Winners and losers didn’t all appear on election ballot
Today’s column was written before the votes from yesterday’s general election were counted. The names of winners and losers are not necessary because, Republican or Democrat, some things never change.
WINNER: Television stations across Pennsylvania. Their owners raked in record money from unprecedented spending on political advertising despite personal attacks, misinformation and false promises they embodied to confuse the electorate.
LOSER: The next Pennsylvania governor. Not only will he assume a projected state budget deficit exceeding $3 billion, but the future looks worse. Major issues include transportation, where revenues haven’t been increased since 1997; Marcellus shale, where Pennsylvania remains the only state not to impose a tax on natural gas extraction, and the public employee pension crisis, where the I.O.U. for generous increases approved in 2001 has caught up with greedy legislators who increased their own pensions by 50 percent (3 percent multiplied by years of service).
WINNER: Philadelphia. Outgoing Gov. Ed Rendell steered about $1 billion dollars worth of no-bid contracts and controversial aid to his hometown, including $43 million toward a 57-story skyscraper, Comcast Center. Cable tv company executives, spouses and employees donated more than $634,000 to his campaign accounts, $100,000 to his 2007 inauguration and who knows how much to his political allies. Meanwhile, Comcast pays Rendell a reported $20,000 per year as a part-time football commentator.
LOSER: The Mid-Mon Valley. With veteran state Sen. Barry Stout, D-Bentleyville, collecting his six-figure pension at the end of the year, what little hope remained to complete the Mon/Fayette Expressway to Pittsburgh may be forever lost. No one is left locally with the seniority, clout, concern and intensity to find money for the missing link to a promised future, leaving a virtual “Highway to Nowhere” as an embarrassing legacy……….
WINNER: Special interests, big businesses, unions, consultants, major law firms, financial institutions and everyone else in the “pay to play” game who contributed money and services to the successful candidates. In January, after newcomers and incumbents are sworn in, it’s “payback time.”
LOSER: The next U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, no matter who was elected. He’ll not only be expected to deal with a projected federal budget deficit of $1.26 trillion, but as a “freshman,” he’ll be expected to keep his mouth shut.
Major issues will include economic recovery and job losses, balance of trade, the growing deficit, ongoing involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, terrorism, national health care, gun laws, education and other stuff ad infinitum.
WINNER: Prison inmates. Under Gov. Ed Rendell’s watch, Pennsylvania committed to build six prisons at an estimated cost of $830 million, not counting future costs of operating and maintaining the new digs. One is a 2,000-bed, 700-employee facility near Masontown that’ll be in addition to a 2,000-bed, 700-employee facility near LaBelle, making Fayette County the “Prison Capital of Pennsylvania.”
LOSER: Pennsylvania. With 67 counties, 500 school districts, six times as many cities, boroughs and townships and more than 25,000 elected local officials, no governor short of God can change Harrisburg in four years.
WINNER: Every candidate elected or re-elected to the World’s Largest Full-time Legislature. The annual “base salary” for House and Senate members is currently $78,314. In addition, lawmakers can collect $154 in “per diem” expenses for every day in Harrisburg. Other perks include travel expenses, health insurance, a generous pension program and, yes, such a thing as a “free lunch” and most breakfasts, dinners and drinks, too, when the General Assembly is in session and lobbyists want their ear.
LOSER: You guessed it – We the people.
Thought du jour
Some people use wine and beer when cooking. Sometimes they use it in their recipes.