Monday, March 31, 2014

A Republican Who Believed in Morality

Gifford Pinchot. The Fight for Conservation. (no publisher information)

This book supported the conservation programs of President Theodore Roosevelt.

The author warned of the over-mining of irreplaceable minerals and the land being destroyed. Pennsylvania then had 3,000 square miles of forests totally stripped of trees.

Pinchot warned of overgrazing and its contributions towards soil erosion. He saw the principles of conservation being protecting forests, preventing waste, developing water power, and properly developing and preserving resources.

Pinchot called up a comprehensive plan for waterways development. Localities act in their own interests. Policies need to be created for everyone’s best interests.

The National Forests were transferred from the Interior Department to the Forest Service in 1905. The Forest Service had given priority to the public over corporations in forest and water use.

Pinchot considered conservation as a moral issue. He saw it is as important to conserve  for benefiting future generations.

Pinchot called for removing special interests from politics. He called for laws prohibiting corporations from giving money or consideration to politicians. As he noted, ‘There can be no legislative cure-all for great political evils, but legislation can make easier the effective expression and execution of the popular will.”

A Nice Book Written By a Republican Circa 1913

Gifford Pinchot. The Training of a Forester. (no publishing information listed), 1913.

This book shows what early advice Gifford Pinchot had for preparing a person to become a forester. He believed a forester should know how to work to save a forest similar to how a surgeon have a patient. A forester should know all the different types of trees and their needs. A forester should know Silvics, which is how heat, light, and moisture impacts a tree’s soil and how that soil affect other trees.

A forester should know shrubs and the main small plants, insects, and the animals in that forest. A knowledge of the streams and how forests protect the streams is important. A forester should know how to safety travel through the forest at day and night.

The central point of being a forester is to protect the forest for its greatest use by humans.  A forester should know about lumbering and mining. A forester must look at the long term and how to maintain a supply of trees and forest products. The forest should be sustained for continual use. A forester should prevent forests from being destroyed by overuse.

Forest Rangers protect against fires. They must respond rapidly when fires start.

Pinchot was critical of a United States Senator who thought the Forest Service was tyrannical. The Senator mistakenly believed a constituent was removed from his house for no reason and left homeless by the Forest Service. It turned out the man had a false claim to an illegal saloon that was closed. Pinchot knew these false stories harmed the Service’s reputation.

In 1912, the Forest Service gave away over $196,000 of timber, logs, fencing, and fuel to citizens who could use it.

There were over 3,000 people in the Forest Service circa 1913.

Forest Service employees should become familiar with local farmers. There are often grazing area disputes that require the expertise of a Forest Service employee.

Foreign Rangers and Forest Guards often see that fish and game laws are obeyed.

Forest Rangers are in charge of things constructed within a Ranger’s district, including buildings, telephone poles, trails, roads, bridges, and fences.

A Supervisor should spend about half the time with office paperwork and half the time in the forest.

A Foreign Assistant must pass a test of technical knowledge related to the job.

In logging, it is important to determine which diameters of trees permit a profit and maintain a good silvic if harvested, and allow the forest to reproduce.

A Forest Examiner looks at areas burned by fires and determines what replanting should be done.

13 states has state forests totaling 3,400,000 acres circa 1913. New York had the most with 1,645,000 acres followed by Pennsylvania with 960,084 acres and then Wisconsin with just under 400,000 acres. Pennsylvania had the largest state government appropriation for forestry work, at $1,340,000 plus an additional $275,000 for chestnut blight actions.

Ten states had state nurseries. In 1912, these nurseries produced about 20 million trees. 14 million of these trees were distributed to their states’ residents.

Pinchot observes that many state forests are heavily influenced by state politics. Many state foresters work for political appointees.

The Forest Service provides publications to help citizens and their forestry needs. From 1900-1912, the Service produced 370 publications with a total of 11,198,000 copies.

There were, circa 1913, 110 teachers of forestry at 23 forest schools and 51 schools for Forest Rangers and Forest Guards.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Some Intellectual Disability Hospitalization History

Phillip N. Thomas. Harrisburg State Hospital: Pennsylvania’s First Public Asylum. Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing, 2013.

In 1845, the Pennsylvania legislature and the Governor signed a law to create the state government’s first mental health hospital. It was to be called the Pennsylvania State Lunatic Hospital and Union Asylum for the Insane. This resulted from the Moral Treatment movement that believe those with intellectual disabilities could be treated in hospital settings. Prior, the mentally ill were “warehoused” and lived together with no treatment programs.

Benjamin Rush was a leader in the moral treatment movement. He treated mentally ill patients in a private Philadelphia facility, the Pennsylvania Hospital. In 1792, he began a campaign to create a ward just for mentally ill patients.

In 1835, Pennsylvania Hospital opened a separate facility, the Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane. It was first directed by Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride. Kirkbride published a design for constructing mental health hospitals that guided the construction of several subsequent facilities including the Harrisburg State Hospital.

Dorothea Dix led a nationwide movement to construct mental health hospitals. Her presentation in 1845 before the Pennsylvania legislature helped persuade legislators to create a state-owned facility.

The 130 acres Sales Farm in Harrisburg was purchased for the site. “Union Asylum” was removed from the name. It was designed for 250 patients. It opened in 1851. There were 37 patients (24 male, 13 female) by the end of that year. There were 182 patients at the end of 1853.

Some patients worked in agriculture positions. This was meant to give them self-confidence and to keep them active.

The hospital also served war wounded patients during the Civil War.

Several additions were made to the hospital to serve more patients. Overcrowding became a common problem during the 19th century with some rooms designed for four patients having up to ten patients. In 1898, there were 907 patients in facilities meant to house 700 patients.

In 1893, the legislature appropriated $100,000 for construction a new administrative section located within the Main Building. The legislature refused additional requests for funds for expansion in 1898. In 1899, the legislature agreed to the construction of a new building. In 1901, the legislature appropriated $253,000 for four new buildings. Further expansions were made through 1922.

The hospital had 1,319 patients in 1921 in facilities designed for 1,000. Part of this overcrowding was that homeless and elderly were sometimes sent to the hospital even though they did not appear to be mentally ill. This continued growth in patients led to an expansion project in the 1930s followed by more expansion in the 1950s. This included a building for tuberculosis patients opening in 1938.

The hospital was designed for 3,000 patients in the 1950s.

Among treatment methods used were hydrotherapy, where patients were placed into tubs of water; rain baths, where patients were sprayed with water; and wet packs, where patients were constrained for long periods wrapped in wet sheets. In 1941, it became on of the first hospitals to use electroshock therapy. In 1952, it began using insulin shock therapy.

Towards the end of the 20th century, there were movements to move mentally ill patients into community settings or home settings. The hospital had 450 patients as of 1992. The average stay was for six months. In 1996, the hospital closed.

Republicans Suspect When Government Does Good Things

There is a spread of Pork Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv) around central Pennsylvania. Yes, it as gross as it sounds. It kills young pigs. It is found in older pigs and sickens them yet they survive. To be fair to the pork industry, they reassure us the pigs with PEDv virus are safe to eat.

Credit goes to Harrisburg’s own Bill Keisling and his Yardbird publications for discovering this outbreak. This is an excellent example of the use of investigative journalism. We need more people who examine and question what is happening.

PEDv disease reached the United States last year. It has now reached our local farms. This is something relatively new that we must learn how to handle,

Meats should be thoroughly cooked, regardless. All meat can contain contaminants. Nearly all raw chickens sold contain harmful substances.

This PEDv event raises critical policy issues. First, as Yardbird points out, the state Agriculture Department states there is nothing they can be do about this problem.

The Agriculture Department is unable to act to intercede in a virus that can cause significant economic loss to local farmers.

The matter goes far beyond the PEDv crisis. The Agriculture Department can not react to most any crisis. They react to problems brought to their attention. Then they analyze the data and seek conclusions to what diseases may exist.

The Agriculture Department does not have the legal authority to be proactive. This solution should be obvious. The legislature and Governor should allow this. Industry may object, yet industry needs to be saved from itself. The health and safety of consumers and products needs to come first.

The Agriculture Department needs more resources. They can test for a limited number of health threats. As more goods come in from other countries, they need to be able to test for a wider range of potential threats, many of which may be new to Pennsylvania. There are many health threats worldwide that are beyond the Agriculture Department’s abilities to identify.

The limiting of state government to being reactive rather than proactive is not limited to the Agriculture Department. The same problem is found with the Health Department.

A seemingly lax approach to health dangers is not the fault of Health Department employees. It is our fault for not demanding the legislature and the Governor to insist that both the Health and Agriculture Departments proactively seek to identify health concerns, warn others, help those affected, and take actions to prevent the illness from spreading.

There are been instances when people, pets, and farm products have become diseased and died. It is up to someone to report this to the Agriculture Department. If they feel it is appropriate, they will conduct tests and see if there is something happening that can be spread.

The Health Department has excellent records of health data. Yet they just basically publish the data. They don’t issue commentary. It is up to someone else to do the research and determine if there are reasons why there may be clusters of health concerns.

Some clusters are just statistical flukes. Some are chance happenings that a large number of people contaminated each other.

Many health clusters indicate a problem exists. Sometimes  a disease outbreak may have an environmental cause.

In Pennsylvania, it happens that an industrial spill or leakages from an old mine or contaminated worksite can sickened people. One would need to have knowledge of both these environmental facts and health information to put these together.

The Health, Agriculture, and Environmental Protection Departments have no legal mandate to examine each others’ data to determine if they may find connections.  This is something the legislature and Governor should legally require.

It is often up to the public to find suspicious patterns and question them. Yet few people have the expertise to do this. There have been past successes found by investigative journalists.

It has been reporters, familiar with local spills, leaks, and other hazards who have found connections between environmental hazards and increased health concerns. It often took newspapers that made commitments to investigative reporters to discover these facts.

The sad thing is newspapers are dying, with many already dead. Those that survive are cutting back staff. Investigative reporters are often among those staff that are cut.

We now are in an era where the Internet produces more people able to express their views on public forums. At the same time, it is reducing the ability of news organizations to hire expert reporters who can take a long period of time to research a complicated issue.

That is why I note is was an investigative reporter Bill Keisling who broke the story about the PEDv. We need more, not fewer, such writers.

We also need government to require itself to act as its own investigative researchers. We need to have people with legal authority to research and act on health and public safety matters.

We should demand that our government actively protect us.

We also need a free and active press to protect us from government inaction and wrongful government action.

Republicans Like It When Prisoners Are Majority Democrats

Paul Kahan. Eastern State Penitentiary: A History. Charleston: The History Press, 2008.

Eastern State Penitentiary started operating in 1829. It was considered overcrowded 33 years later. For its first 94 years, both men and women were incarcerated there.

Some early administrations believed that prisoners should be handled strictly with all aspects of their lives under their complete control. Some treatments were so harsh that the penitentiary personnel were criminally prosecuted.

Prisons in the 18th century were poorly funded, crowded, and squalor conditions where many prisoners faced disease and death. The death penalty was commonly used which kept the prison population down.

John Howard wrote about the bad conditions of prisons in Europe which led to a prison reform movement. Efforts began in the 18th century to give prisoners healthier food, not charge prisoners for basic necessities, and to stop torture.

The Walnut Street Jail constructed in Philadelphia in 1780 as a jail and became the first penitentiary in 1790 in the United States.

The Pennsylvania legislature passed the Wheelbarrow Law in 1786. This law required prisoners to work. They wore garish clothes to be distinct as prisoners. They were chained to cannonballs while working. Still, in the first two years of this law, 27% of the prisoners escaped.

The Walnut Street Jail had 63 prisoners in 1792, 145 in 1796, 151 in 1809, 206 in 1809, and 304 in 1811. It was an initial goal that prisoners were in separate quarters yet this was no longer possible.

A group of people including Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Rush began working on prison reforms beginning in 1787. This led to legislative enactments in 1789, 1790, and 1794, Among the reforms were separating male prisoners from female prisoners and separating misdemeanor prisoners from felony prisoners.

Robert Vaux continued prison reform efforts in the early 19th century. In 1803, the Pennsylvania legislature created a workhouse to alleviate overcrowding at the Walnut Street Jail. The Arch Street Jail was opened in 1817 for this purpose.

Overcrowding remained a problem at the Walnut Street Jail. Prisoners rioted in 1817, 1819, and 1820. It was later discovered that prisoner administrators were stealing from prisoners’ wages

Industrialization increased urban growth beginning in the 1820s. This brought more crime and violence to cities. Riots  became a common means of political expression.

Western State Penitentiary opened in 1826. In 1828 the legislature required penitentiaries to have prisoners work. Western State was not designed for that.Thus prisoners there worked together.

It was the goal of Pennsylvania prisons known as the Pennsylvania System, from 1790 to 1841, that prisoners be kept in solitary confinement. It was determined this led to insanity. After 1841 it was the system that prisoners be kept separate but not in solitude.

Eastern State Penitentiary had its first two female prisoners in 1831 with two more added eight months later They resided in an area separate from the men and worked in laundry and as coos.

In 18850, 43% of Eastern State prisoners were Black while they were 28% of the state population. Some of the disparity resulted form a juvenile hall that took only whites.

The Eastern State warden was required to speak with every prisoner daily. There were 385 prisoners in 1837.

Of 2,176 prisoners sent to Eastern State from 1826 through 1846, 51% were sent for larceny, 11% or burglary, 7% for horse theft, 4% for forgery, and 4% for using counterfeit money.

A work requirement then was considered important for prisoners as it was believed criminals were often too lazy to seek honest work. It was believed that learning how to work would rehabilitate them. New York began the Congregate System in 1816 where prisoners worked together during the day and were separated at night. They worked in an industrial setting and were not allowed to talk.

The New York legislature approved constructing Sing Sing prison using prison labor in 1825. Since cells were only for sleeping, their size was smaller than in other prisons. The strict discipline of the New York prisons was considered in opposition to the Pennsylvania prison system.

People visited Eastern State. There were 114,400 visitors between 1862 and 1872.

Prisoners were punished with cold baths; being placed in straightjackets. iron gag, or tranquilizing chair; or denial of privileges. One prisoner was held up a wall naked in freezing weather as 12 buckets of water were dumped on top of him, causing icicles to form on him.

The Pennsylvania legislature conducted several investigations into Eastern State. In 1834 to 1835, a special committee investigated whether the warden used prison labor for his personal benefit, permitted too harsh of punishments which led to one death and allowed immoral contacts between prisoners. An overseer’s wife was rumored to have stolen food from the prison and with having sex with guards and prisoners which caused an outbreak of venereal disease.  65 witnesses testified The warden claimed he and many of his accusers had religious differences that led to the charges. The legislative committee concluded most of the allegations were without foundation. It determined there could be no criminal charges for personally using prison labor. Future laws prohibited the practice.

Charles Dickens interviewed several prisoners. His writings indicated that the solitary confinement of prisoners tended to break them mentally.

In 1843, Richard Harding voluntarily was placed into Eastern State even though he had not committed a crime. He requested the solitude. He left, writing “I shall dread the very name of th is place”, and never returned.

In 1852, one prisoner escaped after pressing a suit by putting the suit on and walking out the front door.

Conviction rates increased in the 1860s. There was also an increase in sentences. There no longer was enough room for the practice of one prisoner per cell. There were two or three to a cell. By 1881 there was solitary prisoners in 40% of the cells. By 1887 there were as many as four to a cell.

An increase in the professionalization of the police and the judicial system led to more convictions. Homicide conviction rates were 33% in the mid-1850s, 42% in the late 1860s, and 63% in the late 1890s. In the 1850s, 5% of those convicted of homicide were sentenced to over 12 years imprisonment. Those sentenced to over 12 years for homicide increased to 8% in 1880  and 16% in 1901.

n 189, the legislature passed a law allowing a reduction in a prisoner’s sentence for each month of good behavior.

There is conflicting information on prison escapes from Eastern State in the 19th century. There is one report that nine escaped and six were recaptured. A warden testified in 1897 there had been five successful escapes in the prison’s history. It may be possible that some were recaptured after these numbers were provided.

In 1905 the legislature approved a separate facility for the mentally ill prisoners. It opened in Wayne County in 1912.

In 1909, the legislature approved the Indeterminate Law which provided for minimum nd maximum penalties. Parole Board thus had discretion on how much time was served.

In 1883, the legislature prohibited prisoner contracted labor. This did not immediately effect Eastern State as it did not contract prisoners for labor. Another 1883 law required prison-made goods to be stamped “convict made”. In 1897, the legislature passed the Muchlbronner Law which limited the percent of prisoners would could be used to manufacture brooms, hollowware, and brushes at 5% of the prison population,  that mats could be manufactured by at most 20% of the prison population, and that all else could be manufactured by at most 10% of the prison population. This legislation was supported by the Society for the Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons which later became the Prison Society. Organized labor also objected to prison labor undermining their wages.

In 1890 there were 291 idle prisoners at Eastern State. This rose to 795 in 1893 to 1,156 in 1894. Some prisoners equated solitary confinement without labor to torture.

The separate confinement of prisoners was prohibited at Eastern State by the legislature in 1913.

Many early 20th century Eastern Penn wardens did not believe rehabilitation was possible. Solitary confinement became a punishment rather than the norm in an attempt at rehabilitation. Prisoners intermingled and portions of the prison could not be monitored by guards.

Robert McKenty was an Eastern State warden who believes in rehabilitation. He gave some self-governance to the prisoners. The prisoners reacted with protests and riots. Inmates told a grand jury about brutality from guards and poor food.

Governor William Sproul had Assistant Attorney General William Gawthrop investigate Eastern State. The prisoners’ complaints were discounted and it was recommended the warden take firmer measures against prisoners.

There seemed to be a sharp rise is narcotics smuggling to prisoners in the 1920s. The Prisoners’ Relief Society claimed that guards were doing the smuggling. Prisoner drug dealing gangs would beat up guards who got in their way,

A riot lasting five weeks occurred between two rivals gangs that composed one fifth of the prisoners. Most of the rest of the prisoners urged to be kept locked in their cells during the rioting.

There were numerous incidences of prisoner violence to other prisoners.

Blacks and homosexuals were housed in segregated areas of Eastern State. These areas received worse treatment than did other prisoner areas.

Several dogs were pets at Eastern State. One was a dog donated by Governor Gifford Pinchot because it had chewed sofa cushions. A false story emerged that it was sent there for killing Mrs. Pinchot’s cat.

The belief that prisoners could be rehabilitated returned to Eastern State in 1953. There had been worse rioting at Western State involving over 1,000 prisoners with guards taken as hostages. There was milder rioting at Eastern State when prisoners in punishment cells set fires to protest being apart from others. Eastern State removed its punishment cells

Nationwide, there were over prison riots in an 18 month period in 1952-3.
This was more than the total in the previous quarter century.

Governor John Fine signed legislation created the Bureau of Corrections within the Justice Department. Prior to the this, prisons were operated by their Board of Trustees. The emphasis was moved from punishment to corrections.

Eastern State began operating a diagnostic and classification center. This would determine the prisoners’ path and would consider socioeconomic background, prior arrest history, educational attainment, work experience, health concerns, etc. About a quarter of Eastern State prisoners were housed in  this new classification center.

Prisoners were psychologically evaluated and provided counseling. Temple University Hospital became affiliated with this program.

There was a “goon squad” of guards who did not believe in rehabilitation who illegally punished prisoners. The squad ended in 1956.

Nation of Islam members were imprisoned nationwide in the 1940s for refusing military service. They aggressively recruited new members within prisons. This also created solidarity and group protection for many Black prisoners who joined.

From 1904 to 1964 prisoners were racially segregated in Eastern State. Most guards were white Several instances of violence caused by racial differences resulted.

It was decided to close Eastern State in 1969. It closed in 1971.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Two Republicans Walk Into a Bar and Other Wrong Jokes

Humor is the brain processing incongruent thoughts and realizing they don’t fit together. Why the human body responds with laughter, I do not know. It is more practical than responding with hiccups.

Maybe humans used to respond by either laughing or striking out violently against the person who made the non-compatible statements, and over time those who laughed out-survived those who attacked. I have no idea.

Harrisburg has a Comedy Club. We attract nationally known comics. Although I fear, within the comedy industry, the new standard is “you know your career is in trouble if you’re performing in Harrisburg.”

I have been to this club several times. It also gives a forum to local as well as lesser known comics. This is good. It may also be one of the few comedy clubs without a drink minimum, which is also good for those who don’t wish to drink.

Jokes have been told at this club. Which is sort of the point. People joke about relationships, current events, celebrities, rape, etc.

 Except, rape jokes are not funny. The reason they are not funny is it not incompatible ideas that could never happen. Some surveys have found approximately one sixth of the females in the audience, on average, have been sexually assaulted. It is not funny to them. It can bring back traumatic memories.

Still the debate about rape jokes rages within the comedic world. I have read some humorists argue that all jokes are protected by freedom of speech. It is fair to joke about anything.

I have read others describe there are some rape jokes that are alright. They argue there is a critical difference between making the rape victim the brunt of the joke or making the attacker the joke’s target. Perhaps making fun of the system that makes reporting and prosecuting rape is fine.

Some argue that any rape joke is wrong. It upsets too many people who had to live through or live with someone who was raped.

One key to any performance is you have to appeal to the audience that is paying money to watch and listen the show. If there is no audience, there is no show.

I believe that one has to be sensitive to the reality that a number of people, men and women, have been raped or faced an attempted assault. They did not pay to be needlessly emotionally hurt by a performance with others around them laughing at the cause of their pains.

This discussion explodes in magnitude when one considers data from the Institutional Betrayal Questionnaire that was completed by 345 college females. This found that almost half of those surveyed had been sexually assaulted.

Almost half is much higher than one sixth. One half of young females is dramatically higher than one sixth over lifetimes.

Is this Institutional Betrayal Questionnaire an outlier whose results are not consistent with other studies? Or is this telling us something important? Perhaps young people are experiencing more attacks. Perhaps young people are more aware and more willing to step forward and identify attacks that people older than them used to ignore.

Over one third of the assaults reported by these college students were institutional assaults. This mean they were forced against their will to have sex with someone who was their boss, teacher, religious figure, judicial system officer, military commander, etc.

Perhaps in the past we chose to be blind to such assaults. We are now more aware and open about this. We have seen locally where several teachers, male and female, have been arrested for seducing students. We have witnessed the sex scandals at universities and places of worship.

Are these recent arrests just a few among many? This also leads to the next discussion: If there are so many attacks, how are so many attackers getting away with it?

Jennifer Freyd, a former social issues activist in Pennsylvania, left our state and now teaches Psychology at the University of Washington. She was involved in this Institutional Betray Questionnaire and has written about how we tend to be blind to various kinds of assaults and betrayal.

We are blind to the betrayal of assault for numerous reasons. The brain protects itself from trauma by subsiding the disturbing memory. When the perpetrator is someone one respects or has some dependency upon, such as an employer or partner, one often puts more importance on the positive aspects of continuing the relationship than one puts on the negative, abusive points.

We need to learn to recognize abuse and betrayals and to speak up. There are dangers to doing this. People often disbelieve accusers. Because the mind subjugates traumatic experiences, accusers may not recall all the facts. Complacency and failure to speak before is after turned around and claimed to have been consent.

If abuse is increasing, or even if we are recognizing it more, there are some trends we need to reverse We need more school counselors who are trained in handling abuse cases.If these problems are so prevalently reported by college students, many of their problems happened before college. By catching problems earlier in life, so many longer terms problems can be prevented and minimized,

It is hard to advocate for increased counseling in a time when our schools are barely able to provide basic educational programs. We need to join in making state government aware that counselors are necessary. They also need to realize this will save them money down the road as abused children as more apt to be causes of expensive future social services.

We also need to listen. It is true that not every accusation is true. Yet we need to stop hiding from these problems. By letting people know that if they voice the knowledge of their betrays, there are people who will listen and not judge.

It is also important that abusers and potential abusers hear these messages. They need to realize these actions and wrong. They must know that people will speak out if they abuse.

We as a society need to do all this. We have been blind to betrayals on many level. We need to speak out, listen, and act against many types of abuses. Many have looked the other way when horrific crimes such as genocide occurred. Many do not get involved when they see local corruption. We need to learn to speak out more.

It is good people are talking about this. When it is pointed out how many famous comedians in the past told rape jokes, we must remember that was back in a time when people did not talk about this. So it was seldom discussed, and thus struck people as incongruent thoughts back then to talk about it. Yet, the fact we are talking about it is raising awareness of rape and assaults to new levels. We are realizing that assaults, even if not successfully completed or become consensual, are especially wrong when those with power of someone else abuses that power. That, people are opening up about.

This is serious. It is not a joke.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

What, Would a Republican Ever Betray You?

Jennifer Freyd and Pamela Birelle. Blind to Betrayal. Hobeken, New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2013.

This is an eye-opening insightful book that describes how so many of us are literally blind to the ways we are betrayed in life. The book describes the psychological reasons why our brains, in attempting to protect from traumas, make us reject obvious betrayals. There are many kinds of betrayals, from those within families, relationships, and our institutions.

Some of the readers of this reviewer’s postings are Policy students. The notes from this book that follow are for them, as well as the public who wish to learn more in general about this topic. The book goes into far greater explanations and does so in a manner that is understandable to the general public. Complex psychological issues are clearly and expertly presented.

Policy students may wish to note both how governments can be involved in betrayals. Further, the general issue itself creates societal issues that need to be addressed by our intellectual disability services.

For those seeking a review, this is an excellent book for people who wish to learn more about this area of Psychology. It may be useful to learning more if one has experienced betrayal or if one seeks to learn more about others who have been betrayed. This book will be extremely helpful.

For those seeking some notes about some points from this book, my notes are as follows:

Our brains often operate is convoluted ways, according to the authors. Sometimes when the mind deduces that someone emotionally close has evidently committed betrayal, the mind reduces the immediate pain from that recognition by transforming the betrayal evidence from recognizing it towards rejecting it. This though may be worse in terms of long term pain, especially if the betrayal continues and continual emotional pains are inflicted.

The authors recommend that people admit to themselves and others when they discover betrayals. What may emerge from this is hope that the mind may process this towards leading to healing. The alternative of continued blindness may be more emotionally harmful to the betrayed as well as allowing the injustices of further betrayals to continue.

People sometimes suffer from what is known as “betrayal blindness”, which is an “unawareness of information that is present but is somehow “whooshed” away”. It has been a fault of the psychological profession that this has been little studied, leading the authors to note that “Psychology as a discipline may suffer from betrayal blindness” as it is more concerned about individuals and their symptoms than upon interpersonal relations.

Children may suffer betrayal blindness when it comes to being abused or discriminated against.

There is societal betrayal. Children grew up being taught that they exist in a society that awards merit and believes in equality of opportunities. Many, especially people of racial minorities, learn later in this this is not reality.

There is a visual aspect to betrayal blindness. It is possible for someone to see something that one doesn’t want to see and have the mind not register the sight. The mind protects itself by doing that. Often one may intellectually know what they saw, yet a mental defensive mechanism of denial operates that does not properly process the information seen.

People who are betrayed become either confrontational or withdrawn. Those that withdraw may go into denial

People abused by a parent who loves them display betrayal feelings, Psychologists often focus on the resulting symptoms but not the underlying issues of feeling betrayed. Many suppress these memories that may lead to later psychological problems.

Sexual assault victims sometimes react passively to the attack. Fear is often a facto.r When the victim knows the assailant, betrayal is often felt

“Stockholm syndrome”, where a captive develops empathy for the capturer, is a subset of betrayal blindness. The captive person’s mind better registers whatever kindness the capturer shows and reduces the traumatic aspects. In some kidnap cases, seeking to create an attachment bond with the capturer is also a survival skill.

There can be collective betrayal blindness. An example of that was in 2003 when many continued believing our leaders that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction long after this was disproven.

There is institutional betrayal. Employees become blind to workplace injustices. There is institutional blindness, with the child sex scandals of the Catholic Church prominently demonstrating this.

An Institutional Betrayal Questionnaire of 345 female college students found 47% had been sexual assault at least once. Over a third experienced the assault from an institutional source. Those who suffered institutional betrayal had higher level of traumatic symptoms.

In the Penn State child sex abuse, there was public sympathy for the coach who was blind to the assaults and let them occur. Many who opt to remain blind to an assault continue this blindness in subsequent cases.

There have been many sexual assaults within military personnel. This trauma, when experienced in addition to combat trauma, can be devastating.

It is sometimes difficult to criminally prosecute assailants.The freezing defensive mechanism is often labeled by defense attorneys. Many victims, especially when suppressing the memories, make poor witnesses who may have inconsistencies in their testimonies or may not recall details of the crimes.

Bystanders are sometimes blind to betrayals. It is easier to avoid difficulties through “psychic numbing” than to take risks that could be harmful in order to help a victim. A horrific example of this was seen in the collective passivity of people who looked the other way when people were taken away during the Holocaust.

People, when confronted, often choose to fight, flee, or freeze (also known as “toxic immobility”). The freezing action is often seen in response to suffering a betrayal.

Research indicates that trauma exposure creates poor mental health. Such exposure creates increased risk for depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, dissociation, borderline personality, and physical problems.

Research finds women are usually more affected by betrayal trauma than are men.

If a victim is dependent upon the person committing an assault, the victim may decide it is more important to preserve the relationship. The abuse is then tolerated and sometimes forgotten.

Research shows people with high degrees of alexithymia, which is a difficulty in realizing one’s own emotional feeling and experiences, often exists with people who were abused as children.

“Group-think” creates self-censoring among members of a group. This can lead to institutional betrayal blindness.

Betrayal blindness can cause high dissociations and make one more apt to be forgetful in general and more apt to be a betrayed victim again. It can then be more difficult to form relations with others.

Some victims go on to victimize others. This creates even more stressful problems.

A person who discloses betrayal faces the denials and counter-accusations from the perpetrator. This can further psychologically damage the victim and causes a retreat back into silence.

A betrayed person can help heal by acknowledging the betrayal.

Societal admission of cultural betrayal can create justice. People now recognize the mistakes made during times of genocide and government abuses. This makes people recognize and resist these injustices.

It is important that people listen to dialogues when presented with someone discussing a betrayal. Only disclose something learned when it is safe to disclose it.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Charles E. Myers. A Connecticut Yankee in Penn’s Woods: The Life and Times of Thoas Bennett. Wilkes-Barre, Pa.: Wilkes Univesity Press, 1993.

Connecticut residents entered the Wyoming Valley in 1762. Connecticut and Pennsylvania both had titles to this land from the British King. This led to the Yankee-Pennamite Wars of armed conflicts from 1770 to 1784. While Congress gave title to Pennsylvania, many Connecticut settlers remained. The Connecticut settlers did not obtain clear ownership of their lands until the late 18th century.

One of the Connecticut settlers was Thomas Bennet. The author is a fifth generation descendant of Bennett.

The Connecticut settlers fought Indians, British, and Pennsylvanians. A massacre in Wyoming in 1778 led General George Washington to agree to General John Sullivan’s request that successfully drove the Iroquois and British into northern New York and Canada.

After the Revolutionary War, Congress declared the Wyoming settlements were part of Pennsylvania Congress also began determining how to handle property rights, an issue sensitive to Connecticut settlers who had property in what then became under Pennsylvania governance.

Thomas Bennett and other Connecticut settlers appreciated the rich land and beauty of the area. The Connecticut settlers formed a close community Thomas Bennett was separated from his wife Martha and his children for two years after the 1778 Wyoming Massacre. Martha and a daughter made clothes to survive using flax due to a shortage of wood. The Bennett family returned to rebuild and replant. Thomas Bennett joined the 24th Regiment and the Continental Army.

It is noted that the 1972 flood waters from Hurricane Agnes rose up to but did not reach Thomas Bennett’s grave.

The Bennetts disliked the rigidness of Massachusetts Bay Colony leaders who initially sought religious liberty yet beame less tolerant of different religions. Others of similar minds established towns in Windsor, Hartford, and Westerfield that later joined togehr in forming the Connecticut colony.

In 1662, the King of England, 20 years before a grant was given to William Penn that conflicted with this grant, granted Connecticut land from sea to sea. This included land that today is parts of 14 states reaching California. It is noted that the British government lacked proper maps and may not have been familiar with the colonail areas. The grant to William Penn was repayment on debt owed to Penn’s father.

The Susquehanna Company was formed by 250 men on July 18, 1753. The Connecticut General Assembly approved their buying Wyoming land from the Indians and settling there.

Three men went to Wyoming to examine the land. They were permitted to sell shares along their journey for 2 milled Spanish dollars per share. This alerted neighboring resident Pennsylvanians in Northampton County (which today is Monroe County). and Indians along the Susquehanna River that new settlers would be arriving into the unsettled valley. They also learned the Six Nations claimed the land.

By January 1754 there were 400 men belonging to the Susquehanna Company. They increased membership to 4 Spanish milled dollars per share.

Pennsylvanians were upset. Meetings were held in Albany, N.Y. in June to July, 1754. On July 6, 1754, 20 Indian chiefs representing eery tribe in the Six Nations sold Southwestern Pennsylvania for 400 pounds of New York currency On July 11, 1754, 14 chiefs and sachems deeded the Wyoming Valley to the Susquehanna Company of 753 embers for 2,000 pounds New York currency.

It would later be falsely claimed, according to the author, that the Susquehanna Company transaction was a reckless one. Scrutiny shows those involved were responsible leaders and the Indians received full payment. The Connecticut General Assembly approved petitioning the King to establish a colonial government in the Wyoming Valley.

The Iroquois and their leader King Hendricks declined to sell the Wyoming Valley to anyone Thus, while the Iroquois did not recognize the Six Nations transaction, neither did Pennsylvania have a claim from the Iroquois.

In 1748, Pennsylvanians obtained 12,000 acres around the Wallenpaypack Creek. Pennsylvania settlers arrived there between 1750 and 1760 and made this part of Northampton County.

In 1754, aother company formed in Connecticut, the Delaware Company. Many belonged to both the Susquehanna and Delaware companies. The Delaware Company purchased from the Delaware Indians Coshecton along the Delaware River. This land was near the Pennsylvania settlement along the Wallenpaypack Creek.

France and England engaged in hostilities that erupted in the colonies British settlers fought the French and the Indian allies from 1754 to 1763.

The first 16 Connecticut settlers arrived in Capouse Meadows (today Scranton) in Wyoming in 1762. Chief Teedyuscung, a baptized Christian from an Indian village in what today is Wlkes-Barre, advised the settlers to leave or race death from the Indians. The settlers left.

In July, 79 men joined the 16 returning settlers in arriving in Wyoming.

Pennsylvanians objected to the settlement. England ordered Connecticut to halt these settlements The order arrived after the settlements happened. Connecticut received a second deed from Mohawk sachem affirming the earlier deed. Colonel Dyea appealed the order for Connecticut. A legal opinion was issued in England that the Connecticut Charter was affirmed as it predated the grant to Penn. Pennsylvania would have to prove they had a prior charter, which they did not have.

Indians massacred Connecticut settlers at Mill Creek on October 15, 1763. Most survivors returned to Connecticut.

There was some violence between white settlers due to border disputes between New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, Several small scale raids occurred.

In 1768, a great Council of the Indians with sachems from each of the Six Nations sold the land already sold to the Susquehanna and Delaware companies to Thomas Penn and Richard Penn. Several Indians cited they were pressured into making the sale as they knew they had already sold the land to the Connecticut settlers. Pennsylvania then established settlements in the Manor of Stokes.

40 Susquehanna Company settlers arrived and completed settling Wyoming in Jnauary, 1769. 200 more joined them in the spring.

Major John Durkee established a fort for Connecticut settlers. Major Durkee named the area Wilkes-Barre after two members of the British Parliament who supported colonial rights that King George III opposed, John Wikes and Isaac Barre.

Colonel Tubor Francis and a group of Pennsylvanians referred to as Pennaites from Fort Augusta (now Sunbury) arrived and demanded to take control of the fort and houses, or else all would be killed and burned. The Connecticut settlers refused. Francis realized he had insufficient capabilities for a fight. He withdrew his men. A few skirmishes with some wounds occurred in September, 1769.

Governor Penn ordered 20 men with an four ppunder iron cannon to take Fort Durkee. Sheriff Jennings led 200 men from Easton to help drive out the Connecticut settlers Major Durkee was arrested in a surprise raid and jailed in Pennsylvania. The Connecticut settlers surrendered under the condition that 14 could remain to tend to the livestock and crops while legal disputes went forward. A few days later, the Pennamites broke the agreement by burning everything and driving away the horses and cattle.

Ironically, there were some 50 Pennsylvanians from Hanover who had joined the Susquehanna Company. Lazarus Stewart and about 40 people from this Hanover group prepared to go to Wyoming to assist the Connecticut settlers. Eight to te settlers who were among those who surrendered the fort joined with Stewart. Captain Zebulon Butler and Stewart led a retaking of Fort Durkee and drove out the Pennamites. A Pennamite force led by Captain Nathan Ogden remained in the area. In April, Major Durkee arrived with reinforcements and convinced Ogden and his forces to leave the area.

For several months afterwards, the Connecticut settlers destroyed several Pennamite properties and forced Pennamites away from the area. The Connecticut settlers created five towhships, Nanticoke (now Hanover), Pittstown (now Pittston), the Forty (now Kingston), and Plymouth. 238 names were listed as proprietors in these five townships. The proprietors randomly drew for housing lots and for meadow and field lots,

Pennamies attacked Fort Durkee. 140 men formed a possee led by Nathan Ogden..Amos Ogden an Captain Dick from EAston captured Connecticut settler work parties. This was accomplished with little violence. Fort Durkee was seized with some wounded but no deaths. Captain William Gallup wrote that the Pennsylvanians beat him brutally,gave him only coarse bread and water for 20 daysm and then released him without trial.

The author notes Governor Penn was unpopular and that there was much support among Pennsylvanians for the Connecticut settlers.

Nathan Ogden had 20 men kept at the fort. The Pennamites assumed the Connecticut settlers had left for good.

Lazarus Stewart evaded Pennamite arrest. He led a group of about 30 known as the Paxtang Boys who retook Fort Durkee from the Pennamites.

Pennsylvania issued arrest writs for Lazarus Stewart and 12 others for seizing Fort Durkee. A posse of 100 men was sent. Nathan Ogden was killed in the clash. Most affidavits attested Lazarus Stewart killed him.

The Pennamites retook Fort Durkee who then destroyed it. Several Connecticut leaders were arrested.

In April 1771 the Susquehanna Company paid 34 pounds to bail out Major Durkee and four pounds each for for others.

Pennsylvania had 30 men occupy Wyoming.

Pennsylvanians surveyed land which confused land titles for decades. Titles were given to prominent Pennsylvanians who never lived there. Fort Washington grew while Fort Durkee was torn down.

Captain Zebulo Butler, after release from jail in April, 1771, brought 60 Connecticut men returning to Wyoming. 82 Pennsylvanians took refuge inside Fort Wyoming. The Connecticut men surrounded the Fort for about four days. Under Colonel Asher Clayton, the Fort was surrendered. It was agreed all Pennsylvanians would leave within two weeks.

From 1771 to 1776, many Connecticut settlers moved to Wyoming. Townships were created, fortifications established, plus laws and taxes created. A representative of each community was elected to a Committee of Settlers. A meeting of proprietors heard appeals and made revisions of court orders. Each township had a common court and a constable. The settlers had a school system 62 years before Pennsylvania created schools.

In 1773 the Committee of Settlers was changed to a Board of Directors. A Sheriff was elected.

Congregationalism and its puritanical lifestyle dominated the lives of Connecticut settlers.

The first road was created in 1770. It ran nine miles from Pittston to Plymouth and Kingston and exists today. Other roads followed.

A grist mill, saw mill, and ferry were created.

The Connecticut General Assembly selected three commissioners to negotiate with Governor Penn in hopes of resolving issues Penn refused to recognize any Connecticut claim.

In 1774, Connecticut formally established the settlement as Westmoreland. Pennsylvania responded with a March 7, 1774 proclamation requiring the residents to adhere to Pennsylvania laws.

Westmoreland prepared a military defense. The Connecticut Assembly authorized them to create the Twenty-fourth Regiment, commanded by Colonel Zebulon Butler with Lt. Col. Nathan Denison as second in command.

All males 16 to 50 were legally in the militia and must drill and muster Anyone over 45 could decline to serve. Among those exempt from serving were physicians, surgeons, attorney, Upper House Assembly members, school masters, grist mill operators, and Justices of the Peace. Each soldier was required to have a working firelock with a barrel at least three and a half feet long or another firearm a commissioned officer found as satisfactory, a cartridge box, a pound of powder, four pounds of bullets, ad 12 flints. There was a three shilling fine for not having all this.

Most made their own gun powder from salt peter, obtained from the white decayed matter in animal waste that is properly washed, boiled, and reboiled and then kept dry.

The soldiers wore identifying badges. There were no uniforms although ore likely they wore their frontiersmen clothing.

In 1775, several men led by Col. William Plunkett from Sunbury, Pa captured several Connecticut residents, took their livesotck property, and brought them to jail

Plunnkett then obtained 600 to 700 men as a Posse Comitatus, a civil unit, and joined the Northumberland County Sheriff. They marched against about 250 Connecticut settlers. The Connecticut settlers took a strategic position in a valley. The Pennamites suffered casualties and they fell apart in confusion. Plunkett withdrew his troops with no Pennamite shooting back.

At midnight, the Pennamites returned with a small cannon in a boat. Connecticut settlers known as Yankees, fired into the boat killing one and wounding others. The Pennamites withdrew.

the Pennamites attacked the right flank, a maneuver Col. Butler anticipated. A day long battle caused casualties on both sides until Plunkett retreated.

Westmoreland settlers agreed with Connecticut’s declaration of independence from England. they agreed to create an agreement with Pennsylvania for the common goal of defeating the British. Tories were arrested.

In 1776, about 2,900 lived in Westmoreland. Two companies were established for the Revolutionary Way with Robert Durkee and Samuel Ranson as their Captains and Colonel Zebulon Butler as 24th Regiment commander. The soldiers often faced short supplies and some had no gun powder.

A stockade was created around the house of John Jenkins o counter any Pennamite attack. A Fort was built at Pittston although it was not finished until 1778. A blockhouse already exised in Plymouth, Hanover, and two others nearby.

In 1777, the British formed a rangers corps of men who were familiar with Indian customs and could speak with the Indians. John Butler, who was born in New London, Ct. and was a career British officer, led this Rangers Corps. The Indian ally leader was Joseph Brant.

Wyoming was one of the most populated settlements not along the coast It made for an attractive British target.

Major Butler led an atack of 350 Senecas, 250 British, and 100 various types of Indians. They captured the forts and armaments.

A Private, Lazarus Stewart, urged for action and claimed Lt. Col. Zebulon Butler was a coward for not advancing. Captain Milkerachan resigned and Stewart took command.

The British and Indians ambushed, killing Stewart and 300 others were dead or missig Some were tortured first 302 were reported killed versus two British Rangers and one Indian killed All forts were destroyed.

There are scholars who argue Congress was aware of the Indians preparing for an attack yet did nothing to defend Wyoming. They argue Congress should receive some blame for the massacre.

Many Yankees fled to Stroudsburg.. The Stroudsburg residents were friendly to Connecticut settlers.

In July, 1778, there were 113 who returned to Wyoming under Lt. Col. Zebulon Buler. Animals were recapured. Some were used for food as crops had been destroyed. A new fort was built.

In August to December, 1778, Indians killed 23 settlers and captured five.

On March 23, 177, there was an attempt by about 250 Indians that was repelled with cannon and small arms fire with no serious casualties to settlers.

General Washington used Wyoming as a base in attacking Iroquois. Most there were Connecticut settlers. THis would be an important in Connecticut settlers land claims later on.

It is estimated that 40 Indians towns were destroyed. Only one Indian town remained near Genessee Castle.

Indian raids continued form 1780 to 1783.

Congress created a Court of Commissioners that heard the dispute of Wyoming. A trail lasted 41 days. The Court decided the lad belonged to Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania troops arrived at Wlkes-Barre. They insisted the Connecticut settlersleave by May 1784. Widows of Indian attacks had an additional year to leave. They wre allowed to move to waste land if they voluntarily gave up their land. The troops burned homes, robbed property, drove cattle away, and subjected women “to a lawless soldiery”.”

Lt. Col. Zebulon Butler was arrested for high treason. He was held three days and released.

Eleven Connecticut soldiers were required to be in “cold filth and ire for several days and then dismissed without a trial.”

Colonel John Franklin persuasively convinced the Pennsylvania Assembly to remove their troops.

Four detachments from Pennsylvania went to destroy Yankee homes. They attacked the port yet had to retreat. The Pennsylvania required a meeting. The Yankees attending the meeting were arrested, which caused Col. Franklin to never again trust Pennsylvanians.

A Council of Censuses elected under Pennsylvania Constitutional requirement, criticized the Pennsylvania General Assembly for its activities against the Connecticut settlers. The Censures Council report helped drive public sympathy for the Yankees.

Yankees attacked those Pennamites that remained at Fort Dickson. After several days of fightings with casualties on both sides, the Yankees withdrew. Two Yankees were killed.

130 Pennamites surrounded Yankees at Fort Defence. Raids were conducted on both sides. Yankees destroyed Fort Dickson to end the war.

The issues of who owned the Wyoming Valley land remained.More Connecticut settlers arrived many having purchase half shares.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly created Luzerne County for the Wyoming Valley after the Frenh Minister to the U.S. Le Chevalier de la Luzerne. 146 residents signed allegiance to Pennsylvania and were eligible to vote. Col. Franklin was elected to the General Assembly but declined the offer, reaffirming his commitment to creating a new state rather than being part of Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly recognized all Connecticut land claims before the Trenton Decree which they determined as ending Connecticut claims. This divided the settlers between those seeking separation from Pennsylvania and those accepting the Pennsylvania recognition of their land titles.

The Pennsylvania legislature passed the Compromising Act in April, 1799 to ascertain all land claims in the 40,000 acres of land in question. Ultimately, most Connecticut setters required certification of their land titles.

Brad Bumsted. Keystone Corruption: A Pennsylvania Insider’s View of a State Gone Wrong. Philadelphia, Pa.: Camino Books, 2013.

G. Terry Madonna notes that county and local political organizations used to play an important role in selecting state legislative candidates. As these political organizations lost political power, legislative leaders increased their influence as they could conduct centralized fund raising and disperse funds to those candidates who would ally with them. This shift in political power made legislative leaders more involved in various local legislative elections. The strong contests between the political caucuses as to which political party would have a majority intensified the political battles. Much of the recent corruption cases prosecuted were over matters where legislative leaders crossed legal limits in what they could do when campaigning.

It is interesting to note that much previous state corruption cases through Pennsylvania history involved matters such as improperly awarding state contracts or taking kickbacks in contracts. The type of corruption cases prosecuted have moved from the manner of governance to the manner of campaigning. This also caught many legislative leaders by surprise as they often argued their improprieties were part of past traditional campaigning that was done by both political parties. Yet these were legal violations that led to the state convictions of those were formerly were a Democratic House Speaker H. William DeWeese, a Republican House Speaker John Perzel, a Republican House Majority Whip Brett Feese, a Democratic House Minority Whip Mike Veon, a House Democratic Caucus Chairman Steve Stetter, a Democratic Senate President Pro Tem Robert Mellow, and a Republican Senate Majority Whip Jane Orie, In addition there was the Federal conviction of former Senate Democratic Appropriations Committee Chairman Vincent Fumo on matters beyond electioneering. Senate Republican Majority Leader Joseph Loeper was also convicted on tax evasion matters.

Madonna rightfully sees the beginning of the downfall tied to a July, 2005 vote by the legislature to increase their salaries as well as salaries of administrators and judges. In the past, these pay increases resulted in a few days of negative press and the pay raise issue traditionally had minimal impact in the general elections. This pay raise was different. For one, there were no prior public hearings and no chance for the issue to be publicly debated prior. Second, the press, especially at Bumsted’s Pittsburgh newspaper, and other papers around the state chose not to let the issue die. It was frequently revived as front page news. Public outrage was stirred and several incumbents lost reelection.

What also resulted was political panic as incumbents realized they were vulnerable. This panic motivated several to violate laws for political purposes. They were caught and convicted.

Bumsted compares the Pennsylvania corruption to political corruption in Columbia and elsewhere where politicians and candidates are murdered and pay-offs are rampant. While the Pennsylvania cases pale in comparison, Bumsted notes that the American system catches corruption at the lower political levels. The American public becoming enraged at these lesser crimes makes the American political system operate better than in countries where the citizens accept major corruption as a norm.

Former Speaker John Perzel was convicted of diverting $14 million in public funds into computer operations and other activities that included political purposes. His crimes, in this series of convictions, involved the greatest abuse of funds. Busted writes of his personal conflicting reactions to seeing someone he covered for years being sent to prison.

Bumsted is critical of grants legislators give to organizations in their districts. The theory is legislators better know which local groups are most deserving. It is also likely that awarding these grants help their reelection prospects. Busted is critical of legislators denying there is “walking around money”, which refers to the practices decades ago, no longer practiced, where legislative leaders gave funds to legislators for favored projects in return for security their votes on issues important to leaders. While that practice is illegal and legislators deny is still happens, the correct terms legislators use is “legislative initiatives”, which is their current practice of awarding grants to favored local groups.

Pennsylvania government has a history of corruption. While others state also have faced struggles with public ethics and laws violations, the Pennsylvania Capitol itself stands as a monument to over-billings and graft in its very construction. There was a highway construction graft conviction in the 1930s. Sun Oil and the Pennsylvania Railroad legally had seats for its lobbyists on the Senate floor until the 1960s. A Senate President Pro Tem reportedly took commissions in awarding state insurance contracts and used the funds for electing Republican Senate candidates, a practices that was then legal. In the 1970s, columnist Jack Anderson investigated state government and claimed organized crime was influential. 28 people were convicted for forcing employees to kick back part of their salaries to the Democratic Party. A leading prosecutor, Dick Thornburg, was elected Governor. Political corruption continued through the 2000s,  which also saw a key prosecutor Attorney General Tom Corbett then being elected Governor.

There were convictions, including of Auditor General Al Benedic,t in the 1980s of selling jobs and promotions in the Auditor General’s office. Even a man who couldn’t speak English bought a job. State Treasurer R. Budd Dwyer was convicted in illegally awarding a contract in return for campaign contributions and committed suicide in public.

Attorney General Ernie Preate was charged with promising to not prosecute illegal video poker operators in return for campaign contributions. Hw pled guilty to mail fraud for not reporting the $20,000 he received from them and resigned. Preate served his time. He later became an advocate against the mandatory minimum sentences he had previousl supported, claiming too many people were being imprisoned who should not be..

State Rep. Thomas Druce was convicted of vehicular manslaughter and insurance fraud for a hit and run accident which killed a man.

State Rep. Frank Gigliotti was convicted of taking bribes in assisting people bidding on public contracts.

State Sen. Joseph Loepper was convicted of supporting legislation that helped a tax colleciton agency that employed him He pled guilty to obstructing an investigation into his hiding taxable income. The plea agreement allowed him to keep his state pension, a penalty that occurs when convicted of a crime committed against the public as the income was considered his private income.

State Sen. Daniel Delp was convicted for hiring two underage prostitutes. He used his state expense account during the transaction.

State Rep. Frank Serafini was convicted of lying about campaign contributions regarding his landfill company.

State Sen. William Slocum pled guilty in a matter where he illegal dumped over 3.5 million pounds of raw sewage into a river.

State Rep. Tracy Seyfert was convicted of improperly obtaining a generator meant for use in firefighting for her personal use and for intimidating a witness in the case

The pay raise legislative vote that happened in 2005 happened at 2 am. It included a pay raise for Judges that Supreme Court Justice Ralph Cappy had advocated. This provided a nod to legislators that the courts would uphold a court challenge to the pay raise bill. Governor Rendell had indicated he would sign a pay raise bill if the legislature also approve his legislative agenda..There was public outcry as the legislature had previously approved an automatic cost of living adjustment to their salaries which then was thought was no longer require a pay raise legislative action.

As a legislative pay raise during the current legislative term is against the state Constitution, what was approved was an unvouchered expense account. This meant legislators received the money for expenses yet they did not need to provide a public record for what was spent.

The legislature also supported created slots casinos, a measure supported by Governor Rendell and Sen. Vincent Fumo. Some theorize this was part of the agenda the Governor sought in return for supporting a pay raise bill.

The public outcry make legislators nervous about their reelection chances. The House Democratic Caucus provided bonuses paid with state money in return for staff who volunteered. It is noted that some staff volunteered without any prior knowledge that bonuses would be paid.

Democratic Leader Bill DeWeese removed as committee chairs those Democrats who had voted against the pay raise. DeWeese claims he thought Speaker John Perzel was going to do the same with Republican chairs who opposed the pay raise. Perzel saw the resulting public outcry and did not so act.

Senate President Pro Tem Robert Jubelirer saw polling data indicating his reelection prospects were in trouble due to the pay raise vote. Jubelier proposed revoking the unvouchered expenses. Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll made her first business to call upon Sen. Sean Logan was proposed a complete repeal of the pay raises. The pay raises were repealed with only Rep. Mike Veon voting against the repeal. The Supreme Court struck down the repeal and the pay raises continued. Jubelirer still would be defeated in the Republican Primary by eventual winner John Eichelberger.

State Rep. Jeff Habay was accused of forcing his state paid employees to work in his political campaign. His conviction established a court rule that a person benefitted personally by having a public employee working for personal advancement.

Despite this, other legislative offices continued using state paid employees for campaign work during working hours. Mike Veon’s Chief of Statt Jeff Foreman was later convicted for recruiting legislative employees for such purposes. For disclosure, this reviewer worked as a policy specialist for the legislature. I was never approached by Foreman or anyone else to volunteer for campaign purposes  My knowledge of what happened comes from press accounts and this book. Ironically, long after the conviction of Veon, Foreman, and others, I was finally requested to volunteer legally for campaign work by being requested to provide my home email to volunteer after work. I left employment there shortly after this without engaging in any of this political work. While all appears legal, indeed, it is all presented as happening in legal means, I do fear that this apparent continued, and now seemingly expanded, desire to get employees to do campaign work could eventually lead to people once again cutting corners. Hopefully people are now aware of what is legal and what is not and this will not occur.

If I have any concern I have observed about the legislature, it is not campaign work yet a seeming increased reliance on lobbyists along with sharp increases in campaign contributions, especially from interests such an businesses and insurance, that could cause the most potential harm to the legislative process.

Mike Veon ironically had been elected to the legislature defeating an incumbent Barry Alderette over accepting a pay raises. As the only legislator defending the pay raise at the end, he was defeated for reelected by Jim Marshall. Rep. Todd Eachus, who headed the House Democratic Campaign Committee (HDCC) sent Rep. Veon’s campaign $40,000 to pay off its debts. Eachus did so without informing the HDCC Treasurer or other members of HDCC.

The story of the illegal bonuses in return for political work was leaked to the press. While the press rightfully declines who leaked the story, I note that every rumored name was someone who had run afoul of Bill DeWeese. The press learned that three of the four causes also paid bonuses, with some suspicions some were based upon campaign work. The Senate Democrats did not pay bonuses yet the author suspects some received higher salaries for political and personal work, especially for Senator Fumo. Sen. Eichelberger requested the Attorney General investigate as he witnessed Senate staff people campaigning for his opponent, then Sen Jubelirer. Rep. Veon and several House Democratic staff members were indicted and later convicted.

Sen. Vincent Fumo was Democratic Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He was convicted of having staff attend to several personal tasks including house cleaning, home repair, and tending to his farm. The author writes his case had the most “breadth of criminal activity”. Fumo earlier was a leader in getting slots casinos legalized in Pennsylvania.

Former Rep Frank LaGrotta pled guilty to having arranged with Rep, Veon to put his sister on the public payroll in return for their performing little work.

Rep. Sean Ramaley was charged and found not guilty of working on the state payroll for little work while campaigning to be elected to the legislature. He did appear at his part time job yet prosecutors were unable to prove to the jury if was campaigning during work.

Rep. Veon was convicted again in a separate trial on misusing state funds provided to some non-profit organizations he established. A former legislator testified the organization paid him $5,000 for no work in return. Other irregularities of improperly spending state funds were presented including payments to staff members, hiring a State Senator’s wife with an annual salary that peaked at $122,000, renting an office outside the area the organization was meant to serve, serving as an office for a lobbying organization. As the author discovered in his own research, there are few records as to what these groups spent about $10 million of state funds

Rep. DeWeese cooperated with the Attorney General’s investigator. He turned over evidence leading to convictions of Rep. LaGrotta and his own Chief of Staff. To DeWeese’s surprise, Attorney General Corbett indicted him on matters not related to those investigations. The author believes DeWeese’s had an informal commitment to immunity on the Bonusgate investigation, which the Attorney General upheld, Ignoring the advice of his attorney, DeWeese voluntarily appeared before a Grand Jury. DeWeese was later charged and convicted of having staff members illegally perform campaign activities.

Rep. Perzel was convicted of abusing $10 million of state funds in computer work for campaign purposes. Staff testified they did political work during time they should be working. Perzel’s Chief of Staff had an annual state salary of $160,000 and also received $56,000 in 2005 to manage Perzeo’s reelection campaign.

Former Rep. Brett Feese was also convicted in the misuse of computer funds for political purposes.

It is noted the Senate Republicans gave large bonuses to some of their employees who also did campaign work. Critics of Corbett argue he did not go after current leaders of his political party. The author believes it was more difficult to gather evidence on Senate Republicans as they did not use emails as much, which was a primary source of evidence in other cases. The author also speculates that the Habay case drove the Senate Republican Caucus to act more responsibly. Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli, who was defeated by Corbett for Attorney General, speculates that timing and resources could have made an important difference in how cases were handled. The focus began on the House Democrats and the other causes could have had time to prepare for their investigations. He also notes the focus on political corruption could have claimed resources that were not as available to investigate and convict Jerry Sandusky of child sex abuses at Penn State University.

Sen. Jane Orie was convicted of using state staff in her political campaign. She was prosecuted by the Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zapalla. Orie claimed that prosecution was payback for her Senate inquiry into the Pennsylvania Casino Association which employed Zapalla’s sister and into the “Kids for Cash” scandal where Zapalla’s brother had an ownership interest in one of the involved juvenile detention centers. Her first trial was declared a mistrial when it was discovered that Orie altered documents in the case.

Former Sen. Robert Mellow was convicted of illegally using his influence on awarding state contracts from bidders who rewarded him with gifts and travel.

The author provides recommendations on how to reform Pennsylvania politics to avoid future corruption. Readers may determine which they favor. It is my recommendation that they seek reforms that make institutions more ethical rather than reforming for the sake of reform. It is my observation that the increased costs of campaigns and greater reliance on campaign contributors with deep pockets is the greatest threat to public integrity. Avoid reforms that will only strengthen the role of contributors and focus on ways to make elections more democratic that most closely involve the general public.

Republicans Will Drink To This

“I arrived in town on a one way ticket from Baltimore, and I just need a few dollars cash to eat.” “I’m from Newark. They gave me this one way ticket to Harrisburg and I need a few bucks for bus fare.” “I have this one way ticket I just used from Penn Station and I need some change so I can get settled...”
As one who often rides the train and often walks along Sixth Street, a street strategically located on a straight line between the Amtrak Station and a homeless mission, I often encountered people begging for money. Their styles differ. Some are shy and seem afraid; others are quite aggressive. I often find people asking for money inside the train station. For years, I often wondered, what was it that makes beggars start their tales of woe with a story that they had recently arrived in town on a one way ticket?
What is the “street cred” that establishing one-self as a recent arrival makes one appear more sympathetic as a beggar? Are people more apt to give money if they think you are new to their community? Are people more prone to welcome new arrivals with cash? Eventually, I believe I learned why I often heard this story: Because it is true.
Harrisburg and Philadelphia have reputations for being generous with their services to homeless people. I fully support this. We should be proud that we reach out and help those in need. The problem is there are people who exploit our generosities. Part of this was Pennsylvania’s own making.
There were unintended consequences in changes in Pennsylvania law. When people with drug and/or alcohol use problems were kicked off general welfare, what did people expect would happen? Did we expect people with dependencies would magically decide, since they’ve lost their benefits, they will now instantly decide to give up the substance(s) upon which they are dependent?
Many dependencies are found to alter brain functions. It often takes time and several attempts to overcome some dependencies. A drug dependency often requires a complex medical and often psychological recovery that differs for each person.
Many people who lost their benefits due to drug and/or alcohol issues were able to qualify for chronically needy benefts. These benefits were less monetarily yet held the likelihood of lasting longer. Since they were receiving less money, many people with dependencies could no longer afford housing. Still they were receiving money. The result was the vast growth in the recovery home business.
The recovery home owners and operators recruit people with dependency issues who receive  public assistance. They also may recruit and guide people towards qualifying for public assistance. A typical recovery home system is the residents pool their public assistance funds and give them to the recovery home operators. In return, the residents are to receive housing and recovery assistance.
Recovery homes are not regulated. There are good, bad, and ugly homes out there. Some are professionally staffed and provide excellent services to residents in overcoming their dependencies. The well run ones often are recognized by people in the criminal justice system who steer troubled people dependent on drugs and/or alcohol towards these recovery homes. There are bad ones that cram as many people as they can into the home and provide few or no actual services, Some are known to become places were drugs are used and sold. Others are in-between. Some good programs involve counselors who are not professionals yet are people who have recovered themselves and counsel people how to similarly recover. These programs are probably only as good as the counselors, with some involved dedicated counselors and operators who have helped many people. Other homes have staffers who lack the knowledge to properly counsel others.
Because these homes are not regulated, there is uncertainty as to how many there are. The Public Welfare Department (DPW) supposedly was making an attempt to discover this. They can note when a large number of assistance checks go to the same address. There were also reports of homes in Scranton and elsewhere with horrific conditions they may have prodded them into actions. It is believed DPW originally started looking at this for welfare fraud purposes and instead are finding a large number of recovery homes. It is not yet clear how much effort is being put into this nor what their plans are. Yet perhaps DPW will someday determine how many recover homes there are. A Temple University researcher a few years ago estimated there were 400 to 500 in Philadelphia. I have seen no estimates for how many are in Harrisburg.
Another problem is, since Pennsylvania is now known as the state with lots of recover homes, others have taken advantage. There are programs in Baltimore and New Jersey that have admitted that one of the ways they handle their problems with homeless people with drug and/or alcohol dependencies is they give them a one way ticket to Philadelphia or Harrisburg along with the name of a homeless shelter. Some report that New York City, especially during their ‘clean up the city’ days of a former Mayor, sent homeless people to Pennsylvania. The Temple University researcher found evidence that groups in Puerto Rico were giving people one way air flights to Pennsylvania. Philadelphia officials went sought actions against New Jersey officials for sending too many New Jersey homeless to Philadelphia,
These new arrivals are often prime targets for recovery home recruitment, once they qualify for public assistance. (I presume if one could afford to pay to enter a home, such a person would not be rejected. I once asked some experts if this happens and I was greeted with a blank stare and a statement that “no one pays their own money to enter one of these homes.” While I gather few would pay to live with recent homeless people, it seems apparent the recovery programs are not well regarded by experts.) Recruiters literally search the streets and attend AA and similar group meetings looking for potential residents.
So, we may congratulate ourselves on being more caring about the homeless than many of our neighbors. In my opinion, we now need to act to see that people in these recovery homes are getting proper shelter and treatment. The shelter part may be easier to inspect. The treatment part is more difficult to assess, as those with lower success rates may actually have more difficult cases.
There are some ways to legally take actions against badly run recover homes. Inspections could determine if the homes are livable, Further, if a recovery home has become a nuisance in terms of repeated drug dealing violations and the owner and operator appears unable to prevent the home from being a repeat drug dealing offender, chances are good that is a hazardous residence that should be closed. Some local communities have nuisance ordinances that would accomplish this.
These homes should be regulated, in my opinion. There should at the very least be minimal standards that protect the residents. The problem is the recovery home owners do not want to be regulated. Some people have been able to make themselves wealthy by owning recovery homes. Many of the recovery homes actively work the political system to prevent attempts at regulating them. Some recovery homes have created, in the name of providing them treatment assistance, programs getting residents  to volunteer in political campaigns and to lobby elected officials against creating regulations. If one wants an example of wealthy people getting poor people to actively work to keep the wealthy people rich, this is a good one.
A cycle exists. Because we provide services to a greater proportion of the homeless and people in need compared to other nearby states, more homeless and people in need come, or are sent, to our state. So, when one makes the observation that there seem to be more homeless and people in need on our streets or train stations than we see in other cities, that may be an accurate statement. Sadly, we do not have enough resources to provide proper services to all who need them. Therein lies the real tragedy.