Monday, September 1, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Nitpicking Pols Pix

And now a potential political fight over taking down pictures in the Capitol of former, now-jailed legislative leaders.

Nitpicking Pols Pix

Oh, the things Harrisburg can find to fight over.

The latest is a possible push to take down portraits in the Capitol of former, now-jailed political leaders.

A shame. It could deprive taxpayers of their very own tax-funded rouges gallery.

But the Scranton Times-Tribune reports that GOP Senate leaders are reviewing whether to pull a portrait of former and long-time Senate Democratic Leader Bob Mellow, of Scranton, that hangs on a wall on the ground floor on the Senate side of the main Capitol building.

Mellow recently was jailed on federal corruption charges, and more recently charged with state corruption in connection with a pay-to-play scandal involving the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.

The Times-Tribune reports some sitting senators question whether Mellow's portrait should hang with other Senate leaders, and a spokesman for Senate President Joe Scarnati says his boss is looking into it.

This no doubt will trigger a bipartisan, bicameral review. The portraits of three former House Speakers, all convicted of crimes, hang on walls of the ground floor on the House side of the Capitol.

They are former Democratic Speaker Bill DeWeese, currently in prison; former Republican Speaker John Perzel, currently in prison; and former Democratic Speaker Herb Fineman, convicted in a 1970's bribery scandal.

Both latter former leaders are, of course, from Philadelphia because, you know, the city is never under-represented when it comes to crime and corruption.

The Scranton newspaper previews the portraits debate. Mellow's successor, Democratic Sen. John Blake, suggests Mellow's portrait should stay: "I don't think you can rewrite the service of 40 years." GOP Sen. Jake Corman, of State College, says, "Portraits celebrate history...this type of issue is certainly worthy of review."

Of course, we could settle the whole thing easily. In future, just frame and hang former leaders' mugshots.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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