Thursday, March 27, 2008

Russ Diamond says, "I await your response."

This letter is sent to his opponent in a race for the PA House.
March 21, 2008

Mrs. Gingrich:

Over the last four weeks you have made numerous remarks in the media regarding your desire for me to address "the issues." Although I believe integrity is the Number One issue in this race, I am more than willing to discuss any other state government issue you believe is important to the people of the 101st legislative district.

Because you have not yet enumerated any of the particular issues you wish to discuss, I am writing to suggest a few.

1. Article II Section 8 of the PA Constitution states: "The members of the General Assembly shall receive such salary and mileage for regular and special sessions as shall be fixed by law, and no other compensation whatever, whether for service upon committee or otherwise." I believe this language is quite plain, and I have already pledged to accept only the salary and mileage allowed by this section, if elected.

Perhaps you could explain why you are the only Lebanon County legislator currently participating in the taxpayer-funded pension and health care programs. Perhaps you could also explain why you believe these perks are not in violation of the plain language of Article II Section 8.

2. The Pennsylvania State Education Association's political arm (PSEA PACE) recently asked candidates for legislative office to fill out a questionnaire in anticipation of garnering the PSEA's endorsement. Frankly, I found the questionnaire to be incredibly taxpayer-unfriendly and was stunned that the PSEA would keep our answers from the public, as indicated on its cover page.

I believe secret questionnaires fly in the face of the transparency and openness that Pennsylvanians have been demanding over the last three years. As such, I have posted my answers at I challenge you to make your answers public as well so we can discuss any differences we might have on these particular issues.

3. Our very own state Senator recently introduced SB1290 to enable a constitutional convention of the people to provide a vehicle for Pennsylvanians to exercise their "inalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform or abolish their government" as enumerated by Article I Section 2 of the PA Constitution. If this bill was currently before the House as written, would you vote in favor of it? If not, what particular changes would you make to the bill to make it acceptable to you?

4. The House State Government Committee, of which you are a member, recently held a hearing in Philadelphia regarding altering the method we use to redraw legislative districts after each decennial federal census. Many reform-minded people believe this particular issue should be the next priority for the legislature to tackle. Did you attend the hearing? If so, what is your opinion of the testimony presented? How do you feel we should alter the redistricting system to make it more fair to all Pennsylvanians?

5. Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts recently held a press conference in the Capitol announcing pending legislation to create a "merit selection" system for appellate court judges in Pennsylvania. Do you support merit selection? If not, what particular steps would you take to improve our current system of electing appellate court judges?

6. You recently voted against a plan that would have put Pennsylvania on track to eliminating school property taxes. Instead, you voted for former Speaker John Perzel's proposal to dedicate gaming proceeds to only addressing the property tax situation for a select few. I believe Pennsylvania's working class homeowners and families deserve property tax relief as well. What in particular would you do to further address the property tax issue in Pennsylvania?

These are just a few items off the top of my head to get our discussion of the issues started. As I've been knocking on doors across the district, Republican voters have brought up many other topics that are currently on their minds. There are likely some issues that you feel are important, and I would welcome any you might suggest.

In 2004, I publicly challenged you to participate in three separate debates on the issues. That challenge was widely reported by the media but went unanswered by you. Instead, you claimed at the subsequent League of Women Voters forum that it was the only debate to which you were invited.

This year, I will allow you to name the time, place and method of discussing these and other issues important to the people of the 101st district. We can meet face to face, create a joint blog, appear on television or radio, conduct a written correspondence series in the spirit of the Founding Fathers, or utilize any other public forum you choose.

I await your response.

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