Tomalis still needs to be investigated

August 16, 2014

Well, at least he didn’t say he wanted to spend more time with his family.

When Ron Tomalis submitted his resignation Tuesday, the special adviser on higher education to Gov. Tom Corbett said he was stepping down in order to pursue “new opportunities.” But that’s another of those cliched gobs of corporate-speak typically deployed when someone is being led to the gangplank at their place of employment. Tomalis quit after the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported during his one-year tenure on the job he had sent only a handful of email messages, made relatively few phone calls, and had virtually no contact with any legislators or officials associated with the state’s colleges and universities.

It raised plenty of questions, the most conspicuous ones being these: How did Tomalis spend his days? And what had he accomplished to merit the $139,000 annual salary he was pulling down, the same pay he had earned when he was the state’s education secretary? The current acting education secretary, Carol Dumaresq, said duties related to the commonwealth’s primary and secondary schools had been handed off to Tomalis and she was pleased with his performance. Tomalis himself, though, was kept far away from reporters.

Even though Tomalis is now unencumbered and can go after the “new opportunities” allegedly being dangled before him, there still needs to be some sort of probe into how Tomalis spent his days and what his appointment as higher education adviser brought to the state. If it finds he was industrious, despite all appearances to the contrary, then we will know that a diligent worker was wrongly turfed out of his job.

On the other hand, if it turns out most of Tomalis’ phone calls were to order lunch in between rounds of online solitaire, then we will sleep comfortably in the knowledge that our tax dollars are no longer being squandered.

Then we can ask how this was allowed to happen in the first place.



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