This is an excerpt from my original article for the Raging Chicken Press.
“What the fuck?” Those were the first three simple words that came to mind when I read about the decision the Pittsburgh Opera made last week. The opera, in their infinite wisdom, decided to give Governor Tom Corbett and his wife a “Joint Lifetime Achievement Award” in education. Did you get that? IN EDUCATION. In an attempt to quell the public relations firestorm this decision made, the Pittsburgh Opera published the following on their Facebook page:
Dear all,Where can I even begin to respond?
The Joint Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes Gov. and Mrs. Corbett’s public service careers and support of the arts through Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Mrs. Corbett has served with PCA for 10 years, and Governor Corbett oversees the budget. Consistent and long-standing PCA funding is critical to our ability to provide opera education programs, free community programs, and to keep our starting ticket price at $10. PCA funding is significant not just to us, but to arts organizations statewide.
Thank you for sharing your passion for the arts and for education. We, too, hope for the restoration of arts funding and education funding.
Well, the story began last month in Pittsburgh with controversy concerning who would receive Pennsylvania’s new lottery contract. The company originally slated to receive Pennsylvania’s five-year, 183 million dollar contract was Brunner, a Pittsburgh based advertising agency. Brunner and the state had inked the deal earlier this year so Brunner began hiring employees and vendors. The state, who is in the process of privatizing the Pennsylvania Lottery, found problems and discrepancies during last year’s bidding process and decided to cancel the contract. Since the contract between Pennsylvania State Lottery and Brunner was cancelled, MARC USA, the previous contract holder, was given a one year extension on their expired contract. MARC USA had already filed a lawsuit that raised concerns over the selection process. Michele Fabrizi, President and CEO of MARC USA, was quoted by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette saying: “MARC USA is thrilled to continue our work with the Pennsylvania Lottery to benefit older Pennsylvanians. We look forward to helping the lottery to achieve the kind of record-breaking results it has enjoyed since our partnership began in 2002.”
Now, you’re probably sitting here and asking yourself, “What exactly does the Pennsylvania Lottery have to do with the Pittsburgh Opera?” The main connection between the two is Michele Fabrizi. Michele Fabrizi is the CEO of a company that benefitted from political pandering and shady business practices that “knee-capped” their competition, but it also turns out that Ms. Fabrizi is the Chair of the Pittsburgh Opera Board of Directors. So the political connections between the Governor–who has been cutting education to the bone–and the Chair of the Pittsburgh Opera’s Board of Directors, Michele Fabrizi, need to be called out because of the award the governor is receiving.
The rest of the article appears on the Raging Chicken's website