Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Will former State Rep Paul Drucker challenge State Rep Warren Kampf for the 157th District in 2012?

Is former State Rep Paul Drucker considering a 2012 run against State Rep Warren Kampf? You be the judge.

In my post, ‘Tea Party Agenda by State Rep. Warren Kampf, so claims Former State Rep Paul Drucker’ dated August 27th, I included Paul Ducker’s recent ‘As I See It’ editorial from the Main Line Media News.

Drucker claimed that Kampf was following the tea party agenda and gave examples of the education cuts in the state budget, the lack of taxing Marcellus Shale gas drilling and decreased state funding for social services. In reading the editorial, it was obvious that Drucker did not agree with some of Kampf’s choices since taking office in January. Although Drucker may not agree with Kampf’s governing approach, the article left me wondering what would he do differently? I also found the timing of the op-ed of interest; questioning why Drucker decided to write it ‘now’.

I came up with 6 questions for our former state representative and asked for a response by Wednesday, August 31. As I wrote on August 27, if Drucker responded to the questions, I would offer his answers on Community Matters. Below are my questions and Drucker’s answers. I offer Kampf the opportunity to respond to Drucker’s comments.

1. Why write the As I See It article ‘now’?

Representative Kampf has written a series of factually incorrect and misleading e-mails, which he has sent to residents of the 157 District, as well as opinion pieces for the newspaper. These communications are nothing more than his parroting the tea party line on important issues facing the Commonwealth. I felt it was important to correct errors and give context to the Republican majority’s priorities.

2. What do you think are the most challenging issues currently facing the residents of the 157 District?

There are many challenging issues that negatively affect Pennsylvania residents, but I will restrict my answer to the most challenging issue locally, and the most challenging issue statewide.

You don’t have to be a savant to realize the most challenging issue facing the 157th. This is obvious to anyone who drives through the commercial areas in the District or walks down Lancaster Avenue in Paoli. Empty storefronts abound. The focus needs to be on jobs, jobs, and jobs by supporting and encouraging business development. For example, the long awaited development of the Paoli Intermodal Train Station is a potential economic engine that will help turn us around and lead to an economic revival. It will provide short-term jobs. It will provide long-term jobs. It will create new residential, and commercial space. It will bring in new retail space, restaurants, apartments and housing. It will create additional tax ratables on what is now worthless property. It will create a TOWN CENTER. In Phoenixville, the development of the old steel site is also critical to the economic health of the district.

The most challenging issue facing the Commonwealth is equally obvious. We have a serious budget crisis. But it is not a crisis caused solely by expenditures and can’t be cured by making draconian cuts to education and the social services. The revenue side of the budget needs to be addressed realistically. This means analyzing and utilizing potential sources of revenue. Last year, the House passed a tax on Marcellus shale that was modeled after the West Virginia Marcellus tax. (I voted in favor of the bill) The Senate refused to approve the measure and it died. This year there is similar bill on the House floor that would produce $420 million in revenue in 2012. This would go a long way to supporting education and needed social programs. But at this point there is no Republican support, so the bill cannot even get out of committee.

3. If you had been re-elected as state representative, what would you be doing differently than State Rep Warren Kampf to address these issues?

To support economic revitalization and development in the 157th, I would pitch my tent in the office of Appropriations Chairman Bill Adolph. I would make his office my satellite office. (Which is what I did when I was in the House) I would make Trans. Secy Schoch and House Transportation Chairman Geist my nbff. (Which is what I did when I was in the House) I would go to meetings. I would create meetings. I would convince everybody and anybody of the reality, vitality and economic importance of the Train Station and the steel site development, not only to the 157th, but also to the entire Delaware Valley and to the Commonwealth.

To address the revenue situation, I would immediately sign on as a cosponsor to H.B. 33. This is the Marcellus bill. I would go to State Representative Benninghoff, Chairman of the House Finance Committee and try to convince him to release the bill to the floor. (In fact, a discharge motion to force this bill to floor was defeated. Representative Kampf voted in lock step with his tea party cohorts to defeat the bill) I would talk to House Majority Leadership and attempt to get them to support the bill. I would let it be known that this bill is vital to closing our budget gap, and vital to protecting the environment of the communities where the drilling is taking place and the water shed of the entire Commonwealth.

4. Where do you think State Rep Kampf should focus his attention?

See above.

5. Do you think that the possible 157 District re-districting could play a role in the State Representative race of 2012? If so, why?

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is going to get redistricted. Among other things, Chester County gained 65,000 people since the last redistricting and will get an additional seat in the State House of Representatives. Since the Republicans control the Senate, the House and the Governor, they control this process.

The only constitutional requirement is one of mathematics, one person, one vote. As long as each district is within the standard deviation of the mean the district passes muster. The district doesn’t even have to be contiguous. (I introduced a bill, that didn’t pass, that required many other factors to be taken into consideration when redistricting. This would have made the decision much more representative and made gerrymandering much more difficult)

There is no question that the Republicans will gerrymander any district they can if it will strengthen that district from a Republican perspective and if they can do so without weakening another corresponding Republican district. Whether on not that will impact the 157th remains to be seen.

6. Are you considering a 2012 run against State Rep Kampf?

This question is premature. I can say that I have remained involved in the affairs of the 157th and intend to continue to do so. I will support the citizens of this district any way that I can.

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  1. For starters, I would like to know the factual errors Rep. Kampf has made per Mr. Drucker. The numbers re: the budget were the numbers. Reasonable people can disagree on the approach, but that is just that: a disagreement. Why Mr. Drucker has to turn to charges of lying shows just how political he has become.

    I can think of nothing more than the federal stimulus money as the perfect example.

    Mr. Drucker seems to think this was “state” money even though it came from the federal government and was a limited time revenue source. Rep. Kampf sees it as federal money that the state never had before and may not again (but definitely doesn’t now.)

    So, when the money dried up, Drucker calls anything that was paid for with that money and not continued a “cut” / Kampf says it is being responsible with the money that the state actually had to spend.

    Second, I think Mr. Drucker is playing politics way too much. For example, on re-districting he says the Republicans control the entire process. The truth is, as the minority party the Democrats get “first choice” on seats and they will, undoubtedly, strengthen their hold on what they have.

    To use Chester County as an example, the Democrats can move a seat from an area of the state that will lose a seat to Chester County and basically make it Democratic.

    Finally, I find the attack on Kampf over a severance tax appalling because he stated during the campaign and after that he would support one.

    The problem is — and Mr. Drucker knows this from his time in Harrisburg when his party was in charge — is that there is NO consensus on how to treat the natural gas issue in Harrisburg. Regardless of party, some believe a tax that goes to the general fund (Mr. Drucker’s approach); others believe an impact fee to go to affected communities. Remember, this state is a lot bigger than just the southeast where we live, and the rural communities where drilling is occuring want a bigger share, thus their Reps oppose a straight tax (Republican and Democrat alike.)

    Re: the 157th, the population is too high, meaning it will have to be cut back. But, where would they go? There is only so much geographic room in this part of the state that starts a domino effect with Delaware, Lancaster and Montgomery Counties when they redraw districts. My guess is that the seat will not change much.

    One more thing: the Republicans in Harrisburg have developed a website where people can offer their own maps and see all the maps being discussed. That’s not exactly a behind closed door/smoke filled room process.

    1. FTW, I am confused by your comment on how re-districting works.

      The truth is, as the minority party the Democrats get “first choice” on seats and they will, undoubtedly, strengthen their hold on what they have.

      Could you clarify how the Democrats will get “first choice” on seats with the redistricting plan. How does this work, how is it possible for the minority party to

      move a seat from an area of the state that will lose a seat to Chester County and basically make it Democratic.

      I must be missing something here – could you explain.

      I have seen the new redistricting website out of Harrisburg – All the current district information is in the system and the maps are interactive; going forward the website will include the proposed new legislative district boundaries. The website will certainly made it easier for the public to understand any of the proposed boundary changes.

  2. Poltics aside — why to politicians always think that supplying something will result in fixing problems. For the Paoli Transit Center, he says :
    For example, the long awaited development of the Paoli Intermodal Train Station is a potential economic engine that will help turn us around and lead to an economic revival. It will provide short-term jobs. It will provide long-term jobs. It will create new residential, and commercial space. It will bring in new retail space, restaurants, apartments and housing. It will create additional tax ratables on what is now worthless property. It will create a TOWN CENTER.

    We are facing a crisis of NO DEMAND, not no supply. New housing, new commercial space, new retail space, new restaurants, new apartments. This is how the S&L industry got in trouble in the 70s/80s.; All someone did was put together a P&L to build a project — no one challenged the assumptions. I can build 100,000 s.f. of office space, which could HOLD offices galore. But except for the public sector funded jobs of building the Paoli station and all this “new stuff”, what businesses need office space? Every single thing we want to “add” already exists unoccupied.
    As to the Shale issue — I have a friend who is deeply involved in PA politics. He was commenting on Marcellus shale on FB and I commented about the environmental impact of letting people “strip mine” the land in light of recent studies. He responded on FB that “friends — ignore her — she’s another one of those Southeastern people who want to take away our new jobs by taking the shale”. I dont’ get that, but that’s the talking point. And we here in the “southeast” clearly have very little skin in that game.
    So Mr. Drucker is helpful by responding, but geez — can we get some sense of real economics in Harrisburg and not simply provide supply/ignore demand. Housing in this area may be “coming back” in some views, but check out the real estate on the market and the average days. And the constant price decreases. Okay — not “your house” but it’s not anecdotal.

  3. To FTW: Yes, the budget numbers are a matter of public record, and Mr. Drucker is not disputing them. What he has suggested is that 1) Rep. Kampf reversed his position several times during the budget process – first praising Governor Corbett’s decision to make draconian cuts to education funding, 2) then claiming he and his Republican caucus could better apportion limited tax dollars to fill the $1 billion plus hole in the state’s 2011-12 education budget. Later he 3) claimed education funding to school districts had been largely restored in the Republican house budget, and that any gap should be handled by more prudent fiscal management on the part of school boards. Kampf’s recommendation struck many as sugar-coating and out of touch with the steep cuts already made by T/E in its 6-month- long transparent budget cutting process this year and last.

    Mr. Kampf’s report to constituents also made light of the painful cuts to social safety net programs that serve the most vulnerable Pennsylvanians.

    Were Mr. Drucker’s comments partisan or legitimately expressing a strong difference of opinion? In my view they were the latter. As our state rep until December of 2010, he is rightly interested in the outcome of issues he cared about and worked hard to move forward.

    To GIAR, your observation that there is no demand for new housing and office space is certainly true – at the moment. But the PTC is a project that will take years to complete. Those of us who believe government has a role to play and the economy will recover in the next 2-3 years, support development of the initial phase – the building of a new train/transportation center. It’s a matter of optimism and a vision of our community’s future vs. a paralyzing pessimism shared by those who want to cut, shrink and envision a more limited role for government going forward.

    Re a wellhead tax on Marcellus shale extraction, it is widely supported by Pennsylvanians- not just by the residents of southeastern PA who have “no skin in the game”. Our legislators need to work out a fair tax that protects communities directly affected by gas drilling and provides revenue to PA in line with other gas-producing states.

    The fear that these companies will leave the state if a tax is imposed is silly. They have already invested here, and PA has one of the richest supplies of natural gas in the country. The only reason we don’t already have a tax on natural gas extraction is
    the fact that gas companies have written big campaign checks and put pressure on legislators and Governor Corbett.

    1. TC aside, I don’t believe new construction reflects optimism — I believe it reflects folly. Not wanting to spend money “for a vision” isn’t pessimism. I believe it is reality. We aren’t in a local economic downturn — the country is. I think some sign that the USA has a clue how to develop our economy is warranted before we start building projects to take part in the rebound.
      Seriously visit OTHER states and other places, not just reviewing our little segment of the world. There is too much empty square footage. All new construction does is put price pressure on existing space. Developers give build out allowances to new tenants and people leave one building to go to another. These fabulous new Wegmans are a classic example. “Undersized” ACMES, Genuardis and PathMark/Superfresh are being emptied. So we have new construction and the old buildings lie empty. Maybe living in Texas in the late 70s and watching a state that never experienced any downturn taught me a lesson. Not until the oil business turned around did they put revenue towards new construction. But in the meantime there were office buildings, big box retail and strip centers that were empty. Drive the length of Route 30 from Downingtown into the city. The potholes will destroy your car if the empty store fronts don’t destroy your spirit. This isn’t about betting on the future — this is about preserving the possiblilty of surviving untl the future.

  4. Paul Drucker says that empty store fronts represent the greatest challenge facing the 157th. Drucker’s solution: use precious tax revenue to build more retail space!!!

    Wow!!! That’s his solution? Really? This guy clearly has no concept about how State Government can help foster business growth.

    As even Drucker appears to realize, we have a glut of empty retail space in this area. In this Township we have 3 vacant retail spaces in the Paoli Acme strip, 3 or 4 in the strip where the HH Greg is located, at least 10 in Chesterbrook, and countless others along Route 30 between Paoli and Devon.

    Given all of these empty storefronts, the last thing you want to do is add to the amount of available retail space that exists in this area. Let’s face it Paul: We already built it and they didn’t come…so why on Earth would you recommend building even more?

    As for camping out in the Office of Appropriations Chairman Bill Adolph, I hear that REI sells sturdy tents and warm sleeping bags. However, if you really think that turning Mr. Adolph’s Office into your personal KOA is going to result in the 157th receiving additional State revenue, you are again showing your naiveté.

    This is the Main Line Paul. During these tough economic times, do you really think that limited State funding is going to support your dream of expanding retail space in an area that most people in this State consider to be the Beverly Hills of Pennsylvania? The ground truth is that any available State funding is going to pay for infrastructure projects and to aid those regions of the State that are in the most dire economic straits.

    Paul Drucker’s solution for the 157th is nothing more than campaign rhetoric that is as empty as the storefronts that he has no idea how to fill. If he is actually planning on running again, he better ask his advisers to fine tune his talking points.

    1. Replies are quite timely given the concurrent post about Shire possibly relocating. If someone attracts them, then the current site loses them. It’s developing NEW business that our country needs…and yet another Obama speech that has a great sales pitch “but the bill will be available in about a week”…oh yes — it’s more of that “fair share” thing. Fair to who? For What? Build the businesses. Keep them in the US despite the price of labor. And pay more taxes because you can. talking points indeed. FDR…wake up, your policy chief is calling.

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