I'm back after a week off. In the interim Trib Total Media has announced that it has agreed to sell the Kittanning Leader Times to Sample Media, Inc. I don't know what this will mean for the future of the Leader Times or its editorial policies, but we can hope. One hopeful sign is the editorial stance of the Ocean City Sentinel, a Sample Media, Inc. newspaper covering Ocean City, NJ. Their editorials tend to focus more on local issues. Their editor, David Nahan, is absolutely not a conservative Republican. How promising this may be depends on whether the Ocean City Sentinel's editorial board is executing the parent company's editorial policies or is simply allowed to use its own discretion. If the latter, the future direction of the Leader Times will depend on the composition of its editorial board. Based on what we have been told, the current Leader Times editorial board may very well remain in place. Unless they have been champing under the leadership of their Tribune-Review superiors, we can expect the current policy to continue, perhaps with minor modifications. If that's the case, expect this blog to heat up.
In the meantime, the two editorials that appeared in the Leader Times on October 24 were as predictable as they were disappointing. In the first editorial the board praises PA Senate for passing the "paycheck protection" bill. This bill is a watered-down version of a proposed constitutional amendment that would make it illegal for PA state or local governments to collect union dues or fees for any purpose from state or local government employees. The bill approved by the Senate is more narrowly focused. It only prohibits collection of political contributions from employees. The political motivation behind this bill is obvious. The proposed amendment, even if it eventually passes, will not take effect until after the 2016 election. Clearly, the Republicans in the state senate want to do something to reduce the influence of PA state employee unions on political races in the interim. The language in this bill was originally much closer to the proposed amendment, but has subsequently been amended to allow for the continued collection of "fair share" union dues. The amendments to the bill were probably the result of concessions to more moderate Republicans, such as Dominic Pileggi, who otherwise would not have supported it.
The editorial doesn't discuss any of this; whether the board likes the amended version better than the original is uncertain, but there is good reason to doubt it, in the form of an editorial column by Colin McNickle, the libertarian zealot in charge of the editorial staff at the parent Tribune Review. In that column, written in reaction to this bill's amendments, McNickle makes it clear that governments should not be collecting any money from their employees on behalf of unions. Given McNickle's role at Trib Total Media, we have reason to suspect that the Leader Timed editorial board would lean in the same direction. As it is, they'll take what they can get.
Oddly enough, the editorial apparently has no objections to other deductions governments perform on behalf of their employees, such as retirement and insurance payments. I guess that means no insurance companies use any of the money collected from government employees to lobby the government. Hahahahahahaaaaah! Seriously, if the bill's sponsors were genuinely interested in keeping any taxpayer funds from being funneled to political causes, they should either require all private entities that receive funds deducted from the paychecks of government employees to report on amounts contributed to political campaigns or superPACs and refuse to deduct that percentage from the employees' paychecks or simply refuse to collect any monies on behalf of any third party from employees' paychecks. As it is, this law in all its forms is a naked attempt to influence elections in favor of Republicans. That the editorial board supports it speaks volumes.
The other editorial is a lament that Canada elected Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister. What is their problem with Trudeau? That he's an intellectual lightweight? A fashion plate? Inexperienced? Son of Pierre Trudeau, and so resembling too closely the American candidates who are riding the coattails of previous family members who attained high office? I can find plenty of Canadian commentaries that agree with these accusations. Nope. He's a liberal.