EDITORIAL: Pa.'s friends and family appointments

York Dispatch Editorial Board
Fran Regan greets Cecile Lenig, left, in a line of voters at Monaghan Presbyterian Church in Dillsburg Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. Regan is the wife of incumbent state senate candidate Mike Regan and Lenig is the mother of incumbent congressman Scott Perry. Bill Kalina photo

Thumbs down to yet another cozy appointment to a well-paying state vacancy.

State Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre, named Frances “Fran” Regan to serve a two-year term on the state’s Gaming Control Board. Regan, a former federal probation officer who has spent the past six years running a private business providing fitness and personal safety classes for women, will earn $145,000 a year in the post.

Nice work if you can get it. And to get it, it helps to have personal ties to state lawmakers.

Regan is the wife of two-term state Sen. Mike Regan, R-Dillsburg. She replaces Merritt Reitzel, who was appointed by Corman’s predecessor, Republican Joe Scarnati, whose chief of staff was Reitzel’s brother-in-law.

More:Wife of Sen. Mike Regan quietly named to lucrative state post

Such “Friends and Family” appointments — employed by Democrats as well as Republicans —are more the rule than the exception when it comes to lucrative Gaming Control Board appointments. According to an analysis by Spotlight PA, more than half of the 31 people who have been named to the board since 2004 “have either served in state government or legislative jobs, or have been state lawmakers themselves.”

“Just because your husband is involved in public service doesn’t mean you shouldn’t,” said Corman, who says Fran Regan is a friend.

Fair enough. But why, then, unlike with other recent board appointments, was Regan quietly sworn in absent even a news release? 

Regan’s appointment and her close relationship to Senate higher-ups may well be an innocent coincidence. But her low-key installation and the trail of connected appointments that precedes it leave the impression of practices neither innocent nor coincidental.

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., departs on Capitol Hill in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021, after the Senate acquitted former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. Trump was accused of inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and the acquittal gives him a historic second victory in the court of impeachment. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Thumbs up to the state Republican Party for pulling back from threats to censure Sen. Patrick Toomey for his vote in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. 

Toomey, to his ever-lasting credit, was one of seven Republican senators who voted to hold the former president accountable for his role in inciting supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. The 57-43 vote to convict fell well short of the two-thirds needed to convict Trump.

Still, in a Republican Party beholden to Trump above all else, state and local parties across the country went on a censuring tear against GOP lawmakers who voted in favor of impeachment. York County’s Republican Party took such a step against Toomey last month.

More:Pa. GOP disapproves of Toomey but won’t censure him

Calmer heads evidently prevailed at the state level, though just barely. The party voted 128-124, with 13 abstentions, to approve a statement rebuking Toomey, rather than censuring him.

Both moves are symbolic and, with Toomey announcing plans to step down in 2022, all but meaningless to the senator. Still, by stepping back from the more formal censure, the party appears willing to loosen slightly its institutional embrace of the former president and his Constitution-defying actions. 

Founder Jerry Pilachowski said about $100 worth of donated food got destroyed each time the drop-off box was vandalized. March 3, 2021.

Thumbs down to vandals who have repeatedly and inexplicably laid siege to the Little Free Food Pantry near Red Lion. 

Volunteers recently found a collection box in the parking lot of Living Word Community Church on Cape Horn Road in York Township damaged, with contributions scattered and destroyed. It was the third such act of vandalism in recent weeks, each one ruining an estimated $100 worth of donations. 

More:Police: Vandals destroy donations at Red Lion-area food pantry for third time

Red Lion resident Jerry Pilachowski launched the pantry last April outside his home to help those in need as the COVID-19 pandemic tightened its grip. The operation moved to the church parking lot in July in the wake of traffic concerns raised by neighbors.

“It's just a sad thing,” Pilachowski told the Dispatch. “You try to do good and well, I mean, even when we were here in front of my house, people would complain.” 

Our neighbors don’t need complaints; they need assistance. The pantry is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. For information, call 717-495-6371.