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"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32
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Author:  Tony Phyrillas
Bio: Tony Phyrillas
Date:  January 9, 2007
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Topic category:  Other/General

All I know about Dennis O'Brien

Except for six maverick Republicans, the GOP House caucus (94 members) supported John Perzel for another term as Speaker even though Perzel single-handedly wiped out the Republican majority.

Here's everything I know about Dennis M. O'Brien, the newly-elected speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

• O'Brien supported the July 2005 legislative payjacking. Strike 1.

• O'Brien is from Philadelphia. Strike 2. (Philadelphia politicians care only about Philadelphia. Their only goal is to bring more tax dollars back to Philadelphia, where the money will be squandered by other corrupt or incompetent politicians. See Gov. Ed Rendell for numerous examples of this).

• O'Brien says he has "chemistry" with Gov. Ed Rendell. Strike 3. (Anybody eager to work with Ed "Tax Hike" Rendell scares me.)

• O'Brien was nominated by Democratic Majority Leader Bill DeWeese, one of the architects of the payjacking and a man who has opposed legislative reform for 30 years. Strike 4.

• O'Brien, a Republican, was voted into office by 99 House Democrats. Strike 5. (Something doesn't smell right when Democrats want a Republican to lead the House.)

While nobody is happier than I am to see Republican John Perzel finally ousted as speaker, his replacement has a long way to go to win the public's trust and restore some sense of integrity to the Legislature.

I'm not convinced the members of the Pennsylvania Legislature who gave us the July 2005 payjacking and have resisted reforms for decades woke up on Jan. 2 and finally "got it" after paying lip service to constituents for the past 18 months.

I tend to side with this assessment from the editorial pages of The (Delaware County) Daily Times about the sudden burst of bipartisanship in the House and promises of reform: "Only a 'cockeyed optimist' would believe that was what happened in the state House. What happened in Harrisburg was Pennsylvania politics as usual. One back-room deal after another, reminiscent of the closed-door meetings that led to the middle-of-the-night pay raise that so angered the electorate."

Let's wait until the smoke clears before we decide if the Legislature got the message or we have to continue to sweep out career politicians.

Let's see some results before we decide if Dennis O'Brien is a true reformer or just Perzel-light. Is he the man who can usher in a new era of good government in Harrisburg or is he a puppet of status quo politicians like Ed Rendell and Bill DeWeese?

O'Brien's ascendancy comes at the expense of fellow Philadelphia Republican John M. Perzel, who refused to heed the adage, "Be careful who you step on as you climb to the top. You'll meet them on the way down." Has any political figure fallen as rapidly as Perzel has in the past year?

I was reading an article a few days ago about the demise of Saddam Hussein when I came across this sentence: "His arrogance led him to disastrous misjudgments." Those seven words jumped out from the page. I immediately thought of Perzel.

Perzel wielded immense power just a few months ago, but he squandered it. Voters sent Perzel (and his Republican minions) a clear message in November 2005, May 2006 and November 2006, but Perzel refused to listen. The result? Republicans lost control of the Pennsylvania House for the first time in 12 years. And Perzel lost his post as Speaker.

Just for laughs, you should contact your state representative and ask why he or she voted for Perzel as speaker. Except for six maverick Republicans, the GOP House caucus (94 members) supported John Perzel for another term as Speaker even though Perzel single-handedly wiped out the Republican majority.

Ask your state representative why he or she felt compelled to support such an arrogant, vindictive politician when nothing Perzel has done over the past four years as speaker (orchestrating the pay raise, blocking meaningful tax relief, pushing aside calls for reform, supporting the Rendell tax hikes and runaway spending) has been good for Pennsylvania.

Is your state representative looking out for you or covering their behind and bowing to tyrants like Perzel?

Fifty-five new lawmakers were sworn in Jan. 2, but nearly 200 incumbents returned to Harrisburg. The purge of 2006 was a solid start, but more career politicians need to be removed to end the culture of corruption in Harrisburg.

All 203 members of the House and 25 senators will seek re-election in 2008. Start the countdown. The people's revolution is on.

Tony Phyrillas (Columnist)

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Biography - Tony Phyrillas

Tony Phyrillas is a leading conservative political columnist and blogger based in Pennsylvania. He is a veteran journalist with 25 years experience as a reporter, editor and columnist for several newspapers. Phyrillas received recognition for column writing in 2010 from the Associated Press Managing Editors, in 2007 from Suburban Newspapers of America and in 2006 from the Society of Professional Journalists, Keystone Chapter. A graduate of Penn State University, Phyrillas is the city editor and political columnist for The Mercury, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning daily newspaper in Pottstown, Pa. In addition to The Mercury website (, his columns are featured on more than a dozen political websites and blogs. Phyrillas is a frequent guest (and occasional host) on talk radio and has been a panelist on the "Journalists Roundtable" public affairs TV program on the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN). Phyrillas was named one of the '10 Leading Greek-American Bloggers in the World' in 2007 by Odyssey: The World of Greece magazine. ranked Phyrillas the Most Influential Political Blogger in Pennsylvania for three consecutive years (2007-2010). You can follow Phyrillas on Twitter @TonyPhyrillas

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