Wolf’s ‘Keystone Kops’ routine not funny at all

Wolf’s ‘Keystone Kops’ routine not funny at all

Sound public policy demands reason, transparency and accountability. And as far too many Pennsylvanians experienced in the deepest throes of the coronavirus pandemic, an ongoing state audit already has found that the administration of Gov. Tom Wolf batted 0-for-3 when it seized control of the state’s economy and seized its economic engine in the process.

In its purported attempt to slow the spread of the virus, the administration shut down Pennsylvania. Only state-determined “life-sustaining essential businesses” were allowed to operate.

It soon was apparent that the standard was standardless and, we are forced to contend, might very well have enhanced the spread of the coronavirus.

To wit, big-box chains were allowed to remain open while smaller, independent businesses — that in many instances offered the same products — were forced to close. The masses flooded the former while the latter, which could have hosted shoppers in a far more orderly and safer fashion with fewer customers, were shuttered.

The backbone of the Keystone State’s economy was broken by incomprehensible bureaucratic nincompoopery. And that was only exacerbated by a system in which businesses could appeal their closure through a state-run waiver system.

In concert with (some would argue in cahoots with) the state Department of Community & Economic Development, the administration created a review system so disheveled and senseless that state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale likened it to a “Keystone Kops routine.”

Standards? None.

Record-keeping? What’s that?

Inconsistencies? Legion.

Double standards? By the scores, including at least one special deal cut by the governor himself.

Transparency? Pay no attention to the “essential/non-essential” wizards behind the curtain.

For many skewered by the Wolf administration’s hubris, ineptitude and ignorance, they had no choice but to fold. And those that attempted to defy “The State” were called “cowards” by the governor.

“Cowards,” for the very act of attempting to survive.

“Cowards,” for the very act of standing up to “The State’s” tyranny.

There is a word for all this nonfeasance – and possibly worse in a continuing investigation — and one word only:


The Keystone Kops are described by one historical source as being those “fictional, humorously incompetent policemen featured in silent film slapstick comedies” of the early 20th century.

And while Wolf & Co.’s incompetency is clear, there’s nothing fictional or humorous about DePasquale’s findings of the administration’s appalling behavior.

The sobering blame rests squarely with Gov. Tom Wolf, the leader of the gang that never could shoot straight on public policy matters and likely is incapable of ever shooting straight in the future.

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).