tv Inside Story ABC December 20, 2015 11:30am-12:01pm EST
>> pennsylvania lawmakers may be worried they're gonna get coal in their stockings this christmas. "inside story" starts right now. good morning, everyone. i'm matt o'donnell. it it sunday, december 20, 2015. let's meet our insiders of the week on "inside story". first up, george burrell. >> hi, matt. >> attorney and nonprofit executive. good morning, george. renee amoore, g.o.p. state official. >> hey, matt. >> good morning, renee. larry platt, journalist and author. hey, larry. and val digiorgio, another g.o.p. state official. >> good morning, matt. >> good morning, val. all right, so here's the bottom line. as of this taping, there is no pennsylvania state budget passed. that may or may not change. the other thing is, it's really, really darn late no matter what happens. it was due back on june 30th, almost six months ago. word from harrisburg is that republican leaders and the legislature might be working on
passing stop-gap measures to continue funding state government and then working on the actual budget later. then there's also negotiations on trying to figure out spending revenue, education funding, pensions, liquor -- that may or may not be stalled, so let me go to you, val, first. what's going behind the scenes right now from what you hear? >> well, in a scene reminiscent of "high noon", the republican leaders in the house told the governor, "we'll give you 24 hours to get your votes." that 24 hours was up yesterday. the governor says he has those votes. as we sit here at the time of this taping, they're deciding on bringing that up for a vote today. you'll need almost every democrat, if not every democrat in the house, plus another 20 to 25 republicans to get an increase to the personal income tax up to about 3.25% or so. and they'll run that probably today as we sit here. if they don't get that done, they don't have the votes for that, then they'll run another stop-gap bill which will keep the government funded to the end of the year and keep vital
social services organizations funded and our schools funded, at least that's where the house is today. >> now, the voters are starting to get a bit fed up, i think. not a lot of impact, generally statewide, but also you have the holidays coming up, and i'm sure the lawmakers in harrisburg don't want to be sitting there trying to figure these things out during christmas, right? >> well, you would have thought that they would have gotten to a conclusion before now, and it's -- you know, it's kind of -- i think what val just said is the right assessment of what the facts are. it's interesting, though, that the state senate, which is republican-dominated, was able to cut a deal with the governor, saying, "we didn't get everything we wanted, he didn't get everything he wanted. let's continue this discussion into next year." and you can't get the house. i mean, the house comes to the party and says, "okay, you go get the votes. if you want this, you go get the votes. we're not gonna participate in that process." i think it's an unfortunate circumstance. i think voters -- i think this is why we see a guy like donald trump being so successful
in -- i don't think he gets elected, but successful because voters are just frustrated that we send these folks into public -- republicans and democrats -- we send them there and they can't figure out how to get along 'cause they're focused on re-election. they're not focused on governing. >> that's exactly right. and they tend to be focused on their own narrow self-interest. so for example, one sticking point in the house was in the pension reform part of it, they were gonna define new members going to the 401(k)-like plan. >> mm-hmm. >> they were defining new members as anyone who gets re-elected. so a lot of members, and bipartisan, were like, "wait a second, we don't want to lose our gravy train here." and what that does is to those of us just sort of out in the public, it leads us to question who's standing up for the common good. >> bottom line, no one is right now. you have crisis centers closing, which is really bad. i have a not-for-profit.
thank god we're still able to do it, but it's gonna get to a point we can't keep paying people, but we have to service ex-offenders coming out of prison, kids that are medically fragile, autistic -- those type of things, and those things are happening where people cannot afford to keep going on. so my thing is the legislators need to get together. all my guys here said the right thing. they're exactly right about it, and they need to talk and compromise. they don't know how to do it because it's all about them. it's what they want. >> go ahead, george. >> but there's also, i think, the fact that you've got a new governor, many of the players on the republican side, particularly in the senate and house, are new. jake corman is new. this is his first real -- he's been in the process, but he's not been the leader of the process. keith reed is new. so you've got a lot of new players at this whole process thing and -- >> there's no relationships. >> right. >> there's no relationships. that's the issue. nobody talks. >> they're learning on the job. >> did governor wolf try and get too much all at once and not waver until maybe now? >> initially, he did. he has, in fairness, moved a little bit.
i think what we have to understand about the dynamics here are that, you know, conservatives, and we see this at the national level. the $1.1 trillion omnibus budget bill passed yesterday, where conservatives in congress got virtually nothing. and in every budget deal for the last 30 years in this country, the answer is always, "the right has to compromise," but compromise always means the government gets bigger albeit at a small, slower pace. >> right. >> so here we have this again in harrisburg where, yeah, the governor says, "you have to compromise with me," but again, it's taxes going up, it's more regulations, it's government getting bigger albeit at a smaller rate, and conservatives are saying, "well, when is it the other way? when is, "we want government to be smaller and we'll compromise with you, and just not have a government get smaller at a slower rate the same way?" that's why you see a donald trump taking off so well because the right has said, "compromise always mean we lose." the arc of history, they say, bends towards justice. well, to conservatives, the arc of history bends towards bigger and bigger government. we never seem to win that fight,
and that's why you're seeing the debate now for the soul of the republican party. >> but in pennsylvania, we've had this wave -- republican governors for eight years, democratic governors for eight years, and we find ourselves as a state at the bottom of the pack in revenue growth, in job growth, and the things that make us competitive. simply keeping taxes down and smaller government's not gonna change that dynamic. we've got to find a way to grow this economy, which we haven't done over the last two or three administrations in the commonwealth of pennsylvania, and so just saying "smaller government's better" -- that's not the answer. >> well, and we have these things called elections that actually give a chance for the people to weigh in on that, right? so we have -- this is a unique situation because we've had competing mandates. governor wolf was elected with a mandate and 60-some-odd-percent of the legislature was elected with a mandate not to raise taxes, largely because they're in safe seats. so that's where the art of compromise comes in because you've got these competing
mandates. >> except the governor comes in and he says, "i want this huge tax increase. i want to change pennsylvania fundamentally." and when they say, "no, we weren't elected to do that," he then attacks those legislators with mailers instead of trying to keep working toward compromise. that locked everyone in. >> it goes again, you guys, about communication. nobody's sitting down and really talking because they don't have those relationships, and that's what happens. like george said, they're all new. they don't know how to do it. and then governor wolf has folks that really do not have relationship with legislators, either. let's be clear about that. that's important. that will help him cut those deals. but he has nobody, to me, backing him that. that's how i feel as far as going out and talking to the legislators. that's how you play the game. they don't understand this game, and it's not gonna work, and you're not gonna have compromise until you sit your butts down and talk. >> i think that's right. well, a lot of us knew what -- the deal was there to be made months ago, right? >> correct. you're absolutely right. >> and there was inexperience, especially on the part of the governor, i thought, and that's why we are where we are now. >> you're absolutely right.
>> if they do stop-gaps, that would be kind of disappointing because they were talking about that a long time ago, too. >> that's why -- we were already here. >> we were there. >> we were there this summer. they passed the bill that said, "we'll keep the last year's fiscal year budget in place and we'll talk about it later." that was vetoed. and the governor's gonna have another chance to decide whether his wants a veto or not, but going back to the governor again, a few weeks ago, they came up with this framework and it was gonna be a sales tax and another $600 million for education, which most people agree on. and the governor, instead of -- and a pension reform bill, a watered-down pension reform bill -- and the governor, instead of taking a step back and letting that work its way through the process, decided to beat his chest in front of the cameras and say, "i'm getting a great deal." so you have republicans saying to their leaders, "well, what the heck?" >> wait a second. we don't like that then because he likes it. >> what he should have done is actually step back and say "oh, i'm really getting hammered by these republicans." and that would have given the republican caucus a chance to say to their leaders, "oh, you guys really beat him up a little bit." but it just shows an inexperience there. >> you guys said that he's inexperienced. >> these are adults in the room.
these aren't kids. that's what politicians do. politics is a contact sport. people make strategic decisions. whether it was the right one, that's a strategic decision. what the governor, i think, has done, and i support him in doing this, saying, "look, if i don't get a construct in terms of budget negotiations in the first year, then i'm gonna be locked into this structural deficit and keep kicking this can down the road, which is what we do in -- everybody knows we have a structural deficit. everybody knows we got to have new revenues to fix that structural deficit, but we kick it down the road to next year." >> the latest budget in recent pennsylvania times was signed on december 23, 2003, by governor ed rendell, and whether or not they get a budget within that time, it's gonna be pretty darn close this year. so that's what we have there. >> that's how the democrats are. [ laughter ] >> kathleen kane apparently got porn, too. prosecutor mark gilson made the claim during the bribery trial of a state lawmaker saying the pennsylvania attorney general also received racy e-mails in a scandal that's been perpetuated
by kane herself. now, a kane spokesperson disputes this, but we do know that kane's twin sister, ellen granahan, who works in the a.g.'s office, did receive questionable e-mails herself, and yes, the plot thickens again and yes, we're talking about this again on "inside story". >> again. can we just get her off the stage, let her go, and move on? 'cause this is out of control. i mean, every other day, there's an issue with the attorney general. you know, can't she just resign, and can't we just move on and get somebody in there to do the job? what's actually going on in the office? what kind of business are they really doing? nothing. >> before -- >> no, go ahead. >> well, i'm concerned about this rush to remove attorney general kane, especially by this direct removal process only because, and this is not a defense of kathleen kane -- >> i hope not. >> but i will say that without this drama, we wouldn't have these questions about the state of our judiciary, which are
serious questions. and i'm just concerned about that going on the back burner if we rush to remove her in this sort of super-constitutional way or extraconstitutional way, and you know, thereby subverting the will of 3.1 million pennsylvanians. >> it's hardly a rush to judgment. she's been indicted. she's been disbarred. >> it's not an impeachment. it's not impeachment. >> it doesn't have to be. it's not extraconstitutional. it's within the constitution. removal's allowed. now it's a question of whether it's allowed in this instance, but it's within the constitution, and i guess it'll be challenged. >> it's not a rush. this stuff's been going on and on. >> this process has exposed things going on that are not related to kathleen kane, particularly with the judiciary. >> the horse is out of the barn. forget about kathleen kane. that issue's gonna get resolved. i think everybody's tired of kathleen kane, but she's opened a door that has real problems associated with it. we have a supreme court justice who says, you know, "my e-mails, i thought, were private." a lawyer thinking that something was private. stuff gets out into the public,
and it's just male banter. this problem has -- it's created a problem for seth williams here in philadelphia. it's created a problem for the supreme court justices. it's created a problem for judiciary all over the commonwealth. kathleen kane, regardless of what her motivations were for it, opened that door and it's now about more than just her. >> that's right, and by the way, i mean, i feel like we in the media do a disservice to this by calling it "porngate" 'cause that -- almost, people think that it's "boys will be boys". i've watched some of this stuff. there's this video that was sent around called "the amazing racist", and it's so disturbing that people who are elected for their judgment were sending this kind of stuff around. i invite people to go online and look at it. i decided not to publish it because it's that disturbing. >> mm. >> all right. >> it's horrible. >> anyone else? >> i've begun to write an hbo miniseries based on kathleen kane. it's gonna be a big hit. >> you know, sam katz is actually doing a documentary. >> "the kane mutiny".
>> i know. it's gonna be good. i think it'll be good. >> the last chapter has not been written, basically. now, a south jersey democrat wants to close this no-fly list loophole. there are currently no restrictions for people whose names appear on the federal no-fly list to purchase a weapon. freshman south jersey congressman donald norcross wants that loophole closed before christmas, which seems unlikely. there is a bill presented by new york congressman peter king that remains on the back burner that would do this. everyone support legislation doing this? >> even the aclu has concerns about the due process considerations of the no-fly zone. how do you get on there? do you get notice of it? do you get a chance to contest it? and now you're gonna take away potentially the rights of american citizens who wind up on that no-fly list? i have no objection to saying if you're not from the united states and you're on that list, you shouldn't be able to buy a gun. you probably shouldn't be able to buy one, anyway, in the united states, but american citizens -- i'll give you an example. ted kennedy found himself the subject of intense scrutiny at an airport before he had died
because someone had used his name as an alias, so he had to go through intense investigation or search before he could get on an airplane. so to now tell american citizens that their second amendment rights could be taken away without due process is, at best, troubling. even the aclu agrees with that. >> i just don't see what the harm is. it's -- yes, there are some people who are misidentified and subject to being on the no-fly list. that gets resolved. i mean, that's a technicality that gets resolved. in this case, it's absurd on the face of it, right, that a terrorist can buy guns in this country. it's absurd on the face of it. >> except it's a diversion from the real problem. the real problem -- let me give you an example. in san bernardino, the obama administration decides that they don't want to look at people's social media because it could violate their privacy rights. now, social media is where people are being recruited, where they're being radicalized. we didn't look and we didn't
find out that this woman who came from another country and was radical was spewing this type of stuff. >> we got to go. we got to go. more "inside story" when we come right back. >> wow. >> "inside story" is presented by temple university. temple fuels students with academics and opportunities to take charge. plugged into the city, powered by the world. temple.edu/takecharge.
>> back with "inside story". mayor nutter signs the "ban the box" bill, and a local columnist predicts disaster. the bill was an amendment to an existing philadelphia law which restricts what employers in the city can ask about a job applicant's criminal history. now employers cannot ask or research an applicant's arrests or convictions beyond seven years. philly.com columnist john featherman, a former republican mayoral candidate, says this will just make it more difficult and expensive to do business in philadelphia and notes the law actually makes an exception for law enforcement. do you agree with featherman? >> i agree that there could be additional costs that are associated with it, but i think it also -- we can't keep trying to deal with these really difficult social issues incrementally through legislation. i think the business community should come together with leaders and say, "okay, how do we address the issue of re-entry?" i mean, we keep talking about what the costs will be. every time i walk into a store, i see all those little things they put on the clothes, and i say, "well, how much does it cost me for this security
because we can't deal with these social issues in america?" and so to me, that's the bigger issue. i don't think you can solve them by introducing, passing pieces of legislation. you got to get adults in a room and figure out, "what's the solution?" >> i think that is exactly right. my reaction to this was that -- is this really something we should be trying to solve via legislation? or is it something that requires leadership? and that maybe government can set up incentives for businesses, whether using the tax code or what have you, for businesses to get involved in this. but ultimately, the leadership also has to come from the business community. >> he's absolutely right. i hate agreeing with you guys, but they're absolutely right. as a c.e.o. and stuff, that is more cost for you, but you also want to make sure your other employees are safe. well, we deal with re-entry, and so we do want these folks to get jobs, but just how you go about it. we keep piecemealing everything. you can't. everything comes together, and, again, i hate agreeing with them, but i do. >> make it unanimous, val. [ laughs ] >> i agree. >> "and survey says..."
>> yeah, i agree, but if i don't agree, i'm just saying i do. >> we know that. we know that. >> george is looking at me. but, you know, the business community has come together in philadelphia to do some great things like the intern program, which hires kids in high schools and gives them jobs, and, by the way, we need to expand that program this year. we could do it here. i think everyone agrees we need to find a way to mainstream people who've come out of the justice system and get them jobs and back into society. i think george and everybody else is absolutely right here. the business community can find a way to do that. >> and you can do it. we've done it where they come out -- ex-offenders come out. we have them hooked up with a person to work with. we follow them for one year. we get them a job. we have an 89.9% success rate. you can do it. >> look at what we just did here. we just solved the problem. >> thank you. it was really me. >> we should do the budget next. >> it would have been done like five minutes ago. >> absolutely. >> yeah, everyone goes off for the holidays. all right, well, plans for the jim kenney big block party are under way. rather than having a typical gala celebration for the new philadelphia mayor as he takes office, kenney wants to hold a block party-style event. there will be a food truck, live
music, but it's not gonna really be a block party because the event's gonna be held inside at the pennsylvania convention center and only 1,500 people that kenney invites will be allowed to attend. so generally, given these plans, what do you think this says about the kenney mayorship? >> he's a south philly guy, and of course a block party is right on time. and i'll be there. >> you'll be invited? >> yeah, i hope so. >> please. can you invite me? >> except i do think this is smart public relations, right? because it's jimmy from the block having a block party. but you're right. it's not actually a block party. it's at the convention center. it's a party not unlike other inaugural parties. >> but it's still different. it's different. that's what he's trying to be -- different. >> what's different about it is this sort of -- the way they're spinning it. >> exactly. >> i think when you look, i think it is an issue of being different and jim kenney trying to say, "i'm going to be a different mayor." when you look at the diversity across all of -- not just racial diversity, but gender diversity, handicapped, disabled diversity, you know, i mean, he really has
put together an amalgamation of an administration. i think this is a capping-off of it. he may need to -- at the end of the day -- probably have to wind up inviting more than 1,500 people, but -- >> can you get me invited? you or larry. >> will there be funnel cake, val? >> i don't know, if the mayor wants to invite the chairman of the chester country republican party, i'd be happy to come. >> i'm in. >> you want diversity. >> right. [ laughs ] >> i've interviewed kenney multiple times, but during the campaign, i'm waiting for him on the street, and he got out of a cab. i don't think i've ever seen a guy running for mayor jump out of a cab and come do an interview. >> real diversity is a black republican being there. >> mm-hmm. >> okay? let me be clear. >> our local dirty harry stands up for muslims. upper darby police chief michael chitwood, who commonly refers to criminals as scumbags, held a rally outside a mosque to defend local muslims from political attacks. says, "they're part of the community just like we are." why aren't more community leaders doing this? >> i love chitwood, man. first of all, i love him because in my previous life as a
newspaper editor, he provided great copy. >> sure. [ laughter ] >> but also, this is an example of leadership, of bringing communities together, and i wish more people would take these steps. >> but i think, i mean, because it's -- it was unclear to me whether the rally was organized by the community or organized by the police chief. i think he was participating. >> it was outside of a mosque. >> but i think people in the african-american community and the muslim community feel, you know, why do i have to defend myself? why do i have to come forward and profess my commitment to this society when i've done nothing wrong, my family doesn't do anything wrong, and so they feel that they now have to come forward and say, "condemn this thing of terrorism and the people who commit it," i think people don't feel that they have an obligation to do that, and i don't think they should have an obligation to do that. >> my understanding is that chitwood and the police department have been working closely with the muslim community, and this was sort of their mutual coming-out party,
>> "inside story" is presented by temple university. temple fuels students with academics and opportunities to take charge. plugged into the city, powered by the world. temple.edu/takecharge. >> inside stories of the week. we start with george. >> gentrification is redefining cities like atlanta and washington be relocating african-americans outside of the city. gentrification's a huge challenge in the city of philadelphia. i'm hopeful that mayor-elect kenney and his administration will deal with it as a problem and manage it as opposed to simply relocate minorities outside the city of philadelphia. >> thanks, george. renee? >> harrisburg has so many issues going on, and there's a big rumor about
representative turzai not being the speaker anymore. and so the word on the street is that it could be possibly john taylor. that would be interesting for philadelphia because people do like john taylor. >> okay. thanks, renee. larry. >> sorry to bring us back to kathleen kane, but last week, the inspector general of the department of justice contacted the special prosecutor, wants to see all the e-mails, with an eye out for the ones involving u.s. attorneys, which tony williams called to everyone's attention. this is a good thing because i don't trust anyone in the state to have a clean look at this thing. >> thank you, larry. val. >> first amendment is the bedrock of american rights, and it's under attack on college campuses all across the country. seemingly spoiled college students want "safe speech" zones and anything that offends them is deemed objectionable. a reporter went to yale university and in 60 minutes, got 50 students to sign a petition at yale to abolish the first amendment, and that's scary stuff. >> mm. wow. >> thank you all for joining us, our panelists. thank you for watching, and happy holidays to all of you.
those of you who celebrate christmas, merry christmas to you, and we'll see you next week right here on "inside story" for the year-end edition. >> ohh. >> talk about all the big topics from 2015. i'm matt o'donnell. see you later. ♪ >> i'm nydia han along with eva pilgrim. coming up next on "action news," a fiery crash in northeast philadelphia takes three lives. we're live with the latest on the investigation. an apology and sharp exchanges are in the air as the democrats star for the last time in 2015. the eagles need a win against the cardinals is to stay in the playoff picture.