No one who has paid even casual attention to Pennsylvania politics and government can be surprised by the state's C- grade released today by the national Center for Public Integrity.
After reporters in every state researched 14 categories ranging from access to government information to legislative accountability, from lobbying disclosure to ethics enforcement, the Keystone State -- which, because of its history as the birthplace of the nation, should be a model of good government -- barely passes the integrity test and ranks 18th among the states.
Interestingly and instructive, the state gets flat out failure grades in areas critical to a sound democracy.
For example, on its "Corruption Risk Report Card" Pennsylvania gets an "F" in campaign financing (because their are no limits on giving to state campaigns); an "F" in state budget processes (because a handful of legislative leaders decide how tax dollars get spent); an "F" in judicial accountability (because our courts think they're God's gift to government); and an "F" in redistricting (because WHEN we do redistricting it's laughably gerrymandered to protect incumbents and partisanship).
The parentheticals are mine but the study results speak for themselves.
This is from a non-profit, non-partisan group. Has nothing to do with which party is in charge. All our pols and judges are culpable for our sorry grades.
And you can read details of the Pennsylvania report right here.
It was compiled over several months and no doubt influenced by ongoing stories such as the parade of former state lawmakers being packed off to prison, investigations into Penn State's alleged cover-up of the Jerry Sandusky scandal and a state Supreme Court justice targeted by investigators while her sister, a state senator, stands trial in Pittsburgh.
Such studies should serve as a wake-up call for states failing to act in the public interest. But in Pennsylvania, such studies are merely an excuse to hit the snooze button again.
We're used to this and apparently completely comfortable with it, which is why I regularly call our state "The Land of Low Expectations."
And, by the way, GRRRR.