Specters Shun Rendell Over Horrendous PR-Spending Orgy
As Halloween approaches, news from Pennsylvania is that its governor, Edward J. Rendell, is being stalked by an angry ghost! More frightening is that the angry specter is none other than William Penn, the founder of the Quaker State.
Word around the Harrisburg statehouse is that Rendell sleeps with one eye open, out of fear that Penn is going to creep into his bedroom and... force him to surrender his $12.5 million PR budget! To Rendell, nothing could be more terrifying than being forced to govern without the 132-person public-relations staff he uses to bolster his image and keep the media at bay.
You see, Penn was an early member of the Religious Society of Friends, a sect known for its adherence to the Testimony of Simplicity. The Friends deplored "personal pride" because it "leads people to a fond value of their persons, especially if they have any pretence to shape or beauty. What aggravates the evil is that the pride of one might comfortably supply the needs of ten."
An irate Penn haunts Rendell’s dreams nightly, conjuring terrible images of the police officers that could have been deployed, the students that could have been educated, the emergency rooms that could have been funded, all the real needs that could have been met with $12.5 million of taxpayer money. Rendell’s bodyguards have become accustomed to hearing a low moan rumbling from his official quarters at midnight: FOOOOORRRRR SHAAAAMMMME, followed by a blood-curdling scream reputed to be that of Rendell.
In a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review story yesterday, various flacks from former administrations whistled past the graveyard, declaring that Rendell’s bloated budget, up a chilling 34 percent since he took office in 2003, was appropriate. Tony May, one time head of the press office for governors Shapp and Casey, and now on the dole as a state PR contractor, defended Pennsylvania’s PR horde saying, "They spend most of their time doing things that appear on page 5 to 27 of the newspaper."
Yesterday, a maid working in the governor's mansion, a Mrs. Helen Vinovich, reported seeing "a green presence smelling vaguely of oatmeal" open the paper to page 27. And there was a story based on a state press release commemorating the 124th birthday of con man Charles Ponzi, father of the so-called Ponzi Scheme, quote, "to remind consumers of the dangers of suspicious investment opportunities." Then, according to Vinovich, the ghost levitated a knife, and carved the word, “BUSYWORK” into the governor's bedroom wall before flying out the window.
Despite having enough time to craft and distribute the Ponzi release, the governor’s communications director Ron Jury refused to talk to the Tribune-Review’s reporters. In an e-mail, Rendell’s press secretary Kate Phillips told the reporters that news media requests "are time consuming and require extensive research." It was not completely clear if this statement was meant to be a defense of her budget, or an alibi for stiffing reporters.
This story has a most hideous ending that will forever put it into the annals of Halloween folklore. One might have expected Penn and his fellow phantoms to be brainstorming gruesome scenarios to avenge the plunder of the state’s treasury; but no. Quakers are non-violent. The fate of Rendell is far far worse. It is expected that the Quakers will engage in their traditional of "shunning." And as PR practitioners are being shunned with increasing regularity everywhere, it is evident that Penn and his followers have been quite busy and successful in their dreadful revenge.