Bus Debate Grounds Drunk-Flying Law

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Pennsylvania still doesn't have a law against flying while drunk because Gov. Ed Rendell doesn't want to spend $6 million on rural transit. Huh? you ask. Well, that's politics as usual in Harrisburg, where getting things done is apparently an exercise in trickery and one-upmanship. As AVweb told you last month, both state houses had approved the Flying While Impaired bill in an attempt to plug an embarrassing loophole. After John Salamone's allegedly drunken aerial tour of Pennsylvania and New Jersey last January, in which he buzzed Philadelphia Airport and got in the way of airliners on his way to a close encounter with a nuclear power plant, prosecutors discovered there was no law against flying drunk. There is still no law against it because opportunistic legislators tried to piggyback a controversial measure on the bill. Rendell vetoed the bill when he saw the rider attached that would funnel $6 million to a couple of money-losing transit operators. Now, drunk-flying incidents are not exactly an epidemic in Pennsylvania or anywhere else, so Rendell possibly believed sacrificing the bill to prevent the "stopgap" payment to the bus companies was the wisest course. And it's not like Salamone isn't paying for his crimes. Earlier this month he was sentenced to between six and 23 months in jail for reckless endangerment and risking a catastrophe, proving, if nothing else, that amid chaos justice can prevail.