The May 2007 municipal primary election is very important. Voters will be deciding on a proposed partial shift of school property taxes to earned income taxes. Act 1 of 2006 requires that school districts put this tax shift question on the ballot.
The last day to register to vote in the spring primary is April 16, 2007. You can go to your county board of elections to register. Mail in voter registration forms are available at many Snyder County post offices and libraries. Local government offices should also be able to provide you with a mail in form.
Who can vote? You must be at least 18 years old on or before the day of the next primary, special, municipal, or general election. You must be a U.S. citizen for at least one month prior to the election. You must be resident of Pennsylvania and the election district in which you desire to register and vote for at least 30 days before the election.
Only those who are registered to vote will have a say in the tax shift question. I urge citizens to register to vote so that their opinion can be counted on Election Day.
If you will be out of town on Election Day, request an absentee ballot from your local county board of elections. Requests for an absentee ballot must be received by the local board of elections no later than May 8, 2007. The absentee ballot must be returned by May 11, 2007.
Independents and minor party voters will be able to vote on the tax question on a ballot that will be provided.
Let your voice be heard. Vote on Tuesday, May 15th, 2007.
Cynthia J. O’Hora
March 30, 2007
When a school district spends tax dollars the information is public. Every taxpayer has a right to know about every cent. In fact, this year the districts are using a common format to show the public the proposed budgets. Selinsgrove Area School District’s proposed budget is available on the district’s website. You can also obtain a copy in the administration’s office.
The Right to Know law should also apply to all levels of government, including the Pennsylvania General Assembly. I applaud the actions of Rep. Eugene DePasquale of York who has placed his spending information on his website. He will be updating it quarterly.
All legislative spending, all judiciary spending, all commission/board spending and the financial records of state subsidized educational institutions should be open to the public. To date there has been great resistance to this. Ask yourself, why?
Consider that leadership in both parties gave out $3.6 million in bonuses to state employees. Mike Long, chief of staff to former Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Jubelirer, received a total of $41,000 in bonuses paid in 2005 and 2006. Long also awarded a $95,000 severance package by Jubelirer, who lost reelection in part because of his support of the legislative pay raise. Long is the brother-in-law of former Senate Majority Leader Chip Brightbill, who was also fired by the voters last year.
Currently, the itemized spending of the chambers of the House and Senate are held from public view or made next to impossible to obtain. This helps them “hide” their spending slush funds and their generosity with tax dollars. Some legislators suggest that providing this information will be too costly and require a complex a process. Baloney.
Posting the reports on the Internet is a cost effective and timely way to facilitate the public’s right to know. All spending should be posted there. This makes it available to everyone. No need for state employees to locate the information the citizen wants. The person can find it via a search engine. No need to spend tax dollars on reams of paper and ink. No need to charge citizens a copying fee. They can print the information or save it to their computer if they so desire.
At the House Reform Commission hearings, legislators expressed concerns about how we, the people, would use the information. Could it be they do not like being held accountable?
The time for transparency is long overdue. Tell your elected officials that you want them to honor the public's right to know. Tell them to do it via the Internet.
Cynthia J. O’Hora
Feb 2, 2007
Our communities face greater challenges every year. Hard choices must be made. Critical priorities must be set. I believe that the best solutions are achieved when multiple points of view and broader kinds of experience address them.
People write to the paper expressing their unhappiness regarding local issues. We are all entitled to our opinions. Opinions alone do not solve problems, taking action does.
I urge my fellow residents to consider running for a local elected office.
The League of Women Voters in Lewisburg is giving a How to Run for Public Office class on Saturday, January 27, 2007. It is open to any interested citizen in the greater Susquehanna Valley. This 3 hour class was very helpful to me. You will learn about circulating a petition to be placed on the ballot and important campaign rules. See more information on their web page: http://pa.lwv.org/lewisburg/
Einstein said, “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created.”
New thinking often requires new people. Put your knowledge and experience to work for your community. Be a part of the solution.
Cynthia J. O’Hora
Jan 21, 2007
Roadmap to Reform
A diverse group of organizations has proposed a 10 point plan called “Roadmap to Reform”. It spells out changes that provide for high standards, open records and the return of citizen control of the Pennsylvania Legislature.
The Roadmap includes:
- Banning lawmakers from taking gifts and entertainment from lobbyists.
- Posting all legislative votes for the public within 24 hours.
- Passing an open records law for the legislature.
- Requiring the posting of lawmakers' expenditures and salary/benefits information online.
- Prohibit all forms of unvouchered expenses.
- Making lawmakers' health care insurance benefits consistent with the private sector.
- Banning fund-raisers while the legislature is in session.
Read the entire Roadmap for Reform at Democracy Rising’s web site. http://www.democracyrisingpa.com
The Roadmap has the support of: Common Cause Pennsylvania, Commonwealth Foundation, Democracy Rising PA, League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, PA Citizens for Legislator Accountability, PA Council of Churches, Rock the Capital, Stop the Illegal Pay Raise, Inc., and Young Conservatives of Pennsylvania.
“Despite voter protest, despite the lamentations of losers, despite soothing words of contrition by survivors, nothing has happened in these 322 days to improve standards of public integrity and clean up the most corrupt legislature in America.” Tim Potts Democracy Rising PA.
Contact your elected representatives. Let them know you expect action on these important issues by October 1, 2006. Ask the candidates running for office if they will fight for these reforms.
It is our government. Our neglect has allowed it to become an embarrassment. We must act sternly to fix it.