- From local judges to the President of the United States, we show you who needs to clean up their act
Just because the 2016 election is over doesn’t mean City Paper is done wading through political excrement. After all, politics is one of the few places where turds actually rise to the top. President Donald Trump expels more crap than a chimp on laxatives, but this year, we put a big focus on municipal politicians, since there’s no better place to take a dump than at home. We’ll have some juicy nuggets on the big girls and boys in higher offices. But with municipal and county elections just a few months away, CP wanted to inform you of the flaming bag of poop that’s on your doorstep, in case you want to stamp it out. It’s messy to do, but worth it in the long run.
Common Pleas Court Senior Judge Lester Nauhaus
It’s hard to imagine what’s worse: The fact that Nauhaus tried to fine an 18-year-old male student who had been convicted in a harassment case of forcibly touching the genitalia of a female student in the hallway just $1 for each of the six times he touched her — or the fact that he doesn’t see why he’s out of his goddamned mind for doing so in the first place. Add a case from earlier this year when Nauhaus told another woman that the verbal harassment she suffered from a business acquaintance was “silly.” Because he’s a senior judge, Nauhaus serves at the pleasure of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. So, until that body is forced by the public to oust Nauhaus, he’ll remain a pariah in our county court system, and victims who come before him will have to endure the next disgusting comment he makes.
County Councilor Ed Kress (R-Shaler)
Being a sell-out is Kress’ biggest aspiration. Not only did he support fracking under Deer Lakes Park (which provided the county and some residents cash in exchange for yet-to-be-known environmental effects), but Kress also was key in passing an ordinance to charge couples to use the County Courthouse for large weddings. He even tried to pass bills to sell the naming rights of county parks and bridges. If Kress got his way, we would take the American Eagle Outfitters bridge to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park for a perfect view of Mount Washington’s giant stone carving of the face of the “I used to be the ‘can-you-hear-me-now’ guy but now I’m with Sprint” dude.
County Councilor Bob Macey (D-West Mifflin)
So mired in the good-ol’-boys’ club of Western Pennsylvania Democrats, Macey thinks it’s still 1950. He supports the Mon-Fayette Extension, a $2 billion highway project, and defended its antiquated build-a-highway-and-prosperity-will-come theory by citing President Eisenhower, who created the nation’s interstate system. The MFE is set to be completed 80 years after Eisenhower signed the interstate act. In 2015, Macey was forced to resign from his job with state Sen. Jim Brewster due to an ethics violation, since he held another elected office. Brewster, coincidentally, is one of the biggest champions of the MFE.
Pittsburgh and suburbs
Pittsburgh City Councilor Darlene Harris (D-North Side)
It’s baffling to us that 10 years on city council still hasn’t led Darlene Harris to a real understanding of city policies. Harris says that she can’t support Pittsburgh becoming a sanctuary city because undocumented workers are “treated like slaves,” but that she might change her mind if they’re called “beacon cities,” even though no new rules would be attached. She claims bike lanes are bad for public safety and traffic (without citing evidence), even though dozens of studies show they’re good for public safety and traffic. She also verbally accosted a cyclist on the North Side who was obeying all traffic laws. Not cool.
Pine-Richland School Board
This board came onto our radar after it ruled last year to prohibit transgender students from using the bathroom that matches their gender identity. The ruling spurred three lawsuits by transgender students, and in February, a judge ruled that Pine-Richland’s policy was discriminatory. Just two weeks ago, the board reversed its ruling by a vote of 6-2, and days later the lawsuits were settled. But you don’t get credit for being a champion of LGBTQ rights when you changed your position only because a court told you to. CP isn’t convinced that the board’s shit no longer stinks; keep an eye out for how it fares on LGBTQ issues in the future.
Murrysville Municipal Councilors
Rich people get screwed over by politicians, too. Murrysville, the region’s 10th wealthiest community, did little to protect residents from potential environmental problems when it passed a fracking ordinance this past May. More than 600 concerned residents offered suggestions, like increasing the drill-pad setback length and updating zoning to limit where drillers can operate, but councilors instead voted 6-1 to allow frackers to drill in the bedroom community. Council did approve a 750-foot setback, but environmentalists say one mile should be the minimum. A gas rig should look good next to that fancy infinity pool.
Mount Lebanon Township Commissioners
“I’m drivin’ here!” must be Mount Lebanon’s equivalent to NYC’s “I’m walkin’ here!” Commissioner John Bendel (D-Ward 1) introduced a bill that would fine pedestrians up to $300 for jaywalking in a town with a vibrant, walkable business district and a walking-only school system. Commissioners unanimously approved the ordinance, and the Mount Lebanon Police Chief supported the vote by claiming the region has a lot of “pedestrian entitlement.” Meanwhile, car crashes involving driver error in Pennsylvania increased 14 percent from 2014-2016.
Moon Township Supervisor James Vitale
Despite widespread opposition from residents and local businesses, Vitale switched his vote in 2008 to support Walmart moving into Moon. In 2016, Vitale and other Moon supervisors continued to kowtow to the retail giant, authorizing a $66,900 taxpayer-funded payment to the big-box store, because the corporation painted some light posts near its new location, at the request of the township. In the 2015-2016 fiscal year, Walmart made $121 billion in profit, about 2 million times what Moon residents reimbursed to the company — meaning it took the cash because it could, not because it needed it.
Woodland Hills School Board
In June, a group of leaders from 12 municipalities in the Woodland Hills School District issued a vote of no-confidence to the school board. For more than a year, activists have called for the firing of Woodland Hills High School Principal Kevin Murray, who was placed on leave after he was recorded threatening to punch a student. He was later reinstated. This year, footage emerged of Murray holding down a student’s head while he was being handcuffed. A letter from the municipal leaders claimed the board was not taking these incidents seriously.
State Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York)
Wagner actually admits climate change is happening, which is a step forward for Republicans. But this year he took two steps back when he claimed that climate change can be attributed to the heat generated by human bodies. Wagner’s claims about body heat have been debunked by hundreds of scientists, who maintain that climate change is a result of man-made emissions of carbon dioxide. Wagner’s lack of understanding about the causes of climate change is especially troubling, as he’s currently running for governor.
Lt. Gov. Mike Stack (D-Philadelphia)
It’s been a rough year for this official, and the shit really hit the fan in April. That month, complaints surfaced about the Stack family’s alleged abusive treatment of state-assigned staff members at the lieutenant governor’s mansion, and he was criticized for trying to expense thousands of dollars in hotel stays in Philadelphia, where he owns a home. Stack is the highest-paid lieutenant governor in the country ($160,000). He is currently being investigated by the state’s inspector general, but still plans to run for re-election next year.
Former Gov. Ed Rendell (D-Philadelphia)
According to recent reports, the former governor gave a $310,000 bonus to a consultant who was hired to help bring the Democratic National Convention to Pennsylvania. The bonus has been criticized because the consultant, Kevin Washo, was vice president of a firm that was also paid $243,000 for helping Philadelphia secure the convention. Rendell served as chairman of the committee and authorized nearly $1 million in bonuses for committee staff. Of the $86 million raised by the committee, $10 million came from Pennsylvania taxpayers.
Still Circling the Bowl
Speaker of the Pa. House Mike Turzai (R-Marshall Township)
In his crusade to never raise or create taxes — not even a popular severance tax on fracking companies — Turzai has once again helped steer the state into a potential budget impasse. His solution to fill Pennsylvania’s $2 billion budget shortfall was to borrow funds, and take money that subsidizes recycling, farmland-preservation and highway-beautification programs. But he failed to get his Republican House majority to even consider his idea. He appears more consumed with messaging than with actually governing; for years, his Wikipedia page has been edited by state House GOP staffers, who have consistently deleted critical passages and replaced them with fluffy and often unsourced praise. We wonder if Turzai’s back-to-back Shit List accolades will make his Wikipedia page.
State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R–Cranberry)
It’s no surprise that state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe makes a second straight appearance on the Shit List, because he is, after all, an asshole. As head of the House state-government committee, he spent the past year continuing to block LGBTQ anti-discrimination legislation. He’s also railed against sanctuary cities, and carried President Trump’s water during the federal investigation into nonexistent voter fraud; he appears to hate the environment, unions and a minimum-wage increase. He really hates undocumented immigrants. He recently released a video decrying the “intolerant left,” claiming that after an immigration debate, Philadelphia state Rep. Brian Sims, who is openly gay, allegedly called Metcalfe an “ignorant bigot.” Metcalfe was outraged by this, while the rest of us simply thought, “Yeah, that sounds about right.”
Pennsylvania State Sen. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Jefferson Hills)
In April, Reschenthaler voted in favor of a piece of legislation that would allow the National Rifle Association and other organizations to sue cities that have passed gun-control measures they deem unconstitutional. These suits could financially burden cities like Pittsburgh that have passed laws requiring gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms. He also voted for legislation passed by the senate in June to allow teachers and staff to carry firearms in school. Both pieces of legislation have been called “dangerous” by organizations working to reduce gun violence.
Pa. State Rep. Dom Costa (D-Stanton Heights)
Costa hasn’t learned much from last year’s criticism of his poor stances on immigrant rights. Though he did drop co-sponsorship of a bill forcing colleges to communicate with U.S. immigration officials, he still appears to lack the in-depth knowledge that normally leads Democrats to support undocumented immigrants. Costa says he supports immigrants, but they have to be “going through the legal process to be documented.” Experts say many undocumented immigrants, particularly the poor, have little to no opportunity to gain citizenship. Also, state politicians like Costa have no jurisdiction over people’s immigration status; that’s a federal matter.
U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Sewickley)
His clever messaging contributes to his popularity in District 12, but his lack of transparency makes him a shitty representative. Rothfus casts himself as a champion of the working class, even as he receives the bulk of his campaign donations from the finance industry. He told constituents in June that Trump’s nixing of environmental regulations led to 70 Somerset County coal-mining jobs, but the expansion was more likely caused by increased demand from Asia. He’s also been a broken record for more than two terms about repealing the Affordable Care Act. However, his party, despite controlling both congressional chambers, is having trouble doing that. The public could call Rothfus out for his bullshit at a district town-hall meeting, but, unfortunately, he has never actually held one.
U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Upper St. Clair)
Murphy’s most recent “support” for mental-health reform is toothless. Murphy, a licensed psychologist, did some good by helping to craft and pass the Cures Act, in 2016, but he also voted for the GOP’s ACA repeal, which risked kicking 4 million Americans with mental illness and substance-abuse disorders off Medicaid, a government program that provides healthcare to disabled and low-income people. Murphy argued the repeal would actually improve mental-health coverage, contradicting the opinions of several other experts and mental-health-care organizations, as well as common sense.
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Lehigh)
The Pennsylvanian senator is a bully who talks a big game, but trips over his own punches. Toomey was one of the main authors of the Senate’s proposal to repeal the ACA, which could strip health insurance from 22 million people. However, he failed to convince a Republican majority and the measure failed 43-57. Toomey has also been crusading against “dangerous sanctuary cities” (which studies actually show have lower-than-average crime), but his 2016 bill to strip sanctuary cities of funding also failed to clear the Senate. Also, his tele-town halls held on an hour’s notice with no actual input from the public are not town halls.
President Donald Trump (R-New York)
The first six months of President Trump’s administration have been — somewhat predictably — a ceaseless shitstorm. Beyond the threat his presidency poses to the people of the United States and the people outside of it (read: all people), as well as to democracy, LGBTQ rights, the safety of immigrants, civility, climate (read: the livability of planet Earth) and cultural standards of appropriate tie-length, there’s the infuriating reality that the dude will never ever realize it. When it all comes tumbling down — and it’s likely that it will — he will never admit his hand in it, never own his many failures, never cop to his spectacular incompetence. And there’s nothing shittier than that.
The Shit List was compiled and written by City Paper staffers Rebecca Addison, Charlie Deitch, Ryan Deto and Alex Gordon.