It’s one thing to have a little-known state politician make what amounts to nothing more than a grandstanding display to impeach the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justices who ordered the state’s congressional maps to be redrawn in a way that would rectify the partisan gerrymandering enacted by the state’s Republican majority in 2011.
But Republican state Rep. Cris Dush got some high-profile backup to his call to impeach the four elected Democrats who voted in favor of the redrawing: none other than the Commonwealth’s junior senator, Republican Pat Toomey, as part of his scorched-earth take on what he saw as the patent unfairness of one party redrawing the map to its benefit and the opposition’s detriment, chimed in last week that “it’s a conversation that has to happen.”
There are so many conversations that need to happen about the state of the electoral process in the state; throwing a fit of pique so extreme that you are actively encouraging the invalidation of a legitimate election because you don’t agree with what those elected officials did is just not one of them.
Here’s a good alternative topic for Toomey – and everyone else on both sides who takes umbrage with how the high court handled this issue that is crucial to the state and the country: the growing need for a constitutional convention.
There hasn’t been one held in Pennsylvania in a half-century and, judging by the growing litany of issues that need to be addressed – budget, anyone? – it’s long past time to hold another one, where changes to both judicial selection and redistricting can be addressed and enshrined in the state Constitution. (It was during the 1968 constitutional convention that the current system of political elections followed by retention votes was put in place.)
The time is right: Based on past precedent, it would take around two years to set the stage for the convention, meaning that there would be enough time to propose and ratify changes like the adoption of a nonpartisan citizens commission to redraw maps in time to apply the 2020 US Census findings. And shifting from an elected to an appointed system for judges could be debated as well.
The jury has long been out on which method – elected or appointed – is more effective for carrying out justice. But you would have to be blind not to see that politicians threatening judges with impeachment for not acceding to their wishes is not the way forward.
Conor Lamb: How much does the 33-year-old former Marine and scion of a Pennsylvania political family scare the GOP? Enough that President Trump, Vice President Pence and First Daughter Ivanka Trump have all made campaign stops for Rick Saccone, Lamb’s Republican opponent in next month’s special election for the PA-18 Congressional seat vacated by the disgraced former Rep. Tim Murphy. And while Democrats are getting vastly outspent by the GOP in the district, his performance thus far – a Monmouth University poll released Feb. 15 had him within 3 points of Saccone in a district that has voted overwhelmingly for Republicans – Lamb’s momentum has been mirrored by an uptick in coverage by both state and national publications like Politico.
Rebecca Rhynhart: the Philadelphia City Controller continues to make headlines, this time with a long-overdue, common-sense initiative to establish a secure phone line that City of Philadelphia employees can use to report sexual misconduct they have experienced during their employment with the city.
Low-level offenders: Philadelphia’s other big winner from last year’s progressive landslide, DA Larry Krasner, kept a campaign promise by declaring the end of cash bail requirements for 25 non-violent offenses outlined by the district attorney's office, including: driving under the influence, personal use marijuana possession, retail theft, forgery, prostitution, and burglary where no one is present.
Emilio Vazquez: The winner of last year’s scandal-wracked special election for the 197th state House District lost the endorsement of local Democratic leaders for this year’s primary – no mean feat in Philadelphia. Vazquez, who won via a write-in campaign that is still undergoing scrutiny, will face off against the candidate who did receive the party’s endorsement, Danilo Burgos.
Daryl Metcalfe: In this week’s edition of Can You Top This, the state Rep. echoed one of the more insidiously repugnant “theories” about the massacre at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last week: that survivors of the shooting were not actually students, but paid “crisis actors.” With a trolling CV as impressive as Metcalfe’s, Glenn Beck, Jim Hoft, et al. need to watch their backs.
Philadelphia: Two of the most effective players in city government announced their departures last week: City Solicitor Sozi Tulante and Al Spivey, chief of staff for Councilman Curtis Jones. Tulante, who navigated the city through the tortuously tortious legal waters of cases including the city’s sanctuary city status and the ongoing soda tax debate, is leaving for the University of Pennsylvania Law School, while Spivey, with over two decades of political experience in the Commonwealth, becomes the Philadelphia point man for political consultancy Mercury Strategies.