As anyone who read’s my blog knows, I’ve been very active in pushing for School Property Tax Elimination in Pennsylvania. Along with people like David Baldinger, Ron Boltz and Dean Klopp we have worked with legislators, attended countless internal meetings and participating in town halls held across the state of Pennsylvania. I met with Governor Wolf and have also met with Senators Argall and Folmer and House Rep Jim Cox on many occasions concerning this important legislation. I am also a chair of a local citizen’s advocacy group where one of our key issues has been the Property Tax problem in this state. I have testified before the Senate on this issue, once before the finance committee and another time before an economic development hearing. I was on WITF to defend the legislation facing opposition from representatives from NFIB and the Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce. I organized two rallies in Harrisburg in support of SB 76 to eliminate the school property tax.
Because of my activism for this issue, Ron Boltz and I met with the Governor at his request. During our meetings with the Governor and his staff, a local funding option was discussed. We knew this would not work for the majority of the school districts. We had already put countless hours into collecting that data in the early days in the formation of this legislation and we continued to work to update that data. After reviewing that data, they agreed, if property taxes were to be eliminated it had to be through a state source.
When this bill was coming up for a vote in 2015, I was one of a handful of people involved in internal meetings as we worked to try to ascertain the votes to get the bill passed. It turned out to be a tie vote with Lt. Governor Mike Stack casting a vote to break the tie. It was a defeat of the legislation that left a bitter taste in my mouth. There were a few who had used this issue during their campaigns the assure their election but when it actually came time to vote for it, they jumped ship and voted against it. They betrayed their promise to us and to the people in their district.
I’ve been closely involved with this issue for about 9 years. I believe it’s one of the most important issues facing Pennsylvania. I also have learned during that time that vocal support for the legislation is not proof of a vote in support when push comes to shove.
I really don’t like to write what I’m about to write but if I didn’t feel it was important. I wouldn’t do it. There are clarifications that must be made to set the record straight with some of things going on behind the scenes in the ongoing debate between Scott Wagner and Paul Mango.
As we came in to this year’s governor’s race and group of grassroots leaders came together to form a coalition and interview the candidate for the Governor’s race, naturally the issue of property tax was foremost on my mind during these interviews.
All of this is to demonstrate that when it comes to the issue of school property taxation, I am personally involved and that includes being involved on the inside. Sometimes that means I have to silent about specifics that take place in these private meetings and I have tried to respect that. The generalities of those meetings however does not have to maintained.
I’ve never had any reason to doubt Scott Wagner’s support of School Property Tax Elimination. He became a co-sponsor of the legislation almost immediately after he won his special election. Scott has been a part of many of the internal meetings that I’ve attended concerning the School Property Tax Elimination legislation. I have solid information from other legislators that Scott Wagner has pushed this issue behind the scenes in meetings where I was not a participant. He was not just a name on a co-sponsor’s list. He was working behind the scenes to get it done. When the vote on SB 76 took place in 2015, he voted for it.
When Paul Mango announced his candidacy, I had reason to be concerned. He had already given interviews concerning the plan to eliminate the school property tax through HB/SB 76 and it was very clear that he was not a supporter of the legislation.
Paul Mango had been a guest on the Sue Henry radio talk show on WILK (http://www.wilknewsradio.com/media/audio-channel/wilks-sue-henry-republican-paul-mango-running-pa-governor: go to the 14 minute mark of the interview) in June of 2017. In the interview, he stated he was in favor of eliminating or reducing the school property tax but then went on the criticize 76. His talking points were straight out of the playbook of the PSEA, the Chamber and other opposing groups. This was for good reason. He states in the interview that he talked to school district administrators and he was literally repeating their opposition talking points which have been refuted time and again.
Paul Mango criticized the tax shift using their 60% increase in PIT taxes. This is always a tactic used by our opposition to create shock and rejection. The truth is that the PIT would increase by 1.88%; less than 2 cents of every dollar earned. This is necessary to provide the dollar for dollar replacement of the money collected statewide from property taxes. Paul Mango stated his concern that 76 would drive the high income earners out of the state because of this PIT increase even though the PIT in many other states is higher than ours or they use graduated steps when those same people, Paul Mango claimed to be so concerned about, would be paying more in PIT revenue. He ignored that we are already watching an exodus of population in Pennsylvania largely because the property tax is making home-ownership unaffordable for many young working families in the state. He also choose to ignore that people were actually losing their homes to this tax. Thankfully, Sue Henry was there to point this out.
When the central Pa Tri-County Coalition met with him to interview him we had the opportunity to address his criticism and lay out the details of the bill. During that interview Paul Mango told us that he read the bill and understood it which concerned me because his criticism of the bill in those interviews contradicted the facts concerning the legislation. He re-addressed those concerns, which again, are not part of the bill he claimed to have read. By the end of the conversation, however, he agreed to sign a pledge that “If elected Governor, he would sign the bill if it came to his desk”
It was a start. He also agreed to have further discussion on this matter. Those discussions followed with a series of phone conversations with his staff where the same old criticisms of the legislation kept resurfacing. We provided them with data sets that backed up our positions that his local funding methods would not work.
They told us that they agreed and they told us they would support 76. Then Paul Mango gave an interview to the Caucus where he again returned to his preferred support of a local option, which we proved to him would not work. He repeated his previous claims of opposition to the legislation.
In the interview he returned to the local funding mentality. He states “I would not want the money to flow through Harrisburg” and then keeps going back to a local income tax to replace the funding. That simply won’t work. There are so many factors at play including the factor that in 3rd class cities where many lower income families live, there is PIT tax forgiveness for a family of four earning under $34,000. Under 76, that stays the same so the tax shift of 76 has far less impact on lower income working families. This point is often ignored by our opponents as they fight against claiming that the tax shift will hurt the poor while ignoring that its the property tax that is crushing the lower income working families. Paul Mango states his concern but he appears to be more concerned about protecting the higher income earners by pushing that tax burden on those earning less which is exactly what the property tax is already doing. The property tax, in all our studies, demonstrates that it is the most regressive tax in this state and you can read more about that in other places on this blog.
The simple truth is that SB 76 will not work unless we use a state funding source. That was clearly explained to Paul Mango and his staff. They went so far as to agree with us when talking to us but then stated a very different position afterwards.
He also misrepresents the lock-box provision of the legislation in the Caucus interview where he says “We saw it with Act 89. They are not using the dollars as we talked about for what it was supposed to.” This is right after he says he “read the whole bill, all 138 pages of it.”
The lock box is a critical component of the legislation that does not allow it to be raided for other purposes, unlike Act 89.
In the interview with the Caucus, Paul Mango then criticizes the remaining debt portion of the bill. This was something he also did on the Sue Henry interview where he misrepresents the retained debt portion implying that schools districts can extend or add to retained debt. That’s simply not true.
I can go on but I think you can see where this is going. He doesn’t really support the bill.
Then, following the backlash of his opposition in the Caucus, Paul Mango contacts us and says that he didn’t realize that HB/SB 76 was a grassroots bill and that now he is, once again, a supporter.
I’m sorry but a bill doesn’t become a good bill simply because it’s a grassroots bill. HB/SB 76 is a very good bill that had a great deal of grassroots support coupled to legislators who helped us put this whole thing together. We were a critical part at every stage of the development of this legislation. They took our concept and helped us to turn that concept into solid legislation and that wasn’t an easy task. The many hours of detailed analysis and study to make sure that this was the fairest way to find the replacement revenue to eliminate the property tax can never be underestimated.
In both the Caucus interview and in our interview with Paul mango he made the claim that he had read the bill. I’m not going to question that. If he says he read the bill I’ll take him at his word but it does make me question his reading comprehension skills if the claim of reading the Bill is true. If he did and he really understood it, he wouldn’t be saying the things he’s saying. I find that very frustrating.
More recently, Paul Mango is claiming that he fully supports SB 76. He’s on the campaign trail using the very same rhetoric that others used in their claims of support for SB 76 but I’ve been down this road before and I doubt that what Paul Mango is saying on the campaign trail is accurately reflecting how he really feels behind the scenes on that legislation. Claimed support on the campaign trail will help him secure much needed votes just like it secured votes for Kim Ward and Tom McGarrigle who then voted against the legislation when it mattered. While I appreciate that he’s talking about it, which does help to spread the word, in the process supporters of Paul Mango are ignoring the shifting positions on this legislation. Maybe the simple reminder that Scott Wagner has been supporting the School Property Tax Elimination position all along and has worked with us in tweaking this legislation to make it the best it can be is worth mentioning here. The same, however, cannot be said about Paul Mango.
There is a pattern here with regards to SB 76, that those of us who have worked so hard on the inside in pushing this legislation, have seen time and again. We all know it happens. It should come as no shock to us but yet is still does!
We all know that we elect people to office who tell us one thing on the campaign trail only to get elected and then turn their backs on their promises. My dilemma remains: Which Paul Mango do I believe; the Paul Mango that has been openly critical, returning to the same negative talking points about the legislation, or the Paul Mango that goes out on the campaign trail and promises to support it. They are, after all, diametrically opposing views.
The evidence that people want School Property Tax elimination is overwhelming. In Poll after Poll elimination through 76 wins. The statewide ballot initiative reinforces that position. If you follow the polls, then a savvy candidate will go out to the constituents and sell a position that reflects the polls but, as they always say, the devil is the details and when Paul Mango gets into the details his stated positions on the details of the legislation demonstrates that he does not really support SB 76.
I was willing to stay out of this debate until I was brought into it by Paul Mango where, at a recent campaign event, he made the claim that he talked to us and we trust his support of this legislation. I will not speak for the others but I don’t.
I also know that this will draw the ire of the Paul Mango supporters because it already has. In spite of the public comments, in spite of the Sue Henry interview, my personal conversation with Paul Mango has been called unverifiable by them because I didn’t record the interview and because I don’t have a written transcript of that dialogue. I’m just supposed to ignore, as they are, the highly critical statements made by Paul Mango after we had our discussions with him and now just blindly accept that he supports the legislation. I’m sorry but I can’t go there.
Some of my friends who just haven’t drunk the Paul Mango Kool-aid are noticing a trend. If anyone posts anything that questions Paul Mango, his supporters come out of the woodwork and go on a rabid attack of Scott Wagner. In that process they don’t defend the inconsistencies of Paul Mango. The simply try to turn the question into an excuse to bash Scott Wagner. In doing so they repeat misrepresentations or they attack the messenger all while avoiding simply explaining the inconsistencies with Paul Mango on some important issues. I expect that I’ll find much of the same.
When it comes to the property tax, here is the simple truth. Among the Mango supporters, none of them is even remotely tied to this issue the way people like David Baldinger, Myself or Ron Boltz have. None of them knows what we know. As Walter Brennan used to say in “The Guns of Will Sonnett“: “No brag, just facts!”
When it comes to this particular issue, we know what we are talking about because we’ve been there, in the inside and we’ve seen things that many simply don’t see. And it goes further than that….
In the candidate interviews as part of my part of the Central Pa Tri-County Coalition, I didn’t stop with the interviews. Nor did Ron Boltz. It’s just foolish to blindly take any candidate at their word believing that they wouldn’t misrepresent the truth to us. Don’t get me wrong, their are good guys out there but there’s a lot of bad guys too. There are more than enough politicians who will tell you anything just to get elected and that’s nothing new. That’s been going on as long as there have been free and open elections. You have to dig to get to the truth.
We’ve done extensive research that includes looking at previous voting records (not just as a legislator) but as a private citizen. This was especially important to my own research. I’ve looked into campaign donations by these individuals to other candidates. I believe this to be far more reflective of the candidate I’m researching because individual financial support demonstrates a personal investment and commitment.
Personally, I don’t give to State Party or local party committee’s because I know that money might wind up supporting a candidate that I would otherwise oppose in an election. Unlike people who can afford to donate thousands and more to political campaigns, my financial resources are limited. I jealously guard the limited financial resources I have to only give directly to a candidate that I have taken the time to study.
As someone who passionately opposed Common Core indoctrination in our Public Schools, I find the financial support of Jeb Bush in the presidential election of 2015-16 greatly disturbing and yet the majority of Paul Mango’s financial support went to backing Jeb Bush and his Right To Rise PAC in that Presidential election. It is no surprise to anyone who has done the research that Jeb Bush was a huge proponent of Common Core. I find it difficult to accept that one would give over $30,000 to a political candidate who openly advocated for Common Core and not know it. If they didn’t, that demonstrates a lack of fiscal accountability to me. Elections are important. Elections have consequences. I would hope that we have all learned that lesson by now.
Equally alarming to me is the fact that the only candidate from Pennsylvania that Paul Mango gave financial support to was Pat Toomey. I’ve found no records of financial support to any Pennsylvania General Assembly candidates from Paul Mango or financial support to any of the judges in an election that allowed Democrats to seize a majority leading to the debacle we now have with the Congressional maps. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe there are records out there but it’s not registered on followthemoney.org and other place where this information is accessible to the public.
Not only am I unable to find where Paul Mango offered financial support to these races, he didn’t even bother to vote in many of the Pennsylvania elections. And now he wants to be our Governor.
In an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (http://www.post-gazette.com/early-returns/erstate/2017/06/07/Paul-Mango-candidate-governor-pittsburgh-businessman-spotty-voting-record/stories/201706070149) Paul Mango is quoted as follows:
“I wish I would have been more active politically earlier in my life,” Mr. Mango said in a statement issued by his campaign. “I did vote in every general election and have supported Republicans here in our state and nationally. I want for my family what every Pennsylvanian wants for theirs, a chance at the American dream, and that dream is fading here in our Commonwealth.”
Those are nice words but as the article goes on to explain, Paul Mango is being less than honest with those words when it comes to his voting records:
“According to Allegheny County voter records dating back to 1988, the Pittsburgh business consultant has failed to vote in every primary contest through 2015. (He did vote in the 2016 and 2017 primaries.) He has also frequently failed to vote in the November general election in odd-numbered years: He has voted only in four such elections out of 15 that have been held since 1988.”
I find this to be even more troubling. Look, I know that I’m a political junkie and I know that I get in the mire of things where the general public usually doesn’t go but misrepresenting your own actions to the public where there is evidence, if you are willing to look, that proves otherwise bothers me. Far too many people seeking office, however, know that the average voter doesn’t look into the backgrounds. They simply don’t have the time or lack the knowledge of knowing where to start to do the digging that should be done before casting their vote of support for a candidate.
It goes beyond the Property Tax and Paul Mango’s voting record. I’ve found conflicting information in other areas as well. The most troubling aspect in all of this is Paul’s Mango position as a partner in the Pittsburgh Office of McKinsey and Company. Paul Mango tells us that his business, in reference to McKinsey, is responsible for the creation of hundreds of jobs in the state. If this is true, then Paul Mango is a very influential part of McKinsey and Company. The truth, however is questionable.
The following appeared in a 2017 article on Penn-Live (http://www.pennlive.com/capitol-notebook/2017/07/friends_call_gop_guv_hopeful_p_1.html):
That’s because despite making extravagant claims about Mango’s skills as a job-creator, Mango’s campaign couldn’t produce a single example – anywhere in Pennsylvania – where he had done that.
In fact, the record of Mango’s former employer, McKinsey & Co, suggests that they are wizards in the black arts of corporate downsizing.
Paul Mango’s position at McKinsey is often spun as being a healthcare consultant which creates a very different impression from the reality of what his position was. McKinsey is a consulting firm hired by government and businesses, they do not offer healthcare advice to the general public, just on the policy that will impact the General Public. To make matters worse, that policy hasn’t made healthcare choices better for the general public. Some of that policy generated financial rewards to the healthcare industry and insurance companies at the expense of the working families.
Consider the following: McKinsey’s involvement in key policy issues that have given us things like the Affordable Healthcare Act is deeply troubling to me. In 2009, the magazine The Economist included this quote from Paul Mango (https://www.economist.com/node/14031432)
The government gives hospitals some money to compensate them for this, but the AHA says it does not cover the full cost, which it put at $34 billion in 2007 (around 5% of hospitals’ annual revenues), up from $3.9 billion in 1980. Paul Mango of McKinsey, a consultancy, estimates that the hospitals recover only 10-12% of this cost. But he says the problem would be greatly reduced under a system of universal health-insurance…
Paul Mango’s statement concerning universal healthcare is more concerned about ensuring maximum benefit to hospitals while not so much about the fact that the shift to a universal healthcare system impact on the affordability of healthcare for the average joe. This is typical of McKinsey’s terminology where they talk about “investment opportunites” and by that they mean you and me. It’s about exploiting us for their profit. I’ll cover that more in part 2 of this article.
On the campaign trail Paul Mango represent another diametrically different opinion of this topic. Again, which Paul Mango should I believe?
At the center of this election the matter of Scott Wagner’s support of a non-discrimination bill has been twisted and maligned going so far as to accuse Scott Wagner of being pro-choice. Again, this simply isn’t true.
Scott Wagner supported a non-discrimination bill that would have protected the rights of the LGBT community when it came to matters of jobs and housing. Scott Wagner has never supported the belief that men should be using bathrooms that are designated for a woman’s use. A provision in the bill makes it appear that the legislation allowed for that but that interpretation of the language in the bill has been highly debated.
Taking that and then attacking Scott Wagner as someone who is then pro-choice is absolutely astounding. Scott Wagner’s voting record proves the exact opposite. In fact, the misrepresentations have gotten so out-of-hand that the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation put out a clarification of Scott Wagner’s position on Right To Life. They said:
“[s]ome individuals who call themselves a name similar to the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation have put out a false report, suggesting that state Senator Scott Wagner is not pro-life. Wagner, a candidate for Governor in the May 15, 2018 Pennsylvania Primary Election, has a 100 percent pro-life voting record, has co-sponsored pro-life bills, sponsored a bus to the March for Life, and distributed a clear statement condemning Roe v. Wade, the tragic U.S. Supreme Court ruling which legalized abortion nationwide.”
Don’t miss one part of that. Scott Wagner personally supported a bus for the March For Life Rally. What has Paul Mango personally done to combat the plague of abortion in our nation? Yet we are simply supposed to take the word of Paul Mango and his supporters on this important issue.
The issue and promotion of this misrepresentation by Paul Mango and his supporters has gone so far that the State Republican Committee chair, Val DiGiorgio felt it necessary to come out and set the record straight. Paul Mango simply isn’t telling the truth. Val Digiorgio says:
“Scott Wagner has been a leader in the fight to protect the unborn in Pennsylvania. As a cosponsor of legislation that would eliminate dismemberment abortions, ban abortions after 20 weeks and defund Planned Parenthood, Scott’s pro-life record has been justly praised by organizations like the Pennsylvania Pro-life Federation.”
This led me to question some of the other things coming out of the Mango camp regarding Scott Wagner. Let’s look at McKinsey’s official position of LGBT issues. One division of McKinsey and Company is their organization called GLAM. It is LGBT centered allowing GLAM to drive policy for McKinsey and Company.
On their own website they tell us how they push GLAM:
McKinsey is a founding sponsor of groups such as Reaching Out MBA in the United States and Brazil, Out for Undergraduates in Business, IvyQ, and Open for Business, a business-led coalition focused on the business and economic case for global LGBTQ rights.
You will find our LGBTQ consultants at many schools meeting with students and providing insight into the working and welcoming environment at McKinsey.
You can’t have it both ways. It’s hypocritical, to my way of thinking, to be attacking Scott Wagner for holding the same positions as McKinsey, in fact positions that far exceed Scott Wagner, while working as a partner at McKinsey with the influence in the company that Paul Mango claims to have had.
How much policy has GLAM, through McKinsey, pushed through the legislative process? Getting to the root of that is very difficult because McKinsey seems to like the position of being one of the most influential political consulting firms that few in public know anything about. In fact the standard statement out of McKinsey when questioned about their consulting positions is that they don’t talk about their involvement with the clients they consult. The positions being given to the firms they consult is not public knowledge and they want to keep it that way.
Then there is this simple fact: In 2017, the Governor contracted with an outside firm using $1.8 million dollars of taxpayer funds to offer a no-bid contract to the consulting firm of McKinsey and Company to help him draft his budget proposal for 2017-18. This was at a time when Pennsylvania was facing a $700 million budget shortfall. Most of this happened out of public scrutiny since Steffi Langner, a spokeswoman for McKinsey, said it is her firm’s policy not to discuss any of its work with clients.
Scott Wagner came out highly critical of this effort by the Governor. Pennsylvania was already facing a $700 million budget gap and hiring an outside consulting firm when we have Departments, Agencies and Commissions within the government whose job it is to do what they paid McKinsey and Company $1.8 million dollars to do really troubles me. To then be told that the public isn’t supposed to know what McKinsey consulted with the Governor because that’s not their policy even though that money came from taxes collected from us, not from the Governor, angers me.
Paul Mango announced his candidacy after Scott Wagner went after the Governor and McKinsey. We’ll have to draw our own conclusions on that one.
This is already too long, which I guess my readers are now somewhat used to, but I will be doing a follow-up to this article where I explore McKinsey’s connections to the push for Common Core. The public needs to know more about McKinsey and Company and what they do. You may be shocked at how much of our taxpayer dollars are being used to fund McKinsey’s and Company’s bottom line.
Their role in the promotion of Common Core and their role is advancing Sustainable Development ideologies coupled to their use of something they call “Big Data” should be something of concern to anyone interested in protecting personal Liberty. More on that to come….