Friday, August 18, 2006

Todd Elliott Koger Offers Fresh, Common Sense Ideas (Candidate Pa. State Assembly)

Do you know a relative, friend or neighbor who recently experienced a utility shut-off? If so, than, Joe Preston must go!

In the months before the law passed, utility and power companies donated $4,650 to Preston's campaign, according to state records. During each of the previous two years, industry donors gave him less than a third of that.

And, after accepting lucrative campaign contributions from the utility and power companies (Allegheny Power, ARIPPA PAC, Columbia Gas, Dominion, Duquense Light, FirstEnergy Corp, PPL Corp, and the like), Joe Preston wrapped a "moral responsibility" cloak around Act 201 (Responsible Utility Customer Protection Act), and rushed from committee legislation that makes it much easier for the seediest financial interest in the country to terminate the gas, electric and water service of poor, low-income customers. That reversed a longstanding state ban on shutting off heat during winter. Note: Throughout the entire process, there was not a single public hearing on the measure.

That is, pursuant to Act 201 utility companies can now demand the balance due, a reconnection fee, and two months payment in advance. In other words, Joe Preston adopted the agenda of big business and they reciprocated with cash. All the sordid details of Mr. Preston's cosying up to the utilities in exchange for legislation that allows termination of service on all weekdays (including Fridays) even during winter months, must come out.

The residents of District 24 want to know exactly whose interests was served by leaving the poor and low-income without heat, electric and water in their homes during months when the mercury dips into the teens or lower, and wind can be howling and brutal?

By the end of December, gas companies had cut service to about 13,750 Pennsylvania homes, which is almost double the average number of homes who lost gas service during each of the previous four years, according to the Pennsylvania Utility Corporation. Another 3,795 homes in the state are relying on "potentially unsafe heating sources" like electric space heaters, kerosene heaters and kitchen stoves, the commission reported.

As per the May 2006 Primary (more people voted against Joe Preston than voted for him), it is plain and clear District 24 believes Joe Preston has become a part of the culture of corruption and cronyism in Harrisburg. The one-two punch of increased rates and the end of the moratorium of winter service terminations is shocking and, in many cases, life threatening.


Last July's now repealed pay raise for lawmakers, judges and state administrators led to the defeat of a Supreme Court Justice in November and 17 incumbent legislators in the May primary. How the legislature passed the pay raise -- in the middle of the night, skirting a constitutional prohibition on mid-term raises -- angered people as much as the raises themselves. In the 24th District, Joe Preston's has further outraged residents because he has tailored legislation (Act 201)and his votes to the greed and special interest of big business.

Pa. Pay Raise, Act 201 Utility Terminations, No Lobbyist Disclosure Law, Bond Issue Transactions. . .

Did you know? Pennsylvania is the only state in the union that does not have a lobbyist disclosure law that monitors what lobbyists give to whom in the legislature in return for what kind of action.






A lobbyist disclosure law is intended to make public the efforts of lobbyists and check the integrity of our elected representative. Such a law's effectiveness depends upon the toughness of its limits and the degree of openness that it requires.

Lack of such protection has resulted in some serious questions about the leadership and the attentiveness of our state representatives. The great slots legislation debate of 2003-04 came and went without a full accounting of what lobbyists spent to influence Act 71.

In the wake of the legislative pay raise fiasco, lawmakers have been especially intent about having a reform vote on their scorecard. Somehow, however, they went on summer break without enacting a new disclosure law to replace the one scuttled by the State Supreme Court four years ago.

For politically connected firms, routine Bond issue transactions have generated enough in attorney's fees to make Joe Preston blush.

But, hopefully, the pay raise and Act 201 issues will spur additional interest in the harmful acts of political malfeasance associated with the "pinstripe patronage" that attends every Bond issue.

Pennsylvania's track record on such matters is shameful. The Turnpike and other state agencies don't use competitive bidding for legal work.

Interestingly, Mr Preston gets the majority of his special interest money from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association/Law PAC. The law firm Klett, Lieber Rooney & Schorling has also given Preston money.

Note: Klett Rooney received the most legal work (1.5 million) from the state Turnpike Commission over the past four years. This law firm with direct political connections to Mr. Preston has represented the Turnpike on two personal injury cases, two construction litigation cases and four cases on zoning and land use.

Klett Rooney (and Arthur Rooney II) donated about $128,300 to state Senate candidates and party committees from 1998 through 2004. Overall, the law firm contributed about $942,100 to state judicial, legislative and gubernatorial candidates and to political action committees.

An audit by the research arm of the state General Assembly in 1997 found that the Turnpike's Bond counsel fees were higher in most cases than those in six other toll states studied.

State Rep. (District 24) Joe Preston Hypocrite -- Utility Terminations, Act 201, Campaign Contributions

The poor and low-income residents of Pennsylvania State Assembly District 24 should be horrified by the hypocrisy of Joe Preston who parlayed his leadership position within a committee into an opportunity for lucrative campaign contributions from the utility companies.

Joe Preston wants you to believe that Act 201 protects paying customers from higher bills. With few, if any, humanistic considerations, he mistakenly believes the only problem associated with the poor and low-income freezing to death isn't a human problem but rather a problem of energy industry profits.

In short, Mr. Preston wants the voters of Aspinwall, East Liberty, East Hills, Lincoln-Lemington, Lincoln Park, Highland Park, Homewood, Point Breeze, and Wilkinsburg to gloss over the plight of those without heat and electric. He is dehumanizing the poor and low-income as "deadbeats" leaching off "good customers."

However, poverty isn't about people being bad or making bad choices. It is about having corrupt and decadent social systems that make people unfathomably rich at the expense of the rest of us.

To illustrate and humanize this issue, one must look at who is really hurt by Act 201. According to 2002 data from Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) of Pennsylvania, of the low-income households that received assistance, 80 percent of those households had either an elderly or disabled family member or a child under five.

A report issued by State Representative Dwight Evans estimated that statewide at least 20,000 households went without utility service. Additionally, the Philadelphia Inquirer on September 19, 2005, said that number multiplied as a result of utility companies exercising their rights under Act 2001.

Todd Elliott Koger believes District 24 needs a representative who will lead the fight to guarantee a future where our poor and low-income elderly, disabled, and children have heat and electric when they sleep at night, food to eat, health insurance, good schools, and all the necessary things to live meaningful life.

Pa. State Rep. Joe Preston Lip Server: Kingsley Community Center Funding

Former 2004 Candidate for District 24, Ed Gainey says the new Kingsley Association community center in East Liberty was promised 2 million dollars by Joe Preston. The funding never materialized.

Family Feud

Writer Brentin Mock, Pittsburgh City Paper February 5, 2005

“I could sit here and ramble off things at a young age that I did,” says 33-year-old Ed Gainey, who is challenging State Rep. Joseph Preston Jr. for the 24th Legislative District seat (covering Wilkinsburg, East Liberty, Highland Park, Larimer, Lincoln-Lemington, Homewood and parts of Aspinwall and Point Breeze). They include the New Pennley Place housing development at the eye-irritating corner of Penn and Negley Avenues; new Lincoln Park housing developments; and the East Liberty redevelopment plan that landed Whole Foods and Home Depot.

Gainey’s point, however, is that Preston assisted none of these projects while Gainey served as special projects manager under Mayor Tom Murphy and worked with East Liberty Development Inc.

The two politicians were once close: Gainey worked as Preston’s legislative aide for six years. In fact, they were close enough that “my own daughter said I treat [Gainey] better than her,” Preston says.

Preston’s office “hasn’t missed a beat” since Gainey left in 2002, he says. But Preston calls the challenge by his former aide unfortunate. He also says Gainey is linked with 12th Ward Dem Chairman Doc Fielder as part of an “old wave” of politics -- a decades-old black political machine in the East End led by Fielder and fellow ward leader Chuck Frazier. Preston was once associated with them as well, but feels they are no longer “progressive” or “aggressive” enough. Preston, a 20-year incumbent who’s also 23 years older than Gainey, says he is the “new wave” of politics.

Gainey says the new Kingsley Association community center in East Liberty was promised funding by Preston. Preston promised key Kingsley development players that he could get $2 million from the state’s capital budget for the new center two years ago, Gainey maintains. That money never materialized. Gainey meanwhile, says he was able to secure $1.4 million from the city for Kingsley, where he held his press conference to announce his run.

Says Gainey: “If I’m able to work with a city that’s broke and receive some kind of funding to secure new investments in our community, then I believe our state rep should be able to do the same thing.”

Preston says he never promised money for the Kingsley but has been working for the funds while battling the stingy administration of former Gov. Tom Ridge for it.

Preston was one of Rendell’s chief campaign managers for Western Pennsylvania. His more friendly relationship with the current governor, he believes, should help the money materialize. Preston adds that he has helped finance the Veterans Administration Hospital, a new YMCA and YWCA, and the new Carnegie Library in Homewood, all in his district.

Says Preston, “If Kingsley is the only reason [Gainey is running] … then there’s really no room to talk about anything else.”

Preston recently caught flak from the black community for legislation he introduced to rename the Downtown State Office Building after former mayor and Pennsylvania governor David L. Lawrence. The New Pittsburgh Courier ran an editorial last year saying that Preston had more pressing concerns in the district -- economic development. Preston calls that editorial “racist”; a white constituent suggested that bill, he notes. “My district is multicultural and I try to develop rapport among people of all colors,” he adds.

Preston says no one has contributed more to the 12th Ward than he has. He calls himself a ward “family member.”

“When one person in the family determines who sits at the table and who doesn’t,” he concludes, “then we’re losing the democratic process.”

Who is TEK, Todd Elliott Koger Candidate Pa. State Assembly District 24

The people of Pennsylvania's State Assembly District 24 want and deserve change. For decades we looked to Joe Preston to become more accountable. But, as the years have drifted by, Mr. Preston had drifted further and further away. Mr. Koger's is about bringing common sense principles back to Harrisburg.


Todd Elliott Koger, is a product of Duquesne University School of Law. He has a B.A., Political Science California University of Pennsylvania; and, an A.S., Labor Education CCAC. He is a former Allegheny County planner (Human Services). He was selected Who's Who Among Students of American Universities and Colleges; given the California University Distinguish Service Award and California University Progressive Leadership Award; and presented WTAE's, Channel 4 Gold Medal Award (Community Service).

There's a long-standing observation that the poor and low-income always get the government they deserve. In District 24, that has meant for a long time "NOTHING!" The incumbent, over and over, term after term, with little oversight has provided no accountability to his constituents. The result: an ethically challenged representative controlled by special interest that treats the poor and low-income like "deadbeats" or worse.

But, how can Mr. Preston side with special interest while families in District 24 struggle? How can he call his constituents "deadbeats" when there are four or five houses on each block that are fatherless homes?

The bottom line: Joe Preston is a gimmick, a package to be sold. And, Todd Elliott Koger "keeps it real!" He's from the "cut." No one can call him a "sell-out." Mr. Koger has nothing, but he is known in District 24 as someone who always "keeps his head up."

Todd Elliott Koger is a trusted advocate steadfast to the challenge of canvassing the most dangerous neighborhoods (door-to-door, corner-to-corner, housing project-to-housing project) to redress the complaints, concerns and needs of his constituents.

District 24 doesn't need another politician who is visible only before election time, always followed by special interest, meeting only with the already self-disciplined and organized block-watch groups or tenant councils. We need someone welcomed by those normally "too hard to reach" because he will produce tangible results and is trusted as a "homegrown" trying to do some good.

The registered voters of Aspinwall, East Liberty, East Hills, Lincoln-Lemington, Lincoln Park, Highland Park, Homewood, Point Breeze, and Wilkinsburg have asked Todd Elliott Koger to challenge Joe Preston. Mr. Koger has accepted the call and will appear on the November 7, 2006, General Election Ballot.

Mr. Koger understands well what is expect of a State Representative. For example: he believes Members and staff of the State Assembly must often assist constituents in their dealings with administrative agencies by acting as facilitators or ``ombudsmen.'' Members may properly communicate with agencies on behalf of constituents:

  • to request information or status reports;
  • to urge prompt consideration of a matter based on the merits of the case;
  • to arrange for appointments;
  • to express judgment on a matter (subject to ex parte communication rules); and/or
  • to ask for reconsideration, based on law and regulation, of an administrative decision.
The State Representative should always make clear to administrators that action is only being requested to the extent consistent with governing law and regulations.

Todd Elliott Koger's Op-Ed Article: We gathered to say

The protests outside Three Rivers were a plea to help resolve endemic poverty in our city -- which could result in real chaos.

We gathered to say: Pittsburgh, please listen

The following is an Op-Ed article written by Todd Elliott Koger and featured in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

This was to be a good day!

On this the 15th day of January 1995, an unseasonable 65-degree thaw had liquefied our worries into warmth and excitement. Hosting a professional football conference championship game added hopes and plans for the next couple of weeks for those who live here.

Check! Not all who reside here projected warmth, excitement and hope. Some, as shown by the Coalition of African Americans for Justice protest outside of Three Rivers Stadium, had different plans and concerns for the next couple of weeks.

Forget the basic facts that you have come to learn about our beautiful city. Sure it surprises visitors with booming banks, thriving hospitals, expanding universities and more than 600 advanced technology companies.

Word! These new industries cannot provide as many jobs as the factories and mills that dominated the city's past.

A glorious face-lift. A wonderful outlook for the future. Steeped in historical tradition, the city is poised for expansion. Pittsburgh is a city where some can put down roots and then reach for the sky.

But not all of us can put down roots and reach for the sky. Some of you forget about the blend of Lysol and body order at homeless shelters. Some of you forget about the bent spine of our fixes-income grandparents living on the edge of town. Some of you forget about the blare of TV soap operas in our housing projects, drowning out the cry of the badly diapered babies on linoleum floors. Some of you even forget the shrieks of friends and family at community funeral homes when teen-age murder victims are mourned.

Pittsburgh still suffers beyond its face-lift.

It suffers because some lack jobs. And worse yet, some lack responsible parents. It suffers because of the problem some of you have with the color of your neighbor's skin. And worse yet, because of the gang color of a person's gear.

Let's revisit the young women in the housing projects. Pittsburgh suffers when our young sisters drag their toddlers into a medical van for vaccination shots that are a year late. Why? Because bureaucratic red tape of social-service agencies that make them run from here to there, and do this or that for nothing, puts other children at risk of disease.

Such is also the case with the loss of Pittsburgh's small-town safety and previous immunity to violent crime. Now there's an epidemic: Homicide disease," caused by the spread of gang and drug activity, the increasing availability of guns, a growing fear of retaliation that led to a lack of cooperation with the police, more community tolerance of violence, a decline in values, an increase in alienation.

Word! Young people and blacks are the disproportionate perpetrators and victims of violent acts. And, while this disease may be kiling only a small percentage of the community's young people, it is threatening the health of the entire body.

It's not Pittsburgh apartheid. Such would be exaggeration. Further, the poor 'hood is not exclusive to blacks. Take an expressway from town and disappear into desolate 'hoods and encounter the civilization of menace. Pittsburgh, a dual city! The glass wonder of PPG Place is a faded memory. Here in the 'hood lives lie abandoned as far as the eye can see.

It used to be that when Pittsburgh talked about its poor, you were talking about the working poor. Today the nonworking poor are those isolated and not able to maintain social mobility now that good-paying jobs (blue collar) have disappeared.

The avenue for recourse is normally to telephone, write and knock on doors. But when politicians refuse to answer, this makes you angry and bitter. The angrier you get, the more you display your dissatisfaction.

The protest at Three Rivers Sunday was an eyesore. But Pittsburgh -- your poor citizens need assistance. They need immediate assistance. It was rage that set Los Angeles ablaze in 1992. Pittsburgh's political leaders had better realize that in many ways, the city is filled with volatile tinder that a social explosion is waiting to happen.

In the past, civil-rights legislation and affirmative-action programs have benefited primarily the more advantaged and the educated poor, as opposed to the truly disadvantaged. Welfare has enabled some to survive. But it certainly is not the answer to these problems. When you are a welfare recipient and you've been out of work for a long time, you develop the feeling of low self-efficacy. This is the feeling that you cannot accomplish the goal you set for yourself. This is different than low self-esteem.

If Pittsburgh is committed to addressing its poverty needs -- the problems that led to the protest -- the commitment must be long term, not short term.

While there is an obvious need to continue sanctions against racial discrimination, an effective long-term strategy for social justice must include race-neutral policies that can draw support in today's political climate.

Todd Elliott Koger's Op-Ed Article: Hope for Pgh's 'boyz/'hood

Todd Elliott Koger has a plan: Go door-to-door, corner-to-corner, housing project-to-housing project, to help inner-city residents.

Hope for Pittsburgh's 'boyz in the 'hood

The following is an Op-Ed article written by Todd Elliott Koger and featured in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Bust this: Recently, with hyped intensity, the boys in the 'hood started biting the scene in gangland. That's right, you're down with it: They began copying gangsters' violent, senseless behavior. Homeboy killing homeboy -- or anyone else who happened to be in the path of their nine (9mm gun). they had the usual beefs: money owed, turf wars, OPP (other people's property -- wife, girlfriend, etc.).

But really. Is the recent burst of gunfire, and resultant bodybags, so unexpected?

The Man wants you to think that it is just a provocation associated with the misinterpretation of big-screen portrayals of the inner-city life of the black man ("Boyz N the 'Hood" and "New Jack City" especially). Even some so-called black leaders have had the gall to corroborate such foolishness. All this got the usual response from Downtown: A few street dealers were arrested and labeled midlevel drug suppliers while the TV cameras rolled. As if that were sufficient to force the illegal business elsewhere.

Right. The handful of drugs seized shouldn't have even made the evening news. Maybe the police achieved their political objective, but in reality all they did was quiet the thunder of the coming storm.

You can't expect to shun the poor and disenfranchised off to the 'hood forever. It's surprising the drive-by shootings have just arrived. You know the score in Pittsburgh: (1) bypassed by expressways and opportunity (no jobs); (2) ignored and forgotten (no respect); and (3) suffering out of sight (domestic frustration).

Maybe no one Downtown realizes how bad things can get. Maybe no one realizes that "New Jack City," although in its infancy, has arrived.

The options in the 'hood remain the same: a minimum-wage job with no benefits; unemployment, because young males here who have not paid unemployment contributions receive only three months of Thornfare; or drug dealing (for some, this brings in as much as $1,500 a week).

And on the serious tip -- that is, honestly speaking -- don't think that everyone in the drug business is making a bundle. For many, the dangerous life only provides what they would normally receive on welfare. Why do you think many black males drift from one young mother to another? Because the additional welfare checks guarantee a roof over their heads, chicken wings in their bellies and a better alternative to the dangerous life of selling drugs.

No, they're not the "cannots" the liberals describe -- healthy young brothers who lack skills to work. Some of them are college graduates. And they're definitely not the "will nots" conservatives describe -- too lazy to take existing jobs or too lazy even to try to find them. Unfortunately, the damned life of selling drugs and bearing arms (to protect the illegal hustle that removes them from poverty) is their only alternative.

Even minimum-wage jobs flipping burgers, cleaning floors or, in the case of the girls, waiting tables, are out at the mall in the suburbs. Without a hustle, many of the homeboys don't have reliable transportation to get there -- or the "dope gear" (expensive clothing) required for an interview.

In short, our city and surrounding communities are becoming killing fields. And don't think it's just an East End thing: In reality, the "New Jack" curse embraces more than race, more than even drugs. It reflects the fact that out of bigotry and fear, our own leaders leave our brothers and sisters in such desperate hopelessness that they destroy their own lives and have no respect for the humanity of anyone else.

Without working parents to set an example, realizing that success -- "getting paid" -- requires hard work and discipline is teenagers fail to see the connection between the glamour and excitement of drugs and the accessibility of a handgun.

The majority's answer is loud: more police, more death sentences, more mandatory sentences. For whatever reason, bureaucrats think only in terms of retribution, punishment and incarceration. But they'll never stop the killings by building prison cells and locking up our young.

And then there's the sellout crowd -- the tokens gone bad -- that wants us to believe that not all blacks are poor and disenfranchised, that we have a choice. But how soon do those fortunate enough to have a friend to make them a token in the Man's world forget that surrendering is their only real option for staying there?

Some believe that the way to impose structure on these undisciplined lives is through athletics -- they'll show up regularly, on time, in uniform, and train hard. The coaches can act as mentors, discussing the pressures of drugs and gangs and teaching them how to cope with school. Unfortunately, many sports leagues have relocated, like the jobs, to the suburbs.

"New Jack" is for real, Pittsburgh. Understanding it rather than trying to control it is the answer. What's needed is a trusted advocate steadfast to the challenge of canvassing the most dangerous neighborhoods -- door-to-door, corner-to-corner, housing project-to-housing project -- to redress the complaints, concerns and needs of inner-city residents. One trusted ombudsman could redress those barriers that have systematically prevented inner-city residents from becoming productive participants in mainstream society.

We don't need another politician who is visible only before election time, always followed by the media, meeting with the already self-disciplined and organized blockwatch groups or tenant councils. We need someone welcome by those normally "too hard to reach" because he or she produces tangible results and is trusted as a "homegrown" trying to do some good.

Todd Elliott Koger's Op-Ed Article: Living on the margins of society

Picture yourself 40 years from now. Some of your closest friends and colleagues have gathered to help you celebrate your retirement. After dinner, the toast and testimonials begin, with each guest offering a personal reflection on your life and career. What will these people be saying about you?

Living on the margins of society

The following is an Op-Ed article written by Todd Elliott Koger and featured in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Picture yourself 40 years from now. Some of your closest friends and colleagues have gathered to help celebrate your retirement. After dinner, the toast and testimonials begin, with each guest offering a personal reflection on your life and career.

What will these people be saying about you?

With the current state of black America just surviving 40 years is an accomplishment. Murder remains the leading cause of death among urban black males between the ages of 16 and 24. A black child born in America today has less chance of surviving to adulthood than a child born in a place as troubled as Panama. And for most of those who do survive, because of the continued socio-economic ills affecting our race, there will be nothing to celebrate, no job to retire from. The gathering would more likely be to bury another who has failed to survive the demanding challenge of life in black America.

And if the recent Supreme Court rulings limiting minority set-asides and the right of employees effectively to sue for discrimination is the direction the American system is heading, the indeed America will need a "Marshall Plan," as suggested by the national Urban League, to rebuild our cities and develop the human resources of our people, who have been traditionally shunted off to the margins of society.

America also will need a revitalization of the civil-rights movement. To accomplish this, we will need someone like Thurgood Marshall, the tenacious young civil-rights attorney who challenged segregation in education in Brown vs. Board of Education, and who later went on to a renowned tenure as an affirmative-action advocate on the highest court of the land.

As racial tension becomes more pronounced (Howard Beach, Bensonhurst and most recently, the Charles Stuart situation in Boston), encounters with racism on the job, in shopping centers, on the housing market, in the criminal-justice system, in social settings and in the media will further aggravate our precarious existence.

So, what is the actual state (need) of black America?

Our civil-rights advocates are again being assassinated; we are nearly three times as likely as our white counterparts to be unemployed; 47 percent of our low-income males drop out of high school; and black males are disproportionately represented in prisons.

But is a suggested $50 billion deduction from the defense budget for a domestic Marshall Plan a guarantee of better education, housing and health care -- services desperately needed in the black community to end the cycle of economic injustice? Sure, this is a better use of funds than providing endless support to the defense establishment and indirect dividends to the wealthy. But is money the only way to achieve racial parity?

In the '90s, a renewed pride is needed in the black community -- a pride that should not be confused with the current trivial discord associated with being labeled black rather then Afro-American. Black pride needs to be revitalized to the degree achieved by our civil-rights leaders of the '60s. Pride enabled those leaders to overcome insurmountable odds. It was pride that brought leadership, determination and stamina to black communities and established positive role models for our young.

If black pride was at the level today that it was in the'60s, America wouldn't have the excuse of "black apathy" as a leading cause of our situation. Our young would understand their situation. They would avoid getting involved in such social ills as crime, drug involvement and teen parenting. And, most important, they would stay in school, graduate and go on and earn college degrees.

Remember some years back when you (those who are old enough to remember) wanted to lead like Dr. King, be educated like George Washington Carver, and write like George Schuyler? Today, our young are without such ambition. Rather, they hope to be infamous like the neighborhood drug dealer, free and not responsible like their older siblings and friends who have dropped out of school.

If our race is ever to reach parity with the majority race, a renewed pride is needed, a renewed understanding that we must prepare ourselves not just to be equal, but to be superior.

We cannot depend upon the system to change and begin to accept our customs and culture. We live in a multiculture society and ours, unfortunately, will always be only a minority way of life. It is the majority's game and they made the rules. But we can learn to play the game better and improve on it.

First we must renew our objectives and as always, the answer/remedy lies with the success of our past -- black pride.

Our chosen leaders must set the example. They must be willing to risk their careers and reputations by personifying such pride for our struggle. They must not forget the black American dream of racial equality. They must not settle for token handouts that only further their own personal interest.

Todd Elliott Koger's Op-Ed Article: A missed opportunity

So it is up to you (parents and teachers) to refer your unemployed and disadvantaged youth to the appropriate offices, to guarantee that their applications are completed properly and to follow-up with the agency to ensure that the application was properly processed.

A missed opportunity.

The following is an Op-Ed article written by Todd Elliott Koger and featured in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Just a few years ago when I was searching for a way to help finance my college education, I discovered the Summer Youth Employment and Training program, which provided the opportunity to earn an income over the summer months while gaining valuable work experience.

At $4 an hour, I was earning more money than some of my older siblings. I was able to give a little money back to my struggling parent, who had sacrificed so much over the years to rear a family of 10. I wasn't a Michael Jackson or an Eddie Murphy. I couldn't remove the family from the inner-city. But I could now provide for myself and I took one more burden off my parent's back.

Now I am a college graduate. In fact, I am a law student. But more ironically, as an employment and training planner, I developed the 1989 SYETP Plan for Allegheny County. Unfortunately, I didn't make the final decisions.

Yes, this year, as in the last couple of years, the number of participants and the number of possible work hours will be reduced (from an estimate 2,200 participants in 1988 to a planned 1,650 participants in 1989, and from 40 possible work hours for eight weeks when I participated to only 28 hours of work for six weeks in 1989).

Management will cry about funds having been cut. The contracted program operator will cry, "Not as many students applied." And those poor, unemployed and disadvantaged students will be left again with a summer of idle time -- time that offers opportunities to be lured into drugs, crime, etc.

Management will be correct. Job-training funds have been reduced with the improvement of the local economy. And the minimum-wage increase has created another fiscal obstacle. However, aren't we funding the development of professionals? Isn't it our responsibility to tap other available funding sources when the need continues?

But that's too logical for Allegheny County. We knew for some time not that SYETP funds were going to be reduced, but we sat content for months with out traditional alternative of cutting the number of participants and possible working hours.

And maybe the program operators are right with their usual argument that youth are no longer interested in the SYETP because of the reduced number of working hours. But the bottom line is that the unemployed, disadvantaged youth is once again the victim, for the SYETP offers valuable supplemental training that normal private-sector employment neglects.

Not only does the SYETP provide opportunity to earn a summer income and gain valuable work experience, but it also remediates deficiencies in basic skills (reading and math), provides labor-market information and the opportunity for exploration of various occupations. Thus the students forced to seek jobs in the private sector because they can work more hours and make more money sacrifice the opportunity to facilitate their other needs through provisions of the SYETP.

Aren't we paying the program operator to implement the program in the most effective manner? Isn't it more prudent to cut costs in areas that don't result in a direct reduction of service -- administrative costs? We pay SYETP officials extremely well for 12 months to plan a program that lasts approximately six weeks. Yes, there are many tasks to be completed during this planning period, but the program design does not change that drastically from year to year. Is 12 months of planning really necessary? If so, isn't it reasonable to expect the program operator to use some of the time developing private funding sources to guarantee maximum servicing?

Allegheny County recently received $160,000 from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry to implement a new SYETP demonstration. The new component -- Summer Training Employment Program (STEP) -- will provide the county an opportunity to serve 100 of the SYETP participants with more intense remediation, life skills opportunities training and school support activities. However, instead of designing the STEP demonstration in a manner sufficient to offset 1989 SYETP funding reductions, the county's model was excessively staffed, fiscally inefficient and not appropriately situated to serve those most in need.

Another example of the programmatic flaws of the STEP design is the rejection of a plan to implement the project at one central site. Having one central site would have reduced the number of administrators, the salary expense, travel cost and training-conferences cost. (There are required training conferences in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.; having excessive staff increases the cost of having them trained.)

You the public can demand more efficient and effective servicing. You can prevent the yearly excuse that our youth are no longer interested -- especially our disadvantaged college students. We pay SYETP officials extremely well to operate this program, but they are not producing the appropriate numbers, and no one is going to force them to either.

Actually, other youth JTPA programs operated by the county use the same excuse -- lack of interest. One youth program in particular -- ironically, it is operated by the same agency that manages the SYETP -- has a full-time paid recruiter and still manages to use that excuse.

So, it is up to you (parents and teachers) to refer your unemployed and disadvantaged youth to the appropriate offices, to guarantee that their applications are completed properly and to follow-up with the agency to ensure that the application was properly processed. Don't give SYETP officials an excuse this year. While your children sit idle each summer, the salaries of those officials continue to increase that much more. Let's give today's youth the same opportunity I had.

Pa. State Representative Joe Preston's Anti-Catholic Statements

On June 9, 1999, Joe Preston said school vouchers would enable certain religious schools to pay for the lawsuits involving pedophilia. It was reported that he specifically referred to certain religions hit hard by lawsuits saying that "millions of dollars of certain faiths" were used to pay for court settlements.


June 10, 1999

A state representative from Pennsylvania, Joseph Preston, Jr., said yesterday that school vouchers would enable certain religious schools to pay for the cost of lawsuits involving pedophilia.

Rep. Preston specifically referred to "certain religions hit hard by a lot of lawsuits," saying that "millions of dollars of certain faiths" were used to pay for court settlements. "I don’t want to see our money to be able to go for those different lawsuits for certain people who do not act appropriately," he said.

When questioned about which religion he was referring to, Rep. Preston got angry and said he was referring to different "systems" who have made court settlements. However, it was widely understood by those at the press conference that the lawmaker was targeting the Catholic Church.

Catholic League president William Donohue spoke to Rep. Preston today. Here is what transpired:

"I spoke to Rep. Preston today and found him to be rude and dishonest. When I asked him to explain himself, he accused me of being defensive about my group, thus acknowledging what everyone knows—his bigoted remarks were aimed at Catholics. He then contended that he was referring to certain ‘systems,’ not religions.

When I asked him to identify those systems, he could not do so. "I am writing to every member of the Pennsylvania legislature requesting that Rep. Preston be censured for his remarks. In addition, we will do everything we can to inform the voters in his Pittsburgh district that they are represented by an anti-Catholic bigot.

"The Catholic League applauds the quick and unequivocal response to this matter that was made by Pennsylvania Education Secretary Eugene Hickok. We look for the state legislators to do likewise. There is no place for bigots in our democratic system."


Contribute Funds To Todd Elliott Koger's Campaign State Rep.

Money doesn't win elections; the candidate and his message do, but the only way anyone will hear Todd Elliott Koger's message is if his campaign has the resources to tell voters about it. Thus, any contribution is vital because major funds from outside contributions and big business are funding Joe Preston's campaign. Your donation, no matter the size, will allow Todd Elliott Koger to be competitive in this grassroots campaign.

To contribute funds to Todd Elliott Koger's campaign, please send your check or money order payable to:

"Todd Elliott Koger & Friends"
Candidate for State Assembly, District 24
c/o Kellie O. Dillard Treasurer
515 Kelly Avenue
Pittsburgh, Pa 15221

Federal law prohibits contributions to the campaign from the general treasury funds of corporations, labor organizations of national banks (including corporate or other business entity credit cards); any person contributing another person's funds; foreign nationals who lack permanent resident status; and federal government contractors.

Thank you for you interest in the campaign; your assistance will be greatly appreciated. We have a wide variety of activities to accommodate those with lots of time or just a precious few moments -- whatever you are willing to offer, we will be happy to put your skills to good use.

Mr. Koger is available to speak to your organization, civic group, church, neighborhood, and the like.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Host a fundraiser for Todd Elliott Koger candidate for Pa. State Representative

Host a fundraiser.

Why should you host a fundraiser?

Hosting a fundraiser allows all of your colleagues, neighbors and friends to develop and enhance a personal relationship with the campaign in a casual and friendly setting. Hosting a fundraiser is an integral and traditional part of the electoral process. Running for public office is an expensive proposition and candidates need the help of supporters to get elected.

How do you invite the candidate to your fundraiser?

Write an invitation letter to the candidate or telephone the campaign. The invitation and/or telephone call should be sent out as far in advance as possible. The candidate's schedule will be booked very fast.

Should others help you plan the fundraiser?

Form a small event committee to develop a potential donor list and help with the logistical issues and planning of the fundraiser. By getting your event committee to invite their own network to your event, you can raise dollars from people you might otherwise be unable to reach.

Who should you invite as guests to your political fundraiser?

Invite neighbors, friends and business associates who support the candidate. He will appreciate a large turnout.

Where should you host a political fundraiser?

Most fundraisers are held in private homes or a business office. Of course, where you host a fundraiser depends largely upon the size of the event and the ambiance that you want to create.

What happens at a fundraiser?

A fundraiser is a simple reception. Allow ample time for the guests to arrive before the candidate. Introduce the candidate to your guests and provide time for the candidate to address the group as a whole. Thereafter, collect the political contribution checks from your guests.