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

Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Posted 10:53 PM by

The Rendell lynch mob is forming up

Slotsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, no stranger to putting his foot in his mouth by word or deed, may very well be heading towards the biggest political crisis of his career.

This from a guy who once said Bill Clinton should resign the presidency amid the height of Slick Willie's impeachment for the Monica Lewinsky scandal while he was still running the Democratic National Committee.

Now that he's a lame-duck governor, entering the second year of his final term, Big Ed is so desperate for the national stage that he's willing to look the fool. But if he's not careful, the large hook may come out and bring down the curtain on his vaudevillian act.

During a newspaper tour last week to push his mildly-hated 2008-09 proposed budget, Fast-lipped Eddie let it slip with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he doesn't think Barack Obama can win the Democratic nomination for president in Pennsylvania because of his race.

Rendell, who supports Hillary Clinton (How's that for irony?), told the newspaper's editorial board, "You've got conservative whites here, and I think there are some whites who are probably not ready to vote for an African-American candidate."

That's Rendell, tactful as ever. Now his remark is getting national play thanks to the Associated Press picking up on it.

Is he wrong? No. Is he impolitic? Absolutely. Our state may have more than its quotient of rednecks, but no one likes to be told to their faces that they're ignorant and intolerant.

Even the Clintons' long-time political adviser, James Carville, showed better taste when he once described Pennsylvania as "Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, with Alabama in between."

Chuck Ardo, the governor's spokesman, tried to spin it Tuesday when pressed. "He was simply making an observation about the unfortunate nature of some parts of American society," Ardo told the AP. "He wasn't being critical, he wasn't making accusations, but just being realistic."

While the national media may or may not eat Rendell's lunch the next few days for his latest gaffe, the once-popular governor better start worrying about his approval ratings back home if he hopes to have any future pull in this state - even though he's still sitting on a campaign war chest of $2.25 million with which to play kingmaker by donating to other candidate's campaigns.

I may sound like the lone crank in the wilderness at times attacking Rendell for taking at least $115,000 in campaign contributions from now-indicted slot parlor owner Louis DeNaples, but the people of this state have a pretty good nose for bullshit.

Many now feel the governor has pulled a bait-and-switch with slot machine gambling, promising all homeowners would benefit from the state's increased revenue through lower school property taxes and a cap on what districts could spend. A tax reform promise Rendell now has no plans to deliver without hiking income or sales taxes for everyone - or dare I say it - turning the slots parlors into full-fledged casinos.

That's why during my day job as an online content editor I wasn't surprised this morning by a lettter-to-the-editor to the Bucks County Courier Times that calls for Rendell's impeachment.

William Gallagher, a resident of Bensalem - home of the Philadelphia Park Casino and Racetrack, wrote, "Over the last few years I have read letters calling for the removal of President Bush from office because the writers hate him. I would like to see Gov. Rendell impeached for not keeping his word about casino revenues.

"He has raised taxes for social programs that mainly benefit Philadelphia. And the people who live along Interstate 80 will pay for the Philadelphia transport unions' high demands and broken system.

"Finally, the biggest insult to injury is that Bensalem's school board is proposing a large tax increase even though there is a casino located in the township that rakes in millions of dollars a week."

That very slots parlor got approval to build its standalone casino Monday - and the biggest question wasn't whether to build it, but if its construction would be a union-only work site. It will.

Meanwhile, in Grantville near Harrisburg this morning the state's seventh slots parlor - Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course - opened its doors for the first time. The $260 million facility has 2,000 slot machines, and is designed to accommodate 5,000 machines.

And up in the Poconos, the quarters continue to fall into DeNaples' Mount Airy Casino Resort without its owner being there because he's barred from the place until he can beat back eight perjury charges for lying about his alleged mob ties to the state Gaming Control Board.

The federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency have now also barred DeNaples from the bank he built, First National Community Bancorp Inc., the AP reported Tuesday.

Federal law allows banking regulators to ban officials from holding positions at banks when they are charged with breaking state or federal laws "where the charge may threaten to impair public confidence" in the bank, the OCC said. The suspension is in effect as long as the charges against DeNaples are pending or until terminated by the OCC.

DeNaples, the bank's chairman and largest shareholder with 10 percent of its shares, took what he thought was a temporary leave of absence from the institution on Feb. 6 - a full week after he was indicted by the Dauphin County grand jury.

This one's for you, Chuck Ardo!The 67-year-old Dunmore billlionaire need not be too worried about finding other work. As far as I know, auto parts dealers and landfills don't have such high standards.

Come to think of it neither does his friend, Rendell.

By the way, Ardo once tried to spin that too, saying, he could see no connection between the governor and reputed Northeastern Pennsylvania mob boss Billy D'Elia through DeNaples. "Given the six degrees of separation like that, I can associate you with Mr. D'Elia," Ardo said.


For more about Louis DeNaples and to read my complete take on this long-predicted Slotsylvania snafu, click here.

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