Editorial Calls on Gov. Rendell to End Special Interest PLAs

0 March 19, 2010  State & Local Construction, Uncategorized

An editorial in the Williamsport Sun Gazette questions the “source, timing and validity” of Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell’s remarks in his eighth and final budget address that chided “special interest groups for stymieing his legislative efforts to curb special interests” (“Timing suspicious on lobbyist crackdown,” 3/19). It also calls government-mandated project labor agreements (PLAs) a “rigged public bidding system.”

He said the time is overdue to put stricter controls on what they report and what they do. We agree.

But we question the source, timing and validity of this valiant call to action.

First of all, it’s convenient that the governor has gotten religious about special interests controls months before leaving office.

This is a governor who received almost $1 million in campaign contributions from Ballard Spahr, his old law firm from 2001 to 2008. The same lobbying firm has received $8.4 million in taxpayer money during Rendell’s tenure as governor.

Does the governor mean to crack down on all special interests, or just the ones that oppose his policies and logjam his expensive budgets?

Will the crackdown include friendly construction unions lobbying for special privileges such as “project labor agreements” and benefitting from the outdated prevailing wage law that jacks up the price of public projects at taxpayer expense?…

…It is unrealistic to expect the governor or a powerful lawmaker to receive a six-figure campaign war chest check from a huge labor union and then push for a bill that would end a rigged public bidding system that benefits that union. If the governor is willing in his final months in office to get rid of that sort of dysfunctional government, we applaud him.

That’s exactly what PLAs are: A “rigged public bidding system that benefits” the very unions that are donating large political contributions to politicians responsible for the more government-mandated PLAs.

If PLAs aren’t the a symptom of “dysfunctional government” and the definition of corrupt Philadelphia-style pay-to-play special interest politics, what is?

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