Breaking up is not so hard to do...
They say that breaking up is hard to do
Now I know
I know that it's true
Don't say that this is the end
Instead of breaking up I wish that we were making up again....
Neil Sedaka wasn't crooning about Pennsylvania's government with his mournful yet delightfully peppy tale of love lost. Because in Harrisburg, breaking up is so hard to do that politicians often don't do it, even when voters demand it.
Lawmakers treat the electoral losses of some of their colleagues as the greatest loss to the commonwealth since the death of Ben Franklin. So, when Lackawanna County voters ousted longtime state Rep. Fred Belardi from his 112th District seat, his colleagues hired him in an administrative job that paid about $40,000 a year more than his elective office. And six years later, when those same voters dismissed Rep. Ken Smith, Mr. Belardi's successor, his colleagues couldn't bear to see him go. They hired him on a monthly basis, at $6,000 a month, to show the ropes to freshmen legislators - including his own replacement.
And the heartache of separation afflicts the administration, as well. So when former Education Secretary Ron Tomalis suddenly resigned his $139,000 job in 2013, Gov. Tom Corbett hired him right back, at $139,000. Mr. Tomalis' supposed task is "overseeing, implementing and reviewing" recommendations made by the Governor's Advisory Commission on Postsecondary Education.
But a recent investigation by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, based on right-to-know requests, has found that the administration is unable to produce much evidence of Mr. Tomalis' work. There is little work product, scant evidence of time spent on the job and, according to the Post-Gazette's interviews with executives at many of the state's higher education institutions, little evidence of any contact with Mr. Tomalis.
Now state Sen. Mike Folmer, a Lebanon County Republican and chairman of the state Education Committee, has called for an inquiry.
"I'm just saying it should be looked at," he said.
Indeed it should. And the inquiry should include the most fundamental question: why was Mr. Tomalis hired in the first place, after his resignation, for a job the he or his successor could have performed as education secretary?