Monday, November 7, 2011

The Pennsylvania Puzzle

It happens every ten years.  The state house and senate districts are re-drawn according to the latest census.  The party in power draws the boundaries to help themselves.  The party not in power cries "foul."  After it's all settled, occasionally with help from the courts, it's business as usual in the General Assembly.

A fellow blogger pointed this out-- Does the average citizen care?

My state representative seems like a decent chap.  I don't know much about my state senator.  He keeps a rather low profile.  Both appear to adequate.  It is the house and senate, as a whole, where the problems lie.  The bodies are bloated, and they don't like to make tough decisions.  Banning texting while driving was a no brainier.  The debate over privatizing the liquor system has been going on for years, and it's not even close to being decided.  The anti smoking legislation is so weak and watered down, it doesn't please either side.  A recent reform package was laughable, and now the general assembly is backtracking on some elements.

You see, the street where you live is irrelevant.  It's the culture of elected official self preservation that keeps getting us in to trouble.

There are some exceptions.  One state rep leaves a trail of unpaid bills.  Another's love of per diems got him voted out of office.  I wouldn't be comfortable with either representing me, so, yes, there are times when your district does make a difference.

Some elected officials are unhappy with counties carved up among multiple districts.  Sorry.  That's the way it goes.  The constitution calls for an equal number of citizens per district.  Despite the protests, there's not a lot of evidence to suggest that citizens really benefit from a unified county.

In spite of it all, voting remains our best weapon, and please don't forget to do that tomorrow.

Speaking of Pennsylvania, I have to mention that sex scandal at Penn State University in State College.  To bring you up to speed, former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky is accused of sexually assaulting children.

Athletic Director Tim Curley and Finance/Business VP Gary Schultz allegedly knew about it, did nothing, and lied to investigators.  They are charged with perjury.

State prosecutors allege a student told Joe Paterno about Sandusky's actions, and Paterno went to Curley about it.  I'm okay with that. 

Many questions remain.  When Curley sat on the allegations, why didn't Paterno go further?  Maybe he did, and we just don't know.  Maybe Curley lied to Paterno about what he was doing in regards to Sandusky.

Let's look at the big picture.  Penn State is close to leading the nation in the number of student athlete arrests.  Add to that the apparent negligence and irresponsibility of those in power during the Sandusky episode, and you have a culture of reckless and indefensible behavior.

Some state lawmakers are already promising an investigation, and I welcome it, even though hearings often produce few results.  It's just representatives and senators preening for the cameras and pandering to the public.

There are some real problems at PSU, and it's clear even though those accused are innocent until proven guilty, it's high time for new direction in Penn State athletics.