Pattye Benson

Community Matters

State Rep-Elect Warren Kampf Decides to Refuse 1.7% Pay Increase

We have been following the news from Harrisburg that newly elected and returning legislators were scheduled to receive a 1.7% cost-of-living pay raise. This increase was obviously causing a stir by tax-payers . . . many elections were won by candidates based on fiscal conservatism, amid high unemployment numbers and screams to stop the spending. Last week, Auditor General Jack Wagner became vocal on the topic; calling for a moratorium on the scheduled 1.7% cost of living adjustment for public officials.

In a November 24 post on Community Matters, I wrote, “Fiscal responsibility was certainly a hallmark in our recent local election, so wonder what our newly elected State Representative Warren Kampf will decide. Should he keep his 1.7 percent increase? For those Pennsylvania legislators who campaigned on controlling legislative expenses, how can they now accept the pay increase?”

I am pleased to report that State Rep-elect Warren Kampf sent the following email this weekend:

Refusing Annual Legislative COLA

As my first official e-mail to you, I wanted to make you aware that I will return to the state the Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) given annually to legislators, the governor, judges and top officials in the executive branch.

In this economy and with the budget deficit Pennsylvania is facing, an increase in pay would be inappropriate. I was elected to help get the Commonwealth’s financial house in order and to accept a COLA my first day on the job would be contrary to my principles of fiscal discipline.

The annual COLA is based on the Consumer Price Index published by the U.S. Department of Labor. This year, it represents a 1.7 percent increase. It is not based on the same economic factors used to determine the Social Security COLA, which remained flat this year.

My first order of business representing the people of the 157th District will not be to accept a raise. Most of the citizens I was elected to serve have not seen a pay increase in several years, and it would not be fair of me to take one.

I am looking forward to working with my colleagues to reform legislative compensation and how business is done in Harrisburg. If you have any questions, concerns or comments, feel free to contact me. I want to hear your thoughts on how to improve Pennsylvania and the issues that personally impact you and our district.

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  1. “My first order of business representing the people of the 157th District will not be to accept a raise.”

    “my first action will not be to accept” means that he will accept. Maybe for his second action? I guess Mr. Kampf just made a grammatical error, that’s a lawyer for you!

  2. Not it doesn;t…but nice try finding fault. Clearly you are not a lawyer, or you are a bad one. Double negative is not there…

    First order will not be to accept…you can presume anything about his second order that you choose.

  3. Given that the job of state legislator (at $78K per year) is not a full-time permanent employment position, but one that requires absence from his job as former law firm partner, I would assume the decision on per-diem depends on the level of spending required to maintain some kind of residence in Harrisburg. I would expect all legislators to do what you quote Kampf as considering: legislative compensation reform. Our legislators have to decide if it’s compensation or expense management….so I would suspect it would be a bit pre-mature to (symbolic or otherwise) taunt WK into refusing something he has yet to be eligible for. And you as well as anyone know that per-diem does not exactly qualify as a gov’t perk with a base salary of $78K….

  4. I apologize. The “part time” reference I made was careless — I meant the portion of the job in Harrisburg vs. locally, which is why per-diems exist. And in private industry, there are expense reimbursements when you are away from home, so I do not consider the per-diem that is available and prudently used as a perk. I do consider blanket claims to be a perk, but that is purely hypothetical as to a newly elected person.

    Let me make one thing very clear — when I write on this blog, I am speaking on behalf of myself and no other. Just because I was asked to support Warren Kampf formally does not make me an insider. I have never been political, and in fact left the school board prior to the televising of meetings specifically because I believed that the nature of the job would change when folks were unable to face their constituents personally. I believe in doing the work — not playing the games. I’m not even mildly entertained by your efforts at taunting. I don’t believe anyone has heard Mr. Kampf complain about the lack of money associated with the job. Clearly, Mr. Petersen, you enjoy the games. I believe you are not trying to determine anything about Mr. Kampf except to see if you can provoke responses from him or others. You have done so from me and I regret the effort I am making in responding, but I don’t want you to get away with this stuff.

    I’ll say no more but quote Rep. Drucker as to his use of per-diems….and wonder in light of his stance on them (as well as your references and his own to his being fiscally conservative as well) why you are challenging Mr. Kampf before he has even started the job.

    Rep.. Drucker: “The outdated practice of blanket per-diem payments needs to be modified. It is certainly fair to reimburse legislators when they are required to be in Harrisburg, away from home. I do accept per diem payments when I am required to be in Harrisburg, but I believe I have been prudent and have not abused the system. ”

    Personal note: At $163 a day, would receipts processing for every legislator really cost less than the amount likely to be “less” than the per-diem. Expense reimbursement vs. per diem is a debate private industry has. The blanket per diem is the problem, not the per diem. IMO only.

    1. Andrea, it is going to be a long term for Mr. Petersen with respect to Warren Kampf. It is too bad he bloviates and picks and picks… From the losers circle come the complaints.
      You have said your piece eloquently. Hopefully the comments of others who really have something to add will supercede this war agains’t Kampf.

      I am concerned as to how the legislature will fix the PSER problem, among other things. This is where our attention should be.

      1. Sorry??? I wasn’t in the race? You have me confused with somebody else that was involved in the race…

        You must be joking.

    2. Regarding the matter of Rep. Drucker’s doing the state’s business as a full-time job, he was Of Counsel to Platt, DiGeorgio & DiFabio, a local law firm, for the last two years.

      1. “Of counsel” originally described a semi-retired or retired partner who still kept a hand in the firm. Today, the designation “of counsel” is used to describe everything from a full-time outside lawyer providing expertise in a particular specialty to a firm to the guy down the hall who is available to discuss cases over coffee.

        The definition of “of counsel” was first essayed by the American Bar Association in Formal Op. 330, issued in 1972. Formal Op. 330 advised that a lawyer was “of counsel” to a firm only when the relationship between the lawyer and the firm was “close, continuing, and personal” and when the relationship was not “that of a partner, associate, or outside counsel”. MBA Op. 82-10 echoed this view, opining that a lawyer or firm could be properly identified as of counsel to another lawyer or law firm only if there were “continuous and regular dealings that involve the rendering of legal advice by one to the other.”

        According to ABA Formal Op. 330 and successive informal opinions, a lawyer who was of counsel to a firm should have nearly daily contact with the firm, a law firm could not be of counsel to another law firm, and no lawyer could likely be of counsel to more than two firms. These and other restrictions proved too onerous and not in conformity with accepted practice in the profession. As a consequence, the ABA revisited the definition of “of counsel” in 1990 in Formal Op. 90-357. Among other things, the requirement that contact be nearly on a daily basis, the advice that a law firm could not be “of counsel”, and the restrictions on the number of “of counsel” relationships that could simultaneously be maintained were rejected.

        Nevertheless, Formal Op. 90-357 reaffirmed that the “core characteristic” of “of counsel” was “‘a close, regular, personal relationship'” but excluding “that of a partner (or its equivalent, a principal of a professional corporation), with the shared liability and/or managerial responsibility implied by that term,” and associates, defined as “a junior non-partner lawyer, regularly employed by the firm.” Lawyers identified as “tax counsel” or “antitrust counsel” and the like are understood to have an “of counsel” relationship to the firm, and the requisites of a “close, regular, personal relationship” apply to them as well.

        According to Formal Op. 90-357, there are four usual variants to the “of counsel” designation: (1) the “part-time practitioner, who practices law in association with a firm, but on basis different from that of the mainstream lawyers in the firm”; (2) a retired partner of the firm who is available for consultation; (3) a lawyer, usually a lateral hire, brought into the firm with the expectation that the lawyer will shortly become a partner; and (4) a lawyer who occupies a permanent senior position in the firm with no expectation of becoming a partner. These four examples underscore that “of counsel” should not be used to designate more casual relationships which depend on the occasional consultation; the co-counseling of a single case, even if it is of long duration; “a relationship involving only occasional collaborative efforts among otherwise unrelated lawyers or firms”; or a relationship based solely on making or accepting referrals.

      2. Left out the attribution. Sorry

        Nancy Kaufman circa 2000

        Wikipedia (not exactly source material)

        Of counsel is often the title of an attorney who is employed by a law firm or an organization, but is not an associate or a partner. Some firms use titles like “counsel,” “special counsel,” and “senior counsel” for the same concept. According to ABA Formal Opinion 90-357 the term “of counsel” is to describe “a close, regular, personal relationship.”

        July 2010 -“Of Counsel”
        An ethics opinion from Nebraska deals with ethics of the use of the “Of Counsel” designation. The summary:

        An attorney may only be listed on firm letterhead and in firm advertisements as “Of Counsel” where there is close, ongoing, regular, and frequent contact with the firm for the purpose of providing consultation and advice.

        A firm name may retain the name of a retired partner, but not if the retired partner resumes the practice of law elsewhere, even if he maintains an “Of Counsel” relationship to the former firm.

      3. I do have an issue with PA legislatures who try to straddle the fence between public work and private work.

        Right, like your friend Paul, newest resident of PA’s political graveyard.

  5. I know Mr. Petersen likes to rant and rave, but he is asking a question that was answered throughout the campaign. Mr. Kampf stated several times that he would not take the per diem. Making it into some sort of challenge now is nothing more than more of Mr. Petersen’s persistent attempts to bait a candidate, impugn Mr. Kampf and create something out of nothing.

  6. From Kampf’s campaign website:

    •End Costly Perks
    Automatic per diems, taxpayer funded cars, bloated pensions… these are the kinds of expenses that are plain wrong. Taxpayers shouldn’t have to fund them in any economy, let alone this one. Warren will submit expenses for just what he’s owed, drive his own car, and fight to institute 401(k) plans just like the rest of us have to replace costly pensions.

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