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Song Wagners sing is somewhat off key | TribLIVE.com
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Song Wagners sing is somewhat off key

Tribune-Review
| Thursday, January 26, 2012 12:00 a.m

Diss the media all you want, Newt, but if it weren’t for inquisitive news reporters, taxpayers might never know how elected officials like Chelsa Wagner try to rip them off.

Name recognition and a politically-connected family led by state Auditor General Jack Wagner, an uncle, helped her win election to the state House of Representatives in 2006 at age 28 and then re-election in 2008 and 2010.

Last year, the Pittsburgh Democrat exploited her clout to be elected Allegheny County Controller, a position akin to “financial watchdog.”

Tribune-Review veteran Harrisburg reporter Brad Bumsted was the real watchdog. He uncovered the greedy truth.

Chelsa Wagner, 34, intended to remain a state legislator, said to be a full-time job, while she served as the new county controller, supposedly a full-time job, while being on the staff of a Pittsburgh law firm, all while being pregnant with a second child. She claimed her constituents would lose their voice as a result of reapportionment and would “be without service from the House of Representatives, which would mean less service.”

How thoughtful!

People would be better off without such b.s. from delusional elected officials who want you to believe they’re “public servants” doing you a favor.

Reporters then disclosed how Wagner is being paid $89,904 a year as county controller after her predecessor had been paid $66,500 per year for the previous 12 years.

The retroactive 35 percent increase was said to be a cost-of-living adjustment. Uh-huh!

Bumsted also reported Wagner had the worst voting record among state House members from the seven-county Pittsburgh region last year.

Public outrage in the aftermath of the newspaper reports prompted Wagner to resign from the state House.

Thank God for small favors.

……… *………… *……… *………… *

Uncle Jack, the auditor general, never one to miss an opportunity to make a headline, recently pointed out that the Pennsylvania Turnpike is “drowning in debt.”

He said the turnpike’s long-term IOUs have tripled from $2.6 billion to $7.3 billion while annual debt payments have grown from $179 million to $353 million in four years.

He’s correct.

But he should have blamed the administration of former Gov. Ed Rendell and the General Assembly for playing the “robbing Peter to pay Paul” game.

They passed the law in 2007 that directed the Turnpike Commission to borrow $2.5 billion to give to PennDOT in payments through June 2010. The politically-appointed commission bent over. The money is gone. Turnpike users will be repaying it for decades, plus interest.

There’s more.

The law also obligated the turnpike to provide PennDOT with another $450 million per year for the next 46 years, divided this way: $200 million for roads and bridges, $250 million for public transit, including the doom-and-gloom Port Authority.

Meanwhile, the turnpike needs money itself to repair, maintain and upgrade a toll road that’s more than a half-century old.

When the law was passed, I called it “high-stakes, legalized gambling” by Fast Eddie and lawmakers who voted aye.

Locally, they included Barry Stout and Rich Kasunic in the Senate and Pete Daley and Ted Harhai in the House, seeing it as a way to avoid voting on a gas tax.

”To raise that kind of money,” I wrote, “somebody has to lose. Big time.”

Tolls already raised four times in the past four years will be raised 3 percent or more a year forever.

I can claim “I told you so.”

Now, so can Jack Wagner.

Thought du jour – A taxpayer and his money are soon parted.

Categories: News
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