The recent decisions by the courts to eliminate all but one candidate from the Ballot in the 102nd might seem reasonable to the casual reader who has only been told a part of the story but the devil, as they say, is in the details and those details certainly deserve some exposure.
We have election laws in Pennsylvania that have been put in place but an appointed board, not through elected representatives as some would have us believe. Many have questioned the Constitutionality of these laws, including the remaining candidate, but that’s a debate for another day. I would like to specifically address the laws when it comes to the objectors who filed these challenges.
The law clearly states that the objector must personally serve the candidate with a CD or flash drive that has been formatted to a state approved spreadsheet and that the candidate being challenged was to be personally supplied with this no later than 5:00 pm on March 26, 2014 along with certification of delivery. In the case of Wanda Bechtold, this never happened. The rules also state that the Objector shall immediately arrange to meet with the Candidate or Candidate’s representative to review with the candidate each and every challenged line on the petition. This also never happened. Mr. Diamond stated that the rules are available to all and easy to follow. Why is it then that the objectors didn’t follow those rules? In my opinion, it’s a sad state of affairs when a candidate who wants to serve the people of their state must hire an election lawyer to run their campaigns….or, for that matter, to use election lawyers to control the campaigns of others.
For these reasons and others a motion was filed to dismiss the challenges to the petition but the court, choosing to ignore the rules concerning the accusers but not the accused, decided to proceed with the hearing. In my opinion this is a most basic violation of due process and demonstrates one of the flaws of the entire petition challenge process. Those who follow these matters closely are well aware that there is little consistency in the rulings passed down by the judges appointed to review these charges. That was certainly true in the matters concerning these challenges.
Following the hearings Mr. Diamond then turned to Facebook to compare elections to a contest, as though electing candidates is some sort of game. Apparently it’s not about providing the people with a choice so that they can determine for themselves which candidate is best suited to represent them in government. That choice would be difficult for those who have gone out to hear from all three candidates at the only two public functions held this year since Mr. Diamond was not present at either of them but had sent his surrogates out to speak on his behalf. During the district committee meetings Mr. Diamond was also not present, with the exception of one district, again sending surrogates out to speak on his behalf and in some questions the surrogates could not answer questions directed to Mr. Diamond. An upcoming Town Hall to be held by him on April 14 will be by invitation only with BOLD letters stating NO EXCEPTIONS. Personally I find a Town Hall by INVITATION only something of an oxymoron.
When the Party committee held their meeting for the purpose of determining endorsements it was decided to endorse all candidates who had no challengers on the ballot, all save Mr. Diamond who only received 3 votes for endorsement. As a result of the petition challenges there will be no other candidates officially on the ballot and voters must write in another candidate if they object to Mr. Diamond. The Party Committee was fully aware of this and overwhelmingly decided not to endorse Mr. Diamond.
Thomas Jefferson once said that “No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another, and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him.” I would agree with him. John Adams stated “It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished. But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, “whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection,” and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever.” James Madison also weighed in on the law stating “It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?”
Frankly, the elections in the 102nd have left me disgusted. Beginning with a series of smear attacks against Joe Eisenhauer and Wanda Bechtold for a divorce, supposed financial problems, and a job related incident while ignoring Mr. Diamond’s divorces, bankruptcy, the proceedings of a board who tried to remove Mr. Diamond for ignoring the by-laws of that organization that, coincidentally also was related to Mr. Diamond seeking office, as well as other matters seemed particularly fowl to me. Apparently the individual/indivuduals responsible once again felt that certain rules apply to Joe and Wanda that do not apply to Mr. Diamond.
I’ve received some emails from individuals who support Mr Diamond thinking that Mr. Diamond is the best candidate because he will go to Harrisburg and create controversy. Creating controversy is not the same and finding solutions to problems. While Mr. Diamond claims to support SB 76 and this will apparently be part of his invitation only Town Hall, he has not consulted with any of the major parties involved to see what is happening with the legislation, the amendments to that legislation nor has he been involved in the promotion of this effort for the past two years as have both Wanda Bechtold and John Dissinger in the 101st. It would be unfortunate indeed if misinformation was given to the people at this town hall from an individual who really doesn’t know what’s going on with the legislation in an effort to promote an alternate plan that Mr. Diamond has suggested in the past that would call for the total elimination of property taxes giving the legislators 5 years to figure out how to determine the replacement revenue.
SB/HB 76 has built in safety measures that control the powers of the legislative body and places more control in the hands of the people. It was created with the input and work of 83 grassroots organizations across the state and is truly the people’s legislation, written by them and advanced through two years of hard work and determination to get this across the finish line. It got there, not by creating controversy but by working with citizens and organizations who are heavily impacted by the school property tax. In my opinion, the Diamond alternative is irresponsible in that the funding would be solely determined by the legislators and not by the people, but then that brings us back to the beginning of this post. Maybe Mr. Diamond truly does believe that the law is more important than the people.