Corbett Sets Privatization Panel

Tracie Mauriello
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A largely Republican cadre of business leaders and political power brokers will have Gov. Tom Corbett’s ear as he develops policies about whether to sell the state’s liquor stores, roads, bridges and other assets to private industry.

That’s who he has named to his new Advisory Council on Privatization and Innovation.

“This panel will further evaluate potential privatization, public-private partnerships or managed-competition opportunities with the ultimate goal of streamlining government and saving taxpayers’ dollars,” Mr. Corbett said in a statement Thursday.

The composition of the 24-member committee and Mr. Corbett’s comments seem to indicate he has already made up his mind about privatization, at least conceptually.

“Privatization has been successful in government for many years,” he said. “From snow removal services to social services, private job-creators have been doing work that government bodies simply could not do without an increased cost to taxpayers and a drop in efficiencies.”

Panel members include Jonathan Newman, former chairman of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, who now favors privatizing alcohol sales; school-choice proponent Joseph P. Watkins of Philadelphia and Matthew Brouillette, president of the conservative and pro-privatization group Commonwealth Foundation.

The group’s chairman is Mars attorney John A. Barbour, who has served as counsel to the Steelers and as former co-chairman of the governor’s transition team.

Others on the panel include Republican national committeeman and chocolate-maker Robert B. Asher, former Republican Congressman Robert S. Walker of Lititz, former Republican U.S. Rep. Melissa Hart of Bradford Woods and Grove City College President Richard G. Jewell, a former finance chairman of the Allegheny County Republican party.

Among the few Democrats on the panel are Dennis Yablonsky, head of the Allegheny Conference and former secretary of the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

Other Western Pennsylvanians on the panel include University of Pittsburgh Vice Chancellor Jerome Cochran, Sewickley attorney and former Corbett inauguration co-chair Laura E. Ellsworth, Allegheny County GOP chairman James C. Roddey and car-wash operator Gerald E. Feldman of Bradford Woods.

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