House turmoil spurs party calls for resignations
HARRISBURG -- Less than 24 hours after a tumultuous committee meeting in the state House, the chairmen of Pennsylvania's Democratic and Republican parties called for the resignation of the opposition floor leaders.
State Democratic Party Chairman Jim Burn of Millvale on Thursday called on Gov. Tom Corbett, a Shaler Republican, to urge House Republicans to demand the resignation of Majority Leader Mike Turzai in the aftermath of the meeting in which Turzai led an effort to block Democrats' amendments on government reform bills.
Burn, however, declined to denounce Democratic lawmakers who jeered, booed, hissed and swore at Turzai and Republicans during a meeting of the House Rules Committee on Wednesday.
"Jim Burn's a partisan hack who's afraid we'll have success moving the voters' agenda forward," said Turzai, R-Bradford Woods. "He wants to retain the Rendell status quo," he added, referring to former Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat.
Republican Party Chairman Rob Gleason of Johnstown demanded that Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Oakmont, resign for failing to control his members.
"Minority Leader Frank Dermody and House Democrats' deplorable behavior yesterday showed exactly why Pennsylvania voters fired them from the majority, and I hope that they are quickly reminded that they are in Harrisburg to serve their constituents, not their own selfish interests," Gleason said.
Dermody "is honored that his colleagues chose him to be Democratic leader, and he will continue to defend the ability of all House members to effectively do their jobs," said Bill Patton, a Dermody spokesman.
The idea that either leader would resign based on a call from the opposition party chairman is "absurd," said Tom Baldino, a political science professor at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre.
"It's apparent there's a lot of frustration on the part of Democrats who lost control of the House and the governorship" in November, he said. But the Republicans' reaction to what they perceived as a threat to their reform agenda was "a bit extreme," Baldino added.
House Republican leaders claimed that Democrats were trying to derail reform bills, including one pushed by Corbett for a searchable online database on state spending for taxpayers. Republicans charged that 42 amendments proposed by Democrats were an effort to create a circus atmosphere and bog down change demanded by voters.
The GOP approved a rule that will enable the majority to table amendments proposed by Democrats without delaying the entire bill. Republicans also decided to reduce representation on House committees from 10 to nine Democratic members.
Corbett's spokesman, Kevin Harley, said the governor would work with lawmakers in both parties toward government reform.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.