Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Memorializing Sgt. Shawn Graham

Memorial Day 2006 was especially important this year for the Graham family. This military family from Grove City knows the importance of the holiday, but this year, they remember one of their own. Shawn Graham was killed in Iraq last year.

Flashback: Shawn Graham remembered

This Memorial Day, the Herald (Sharon, PA) had a write-up about Shawn. Staff writer Tom Davidson crafted a really touching piece.
The flat tombstone at Crestview Memorial Park in Pine Township is surrounded by monuments marking the graves of members of the Greatest Generation. Those World War II veterans were among Sgt. Shawn A. Graham’s heroes.

“They put him right there by the big flag pole,” Graham’s mom Kathy said. “That would make him so proud.” His father sure is. Tom Graham is a Vietnam veteran and former Marine who served in the National Guard before retiring last year when he turned 60.

Tears well in his eyes as he talks about his son. “He always wanted to be in the military,” Tom said.

Shawn’s mom put it differently: “He was probably born to be a warrior.”

He was born in 1971 when Tom was stationed in California. Tom’s unit named the younger Graham an honorary Marine.

The allure of the military stayed with him as he grew up, his parents said. As a Boy Scout his favorite game was “capture the flag” — a war game for kids — and after he graduated from Grove City High in 1989 he enrolled at Slippery Rock University, then joined the National Guard.

He wanted to do more, however, and decided to become a Marine.

“When he went down to join the Marines, he wanted infantry,” Tom said. “It’s something the recruiter tried to talk him out of because he did so well on the ASVAB (the military achievement test), but he got his way.” He spent a decade in the corps, then he moved to Texas where he worked for MCI.

After 9/11 he was reactivated, served a year, then enlisted in the National Guard, where he was a decorated sharpshooter. “He still had his sense of duty,” Tom said.

He married Jeannette Vilalpando on Aug. 12, 2004 while living in Texas. Shawn called and said he was going to marry Jeannette “so if anything was to happen” she’d be taken care of. “I think he knew something was going to happen to him,” Kathy said.

He was the latest member of his family to serve oversees in the War on Terror. His brother Nicholas, who serves in the Marines, was with the initial tank battalion that stormed into Baghdad. Dad Tom had served in Afghanistan.

Shawn finally got the chance to go to Iraq in January 2005. “Don’t doubt the Graham,” was one of his favorite sayings, Kathy said.

“He was happy to be a soldier, happy to serve in Iraq and was happy to be doing what he was doing,” she said. Shawn felt for the Iraqi people and wanted to make a difference. “Shawn said ‘Mom, we’re lucky living the way we do,’ ” after he saw the living conditions in Iraq.

He said he was going to send money home so his mom could buy clothes at the Salvation Army and send them back so he could distribute them. She told him to keep his money and sent boxes of supplies to him for the Iraqi people.

“That’s the kind of person he was,” Kathy said. “He was a leader, he always thought of things to do.”

The rest of the article can be found here. It is definitely worth reading to see what kind of patriot Shawn was, and what kind of family the Grahams are.

A companion piece can be found here. Also a must-read.

Thanks again, Shawn for all you have done for this country.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Victory in Pennsylvania!

Citizens across the commonwealth turned out yesterday to turn out several payjacking incumbants. While many outside the state view it as another primary election, the citizens of PA recognize it as historic.

According to the AP:
Sixty-one incumbents faced primary challenges Tuesday, the most since 1980. At least 14 were defeated, and six other races were too close to call early Wednesday.

Swept from office were the Senate's No. 1 Republican — President Pro Tempore Robert C. Jubelirer — and Majority Leader David J. Brightbill. It's the first time in more than 40 years that any Pennsylvania legislative leader was voted out of office.

Rush discussed the situation on his radio show today. He called it a revolution. It started in Virginia, then in North Carolina, then in Ohio, and now in Pennsylvania. Conservatives are taking back the party, one election at a time.

It's hard to beat an incumbant, but several were sent packing by qualified candidates who wish to see change in Harrisburg. It's been a long time since the entrenched politicians have realized that they were sent to serve, not to take, take, take.

Check GrassrootsPA for total coverage.

Congratulations to all of the successful challengers!

Congratulations to Young Conservatives of Pennsylvania! Want to help make a difference? Click on the YCOP link and find out how!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Jane Rath's Conflict of Interest?

Actually, there are two. The first is that she calls herself a Republican, then hikes your taxes every year. Just be honest and make the switch, Jane - you'd get along well with Rendell and his ilk.

The second one is far more sinister - if it were true. It is just a theory. Of course, it would be very hard to prove. There is a great problem in Pennsylvania with property taxes. Hundreds (if not thousands) are losing their homes each year because of rampant tax hikes. My wife's uncle lost his home. School boards (especially in Grove City) are guilty for raising taxes year after year. Jane Rath is the president of the GC board.

Mrs. Rath also sells houses for Grove City Realty - a fine organization, through which I purchased my house. I do not know how successful Rath is in her trade, but I do know that GCR has their signs in front of most of the houses in the Grove City area.

As Rath continues to raise property taxes, people continue to lose their homes. As a result, Rath has more opportunities to sell more houses. She'll sell you a house, then tax you out of it, then sell it to someone else.

I would love to say that this conflict doesn't exist, but how can you be sure?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

WANTED for Theft of Taxpayer Money

They take and take without asking. They only spend half of the tax money inside the classroom. These are the fraudulent ones - the tax wasters.

Robert Post, Superintendent

Tom Bell, Asst. Superintendent

Valarie Phillips, Business Manager

Jane Rath, School Board President

Bob Montgomery, School Board Vice President

Lenny Clarke, School Board

Jim Crow, School Board

Barbara Hedegore, School Board

Susan Herman, School Board

David Rothman, School Board

Sue Schepp, School Board

Sharon Shipton, School Board

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Grove City School Board and Administration Out to Steal Your Money (Again)

No, this is not a repost. It's real. The Grove City School Board and administrators are out for your money once again - to the tune of two more mills!

Last year's tax attack, Part 1
Last year's tax attack, Part 2
Last year's tax attack, Part 3

Here is a recap from GC School Board watchdog, Jason Reeher:
Some public officials will never learn. If you live in Grove City School District, it’s not a matter of if the school board will make another bad policy decision, but when. The latest wrong move is the tentative budget for the 2006-2007 school year. As is fitting for a board that loves to raise taxes, this newest budget includes yet another tax increase - two mills, to 49.5.

This tax increase is particularly troubling, because it comes on the heels of two particularly terrible board decisions. The first was last year’s administrative pay raises; the second is the recent cutting of programs for students at the Middle School. It is clear that the GC school board is committed to administrative desires while disregarding the needs of students.

For his part, Superintendent Dr. Robert Post "recommended" the tax increase. It’s funny how easy it is to recommend that residents’ incomes be cut while your own salary continues to grow.

Post argued that the state isn’t paying their fair share of public school costs. This is true. It also indicates a need to cut administrative costs—and not programs for students. The Superintendent also said that the state isn’t paying its half, so the taxpayers of Grove City must pay more. This is untrue. The school board has the power to reduce costs by cutting administrative salaries or even administrative positions.

Worst of all, Post said that Grove City is at the lower end of the state’s public school tax scale, and thus can "afford to pay more." This is a specious argument. All taxes—especially property taxes, which amount to legalized, government-sponsored theft--are already too high! Just because GC’s taxes are a little lower than some doesn’t mean an increase is in order. The thief who steals the least is still a thief.

Board member Bob Montgomery blamed the County for not "having more new homes on the tax rolls, then every else has to pay more." So does a school board that increases taxes every year, Mr. Montgomery.

Board member Jim Crow laughed and snickered throughout the discussion on taxes.

I will ask the board to reject this tentative budget, to roll up their sleeves and cut administrative costs--even administrative positions, if that what it takes. Post and the board should stop blaming the state and county for tax increases, and start taking responsibility for their actions--and their over spending.

As for Crow, tax increases are no laughing matter. His cavalier attitude and this board's willingness to increase community costs while cutting programs for students instead of administrative salaries is despicable.

We should challenge our local school boards to roll up their sleeves, put students first, and present budgets that are within their means.

It's time to fight back. Spread the word.

Jason's comment about "[t]he thief who steals the least is still a thief" is equally powerful and true. You have no choice about paying taxes. Post and his ilk wish to use the barrel of a gun to extract money from your pocketbook. However, Post can make the choice to reduce spending and save the Grove City area residents from even more taxation.

If the board wants to spend money, perhaps they should hire retired GC Borough Manager Terry Farren, who was able to avoid tax increases for his entire 23-year tenure!

So, who wants to be a school board member? Five seats will be up for re-election next year. Fiscally conservative? Concerned about the state of the school? Send me an e-mail! 2007 will be our year!

* For full disclosure, Jason is my brother-in-law, which makes him even more right! :)

Friday, May 05, 2006

What is Your Price Tag for Socialism?

People are angry about gas prices. They have jumped up and stayed up for the last few years. It's been hard on the budget!

Many people take the easy route and blame the oil companies, despite the facts that show other factors cause the oil price to change and that the oil companies only make 8.2% profit...not exactly a bragging point.

People are clammoring for government action. Socialism. It's shocking how "red-blooded Americans" are so willing to abandon the American way to save money on gas. The amazing thing is that a $1.50 increase in the price of gas is all it takes for some to jump into full-blown socialism. $1.50.

What is your price?