DeWeese expresses ire over prison cancellation

DeWeese expresses ire over prison cancellation
HARRISBURG, Feb. 17 – State Rep. Bill DeWeese, D-Greene/Fayette/Washington, today demanded that the Corbett administration give the people of the 50th District a fuller explanation on why it decided to cancel a long-planned state prison for German Township.
“As governor, Tom Corbett can no longer hide details behind his well-worn mantra of, ‘It’s under investigation’ in order to evade answering difficult questions,” said an upset DeWeese. “He no longer wears the cloak of state attorney general – but it appears he still wields the dagger.”
DeWeese pointed out that the official cancellation letter sent to a contractor appeared on the state Department of General Services website for only a few minutes Thursday morning, after which it mysteriously disappeared from public view – along with links to 13 documents chronicling the considerable progress made on the $200 million, 650-job prison. The cancellation letter reappeared late Thursday afternoon; the other documents did not.
“Like the cosmonauts who fell out of favor in the old Soviet Union, whose images were airbrushed out of group photos, all visible details on the German Township prison evaporated into thin air,” said DeWeese. “Last week, the House voted unanimously for H.B. 15, which would put even more state documents online for public viewing. Perhaps someone should clue the Corbett administration in as to which direction we are heading when it comes to transparency and accountability.”
DeWeese, who represents the part of German Township where the prison was slated to be built just outside Masontown, said the people of Fayette, Greene and Washington counties deserve a fuller explanation than “the project has been canceled in the best interest of the Commonwealth.” That was the terse reason listed in the cancellation letter, written to the contractor that had been selected for contract negotiations by the outgoing administration of Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell.
“This is a huge and sudden reversal of fortune,” said DeWeese, who personally called Corbett twice Thursday to ask for a more thorough explanation but received no reply. “If Republican Tom Corbett thought he was playing more politics with Bill DeWeese, he was wrong. He is now playing politics with the people of the 50th District. In last year’s race for governor, Fayette, Greene and Washington county residents helped put him in the governor’s mansion. He needs to explain to them why he did this.”
DeWeese said the abrupt about-face means that the state will lose a considerable amount of money and time already invested in the project over the past two years, while still paying to house 2,000 inmates in Virginia and Michigan.
“How can we scrap a project that comes in millions under budget, in a county with high unemployment?” asked DeWeese. “Corbett’s ripping the heart out of the people of Fayette County in particular – and as a result, 650 futures are being lost.”

February 18th, 2011 | Posted in Front Page Stories | No Comments