Primary candidates, they should be booted off the stage. (even better, they should be booted OUT OF OFFICE, but I digress)

I urge all of you to attend the event tomorrow night in order to educate yourself about the candidates that are competing in the Primary. I also urge you to watch carefully at “who” is politicking and “who” is there to simply support the conservative candidates that are seeking a place on the ballot in the fall.

I am committed to informing the people of Mercer County, the voters of northwest Pennsyvania, and the taxpayers of Pennsylvania of ALL political activities . . . good and bad. I present information in this forum in an effort to educate and stimulate. You are free to form your own opinion, but I think it is important that you have access to ALL of the details.

A Side Note:

I have a funny feeling that some attempt will be made to prevent me from attending this event. I intend on walking in and documenting the activities just as I have done since mid-March. I “dare them” to attempt to stop me.

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3rd Congressional Candidates Debate the Issues Again: Who will be the one to send Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper packing?

Written by Roberta Biros

Last night I attended another formal debate of the 3rd Congressional District Republican Candidates. The event was sponsored by Allegheny College and was held at Quigley Hall on the Allegheny College Campus. It was another standing-room-only event as it was a rare opportunity for the people of the 3rd Congressional District to determine which candidate can best represent them when we send Kathy Dahlkemper home in November.

All six candidates were in attendance. In order on the stage from left to right were Steve Fisher, Ed Franz, Clayton Grabb, Paul Huber, Mike Kelly, and Martha Moore.

The last formal debate was held a month ago on March 25th in Grove City (read about it HERE). It may have only been 4 weeks ago, but it seems like a lifetime. The last four weeks have been packed with events, get-togethers, meet-n-greets, fundraisers, and tea parties for all six of the Republican candidates . . . and the bloggers that follow them. The grueling schedule is beginning to take its toll on everyone involved, but it hasn’t dampened our determination to push through to November.

At the debate that was held a month ago, we met six candidates that were fresh, unpolished, and unique. Four weeks later, the six candidates are beginning to meld into one and other. The have all had an opportunity to tweak their presentations, and some are actually stealing each others quotes (i.e, I believe it was Ed Franz that stole Martha Moore’s “enough is enough” quote last night and it made me laugh).

I documented the entire evening, but you all know that I’m not one to simply provide a laundry list of the evening’s events. No, I’d prefer to paint you an abstract portrait of the highlights and lowlights of the night.

Highlights?

Anyone that attended last night’s event would agree hands down that the “star” of the evening was Dr. Martha Moore. At the debate in Grove City, Dr. Moore was noticeably nervous and she struggled at times to find the words to properly describe her stand on issues. That was simply not the case last night as Dr. Moore has found a comfortable place in just shooting straight from the hip. “Like what?”, you ask. Allow me to provide a few sound bites:

When discussing why she was running for office, Dr. Moore stated “Because I don’t want to be nauseated every time that I hear the President of the United States speak.”

She made a reference to a patient that recently visited her office who has over $90K in outstanding medical bills. She stated “Call Kathy Dahlkemper (and ask her to pay your bill)”.

When referring to the recent health care reform bill she stated “that stupid bill they passed . . . just stupid”.

The most precious references that Dr. Moore made were during her closing statements where she literally brought down the house. For instance . . . “When I go to Washington, I’m going to say NO a lot. They are going to say that I’m from the party of no’, but I’m the party of ‘STOP THIS’”.

I applaud Martha Moore for offering us “Martha Moore Unplugged” last night. She brought a level of straight talk and humor to an otherwise serious and sometimes lifeless event. I’ve said it before and I’ll take this opportunity to say it again. I really respect Dr. Moore for standing up as a concerned citizen and becoming involved in this race. I still don’t believe that she is necessarily the best choice to become our next Congresswoman, but I appreciate the perspective that she brings to the table. She says the things that many of us are thinking . . . but we’ve never actually said out loud, and because she is a candidate she is able to inject those thoughts directly into the formal debate conversation.

Her participation in last night’s event was “priceless”.

Interesting Notes on Each Candidate

I’d like to point out some interesting statements from each of the candidates presented in the order of the seating arrangement on the stage from left to right.


Steve Fisher

Steve Fisher continues to illustrate that he is the perfect mix of grassroots candidate and qualified representative. He presents himself as a “Statesman” and not a politician. He is polished in all the right places, but he remains human (and appropriately ‘unpolished’) in the way that he connects with the people of this area. He is sincere, honest, and approachable but also projects an unmatched level of confidence and professionalism.

On issues of the budget, Mr. Fisher pointed out that we need to make decisions that are “good for us”. He pointed out that too much attention goes to how our budgetary decisions will affect China and Japan and that we need to concentrate on how those decisions will affect us first.” He suggested that we reestablish an impartial review of the federal government and possible inefficiencies through an investigation similar to the Grace Commission (that was established during the Reagan administration).

In response to issues of our military and his willingness to respond to a strike against the United States, Mr. Fisher first stated that he is concerned “about how thin our military is stretched” and whether they are receiving the support that they need. He also pointed out that we need to “forget political correctness”.

In his closing comments, Mr. Fisher made a great statement worth noting. He said “I am not a politician. I plan on serving a maximum of three terms and coming back to the area to work in the insurance industry . . . if there is an insurance industry to come back to”.

Ed Franz

Ed Franz positions himself as the man who can “represent the average taxpayer in Washington DC”. He pointed out that “inside the beltway politicians have concentrated on healthcare legislation and not the health of this nation”.

Mr. Franz made reference to the “800 lb gorilla in the back of the room”. Some may have thought he was referring to one blogger that was seated in the last row of the auditorium, but he was referring to “the national debt”. Mr. Franz wants to be the voice in the debate that represents the average taxpayer.

Regarding budget deficits, Mr. Franz made his stand clear when he stated “We need to get out of deficit spending. We need to get out of financing bills and legislation that we cannot afford.” It was a short statement, but it hit at the heart of the problem.

In a humorus moment of the evening, Mr. Franz was discussing his thoughts on the strength of the military and his stand on responding to a strike on the US. To quote “If we are attacked we should hunt them down.” He then went on to discuss a reference to a movie . . . “Patton”, and he stated “Wasn’t that the way a war should be fought.” The reference sent chuckles across the crowd.

Clayton Grabb

Clayton Grabb continues to prove that he is the anti-politician. His concerns are not for “the Party” but for “the People”. He started by explaining why he decided to run for office. He stated “I believe our constitution is under attack”. He then went on to explain “I got tired of holding my nose to go and vote in the past. My Republican Party has left us down before. We need someone that will go to DC and stand up for the people and tell it like it is.” It is statements like these that explain why Mr. Grabb is not embraced by the Republican Party, but is, instead, embraced by people who have experienced the same frustrations . . . which are many.

He continued to separate him self from politicians by saying “(we need to elect people to) do the people’s work and then go home . . . we need a citizen legislator that does not want to be there.” (emphasizing that once they get there they get too comfortable)

When it comes to budgetary issues, Mr. Grabb offers common sense solutions to that too. He stated “How about we cut all government hiring. The government is the only sector of our economy that is growing right now. . . . we cannot continue to grow our government . . . the more (people) that depend on government the harder it will be for people like us to get in there and stop it.”

Regarding issues of the military, Mr. Grabb stated “We need to pull the politicians out (of the decision making process) and let the military do what it needs to do. We need to do what is necessary to be the biggest baddest dog on the block.”

Paul Huber

Paul Huber remains firm on his position as the businessman with the experience needed to represent us in Washington DC. In his opening statement his first words were “I’m a life long social and fiscal conservative”. I mention this because it raised a few eyebrows in the crowd as some people have questioned the fact that Mr. Huber only became a Republican last year.

Mr. Huber did, however, manage to present a very conservative stand on fiscal issues including his statement on budgetary issues as “I’m proposing that we go to 2009 levels of spending and that includes legislative salaries as well. It is a step in the right direction that sends the right message to the financial markets and the American people that we are serious about this.” Mr. Huber’s ideas for tackling economic problems are aggressive and bold and I like that.

Regarding job creation in our area, Mr. Huber offered a great explanation of the problem as “government doesn’t create jobs . . . they create an environment where jobs are destroyed or they can create an environment where free enterprise can create jobs”. Mr. Huber continues to offer the prospective of a business person, and he is quite clear on his vision of how that prospective is desperately needed in Washington DC.

Mike Kelly

Mike Kelly also offers the business owner angle, and he is quite direct in his approach. Unlike Huber (who is polished and refined), Mike Kelly offers similar ideas but with an extra “edge”. When explaining “why” he was running he simply stated “because none of us ran before.” He further explained that “We were all responsible people sitting back and didn’t have time to get involved . . . We forfeited our future . . . it is time to get people like ‘us’ into office.”

Regarding the issue of term limits, Mr. Kelly made his stand clear when he stated “people are sitting too long in the same spot and they aren’t held accountable.”

In response to a question regarding budget deficits and the President’s plan to freeze discretionary spending, Mr. Kelly boldly stated “I have a problem listening to anything that Obama says and taking it seriously.” Again in referencing the President he said “We’ve got a 3 yr old running the highest powered locomotive on earth.”

Mr. Kelly’s most important point of the evening was his repeated reference to “it’s the spending, stupid”. He continues to press the common-sense idea that spending needs to be addressed before this nation can move forward on anything. I agree.

Mr. Kelly did attempt to address recent comments that he “comes across as angry”. He explained that people might get that impression because “he is angry”. He explained that he is angry about the problems that we are facing in this country and he is serious about fixing them.

As a side note . . . After the debate I did ask Mr. Kelly that the next time he wants to quote me directly I only ask that he give me a public shout out. This is, of course, a reference to the fact that my written statements regarding Mr. Kelly were the catalyst to the conversations about his “anger”. Mike and I laughed about it and I reassured him that “I think he is just a big teddy bear”.

Martha Moore

Aside from the comments that I’ve already made regarding Dr. Moore, there were other points that did not go unnoticed. Regarding finding solutions to fiscal issues, she stated “don’t look to the Government to fix problems that the Government created”. It isn’t just a great quote . . . it is the truth.

Regarding budgetary issues and a proposed freeze on discretionary spending, Dr. Moore stated “a miniscule part of the budget is what he is freezing . . . then he passes a bill that will cost 2.4 trillion dollars . . . they said 1.4 trillion but they lied.” She then went on to explain “We are going to have to tackle the big items.” As a possible solution, she suggested that “we need to audit the federal government”, and I completely agree.

One key difference between the candidates?

After almost two months of following these candidates from event to event I was surprised last night when an issue surfaced which drew a very definitive line of distinction between them. That issue was regarding campaign financing and specifically the Supreme Court ruling on “Citizens United v. FEC”.

The issue has multiple facets that generated great conversation. The first is an issue regarding the First Amendment and free speech, and the second issue is that of campaign financing and the idea of “deep pockets buying elections”.

All of the candidates were in agreement on the issue of free speech (no shock there), but there were additional comments made by some that highlighted a serious problem regarding political campaigns in general.

Mike Kelly felt that the ruling helped to “even the playing field”. He explained that “corporations shouldn’t be pouring this much money into elections, but when you look at how the Democrats raise money you need to level the playing field.”

In drastic contrast, Steve Fisher was clearly against the concept of corporations funding elections. He stated “We spend far too much on elections already. I don’t think that corporations should be allowed to spend money to buy votes and buy elections.” He further explained “there is big difference between dollars between many candidates, but to take corporate money and throw it in there is unfair”. As a grassroots candidate, Fisher has experienced first had how deep pockets and large bank accounts can make the election process a particularly uneven playing field.

Ed Franz agreed with the Supreme Court ruling but emphasized that “we need to watch what special interests are financing which candidates . . . the voters need to keep an eye (on the process)”.

Clayton Grabb also agreed with the Supreme Court ruling and supported his comments by saying that “corporations ARE you and I”. However, as another grassroots candidate, he was quick to point out that “Campaigns should not cost what they cost!” [I say “Amen” to that.] He further went on to explain exactly how “big money comes in and they buy the Primary”. In closing he reminded everyone that the “grassroots people are the ones that need to be represented”.

Paul Huber agreed with the Supreme Court ruling, and he seemed to have no problem with the concept of corporations funding elections.

This specific debate drew very clear lines for me. 2010 is an election year that offers very stark contrasts. It is a year that pits “deep pockets” against “grassroots Average Joe’s” (as in the race for the 3rd Congressional District). It is a year that battles “endorsed candidates” against “unendorsed candidates” (read an example HERE). It is a year that will put unaffiliated Independents up against 20-year entrenched incumbents (read an example HERE).

In summary, 2010 is the year of David vs. Goliath.

In the race for the 3rd Congressional District, David is represented by Steve Fisher, Ed Franz, Clayton Grabb, and Martha Moore. Goliath is represented by Paul Huber and Mike Kelly. The Primary on May 18th will settle the debate and the battle once and for all.

As always, just my opinion.
~Mercer County Conservatives

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Sam Rohrer Candidate for Governor to be in Mercer on April 24th

EVENT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Come Hear SAM ROHRER and ask questions. A Grass Roots, Tea Party Conservative, And a True Constitutional Republican.

WHEN
APRIL 24TH 4:00 – 5:00 P.M.
(After the Tea Party in Mercer)

WHERE
BRANDY SPRINGS PARK (get a map HERE)
COMMUNITY CENTER, MERCER

the SAM ROHRER
FREEDOM AGENDA

Private Property Rights – Repeal the school property tax
2nd Amendment – Constitutionally protected gun rights
4th Amendment – Personal privacy rights
10th Amendment – Protection against the Federal Govt

the SAM ROHRER
FAMILY AGENDA

Pro Life & Pro Family
1st Amendment protection of religious expression
Parental rights and educational choices

MercerCountyForSam@yahoo.com

NOTICE:
This event announcement was submitted by the Candidate or by a Candidate representative. The event announcement is being published here as a community service in an effort to give concerned citizens an opportunity to meet the candidates. Candidates and committees are invited to submit announcements to this blog by email to roberta.in.mercer@gmail.com.

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PRESS RELEASE: Roberta Biros to challenge Bob Robbins for PA State Senate (50th)

PRESS RELEASE

Roberta Biros of Delaware Township, Mercer County, Pennsylvania announced today that she will challenge current incumbent Senator Bob Robbins in the 2010 race for Senator in the General Assembly in the 50th District. In order to appear on the ballot in November of 2010, Ms. Biros, an unaffiliated independent, will need to gather a total of 827 signatures from registered voters in the 50th District (Mercer County, Crawford County, and parts of Butler and Lawrence Counties). These signatures must be presented in the form of nomination papers which will need to be filed with the Secretary of the Commonwealth in Harrisburg no later than August 2, 2010.

Ms. Biros, a small business owner, describes herself as a concerned citizen. She has been actively involved in issues of political and legislative activism through her blog, Mercer County Conservatives. Ms. Biros has published her Platform for Good Government on her campaign website at ElectBiros.com. In it she stresses her platform priorities and concerns as public service; transparency and accountability; fiscal responsibility; and limited government.

Ms. Biros stated, “Voters need a choice in every election, and 2010 is more important than ever. Taxpayers have had enough of career politicians who are more concerned with their careers than with the constituents in their district. As a firm supporter of term limits, it is my opinion that it is time for Senator Robbins to move on. Instead, Senator Robbins has concentrated his efforts on voting for pay raises for politicians, protecting cost of living adjustments for lawmakers, and hiding from his constituents and the press. The time has come for taxpayers to stand up to self-serving politicians and let them know that they work for us.”

Ms. Biros stresses that “as a high-ranking leader in the State Senate, Mr. Robbins should be working to correct the problems in Pennsylvania. Instead, Mr. Robbins has only been concerned with bringing ‘pork’ back to the District as a tool for re-election. Unfortunately, ‘pork’ is part of the problem. We need a fiscal conservative in the State Senate that will work to cut spending, decrease the tax burden on individuals and small businesses, and turn the State government around. I am that person. I feel it is my responsibility to offer the voters of the 50th district an independent voice in Harrisburg.”

When asked about the challenges of gaining access to the November ballot, Ms. Biros stated “I’m confident that we will gather far more signatures than are required. We already began the process of gathering signatures and our sampling of constituents has been very positive. Concerned citizens realize that the only way to fix the problem in Harrisburg is to purge the General Assembly of dead weight . . . and Senator Robbins is a perfect example of that dead weight.” She added “we realize that our campaign will meet with immediate challenges from political insiders in the District and we anticipate that our nomination papers will be challenged in August, but we are confident that we will be successful in pushing past the corrupt circle of political incumbents and their legal teams. We are motivated and the people of the 50th district are motivated. We will not be prevented from our right to a fair election. 2010 will be the year that the people of Pennsylvania and the United States of America make a statement and take their country back. A move to fresh ideas and a fresh face in the 50th district will be an important part of that movement.”

Ms. Biros will begin the task of collecting signatures this week and she anticipates that her message, which reaches across all party lines, will resonate with the people of the area during the petition process and well into November.

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Mercer Conservatives Index: The 3rd Congressional District Candidates Get Their Grades

Written by Roberta Biros

On March 29th I published the first in a series of several grades for lawmakers. The grading system is called the Mercer Conservatives Index (the Index) and it is a basic grading system designed to compare and rate candidates, elected officials, bills, etc. on a simple scale of fiscal conservatism and public service.

In the first set of grades that were determined, I compared all of the state lawmakers that represent Mercer County. Senator Bob Robbins, Representative Michele Brooks, Representative Dick Stevenson, and Representative Mark Longietti were all graded in 10 categories and final results and grades were published for each.

Below are the results for the State Legislators that represent Mercer County. An individual article was published for each as follows:

Senator Bob Robbins
Representative Michele Brooks
Representative Mark Longietti

Representative Dick Stevenson

The 3rd Congressional District — Candidates and Incumbent

I’ve been busy compiling a comparison for the 2010 race for Congress in the 3rd Congressional District. The race will put current incumbent, Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper against one of 6 Republican challengers. In an effort to provide guidance to my readers, I’ve graded all of the individuals involved in this race. I first graded Mrs. Dahlkemper (read HERE). She received a flat out F. I’ve since compared the 6 Republican candidates that want to challenge Mrs. Dahlkemper in the fall.

The summary results of my analysis are listed below:

Here is an overview of my findings:

#1 Steve Fisher

After analyzing all of the candidates in all categories and tallying the results, my findings show that Steve Fisher was the highest rated candidate in my comparison. The totals for the top three vote getters were very close. Steve Fisher, Clayton Grabb, and Paul Huber rated VERY high in all categories. Steve Fisher ended up at the top of the pile because of his perfect grades in the area of Transparency, Accountability, and Public Service. In my analysis of the candidates, Steve Fisher was the ONLY candidate that responded to my initial query immediately.

My original query went out by email on 3/4/2010 at 1:24pm. At 1:34pm Mr. Fisher emailed me personally to touch base. At 3:07pm on that same day, Mr. Fisher provided full written answers to all of my questions and provided me the OK to publish those responses in my blog. He was thorough, he was expedient, and he was charming in the process. He answered my questions completely and IN WRITING (which is unheard of by most politicians). Most importantly, the answers to his questions made me want him to be my Congressman.

If I were a registered Republican, I would vote for him in the Primary. Unfortunately, as an Independent my vote doesn’t count in the Primary, so I’ll need to wait until November to cast my vote for Steve Fisher.

#2 Clayton Grabb

Clayton Grabb is a very strong candidate and he was #2 in my ranking. He scored lower than Steve Fisher only in the areas of Transparency and Public Service. Clayton Grabb did answer my questions when I asked him personally, and his answers were spot on. He did not, however, respond to my original written query and he never answered in writing. I had no choice but to score Steve Fisher higher due to this significant difference.

Clayton Grabb has many wonderful qualities, and I would be proud to support him against Congresswoman Dahlkemper should he win the Primary in May.

#3 Paul Huber

Paul Huber is a very intelligent and strong candidate. Only 4 points from the top score, Mr. Huber scored well across the board, but he was simply not as transparent and responsive as Steve Fisher. Mr. Huber is extremely smart, but he lacks a scrappy-ness (yes that is made up) that some voters are looking for right now. I fear that Mr. Huber may appear too “low-energy” to some people on a first impression. If you get an opportunity to talk to him personally, he is a great guy, but first impressions mean a lot.

Paul Huber is a strong and qualified candidate, and I would be proud to support him against Congresswoman Dahlkemper should he win the Primary in May.

#4 Mike Kelly

Mike Kelly ended up only a few points off of Paul Huber. While scoring very high in most categories, I am concerned about Kelly’s tough-guy image. He appears too rough and mean at times. I realize that we might need someone like that in Washington DC right now, but I’m not sure that many voters can embrace him. Additionally, Kelly scored lower than Fisher, Grabb, and Huber due to his inability to answer some questions completely. His score of a 3 in Transparency hurt his overall score.

#5 Ed Franz

I really like Ed Franz. He is a nice guy, and I could see sitting down to have a beer with him. The problem is that I don’t drink. Ed’s charm is that he is a blue-collar guy with really good intentions. While I admire his desire to “serve”, I can’t see him as my Congressman. It is my opinion that Ed Franz overshot his mark in this race. He would have been a wonderful pick for State Representative or State Senator, as those positions require that you really be involved with the locals. In a state position, you are involved with more hands-on work with your constituents, and Ed would have been perfect in that arena. He could go into a crowd of folks in Greenville and charm everyone in the room. Unfortunately, Ed didn’t want to go against the grain and challenge the current incumbents from his own party. Senator Robbins and Representative Brooks would have had their hands full with Mr. Franz. Unfortunately, in the race for Congress, Mr. Franz is outmatched by some of his opponents. I’m sorry Ed.

#6 Martha Moore

Dr. Moore seems like a very passionate individual. She is a patriot and she loves Ronald Reagan (so I have to like her). Unfortunately, Martha Moore has way too much competition in this race. If no Republican’s had stepped forward to run against Mrs. Dahlkemper, I think Martha Moore would have had a great chance of beating Kathy in November, but the fact is that there are a number of very qualified candidates to choose from . . . Martha Moore is lost in the dust.

In Closing . . .

I’ve tried to be fair in my anaylsis, and I’ve adapted my numbers in each category as I’ve had additional time to talk to the candidates in more detail. In general, I feel that the race in the 3rd Congressional District is down to three primary candidates. Steve Fisher, Clayton Grabb, and Paul Huber are all very strong candidates. Each one is very different in personality, and each offers a different style that is very appealing. If I can summarize,

Steve Fisher is both friendly and compassionate. He has the ability to summarize information and make decisions quickly and with great ease. He is a quick thinker . . . he is a smart thinker . . . but he is not overly analytical or disconnected from who he is or who he will represent. He is a natural.

Clayton Grabb is very passionate, and his passion is contagious. I’ve used his quotes more than a half-a-dozen times over the past week alone. [I’ll be wear out his “If not me, who? If not now, when?” reference quickly.] His involvement in this race will put the power of the Tea Party to the test, and it will be an interesting experiment.

Paul Huber is the sharpest knife in the drawer. He has proven his analytical abilities and he has demonstrated his commitment to the race. He is somewhat sterile, but this might appeal to some voters. He lacks some of the passion that Fisher and Grabb demonstrate, but he is driven and focused on beating Congresswoman Dahlkemper in November.

As always, just my opinion.
~Mercer Conservatives

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Candidates from the 3rd and 4th Congressional Districts Line Up for Inspection

Written by Roberta Biros

Wednesday, April 7, 7PM was the tip off for yet another “Meet the Candidate” night in Sharon. The meeting, which was hosted by the Pennsylvania Patriots in Action, was a gathering of all non-incumbent candidates that are vying for the Congressional Seats in the 3rd and 4th Districts. The event attracted a sizeable crowd that was a virtual “who’s who” in Mercer County politics.

The current office holders, Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper and Congressman Jason Altmire, were not present but they were still the main topics of conversation. Interestly enough, Congresswoman Dahlkemper was represented by a mole in the crowd . . . a member of her staff from the Hermitage office was hiding in the hall (and undoubtedly taking notes). The candidates each took the opportunity to explain why they would be the best choice to replace Dahlkemper and Altmire, and many of the more heated comments were pointed directly toward the incumbents (no shock).

I will outline my observations from the event below. PLEASE understand that I am trying to be as fair and unbiased as is possible, but this is a BLOG. I will offer my own spin on the events of the evening and I will interject my personal opinions and summaries where I see fit. Sorry, but those are the rules.

4th Congressional District

Mary Beth Buchanan and Keith Rothfus were on hand to battle for the Republican nomination for the 4th District against Altmire. I’ve met both candidates once before and I enjoyed another opportunity to hear them speak. I was pleasantly surprised, however, that an Independent candidate, John Vinsick, also surfaced at the event. Vinsick of Aliquippa was a highlight of the evening as he shot from the hip and added a bit of spice to the conversation.

Mary Beth Buchanan is a strong and spirited candidate who carries herself well in the debate style environment. She more than held her own and didn’t back down to some obvious shots that were sent in her direction. She focused on her platform of limited government, pro-life, and pro-2nd Amendment. She is extremely intelligent and very likeable. She makes me wish I was in the 4th Congressional District. For more information about Ms. Buchanan, you can visit her website at MaryBethBuchanan.org.

Keith Rothfus is an analytical individual with great ideas. He is a family man with 6 children who is running on a platform of limited government, lower taxes, repeal of ObamaCare, and traditional family values. Mr. Rothfus offered one of my favorite quotes for the evening when he stated that the first legislation that he would offer would be the “Restoring Edison Light Bulb Act”. He is a common-sense sort of guy with great ideas. For more information about Mr. Rothfus, you can visit his website at http://www.keithpa4.com/.

John Vinsick, the Independent candidate, was a treasure. His campaign slogan of “the will of the people must preside over the will of the politician” explains that his platform is anti-politics and pro-citizen. Mr. Vinsick will have an uphill battle in collecting the 3,731 signatures that will be required to get his name on the ballot, but he is optimistic about the process and he is even more optimistic about his chances in November. While he received some negative comments from hard-core Rs in the crowd (for threatening their Party), Mr. Vinsick hit home with a number of key points that were met with supportive applause. For more information about Mr. Vinsick, you can visit his website at http://www.johnvinsickforcongress.com/.

3rd Congressional District

For the 3rd District, Republican candidates Paul Huber, Steve Fisher, Clayton Grabb, Ed Franz, and Martha Moore were on hand. Mike Kelly was out of town and was not represented. The order of the six-minute presentations was based on a draw from a hat, and the speeches by 3rd and 4th District candidates were mixed together. Up first for the 3rd District was Clayton Grabb.

Clayton Grabb never fails to inspire me when he speaks. He is a conservative who is proud of his Tea Party activities, and his presentations are always geared toward the more “independent thinking” (that’s me). He made a reference that struck a chord with me when he explained his reason for running as “If not me, who? If not now, when?” (NOTE: I’ll be using that quote as my own soon). Mr. Grabb speaks from the heart and is passionate about his country. For more information about Mr. Grabb, you can visit his website at http://www.grabbforcongress.com/.

Ed Franz is “just Ed”. Ed has a blue-collar/guy-next-door quality about him, and the people that support him like for exactly that reason. His platform is based on social conservatism, fiscal conservatism, and pro-life stands. He made a good point when he stated “this election year it’s government versus the taxpayers”. That simple statement summarized all of the political dancing that is going on in a few simple words. Mr. Franz pointed out that he feels that he is the best candidate to beat Dahlkemper in November because of his labor ties to Erie. For more information about Mr. Franz, you can visit his website at http://www.edfranzforcongress.com/.

Paul Huber, a fiscal conservative, took the opportunity to layout his plans for fiscal reform. He made the point that “all of the (government) spending is being put on a credit card”, and he explained his plan for freeing the taxpayers from that problem. He stressed that he was “born and raised on a farm and raised on values of honesty and hard work”. His presentation was analytical, but he manages to deliver his statistics with a personal touch that gives the distinct impression that his concerns are heart-felt. He closed his presentation with a statement that I liked . . . “when people find the courage, they can change anything” (NOTE: I’ll be using that quote as my own soon). For more information about Mr. Huber, you can visit his website at http://www.huberforcongress.com/.

Steve Fisher makes me smile. He is the perfect blend of intellectual, analytical, and personable. He is detail and fact oriented, but he connects with people on a personal level when he speaks. This is even more obvious if you get an opportunity to talk with Steve one-on-one. Mr. Fisher opened his discussion with an explanation of why he was running for Congress. He made reference to a quote “if you don’t want to be a part of the menu, you better take a seat at the table” (NOTE: I’ll be using that quote as my own soon). He went on to explain that his first goal in Congress would be to repeal the Health Care Bill . . . which met with positive feedback from the crowd. His experience in the insurance industry gives him a different perspective on the health care situation and offers a special value that should not be overlooked. For more information about Mr. Fisher, you can visit his website at http://www.stevefisherforcongress.com/.

Martha Moore continues to amaze me. As a country doctor from Stoneboro, she is not the typical candidate. She is outmatched in many ways by her fellow Republicans on the ticket, but she continues to show up . . . she continues to express her patriotism . . . she continues to quote Reagan . . . and she is beginning to gather a following. I had a great seat in the very back of the room and I was able to gauge the reactions of the crowd to each of the speakers. Dr. Moore got lots of nods and “I like her” comments from many of the women in the crowd. She began her comments with a simple quote that explained why she was running for office. She said “three words . . . enough is enough”. She is a concerned patriot that is running for office in an effort to stress the issues that are important to her. I give her credit for her courage and commitment. For more information about Dr. Moore, you can visit her website at http://www.moore4congress.com/.

Mike Kelly was unable to attend the event and there was no spokesperson available to speak on his behalf. For more information about Mr. Kelly, you can visit his website at http://www.mikekellyforcongress.com/.

In Closing . . .

I’d like to extend thanks to the Pennsylvania Patriots in Action for organizing the event. It was informational, but it also gives concerned citizens the opportunity to look into the eyes of the candidates to get a personal perspective of who they are.

I’ve been to several events, and I suppose that might seem unusual to some people. However, it is important to get to know the people that may soon be representing you. I make an effort to go to as many events by elected officials and candidates as possible. I do so to gain an understanding of them, and I do so in an effort to share information with those people that can’t be there themselves. I hope that my brief summaries give you a feel for the individuals, but I also hope that it encourages you to take a look for yourself.

I will begin publishing event announcements (as they are given to me) for all of the candidates listed above. If you are a candidate (or work for a candidate) and you would like your event posted here, email me (roberta.in.mercer@gmail.com) with the details and I’ll do what I can.

I’ve been waiting to publish my results from the Mercer Conservatives Index regarding the candidates from the 3rd Congressional District. I’ve been continuing to gather information and my final scores have been in flux. I’ve already published my results for Congresswoman Dahlkemper (F) as well as the four state legistlators that represent Mercer County [Senator Robbins (F), Representative Brooks (B), Representative Longietti (C), and Representative Stevenson (D)]. It is my intention to put the finishing touches on my summaries by the end of this coming weekend. Please be patient and keep an eye on this site for the final publication.

As always, just my opinion.
~Mercer Conservatives

BLOG POST UPDATE:

For those of you that are interested in a different political angle on the event, I suggest that you read the write up that was published in The Herald by Matt Snyder HERE.

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Dahlkemper to face ANOTHER challenger in November

Written by Roberta Biros

According to an article in the Beaver County Times [read HERE], Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper will take on yet another challenger in the November election. This time the challenge comes from the Libertarian Party. According to the article, this challenger is a little questionable (like Mel Marin).

Do you think someone smells blood in the easy target of Congresswoman Dahlkemper?

For those of you that are interested in comparing the six candates that are seeking the Republican nomination, you will have another opportunity tomorrow night, April 7, 2010. Pennsylvania Patriots in Action are sponsoring a meet the candidate night at the Radisson in Sharon at 7pm. If you are interested in attending you can RSVP HERE. I hope to see you there!

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3rd Congressional District Candidates Face Off

Written by Roberta Biros

Energy levels were high as the crowd squeezed into the Schict Auditorium at Grove City College on Thursday night. The event was a candidate debate hosted by the Grove City College Republicans. The forum made it possible for concerned citizens to compare the six Republican candidates that are vying for the 3rd Congressional seat against Congresswoman Dahlkemper in 2010.

At the start of the presentation the room was cramped. Co-moderator, Michael Coulter, announced that additional seating for the event was available in pour-over rooms that had a live feed of the event. The high attendance was a testament to the fact that this is a VERY IMPORTANT election. Interest is high and that is always a good thing. The stage was set for a heated debate.

The format of the debate was simple. There were a few questions from the moderators that were directed to all candidates. Additionally, each candidate was given the opportunity to direct a question to another in the group. The decision of who would question whom was decided by a draw from a hat.

In the end, the forum allowed each candidate to enjoy a high point or two . . . some experienced more high points than others. Below is a quick breakdown of those highlights (and maybe a “low light” or two). My analysis would be incomplete if I didn’t also provide my opinions, which are scattered in for flavor.

The Candidates

Seated from left to right on the stage were Dr. Marta Moore, Steve Fisher, Paul Huber, Ed Franz, Mike Kelly, and Clayton Grabb.

Opening Remarks and Sound Bites

Each candidate was given the opportunity to introduce themselves. Below are some of the interesting sound bites from each.

Dr. Martha Moore:

“Why do I want to run for congress? Three words . . . enough is enough.”

Steve Fisher:

“People in Washington are not paying attention to what the citizens want. The difference is in listening to what is being said.”

“I’ll be as visible for you in Washington as I am in this district during this campaign.”

Paul Huber:

**While I have no specific sound bite for Mr. Huber, he overviewed his numerous qualifications and outlined his business background. **

Ed Franz:

“I think that Washington has been tone deaf to the 3rd District and the citizens of Pennsylvania.”
“Kathy Dahlkemper and the rest of the Democrats including Barack Obama aren’t concentrating on putting Americans back to work.”

Mike Kelly:

“I know what it takes to run a business. Wouldn’t it be nice if the people that run the Country knew how to run a business?”

Clayton Grabb:

“We The People”. Three simple words. Three powerful words. Three words that are divinely inspired.”

“They (in Washington) are our servants. They are no different than you or I. That is why I’m running.”

Highlights (or lowlights) for each Candidate:

Based on everything that was said throughout the evening, I’ve selected a few interesting remarks that summarizes the performance of each candidate.

Dr. Martha Moore:

The first question to all candidates asked when they would be willing to compromise on issues. Dr. Moore (who seems to have a quote for everything) referred to the quote “In issues of style, go with the stream . . . in issues of principle stand like a rock”. That was a pretty cool response.

Another highlight from Dr. Moore was not in her responses but in the question that she offered Paul Huber. Dr. Moore finally asked the question that everyone has been tip-toeing around. She asked “You started as a Democrat but now you sound like a Reagan Republican. Are you going to get to Washington and turn into a Democrat again?” It was a great question and it needed to be asked. Unfortunately, the response ended up being one of Paul Huber’s highlights (see below).

Steve Fisher

One of the highlights of the evening for Steve Fisher was his response to a question regarding what government program he would reduce and/or eliminate. Unlike some of the candidates, Steve Fisher made the bold statement that he would “reduce Welfare”. Bravo! Mr. Fisher, however, refused to commit to one program that he would eliminate. Like most of the candidates, he explained the he would need to look at all of the programs in more detail before he could make a determination like that.

Another highlight for Steve Fisher was in his question from Mike Kelly. In may have been a softball question on Kelly’s part, but he asked what suggestions Fisher could make to fix the Health Care problem from the private level. Fisher is an insurance professional and handled the question expertly. He has a firm grasp of the Health Care issue, and the question from Kelly gave him an opportunity to show that off.

A final highlight from Fisher came in his closing remarks. The question (to all candidates) was “Why do you feel that you are the most electable candidate over Dahlkemper?” Fisher’s response was “I think Kathy Dahlkemper is vulnerable.” He explained that he is drastically different from Mrs. Dahlkemper because, in his words, “I’m going to listen to what the people are looking for.” Fisher’s response stated the obvious . . . Kathy Dahlkemper ISN’T listening. Fisher positioned himself as the candidate that will do the people’s business.

Paul Huber

One highlight for Paul Huber was his suggestion of what Federal programs should be reduced or eliminated. He agreed with Steve Fisher’s choice (welfare). Mr. Huber also picked out the program of Agricultural Subsidies. Many of you may know that this is an area of specific interest to me. I’ve written about Farm Subsidies in the past, and I’m against them. While he didn’t take the opportunity to discuss the matter on Thursday night, he did describe his concerns in more detail last Sunday. At that time he explained that he was raised on a farm and still farms to this day. He explained that in all that time “he has never accepted subsidies”. This pushes on a point that I’ve debated for quite sometime. It is often the case that subsidies don’t actually go to people that need them. Instead, they simply go to people that know how to use the system. I found this interesting and I like his stand on it.

The second highlight for Mr. Huber came in his response to a question from Dr. Moore. As stated above, Dr. Moore questioned Huber’s recent change to the Republican Party. I find this issue of particular interest because I’ve seen a similar argument in my own political background. Paul Huber had a wonderful response that struck a chord with me. He stated “labels belong on jars . . . not on people”. I thought that was particularly well said. Mr. Huber then went on to explain his conservative beliefs and background.

A lowlight moment for Mr. Huber was in his question to Ed Franz. Mr. Huber’s question was “What would you do regarding tax policy, regulatory policies, and employment policy that would help manufacturers get people back work?” It is my opinion that Mr. Huber comes off as an intellectual elitist. His question was asked in such a way that it seemed as though he was intending to belittle Ed Franz in some way. Ed Franz’s initial response was one of his highlights (see below).

Ed Franz

As mentioned above, the question from Paul Huber to Ed Franz came off in a bad way. After Huber asked his question, Ed Franz simply paused and said “well, thanks for that question Paul”. There was a hint of sarcasm in his voice and it was noticed by all attendees. The response received chuckles across the room. It was a very funny and light-hearted moment.

Another highlight in the evening for Franz was his response to a question regarding how he would “compromise” in Washington. Ed Franz went in a perfect direction when he stated “The death tax needs repealed. A compromise is to lower it. As long as the compromise helps, I’m okay with it. Where I won’t compromise is in deficit spending.” This simple statement managed to position Franz as a fiscal conservative. In my opinion, Franz needs to concentrate on this issue in order to pull himself away from the pack as a focused fiscal conservative.

The final highlight from Ed Franz came from his response regarding his electability against Kathy Dahlkemper. Franz made the bold move to state “(Kathy Dahlkemper) ran on the issue of Pro-Life. 14 months later she proved that she is not a friend of the unborn . . . she voted for a bill that will pay for tax funded abortion. We can’t afford to send fakes to Washington.” Wow. Those sound like fighin’ words to me. He took a bold stand, and I applaud him for his direct attack at the Congresswoman. It was refreshing.

Mike Kelly

A highlight for Mike Kelly came in his response to a question from Steve Fisher. The question was regarding the GM bailout. Fisher asked Kelly, a GM Dealer, how he would have voted on the government bailout. Kelly said “If you can’t make it on your own, how do you expect to make it on someone’s back?” He went on to say “I would have voted No. Your tax dollars should not have gone to keep a company alive that couldn’t make it on their own.” Those have been my thoughts regarding the bailouts, and it was nice to hear them clearly stated by one of the candidates. Mike gets extra credit for that one.

Kelly’s final highlight was, unfortunately, also a lowlight for him. During the closing question regarding his electability against Dahlkemper, Kelly started by explaining that “we’ve all had it with politicians”. He continued with “don’t blame the government. . . blame the people that we have sent to Washington” and he used great sound bites like “Say what you mean and mean what you say”. Unfortunately, as he was presenting his worthy sentiments, his voice was rising and he took on a very mean and angry tone. I realize that this might be part of Mike Kelly’s “schtick”, but he left me (and others in the room) with a sense that he is just a very angry man. In my opinion, it was an unfortunate ending to his performance. In an argument about why he is the best person to defeat Dahlkemper in November he managed to demonstrate why he may not fair well against her when it comes time to take her on face-to-face.

Clayton Grabb

Clayton Grabb had numerous highlights throughout the evening. Mr. Grabb seems very sincere and he genuinely speaks from his heart. While he may not be the most polished “politician” of the group, that is exactly what makes him appeal to the “anti-government/anti-incumbent” crowd.

One specific highlight from the evening was Grabb’s response to the question about which Federal programs should be eliminated or reduced. Grabb is the ONLY candidate that provided an example of a program that he would eliminate. Grabb stated “Eliminate the Department of Energy. We need energy independence and that department is not getting it done.” In a question that was ducked by many, Grabb stood out with his bold comment. Grabb also commented that there should be a “freeze on all government hiring”. I say “Amen” to that.

A second highlight came for Grabb in his use of humor. When discussing ways to improve health care, Grabb made the reference “You can’t have a night watching TV without seeing a caveman or a gecko.” This was an obvious reference to the fact that insurance companies have plenty of money for advertising. As a follow up he stated “Open up the markets and let there be competition”. His use of a bit of humor was a great way to bring attention on the issue. It was a light-hearted moment.

The most memorable highlight for Clayton Grabb was in his closing statements regarding his electability against Dahlkemper. Realize, first, that his comments followed those of Mike Kelly, which were very angry and loud. After a brief silence Grabb first stated “I know in my heart that I’m going to win the Primary in May and I feel confident that I’m going to beat Kathy Dahlkemper in November.” Clayton Grabb has the ability to inject emotion in his words, and it is moving. He then went on to make a statement referencing his military background and the explanation of what occurs when there is a “breach in the wall”. He used the same words last night as he did at a similar forum last Sunday, but it is a REALLY GOOD speech. I won’t even attempt to quote it here as it simply wouldn’t do it justice. Let me simply say that if you haven’t heard Clayton Grabb speak you should make it a point to make it to one of his upcoming functions.

In Closing . . .

Those were the notable highlights and lowlights of the evening . . . from my perspective, of course. I’m sure that everyone in the room left with different impressions of the events of the evening, but that is what makes this Country so great. One thing that we can all agree on is that formal debates like this one are an important part of the political process. It was encouraging to see so much interest from the community. I can only hope that everyone went home more informed than when they arrived.

As always, just my opinion.
~Mercer Conservatives

BLOG POST UPDATE:

Based on a reader request, I’ve compiled a list of links to the candidate websites for your reference. Please use these links to due further research regarding each candidate.

Dr. Martha Moore
Steve Fisher
Paul Huber
Ed Franz
Mike Kelly
Clayton Grabb

Congressional Candidate Debate in the 3rd District (Thursday, March 25): Comparing Apples-to-Apples

Written by Roberta Biros

For those of us concerned citizens that reside in the 3rd Congressional District, the upcoming debate of the Republican Congressional Candidates is a MUST SEE. The details were published by my friends at The Herald HERE. Here are the specifics:

Date:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Time:

7PM

Where:

Grove City College, Schict Auditorium of the Hall of Arts and Letters

Why:

This meeting with give the six candidates that are trying to de-thrown Congresswoman Dahlkemper the opportunity to pit themselves against each other. It will provide us with the ability to compare apples-to-apples in this very heated race. We need to get to the details, and this debate MIGHT just do that.

Who will be there?

Attendees will include concerned citizens like myself. I urge you all to attend.

The six candidates that are running in the May Primary on the Republican ticket are . . .

  • Steven M. Fisher, 52, Cochranton, a health insurance salesman.
  • Ed Franz, 48, a Conneautville hourly worker at General Electric Corp. in Erie.
  • Mike Kelly, 61, a Butler car dealership owner.
  • Clayton Grabb, 47, a Butler pharmaceutical salesman.
  • Dr. Martha Moore, 52, a Sandy Lake family practitioner.
  • Paul Huber, 65, a Meadville businessman.

In Closing

I’ve had an opportunity to speak with all of the candidates personally. I have had at-length discussions with three . . . Steven Fisher, Mike Kelly, and Ed Franz. I like all three. Fisher, Kelly, and Franz all have “a backbone” and “a clear and fiscal conservative vision” for the people of the 3rd Congressional District. Most importantly, these three all get points in the “likeability” column.

Clayton Grabb seems to be a stand up guy. I like his “independence from Party” stand, and I think his military background is a bonus. He also gets points in the “likeability” column.

Dr. Martha Moore and Paul Huber leave me empty.

For additional details regarding these candidates, please review my article titled “Anyone for a game of political hot potato (Part One)?: Misuse of Legislative Resources “.

I will attend the event, and I will report the highlights back to you in this forum.

As always, just my opinion.

~Mercer Conservatives

Anyone for a game of political hot potato (Part Two)?: You say Hot POTATO I say Hot POTAHTO

PART TWO OF A TWO PART SERIES
(read PART ONE HERE)

Written by Roberta Biros

I’ll start PART TWO of this story in the same way that I started PART ONE . . .

Politics are funny. Wait. STRIKE THAT. Let me start again.

Politicians are funny.

The Basis of The Story

The original “story” is related to an opinion post that I published on March 1. The opinion snowballed into a bigger issue when a congressional employee submitted a nasty comment to my post. I contacted Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper regarding her thoughts on the problem that occurred, and I contacted state legislators to get their opinions on the same issue.

In PART ONE of this two part story, I outlined the responses from Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper and her opponents on the Republican ticket in the Congressional race in the 3rd District. In this Part Two of two parts, I’d like to review the State angle on this issue.

In the case of the State Legislators that represent Mercer County, I realized that this particular “political hot potato” was a bit too hot for any of them to touch. For that reason, I decided to reframe my specific questions to them in an effort to find their individual legislative opinions regarding a more general topic. To that end, I sent them a follow up email stating the following:

As I am sure you are aware, the Pennsylvania Attorney General, Tom Corbett, is currently involved in a public corruption investigation. The charges that have been brought against members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly are very serious and specific. While the problem that was outlined in my correspondence (regarding Congresswoman Dahlkemper’s staff) does not rise to that level, the basic questions that I ask are important in understanding your perception of “good government” as an elected official representing Mercer County. As a matter of discussion, I’d like to take a direct quote from the Pennsylvania State Grand Jury presentment (which can be downloaded HERE):

“Numerous past and present members of Representative DeWeese’s legislative staff from his district offices testified before the Grand Jury. These staffers described the type of work that should be performed by legislative district office employees. This
legitimate work was primarily in the field of constituent services. The district office employees would assist people with forms, issues and concerns arising out of constituent interactions with state agencies.

Staff members would also assist constituents with questons about state employment. Additionally, staffers discussed and noted the concerns of constituents about legislation and legislative concerns. These would be forwarded to Harrisburg staff for any required attention and response. All of the district office staffers who testified before the Grand Jury stated that they knew the difference between legitimate legislative work and improper campaign work. They all stated that their work was never limited to the aforementioned appropriate legislative work.

Representative DeWeese’s legislative staff and campaign staff were virtually one in the same. Michael Manzo detailed for the grand jury how DeWeese had no campaign apparatus beyond his legislative staff. Practically every aspect of his campaign, whether fundraising, mailers, advertisements, signs, or door to door canvassing, was performed by legislative employees. The core group in this effort was the staffers in DeWeese’s district offices. “

In the statement above, the types of “legitimate” work that should be handled by staffers is clear. Based on those statements, please answer the following additional
questions regarding the incident of March 2nd that was outlined in my original
email message:

Do you believe that the “comment” that was posted to a public forum by a federal employee falls under the category of “legitimate work”?

Do you believe that there is room for any “grey area” when determining “legitimate work” of government employees?

Additionally, please respond to the following questions regarding the general concept of staffers mixing legitimate work and campaign work:

Should paid staff members be involved in campaigning at all (even on their personal time)?

In an effort to avoid the perception of impropriety, would you support legislation that would draw a firm line between legislative staff and campaign staff?

I emailed these follow-up statements and questions to Mercer County’s legislators on Tuesday, March 16. Below are the responses that I received (and those that I did not).

Representative Mark Longietti

I’ve never been disappointed by Mark Longietti’s level of energy or commitment to his constituents. He always responds to my queries . . . even if to say “I don’t want to respond to your query”. In this case, Representative Longietti called me from his personal (and privately funded) cell phone . . . a point that he stressed. First, he wanted to make it clear that I should not “assume any response based on his non-response to my query”. Rep Longietti then went on to explain that it is “hard to define what is political and what is not”, and in this particular instance it is his feeling that “this is part of a political discourse” and that in exercising his “best judgment” he chooses to “not use legislative resources to respond” to my query. He asked that I “respect his judgment in this matter”.

I explained that because he is an elected official in my district, I felt it his responsibility to respond to issues of legislative opinion. Specifically regarding the last questions posed, I asked his “legislative opinion” (not “political” opinion) regarding these specific questions. He refused to respond.

Rep. Longietti and I have had discussions regarding this matter in the past, and we argue the details each time. It is always an intelligent and heated debate. I asked Representative Longietti that since ANYTHING can fall under the category of “political”, did he feel that using the label of “political” as a guise to hide behind was unfair to his constituents. Again, he refused to answer and asked that I simply respect his right to not respond.

Once again, I respect Representative Longietti for getting back to me quickly and respectfully. I do not, however, support hiding behind words. He says potato and I say potahto . . . he says the question is “political” and I say a question is “policy”. We will always disagree on this issue. He clearly senses the “hot potato”, and he reacted by backing into CYA mode. Unfortunately, that is just what politicians do. Representative Longietti is very much a “politician” . . . and a very good one at that. He is, however, also a pretty good guy. I’ll give him a pass on this one. He always has a right to refuse to answer a question, but I will continue to reserve the right to argue with him about it.

Representative Michele Brooks

Representative Michele Brooks is a hard-working public servant that burns the candle at both ends without complaint. The people of Mercer County can count on Ms. Brooks to respond to their inquiries . . . even if they do not reside in the 17th District (I am proof of that). Representative Brooks contacted me by phone (also using her personal cell). Like Representative Longietti, she made it very clear that she would not comment on the issues specifically related to Congresswoman Dahlkemper. Aware of the hot potato aspect, she felt it was “inappropriate to comment”.

When I specifically asked about Ms. Brooks legislative opinion regarding “legitimate work” and possible legislative reform in that arena, Representative Brooks provided a brief explanation. She stated that she has “supported reform legislation” in all areas. She explained that while many of the problems that are currently under investigation by the Attorney General took place before she was elected in 2006, many changes have already occurred to prevent potential problems in the future. While she made it clear that things are much better than they were, she also stressed that she would support further reforms in that area if they were to be presented. Representative Brooks has proven her stand as a “dedicated reformer” by her actions in Harrisburg over the past three years (which is why she is one of only ten members of our “PAGovWatch Honor Roll“).

Regarding the rules that are already in place regarding legislative staff, Representative Brooks made a general statement that the members of her staff adhere to all rules regarding their positions.

I respect Representative Brooks for always responding to my questions and concerns. While she passed on the “hot potato” question related to Congresswoman Dahlkemper, she still showed “testicular fortitude” when responding to issues of legislative reform and good government (two areas in which Representative Brooks is both familiar and particularly active). Of the four state legislators that represent Mercer County, I find it funny that the ONLY woman in the pack is also the ONLY one in the whole lot of them with any “testicular fortitude”. The irony makes me giggle.

Representative Dick Stevenson and Senator Bob Robbins

As two of the original writers of the CYA code, Representative Stevenson and Senator Robbins did what they always do. They ignored my inquiry. In their case, it had nothing to do with a “hot potato”. For them it was easier than that. For Rep. Stevenson and Sen. Robbins it is simply a matter of ignoring their constituents consistently at every turn. Explain to me again why no one runs against these two? Neither one has any sort of “fortitude” . . . testicular, intestinal, or otherwise.

In Closing . . .

My experiences of the past few years have proven to me that I am not alone in my opinion of “what makes for a good public servant”. There was a great letter to the editor in The Herald on Friday, March 20. In it a reference was made to our “so-called representatives”. The individual wrote:

“We believe they are called public servants. We think each one should look up
the definition of a servant.”

I’ve talked about the issue at great length with MANY MANY people in Mercer County, and my findings are always the same. As taxpayer . . . voters . . . concerned citizens, we all long for elected representatives with GUTS. I’ve used the terms “intestinal fortitude” and “testicular fortitude” interchangeably to represent this illusive characteristic. Is it so much to ask a person in office (or running for office) to stand for SOMETHING? Is it so ridiculous to think that people who are holding or seeking office should be required to clearly state an opinion when asked?

Trying to get a straight answer out of some of these people is like “pushing a rope”. Should it really be that hard? Have the concepts of public service, transparency, and accountability been replaced with the “CYA Code” and “the game of political hot potato”? Sometimes I wonder, and it is becoming increasingly obvious that I am not alone in my concerns.

To that, I offer you (again) the following STATISTICS FOR REFERENCE:

The following is a quote from my article titled 2010 Petitions are IN: A Political Summary (published on 3/10/2010). It makes reference to the legislative offices that are open for election this year.

Third party, minority party candidates, and non-affiliated candidates can run for ANY of these offices. To do so, interested parties need to file nomination papers by early August. Until that time, interested candidates would need to begin gathering signatures in the quantities required by the State. That number is calculated by determining “2% of the largest entire vote cast for an elected candidate at the last election within the district”. Those numbers are computed below:

  • To run against State Senator Bob Robbins, third party candidates must gather 826 signatures in 6 months (41,302 x .02).
  • To run against Representative Mark Longietti, third party candidates must gather 519 signatures in 6 months (25,941 x .02).
  • To run against Representative Dick Stevenson, third party candidates must gather 488 signatures in 6 months (24,389 x .02).
  • To run against Representative Michele Brooks, third party candidates must gather 337 signatures in 6 months (16,844 x .02).

Summary Thoughts:

All you need is 826 signatures by August to run against Senator Bob Robbins? That would actually be pretty easy for anyone that’s done that sort of thing before . Do you know anyone that fits the description?

They would, of course, need to be registered as “non-affiliated” or as a member of a third-party. Do you know anyone that fits the description?

They would also need to be dedicated to the concepts of good government and government reform . . . not to mention the fact that they would need to have a tireless desire to hold our elected officials accountable for their actions. Do you know anyone that fits the description?

Hmmm. Once again, the irony makes me giggle.

As always, just my opinion.

~Mercer Conservatives

BLOG POST UPDATE:

I contact our legislators regularly as I feel that it is the responsibility of “we the people” to hold our elected officials to the highest standard. Last week I sent the above list of questions regarding “legitimate legislative use” to the legislators representing Mercer County. Although I received some responses (2 out of 4 responded), my questions were not well received by any of those elected officials. I am not the only one in the State of Pennsylvania (or Mercer County) that is concerned about the inappropriate use of legislative staff. There was an interesting AP article (that was also published in The Herald on 3/21) which proves that. The article (read the full text HERE) provides a list of questions that we should ALL be asking of EVERY LEGISLATOR in Pennsylvania. I’ve sent the list of questions to those legislators representing Mercer County, and I will publish their responses if they decide to submit them.

I URGE ALL OF YOU to do the same!

Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper faces petition challenge

Written by Roberta Biros

The details are still coming in, but it seems that Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper has yet another hurdle to pass in order to simply get her name on the Democrat ballot for the Primary. March 16th was the last day for challenges to be filed against nomination petitions for the 2010 Primary Election. The Pennsylvania Voting and Elections site provides the complete list of challenges HERE.

Based on the published list, Mrs. Dahlkemper’s petitions for the Democrat nomination are being challenged by Mel Marin, who happens to be Mrs. Dahlkemper’s Democrat opponent on that same ballot. According to a story published at PAIndependent.com, “There is a hearing scheduled for March 24, said Mr. Boyle, at which time Mr. Marin (or any objector) will appear in court to present the challenge. But, Mr. Boyle also said “Sometimes objections are withdrawn, and sometimes because of an objection the candidate withdraws, so that’s always a possibility.”

Read the full story at PAIndependent.com HERE .

My guess is that the basis of this challenge is simple political wrangling. It does prove, however, that candidate Mel Marin is determined to make a bold statement in his challenge of Mrs. Dahlkemper. For that Mr. Marin receives points for “spunk” in my book.

I’ll admit that I know very little about Mel Marin, and very little is available through on-line research. Mr. Marin does have a campaign website [HERE], but it is not particularly robust. The little bit that I do know came from an article in The Herald last week [read the full story HERE]. In that story by Matt Snyder, The Herald reported the following:

Marin made news in Mercer County last fall for filing a federal discrimination lawsuit against the city of Sharon for allegedly refusing to sell him condemned properties for $10 each because he is Serbian.

Marin’s campaign Web site blames corrupt judges and bankers for home foreclosures, claims health care professionals push the elderly into hospice care so they will die faster, and suggests that gays use parades and clowns to seduce young people.

The Herald story was interesting, but some of the statements could be considered interpretations by Matt Snyder. Rather than relying on the snippets from The Herald alone, I would suggest that readers explore Mr. Marin’s website in order to learn more about the candidate.



We will need to wait another week to find out how the petition challenge pans out. During that time we might also find out exactly where Congresswoman Dahlkemper stands on Health Care Reform. In other words, her political future may very well be determined in the next seven days . . . one way or another.
.

Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper “urges women to run for office” (as long as they are Republicans with no aspirations to be a Congresswoman)

Written by Roberta Biros

I know that the title of this blog post seems a little mean spirited, but I am simply providing a service. The headline quotes a news article from GoErie.com (read the full story HERE), the parenthetical goes a step further to state the underlying meaning of the first quote. Allow me to explain.

On Thursday, March 10, GoErie.com published a story titled “Dahlkemper to honor women in Pa. legislature on House floor”. In it they explained that at 10am that morning Congresswoman Dahlkemper was scheduled to speak on the House floor “to recognize the six women in the Pennsylvania General Assembly from the 3rd Congressional District.” The article further explained that in recognition of Women in History Month, Congresswoman Dahlkemper was going to recognize state Sens. Jane Earll, Jane Clare Orie and Mary Jo White, and state Reps. Michele Brooks, Donna Oberlander and Kathy Rapp. Furthermore, she is making this statement because she (according to GoErie.com) “is urging more women to consider running for office.”

That was the content of the very short story on GoErie.com. Allow me, however, to provide the REST OF THE STORY. First, let us examine the women that Congresswoman Dahlkemper planned on recognizing on March 10th.

State Senator Jane Earll: 49th District, Erie County, Republican

State Senator Jane Clare Orie: 40th District, parts of Allegheny and Butler Counties, Republican

State Senator Mary Jo White: 21st District, Erie, Warren, Forest, Venango, Clarion, and Butler Counties, Republican

State Representative Michele Brooks: 17th District, Mercer, and parts of Crawford and Lawrence Counties, Republican. [NOTE: Representative Michele Brooks has also received our Highest Ranking on our Directory of Fiscal Conservative Pennsylvania State Legislators]

State Representative Donna Oberlander: 63rd District, parts of Clairon and Armstrong Counties, Republican [NOTE: Representative Donna Oberlander has also received a High Ranking on our Directory of Fiscal Conservative Pennsylvania State Legislators]

State Representative Kathy Rapp: 65th District: Warren, Forest, McKean Counties, Republican [NOTE: Representative Kathy Rapp has also received our Highest Ranking on our Directory of Fiscal Conservative Pennsylvania State Legislators]

Upon close (or not so close) review, you will find that ALL of the six women who were being recognized are all REPUBLICANS. This observation illustrates the important fact that Congresswoman Dahlkemper’s 3rd District in Pennsylvania is CONSERVATIVE. I make this point specifically for those Democrats that have recently argued that point with me. Contrary to the beliefs of some Mercer County Democrats, the 3rd Congressional District is NOT even remotely similar to Nancy Pelosi’s district in San Francisco. It also goes to show that perhaps Congresswoman Dahlkemper does have an understanding of who she needs to pander to in this election year, which is refreshing.

The “line” in the article that states that Congresswoman Dahlkemper “is urging more women to consider running for office” makes me laugh, though. The statement is disingenuous. When the Congresswoman had an opportunity to support a fellow fiscal conservative running for office last year, she ran for the hills. She also has a clear opportunity to support a woman, Martha Moore, that is running in her district THIS year . . . but I’ll bet you all a dozen donuts that she has not welcomed her into the political ring. Why? Because Martha Moore is a woman running for office . . . Mrs. Dahlkemper’s office. Dr. Martha Moore is running for Congress in the 3rd District.

The truth is that Mrs. Dahlkemper honored these 6 women on the floor of House yesterday as a personal Thank You to each of them for NOT running against her this year. It has nothing to do with “women supporting women”.

As a personal note to State Senators Jane Earll, Jane Clare Orie and Mary Jo White, and State Representatives Michele Brooks, Donna Oberlander and Kathy Rapp, I’d like to extend a SINCERE thank you for representing WOMEN and ALL people in our area graciously. Furthermore, I would like to urge each and every one of you to consider making a move to the U.S. Congress in 2012 as each of you are perfectly qualified and deserving (this is something that Mrs. Dahlkemper would never tell you).

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Political Independence: No Longer Trying to Fit a Square Peg into a Round Hole

Written by Roberta Biros

People are shaped by their experiences. We’ve all suffered various trials, tribulations, and celebrations during our visit on this Earth and those life lessons have made us all unique.

In the world of politics, the same applies. People are shaped by their experiences and we are all unique. Unfortunately, in the present two-party system, we are all forced to try to fit into one of two predetermined molds. More often than not, people are finding that they don’t really fit under either column A nor B. There are many of us that have tried, but we find that our square pegs simply don’t fit into any of the round holes that are available.

It is that dilemma of Choice A vs. Choice B that has motivated me to make a final and very important political decision. First, allow me to quote a letter to the editor of The Herald that was published today.

Democrats vs. Republicans

I’m writing in response to the recent letter submitted by Larry Murphy of Hermitage. Mr. Murphy publicly outlined his reasons for leaving the GOP to join the Libertarian Party.

Last year I went through a similar conflict. I was disappointed with the GOP, and I moved to the Democrat Party. I thought the “bigger tent” would be more accepting of differing political philosophies. I always believed in the two-party system, and if I did not agree with one party, it only made sense to move to the other.

Unfortunately, both parties are riddled with problems and demons that make them equally unattractive. As the saying goes, “the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence”. In Mercer County, it is impossible to distinguish the two parties (Democrat and Republican) from one and other. Both committees are run by political insiders that are only interested in promoting “closed door politics”. Outsiders are not welcome to the table, and great efforts are made to block attempts at entry. County politics and government are essentially run by ONE party . . . the Mercer County Incumbent Party.

Like many, I find myself an independent thinker that is more interested in “good government” and “honest public service” than I am with party platforms. I believe in term limits, open primaries, transparency, accountability, and fiscal responsibility. Unfortunately, these priorities are not part of the platform of either major party (let alone “the Mercer County Incumbent Party”).

I have, therefore, decided to change my political party affiliation to the ONLY honest political party in existence . . . the “NO PARTY” (not to be confused with “the party of NO”). On March 4th, I submitted my voter registration with a party change to “No Affiliation”. I am now a true independent with no specific allegiance . . . other than my allegiance to the United States of America.

If you are tired of choices A and B, I invite you to join “choice C” and become an Independent (which also happens to be the fastest growing voting block in the nation).

Roberta Biros
Delaware Township

Yes, I’ve made the ultimate move of political independence. I’ve abandoned both parties in search of honest leadership and public servants that are committed to transparency, accountability, and fiscal responsibility . . . regardless of party affiliation.

On a Personal Note:

I’d like to be the first to congratulate a few people. I’d like to congratulate Chairman Bob Lark and Chairman Dave King for their undying support of the Mercer County Incumbent Party. I’m sure that they are both “tickled pink” by this announcement today.

I’d also like to congratulate the loyal members of the Mercer County Incumbent Party for their hard work in shaping Mercer County politics into what it is today. The most outstanding and obvious members of this group are Bob and Cindy Robbins, Ginny and Walter Richardson, Ken Ammann, Brian Beader, Bob and Debbie Kochems. They will all be celebrating this as a victory (of that I am certain).

While I am no longer a member of one of the two major parties, I do not plan on disappearing from the political scene. I will remain a vocal proponent of good government in Mercer County and throughout Pennsylvania. I will remain a concerned citizen with a goal of fiscal responsibility and honest public service. I will do this with NO specific affiliation to a political party or label.

In Closing

In my blog post titled 2010 Petitions are IN: A Political Summary (published on 3/10/2010), I explained the process through which third party candidates can run for public office. In that same article I stated the following:

“Competition and opposition during an election is healthy. It draws attention to the importance of elected office, and it forces our elected officials to defend their territory”

While running as a third-party or non-affiliated candidate is very difficult, I encourage the MANY voters in Mercer County that fall under that category to consider running for office. If you are willing to work HARDER to prove your commitment to good government, running as an Independent may be the perfect choice for you.

According to the statistics of the Mercer County Election Bureau (posted HERE), there are over 9,000 registered voters in Mercer County that have chosen to NOT classify themselves as a Republican or a Democrat. There are 9,000 of us that have chosen “Choice C”, and those numbers are growing.

Today I am filled with a new hope and a revitalized optimism. I have a new sense of freedom and independence in knowing that my square peg may have found a perfectly matched square hole. In closing, I leave you with these two quotes of inspiration.

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”
~Muhammad Ali

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls and
looks like work.”
~Thomas Edison

This is a reminder that there are some of us that are willing to work harder and take risks in an effort to achieve greatness.

As always, just my opinion.

STATISTICS FOR REFERENCE:
The following is a quote from my article titled 010 Petitions are IN: A Political Summary (published on 3/10/2010). It makes reference to the legislative offices that are open for election this year.
Third party, minority party candidates, and non-affiliated candidates can run for ANY of these offices. To do so, interested parties need to file nomination papers by early August. Until that time, interested candidates would need to begin gathering signatures in the quantities required by the State. That number is calculated by determining “2% of the largest entire vote cast for an elected candidate at the last election within the district”. Those numbers are computed below:
  • To run against State Senator Bob Robbins, third party candidates must gather 826 signatures in 6 months (41,302 x .02).
  • To run against Representative Mark Longietti, third party candidates must gather 519 signatures in 6 months (25,941 x .02).
  • To run against Representative Dick Stevenson, third party candidates must gather 488 signatures in 6 months (24,389 x .02).
  • To run against Representative Michele Brooks, third party candidates must gather 337 signatures in 6 months (16,844 x .02).

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Taking Bets: Will Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper Be a One Hit Wonder?

Written by Roberta Biros

With little political activity in Mercer County this year, we are left to focus on the one big race that faces Mercer Countians and voters in the Northwest corner of PA . . . the race for the much coveted seat in the 3rd Congressional District. The race is shaping up to be one featuring the current incumbent, Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper, against any one of many Republican challengers. Regardless of which Republican ends up on top after the Primary, the final result will be the same. I’m willing to bet my bottom dollar that Congresswoman Dahlkemper will lose her seat after only one lack-luster term in the U.S. House of Representatives . . . and rightly so.

To examine why the results are so simple to predict, we need to examine a few issues . . . the past, the present, and the future.

The Past (2008)

First, let us examine the past . . . long past. Let us take a time machine trip back to 2008 when Mrs. Dahlkemper ran against long-time incumbent Phil English. It is first important to understand that Mrs. Dahlkemper didn’t win against Phil English because she was the best possible candidate. No way . . . not by a long shot. Mrs. Dahlkemper won against Phil English because conservatives wanted Phil English OUT.

The chatter before the 2008 General Election was that conservatives would vote for Dahlkemper just to boot Phil’s rear-end out of Washington and to the curb. The idea was to get rid of Phil English so that he could be replaced with a “real” conservative in 2010. It was a chance that Mercer Conservatives were willing to take (Clarification: in this case, “Mercer Conservatives” is not referring to me, but to the body of conservative voters in Mercer County as a whole). Mrs. Dahlkemper won the 3rd District because conservatives LET her win.

In 2008, Mrs. Dahlkemper ran against a non-existent Phil English campaign in Mercer County. There were NO English signs displayed in the County (even though it is my understanding that there were hundreds available), and there were no visible efforts by those in charge of the English campaign to fight Mrs. Dahlkemper. There has been some speculation that this downplaying of the Republican support was part of the backroom dealings in the “Mercer County Incumbent Party”, but regardless of WHY it happened, Mrs. Dahlkemper won Mercer County.

The Past (2009)

Rather than understanding HOW she got there, Mrs. Dahlkemper went on to make more mistakes by listening to the Democratic leadership in Mercer County. They insisted that “they” were the reason for Mrs. Dahlkemper’s 2008 win, and they insisted that the Congresswoman “owed” the Progressive wing of Mercer County politics some level of payback. While Mrs. Dahlkemper had the right idea by announcing her “Blue Dog” affiliation early in 2009, she was also quick to abandon those values when pressured by Progressive Democrats. She has taken bad advice from Mercer County Democrats and members of her own staff, and she is left looking spineless and lacking leadership abilities.

The Present

Let us examine the present as it applies to Congresswoman Dahlkemper. She finds herself at the center of the health care debate in Washington. While she “promised” to support health care reform, she also “promised” to be pro-life. She promised to be a fiscal conservative, but also promised to support one of the most fiscally irresponsible health care bills in our country’s history. (Sidebar: Don’t get me wrong . . . I support the idea of health care reform, but this 2000+ page Bill isn’t what I was looking for.) Mrs. Dahlkemper seems to have made too many promises that she simply cannot keep. In the end, she attempted to be all things to all people but ultimately she stands for absolutely nothing.

In addition to her decision making problems, Mrs. Dahlkemper simply isn’t a good “people person”. I’ve met her numerous times. I’ve been introduced to her (and have been introduced) so many times that I cannot even count the instances. Yet, Mrs. Dahlkemper wouldn’t know me if I walked up to her at an event with a name tag on. I’ve written numerous letters and email messages to her office in Erie, and I have never received so much as a courtesy response. She has no people skills. She has no personality. She seems to be a bit of a “muppet” with an interesting “deer in the headlights” look to her. I don’t mean to be unkind, I’m simply stating it like I see it . . .Congresswoman Dahlkemper gives the impression of being a very empty suit.

The Future

Lastly, when we examine the future we see that “Millionaire” Kathy Dahlkemper doesn’t have enough time or money to re-invent herself before November of 2010. She spent the last year taking advantage of photo-ops but has managed to make no real or substantial impact in Washington. Her most important piece of legislation was simply a photocopy of Rep. Longietti’s “failure to launch” Bill. It is a Bill that makes it possible for parents to cover their “children” on their heath insurance policies until their “children” are nearing retirement age (I exaggerate, but I simply think that 30 years old is simply too old to continue to be covered by your parents insurance). The bill seems ridiculous at the State level and is even more so at the Federal level.

The Congresswoman has shown her true colors, and it will be impossible for her to re-paint herself as a fiscal conservative between now and November. She will have NO support from Mercer County Democrats because Mercer County Democrats are all too busy watching out for themselves. Additionally, the leadership of the Mercer County Democrat Committee made clear statements last year that Mrs. Dahlkemper’s “Blue Dog” roots make her “as bad as a Republican”. I’m sure that isn’t the glowing endorsement that she would be hoping for. The Mercer County Republicans will be of no assistance to Mrs. Dahlkemper this time around either as they have too many deals that require payback after the 2009 election. Ginny Richardson, Bob Robbins, and Dave King made some hefty promises to the state GOP last year that will require their very serious involvement in ousting Mrs. Dahlkemper this year. If the Congresswoman is looking for help, she will need to find it in Crawford County or Erie, but she will be wasting her time in Mercer County as a whole.

In Closing

Based on her experiences in the past, present, and future, Congresswoman Dahlkemper will undoubtedly be a “one-hit wonder”. With any luck, a “Conservative” will win the seat in the 3rd Congressional District and Mrs. Dahlkemper will have served her purpose well. She will go down in history as the temporary placeholder that got rid of Phil English.

As always, just my opinion.
~Mercer County Conservatives

Following My Moral Compass

Written by Roberta Biros

I was watching Fox and Friends on Saturday Morning (2/20), and I was intrigued by a conversation between Fox’s Peter Johnson Jr. and guest Bob McEwen, Chairman of Renewing American Leadership and former Ohio Congressman. The conversation began in reference to the CPAC convention and the people that were in attendance. Peter Johnson Jr. asked the following question of Mr. McEwen:

People who share the beliefs of CPAC . . . how do they act on it? How do they get involved in the process? What do they do?

In response, Mr. McEwen made the following statement:

People refer to it as the Tea Party movement, but certainly in Ohio what we have seen is that people have said “How do these things happen” . . . “How do these people get chosen”? And what we have seen is that people have become involved that never were involved before . . . to run for the local precinct committeeman, to run for the school board . . . the number that filed during the last week have set all-time records.
I admit that the people that pull the wagons, that coach the little league, that teach Sunday school, the people that have never been involved in government before . . . this has been an awakening time when we see where folks were headed to destroy our currency, to destroy our balance of trade, and to tell us that we had to learn to live with less and that America had to learn to be a second-rate country. Americans don’t believe that and they aren’t going to put up with it.

The conversation was very interesting. Some of you may, however, wonder why I found the conversation SO intriguing. Please allow me to fill you in.

A little background information

For those of you that are not familiar with me or my writings, I shared my personal political confusions very publicly last year. I wrote about my problems with the local GOP in Mercer County, and I then later shared my thought process regarding changing political parties (away from the GOP). The posts below tell the story:

What is a Conservative to Do When They Find Themselves Without a Party?

A Conservative Without a Party?: Perhaps I’m Not Alone After All

I’m Still a Conservative, but I’m OFFICIALLY No Longer a Republican

I left the Republican Party because I was disappointed with the way that the party was controlled locally (as well as at the state and federal levels), and I desperately wanted to be a part of positive change (most specifically in our County government). I moved to the Democrat Party in an attempt to facilitate that positive change. Unfortunately, I ran into the same problems with the Democrats as I had experienced with the Republicans. I found this out after I decided to run for county-wide office. I eventually found that the local Republicans and Democrats had nothing to do with good government or positive change. Instead, both parties (and the elected officials associated with those parties) are attached at the hip in a “very close circle of friends” that we call the “Mercer County Incumbent Party”.

What does it all mean?

It was all very fascinating, and my experiences during the 2009 election cycle were extremely valuable. My point, however, is that I DID exactly what Mr. McEwen referred to in his comments noted above. I was someone that had NEVER been involved in politics, but I decided to get involved because I was tired of sitting back and watching our government “fall off a cliff”. I decided to get involved . . . just like thousands and thousands of people are deciding to do this year. While I did not win my race in 2009, I made a great first step in the process. Most importantly, I have NOT GIVEN UP. I will continue to push and I will continue to work hard to attempt to penetrate the “inner circle” in Mercer County politics.

But what is next?

It was heart-warming to hear that I am certainly not alone in my quest, but my problems with “the parties” continue to cause me personal conflict on how to move forward. I was further intrigued when I watched Glen Beck’s keynote address at CPAC on Saturday night. I’ve always found Glen Beck to be common-sense oriented, and I like that. His speech on Saturday night, however, sincerely struck a chord with me. He simplified the problem with BOTH parties by explaining that the single problem with both Republicans and Democrats is PROGRESSIVISM. Progressives and progressive ideas are the root of our problems in this country, and both Republicans and Democrats are to blame. The only way to save our country and to clean up our government is to purge the system of Progressives!

Politicians from both parties and at all levels of government have decided that the ONLY way to solve our problems is to TAX and SPEND (or simply just SPEND). Progressives (a.k.a. “liberals”) are less interested with being self-sufficient and fiscally responsible and they are more interested in building size of the government. Democrats and Republicans are both guilty of it, and it is up to CONSERVATIVES to fix it.

Continuing to move forward as a Conservative

Regardless of my “party affiliation”, I’ve always remained a Conservative. Issues of fiscal conservatism are at the forefront of my blog posts, and those same issues were at the forefront of my political campaign in 2009. What I found most interesting was that those fiscally conservative ideals were accepted and embraced by both Republicans and Democrats. When party labels are thrown out the window and you take the time to actually TALK to voters, those voters are all (generally) on the same page. In my campaign as a fiscally conservative Democrat, my message was absolutely correct . . . I simply failed to share that message with enough voters before Election Day.

Are all politicians bad?

Don’t get me wrong . . . not ALL politicians are dirty rotten scoundrels. There are actual conservatives out there that work hard to try to make a difference. Unfortunately, they are often hard to find in all of the “white noise” that is generated by everyone else. The old-time incumbents that are there to simply suck off of the “government tit” are easy to spot (and I know exactly who they are). They generally stay out of the lime-light so as not to draw attention to themselves. In other words, they DON’T DO ANYTHING.

Hard-working conservatives are easy to spot (and I’m very familiar with them as well). They are always publicly providing their opinions on political issues (in an effort to draw legislative issues into the public’s attention) . . . they hold regular “town hall meetings” in an effort to keep the lines of communication open . . . they send out newsletters (both electronic and print) in order to keep the electorate informed of important issues . . . and they are willing to take their fair share of shots from the press because they firmly STAND FOR SOMETHING.

Checking my moral compass

So, where do I go from here? Politics are dirty, and most of the politicians involved in the politics are even more dirty. Republicans are concerned with self-preservation and protecting their political careers, and Democrats are concerned with self-preservation and protecting their political careers. Since both parties are equally bad, why would I want to be involved with either one? How do you choose? How do you really select the “lesser of two evils”? OR, does party really even matter any more?

So I’m back to where I was a year ago . . .

What is a Conservative to Do When They Find Themselves Without a Party?

As always, just my opinion. ~Mercer Conservatives
.

Following My Moral Compass

Written by Roberta Biros

I was watching Fox and Friends on Saturday Morning (2/20), and I was intrigued by a conversation between Fox’s Peter Johnson Jr. and guest Bob McEwen, Chairman of Renewing American Leadership and former Ohio Congressman. The conversation began in reference to the CPAC convention and the people that were in attendance. Peter Johnson Jr. asked the following question of Mr. McEwen:

People who share the beliefs of CPAC . . . how do they act on it? How do they get involved in the process? What do they do?

In response, Mr. McEwen made the following statement:

People refer to it as the Tea Party movement, but certainly in Ohio what we have seen is that people have said “How do these things happen” . . . “How do these people get chosen”? And what we have seen is that people have become involved that never were involved before . . . to run for the local precinct committeeman, to run for the school board . . . the number that filed during the last week have set all-time records.
I admit that the people that pull the wagons, that coach the little league, that teach Sunday school, the people that have never been involved in government before . . . this has been an awakening time when we see where folks were headed to destroy our currency, to destroy our balance of trade, and to tell us that we had to learn to live with less and that America had to learn to be a second-rate country. Americans don’t believe that and they aren’t going to put up with it.

The conversation was very interesting. Some of you may, however, wonder why I found the conversation SO intriguing. Please allow me to fill you in.

A little background information

For those of you that are not familiar with me or my writings, I shared my personal political confusions very publicly last year. I wrote about my problems with the local GOP in Mercer County, and I then later shared my thought process regarding changing political parties (away from the GOP). The posts below tell the story:

What is a Conservative to Do When They Find Themselves Without a Party?

A Conservative Without a Party?: Perhaps I’m Not Alone After All

I’m Still a Conservative, but I’m OFFICIALLY No Longer a Republican

I left the Republican Party because I was disappointed with the way that the party was controlled locally (as well as at the state and federal levels), and I desperately wanted to be a part of positive change (most specifically in our County government). I moved to the Democrat Party in an attempt to facilitate that positive change. Unfortunately, I ran into the same problems with the Democrats as I had experienced with the Republicans. I found this out after I decided to run for county-wide office. I eventually found that the local Republicans and Democrats had nothing to do with good government or positive change. Instead, both parties (and the elected officials associated with those parties) are attached at the hip in a “very close circle of friends” that we call the “Mercer County Incumbent Party”.

What does it all mean?

It was all very fascinating, and my experiences during the 2009 election cycle were extremely valuable. My point, however, is that I DID exactly what Mr. McEwen referred to in his comments noted above. I was someone that had NEVER been involved in politics, but I decided to get involved because I was tired of sitting back and watching our government “fall off a cliff”. I decided to get involved . . . just like thousands and thousands of people are deciding to do this year. While I did not win my race in 2009, I made a great first step in the process. Most importantly, I have NOT GIVEN UP. I will continue to push and I will continue to work hard to attempt to penetrate the “inner circle” in Mercer County politics.

But what is next?

It was heart-warming to hear that I am certainly not alone in my quest, but my problems with “the parties” continue to cause me personal conflict on how to move forward. I was further intrigued when I watched Glen Beck’s keynote address at CPAC on Saturday night. I’ve always found Glen Beck to be common-sense oriented, and I like that. His speech on Saturday night, however, sincerely struck a chord with me. He simplified the problem with BOTH parties by explaining that the single problem with both Republicans and Democrats is PROGRESSIVISM. Progressives and progressive ideas are the root of our problems in this country, and both Republicans and Democrats are to blame. The only way to save our country and to clean up our government is to purge the system of Progressives!

Politicians from both parties and at all levels of government have decided that the ONLY way to solve our problems is to TAX and SPEND (or simply just SPEND). Progressives (a.k.a. “liberals”) are less interested with being self-sufficient and fiscally responsible and they are more interested in building size of the government. Democrats and Republicans are both guilty of it, and it is up to CONSERVATIVES to fix it.

Continuing to move forward as a Conservative

Regardless of my “party affiliation”, I’ve always remained a Conservative. Issues of fiscal conservatism are at the forefront of my blog posts, and those same issues were at the forefront of my political campaign in 2009. What I found most interesting was that those fiscally conservative ideals were accepted and embraced by both Republicans and Democrats. When party labels are thrown out the window and you take the time to actually TALK to voters, those voters are all (generally) on the same page. In my campaign as a fiscally conservative Democrat, my message was absolutely correct . . . I simply failed to share that message with enough voters before Election Day.

Are all politicians bad?

Don’t get me wrong . . . not ALL politicians are dirty rotten scoundrels. There are actual conservatives out there that work hard to try to make a difference. Unfortunately, they are often hard to find in all of the “white noise” that is generated by everyone else. The old-time incumbents that are there to simply suck off of the “government tit” are easy to spot (and I know exactly who they are). They generally stay out of the lime-light so as not to draw attention to themselves. In other words, they DON’T DO ANYTHING.

Hard-working conservatives are easy to spot (and I’m very familiar with them as well). They are always publicly providing their opinions on political issues (in an effort to draw legislative issues into the public’s attention) . . . they hold regular “town hall meetings” in an effort to keep the lines of communication open . . . they send out newsletters (both electronic and print) in order to keep the electorate informed of important issues . . . and they are willing to take their fair share of shots from the press because they firmly STAND FOR SOMETHING.

Checking my moral compass

So, where do I go from here? Politics are dirty, and most of the politicians involved in the politics are even more dirty. Republicans are concerned with self-preservation and protecting their political careers, and Democrats are concerned with self-preservation and protecting their political careers. Since both parties are equally bad, why would I want to be involved with either one? How do you choose? How do you really select the “lesser of two evils”? OR, does party really even matter any more?

So I’m back to where I was a year ago . . .

What is a Conservative to Do When They Find Themselves Without a Party?

As always, just my opinion. ~Mercer Conservatives
.

The Political Winds Are Blowing . . . or Are They?

Written by Roberta Biros

The headline in today’s Herald reads “Lack of challengers seen this cycle” and HERE is a link to the complete article for your reading pleasure. Perhaps the headline could have been “Lark implies that Biros was a horrible candidate and would have been an equally horrible Treasurer”.

The direction of the article was that there is a sad lack of interest in running for political office against the incumbents in Mercer County. This is a very disturbing problem as it leaves the voters in Mercer County with no hope for any escape from political cronyism. Political offices will continue to be held by “friends of friends” until the cycle is broken by a political outsider. Until that happens it will be “business as usual” for the “political elite” . . . Robbins, Stevenson, Brooks, and Longietti . . . otherwise known as the “anointed ones”.

Unfortunately, Bob Lark’s comments had to be directed at his sad obsession with me, Roberta Biros, for having the nerve to run a political race last year. According to the Herald, “Lark called the lack of challengers “unfortunate,” but added that he’s not interested in running just anyone. He wants a candidate who knows how to run a race and would be a good office holder.” The Herald further explained as follows:

“He referenced last year’s election, when candidate Roberta Biros ran as a Democrat for Mercer County Treasurer and had a very public dust-up with Lark. Mrs. Biros said she campaigned to give voters a choice, but Lark had questioned her allegiance to the Democratic Party, which she had switched to from Republican just before filing.”

It is unfortunate that the ONLY candidate willing to run against an incumbent last year received NO support from the Chairman or Party leaders, but it is more unfortunate that they continue to vilify that same candidate for her willingness to run for office in the first place (and on her own dime . . . I might add). I sense that The Herald may have gotten Bob Lark’s quote wrong when they said “he’s not interested in running just anyone”. My gut tells me that the Chairman’s words were actually “I’m not interested in running ANYONE”.

It is no surprise that there are no willing candidates out there to take on the entrenched politicians in both parties. After all, (to steal a phrase from a very good friend of mine) the “Mercer County Incumbent Party” does control the political offices in this part of Commonwealth. Is it possible to challenge that mentality? Are there candidates out there that are willing to run a race for the sake of offering voters a choice? I, for one, would support them whole-heartedly.

As always, just my opinion. ~Mercer Conservatives

One Bad Apple Can Spoil the Whole Bushel

Written by Roberta Biros

I’ve been watching a story unfold for a little while now, and I’ve managed to hold my tongue patiently. I realize that might be hard for some of you to believe, but it IS possible. I’ve been known to hold my tongue once or twice in my lifetime, and this was one of those few instances.

There are several story lines that are all twisted together, and I’ve been following the individual threads for months. The general issue is the Borough of Greenville. The independent threads are the change of power in Greenville Borough government and the future of GALSA (Greenville Area Leisure Services Association).

Thread One: Greenville Borough Mayor: Miller is Out and Candela is In

First, allow me to talk in generalities about the change of power in Greenville Borough. Former Mayor Dick Miller (a Democrat) is an intelligent individual. Unfortunately, he wasn’t on top of his game when it came to last year’s election cycle. The Republicans found a willing participant last year in Pete Candela when he stepped forward to take on Miller, the incumbent. Miller decided to take the high road and NOT campaign . . . deciding instead to simply trust that the people of Greenville would re-elect him on his record. It was a nice concept, but the results weren’t quite what Miller had hoped. Dick Miller not only lost his post as Mayor of Greenville, but his lack of support for others in his own Party also resulted in loss for Dems in favor of Republican replacements.

Whether you agreed with Dick Miller’s politics or not, you had to give him credit for having testicular fortitude . . . something that can’t be said for most people in elected office. Whether Candela is a positive change for Greenville or not has yet to be seen, but I wish him well and hope that he provides some positive change for a struggling area.

Thread Two: Greenville Borough Council President Brian Shipley

With the change of power in Greenville’s Mayoral office also came many changes in Greenville Borough Council. In early January, Brian Shipley was selected to serve as Greenville Council President. ANY political change that mentions the name of “Brian Shipley” isn’t a good one. The irony of the selection was only touched on slightly by The Herald in their January 6th article [read HERE] as follows:

“Shipley’s selection as council president this week marks a political comeback of sorts. Shipley was picking up the pieces of a broken political career when he ran for borough council in 2007. A former Mercer County commissioner, Shipley resigned after a scandal in fall 2001 involving his use of a county-issued credit card and computer.”

The Herald is VERY generous when they used the term “broken political career”. The truth is that Brian Shipley should not have ANY kind of political career or “comeback” after his escapades of 2001. Based on the details that have come across my desk over the past year or so, Brian Shipley was lucky to find himself walking around a free man after his troubles in the courthouse. He was fortunate to walk away without handcuffs and leg irons, and his ‘friends’ in the courthouse and GOP were equally lucky to have escaped prosecution for their efforts toward aiding and abetting the then ‘commissioner Shipley’.

The fact that Brian Shipley found himself in ANY elected position is amazing, but the idea of putting him IN CHARGE of anything within any level of government is frightening. The people of Greenville should be afraid . . . very, very afraid.

The people of Mercer County seem to have very short memories, and it makes me sad. It is my opinion that once an elected official is involved in a “scandal”, they should be banished from politics and public service once and for all . . . but I guess I’m just old fashioned that way.

Thread Three: GALSA

This brings me to the final topic related to the Borough of Greenville . . . GALSA.

The Greenville Area Leisure Services Association has had issues for quite sometime. Financial problems, a lack of interest, and a lack of adequate leadership have left GALSA floating around directionless for too long. On November 10, 2009, The Record-Argus had a front page article that announced that GALSA would potentially be hiring a part-time fundraiser, grant writer and program director. While they weren’t sure ‘if’ or ‘how’ they could pay for the much needed staff member, all parties involved agreed that someone was needed . . . and desperately. After reading the article I drafted a letter to David Henderson (the then GALSA President). In my letter I explained that I would be willing to offer my time and effort to GALSA ‘free of charge’ in an effort to get fundraising and programming services underway. I would donate my time as a ‘public servant’ to the organization until such time that they were “over the hump” and could establish a long-term plan.

The day that David Henderson received my letter he called me. He left a message on my voice mail stating that they would accept my offer and that he wanted me to start as soon as possible. Unfortunately, Mr. Henderson spoke out of turn. My attempts to get in touch with Mr. Henderson were useless as he never bothered to return my numerous calls. While I’ll never know exactly what happened, I suspect that Mr. Shipley put an end to the discussion at the point he heard my name. Why? Because I dared to run a race against his “political friend” and accomplice, Ginny Steese-Richardson. That makes ME the enemy regardless of what assistance I could offer the people of Greenville.

So GALSA turns down free help to do what? Well, that is a great question. Recent articles in The Herald [read HERE and HERE] explain that Greenville Borough Council would LOVE to take over GALSA, but doing so would cut off their main source of income . . . funding from the United Way. Brian Shipley has made numerous statements to the press, but mark my words that whatever decisions are made regarding GALSA will be politically driven. If Brian Shipley’s hands are in it, it will be because he is looking for some way to “prop himself up” politically. While there may be others within the GALSA organization that have nothing but the best of intentions in mind, “one bad apple” in this bushel will mean bad things for the people of Greenville.

In Closing . . .

The people of Greenville have a difficult battle ahead. As a financially distressed community under Act 47, the Borough has its own set of special problems. To make matters worse, new leadership may take a little while to get a firm handle on exactly how to handle those problems. The final nail in the coffin is the burden of a Council President that is looking to make a ‘new name’ for himself in Mercer County politics (since the ‘old name’ was too badly soiled). Unfortunately, it is my opinion that this complex combination of problems will make Greenville “front page news” for the next few years . . . and Brian Shipley will be right in the middle of every single bit of it.

As always, just my opinion.

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Google Maps Displays a Moment in Political History

Written by Roberta Biros

I was accessing Google Maps the other day in an effort to find directions to a high school basketball tournament. After generating my driving directions I noted that Google also provided photographs of various points along the designated route. This included a photo representing the starting point of my trip . . . my home.

I clicked on the icon to view the image and I was surprised to be provided with a photograph of my house. I was then equally shocked to notice that the photo included another interesting detail . . . political signs in my yard. How funny!

Upon closer examination, I was delighted to see that the signs were from the 2008 General Election. While the image may be meaningless to some, it has provided me with immeasurable entertainment. My “trained eye” can clearly see three (3) political signs in my yard. My special attention to detail can also see that two (2) of the signs were for McCain/Palin (or, as Chairman Bob Lark would say, Palin/McCain) and one (1) of the signs was for State Representative Michele Brooks. While some folks might not spot such details, the Google image triggered a photographic memory in my brain and managed to provide me with total recollection. I can see it all so clearly . . . two McCain/Palin signs (one at each end of the property) and one bright, fluorescent Brooks sign smack dab in the very center. I recall the sight with absolutely clarity . . . I also recall mowing around the signs for nearly two months that fall (I’m not sure which I recall more vividly).

First, I should explain for those of you that aren’t familiar with my background . . . back in fall of 2008 I was a Republican. As a Republican I openly supported the Republican Party and its candidates. It was not until early 2009 that I changed my party affiliation to Democrat. Considering the background information, it would not have been unusual for these particular signs to be displayed in my yard. My first thought after examining the photo, however, was how excited Bob Lark (Chairman of the Mercer County Democrat Committee) and others would be to see the sight. I know how much it bothered the Chairman that I was a conservative Republican that supported conservative candidates, but then I remembered that I am the only political figure who was held to this higher and stricter set of guidelines regarding “party” support. I’ve provided multiple photos from different angles below for your enjoyment (yes, these photos are all publicly available through Google Maps . . . disturbing, isn’t it?).

I’ve had discussions and ‘friendly disagreements’ with friends and foe in both parties regarding political yard signs. Some people see the placement of signs in their yards as “a responsibility to their party” . . . some people see the placement of signs in their yards as “a responsibility to long-time political friends” (if there is such a thing), others feel NO responsibility to their “party” but only loyalty to the “good ol’ boys club” of which they are a part. . . and still others (like myself) see political yard signs as a freedom of self expression. I’ve displayed political signs in my yard for MANY years. I have always hand selected which signs would be displayed in my yard (and which would not).

I only accept a sign if I am willing to accept the duty of caring for and maintaining it. It is a responsibility, after all. I only display signs for individuals that I support, and in most cases I have met the candidate personally and I am educated about that candidate’s qualifications so that I can discuss those qualifications with others who might be interested. When I ran my own campaign, my signs were ONLY in the yards of individuals that either met me or my husband personally. Every person with a Biros sign in their yard knew who I was, knew why I was running for office, knew why I was the most qualified candidate, and they had every intention of voting for me on Election Day (which obviously translates into the fact that I was about 6000 yard signs short in the 2008 General Election!).

After a tough campaign last year, I was left feeling a little disgruntled with some political acquaintances regarding the ‘yard sign issue’. There were those that couldn’t put my sign in their yard for obvious “party” differences, there were those that ONLY displayed my opponent’s sign because of “party” similarities, and there were those that ONLY displayed my opponent’s sign as a way to show me how much they hated me. This year I will have some very important decisions to make in that area. I am still a conservative and I am still a Democrat so the choices available to me are vast (or drastically limited depending on how you look at it). I must select wisely. I just hope that my yard signs are documented again by Google in 2010 as the sight might be very interesting.

I’m looking forward to it, and perhaps I’ll be writing about it sometime in the no-so-distant future.

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The Big Gamble: Financing a Political Campaign

Written by Roberta Biros

Some would say that 2009 was a yawner of a political year. In Pennsylvania, the only statewide races were for judges (races which many found to be lack-luster). In Mercer County, there was only one countywide race of any consequence on the ballot, and that was the race for Mercer County Treasurer. Last year I outlined the details about campaign financing as it related to the coffers of our State Legislators [read the full blog post HERE]. This year I’d like to outline the specifics of the only countywide race in detail.

The race in question was between 16-year republican incumbent Ginny Steese-Richardson and democrat newcomer Roberta Biros (yes, that’s me). Both candidates ran unopposed in the primary and won their nominations without much excitement or fan fair. The political excitement began after the primary when Steese-Richardson and Biros went on a head-to-head to battle for votes. While shaking hands at fairs might be free, campaigning can be very expensive. The content of this article will focus on the money spent in the County Treasurer race in 2009.

Let us first review the results of the election (for those of you that are not familiar with them). According to the records of the Mercer County Elections Bureau, the OFFICIAL results of the election were:

ROBERTA BIROS (DEM): 6,049 ~ 32% of the vote
GINNY STEESE RICHARDSON (REP): 12,884 ~ 68% of the vote

Comments regarding the results of the election have been mixed. I’ve said that I thought I (Biros) did horribly, but I’ve been told by many that my results were actually pretty good for a newcomer with no name recognition (especially considering that I had absolutely no support from the leadership of the Democrat Party, and my opponent had amazing backing from incumbents . . . republicans and democrats alike).

Total spending by the candidates and their committees in 2009 totaled $36,779.04, and it is broken down as follows:

ROBERTA BIROS (DEM): $ 8,218.86 ~ 22% of the spending
GINNY STEESE RICHARDSON (REP): $28,559.18 ~ 78% of the spending

It should be noted that the spending for Steese-Richardson included the reports for the candidate and her committee. Not included is the spending done by the Mercer County GOP or the Pennsylvania State GOP in order to assist Steese-Richardson. These numbers would be especially interesting since both political groups provided much support to Mrs. Richardson.

The spending for Biros includes only data from the candidate report as Biros formed no political committee. As with Steese-Richardson, there are no numbers included for spending by the Democrat Committee. Biros did receive the benefit of slate cards and advertising by the Mercer Democrat Party, but they would have gladly removed her name from the advertising if they thought they could have gotten away with it (this is according to Democrat County Commissioner Ken Ammann). The numbers presented are the dollars spent directly by the candidates and their campaign committees (if applicable).

Anything interesting as far as the spending goes?

I found many of Mrs. Richardson’s expenses personally interesting, but not worth my time or effort in this post (with the exception of a few humorous items outlined at the end of this article). I personally don’t think that every dinner at Golden Corral, breakfast at the Knights of Columbus, or admission to an ice cream social should be included as campaign expenditures, but that is just me. Since every trip out the door is technically “campaigning”, one must determine the difference between actual “campaign expenses” and the “cost of campaigning”, which are clearly two different things.

As far as the expenses incurred by Biros, nothing stands out here either as all expenditures were reasonable, but you can all feel free to take a look for yourselves. Campaign finance reports are available at the Bureau of Elections at the Court House. You can look for free, but copies will cost you $0.25 each.

Summary of Expenses:

When looking at total dollars spent, Biros managed to fair well for the money spent. In only spending 22% of the cash, she was able to secure 32% of the votes. Further analysis of the spending totals shows that Steese-Richardson (and her committee) spent $2.21 per vote in her campaign, and Biros spent $1.36 per vote. In the end, Steese-Richardson simply had MORE MONEY to spread around in the countywide race . . . and, thus, she could afford to “buy more votes”. It just goes to show that money is everything . . . in politics anyway.

That, therefore, brings us to where those campaign dollars came from.

Summary of Contributions:

In the case of Biros, all of the dollars spent came from the candidate’s personal funds. No campaign contributions were accepted, and those that were received were refused voided and uncashed. This was clearly outlined in my blog post titled “Comments Regarding Campaign Finances” [read the full story HERE].

Steese-Richardson, however, ran a typical campaign that was financed by everyone BUT Steese-Richardson. The candidate report for Steese-Richardson does show that the candidate spent $2,166.59 of her own money, but the rest of the money was received through donations. During 2009, Steese-Richardson started with an amount of $5,251.06 in her campaign account and then raised an additional $26,572.37 in contributions. The contributions came from the typical sources as follows:

Contribution from the Republican Committee and well-known and loyal Republicans

Yes, I suppose it should only be expected that Mrs. Richardson would receive money from her fellow Republicans. Here are just a few of the specifics along with the amounts that they contributed for your reading pleasure:

Mercer County Republican Committee ($500)

Dave King, chairman of the Republican Committee ($260)

Phil English, former Republican Congressman ($100)

Friends of Dick Stevenson, the campaign committee representing the Republican Representative Dick Stevenson ($200)

Robbins for Senate Committee, the campaign committee representing the Republican Senator Bob Robbins ($250)

Bob and Cindy Robbins, Republican State Senator and his wife ($200)

Michele and Guy Brooks, Republican State Representative and her husband ($75)

John Lechner, Republican County Commissioner ($125)

Robert Kochems, Republican District Attorney ($200) —- Oooops. My mistake. I’m so sorry. District Attorney is actually a Democrat and a member of the Mercer County Democrat Executive Committee. I seem to get confused by that, but then again District Attorney Kochems seems to get that “political party thing” confused often too.

Barbara Brown, Republican Candidate for District Justice, but lost the Primary ($300) —– Ooooops again. Another mistake on my part. While Ms. Brown did run on both tickets in the Primary, she is a registered Democrat and “supposedly” a very loyal one at that. Barb Brown even went as far as to explain to me that she could never agree with my conservative politics . . . but yet she made significant donations to the campaign of an incumbent Republican (and secretary of the county GOP). I suppose I was more conservative than Mrs. Richardson after all. I say “Hmmmm”.

Contributions from Political Action Commitees representing Financial Institutions

As the County Treasurer, Mrs. Richardson stays “tight” with the banks. So tight, in fact, that she receives regular contributions from the Political Action Committees (because receiving funds directly from a bank is illegal according to campaign finance law).

National City Corp PAC ($100)
First National Bank of PA PAC ($100)

I personally think that financial institutions should be prevented from having a Political Action Committee, but that is an issue for another day.

Expenditures that made me laugh:

There was one campaign expense that made me laugh. Mrs. Richardson’s campaign committee logged an expense for $21.14 on 11/3/2009 labeled “Food for Election Night”. Election night parties are typical. I also threw a party for my friends and family (a.k.a. “volunteers”) on Election Night. Heck, Matt Snyder from The Herald even joined us for a little while when he stopped in for a post-election interview. The party, however, was held at my home and office, and the money that I spent came out of my pocket and wasn’t recorded as “campaign expenses”. It wasn’t an expense of my “campaign”, it was a gift to my friends and family who worked long and hard hours on my behalf as a “person” and not a “candidate”. Based on the $21.14 that Mrs. Richardson spent, I can only guess that her’s wasn’t much of a party.

There was another interesting expense that made me scratch my head. The Steese-Richardson campaign also logged a $450.00 expense on 10/31/2009 for a “bus”. Huh? This is one of those times when I wish that the campaign finance reports provided a little extra information like “what on earth did they need a bus for?”.

In Summary:

When it is all done and over it is pretty clear that when it comes to running a political campaign . . . “Cash is King”. As a general rule, you need to “Go Big or Go Home”, and if you are going to “Go Big” you better plan on doing it with other peoples money. Remember, this was a race for a row office that pays roughly $54,000 per year. Steese-Richardson spent almost $30,000 to keep the job for another four years. Granted, she wasn’t spending HER money, so she got off pretty cheap; but this is not the sort of thing that hard-working taxpayers can afford.

Is there really a chance for honest, hard-working and concerned citizens to run for a political office and win because they have a good message and honest objectives? Or, is the system designed to keep “those kinds” of people out of the process? If you enter into politics, do you need to become a “politician” (a.k.a. “whore”) in order to compete with the other “politicians” (a.k.a. “whores”) that we refer to as “incumbents”? At first glance, that appears to be the case. I, however, prefer to remain more optimistic about it. Back in February I was warned by several friends that “you might need to run twice to win once”. That concept has stuck with me, and I wonder if it could be true. If you simply stick with it and keep coming back for more, will you eventually break down the walls to the “inner circle”? I’m not sure, but maybe time will tell.

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Unlocking the Secrets of Mercer County Conservatives–An Attempt to Clear the Air

Written by Roberta Biros

My husband has always been interested in politics. I met him in 1987. I was a DJ at a local bar . . . he was a cook. The first night we met we had a huge argument. He (my then ‘future husband’) must have found my temper to be interesting, as on the second night he came back for more. We eventually became friends. A month later we started dating. On our first date, I asked what sort of plans he had for the future. He explained that he was attending the University of Pittsburgh and he was majoring in Political Science. I asked, “with a degree in Political Science, what sort of career do you pursue?” His answer was “with a degree in Political Science I’m qualified to feed the pigeons on Sundays”.

I was never very interested in politics, but through constant references to it, my husband made me interested. We have both been interested in politics and political debate together since the early 1990’s. We first became active politically when we supported the candidacy of Ross Perot. We felt that George H.W. Bush had to go, and we liked the fresh ideas that Perot brought to the table.

Since that time, we’ve been involved in political debate with family and friends through many election cycles. I’ve been involved by working polls and going door-to-door for candidates off and on since the mid 1990s. When we moved to Mercer County in January of 2006, we did not immediately catch on or dive into local politics.

The first politician that we met was Senator Bob Robbins. We attended an annual dinner for the Chamber of Commerce, and Senator Robbins showed up unexpectedly. He didn’t have a reserved seat at the head table, and he came to our table and asked to sit with us. We didn’t know who he was until he introduced himself. The dinner was quite enjoyable and we thoroughly enjoyed the conversation. A few months later we picked up a ROBBINS bumper sticker at Fredonia Old Home Week and displayed it proudly on our vehicle through the 2006 General Election. I knew nothing about Senator Robbins other than what we discussed with him at dinner that night. We had not yet tuned in to local news through the Herald, and we knew nothing about the political issues of Mercer County or its political leaders.

We didn’t become involved in politics again until the Presidential Election of 2008. Yes, I was a Republican and I supported the ticket of John McCain and Sarah Palin. I never liked McCain much, but I was relieved to see Palin, a conservative female candidate, take on the Good Ol’ Boys club of the GOP. I supported their ticket for that reason. I displayed their sign in my yard.

The yard sign eventually attracted other conservatives. I built political friendships with neighbors and passersby. I also made numerous attempts to get involved more deeply through activities with the Mercer GOP. One day my yard sign attracted a Mercer County political candidate to stop by and offer an introduction. That candidate was State Representative Michele Brooks. We talked briefly and she dropped off campaign materials. After a brief discussion I realized that I liked her message. I offered to display her yard sign if she would like to supply one. I thought nothing more of the conversation.

About a week or two later, on a Saturday morning, a visitor pulled into our driveway. It was Michele Brooks (and her assistant) personally delivering a yard sign. I was stunned. A politician that actually did what they said they would do. It was refreshing. I began to do some research regarding Representative Brooks. I researched her voting record (which I agreed with), and I researched what other people had to say about her. I eventually found articles from The Herald, letters to the editor, and blog posts written about her. There were lots of rotten things written, but none of them seemed to be substantiated with facts. Her record and the nasty statements didn’t jive according to my research and I found it aggrevating.

I began writing this blog, Mercer County Conservatives, on October 19, 2008. I wrote my first blog post in reaction to a blog written by another area writer. His post was published HERE. My response to that blog was published HERE.

That is my story. Period.

From that point forward, I decided to write in an effort to share REAL information with Mercer County citizens. I would publish opinions, but I would provide details and facts to back up my opinions. I wanted to present INFORMATION, provide comments, and spark conversation on the topics. My blog was extremely popular, and the traffic grew exponentially.

There have been many reactions to my posts. Some people have been angry for the things that I’ve written. Although I am not responsible for the actions that prompted the blog posts, the individuals are angry because they “got caught” doing something that was somehow inappropriate. I’ve been attacked by many because I have been the “messenger”. Others have accepted my comments and used the comments to better themselves and their positions on issues. All along, however, MY GOAL has been to report and punish bad decisions, and to promote and reward good behavior. MY GOAL has been GOOD GOVERNMENT. Many have seen and understood that goal . . . others have not.

In December of 2008 I extended the publication of my blogs throughout Pennsylvania by joining blogging communities that are designed to share traffic and promote political opinions. My readership grew more.

“Blogging” has always been a HOBBY for me. I’ve criticized the newspaper for giving the impression that blogging is my “career” as it clearly is not. Blogging has cost me a considerable amount of time, effort, and money, but it has never “paid back” in a monetary way. I’ve invested an incredible number of hours in research, writing, and editing, and in return I’ve made many friends through political discussion. I’ve received nothing else in return.

When I decided to run for political office, it was immediately brought up that I was a “blogger” . . . as though it was a dirty word. If you read what I’ve written, however, you’ll see that my criticisms and compliments outline a clear political platform and listing of political beliefs. You may agree or disagree with my comments, but the comments have always clearly been outlined as “my opinions” . . . something that I still have a right to.

Over the past several months I’ve been directly criticized regarding some of my political opinions. I have no problem with the criticisms as I welcome the debate. Unfortunately, I’ve been TOLD by many to REMOVE and DELETE my comments from the on-line community. Let me make myself very clear. I WILL NOT DELETE OR EDIT my opinions due to political pressure from ANYONE.

Now, allow me to address some SPECIFIC issues in an effort to clear the air about me and this blog.

FARM SUBSIDIES

On February 3, 2009, I wrote a blog post regarding Farm Subsidies as they related to Mercer County. The full blog post is published HERE. I was challenged by a fellow blogger from Eastern Pennsylvania to take on the topic. I was happy to do so. I took a long look at the data regarding Farm Subsidies, and I analyzed the extensive list of names of recipients and the amounts that they received. I pulled a list of names that I recognized from MERCER COUNTY POLITICS. I pulled the ONLY FOUR NAMES that I recognized, and I wrote about the money that those four people received through the program.

My post was read statewide, and I received considerable praise for the intelligent way that the data was gathered and organized. Locally, the topic generated considerable interest and conversation. The topic also generated its fair share of complaints. The complaints were regarding the fact that I published the results. It was also said that my research results were skewed in an effort to go after only specific individuals (and to somehow protect others). I’ve always stated that I’d welcome a list of other “Mercer County political names” that I missed, but no such list has ever surfaced. Let us all be honest. The complaints came from individuals on the list because they were ANGRY that they got caught. They have never apologized for actively taking farm subsidy funds, but they have repeated DEMANDED that I remove my comments from the public domain. It sounds like “greedy and corrupt” politicians attempting to protect themselves. What do you think?

Should I apologize?

Exactly what would I apologize for? Should I apologize for the fact that these individuals TOOK farm subsidies? Should I apologize for the fact that some of these individuals CONTINUE to TAKE farm subsidies? Should I apologize because the names that I selected were prominent names from Mercer County politics? My answer to all of these questions is “HELL NO”. If you are looking for an apology for any of these reasons you will not receive it. If you are looking for me to remove this blog post from the public domain, that won’t happen either.

I stand by what I’ve written, and it is now a part of public record. If anyone would like to provide proof that the information that I’ve published is untrue or not factual, I welcome your feedback at roberta.in.mercer@gmail.com.

COCONUT BOB

On January 24, 2009, I wrote a blog post titled “Senator Bob Robbins Pays for Virgin Islands Trip Because He Was Afraid of Getting Caught with His Hands in the Till” [read the full post HERE]. In it I passed along a story that I found in the Philadelphia Inquirer regarding Mercer County’s own Senator Bob Robbins.

The post generated much attention and conversation. The story eventually made its way to The Herald. They wrote a story titled “Sen. Robbins pays for trip to conference in Caribbean” [read the full story HERE].

I responded to The Herald’s story with a follow-up blog titled “Senator Robbins Only Needs to “Network” Where It’s Warm and Sunny” [read the full post HERE].

The conversation continued in The Herald with an opinion piece titled “OUR VIEW: Key legislative conference or just a sunny vacation?” [read the full story HERE].

This entire chain of events was outlined in my blog in summary in a post titled “Coconut-Gate Update: Senator Bob Robbins Still in the Limelight” [read the full post HERE]

So, I took a story that was published in Philadelphia and I made the people of Mercer County aware of it. The story was then picked up by the local papers. The issue was eventually labeled “Coconut-Gate” and Senator Robbins was referred to as “Coconut Bob”. Is any of this my fault? Should I apologize it? If you look at the facts, only ONE (1) person is responsible for “Coconut-Gate”, and that one (1) person was Senator Bob Robbins for having made the ridiculous statements to the press in the first place.

It is unfortunate that the issue made some political enemies. Could those political enemies have come out and apologized for their original comments? Perhaps, but instead, they would prefer to vilify me for pointing out their mistake. It is now TEN (10) MONTHS later and my comments are still being criticized and questioned. I’ve been asked to REMOVE my statements and apologize.

Should I apologize?

Exactly what would I apologize for? Should I apologize for the fact that these statements were made in the first place? Should I apologize for the fact that the individuals involved refused to take responsibility for what they said? Should I apologize because the person that I wrote about was a prominent name in Mercer County politics? My answer to all of these questions is “HELL NO”. If you are looking for an apology for any of these reasons you will not receive it. If you are looking for me to remove this blog post from the public domain, that won’t happen either.

I stand by what I’ve written, and it is now a part of public record. If anyone would like to provide proof that the information that I’ve published is untrue or not factual, I welcome your feedback at roberta.in.mercer@gmail.com.

CLOWNS TO THE LEFT OF ME, JOKERS TO THE RIGHT

I use this reference often. It is funny that I find myself needing to repeat myself, but that seems to be a problem that follows me consistently.

On March 11, 2009, I wrote a post titled “Left, Right, or Down the Middle?” [read the full post HERE] . The post was intended to “clear the air”. It is for that reason that I suggest that you refer to it now, as my thoughts and responses are STILL EXACTLY THE SAME.

The following weekend, I was publicly criticized for the post mentioned above. The criticism came at a meeting of the Democrat Women of Mercer County, and it came specifically from District Attorney Robert Kochems. I did not apologize for my post then, and I do not intend on apologizing for it now.

Just last week the issue was raised again. I was criticized for the post mentioned above as well as the post that I published the following week titled “Public Availability of Personal Income Tax Records for Elected Officials and Candidates in Mercer County” [read the full post HERE]. It has been suggested that this second post was “out of line” as it called out the same District Attorney Kochems for “attacking” me. Mr. Kochems own wife admits that the questions from DA Kochems were that of a “prosecutor”, but my opinion is somehow classified as unfair. Mr. Kochems himself stated that his comments were inappropriate and I was glad to share those comments in my blog post titled “Kochems Was Wrong . . . His Words Not Mine” [read the full blog HERE].

Should I apologize for my blog posts? Should those same blog posts be removed from the public domain?

As you can imagine, my answer to ALL of these questions is “HELL NO”.

DIFFERENT PEOPLE HAVE DIFFERENT REACTIONS

In my blog posts over the past year I’ve taken great time and effort to report GOOD things that elected officials have done, but I have also been critical of BAD things that those same elected officials have been involved in. Some of our political leaders handle the comments like “grown ups”, and others have reacted “childishly”.

My hat goes off to those political figures in Mercer County that have accepted my comments and have made attempts to better themselves because of them. I’ve seen many of the individuals mentioned in my blog posts repeatedly over the past year. Most of them are quite courteous, friendly, and positive. There are only a few that treat me like sewage, but those individuals also seem to be the most vocal. There are times that I get tired of it all, and I’ll admit that today is one of those days. I’m sick and tired of the constant criticisms, and I’m sick and tired of being asked to apologize.

I am who I am. I am a concerned citizen . . . some might call me a political activist. I attempt to inform and educate others about issues of local importance, and I’ve spent many long nights and endless hours devoted to that task. I’ve never asked for anything in return for my efforts, and I expect no credit for my work. I WILL NOT, however, APOLOGIZE for what I have written or REMOVE my writings to satisfy others. If you don’t like what I have to say . . . please don’t read it.

WHERE DO I GO FROM HERE?

Will my blog posts DISAPPEAR from existence? No. Unless one of you finds a way to HAVE ME REMOVED from the public domain.

Will I eventually DISAPPEAR from the political landscape of Mercer County? Maybe, but until that happens I refuse to change who I am or how I think for any individual or any Party platform. I will remain true to myself, and if that means that I have NO political future . . . I’ll be fine with that. If people do not want to support me politically because of the things that I have written, I say “fine”. If people do agree with my right to my opinion and they want to destroy me politically for it, I say “fine”. I do not do “what I do” in an effort to gain acceptance from other people or as a way to gain “political support”. If people want to befriend me BECAUSE I am honest in my political opinions, then I welcome them with open arms.

Where do I fit in? At this point, I don’t really know. Very honestly, at this point I don’t really care anymore. I’ve been badgered so heavily from “the left and from the right” that I’m fed up with it all at this point. I’m tired of people trying to tell me what I should do and how I should do it, and (very honestly) I’m tired of defending myself.

I will continue to do “what I do”. Some have called me a “whistle blower”, others have called me “an independent thinker”, and still others simply call me a “pain in the arse”. Either way, I am who I am and I do not intend on changing or stifling my opinions to pacify any group or any individual.

The things that I write are not “personal”. The issues discussed in this blog are intended to be “political”. If you are a political figure that doesn’t like seeing your name in this blog, then why don’t you just DO THE RIGHT THING (and . . . therefore . . . giving me no reason to write about you).

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Mercer County PA 2010 Political Predictions

What will the political fate be for Con. Kathy Dahlkemper, Sen. Bob Robbins, Rep. Mark Longietti, or Rep. Michele Brooks in 2010?

Written by Roberta Biros

With the 2009 political season comfortably behind us, it’s time to take a look at the political landscape for 2010. There will be plenty written about the “big races” in Pennsylvania like the one to replace Governor Rendell or the one to tackle Senator Specter, but I’d like to focus on the races that will impact good ol’ Mercer County.

This is my first state-wide blog post in a while, so please bear with me as I get back into my comfort zone. While much of what I’m about to convey will anger many, I’m simply stating a series of facts and political opinions based on the information that is currently available as well as a wealth of first hand knowledge that I’ve gathered from personal experiences. I feel expertly qualified to comment on the political issues of both parties as I’ve experienced them all “up close and personal”. My thoughts are honest and are being offered for the purpose of debate and conversation. I’d welcome friendly on the matter through my personal email at Roberta.in.mercer@gmail.com.

Upon close review of the 2009 general election results in Mercer County, one thing is absolutely clear. When the Mercer County PA GOP gets motivated (in this case for the sake of self preservation) they can be an angry and resourceful little mob. Similarly, when the chips are down, the Mercer County Democrat Party is a ship without a rudder (some might say a ‘sinking ship without a rudder’ but I’ll leave that to the opinion of others). The political climate and outlook for Democrats in Mercer County is poor, but the Mercer GOP still has the same fundamental problems as one year ago . . . self-serving leadership.

Who Will the Players Be?

When determining the possible political confrontations of 2010, it is important to determine “who in their right mind would want to run for public office?” You would think that the political committees, alliances, and clubs in Mercer County would be thankful for candidates that are willing to sacrifice time, money, and energy on a campaign, but that is simply not the case. The Mercer GOP is still only concerned about its long standing “hierarchy”; and the leadership of the Democrat committee is more concerned about the Florida Recounts of 2000, Swift Boat Ads of 2004, and the “infamous Republican flyer” of 2007. Neither party is concerned about building a future for their party. Instead, Republicans and Democrats are concerned about protecting the same old Republicans and Democrats.

My own experiences in running for office were met with threats and personal assaults from the right, and attempts to remove my name from the party slate card from the left. It seems that after I was named the Democrat nominee in the Primary the Democrat Committee leadership made every attempt to have my name removed from the party slate card. This is, of course, according to Commissioner Ken Ammann who claims to have been my ‘knight in shining armor’ as the only defender of my candidacy. The story is an interesting one with a seemingly strange twist, but who am I to argue.

The truth is that the leadership in both parties complain about references to “greed and corruption”, but when their feet are held to the fire those are the only traits that seem to stand out. The voices that are concerned about ‘good government’ and ‘honest public servants’ are drowned out by the Good Ol’ Boys (and Girls) in both parties. Who in their right mind would step into this back biting battle by choice?

I’m not quite sure who all of the players will be in 2010, but I have a pretty good idea on where the interesting races will be and why. Now here comes the fun part . . .

Race #1:
Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper vs. an Unnamed Republican

Probable Result: Unnamed Republican will probably win

Why?: The 2009 election proved that the Mercer GOP can be motivated. When you threaten to cut off the head of a snake, the snake doesn’t like it much. In their attempt to protect themselves the Mercer GOP made some interesting friends . . . and perhaps some interesting deals. Leading up to election day, the Mercer GOP received slate cards for distribution throughout Mercer County that were paid for the by PA State GOP (I have a copy in case anyone would like to see one for themselves). It is interesting that a county race would receive assistance from the state level, but remember that the 2009 race for County Treasurer was VERY important to the Mercer GOP (and not so important to the Mercer Democrats). It was a direct threat to the core leadership of the Mercer Republicans and they needed to get support from every available source. I am guessing that the motivation of the Mercer GOP will not stop at the win in the County Treasurer’s race. I would suspect that the Mercer GOP and the current Treasurer (and her friends) have ‘committed’ themselves to assisting the PA State GOP in the next “important battle”. That would be the take back of “Phil English’s” old seat in the 3rd Congressional District. I’m not sure who their candidate will be, but that currently unnamed candidate will probably win handily.

If Democrats fail to show up (like they did in 2009), any Republican candidate will have an easy task in beating Congresswoman Dahlkemper. To make matters worse, short sighted members of the Democrat Executive Committee actively aided the incumbent Republican Mercer County Treasurer to retain her seat and, therefore, bolster the Mercer GOP. Mercer County District Attorney Robert Kochems ( a Democrat) showed his support for the REPUBLICAN incumbent for the Treasurer’s Office with no less than three signs on his business property near downtown Mercer. [as a side note . . . DA Kochems was recently referred to publicly as “a prick” . . . not my words, but the words of his wife Deb Little Kochems at a recent meeting of the Northwest Democrat Alliance . . . I nearly fell off my chair but was glad to see that Ms. Kochems and I finally see eye-to-eye on something] By supporting the Republican incumbent (and secretary and “darling” of the Mercer GOP), District Attorney Kochems directly aided in the future demise of Congresswoman Dahlkemper (his wife’s employer). Rather than the Congresswoman having a ‘friend’ in the County Courthouse (like a fellow “blue dog Democrat”), she will have a pitbull who owes some political payback. Mrs. Richardson owes her old friend, Phil English, as well as her rich friends at the PA State GOP, and she has the people and resources lined up to do it . . . and (ironically enough) the Mercer County Democrat Committee helped her get there. There are many of you that will become angered by these statements, but I challenge anyone in the political arena to correct my facts.

I wonder . . . has State Senator Bob Robbins considered making a move to the much coveted U.S. Congress seat? He may be so pumped up after the 2009 election results that he ‘thinks’ that he has the political clout to win the seat. If so, it would be a blessing for Congresswoman Dahlkemper as Coconut Bob may be the ONLY Republican opponent that she could beat.

[FYI: I’ve read that Republican hopefuls Steve Fisher and Brian Lasher have already stepped up to battle Mrs. Dahlkemper . . . who will be next?]

Race #2:
State Senator Bob Robbins vs. ANY Conservative Republican

Results: ANY Conservative Republican wins by a landslide

Why?: While Republicans managed to rally their troops in the 2009 general election, they may still have a difficult time in re-electing their top henchman, Senator Bob Robbins. Robbins thinks that people forget about his late night pay raise of 2006 or his coconut-gate comments of 2008. The truth is, however, that the people that remember those blemishes the most are Republicans. It is, therefore, my opinion that Senator Robbins would have the hardest time winning his own Primary. While the Mercer GOP proved that they can get out the vote much better in a battle of Democrats vs. Republicans, Senator Robbins might have a hard time convincing members of his own Party to select him over any brave conservative that would be willing to take him on in the Primary. Believe me when I say . . . if such a person exists, they would need to be pretty tough skinned to survive the personal beating that they will take in the process. The GOP leadership will not take the battle sitting down, and they won’t hesitate to use any dirty trick in the book to retain their power. Is there a true Conservative in Mercer County willing to take on Mr. Robbins in his own back yard?

Race #3:
Mark Longietti vs. an unnamed Republican or Independent

Result: Win or Lose, the Unnamed Republican or Independent will do serious “damage”

Why?: Rep. Mark Longietti feels safe and secure in his seat as State Representative representing the Valley. Unfortunately, a quick glance at the results of the 2009 general election should be a frightening wake up call for Mr. Longietti. If he is faced with a Republican or Independent challenger, he could be in for a long and expensive campaign . . . the races in Hermitage and Sharon in 2009 should be proof of that. While he might still manage to retain his seat against a challenger, he will suffer significant damage in the process. The damage may be in the form of “political” damage to his image as an “untouchable”, but it may also be in the form of financial damage. Representative Longietti would be forced, for the first time, to dip into his sizeable bank roll in an effort to keep pace the with Mercer GOP machine in Mercer County. If the GOP manages to motivate their base (and if the Mercer Democrats continue to suppress theirs), Mr. Longietti will be in serious trouble. 2010 might be the time for Republicans (or Independents) to strike while the iron is hot. Rep. Longietti should be on his best behavior, and he had better hope that other races don’t bring out the Republican votes in full force.

Race #4:
Michele Brooks vs. Anyone (Republican, Democrat, or Independent)

Result: Brooks will win, but at a significant cost to all involved

Why?: A handful of Mercer County Democrats want to take down Michele Brooks in the worst way. They will continue to try, but I would guess that they will continue to be unsuccessful. In 2008, the strategy seemed to be to find a candidate . . . any candidate . . . that was willing to take on the “smart enough and charming enough” Michele Brooks. The candidate that was selected was a really nice guy . . . but a weak candidate (at best). Unfortunately for him, he was willing to spend the time and money to try to wear Brooks down on behalf of others. In the past year, a number of individuals have been approached to do the same thing in 2010 (oh yes, present company included). Anyone that takes the bait would be a fool.

While Democrats take great satisfaction in trying to wear Brooks down, they are just playing a game with her and other people’s money. I suspect that the truth may finally come out this year if Brooks’ true nemesis gets up enough guts and backing to run against her. That nemesis would be Commissioner Ken Ammann. Commissioner Ammann can’t stand Michele Brooks for a number of reasons (one being that she was involved with his firing from the position of County’s Chief Clerk in 2005), and his uncontrollable hate will continue to push him until he finally attempts to take her head on.

Mr. Ammann, a Democrat, intends on going after Ms. Brooks in her own arena . . . as a fiscal conservative. While the idea is laughable, Mr. Ammann seriously thinks that he can take down a Republican in the very conservative 17th District with a “D” beside his name. I’m sorry, Ken, but in the current political climate it simply isn’t going to happen. If Mr. Ammenn decides to hold off his attack on Brooks, I’m certain that they will find some sacrificial lamb that is willing to risk their own money on the venture in an effort to do financial damage to Brooks for 2012.

My advice? (although you didn’t ask for it)

I dare Ken Ammann to do it . . . and I’ll bet my last cent (and his) that he will lose. To make the situation more interesting, Mr. Ammann will be betting his political future on that one race. As I see it, if he ends up with a big “L” (for loser) beside his name at the end of a nasty battle in 2010, he will be an easy target to be taken down in the 2011 race for County Commissioner.

As far as my advice to other potential targets, I’d run away from this race as fast as my feet would carry me. There are far softer targets to go after in Mercer County, and attempting to tackle Representative Michele Brooks in an effort to settle someone else’s score is a recipe for disaster. I say . . . “save your money” -or- go invest it at a local casino . . . but don’t throw it away on this race.

Race #5:
Dick Stevenson vs. no one

Result: Stevenson will win again

Why?: As I said last year, “In 2010, if Dick Stevenson chooses to run for re-election, I suspect that he will have any easy race. He ran unopposed in 2008, and I see this as a possibility again in 2010.” Representative Dick Stevenson’s seat in the 8th District simply doesn’t get much attention in Mercer County, but there is always a possibility of an opponent surfacing from the more prominent Butler County.

In Closing

Well, that’s all folks. Those were my official predictions for 2010 politics in Mercer County. Let’s just see how things begin to take shape in the coming weeks as people and politicians (they are two separate things after all) begin to jockey for position.

As always, just my opinion.

Roberta Biros, Mercer County Conservatives

It’s Time for a Little Hard Ball: 2009 Post Election Summaries, Thoughts, and Commentaries

Written by Roberta Biros

According to my web statistics, there are lots of people that are looking for me to post some sort of reaction to the 2009 General Election in Mercer County. As usual, I’ll be glad to provide you with some interesting reading on the topic. I apologize in advance, however, as this blog post is rather long. I’ve been biting my tongue for a while now, so I found that once I got started I had a great deal to say. Enjoy!

INTRODUCTION

A week ago I had the pleasure (or, perhaps, displeasure) of overhearing a very loud and very obnoxious conversation at a local restaurant. I had just attended the pre-election County Democrat Committee Meeting in Hickory and we decided to stop for a dinner break. It was after 9pm and we were sitting in a not-so-crowded Eat-n-Park enjoying burgers and fries when we overheard a conversation regarding none other than “Roberta Biros”. That’s right . . . we were sitting quietly enjoying our late dinners when I heard a conversation that was transpiring on the opposite end of the restaurant. It was a long, loud, and very descriptive discussion about me and my husband. The conversation included things like “they (referring to my husband and I) are the MOST insincere people I have ever met”. I don’t need to go into all of the rotten things that were said about us, but my favorite statement was “I can’t wait to read her blog on the 4th, 5th, or 6th after she loses and she tries to blame everyone for the loss but herself . . . if she loses there is no one to blame but her”. Much to my shock and dismay, the monolog was coming from the mouth of the Chairman of the Mercer County Democrat Committee, Bob Lark.

Well, Mr. Lark, I’d never want to disappoint you so today I offer you my comments on the 2009 General Election.

GENERAL ELECTION RESULTS

First, let us talk about the results of the 2009 election as they pertain to Mercer County.

County Treasurer:

When I last checked (this afternoon), the unofficial results of the race for County Treasurer were as follows:

ROBERTA BIROS (DEM) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6,049 (31.91% )
GINNY STEESE RICHARDSON (REP). . . . 12,884 (67.96% )

Yes, Mr. Lark, I lost. Who do I blame for my loss? Well, me of course. Why? Because, Mr. Lark, no one else was involved or interested in my campaign BUT me, my husband, and a very small group of family and very good friends. I managed our group and I am, therefore, ultimately responsible for EVERY DECISION that was made during the 2009 election year. I have no one to blame but myself. I lost, and I lost big. My message of good government and good ideas failed to strike a chord, and I was way out played by the incumbent and her band of dedicated ‘friends’. I’ll repeat what I said on Tuesday night after the results were published on-line . . . “I suck”.

Statewide Races:

In Mercer County, in the races for Justice of the Supreme Court, Judge of the Superior Court, and Judge of the Commonwealth Court, REPUBLICANS won overwhelmingly in every single race. It is true that these results were mirrored across much of Pennsylvania, but very notably here in Mercer despite the overwhelming Democrat majority of voters.

Countywide Races (other than Treasurer):

For the office of County Controller, Tom Amundsen WON. He did so, however, ONLY because he had no opponent. A close look at Mr. Amundsen’s numbers (11,868) show that even without an opponent he received fewer votes than Mrs. Richardson in a similar countywide race. If Mr. Amundsen had been faced with a Republican opponent I would venture to guess that he would have lost . . . soundly . . . regardless of who that opponent would have been.

For the office of Jury Commissioner, Maury Keaveny (who is an absolute joy to be around) received fewer votes than his Republican counter-part, Edna Gibson (also a wonderful person).

In summary, the REPUBLICANS swept ALL statewide and countywide races in Mercer County even though the Democrats have an overwhelming lead in registered voters by 7,956 (according to Bob Lark’s records).

WHO IS TO BLAME?

While I take full responsibility for my loss in my race, I wonder who is to blame for the REPUBLICAN SWEEP across the board in Mercer County?

Based on the election results, one could conclude that Republicans showed up to vote in MUCH higher numbers than Democrats (this is a conclusion based on the review of numbers presented on the Mercer County elections site . . . although specific turnout ‘by party’ was not readily available). If one were to point a finger of blame for an apparent under-vote by registered Democrats, who would the finger point to? Would we blame the Republican Party for working long and hard hours to motivate voters through a “get out the vote” phone campaign? Would we blame the Republican Party for pushing to support their entire slate of candidates INCLUDING (and most importantly) their candidate for County Treasurer? Logic would tell us that the Republican Party and its leadership would not be to blame for the overwhelming losses of the Democrat Party. It seems that logic would conclude that the Democrat Party would be responsible for the overwhelming losses by the Democrat Party. That said, only one name is at the top of the list of prominent Democrats who could have done something about the issue. That one name is “Bob Lark, Chairman”.

Are there others that could be blamed? Perhaps. My experience has shown me that speeches by elected officials rallying for a “Democrat Sweep” don’t do much good without efforts to back their words. Representative Mark Longietti, for instance, was quick to wave the Party flag at the annual banquet, but he outright refused my specific request for a letter to assist in my “get out the vote” efforts. My open concerns about a planned suppression of Democrat votes (which was a reported plan that had been in the works since at least early September) were ignored and even criticized. My complaints were treated as though they were a joke. Do people like soon-to-be former Mayor of Greenville, Dick Miller, find humor in my concerns now? Do people like Linda and Bill Judson see any humor in the lack of support that they received from Mercer County Democrat voters? Additionally, to add insult to injury, there were members of the Mercer County Democrat Executive Committee that sent mixed signals by displaying Republican signs at their homes and business properties because they had no interest in supporting the party as a whole. Could these other individuals be partially to blame? It would make for an interesting discussion I suppose, but rather than focusing on the problems within the Democrat party, Bob Lark has been busy at his typewriter for the past month sending me daily correspondence (and in his own words, “nasty letters”). If he had taken some of that time and energy and devoted it to the good of the party, perhaps the results in Mercer County would have been different.

While the 2009 election may be over, the problems still remain. The Democrat Party lacks leadership in Mercer County, and fellow Democrat candidates for the 2010 election season should be very, very concerned. Those of you that think you can simply win re-election without a major effort by the party as a whole may be sorely disappointed next November.

CLOWNS TO THE LEFT OF ME, JOKERS TO THE RIGHT

Back in March I wrote a blog post regarding the problems with politics in Mercer County. I recently re-discovered the post and thought that part of it was worth republishing now as it was sooooooooo spot on. In reference to a meeting of the Democratic Women of Mercer County I had the following comments:

Lesson Number One . . . my musical references in this blog leave a lasting memory. One individual even quoted my “clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you” reference. Unfortunately, the person that made the reference stopped reading that particular blog post at the end of the musical reference because he didn’t seem to understand the basic reasoning behind the post itself. That’s OK, I still liked the “shout out” (although unintentional).

Lesson Number Two . . . I’ve finally determined the “hot button” issues that seem to bother people of both political parties, and I’ve compiled a simple reference list based on my recent and past experiences.

Republicans get upset (and complain to me) when I blog about . . .
Farm Subsidies, Coconut Gate, Campaign Finances, COLAs, or anything positive regarding Representative Michele Brooks

Democrats get upset (and complain to me) when I blog about . . .
Unions, Obama, Representative Mark Longietti, COLAs, or anything positive regarding Representative Michele Brooks

The third and most important lesson that I learned is regarding universal problem in politics . . . politicians seem to all be tied together regardless of Party. You would think that the Democratic Party would be glad to have someone willing to step up and run for office . . . to fill a much needed void that has gone unaddressed in the race for County Treasurer for 16 years. That is what you would “think”. Unfortunately, it seems that some of the leadership in the Democratic Party are perfectly content with things just the way they are, and they don’t appreciate anyone shaking things up.

At first I found this to be confusing, but I think I finally understand the odd foundation on which the behavior is based. It seems that many of our elected officials at the County level all travel within the same tight little circles. The members of the “circles” have a need to protect each other in order to protect themselves. Democratic insiders, Republican insiders, and insiders that have switched between parties are all looking out for each other. Very clear alliances exist, and people from outside of the “circles” are actively beaten back with a stick. The standard tactics are to attempt to belittle and intimidate in order to make outsiders feel that their quest is both ridiculous and impossible. The last thing that any of them want is for a concerned citizen to enter into “their arena” with the sole purpose of making things better and serving the public needs. Why? Because it would make them all look bad.

FIND OUT WHO YOUR FRIENDS ARE

As a quick note, I’ve been in touch will ALL of my friends and family over the past three days. Many months ago I wrote a blog post with a musical reference to the song by Tracy Lawrence titled “Find Out Who Your Friends Are”. I’d like to make a similar reference now. The events of this week have made it super simple for me to find out who my friends are. First, I just had to look around the room on Tuesday Night as the people who really cared about me and my family were here at my home office to watch the results with us as a team. Those that couldn’t be with us on Tuesday night contacted me by email and phone on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Today. I know EXACTLY who my friends are as they have all been right here with me either physically or via email and phone.

Mrs. Richardson was the winner on Tuesday night. She is also clear about who her friends are as she published a photo of them all from her election night party. It was good to see that she was surrounded by her friends like the Robbins, the Brooks, and the Lechners. I have to give credit to the Republican Party of Mercer County for getting out the vote and pulling together for a complete Republican sweep. [CLICK HERE to view their celebration photo in case you missed it.]

For those of you that worked so hard for me during the campaign and on Election Day, and to those of you that have been so supportive and such good friends, I THANK GOD FOR YOU!

SO, WHERE DO I GO FROM HERE?

I’ve been asked numerous times this week what I plan on doing now as we move forward. I’ll admit that the past few days have been spent trying to tie up loose ends (like attempting to pick up hundreds of signs from across the county), and I’m really just trying to catch my breath. I’m trying to sort through emotions that I’ve never experienced before and I’ve been working to wrap my head around everything.

I have a level of disappointment right now that is unmatched. Simple ideas that I’ve always lived by like “you can conquer anything with hard work and determination” have been proved to be untrue. Encouraging sayings like “Bad Things Happen When Good People Do Nothing” seem all twisted and stupid. The truth is “Bad Things Happen When Good People Try To Do Something”. My desire to be a public servant and to work for the people of the area to make things better have been squashed by a bunch of self-serving politicians who are more concerned about “winning” than serving the people.

Am I sour? I can say with all honesty that I am disappointed and discouraged. Does my journey end here? Hmmmm. Now that question is a little more difficult to answer. For the short term I will continue to do what I’ve been doing for quite some time now . . . reporting issues of political importance through this forum. I will be writing about things like Farm Subsidies, Woodland Place, self-serving legislators, inappropriate and politically biased behavior from public officials, and anything else that I find to be disturbing. I will give credit where credit is due, but I will not go easy on ANYONE. I have NO political or personal biases now as I’ve found that I have NO friends in the political arena. I will, therefore, be providing a clear and unbiased view of Mercer County politics. My perspective as a fiscal conservative Democrat will help me to sniff out rotten policies and politicians on both sides of the fence.

Welcome to “Mercer County Conservatives Version 2.0”!

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News from a Mercer County Parade that I Missed

Written by Roberta Biros

While the Memorial Day Parade in Downtown Mercer was intended to have NO politicking, the parade planners in Greenville were not so explicitly clear. The Mercer parade had plenty of politicians, but it did not allow or tolerate obvious campaigning. All of the politicians were forced to march together like one big happy family (as shown in the photo below).


Above, the Mercer County Gal Pals all meet up. Liz Fair (D-Prothonotary), Ginny Richardson (R-Treasurer), Michele Brooks (R-State Representative), and Kathy Dahlkemper (D-Congresswoman) hang out together. Deb Kochems (D/R-wife of DA Bob Kochems) was pulling up the rear (but is not pictured here). I wonder if they all gathered for tea and crumpets afterwards?

The Greenville parade on the other hand seemed to allow inappropriate self-promotion on a day that was intended to honor our veterans. Our friends at the News Now Network published a great little piece titled “Every Parade Needs a Clown Car or Two” in which they state:

“Every Parade is not complete without a clown car, and this parade is no exception, as Michele Brooks walked the route, with her personal aide and secretary in tow, driving behind her for some unknown reason, a political banner on the car as if anyone cares about her on this day dedicated to the Military and those lost, I had to shake my head and say some people are just downright stupid and ignorant.” [read the full story HERE]

I realize that the News Now Network often tends to be on the extreme ends of most issues (because ‘shock’ is a great draw for a site that claims to be “the funniest news in the business”), but they did a great job of illustrating why self promotion shouldn’t be allowed at these sorts of events. Politicians all prescribe to the concept of ‘look at me’ and ‘see how great I am’, when in reality most people would be more impressed if they just acted like ‘normal people’ without having to be the center of attention. The absolute truth is that none of the politicians pictured above would have bothered to attend the Memorial Day parade yesterday if they weren’t going to be a focus of public attention. None of them would have been satisfied to stand in the crowd to enjoy the parade for the sake of being part of the community.

Maybe the label of ‘stupid and ignorant’ is appropriate after all.

As always, just my opinion.
~Roberta Biros, Mercer County Conservatives

Specter Switches Parties . . . From the Good Ol’ Boys Club to the Good Ol’ Boys Club

Written by Roberta Biros

At 12:15pm today I received the first of MANY email messages regarding today’s announcement from Senator Arlen Specter [READ DETAILS HERE].

As soon as I received the email message I read it out loud to my husband . . . “SPECTER TO SWITCH PARTIES”. My husband’s reaction was “What a Jack Ass”. My response to my husband was . . . “Hey, is that your reaction every time someone switches their Party to try to win an election?”

After the LONG and UNCOMFORTABLE silence . . . we discussed it further.

My husband and I have never been fans of Senator Specter. We’ve never considered him a conservative and were always amazed when die-hard GOPers would support him . . . blindly. We looked forward to seeing him lose in his own Primary in 2010. Unfortunately, Senator Specter has taken away all of the fun by prolonging his demise until the General Election . . . maybe.

To go back to my husband’s first reaction, some might say (and have said) that anyone that switches Parties in an attempt to win an elected office might fairly be referred to as a “Jack Ass”. Perhaps they would be right. Having been in the situation myself once (not so very long ago), I can say that I was called lots of names when I decided to change Parties . . . although the only person that openly referred to me as a Jack Ass was me (it was about a week and a half ago, but it had nothing to do with my Party Change . . . it had more to do with my poor choices of friends).

There is a significant difference between my decision to change Parties and the decision of Senator Specter, though. Senator Specter is one of those “life-time politicians” who has (and will) do absolutely anything to keep his elected position. He would sell his own family members into prostitution if he thought he would get a jump in his poll numbers. He has been a Republican since 1966 . . . I was born in 1966 so I know exactly how long ago that was. After all those years, he had no qualm about leaving his Party to attempt to win yet another term as a plump and well-cared for Senator. The Party change had nothing to do with his voting record . . . if politicians really cared about that State Senator Bob Robbins would have changed his Party years ago. It has nothing to do with voting record . . . it has nothing to do with core beliefs and values . . . it has everything to do with money, backing, support, and more money. That is what life-time politicians care about more than anything . . . money.

I, on the other hand, made a decision to change Parties in an attempt to retire an incumbent life-time politician. I had no vision of a long career as County Treasurer. Instead, I wanted to move into the Courthouse and make changes quickly and painlessly. My intention was to complete the major technological updates within one term, but I was willing to stay for two terms (no more) if the people of the County felt that I was worthy of the honor. I wanted to serve the County and the Community, and then move on to the next project that would be of the greatest benefit to the taxpayers.

These are two very different scenarios, in my opinion.

I wonder if Senator Specter will be welcomed with open arms by the Democratic Party? I wonder if the Chairman of the Mercer County Democrat Committee is dusting off his typewriter as I write this post? I wonder if he has already made a trip to Barnes and Noble for another copy of “How to Win Friends and Influence People” as a welcome gift for Senator Specter. I wonder if the current Mercer County GOP and the “group of disgruntled Republicans” in Mercer County will throw up their hands and say “it’s a travesty!” I wonder if the “old regime” local Republicans will scheme about how to conspire with the local Democrats to block Specter’s attempts at re-election.

If I were to place a bet, I would probably say that Senator Specter will receive a warm reception from the Democrats. He will also probably receive loving embraces from the “old regime” Republicans. Why? The answer is simple . . . Senator Specter is one of the “good ol’ boys” and he will be welcomed by both sides of the aisle.

Everything will be like “butterflies and rainbows” for Senator Specter from his long-time friends (Republicans and Democrats alike). Unfortunately, Senator Specter (and his fans) have under-estimated the anger that is building up in those that are NOT part of the “good ol’ boys” club. Conservatives have been waiting patiently for Specter’s announcement. They’ve been waiting for Specter to make his move. Why? . . . so that Toomey can walk through the Primary and eventually give Specter a run for his money in the General Election (where the decision should be made).

I’m glad Senator Specter switched. I’d rather see the fight be taken to November of 2010 so that EVERYONE can be involved in the process.

2010 is already looking to be very interesting . . .

In State-wide Pennsylvania elections we’ll have Specter vs. Toomey to look forward to.

In County State-Level races we’ll undoubtedly have . . .

  • Senator Bob Robbins vs. ANY ONE (please!)
  • Representative Mark Longetti vs. NO ONE (because they’d lose)
  • Representative Dick Stevenson vs. NO ONE (because no one cares)
  • Representative Michele Brooks vs. any one of a number of “Brooks Haters” (there are so many to choose from it is hard to make a prediction at this point . . . although I have heard directly from at least one Democrat who intends on putting his name in the hat . . . and, oddly enough, he asked for my help on his campaign)

2010 will be an interesting Election year, indeed.

As always, just my opinion.

~Roberta Biros, Mercer County Conservatives

Things That Make You Go Hmmmm


Written by Roberta Biros

I’m known for my numerous musical references and my many movie references. Today I will use both. First, I’ll make my movie reference. Last night my husband and I were watching the Denzel Washington movie “Remember the Titans”. “Remember the Titans” is a football film . . . a film genre that both my husband and I enjoy. In the film, there was a great quote that I found to be particularly timely for me personally. The character of “Coach Boone” was reacting to acts of intimidation and he stated:

I don’t scratch my head unless it itches.
I don’t dance unless I hear some music.
I will not be intimidated. That’s just the way it is.

I heard the quote and said “Wow . . . that was a great quote”. My husband knew that in “code” that meant to pause the DVR and rewind so that I could write it down. I did, and now I’m repeating it here. I now consider these to be MY words.

Second, my music reference comes from C&C Music Factory . . . “Things That Make You Go Hmmmm”. I put some additional thought into the “infamous letter” that I received on Friday [READ HERE]. As you ALL know by now, I am an analyst. As an analyst, I’m distracted and disturbed by loose ends. In my post regarding the “infamous letter” I pointed out an interesting fact that some of the information included in the letter “would have ONLY been known and supplied by key members of the Republican Party”. I also pointed out that “Mr. Lark was careful to include those Republican Friends as “Xerox Copy” recipients”. This issue has sparked some private email conversations during the past 24 hours, so I feel that it is worth further investigation. This is a loose end, and I’d like to analyze it now.

I’d like to parse out the details of the long list of “Xerox Copy” recipients to try to determine why each name was included and how they tie into the bigger picture. Here is the complete list of the 19 “xc” recipients:

Roberta Biros
Irma Brenneman
Michele Brooks
Michael Coulter
Edna Gibson
Natalie Kennedy
David King
Helen Kirk
John Lechner
Amy McCamey
Rhonda McClelland
William McConnell, Jr.
Harold McQuistion
Virginia Richardson
Jo-Anne Riedmuller
Robert Robbins
Matthew Snyder
Richard Stevenson
Elva Ward

The list is in alphabetical order. For easier review, I’ll reorganize the list below in order to group the names together by “associations”:

GROUP ONE:

Roberta Biros

GROUP ONE DESCRIPTION:

This is “Me”. I am the key focus of the letter. I’m glad, I suppose, that Mr. Lark was kind enough to include me as an “xc” recipient.

GROUP TWO:

Amy McCamey
Jo-Anne Riedmuller
Elva Ward
Helen Kirk

GROUP TWO DESCRIPTION:

These are people directly mentioned in the letter. Amy McCamey, Jo-Anne Riedmuller, and Elva Ward were called out in “the letter” because Mr. Lark perceives that they have “assisted” my campaign in some way. Ms. McCamey and Ms. Riedmuller wrote letters to the editor regarding issues discussed in this blog. Ms. McCamey and Ms. Riedmuller have been following my blog for quite some time. Ms. Ward (a VERY spunky and energetic senior citizen) assisted me by circulating petitions on my behalf. Helen Kirk was mentioned in the letter as she is the mother of Elva Ward.

GROUP THREE:

Natalie Kennedy
Matthew Snyder

GROUP THREE DESCRIPTION:

These are representatives of the press. Natalie Kennedy from the Record Argus, and Matt Snyder from the Sharon Herald.

GROUP FOUR:

Edna Gibson
John Lechner
Rhonda McClelland
William McConnell, Jr.
Virginia Richardson
David King

GROUP FOUR DESCRIPTION:

These individuals are Republicans from the “Mercer County Officials Listing”. Unfortunately, this group leaves me with some unanswered questions. IF this is a list from the “Mercer County Officials Listing”, why are some Republican names missing? My review of the data shows that six (6) Republican names ARE included, but four (4) Republican names ARE NOT included. How did Mr. Lark make his choices and why? Hmmm?

GROUP FIVE:

Irma Brenneman
Harold McQuistion

GROUP FIVE DESCRIPTION:

I don’t know these individuals, and I don’t believe that I’ve ever met either. I specifically asked Mr. Lark about who they are and how they are related to “the letter”. He stated that I should know them as they are important leaders in the Republican Party and they were very involved in the McCain campaign. I explained that I was not involved in the McCain campaign, and he told me that I SHOULD know these individuals. Hmmm?

GROUP SIX:

Michael Coulter

GROUP SIX DESCRIPTION:

I don’t know Michael Coulter. Mr. Lark did not explain Mr. Coulter’s inclusion on this list. I did some research regarding Mr. Coulter and found that Mr. Coulter is simply another individual with which Mr. Lark has an axe to grind. According to my research, Mr. Lark complained to the Sharon Herald in October of 2008 regarding Mr. Coulter’s involvement in a scheduled debate. According to the Herald,

Lark accused Coulter of involvement with a Republican mailer sent to 4,000 county Democrats attacking Democratic county commissioner candidates several days prior to the 2007 election, too late for a Democratic response. He also said Coulter is a partisan, and that in a Grove City debate he hosted, a reception afterwards was for Republicans only.

Pardon my language, but this DAMN “infamous mailer” keeps getting mentioned, and I’m confused. What exactly was the “infamous mailer”? How, exactly, am I related to this “infamous mailer”? Why do Bob Lark’s frustrations with the “infamous mailer” have anything to do with me? Hmmmm??

GROUP SEVEN:

Michele Brooks
Robert Robbins
Richard Stevenson

GROUP SEVEN DESCRIPTION:

I find this group of “xc” recipients to be particularly confusing. Every other member of the “xc” list has some local/county tie to this discussion of county politics (sort of). Yet, Mr. Lark includes Representative Brooks, Senator Robbins, and Representative Stevenson . . . STATE Legislators. What exactly is their involvement in this? Why is it necessary for the Chairman of the Democratic Party to have discussions with State Legislators regarding a County race?
Hmmmmm?

SUMMARY OF GROUPS:

Back to my original concern, I have a loose end in this story as some information from the letter appears to have come from a prominent Republican source or sources. Based on the analysis of each group above, I’m left with a few major question marks in Groups 4 through 7.

Based on those “question marks”, I’ve compiled a list of the individuals from Groups 4 through 7 that have either had any association with me on political issues, had any knowledge of the issues referenced in the letter, or who have something to gain or loose in the race for County Treasurer. Those names are:

John Lechner

I spoke with Mr. Lechner regarding Woodland Place in December of 2008. I have no other ties to this gentleman and I don’t know him personally.

Virginia Richardson

She is the current County Treasurer and Treasurer of the Mercer GOP. She is the 16-year incumbent opponent in the race with which I am involved. I have talked with her personally a few times in the past.

David King

He is the Chairman of the Mercer County Republican Committee. I’ve only talked to Mr. King twice. The first meeting was specifically regarding issues of the Republican Party. Our second meeting was a very heated discussion regarding his complaints about my candidacy for County Treasurer (and my challenge of Ms. Richardson’s long-held position).

Michele Brooks

She is a State Representative representing portions of Mercer County. I met her initially in September of 2008 during her re-election campaign. I have had numerous discussions and email correspondence with her regarding legislative matters.

Robert Robbins

He is a State Senator representing Mercer County with which I have had brief correspondence regarding legislative matters. I personally met Mr. Robbins once at a public gathering. My husband and had dinner with him at the gathering, but I would bet he has no recollection of it. As I understand it, he is a STRONG supporter of my opponent and has spoken on her behalf at recent public events.

Richard Stevenson

He is a State Representative representing a small portion of Mercer County. I have had minimal email correspondence with him and his office regarding legislative matters. I’ve been at events with Mr. Stevenson but I’ve never spoken to him personally.

All of these names make me go Hmmmmm.

Are one or more of these individuals the “source” of the Republican information referenced in Mr. Lark’s letter?

Do one or more of these individuals have personal and professional ties to Mr. Lark?

Do one or more of these individuals have a reason to assist Mr. Lark with his characters assassinations of me and my supporters?

Do one or more of these individuals have something to loose or gain in the race for Mercer County Treasurer?

Did I leave any names off of this summary list?

Have I included names on the list that don’t deserve to be there?

Would any of you like to join in on the conversation? You can either use the “Comment” feature and post using your own name or as Anonymous . . . or you can email me directly and your contact with me will be kept completely private.

This issue (and the issue of the “infamous letter”) is all part of a bigger story and a bigger problem in Mercer County. In Mr. Lark’s letter of April 2nd, he called out three individuals who were simply using their rights offered by the First Amendment or who were fulfilling a civic duty. These individuals have been unfairly challenged by Mr. Lark’s letter. I will not submit concerned citizens to personal assaults like the one perpetrated by Mr. Lark. If you contact me, our association will be kept private for your protection from the Democratic and Republican “machines” of Mercer County.

Mr. Lark’s letter makes it clear that the leadership of the Republican and Democratic Parties in Mercer County seem to be closely associated with one another, and they ALL seem to have something to gain in keeping ALL incumbents in office. They are ALL willing to do whatever it takes to protect themselves, and they don’t care who they take down in the process. It makes you wonder why ANY concerned citizen would support ANY of THEM.

Mr. Lark’s letter is an attempt to intimidate me and anyone that has the nerve to support me or my campaign. As a final response, I offer you my quote from the movie reference from the beginning of this post . . .

I don’t scratch my head unless it itches.
I don’t dance unless I hear some music.
I will not be intimidated. That’s just the way it is.

Hmmm . . .

.


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