The Radical Pragmatist: The Public Integrity Commission

Posted by By at 27 October, at 15 : 03 PM Print


Months and weeks have boiled down to precious days for the potential winds of change to sweep through our political landscape in Pennsylvania and across the nation. Elections simplify our identity: The majority clearly paints itself red or blue.

However, there is one issue – one, which even the fringes of Pennsylvanians’voting bloc must unite behind, creation of a Public Integrity Commission.

Every society is encumbered with layers of corruption from within – some states find ways to acquiesce and address percentages of it. Pennsylvania, on the other hand, embraces a culture that simply accepts the outright misdeeds of public officials.

The culture is so embedded in the fabric of the Commonwealth – it seems as long as its not cash in a bag – there is truly no wrong-doing.

I will not take the time to underscore specific examples in this article, but some are well hashed out and established on Rock The Capital.

Government is a pact between the elected and the electorate. Voters do not have the desire or time to think about plowing roads, ensuring police respond when called, and feeling assured that when the toilet is flushed our waste is safely carried away. We just want to wake up every day and know those functions are set on automatic.

But, when systems malfunction we rely on elected leaders to expedite quick fixes, and to shepherd our tax dollars as though it comes out of the family checking account.

Let’s not mince the avenue I am addressing; this is not about lobbyists and business owners helping to shape public policy with back-slaps and campaign contributions

No, the corruption I am here to iron out is this: too many in government, whether elected or appointed have a tendency to behave as though they have sacrificed their lives by plying their trade under the heading government worker. There is, among some, an innate sense of entitlement to pocket or grab the “extras.”

It’s sad for a couple of reasons that, in Pennsylvania, we need another layer of oversight to make sure our lawmakers and other government workers abide by the law. It’s sad that we do not have a statewide agency with a full time mandate to lord over authorities, and protect taxpayers. It’s sad that we have to create and empower a Public Integrity Commission to make sure people do right every day of the year.

Pennsylvania must shake things up and break apart a culture that has been lulled in to accepting corruption as part of the age we live in.

A well staffed, well funded Public Integrity Commission, will compel those in power to start behaving the way we demand of “six pack joe” and “one bottle barbara.”

As those familiar with horses know if not the carrot, there is always the stick. The template for honesty in the public work place forged by routine, competent, prosecution of law-breakers and those that dishonor public trust

For those not jilted to act in accordance with morals and the law – the humility of losing a job, a pension, and the stark possibility of spending time in jail should, for most, do the trick. Knowing how high the stakes are (hold on for a radical idea) of being held personally accountable, for unacceptable behavior could stem the temptations of wandering away from the moral code.

The strength of the commission could be imbued in the notion that authorities will routinely question themselves – - is it fair, is it ethical — before taking action – enlightened self interest to keep people honest, what a concept.

Reps. Curt Schroder (R-Chester County, Eugene DePasquale (D-York County, Mike Vereb (R-Montgomery County) and John Yudichak (D-Luzerne County) with a bipartisan group, held a news conference to announce a bill that would lead to creating the commission.

House Bill 2 now has widespread support among lawmakers (50 co-sponsors) of all political flavors and from advocates for clean government.

With what precious time is left before the November 2nd election ask your candidates if they will support H.B. 2. It’s a straightforward yes or no answer. Let them know how crucial this issue is, and if they want to earn your vote they must favor a Public Integrity Commission.

It should not be radical to insist on honesty from our government, but it is that way in Pennsylvania.

Until next time be radical, be practical, and most of all…Rock The Capital.

TRP, C5, October 2010


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This post was written by:
- who has written 13 posts for Rock The Capital
Andrew Stein is the Principal of Stein Consulting Group, an organization that advises on government, energy, and financial policy. Mr. Stein, is Chairman of the Board for Sustainable Energy Fund and is the Economic Advisor for EFMR Monitoring Group. Mr. Stein has over 20 years of real estate banking experience. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. - Email Andrew Stein

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