by Robert Fles
The Chestnut Hill Local recently attended the first meeting of the Delaware River Port Authority to be presided over by Pennsylvania’s newly installed governor, Tom Corbett. The transcript includes asides by two board members who happened to be seated near our microphone.
•Governor Tom Corbett: Good morning, everyone. I’m Governor Corbett, the new head of the port authority.
•Politically Appointed Flunky 1: Who’s this guy? Did he say “governor”? Is he the fat one from Jersey?
•Politically Appointed Flunky 2: Whisper, you idiot. The Jersey guv screams whenever he talks. This must be the one from upstate somewhere who replaced Rendell.
•PAF 1: Rendell’s gone?? Where’d he go?
•PAF 2: Not sure. No one’s seen him since he made Leslie Stahl cry on “60 Minutes.” Then he called her a wuss, and then Andy Rooney came charging at him brandishing a Thesaurus, and then they cut to a commercial.
•Corbett: … serve the citizens of our area with integrity, honesty, diligence and deep humility while we …
•PAF 1: Wait, what’s he saying? I’ve been here for years and never heard any of those words before. What the hell language do they talk upstate?
•PAF 2: I dunno. I never heard any of those words before either, and I’ve been in Philadelphia-South Jersey politics all my life. Just keep smiling and nodding your head when he looks at you.
•Corbett: … canceling pork projects, reducing the deficit and spending toll money only on bridge maintenance and…
•PAF 1: What do you suppose those words mean?
•PAF 2: Got me. Geez, he talks funnier than Colin Firth in “The King’s Speech.”
•Corbett: … and therefore I’m firing all of you …
•PAF 1: Holy s—! Is “firing” like a temporary furlough with full pay and benefits, and you also go on the payroll of the Parking Authority or the Turnpike Commission but don’t show up for work? Like we always do it in Philly?
•PAF 2: I think it’s like that but a little worse. I’m not sure. It’s never been done before with politically appointed flunkies. Where is Rendell, Dwight Evans or Vince Fumo when we need them? Till we find out, keep smiling and nodding.
•Corbett: … and therefore haul your sorry asses out of here pronto before I call in …
•PAF 2: You can quit smiling and nodding now.
•PAF 1: What the heck is he … ? And who’s that bunch of pathetic-looking nincompoops coming in the door?
•PAF 2: Must be our PAF replacements. Hey, look, it’s John Street, Jannie Blackwell, and isn’t that Bob Brady’s wife?
•PAF 2: Know what, that’s the former board from the housing authority. The whole bunch of them just got the heave-ho from Washington.
•PAF 1: I get it. They take our places on the DRPA board, and we go take their places on the PHA board.
•Corbett: Not so fast there, PAFs 1 and 2. It’s not the same old politics any more. No more “politicians always take care of their own kind, no matter how inept or corrupt they are.”
•PAF 1: Please, Governor Natural Gas, since I didn’t graduate high school and know nothing about education, I thought maybe you could place me on the School Reform Commission with my peers.
•PAF 2: And I could put on a dress and replace that crooked Register of Wills lady that just got arrested in Bucks County, wherever that is. Bucks — sounds like a game preserve. Hmmm, I wonder what they speak there.
•Corbett: Nothing so cushy and no paid positions, you pathetic PAFs! There’s a new game in town. First you have to show you’ve changed your ways by doing community service for six months.
•PAF 1: Like counseling drug addicts or scrubbing filthy city streets?
•PAF 2: Or tutoring struggling students or patrolling dangerous neighborhoods at night all by ourselves — or worse, public high schools?
•Corbett: Nothing that fun and easy. I’m assigning you both to six months in the Office of Diversity, Tolerance, Openness and Respect for Other Viewpoints at Chestnut Hill College.
•PAF 1: Please, please, no, not that! Can’t you just waterboard us for six months?
•PAF 2: Or better yet, actually drown us?
•Corbett: Quiet! You’re getting a hypocrisy injection to make sure you’re ready, and then it’s off to Chestnut Hill College.
(PAFs 1 and 2 crawl out whimpering)
•Corbett: And now, ex-Mayor Street, Councilperson Blackwell and assorted other PAFs, welcome to DRPA and the next stage of your illustrious political careers. Just vote the way I tell you, and may you notice nothing, accomplish nothing and contribute nothing here as successfully as you did in your previous board work.
•New PAF 1: I think I’m gonna like this guy. Who is he, anyway?
•New PAF 2: Dunno, never saw him before. Maybe he’s the loud, fat one from Jersey.
•Corbett: … serve with integrity, honesty, diligence and deep humility while we …
•New PAF 1: What language is he speaking?
•New PAF 2: Dunno, never heard it before. Just smile and nod.
Ed. note: Robert Fles is a Chestnut Hill resident and former chairman of the English Department at Chestnut Hill Academy. Since he is now retired, he was careful not to mention the name of Frank Rizzo in this snarky little satire in hopes that Rizzo will be so grateful, he will share with Fles some of that $200,000 Philadelphia taxpayers have generously DROPped into his bank account. Fles is clearing his schedule of all appointments and dinners just in case Rizzo calls. And if Rizzo never calls, maybe Queen Arlene Ackerman will hire Fles to punish all of those nasty teachers who are foolish enough to allow themselves to be assaulted by Arlene’s angelic “students.”
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