By Tim Potts, Democracy Rising PA News, Oct. 19, 2012
A while ago, a DR supporter unsubscribed from DR News, saying that he thought DR could change things in Harrisburg, but we haven’t.
I replied that DR never could change things in the Capitol. Only citizens can. DR’s role is to educate citizens and empower them so that they can get a constitutional convention and repair their government.
While we can wish we had more success in the eight years since I co-founded DR, we also can celebrate some victories:
• The Pay Raise of 2005 was repealed, a first in PA history.
• PA has a new open records law for the first time since 1957.
• PA has a new lobbying control law. When DR began, there had been no law at all for years.
• Our General Assembly has not held a lame-duck session since 2006, although it has not made lame-duck session unconstitutional as 86% of PA voters want.
• WAMs are gone along with other suspect spending, which saves taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.
• Legislative staff no longer receive millions of dollars in bonuses, a practice that rewarded political work at taxpayer expense and led to two dozen criminal convictions for public corruption.
• The General Assembly’s surplus is down from more than $200 million to around $122 million at last release.
• Not a single legislative leader who brought us the Pay Raise of 2005 remains in leadership. Some are in jail or headed there. Others have re-joined the rank and file.
Citizens achieved these victories.
DR worked alongside organizations like Rock the Capital, Common Cause/PA, and the League of Women Voters of PA to provide leadership and focus on important problems of constitutional concern and public integrity as evidence of the need for a constitutional convention. But citizens were the deciding force. Without impressing upon their lawmakers and candidates that voters expect positive change, nothing would have happened.
Beginning in November, Democracy Rising PA will be searching for new leadership and a new approach to raising the money needed for this work. It’s time to re-invent DR with a greater focus on social media and grassroots activism. Although I will not be involved in day-to-day operations, I will continue to serve on DR’s board of directors.
Uniquely, Democracy Rising PA was created to advocate for a constitutional convention where citizens can repair our conspicuously broken government. That mission will not change because citizens remain eager for it. When we began, only 24% of voters thought a constitutional convention was a good idea. Today, a convincing (except to lawmakers) 68% of voters think it’s necessary, and they’re right….
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