Tomalis parking records answer few questions

Published by Mike Pound on .


If nothing else, we can be sure there's a car in Harrisburg that earned its $140,000 salary over the last year.

In an effort to prove that Ron Tomalis actually did some work during the year he spent with the state education department as a special adviser appointed by Gov. Tom Corbett, department officials released on Thursday eight pages of parking records that purport to show that Tomalis did the work he was hired to do.

Mr. Tomalis, a former state secretary of education, resigned last week in the middle of a burgeoning debate over whether his was a ghost position in the department. He was appointed by Gov. Corbett more than a year ago at the same $140,000 salary he earned as the department's secretary, but the Corbett administration has since had a hard time coming up with any evidence -- other than glowing reviews from current ed Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq -- that Mr. Tomalis did any actual work.

Work logs released by the department show few appointments. And contacts at the state's universities say they had not dealings with Mr. Tomalis, a curious thing given that he was hired to serve as the governor's adviser on higher education.

But hey -- look! Parking records!

Our friends at the Patriot-News got a look at the parking records, which include information from 2014. They helpfully did some math as well: since Jan. 2, Mr. Tomalis checked in at the education department's parking garage 127 days, for an average of 3.85 workdays per week. On the days Mr. Tomalis showed, he generally arrived just after 9 a.m. and left after 4 p.m.

Do the parking records answer the questions about Mr. Tomalis and his job? They show that his ID card was arriving at the office almost four days a week, but they definitely do not tell us what he did once he was there. A thorough accounting of emails produced by Mr. Tomalis could have helped clear things up, but those were deleted almost daily, in possible violation of the department's records-retention policy.

As calls for more details about the work Mr. Tomalis did for the state continue, we have some advice for those who are trying to justify his tenure: proof about the work he did will be more convincing than proof that he took his car for a drive every day.


Council is all wet

Published by James O'Toole on .

The latest not-so-hot news from Grant Street from our colleague Robert Zullo:

It was about what you'd expect from a bucket of ice water at 10 a.m.
"It was cold. but it went well," City Councilman Dan Gilman said after he and his colleague Councilman Corey O'Connor helped each other participate in the "Ice Bucket Challenge," a viral online phenomenon to raise money and awareness for  Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also called Lou Gehrig's Disease.
The councilmen dumped the buckets over each others' heads Wednesday morning in the portico at the Grant Street entrance to the City-County Building.  "I would argue that my bucket that was dumped on me had more ice in it, so my water was colder. Corey got off easy," Mr. Gilman said.
Both said they had received numerous challenges on social media as well as from media outlets and intend to donate $100 each to the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association's Western Pennsylvania chapter.
Mr. O'Connor claimed that his shorter stature meant he got the worst of the dousing.
 "He's taller than I am so more of his bucket went directly on me. I think I missed him a little bit," Mr. O'Connor said. "I challenged the remainder of council, so now they're all on the hook."


Ice bucket brigade grows

Published by James O'Toole on .

Picking up the gauntlet thrown down by his colleague, Rep. Bob Brady, D-Phila., Rep. Mike Doyle accepted the ice bucket challenge, the viral fund-raising gambit that's raised millions to combat ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease.    He's joined the legion of celebrities, politicians, athlete's and ordinary folk who have doused themselves with buckets of ice to support the research and treatment supported by the ALS Association.  He's following the lead of folks including former President George W. Bush, who, after being soaked by Former First Lady Laura Bush, extended the challenge to former President Bill Clinton.  It might sound silly, but according to the ALS Association web site, the campaign had raised more than $31 million by Wednesday

With his own frigid shower, Mr. Doyle earned the right to send the challenge along and he decided to extend it to county Executive Rich Fitzgerald, state Sen. Jay Costa and Mayor Billl Peduto.  Fitzgerald and Costa said they would meet the challenge Thursday with a joint appearance Thursday afternoon in the courtyard of the County Courthouse.   Mr. Peduto did not immediately respond to a question on whether ther was ice in his forecast.

Here's Doyle's dunking:



PA GOP clings to links between Wolf, Obama

Published by Mike Pound on .

The campaigns of The Battling Toms seem to be taking a break from television production, but fear not: Politics PA noticed earlier in the week that the state Republican party has filled in with a doozy of its own.

Pennsylvania Republican Party, "Looking for Weapons"

What's new: While speaking at the Penn State Ag Progress Days near State College last week, Tom Wolf insulted rural Pennsylvanians with a comment about looking for weapons as he met folks there. In fact, it reminded us a lot of the "clinging to guns and religion" comment candidate Barack Obama made about rural Pennsylvanians during the 2008 campaign. 

What's not: Mr. Wolf and President Obama are practically the same guy!

Bottom line: "Tom Wolf / Barack Obama -- looking down their noses ... for your guns."

Random things we noticed: Someone is still angry about that "guns and religion" thing. A couple things seem to be missing. First? Production values. The minute-long spot looks like it took about that much time to produce). Also absent: logic. Sure, it wasn't a great joke by Mr. Wolf -- the one about being mistaken for Edgar Snyder was much better -- but it did get some laughs. To get from that to the ad's conclusion is quite a leap. 


Rick Perry's vanishing endorsement

Published by Mike Pound on .

perry endorse small

Just a few days after the state's primary election, Gov. Tom Corbett and a special guest showed up at an event in Washington County to talk about energy, jobs and taxes.

Corbett and his guest -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry -- tossed barbs at Tom Wolf, Corbett's newly minted Democratic opponent, and Mr. Wolf's plans to levy extraction taxes on the companies drilling in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale deposits.

The partnership between Gov. Corbett and Gov. Perry didn't stop there -- the Texan, a conservative darling to sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, formally endorsed the Pennsylvania's run for re-election, and the Corbett campaign trumpeted Gov. Perry's stamp of approval everywhere it could.

Ahh, those were the days.

The indictment of Gov. Perry on two felony charges last week seems to have caused a change of heart on the part of Corbett campaign officials. The folks at Poliwoops noticed over the weekend that a tweet touting Perry's endorsement had vanished from the Corbett campaign's twitter stream. And the folks at Politics PA noticed that the endorsement video featuring Perry seems to have disappeared from the Corbett campaign website.

Need a refresher on the latter? The pro-Wolf PAC Fresh Start has helpfully posted a copy:

The political future of Gov. Perry is uncertain, after he was indicted by a grand jury in relation to his veto of funds for an Austin, Texas-based prosecutor who ran a powerful anti-corruption office. The part that's easy to see? The folks running the campaign of Gov. Corbett think they'll do better without indicted friends from Texas.