Monday, April 18, 2005

Comic Relief with William Rieger

Rep. William Rieger, a way too long serving member of the PA House is back in the news, courtesy of Inquirer columnist John Grogan. Rieger, you may remember, was criticized last year because instead of actually being present in Harrisburg to vote, he balled up some paper, and jammed his voting machine so it would constantly record him present.

Seem ridiculous? Well, Rieger has many more gems going for him (besides the obvious, like not living in his poor North Philly district.) And now, his aide is implicated in stealing money meant for programs to benefit N. Philly.

From Grogan's column:
It involves questionable behavior on the part of his longtime aide, Barbara E. Landers. Isn't that refreshing?

Landers was charged last week with skimming off more than $68,000 in state grant money. The money came from taxpayers' wallets and was meant to improve the blighted neighborhoods in Rieger's hard-luck North Philadelphia "home district."

.....

This was money he used his political clout to bring home to his district. This was money he steered to a longtime member of his staff. This was money he could have and should have kept tabs on. And now he tells the people who trust him to represent their interests he has nothing to say?

As their legislator, shouldn't he have made it his business to know? Shouldn't he have noticed the lack of visible improvements and begun asking questions?

...

He has one of the poorest attendance records in the General Assembly. He missed all but two of 65 meetings of the House Professional Licensure Committee over a four-year period, despite being its Democratic chairman. He has gone 15 years without introducing a single bill.

Until it was highlighted in The Inquirer, Rieger steered $575 a month in taxpayer-financed rent back to his aide, Landers, for what passed as a district office in the cellar of her rowhouse. To get to the "office," a visitor would have to walk through Landers' house, squeeze between her refrigerator and stove, and navigate a narrow staircase. How's that for service?
Bill Rieger, North Philadelphia's (once in a while, when he can make it over there) wonderful State Rep. It is long overdue for him to go.

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