Lance Armstong and the Pa. GOP: soul brothers?

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If winning is all that matters, who cares about a little a lot of cheating?

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times
Lots to discuss this frosty weekend in January, so instead of the more typical main subject matter, indulge me and try to follow a thread of complicated technology, overt party politics, acoustics and just about a little bit of everything people are talking about in the Unionville area this week.

And yes, this week, it’s little long as I was channeling a bit of Victor Hugo — but I promise, Russell Crowe will not be singing any parts in the movie version.

Let’s start with the Pennsylvania Republican Party, which seems to be working harder day by day to become the Lance Armstrong of political parties.

With all of the pressing issues facing our state from crumbling infrastructure to a massive, legislature-created pension disaster, what key piece of legislation did one of our local state representatives decide to sponsor? Yup. Sen. Dominic Pileggi’s plan to reapportion presidential electoral votes by congressional district is being sponsored by State Representative Steve Barrar — only mildly ironic as Barrar is an avid bicyclist.

Let’s keep in mind this is the same party that impressively gerrymandered our congressional districts so that the 7th, which covers a big swatch of the greater Unionville area, is one of the most embarrassing districts in the nation. And Republican congressional candidates got less than half the vote in 2012, but won 13 of 18 seats.

Last year, this same group wasted millions in taxpayer money to solve a non-existent problem, voter fraud, (but the goal, according to State House Majority Leader Mike Turzai was really to help Mitt Romney win Pennsylvania by suppressing minority voting).

That didn’t work, so now they want to hand out electoral votes by congressional district, claiming it’s “fairer.” Bullhockey. It would only be fairer if all 50 states did it this way — and yet there only seems to be a movement to do this in states that voted Democrat for president, yet are controlled by Republicans. I’m missing the crusade for “fairness” in Texas.

In short: the Republicans have cheated, but it hasn’t worked well enough, so they want to cheat some more and hope you don’t notice.

The Republicans haven’t won a presidential race in Pennsylvania since 1988, although they manage to win many other state-wide elections (thanks to the woeful political skills of the state Democratic Party), so hey, anything goes to win, right? That’s how Armstrong explained how he doped to win seven Tour De France races — because never could even make the top rank of cycling without cheating — and now will have to live in shame and ignominy.

Taken together, these moves by the state Republican Party are telling: they are acknowledging that they can’t win without cheating.

Were I a Republican, I’d be angry that my party had fallen to the point where it can’t win without cheating, and ask a lot of questions.

A week ago, I was ready to write a column praising bipartisan behavior of some elected officials — and intend to get to that shortly — but something about it made me want to wait, and now I know why.

Events always seem to overtake anything like good feeling when it comes to politics.

I was all ready to praise U.S. Rep. Joe Pitts (R-16) for his statesman-like vote on the fiscal cliff issue when he went all lunkheaded and voted against the Hurricane Sandy relief bill. His more politically savvy colleagues in the area, Pat Meehan (R-7) and Jim Gerlach (R-6) voted for the package as well as the fiscal cliff deal, so we can take some comfort that they are not partisan shills, and seem able to rise above the level of “stupid” that seems to pass for normal these days in D.C. and Harrisburg.

But not Joe Pitts.

Let’s set aside that Pitts was the least likely of three to have to worry about a primary from the right of the three Chester County members of Congress. Let’s set aside the fact that this aid is likely to be going to some of his own constituents who own summer shore homes and the fact that we have all repeatedly paid for emergency storm funds for states on the Gulf Coast.

Pitts’ vote wasn’t needed to block the bill, so it was a statement vote. A pandering to those who hate government vote.

Just to be clear, I’m not picking on Pitts and Barrar because of the letter that follows their name — I’m doing so strictly on the basis of their actions.

And there are Republicans I can praise — including Gerlach and Meehan — but I want to focus on our own Chester County Commissioners.

With little political need to do so, they reelected minority commissioner Kathi Cozzone, Democrat, as Vice Chair, with Republican Ryan Costello the new chair. By right, the Republicans could have elected both of their commissioners, including Terence Farrell — as had pretty much been done since the Civil War and there would have been little or no political price to pay.

To be sure, the three commissioners do not always agree — nor is it reasonable to expect them to. But all three should be commended at working to find common ground and moving forward on areas where they do have broad agreement, a lesson clearly lost on all too many in office these days.

* * *

A lesson lost on me seems to be thinking that people will act anything like sensibly at Zoning Hearing Board Hearings, as I learned again this past Tuesday night.

To be sure, there are weighty and complicated issues at hand in the current proceedings going on between East Marlborough and the owners of the Inn at Whitewing Farm.

In case you missed it, Whitewing’s owner Lance Shortt and the township have been battling over whether he can hold weddings at his Valley Road bed and breakfast.

Continued on next page

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