Friday, October 21, 2005

Judges deserve to rejoin the Private Sector

On the public tab

In response to Michael McGough's Oct. 17 Intellectual Capital column ("The Poor Man's Snobbery: Complaining About Pay Raises for Public Officials Is a Great American Pastime, But Judges Shouldn't Suffer for Our Fun"): Mr. McGough should be aware that the Pennsylvania legislative pay raise is just the tip of the iceberg.
The Pennsylvania Legislature is the nation's largest full-time legislature, second-most expensive and, in my opinion, very ineffective. "Anti-pay raise zealots" are correct to include judges in their rants. Their salaries of $170,000 per year place them among the highest paid. The Associated Press reported that "the state's seven Supreme Court justices last year billed taxpayers ... $164,000 in food, travel and lodging," and "an analysis of expense records [by the Harrisburg Patriot-News] revealed that some expenses were not accompanied by receipts or vouchers, and some receipts were vague in describing the expenses."
Justice Russell Nigro billed us for 115 meals, with some costing as much as $400. Justice Sandra Schultz Newman charged taxpayers for OnStar service on her Cadillac SRX.
As citizens, we must hold all of our elected state officials personally accountable for their decisions. The legislators may have raised our taxes and stolen our money, but the judges who remained silent and left their Pennsylvania Constitutions at home when they dined out on our dime are just as guilty.
Voters must rally so that our state can reach its full potential. Leaving it to the current crop of elected officials is just not an option.

Forest Hills

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