Another chapter begins in what is already a family affair worthy of a reality TV series. Or at least a made-for-TV special. Today, Joan Orie Melvin resigned from her seat on the State Supreme Court. She was found guilty last month of illegally using her staff (as well as the staff of a previously convicted sister, ex-state senator Jane) to run her political campaigns in ’03 and ’09. Her sister Janine was also found guilty of the same crime. Temporarily suspended from the bench, the departure of the Republican Orie had evened up the makeup of the bench, three Dems to three Republicans.
“It is with fervent hope that my service over the past three decades will not be tainted by the circumstances surrounding my departure,” she wrote in a letter of resignation to Tom Corbett.
A gal can dream. [Post-Gazette]
The worst part about getting indicted in a pay-to-play Turnpike Authority scandal? Getting your official portrait removed from the Capitol. Former Sen. Bob Mellow, a Democrat from the Scranton area, has already been convicted of a federal crime, so all this is just insult-to-injury gravy.
…The chamber’s presiding officer is reviewing whether his official portrait should continue to be displayed in a Capitol hallway. One of the senators who asked for the review, Jake Corman, R-Centre, said the review is warranted. “Portraits celebrate history,” said he said. “This type of issue is certainly worthy of review.”
Relatedly, two convicted Bonusgate Ex-House Speaker felons not indicted in a turnpike scandal, Bill DeWeese, and John Perzel, still have their portraits hanging proudly on the other end of the Capitol. [Patriot-News]
Harrisburg pols often like to take things away from Philadelphia, all in the name of reducing “waste,” “fraud,” and you know, “spending.” This time, they seem to have a point. Today, the state senate voted unanimously to flat-out eliminate the famously corrupt Philly traffic court. (Yesterday, two judges pleaded guilty to ticket-fixing; seven others still face federal charges filed two weeks ago.) Said Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi: “There is no good reason for taxpayers to continue footing the bill for a court that is unnecessary and has become an embarrassment to the state’s judicial system.” If the house (and the governor) approves the bill, traffic incidents would go to Municipal Court instead. [Daily News]
Brushing aside allegations that she used campaign funds for personal reasons, as well as the federal charges being levied against her former campaign manager, Blondell Reynolds Brown says she’s not considering leaving office. “I’ve continued to be in quite a lot of contact with all of my colleagues and I’m encouraged by the level of support I’ve received and continue to receive,” she said. As to whether she’s still considering a mayoral run, perhaps it’s best to hold those questions for the time being. [Newsworks]
300 people showed up to traffic court yesterday to find basically nobody available to hear their cases. (You’ll remember that 9 judges were indicted yesterday for fixing tickets.) Two randos were pulled in form the burbs to judge, but the Inquirer reports that some ticketees had a hard time taking their authority figures seriously. Said one guy, “Do they fix tickets? Who do I talk to?” Courtroom personnel, meanwhile, weren’t amused: “They challenged the right of a reporter to observe or take notes, and threw out one man for laughing.” Someone’s a little touchy. [Inquirer]
One time, in 2004, U.S. Rep Chaka Fattah delivered an earmark so unquestionably questionable, the Environmental Protection Agency (under Bush!), nixed it. What was it exactly? A $750,000 grant for a company run by Blondell Reynold Brown’s husband that would have allowed him to give advice to golf courses trying to be more environmentally friendly. From the EPA: “There was nothing new or innovative being proposed by the program,” and “the applicant did not have sufficient expertise to perform the work.”
Relevant because: It was Chip Fattah, Chaka’s son, from whom Blondell borrowed the $3,000 that she illegally paid back using campaign funds. Which partly resulted, of course, in the mammoth ethics violation she was slapped with this week. Howard Brown, who’s been separated from Blondell for three years, says there’s no connection between the earmark and his wife, who used to work for Fattah. Mmhm. [Inquirer]