Saturday, January 2, 2010

PA Turnpike tolls up for 2010

Welcome to 2010 and another round of toll increases on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Effective Jan. 1, Turnpike tolls went up 3 percent. That follows a 25 percent toll increase in January 2009 and likely will be followed by another 3 percent increase in January 2011.

See related post: Dick Thornburgh: Abolish PA Turnpike Commission

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dick Thornburgh: Abolish PA Turnpike Commission

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Dick Thornburgh, writing at The Commonwealth Foundation Web site, makes a strong case for getting rid of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, which he says is "a dumping ground for the institutionalized entitlement."

From Thornburgh's column:
During my campaign for governor more than 32 years ago, I made a pledge to restore integrity and efficiency to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).

At the time, 40 percent of our roads and 25 percent of our bridges were in substandard condition. It was widely acknowledged that PennDOT served as a patronage dump; I went so far as to label it the "home of the three Ps – payoffs, patronage and potholes." It was clear that fixing PennDOT was a necessity.

The residents of the commonwealth agreed, having faith in my pledge, and elected me governor. Shortly after beginning my first term, I began a thorough reconstruction of PennDOT.

Working with state Secretary of Transportation (and future Federal Highway Administration head) Tom Larson, I ignored all threats of political retribution and scrubbed PennDOT clean of graft and corruption. The difficult task of fixing PennDOT was a resounding success. In 1981 PennDOT was recognized as "one of the best managed – and financed – public works agencies in the country" by trade magazines.

Larson was recognized by one publication as its Man of the Year. That was nearly 30 years ago.

Today the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) has replaced PennDOT as a dumping ground for the institutionalized entitlement we helped eradicate.
Read the full column, "A Road to Savings: Abolish the PA Turnpike Commission," at The Commonwealth Foundation's Web site.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Rendell fires PA Turnpike chairman

Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission Chairman Mitchell Rubin, the target of an FBI corruption investigation, gave himself an extended leave of absence on Saturday.

Gov. Ed Rendell handed Rubin a permanent leave on Monday, removing him from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission effective immediately.

Rubin has not been charged with any wrongdoing, but his name came up during the corruption trial of former sate Sen. Vince Fumo, who was found guilty last week of 137 charges.

Rubin, of Philadelphia, has served on the Commission since June 1998 and was elected chairman in 2003.

Read Rendell's letter to Rubin at the link below:

PA Governor Rendell's Office Releases Letter to Mitchell Rubin

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Taking a toll on jobs

Eric Heyl of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review offers a hilarious scenario in which Joe Brimmeier, the head of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, a bastion of patronage jobs, has to find ways to persuade people to voluntarily leave those cushy jobs before layoffs are ordered.

The sinking economy has hit the Turnpike, too. Fewer people are traveling to fewer jobs. That means revenue from tolls is declining.

From Heyl's column:
Think of the quandary in which poor Joe Brimmeier finds himself.

Things are so bad that Brimmeier now is looking to reduce expenses and trim some of the commission's 2,250 jobs. Layoffs are being discussed if enough employees don't participate in a "voluntary departure program."

Given the manner in which many well-connected turnpike employees and consultants obtained their jobs, Brimmeier probably is meeting plenty of resistance as he attempts to cut costs and pare payroll.
Read the full column at the newspaper's Web site.