McIlhinney’s absurd excuse; he should retire
I am writing in response to the recent letter from state Sen. Charles “Chuck” McIlhinney, in which the senator tries, unsuccessfully, to explain his tie-breaking vote to allow disgraced former Sen. Bob Mellow to regain his outrageous $245,000 annual pension (“Why I voted to restore convicted felon’s state pension,” Dec. 12).
McIlhinney’s excuse — that there were no legal grounds to withhold Mellow’s pension — is absurd. Five of McIlhinney’s pension board colleagues saw no problem saying enough is enough. McIlhinney, in contrast, chose to cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of giving a convicted felon a huge, publicly funded windfall, and Mellow’s pension was restored by a 6-5 vote.
Mellow was a long-time state senator from the Scranton area. He was convicted in federal court for public corruption in 2012. Soon thereafter, staff at the Pension Board determined that Mellow’s conviction caused him to forfeit his pension, and what a pension it is. Mellow’s years of public “service” had resulted in an incredible $245,000 per year payout. That’s many times more than most families in Bucks County bring home each year working a job every day.
Pennsylvania’s state treasurer, Joe Torsella, was one of the five Pension Board members who voted against restoring Mellow’s pension. In doing so, he wrote that Chuck McIlhinney’s decision — and that of the other board members who voted with him to restore Mellow’s pension — was in fact contrary to the law and the board’s previous decisions in similar cases. At the time, neither McIlhinney nor any of the others voting to restore the pension would talk to the press about their decision.
Now that public outrage over this decision is starting to build and as we draw nearer to 2018, when McIlhinney will be asking voters for a fourth term in the state senate, McIlhinney decided to write a letter to the editor trying to justify his vote. But there can be no justification for such a violation of the public trust. Just as there is absolutely no justification for giving any “public servant” — convicted felon or not — a $245,000 pension in the first place.
Maybe, after 20 years in the state Legislature, it’s time for McIlhinney to retire — with, of course, his own generous pension.
Connie Gruen, Yardley
The vast number of Americans don’t qualify
Orrin Hatch, the noted defender of the underdog, revels in his “poverty stricken” background, saying he has through his many years in office found God. He is now the official — unofficially seemingly forever — panderer of the rich, corporate and special interests.
Ask him how he connected to and protects the supplement and homeopathic industry. He was responsible for adding the “Corker” provision, seemingly heaven sent for real estate investors, shielding a good chunk of income from taxes.
Too bad the vast, vast number of Americans don’t qualify. Congressman Fitzpatrick, as our representative and also a CPA, how can you justify this travesty? How many of your constituents actually have any significant and lasting benefit from this law?
Paul Cohe, Newtown