One does not need to look far to know how messed up the priorities of our leaders are in this desperate, sluggish economy. I have to wonder where Gov. Ed Rendell's brain checked out this week. The man is the consummate politician I will give him that, but he is also the poster child for how disgustingly irresponsible many of our leaders can be.
The latest example is this week Rendell had the nerve to stand under the Tilghman Street Bridge in Allentown, point out its deficiencies and its need to have over $13 million dollars in repairs, then he chided the legislature into passing more taxes on everything from soup to nuts to pay for the long overdue transportation system repairs on more than 5,600 bridges and 10,000 miles of road.
The first question should be what in the world are they doing with all the money they are already taking from the wallets of us, the taxpayers of this fine, greedy commonwealth? Well, Ed's priorities once again come out loud and clear because within days of crying over this bridge he was in Scranton promising them up to $20 million dollars in a "community redevelopment" matching grant which was a superficial classification for paying off the Electric City's baseball team's extortion demands for fixing their stadium. The repairs are estimated to be $13 million, $6.5 million of which this stupid baseball team is extorting out of the pockets of the taxpayers of this state. That's you and me.
So let's understand our priorities here. On the one hand we have a baseball team that can take out a loan to fix its own stadium and here's a concept, pay it back over time, or we have a city who's bridge could collapse and seriously hurt or kill people. Now if times were good and there was $26 million dollars in surplus laying around then I could see making everyone happy, but times aren't good and thanks to Spendell there is no surplus anywhere within reach of his grubby hands.
What's the solution if it was Joe Q. Public? Let's examine it. Well, I have barely enough to help one of these cities so if I need to choose … let me see … Scranton's ballclub is threatening me that they will leave if I don't cough up around $7 million dollars or more while Allentown's bridge could fall down with several cars on it and kill people.
What should I do? People's lives or baseball. The safety of citizens of this commonwealth or the ability to drink beer in new seats?
I can see why the decision is so tough on a man who offered us property tax relief only to graft millions of dollars off the top to build sports stadiums in two cities and offer sloppy seconds to the taxpayers who are just looking to make ends meet. Or the man who could criticize the President for appearing on the View, but has spent several years himself appearing on a sports talk show on the radio weekly while continuing to be governor. Ed hasn't met a sports deal he hasn't liked.
Next to propping up his hometown's transportation system, Rendell's legacy will be having his hand in rebuilding many stadiums in Pennsylvania. Too bad. If he had his way most of us wouldn't be able to afford to go to a game to admire his financial backing.
So what's his solution? More taxes, more spending, more sharing our money with corporations and companies that apparently can't survive without low interest loans and gifts, I mean grants from the governor.
All I can say is thank the lucky stars that spendthrift Rendell will be forced to leave the party at the end of the year, and he will have to open that dusty wallet of his and start spending his own money again. Of course for the last eight years he earned most of it from us, but who am I to quibble.
I just have to wonder what the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees team, or the teams which received $47 million dollars of our money to build or renovate their minor league stadiums or the soccer team in Chester who received $47 million dollars from the state in their stadium building project, will do when Rendell is gone and they need to build new stadiums in the future. Maybe they will lobby for another sports crazed governor who will hand out our taxpayer dollars like Christmas candy to them too.
Do I support grants? In principle, no. I believe that projects and groups should be able to survive on their own if they are viable without being propped up by taxpayers. If the money given in grants stayed in our pockets, there would be more that could be donated to organizations voluntarily.
With that said however, in a system where money is doled out to people who ask for it, I would willingly apply for every grant that could help an organization with whom I'm affiliated without question. If the government is going to redistribute our tax dollars then my groups are just as entitled as everyone else's, but if the idea of grants went away, it would not make me cry very long. That would be more money that could be used for the necessary evils of running the state.
Ed, I have to say this. You won't be missed in January by many of us, and you will be in good company in Philadelphia as you and that disappointment of a Senator Arlen Specter return finally to private lives and get out of our hair.
Maybe the two of you could find the magic bullet and then you can teach Arlen how to be a good Democrat.
Til next time …