Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Some Libertarians with an guest speaker, now a GOPer, at the Allegheny County Lib Christmas Party

Mark, Russ Diamond, Dave, Joe.

I'm now the Allegheny County Libertarian Party Vice-Chair. That's Dave Powell, my boss, the new chairman in the photo.

Russ has been working hard with Operation Clean Sweep in the past months. His site is at

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Russ Diamond of Pa. Clean Sweep. (notes on his speech)

Good evening! Who wants to take their govt back? (applause)

It's a great pleasure, honor and a privilege to speak before my old libertarian friends. We've had lots of fun over the last few years together.

I agree with Tom Martin. Every morning I wake up and thank God for the pay raise. The Pay raise is like Pearl Harbor and the Alamo all rolled up in one. That's why our motto is 'Remember the Pay Raise."

pr encapsulates everything wrong with our govt. rd saw the pr live on TV at 2am, back in July of 2005. This was the end of the legislative session.

Back in 2004, the Pa. legislature gave us another unconstitutional bill. The Slots bill was passed late at night at the end of another legislative session. Both the Pay Raise and the Slots Bill were done the same way, at 2 AM, the original language of the bills were stripped out. and replaces by a massive 'amendment' at the last minutes. There was no floor debate.

They violated the Constitution in 5 different ways, then scurried off to summer vacation.

Russ watched the pay raise on PCN and couldn't figure out what was happening. PCN seemed confused too. The Pay Raise bill was completely changed 15 minutes before the final vote.

We soon figured out a few days later that EVERYBODY got a pay raise. This was a 16 to 54% pay raise. Have you every gotten a raise that big? It's been a long time for me.

Russ is a business owner. His pay has gone DOWN in the last few years. Pa's business climate is less and less competitive.

State Senator Vince Fumo said that all the Pay Raise votes were pre-arranged in caucus. Each caucus reached 50% plus one vote before the Pay Raise bill came out of committee.

There was no need to ask the public what they thought. There was no need to ask 'the boss' for permission.

What would you have done if your employee, a state legislator, came to your door at 2 AM and said, "Hey, I need a pay raise?" You would have said No. Or at least "Give me some time to think about it?"

In fact, they didn't even give themselves any time to think about it. The next time you bump into a state legislator, ask them "how much time did you have to read the entire text of ACT 44, the Pay Raise Bill? Did you read the entire text of ACT 44, the pay raise bill?'

So, 2 days later we figure out that the votes were all pre arranged. But that's not the way to run a Democratic Republic! They didn't get the people's input. That's the way it's supposed to work.

I was outraged when I found out. I pay attention to Harrisburg because I own a business. What they do affects me. I make a living, create jobs and help the local economy grow. The legislature affects me.

One week later, Russ talked with his apolitical 26 year old nephew and began to realize that the pay raise issue was not going away. His nephew went on for over 15 minutes about how his local state senator Chip Brightbill was getting a $32,000 pay raise. Russ's nephew recently started a business and barely made $32,000 a year.

This was a $32,000 raise, all in one shot. Without asking his boss, the voters. It dawned on Russ that this pay raise issue may resonate with Pa. voters for a long time.

So Russ put up a 4 page web site, Much of it hasn't changed since them, but there are many additions to the original material. Russ expected maybe 200 emails and maybe we'd have a yearly barbecue or something. But he got 2,300 email the first week. He briefly answered each one. Russ had a tiger by the tail. People were volunteering to set up events and to run for office. Russ came up with county coordinators and so on.

The idea became to get candidates to challenge the incumbents and throw them all out.

By August Russ realized how big this had become. So Russ founded a board of directors for Operation Clean Sweep. They met in Phillipsburg, passed bylaws and created a decision making process. Russ didn't want to screw it up or be wholly responsible. He wanted checks and balances. He wanted OCS to make smart decisions, recruit good candidates and to make good policy.

There have been 200,000 unique visits to clean sweep web site so far. This is 5 million hits. Pa. Clean Sweep is still only 8 months old.

Pundits said it wouldn't last. Then they realized that Justices Newman and Nigro were up for retention votes in Nov. People accuse OCS of unfairly singling out Newman and Nigro out of anger. But OCS looked at expenses for Newman and Nigro. Nigro's expenses showed $81 bottles of wine, etc. Bottom line was Newman and Nigro did not uphold Constitution.

Pa. Supreme court also upheld ACT 71, the slots bill. It passed the same way as the pay raise did. This emboldened the Pa. legislators.. They thought they could act with impunity.

No to Newman and Nigro, NNN, became the rallying cry of OCS, Democracy Rising and Rock the Capitol. Pundits still said they would fail. No Pa. Justice has ever lost a retention vote before. But Russ and OCS weren't looking for a moral victory. In the end, Nigro lost and Newman was narrowly retained. OCS helped to set Pa. history.

One week later, the Pa. legislature repealed the pay raise. This was historic in Pa. Never done before.

They must have read the constitution. It couldn't have been because Justice Nigro was voted out. They must have walked back to their musty office, blown the dust off of the Pa constitution and seen that the pay raise was illegal.

On 1-30-06 about 81 OCS candidates appeared at the state capitol. Now there are 95 candidates, and more are on the way. This is for the primary in May.

Jim Babb is an OCS candidate. There are many offices to fill. 228 legislative races. OCS will probably be involved in 1/3 of them.

Russ Diamond wants Libertarian candidates to join OCS for the November elections. OCS welcomes Libertarians, Constitution, Greens, lindys etc. Pa. Voters deserve more choices. OCS needs the LPPa to recruit candidates.

What better time to introduce voters to the LP and its principles? People are looking for new choices this year. Opportunity is knocking. Are you going to answer the door? Please do.

Russ is proud to be a small part of OCS. He helped to wake the sleeping giant. OCS has educated voters. Now voters can name some state supreme court justices. Now they know about caucuses and the broken process in Harrisburg.

The Pay Raise encapsulates everything that is wrong with the process in Harrisburg. The pay raise bill was unconstitutional in five different ways. It flew through the legislature in the middle of the night. Governor Rendell signed it, even though it was unconstitutional.

The State Supreme court said it was legal and Rendell agreed. The State Supreme court did not act as a check or a balance to the state legislature. We don't have checks and balances in Harrisburg. We have a Rubber Stamp.

When you can't find checks and balances in Harrisburg, you go out to the people. The voters will say, Okay we'll get rid of this legislature and get all new people in there. We'll get the Governor out of there too.

Maybe we'll clean sweep some other supreme court justices when they come up for retention?

People aren't really ticked off about the money. It was the way they did it.

There has been no property tax relief in the last 40 years that is meaningful. No one seriously talks about reducing spending. Get control of the spending. Don't just shift from one tax to another.

There is a Pa. health care crisis on the horizon. One third of Pa. doctors have been sued in the past 45 months. I don't think that we should chase out doctors out of the Commonwealth. Patients with head trauma find that there are no neurosurgeons willing to help the patients. They are afraid of getting sued.

There is a Pa. Pension crisis. In 2006, $450 million in pension costs. In 2012, that number will be 10 times as high in only six years. It will reach $4.5 billion in 2012. This will be one sixth of Pa.'s entire budget. Where will we get this money? By raising taxes? I hope not.

What government services should we cut to pay for these pensions?

Bridges are falling down. The Pa. legislature won't address these problems. Public school costs are out of control. They are afraid to make hard choices. We must control school spending before we can realistically deal with property taxes. We must look at spending first.

Since 1970, State Govt spending has increased 1,100%, Adjusting for inflation, govt has doubled while your wages have remained the same. We must turn this ship around. It will take common sense, plain talk and integrity.

Harrisburg has an integrity problem. Legislators must uphold their oath of office. They don't deserve a raise, they deserve to be fired. Many things need fixed in Pa. But first we must fix state government.

The Pay Raise has united all parts of the political spectrum. We don't have a level bargaining table when we deal with state govt. They ignore the rules set forth in the Constitution. The Pa. Constitution is written in plain language, why can't these legislators and judges understand it?

People are absolutely fed up at the local OCS meetings. The Ds and Rs are all part of a big 'incumbent party'. There is a $135 million dollar slush fund, WAMS, Walking around money?

2006 is a good year for third party candidates. Just talk about the pay raise. The Pay Raise reminds everybody about how the process is broken in Harrisburg. The sleeping giant is now awake, and will prevail. We will take our govt back. Of, by and for the people.

Put Pa. once again at the top of the list in job creation and honest govt.

Lobbyist disclosure is only a part of the problem. Legislators are too willing to accept gifts from lobbyists. Is it better to give or to receive?

The Keystone state can start the second American Revolution. It is our fault that the voters didn't hold their feet to the fire. Pa. Business owners may have to leave Pa. But the sleeping giant is now awake.

If Pa. is not fixed, Russ will lose his home. He is a businessman. If Pa. gets much worse, Russ will have to move his business elsewhere, like NC or SC, where the business climate is much better. His family lives here. His parents are getting older. He has no kids, but he has niece and nephew. They may have to move out of the state too.

People ask Russ, What's in this for you? Russ does this full time with no pay. He does this for freedom and liberty, particularly economic liberty. He wants to stay in Pa. if possible.

Not everyone can donate as much time as Russ does. He does this for friends and family and others who are too worried about putting shoes on their kid's feet to get heavily involved in politics. They are worried that their kids may leave Pa. as soon as they are educated.

All we need are people willing to go to Harrisburg and do the right thing. I hope you're one of them. Every one of you lives in a legislative district. If you want to fix it, get your hands dirty, roll up your sleeves and get in the game. Run against the incumbents.

Answers to questions.

Unclean sweep web site was started by an employee of the house GOP caucus on his own time with his own money. OCs has filed a libel suit against him.

OCS candidates signed and notarized a declaration to.
1. repeal the pay raise (already done)
2. All future exec, legis and judicial pay raises must have a voter referendum (come to the boss and ask for a raise)
3. Insist on a 10 day cooling off period for all legislation before it goes for its third and final vote. Get input from voters. This gives them time to actually read the legislation too.

OCS candidates must sit for a 30 min interview and fill out a basic questionnaire.

OCS has rejected a few candidates.

The current process is broken in Harrisburg. Leadership bullies the rank and file into submission. Deweese demoted Democratic committee chairs for not voting for the pay raise. But rank and file outnumber the leadership 20 to 1. They won't stand up to the leadership.

We need a citizen legislature to come to Harrisburg for a couple of years, do the people's business, then go home, as the Founding Fathers intended.

OCS candidates have their own views on term limits. Can be for or against. OCS wants to unite, not divide.

Political leaders have divided and conquered the voters with D and R party labels. Career politicians act as one big incumbent party.