In an online City Paper piece published Jan. 3, I did something that I never thought would ever happen — I wrote a column agreeing with Republican state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, a.k.a. the Supreme Leader Snoke of the Pennsylvania House.
Metcalfe had sent a surprisingly well-reasoned letter to Gov. Tom Wolf asking Wolf to release the results of an investigation into the way Lt. Gov. Mike Stack and his wife allegedly verbally abused state employees, including state police officers who were assigned to them, and their staff at the lieutenant governor’s state-owned residence. Among the allegations were that the Stacks would get profanely belligerent when officers refused to activate the vehicle’s emergency lights and siren, so that the couple could move through traffic more quickly.
Wolf asked for the Office of Investigator General to look into myriad complaints against Stack. Last spring, when the investigation was ordered, Wolf said that he’d consider releasing it. But while the initial report was finished in early December, Wolf has declined to release it, partly because Stack’s wife is being treated for a mental-health issue.
“I’m not gonna release it,” Wolf told reporters. “My concern back in the summer was to make sure the employees, police officers, the staff of the residence were safe and were not in a bad job situation.” He said he saw the release of the report as “piling on.”
But Metcalfe said the governor’s move smells of politics. “Your recent decision to not release this important report into inappropriate behavior by an elected official is inexplicable and unacceptable. You have chosen to release reports conducted by the inspector general in the past, such as the report regarding the investigation into the State Police Academy cadets. As the lieutenant governor is a public figure, this information is relevant to the taxpayers, voters and citizens of the Commonwealth. ... Your administration has claimed that ‘transparent government that works’ is a priority, but this decision makes it appear that your priorities may be more appropriately labeled ‘secretive government that works for me.’ It should be routine practice to release inspector general reports, instead of selecting which reports you find convenient to allow the public to access,” Metcalfe wrote.
You know what? The little weasel is right. Now, to be clear, Metcalfe, being a backward, right-wing troll, is only playing this up for political benefit. If the shoe were on the other foot and it was Tom Corbett or Mike Turzai doing the same thing, Metcalfe would find some reason to support the move. Still, he and every other Republican running in a state race should be using this against Democratic candidates because the party’s support of Stack is an embarrassment.
Stack has decided to run for re-election despite the large-scale shit show he created by failing to act like a decent human being. This is a campaign issue, and a decision to not release this report does smell of political gamesmanship. The day after Wolf’s decision, several Democratic members of the state Senate endorsed Stack. Pittsburgh’s own Jay Costa was among them, saying, “Nobody has been a stronger advocate for democratic ideals than Lt. Gov. Mike Stack. ... He’s ready to continue to do the job and, more importantly, he’s ready to be called upon, if ever needed, to do the position of governor if that occurs.”
This may be one of the most ridiculous endorsements I’ve ever heard. Stack will face at least five Democratic challengers, including local candidates Aryanna Berringer, of Murrysville, and Braddock Mayor John Fetterman. It might have served those senators well to hear from these challengers before backing a controversial candidate.
The 2018 midterms are supposed to be a huge pivot-point for Democrats. Donald Trump has screwed up so many things in his first year and has already shown in Alabama that his ability to get Republicans elected is compromised. But instead of backing candidates with character, Dems are rallying around a man who completely lacks common sense and control. If 2017 taught Dems one lesson, it should have been that the public no longer accepts seriously flawed candidates lacking character and common sense. The Democratic Party and Gov. Tom Wolf need to realize that before it’s too late.
Editor’s note: Portions of this article ran online Jan. 3.