Saturday, May 06, 2006

Please, don't fire me.

I received the following election-season message:

Dear Neighbor:

I voted to Repeal the Pay Raise and I returned every penny I earned as a result of this ill-advised raise.

We all make mistakes; voting for the pay raise was a regretable mistake. I'm honest enough to admit that.

I have worked hard for this district and, except for this one mistake, I believe I have effectively served the communities and the citizens that I represent.

I would be grateful to continue to server you and the citizens of our community in the same honorable manner I had served before this single mistake.

I extend my sincerest apology and I assure you that I will not make this mistake again.

Paul Costa, District 35 Representative.
First, let's review what lead to this plea. On July 7, 2005, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed pay increases for state lawmakers, judges, and top executive-branch officials. The raise increased legislators' base pay from 16% to 34% depending on position and making them the second higest paid state legislatiors in the nation. (In Costa's case, his base pay went from $69,647 to $81,050 anually) The vote took place at two in the morning without public review or commentary and Governor Rendell quickly signed the bill. In addition, they were able bypass the PA Constitution that forces legislators to wait until the end of the term before actually getting the raise by claiming "unvouchered expenses."

The government seemed shocked and somewhat indignant when the public took exception to this. It didn't take long, however, for them to see that Pennsylvanians were almost universally outraged and on November 16, 2005 the Governor signed unanimously passed bill repealing the pay raise.

So now, the primaries are coming up and my Representative is begging me for his political life. And he's not even doing a very good job of that.

The first obsfucation is in the first paragraph where he notes that he voted to repeal the pay raise without mentioning that he voted for it in the first place. He tries to dodge this by saying it was "ill-advised", blaming it on someone else. He says he "returned every penny" when, according to Article II, Section 8 of the Constution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, he wasn't actually entired to a single penny of said pay raise until the end of his current term . But, by using "unvouchered expenses" he was going to be pulling in nearly $1,000 a month for the 17 months remaining in his term.

In two separate paragraphs, he claims that this vote was his "single mistake" made in seven years of service. Really? One mistake in all that time? And after violating the state constitution we are to believe that you made this one mistake and wish to server "our community in the same honorable manner?"

Sorry, Paul. I'm not buying it. Look here at the bottom of the mailing: "Paid for by Paul Costa for State Representative, Treasurer: Kathleen Gallant Costa." His wife is the treasurer of his re-election committee. His brother, State Senator Jay Costa, also voted for the pay increase and was also taking unvouchered expenses.

Oh, yea. I am overhwlemed with confidence.

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