Individuals visiting ChuckLiedike.com know that this website isn’t kept as a blog. I simply like to share stories, photos and articles of different events. As much as I would like to update this site more often, sometimes timing isn’t always available! The latter half of February was quite eventful. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with residents in Town Halls and round tables about Senate Bill 76. Although we’re making significant progress in getting this message to the voters, it’s incredible to truly feel the attitudes shared by Pennsylvania voters. They are fed up with state government. They are tired of the federal and local governments, too. Polls show that pessimism is again at an all-time high. They simply feel that elected officials aren’t listening to them. Fortunately, voters are excited about the possibilities created by the Property Tax Independence Act. Although voters don’t trust Harrisburg, residents know that we must push this issue forward. By simply not ceasing, we can make this bill a reality! Accountability is needed, and I believe residents are ready to take a stand. The above photo was taken via a camera phone, as you can clearly see from the quality. However, it includes me at a Town Hall meeting in Carbon County with Senator David Argall (prime sponsor of Senate Bill 76) and Representative Doyle Heffley. The Times News article of the event can be found here.
Benjamin Franklin once stated that there are only two things certain in life: “death and taxes”. If I can boldly modify that statement, I would include a third: snow! Pennsylvanians are bracing for several more inches of snow expected to hit our region overnight. Although the snow has been endless, it hasn’t impacted our grassroots efforts for Senate Bill 76. In the past two weeks, we have continued to educate people about real property tax reform. I have attended round table discussions and office meetings to inform residents about the components of the bill. I’m looking forward to more Town Hall meetings taking place in the next several weeks. These meetings give me an opportunity to reach a larger audience. However, large or small, each meeting can provide true grassroots results. Make it happen…snow or sun!
Over the past several days, I have been traveling the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Late last week, I met with a State Senator who had concerns about Senate Bill 76. After some time discussing the issue further with him, he became very receptive to the bill. He agreed to sit down with our economist to discuss the numbers further. Additionally, he made it clear that he is very open to the bill. On Monday, I visited our State Capitol. While in Harrisburg, I had the opportunity to sit down with seven legislators opposed to Senate Bill 76. It was my goal to hear concerns about this bill. Although they made some good points, I was disappointed that they didn’t offer practical solutions. Daily, I hear from residents suffering from high taxes. The system is broken. Unfortunately, too many legislators are simply not working together to find an answer. We will keep trying though. Later that day, I gave a presentation to Realtors about the progress we have made with Real Reform 76. The excitement was overwhelming! On Tuesday evening, I was already on the other side of the state. I spoke with a group of individuals just north of Pittsburgh. Their area has grown tremendously over the past few decades, and they recognize that this issue impacts them. On Wednesday, local Realtors from Butler County and I did a radio show. We had an hour to speak with callers on WISR’s It’s Your Turn with Dave Malarkey about Senate Bill 76. That evening, I gave a full presentation on the components of the bill during a town hall meeting. We were fortunate to see 150 people come out for this town hall. Although there will always be opponents to any legislation, we are certainly making plenty of progress! Moving forward…
Politicians like to keep things quiet during Christmas and New Years. Of course, that isn’t always the case on the federal and state levels. However, Real Reform 76 did take a week-long hiatus. On January 2nd, we started back up again at full speed. This week alone, I spent considerable time in Philadelphia, the Poconos, York, Harrisburg and Lebanon. In order for an effective grassroots campaign to take shape, most of our time must be spent educating the populace. President Thomas Jefferson once stated, "an educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people." As I travel different areas of the Commonwealth, it’s evident that people need to learn more about Senate Bill 76. School property tax is strongly desired in every region of Pennsylvania, but confusion continues to persist. Our time in Philadelphia was spent with real estate professionals interested in learning more about the bill. I traveled up to the Poconos later that evening. I briefly explained the importance of real property tax reform via Senate Bill 76 to a room full of builders. Their passion for this bill was exciting. In traveling to the City of York, I knew residents of the area were well aware of competing property tax reform legislation. The 200 people in the crowd recognized that Senate Bill 76 offers the only real solution to property tax reform in Pennsylvania. Other legislation offers school boards to create and increase other taxes to offset the property tax burden. Realistically, school taxes will not be decreased, if the competing bill were to pass. Rather, other taxes will be created to pay for additional school programs. This competing bill is not appropriate for Pennsylvania residents. In Harrisburg, supporters of Senate Bill 76 met to discuss our grassroots strategy and plan for the weeks ahead. Lastly, I spoke at a Town Hall in Lebanon County. The local 9-12 group gave me the opportunity to educate attendees about the bill. Following, co-sponsoring legislators joined me on stage, along with the President of the Pennsylvania Taxpayer Cyber Coalition. We all answered questions posed by the attendees.
We’re certainly not taking our foot off the gas now. Legislators recognize that we mean business. We get phone calls daily from Senators and Representatives wanting to learn more about this bill. Many are excited about our advocacy, while others are uninterested in our efforts. All legislators will continue getting phone calls from their constituents though. Pennsylvanians want real property tax reform, and they want it now.
Resolutions, parades, college football, Times Square, the Winter Classic and other traditions make up our New Year’s festivities each year. My goal is to make this year better than 2013. I encourage everyone to do the same. Whatever you want to accomplish…no more excuses. Make it happen. Happy New Year!
This 1903 photo of One Times Square appeals to the historian in me. The building was constructed as the corporate headquarters for The New York Times. Owner, Adolph Ochs, wanted New York City residents to ring in the new year in “Times Square”. In 1904, 200,000 residents celebrated the new year in front of this building. Ironically, 8 years later, The New York Times moved their corporate headquarters to another building in New York City. Today, people still ring in the new year in Times Square in front of this beautiful building.
On this beautiful day, always remember the true meaning behind Christmas. Christmas is the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus. If possible, please enjoy this day with family and friends.
Matthew 2:1-12: After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’” Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
Grassroots campaigning has become the top strategy in getting legislation passed. Both Democrats and Republicans have used grassroots campaigns to advance their goals. Often times, they are successful. However, it certainly isn’t easy. Since becoming Campaign Manager of Real Reform 76, my day-to-day schedule has been packed. The past 36 hours weren’t any different. Yesterday morning, I met with politically active Realtors in the Lehigh Valley. My goal is that they garner support from the regional business community. The afternoon was spent connecting with homeowners all around the Commonwealth - from counties circling Pittsburgh to the northeast. We coordinated future Town Hall meetings and opportunities to speak on the radio. Next, I was put in contact with a group of builders in Delaware County highly interested in Senate Bill 76. Their support is crucial locally, since we aren’t seeing cooperation from their state association. Later in the evening, I drove to Adams County. First, I met with a candidate running for the State House. This candidate is making Senate Bill 76 the center of his campaign. Afterwards, I gave a presentation at a Town Hall meeting. This packed crowd had countless questions about the specifics of the bill. I then made the late-night drive to State College for a morning meeting. This morning, I presented to another group of Realtors from the Centre County region. This is simply a snapshot of my daily calendar: 451 driving miles - but hundreds, if not thousands, more in connections.
Over the past week, I spent time in Pittsburgh, Butler and Meadville promoting the importance of Senate Bill 76. In meeting with interest groups, elected officials, Realtors and concerned citizens, I was able to help create additional grassroots momentum for our efforts. Further, we gained our 26th official co-sponsor in the Pennsylvania Senate. The work we accomplished in western Pennsylvania has positioned Real Reform 76 as one of the leading initiatives impacting state politics. Next week alone, we will be holding several meetings with Senators to educate them on this bill. Further, Democrats and Republicans will come together in a policy meeting to discuss the importance of moving it forward. Real property tax reform is right for Pennsylvania residents, but detractors continue fighting against it. It’s our job to advocate for what is right.