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Posts Tagged ‘Gov. Tom Corbett’

At least one person in the state of Pennsylvania was not intimidated by Joe Paterno and the high-on-a-pedastal Penn State football program.

The residents of Pennsylvania can thank Republican governor and former state attorney general Tom Corbett for the firing of Paterno and university president Graham B. Spanier.

I don’t know about you, but I was surprised and impressed with the quick and decisive action by the school’s board of trustees.

The story about former defensive coach Jerry Sandusky and two senior university officials being charged in connection with a long-running child-abuse scandal broke last weekend. Almost immediately, Paterno’s failure to do anything more than report a 2002 sex-abuse incident to former athletic director Tim Curley was called into question.

On Wednesday morning, Paterno announced that he would retire at the end of the season. That probably would have satisfied a lot of people, especially the student body, most of which rallied behind Paterno.

But it wasn’t nearly enough — thank God — for Governor Corbett, who this week fiercely lobbied the board of trustees to oust Paterno and Spanier immediately.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett

Now, let’s take a step back. Here’s how Corbett’s involvement in the case unfolded, according to a great, front-page story yesterday in The New York Times.

In 2009, officials at a Pennsylvania high school reported that Sandusky had molested a boy at the school. However, the county prosecutor cited a conflict of interest and referred it to the attorney general’s office.

“Here, he (Corbett) had a wildly popular football coach and a program which in Pennsylvania was revered, and this case lands in his office and without flinching he went down that path,” Times’ reporter Jo Becker quoted a Republican lobbyist as saying.

Corbett convened a grand jury and prosecutors took testimony. As the case proceeded, more victims turned up, and Corbett and his investigators became appalled at the university’s lack of action.

“We talked about how this would be a real shock to people, and how shocking it was to us,” Becker quoted a former assistant attorney general as saying.

Corbett went on the win the governor’s race. After he left the attorney general’s office he had to adhere to grand-jury secrecy rules that prohibited him from talking about the case, other than with a few people he had brought with him from that office.

One person who stayed close to the case was Frank Noonan, whom Corbett had appointed state police commissioner. Before that, Noonan had been chief of investigations in the attorney general’s office.

Periodically, The Times’ story said, Corbett would ask Noonan how the sex-abuse investigation was going, and Noonan would tell him it was going well, although he couldn’t share details.

Finally, after the story broke last week, Corbett, who is a member of the Penn State board of trustees, was free to roll into action.

“Privately,” The Times’ story said, “he worked to move the board in what he believed was the right direction. He called multiple members, including Vice Chairman John P. Surma, the chief executive of U.S. Steel, and told them that the country was watching, that a change at the top was needed, and that the issue was about more than a football program.”

Paterno

The board called an emergency meeting on Wednesday night, just hours after Paterno had announced his retirement plans.

The board exhibited no forbearance and summarily removed Spanier and Paterno.

“Afterward,” The Times’ story said, “the trustees said they had acted independently. But they conceded, without being specific, that the board had received some unsolicited encouragement about what action to take.”

Bravo, Governor Corbett!

Here’s my final thought on this: If Gov. Corbett announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination for president, he would immediately jump to the top of the list.

He won’t do that, of course, but I hope we hear more from him on the national scene in the future; the country needs more politicians who move decisively instead of wetting a finger and holding it up in the breeze.

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