Heyl: Politicians, perks stuff of 2014 ‘turkeys’
Time to roast turkeys.
With the birds about to go in the ovens, let’s indulge in the annual tradition of good-naturedly examining things for which the folks who dominate headlines — and some others — should express thanks:
• Outgoing Gov. Tom Corbett: That he soon will have a LOT more free time to walk his two Airedales, Penny and Harry.
• Gov.-elect Tom Wolf: The near-daily bombshells going off in the state Attorney General’s Office. They have distracted people from asking how Wolf plans to plug a $1.85 billion budget shortfall while keeping his campaign pledge of reducing the tax burden on the lower- and middle-class.
Oh, and his Jeep that was featured in so many of his campaign commercials. Wolf loves that thing.
• Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane: Her uncanny multi-tasking abilities that enabled her to simultaneously prepare to testify before a grand jury investigating leaks by her office and discipline dozens of her employees for exchanging pornographic emails at work.
• Former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffrey: The extra time he has had since his abrupt retirement last month to catch up with his friends (some of whom work in Kane’s office) via email.
• Pennsylvania’s 253 lawmakers: That their latest annual cost-of-living increase is kicking in just in time for the holidays. With their base salaries topping $85,000, they shouldn’t have to worry too much about affording Christmas presents.
• Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald: That he got off so cheaply in covering all mileage costs on his county-owned Jeep after Controller Chelsa Wagner accused him of using it for personal and political trips. He probably barely noticed that $42,000 missing from his bank account.
• Wagner: That next year’s re-election bid won’t be harmed by anyone recalling the 35 percent raise she engineered for herself upon taking office by accepting nine years of cost-of-living increases that previous controllers declined.
• Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto: The frequent-flier miles he’s accumulating in his first year in office by jetting to, among other locales, Los Angeles, Detroit, Washington, Chicago, Denver, Austin, Denmark and Germany.
• Downtown Pittsburgh joggers: The Penn Avenue bike lane. It’s perfect for a level run without having to worry about any cyclist traffic.
• UPMC CEO Jeffrey Romoff: The state taxpayers who are kicking in $2.5 million for an expansion project at Children’s Hospital in Lawrenceville. Now the nonprofit won’t have to tap its $4.3 billion investment portfolio to pay for the work.
• Allegheny County Jail Warden Orlando Harper: The increase in stylish apparel at the jail since he instituted a dress code for visitors. The county has one of the nation’s most fashionable lockups.
• Former Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission CEO Joe Brimmeier: That after pleading guilty to felony conflict-of-interest charges last week, stemming from a “pay-to-play” conspiracy, he avoided jail time and is on probation.
He should be thankful, indeed, for such a sentencing E-ZPass.
Eric Heyl is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7857 or [email protected].