"I thought for sure that after what happened a week ago PennDot would be out in full force tonight. I was wrong. The drive home tonight was horrible and the roads untouched! I guess the PennDot people don't show up for work until Monday morning. You would think that they would be out salting the roads and getting ready for the busy morning commute tomorrow - nope, not in this state. Personally, I've lost all confidence in PennDot. I'm glad that I have a 4WD truck to get me to work because the way it looks, when it snows- you're on your own!"
The reader isn't the only one looking for PennDOT these days.
Some SE Pennsylvania Congressmen wanted to meet with PennDOT officials on Tuesday to figure out what went wrong with the Valentine's Day storm, but Gov. Ed Rendell is keeing PennDOT (and other key aides) in an undesclosed location.
I guess they've taken enough of a beating.
It's one thing for members of the state House and Senate to use his political appointees as punching bags, but Gov. Rendell has stepped in and said he won't allow three Pennsylvania Congressmen to get their licks in.
Rendell will not make four top aides available to meet with the Congressmen on Tuesday as planned.
Congressmen Charlie Dent, R-15th Dist., and Jim Gerlach, R-6th Dist., both members of the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure, expressed disappointment in Rendell's decision to prevent key state officials from participating in a meeting the representatives organized to discuss the state's response to the Valentine’s Day storm that shut down portions of Interstate 78.
The congressmen had invited leaders from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, State Police, and National Guard to discuss their involvement in the disaster's prevention and response efforts at a public meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 27, but were informed by the governor's office that none would attend.
While both congressmen acknowledged the governor's desire to allow officials to focus their attention on the state's independent investigation, they were still disappointed over the governor's decision.
"I very much want to find out what happened on that day and, most importantly, discuss what we, as state and federal officials, can do to prevent that event from ever happening again," Gerlach said.
Gerlach and Dent plan to accept the governor's request to delay the meeting until the completion of the state inquiry lead by former Federal Emergency Management Agency Director James Lee Witt.
"We will expect the full cooperation of state agency officials at the conclusion of Mr. Witt's investigation," explained Dent, who also serves as ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Emergency Communications, Preparedness and Response.
The third congressman scheduled to participate in the meeting is Tim Holden, D-17th Dist.
Rendell's aides spend two grueling days before Senate and House committees in Harrisburg.
Tony Phyrillas is a columnist for The Mercury in Pottstown, Pa. He received a first place award for Best Opinion Column in 2007 by Suburban Newspapers of America. He was also honored for column writing in 2006 by the Society of Professional Journalists.