With the inauguration of Tom Corbett as governor next week, Gov. Edward Rendell will wrap up a 33-year career of public service — first as Philadelphia district attorney, then mayor, and finally governor.
If you buy liquor on a Sunday, work in green industries, gamble locally, or can’t smoke in your office and other public spaces, Rendell is the person to thank — or frown at.
For Philadelphians, one of his lasting legacies is the revitalization of Center City. Rendell, the first Philadelphian to win the governorship in almost 100 years, said yesterday morning in an interview with Metro that even he couldn’t predict the skyrocketing prices of down real estate.
“If I had told anyone when I was inaugurated mayor on Jan. 6, 1992, that Center City condominiums would be selling for over $12 million less than 20 years later, they would have asked the men in white coats to come and take me away,” he said, on a train to Washington D.C.
Rendell credits his strong advocacy for the development of the Avenue of the Arts, the refurbishment of the historic district and his executive order creating sidewalk cafes for the rebirth of downtown.
But after ascending to governor, he disputes the notion that he favored Philadelphia as governor.
“Sure, Philadelphia on an absolute basis got more than anyone else,” he said. “[But] on a per capita basis, it ranked 30th out of 67 counties. I spent a lot of money. Even the 65th county got more than they would have under me than any other governor.”
Haste makes waste
Rendell plans to soon be hard at work writing his memoir that he promises will be humorous. One chapter, titled “How to Get Uninvited to the Christmas Party that You Were Never Invited to in the First Place,” recounts the fallout from his comments that Al Gore should concede the election after the Supreme Court decision. The terminally loquacious Rendell said, “This is the only comment of mine that I wish that I could take back. I should have waited for Al Gore to speak.”