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House Majority Grandstander gets testy

| Sunday, Oct. 28, 2007

The ongoing investigation into the awarding of possibly illegal bonuses to legislative employees appears to have made House Majority Leader Bill DeWeese cranky.

In a news release last week, DeWeese's office got testy with Rep. Mark Mustio. The Moon Township Republican has been stymied thus far in his attempt to gain passage of a bill that would cut the size of Pennsylvania's bloated General Assembly by 20 percent.

The DeWeese release took Mustio to task for an error in his release detailing the latest developments in his effort to shrink the largest full-time state legislature in the Western Hemisphere.

"Rep. Mustio mistakenly refers to a sentence in an Aug. 19 editorial in the Scranton Times-Tribune as being attributed to House Democratic leaders. That is not the case," the DeWeese release stated. "The (editorial) ... was written by the (newspaper's) editorial board."

It continued: "Instead of incessantly grandstanding on the issue, perhaps Rep. Mustio should pick up the phone or walk down the hall and tell (DeWeese) exactly what he would like."

Which made us wonder: If DeWeese had an issue with Mustio's release, why didn't he just pick up the phone or walk down the hall and tell him exactly what he found so annoying?

Seems like grandstanding to us.

COLBERT FOR PRESIDENT. A lot of Americans appear to be taking comedian Stephen Colbert's presidential bid seriously -- especially the 18-to-29 age cohort.

The Comedy Central star would get 13 percent of voters if he ran as an independent against Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton, according to a Rasmussen Reports survey released last week.

Rasmussen Reports is an electronic publishing firm specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public-opinion polling information.

The survey was conducted by telephone shortly after Colbert's recent announcement that he would be running for president as both a Republican and a Democrat -- but only in his home state of South Carolina.

"After nearly 15 minutes of soul-searching, I have heard the call," he told viewers of his TV show, "The Colbert Report."

The startling poll results drew mainstream coverage from such publications as the excessively serious Los Angeles Times, which wrote:

"That a comedian who has built his persona around being a vapid, self-centered conservative nonsense talker is currently polling so high took us by surprise -- especially in the midst of a war with no end in sight, staggering national debt and unprecedented low approval ratings for our current president."

Less taken aback was Colbert, who said this to Rasmussen Reports about his youthful supporters: "These are my people. They know who I am and what I'm about and so forth. Is this thing working, are we on the air• Oh, it's the Internet• Well why didn't you say the Internet?"

Somewhere, we're sure, Pat Paulsen is smiling.

PICKING UP A PEN. Newspaper readers in Philadelphia can expect to read a lot more about the risks posed to the United States by Islamofascism.

That's because Rick Santorum is about to begin writing a column for The Philadelphia Inquirer. The column, which debuts Nov. 1 and will appear every other Thursday, will be called "The Elephant in the Room."

Even though he has the Inquirer gig, Santorum will remain a senior fellow at the Washington-based Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative think tank. He told the Inky he has no itch to become a full-time journalist.

"I'm not in the newspaper business," he said. "I'm in the thinking business."

The column announcement capped a busy week for the former Pennsylvania senator, who also lectured at Penn State, the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University on the dangers of Islamic fanaticism.

The speeches were part of a nationwide "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week" campaign organized by conservative writer and activist David Horowitz.

NOT THE RETIRING TYPE. Was that St. Vincent College professor Gabriel Pellathy seen rubbing shoulders with Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato at a recent Duquesne Club luncheon for Pellathy's scholarship fund?

Was that the same Pellathy whose employment status we incorrectly noted as retired in this space last week?

Indeed it was. Pellathy is still teaching. Sorry for the error, professor, and we hope you will have long forgotten about this when you determine our final grade.

REPUBLICANS TOO . Democrats are not alone when it comes to lining up to possibly succeed outgoing state Rep. Tom Tangretti, a Westmoreland Democrat.

Greensburg attorney Tim Krieger , a Republican from Delmont, admitted last week that he is also considering a run for the legislative seat that will be open when Tangretti retires next year.

"I'm seriously considering it. I think it's a wonderful opportunity," said Krieger, who's a member of the Delmont Civil Service Commission. He and his wife, Ellie, have four children, ranging in age from 2 to 9.

Democrat Scott Sistek , a Tangretti aide and a New Stanton councilman, has already formally announced he will seek the post in the 57th District held by Tangretti for two decades.

ELECTION ROW. The race for Hempfield Township supervisor is heating up.

Incumbent Republican R. Douglas Weimer filed a complaint with the Westmoreland County Election Bureau that Democrat challenger Warren J. Ciabattoni is distributing campaign literature that lacks the authorization disclaimer required under state campaign laws. The authorizations generally acknowledge that the campaign material is authorized and paid for by a candidate's campaign.

"I was shocked to learn that Mr. Ciabattoni's campaign was distributing campaign literature without any authorization. Violations like this call into question the integrity of the system," Weimer lamented.

Ciabattoni, a retired state trooper, said Weimer's complaints are much ado about nothing.

"All I say is consider the source of the complaint. Mr. Weimer doesn't want to discuss real issues," Ciabattoni retorted.

Ciabattoni said he personally produced the campaign literature for the 2003 election and had some left over. He said he previously notified elections officials in 2005 that he had omitted the authorization and was going to distribute the items until the batch was completely used.

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