Monday, June 04, 2007

The Battle is Met

State Senate is holding a hearing on Senator Dominic Pileggi's (R-Delaware County) Right-To-Know legislation today in Harrisburg and Graham is one of the witnesses. His prepared remarks have been published on the Penn State Propaganda Portal Penn State Live . These remarks are far less sanguine than those made by his PR flack Bill Mahon when the the reform agenda in Harrisburg first got off the ground,

Bill Mahon, Penn State spokesman, said he has no problems with the proposed legislation.

"There are a number of newspapers over the years who have demanded Penn State make budget information available. This usually comes from newspapers who haven't checked our Web site," he said. "You can literally find hundreds and hundreds of pages of budget information."

As I noted at the time of those remarks,

Before anyone concludes from Mahon's remarks that I was wrong about Spanier opposing the language in the bill which would explicitly extend the open record law to Penn State, remember that we are early in the game. Mahon's position as expressed in today's Collegian is Penn State's opening gambit. There is no need for them to oppose a bill which has not even been introduced on the floor of the house. To do so would give the impression that they have something to hide, which, in turn, would would give further impetus for the language. While they take a "what me worry" public position on the bill, you can be sure they are working behind the scenes to kill the bill before it comes to the floor. Their go-to-guy on this is Kerry Benninghoff who has reassuring words for them.

State Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, R-Bellefonte, said, in general, he supports open records, but Mahoney's bill has a long way to go before it can be passed.

"It needs to be narrowed," Benninghoff said. "If it's too broadly written, it will die under its own weight. Then, there will probably be several public hearings at which time I believe the universities will have a word on it. It could include stuff the university doesn't want out there."

"It needs to be narrowed," should be read don't worry Graham I've got your back. Benninghoff is carrying water for Spanier, who will remain above the fray and keep what is left of his pristine image as a good guy. Oh and by the way, bills don't die of their own weight. Bills are killed by legislators. I am looking at you Kerry.

Kerry has continued to carry water for Graham in the House as was reported this past week by the AP.
"If we think we're going to come up with the bill in the next weeks or months that's going to solve everything, I think we're naive," said Rep. Kerry A. Benninghoff, R-Centre, a reform commission member who hasn't decided how he will vote on flipping the presumption. "I also believe it would be better to be a little more cautious and expand as times goes on."

However, the possibility of new Right-To-Know legislation extending coverage to Penn State and other state-related institutions is no longer simply a distant possibility and now Graham can no longer hope to head things off with back room maneuvers. He must now confront the threat of more accountability head on. And today he came out swinging. I would say wildly. I'll take a look at his flurry of punches in my next post.

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