The LuLac Edition #147, Feb. 6, 2007
PHOTO INDEX: PA. HOUSE SPEAKER DENNIS O'BRIEN AND SENATOR VINCENT FUMO'S CALLING CARD THAT HE USED ON MANY OCCASIONS IN HARRISBURG.
Another Super Bowl has come and gone and now, for me, the New Year begins. This is when I get serious about stuff. The Christmas hangover for me usually overflows into the NFL playoffs hangover and finally Superbowl Sunday hangover. Now it's time to get serious. And my God, how can you not help but be serious with astronauts being charged with murder, at least thirty people running for President and a new set of mischief going on in Harrisburg. Let these games begin.
Remember when baseball players would get a $25,000 signing bonus? Or in the case of Mickey Mantle, just under $5,000? We used to think that was big money. It might have been my career choices, but in my lifetime, I never, ever got a Christmas bonus. And a bonus for doing extra work? UHHHHHHHHHHH NOPE!
Well the latest bonus bullshit comes from the Ford Motor Company. Yep, Ford, the company that laid off more than 100,000 rank and file factory workers gave bonuses to their top executives and designers even though the company lost billions of dollars and had its worst year in the history of the company! (Mrs. LuLac points out that the factory workers in the plants were making upwards of over $100,000 a year, I countered with the fact that their salary was a pittence compared to the Ford management team that drove the company into the ground and suggested that perhaps they can find open positions in the Pa. State Senate!) But Ford rewarded its workers, its management team for actually derailing the company. You get rewarded for screwing up. My goodness, perhaps Rex Grossman should apply for a job at Ford. Anyway, here are some new slogans I've come up with for the Ford Motor Company:
FORD-A BETTER IDEA-NOT!
FORD-WE DON'T EVEN BOTHER ANYMORE!
FORD-WE STINK BUT WE GET REWARDED!
FORD-WE'RE NOT EVEN TRYING!
FORD-WE GIVE UP!
PA. SPEAKER MAKES NEWS
Pa. Speaker of the House Dennis O'Brien is going to release the names and pay scales of the people who are employed in the House of Representatives as part of his reform agenda.
The salaries of House employees have always -- at least in theory -- been considered public information, but he conceded that the procedures for reporters and the public to gain access to them has been "difficult and arduous."
Written requests had to be hand-carried or mailed to the House clerk's office, asking for salary information of no more than 15 people at a time. Then it took a couple weeks or so for the information to be produced. Then the process had to be repeated if information on another 15 was needed. That process would have required months to get information on all 1,600 House employees.
No one is sure exactly how that cumbersome process got started but said he thinks it dates back in the early 1970s.
Senate leaders said that since the early 80s, they have made employees' salary information available each term. The current list of names for 2007-08 is available in printed form upon request to Chief Clerk Russell Faber, at a cost of $20.30.
Five Senate employees who earned more than $100,000 are on the staff of Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi. R-Delaware. They are: Donna Malpezzi, $142,035; Kathleen Eakin, $113,668; Erik Arneson, $101,250; Cynthia Thurston, $100,750 and Carolyn Maravic, $100,715.
Sen. Vincent Fumo, D-Philadelphia, minority chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has four employees who make more than $100,000. Mr. Fumo, who expects to be indicted on federal charges of misusing a charity for his own benefit, announced he would give up his leadership post and the extra staff that goes with it.
Senator Robert "The Kentucky Colonel" Mellow released his staff information, all making over 100,000 grand a year. They are: Claude Hafner, $141,247; Hugh Baird, $117,000; and Gladys Brown, $104,411. The Mellow trio also recieved this bonus money: Mr. Baird and Mr. Hafner, $8,000 each; Ms. Brown, $6,000.
Whether this openess will change anything is anybody's call right now. I would think that for a while at least, there might be some outrage at the size of some of the salaries as well as when p0litical junkies start to connect the dots between staff and elected officials.
NEW SALES TAX IMPACT
Here's the impact of the new Pa. Sales tax if it goes into effect:
1 percentage point sales tax increase could have widespread effects in Pennsylvania, softening demand for high-end consumer goods and prompting more Internet and out-of-state shopping, at least in the short term. Governor Rendell is proposing a percentage hike from 6 to 7 percent.
That would push Pennsylvania from the middle of the pack to near top of the list, tying it with neighboring New Jersey and three other states that have a 7 percent sales tax, trailing only California's sales tax rate of 7.25 percent. If the tax proposal becomes reality, well-situated shoppers might be more tempted than before to cross state lines, sending sales tax revenue elsewhere. Now this arguement is just the exact opposite that Rendell used when promoting gambling saying that we'd lose state revenues when gamblers went across state lines. When I'd shop in New York City, the sales people would always recommend that I have the clothing item shipped to avoid New York sales tax.
Even without leaving home, some shoppers can avoid the sales tax by buying over the Internet. One University study estimated that Pennsylvania may have missed out on $800 million in sales tax revenue thanks to Web shoppers who evade the sales tax and online stores that refuse to remit it. The average Pennsylvanian, by the end of the calendar year, has paid about $650 in sales taxes on nearly $11,000 in goods. A 16.7 percent increase means that same average resident would spend about $750, about a $110 tax increase. The governor said the extra 1 percent sales tax should bring in $1.4 billion, on top of the $16 billion that the state will likely bring in during the 2006-07 budget year. So, who will ultimately pay? First the businesses that sell to each other but then that amount will be passed on to the consumer at the retail level.
One of the most powerful and charismatic State politiciuans appears to be in trouble with the FBI. In a speech on the Senate floor, the Philadelphia Democrat said he anticipates facing charges alleging he has used a nonprofit group for his own personal and political gain. The federal probe has focused on whether Mr. Fumo used Citizens' Alliance for Better Neighborhoods for his own political and personal purposes. The 16-year-old charity, which is run by Mr. Fumo's aides, does economic development and beautification projects in South Philadelphia, which the senator represents in Harrisburg. Mr. Fumo, 63, who has served in the Senate since 1978, had harsh words for the prosecutors whose investigation has lasted four years.
"This investigation has been marked by threats, intimidations and frequent leaks to the media intended to embarrass me," he said. "Now that phase is over, and I can move forward, knowing who and what I am fighting. I will be able to meet the allegations head-on instead of trying to answer the countless rumors that have attended this process," Sen. Fumo said.
Fumo is an interesting fixture in Harrisburg politics and is a very articulate member of the body. If he is convicted, he would be a true loss to state government. This is not Fumo's first brush with prosecutiuon, he was indicted on mail fraud in 1979 and convicted but that conviction was overturned by the courts. Mr. Fumo, an architect of the 2004 law that legalized slot-machine gambling in the state, is vice chairman of the state's college loan agency, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency. He also has a law degree and is associated with the prestigious Philadelphia law firm of Dilworth Paxson.
Ronald Reagan, President of the United States from 1981 to 1989 was born on this day.