Tuesday, January 06, 2009


We often forget just how corrupt state and local politics is - at all levels - and that the real tragedy of the long decline of the news business isn't that Time magazine has to fire a few reporters, or whatever, it's that there are fewer local news outlets and reporters to shine a light on this stuff. And it isn't just big city corruption, though that tends to get what little investigative attention there is, this stuff is rampant - and often legal! - everywhere.

After extracting $17 million in donations from Peco Energy, former State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo raised the ante with Verizon Pennsylvania, demanding more than $50 million in contributions to settle a legal dispute, Verizon's former president testified yesterday.

Fumo wanted Verizon to deposit $10 million in his family-owned bank. He wanted $2.5 million in legal work for his law firm. And he wanted $15 million to go to Citizens' Alliance for Better Neighborhoods - the nonprofit that is at the center of the federal indictment against Fumo.

Daniel Whelan, who was then the president of Verizon Pennsylvania, told the jury in Fumo's federal corruption trial that he rejected most of the demands.