Petty Politics in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has a still-new governor, and like all governors, he gets to pick the people he wants to run certain parts of his government, subject to confirmation by his state’s senate. One of the positions he gets to fill is that of commissioner of the Pennsylvania state police. The governor’s nominee, Marcus Brown, comes to the job with good credentials: deputy commissioner of the Baltimore police department, chief of the Maryland Transportation Authority police department, and secretary of the Maryland state police.

But it’s now June and Brown still hasn’t been confirmed by Pennsylvania’s state senate.

Why not?

Well, for starters, he was well-known for pushing diversity initiatives in his Maryland jobs and that doesn’t sit well either with many elected officials in Pennsylvania or with current state troopers. Pennsylvania, you see, isn’t a very diverse state: 83.2 percent white (the national figure is 77 percent), 11.5 percent Black (nationally, it’s 13.2 percent), and 6.3 percent Hispanic (nationally, 17.1 percent). This objection isn’t articulated publicly very much, but it’s clearly a concern for many.

Second, those same state troopers are unhappy that their new boss wasn’t promoted from their own ranks. Brown grew up in Pennsylvania, though, earned his bachelor’s degree at Penn State, and reportedly lived in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania for much of the time he was working in Maryland (they’re only about 75 miles apart).

And third, and this is the real reason, Pennsylvania state troopers are furious that Brown has…

…get ready for it…

…decided that, like many people who lead police departments, his regular work uniform will be that of the Pennsylvania state police.

And the state troopers are angry because they believe Brown has no right to wear that uniform because he never attended the academy where Pennsylvania state troopers are trained.


No right.

He shouldn’t wear the uniform because he didn’t attend the academy.

He’d be the boss of every state trooper, including those who run and work at the academy, but he shouldn’t be permitted to wear the uniform – and current state troopers believe it’s an insult to each and every one of them that he wears it. In fact, a group of retired state troopers has gone so far as to create a Facebook page dedicated to preventing Brown from getting the job.

Of course, Pennsylvania’s new governor is a Democrat and its state senate is overwhelmingly Republican, so the Republicans have decided to stand with the state troopers on this issue so far. (And this isn’t one of The Curmudgeon’s usual shots at Republicans. He’s confident that if the parties of the governor and the majority party in the senate were reversed, Democrats would do the same thing.)

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported

Sen. Scott Wagner (R., York) said the uniform issue alone was reason enough for him to vote against Brown’s nomination.


(Wagner has a penchant for incendiary speech, which The Curmudgeon has written about before.)

Normally, the senate committee that reviews a given nomination votes for or against that nomination, and if it votes for it the nomination it then goes to the full senate. In this case, the Senate Law and Judiciary Committee voted not to take a position on Brown’s nomination and instead sent it directly to the senate for a vote next week.

It’s amazing the mountains some public officials can make out of such little molehills and not so amazing how little those officials sometimes accomplish because they cannot resist allowing knucklehead stuff like this to distract them from the work their constituents elected them to do.




Pennsylvania Political Follies, Part Two

In the wake of the recent Supreme Court decisions that expanded gay rights, an openly gay member of the Pennsylvania state legislature took advantage of the time the legislature sets aside for members to speak about any subject they wish to sing the court’s praises.

He was shouted down by some of his fellow legislators.  One of the shouter-downers, Representative Daryl Metcalfe, later told the public radio station in Philadelphia that

I did not believe that as a member of that body that I should allow someone to make comments such as he was preparing to make that ultimately were just open rebellion against what the word of God has said, what God has said, and just open rebellion against God’s law.

Isn’t it nice that a public official uses his office to serve as a spokesman for his religion rather than a representative of his constituents?  And isn’t it nice that Metcalfe, about whom The Curmudgeon has written in the past, understands neither the separation between church and state nor the first amendment right to freedom of speech?  And isn’t it nice that Metcalfe and his friends chose to demonstrate that lack of understanding during an official session of the Pennsylvania General Assembly?

Pennsylvania politics:  never enlightening but always entertaining.

Pennsylvania Political Follies, Part One

Count Pennsylvania among the states with no plans to make it easier for its residents to qualify for Medicaid – even though the federal government, through the much-maligned Obamacare, promises to foot most of the bill.


Look no further than the governor’s mansion, where Tom Corbett appears to have more conspiracy theories than the John Birch Society and its grandson, the tea party.

Corbett recently addressed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s “America’s Small Business Summit,” and after Maine Governor Paul LePage finished telling the gathered about how he’s advising small business owners to screw the law (and their employees) and pay a fine rather than help their workers get health insurance, Corbett took to the podium and confessed that he goes along with the crackpots who think the whole Obamacare thing is a liberal plot to get businesses to push their employees into health insurance exchanges and make the whole thing so discouraging that the country will move into the single-payer health system that Republicans fear so much – sort of Medicare for everyone, except that non-seniors would pay premiums for their insurance.

Corbett – no relation to the character “Tom Corbett” played by Bill Bixby in the 1969-1972 sitcom The Courtship of Eddie’s Father (take brief nostalgia detour here) – apparently buys into this.  According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,

“I see the whole thing collapsing and, potentially, in the long run that may have been the plan,” Mr. Corbett told summit attendees Monday. “I’m a prosecutor. I believe in conspiracies.”

The inmates appear to be running the asylum in Pennsylvania.  Maybe it’s a good thing Obamacare covers mental health services, too.

(More Pennsylvania political follies on Friday.  Stay tuned.)