Based on this article, Bill DeWeese is the runaway winner of this week’s Chutzpah trophy. Here’s what I’m basing my opinion on:

House Democrats plan to try again today for a vote on legislation that would expand public access to legislative records and other government documents after their first attempt flopped. House Democratic Leader Bill DeWeese, D-Waynesburg, announced late Monday that he’s gearing up for a full House vote on a revamped version of the state’s Open Records Law.

The law governs access to documents ranging from school board budgets to lawmakers’ travel receipts. “We are going to make a full-court press toward our objective of an open records proposal,” he told reporters at an impromptu news conference in the Capitol.

That’s utterly laughable considering DeWeese instructed Babette Josephs to gut the bill in committee:

The committee approved House Bill 443. In its original intent, this measure would have improved Pennsylvania’s weak open-records law. But when the Democratically controlled committee was through with it, House Bill 443 had become a step backwards. Considering that the existing open-records law is among the weakest nationwide, that is a depressing fact.

Both the committee’s process and the content of the bill are outrageous. Committee Chair Babette Josephs, D-Philadelphia, pushed through amendment after amendment, most of which the members were seeing for the first time. Their cumulative effect was to exempt broad categories of state records from being open. When members of the committee pleaded with Rep. Josephs to slow down by either holding more hearings or not reporting the bill to the floor for a quick vote, she refused. Alarmingly, at one point she even said she could not do so because the Democratic leadership (Majority Leader H. William DeWeese, D- Waynesburg) didn’t want to.

DeWeese doesn’t want truly open records. He only wants to say that he’s for open records. He wants to pass a RINO- Reform In Name Only. This post at explains why DeWeese & the Democrats don’t want true transparency:

One theory for lawmakers’ insistence on secrecy is that email gives lobbyists access to lawmakers at the instant they are voting on legislation. In previous eras of corruption, PA was notorious for the influence lobbyists had over lawmakers. The leading industries of the Gilded Age were given seats on the floor of the House so that they could conveniently tell lawmakers how to vote. Eventually, lobbyists were banned from the floor of the General Assembly and relegated to the lobby outside the ornate House and Senate chambers.
Until email. Now, email puts lobbyists back on the floor of the House and Senate, but in a way that neither citizens nor reporters can see.

The last thing that career politicians want is to have to turn over their communications with lobbyists, especially communication they have while they’re voting on legislation. If those communications were exposed, citizens would likely want to string up the politicians & their lobbyist friends together.

Bill DeWeese isn’t a reformer. I’ve yet to see an entrenched incumbent who’s been a reformer in the true sense of the word. Lots of legislators claim to be reformers but many of the so-called pieces of reform legislation that they produce are simply more layers of bureaucracy. They don’t change the culture or the mindset.

Ted Kennedy signed onto the immigration reform bill but I’d doubt that anyone thinks that that legislation would positively reform our immigration laws. Bill DeWeese isn’t any different when it comes to reforms.

State Rep. Tim Mahoney, D-South Union Township, sponsored legislation in March intended to overhaul the Open Records law. But House members spent an entire day in October weakening Mahoney’s bill by adding language that would keep certain documents off-limits to the public, including all government officials’ e-mail messages and 911 recordings.

Another amendment tacked onto Mahoney’s bill would have allowed state and municipal officials to deny information requests deemed burdensome. Good government groups criticized the massive loopholes, claiming the bill could give the public less access to information on how government spends taxpayer money.

On Monday, Mahoney said he realized that his bill had been severely weakened.He plans to support the revised bill that will look more like one introduced in the Senate than his own.”I’ve said all along that I want the best open records bill that we can pass,” Mahoney said. “I know that my bill was watered down. It was hit by a tidal wave. I believe this is a way to put it back together.”

Listen to what this legislation attempts to do:

Another amendment tacked onto Mahoney’s bill would have allowed state and municipal officials to deny information requests deemed burdensome.

Think of how ridiculous that is. At least theoretically, the citizens should be the customers while the state and municipal employees are the employees. Since when did service personnel tell a customer that they wouldn’t honor their request because “That’s too burdensome” and get away with it? If that happened at Walmart or Macy’s, that employee would be unemployed in a New York minute.

Another provision included in this ‘reform’ legislation is putting emails off-limits. Who told these legislators what is and isn’t off-limits? Isn’t that We The People’s call? I’d doubt that the citizens told legislators ‘Keep entire segments of communications away from public scrutiny’. I know watchdog groups like Common Cause PA & didn’t tell them to put those communications off-limits.

Bill DeWeese didn’t just have this dubious award drop in his lap. He earned it with his repulsive behavior.

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