Monday, December 24, 2007

Civil war for Montco GOP

The Republican Party in neighboring Montgomery County is in the middle of a civil war. Read the latest in The Mercury and check for updates at the Tony Phyrillas politics blog.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Why school taxes are so high

A newspaper in Altoona did an analysis of school superintendent contracts. The Altoona Mirror looked at most of the state's 501 school districts.

The newspaper obtained the actual contracts of all the superintendents and has them posted at its Web site.

"In addition to the already-publicized salaries are benefits and perks that often last into retirement," according to the newspaper.

That means taxpayers often end up paying for mistakes made by their elected school board members, who turn into doormats when it comes to handing out salary and perks to superintendents.

You have to read this scandalous report.

Here's the link to the newspaper's Web site: http://www.altoonamirror.com/page/content.detail/id/502762.html?nav=742

The newspaper's findings about excessive compensation for school administrators is similar to a January 2007 column by Tony Phyrillas.

Read "The Other Half of the School Tax Problem" by clicking here.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Democrats lead the way in Congressional pork spending

What was that Democrats were saying about changing the culture of corruption in Washington? What was that about draining the swamp?

Not only have Democrats failed to live up to their promise of ending "business-as-usual" in Washington, but 20 freshmen Democrats elected as part of the Democratic tide in 2006 have spent most of 2007 wallowing in the same muck as the Republicans they defeated.

USA Today is reporting that 20 freshman Democrats in the House and Senate have secured $70 million in pork barrel projects for their districts.

The worst offenders? Four Democrats elected in Pennsylvania House districts. Topping the list of Senate porkers is freshman Sen. Bob Casey Jr.

Nothing changes in Washington except who sticks his hand in your pocket. Last year, it was Republicans. This year it's the Democrats.

Below is the list of Special-Interest Spending published by USA Today, showing the 20 freshman members of Congress who had the most special-interest spending, or "earmarks," in the House and Senate spending bills, according to the newspaper. This includes only spending items with a single sponsor, not multiple sponsors, the newspaper notes.)

Member, Party, State, (District) Total Earmarks

Rep. Christopher Carney, D-Pa. (10th) $18,185,000
Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa. $16,649,579
Rep. Jason Altmire, D-Pa. (4th) $12,475,000
Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Pa. (8th) $11,822,500
Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa. (7th) $11,175,000
Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va. $11,000,000
Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa (1st) $10,586,540
Rep. Steve Kagen, D-Wis. (8th) $10,485,000
Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky. (3rd) $10,456,000
Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Texas (22nd) $10,423,537
Rep. Brad Ellsworth, D-Ind. (8th) $10,356,000
Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C. (11th) $10,333,000
Rep. Chris Murphy, D-Conn. (5th) $10,325,000
Rep. Baron Hill, D-Ind. (9th) $9,760,000
Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind. (2nd) $9,640,000
Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Calif. (11th) $9,275,000
Rep. Paul Hodes, D-N.H. (2nd) $8,806,000
Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt. (at-large) $8,781,000
Rep. Charlie Wilson, D-Ohio (6th) $8,726,000
Rep. Michael Arcuri, D-N.Y. (24th) $8,425,000

Source: USA TODAY analysis based on data from Taxpayers for Common Sense, www.taxpayer.net

The revelation that Democrats were now the kings of Congressional pork was noted by Pennsylvania Republican Party Chairman Robert A. Gleason Jr.

"Pennsylvania Democrats sure have some answering to do," Gleason said in a written statement. "After criticizing former members of Congress for securing funding for pet projects, every freshmen member of Pennsylvania’s Democrat Congressional Delegation was listed at the top of the list when it comes to securing earmarks for their pet projects. While on the campaign trail in Pennsylvania last year, Sen. Bobby Casey Jr. and Congressmen Chris Carney, Jason Altmire, Patrick Murphy, and Joe Sestak each promised to put a stop to pork-barrel spending; however, all have proven that they care far more about Washington politics than their promises.

"What this report does not reflect is that each one of these Democrats had to give up a vote for something else to get their smaller piece of the pot to fund projects in their districts. The simple truth is that each one of these Democrats had to first agree to send hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars, including money from Pennsylvania, all over this country in order to receive any funding for their pet project. Is this the change that Democrats promised last year?

"Every one of these Democrats has flip-flopped on their campaign promise to ensure the proper spending of our hard-earned tax dollars. Pennsylvanians' distrust with these elected officials is sure to grow, and I can only imagine that it will be difficult for them to trust anything they say as they campaign next year. They all seem to be from the Clinton school of politics – stand for nothing, say whatever is popular at the time, and sell out early and often

Keep in mind these are only freshmen members of Congress. The King of Congressional Pork continues to be Rep. John Murtha, also of Pennsylvania. Read more about Murtha's antics at the Boot Murtha Web site, www.bootmurtha.com.

For more background on Congressional pork spending, I recommend http://www.porkbusters.org/

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Rendell threatens to take hostages again

Somebody should put a call into SWAT. Gov. Ed Rendell is planning to take hostages again.

Rendell is threatening to withhold state aid to help doctors pay for malpractice insurance unless the Legislature approves the governor's plan to provide government-subsidized health insurance for the state's 800,000 uninsured residents.

Rendell's "Cover All Pennsylvanians" proposal has been languishing in the Legislature since the governor first floated the idea in February. Lawmakers refuse to consider Rendell's 3-percent payroll tax on employers who do not provide health insurance to fund health coverage for the uninsured.

Rendell always has something up his sleeve. When the Legislature balked at leasing the Pennsylvania Turnpike to a private company to help raise money to bail out mass transit, Rendell went to Plan B: Making Interstate 80 a toll road.

The governor now wants the Legislature to use part of the projected $500 million surplus in the state's medical malpractice fund (known as MCare) to pay for the uninsured. That won't cover all the costs of providing health coverage to 800,000 people. The rest of the money would come from an additional 10-cents-a-pack tax on cigarettes and taxing cigars and smokeless tobacco.

This is not the first time Rendell has threatened to hold hostages to get his way. He did it earlier this year when he threatened state workers. And we all know how well that worked out.

It just five months ago when Rendell and the Legislature could not agree on a $27 billion General Fund budget for the 2007-08 fiscal year, which began July 1.

Rendell's bargaining chip was 24,000 "non-essential" state workers. Rendell went ahead with the furlough, but when the Legislature wouldn't budge and public sentiment turned against Rendell, he brought the workers back the next day (and ended up paying them for the extra vacation day). That little stunt cost Pennsylvania taxpayers about $3 million.

As I said back in July when I wrote about Rendell's bully tactics, when you take hostages, you have to be prepared to follow through with the threat to harm them. Rendell blinked on the furlough of state workers and lost the fight over the budget. He didn't get his health insurance plan or any of the $2.5 billion in new or expanded taxes Rendell wanted to include in the 2007-08 budget.

Taking the state's doctors hostage is an even dumber move on the governor's part. Unlike state workers, doctors have more resources at their disposal. They are a powerful lobbying group that can do a lot of harm to politicians. Doctors like having the state pick up part of their malpractice payments and are not going to give it up without a fight.

Rendell and the lockstep Democrats in the House have overreached several times in 2007. Pennsylvania residents want lower taxes, not more taxes and expanded government control of health care, transportation and energy.

In a story published by the Allentown Morning-Call, state Rep. Mike Sturla, a Democrat from Lancaster County, was quoted as saying he is willing to shake down Pennsylvania taxpayers even more to get the governor’s initiatives passed.

"I don't care if we stand people on their heads and shake pennies from their pockets," Sturla said. "All I want to do is make sure Pennsylvanians have access to health care in a reasonable, rational manner."

What a pleasant site. Rendell and Sturla holding an elderly Pennsylvania taxpayer upside down and shaking him until every penny falls out of his pocket.

Ask Sturla's constituents in Lancaster County if they'd like to pay more in taxes to people in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh can get health insurance. I think not.

Sturla may have talked his way out of a job when he faces re-election next year.
Let's say Rendell gets enough votes in the Legislature to raid the MCare fund.

Rendell is notorious for spending every dime that comes his way. What happens when the MCare fund is drained down to zero?

Where will Rendell get the money to replenish the MCare fund? The basic economic concept that Rendell has operated under is "Robbing Peter to Pay Paul."
Peter is tired of giving and Paul is in no mood to give anything back.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pennsylvania growers donate 'Trees for Troops'

I love the holiday season because so many people use their time and resources to help others. I had never heard of this program until I came across a press release from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. It shows the generosity of Pennsylvania tree growers and farmers.

Military families across the country and overseas will receive thousands of evergreen trees donated by Pennsylvania Christmas tree growers.

More than 30 Pennsylvania tree farms will participate in this year's "Trees for Troops" program, sponsored by the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation and FedEx.

More from the Dept. of Agriculture press release:

Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff joined the Pennsylvania Army National Guard 1067 Transportation Company of Lehighton, as well as FedEx volunteers and local Christmas tree growers in Carbon County to collect evergreens at Yenser's Tree Farm as part of a national effort to provide military families with real Christmas trees.

"Pennsylvania Christmas trees are some of the finest in the nation," said Wolff. "I thank our local growers for providing cheer to military families who may be away from their loved ones during Christmas. These trees will allow them to enjoy the fresh scent and holiday spirit that comes with the season."

Fleming's Christmas Tree Farms, Indiana County, joined Yenser's Tree Farm as a drop-off location.

More than 15,000 trees will be delivered to troops stationed in the United States and abroad. Trees from Pennsylvania will be delivered to Fort Campbell, Ky., and Fort Bliss, Texas.

The following are the tree farms donating to this year's "Trees for Troops" program:

Abraczinskas Nurseries - Catawissa.
Baumgartner Farms - Kunkletown
Bizup Tree Farms - S. Plainfield, N.J.
Carino Nurseries - Indiana, Pa.
Christmas Tree Hill - Lehighton
Cloverdale Farms - Weatherly
Crystal Springs Tree Farm - Lehighton
Crystal Springs Tree Farm II - Lehighton
Ecology III - Orangeville
E-Mar Acres Tree Farm - Saltsburg
Evergreen Acres Tree Farm - Auburn
Fleming's Christmas Tree Farms - Indiana
Hague's Christmas Trees - Hatfield
Heritage Acres Evergreens - Bloomsburg
Hill Farms - Lehighton
Kramer's Tree Farm - Schuylkill Haven
Lake Forest Gardens, Inc. - Fombell
Lenhart's Tree Farm - Mertztown
Lone Oak Farm - Monongahela
J. C. Hill Tree Farms, Inc. - Orwigsburg
Jay & Stacy Michalik - Lehighton
Kuhns Tree Farm - State College
McCurdy's Tree Farm - Dillsburg
Misty Run Tree Farm - Annville
Quaker State Plantations - Bloomsburg
Regina Farms - East Stroudsburg
Schmidt's Tree Farm - Landenberg
Sugar Bend Tree Farm - Sugar Run
Walker's Tree Farm - Lehighton
Yenser's Tree Farm - Lehighton

Monday, November 12, 2007

Honor Veterans by supporting our troops

As we pause on this Veterans Day to remember the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country, let's not forget active U.S. servicemen and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We can all do our small part to help these dedicated Americans as they spend the holidays away from loved ones.

There are many organizations working to make our troops a little more comfortable while they fight thousands of miles away to protect our nation.

One of these groups is in our own backyard, Berks Enduring Freedom.

The organization is holding a drive throughout the month of November to collect items for care packages that will be delivered to American servicemen and servicewomen in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Collection bins have been placed in public areas around Berks County. You can find out more about what's needed for the care packages by going to the Berks Enduring Freedom Web site.

The group is also looking for more volunteers to keep this worthwhile effort going.

As you do your holiday shopping or planning for holiday parties, think about your fellow Americans oversees and the sacrifices they are making for us.

Let's all pitch in and support Berks Enduring Freedom to make the lives of our troops a little more comfortable.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Business leaders must push reform in Pa.

I'd like to thank the TriCounty Area Chamber of Commerce for inviting me to speak at its November meeting on Thursday. The Chamber covers Montgomery, Chester and Berks counties.

Special thanks to Chamber President Dale Mahle and the wonderful Chamber staff for organizing an excellent event. It made getting up before the sun worth it. Also thanks to David Leinbach, who heads the Chamber's legislative affairs committee.

My message to the Chamber was that the business community, which has so much invested in Pennsylvania, must take the lead in reforming state government. You can read a roundup of my talk to the Chamber in today's edition of The Mercury.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Republicans for Mount Penn Borough Council: Phyrillas, Dudash, Cocuzza

Three Republican candidates are seeking re-election to the Mount Penn Borough Council on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Voters have an opportunity to keep these hard-working and dedicated members serving on the council.

Here's three good reasons to keep the experienced team working for you:

* Borough finances are in the best shape they've been in years.
* Borough government is efficient and responsive.
* All of the members of the Borough Council work well together and have a common goal of providing the best services to all Mount Penn residents.

Elect Jim Cocuzza to a two-year term on council.

Vote for Tony Phyrillas and Mark Dudash for four-year terms on council.

The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 6, at the Mount Penn Borough Hall.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Support our troops at Berks Enduring Freedom

As we approach the holiday season, let's not forget the men and women who are serving their country in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We can all do a little something to help these dedicated Americans as they spend the holidays away from loved ones.

There are many organizations working to make our troops a little more comfortable while they fight thousands of miles away to protect our nation.

One of these groups is called Berks Enduring Freedom.

The organization is holding a drive through the month of November to collect items for care packages that will be delivered to American servicemen and servicewomen in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Collection bins have been placed in public areas around Berks County. You can find out more about what's needed for the care packages by going to the Berks Enduring Freedom Web site.

The group is also looking for more volunteers to keep this worthwhile effort going.

As you do your holiday shopping or planning for holiday parties, think about your fellow Americans oversees and the sacrifices they are making for us. Let's all pitch in and support Berks Enduring Freedom to make the lives of our troops a little more comfortable.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Phyrillas named most influential blogger

Tony Phyrillas has been ranked the most influential political blogger in Pennsylvania by BlogNetNews.com, a Virginia-based news service that monitors political blogs in 39 states.

BlogNetNews.com tracks more than 65 blogs that focus on Pennsylvania politics and each week publishes its Top 20 "Influence Rankings."

BlogNetNews "combines a variety of data sets to determine which blogs are most powerfully influencing the direction of the Pennsylvania political blogosphere," according to its Web site. "The exact method BNN uses to calculate influence scores must remain proprietary in order to prevent attempts to game the system."

Phyrillas' self-titled blog has been ranked in the Top 20 of the BlogNetNews.com "Most Influential Political blogs" list every week since June and holds the highest cumulative ranking of any Pennsylvania blogger by readers of BlogNetNews.

To visit Phyrillas' blog, go to The Mercury’s Web site, www.pottsmerc.com, and click on the link under Opinion or go directly to the blog at TONY PHYRILLAS.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Phyrillas to speak at chamber breakfast

POTTSTOWN — Tony Phyrillas, award-winning political columnist for The Mercury, will be the keynote speaker at the monthly breakfast meeting of the TriCounty Area Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2007.

The event runs from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. at The Elks Lodge, 61 High St., Pottstown.

Phyrillas' presentation will be "Pennsylvania By The Numbers: Bigger Spending Doesn't Equal Better Government."

Tickets are still available for the program ($17 per member prepaid/$21 at the door). Non-members can also attend ($24 per non-member).

For more information about the TriCounty Chamber of Commerce, visit www.tricountyareachamber.com or call 610-326-2900.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Elect Phyrillas, Staron, Cocuzza, Dudash to Mount Penn Borough Council

Four incumbent members of the Mount Penn Borough Council are seeking re-election this November.

Voters have an opportunity to keep all four hard-working and dedicated members serving on the council.

Here's three good reasons to keep the experienced team working for you:

* Borough finances are in the best shape they've been in years.
* Borough government is efficient and responsive.
* All of the members of the Borough Council work well together and have a common goal of providing the best services to all Mount Penn residents.

Vote for Jim Cocuzza for a two-year term on council.

Vote for Tony Phyrillas, Tom Staron and Mark Dudash for four-year terms on council.

Keep the experienced team working for you. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Tony Phyrillas returns to television

You have two more opportunities Sunday to catch Tony Phyrillas, The Mercury's award-winning political columnist, on television.

Phyrillas is a guest on "Journalists Roundtable" program on the Pennsylvania Cable Network.

The one-hour program hosted by Bill Bova, is shown on cable systems throughout Pennsylvania. The program will be shown again Sunday, Oct. 14, at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m.

PCN is shown on Comcast Channel 78 in the Pottstown area, Comcast Channel 98 in Berks County and Service Electric Cable Channel 23 in Berks/Lehigh counties

Consult your cable guide for the PCN channel on your area.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Berks Republicans back online

After three years of having no presence on the Internet, the Berks County Republican Committee has re-launched a Web site.

This is one of the first tangible signs of progress for the party under its new chairman, Mark Gillen.

The party's former Web site was sabotaged and the two previous party chairs didn't think it was a priority to get the site back on the Web. Hello. This is 2007. More than 100 million Americans use computers on a regular basis. Anyone serious about politics is using the Web daily.

The new site can be found at www.BerksGOP.org

It's a bare-bones operation so far, but Gillen promises more features down the road.

In the meantime,you can find out who the Republican countywide candidates for the Nov. 6 election are by going to the site, which also has contact information for elected officials and a few links.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Mount Penn designates Halloween curfew

Mount Penn Borough Council has designated a Halloween curfew from Oct. 1 through Nov. 5.

That means all minors (anyone under the age of 18) must be off the streets between 9 p.m. until 6 a.m. on weekdays and 9:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. on weekends.

This action is intended to cut down on vandalism and other mischief that occurs during the weeks leading up to Halloween.

The borough's normal curfew is 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Violators can be fined if police see them on the streets during curfew hours.

The council also designated Tuesday, Oct. 30, and Wednesday, Oct. 31, as trick-or-treat nights in the borough. All trick-or-treaters should be off the streets by the 9 p.m. curfew.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Elect Cocuzza, Dudash, Phyrillas and Staron

Four incumbent members of the Mount Penn Borough Council are seeking re-election this November.

Voters have an opportunity to keep all four hard-working and dedicated members serving on the council.

Here's three good reasons to keep the experienced team working for you:

  • Borough finances are in the best shape they've been in years.
  • Borough government is efficient and responsive.
  • All of the members of the Borough Council work well together and have a common goal of providing the best services to all Mount Penn residents.

Vote for Jim Cocuzza for a two-year term on council. Vote for Mark Dudash, Tony Phyrillas and Tom Staron for four-year terms on council.

Keep the experienced team working for you.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Southern Berks News expands coverage

The Southern Berks News, a weekly newspaper put out by the Berks-Mont Newspapers group in Boyertown, has expanded its coverage area to include the Antietam School District, the borough of Mount Penn and Lower Alsace Township.

The newspaper, which previously covered the Daniel Boone and Exeter school districts and their communities, will also cover Antietam School Board meetings and municipal meetings in Mount Penn and Lower Alsace.

The free community newspaper, published every Wednesday, is available at dozens of locations in the area.

If you have any community news to share, e-mail the editor at editor@berksmontnews.com or call 610-367-6041. Local business interested in advertising can also call that number.

The Southern Berks News is also seeking freelance writers to cover community meetings and events. If you're interested in getting into journalism, contact Editor Charlie Butterbaugh at editor@berksmontnews.com or send him your resume and any writing samples at 124 N. Chestnut St., Boyertown, PA 19512.

The Southern Berks News can also be accessed on the Web at http://www.berksmontnews.com/

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Keep the experienced team working for Mount Penn

Four incumbent members of the Mount Penn Borough Council are seeking re-election this November.

Voters have an opportunity to keep all four hard-working and dedicated members serving on the council.

Here's three good reasons to keep the experienced team working for you:

1) Borough finances are in the best shape they've been in years.

2) Borough government is efficient and responsive.

3) All of the members of the Borough Council work well together and have a common goal of providing the best services to all Mount Penn residents.

Vote for Jim Cocuzza for a two-year term on council. Elect Mark Dudash, Tony Phyrillas and Tom Staron for four-year terms on council.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

John Fielding joins blogging community

I'd like to welcome a new member to the blogosphere. And he happens to be a fellow conservative from Berks County.

John Fielding, a Mount Penn attorney and school board member, has launched a new blog called Berks Conservative at http://berksconservative.blogspot.com

Fielding will use the site to offer "Musings from the conservative side of Berks County politics."

Fielding is well known in Republican circles in Berks County, having run previously for county office. He is currently a candidate for Berks County Recorder of Deeds. Fielding has set up a separate site to chronicle his campaign for Recorder of Deeds. You can find John Fielding for Recorder of Deeds at http://fielding4recorder.blogspot.com

This guy just won't stop. Fielding has also launched the Parents And Taxpayers United blog "dedicated to electing taxpayer-friendly candidates in Antietam School District" at http://parentsandtaxpayersunited.blogspot.com

Fielding is a longtime proponent of property tax reform and has repeatedly voted against property tax hikes and unreasonable spending while serving on the Antietam School Board.

Finally, Fielding has launched a blog called Antietam Tax Watch at http://antietamtaxwatch.blogspot.com The site is dedicated to "Fighting for the Taxpayers of Antietam"

Welcome John to the wonderful world of blogging, and thank you for linking to my site from your new Berks Conservative blog.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Mount Penn supports 'Stop Dumping In Berks' campaign

The Mount Penn Borough Council recently voted 5-0 to officially endorse the "Stop Dumping In Berks" initiative sponsored by Crime Alert Berks County.

Under the program, Berks County residents are asked to help report illegal dumping of trash anywhere in the county. Cash rewards of up to $5,000 are being offered by Crime Alert Berks County for information that leads to the conviction of persons who are dumping on public land or private property.

To help stop illegal dumping in Mount Penn or elsewhere in Berks County, call 1-877-373-9913 or 1-888-NEXT TIP and report anyone seen or known to dump trash illegally.

The call is toll free and the callers name will be kept confidential. A code number is assigned to each tip call so the person can collect the reward.

For more information, go to the Crime Alert Berks County Web site at http://www.alertberks.org/

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Mount Penn, Lower Alsace residents invited to join National Night Out on Aug. 7

The Central Berks Regional Police Department invites residents of Mount Penn and Lower Alsace to participate in the 24th Annual National Night Out event on Tuesday, August 7, 2007.

Activities run from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the A Field.

If you can't make the event, at least turn on your outside lights to help mark the annnual crime/drug prevention event.

Last year's National Night Out campaign involved citizens, law enforcement agencies, civic groups, businesses, neighborhood organizations and local officials from more than 10,000 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases worldwide.

In all, over 34 million people participated in NNO 2006.

NATIONAL NIGHT OUT is designed to:
Heighten crime and drug prevention awareness;
Generate support for, and participation in, local anticrime programs;
Strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships; and
Send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.

Click here to find out more about the history ofNATW and National Night Out.

Along with the traditional display of outdoor lights and front porch vigils, cities, towns and neighborhoods 'celebrate' NNO with a variety of events and activities such as:
block parties,
cookouts,
visits from local police and sheriff departments
parades, exhibits,
flashlight walks,
contests, and
youth programs.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Mount Penn, Lower Alsace homeowners face another big tax increase

The Antietam School Board voted 7-2 this week to approve its 2007-08 budget of $13.2 million.

That's a $665,000 increase over the current year's budget of $12.5 million.

The School Board also voted 7-2 to raise property taxes for district residents by 5.3 percent to blance the 2007-08 budget.

Antietam, which covers Mount Penn and Lower Alsace, has the highest school property tax rate in Berks County at 30.80 mills.

That means that a homeowner whose property is assessed at $100,000 will pay $3,080 in school property taxes. Your bill will be coming in July.

You can thank the seven members of the current school board for the tax hike, but let's not forget Gov. Ed Rendell, who has promised to lower property taxes for five years in a row, but still hasn't delivered 1 cent in property tax relief to homeowners.

And let's not forget state Sen. Michael A. O'Pake and state Rep. Dante Santoni. Both of these career politicians have been promising for decades to do something about property taxes. We're still waiting.

Keep in mind that both O'Pake and Santoni will seek re-election in 2008. They have failed taxpayers repeatedly. It's time to end the status quo in Harrisburg and elect people who will fight for taxpayers, not line their own pockets and ignore the wishes of the people.

Unlike the residents of Mount Penn and Lower Alsace who have to struggle to pay their property taxes, O'Pake and Santoni gave themselves automatic annual pay raises (unless the Legislature votes to turn the money down). That hasn't happened yet.

The only members of the Antietam School Board who sided with taxpayers are John Fielding and Lisa Iezzi. Both voted against the budget and against the tax increase.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Antietam High School Class of 2007

Congratulations to the Antietam High School Class of 2007.

Seniors received their diplomas during commencement exercises held at the high school on June 8. Greta Martikainen-Watcke, daughter of Thomas C. Watcke and Rebecca J. Martikainen, Lower Alsace, was valedictorian. Elizabeth A. Gettis, daughter of Mark A. Sr. and Kimberly A. Gettis, Lower Alsace, was salutatorian.

The Class of 2007 (listed in alphabetical order):

Andrea C. Allen
Alison M. Babbitt
Ian J. Bertolet
Kameron K. Biehl
Xavier J. Bolonski
Kevin G. Burk
Ian J. Burke
Alan C. Burkhart
Kaitlin O. Byerly
Jordan L. Cardinal
Kamil Chilashvili
Sean K. Crossley*
Gabriel A. Cuesta
Alexander D.W. Diaz-Cruz
Linsey A. Emes
Steven D. Farrara*
Andrew A. Fisher
Colleen L. Flemming
Elie R. Gabriel
Tyler G. Galczynski
James R. Gehringer
Elizabeth A. Gettis*
Johanna R. Goad
Danielle L. Goodwin
Gabrielle M. Goodwin
Joshua O. Hassler
Lauren J. Haufler*
Phillip A. Hinks
Crystal A. Hornberger
Walter P. Hummel II
Megan E. Hums*
Natalie E. Jaskiewicz
Abigail R. Kaminski*
Esther E. Kasprowicz
Scott S. Kiedeisch*
Adam T. Kozlowski
Eric M. Kriebel
Michael J. LaScala
Steve E. Le
Jamieson M. Lee
Mark L. Luckenbill*
Alexandra G. Lupia
Annika I.A. Lutz
Alexandria M. Maier
Greta Martikainen-Watcke
Cori J. Merklinger
Axel Q. Miller
Timothy W. Miller
Amanda M. Moody
Jessica L. Morrone
Alexander R. Perfect
Jessica D. Ploumis
Amanda M. Pritz
Christopher A. Reed
Alex T. Reifsnyder
Amber R. Reynolds*
Jaydee E. Rivera
Jennifer M. Rivera
Krystalina J. Rodriguez
Stephanie M. Santos
Lauren M. Schell
Courtney M. Schmittinger
Eric S. Shank
Michael T. Stephenson Jr.
Joseph M. Stoltz
Natalie A. Stout
Shannon L. Stout
Jessica R. Sweitzer
Pamela N. Swope*
Samantha A. Swope
Matthew A. Taft
Arsenio J. Tavarez*
Shawn M. Troxel
Willis V. Wheeler IV
Rebecca L. Wilson*
Jamie L. Withers
Emmy R. Wolf*
Sha-Nisa O. Wrisby
Meredith C. Yachnik
Danielle F. Young

*National Honor Society

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Berks GOP elects new chairman

The Berks County Republican Party has a new leader.

Mark M. Gillen of Mohnton was unanimously elected party chairman by the county Republican Committee.

All I can say is that it's about time. I have nothing against the previous chairman, Ron Stanko, but you can't do the job of county party chairman, hold down a full-time job and run for elected office at the same time. (Stanko is running for Berks County Judge against Tim Rowley.)

Congratulations to Mark Gillen. The party has a lot work ahead of it as Democrats have been making inroads in county government in recent years. And what have the Democrats brought us? Higher taxes, rising crime and deteriorating quality of life for Berks County residents.

Priority No. 1 is to take back majority control of the Berks County Commissioners. The party has two good candidates in Mark Scott and Christian Leinbach. Another important race is for Recorder of Deeds where John Fielding will attempt to keep the post in GOP hands this November.

After the fall election, Gillen better get moving to reorganize grassroots workers and bring some new blood into the party. No disrespect to folks who have spent decades working on behalf of the party, but take a look around at a Republican Committee meeting and you see a lot of white and gray hairs.

The party has not done a good job of bringing younger members in or getting them involved in the party. Some of the old-timers have to take younger members under their wing if they want the party to have a future.

The election of Gillen, who is 51, is a step in the right direction.

The party needs to be energized for 2008, a presidential election year.

The party also needs to find good candidates to challenge Sen. Mike O'Pake and state Reps. Tom Caltagirone, Dante Santoni, David Kessler and Tim Seip.

Kessler is the "accidental candidate" who won Dennis Leh's seat in eastern Berks. The phony reformer can be beaten in 2008 with a decent candidate from the 130th District.

As for the three Democratic dinosaurs, O'Pake, Caltagirone and Santoni have spent a combined 90 years collecting hefty paychecks from taxpayers and have failed to deliver on their No. 1 promise: Property tax relief to Berks County residents. It's time for a change.

Read more about him from this article in the Reading paper: http://www.readingeagle.com/articleprint.aspx?id=46515/

And Mr. Gillen, can you find somebody in Berks County who knows something about computers and get a Web site going for the county party. It's 2007 and the party acts like it's 1955.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Phyrillas a hit on PCN

The early reviews are in on the "Journalists Roundtable" program on the Pennsylvania Cable Network. The show featured yours truly, Nancy March, editor of The Mercury, and Nick Lawrence of WPAZ 1370 AM.

Here's what viewers are saying so far:

Mr. Phyrillas:
Watched you, Nancy March, and Nick Lawrence on TV last evening. Very nice. I thought you and Ms. March had an outstanding command of facts and figures, and did a fine job of making points and offering concrete solutions to our state's problems. We made mention of your TV appearance at the Seniors' Center Current Events Discussion Group meeting yesterday, so I am pretty sure you had some of our people tune in.

Again, I enjoyed watching you last evening.

Roy Cubbler

Tony,
I learned much from the PCN show. Thanks. Loved the "Analysis Paralysis" comment.
$500 mil surplus, will it go to property tax relief? If not, why not? We ought to get a tax rebate.

Respectfully,
Stan Lilienthal

Hi Tony,
I thought you and Nancy did a great job tonight. Thank You both for thinking about the PFPF like we all do, hopefully some of the legislators will listen and get the message. Thanks again.

Joan & Floyd Falcone
Taxpayers of Brandywine

Nancy and Tony,
There's a lot I could say but I'll keep it simple.
You both did a great job on Journalist's Roundtable! Everything that you (and Nick) said will help to support our efforts. Thank you very much.

David Baldinger
Pennsylvania Taxpayers Cyber Coalition

Tony:
As a member of the PCTA I and many others appreciated your honest efforts to make Pennsylvania a greater state .....

Best,
A H Norek

Thanks Tony
Your public support for The Plan For Pennsylvania's Future is a great example of the power of the press and how the local community can work hand in hand. I only wish you had wider circulation.
Keep up the good work.

Ken Heffner
Fleetwood, PA

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Catch Tony Phyrillas on TV

The wait is almost over. In just a matter of hours, you can see Tony Phyrillas on the popular "Journalists Roundtable" program on the Pennsylvania Cable Network.

The one-hour program with host Bill Bova debuts tonight at 8. The program will be shown again Sunday, June 10, at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m.

Panelists will be Nancy March, editor of The Mercury, Nick Lawrence of WPAZ 1370 AM radio and Tony Phyrillas, city editor and political columnist for The Mercury.

Among the topics kicked around on tonight's program: The demise of Act 1; clueless politicians; school funding; the future of property tax relief; and excessive state spending.

(PCN is shown on Comcast Channel 75 in the Pottstown area, Comcast Channel 98 in Berks County and Service Electric Cable Channel 23 in Berks/Lehigh counties)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Free community events listings

We have more than five months to go before Election Day on Nov. 6, so I have to figure out a way to keep you coming back to this site until the political season heats up again.

What I'll try to do over the coming months is post information about community events. If your church or non-profit organization is sponsoring something in the Mount Penn area, let me know about it and I'll post information on this site.

You can e-mail me at tphyrillas@gmail.com

Monday, May 21, 2007

Need some leads on GOP links

I added a new link today to a Republican office-seeker, Christ Ganas, who is running for re-election to the Exeter Township Board of Supervisors.

I'm always on the lookout for Web sites and blogs that provide information on Republicans seeking office at the local, school board or county level.

If you know of any candidates in Berks County who have information posted on the Internet, drop me an e-mail with their Web address and I'll add a "Link of Interest" from this site.

You can e-mail directly from this site by going to "View My Complette Profile" and clicking on the e-mail button.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Local Primary Election results

Here's how the races for Mount Penn Borough Council finished Tuesday.

For 4-year terms, Republicans Mark Dudash and Tony Phyrillas were nominated to run in the fall. Dudash received 117 votes. Phyrillas received 96 votes.

(On the Democratic side, Tom Staron was nominated with 115 votes and Claudia Hurwitz was nominated with 105 votes).

That means that 4 candidates will run for the 3 open seats on council in November.

Keep the experienced team in place by voting for Mark Dudash, Tony Phyrillas and Tom Staron for new terms on November 6.

For a 2-year term, Republican Jim Cocuzza ran unopposed in the primary and received 123 votes. Without an opponent, Cocuzza should return to the council after the November election.

In other races of local interest, Mount Penn resident John Fielding won the GOP nomination for Berks County Recorder of Deeds.

Antietam School Board results

For a 2-year term

Democratic Primary: Joanne Just defeated Daphyn Shurr by a 272 to 162 margin. In the Republican Primary, Joanne Just defeated Daphyn Shurr by a 199 to 132 margin. That means that Just will have no opponent in November and is a new member on the school board.

For 5 open 4-year terms on the Antietam School Board, here’s how the voting went:

In the Democratic Primary, the winners were Judith Swartz (327 votes); Julia Lee Kleiman-Baer (326 votes); Gregory Burdan (325 votes); Beverly Daniels (316 votes) and John Fielding (293 votes)

In the Republican Primary, the winners were Judith Swartz (288 votes); John Fielding (281 votes); Julia Lee Kleiman-Baer (252 votes); Gregory Burdan (238 votes) and Jerry Palamara (227 votes)

Since Daniels and Palamara failed to win the nominaton of both parties, that means that all of the candidates above will have to run again in the November election with the top 5 vote-getters winning open seats on the School Board. (Essentially it comes down to a race between Daniels and Palamara for the final spot).

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Keep the experienced team working for you

Four incumbent members of the Mount Penn Borough Council are seeking re-election in 2007. Voters have an opportunity to re-elect four hard-working, dedicated council members.

Borough finances are in the best shape they've been in years.

Borough government is efficient and responsive.

All of the members of the Borough Council work well together and have a common goal of providing the best services for borough residents.

Keep the experienced team working for you.

Vote for Jim Cocuzza for a two-year term on council. Vote for Mark Dudash, Tony Phyrillas and Tom Staron for four-year terms on council.

(Tom Staron is running on the Democratic ballot. Jim Cocuzza, Mark Dudash and Tony Phyrillas are on the Republican ballot).

Election Day is Tuesday, May 15. The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Borough Hall, 200 North 25th Street.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Berks GOP Contested Races

Berks County Republicans will have to make some important choices when they go to the polls on Tuesday, May 15.

Two Republicans are running for one open seat on the Berks County Court of Common Pleas.

The choice is between Ronald C. Stanko and Tim Rowley. Both have cross-filed in the Democratic and Republican primaries, so it's possible that they will face each other again in the November General Election unless one of them wins both primaries on May 15.

The other big decision for GOP voters on May 15 is selecting which two candidates will represent the party in the race for Berks County Commissioner. The two top primary vote-getters in each party face off in the fall for the three open seats on the Board of Commissioners, which is currently controlled by Democrats.

The choices for Republican voters on May 15 are (in altphabetical order): Patrick Davis, Randall D. Gartner, Christian Y. Leinbach, Nelson H. Long, Mark C. Scott and John A. Ulrich. Scott is the incumbent on the board. Long is the country treasurer. The others are not holding any countywide positions at this time.

Republican voters also have to make a choice in the contested race for Berks County Recorder of Deeds. The incumbent is Ellie Antoine. She is being challenged by John Fielding of Mount Penn. The winner on May 15 will take on a Democrat in the fall.

The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 15.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Important Decisions Await Voters on May 15

Votern turnout is typically low in primary elections, but if you care about your community, your school district and your wallet, you need to vote in the 2007 Primary Election on Tuesday, May 15.

The biggest chunk of your property tax bill goes to support your local school district. The next biggest slice of the tax pie goes to support county government.

Candidates for Antietam School Board and Berks County commissioner will be on the ballot on May 15.

If you want to send a message to your local school board about property taxes, you need to vote. If you don't like the direction county government is taking, you must show up at the polls.

There are 10 candidates (4 Democrats and 6 Republicans) running for the three open seats on the Berks County Board of Commissioners. Whether you're a Democrat or Republican, you will have a choice to make on which two candidates move on to the November general election.

As for school board, it's difficult to change the current makeup of the Antietam School Board because so many incumbents are seekinge re-election, but there are a few fresh names on the ballot, You can send a message to the board about rising spending and taxes by electing new people.

You have two weeks left to find out where the candidates for school board and county commissioner stand on the issues.

The decisions you make on May 15 will have a big impact where it counts: The bottom line.

Your family's ability to pay its bills and plan for the future will depend on who you elect on May 15. If you're tired of paying high taxes, it's time to take a stand. It's time to send a message to career politicians who keep promising to cut taxes, but never deliver.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Get to know GOP candidates

At the top right of this page under Links of Interest, you will see several links to Republican candidates seeking office in the May 15 Primary Election.

The links are not necessarily an endorsement of those candidates. They are a convenient way for you to gather more information about area Republicans seeking public office.

We will add more links as we learn about them.

There are several contested races on the Republican ballot on May 15. The decisions you make on that date could have a big impact on how well GOP candidates do in the November General Election.

So get to know the candidates ... and don't forget to vote on May 15.

Welcome to Mount Penn GOP

Welcome to the Mount Penn GOP Blog.

The purpose of this site is to help potential voters become familiar with Republican officials in Mount Penn, Pa., (and Berks County) and to keep you informed about important issues facing the community.

While our focus is on Republican office-holders, this is not a place to attack anyone because of their political beliefs.

The great thing about Mount Penn government is that partisan politics rarely, if ever, play a role in decision-making. The mayor and the Borough Council work together for the betterment of the community regardless of party affiliation.