In the political arena, the old saying about the duck seems appropriate far too often. You know the one...If it looks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck...well, it’s probably a duck. We’ve used this to draw attention to political hypocrisy more than once, and unfortunately must do so again.

We’ve also written before about the state open meeting law, known as the Sunshine Act. This law is designed to make sure the public is informed of meetings held by elected officials so that citizens can attend these meetings or at least have some idea that one is taking place.


A couple weeks ago my blog "And they're off..." noted that both Ben Avon and Emsworth councils had started the new year by abandoning procedures designed to make sure that taxpayers get the most for their money. In Ben Avon, the new council hired a solicitor without obtaining rates or proposals from other law firms. In Emsworth, the new council switched its legal advertising to a daily paper, which threatened to add some $11,000 to the borough's budget this year.


Every two years, on the first Monday in January, we at The Citizen are challenged to be at four municipal reorganization meetings within an hour and a half. By now, we pretty much have this down to a science, as we start in Emsworth and move up river to Bellevue in half-hour increments.

Historically, we breeze through Emsworth, Ben Avon and Avalon to get to the fireworks in Bellevue, where an obviously tainted water supply has made officials testy at best, and downright nasty at other times.


Like many of you, I like to look at the new year as a time for a fresh start, throwing out the old and welcoming a new perspective on life. Unfortunately that works only if you're really able to replace the old with the new, and the new is actually better than the old.

And sometimes the decisions we make in the prior year come back to bite us on the butt as the new year begins.


I suppose it is entirely coincidental that we Americans celebrate Thanksgiving so soon after election day. Or perhaps not. Perhaps some politician weary from the wars of campaigning thought, "Enough. It's time to regain perspective."

Thanksgiving done right forces us to at least think about how much we have -- no matter how little that may be in some cases -- and to set aside for some period of time -- again, no matter how little that might be in some cases -- the rancor of political battles.


It's getting harder and harder these days to tell the political players without a scorecard, as they say.

Back in the olden days, about a decade ago, it used to be that if you voted for a Democratic candidate, you were pretty well guaranteed to be voting for someone whose political ideology fell somewhere within the Democratic philosophy spectrum. The same was true if you voted for a Republican, or a Libertarian, or a Green Party candidate. You knew what these people stood for. It was an easy way to know if you wanted to vote for a candidate.


I have been watching with great interest, and more than a little nostalgia, the news coverage of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the event that finally captured the conscience of a nation in the ongoing battle to recognize that equality was more than just a word in our most historic documents.


There is a common saying among attorneys that "bad facts make bad law." What this means, in a nutshell, is that when appellate judges are swayed by a particular factual situation and change the law to accommodate those facts, they generally end up making a very bad law that fails to accommodate many other related factual situations, and creates a whole lot of problems for attorneys who are trying to interpret the law. One bad appellate decision can throw a whole bunch of people into a tailspin.


A couple weeks ago, I decided it was finally time to stop denying reality and cut down the dead plum tree in my front yard. It had been on its way out last fall, but I really liked that tree and I was hoping it would come back in the spring. Such was not to be the case, and I was left with a reasonably sized dead tree in my front yard.