A third member of Ed Rendell's inner circle has left his office to work for the energy industry, the Inquirer reports today.
In other Ed news, here's Daily News columnist John Baer on the lame duck's spending -- including on a Philadelphia office for Arlen Specter -- which has actually been going strong all his eight years in office:
Perhaps you recall $40 million to Philly-based Comcast in Ed's first term. He's paid by Comcast as a football analyst. His forever adviser David L. Cohen is a Comcast vice president. And we're asked to believe that the monster cable company (it bought NBC last December for $13.7 billion in cash and assets) would leave its hometown starving if it didn't get a slice of the public pie.
The money mechanism in question, the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP), requires matching funds and runs mostly as a reimbursement system. It's a largely hidden tool for pols to promote themselves, show they have clout and fudge the constitutional requirement for a balanced state budget.
It's in addition to millions of dollars in "walking-around money" for other pet projects. It's available for just about anything that meets the criterion of carrying "significant potential" for improved economic growth. And, boy, does it grow.
It began a decade ago with a debt limit of $400 million. The limit's been raised seven times, five under Rendell. It's now $4.05 billion, a tenfold increase.
The year before Rendell took office, its debt service - the annual cost of paying back borrowed money - was $80 million. Today, according to data from the governor's office, it's $250 million.