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Rendell aides serve drinks, clean up

Greg Fajt, Gov. Rendell's chief of staff, tended the bar. Chuck Ardo, Rendell's spokesman, cooked up a mean pot of ravioli. Someone even spotted the governor's policy director, Donna Cooper, pouring a few drinks.

She even did it with a smile.

The tanking national economy hasn't just taken its toll on banks, airlines, homeowners and the auto industry. It has also affected the governor's annual holiday party for his press and policy staffs and members of the Capitol's press corps.

In years past, the parties were catered, and Rendell even hired live entertainment. The price tag: roughly $5,000.

This year, things were different. There were no caterers or professional bartenders. The governor's staff did set-up and clean-up -- and everything in between. There was K. Scott Roy, Rendell's deputy chief of staff, taking drink orders and tinkering with the volume on the radio piping out Christmas music over the speakers.

There was another Rendell staffer, going around the room and clearing dirty dishes and unmanned drinks.

And there was Ardo's ravioli dish - by far, the best culinary offering of the evening, which also featured potato chips, veggies and dip, potato salad and some sliced ham.

The price-tag for the party this year: about $600, half of which came out of Ardo's pocket, as well as the wallet of Doug Rohanna, the governor's communications director. The Capitol press corps kicked in $250.

"You can't in good conscience spend taxpayer money on a holiday party when taxpayers themselves are hurting," Ardo said.

Turns out, the party netted the administration some extra cash: $10 and a stray peanut in the tip jar at the bar.

The money, Ardo said, will be put into the state's general fund.

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