Saturday, July 4, 2015

Corbett's Car Talk

Patriot News slams Corbett for buying new vehicles after promising to cut state fleet.

Corbett's Car Talk

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(A brief discussion twixt Baer & Baer's editor, a.k.a. BE)

JB: Well, boss, the Harrisburg Patriot-News led its Sunday edition yesterday with this across-the-top-of-the-page headline: "As Corbett pushes sacrifice, where's his?"

BE: I'm guessing it's not a rhetorical question.

JB: No, siree. Focuses on two things: as the Guv seeks give-backs and pay cuts from state workers and teachers, he's paying his top staff more than even Ed Spendell paid his; and, after campaigning against the 17,000-strong state vehicle fleet as "ridiculous" and promising in campaign ads, "Not when I'M governor," he just bought four new SUV's for $187,400 for himself, his wife, the Lt. Gov. and his wife.

BE: So all that car talk was just car talk?

JB: At least so far. He did ask for a review of the state fleet back in March. He said it costs $72 million a-year and wants to cut that cost. And, if you recall, he's putting Rendell's bus, "Commonwealth One," which the former Guv and cabinet officials used to travel around the state, on the auction block.

BE: Just sell off the bus, Gus. Make a new plan, Stan. A start, I guess. What kind of SUVs did he get? And what did  he say about them?

JB: Two Chevy Suburbans, $53,000 a piece; two Chevy Traverses, around $40,000 each. He says nothing. State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan says he got them to better protect the first and second families, that it was his call and that the other cars available to the Guv & Lt. Guv were outdated, rundown, etc.

BE: And the higher-paid staff?

JB: Guv's office says they have six fewer people and so cut office spending by more than $200,000.

BE: Well, sounds like they have answers.

JB: And well they should. One salary example the Patriot uses: Corbett's communications director/press secretary Kevin Harley gets $145,000 as compared to Rendell's press guy, Gary Tuma, who got $93,300.

BE: Both a living wage.

JB: Especially in this market. And I'm betting the SUV buys might come up during rallies by educators and social workers to protest cuts for schools and services.

BE: I'm hearing a chant: Kids not cars! Kids not cars!

JB: That could fuel some anger, drive some points home. Grrrr.

Daily News Political Columnist
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About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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