Saturday, November 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

What's Up With Wagner?

PA Auditor General is genuinely on a tear.

What's Up With Wagner?

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

JB: Yo, boss, been watching Jack Wagner?

BE: You mean that soap opera actor from General Hospital?

JB: No, no. You don't know jack. I mean Pennsylvania's Auditor General.

BE: We have an auditor who's a general?

JB: Yeah, sure. And the boy's been on a tear. Bustin' Eddie over spending. Remember? He helped stop that $1 billion borrowing Ed wanted to do for before leaving office. And Wagner's been comin' out with all kinds of ideas to save tax dollars. It's been one thing right after another.

BE: What besides less borrowing?

JB: Well, yesterday he hit no-bid contracts. Said Rendell used too many. Said Corbett could save like $200 million with more competitive bidding. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote about it today. And recently, he said we could save $436 million with better management of Medicare, $201 million by offering state workers early retirement, $250 million by consolidating state prescription drug buys. He even called for stopping the automatic pay raises to lawmakers, judges and top state officials to save another $3 million.

BE: Sounds like he means business. Where's he been?

JB: Pittsburgh. Former city council member there, former state senator. Heck, he ran for governor last year.

BE: And Corbett beat him, right?

JB: No, that was another guy from Pittsburgh. Wagner lost in the Democratic primary. Couldn't raise any money.

BE: So he knows how to save money, but not how to get it. It sounds like he shoulda been doing this kind of cost-saving campaign as a candidate instead of now.

JB: Exactly. Question is why now?

BE: Yeah, why?

JB: Some speculate that he wants to run for Allegheny County executive. Others that he wants to keep the name in the news cuz his daughter, state Rep. Chelsa Wagner, is running for Allegheny County controller.

BE: A family of money-minded folks, eh?

JB: Yep. And, if Jack, a decorated Vietnam War vet, a straight-shooter, a western PA conservative Dem, ever gets his hands on the kind of money he wants to save for taxpayers, we'd could be calling him Governor.

BE: That's assuming he gives up soaps, right?

JB: Maybe you should go, you know, edit something.

 

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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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