Friday, January 16, 2009
Republican lawmakers are criticizing Governor Rendell for appointing a former Democratic House member to a newly created state position while the state is in a hiring freeze. But the governor insists he did the right thing. Former state Representative Dan Surra lost a reelection bid in November, but now makes 95-thousand dollars a year promoting northern Pennsylvania tourism in a Department of Conservation and Natural Resources post. Cumberland County representative Glen Grell is one of six Republicans who have sent a letter to Rendell, asking him to respect his self-imposed hiring freeze and rescind the job. Grell says the appointment left him scratching his head. “I'm disappointed because for months I've been defending the governor and actually complementing him for being proactive and imposing the hiring freeze. And banning out of state travel and doing other things, like asking agencies to cut back.” But Rendell says he's allowed to make appointments, arguing Surra is filling a vital need in his new job. “I reserved the right when I announced the hiring freeze to make exceptions. We have made a number of exceptions. This is the first one for anybody who has held office.” Rendell says he didn't interview anyone else for the job or seek applications, but says he has the right to fill his administration with the people he feels will do the best job.