Sunday, September 02, 2012

Rep Major is exercising a kind of political droit du seigneur

September 2, 2012

From the inbox:

Dead Editor,

The band Ten Years After has a song called “I’d Love To Change The World”. Those words of late have come to sum up my life’s goals, and are why I’m writing you today. They say a picture is worth a thousand words; and in the world of political campaigning, it might as well be ten-thousand.

Picture this: a representative poses with a crowd of smiling onlookers, holding a pair of over-sized scissors that could only be used for one thing—ribbon cutting. Along with kissing babies and shaking hands with service men and women, ribbon cutting ceremonies are fairly run of the mill activities for political officials. Ceremonies such as these provide politicians with the opportunity to get out into the community that they supposedly represent in order to mingle with their constituents—and perhaps more importantly (for some officials), they are wonderful photo ops. Even without any accompanying text, the image of a politician cutting a ribbon practically shouts, “Here I am, doing something important for my community, (re)elect me!”

Of course, it helps if the politician present has had some hand in bringing about the event that warrants a ribbon cutting ceremony in the first place. However, Representative Sandra Major recently posed with a group of community members in order to officiate over the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Prompton Dam in Wayne County—a dam that was originally funded by stimulus dollars, which were brought to PA thanks to President Obama and former Congressman Chris Carney.
Representative Major herself, however, had no part in the funding nor the building of the dam. It seems as though she was exercising a kind of political droit du seigneur—or the “right of the lord,” (which some of you might remember from the classic Braveheart) that allowed a feudal lord to ‘take’ a woman on her wedding night. Only in Representative Major’s droit du representative, she seems to believe that as long as something happens in her district, she can ride up and take the credit for it.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Representative Major has posed for photos that seem inauthentic and problematic, once you look past the veneer of a forced smile or a large pair of scissors. In February of this year, the Independent Weekender printed a picture of Representative Major posing with some local schoolchildren at Elk Lake Elementary School for the Read Across America initiative. The image of a politician, advanced in her career, passing on a love of learning to the younger generation would be almost sweet, were it not for the fact that Representative Major has repeatedly supported Governor Corbett’s cuts to public education—cuts that undoubtedly impacted students at Elk Lake and elsewhere in the 111th distract. Though this is just one example of Representative Major trying to garner good PR from a community event that she did not help to generate, it reflects a trend in her campaigning tactics.

Truly, a picture is worth a thousand (or ten thousand) words, but there are times when we need to look past the surface in order to find out what those words actually are. And at the end of the day, isn’t the truth worth infinitely more?

Personally, I do not want to be represented by someone who feels comfortable taking credit for another’s work or posing with students whose lives will be negatively affected by budget cuts that she supported. I think it’s time for my friends in the 111th district to elect a representative who will do more for his district than pose for convenient photo ops, who will not only stand next to a community structure, but also bring in the funding that could make such a structure possible. It’s time for a change. I strongly urge the citizens of the 111th district to send Jeffery Dahlander to Harrisburg. 


Thomas R. Charles
Dimock, Pennsylvania


Aggie95 said...

I can understand why the TEACHERS UNIONS are upset their jobs programs have been curtailed .... ya notice I said TEACHERS UNIONS not childrens unions

Pennsylvania Public School Spending Continues to Grow
•K-12 public education spending has dramatically increased in Pennsylvania. ◦Pennsylvania's education spending increased from $4 billion in 1980 to more than $25 billion in 2009—a 133% increase in per-student spending, after adjusting for inflation.
◦Pennsylvania school districts spent more than $13,000 per student in 2008-09.

•School construction and debt spending has doubled in a decade.
◦Prevailing wage laws increase the cost of construction by 20% or more; repealing this mandate would save $400 million annually in taxpayer-funded construction costs.

Since 2000, enrollment has decreased by 26,960 while schools have hired 32,937 more staff members.
•Most of these new employees pay dues to the PSEA labor union, which runs one of the largest political action committees in Pennsylvania.
•The PSEA, Pennsylvania School Board Association, and other groups receive tens of millions of dollars from school districts while lobbying for more education spending and against substantive education reforms, including school choice and taxpayer control of tax increases.

Anonymous said...

Also in the photo are Sen. Lisa Baker, Wayne County Commissioner Brian Smith, and former Wayne County Commissioner Tony Herzog - all members of the Romney/Republican team who continually criticize President Obama for his "failed stimulus program that did not create even one job". I wonder if the many construction workers who spent the last couple of years rebuilding the Prompton Dam would agree. As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand hypocritical words.

Anonymous said...

Jeff Dahlander would be a great Representative for the 111th.

But to Anon@10:45, Sen. Baker, to the best of my knowledge, never called the stimulus a failure. I think she's smarter than that, and I don't think she should be accused of doing so. If you know me, you know I'm as liberal as they come in NEPA, and even though she is a Republican, I have a great deal of admiration for her. She's moderate, reasonable, incredibly intelligent, cares greatly for the people in her district, and always respectful of others' points of view. She's not a partisan and will work with anyone, left or right, to bring results back home. I may not agree with everything she does, but she's actually been a very good Senator for us in the 20th District. To tell a secret, she's the only Republican I've ever voted for.

I can't speak on the other people you mentioned because I frankly don't know that much about them, but I do know that Lisa Baker shouldn't be grouped in with the right-wing partisans.

Casey Evans

Anonymous said...

You are joking, right?

Let's tackle the prevailing wage law. In states where the prevailing wages laws have been repealed, taxpayers saw no savings even though wages went down (as well as overall quality). What happened was that the savings were eaten by the construction companies. Also, labor costs in construction account for roughly 30% of the total of the project. To reach your 20% claim, laborers would see a 66% cut to their wages. This would result in construction workers average pay being cut from roughly $40,000/year to roughly $13,000/year. Cutting prevailing wage laws would be bad for the workers and bad for the communities and save tax payers nothing.

I'm not going to try to find the 2009 education budget, but the 2012 education budget is roughly $5.4 billion ( ). Based on that number, and adjusting for inflation, it looks like we are really underfunding our school districts and forcing major tax increases onto property owners. Add in extra requirements where school districts must provide busing for charter schools and pay charter schools before other financial obligations and you can see why schools are mowing fields with sheep and teachers are working without pay.

As for your last point, I cannot find any data on it. Given how wild your first to claims appear to be, I believe it is safe to say that you are just making up data to bash unions and in so doing, you are hurting our children.