HARRISBURG - Apparently, maintenance crews working for the legislature don't do windows.
Taxpayers just spent $10,750 for a company to clean the windows of the House of Representatives at the Capitol complex - an expense officials deemed necessary despite a gaping state-budget hole.
"This is not what we had in mind when we asked for a housecleaning," said Eric Epstein, a Harrisburg activist and founder of RockTheCapital.org. "Cleaning bird crap off of windows is not openness and transparency."
However, there's more to the issue than a clear view, said Bob Caton, press secretary to House Speaker Keith McCall (D., Carbon).
Besides cleaning the windows inside and out, the Harrisburg company that does the work, Performance Services Inc., also inspects them - 1,800 in all, many stories high - and treats them against spiders. It will all be done again in the fall for another $10,750, a contract with the House shows.
The Senate pays another company $8,500 for similar tasks, but only once a year - bringing the legislature's yearly window-cleaning tab to $30,000.
Caton said the House, in an austerity move several years ago, cut down on the window work. It had been done four times annually.
He said that in these tough economic times it might be wise to cut back even more, but not at the expense of the windows.
David Spencer, manager of Performance Services, said letting windows go unattended too long can lead to bigger structural expenses.
"It's a matter of being penny-wise and pound-foolish," he said.
Epstein saw it differently, asking, "Why do legislators need to clean the windows when they work behind closed doors?"