Friday, July 31, 2015

Trials and Tribulations

The first full week of June will bring Pennsylvania lots of attention: Sandusky trial gets underway, Sen. Orie gets sentenced and we're all reminded what a wonderful state we have.

Trials and Tribulations


Buckle up, Pennsylvania.

The first full week of June promises another round of reminders about what diverse and perverse news our great state produces.

On Monday, former state Republican Sen. Jane Orie is to be sentenced in Pittsburgh on 14 criminal counts of misuse of her public office for campaign gains. A judge is also to decide how much of the $2 million in restitution sought by prosecutors Orie will have to pay and whether or not she also loses all of her pension and campaign funds.

Meanwhile, her sister, Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin, continues to collect $195,000 plus benefits despite being indicted May 18 on nine counts of the same kind of campaign abuse. The justice has been stripped of all court duties but remains on the public payroll because, well, this is, after all, Pennsylvania.

Oh, and another Orie sister, Janine, who worked for Joan, awaits trial on similar charges.

Nice that the sisters have common interests.

Then on Tuesday, jury selection begins in Bellefonte for the child-sex abuse trial of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky with the actual trial expected to get underway June 11.

While I never expected Sandusky to go to trial (and there's still some possibility he won't), if this moves forward it promises to provide much more national attention for the iconic PSU and a remix of emotions regarding the firing and subsequent death of Joe Paterno.

And yet, in what must be the worst public relations nightmare of any manjor univeristy anywhere, PSU President Rodney Erickson told the editorial board of the Harrisburg Patriot-News on Thursday that fundraising, grant awards and student applications appear to be weathering the storm.

"I think it’s people being able to separate Sandusky and Sandusky-related things from the broader university,” Erickson said. “That was more difficult in the early days, but I think now there is a wider degree of separation both within the Penn State community and among the wider public.”

He might be right. But what a menu of wrongdoing, corruption and cover-up our state offers .

Gotta make ya Pennsylania proud.

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

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

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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