Harrisburg, PA, 20 April 2015 – Prior to the day’s legislative session, Tom Fodi, local pastor, business owner, and candidate for Bellevue Council, was invited to stand before the PA House of Representatives and lead those in attendance in a brief word of prayer. Anticipating another bland, ecumenical prayer for divine wisdom and encouragement before the day’s activities, representatives from across the Commonwealth, including Speaker Turzai of Wexford, were left in a state of visible shock by Pastor Fodi’s words.
Frustrated by the endless corruption and dysfunction of politics as usual in Harrisburg, Fodi was only too glad to accept an official invitation to offer the invocation prior to the April 20th session. As he puts it, Fodi recognized the opportunity to, “speak truth in an empire of lies.” After weeks of preparation, Fodi’s carefully crafted words calling for repentance and truth were spoken aloud on the House floor Monday while standing next to a wide eyed and visibly startled Speaker Turzai, often considered the second most powerful man in Pennsylvania politics. Among the transgressions laid out by Fodi are politicians who put selfish ambition ahead of the needs of their constituents, exploit people in need to protect their lucrative jobs, burden those striving to build a better tomorrow in order that they may appear generous, limit freedom of choice, and otherwise abuse the power of their office.
Expounding on what he believes are near universal frustrations with Pennsylvania politics among voters, Fodi wrote the following,
“By just about every measurable standard, the government of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is among the most ineffective, dysfunctional, and corrupt in the nation. The volume and intensity of backroom dealing special interest lobbyists rival that of DC. The mafia-like culture of “do as I say or your dead to me” politics resembles that of 1920’s Chicago. The tax and regulatory environment of our state rivals that of the Eastern Bloc, protecting the connected and inhibiting undesirable market competition. And, to put the cherry on top of it all, the self-awarded salary and benefits package for the great job our state representatives do is more than triple the median income of those they represent and is eclipsed only by the representatives of California.”
In 2014 Fodi challenged Representative Adam Ravenstahl for his seat representing the 20th Legislative District. He was not successful in his bid to replace the embattled incumbent, but notes he captured 40% of the vote without a dime of support from either state political party. Fodi is on the ballot this year for a seat on Bellevue Council and his future political ambitions are yet to be determined.
The full transcript of Mr. Fodi’s prayer is quoted below.
We who gather here today are blessed. We are blessed with the sacred privilege of serving those who call Pennsylvania home. We are blessed with the sacred responsibility to lead the people and communities of our Commonwealth towards a free and prosperous future.
However, before any of us can effectively lead, we each must recognize our own failings and plead for your mercy. Your word commands us to “Do nothing from rivalry or selfish ambition, but in humility count others more significant than ourselves.”
We confess to you this day that we have failed you and those we claim to serve:
We have put selfish ambitions ahead of the needs of our constituents.
We have made promises we have no intentions to keep.
We have exploited those in need in the name of protecting our jobs.
We have burdened those striving to build a better tomorrow in order that we may appear generous.
We have abused the privileges and power of our office and called it politics as usual.
We have restricted freedom of choice, calling it a vulnerability on our society, while failing to protect the most vulnerable of our society, calling them nothing more than a free choice.
Your mercies are new every morning and your compassion never fails. We cling to your grace and pray that your wisdom would guide us in this new day. May we choose this day to put your will and the will of those we serve before our vain rivalries and selfish ambitions. May we leave this place today with the peace that comes from knowing Pennsylvania is a better place because of all we have selflessly offered here today.
Thank you, Father, for your wisdom which guides us, your grace which carries us, and your love which never fails us. It’s in your name we pray, Amen.