Unfamiliar_Word t1_je5mmo3 wrote

I don't care for this outcome. (Or that nobody's left to even perfunctorily challenge Kenyatta Johnson in my district.)

The whole process of gathering petitions and signature challenges seems perverse to me.

We should evade the whole nonsense by adopting a deposit system, at least as an alternative. Rather than harassing people for signatures, a place on the ballot would require depositing a sum of money, which would be returned to you after the election should you win a sufficient share of votes.

In the United Kingdom, the deposit is £500 (Approximately $ 615) and is returned to any candidate who wins at least 5 % of the vote. (Both the deposit and vote share required for it to be returned were higher in the past) I would suggest a higher fee and vote threshold, if only to aggressively filter some more of the crazies and delusional also-rans out. The deposit, at least, should also probably be higher for city-wide offices. Perhaps the deposit amount could also be adjusted for wealth and income, which might have an interesting side-effect if the deposit amounts were public.

This might seem peculiar or unfair, but its a common practice and given the cost and difficult of soliciting sufficient signatures, might be less burdensome and reduce the incidence of shameful absurdities such as this year's races for district seats on the City Council.

Ultimately, however, the situation is a consequence of a defective political system that problem requires deeper, almost traumatic reform.


Unfamiliar_Word t1_jdp18e7 wrote

I once read, somewhere that I cannot recall, that there was a time when a third of Pennsylvanians spoke Pennsylvania Dutch. My father is Pennsylvania Dutch and his father was bilingual, but his mother forbade him from being taught the tongue as it wasn't, "modern." She later admitted that this was a mistake. He once told me that he hated going to the local barber shop in his small coal town as all the old men would speak Pennsylvania Dutch and he would have no idea what they were saying.

My grandfather once visited a bar in Upper Darby, where we lived when I was very young, and the locals asked if he was Swedish, because of his accent. My mother has told me that when she met his grandparents, she could never quite tell when they were speaking Pennsylvania Dutch and when they were speaking 'Dutchified' English.

When I was in college, in an act of futility, I took courses in German that were taught by a woman from southern Germany. I once showed her my grandfather's old Grundsau Lodsch (Numma Finf an da Schwador) pamphlets, and she was amused to find the language rather familiar. (She also said that I sounded Austrian when I tried to speak German)

I wish that I were bilingual, because I would not be too far from High German, even if I would sound like something of a 'hick' in Germany, and it would be amusing if I could banter with my father auf Deitsch when he visits. My grandfather would often torment my mother, a self-described 'suburban princess' from Central Pennsylvania, by speaking Pennsylvania Dutch around her. He used to recite some poem that began, "A Truss truss trilly, a farmer hat in Philly," and ended, "the farmer had to sell," that I wish I knew all of. The Pennsylvania Dutch have strange, slight cruel streak, especially toward children. (Anybody who has lived in mortal terror of the Belschnickel knows what I refer to.)


Unfamiliar_Word t1_jdokiat wrote

This is all weird and dumb, especially the way that some people are trying to make Giselle Fetterman out to be some kind of malevolent, conniving, modern-Day Pennsylvanian Lady McBeth. If the man is being treated for something as painful and difficult as depression, I would expect him to want and keep his privacy.

Some people are so bored of their lives and have such deranged views of the world that they seem to think that seem to need to believe that we're living in some unproduced Alan J. Pakula script from the seventies.


Unfamiliar_Word t1_jdokavv wrote

I would ordinarily scoff at the idea of eating a an 'American restaurant' when abroad, but this is enough of a curiosity and cheesesteaks are, bafflingly, so rarely well-made outside of their 'native range' that I would encourage you to sample its fare. It would be a Hell of a thing to be able to get in London what seems almost impossible to get in Pittsburgh or Albany^(*).

^(*These are just places where I have ordered inexplicably bad cheesesteaks or seen them ordered.)


Unfamiliar_Word t1_jdn1in9 wrote

What the fuck are you even talking about? Are They/Them Antifa Supersoldier militias forcing kindergarten classes into drag queen story hours at gunpoint?

The word, "force,' or, "forced," or phrases like, "shove down or throats," usually amount to the most disingenuous bullshit wherever they are used. Drag is just the latest convenient fuel for the fires of fear, disgust and anger that burn in the heart of their movement that they have to keep shoveling in for it to keep moving.


Unfamiliar_Word t1_jdml3x5 wrote

I like this. Republicans have made drag into some kind of insidious, malevolent evil as part of their never-ending campaign to whip the the dumbest people you knew in high school into a rabid froth, but it's mostly fun, expressive and campy. I'm not interested in it myself, but I like that it can have a place in society generally and Philadelphia in particular. That alternatives tend to become pretty appalling.

Talking about street sweeping, hiring police getting sh*t done and how Jeff Brown lied about Michelle Obama endorsing him have^(*) has gone on and will still go on, but there's nothing really lost and a little gained in having a brief respite to show support people who have been cruelly, cynically and unfairly targeted for villainization by actual evil villains.

^(*None of this is meant to reflect an opinion or judgement of any candidates; it mostly reflects what I heard over the radio at the Fine Wine & Good Spirits on Locust Street a few days ago.)


Unfamiliar_Word t1_jdaubje wrote

It is almost certainly also law enforcement activity as ensuring public safety is, no matter how they might often fail to do so, a function of the police.

The earliest Pennsylvania budget that is available online is that for FY 1969 - 1970. On page 237 (345 of the file) in the section regarding the State Police, i shows an estimated expenditure of 25,403 for FY 1968-1969 and there are references to things like them receiving, "a Motor License Fund transfer for traffic patrol activities." So the transfer has been made for at least fifty five years and I would bet that it could be shown to go back as far as the creation of the Motor License fund in 1946 if the relevant documents were readily available.

What's more, prior to the current Pennsylvania State Police, there was briefly a separate Highway Patrol within the Department of Highways that was later merged with the State Police to form the Pennsylvania Motor Police, which were later renamed back to Pennsylvania State Police. In light of that, it seems plausible to me that the constitutional amendment the created what is now Article VIII § 11(a) was written to include allowance for it to fund, "safety," with the intention of allowing for highway patrol functions to be funded from motor vehicle revenues, in keeping with their past association with the Highway Department.

A more than half-century old precedent of actual practice seems to lend credence as a matter of reality to my reading. Even if I'm wrong, all that means some combination of that the PSP must reduce their activities, other functions of the government must be reduced or new revenues my be raised elsewhere, which might in fact end up just being equivalent to increasing Motor License Fund Revenue sources to compensate for the transfer to the State Police, because no matter what governments pretend, money is still fungible.


Unfamiliar_Word t1_jdaonoi wrote

>No, it doesn't, and any belief it does is the same as in believing in faeries and unicorns, or just a straight inability to understand the English language.

The restriction of motor vehicle revenues to highway purposes is provided for by Article VIII § 11(a) of the Constitution of Pennsylvania.

This section provides that, "proceeds from gasoline and other motor fuel excise taxes, motor vehicle registration fees and license taxes, operators' license fees and other excise taxes imposed on products used in motor transportation... used solely for construction, reconstruction, maintenance and repair of and safety on public highways and bridges and costs and expenses incident thereto." (Emphasis mine)

Interpreting such funds being available for use to fund public safety as meaning that they may be used for law enforcement patrols on highways, thus transferred to the PSP, is a very reasonable interpretation of that language.


Unfamiliar_Word t1_jdaiw0g wrote

>How much of the $4.25 billion that was siphoned off for PSP could have been spent fixing the number of red flagged bridges in this state? You know, like the one in Pittsburgh that collapsed?

I don't know; I'm neither a PennDoT budget analyst nor one of its engineers. I was making a narrow claim contrary to the original post of this thread that the transfer the PSP is not so large that it accounts for most of the tax differential between Pennsylvania and adjacent states.

>If the money is not going to where it's supposed to, we shouldn't be paying it.

At I have pointed out elsewhere, the section of the Commonwealth Constitution that restricts motor vehicle revenues includes highway safety, which would include PSP highway patrols, as among the permissible expenditures and these transfers have been going on for decades. Even if the transfers were abolished, they would need to be made up for by cutting PSP activity, cutting other programs supported by the General Fund to transfer their funding to the PSP or increases in revenue through new or higher fees and taxes.


Unfamiliar_Word t1_jda93cu wrote

It's not a crime, it's a policy and an long running one.

Article VIII § 11 (a) of the Constitution of Pennsylvania restricts, "proceeds from gasoline and other motor fuel excise taxes, motor vehicle registration fees and license taxes, operators' license fees and other excise taxes imposed on products used in motor transportation," to be, "used solely for construction, reconstruction, maintenance and repair of and safety on public highways and bridges and costs and expenses incident thereto." (Emphasis mine.)

Law enforcement patrols of highways seems easily construed as falling within the remit of the authorization to use motor vehicle revenues for, "safety on public highways," or even, "incident thereto." The practice has been in place for a long time. Governor Raymond P. Shafer's FY 1969 - 1970 Governor's Executive Budget refers expressly to this function such as on page 52 (actually page 60 of the file), where it states that the Motor License Fund, "finances State Police highway patrol operation."

Whether PSP highway safety operations cost half a billion dollars is another question and one that I imagine would be practically difficult to assess, much less implement a policy relative to. To some extent, recent administrations seem to have considered that it might not as the size of the transfer has been gradually reduced over the foregoing several years. Even if it is wholly eliminated that does not mean that difficult questions about the funds available PennDoT and the PSP will be avoided.


Unfamiliar_Word t1_jda0u8o wrote

PennDoT's fiscal staff would certainly rather be rid of the transfer to the Pennsylvani State Police, which is a complaint that might conceivably have existed in some form since at least the fifties, but I mean to suggest that the transfer is not enough to account for the differential in tax rates.

The most recent Governor's Executive Budget shows that the Motor License Fund had revenues of $ 2.9 billion in fiscal year 2021-2022, (page 58) which the most recent year that actual revenues are available for, and that the Pennsylvania State Police received $ 0.5 billion from the Motor License Fund (page 565). So the State Police receive 17.7 % of Motor License Fund Revenues; that's a consequential amount, but I'm skeptical that it accounts for fuel taxes being so much higher than in neighboring states. (Governor Shapiro's budget calls for the PSP to receive only $ 400 million of Motor License Fund revenue for the coming fiscal year)

If the transfer were eliminated, it would need to be compensated for by some mixture of lowering PSP expenditures by more than a third, reducing other programs so that funding could be transferred to the PSP or introducing a new revenue source. It's not surprising that the General Assembly and Governor have neglected to make those choices for so long or that they should have relied upon a way to keep part of the PSP budget off the the General Fund's books.


Unfamiliar_Word t1_jd9ilo3 wrote

I don't know why it should be considered troubling in and of itself. It could only be 'troubling' if roadway maintenance and construction were particularly cost-inefficient in Pennsylvania or if an excessive amount of work were being done. I am aware of the transfer of Motor License Fund revenues to the Pennsylvania State Police, but I believe that the most recent budgets have kept that in the vicinity of $ 500 million and I doubt that this accounts for the differential. There is also a question of other sources of revenue and use of federal funds.

If you insist upon lower the 'gas tax'^(*), then you must endorse a worse roadway maintenance and slower construction, a severe curtailment of new construction, some kind of miraculous 'efficiency' reform or a combination of the three. Highways are not cheap things and Pennsylvania is a large jurisdiction with some very trying weather and lots of things to bridge over.

^(*Pennsylvania does not, strictly speaking, have 'gas tax' in the sense of an) ^(ad valorem) ^(rate per gallon, but a tax upon the wholesale price of fuel, which is the cost paid by filling stations to their suppliers. Hence why Pennsylvania is) ^(listed by the American Petroleum Institute) ^(as having an excise tax of $ 0.)