"What's black and white and read all over?"

Saturday, January 26, 2008
Posted 7:17 PM by

Pa. picks at its navel lint

Why can't Ed Rendell have it both ways by issuing a propaganda report at taxpayer expense that says he's a reformer?First, Pennsylvania lame duck Gov. Ed Rendell - five years into his reign and a full year into his second term - decides Friday to issues his first annual review of his administration, by his administration.

That's followed hours later by an Associated Press article that says reform-minded freshmen lawmakers have accomplished little reform during their first year in office.

Somebody pinch me. I think I'm still having the same nightmare over and over.

"Pennsylvania taxpayers have a right to know how the commonwealth spends their hard-earned tax dollars," Governor Rendell said in a press release. "This report provides those crucial answers. It shows we are making progress, but we have more work to do."

A lot more than just issuing pure propaganda, Ed. I sent you a list in April 2006 and so far you haven't addressed any item on it.

Meanwhile, the 170-page "Gov.'s Report on State Performance," which is available online as a PDF file, emphasizes the administration's achievements during Rendell's five years as governor. (What, you expected an honest assessment of shortcomings from Fast Eddie?)

It provides basic information about the major departments of state government and programs they administer, as well as an assortment of charts, graphs and tables to illustrate trends and tax dollars spent.

Reporters at a press conference Friday took exception to the report's contention that the number of jobs "created, retained or pledged" as a result of state economic development programs grew from about 187,000 in 2004-05 to more than 282,000 in 2006-07.

However, an Associated Press story in October that focused on Rendell's first two years in office showed more than half of 56 businesses that accepted $44 million in taxpayer money failed to hire as many workers as they promised in 2003-04.

By the way, printing 1,000 to 1,500 copies of the governor's new report is expected to cost taxpayers an additional $20,000, Michael Masch, the governor's top budget adviser, said he could not calculate the total cost of producing the report because that work was done largely by state employees in each of the 25 state departments and agencies it covers, and those costs were not itemized.

Wonderful. That alone says plenty about the Rendell administration. Drop everything, the big (and I stress big) boss needs good PR.

Another group in need of better PR - if they haven't hired a new set of flacks secretly already - is the Legislature, especially the politicians voters sent down to Harrisburg to reform it.

The freshman class of 2007 had high hopes, AP reporter Mark Scolforo writes. But one year into their first session, their record is at most incomplete, with movement on many key bills and reform issues stalled in what looks an awful lot like partisan gridlock.

Sophomore state Sen. Mike Folmer needs to do more than just shovel if he has any hope of reforming Harrisburg."It's sort of like a huge snowstorm," sophomore state Sen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon, told the news service. "You get 50 inches dumped on your driveway and all you have is a shovel and you think, 'How am I going to clean this up?' You do it one shovelful at a time."

Here's a hint, Mike.

If what you're shoveling is brown and smelly, that's not snow. It's bullshit.

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