John Baer takes his usual no-holds-barred look at politics -- this time of the Pittsburgh variety in his column today in the Daily News:
THE SAGA of Pittsburgh's Sisters Orie - the senator, the Supreme Court justice and her aide - has implications well beyond the borders of the Burg.
There, it's a clash of titans, two powerful local families, the Ories and Zappalas, toe-to-toe. Principals are Republican state Sen. Jane Orie and Democratic Allegheny County D.A. Stephen Zappala Jr., both of whom have been mentioned for future statewide office.
But it goes further. Two Orie sisters are charged with corruption. A third looks likely to be investigated. The Italian Zappala family is accused of Mafia-like political hits: Sen. Jane says the charges result from her opposition to gambling, an industry with Zappala links.
The looks came at national judicial conferences, when Castille, now the court's chief justice, was recognized as hailing from Pennsylvania.
Judges from other states would ask, " 'Isn't that the state where one justice tried to run over another justice?' " Castille recalled Friday, referring to the controversy that so damaged the court's image in the 1990s. "It took a long time to shake out the taint."
Now, a burgeoning scandal involving two Western Pennsylvania political families threatens to again bring notoriety to the state's highest court.
So, on Friday, Castille took a rare step for a chief justice of that court: He spoke out about the situation.
"It's not good, I can tell you that," he said in an interview.
As usual, Chris Briem sees far, far ahead . . . at what the Orie matter could mean for redistricting next year:
Think about it... for the record this isn't a prediction in any way shape or form... but at least consider the possibility that any of this leads to State Supreme Court justice Joan Orie Melvin needing to step aside in any form then what do you have? Politically it would be a 4-4 evenly divided court. What then? Oh, and how do empty seats on the supreme court get filled? Isn't it a gubenatorial appointment also needing state senate approval. So with a D governor and a R controlled senate where does that go?