Publisher’s Note: This is the first of two articles dealing with the town hall in Greensburg, PA. The second article will deal with a particular accusation that was made that I feel demands an explanation and an apology from both Americans For Prosperity and Senator Ward.
As a long-time advocate for School Property Tax Elimination through HB/SB 76 it’s always exciting to go into new territory with a town hall to explain the nuts and bolts of 76. I do find it odd that a seated Senator who was a co-sponsor of the legislation manged to keep such an important bill secret with regards to her own constituents.
Even more odd is finding yourself being questioned for going in to a district where you do not reside for the purpose of explaining a piece of legislation to the constituents in that district, especially when the questioning of the motives is come from a seated legislator.
You might recall that our Commonwealth has it’s own Constitution. You might also recall that Article 1 of the Constitution is a declaration of our rights as citizens of this commonwealth. Finally, you might recall that Section 20 of Article 1 says this:
The citizens have a right in a peaceable manner to assemble together for their common good, and to apply to those invested with the powers of government for redress of grievances or other proper purposes by petition, address or remonstrance.
That right is not debatable…that right should not be questioned….certainly not by a legislator who took an oath of office where they swore to uphold the Constitution of this Commonwealth.
On Thursday night citizens came together to hold a town hall to discuss the merits of SB 76. Part of the purpose of that town hall was to demonstrate directly from the legislation and from the Independent Fiscal Office matters about this legislation which have been rife with misinformation.
The vast majority of the room in attendance were from Westmoreland County and the overwhelming majority in that room, once they heard the truth about SB 76 were very supportive of the legislation. Yes there were a handful of us who were from outside the district.
There were those who expressed the rights to stand outside before the town hall and demonstrate. I had an excellent conversation with two gentleman as we talked about details on the bill and attempted to address their concerns. There was nothing confrontational in the discussion. They asked fair questions and we attempted to provide them with reasonable responses.
This interaction apparently irritated a woman protester who would only identify herself as a director of Americans For Prosperity as she interrupted the conversation to turn it into a fear-mongering personal attack. I guess I’m just too used to that….when you can’t defend your position on principle you have to resort to the Saul Alinsky playbook to make wild personal attacks.
Note: Since this post was originally made Beth Anne Mumford of Americans for Prosperity stated that no one from Americans For Prosperity attended our meeting so the claims of this woman were false. That means this woman’s claim about who she was representing was false. So who was she and why did she fabricate such an exaggeration? Can any of her other claims be trusted?
If these people are supporters of Senator Ward, she needs to call them out. They are only undermining her!
One such wild accusation was that by promoting Property Tax Independence we were somehow promoting widespread Communism. A main plank of The Communist Manifesto is the abolition of Private Property even though SB 76 seeks to restore the rights of the property to where it belongs….to the individual.
These types of unfounded accusations are levied only to spread dissent and to generate fear-mongering to keep people from focusing on the actual mechanics of SB 76. It is intended to create and generate partisan division on a bill that is non-partisan. In this case it was a blind attack by a woman claiming to represent Americans for Prosperity in making the claim that only Republicans are good and Democrats are evil and anyone who sides with this legislation can’t possibly be a Republican….they must be a COMMUNIST!
Attempts were made through their signs to bring claims of support for the legislation by people like Bernie Sanders and Barrack Obama. Actually I don’t know if they support the bill and certainly the protesters did not know if they did or didn’t either. Facts really don’t seem to matter and some of them would have said anything to create divide and dissension. The woman who identified herself as a Director for Americans For Prosperity did exactly that.
This is a simple divisive tactic intended to divide the non-partisan support of the legislation from people in both parties who are coming together to fight for the preservation of their personal and individual rights to their own homes.
The tactic failed miserably. Ron Boltz gave the main presentation speaking about the details of the legislation, how it works and how it is funded. Until a video is made available of the night’s presentation you can watch this similar presentation by David Baldinger. A similar slideshow was used and the structure of the discussion was also similar.
During the course of the presentation the overwhelming majority in the room welcomed the information they heard with resounding applause. As with David’s video, Ron Boltz’s presentation showed, directly from the Independent Fiscal Office report, the misinformation being spread about the legislation. He demonstrated clearly that the alleged and often cited shortfall is not a shortfall at all but a future cap on education spending that translates into a tax-savings for the average homeowner.
We all agree that the path we are on is unsustainable and everyone in the room agreed with that as well. This is a bill that actually does something about it while restoring the right to property to its rightful place.
I followed Ron to explain the myth of Local Control by showing the people in the room the volumes of regulations that fuel the many unfunded mandates that are paid for through the local Property Tax.
A panel was then assembled to take questions from the audience each bringing their own expertise and knowledge to the night’s meeting. The few verbal dissenters who had protested outside had already left the room apparently uninterested in facts. Some remained, at least those willing to open their minds enough to hear the truth.
Frankly, I was honored to be a part of this presentation and I have to commend the coordinators of the event for the way in which they respectfully presented the material, dispelled misinformation.
I spent another hour after the meeting was over talking with others present for the meeting and the general consensus of that dialogue was an interest in learning what they can do to help advance the issue in Westmoreland County.
After all, that is the goal and that is what we have found no matter where we have gone to give this presentation. If you come with an open mind and a willingness to learn what this bill is and how it works, support follows.
Or, as Carol King once sang “You can’t talk to a man, when he don’t wanna understand!” but then maybe that’s showing my age.
A blog post will come along a little later dealing with one particular accusation that I find very disturbing. I know for a fact that attributing this statement to the person it is being attributed to is an outright lie but I don’t want to cloud the overall positive aspect of this meeting to give voice to the lying dissenters.