Monday, August 10, 2009

The LuLac Edition #903, Aug. 10th, 2009

SNAPPLE "REAL FACT" #695, The National Park Service manages over 350 parks on 80 million acres of public land.



I have been very critical of the State Legislature in this current budget crisis. And I believe with good reason. Per diems, car allowances and huge salaries while residents in NEPA are trying to get by. But State Representative Kevin Murphy, unlike many House Democrats who grabbed their money even before it got to the rank and file state workers, has turned down any money until the full budget is enacted. Currently a stop gap budget has been signed by the Governor. Murphy, who has not been paid since July 1st will not accept any salary until things are resolved. Murphy said that he should feel the same pain that other citizens in the state do in this budget crisis. This is the same guy who fought tooth and nail for the Scranton School for the Deaf when his fellow Lackawanna County Democrats were mum on the subject. Murphy is a refreshing breath of fresh air in Harrisburg and hopefully (if the political wolves don't devour him) will have a long career of public service.

In edition #900 of LuLac, I brought you the story about the Chris Carney staffer who had an encouter with residents in Pike County on Health Care Reform. I was somewhat critical of the staffer's handling and like most things I see in this world, well, I felt I could've done a better job in that situation than he did. However, I did not have all the facts on the meeting. (I did not present the video either since I felt it was played to death). Anyway, here is the side of the staff person, Ed Zygmunt who was there and by all accounts had a tough assignment. Here's what he wrote to me, not in his defense but an explanation of what happened and why he reacted the way he did.

I am Rep. Carney's field representative who was held against my will by a threatening crowd in the Pike County Commissioner's office on August 4, 2009. I would like to make you aware of a few important facts relating to this incident. As publicized in advance of my visit to Pike County, I was there to conduct my regularly scheduled monthly constituent outreach, where my main responsibility is to assist Rep. Carney's constituents one person at a time with personal matters such as resolving problems with social security and veterans benefits. I also on occasion discuss timely legislative issues if a constituent wishes to. No constituent is ever turned away. All such meetings are always held in a small private room next to the Commissioners' office. These are not public meetings and are not advertised as so in the newspaper. I was not informed in advance that such a large crowd wished to "discuss" pending health care legislation with me with the media present.
When I was encountered by the large, irate crowd that day, I was being followed by a television camera, a newspaper reporter with a tape recorder, a woman with a video camera, and an attorney. I immediately phoned Rep.Carney's district director to make him aware of the situation. I was instructed to offer to meet with the constituents in private without the presence of the media. So when I told the crowd that I would be happy to meet with them in private, they became very loud and threatening. When I tried to exit the room, I found the door was locked. At that point I realized I was trapped in a very volatile situation. I knew I was being recorded while the group tried to provoke a confrontation that would make a sensational video. But I also knew enough not to take the bait. I made the best of a very bad situation. I would rather appear "inert", as you described me, or even be called a coward, than lose my temper which could have resulted in violence. What the youtube video conveniently fails to show was the county sheriff finally entering the room from another door and me informing him that I was locked inside the room against my will. If you listen carefully to the youtube video, you can hear someone saying that the door was locked. You can also see the hand and arm of the county sheriff unlocking the door directly behind me. So when I appear in the the video, I hope everyone fully understands that I was being recorded against my will while being held against my will. Of course the person who produced and posted the video didn't disclose this tiny little fact. I know you as a fair and accurate person. I would appreciate it if you would set the record straight in your political letter. When all the drama was over, I went on to meet privately for over two hours with 14 of Rep. Carney's constituents where we discussed health care legislation, solutons to America's energy challenges, and a personal social security matter. I have passed along their suggestions and concerns to the Congressman.
Being a public servant is a thankless job sometimes. I appreciate the clarifications and comments from Mr. Zygmunt. The facts are though that politics has changed drastically since the addition of YOU TUBE as a means of instant video gathering. And like statistics, even with a video, you can make them say whatever you want them to. We hope by giving you Ed Zygmunt's account, we cleared up what actually happened there.


At 11:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Contrast Kevin Murphy's behavior with everyone else's in Harrisburg. The voters in his district made a very, very good decision. Go Kevin!!!!

At 12:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Dave: I know you're pissed about the budget process. But I must tell you that once more in lauding Mr. Murphy and having Mr. Zygmunt have his say on the Carney matter, you have once more demonstrated your fairness on your site. Thanks for that.

At 12:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didnt think Rep Murphy was the sharpest guy when I voted for him,
but I decided to give him a chance.
At this point I'm glad I did. He appears to be the only state rep with a sense of the everyday people. Good to have Shimkus gone and this guy in the game. He may not accomplish much but he is displaying character and thats a plus these days.

Taylor Jack


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