I’m beginning to think that all you need to do is tell someone in political office that you can do something … and they won’t do it. This theory comes from a story done by Team 4’s Paul Van Osdol regarding an executive action by Governor Ed Rendell. One that apparently is not being followed by those who state government.
In light of the economic times, as well as the budget shortfall in the state of Pennsylvania, Governor Rendell banned out-of-state travel by state employees. The move was a smart one: an effort to save the state thousands of dollars. Apparently, either those in power did not get the memo, did not read it or just tossed it aside and did what they want.
Paul’s report – which aired Wednesday night at 5:45 – showed state employees not only traveling, but going to such exotic locales as Florida, Vegas … and Rome on the taxpayer’s dime. If that weren’t enough to upset you as you fill out your state tax form, four state gaming board members went to Rome and stayed at a $434 a night hotel and got as much as $365 a night for meals – and they never had to account for how that meal money was spent.
Do state taxpayers need to foot the bill for junkets to Rome?
Perhaps the height of arrogance was courtesy of a former gaming board official who after the ban was announced went to a gaming conference in Vegas … but not before announcing his retirement two weeks earlier. I guess the trip was booked, so why waste money switching or cancelling flights.
Listening to all this probably doesn’t shock anyone. Misuse of public money and misuse of the public trust has been part of politics since biblical times. What is frustrating about this is that all of us have been playing by the rules, paying our taxes in the hope that the money will be used to help Pennsylvania. In this case, it was clearly wasted … and that makes me angry as a citizen and taxpayer of this state.
Their defense? There is no defense for it. The sheer arrogance and brazenness of these violations supersedes the act itself.
It’s digusting and don’t tell me about these trips being used to bring foreign investment and dollars into this state. Last I checked, the only thing that has grown in this state during the recession is the unemployment roles.
A great job by Paul uncovering this story … of state employees watching out for their best interests and not ours.