Overdue! It’s time for Reform in Harrisburg!
For the past 24 months, a Special Grand Jury composed of 23 members and 10 alternates has dedicated itself to investigating the state legislature and determining what can be done to revamp and reform it and improve its operations and procedures.
As it undertook this work, the grand jury noted that this legislative body is irretrievable broken, necessitating a wide array of reforms to repair a system fraught with corruption and waste. They added that the time is ripe for reform, considering the public’s overall displeasure with the legislature.
The grand jury has recommended many sweeping changes in the way the legislature does business. Revamping the legislature has been long overdue and the work of the grand jury is an important first step in its overhaul. Its report is wide-ranging. Among its recommendations are reducing the size of the legislature, increasing terms for representatives from two years to four years, cutting staff, trimming the perdiem members voted themselves, and making members of the general assembly part-time rather than full-time legislators.
As a member of the grand jury said: “there are many people who enter public service with the best of intentions, but become corrupted when they get caught up in the system.” He added: “this is a nagging problem that has to be corrected.”
It is important that both candidates for governor – Tom Corbett and Dan Onorato – have vowed their support of the grand jury report and are committed to pushing its recommendations.
It’s interesting that the grand jury points out that lack of ethical conduct is a weakness of the legislature. There are three other recommendations worth noting – elimination of both the so-called slush funds and financial support for pet projects of the legislators. The Grand Jury recommendations also call for annual independent audits to keep an eye on spending practices.
In our opinion, the next step should be for the legislature to pass a measure calling for a constitutional convention where action can be taken to reform the state legislature which we think is vitally important, as the grand jury points out. Let’s not let this issue die on the vine. State legislative reform is long overdue!
Robert W. Dickey
Broadcast: June 25, 26¸27, 28, 2010
In the wake of the hazing death of Timothy Piazza two lawsuits have been filed against Penn State alleging university officials failed to respond appropriately to persistent problems with hazing and alcohol use at its fraternities. Grand jury report found "a permissive atmosphere fostered by the Pennsylvania State University Interfraternity Council" led to Piazza's death. Penn State did halt pledging and enacted restrictions on alcohol consumption and social functions within its Greek community. However both LSU and Texas State temporarily suspended all Greek activities from campus after students recently died of alcohol poisoning at their schools.
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