Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Rendell Fan Club is shrinking

The pundits say Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell should win reelection easily in 2006 despite job approval numbers that are lower than George Bush’s poll numbers.

In western and central Pennsylvania, Rendell has an approval rating of 30 percent — about 10 to 15 percent lower than the president’s numbers. Inexplicably, Rendell’s approval rating in Philadelphia and surrounding suburbs is 70 percent. Don’t the people of southeastern Pennsylvania pay property taxes? One of the great mysteries of life is why the Philadelphia region doesn’t see what the rest of the state does when it comes to Rendell’s shortcomings.

I have my own "unofficial" poll of how Rendell is doing. Judging from the response of readers to my recent column, "Rendell’s Legacy: 3 years of failure," the governor is going to have to work a lot harder to win reelection this November.

Based on his lack of achievements in his first term (no property tax relief, no increase in the minimum wage, no controls over skyrocketing health insurance premiums, onerous business taxes), I wouldn’t start celebrating a Rendell victory just yet.

Can you say Gov. Bill Scranton? How about Gov. Lynn Swann? Either GOP challenger would make a better governor than Rendell. And Pennsylvania voters are beginning to reach the same conclusion as the shine wears off Rendell’s luster.

Here’s a sampling of how readers view Rendell’s first term in office:

Letter 1: Absolutely loved your article about the many failures of Ed Rendell. However, I do think it was missing one more major point. You forgot to mention the fact that Rendell hasn’t given an early dismissal the last working day before any major holiday this year. Not to be outdone by the fact that he also didn’t dismiss early during that big afternoon snowstorm a few weeks back. Guess he also doesn’t care if anyone gets home safely. Can’t forget about the aesthetics that us little people find important.

Letter 2: I just read your scathing commentary (online) on the governorship of Rendell and could not agree with you more. My only additional comment would be that Mr. Rendell’s mentor was obviously the equally horrendous recently unelected mayor of Pittsburgh, Tom Murphy. Downtown Pittsburgh at one time was a great place to work and shop with clean streets and a wide variety of department stores and small, well kept, successful independent businesses. The liberal mentality in this state is appalling and I’m amazed that voters continue to elect, time after time, decade after decade, the very "leaders" who destroy our communities and our state. One day voters may wake up, but by then it may be too late. Keep up the good work!

Letter 3: Gutsy piece on the governor. Would you be interested in having the facts on how he’s also lying to the public about the medical liability crisis, and how, despite what the Philadelphia Inquirer would like people to believe, it’s not "over" and it’s getting worse? There’s some really good data available and it’s also important to note that Dr. Sage, who has been widely quoted as the guy who says the crisis is over, didn’t actually say that at all ... at least, not in as wide-reaching terminology as has been attributed to him .... I’d be delighted to forward to you some pieces I and other physician advocates have written on this issue, containing hard facts that completely debunk Rendell’s claims of having fixed the problem

Letter 4: Your column on Rendell’s legacy was right on target. He obviously is the consummate politician. One hopes this will be his one and only term as governor.

Letter 5: Thank you very much for your article: "Rendell’s legacy!" Now if we can just get this out to the 12 million Pennsylvanians who either don’t care or don’t know what this man has done? If I can help in any way, please let me know Tony! I’m thinking about making 12 million copies of this article to send to every household in Pennsylvania! What do you think? Thanks for your time!

Letter 6: You are dead on about Rendell. I’ve only been following state politics seriously for the past year and what I’ve seen has thoroughly disgusted me. I am one of those young people getting out of the state as fast as I can because it has become intolerable living here. My anger lies mostly with how our fine political establishment has screwed up royally the rejuvenation of our inner city economies. I’m from York, Pa., where this urban redevelopment thing has failed miserably. There is no way in hell that the people involved should be allowed to get away with what they’ve perpetrated upon us, the poor, unsuspecting taxpayer. Are you familiar with 10,000 Friends of PA? That’s who really has the governor’s ear. This is the construction lobby made up of the richest and most powerfully connected people in the state and through their efforts, they’ve been able to pull the wool over the public’s eyes and laugh all the way to the bank. Their economic development theories are full of holes, completely based on greed, and lead to all kinds of corruption.

Letter 7: Great article on Rendell. Lynn Swann should stir up some interest especially in Pittsburgh. Did you hear about Rendell signing legislation that protects stables (riding) from certain liability since we were only one of six states that didn’t have the "manure" protection. We are the only state that doesn’t have lobbyist disclosure, but maybe after the big stink in Washington, something may happen. Don’t hold your breath. Don’t you feel good to know that slots may come to Limerick — we could have lunch there and play the slots.

Letter 8: Great article. I thought I was the only one who was disappointed in Rendell. I always look forward to reading your column. You say it so well. Thanks for another winner!

E-mail Tony Phyrillas at

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