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ghost employee


    ghost in parking lot 4The state Department of Education has released eight months of records that they say show when Ronald Tomalis, the governor’s former higher education adviser and  Education Secretary, entered and exited a state parking garage, a move that’s part of an effort to quash criticism that he was a no-show employee making $139,000 a year.

    According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, records from 2014 show Tomalis’ vehicle entering and exiting the garage 133 days during the eight-month period. Records for 2013 were not available from the Harrisburg Parking Authority, which oversees a garage some state employees use, said Tim Eller, a department spokesman.

    The release comes after Senate Education Chairman Mike Folmer said acting Education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq showed him records that convinced him that Tomalis was not a “ghost employee.”

    Campaign for a Fresh Start Spokesman Mike Mikus described the meeting as “top secret,” adding that the meeting “raises more questions than it answers.”

    Folmer also told the Tribune-Review that he was shown approximately 700 of Tomalis’s emails.

    Mikus added if true, this means that the Corbett Administration is blatantly violating Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know laws, as they released only a meager five emails by Tomalis over a 15-month span to the paper in July after the paper filed Right-to-Know requests.

    “The stench of scandal within Tom Corbett’s Department of Education just got worse,” Mikus said. “Instead of holding secret meetings, Tom Corbett and his Education Department need to come clean and release the electronic records they showed Folmer. They need to explain why they share information with political allies and not the taxpayers. Why are they keeping public records from the public? If Ron Tomalis actually worked, where is the proof? Why, after three weeks, are there more questions than answers surrounding Ron Tomalis’s employment?” Mikus said before the records were relesed.
    The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported in July that there was little proof that Tomalis performed any work. Their report revealed that Tomalis made on average less than one phone call per day and had sent just five emails over more than a year and went weeks without scheduled meetings.

    Katie McGinty, Fresh Start chair added that in 160 workdays, Ron Tomalis did not show up to the office 34 times and rarely was in the office for a full day.

    “It is time for Tom Corbett to clean house in the Department of Education,” McGinty said.

    “The people of Pennsylvania deserve a transparent government that they can trust. Gov. Corbett’s Administration offers them nothing more than secret meetings and cover ups,” Mikus said. “It is far past time for Tom Corbett to stop the stonewalling. It’s been three weeks since the Tomalis scandal broke.

    “It doesn’t prove any work was done. It proves his car was parked. He’s still special adviser to the governor, and he never met with the governor.”

    Corbett’s calendar from May 2013 through mid-July of this year showed no Tomalis meeting entries.
    The Corbett campaign fired back. “Instead of trying to manufacture scandals to smear Gov. Tom Corbett, perhaps millionaire Tom Wolf should start manufacturing some details on his pathetically lacking campaign platform that demonstrates that he is in no way qualified to run a state with 12.7 million people,” said Chris Pack, communications director for Corbett’s campaign.

    Folmer, R-Lebanon County, said he resented insinuations by Fresh Start that he was part of a cover-up attempting to help Corbett, who oversees the Department of Education.

    “I’m not the bad guy in this,” Folmer said. “I told them (agency officials) to share everything they shared with me.”



    the hot seat 2Down in the polls and with three major scandals engulfing his administration, Governor Tom Corbett has now come up with a bizarre new excuse for holding regular campaign meetings in his state office. Corbett now says that his Campaign Manager Mike Barley – who has weekly meetings with Corbett in his official office – is no different than civic leaders who meet with Corbett to discuss legislation.

    “Last week’s excuse for why Tom Corbett is violating state ethics laws by holding campaign meetings in his state office fell flat, so now he’s come up with a new bizarre statement that doesn’t pass the smell test,” Campaign for a Fresh Start Spokesman Mike Mikus said. Fresh Start PA, a political action coalition that supports the candidacy of Democrat Tom Wolf for governor

    “Tom Corbett put people in jail for using state resources, so he should know that what he is doing is wrong. Instead of comparing his campaign advisers to civic leaders, Tom Corbett should be apologizing for hypocritically breaking the law,” said Mikus.

    In recent weeks, the Corbett Administration has been engulfed by three major scandals. In addition to reports that Corbett is illegally holding campaign meetings in his state office, his former Education Secretary Ron Tomalis has been accused of doing no work in return for his $140,000 taxpayer-funded salary, and acting Education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq admitted that the Department of Education illegally deletes emails on a regular basis.

    Officials of Fresh Start PA have called for various state agencies to investigate whether Tomalis was a “ghost employee” who did little or no work for his $139,542 salary and to examine the email retention practices of the education department.

    Fresh Start chairwoman Katie McGinty continued to push Republican Gov. Tom Corbett for those investigations and for the firing of acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq over public statements she made claiming education department employees delete and cleanse their emails each day.

    In response, Jay Pagni, a spokesman for Gov. Corbett, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the governor “has full confidence in acting secretary Dumaresq.”
    If it’s within their jurisdiction, agencies have a right to follow up on such calls for inquiry.

    A spokeswoman for Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said his office is in the midst of a special performance audit of the department of education — an audit that was started in January after complaints from school districts about the department’s performance.

    “Over the past year and up until January, the school audits revealed a lot of things that we found that the department of education wasn’t doing or wasn’t doing properly — things involving charter school reimbursements and just not providing enough assistance to school districts as they should,” spokeswoman Susan Woods told the Post-Gazette.

    Meanwhile, Dumaresq continues to reject the notion that there is a cover-up.




    ghost employeeRon Tomalis handed in his resignation to the state Department of Education Aug. 12 amidst allegations that he has been nothing more than a “ghost employee” since Gov. Tom Corbett named him the special adviser on higher education 14 months ago.

    When Tomalis stepped down as the state’s education secretary in June 2013, he kept his $139,542 salary and worked primarily from a home office, but the only information documenting Tomalis’ work during the last year, as acquired by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette through Right-to-Know requests, included a handful of emails and a phone log that averages one call per day.

    Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq denied the ghost employee accusation, telling the Post-Gazette that the records could point to Tomalis’ preference for face-to-face communication.

    Subsequent news reports during the last two weeks didn’t paint an improving picture regarding Tomalis and the Department of Education, with higher education officials at both Penn State University and University of Pittsburgh indicating they “don’t recall” any interaction with Tomalis since he stepped into his role as special adviser last year.
    Government activist and state House candidate Gene Stilp accused Dumaresq of participating in an active cover-up of Tomalis’ employment status, citing an organizational chart that didn’t list Tomalis and an office that was said to have been used by Tomalis but which had no name plate on the door. A name plate was allegedly installed just days after the initial Post-Gazette story was published.

    “If the Secretary of Education says that Ron Tomalis is working for her, where is his name on the chart?” Stilp wrote in an Aug.1 statement. “He must really be a ghost if he is not listed anywhere.”

    The same day, Senate Education Committee Majority Chairman Mike Folmer, R- Lebanon, told the Post-Gazette he wanted the administration to “look into” the matter.

    “This is taxpayers’ money, and we’ve got to make sure we’re spending taxpayers’ money the way it ought to be spent,” Folmer told the paper. “That’s where my concern lies. If he’s doing his job, OK, that’s wonderful, that’s great, that’s the way it should be. If not, maybe we should be looking at what’s up.”

    In his resignation letter, Tomalis cited the mounting criticism against the department as a deciding factor in his decision to leave.

    “I have been engaged in conversations with other organizations regarding new opportunities, and given recent events, I believe it is in the best interest of the Administration that I resign my position with the Commonwealth, effective August 26, 2014, to pursue those endeavors,” he wrote.

    In a statement released Aug. 2, Dumaresq applauded Tomalis’ work on “several education initiatives,” including the Ready to Succeed Scholarship Program, the establishment of three Governor’s Schools and the Pennsylvania STEM competition, among others.

    “Ron has truly been an asset to me and the department since I assumed the role of education secretary,” Dumaresq said. “He has been instrumental in overseeing the creation and re-establishment of important educational programs that benefit the students of the commonwealth. I wish him all the best.”

    Corbett, who defended Tomalis against the ghost employee accusations in an Aug. 1 Post-Gazette article, continued his show of support after the resignation announcement.

    “Ron has been committed to Pennsylvania’s education system since the early days of my administration,” he said. “He has worked closely with Secretary Dumaresq and the Department of Education to shape programs and policies that are in the best interest of students. I thank him for his work and commitment to education.”

    –Christen Smith, Capitolwire