Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Orie-vederci

Convicted state Sen. Jane Orie says she'll soon resign but wants her sentencing delayed anyway.

Orie-vederci

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Convicted state Sen. Jane Orie, a member of the Legislature since 1997, a past member of Senate leadership and a one-time potential candidate for state attorney general, plans to resign her Senate seat before her scheduled May 21 sentencing on 14 corruption counts.

To which all taxpayers shout, "ORIE-VEDERCI!"

She remains on the state payroll despite her conviction March 26 -- almost two years after she was charged with illegally using her office for political gain -- because lawmakers do not have to step down until the day they are sentenced.

This week, Orie's attorney, William Costopoulos, filed a motion in Allegheny County seeking a two-month delay in sentencing to allow time to better prepare pre-sentence arguments seeking leniency in the form or witnesses and testimonial letters.

The prosecution said it opposes the delay. A decision is forthcoming.

The good news is, the sooner she leaves, the sooner taxpayers can save some money. The bad news is she's already eaten up a ton of taxpayer dough.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports (and the story also ran in the Chicago Tribune) that Orie has collected $8,400 in pay since her March conviction; cost taxpayers more than $43,000 in jury and county overtime expenses amassed during two trials (the first ended in a mistrial), and Senate officials say $1.2 million in public money was spent on outside legal fees related to a long investigation of Orie because accused lawmakers are entitled to legislative resources until they are officially charged.

Still unresolved are the futures of two Orie sisters, state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin and Melvin's former employee Janine Orie. The latter faces trial on the same kinds of corruption charges Jane was hit with; and it's been reported that Justice Joan is the target of an investigation related to those charges.

The sisters made a New York Times editorial March 16 as a national example of why state's should seriously think about appointing rather than electing statewide judges.

It's nice that we can offer up governing guidance to the country. Be nicer if it didn't cost us so much.

Daily News Political Columnist
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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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