The melodrama of Allegheny Co.’s legendary Orie sisters has already enlivened the proceedings of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the Senate as well. Soon the House of Representatives too may get a taste.
Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin was recently convicted by an Allegheny Co. jury for using her judicial staff and the Senate staff of her sister, former State Sen. Jane Orie, to work on her 2003 and 2009 election campaigns for a seat on the Supreme Court.
Orie Melvin was suspended from duty when she was charged last May. Her sentencing date has not been set.
But State Rep. John Sabatina (D-Northeast) said the court needs to move on quickly, even if she refuses to leave voluntarily. He is preparing for the possibility of impeachment proceedings.
Under the State Constitution, the House of Representatives has the sole power of impeachment. If that occurs, the Senate would conduct a trial to determine whether the justice would be removed from office.
“The verdict is in and a failure to immediately step down would bring dishonor to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court,” Sabatina said. “It is in the Commonwealth’s best interest to act swiftly and with dignity for the position.”
Sabatina said he will work with other members of the House Judiciary Committee to take the necessary steps toward impeachment if Orie Melvin refuses to resign.
“The proceedings have left Pennsylvania short a Supreme Court Justice for long enough. Important cases are pending. We must take action to maintain the integrity and functionality of the state’s highest court,” Sabatina said.
Sabatina is a former Philadelphia assistant district attorney.
Although the outlook isn’t brilliant for Justice Orie Melvin to wage a successful appeal, the Orie clan is noted for its pugnacious spirit. This suburban-Pittsburgh Republican family gives some comfort to Philadelphians who think only their inner-city Democrats have a capacity for bare-knuckle politics – and for serving time.
KNOX PICKS UP KEEL; IS CAMPAIGN IN OFFING?
Tom Knox, the self-made millionaire businessman from Philadelphia who finished a close second to Michael Nutter in the 2007 Democratic mayoral primary, has hired veteran publicist and campaign communications director Frank Keel.
The move signals Knox’s serious intent to mount another campaign for political office, although which office Knox may be seeking remains under wraps. He has previously expressed interest in a run against incumbent Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.
“It’s no secret that I still have a strong desire to hold elective office because I know how to streamline government and improve people’s quality of life,” said Knox. “Tom Corbett has failed the people of Pennsylvania and I am taking a very serious look at challenging him. Pennsylvanians are disillusioned with Corbett’s failed leadership and are rightly seeking a change. Corbett’s dismal job-approval ratings provide testament to voters’ apathy towards rewarding him a second term. I could mount a very formidable campaign against him.
“However, other opportunities for political office have recently emerged and I am carefully weighing those options. Determining the clearest path to victory is certainly a factor in my decision-making process, but it’s not as important to me as pursuing the position that would allow me to do the most good for people.
“The hiring of Frank Keel, a talented pro whom I’ve known and worked with for years, is an important first step in this exciting journey, no matter the ultimate destination.”
The field of Southeastern gubernatorial hopefuls may be getting a little too crowded, with Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz’s and State Sen. Mike Stack’s names being bruited about.
Keel’s most-recent political campaign work was on behalf of Attorney General-Elect Kathleen Kane. He also recently handled communications responsibilities for the successful campaigns of incumbent Congressman Lou Barletta (R-Luzerne) and State Rep. Ed Neilson (D-Northeast). Previous campaign work included Bobby Henon for City Council (2011), Tom Knox for Mayor (2007), Jack Kelly for City Council (2007), and John Street for Mayor (2003), among many others. Keel also served as communications director for the City of Philadelphia under former Mayor John F. Street.
GUV TAPS 2 PHILADELPHIANS FOR ADVISORY POSTS
Gov. Tom Corbett did not make electoral waves in Philadelphia when he won his seat in 2010 and he was an infrequent visitor to the city during his first term of office. For the most part, he has filled appointive positions with Western and Midstate Republicans – not surprising, considering his personal and electoral base lies there.
This winter, however, Corbett has come to town more frequently on supportive publicity occasions for Philadelphia Republicans.
This week, he reappointed two Philadelphians to key public boards.
The Advisory Council for Delaware Valley Veterans’ Home will retain a seat for William Carroll. And Chairman Sam Katz of the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority will continue to lead that body, which plays an important role in the city’s budget process.
BERARDI FALLS SHORT – THOUGH MAYBE NOT FOR LONG
Philadelphia’s native son Amato Berardi, who represents all North and Central America in the Italian Parliament, has narrowly lost his seat. But it was a squeaker.
European voting systems are very different the USA’s. Italian political parties compete as slates. The more votes a slate wins, the more of its candidates will be elected.
In Berardi’s continent-wide district, with 100% of precincts reporting, there was 29% turnout. Berardi’s center-right list, Popolo della Libertà, which is led by former Premier Silvio Berlusconi, came up 4,000 votes short of current Premier Mario Monti’s center list (22.8% vs. 27.8%), leaving it in third place. A center-left list led the pack in North America with 32.4%. Those 4,000 votes were enough to push Berardi out of Parliament.
He could return again soon, however.
Explains Republican Ward Leader Phil Innamorato, a follower of Italian politics, “There might be new elections soon though because the center-left’s coalition did not gain a majority in the Italian Senate, so stay tuned.” If new elections are called for later in the year, Berardi will have another crack at it.