This is WESA Politics, a weekly newsletter by Chris Potter that provides analysis of Pittsburgh and state politics. Sign up here to get it every Thursday afternoon.
As a public radio station, WESA generally avoids profanity. We believe that our audience deserves respectful and rational discussion. (in short we fear the fcc.) But that takes work…especially when discussing an even more provocative topic with Allegheny County Rep. Bethany Hallam: the state legislature’s rules of procedure.
Haram, you may have heardHallam made waves earlier this month, as Maria Liasson explains, using a vulgar anatomical reference to Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Elliott Howsie at a prison oversight board meeting. I have represented the county legislature at the convention and have repeatedly opposed Orlando Harper of Howes and Warden as a staunch supporter of improving conditions in Allegheny County Jail.
Hallam says she muttered the adjective to herself, but her microphone picked it up, and she didn’t apologize. , came to draft a motion condemning her.
“I think that behavior is below the dignity of our office,” DeMarco told colleagues at a board meeting on Tuesday.
DeMarco’s resolution received only two “yes” votes from the 15-member council. Some argued that it applies unequal standards. Refused to accuse another member last yearIt also probably didn’t help that during the public comment, DeMarco himself was confronted with a tweet referring to a congressman who labeled: another A crude anatomical insult.
But Councilor Dewitt Walton made it clear that this is not the last adjective we will hear on the subject. “I called some people some names and I’ll do it again,” he said, explaining his vote to abstain.
and maybe it should not do end the discussion. Rules exist to prevent bullying people with different points of view, but they can also be used to set aside those points of view. Tanisha Long, one of his advocates for Haram and an advocate for judicial reform, publicly said in his comments that the denunciation effort “silenced him one of the few people who stand up for those incarcerated.” It looks like they are trying to
That was arguably not DeMarco’s goal. may help explain why she has caused more public concern about prison conditions than any other public figure.
And that feeling that the rules are being used to sideline voices that challenge the status quo? There are many such things.
In fact, it was just one night after the council debate that State House Speaker Mark Rozzi visited Carnegie Mellon University to launch a bipartisan party.listening touron the end of ‘Gridlock’ and ‘bipartisanship’ in Harrisburg.
Lozzi moved up to speakership In an altercation over who should rule the tightly divided House of Representatives – he then immediately released the shutterDemocrats took the step after Republicans tried to tie a constitutional amendment that included a voter ID requirement into a bill that would make it easier for victims of child sexual abuse to sue their abusers.
“My priority is getting things done,” Lozzi, an abuse survivor himself, told reporters on Wednesday. “I will keep the door of my house locked until I find a way forward.”
Republicans view the tour as an effort to run out of time until time runs out. special election trio In Allegheny County, all Democrats are likely to win. (The sweep gives Democrats a clear House majority.
But if state legislators are upset about being barred from the House, many who attended Lotzi’s event clearly feel the same way. many years.
Speaker after speaker argued that House rules do more than just prevent good legislation from passing. DiscussedThe handful of party leaders who form the majority, and the people they appoint to chair, have almost complete control over which bills are voted on. Even a bill that gains broad bipartisan support could be locked up for years.
Carnegie Mellon University professor John Nagle countered that the chairman of the committee and party leaders were “a chokepoint in the bill.” By gaining the support of that elite, “lobbyists can defeat bills that have broad support,” he said.
And because these bills aren’t even up for vote or debate, reform advocate Frank Kirkwood lamented when reform bills were “found dead, with no fingerprints on their bodies.”
No one said Steve Inskeep had to get to the thesaurus on Wednesday night. (But there was Elizabeth Stell of the Commonwealth Foundation, a free market advocacy group, has urged the House to “get back to work” and rescind the voter ID requirement: The impotence’s concerns seem irrelevant. , rules are often used to justify ignoring them.
It doesn’t mean that people watching their lives be in danger in a county jail or arguing over state gun control laws have to use obscenities to express their displeasure. But when they matter, emphasizing rules and politeness can feel like the biggest obscenity of all.