Statement of Sen. John R. Gordner Regarding the Appointment of Former Northumberland County Commissioner Allen Cwalina to a State Post

Like most of my constituents, I learned today through newspaper accounts that former Northumberland County Commissioner Allen Cwalina had been appointed by Governor Ed Rendell as his Deputy Secretary for Administration in the Department of Labor and Industry on April 30.  It is important to clarify that Mr. Cwalina was hired by Governor Rendell and Labor and Industry Secretary Steven Schmerin, and will be working for the Administration.

As Chair of the Senate Labor and Industry Committee, I do not have any input or oversight regarding hires by the Department.  Likewise, since Mr. Cwalina is no longer a resident of the 27th Senatorial District, my input on his appointment was not sought.

However, had Governor Rendell or Secretary Schmerin contacted me prior to the appointment, I would have alerted them to disastrous financial and administrative decisions made by Commissioner Cwalina during his tenure in Northumberland County.  The decisions he made will continue to affect the taxpayers of the county through higher taxes and increased debt service for many years.  I would have also indicated my opposition to this appointment.

I expressed my personal displeasure to Secretary Schmerin today.  The Secretary’s actions are especially disappointing in light of the fact that the Senate confirmed him to a new term in office just last week.  I worked with the Secretary during the confirmation process and supported his nomination, however, had I known that interviews were taking place for the position and that Mr. Cwalina was a candidate, my actions would have been very different during the nomination process.

The citizens of Northumberland County are justifiably appalled that a former commissioner who mismanaged county funds, has seemingly been rewarded with a high paying job because of his political support for the Rendell Administration.

I share those feelings.