January, 2015 - Our America Initiative supports subjecting Pennsylvania's troubled family court system with an Independent Citizens Review Board. Such oversight is needed due to complaints generated by an investigation by the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Independent Gazette that the environment of intimidation and corruption exposed years ago in the well-known "kids for cash" scandal remains as severe as ever. The latter scandal led admirably to at least some needed due process reforms for children taken from parents by social services. The Gazette's investigation found corruption also with the Office of Youth and Family Services (formerly Children and Youth), as well as the Judicial Conduct Board - the body charged with investigating complaints of its own judges. "The system is set up such that the courts are — in effect — policing themselves, and in the case of family courts, are allowed to operate in darkness", the article above states. It has come apparent from the sheer volume of complaints over court abuse that ordinary citizens, case workers, professional staff working within the courts, whistleblowers, and others require a place to lodge concerns without fear of retribution from the accused. The proposed independent oversight body would issue reports, potentially recommending reforms like cameras in the courtroom, or commenting on causes of the corruption, such as the 1997 Adoption and Safe Family Act that offers cash bonuses to the state for every child adopted out of foster care - an incentive allegedly spurring Child and Protective Services and family court officers and connected businesses to trump up charges to take kids from parents. We urge supporters to email their state representatives and senators to introduce and pass a bill to establish an Independent Citizens Review Board to accept testimony from whistleblowers in the family court system, Office of Youth and Family Services, and related governmental institutions and contractors, and offer reports for both criminal investigation and legislative reform." With your donation now and input from our Advisory Council on Civil Liberties, we can support grassroots reforms of corrupt bureaucracies through more of our fifty state affiliates.
Pennsylvania's Our America Initiative chapter is a cosponsor of the Pennsylvania Ballot Access Coalition to pass the Voter Choice Act, to make it much easier for third party candidates to appear on election ballots. Rather than requiring tens of thousands of signatures on petitions to get a candidate onto the ballot, the proposal would require a mere percentage (.05%) of Pennsylvanians to register under the party of a candidate before he or she could be listed on a ballot. Passage of this bill into law would give voters choices currently denied them due to smothering election rules that work for no one but the most established candidates.
To send an email asking your Pennsylvania representative and senator to support this bill in the coming legislative session, just click onto the "What You Can Do" page. At that link is a brochure you can hand out at meetings; use the information in it to also publish a letter to your local newspaper editor.
The OUR America Initiative is a 501(c)(4) political advocacy committee and may receive unlimited donations from both individual and corporate donors. Contributions and gifts to Our America Initiative are not deductible for Federal income tax purposes . Our America Initiative has a no refunds policy.