Saturday, April 07, 2007

PA Gov. Ed Rendell: Reform Them

Leaders tee off during reform meeting
By Alison Hawkes
Updated 04/02/2007 09:49:41 AM EDT

Gov. Ed Rendell got an earful this week when he presented his six-point government reform agenda to lawmakers at his Harrisburg mansion.

Sources at the Monday night meeting said lawmakers - particularly legislative leaders - were openly hostile to Rendell as he pitched an agenda for open records, campaign finance reform, term limits, and reducing the size of the Legislature, among other proposals.

Rendell's Spokesman Chuck Ardo said the meeting was a "frank and open exchange of ideas." But one freshmen lawmaker there described the finger-pointing scene as dangerously explosive.

"It was like throwing gasoline on the floor," he said.

The invitation-only event went out to the more than 50 new members, though fewer than half showed up and came after Rendell had already presented his reform platform that morning to the Harrisburg press corps.

Leaders were apparently offended that the governor didn't consult them first, especially since his reform items mostly had to do with changes to the Legislature.

"Everyone was taken by surprise and some people were more than frustrated," said Rep. Jim Marshall, a Beaver County Republican.

Marshall said he got an e-mail invitation that did not indicate of the purpose of the meeting. He said the freshmen class hadn't met with the governor since being sworn into office in early January, and he thought the meeting would be an informal meet-and-greet event to exchange ideas with Rendell.

What they got was a formal podium presentation.

"The governor got up and said, 'While we're on this reform movement, I want to cut the Legislature in half and I want to impose term limits of eight years and we want to have campaign finance reform,' " said Marshall...

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