Monday, November 24, 2008

A great way to save $200k

An Ugarte post:

A friend asked me to post this recent email to the House Democratic caucus. Again, this person comes up with some great documents that appear to be in plain sight for anyone to see...if they would just look.

House Democrats:

This morning's Philadelphia Inquirer editorial is the latest in a series of stories and editorials imploring the Pennsylvania Legislature to tighten its belt in an effort to mitigate the pain from a budge hole that will be measured in the billions…that's right, the "illions" with a "b." (Philadelphia Inquirer 11/24/08)

In fact, Lt. Governor/Pro Tempore Scarnati is putting your latest COLA in jeopardy by putting the possibility of repealing it on the table as a cost cutting measure. (Post Gazette 11/21/08)

A current legislative employee you should demand be cut loose from the taxpayers' trough would be glaringly obvious to you if Republican Attorney General Tom Corbett was actually conducting a balanced investigation into the activities of the state legislature instead of the hyper-partisan farce he's foisted upon the Commonwealth to date.

You've all read the Harrisburg grand jury presentment from July of this year, so you'll remember Corbett bringing two felony charges against Jeff Foreman for allegedly doing legal work for his law firm while at his desk supposedly on Democratic caucus time.

If Corbett were truly examining the State House GOP as closely as he has the Democrats, in addition to Jeff Foreman's alleged activity, Corbett would also have revealed to you the billing practices of the highest paid state legislative employee in the history of the Commonwealth – Brett Feese.

Feese earns $197,000 a year as chief counsel to the House Republican caucus. (Inquirer 12/17/07)

That is more than any two rank and file legislators combined, more than the Speaker of the House and more than the Governor. If his contract is renewed on December 1st, his cost of living increase will put him over $200,000 in yearly earnings! (Inquirer 10/21/07)

At that salary, Feese should have lots of legal work to do for the House GOP. Sam Smith has even said that paying Feese as a full-time employee at such an exorbitant rate was due to the tremendous amount of legal work to be done for the House Republican Caucus:

"If this didn't prove out and Brett was sitting on his rear with his feet on the table . . . we would be failing at our ultimate goal of savings, but clearly at this point the record indicates we are saving money." (Inquirer 10/21/07)

Feese certainly isn't sitting on his rear with his feet on the table. However, as a full-time caucus employee, he isn't working just for the Republican caucus.

While Feese is supposedly working full-time at a $200,000 a year clip for the House Republican caucus, he is also billing over a dozen municipalities and school districts for work he does as their solicitor. Check it out for yourself.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, Feese is the solicitor for:

Duboistown, Eagles Mere, Laporte, Lewis, Mongtomery, Moreland, Muncy Creek, Penn, Picture Rocks, Plunketts Creek, Shrewsbury in Lycoming County, Shrewsbury in Sullivan County, Washington and Wolf.

If that isn't enough extra work for Feese, he is also the solicitor for the Montgomery Area and East Lycoming school districts.

If Feese can be so blatant in representing public entities, how much work is Feese doing for private clients?

How much work is Feese actually doing for the taxpayers of Pennsylvania?

This is yet another example of partisan Republican Attorney General Tom Corbett bringing charges against a Democrat while ignoring the exact same behavior by a Republican!

Feese's salary should be cut dramatically if he has time to work on both House legislative issues and represent multiple local governments, not to mention dozens and dozens of private clients.

And, you should demand that Corbett investigate Feese's billing practices just as aggressively as he has House Democratic staff members like Jeff Foreman.

The one-sided nature of Corbett's investigation is outrageous. Demand that Corbett stop this charade and bring balance to what is clearly a calculated partisan witch hunt against Democrats.

A truly impartial investigation might actually help taxpayers save millions. The $200,000 per year to Feese is a great place to start!

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